Our Political Press Corps Is Unable to Write Actual Stories

Below, I’ve reproduced Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff’s remarks from the Mueller hearings. When I read them, it’s amazing that our political press corps really hasn’t been able to tell the story like Schiff did. It’s the clearest exposition of what happened I have read to date–and I follow this crap. Whether it’s unwillingness or incompetence is unclear–and doesn’t really matter. They are simply unable to describe what the Mueller investigation is about: this goes for columnists as well as reporters. It’s all the more amazing, since they write for a living–they should have been able to do this. Needless to say, the mediocrity of our press corps does not bode well for the remainder of Trump’s term.

Schiff’s prepared remarks:

At the outset and on behalf of my colleagues, I want to thank you, Special Counsel Mueller, for a lifetime of service to the country.

Your report, for those who have taken the time to study it, is methodical and it is devastating, for it tells the story of a foreign adversary’s sweeping and systematic intervention in a close U.S. presidential election.
That should be enough to deserve the attention of every American, as you well point out. But your report tells another story as well. For the story of the 2016 presidential election is also a story about disloyalty to country, about greed, and about lies.

Your investigation determined that the Trump campaign — including Trump himself — knew that a foreign power was intervening in our election and welcomed it, built Russian meddling into their strategy, and used it.
Disloyalty to country. Those are strong words, but how else are we to describe a presidential campaign which did not inform the authorities of a foreign offer of dirt on their opponent, which did not publicly shun it, or turn it away, but which instead invited it, encouraged it, and made full use of it?

That disloyalty may not have been criminal. Constrained by uncooperative witnesses, the destruction of documents and the use of encrypted communications, your team was not able to establish each of the elements of the crime of conspiracy beyond a reasonable doubt, so not a provable crime, in any event. But, I think, maybe, something worse. A crime is the violation of a law written by Congress. But disloyalty to country violates the very obligation of citizenship, our devotion to a core principle on which our nation was founded, that we, the people, not some foreign power that wishes us ill, we decide, who shall govern, us.

This also a story about money, about greed and corruption, about the leadership of a campaign willing to compromise the nation’s interest not only to win, but to make money at the same time.
About a campaign chairman indebted to pro-Russian interests who tried to use his position to clear his debts and make millions. About a national security advisor using his position to make money from still other foreign interests. And about a candidate trying to make more money than all of them, through a real estate project that to him, was worth a fortune, hundreds of millions of dollars, and the realization of a lifelong ambition — a Trump Tower in the heart of Moscow. A candidate who, in fact, viewed his whole campaign as the greatest infomercial in history.

Donald Trump and his senior staff were not alone in their desire to use the election to make money. For Russia, too, there was a powerful financial motive. Putin wanted relief from U.S. economic sanctions imposed in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and over human rights violations. The secret Trump Tower meeting between the Russians and senior campaign officials was about sanctions. The secret conversations between Flynn and the Russian ambassador were about sanctions. Trump and his team wanted more money for themselves, and the Russians wanted more money for themselves, and for their oligarchs.

But the story doesn’t end here either. For your report also tells a story about lies. Lots of lies.
Lies about a gleaming tower in Moscow and lies about talks with the Kremlin. Lies about the firing of FBI Director James Comey, and lies about efforts to fire you, Mr. Mueller, and lies to cover it up. Lies about secret negotiations with the Russians over sanctions and lies about Wikileaks. Lies about polling data and lies about hush money payments. Lies about meetings in the Seychelles to set up secret back channels, and lies about a secret meeting in New York Trump Tower. Lies to the FBI, lies to your staff, and lies to our Committee.
And lies to obstruct an investigation into the most serious attack on our democracy by a foreign power in our history.

That is where your report ends, Mr. Mueller, with a scheme to cover up, obstruct and deceive every bit as systematic and pervasive as the Russian disinformation campaign itself, but far more pernicious since this rot came from within.

Even now, after 448 pages in two volumes, the deception continues. The President and his acolytes say your report found no collusion, though your report explicitly declined to address that question, since collusion can involve both criminal and non-criminal conduct.

Your report laid out multiple offers of Russian help to the Trump campaign, the campaign’s acceptance of that help, and overt acts in furtherance of Russian help. To most Americans, that is the very definition of collusion, whether it is a crime or not.

They say your report found no evidence of obstruction, though you outline numerous actions by the President intended to obstruct the investigation.

They say the President has been fully exonerated, though you specifically declare you could not exonerate him.
In fact, they say your whole investigation was nothing more than a witch hunt, that the Russians didn’t interfere in our election, that it’s all a terrible hoax. The real crime, they say, is not that the Russians intervened to help Donald Trump, but that the FBI had the temerity to investigate it when they did.

But worst of all, worse than all the lies and the greed, is the disloyalty to country, for that too, continues. When asked, if the Russians intervene again, will you take their help, Mr. President? Why not, was the essence of his answer. Everyone does it.

No, Mr. President, they don’t. Not in the America envisioned by Jefferson, Madison and Hamilton. Not for those who believe in the idea that Lincoln labored until his dying day to preserve, the idea animating our great national experiment, so unique then, so precious still — that our government is chosen by our people, through our franchise, and not by some hostile foreign power.

This is what is at stake. Our next election, and the one after that, for generations to come. Our democracy.
This is why your work matters, Mr. Mueller. This is why our investigation matters. To bring these dangers to light.

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4 Responses to Our Political Press Corps Is Unable to Write Actual Stories

  1. maryplumbago says:

    Absolutely excellent post

  2. Zachary Smith says:

    Obviously opinions differ about Mr. Schiff. Mine puts this gentleman at a much, much lower level. From the Off-Guardian:

    At no time did the FBI or anybody else do an actual “investigation” of the important issues of RussiaGate. Mueller is an old Republican hack who has his own agenda, or is a hireling of somebody else with an agenda. From the Sic Semper site:

    “I am 79. Mueller is 75. I recognize the symptoms of degenerative old age. He looked very much today like someone who was too old to have accepted the role of Special Counsel in the blackhearted campaign to unseat Trump and restore the momentum of the globalist unifying revolution. He was not at all in command of the document, his document, a document that will be his major legacy in history. He fumbled around endlessly and had to be told over and over again where to look in his own report for materials referred to by questioners. Particularly sad was his exchange with a Democrat congresswoman who had been a career policeman and chief of police in Orlando Florida. She tried repeatedly to lead him to the paragraph she wanted to talk about and she just could not manage it. ”

    Mr. Lang is a dyed-in-the-wool Trump lover, and his spin on the hearings was that Mueller is “losing it”. Frankly I doubt that, for I favor the theory Mueller’s ignorance is real, and based on the fact he had nothing to do with his own “report”, and didn’t bother even reviewing it for the hearing. Of course simple perjury is a third alternative.

    Couldn’t help but notice how Mr. Schiff’s statement didn’t use the word “Impeach” or any variation.
    Indeed, here is a new headline:
    *** Schiff Says the Election Is the Only Way to Remove Trump ***
    July 25, 2019

    Schiff is part of Pelosi’s gang of wanting to “manage” Trump, for the Orange Potus is still doing things very much in the interest of the Apartheid State. Why kill a goose which is still laying golden eggs?

    Unlike Pelosi and Schiff and the others, Chris Floyd wants to impeach the bastard, and recognizes that Mueller is not needed at all for that to happen. (I agree, and feel Schiff’s focus on Mueller is deliberate and designed to prevent an impeachment he clearly doesn’t want.)


    “As I’m writing this, Nancy Pelosi is still resisting impeachment with every bit of backroom guile and chop logic at her command. Of course, by the time this is published, she might well have succumbed to pressure and finally instigated the procedure in the House. (As always with our stalwart party of Demos, it will depend on what the donor class prefers.) But it’s certain that any impeachment process will be based on the Mueller investigation; it will stand or fall on that thin reed. Because the leaders of the ‘Resistance’ have decided that the only way to get to Trump is through Mueller.”

    So is Schiff, and that’s why I give the little weasel no credit at all.

    • elkern says:

      ZS – Thx for link to Chris Floyd at Empire Burlesque. I knew Mueller had buried a lot of bodies for the GOP, but didn’t know that included BCCI.

      Dem glorification of Mueller has always smelled wrong to me; and I agree with Floyd that there are plenty of better ways to get Trump than the Russia thing. As our host here has pointed out, the House should have demanded Trump’s back taxes in Jan 2018.

      OTOH, Pat Lang at Sic Semper Tyrannis is much more anti-HRC and anti-left than pro-Trump. He even says as much, further down in the post you referenced. He’s also a “State’s Rights” guy, wink-wink.

  3. Min says:

    Today’s political press corps is much more interested in the horse race aspect of politics than the substance of issues. They let politicians tell their stories and then critique their performance.

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