Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Truth Matters

The Nunes memo is one of the clearest examples on how the media's obsession with the idea that all stories have two valid sides is destroying our democracy.

Rep. Nunes-- who worked on the President's transition and was supposed to recuse himself from all aspects of the investigation into the Russia matter-- wrote a memo based on a FISA warrant he admits he never even saw. The House Republicans who *did* see the memo state explicitly his assessment of it is wrong. The purpose of this "memo"-- claiming that the surveillance of Trump campaign foreign-policy adviser Carter Page was a political scam (an easily-disproved lie)-- is to turn the entire Special Counsel investigation into another he said-she said partisan debate. Note: it has already had its intended affect. The GOP cult/base now hate the DoJ and FBI and they, and Congressional leaders, will immediately discard the Special Counsel's final report later this year.

But the Nunes saga has a clearer example... a few days ago, Nunes stated, "As far as we can tell, Papadopoulos had never even met with the President". (Papadopoulos was another member of the foreign policy advisory panel for Trump's campaign; he pled guilty to lying to the FBI about contacts he had with the Russian government in 2016) This is easily disproved... a fast Google search will bring up photos of GP meeting with Trump. So Nunes' statement is unequivocally false. Truth isn't an opinion matter.

We can take one of two conclusions from this: 1) Nunes is a straight-up liar, using his power in the House to protect a guilty President (the more obvious answer), or 2) the chairman of the House *Intelligence* Committee is extremely bad at his job, and everything he says should be treated as suspect. Neither option allows you to take Nunes or his memo as a credible news story. To avoid that, if you ask the MAGA base or media, Nunes' statement about Papadopoulos & Trump is true. Doesn't matter if you can easily disprove it. They say Nunes was correct, and so he was. Truth doesn't matter. Protecting their reality does.

But the media should not play along. The headlines about this memo or the whole saga shouldn't be about a "controversy" or a he said-she said. The headlines should be that Nunes is a liar whose memo is an already-disproved political hit job. But that's rarely been the case. Because "neutrality" means that truth is not important. And that is how we ended up here, and why it's only getting worse.


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