Goodwin: Comey and Baquet — united against Trump — have caused a nonstop feeding frenzy
Among the casualties of our domestic political war is the abandonment of professional standards. For proof, consider how two of America’s premier institutions are being dragged through the mud because their leaders decided that standards are for other people.
I speak of the FBI and The New York Times, and the men who damaged them, James Comey and Dean Baquet. It is no coincidence that Baquet’s newspaper became an errand boy for Comey’s corrupt team of G-men. Birds of a feather, you know.
They were united against Donald Trump. Both tried to block him from becoming president, and both tried to get him removed. And are still trying.
Comey and Baquet decided their agendas were more important than the time-tested rules of behavior that built the credibility of their respective institutions. Like arrogant leaders everywhere, they believed the end justified the means.
The standards that Comey trashed are the ones the inspector general of the Justice Department, Michael Horowitz, cited in referring Comey for criminal prosecution. By writing memos about his meetings with Trump and leaking them to the Times, Comey created a “dangerous example” for other agents, Horowitz said.
His concern, he told Congress, was that Comey, even as FBI director, had no right to decide he was “not going to follow established norms and procedures.”
Recall that Horowitz also criticized Comey last year for “usurping the authority of the attorney general” when he announced that Hillary Clinton would not face charges over her handling of classified materials.
Those incidents have done incalculable harm to the nation’s top law-enforcement agency and prove that Comey’s self-created image of a choir boy was a sham. He was as dirty as J. Edgar Hoover but not half as smart.
And the full damage is not yet known. Horowitz and Attorney General Bill Barr are still investigating what else Comey, his disgraced former deputy Andrew McCabe and others did in their bid to stop Trump in 2016.
As for Baquet, the Times’ executive editor announced with bravado in 2016 that the struggle for fairness was over. Trump, he proclaimed, had “changed journalism,” which was Baquet’s way of rationalizing his decision to eliminate the rules that had separated news from opinion.
Instantly, the floodgates opened and Times reporters attacked Trump mercilessly, with the result that the paper jettisoned its traditions of trying to be a fair observer and instead became an active player.
Because Baquet and Comey were on the same side, Trump’s tenure has been a nonstop feeding frenzy driven by anonymous government sources and their media accomplices. Nearly from the moment of his election, the public was promised there was clear evidence that Trump was a Russian agent and traitor.
It wasn’t true, of course, but the false charge created a cloud that hung over the White House for more than two years. It’s a reasonable exercise to imagine the price the nation paid for that wild goose chase.
Would other countries have reacted differently to Trump’s policies if those false claims had been ignored or never made? Would America be less divided and more able to tackle pressing problems if the public hadn’t been fed a steady diet of Trump-is-evil reports by Comey and a biased media?
Unfortunately, the questions are not just a matter for historians. The destructive pattern continues, with two new efforts last week aimed at discrediting and defeating Trump.
It began with the Times’ report of a new sexual allegation against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Before the paper belatedly confessed the “victim” had no memory of any such incident, the charge provoked a gaggle of Democratic presidential candidates to call for Kavanaugh’s impeachment.
Then, just as the mob started to realize there was no there there, a new media storm appeared, this one saying the president had made an alarming promise to a foreign leader.
In an instant, the frenzy was back and some of the same jackals again lurched for the I-word. Sen. Elizabeth Warren even denounced fellow Dems, saying those opposed to impeachment were “complicit.”
You don’t have to be a cynic to see a pattern. It’s a game, with news organizations competing to see which one can get the story that brings down the president, and other media and 2020 candidates piling on in knee-jerk fashion. It’s a rinse-and-repeat exercise.
Indeed, the so-called whistleblower complaint recalls the early days of Trump’s presidency when Comey and other Barack Obama holdovers were poisoning the well. Even the word “whistleblower” suggests something untoward happened.
But what? The media was in the dark but still the coverage took on tones of hysteria. They didn’t know the source of the complaint, the agency, the substance or any evidence.
No matter. Their anonymous sources told them Trump did something bad, and most media believe it because they desperately want it to be true. Not incidentally, these sources almost certainly included Rep. Adam Schiff, the California Democrat who repeatedly promised there was evidence of Russia collusion.
You would think he would no longer be considered credible, but you would be wrong. “A potentially explosive complaint,” roared Baquet’s paper on the top of Friday’s front page. The sense of impending doom came despite the same story saying “the allegation remains shrouded in mystery.”
Once again, it’s all about the narrative. The facts will catch up later, if ever.
By late Friday, after Trump denounced the complaint as “a political hack job,” it was widely understood that the situation involved Ukraine. The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump had urged Ukraine’s president to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter.
Why this is so terrible escapes me. After all, there have been reports for months that Joe Biden used his VP office to pressure Ukraine’s former leader to fire a prosecutor who was probing a company that had ties to Hunter Biden. In a better world, the media would want the truth as much as Trump.
If the past is prologue, the Ukraine frenzy will last a few days, a week at most, before it becomes clear the sky is not falling. But then a new frenzy will begin, then another after that one fades.
Donald Trump is nobody’s idea of a saint, but his biggest sin remains winning the 2016 election. For that, he and America must be punished, the facts be damned.
A fail of blue cities
Reader Ruben Morales is no fan of Mayor Bill de Blasio, but sees a bigger problem. He writes: “We have a bunch of politicians who are pathetic at both the state and city level. Trump is right that Democratic control of major cities has caused a downward spiral. They don’t want to hurt the feelings of thugs so they let thugs taunt police. They don’t want to hurt the feelings of illegals so they give them sanctuary.”
Time for a new anthem: ‘D’oh, Canada’
Block that metaphor.
A headline from Yahoo news: “Justin Trudeau’s star has lost its shine over blackface”
Source: Read Full Article