One can hear the desperation in Stephanie Ruhle’s voice as she tries to frame the Mueller report as existential — to the point of misrepresenting the findings. How likely are voters to have changed their minds about Trump with the report, Ruhle asks — and then tries to answer the question before throwing to the reporters:
“What are people on the ground telling you there,” Ruhle asks, “and are they mentioning Russia at all? Because,” she continues, “they have a chance to vote for a Democrat or a Republican, but we need to remind our audience of the first thing in the findings — that Russia interfered, foreign interference affected the election and could affect the next one.”
Actually, the report makes no claim that Russian interference “affected the election.” The “first thing in the findings” is that “[t]he investigation did not identify evidence that any U.S. persons conspired or coordinated with” the Russians. Even with that editorial bent, MSNBC’s reporters mainly came up empty looking for voters whose minds were changed in either direction about Trump based on the Mueller report.
If you want to know why impeachment will go nowhere, this is the reason:
From political hotspots across the country — Manchester, New Hampshire to Council Bluffs, Iowa; St. Petersburg, Florida, to Columbia, South Carolina — Americans expressed relief at finally seeing the report, even if the two-year-long-probe’s findings didn’t do much to change their already existing beliefs about Trump and his administration.
In downtown Columbia, South Carolina, Mimi Draft told NBC she was “doubtful” anything in the report would change her negative opinion of the president.
“I live in a blue bubble,” she conceded, but in her eyes, Trump had “started off on the wrong foot” all together from his early days promoting the birther movement. What she’d seen from him since had only cemented her negative opinion.
On the other side of the political spectrum, sitting outside at a cafe by the water in St. Petersburg, Florida, Bernie Angelo also remained unmoved.
“I don’t believe half of what I read,” she said. “I do think it started out as a witch hunt, and that kind of threw me off, but there’s really nothing that could change my mind about him.”
At one point, frustrated with voter ennui over Russiagate, Ruhle wonders why Republicans can’t nominate someone who “isn’t a despicable human being but who can do a lot of good things?” Sure, they can — and they did in 2008 and 2012, when media outlets like MSNBC painted John McCain and Mitt Romney as despicable human beings. Shall we talk about “binders full of women” and the Romney family dog again, or Harry Reid’s McCarthyist lies about Romney being a tax cheat and how the media hounded Romney over them?
Try doing a thought experiment about how MSNBC would cover the election if the GOP nominated Mike Pence instead of Donald Trump in 2020. Actually, thanks to Pete Buttigieg and the media coverage he’s getting over his phony “feud,” it’s not much of an experiment, is it? This round of voter ennui isn’t just related to Russiagate, and it’s not the electorate that needs to learn a lesson from it.
Thus it should come as no surprise that voters have little interest in media-driven narratives, especially after the spectacular collapse of the Russia-collusion narrative. The Americans contacted by MSNBC reporters here show a remarkable level of common sense in prioritizing governance over partisan food fights, especially after a two-year investigation left us about where we started in the first place. Ruhle wants to teach these voters a lesson; she’d be better off taking one from them.
Who could have predicted all this? I’m glad you asked …
Unfortunately for partisans, the report will likely disappoint both sides, and will bore everyone else. Both sides have hyped up the investigation to the point that Mueller’s report can’t possibly compete with the narratives. …
At this point, however, one has to wonder how engaged voters remain on Russiagate. With all of the indictments now public and no charges for collusion or obstruction resulting from the investigation, it seems most people outside the Beltway will not care terribly much about parsing out the details of Mueller’s report.
Thursday’s release will be a letdown for both sides, which may just be what we need to finally move on from the special counsel probe as the center of our political attention.
I hate to say I told you so, but … actually, I love to say I told you so.