The benefit of the doubt bites me in the ass, again

I try. I really try. I try to see things in a less frenzied hyperbolic way. I try to give the benefit of the doubt. I’m often wrong, and the benefit of the doubt isn’t deserved, but I still feel better as a human being. Others might feel worse to be wrong, but I don’t mind being wrong, and would rather be wrong while reasonable than right while frenzied. That’s just me. But twice in the last few days, I’ve tried to be that way, and it seems that I’ve been too kind. Of course, the title of the post is a bit hyperbolic and frenzied in itself, because nothing actually bit me in the ass. In fact, I’m not sure any of this affects me personally at all, but here’s where giving the benefit of the doubt seems to have failed me, and the bite in the ass (which isn’t a big deal), was my wife saying “I told you so.”

When the Nunez memo was released, the media narrative was that the GOP was simultaneously releasing their memo, while blocking the response from the democrats on the committee. I cried foul. Paul Ryan gave a public statement saying that nobody was blocking the memo, but that there was a process and the democrats started the process late, and that was the only reason the memos weren’t coming out at the same time. I bought that, and it sounded reasonable. My wife did not. She called BS. In fairness (to me), some of the things Ryan pointed out were accurate. There is a process. The democrats did start the process later than the republicans did. The GOP could have waited to release their memo until the process was complete for the democrat’s memo, but there are perks to being in the majority, and to being the first to show up. Still, I was sure that the process would be followed, and the memo would be released. My wife said I was crazy. Weeks later, when the test comes, who was right? Not me, that’s for sure. Again, to be fair, republicans in Congress aren’t to blame, but the democrat’s memo still hasn’t been released, and has been blocked by President Trump. I don’t know what will happen next, or if we’ll ever see the memo, but what I do believe is that it won’t matter. We see the world so differently these days. In the FoxNews world, the Nunez memo was a scathing indictment of the FBI for privacy violations and abuse of power, likely with ties right up to the top: President Obama. To the rest of the world, the memo was a cherry-picked nothingness, that omitted key facts to paint a picture that doesn’t fit reality. I certainly believe the “rest of the world” side of this. There are at least two key things that the FoxNews world seems to leave out of the story:

  • The cover letter of the memo clearly states: “To be clear, the Memorandum reflects the judgements of its congressional authors.” In other words, this is a partisan story, and only one side of things.
  • The memo states that information about Papadopoulos triggered the investigation in July 2016, not the Steel dossier. This does not fit the narrative sold on FoxNews that the dossier was the trigger.

In the end, I doubt it matters much what the democrat’s memo says, because folks in the FoxNews world will ignore it the same way that those of us outside of FoxNews Land have ignored the Nunez memo.

But that wasn’t the first time I undeservedly gave the benefit of the doubt. I also tried to give it to John Kelly over the Rob Porter scandal. I said that I found it fair to believe that Kelly knew there were accusations against Porter, but didn’t know how severe they were, and didn’t believe them until he saw the evidence recently. At that point, he abandoned his skepticism, and moved to fire Porter. The was met with a bit of outrage from my wife, who said that it doesn’t fit the timeline. First of all, there was some clear scrambling from the White House, and conflicting stories from the press office. That doesn’t bode well, but I can chalk that up to people speaking without knowing things. That happens all the time, and if I was willing to give that benefit of the doubt to things related to Benghazi, I should give it here also. But it’s now clear that Kelly knew about the allegations since the fall, when he was told why Porter still did not have security clearance. The Washington Post reported that Porter told Kelly he was going to resign (sometime around November), because he was told he would not receive clearance because of the abuse reports and the FBI’s concern that it opens him up to blackmail. So my benefit of the doubt, that Kelly wasn’t aware of the severity of the allegations, is a bit hard to believe. If the allegations were severe enough to make the FBI deny clearance, to the point that Porter said he would resign, and Kelly pushed him to stay, it seems like Kelly simply didn’t care that Porter was a wife-beater.

So, again, I gave the benefit of the doubt, and it looks like it wasn’t deserved. Still, I sleep better seeing the best in people, so I’m not sorry that I tried to view Kelly as a better person than he seems to be, but it gets harder and harder to give these folks the benefit of the doubt each time they throw it in my face.

 

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