What is the biggest story in the country? Right—Trump’s wiretapping allegation against Obama. It’s a huge story—historic, as big as new stories get—but you wouldn’t have known it, to read yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, which didn’t have a single mention of it: not on the front page, not on the editorial pages, nowhere.
Can you imagine a major American newspaper not reporting on, say, John Dean’s “cancer on the Presidency” remark during Watergate? How are we to account for this mysterious lapse? Several possibilities suggest themselves. One is that the paper’s managers honestly don’t think that WiretapGate is a big story. I don’t happen to agree, and I don’t think you do, either; but it is conceivable, in some alternative-fact universe.
Another possibility, more likely, is that word has floated down from MurdochLand: Play this story down! One can imagine the consternation in Rupert’s family. They were concerned about Trump from the beginning; didn’t support him; let Karl Rove, their pet columnist, maul Trump. But once Trump began winning primaries, one noticed a softening of tone; when he was actually elected, the coverage went from skeptical to, Well, let’s give him a chance. Now that he’s POTUS, the tone has changed to obsequious servitude: the Wall Street Journal is discovering all the goodness about Donald J. Trump they had somehow previously overlooked.
How this must make the Journal’s reporters—the real ones, not the hacks, like Daniel Henninger—is hard to imagine. They, the authentic journalists, work their asses off every day to do real reporting, only to have Murdoch’s proconsuls in the office kill stories left and right that are unflattering to this President and his regime. I mentioned Henninger just now. I like picking on him, because he’s so transparent. I can see the wheels turning: “How can I please Mr. Murdoch today?” And yet, even a broken clock is right twice a day, and Henninger, in yesterday’s column, actually said something true, although he didn’t do it because he’s interested in “truth” as a noble concept. No, he did it because, as a tea party radical, he really wanted Trump to do as he promised and repeal Obamacare, without bothering to replace it, because…well, he’s a Republican. As we all know, now, there is no repeal, nor will there be; nor is there quite the “replacement” that the tea party demanded, for there is no rational way of replacing it, as Republicans are ruefully coming to realize (but about which they were amply warned).
So here’s Henninger, peering out into the future, predicting that, “If this [Trumpcare] bill fails, there is only one Plan B. It will be a single-payer system enacted after 2020 with votes from what’s left of the Republican Party [which will] get wiped out in 2018 and lose the presidency two years later.”
Good stuff! But you have to understand, Henninger is not pleased with this prognostication, although I am. He’s royally pissed. When the Republicans lose the House and the Senate next year, reactionaries like Henninger will be able to say that it happened because Trump wasn’t radical enough—that he wasted his “mandate” (as if!) by compromising with Democrats. That unprovable assertion will be made by everyone who goes down with Trump. It will be their “The South will rise again” swan song; instead of flying the Stars and Bars, perhaps the diehards will put on their little MAGA caps.
In the end, why does WiretapGate matter? Because in the whirlwind of crazy Donald Trump lies, this one stands, majestically, Everest-like, above all the others. It is majestic in its evil. And it is something that the simplest American “gets.” Right now, the fact of its falsity is beginning to sink in, around the water coolers and dinner tables where the tea party gathers. “Do you think–?” “Could it be–?” “Did he make it up?” “I didn’t like Obama, but really…” Give this thing a few more weeks to fester. And, as for the senior Democrats in the House and Senate, a warning: If you let this go, you will kill your Party. Even I will look to a third party that still believes in honesty.