It has been nearly two months since the official start of the Trump administration, and I feel it is necessary to just briefly address the very uncomfortable elephant in the room: for all the hysterics surrounding the Trump machine’s alleged connections to Russia and Putin and the KGB, nothing has come of any of it. There has been no smoking gun, no Big Reveal; there have been no non-anonymous sources dropping bombshells that turned out to actually mean anything. We have lurched from one hysterical media cycle to the next with nothing to show for it.
It is easy to forget how much media hysterics we’ve witnessed over the past twelve weeks or so. There was the “Trump aides in constant communication with Russians” thing, out of which nothing materialized; there was the “Trump computer pings Russian bank” outrage that turned out to be not an outrage at all; there was the absolute delirium surrounding Jeff Sessions’s having met with some Russian dignitaries in the course of his job as a senator, an utterly unremarkable revelation that caused many intelligent and competent grown men and women to accuse Sessions of perjury and treason; there was, and remains, the absurd contention that Russia “hacked the election.” Every news cycle seems to bring with it a fresh round of hysterics, another round of pundits declaring that, finally, at long last—after all this time!—the decisive link has been proven, the Trump team will finally be brought to its knees, Trump himself may spend time in federal prison. Then, nothing happens. Then next week we do it again.
The only scandal of which anything even moderately significant came about was the resignation of Michael Flynn—which, if the FBI is to be believed, was more a political problem than a legal one. For all their Russian intrigue bluster, the anti-Trump contingency only has one scalp to show for it: the ousting of an administration official who was really a bad pick to begin with.
There is a special irony in the optics of this whole charade: for years the term “Red scare” has been an epithet on the Left, used to dismiss perceived conservative paranoia or intransigence. Who would of thought that, after all this time, it would be liberals who are irrationally, inexplicably, monomaniacally obsessed with the Reds?
This is not to suggest that there isn’t some link, damning or otherwise, between Trump and the sinister forces of Russian foreign conspiracy; maybe there is, anything’s possible, and our president’s idiot admiration for Putin does not make him look good either way. The broader point, however, is this: for months we’ve been subject to a media mania surrounding Russia commensurate to a five-alarm fire—but without any fire to show for it, or even really any smoke. Just one concrete link—one genuinely alarming exposé—one on-the-record, non-anonymous source testifying to one truly troubling allegation. Anything.
I say this non-rhetorically: I will believe a convincing, condemnatory Trump-Russia story when I see it. But so far I have not seen it. Where is it?