Peter Strzok acted disgracefully as the FBI counterintelligence investigator in charge of both the Hillary Clinton email server fiasco and the Donald Trump-Russia collusion witch hunt. The obvious reason is that he was so biased for the former and against the latter that he should have disqualified himself from both probes. He didn’t, and when his texts came out, Independent Counsel Mueller removed him from the Russia probe.
How biased is Mueller and his team against Trump? We won’t know, because nobody has oversight over that gone-rogue operation and nobody has publicly resigned admitting to internal bias. There has been no evidence of Trump-Russia collusion after two years but the probe continues full steam. Washington in a nutshell.
It is not at all surprising that Strzok didn’t disqualify himself because that didn’t serve his interests, either career-wise or perhaps for more nefarious reasons. Strzok denies any bias, testifying the Mueller removed him because of the “appearance” of bias, not for any demonstrated bias. He “strzok” to this story despite the Inspector General’s public criticisms, which again can’t prove bias, because bias is a state of mind. Proving bias based only on an outcome is exceedingly difficult.
Was Strzok’s exoneration of Hillary Clinton a fair result? It doesn’t appear so, but who really knows. I will say in Hillary’s defense that her elevation as one of two candidates for president may have effectively been a “get out of jail free” card, and maybe that is okay. We certainly don’t want to elect any president by default (had she been disqualified and taken off the ballot, handing the election to her opponent, that could be worse for our democracy than having her win.) Voters are supposed to vet such imperfect candidates during the primaries but as we know now, that doesn’t always work well.
So we can infer bias in Strzok’s work based on his personal feelings on full display in his private texts, but in the Boston Globe’s case, we have a long and very public record of bias that can be proven by a preponderance of the evidence. “Preponderance” is of course not strong enough of a word for the evidence. It is overwhelming. The odds of the Globe not being biased but having hundreds of reporters and editors always writing for one side and against the other would be like winning the Megabucks lottery…52 weeks in a row. We can debate whether Strzok’s two investigations were biased but there can be no real debate about whether the Globe’s 5,000 or 10,000 articles aren’t biased.
Strzok had a duty to recuse himself, and I’m sure there is some FBI regulation mandating that he do so. It is probably on page 127 of the FBI code of conduct. But Globe reporters and editors have the same duty, yet their duty to be fair is on page one of their professional conduct manual. It goes to the heart of what reporters and editors are supposed to do in doing their jobs. And even if there is bias and it is undetected, the editing process is supposed to ensure that the finished product doesn’t contain obvious bias.
When reporters and editors have a secret agenda (well, not so secret anymore) but hide their intentions, their conflicts-of-interest, and their biases, we have a word for that and the word is “propaganda.” Usually, propaganda is a state-sponsored attempt to sway readers (or viewers, or listeners) with what the state wants them to think, but in this case it is about having Globe readers think a certain way which aligns with one political philosophy and party over another.
If the Boston Globe labeled itself as the de facto arm of the Democrat party and didn’t portray itself as an unbiased news source, that would be one thing. It would be a shame but at least it would be honest and transparent. If Democrats who subscribe to the Globe would continue to do so and the Globe and its employees can make a living, more power to them. Perhaps a new paradigm of joining a political party would be to get a subscription to the official newspaper of that party. But that isn’t how the free press developed and having an independent voice is probably a better model, but only if that independence is true.
We have freedom in this country, private enterprise, and a free press. Free press means absolutely free of government interference. But with no oversight and with the internal oversight enforced by the free market now broken, and with newspapers getting rid of their internal watchdogs who at least attempted to perform this duty (ombudsmen), the Globe (and many other publications) has just gone wild. They are much worse now than they were ten or fifteen yeasts ago when I stopped being a regular reader.
The reason why what the Globe does is worse than what one FBI agent did is because it affects the entire industry and this relentless propaganda has perhaps been a big factor in the polarization of America. We are divided into two camps, one of whom no longer trusts the “mainstream media” because of bias, and the other believes every biased piece of crap that is printed. It is my working theory that this persistent bias has led to circulation declines, but I can’t tell if the declining circulation is mostly because of it or the rise of the Internet and smartphone. Maybe it is both.
This specific article is moderately biased. The writer suggests that because Republicans are generally for “law and order,” their attacks on Strzok must be based on politics. This is not true (not if you read the texts.) But the article implies in several places that the Republicans were out-of-line in attacking Strzok. While the article itself is just mildly biased, the conduct of Strzok was truly reprehensible, given that he was involved in two partisan witch hunts and he didn’t recuse himself from either.
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