Mueller report vindicates the work of journalists
There was a time, 15 or so years ago, when I was making several trips a year to Washington, D.C.
While killing time before a meeting, I’d often stroll over to the White House grounds and just stare at it.
I was in awe, even as an adult, of my country and of the presidency.
I can’t even begin to count the number of times I did this, enthralled by the rich history of our country, the majesty of the surrounding monuments and the greatness of the leaders who once lived there.
I think of those times as a kinder, gentler world, when we as citizens invoked reason when it came to the problems facing our country.
I remember as a 16-year-old supermarket clerk, standing in the parking lot on a warm summer evening and listening to President Richard Nixon announce he would resign the office of president at noon the next day, knowing our president had lied and he was indeed a crook.
I remember the sadness and thinking what a terrible blow to our country.
Over the past two years, the current president’s behavior has become personal for me.
When he calls the journalism of newspaper reporters “fake news,” he is speaking to me and the colleagues I know from all over the country.
He is calling out my reputation as an editor over four decades of my life.
He is calling into question my ethics and responsibility to the community to gather factual information as best I can and deliver the truth.
More than anything else, the Mueller report vindicated the journalists who have been so maligned, and in a larger sense for me, he has vindicated the work that my newspaper does every day.
The Columbia Journalism Review summed it up this way: “The Mueller report, among many other things, exposed those Trump lies as what they were, which were cynical attempts to discredit bad news even though it was true. Time and time again, the report cites reporting the (New York) Times, (Washington) Post, CNN and others, and provided outside with third-party proof that the media was right and Trump was wrong.”
The “fake news” tweets were self-serving public relations meant to turn the public against the institution of a free press, and it was regularly spewed by the president’s advisers, aides and press secretary.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Trump’s press secretary, said after the firing of FBI Director James Comey that the FBI rank-and-file had lost faith in Comey, but when confronted by investigators, she acknowledged that her comments were not founded on anything.
She made it up.
Ultimately, more than anything else, the Mueller report vindicates practicing journalists.
And that trickles down to the work we do, here in this community where other institutions and politicians have tried to malign our work the way the president has done with the national media.
But here is what is especially frightening.
By taking this stand to defend an industry in which I have invested my whole life, my entire career, I will also be castigated as being partisan, as being liberal, as favoring one political party over another, or simply being anti-Trump.
My motives, my core values are what they have always been.
To know right from wrong and always tell the truth and call out those who do not.
Earlier this week, I took solace in the words of historian and author, Jon Meacham, who always seems to leave me with hope for our country and a better world.
“The great American insight in many ways is that we were able to find a way to let reason have a role in the arena with passion,” Meacham said late Thursday night after the Mueller report had been released. “We weren’t just going to govern ourselves based on raw force, we were going to think our way through things. I think we are less able to deploy reason in the battles of the present.”
It’s good advice for us all.
“What you would hope is that the country moves forward when people are able to change their minds in the face of new and intriguing facts,” Meacham concluded.
Or at least consider the possibility that facts matter and truth still holds value.
I haven’t been to Washington in a while, but I know one thing for certain. I no longer hold anyone there in awe.