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Liberal media makes political fog even thicker

Ruben Navarrette Jr. on

SAN DIEGO -- It's hard to remember a time when a simple four-page memo caused so much trouble.

Depending on how you feel about President Trump, the memo in question -- which was compiled by staffers in the office of Rep. Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee -- is either a smoking gun showing misbehavior by agencies during the Obama administration, or a giant "nothing burger." The truth is probably somewhere in between.

For me, the memo -- and the frenzied reaction to it by all sides -- provides a chance to reflect on how broken our public discourse has become and how the media helped break it.

As an opinion journalist, it's not my job to persuade people to my line of thinking or act as a mouthpiece for either political party. Frankly, both political parties are driven by self-interest and appear to be filled with people willing to lie to cover up wrongdoing.

My role is to simplify the complicated, put the news in context, and help explain a crazy world. Yet I can't even begin that task until I help clear the air by taking in piles of information from a variety of sources, and sifting through them to separate the helpful from the hogwash.

In recent months, I've met many smart people who want to be good citizens and stay informed, but they find the process of sifting to be so exhausting that they've turned off their TV. They tell me that they don't know whom -- or what -- to trust. They just want the facts. And all they see is fog.

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I get it. Taking in too much media can be harmful -- to your sanity. We live in strange times where, the more newspaper articles and TV news you consume, the more confused you become.

Now we have something else to sift through: hundreds of texts between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, those lovestruck and loquacious FBI employees who were chatting about the investigations of both Hillary Clinton's private email server and alleged collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.

The fog is unbelievably thick. And every day, there is more. What there isn't a lot of is answers, only questions.

Like this one: Did the FBI and the Justice Department mislead judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court by relegating to a footnote in a surveillance request the fact that an intelligence dossier was paid for by political opposition to Trump? If so, wouldn't it have been better to say outright in the requests -- which started under the Obama administration -- that the funding came from the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee?

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