The cost of the Russiagate hoax
The media that promoted the hoax originally generated by the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign and the Democratic Party are in full denial mode. They don't merely ignore their role, they defend it.
Jake Tapper is "unaware of any mistakes" that his employer, CNN, made in its coverage. A 47-second video:
His CNN colleague Brian Stelter goes one step farther and takes the offensive, invoking the twin demons of the Left's worldview: Donald Trump and Fox News. W en Trump tweeted something that had appeared on FNC, why, that is reason to dismiss it:
Screen grab via Grabien.
This is a five-minute video, but the meat is this: President Trump right now is celebrating Robert Mueller's no collusion conclusion. He's celebrating by condemning the press. He's repeating a Fox News talking point. You can see it here. Faith, he says. But the papers were actually honored for covering Russia's real 2016 attack against the U.S. election and for covering Trump's connections to all that was real news.
Meanwhile, a grown-up who lives on the Left, Stephen Cohen, takes a sober look at the real costs of the hoax in The Nation, the left-wing magazine for which he has written for years. Cohen is an emeritus professor at Princeton, where he was a well known and respected scholar of Russia. Cohen has been a sober voice throughout the hoax, well anchored in the reality of the ways that nation operates. His thoughtful assessment is worth reading in full. But here are the major points he makes.
Nearly three years of Russiagate's toxic allegations have entered the American political-media elite bloodstream, and they almost certainly will reappear again and again in one form or another.
This is an exceedingly grave danger, because the real costs of Russiagate are not the estimated $25–40 million spent on the Mueller investigation but the corrosive damage it has already done to the institutions of American democracy — damage done not by an alleged "Trump-Putin axis" but by Russsigate's perpetrators themselves. Having examined this collateral damage in my recently published book War with Russia? From Putin and Ukraine to Trump and Russiagate, I will only note them here.
§ Clamorous allegations that the Kremlin "attacked our elections" and thereby put Trump in the White House, despite the lack of any evidence, cast doubt on the legitimacy of American elections everywhere—national, state, and local. ...
§ Defamatory Russiagate allegations that Trump was a "Kremlin puppet" and thus "illegitimate" were aimed at the president but hit the presidency itself, degrading the institution, bringing it under suspicion, casting doubt on its legitimacy. ...
§ Mainstream media are, of course, a foundational institution of American democracy, especially national ones, newspapers and television, with immense influence inside the Beltway and, in ramifying synergic ways, throughout the country. Their Russiagate media malpractice, as I have termed it, may have been the worst such episode in modern American history. ...
§ 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.
§ Finally, but potentially not least, the new Cold War with Russia has itself become an institution pervading American political, economic, media, and cultural life. Russiagate has made it more dangerous, more fraught with actual war, than the Cold War we survived.
Cohen is absolutely correct. This is a costly scandal, a scam that can be laid at the feet of the Democrats and their media adjuncts. Fortunately, we have a president who will ignore the advice of Karl Rove to move on. His position that he hits back harder will unfold in the coming months.