The completion of the Special Counsel's investigation into "Russia collusion" - and what it finds - means opponents of President Trump will be busy crafting new arguments.
There will be time to examine their efforts. But for now, I'd like to start with the amazing gaslighting that CNN's Senior Media Correspondent, Brian Stelter, offered up yesterday. It encapsulates virtually everything wrong with most of the legacy media employees.
In one of the most remarkable examples of a total lack of self-awareness, Stelter pointed to FOX News hosts who have attacked Mueller:
"So, when people claim that Trump did not interfere in the Mueller probe, remember what was happening on TV every single night."
Stelter argued that FOX's coverage was interference because it savaged Mueller. Savaging the President? That's fine.
“Partisans on the right are already claiming the end of the Mueller probe vindicates all their prior positions, and they are saying the media, the evil media, was wrong all along,” Stelter said. He argued that such media critics, including Don Jr., are “making a rookie mistake.”
“Mueller’s assignment was to get to the truth about Russian interference,” Stelter said. “Now, did many commentators and Democratic politicians allege collusion? Yes. Did many journalists ask about it? Yes. But there is a giant difference between asking and telling. The job of the nation’s news media is to ask, to question all sides a to scrutinize all sides and report on opposing points of view and only take the side of truth and decency.
This is the part where media personalities pretend that we didn't see them spend three years focusing on the accusation.
Stelter retreats to the unseemly refuge of "We're just asking questions" - which is a falsely-constructed safe space designed to relieve the pundit from responsibility for making scurrilous accusations.
By sticking a question mark on the end of the sentence, TV talking heads pretend they're not actually doing the thing they are doing - which is simply opinionated speculation and accusations.
Hilariously, Stelter explicitly defends this approach as : "So, here we are on cable - talking, talking, guessing, standing by for news. And I'm actually a defender of this cable talk show model."
But guessing is not journalism.
Yet, that's precisely what virtually every panelist on CNN has been doing for nearly three years.
Stelter explains to all of us too-stupid-to-understand-what-we're-seeing rubes that because we all get the headlines and the news so quickly, CNN's perpetual parade of opining provides us great benefit.
"Cable is more like a rolling talk show - letting people be a part of the daily debate about how our country should be governed and how our world should work."
He says this is a good thing.
But "the bad thing is when folks mix up the talk with the news. And sometimes we DO let it get too blurry."
Of course, CNN has spent years doing this very thing. Making it all blurry, so to speak.
Every panel is packed with opinionated pundits and reporters sitting side-by-side. The "questions" one group raises are indistinguishable from the questions raised by the other. The speculation masquerading as queries fills panel after panel after panel... for hours.
And now Stelter wants you to believe it's all FOX News and some liberal blogs that have been behaving badly.
By the way, he never mentioned MSNBC for some reason.
Most enlightening, Stelter says we're going to hear voices on the right say that the press made all of this up to take down President Trump. "But the press is just following a trail that Trump created," Stelter said with a grin.
"He has proven time and time again that he cannot be trusted."
Stelter reveals the very core of the bias that drives the folks at CNN to engage in the wild guessing we've seen for years on the network. Namely, the people at CNN believe Trump is dishonest. So, he has brought all of this on himself.
Which is an acceptable standard for a media outlet to employ, of course. But only if it's applied to all elected officials who have also proven themselves to be untrustworthy.
Yet, CNN's "straight reporting" used Democratic lawmakers and career government workers who obviously fed lies and errors through the CNN airwaves. These Democratic lawmakers made appearances on CNN all day yesterday. Obviously, CNN doesn't consider these people to be dishonest.
When all the "talking" and "guessing" reflects the opinions of one political party, you're not committing journalism.
You're doing PR.