TUESDAY, JULY 26, 2022
In our view, that question remains: Should Donald J. Trump be charged with federal crimes? Subjected to prosecution?
As we noted yesterday, Charles Blow says he should be charged with such crimes. We can't say that Blow is wrong—but we also can't say that he's right.
For starters, it all depends on a fairly obvious question. Has Trump committed any such crimes?
In his new column, Blow didn't say what those federal crimes are. Journalistic life becomes amazingly easy when such permissive rules obtain.
In our view, Trump's behavior became increasingly crazy and irresponsible starting in 2011 when he began inventing himself as the Mother of All Birthers. In our view, his behavior was increasingly crazy and heinous throughout, right on through January 6, 2021.
Did he commit a federal crime in the process? We'll admit that we still aren't sure.
If Trump is charged with federal crimes, that will present an unprecedented challenge to our rapidly failing American system.
No former president has ever been charged with a crime. Even if the indictment is warranted, some such prosecution would result in massive pushback from Trump's tens of millions of supporters.
This would put a tremendous strain on our American system—and that is especially true, given our current media / communication / information / argument / journalistic structures.
We can't survive half slave and half free, Abraham Lincoln once said.
Today, can we survive half red and half blue? Consider a fairly typical news report in today's Washington Post.
The report was written by Amy Wang. As she starts, Wang writes this:
WANG (7/26/22): President Donald Trump didn’t want to disavow the rioters who had stormed the U.S. Capitol in his name on Jan. 6, 2021, and he removed lines from prepared remarks the following day calling for their prosecution, according to new evidence released by a member of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack.
Wang starts with a claim about what Donald Trump "didn't want." Within the world of blue tribe media, this claim is lovingly being reproduced wherever Blue Stories are told.
Question! Did Trump "remove lines from prepared remarks" on January 7?
Yes, he certainly did.
That said, did he somehow refuse "to disavow the rioters" in the remarks he committed to videotape? We'd have to say that thumbs have possibly been on the scales a tad as our tribe has enjoyed versions of this pleasing claim in the past sixteen hours.
Wang's report is like every report on this topic which we've read and watched. It doesn't include the final text of what Donald J. Trump did say—of the lines he didn't remove—on January 7.
To watch Trump's videotaped statement, you can just click here. As you will see if you watch the tape, here's how his statement began:
TRUMP (1/7/21): I would like to begin by addressing the heinous attack on the United States Capitol. Like all Americans, I am outraged by the violence, lawlessness and mayhem.
I immediately deployed the National Guard and federal law enforcement to secure the building and repel the intruders. American is and must always be a nation of law and order.
The demonstrators who infiltrated the Capitol have defiled the seat of American democracy. To those who engaged in the acts of violence and destruction, you do not represent our country. And to those who broke the law, you will pay.
Those are the words Trump actually said at the start of his videotaped statement. We can't necessarily say what he actually thought or felt.
(As far as we know, there is no basis for the claim that Trump "immediately deployed the National Guard and federal law enforcement.")
Those are the words Trump actually said. We can't necessarily tell you what Trump was actually thinking or feeling as he said them. But did he somehow fail "to disavow the rioters" in his videotaped remarks?
We can't tell you what he was thinking or wanting. We can tell you what he said:
As he started, he said the rioters had conducted a "heinous attack on the Capitol." He said that he was "outraged" by their violence and their lawlessness.
He said the rioters had "defiled the seat of American democracy." He said they "don't represent our country." For those who had broken the law, he said that they "will pay."
We have no idea what Trump really thought as he delivered those remarks. For ourselves, we aren't entirely sure that Trump ever thinks or believes anything in any traditional sense.
We can't tell you what he thought, but we can tell you what he said. In our view, thumbs may perhaps be on the scales a tad when someone opens a news report by suggesting that Trump had somehow failed to disavow the rioters and their violent conduct.
Lizard brains will rush to say that we're just picking nits. These lizard brains will urge us to say that Wang's report captures the essence of what occurred as Trump chose to drop elements of those "prepared remarks"—remarks which had been prepared by someone else, though Wang doesn't say who that was.
Are public officials required to repeat every word some staffer composes? We're going to say that they aren't.
Beyond that, we're going to say that journos like Wang should return to a more disciplined approach to their journalism. As part of that old-fashioned approach, they would include an account of what some public official actually said before they magically told us what that official supposedly "wanted."
Wang's report emerges from the Blue Tribe Journalism of the present day. Lizard brains will say that Red Tribe Journalism is much worse—and, in that particular claim, lizard brains may well be correct.
That said, our Blue Tribe Journalism is now working in deeply noxious ways, and the conduct is getting worse. Late last week, we saw major figures of our Blue Tribe Today deliver Conspiracy Theories From Hell as they speculated about plots to kidnap Vice President Pence on January 6—even to have him assassinated.
For the record, those deeply thrilling speculations were completely unfounded. No serious basis was offered for these speculations.
In our view, these speculations seemed to be straight outta an especially lurid episode of 24—and they seemed to show the direction in which Blue Journalism is going.
This morning, with Joe and Mika away for a well-deserved rest cure, Jonathan Lemire was hosting Morning Joe. As the program began, he was accompanied by a Contingent of Six, each of whom was guaranteed to agree with Standard Blue Storyline.
Discouraging words would seldom be heard by people watching the program. For the record, two of the seven performers are currently selling books, though the other five are equally devoted to Standard Blue Narrative Line.
Late last week, this system was issuing unfounded but thrilling claims about kidnapping plots and intended assassinations. Major figures were pushing these tales. None of their colleagues pushed back.
Large parts of Red Journalism have long been insane, but our own Blue Journalism is closing ground. Whether Trump is charged with a crime or not, one major question remains:
Can our nation, or any other so conceived, survive this tribal arrangement?
Tomorrow: The fruit of dueling closures
Quiet part out loud: Lemire is currently selling a book. So is the New York Times' Mark Leibovich.
At 6:16 this morning, Leibovich made the following wry remark to the Morning Joe panel. Here on our sprawling campus, several analysts screamed:
"We all have books, right?"
In fairness, the scribe was making a wry remark. Arguably, he was also saying a bit of the quiet part out loud!