Consider this the pounciest of the media’s constant “conservatives/Republicans pounce!” spin on bad news for their opponents. After having been reviled by Democrats and the media as a traitor for the past two years, Politico apparently expected Donald Trump and his allies to react to his exoneration by, um, pretending it never happened. The big takeaway from the outlet’s perspective is that Trump & Co. should have showed more “interest in healing or national unity” rather than point out that their opponents had engaged in paranoid conspiracy theories:
But after the nearly two-year investigation found no collusion or clear obstruction of justice, Trump and his aides showed little interest in healing or national unity https://t.co/ua4Nv9dUMO
— POLITICO (@politico) March 25, 2019
The article itself rings the same pouncy bell:
“There’s a rare moment here for Donald Trump to get a bit of a reset,” said Matt Schlapp, a Trump ally and chairman of the American Conservative Union. “He’s got a chance to reconnect with more Americans than he even did previously.”
But after the nearly two-year investigation found no collusion or clear obstruction of justice, Trump and his aides showed little interest in healing or national unity. They quickly launched a fierce counterattack against both Democrats and the media, claiming that Trump had survived what amounted to an extralegal coup — and implying that other charges of wrongdoing against him should also be discounted.
“Democrats simply can’t be trusted,” former Trump White House official Steven Cheung said.
“Democrats lied to the American people continually, hoping to undo the legitimate election of President Trump,” a Sunday statement from Trump’s re-election campaign declared.
Sooooo … the big story is that Trump and his allies aren’t accepting the avalanche of apologies offered by Democrats and the media for pushing a false narrative over the past two years. That is awful — or it would be if the avalanche existed in the first place. However, all we have heard from Democratic leadership over the past 48 hours is that they plan to double down on Russia-collusion hypotheses and step up their investigations into Trump and his family and associates. Jerrold Nadler, Adam Schiff, and others have gotten big media coverage to push their narrative that Robert Mueller might not have been a reliable investigator and/or William Barr a reliable supervisor.
As for the media, a few people have called for introspection. This, however, from Margaret Sullivan more broadly characterizes the media’s response to getting depantsed:
It was strange, for example, to see Scott Pelley’s lead-in to CBS’s “60 Minutes” erroneously describe the Mueller report’s findings in a way that Trump might have scripted: He flatly stated that the report, as described by Attorney General William P. Barr, exonerated the president.
In fact, Mueller came to no such conclusion on obstruction of justice, and on the contrary stated clearly that his investigation did not exonerate him.
Perhaps cowed by the criticism — which came from the left as well as the right, most notably from author Matt Taibbi — some news organizations may back down from aggressive coverage of Trump.
That would be a serious mistake. With some regrettable and damaging exceptions — individual stories that seemingly went too far — reality-based news outlets have done quite well on this story.
Sullivan never bothers to note that Mueller did in fact go the extra step in exonerating Trump and his campaign over the Russia-collusion charge, which was the core of Mueller’s mandate. Mueller punted on obstruction, but it’s very difficult to charge someone with obstruction when no underlying crime exists in the first place — and when the investigation concluded without any attempts to impede it. Prosecutors rarely “exonerate” people; they just decline to charge them and keep their mouths shut otherwise. The only reason for the public exoneration on collusion is because the public airing of the investigation resulted in the special counsel and requires public closure.
No one wants the media to stop being assertive in covering this or any other administration. What they want is for the media to report on the facts rather than create and push the narratives they want, or in this case the narratives that the Hillary Clinton campaign wanted as an explanation for her loss. We want the media to stop grandstanding about their own victimhood and start dealing with reality rather than paranoid fantasies that never made much sense in the first place. “Democracy dies in darkness,” indeed. So does the media.
Small wonder, then, that Trump et al aren’t seeking national unity from Democrats and the media. They still haven’t learned their lesson from Russiagate, and at this rate they never will. Under those circumstances, it’s laughable to spin this as a problem when the slandered doesn’t kiss and make up with those who slandered them.