Why The Media Will Never Let Go Of The Russia Story


So, just when we thought the Trump-Russia story was finally starting to die down, it lurched back to life once again like Jason Vorhees this week when it was discovered that Donald Trump Jr. once briefly met with a lawyer who had Kremlin connections. Not exactly a smoking gun, and now that Trump Jr. has publicly released his entire email thread related to the meeting, it has been confirmed to be a non-story, but that doesn’t matter. The mainstream media will continue to push the Fake News Russia story, day after day ad nauseam, even though Van Jones himself admitted that it’s a “nothing burger”. (Slightly OT: does anyone else get hungry when they read the words “nothing burger”? Just me? Okay.) They will keep pushing this story, at the expense of all others, not because they’re on to something (they’re not and they know it), because it gets ratings (it doesn’t) or because it’s interesting or even relevant (it’s neither), but because, as far as they’re concerned, it’s just too good.

You see, decades ago, reporters actually believed in telling the truth. They revered journalists like Edward R. Murrow and Walter Kronkite, who at least appeared to be trustworthy and devoted to giving people the straight-up facts. But that all changed with Watergate. Suddenly journalism wasn’t just principled anymore, it was powerful. With the right story, two reporters brought down a President they hated. (Never mind that no proof was ever actually found that Nixon was personally involved in the cover-up, the results were all that mattered.) And starting in the ’70s, a new generation of morally-flexible Democrats took over journalism with their own agenda in mind. Sure, they still believed in telling the truth…when it suited them. But mostly they believed in pushing this country as far to the left as they could. They no longer cared about Murrow or Kronkite; they idolized Woodward and Bernstein. And Watergate became their template for the ultimate story: a huge scoop that not only brought the reporter respect and fame, but served as the silver bullet that brings down a politician they don’t approve of.

Ever since then, that’s been the media’s go-to move whenever there’s a Republican in office, or a Republican challenging the liberal in charge: throw out as many potential scandals as possible, true or not, until one eventually sticks. This plan has not been particularly successful thus far. Iran-Contra didn’t ruin Reagan, but it followed him around for the rest of his life, even though like Watergate, there was no proof that he was involved. Bush Sr. sunk his own reelection chances with “read my lips” before they could even get him (although they tried with a nonstory about adultery). They thought they had Bush Jr. with Memogate, but it blew up in their faces, so the best they could do was erode his popularity by pushing the “Bush lied about WMDs” and “Bush let New Orleans drown” BS stories for years. And on and on. And, let’s face it, this was the same logic that compelled so many conservatives to buy into Birtherism – there was no substantial proof that Obama was born outside the U.S., but if it turned out to be true, he would be ineligible for the Presidency. Even though it was total BS and made us look bad, it was just too good a possibility to pass up.

So now we come to Trump, which as far as the Left is concerned, is all the worst parts of Nixon and Hitler mashed together. So, true to form, the media has seized on a story that, if it turned out to be true, would amount to treason, and would thus put a stake through the heart of the Trump presidency, just like Watergate did to Nixon’s. That’s never going to happen, of course, because it’s a non-story for which they don’t have a shred of evidence, but hey, that’s never stopped them before! They’ll just keep talking about it and talking about it for the rest of his term (unless an even juicier scandal shows up to take its place). Liberals believe the story because they want it to be true, and low-information voters in the center will buy it eventually if they just keep pushing it long enough. These stories have a way of seeping into the public consciousness if they just get reported on enough times.

So unless something even more damning comes along, don’t expect the Russia story to go away any time soon. The media will just keep repeating the lie until it’s set in stone, like they have so many times before. Or, when it inevitably goes nowhere, they’ll just forget all about it and pretend it never happened. They’re pretty good at that, too.

4 comments to Why The Media Will Never Let Go Of The Russia Story

  • It comes down to arrogance. The old journalists believed people were essentially smart and fair. So give ’em the facts and they’ll draw the right conclusions. More recently, they’ve realized that a lot of people (horrors!) don’t see the same meanings in the facts that they do. So now their job is to inform the people what they OUGHT to think. They are proud of this.

    • Rufus

      You’re likely better informed on the topic, but I’m too cynical to think journalists ever thought we commoners are smart and fair.

  • Excellent points Jimmy.

    Walter Cronkite wasn’t all about the truth. After visiting Vietnam he became convinced that the war wasn’t winnable and went about doing what he could to bring it to an end. After the Tet Offensive in 1968 he declared the war was “lost” and a lot of Americans agreed. Trouble was the war was just about to be won and we quit. Documents and interviews conducted years after the war was over showed that North Vietnam was on the verge of defeat and that Tet was their last gasp effort to win the war (another Battle of the Bulge as it were). After that battle the Viet Cong were almost completed wiped out and it wasn’t until 1975 that the army of North Vietnam had gained enough strength to take advantage of our packing up and leaving. We left not because we were beaten but the people didn’t have the will to fight, this was partially because people like “Uncle Walter” told them night after night that we were on a fool’s errand.

    I actually think that this and Watergate were the turning points of American journalism.

    We always watched the Huntley/Brinkley Report on NBC, my dad didn’t care for Cronkite at all.

    • Rufus

      And Cronkite is still revered.

      Before I heard of his duplicity regarding the Vietnam war, I saw him speaking out against off-shore wind turbines in his retirement because they would ruin his view. His view. I concluded then that he appeared to be a douche.