On Sunday, Attorney General William Barr released a letter that broke the hearts of thousands of members of the media and top Democrats across the nation. The letter revealed that Special Counsel Robert Mueller – the Left’s best hope for a deus ex machina ending to the Trump presidency – had found that the Trump campaign and President Trump himself did not collude with the Russian government, and that there was not sufficient evidence for obstruction of justice against Trump.
Here are five takeaways from Barr’s report.
1. The Media Destroyed Their Credibility More Thoroughly Than The Intelligence Community Destroyed Its Credibility Over Weapons of Mass Destruction. As Matt Taibbi of Substack writes, “Russiagate is this generation’s WMD.” It would be nearly impossible to overstate the extent to which the alleged journalists at CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other major media outlets parroted the claim that Trump and his campaign had thrown the election via collusion with Vladimir Putin. Here’s a montage for just a taste. But this doesn’t scratch the surface. Opinionmakers repeated the irrefutability of the theory for years.
Bill Maher insisted to me that the evidence for Trumpian collusion was overwhelming – last June.
Saturday Night Live featured its actors singing “All I Want For Christmas Is You” – to Robert Mueller. And they had Robert De Niro play him. Surely, Trump’s perfidy would soon be uncovered.
This was the narrative. It was false. And the media, in their eagerness to push the next step of the Biggest Story Ever™ simply kept pushing it.
It wasn’t hard to avoid that narrative. All they had to do was wait for the evidence (as, humbly, I suggested everybody should on Maher). But they couldn’t.
2. The Media Have Shifted Their Angle. Today, the media angle is simple: we didn’t do anything wrong. Instead, we’ve seen a couple of competing angles: Trump might still be involved in nefarious activity with the Russians (Blake Hounshell of Politico); perhaps obstruction did take place, and Barr covered it up (Joy Reid of MSNBC); speculation is good, guys (Brian Stelter, CNN). Those goalposts will continue to shift to avoid the obvious conclusion: the media are wildly biased against Trump, so they wanted the treason story to be true.
3. The Democrats Humiliated Themselves. The Democrats maintained the myth for years that they had secret information demonstrating Russian collusion. Leading the charge was Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who set up a pup tent outside the green room at CNN in order to make himself available to level his finger at Trump at every opportunity. But the bizarre conspiracy theory made its way to every level of the Democratic establishment. On Saturday, the day before Barr’s letter, Democratic presidential candidate and famed skateboarder Beto O’Rourke stated that Trump “sought to collude…beyond any shadow of a doubt.”
Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) stated that “we have foreign powers infecting the White House like malware.” Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who has a long history with the Soviet Union, suddenly found Trump’s Russian behavior suspicious. Hillary Clinton, who legitimately lost because she was a legitimately terrible candidate, spent two years claming that only the Kremlin, acting in concert with Trump, could have prevented her accession to power.
Democrats humiliated themselves. They continue to do so. On Sunday, DNC Chairman Tom Perez continued to ask whether Trump was compromised, and Maxine Waters explained “this is not the end of anything.”
4. The Intelligence Community Continued To Destroy Its Credibility. The intelligence community has humiliated itself once again. Just weeks ago, former CIA Director John Brennan – who was running the CIA at the open of the Trump-Russia investigation – said that more indictments were coming.
In August 2018, he wrote for The New York Times that Trump’s “claims of no collusion are hogwash.”
Then there was former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, fired from the FBI for leaking to the media, who said just a month ago that Trump could be a Russian asset. Then there’s former FBI Director James Comey, who took a picture of himself in the woods, suggesting more questions were afoot:
Then there were the lovers Peter Strzok and Lisa Page of the FBI, who texted between themselves of a need for an insurance policy against Trump’s election. Or how about former DNI James Clapper, who said Trump could be a Russian asset “whether witting or unwitting” just a month ago?
These people were in charge of our nation’s law enforcement apparatus. And they were either gross incompetents, biased tools, or both.
5. Those Who Savaged Mueller Shouldn’t Be Trusted, Either. It’s worth noting that a bevy of Republicans spent the last two years suggesting that President Trump would be railroaded by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, as well as Mueller. That was nonsense. They behaved professionally and did their jobs. It should be noted that it is not a recommendation of credibility to be right on the merits of Trumpian collusion after spending years slandering the man who eventually exonerated Trump.
This should be a moment for soul-searching. It won’t be. It can’t be, because that would mean that perhaps the media would have to restructure themselves; perhaps Democrats would have to cope with the fact that the problem isn’t thievery by Republicans but their own lack of connection to tens of millions of Americans; the intelligence community would have to, in top-to-bottom fashion, cleanse itself of political actors masquerading as law enforcement professionals.
Better to shift the goalposts, make excuses, and keep lying. Better anything than accountability.