Watching the coverage of The Barr Letter unfold was to learn, once again, that we are truly fucked. Here was a four-page "summary" of The Mueller Report from an attorney general who was hired after he wrote a 19-page memo attacking the Mueller probe, a summary that contained four incomplete sentences from the actual report. This attorney general had a record of getting involved in the process of defusing Republican presidential scandals like Iran-Contra during his last stint as attorney general, and misled Congress when he released a "summary" of an internal Justice Department memo in 1989.
Yet for some reason-even though the president and his administration lie constantly, he fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions for failing to protect him from the probe, he hired the acting attorney general before Barr, Matthew Whitaker, because he saw the guy attacking the Russia investigation on television, and he openly admitted he'd installed Whitaker over the investigation-most people seemed to just accept William Barr's word for it.
The Mainstream Media, having learned nothing from the Both Sides era or two years of being lied to constantly, basically accepted its beating from Trump and his allies. The New York Goddamn Times suggested in a headline that "A Cloud Over Trump's Presidency Is Lifted"-even though reporter Peter Baker, in that very article, said the actual report "may yet disclose damning information if made public." Leftist journalists on the anti-anti-Russia beat, some of whom launched their careers on the premise of seeking government transparency and assailing corruption and questioning the motives of anyone in the United States security apparatus, readily accepted the word of the United States attorney general Donald Trump had installed a month earlier.
In the latter case, it was a chance to crow vindication, having for months claimed too many reporters digging into The Russian Connection had jumped to conclusions based on the first evidence that supported their desired narrative. (Sound familiar?) But when it comes to the cowed Mainstream Media, it was all down to fear and political pressure. Trump and his allies in the conservative infotainment vortex declared total victory and slammed The Very Fake News for its biased reporting, trying to completely redraw the battlefield in a public-relations blitzkrieg.
The basis for this was that The Barr Letter announced no one in Trump's orbit would be charged with conspiring in the Russian government's influence campaign in the 2016 election-a narrow and specific allegation-and Barr himself had decided there was no obstruction case. (Mueller made no such decision, which Barr admitted in the letter, which explicitly said the report Does Not Exonerate.) Never mind that this was always more likely to be a case of corruption and white-collar crime, not some international spy caper, and that the report may contain behavior that is unacceptable and compromising for an elected official. There was no mention of the Trump Tower Meeting, the Trump Tower Moscow deal, or the fact that Trump's campaign manager was passing campaign polling data to an associate linked to Russian intelligence services. None of these events, which we know about thanks to reporting from the Mainstream Media, have been explained or disproven.
Shut up! NO COLLUSION!
In recent days and weeks, however, the full-court press from Trump and his allies has shown a few passing lanes. Barr shied away from his initial characterization of his letter as a "summary," trying to muddy the waters about what, exactly, he'd produced for the public. He refuses to send a full and un-redacted version of the report to the House Judiciary Committee in Congress, despite it dealing with classified intel all the time. After sitting quietly for a while in the hopes someone would demonstrate an ounce of integrity here, members of Mueller's team have gone public to tell The New York Times that Barr "failed to adequately portray the findings of their inquiry and that they were more troubling for President Trump than Mr. Barr indicated."
And Trump, having declared the letter meant he was TOTALLY EXONERATED!-and made mouth noises about how he wanted the full actual report released-has returned to more familiar refrains now that a version of the report, albeit one with redactions made by Barr, is set to be released on Thursday.
The Mueller Report, which was written by 18 Angry Democrats who also happen to be Trump Haters (and Clinton Supporters), should have focused on the people who SPIED on my 2016 Campaign, and others who fabricated the whole Russia Hoax. That is, never forget, the crime.....- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 15, 2019
....Since there was no Collusion, why was there an Investigation in the first place! Answer - Dirty Cops, Dems and Crooked Hillary!- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 15, 2019
If you're keeping score at home, the people who wrote a report that TOTALLY EXONERATES! the president are angry Democrats and dirty cops who have a vendetta against the president. Also, again: Mueller is a registered Republican, not that it matters.
A must read, Andy McCarthy’s column today, “Dirty dealings of dirt devils who concocted Trump-Russia probe.” The greatest Scam in political history. If the Mainstream Media were honest, which they are not, this story would be bigger and more important than Watergate. Someday!- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 16, 2019
So these folks hatched the "greatest Scam in political history"-a plot to take down the president-and then, when it came time to issue their Final Report, they completely EXONERATED him? That seems like an almighty waste of time.
No Collusion - No Obstruction!- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 16, 2019
Play the hits! Wait, I thought The Barr Letter accurately summarized The Mueller Report, which already proved this is true? Why would the president need to restate it two days before a redacted version of the report is set to be released, and the public will see he's vindicated? He later supplemented this with another tweet boasting the same caption, but this time attached to a video from Fox News featuring Ken Starr. What a time to be alive.
Anyone who took The Barr Letter at face value when it was released deserves every ounce of egg that may or may not be headed towards their faces. If you've watched Donald Trump and his minions for the last three years and still expect that they are telling the truth when they speak publicly, you're something beyond Charlie Brown with the football. Did these folks not notice that The Caravan, an existential threat to the America we know and love, disappeared right after the 2018 midterms? Did they not notice that a raft of senior Trump advisers used private email to conduct government business, a crime that, during the 2016 election, the same people had suggested was something close to treason?
It is a terrifying indictment of our national press that so many professional observers have failed to internalize that the president and his allies are not acting in good faith, and that they have no regard for whether something is true-only whether it will help them if enough people believe it. Folks went along with their initial declaration of Total Victory. They went along with Trump as he drew the new lines on the field: if it wasn't outright conspiracy with a hostile foreign power, it doesn't matter, even if I have some shady and possibly compromising business entanglements. If the press does not adapt to the new rules of this game, and accept that they have control over how things are framed and whether dishonest people get to do the framing, it does not bode well for the future of this country.
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