It is the ultimate task of the journalist, whether it be a small and independent source as myself, or a large and diverse source as The New York Times or CNN, to not only present the facts to the public, but also interpret them in a way that is understandable.
Now, there are moments in the news that can be confusing, granted that many major news stories never break at once, with one story beginning the cycle and followed by many others. However, our job is to break through the gobbledygook and show the public what’s really going on behind the curtain.
So, I’m going to attempt to do that by talking about a summit between the leaders of two superpowers: Russia and the United States. In this case, there is information that is certain, and others issues that are not so clear-cut. So, I’ll begin with the facts.
Over the course of almost two decades, Russian President Vladimir Putin has risen to power, but with much scrutiny, as he has tried to bring Russia back to its glory days in the Soviet Union, with very severe consequences internationally. One of these actions includes the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, during which a passenger plane was shot down by Russian forces, although he and the Russian government attempted to cover up the information.
Another thing the Russians did, as confirmed by American intelligence, was interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, hindering the campaigns of Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Jill Stein. This was done to not only assure a Donald Trump presidency, but also create political instability within the United States.
Ever since the election and the proven Russian involvement, Donald Trump and his administration have maintained that Russia was never involved, a claim believed by his supporters, as incorrect as it may be. However, that certainty within not only his followers but also the world changed within the course of two days, beginning on July 16 and ending, for now, on July 18.
On July 16, Presidents Trump and Putin held a joint news conference in Helsinki, in part about claims that Russia had interfered in the American election, skewing the votes to Trump’s favor. While Putin outright denied involvement, even going so far as to blame the Democrats, Trump, who had long been steadfast in Russia’s lack of involvement seemed less sure of himself now that the President of Russia was standing right next to him. He deflected the question by saying, “It’s a shame that there can even be a little bit of a cloud over it [his election victory].”
For the first time ever, Donald Trump or any member of his administration showed doubt over their earlier line, despite the fact that many fellow Republicans have outright disagreed with Trump and the administration (excluding his intelligence officials) — referring to the investigations done within the U.S. government, as well as the word of the Director of National Intelligence.
The next day, former President Barack Obama, giving a speech at the 16th annual Nelson Mandela Lecture, warned Trump of the dangers of “strongman politics,” saying, “Whereby elections and some pretense of democracy are maintained, the form of it, but those in power seek to undermine every institution or norm that gives democracy meaning.”
Within hours of that speech, Trump, reading from a script, finally admitted to Russia being involved with election interference. However, it was clear that he truly did not believe it.
And then, the next day, he was asked whether or not Putin was involved. Trump then personally but indirectly blamed Putin due to his being the President of Russia.
It is clear that there is a “he said, she said” moment in Washington, as we hear multiple narratives. Now, the news has done a great job at capturing it all, but one thing is for sure: it is time for every politician in Washington to get on the same page, figure out the truth, stick with it, and show accountability for their actions. That is what adults do, and, at the moment, no one in the Trump administration is acting like an adult.
If they don’t start, they’ll have another two years to look for a new line of work.