Mary Katharine Ham: The media is dragging the collusion goalposts


I was watching CNN this morning after the Barr press conference and there was a clear interest and focus on the issue of obstruction. Two different reporters were brought on to read excerpts from the obstruction section of the report. Less was said about collusion which seemed odd given that it has been the focus of substantial attention for two years.

Absent from the roundtable this morning was Mary Katharine Ham who might have provided a little balance. But she did appear on the network later in the day and pointed out the way in which the media’s focus had suddenly shifted.

“Look, I hope nobody missed leg day because carrying these goal posts are going to be very heavy if you want to do it for the next 18 months,” Ham said. She continued, “Because the idea coalescing, the idea of collusion which everyone…used for two years as a shorthand for a conspiracy in a large, criminal sense—the idea that we did not use that for that and that that conclusion does not matter and that therefore it’s somehow improper to point out that there was no collusion as we meant it for the last two years I think is an operation in gaslighting.

“There was no collusion. It is good news. It’s great news he wasn’t a foreign asset and that he’s the duly elected president.”

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Ham went on to say that on the question of obstruction Trump displayed “bad judgment and often lies.” She added that she was grateful that people around the president had helped to restrain some of his worst impulses. However, she reiterated that the bar for this scandal wasn’t set at bad judgment and lies it was about collusion/conspiracy with Russia, an offense that could rise to the level of treason. The remaining question, Ham said, was how far Congress wanted to pursue an obstruction charge, “that ultimately did not obstruct the investigation.”

To sum this up, the media ran with a very serious allegation for two years about collusion. Now that we’ve got a pretty clear conclusion after a lengthy investigation that no criminal conspiracy existed they are suddenly dropping that to talk about obstruction. But obstruction of what underlying crime? None. And despite Trump’s apparent interest in firing Mueller, what was actually obstructed? As Ham put it, “[Mueller] got access to what he wanted. We have an answer in this report and I think it’s important to take that answer.”

It’s good that at least one person on CNN is saying it.

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