Last Wednesday, while moderating a panel at the Russian Energy Week event in Moscow, Keir Simmons of NBC news asked Russian President Vladimir Putin if he intended to meddle in the U.S.’s 2020 presidential election.
Rebecca Morin, reporting for USA Today, narrates Putin’s response as follows:
“I’ll tell you a secret: Yes, we’ll definitely do it,” Putin cheekily replied while cupping the microphone, according to a translation from CNN.
“Just don’t tell anyone,” he added.
Simmons’ demeanor had the dead seriousness of a journalist engaged in some intense investigative work. Putin, of course, mocked him.
The question might well have deserved that mockery. What did Simmons expect to accomplish? What did he hope or think we’d learn from this hard-boiled questioning? Was the point of the question just to see Putin’s response?
Is his response, whatever it was, news in itself?
Apparently so, since I saw Simmons share his experience on MSNBC and, clearly, USA Today, reported the interview.
But what does this news coverage accomplish, really? Last June, Trump and Putin performed a comedy duet at the G20 Summit in Japan, as they both joked about the meddling, with Trump engaging in a mock-scolding of Putin, wagging his finger at him.
Of course, in January 2018, at a joint press conference in Helsinki featuring Trump and Putin, Trump responded to a question about Russia’s 2016 election interference by dismissing U.S. intelligence and crediting Putin’s denial.
And yet we all know better. The facts, obviously, dictate otherwise.
The continual questioning by the media and, frankly, by the Democrats with all their hearings, ditherings, halting and failing subpoena requests, and useless and dead end interrogations of folks like Corey Lewandowski, tends only to keep the questions alive and to defer a full embrace and confirmation of the facts.
The facts we have gathered and know already answer these questions about meddling, past and future–and yet that the media and the Democrats continue to ask questions communicates to the American public that somehow the questions are still just that–questions that do not have certain answers, that have not been met with facts.
The media and the Democrats have not been making a case, they’ve been sowing even more uncertainty, playing into Trump’s hands.
This is especially true of the media asking Trump and Putin about election interference. Who continues to ask the criminal for a confession when he’s made it clear he has no interest in telling the truth or copping to the deed?
And here we go again with the Democrats centering the Trump administration’s Ukraine shenanigans in the impeachment hearings.
The facts have been made apparent in testimonies, in the whistleblower report, and in the texts that have come out.
The Democrats have indicated they want to keep these hearings straightforward and simple, and yet here they go with subpoenas and continual questioning that creates uncertainty and clouds the facts.
The facts are there already. Democrats need to proclaim and embrace them.
Stop asking for and seeking confirmation of facts already deemed facts; it only creates confusion.
The handling of the Mueller report should serve as a cautionary tale. The report was full of facts, and Democrats kept trying to confirm them instead of blaring and declaring them. The facts dissipated, losing credibility.
Currently, Trump has been more successful in gaining traction for his lies. Democrats need to proclaim the truth with the same force and frequency with which Trump peddles his lies.
Tim Libretti is a professor of U.S. literature and culture at a state university in Chicago. A long-time progressive voice, he has published many academic and journalistic articles on culture, class, race, gender, and politics, for which he has received awards from the Working Class Studies Association, the International Labor Communications Association, the National Federation of Press Women, and the Illinois Woman’s Press Association.