Have you ever lost a bet that you couldn’t back up, and wound up looking like a fool? Maybe it wasn’t for money, but for something else of value that you couldn’t deliver. I have. It was the late fall of 2012. Derek Dooley had been fired, and for the third time in five years, the University of Tennessee was searching for a football coach. It was coaching search season, and I had the scoop. At age 17, in my infinite wisdom, I was confident beyond the shadow of a doubt in the reliability of my sources “inside the athletic department.” Many friends with loose connections to Tennessee filled me with stories of secret meetings, happenstance sightings, and private jet pick-ups. They all centered around one ominous figure, Super Bowl Champion head coach and world renowned commentator Jon Gruden.
I swallowed the Grumors hook, line and sinker. He was seen buying gas at a local Pilot station. He was closing on a piece of property in Loudon County. He was a big time closet Vols fan. He was… never legitimately interested in the job. But that didn’t stop me from making ridiculous wagers with any peer who would take one. My most infamous offense was a promise to my sports marketing class that if the Vols didn’t hire coach Gruden, I’d streak through the school commons. Needless to say, I Welshed on that one.
This week special counsel Robert Mueller concluded his investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with Russian nationals to win the 2016 presidential election. Some 40 million dollars and hundreds of subpoenas later, Mueller reported to the attorney general that he had been unable to discover any evidence of collusion between the Russians and the Trump team. The entire investigation was a two year nothing-burger.
A lot of people have been made to look foolish by this conclusion. Beto O’Rourke accused the President of committing treason. Late night comedians broke character to announce condemnations of the president. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff has promised the public for two years now that he has proof of collusion on every cable outlet that would have him.
These sins are egregious, but they’re not the worst perpetuators of this farce. On average since 2017, the three major cable news networks have reported on the Russia Scandal 8 times per day. That is undoubtedly more than any other single issue over that same time span. Just like the 17 year old message board reader at Farragut High School espousing the gospel of Gruden, they chose to sell conjecture as fact. But they are not 17, and they weren’t discussing something so trivial as a coaching search. They acted flippantly, and almost criminally concerning out most valuable possession, the integrity of our democracy.
Media are afforded special protections by our constitution because they are an essential element to the success of a free people. They are the fourth estate. Most of our nations major media outlets, FOX News and Drudge included, are betraying that responsibility in order to sell tickets. Media have bias, but their ultimate driving force is the profit motive. Whatever they do, they do because we are paying them to do it. Russian fear sells just like the prospect of a big name coach sells.
The onus is un us as a people to hold them accountable. This should be a moment of self examination for the people of this country. For those on the left, did you ignore your better judgement in order to believe what you desperately wanted to believe? For those on the right, did you waste countless hours fretting and obsessing over what turned out to be little more than a reality television?
It is the duty of every American to be vigilant and informed. One news outlet cannot be relied upon to deliver reliable information in the Kardashian age. Healthy happy people must rise above the petty partisanship that has enveloped all major media, and commit themselves to read and watch multiple platforms, while tuning out those that are outright sensationalist. If we demand more, and cast our dollar vote, media will return to doing their jobs.