When the news dropped that Robert Mueller had submitted his report to Attorney General Bill Barr without any further indictments, liberal pundits had to process their dismay on live television, and the result was a combination of hysteria, disbelief, and denial.
Chris Matthews, for instance, famously felt a thrill go up his leg over Barack Obama in 2009, but he seemed to feel a chill going down his spine as he reported that Mueller would not be making any further indictments.
The MSNBC host was in rare form Friday night, angrily biting off each word as he demanded to know, “Why. Was there never. An interrogation. Of this president.”
Matthews refused to believe that the “experts” who have been assuring him and his liberal audience for nearly two years that Mueller’s investigation would result in criminal charges against President Trump could have been wrong the whole time.
Matthews long ago determined in his own mind that the president is guilty of obstruction of justice and collusion, and the “experts” he hosts on his show have reinforced that conclusion so firmly that Matthews seemed genuinely unable to understand why Mueller did not file any charges against Donald Trump, asking, “How can they let Trump off the hook?”
The host was particularly incensed that President Trump never had to “sit down with the Special Counsel Mueller and answer his damn questions,” wondering, “How can that happen?!”
Matthews was obviously experiencing the second stage of grief, which is anger. His MSNBC colleague, Rachel Maddow, on the other hand, expressed her anguish somewhat differently. Apparently, she was still stuck in the first stage, which is denial.
“Our job tonight as a country sort of — or at least what everybody in the country is going to be doing tonight, is trying to figure out what it means that the report of special counsel Robert Mueller has finally been submitted,” Maddow said near the beginning of her show, in between pained facial expressions.
“In terms of what that means and what Mueller found, we know only the smallest little bits,” she added. “This is the start of something, apparently, not the end of something.”
That assessment is a comical mix of wishful thinking and delusion. The fact that Mueller submitted his report means only one thing: that he’s finished with his investigation. Maddow is probably correct that “this is the start of something,” since Democrats in Congress have made it clear that they plan to subject President Trump to endless investigations in the hopes of uncovering something that Mueller couldn’t, but the Mueller probe is over, no matter how cartoonishly Maddow grimaces.
In between the Matthews and Maddow meltdowns, a stone-faced Jim Acosta went on CNN to discuss the “glee” that the President’s supporters are feeling now that Mueller has submitted his report and will not pursue any additional indictments.
Acosta very evidently didn’t share in that glee, sounding as though he was on the verge of gagging when he quoted a Trump campaign advisor as saying that “this is a great day for America.”
To wash the taste of MAGA out of his mouth, Acosta immediately pivoted to speculating that Mueller’s report might still contain damaging information about President Trump. Realizing that such a long-shot hypothetical circumstance probably offered cold comfort to CNN viewers, Acosta also interjected that “we still don’t know the conclusion of what’s happening in the Southern District of New York,” then reminded his audience that Democrats in Congress will accuse the administration of a cover-up if so much as a single word is redacted from the Mueller report when it is released to the public.
This is despite the fact that Acosta and congressional leaders are well aware that information derived from grand jury testimony and a host of other sources cannot be disclosed by the attorney general.
The mixture of sputtering outrage, wishful thinking, and excuse-making that pervaded the cable news networks Friday night reveals that even the most liberal partisans know that Mueller’s report will be the death knell of the Russia collusion hoax they’ve been perpetuating since before Mueller was even appointed.
They’ll sort through their grief eventually through the next stages, but that won’t end their public displays of humiliation, evidently.
Madison Gesiotto (@MadisonGesiotto) is an attorney and serves on the advisory board of the Donald Trump campaign. She was a 2016 inauguration spokesperson and former Miss Ohio.