The company line is wrong: Last night, it happened again! Another top pundit on MSNBC adopted the company line.
But as with Fox News, so too here—the company line is wrong.
Below, you see what Joyce Vance said on last night's 11th Hour (transcript, tape not yet available). She was thinking about the excitement to come when Mueller the God testifies before two House committees on July 17:
VANCE (7/1/19): Mueller may have to find a little bit of a break in his armor and let in a little bit more sunshine and talk with Congress a little bit about what animated the concerns around the report, what led them to use the processes that they did. It's, I think, anybody's guess whether he'll be willing to do that if he's pushed.Say what? Rather plainly, Vance seemed to say that the Mueller report reached the conclusion "that the president committed obstruction."
But the reality is, Mueller simply outlining the findings of his report will be a pretty spectacular piece of progress for Democrats, and nothing for Republicans to look forward to, given the conclusion of the report that the president committed obstruction. And that, although they couldn't charge a conspiracy, there was an awful lot of evidence of coordination, even collusion, between the campaign and the Russian government.
Because the Muller report reached that conclusion, Mueller's appearance will be pretty spectacular for Democrats, even if Mueller simply outlines his findings and does nothing more. That's what Joyce Vance said.
In this way, The One True Channel is now getting us liberals all excited about Mueller's upcoming appearance. There's only one problem with what Vance said:
The Mueller report did not conclude that Donald J. Trump committed obstruction. In fact, the Mueller report specifically says that no such judgment was reached on obstruction, one way or the other:
MUELLER REPORT (Volume II, page 8): CONCLUSIONWhich part of "this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime" doesn't Vance understand? We'll guess it's the part which flies in the face of the company's preferred story-line.
Because we determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment, we did not draw ultimate conclusions about the President’s conduct. The evidence we obtained about the President’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that would need to be resolved if we were making a traditional prosecutorial judgment. At the same time, if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.
Vance's peculiar misstatement is especially striking. On June 19, she challenged Nicolle Wallace when Wallace issued this groaner on her daily hour-long sing-along program, Deadline: White House:
WALLACE (6/19/19): Joyce Vance, Robert Mueller found that Donald Trump committed crimes, that he committed ten acts of obstruction of justice. Robert Mueller also found that Russia attacked our democracy to help Donald Trump.Vance offered a nuanced demurral to the first of those "simple truths." This drew a veiled scolding from Wallace. For fuller details and text, see last Thursday's report.
These are two really simple truths. These are two—you know, Elizabeth Warren was able to boil them down into a simple sentence. Why can't Democrats?
Last evening, just twelve days later, Vance was misstating the basic facts too. Anthropologists say the human brain was always wired this way.
At one time, everyone knew that Mueller didn't reach a decision concerning obstruction of justice. Everyone knew and said that he didn't—but by now, it's very common to see major figures on CNN and MSNBC saying that he did.
In this way, our favorite stars behave the same way the big stars sometimes behave on Fox. A second problem is apparent:
We're going to have egg all over our faces again when Mueller shows up on July 17 and says, for all the world to see, that he didn't reach any such judgment.
We liberals are being played for fools when our top stars behave this way. Let's review the history here:
For two years, we were told that Mueller was going to frog-march everyone out of the White House when his report appeared. When his report was released and it did no such thing, that build-up crashed and burned.
So did one third of Rachel's ratings. And hey! That's bad for the bottom line!
Now, our favorite stars are subjecting us to the same dim-witted cycle. They're building us up for July 17—but if Mueller really does appear on that date, he won't be saying that he concluded that Trump committed obstruction.
This spectacle is anthropology, nothing more and nothing else. This is the way the human brain works, or fails to work, at times of intense tribal conflict. This is the way our misfiring, war-inclined species tends to behave in tribes.
According to major anthropologists, the brain was always wired this way. Despondently, yet with obvious feeling, they persist in saying that Aristotle was wrong, oh so wrong!
"Rational animal my asp!" these glum future experts tell us.