It happened yet again yesterday. Donald Trump and his regime made a highly corrupt move that they didn’t think through, so it didn’t have the effect they were hoping, and it quickly blew up in their faces. But if you were following these developments on TV yesterday, you heard a very different version of this.
What actually happened was that Donald Trump and Bill Barr forcibly changed Roger Stone’s prison sentence recommendation a day after it had already become public. This was incredibly inept, as the only way to have pulled this off without controversy would have been to change it before it became public. But even that wouldn’t have helped them, because Judge Amy Berman Jackson is a reasonable straight shooter, and whatever sentence she ends up giving Stone is going to be the exact same sentence that she was planning to give Stone before these hijinks began.
So Trump and Barr gained literally nothing from these antics. Instead, because they carried out their stupid plan in such inept fashion, this blew up into a major scandal that has handed the Democrats a whole new campaign plank in the 2020 election. Trump’s 2020 odds were already small, and now they’ve gotten even smaller.
But if you were watching cable news yesterday, what you heard was that Trump and Barr have found a way to destroy democracy, it’s all over, they’ve magically won, and we might as well not even bother trying to compete in 2020. If you’re able to look at this nonsense objectively, you can see that it’s nothing more than doomsday hysteria aimed at scaring you into staying tuned in, because cable news channels are for-profit businesses that exist to score ratings. But if you’re already indoctrinated by this doomsday crap, it starts to take on its own logic, simply because you keep hearing it every day from talking heads who sound really earnest while they’re pushing this doomsday hysteria on you.
Some of you who are addicted to the MSNBC/CNN histrionics then come to Palmer Report for a different take. You’ll read my analysis, which is based on facts, logic, and evidence. My analysis is frankly pretty cynical; things have been bad for three years, and I never pretend they’re better than they are. It’s just that my analysis pokes holes in the cable news doomsday hysteria, so some of you end up thinking of my analysis as being “optimistic” in comparison.
This is the troubling part. There’s nothing optimistic about my analysis. It’s just that if all the available evidence says ten things are on fire, then I’ll tell you that ten things are on fire. I won’t pretend that fifty things are on fire, just to try to keep you amped up and tuned in. It worries me a bit when I see anyone referring to my analysis as being “optimistic,” or when people tell me that my analysis cheers them up, or gives them hope. I don’t have a hopeful outlook in general. I’m just not pretending things are even worse than they are.
I fear that some of you are being needlessly and inaccurately driven to the brink by the doomsday hysteria you hear on your television all day. What you choose to watch on TV is up to you, of course. But if you are a cable news watcher, I would urge you to keep in mind that TV channels are multimillion dollar corporations that literally exist to turn a profit, and that everything they do is aimed at finding a way to keep you tuned in. The best of the TV pundits can do that without resorting to using doomsday hysteria. But most of them are just there to convince you the sky is falling, so you won’t go watch football. If my analysis ever starts to sound “optimistic” to you, it may be time to reevaluate what you’re comparing it to.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report