If you think Brexit has driven Remainers bonkers in Britain, just wait until you see what the election of Donald Trump has done to left-wingers in the US. The shock of Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Presidential election was so profound that many Democrats and their allies in the mainstream media completely lost all connection with reality.
The culmination of this severe case of TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome) was a frankly crazy conspiracy theory – that Donald Trump had actively colluded with Russian intelligence agents to “steal” the election from Clinton.
This may sound like an overblown Hollywood script for a melodramatic remake of The Manchurian Candidate, but it had sufficient establishment backing for the Department of Justice to engage distinguished lawyer Robert Mueller to serve as a special counsel to investigate the claims.
In his 22-month probe Mueller was nothing if not thorough. He employed 19 lawyers assisted by a team of 40 FBI agents, intelligence analysts and forensic accountants. He interviewed about 500 witnesses, issued more than 2,800 subpoenas, executed almost 500 search warrants, obtained more than 230 orders for communication records and made 13 requests to foreign governments for evidence. Charges were filed for offences such as campaign finance violations and tax fraud against several Trump campaign members, who went on to become co-operating witnesses for investigators.
And this week Mueller delivered his verdict. His report states: “The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or co-ordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
In other words Trump is innocent of the central charge and therefore will not be impeached and removed from office, as some of the more hysterical commentators confidently predicted. Despite the ever more lurid allegations and increasingly overwrought nature of the reporting, the entire fantastical conspiracy theory has disappeared in a puff of smoke thanks to a few strokes of Mueller’s keyboard – pfft!
To make sense of how this happened you have to understand that Clinton was never supposed to lose in 2016. There was sense of excitement that the US’s first black president was to be followed by its first female one. The polls indicated a handsome Clinton victory and almost every pundit said she would win. The result was a seismic shock that shook the foundations of the American political establishment.
Democrats could have taken defeat on the chin, admitted they had chosen a poor candidate with little empathy with ordinary people and that Trump had shrewdly courted the “forgotten Americans” – those people in the crucial ‘Rust Belt’ states who felt left behind by globalisation. Instead of this kind of sober reflection that could have laid the foundations of a 2020 election victory, Democrats opted to grab the comfort blanket in the form of a reassuring but entirely false narrative that they did nothing wrong and they only lost because of “Russian collusion”.
Mueller’s findings that this collusion did not exist present a major problem for the Democrats who must soon choose a presidential candidate. They bet the farm that the Mueller findings would bring down Trump or so seriously wound him he would be easy meat in 2020, and they have come up empty-handed.
But if the Democrats are in a bad place, the situation for the mainstream media is even worse. Many journalists for the big newspapers and TV news shows abandoned all pretence at editorial impartiality and actively joined the “resistance” to Trump.
Instead of being dispassionate reporters of events, they opted to become activists fighting for a cause. They let their hatred of Trump cloud their journalistic judgment and in so doing betrayed their readers, viewers and listeners. Day after day they told their audiences in increasing hysterical terms that the Russian collusion allegations had real substance and Trump was on the verge of collapse.
Now it has all come to nothing and they are exposed as sad, partisan hacks who simply can’t be trusted. Faith in mainstream journalism was already at a low point.
Now with this latest debacle it will plummet even more.