Commentary

Media Reacts To Barr's Mueller Report Summary, Trump To 'Slam and Shame' Critics

Attorney General William Barr on Sunday delivered to Congress his four-page summary of “principal conclusions” from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s two-year investigation. 

Mueller didn’t find presidential candidate Donald Trump and his campaign conspired or coordinated with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election, according to Barr’s letter. Mueller also didn’t conclude whether Trump obstructed justice, but didn't exonerate him, either.

What happens next is anyone’s guess. Across party lines, polls find a majority of Americans want the Mueller report released in full.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to find neutral commentary about the significance of the report. The media did a horrible job covering the investigation, sacrificing its already tainted credibility for years to come.

There are some signs of what will happen next.  

Committee chairs in the Democratic-led House, including Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), will keep pursuing their probes into possible obstruction of justice, abuses of power and corruption in the Trump administration.

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The House has broader powers than Mueller, but ultimately, its efforts will be politically motivated. 

While legal purists can argue the goal of these investigations is to root out possible criminal activity in accordance with established principles of jurisprudence, the real aim will be to damage Trump as much as possible going into next year’s presidential election. That effort may include an impeachment trial if Trump wins again.

As for the media, the Trump administration plans a “slam-and-shame” campaign that likely will resonate with supporters. Denigrating the media has been a reliable strategy for Trump ever since he was a candidate.

Pundits from across the political spectrum have spent the past few days since Mueller submitted his report to the Justice Department taking aim at other news outlets.

“The 3 biggest losers from the Mueller report in order — the media, the media, the media,” Rich Lowry, editor of the conservative National Review, said in a tweet.

“Now will the media which invested so much in this narrative accept it, remembering that they are not supposed to root for outcomes? Or will they hold on, looking for ways to save face on their earlier (wrong) predictions/coverage?” tweeted Megyn Kelly, the former host of NBC News and Fox News shows.

The conservative commentary was predictable.

Less predictable was Rolling Stone writer and author Matt Taibbi’s takedown of the media, given his reliably anti-Trump articles of the past few years.

“Russiagate is looking like this generation’s WMD -- a catastrophe for the reputation of the news media,” Taibbi said in a tweet linked a chapter from his forthcoming book, "Hate Inc."

“Anyway, if you’re an MSNBC viewer — or reader of liberal sites on the internet — you were fed a steady stream of conspiratorial bullshit that completely warped your view of the world, all while they purposely excluded anyone who questioned their fraud & profited off your fears,” Glenn Greenwald, cofounder of The Intercept, said in a tweet.

More than likely, nothing will change. News outlets will defend their reporting and keep pressing, Republicans believe, to find evidence to impeach Trump or damage his candidacy.

“I’m comfortable with our coverage,” The New York Times’ Dean Baquet told The Washington Post. “It is never our job to determine illegality, but to expose the actions of people in power. And that’s what we and others have done and will continue to do.”

And here I thought The New York Times’ mission was to maintain the status quo for Upper East Side elitists and other 1%ers who could care less about the unending decline of the American middle class. Comfort the afflicted, but mostly comfort the comfortable.

“Contra a lot of commentary: given the issues, stakes and seriousness with which the special counsel treated all of this, the media’s coverage of Russia-Trump connection and possible obstruction over the last two years was somewhere between about right and not quite aggressive enough,” Esquire’s Ryan Lizza said.

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