Thank God that’s over! I’m referring, of course, to Comey Week. For seven days, Americans have been inundated with media “covfefe” of all things James Comey.
First there was all the pre-testimony hype leading up to Thursday morning. Then there was the wall-to-wall coverage of Comey’s appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee. And finally, there was the endless analysis and parsing of every word and gesture made by the former FBI director.
As an observer somewhat removed from all the excitement (i.e. – a Canadian), I’m at a loss to understand what all the commotion was about. One commentator said Comey’s appearance was the most important Washington testimony since Anita Hill appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings back in 1991. Really?
I watched the more than two-and-a-half hours of testimony and came away with one burning question: Did I learn anything that I didn’t already know beforehand? The short answer is no. The long answer is no except for the additional fact that Comey passed his written memos of his interactions with Trump to a friend with instructions to pass them on to the New York Times.
As far as I can tell, we already knew that Comey didn’t trust Trump and thought he was a liar. We had already heard about Trump’s request for Comey’s loyalty and his expressed wish that Comey make the Michael Flynn investigation go away.
I thought that I had heard a striking piece of news when Comey revealed that Bill Clinton’s ill-advised visit to then-Attorney-General Loretta Lynch on a tarmac in Phoenix in June of last year was the deciding factor in Comey publicizing the results of the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s e-mails. However, a quick Google search revealed that this information was already of public record when Comey testified last month before the Senate Judiciary Committee. (As an aside, if the former FBI director is in need of employment, he might want to apply for the position of professional Congressional committee witness.)
Thus, from my perspective, almost nothing of note was revealed by Mr. Comey’s testimony (most of which he had already submitted in a written statement the day before). Yet immediately following the committee’s session, the talking heads went at it on every channel as if they had discovered a new version of the Rosetta Stone.
So why do Congress and the American media go crazy for such testimony and turn it into a national spectacle? After all, it’s not like it was a slow news day given that the U. K. was holding an election, ISIS had carried out an attack in Iran and YouTube had posted even more adorable kitten videos.
I suspect it has something to do with an ongoing investment in the “big story.” Countless Washington politicians and journalists have been following the various investigations surrounding Russia and the Trump campaign and, like anyone with a long term investment, they’re hoping that it will eventually pay off.
You could see it on the faces of Senate committee members. This was their big chance to perform on a national stage and who among them could resist that temptation? And journalists and political commentators looking to become the next Woodward or Bernstein created what could only be called a feeding frenzy.
Personally, I’d prefer that whatever Congressional committee, special counsel or FBI department is looking into these matters do so in a quiet, low-profile manner. If you turn up some important new evidence then let me know. Otherwise, carry on with your work and don’t excite everyone for no good reason.
On the other hand, I do thank the Senate Intelligence Committee for three things: (1) its humorous oxymoronic name, (2) demonstrating a seldom-seen level of non-partisan cooperation and (3) revealing that John McCain is off his medication. For those reasons alone, I guess I have to admit it was worth the price of admission.