Mueller fallout for the media
The president has made clear the press is no friend to him, his supporters or, by extension, the nation as a whole. If anything, Mr. Trump said on Twitter, the media "truly are the Enemy of the People and the Real Opposition Party."
Is he right?
No president, and no politician at the state, local or national level, is a huge fan of the media. By its nature, the media is an adversary to those in power -- and it should be. But it also has a responsibility to be fair. In the Mueller investigation, fairness wasn't just lacking, it was intentionally cast aside. And worse, it was replaced by a bizarre and unsavory worship of Robert Mueller.
As Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi writes:
Mueller knows became the cornerstone belief of nearly all reporters who covered the Russial investigation. Journalists reveled in the idea of being kept out of the loop, thrilled to defer to the impenetrable steward of national secrets, the interview-proof Man of State. He was no blabbermouth Donald Trump, this Mueller! He won’t tell us a thing!
“What Robert Mueller knows — and Isn’t Telling Us,” proclaimed Wired in February, going on to list the many areas where Mueller “probably knows far more than he’s willing to say.”
Last month’s “What we know we don’t know from Mueller’s investigation,” by the Washington Post, marveled at Mueller’s ability to keep secrets. It made note of former Trump aide George Papadopoulos: “Mueller’s team kept him under wraps for months, with barely a hint of his importance.”
Dan Rather told us that “what Mueller knows” will make the Cohen/Manafort pleas “pale in comparison.” Often we were even told the things Mueller hadn’t told us yet were the most important facts of all, that his filings were “more revealing by what they did not include than by what they did.”
Other pieces were just embarrassing, the news version of “We’re not worthy!” The story Axios released after Mueller’s Internet Research Farm indictments was entitled “We know nothing; Mueller knows all.” Axios gushed that Mueller indicted a bunch of Russians no one ever expected to appear in court without word getting out. This, they said, spoke to Mueller’s “deep, serious investigative work” which had gone “totally under radar, with zero leaks.”
“Amazing there was no hint of this in the media,” Axios noted.
All this hyping of Mueller The Omniscient dovetailed with the preposterous mythologizing of the special counsel through consumer goods (Mueller action figures! “Mueller time!” beverage mugs! Saint Robert Muller prints!) and breathless stories like the Vanity Fair ode to the “dreamiest G-man to hunt for collusion.”
Then there were episodes like the “All I want for Christmas is you!” song performed by the SNL cast. “I don’t need a full impeachment / I just need a little fun / Please don’t tell us we aren’t crazy / At least indict his oldest son.”
Now Santa Mueller has gone back to the North Pole, leaving just a written report. It absolutely should be released in full. It’s very possible that the full report contains a great many details that “Mueller knew” and we didn’t, and which will be embarrassing to Trump.
But the report’s key conclusions, as the Atlantic puts it, have already “quelled some of the fondest hopes of the anti-Trump ‘resistance.’”
There ought to be an accounting for this behavior. But don't hold your breath waiting for it to happen. Thus the media will compound its errors -- refusing to admit how often it dropped even the pretense of objectivity in the pursuit of ratings, subscribers, and Mr. Trump's political scalp.
We still believe the media isn't the enemy of the people. But it's hard to hold on to that belief when so many in the press seem so determined to embrace the role.