Alvin Bragg would have to be a complete moron to think he can get reelected as Manhattan DA if Trump isn’t indicted during Bragg’s term. And whatever you think of Bragg, he’s obviously not a moron. So there is obviously a lot more going on behind the scenes.
Yet nearly every bit of “expert” legal analysis we’ve seen on the Bragg situation is based on the presumption that Bragg is simply a total moron. The fact that he’s not a moron invalidates every one of those takes.
The prevailing analysis also ignores the fact that Bragg’s office and Tish James’ office are partnered on the Trump probe, and that Bragg knows what James is going to do. It also ignores the fact that James is about to announce the results of her side of the Trump probe. It also ignores the fact that James can turn her civil probe into a criminal one and bring criminal charges. It also ignores the fact that James has said Trump committed crimes, and that she appears to be trying to nail him for obstruction of justice on the contempt matter.
In order to conclude that Bragg has let Trump off the hook and Trump won’t be charged in New York, you’d have to ignore LITERALLY EVERYTHING THAT’S GOING ON RIGHT NOW. So of course, because most pundits want to go viral by feeding you a simplistic rage inducing slogan that just happens to make them look smarter and more virtuous than our elected officials, most pundits are conveniently ignoring literally everything that’s going on right now.
You’d think the media and the pundits would at least wait until Tish James announces her nearly imminent findings on her side of the James-Bragg probe, and announces her next steps, before making doomsday prognostications. But why would pundits wait for clarifying information when they can yell angry authoritative-sounding nonsense that goes viral in the meantime?
“Bragg is being bribed!!!” No he’s not. Bribes are taken when no one is looking, and done in a way that doesn’t cause anyone to look. This is, so obviously, not a bribery situation. The people yelling that are living in some fantasy land.
So what’s really going on with Bragg and this case? I don’t know. But I’m willing to admit that. Most pundits refuse to admit that 90% of politics takes place behind the scenes and that they don’t know what’s going on. So they make up simplistic know-it-all explanations.
The truly troubling part is that most pundits are acting as if Tish James has no idea that Bragg let the grand jury go. As if she somehow knows less about what’s going on than we do. Quick, someone send her a carrier pigeon, let her know! Why do we always let pundits bait us into believing that our side’s leaders – even the ones we trust and respect – are somehow clueless morons? The pundits only push that nonsense on us because it makes them look relevant. If they admit that someone like James might indeed be on top of this, then you’ll just wait for James to speak, and what purpose do the pundits serve?
If Tish James announces in a few weeks that she’s completed her Trump civil probe, she’s found proof of criminal activity, and she’s converting her civil probe into a criminal case against Trump, you’d see it as a huge win, right? And you’d then presume Bragg knew it was coming. We don’t know what the odds are that this will happen. But logically speaking it’s a lot more realistic than “Bragg is a moron who thinks he can get reelected in Manhattan without Trump being indicted” or “Bragg is a moron who’s taking a bribe in plain sight while everyone is watching even though he’d obviously and immediately get caught.”
In fact you’d arguably prefer that James be the one to bring the charges, because then it’s the state of New York indicting Trump, with all the resources and power that come with that, not just some first term local district attorney like Bragg.
So why would anyone presume with absolute 100% certainty that a simplistic doomsday explanation is what’s really happening here, when the logic and circumstances point more strongly in the other direction? Because pundits get more attention when they push the doomsday stuff, rage-addicted activists get to feel more outrage when they repeat the doomsday stuff, and neither group cares about how incorrect they are.
When people make simplistic doomsday prognostications, they never face any scrutiny for being wrong, even though they’re essentially always proven wrong. It usually takes too long for everyone to see they were wrong, and everyone is too relieved to scrutinize it anyway.
Put another way: I’ve taken a reputational hit for saying Trump will be indicted in New York. When I’m eventually proven right, my reputation won’t be vindicated, because not one other pundit will admit I was right. And none of them will take any reputational hit for being proven wrong on it.
So if you’re a pundit who’s just looking to get ahead in terms of going viral and becoming popular and getting booked on tv, which position would YOU take? The honest complex one that gets you nowhere,? Or the simplistic idiotic rage inducing wrong one that helps your career? That’s why we find ourselves constantly flooded with “expert takes” that are actually just bullshit aimed at manipulating us into giving attention to the people who dish out such takes.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report