Burying the Lede

I did not watch Mueller’s testimony yesterday, but I did read about it – even following a liveblog. I was not expecting much, since all the information was already out there. And, being a professional and as bipartisan as he could be, Mueller wasn’t going to be tricked into saying anything damning (that wasn’t already covered in his report).

Even so, there were still things that need to be mentioned. Unfortunately, the press is far more concerned with the “optics” of the hearings (the tone of the questions, Mueller’s uncertainty and reticence) and picking winners and losers than discussing the content.

So instead of headlines like “Six Takeaways from the Hearings” and the usual “Dems Disappointed”, I would have gone with something completely different if I had any front page editorial control:

MUELLER CONFIRMS TRUMP NOT EXONERATED

* Says Trump lied to cover up his involvment
* Trump can be indicted once out of office
* Schiff calls Trump “Disloyal”
* Russia still trying to interfere in our elections

See? It’s not hard.

One might come across some of these (or similar points from the hearings) buried deep in the later paragraphs of a story. To bury the lede like that is a colossal failure of journalism. I cannot tell what is in the minds of the mainstream press. Perhaps they are trying to maintain a sort of bipartisan neutrality in the matter, and not come down on one side or another. Or maybe they want to milk any “controversy” for as long as they can in order to keep readers. Or worse, they just don’t care. It can’t be that they are afraid of any pushback from daring to criticize El Presidente, can it….

Thankfully, there are still a handful of journalists (and the places that publish their work) who know what their proper role is.

A US election was hijacked. Trump stood by as it happened and profited from it. And ever since he has attempted to cover up this original sin of his presidency. At the hearing, Mueller did not rail about Trump’s serious misconduct. But in the quiet way of an institutionalist who respects norms and rules, Mueller made it clear: Trump engaged in treachery. This is not news. But it remains a defining element of the Trump presidency that deserves constant attention.

David Corn, Mother Jones

The “failure” is not of a prosecutor who found the facts but might be ill equipped to make the political case, but instead, of a country that won’t read his report and a media obsessed with scoring contests rather than focusing on the damning facts at issue.

Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post

What should be important to all of us is that the world heard (again) that the Russians continue to undermine our democracy, that the Trump campaign was not averse to accepting Russian help in the 2016 presidential election and actively sought to cover up its actions, and that there was convincing evidence the president of the United States obstructed justice. And those are just some of the things that were discussed at the hearings….

But when folks follow [Trump’s] lead and focus on performance and visuals rather than the substance, they’re playing Trump’s game on Trump’s turf. And when that happens, Trump wins. So if you’re playing that game and still wondering how Trump always seems to get away with the outrageous and the unconscionable, you should just look in the mirror.

Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post

If only we were paying attention……

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