"Did your investigation find that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from one of the candidates winning?"— ABC News (@ABC) July 25, 2019
Robert Mueller: "Yes."
"And which candidate would that be?"
Mueller: "Well, it would be Trump. The president." https://t.co/4TAVylX3T9 #MuellerHearings pic.twitter.com/6GJYndrEF4
I didn't watch the Mueller hearing because I was at work like a an awful lot of Americans were, and for what it's worth, I already read the report and have been following the story of Russia's involvement in the 2016 election since 2016, so I didn't really feel like it would be "must see tv" for me. I also don't really have faith in the idea that what folks really need is for the Mueller Report to be brought to life through the magic of color television--it's kind of quaint. See, this isn't the olden days were everyone is watching the same thing and shares the same set of media gatekeepers who minimally shepherd us through the details with a maximum of restraint and professional dispatch. At worst, we have fabulists who will just rewrite what people just saw through a partisan lens (yes, I mean Fox News). And at second worst, we've apparently got theater critics.
"How were the questioners using their time?" "Did Mueller seem awfully monosyllabic? Is he okay?" "Is this 'moving the needle'?" Blah, blah, blah. Instead of concentrating on the overarching message (yes, Russia interfered, and yes, Trump and associates lied and blocked attempts to investigate, and yes, the next election is also ripe for interference, and no one seems to be doing bugger-all about it), media-hours are being filled with reviews of the spectacle, and we've lost the plot.
Robert Mueller is not an actor. Neither are the congressmembers who queried him--although some are doubtless more tv-friendly than others. I hate to go all "Medium is the message", but I wonder if viewing in this format doesn't prime people for expecting a very particular kind of drama, where appreciating actually serious details, like the admission that Trump lied in his written responses to the Mueller team, lack that theatrical whatever that a "Perry Mason"-style confession creates. Another issue is that just because people aren't actors doesn't mean they aren't playing a role--and in this case, the GOP members (Gohmert, Nunes, Gaetz) basically used their own version of theater to pull the proceedings off narrative. It isn't that the conspiracy theories introduced made sense--it's that they were produced at all, that bogged down the narrative.
I don't know what House Dems wanted from Mueller, but when he seemed disinclined to provide it, they should have taken the very large hint that it's up to them to hold Trump accountable, if anyone is to do it. My thinking has been that, if House Dems build a case, eventually public opinion will follow it. (Wasn't it the esteemed statesman Wayne Gretsky who said "You lose 100% of the cases you don't make?" I'm struggling with Speaker Pelosi's strategy, or possible lack of one, in this respect. As with her distancing attitude towards "the Squad" a few weeks ago, before Trump's racist attacks inadvertently created some cohesion, it's possible that she worries about maintaining cover for the members of her caucus in redder districts and doesn't want them maneuvered into a difficult, electorally-damaging choice--but I'm not thrilled about the reasoning there, because the alternative is doing nothing.
That's not a good alternative. It lets Trump off and it lets the entirety of the GOP who have been giving him cover off. It seems like there's an electoral benefit in using that. This Mueller thing has ended on an anticlimax--but the big dramatic payoff waiting for us thrashed about on the White House lawn after the hearing calling reporters "fake news".
ME: “Mueller said you could be criminally charged after leaving office?”— Paula Reid (@PaulaReidCBS) July 24, 2019
TRUMP: Denies Mueller said this and then when I challenge him on facts, calls me “the worst.” #MuellerDay #MuellerHearing pic.twitter.com/1v66aApQKJ
Forget Mueller, you guys--there is an ACTOR! Put him on the stage. It isn't as if he hates attention (unless we're talking about his tax returns, his business dealings, his grades, his bone spurs....)
See what I mean? Drama!