A Modern Witch Hunt

 

salem-witch-hanging2

The President recently called the investigation into Russian interference into the 2016 election and the Trump campaigns collusion with it a witch hunt. This is not the first time the President used the term nor is he the only one to make the comparison. What exactly is a witch hunt and how does the current investigation stack up against past activities that have been called witch hunts. 

 

The most famous case in America is the Salem witch trials in Salem Massachusetts between February 1692 and May 1693. While not the first, last or largest it is the most famous to Americans. A quick recap some young girls in Salem who were exhibiting strange behavior accused local people of being witch’s and possessing them a series of trials took place and many of the accused were convicted, you know the rest.

 

The witch trials have been used in modern times as a cautionary tale to advise against false accusations and the refusal to adhere to due process. The American historian George Lincoln Burr cited the trials as “the Salem witchcraft was the rock on which the theocracy shattered.”[          

 

 The most famous witch hunt is modern times were the McCarty hearings looking, for communist in the government. This, as the Salem trials, spread far and wide looking for any person that could fit into the paranoia of the times. The Salem trials and the McCarty hearing finally floundered by becoming so aggressive that it became clear that there was no basis for the accusations.

 

Now to the current rush to judgment. As I have said in previous posts, the Russian accusations started out as an attempt to deflect the growing appearance of incompetence by Hillary Clinton and, more so, from her apparent criminal actions as Secretary of State regarding mishandling of classified information. From the first charge of the Russians hacking the DNC and releasing incriminating emails through Wikileaks. Following this it was a Russian conspiracy to swing the election to Trump, and finally that the Trump campaign was conspiring with the Russians to influence the election.

 

Now why are we calling the current congressional and FBI investigation a witch hunt? As I said the only thing that is known is the DNC was hacked, likely by the Russians. The rest is pure speculation and innuendo. Much of what is being investigated could be called guilt by association. Paul Manafort who was at one time a Trump campaign manager had also help the former president of Ukraine, an ally of Russia. Paul Manafort is a paid political consultant, this is what he does. This is no established connection between him and any Trump campaign activity that could lead to Russia. The big best known now is former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Flynn met with the Russian ambassador in December, after the election. The accusation is that Flynn spoke about lifting sanctions after the inauguration. He was fired for lying to the Vice-President about that conversation, no connection to Russian hacking or influence. Now in today’s Washington Post is an article about the Presidents son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his connections to Russia. This last is the most recent example of yellow journalism. Which is defined as relying on sensational or exaggerated headlines to sell newspapers. What was the headline:

 

        Jared Kushner now a focus in Russia investigation

 

And what was in the story:

 

        “Investigators are focusing on a series of meetings held by Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-                   law and an influential White House adviser, as part of their probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and related matters, according to people familiar with the investigation.”

 

 

 

So far so good, a news story, until we get 5 paragraphs in:

 

“The Post has not been told that Kushner is a target — or the central focus — of the investigation, and he has not been accused of any wrongdoing. “Target” is a word that generally refers to someone who is the main suspect of investigators’ attention, though prosecutors can and do bring charges against people who are not marked with that distinction.”

 

OK, is this a story or a witch hunt. Front page in print and leading in the online edition and 5 paragraphs in it reverses the headline.

 

Again, I ask, PLEASE THINK about what you read and hear. I am not sure if I want to call this story part of a witch hunt or just continuation of bad/biased reporting. In fact, it is both so read the whole story and use common sense. To the news media, please just report the news and only once you have confirmed the facts.

 

 

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