A Special Counsel report chronicles how intelligence agencies engineered a national hysteria, but its publication comes too late to reverse the damage
I read Special Counsel John Durham’s “Report on Matters Related to Intelligence Activities and Investigations Arising Out of the 2016 Presidential Campaigns” yesterday in a state I can only describe as psychic exhaustion. As Sue Schmidt’s “Eight Key Takeaways” summary shows, the stuff in this report should kill the Trump-Russia conspiracy theory ten times over, but we know better than that. This story never dies. Every time you shoot at it, it splits into six new deep state fantasies.
I’ve given up. Nearly seven years ago this idiotic tale dropped in my relatively uncomplicated life like a grenade, upending professional relationships, friendships, even family life. Those of us in media who were skeptics or even just uninterested were cast out as from a religious sect — colleagues unironically called us “denialists” — denounced in the best case as pathological wreckers and refuseniks, in the worst as literal agents of the FSB.
Especially through March 22, 2019, when the devastating news broke that the report of Special Counsel Robert Mueller would be delivered without new indictments, the vehemence of this national wig-out was breathtaking. Jail-Trumpism truly became a religion during this time. I remember walking down the corridor of our Jersey City apartment building to walk the dog, hearing Rachel Maddow’s nightly crazy-casts blasting out from behind door after door, like the Songs of Angkar filling a Cambodian village.
News was an endless Millerite sit-in, with anchors daily preaching the “beginning of the end.” These calls grew in intensity heading into the Christmas season before Mueller’s report dropped. That winter, after a year-plus of waiting for the sounds of judicial hoofbeats on rooftops, grown men and women across the country composed heartfelt wish-lists to the inaccessible Special Counsel who, no kidding at all, became the cosmopolitan adult’s Santa Claus. I hope future historians see it, but in case they don’t, can we take a moment to remember how bananas it was?
Categories: Culture Wars/Current Controversies
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