The Russia Hoax: Should We All Now Just Move On?

A week ago today, the issuance of the Mueller Report finally popped the long-inflating bubble of the Trump/Russia collusion hoax. After thousands of excited and breathless press reports and cable news segments over two-plus years (“new bombshell,” “the walls are closing in,” “impeachment,” etc.), it turned out that there was nothing there. So is there any point in wasting any more time on this? Why don’t we all just move on?

You won’t be surprised that many voices in the media are already advocating for that. At the New York Times, they had barely made it to Tuesday when the lead front page article, headlined “Trump, Citing ‘Evil Deeds,’ Turns Wrath on His Critics,” started pushing for Trump to “drop the subject,” citing the precedents of Reagan and Clinton:

[Trump’s] approach [of seeking retribution against his critics], if it lasts, contrasts with those of other presidents who survived major scandals. After the Iran-contra affair, President Ronald Reagan happily dropped the subject and focused on arms control talks with the Soviet Union and other issues. After being acquitted at his Senate impeachment trial, President Bill Clinton was just as eager to move on to Social Security and other initiatives.

Less expected, perhaps, was the op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on the same day from long-time G.W. Bush advisor Karl Rove, with the headline “Move On From Robert Mueller, Mr. President.” That article’s gist was captured in its sub-headline, “Obsessing over the investigation’s origins isn’t the way to win over swing voters.” Rove urges Trump to switch his attention to focusing on a positive message, including the strong economy.

I’m not here to advise the President on how to conduct his messaging or his campaign. But I do think that it is of great importance not to let the perpetrators of the Russia hoax — both media and deep state actors — off the hook. It’s not just that the respective Reagan and Clinton controversies are not remotely relevant. (Both Reagan in Iran-Contra and Clinton in the Lewinski matter had been caught in actual wrongdoing. You might think the wrongdoing was trivial in either instance or both, but wrongdoing it was. Of course those two were only too happy to move on.) More important is that getting out the positive message of more freedom and less government and less government dependency — whether by the President or anyone else — is critically dependent on maximally discrediting and sidelining these hoaxers. Their point was never just about weakening and ousting the President, but also about strengthening their own power and the power of the government over the people. The same people and institutions that have hyped the Russia hoax for two years are poised to pivot right over to throwing relentlessly negative coverage on everything else about the President, his supporters, and every positive achievement of private citizens and the private economy.

Do you think that the Russia hoax was somehow unique, or do you think that the same media that hyped the Russia hoax will quickly jump on the next remotely plausible hoax if it appears to discredit the President and his supporters, despite lack of any ability to confirm the facts? If you hesitate for even a moment answering that question, then you have already forgotten the Jussie Smolett hoax. Smolett’s story did not dominate multiple weeks of news just because he fit the sympathetic demographic categories (black, gay) of the identity-obsessed left. It dominated the news because the (invented) attackers were white, were wearing “MAGA” hats, and were shouting “This is MAGA country!” This was a tailor-made opportunity to paint not only the President, but also anyone who supports him or might consider doing so, as evil and racist; and thereby to scare potential supporters away and enhance the political power of the left at all levels of government. Do you have any doubt that there will be more such hoaxes in the coming months? Perhaps fewer than if Smolett hadn’t gotten caught and exposed; but plenty of would-be hoaxers can be more adept than the hapless Smolett in covering their tracks.

And for God’s sake don’t forget the climate hoax. That one has been running for about 30 years and shows no signs of going away.

And the progressive media don’t even need a pretext like a supposedly factual hoax to justify throwing baseless slurs in the direction of the President and his supporters. You probably don’t read the op-ed columnists at the New York Times, but I do this for you (or at least, I skim some of them to try to get a minimal understanding of the mindset of these people). You really have no idea how unhinged they are, nor how much they hate you. For today, I’ll skip over guys like Krugman and Blow, and go to a relatively new columnist named Farhad Manjoo. He had a piece on Monday titled “Collusion Was a Seductive Delusion.” Yes, of course, he is advocating to his progressive colleagues to “move on.” We were all “seduced” by the Russia story. But while we’re at this, how about getting to some serious name-calling? Trump is a “racist, misogynist serial con man.” But that’s nothing compared to his supporters: Mr. Trump was the choice

of a citizenry mired in partisan mistrust, seething with racial grievance, informed by a beleaguered and fracturing news media, and laboring under an economic and political system that had long ceased functioning for all but the wealthiest of its citizens.

That’s you — “seething with racial grievance.” Factual support? We don’t need factual support. We are the New York Times.

And how about the “economic system . . . that ha[s] long ceased functioning for all but the wealthiest of its citizens”? Where do these people come up with things like that? Certainly I am not going to claim perfection for the U.S. economic system. After all, this is human affairs, full of flaws, some of them big. But really? I’m just back from Viet Nam and Cambodia, where a few decades of socialism followed by state-directed capitalism have left them with per capita income that is around 3% what we have here in the U.S. Go ahead and try making a living in agriculture with only draught animals to help you plow the fields, and living without electricity, and see what a dysfunctional economy is actually like. And by the way, what makes you think that a system that is socialist in name keeps a huge percentage of the wealth from ending up in the hands of a small number? Say what you will about our billionaires like Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg or the Kochs, but at least they built innovative businesses that benefit consumers with minimal handouts from the government. In Viet Nam and Cambodia they have oligarchs who, unlike here, get rich mainly by close connections to ruling party bigwigs. Or maybe you can go starve in Venezuela, a mere 20 years into socialist utopianism, praised by the likes of Bernie Sanders and AOC.

For one more example of how the Times can spin even the best economic news negatively, look no further than the lead position article in today’s print edition. Headline (in print edition): “Data Challenges Trump Optimism on the Economy.” Subheadline: “Experts See Slowdown.” Gotta love those “experts.” First line: “President Trump is getting exactly what he wants on the economy, but it may not last.” It’s just relentless negativity, having no particular relationship to any actual facts, but all in the service of regaining political power. Believe me, there are more people than you think out there who buy into this stuff. The more discrediting that gets heaped on them, the better.