david roberts gets it

America is facing an epistemic crisis:

We don’t know yet if Mueller has the goods — documentary or testimonial proof of explicit collusion — or if he can get them, so we have no idea how this is ultimately going to play out.

But we are disturbingly close to the following scenario:

Say Mueller reveals hard proof that the Trump campaign knowingly colluded with Russia, strategically using leaked emails to hurt Clinton’s campaign. Say the president — backed by the Wall Street Journal editorial page, Fox News, Breitbart, most of the US Cabinet, half the panelists on CNN, most of the radio talk show hosts in the country, and an enormous network of Russian-paid hackers and volunteer shitposters working through social media — rejects the evidence.

They might say Mueller is compromised. It’s a Hillary/”deep state” plot. There’s nothing wrong with colluding with Russia in this particular way. Dems did it first. All of the above. Whatever.

Say the entire right-wing media machine kicks to life and dismisses the whole thing as a scam — and conservatives believe them. The conservative base remains committed to Trump, politicians remain scared to cross the base, and US politics remains stuck in partisan paralysis, unable to act on what Mueller discovers.

In short, what if Mueller proves the case and it’s not enough? What if there is no longer any evidentiary standard that could overcome the influence of right-wing media?

When confronted, bullies say, “Yeah, and what are you going to do about it?”

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