Donald Trump’s presidency has unfolded on two distinct and separate planes. On cable television, the dominant story for two years has been Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation and the question of whether Trump colluded with Russia. Out in the real world, especially in the early presidential primary states, most voters are focused on jobs, climate, and health care, but not Russia.
Mueller’s conclusion that Trump didn’t collude with Russia to steal the 2016 election is an important victory for Trump, both legally and in the realm of cable news coverage. But it won’t necessarily have a big impact on the presidential race, and it’s not far-fetched to think Democrats worried about 2020 may be better off now that impeachment is realistically off the table.
One of the more disorienting aspects of the Trump era for a political reporter is the experience of moving between the television green room and the campaign trail. As anyone who’s watched cable news can wearily attest, even the most incremental developments on the subjects of Russia and Trump’s possible impeachment were given four-alarm, wall-to-wall treatment.