I had long ago concluded that Comey had insulated himself from being fired because of his peculiar public role in the 2016 presidential election. Whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump had been elected last November, it was obvious that dumping Comey would be regarded as political payback. This was true even though virtually no one had confidence in Comey’s ability to do his job.
What I didn’t count on was Trump’s absolute disdain for political correctness or conventional wisdom. He had to know the reaction that would follow from his decision to unceremoniously fire Comey, and yet he did it anyway. You almost have to think he did it on purpose just to unleash the predictable firestorm of attacks from the D.C. establishment. How better to burnish his own credentials as the consummate outsider? In firing Comey, he did what virtually everyone had said should be done, and which hypocritically no one in the deep swamp state really wanted him to do. Suddenly, when Comey was gone, the Democrats and the media elite missed him terribly, and they lamented their loss with ashes and sackcloth on every available cable channel. Comey, we hardly knew ye! Or, as Joe Gillis reminded us in “Sunset Boulevard” while he was floating face down in a Hollywood swimming pool, “Funny how gentle people get with you once you’re dead.”
Of course, the talking heads of cable news turned the Comey firing into a 24/7 cause celebre. With each passing hour, it became more and more clear that the press was enthusiastically adopting the role Trump had christened for it as “the opposition party.” It was the news reporters and talk show hosts who were themselves sneeringly passing judgment on Trump. Every hour brought some new wrinkle of smug superiority as they rolled their eyes, raised their eyebrows, smirked and chortled at the supposed incompetence of Trump and his team.
Yes, they brought in the usual Democratic hit men to bolster the case that Trump was a danger to democracy and a menace to the earth, but the Democrats were just supporting actors. The lead role — the Norma Desmond role, if you will — was played by CNN, MSNBC and yes, even Fox News. As delusional Norma declaimed in Billy Wilder’s snarling “Sunset Boulevard,” “There’s nothing else. Just us, and the cameras, and those wonderful people out there in the dark. All right, Mr. De Mille, I’m ready for my closeup.”
That closeup has lasted for four long lingering days and nights as of this writing. Every new revelation has been distorted by media snobs like Jake Tapper and Chris Matthews into one more nail in Trump’s supposed political coffin. Tapper and others said, for instance, that the Russians were laughing at the United States, but these nabobs of negativism didn’t realize that the Russians were laughing at the U.S. media, not the American people. Trump actually got it, and he tweeted Thursday afternoon, “Russia must be laughing up their sleeves watching as the U.S. tears itself apart over a Democrat EXCUSE for losing the election.”
The actual example of that laughter was quite delightful when it wasn’t being distorted by the dishonest media. It happened on Wednesday when the Russian foreign minister snorted at NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell for her naivete. Mitchell had shouted out a question to Sergey Lavrov during a photo op with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson: “Does the Comey firing cast a shadow over your talks, gentlemen?” Lavrov first made a joke: “Was he fired?” (as if anyone could have missed that point!) and then he specifically made fun of Mitchell’s foolishness to think that U.S.-Soviet relations were going to go on pause because of Comey’s employment status. He told her twice, “You are kidding! You are kidding!”
Unfortunately, neither Mitchell, not Tapper, nor any of the other overpaid TV hosts, analysts, reporters or anchors seemed to get the joke. Maybe they just take themselves too seriously. Certainly, no one else does.
Frank Miele is managing editor of the Daily Inter Lake in Kalispell, Montana. He may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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