The dust-up between Lanny Davis, Michael Cohen’s lawyer, and CNN indicates Glenn Greenwald is right: mainstream reporting on the conflict between Trump and Mueller has not been truthful or balanced. Greenwald’s argument places him in general agreement with President Trump, who maintains mainstream news reports are fake. More accurate would be to say, news outlets don’t care enough about the truth to get their stories right. They publish rumors as if they were true.
Trump says mainstream outlets are ‘enemies of the people.’ Others have excoriated him for saying that. Yet another way to make the point is to say mainstream outlets have been friends of the state. The state has made war on the people for decades now. What is inaccurate about Trump’s accusation, if media outlets regularly side with state agencies that want to destroy the people?
Nowhere is this set of relationships more apparent than in the Mueller investigation. Mueller’s team nakedly deploys state power to violate people’s rights, and to prosecute offenses irrelevant to his charter. Look at the tactics Mueller used on Michael Cohen, a low-level fixer that Trump used essentially as his bagman. Mueller threatened Cohen’s wife with prosecution if he did not cooperate. That is clearly illegitimate pressure, for if Laura Cohen had committed a crime, Justice Department lawyers would have to prosecute her no matter what her husband did.
Look at the tactics Mueller used on Michael Cohen, a low-level fixer that Trump used essentially as his bagman.
Mueller’s most lawless act was having the FBI raid Cohen’s offices for evidence, on a referral to the U. S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. These raids are legal only because people in power say they are. You cannot storm into people’s places of business, and residence, without notice. Those are tactics of a police state, tactics now commonplace for the FBI and local police forces. Strange that Mueller, in his visible position as special prosecutor, would endorse them.
On top of all that, Mueller accuses Cohen of campaign finance violations for payments to two of Trump’s mistresses. Every commentator who knows campaign finance law writes that this charge is ticky-tacky legal work. You can finagle it out of the code because the code is so poorly written. Hush money to mistresses is, simply, not a campaign contribution. Mueller’s team can, however, boast they nailed Cohen on seven other charges. You wondered why they bothered about campaign finance, if they had confidence in the other seven.
Mainstream outlets said Cohen’s guilty plea stunned everyone, but why should his decision surprise anyone? The feds applied their standard set of strongarm tools to waste Cohen’s fortune, wear him down, pressure him into a deal, and send him to prison. All that over a case that has nothing at all to do with the reason Mueller assembled his team in the first place! Cohen is not a respectable person, but I do feel sorry for him. He should have congratulated Trump on his election in November 2016, then helped Trump find another fixer. Stay as far away from the president as you can.
Mainstream outlets said Cohen’s guilty plea stunned everyone, but why should his decision surprise anyone?
Mueller uses the FBI – an agency he led for twelve years – as his personal tool to investigate whatever he wants to investigate. The FBI anchors a corrupt constellation of domestic law enforcement agencies that every lover of liberty has learned to regard as a threat. The FBI knows how to destroy people. It is far more concerned with how it looks, than with preventing corruption, or protecting our traditions of freedom. Instead, it acts as a powerful widget in the state’s security apparatus.
Yet mainstream outlets support Mueller’s work. They think his investigation will have good results, when he has already become a general in the state’s war against ordinary citizens. When Trump fired James Comey, and Mueller set up shop to find out what actually happened during the 2016 election, people expressed hope that this seasoned investigator would resolve the complicated questions in his team’s charter. Instead, he and his team became just one more Star Chamber.
Mainstream outlets fret that Trump destroys confidence in the fourth estate when he makes unfounded charges about fake news and witch hunts. Media surely understand by now that the president is not responsible for their low standing. Confidence in mainstream outlets disappeared long before Trump ran for president. In fact, distrust in mainstream outlets was an important factor in Trump’s successful campaign for the White House. He merely says what other politicians would never say, because reporters and politicians always want to be chummy with each other.
Confidence in mainstream outlets disappeared long before Trump ran for president.
If Trump wants to make his case against mainstream outlets effectively, he ought to rely on people more well spoken than he is, such as Alan Dershowitz and Greenwald. These two, and others, have developed their indictment of media behavior at length. They argue convincingly that mainstream outlets abet state security agencies and their practices. Consequently the media do not function as democracy’s guardians. Twitter blurbs do not do justice to claims this serious and complex.
Lastly, mainstream outlets should try, once more, to shed their smug insularity. Prominent writers tried to do that after the 2016 campaign, when the election outcome shocked them, but media institutions clearly failed to drop their insider alliances and affiliations. If MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow thinks former CIA director John Brennan is someone we should listen to, you know mainstream outlets remain tightly bound to the people’s enemies. People do not trust mainstream outlets for a good reason: too often they cooperate with state security. They do not deserve our trust.