Start claiming that journalists should withhold information because of future political consequences and you end up in dangerous territory, not least because future political consequences are so hard to predict. But it isn’t hard to imagine that if Mueller’s revelations had all been fresh, they might have, as the saying goes, shaken the political world.
Trump’s critics saw the enormous amount of incriminating material already in the public domain before the report landed and assumed that much more would come out. The president seems to have shared that worry. When he learned of Mueller’s appointment, Trump exclaimed, “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I’m fucked.” If reporters had done a less good job along the way, would he have been right?
One of the lessons of the Mueller investigation is that no matter how many times the president shouted about “fake news,” the majority of the actual reporting on the case was solid and accurate. (Conversely, Zack Beauchamp notes that many of the highest-profile stories critical of the dominant narrative turned out to be wrong.)