Civil War on the Left, Ch. 67: Mueller Madness

The left is having a hard time coming to grips with its rout at the hands of the Mueller Report. As has been reported, Rachel Maddow’s viewership on MSNBC cratered last week, and The GuardianThe Frickin’ Guardian!!—wonders if Maddow should pay a price for her egregious sensationalizing of the collusion story:

The worst-kept secret in the liberal media ecosystem is that Donald Trump is great for business. Rebranded for the resistance, liberal newspapers gobbled up thousands of new subscribers while local outlets die across America, unable to feast on the Trump manna. On television, left-leaning stations, at long last, competed with Fox in the ratings game, fueled by a never-ending Trump obsession. . .

It’s abundantly clear now that many liberal outlets overdid it in their fervor. And Maddow, MSNBC’s ratings juggernaut of the Trump era, is the embodiment of this overzealousness. The Mueller investigation was covered more on MSBNC than any other television network, and was mentioned virtually every day in 2018. No twist was too minuscule or outlandish for Maddow; every night, seemingly, brought another nail in the coffin of the soon-to-be-dead Trump presidency. . .

Maddow is much smarter than this. But the siren song of ratings is too difficult for a TV personality ignore, especially when a television network is transformed from an also-ran into a top contender.

If is this wasn’t enough to stoke your schadenfreude, check out  . . . The Nation?!?!  Here’s old Russia hand Stephen Cohen, who says that the perpetrators of the Russia collusion story—not Trump or the Russians—are responsible for undermining American democracy:

The very few of us who publicly challenged and deplored Russiagate allegations against candidate and then President Donald Trump from the time they first began to appear in mid-2016 should not gloat or rejoice over the US attorney general’s summary of Robert S. Mueller’s key finding: “The Special Counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 US presidential election.” (On the other hand, those of us repeatedly slurred as Trump and/or Putin “apologists” might feel some vindication.)

But what about the legions of high-ranking intelligence officials, politicians, editorial writers, television producers, and other opinion-makers, and their eager media outlets that perpetuated, inflated, and prolonged this unprecedented political scandal in American history—those who did not stop short of accusing the president of the United States of being a Kremlin “agent,” “asset,” “puppet,” “Manchurian candidate,” and who characterized his conduct and policies as “treasonous”? (These and other examples are cited in my book War with Russia? From Putin and Ukraine to Trump and Russiagate, and in a recent piece by Paul Starobin in City Journal.) Will they now apologize, as decency requires, or, more importantly, explain their motives so that we might understand and avoid another such national trauma? . . .

For better or worse, America has a two-party political system, which means that the Democratic Party is also a foundational institution. Little more also need be pointed out regarding its self-degrading role in the Russiagate fraud. Leading members of the party initiated, inflated, and prolonged it. They did nothing to prevent inquisitors like Representatives Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from becoming the cable-news face of the party. Or to rein in or disassociate the party from the outlandish excesses of “The Resistance.” With very few exceptions, elected and other leading Democrats did nothing to stop—and therefore further abetted—the institutional damage being done by Russiagate allegations. As for Mueller’s finding,the party’s virtual network, MSNBC, remains undeterred. Rachel Maddow continues to hype “the underlying reality that Russia did in fact attack us.” By any reasonable definition of “attack,” no, it did not, and scarcely any allegation could be more recklessly warmongering, a perception the Democratic Party will for this and other Russiagate commissions have to endure, or not.

Worth keeping in mind that during the Cold War, Cohen could always be replied upon to take a pro-Kremlin position, so it is possible that his dissent from Russiagate merely reflects continuity. Still, seeing both The Guardian and The Nation abandoning The Resistance makes for a fun, popcorn-filled Sunday afternoon.

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