If anything could shock you as much as President Trump’s successful presidential election in 2016, it will be the Mueller Report’s findings of no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the election. Or at least it will if you’ve been following the media’s coverage of the investigation.
For two years, the media has been eagerly following Mueller’s investigation into possible Trump-Russia collusion. A study conducted by Newsbusters found that ABC, CBS and NBC spent a combined 2,284 minutes, or three minutes on average every night for 791 days covering “collusion.” A Time Magazine cover depicted the White House fading into Russia’s Saint Basil’s Cathedral. When talk show host Bill Maher was asked on his show if he thinks Donald Trump colluded with Vladimir Putin, he replied, “Yes! You don’t? How can you not?” Late night comedy show hosts like Stephen Colbert and Trevor Noah have echoed similar sentiments on their own programs. To many, Trump was already guilty—we were just waiting on the evidence.
It should be recognized that no one knew what Mueller’s investigation would find. With that in mind, a certain degree of speculation in the media should be expected, and, of course, that speculation falls along political lines. It’s not like political commentators on Fox News were as excited as those on CNN and MSNBC when discussing Trump’s possible guilt. However, from the beginning, almost every network ran with the narrative that Trump colluded with Russia to win in 2016 and that impeachment was just around the corner.
While Attorney General William Barr was extraordinarily explicit when he stated, “The Special Counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia” in his summary of Mueller’s findings, the narrative of collusion still lives on in the form of renewed speculation.
One of the most common theories is that maybe Barr lied or was at least inaccurate in his summary of the investigation’s findings. After all, the full report is over 300 pages according to a Justice Department official.
While it is reasonable to think that making the report public could provide some additional information about the investigation, it is unlikely that Barr’s summary inaccurately described the report’s findings. If it did, Mueller would have come out and corrected Barr just as he did when Buzzfeed made inaccurate claims about special counsel information. This is why Republicans and even Trump are so open to releasing the full report and why Barr himself intends on releasing as much of the report as possible with the assistance of the special counsel.
However, even if the entire report was released, it is doubtful that it would put to rest the Trump-Russia collusion narrative. Almost no one who so deeply believed that Trump colluded with Russia to win in 2016 is willing to admit that they were wrong. More importantly, no one in the media wants to take responsibility for misleading the public by suggesting for two years that Trump was definitively guilty when no one knew what Mueller’s investigation would find.
As more information is released on the Mueller Report’s findings, we will see how media outlets react and what further speculation comes forward surrounding collusion and the investigation. I personally hope the full report can be released so the topic can be put to rest. However, as long as any shred of information is withheld from the public, whether it be for national security or legal reasons, we can be sure that the collusion narrative will continue to live on in the media and be discussed all the way to the next presidential election.
Contact Connor Madalo at [email protected]