Mark Hillman’s Capitol Review: Facts are essential to trust and self-government

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Published Friday, September 7, 2018
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by Mark Hillman

Public discourse is so polarized today that Americans can't even agree on certain obvious facts for fear that they may discredit "us" or lend credibility to "them."

Intellectual honesty is indispensable to self-government.  If we are honest with ourselves, we can determine what is true or factual.  However, that discernment is complicated by agenda-driven journalism that presents facts or allegations selectively and without context.

Let's consider some obvious facts: (See documentation for these facts here.)

FACT: Donald Trump's campaign team was willing to find "dirt" on Hillary Clinton by consulting foreign sources, including Russians.

FACT: Hillary Clinton's campaign team was willing to find "dirt" on Donald Trump by consulting foreign sources, including Russians.

FACT: President Obama and his administration knew that Russians were working to influence the 2016 presidential election but did nothing to stop them.

FACT: The disparity between the establishment media's treatment of President Obama and of President Trump is undeniable.

FACT: When Obama asserted, with a straight face, "We are probably the first administration in modern history that hasn't had a major scandal in the White House," the establishment media repeated his claim as fact.  The "fact-checker" at the Washington Post merely said the statement "needs context."

So, consider Obama's non-scandals:

IRS.  In a truly Nixonian maneuver, Obama's IRS selectively harassed conservative political organizations to influence the 2010 and 2012 elections.  Obama appointed a generous donor to his campaign to "reform" the IRS.  Attorney General Eric Holder, Obama's self-described "wingman," then appointed another Obama donor to investigate wrongdoing by the IRS.

Russia.  Cameras caught President Obama asking outgoing Russian president Dimitry Medvedev - a Putin puppet - to give him "more space" by delaying missile defense negotiations until after the 2012 election.  Medvedev's response: "I will transmit this information to Vladimir (Putin)."

Operation Fast and Furious.  Under Obama's Justice Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives intentionally allowed hundreds of guns to illegally fall into the hands of drug cartels in Mexico.  Of some 2,000 such guns, about 1,300 were never accounted for.  Many that were recovered were found at crime scenes on both sides of the border, including the killing of a U.S. Border Patrol agent and killing or injuring at least 150 Mexican civilians.

In each of these non-scandals, the establishment media simply reported and moved on without obsessing.  If you believe they would have reacted similarly had these events occurred under Trump's watch, you're not being intellectually honest.

Now contrast the current investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, whose mission is defined: "to ensure a full and thorough investigation of the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential elections."

Thus far, the investigation has charged 26 Russians with various crimes related to interfering with the 2016 election.  Paul Manafort and his associates have been charged with financial crimes (unrelated to their work with the Trump campaign) and with lying to the FBI.  Separately, Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations, which experts argue weren't even against the law.

None of these charges show any coordination between Trump's campaign and the Russian government.  The worst that we know is that Donald Trump Jr. met with a Russian lawyer thinking she could provide damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

Yet the media breathlessly covers the Mueller investigation as if discovery of impeachable offenses is imminent.  Concluding that many in the media think it is their mission to overturn the 2016 election requires little imagination.

The Washington Post virtuously declares "democracy dies in darkness."  But legitimate journalism dies when the media is so obviously biased that they can't be trusted and Americans get their news only from selective sources that tell them what they want to hear.

Most Americans have very reasonable expectations of the media: to report the all of the facts, no matter which cause it may advance or harm.

Unfortunately, objective reporting is now an endangered species.

Mark Hillman served as State Treasurer and Senate Majority Leader.  To read more or comment, go to www.MarkHillman.com.