Russiagate result is an indictment of the press

The main thing that the Russiagate investigation revealed was credulity of the bulk of the Washington press corps.

By compromising standards in order to bring down Donald Trump, they only discredited themselves, made President Trump stronger and ensured that any future accusation against Trump will be automatically disbelieved by a large segment of the public.

One of those who wasn’t taken in was Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone, whose professionalism gives him the right to say “I told you so.”


Attorney-General William Barr’s summary of the Mueller report.  [Added 3/26/2019]

It’s official: Russiagate is this generation’s WMD by Matt Taibbi

As Mueller Probe Ends, New Russiagate Myths Begin by Matt Taibbi for Rolling Stone [Added 3/26/2019]

Russiagate Happened Because We Refused to Face Up to Why Trump Won by Matt Taibbi for Rolling Stone [Added 3/30/2019]

The Media Must Face Up to Its Role in Inflaming a Frenzy Over Russiagate by Branko Marcetic for In These Times [Added 4/9/2019]

The Scarlet Letter Club by Matt Taibbi.  About misreporting of the Iraq WMD claim.


16 Responses to “Russiagate result is an indictment of the press”

  1. Alex Says:

    A few things:

    First and foremost, we don’t know if the reason Trump hasn’t been indicted is lack of evidence or the fact that many legal scholars don’t consider presidents indictable.

    Second, even if it should ultimately turn out that Trump cannot be proved to have committed crimes, his campaign was infiltrated by people close to the Russian government (e.g. Manafort). Anyone else with his Russian connections would be unable to get a security clearance because the standard for a security clearance is higher than “Is there evidence to prove guilt of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt?” He has done business with shady, wealthy Russians, his campaign manager was deeply tied to the Russian government, and his son met with the Russian government when offered dirt by a foreign government, rather than calling the FBI. Even if these things are not crimes, they are strong evidence of a team that was manifestly unfit to assume leadership of the national security apparatus.

    Occam’s Razor looks at all of the shady connections between Trump and the Russian government and says that were it not for the election result nobody in that gang would get security clearances. Most candidates surround themselves with advisors who might be flawed but are at least unambiguously loyal to America rather than tangled up in the desire for business deals in Russia.

    Liked by 1 person

    • philebersole Says:

      Matt Taibbi in his article reported on two years of journalistic malpractice in relation to Russiagate, which very much resembles the journalistic malpractice in regard to the Iraq WMD crisis and the ongoing journalistic malpractice in relation to the Venezuela crisis.

      All are examples of bad reporting based on taking leaks from anonymous sources with their own agendas, and treating these leaks as proven fact. [ Added later: I wrote hastily. The misreporting about Venezuela is not based on anonymous sources.]

      What we were told two years ago was that there was evidence that Donald Trump was knowingly working with Vladimir Putin and Russian intelligence services in return for their help in getting him elected. None of this had any basis.

      Most of this had gone down the memory hole, but Taibbi’s article recalls what was being said at the time.

      It is of course possible—even probable—that somebody connected to Trump has done something corrupt or illegal connected to Russia or Russians. That’s different from what was being claimed originally.


      • Alex Says:

        I do grant that the opposition to Trump overplayed its hand. I think it’s manifestly obvious from the publicly available info that the relationship between Russia and the Trump team is simply not what should be expected of the people running the federal government. But it is probably not what we were initially promised, and that will help Trump win re-election.

        Liked by 1 person

      • philebersole Says:



      • philebersole Says:

        The thing about the supposed Russiagate scandal is that it has made it virtually impossible to have a debate on whether the United States needs to be in a new Cold War with Russia.

        Any kind of contact with Russians is regarded as semi-treasonous, just like in the days of the old Cold War.

        The U.S. government is waging economic war against Russia and has started an arms race with Russia, including a nuclear arms race, which to my mind is dangerous and is of no benefit to the American people.

        This all began abruptly in 2014, following the pro-U.S. coup in Ukraine. In 2012, the Obama campaign ran ads ridiculing Mitt Romney for saying Russia is our enemy.


      • electqualfiedmiddleclass Says:

        Perhaps we should not forget that trump brought a lot of suspicion on himself.

        He made statements and actions favoring the Russians during the campaign and after the campaign that showed loyalty not to the USA. Yes it may me true that the press has shown some bad or poor reporting but the fact remains that trump has been exposed for the liar that he is, be it for russia, n. Korea, etc.

        Foremost, Rosenstein ordered an investigation based on the Intel agencies findings of hacking and disinformation that helped trump to win the election. We still do not know how much he was assisted. He may not be president now if we’re not for the Russians help.


      • electqualfiedmiddleclass Says:

        Many reporters did not make the claim that Tabibbi suggests.
        They reported that the investigation was in progress by the Mueller counsel. Perhaps it is Tabibbi that does not see the circumstances accurately.


    • Fred Says:

      Being an unstable President with an excess of narcissistic personality disorder and appointees of dubious ethical standards isn’t an indictable offense. If we start trying to impeach on that basis there will be no end to it. The GOP made a terrible mistake in going after Clinton, a mistake not just for the GOP but for the nation and the political process as a whole. If you have enough votes to even think about impeachment, you have enough votes to neuter the president.

      And if you can’t take back the White House electorally after Trump’s performance, perhaps you aren’t offering the people anything that is fundamentally better than they have now.

      Liked by 1 person

      • electqualfiedmiddleclass Says:

        Being unfit to lead may not be indictable but it is unfit. Being unfit would fit in the category of the 25th amendment for removal. In addition, the constitution is very clear that high crimes and misdemeanors are impeachable offense’s for president. A misdemeanor would include any number of items.

        I very much agree with you regarding your last paragraph.

        p.s. the definition of dubious ethics is perhaps not what you say. Trump hired many with zero ethics and with goals against the cabinet’s missions. In other words, Trump hired people for his own agenda ad not to uphold the law, which is against the “take care clause’ of the constitution.


  2. Alex Says:

    A far better indictment of the press is their treatment of the MAGA Teen vs. Native Elder vs. Black Hebrew Israelites (or whatever they call themselves) in DC earlier this year.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Fred Says:

    Not the first time false bad news rebounded to the benefit of the person being attacked. Dan Rather was overeager to knock down Bush so he fell for fake news that catered to what he already thought was true. Rather took the hit instead for shoddy politicized journalism and Bush supporters had proof positive that “the press” really was out to get them.


  4. Alex Says:

    Here’s what we know:

    We know that Trump’s son took a meeting with a Russian government rep promising info. We know that Trump went on TV to ask Russian hackers to look for Clinton’s emails. Trump quite obviously knew what was going on and rather than calling the FBI he encouraged it.

    But did he coordinate his activity with the Russians? Probably not. Did he aid their hackers? Obviously not.

    But he knew and did nothing, and even obstructed the inquiry.

    If those facts had been laid out without 2 years of prelude, I think we’d be looking at impeachment right now.

    But instead the debate centered on whether there was “collusion.” If we want to make an analogy with the Iraqi WMD lies, here’s a parallel: In 2004 there was a big debate over whether Bush ever said that Iraqi WMD constituted an “imminent threat.” So everyone started going through old speeches and press conferences and other public appearances and looking for the word “imminent.” And if Bush didn’t use the word “imminent” then that meant he didn’t lie. Everything got focused on one word, and if you couldn’t prove that that word was used then Bush wasn’t a liar, in the public narrative.

    That’s what this is. Trump’s management of his campaign, his tolerance of security breaches, and his obvious enjoyment of the Russian hacking, all of these things are obviously unacceptable in the head of the security apparatus, but none of them are “collusion.” Nonetheless, the focus of the public debate was on that word “collusion”, and when that word was found to not apply to what happened he was considered exonerated.


  5. Alex Page Says:

    While it seems plausible that Trump has shady links to Russia, the Russiagate excitement among liberals feels like a way to exonerate the failures of liberalism.

    It’s not Hillary’s fault for failing to campaign in multiple states, it’s not that bland technocratic liberalism was the wrong approach to fight a populist, it’s not that Democrats have compromised themselves to death trying to appeal to an insane right-wing with no similar commitment to ‘compromise’, abandoning the economic and social interests of millions of citizens in the process…

    it’s all RUSSIA’S fault! And if a lifelong Republican FBI guy helps us take down a Republican president, we can stem the rising tide of fascism with the existing institutions, exonerating liberalism from any need to examine its own flaws!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Fred Says:

      Misdirection? Yup.

      Hillary was a corporatist who ran a monumentally flawed campaign. She was an elitist who looked down her nose at the working and unemployed classes in the “rust bucket” and the “flyover states”. Her claim on the disadvantages and minority vote consisted of bigger versions of the same failed policies rather than new policies that might actually work. She took union support for granted in areas where union employment had taken a severe beating – the very same areas where Reagan Democrats had gotten him elected decades ago. She even told a cozy group of corporate supporters about how her private positions supported them despite what her public positions said.

      I can see where Trump might have been the better choice. His mendacity and narcissism are plain to see. Hers is concealed beneath a cloak of false progressivism.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. philebersole Says:

    My post was in praise of Matt Taibbi’s criticism of press coverage of the Russiagate issue, which shows how so much of the Washington press corp fell short of basic standards of fairness and accuracy.

    If you are a reporter (which I was for 36 years), you are obligated to be fair and accurate in reporting about bad people as well as good people. In fact, you should make an extra effort to be fair and accurate toward people you consider bad.

    Russiagate is a cowbird of the intellect, gobbling up press coverage and public attention that ought to go to global warming, nuclear arms, global U.S. military involvement, our dysfunctional U.S. government, our dysfunctional U.S. economy and white nationalism, among other things.

    All of these things are more important than anything that has been mentioned in the comment thread, and all have been made worse by President Trump—although none of these problems originated with Trump and none of them will go away when Trump leaves the White House.

    My own view of Russiagate is expressed in the following link, which I think stands up pretty well.

    I now think I have posted more about Russiagate than the issue deserved. But Matt Taibbi’s article is not about overemphasis of Russiagate. It is about how so much reporting about Russiagate was just plain bad.


  7. O Society Says:

    Well said Phil Ebersole! I wrote this one for you all:


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