And so the Robert Mueller special counsel investigation ends with a whimper and not a bang.
When it was announced on the afternoon of March 22 that Attorney General William Barr had sent a letter to Congress revealing that he had received the special counsel’s final report, shockwaves reverberated throughout Washington.
Despite the clear signs and statements in recent weeks—by those in the best positions to know—many in the news media had simply refused to believe Mueller’s investigation was near its end. The announced departures of key prosecutors and investigators, coupled with statements from both former acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker and from Barr himself, meant the writing was clearly on the wall, despite the desperate refusal of some to read it.
I actually wrote a column stating that Whitaker should get a well-deserved apology from all those who called his competency or his honesty into question after he announced at an official Department of Justice (DOJ) press conference in January that he had been fully briefed on the status of the special counsel investigation and that Mueller’s probe was near its end.
Abject denial of facts is never a good look for those in the news business, but there’s been no shortage of it recently across the political spectrum. I spent the last few weeks watching and reading people on both sides of the national media, both anti- and pro-Trump, who seemed to desperately want Mueller to keep going, and therefore, simply rejected what they were seeing and hearing since it didn’t fit the narrative they had so heavily invested themselves in over the past two years.
For months, many news outlets and media personalities on both sides of the political divide had repeatedly assured all those listening to them that:
- The Mueller investigation was far from finished; it could, in fact, go on past the 2020 presidential election.
- The special counsel would soon unseal new indictments of people such as Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and several others.
Many in the Right-leaning media are just as ratings driven as the Left-leaning media. What was going to get these media people the ratings and the web-page views they crave? Spending the past few weeks saying “Mueller is coming up empty, no more indictments appear to be coming!” or saying “Donald Trump Jr. better clear his calendar and settle all his personal business because Mueller is coming!”
There will always be a market for stoking fears and selling paranoia to those who simply must have their daily dose of it. Most media organizations spent the past two years selling fake news stories to the public based on supposed ‘inside sources’ who kept insisting Mueller was closing in on President Donald Trump and the hammer was about to fall on the president and his inner circle.
There were plenty of reporters and journalists friendly to Trump who were also caught by complete surprise at Barr’s announcement on March 22 because they’d just spent the past few weeks spinning narratives of the never-ending Mueller investigation and stoking fears of supposedly soon-to-be-revealed indictments.
As I have been saying for months in my columns at The Epoch Times: first, Mueller would end his special counsel investigation and deliver his final report; second, Trump would declassify the FISA documents that were used to obtain a surveillance warrant on his former campaign adviser Carter Page; and then third, DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz would release his long-anticipated report of his investigation into Spygate. I still hold to all three of these things, although it is still remotely possible that Horowitz suddenly announces the release of his report ahead of Trump’s declassification.
Those who have their credibility already weakened by the sudden “surprise” ending of the Mueller investigation will be finished off by the FISA declassification and the release of Horowitz’s report.
At this point in the story of the massive Spygate scandal, so many people have locked themselves into false narratives that the declassification of the FISA documents by President Trump is literally going to destroy their careers. Their careers in Congress, inside the federal agencies, and in the news media, will simply not survive. Entire media outlets will likely go under when their role in deliberately spreading what they knew was Fake News is fully exposed.
On Twitter, a user is able to ‘pin’ a single message to the top of their page, so it is the first thing a person reads upon visiting it. My pinned tweet says this:
“The capital you function on in news media is TRUST. You lose some of that every time your readers/viewers figure out you sold a lie to them.”
Many media outlets had little or no “trust capital” left when this entire Spygate scandal began. When the FISA declassification starkly reveals the way they shamelessly peddled known lies to their audiences on behalf of their political masters, lies that damaged the lives of innocent people, they will be sued out of existence.
And they won’t be missed.
Brian Cates is a writer based in South Texas and author of “Nobody Asked For My Opinion … But Here It Is Anyway!” He can be reached on Twitter @drawandstrike.