Kavanaugh, Covington, collusion: Why does the media keep rushing to judgment, asks Kellyanne Conway?

I feel like the Conway family feud has taken a decided turn in Kellyanne’s favor in the last few days.

Indisputably it’s their ideological investment in believing the worst about the right that’s driving it. But I think this is another thing that 24/7 news culture makes worse than it needs to be. In a world where you’re competing for eyeballs with, well, everyone, the pressure to be not just sharp but fast is crushing. And not merely among people who do it for a living: Snap judgments are more common on social media, in my experience, than they are in big media. The Covington fiasco was a classic case. The original narrative congealed instantly on Twitter and Facebook and then migrated to big media, which pays attention to the daily hobbyhorses on the social-media left because they trust those people to curate content that big media will want to push to the public. The idea of smirking white kids in MAGA hats hassling a Native American activist was too good to check. Twitter idiots rushed to judgment because it confirmed their ideological biases too neatly and then big media rushed to judgment because they share those biases and because it was hot stuff — all for a story that wasn’t important even in the worst telling of the alleged facts.

The amazing thing about Russiagate is that it can’t rightly be called a “rush” to judgment, having played out over two years. It was a rush to judgment and then an insistence on standing pat on that judgment in the face of evidence suggesting that Trump’s campaign didn’t collude. In the Covington case, the media at least has the excuse that the whole story played out in a matter of hours. The signs of Mueller’s ultimate verdict were there over a span of years for anyone who wanted to see them, notes Byron York:

In some cases, Mueller’s prosecutors issued what are known as “speaking indictments,” that is indictments that told a story, that contained more than the minimum information necessary to level charges against a defendant. And yet in all those indictments, Mueller not only did not allege that this or that Trump figure was part of a conspiracy or coordination — he never alleged that such conspiracy or coordination ever took place at all.

Mueller’s public actions were public, for all to see. The indictments were public, for all to read. Yes, there was some redacted material, but anyone could see, throughout the entire time, that Mueller never alleged conspiracy or coordination. And yet the media speculation machine remained in high gear the entire time, shifting into overdrive any time there was a new indictment or other Mueller action.

The lesson of Russiagate isn’t that Trump’s critics rushed to judgment, it’s that that judgment was formed early and then remained immovable. Jumping to conclusions is natural, allowing partisanship to instantly calcify those conclusions isn’t. One of the scourges of our age.

I’ll leave you with another noteworthy bit from Kellyanne’s interview this morning. If I were Trump I’d want to put all things Russiagate in my rearview mirror and start hammering the substantive case for reelection: Jobs, jobs, jobs; no wars, wars, wars; plus a pair of stellar SCOTUS appointments. Revisiting Russiagate yet again to try to uncover alleged chicanery by the Obama administration consumes oxygen that could be allocated to the election message. But maybe the White House feels it has no choice. House Democrats will press on with their own investigations and are bound to turn up some dirt on Trump, if probably nothing impeachment-worthy. Investigating them for their role in pushing Russiagate is a way to counterprogram that. If Trump turns up any evidence of wrongdoing, that can always be used to “balance” anything they find on him: They’re just as corrupt as I am, if not more.

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