The Problem never sleeps: The current "Problem We All Live With" is pretty much all around us.
That doesn't necessarily mean that we will be able to spot it. We'll be attempting to sketch its outline during this Thanksgiving week.
This morning, we'll cite one alleged manifestation of The Problem. It appeared in a peculiar news report in Sunday's Washington Post.
The news report was penned by Helderman and Itkowitz. As the pair began their report, we could see that they were discussing a troubling state of affairs.
Someone had tried to obtain information! Hard-copy headline included:
HELDERMAN AND ITKOWITZ (11/24/19): Ethics probe of Nunes 'quite likely,' senior Democrat saysTroubling! According to this news report, a serious accusation had been lodged.
A high-ranking House Democrat said Saturday it’s “quite likely” Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) will face an ethics investigation over allegations that he met with an ex-Ukrainian official to obtain information about former vice president Joe Biden and his son.
Rep. Adam Smith (Wash.), the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, appeared on MSNBC where he was asked whether Nunes could face a House inquiry. “Quite likely, without question,” Smith said.
The allegation that Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, met with a former Ukrainian prosecutor last year to discuss the Bidens came from the attorney for Lev Parnas, one of two Soviet-born associates of Rudolph W. Giuliani who were indicted on charges they broke campaign finance law.
Parnas’s attorney, Joseph Bondy, told The Washington Post that Ukraine’s former top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, informed Parnas that he had met with Nunes in Vienna in December 2018.
According to the accusation, the perpetually put-upon Devin Nunes met with a former Ukrainian official last year. He did so in hopes of "obtaining information."
According to the news report, it was quite likely that Nunes would face an ethics investigation over this allegation. That said, an extremely basic question went unanswered in this full-length news report:
What exactly would be wrong with holding such a meeting? What would be wrong with trying to "obtain information" about Joe Biden and his son?
This full-length Washington Post report ran more than a thousand words. Along from the troubling accusation, it included several additional points:
It included an angry statement by Nunes, in which the perpetually misused solon insisted that no such meeting had occurred.
It included an assessment of the possible need to give Parnas some form of immunity in order to secure his testimony about this troubling matter.
It even included a statement by Rudy Giuliani, with the man the guild once loved so well quoted saying this:
“Devin Nunes says he didn’t meet with Shokin. I have no reason to believe that he did. If he did, there would’ve been nothing wrong with it.”Thus spake Giuliani! There would have been nothing wrong with such a meeting, "America's mayor" had said.
On and on the news report went, but one key point was never explained:
What would be wrong with such a meeting? What would have been wrong with this alleged attempt to obtain information?
Here at THE HOWLER, we'll bite! What would have been wrong with such a meeting? Why would it trigger an ethics probe?
For ourselves, we wouldn't know how to answer those questions. But we're living in such tribalized times that two Post reporters, and/or their editor, felt no need to address this blindingly obvious question.
At this point, we'll make a confession. Here at THE HOWLER, we're always amused when people explicitly take offense at attempts to obtain information.
This narrative structure initially surfaced when Candidate Trump's routinely objectionable son convened a meeting at Trump Tower in response to an offer of information about Candidate Clinton.
The meeting in question involved Donald Trump Jr.; a Russian lawyer; and roughly half the population of New York City. Our team spent the next several years claiming that the meeting wasn't just unethical, but was even illegal.
In his eponymous report, Robert J. Mueller—formerly, cable's Mueller the God—took a pass on making such an assessment. Now, our team is claiming that it was unethical when Nunes sought information about Biden's under-ethical son—and no one seems to feel the need to explain this latest assessment.
We're always amused when journalists rail against people who seek "information." The conduct seems to confirm our own long-standing observation:
Basic facts and information play almost no role in our discourse.Why would it be unethical for Nunes to seek "information?" At the Washington Post, no one felt the need to explain!
This made us feel that we were observing one manifestation of The Problem—of the ancient, fundamental problem we're all living with at this point.
Tomorrow: There's no way to "win" such fights