Lots of people with lots of agendas are saying lots of things about Trump’s information exchange with Russian officials. Apparently classified information was involved. As I understand it that happens somewhat routinely when top government officials meet. Further, as I understand it, the President has the legal authority to release whatever he sees fit to whomever he sees fit. The problem, if there is one, seems to be that the information that was released was released in a way that could reveal sources and methods, thus compromising those sources and methods. In other words if taken at face value, the only question here is one of the president’s judgement, not one of legality, criminality, or the apocalypse.
Not that that is a good thing – if in fact the president showed an error in judgement it is a problem – but that is a very different thing than how the story reads to the general public scanning the papers, their feeds, Twitter and (sadly) Facebook. Point being we do not yet know what exactly has happened and if what happened will be of little consequence, great consequence or no consequence. All we know is something happened that some people are upset about enough to go tattling to the press. Other people seem to think what happened was fine, but social media erupted, violently.
Sometimes I wonder if we have read too many comic books. And that statement is from a guy that has read more comic books than most of you reading this post combined. Seriously, think of Trump as Batman – is he hero or villain? Think of H.R. McMaster as Commissioner Gordon, defending the Bat when the press wants him arrested – and hung. The press is so eager to paste a narrative onto a very few known facts that they borrow a narrative from a wildly entertaining but otherwise quite specious source. But if you really want to paste a narrative onto this mess think of some fables. What is most at risk at this moment is the credibility of the press, and certainly social media (if it had any credibility to begin with?) – just like the fables mentioned in the title of this post.
Yeah, I know, that actually does sound Nixonian, and wasn’t the press proven right about Nixon? Well, in the sense that Nixon engaged in criminal activity, yeah they were. But, here we are, decades later, the republic more or less intact, and Richard Nixon to most of those reading this morning is a few paragraphs in their history books. From the standpoint of historical perspective, the press did sacrifice a great deal of credibility through Watergate. I know I have never been able to read a newspaper or watch TV news the same since – Watergate left me permanently cynical about the press, always needing to find more information and to verify.
And all that is really needed here is a little patience and reporting effort.
Just another sign of what happens in a nation when Christian thought and ethics no longer predominate. The Bible lays claim to patience being a product of Christian maturity. The Bible extols the virtue of hard work. But we seem to want answers and understanding right now with no more effort than it takes to scroll a smartphone.
Let’s just slow down, take a deep breath, and wait for this thing to play out. I am deeply weary of another news cycle with Trump-based apocalyptic headlines. I was the most reluctant of reluctant Trump voters. But every time this happens, every time Trump sneezes, someone runs to the press, and a story is released he hit the big red nuclear button in the process, I become prouder and prouder of my vote.
The nation needs a good press, but I am beginning to wonder if that press will survive the Trump administration as we know it.