Charles Cooney, the Robert T. Haslam Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT, explains the importance of accepting failure as critical to the learning process.
Failure is not fatal, and success is not final. An expert is someone who has made more mistakes than anybody else. A successful expert is someone who recognizes mistakes and only makes them once. (Source: ImagineIt Project™ Interview)
When it comes to the Democratic Party and the mainstream media, I’m afraid they have yet to learn from the mistakes they made which contributed to the political ascendancy of Donald J. Trump. Through claims of moral equivalency and misdirection, the Trump propaganda machine has proven to be a formidable opponent when countering efforts to expose Trump’s just plain incompetence or deliberate complicity in extra-Constitutional endeavors. Two recent news stories demonstrate this unfortunate fact of life.
CASE #1: The Grassley Is Always Greener
On last Sunday morning’s edition of CNN State of the Union, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, applauded committee chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) for his letter to the White House Office of Legal Counsel reiterating the committee’s oversight responsibility for the Department of Justice. She suggested the Grassley letter was evidence of a bi-partisan effort to get to the bottom of any role DOJ, including Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, might have played in obstructing the investigation into the Russian/Trump connection, including the firing of FBI director James Comey
In light of Grassley’s earlier statements in which he characterized Comey’s testimony as vindicating Trump, one has to question what appears to be an about face. Occam’s razor redux: the simplest explanation is generally closest to the truth. Which leads me to the following.
- Senator Grassley is a long-timeTrump supporter. Radio Iowa reported on August 6, 2016, “While some prominent Republicans refuse to endorse the Republic presidential nominee, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley isn’t one of them.”
- Grassley denied Democrats’ request to bring Sessions back before the panel to clarify his confirmation hearing testimony in which Sessions inaccurately claimed to have had no contact with Russian officials.
- The committee membership consists of 11 Republicans and 9 Democrats.
- The committee would likely complete its investigation of potential obstruction of justice and release its report before special counsel Robert Mueller delivers his final report and recommendations.
I hope I am wrong, but my gut tells me Grassley’s sudden interest in scrutinizing Session’s behavior as well as that of other DOJ officials is an attempt to preempt Mueller’s findings. Which makes efforts over the past 48 hours to now discredit Robert Mueller appear to be just one element of a larger disinformation strategy. I can hear Sean Spicer (assuming he is still press secretary) now, “The congressional committee with oversight responsibility found nothing wrong. The special counsel, who we warned was biased, has made a questionable case.”
I have great respect for Senator Feinstein. I believe to this day she was the most likely candidate to become the first female president. She demonstrated her ability to deal with crises when she became mayor of San Francisco following the assassinations of George Moscone and Harvey Milk on November 27, 1978. But this is entirely different. The Republicans are playing three-dimensional chess while Democrats are still sitting around a checker board. Senator Feinstein, please make sure you are anticipating the opponent’s next three moves before you make your next one.
Case #2: You’re NOT Fired
The mainstream media continues to get played by the Trump propaganda machine. Consider the following hypothetical. If you wanted to discredit media coverage of Comrade Trump and the Russian connection, what would you do? Simple. Plant an untrue story. Watch the Washington Post, New York Times, CNN and MSNBC salivate. Then, in your best Ronald Reagan voice, declare, “There they go again.”
Was this the case when Trump friend Chris Ruddy, during an interview Monday Night with Jody Woodruff (PBS News Hour) asserted Trump was considering firing special counsel Robert Mueller? Right on cue, the evening cable new shows and the early editions of the Post and Times, dedicated much of their coverage to this “bombshell.” By Tuesday morning, the White House press office claimed there was not truth to the story and characterized the report as just one more “nothing burger” by the dishonest media to undermine Trump’s agenda.
How many times are the media going to fall for this? Anyone who has covered the presidency for the past five months should have known better. First, it was no coincidence the story broke on the eve of testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence by Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III in which he performed one of the greatest impressions of all time of Aunt Pittypat from Gone with the Wind. “Russians in the Mayflower Hotel. How did they ever get in? Oh, Senator Burr. My smelling salts!”
As if the timing of Ruddy’s comments were not enough, the easily fooled media should have known this does not fit the Orangeman’s modus operandi. Trump does not telegraph behavior. No one suggested James Comey’s head was on the chopping block. The ax had already fallen before even the victim knew it was coming.
Even if Trump was actively planning to shut down the Mueller investigation, the press unwittingly prevented Trump from hammering another nail into his own coffin. I refer to this as the “Matt Drudge syndrome” (bear with me). In 1998, Drudge made the same mistake and probably saved Clinton’s presidency. On January 13, 1998, Drudge reported Monica Lewinsky had been the target of an FBI sting operation at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Pentagon City, Virginia. Drudge’s story put everyone involved in the Clinton sex scandal on notice.
Though we will never know, I am convinced, absent Drudge’s reporting, Monica Lewinsky’s next move would have been to call Clinton adviser Vernon Jordan, who had been her regular point of contact and helped her find employment in New York after leaving her White House internship. We know Lewinsky’s conversation with Linda Tripp at the hotel was being recorded via an FBI wire. Therefore, it is no stretch to assume Lewinsky’s phone calls were also monitored. A cry for help to Jordan following Lewinsky’s meeting with Tripp would have been perhaps the most damning tangible evidence of a cover-up and obstruction of justice. Thanks to Matt Drudge, that call was never made.
Over the past few weeks, I have encouraged readers to heed the advice of former naval intelligence office Malcolm Nance, “Strategic patience.” Broadcast and print journalists should listen to Nance as well.
For what it’s worth.