The Russian collusion story is a reminder of why media should ‘wait and see’ – Washington Examiner

The special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election has been a uniquely stupid chapter in news media history.

Newsrooms got some of it right. They also got a lot wrong.

One of the worst aspects of the press’ two-year-long exercise in speculation and rumormongering was social media, particularly Twitter, which provided reporters and political commentators with public platforms to spout off half-cocked for every new allegation and detail regarding the investigation. It’s almost as if these people have never heard the phrase “wait and see.”

And now that the investigation has concluded, we can truly appreciate the absurdity of some of these by-the-minute takes from the people who pretended to understand what was happening.

Washington Post columnist Max Boot, for example, went out on a limb on March 28 when he asked (with a straight face, I presume) how Attorney General William Barr and his team of legal professionals could have possibly read and understood the 400-plus-page Mueller report in less than 48 hours, as the Justice Department claimed.

Funnily enough, the following tweet also comes from Boot, who apparently was able to do all by his lonesome self what he could not comprehend from the Justice Department.

“Having read the Mueller report, I can see why Trump was so eager to discredit the investigators – and why Barr felt compelled to spin in advance. And it’s not because the report proves ‘No Collusion – No Obstruction!’ It proves the very opposite,” he claimed less than 12 hours after the report was released to the public.

Call me a cynic, but my guess here is that Boot’s real position is the opposite of whatever benefits the Trump administration.

Speaking of “whatever it is, I’m against it,” let us also consider freelance journalist and New York Times contributor Jared Yates Sexton, who once wrote a sort of winding paean to Mueller in 2017.

“Important to remember: Robert Mueller is an independent special prosecutor tasked with investigating possible collusion. He is not a partisan tasked with destroying Trump. That’s what conservatives want people to believe,” he wrote. “Do not fall into the trap of talking about this in the terms conservatives want you to. This is as much a PR battle as a legal one.”

“The battle Republicans want here is to define it as a partisan witch hunt. It’s not, at all. But words and tone matter,” Yates concluded. “If Mueller didn’t find evidence, he’d walk away. His job isn’t to invent or distort. This seems obvious, but is massively important.”

On April 18, just hours after the report’s release, Sexton then tweeted:

As it turns out, “wait and see” is a good rule to live by precisely because it saves you from publicly repudiating yourself. It saves you from having the general public realize that even you don’t pay attention to what you say. It also saves you from looking like a partisan hack.


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