With Mueller report, political media forgot the definition of insanity

With Mueller report, political media forgot the definition of insanity
© Camille Fine
The old saying is the definition of insanity is to repeat the same thing over and over again and expect a different result. 
 
The political media covering the Mueller report clearly has not received the insanity memo. And there's even an additional villain being added to the Trump cast: Attorney General William Barr.  
 
The attempted evisceration of Barr’s character has been particularly disturbing, with some accusing him of a coverup that should result in his impeachment as attorney general:


"Congress Should Impeach William Barr" — New York Magazine 

 

"Barr Embarrasses Himself and the Justice Department" — Bloomberg  

 
 
And then there's MSNBC's Brian Williams, who referred to the attorney general for two presidents as "Baghdad Bill Barr." Williams was once an anchor for the NBC Nightly News before being demoted to MSNBC for embellishing on repeated occasions, including his coverage of the Iraq War and Hurricane Katrina. 
 
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Barr said he would deliver the Mueller report to Congress and release it in mid-April. He did. Barr also redacted some sections of the report that included Grand Jury testimony, classified information and to protect certain identities, which is by-the-book from a legal perspective. But Barr was roasted for that by top Democrats and mocked in the media under the guise that he was somehow trying to hide crucial information from the public. 
 
On cue, House Judiciary Chairman Jerry NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerMaloney wins House Oversight gavel House Judiciary Committee approves landmark marijuana legalization bill Maloney wins vote for Oversight chairwoman MORE (D-N.Y.) issued a subpoena for the full Mueller report and underlying materials on Friday morning. Translation: The political food fight over this will continue right up until the 2020 election. 
 
What mostly doesn't get mentioned around Barr's redactions, which were light, is that they weren't conducted by Barr alone. Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinDemocrats ask judge to force McGahn to comply with subpoena Democrats ask court to force DOJ's hand on Mueller grand jury materials Washington celebrates diplomacy — and baseball — at Meridian Ball MORE — who is no fan of the president to the point he reportedly once offered to wear a wire to entrap the president under the 25th Amendment — worked with Barr on that front. Members of the Mueller team also helped with the redactions made. We don't hear about that very much. 
 
What's also being conveniently forgotten as we turn to media boogeymen like Barr is the issue of collusion. As we all know, this was always the shiny object that was talked about the most, particularly on two-thirds of the major cable news outlets along with major outlets such as The New York Times and Washington Post. Is the president an agent of Russia? Did he and his campaign associates work with Russian officials to influence the outcome of the 2016 election? This became an obsession, with much of the reporting based on unnamed sources. Careless reporters were eating up whatever was tossed to them like seagulls at the beach. 
 
This low bar of proof allowed Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffNunes's facial expression right before lawmakers took break from Sondland testimony goes viral Sondland brings impeachment inquiry to White House doorstep Maloney wins House Oversight gavel MORE (D-Calif.) to appear on MSNBC and CNN literally hundreds of times over the past two years to make that case without ever being asked to present hard evidence. And even after the Mueller report showed no collusion, Schiff continues to get airtime, mostly unchallenged. Where is the evidence of collusion? He must have something that Mueller and 14 FBI agents working on the investigation don't — despite their two-year investigation that included thousands of subpoenas and hundreds of interviews.
 
Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Michael Goodwin said it best in the New York Post on Friday. 

"On many days, fears of that outcome dominated the headlines, as when the media reported this or that development suggesting Trump’s goose was cooked. We now know those reports, nearly all based on anonymous sources, were wrong either in their facts or import," Goodwin writes. 

"Take that, The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN and MSNBC," he continues. "By abandoning their standards, Big Media got the biggest story wrong and misled their readers and viewers — yet refuse to admit it. They are the true dead-enders, still searching for a thread to justify their jihad against Trump." 
 
Fortunately for these outlets, the 2020 election will eventually provide a lifeline, from a ratings and clicks perspective. 
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And as long as business is good, there will be no meaningful ramifications, no accountability and certainly no contrition. 

The pivot has already been made. 
 
To what? Take your pick: obstruction, Trump's tax returns — doesn't matter as long as the coverage stays overwhelmingly negative of the president. At this point, the American people just want to see Washington do something, anything, but more investigations. 
 
Joe Concha is a media reporter for The Hill and co-host of "WOR Tonight with Joe Concha and Lis Wiehl" weeknights on 710-WOR in New York. Follow Concha on Twitter @JoeConchaTV.