Editorial: In the age of Mueller, media literacy is increasingly important

Complex social and political issues are often the centerpoint of national media coverage, but to what extent do they have the responsibility to convey those topics to the people?

The Mueller Report

For the last two years, it has been difficult for the American public to distance itself from the Russia Probe, as the news has routinely inundated us with information about the investigation of the relationship between the United States and Russia during the 2016 presidential election.

In April of this year, after the conclusion of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, the report was made public by the U.S. Department of Justice. In July of this year, Mueller testified before Congress as to the findings of his report.

With the continuous news coverage, books and coffee-talk political conversations, it seems as though we have all been caught in the mix of a political firestorm.

An investigation such as the Russia Probe — something relevant to all Americans — in theory is a bipartisan issue; unfortunately, it is hard to deny that this firestorm has evolved as a partisan issue.

While news coverage has provided the public with important information, political conversations should reflect a language that makes it easier for the public to understand. 

Chronicling Mueller’s testimony before Congress earlier this month, the Associated Press noted that “Mueller had made clear in his report that he could not exonerate President Donald Trump on obstruction of justice in the probe. But investigators didn’t find sufficient evidence to establish charges of criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia.”

With this summary of the key findings from Mueller’s report in hand, it is striking that one might encounter continuing coverage that seemingly confirms the certainty that there either was or was not collusion or foreign interference, depending on which network news coverage is being watched.

The pandemonium surrounding Mueller’s report is crucial for an informed democracy. But, while we all harbor our own personal biases, true news outlets strive to ensure that their coverage accurately represents issues clarifies confusing information for their viewers who are not equipped with as many resources as a standard newsroom.

It is compelling to contemplate how more structure and order might affect our conversations for the better. Rather than battling each other in attempts to expose the truth, a healthy digression into conversations that underscore the details might help us all get to the heart of the matter.

Reflection 

We are not all lawyers, so to an extent, we must — and should — rely on second-hand information such as media commentators and political pundits to do the digesting for us.

But, we should be careful to adequately and accurately assess the Mueller Report as best we can. Instead of impulsively choosing sides based on shock value and initial reaction, we should ensure that we are adequately assessing the information presented to us in order to arrive at the proper conclusions.

While there is room for improvement regarding news media coverage of the Russia Probe, as well as our political conversations, news media dutifully serve as a watchdog to the public; without them we would likely be less informed.

Given that this dynamic between news media and public conversations is an ongoing process, it is important to exercise our best judgment about current happenings and do our best to seek out multiple sources and arguments to understand the larger matter at hand.