This media’s latest and shiniest “smoking gun” is aimed squarely at … Donald Trump, Jr.
As you know, the New York Times reported that the president’s eldest son met with a Russian lawyer during the campaign, thus igniting another media frenzy.
The Washington Post breathlessly declares that Donald Jr.’s emails may be the “smoking gun” that destroys the Trump presidency. Newsweek also speculates that this was the elusive “smoking gun.” Not to be outdone, the Los Angeles Times pronounces, “At long last, the smoking Russian gun.”
But wait, there was another smoking gun just two months ago, according to the Boston Globe. That was when President Trump was accused of shutting down the FBI’s investigation into possible collusion.
In that same month of May, New York Magazine asserted this: “Comey’s Memo Is the Smoking Gun of Donald Trump’s Watergate.” (Every scandal needs a “gate.”)
But hold on! In April, Slate claimed that any Trump campaign involvement in hacked Hillary Clinton emails would be “an impeachment-level smoking gun.”
You get the point. There have been so many smoking guns that the mainstream media should have stage 4 emphysema by now.
Ever since Donald Trump was nominated, the press has acted like some famous fictional obsessives: Inspector Javert pursuing Jean Valjean, Lt. Gerard hot on the trail of Dr. Richard Kimble, or Captain Ahab hunting the elusive great white whale.
If cartoons are more your style, the media have been some hybrid of Wile E. Coyote and Elmer Fudd (without the double-barreled shotgun, of course.)
CNN has been the most dogged in its pursuit of Moby Donald. Turn on that network at any point in the day and here is what you are likely to see: A very serious host surrounded in split screen by four or five “experts,” most of them certified Trump-haters. There may be a token conservative just to make things look fair.
At the bottom of the screen there is probably a banner with an ominous-sounding headline about President Trump and Russia. And then, over to the right on most days, there is an “up” arrow for the stock market, a telling sign that most Americans just don’t care all that much about the Russia deal.
CNN’s most entertaining, if not terribly informative, segment aired on Monday when the network’s ever-earnest morning guy, Chris Cuomo, grilled Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway. It was an endless back and forth, with Cuomo defending CNN against Conway’s charges that the network is blatantly biased against her boss. Here are a couple of her many zingers:
“I admire your moxie sitting there with the CNN chyron right near you talking about credibility issues” … “You’ve made a business decision to be anti-Trump.” The next day, Trump national security aide Sebastian Gorka told CNN point-blank: “You’re not in the news business anymore, you are in the attacking President Trump business.”
The allegation that CNN has made a conscious business decision seems irrefutable, and the hosts didn’t even bother arguing. But it’s a decision that has been questionable at best. The CNN morning crew is getting trounced by Fox & Friends and Morning Joe, while CNN in prime time is a total disaster. Nevertheless, they persist!
CNN, NBC News, the New York Times, and/or the Washington Post may eventually turn up something up that sticks, a smoking gun that fires real bullets, not merely blanks. But imagine if reporters had gone after The Clinton Foundation with such gleeful gusto. Or if they had been equally determined to look into Barack Obama’s past associations. They would have certainly found something, don’t you think?
It’s worth remembering what happened to the other obsessive pursuers. In Victor Hugo’s great “Les Misérables,” Inspector Javert wound up taking his own life by jumping into the River Seine. And Captain Ahab? He also met a watery demise when he was pulled to his death by the great white whale, who swam away unharmed.
Come to think of it, perhaps Herman Melville’s classic should be at the very top of the summer reading list for the monomaniacal media types who are so intent on destroying the duly-elected president.
While visions of Pulitzers are dancing in their heads, Donald Trump has thus far been the big one who just keeps getting away.