Winners and Losers of Russiagate: A Nine Point Post-Mortem

1) Reduced by Attorney General Barr to its “principle conclusions“, the Mueller report has created two categories which usually result from the resolution of a significant political dispute: winners and losers. The former is defined in this instance as those whose reputation will be enhanced from their having being right while the latter are those whose reputation will suffer from their having being wrong.

2) The most conspicuous winner is, of course, Donald Trump. His having predicted that no indictments would result from the two year inquiry will solidify his anti-establishment credentials within his base. He will continue to portray himself as a victim of the lying media and Washington insiders who have, from the beginning, sought to overturn an electoral result they found unacceptable. Russia is sure to be a centerpiece of his campaign from now until until November 2020.

3) Also coming away with increased credibility is the right wing media which has been mercilessly-and justifiably-flogging liberals for what can now been seen to have been their pathological obsession with Russian collusion. A good reflection is the recent uptick in viewership for Sean Hannity. It is depressing to recognize that, based on the information provided them, there is a fully rational basis for viewers’ preferences. Based on their performance over the past year, only a fool would choose the corporate liberal MSNBC/Maddow brand over the fact based fascism offered by Fox/Hannity.

4) In short, the rhetorical and, possibly, electoral winner  was the most dangerous organization in human history, aka The Republican Party.  Their having won also implies a loser: the overwhelming majority, likely billions, who will become victims of Trump administration policies, most notably, though not restricted to, a climate apocalypse resulting from four more years of denial.

5) The main cause of (4) is the organizational fecklessness and institutional corruption of the Democratic Party.  The are also a main loser and it is alarming that the Democrats will be attempting to run against Trump having had their credibility devastated by two years of lurid predictions of criminal indictments which never materialized. It is frequently forgotten that while Trump’s poll ratings generally put him slightly behind most Democratic candidates, the difference is small.  Russiagate could be sufficient to put him over the top in what is likely to be a close election.

6) The mirror image to the winners in 3) are losers, namely those media figures who capitulated to the mainstream narrative on Russia.  It should not be forgotten that the Russiagate debacle can be traced to the 2016 Clinton campaign which floated the Russian collusion story. The purpose, as I observed back then, was to “provide an excuse for the class of political professionals who failed to defeat Donald Trump, the Republican candidate with the lowest approval ratings in the history of presidential polling.”

7) It’s no surprise that campaign staffers would attempt to do what was necessary to defend their brand by recruiting their journalistic contacts to circulate this self-protective smokescreen. It was not, however, ordained that it be passed on to readers.  That goes particularly for the most flagrantly absurd fantasies of Russian influence of which there were many, as Glenn Greenwald tirelessly documented. But rather than exercise minimal skepticism, they functioned in their traditional role of stenographers providing the service for which they expected to be rewarded by access to  leadership circles.

8) Those doing so were media operatives of what should now be a familiar type. Distinct from them, however, were a minority of serious and otherwise reliable media organizations who were taken in by the general climate of hysteria. While they were mistaken (and should-ideally-admit that they were) I, for one, will continue to support their work and defend them against attacks.

9) Conversely, also coming away with enhanced credibility will be those who shouldn’t have any, namely left conspiratorialists reflexively challenging the mainstream narrative on, e.g. 9/11 “truth”, vaccines, the Kennedy assassination, Chemtrails, etc.  As I have argued, their presence on the left is a serious problem. It would a bad thing if their having been right in this instance, as stopped clocks inevitably, were to increase their influence.

*Edited 4/2/2019.  Thanks to Chris Butler for the correction.

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