Do the facts matter anymore?

The nation has been watching an epic battle between fact and fiction for more than a year. This week, with t...

Posted: Aug 27, 2018 4:35 AM
Updated: Aug 27, 2018 4:35 AM

The nation has been watching an epic battle between fact and fiction for more than a year. This week, with the major legal developments regarding Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen (President Donald Trump's former campaign manager and fixer, respectively) the power of facts dealt a serious blow to Trump's endless cries of "witch hunt."

With the convictions of Trump's associates starting to pile up and a Fox News poll showing an increase in approval of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation this month, it seems that the tide is turning against the President. For anyone who has given up on the belief that fact will win out in a political world with so much fiction, the reverberations from this week should provide a modicum of hope.

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Despite widespread hope that it will be wrapped up by midterm elections, the Russia investigation will heat up even more, and so will the battle between Trump and Mueller. The dichotomy of the two men's modi operandi couldn't be starker: Here is Trump using his bully pulpit to spin and twist the facts and create an alternative narrative. And here is Robert Mueller, the tough and quiet prosecutor who depends on the truth, laid bare through indictments and convictions, to speak for itself.

Although Mueller does not have the same massive platform as the President, or a passionate and loyal political base that will back him in any situation, he does have the capacity to shape public opinion through the report he will ultimately produce.

We don't yet know what Trump's relationship was to the Russian attack on the 2016 election, or how far he went to obstruct the Russia investigation -- and Democrats should pause before making any assumptions. But we are already seeing a pretty devastating portrait of the people the President has surrounded himself with. And Cohen's statement in the courtroom that he acted "in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office," appears to indicate that Trump was willing to go beyond the boundaries of the law to win the presidency. Trump has denied wrongdoing.

As the Russia investigation enters its next phase and converges with midterm season, the country's immediate future will hinge on how the public interprets any revelations made public. Based on his own record, President Trump will work tirelessly to manipulate each part of this story to promote a narrative that vindicates him and impugns his critics.

Trump's statements indicate he is willing to bring down entire institutions to protect himself. His critics should not take the threat that he poses lightly; they should realize that in our current political world, the truth often doesn't win out. The President has already shown his capacity to shape national conversations with smears that have no basis in fact. He delegitimizes people, organizations and institutions by throwing political mud at the wall to see what will stick. Much of it does, and his base remains strong.

Nonetheless, President Trump and his ardent supporters should not be so sure this will work every time. If Mueller's report is damning to the President, it will offer the biggest counterpunch to the Trumpian world of spin. The legal damage in this investigation is already starting to mount, and --- even if Mueller's report does not come out before November -- Republicans will still very likely be the first to pay the price in the midterm elections.

If Democrats gain control of Congress in November and Mueller's report suggests that the President has committed high crimes and misdemeanors, the findings must be powerful enough to sway Democrats to move forward with impeachment and convince enough Senate Republicans to concur. If Republicans retain a slim majority in Congress, the report would somehow have to shake Republicans from their partisan loyalty and convince them to do something to constrain Trump.

Even if the President can survive a bad report from Mueller, it remains to be seen whether his capacity to sell his fans on the world he imagines will be enough to win him reelection in 2020.

Some people have recently been wearing T-shirts that read "It's Mueller Time." Well, the verdict will be out soon and we'll see then how many more people will be sporting that phrase.

Soon we'll know how much our political world has been broken and whether there is any hope for regaining normality -- and returning to a nation where facts actually matter.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 28770

Reported Deaths: 1092
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds224739
DeSoto144216
Madison124234
Jones109149
Neshoba97070
Lauderdale89479
Rankin86012
Forrest82942
Harrison79410
Scott75715
Copiah58016
Leake56519
Jackson55716
Holmes53641
Wayne52212
Lee51816
Oktibbeha51625
Washington5129
Yazoo4786
Leflore47449
Warren46317
Lowndes45912
Lincoln43734
Lamar4317
Grenada3965
Pike39312
Monroe37529
Lafayette3684
Attala35523
Newton3329
Sunflower3216
Covington3175
Bolivar29813
Panola2956
Adams28018
Simpson2713
Chickasaw26418
Tate2648
Marion26311
Pontotoc2616
Jasper2516
Noxubee2478
Pearl River24532
Clay24410
Winston2446
Claiborne23910
Marshall2123
Smith21111
Clarke20424
Coahoma1906
Union1819
Walthall1794
Kemper17614
Yalobusha1667
Lawrence1621
Carroll16111
Humphreys1309
Itawamba1308
Tippah12711
Webster12610
Calhoun1244
Montgomery1242
Hancock12313
Tallahatchie1153
Jefferson Davis1074
Prentiss1003
Greene968
Jefferson963
Wilkinson929
Tunica903
Amite842
George753
Tishomingo731
Choctaw724
Quitman690
Perry634
Alcorn601
Stone541
Franklin392
Benton270
Sharkey270
Issaquena81
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 41362

Reported Deaths: 983
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson4532143
Montgomery3875102
Mobile3797134
Tuscaloosa210739
Marshall162210
Lee124537
Shelby110923
Madison11047
Morgan10203
Walker87123
Franklin86314
Dallas8419
Elmore83614
Baldwin7359
Etowah64413
DeKalb6415
Butler60727
Chambers60027
Tallapoosa57269
Autauga55312
Unassigned50724
Russell5030
Lowndes45820
Lauderdale4576
Houston4464
Limestone4290
Cullman4114
Pike4075
Colbert3775
Bullock3649
Coffee3592
Barbour3331
Covington3327
St. Clair3192
Marengo29911
Hale29621
Escambia2936
Wilcox2848
Talladega2827
Calhoun2805
Sumter27912
Clarke2686
Dale2620
Jackson2522
Winston2373
Blount2181
Pickens2176
Chilton2152
Marion20613
Monroe2052
Choctaw19212
Randolph1889
Conecuh1866
Greene1788
Macon1778
Bibb1761
Perry1541
Henry1303
Crenshaw1243
Washington1027
Lawrence1000
Cherokee797
Lamar711
Geneva700
Fayette671
Clay612
Coosa571
Cleburne301
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