The BBC is a little confused.
They misused the word “explosive” with the James Comey interview.
The interview was mildly salacious, but not even new salacious.
So let’s go over the difference between merely salacious, and genuine explosive.
Explosive is a major revelation that directly impacts society. A major grocery chain selling deadstock is explosive. A law firm that embezzles money of clients is explosive. Poisoning the water supply is explosive. A botched police investigation that allows a killer to go on slaughtering people is explosive.
Salacious is just gross or steamy gossip that may embarrass, but there is no actually impact on anyone. Finding out a husband and wife use cartoon voices to say naughty things to each other is salacious, and it doesn’t matter if the pair are CEOs of a Fortune 500 company. Insults are salacious, but aren’t actual news.
Explosive information is hard news. Fudging data in cancer research is explosive. The researcher role-playing with her significant other in a lab coat at home is salacious.
We can even debate about the salacious part. In private, it’s nothing, but should that researcher become well-known and one of her former partners tell it to the world to malign her, it becomes salacious — but it’s meaningless because that doesn’t impact her actual job. She can be responsible and brilliant — and if her private life is not negatively impacting her work, it’s no one’s business.
But if she was giving contracts to those flies — now that’s another matter. It all has to do with societal harm. If the person’s action will rig an outcome, that’s fair game to be exposed.
Which brings us to the James Comey interview.
Journalists have been hyping a non-newsworthy interview into something important, and the BBC has missed the mark. The interview was mildly salacious, not explosive. The Beeb saw six non-newsworthy parts as explosive, but really, they weren’t:
- “Morally unfit”: Are we surprised that Comey — who was fired in public and was the last man on the planet to know about it — would say anything else? He was outfoxed, and for a director of the FBI, that has to be a bitter pill to swallow. To get to that position takes cunning and an ability to outmaneuver other cunning players — so for him to be blindsided and bested by a political neophyte must have shaken him to the core. That an alpha male would trash talk the other alpha male who whumped his backside is salacious, not explosive. We see it all the time in the business and entertainment spheres, and considering Trump comes from both those realms — and in a Live Out Loud generation, we can expect him to be the one to set the terms of combat.
- “Obstruction of justice”: It would have potentially been explosive, but Comey’s verbal innuendoes and dodges merely planted seeds, but without actual proof, it’s just hot air. It was a verbal sleight of hand. Had George Stephanopoulos been out for facts, he would have forced Comey to show his hand — or challenged him. It is not enough to hint. Hints are used by people who are trying to bluff their way to weaken their target by stratagem. That’s why this was also salacious, but not actually explosive.
- “Impeachment?: This wasn’t explosive, either. It was another hint: this is a way to cover his bases — if Comey’s earlier contention that there was possible obstruction of justice going on, but then doesn’t think Trump should be impeached, that points that whatever Trump has done, was all that to begin with. Trump may very well be a scoundrel, but that’s the American Way. He is playing it both ways. Neither explosive, not salacious — but Stephanopoulos never pressed him to commit to an answer.
- Clinton emails probe: Not exactly explosive, either, but it was egregious:
“I was operating in a world where Hillary Clinton was going to beat Donald Trump,” Mr Comey said.
In other words, Comey thought the fix was in; so it didn’t matter what he did? How interesting. Moreover, Comey stated he wouldn’t have altered his behaviour. This hints that the Beltway has its rigs, and full confidence that those rigs will favour them, and everyone can be on autopilot. As Comey is a man who portrays himself as faultless, I am not surprised he states publicly that he wouldn’t change his previous actions.
- Moscow prostitutes: Not explosive, just speculative gossip that is standard currency with those who play psychological games. Plant seeds to drag people down, but at no time do you have actual proof. Journalists speculate like this, and Comey gave the interviewer the kind of dirt those in the industry hunger for to curry favour with them.
- Trump’s hair and hands: More petty schoolyard taunts, and it seems to be Comey is deliberately mirroring Trump’s behaviour in an effort to strike at those who support Trump. It reminds me a lot of former Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly’s sparring with guest Jeremy Glick — Glick may have bested the host in the debate, but to O’Reilly’s supporters, they not only didn’t see it, but were of the impression Glick lost that fateful debate.
In other words, no smoking gun. No new information. No real dirt. The BBC seemed oblivious to the disappointing nature of the interview, with this analysis:
This interview should put to bed any question about whether Mr Comey has a natural talent for public relations. He sprinkles his comments throughout with the kind of little details and colour that keep an audience engaged. There’s the tidbits about the president’s personal appearance, his description of drinking wine out of a paper cup on flight home after being fired and his joke in the early days of the Clinton investigation that “nobody gets out alive”.
On the contrary, if Comey had that talent for PR — he’d still have his job. He is planting seeds, but considering that Stormy Daniels opened a door, it closed by the time he came on the stage explaining to the world why he lost his job in such a novel and spectacular manner. Comey’s use of colour was interesting — and considering journalists used it until they found themselves in a destroyed profession should be a huge red flag that perhaps colour is way overrated.
Here was a golden opportunity to ask all sorts of unexpected and uncomfortable questions — it didn’t happen. Reporters always congratulate themselves, even as their bored audiences are shrinking and not coming back…