Give one thing to conservatives: They are always on message. And as Robert Mueller circles ever closer to Donald Trump, inspiring desperate tweets and a whole lot of fear, the conservative media universe has pivoted to their next big talking point. It can be summed us thusly:
Collusion with Russia? No big deal.
The bat signal has been broadcast, and already everybody seems to be on the same page. Here are just a few examples, courtesy of MSNBC:
Take, for example, National Review’s Andrew McCarthy arguing on Fox News last week that there’s nothing necessarily wrong with the president’s political operation possibly having turned to a foreign adversary to help win an American election.
“Look, I don’t think that it’s bad if campaigns are turning to foreign governments for dirt. It’s not collusion, it’s not something that’s impeachable, it’s icky. But that’s what this is.”
A day later, The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway wrote, “I don’t have a problem [with] getting dirt on election opponents from foreigners.” She added that relying on the Steele dossier is effectively the same thing.
Fox News’ Tucker Carlson quickly endorsed the line, telling his viewers, “Nobody is claiming that any information changed hands, though, even if it did, so what?”
The best of all, though, came from none other than presidential hype man and occasional TV idiot Rudy Giuliani, who actually uttered the words “collusion is not a crime” on the White House Morning Propaganda Hour…er, Fox & Friends:
WOW — @RudyGiuliani begins @foxandfriends interview by downplaying the significance of collusion.
"I have been sitting here looking in the federal code trying to find collusion as a crime. Collusion is not a crime." pic.twitter.com/fD1MdS6T29— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) July 30, 2018
So, Fox News, the Federalist, National Review, Rudy…we expect as much from all of these people. What’s really surprising is the speed at which they receive and parrot the White House’s talking points, and in the process distort the truth. Collusion may not be a crime, but conspiracy is, and what’s amusing is how hard Trump and co. have been lying about it for so long. There’s also the shifting goalposts, as Steve Benen at MSNBC laid out:
he original line from Trump World and its allies was that Russia didn’t attack our elections. The evolution soon followed: OK, maybe Russia did attack, but the Trump campaign wasn’t in communication with our adversaries during their attack. OK, maybe they were in communication, but their talks had nothing to do with the campaign. OK, maybe Team Trump did talk to our adversaries about the campaign during their attack, but is that really so bad?
And finally, we’ve reached the crescendo: Collusion may have happened, but it’s not a crime.