Two Twitter Feeds, Two Different Memos
Depending on your Twitter feed, you’re either witnessing a Republican abuse of power or a Justice Department gone rogue. Monday night, Republicans in the House Intelligence Committee approved the release of a four-page memo that may show bias in the FBI against President Donald Trump. Referred to as the Nunes memo in the left-leaning media, the document was compiled by Representative Devin Nunes, head of the House’s Intelligence Committee. In contrast, right-wing publications talk about the memo as the “FISA Memo” because it is said to reveal evidence that the FBI abused the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to wiretap individuals in the Trump campaign.
While the parties’ political narratives often diverge, this story—about the non-partisan DOJ—has driven a particularly divisive and harmful disconnect between parties and voters.
Democrats fear that the release of a previously classified memo before it has been expunged of any damaging information could cause undue harm to the Intelligence Community and that its publication is meant to only impinge the reputation of agencies like the FBI. This concern has led to a trend on liberal twitter to believe that this is a “witch hunt”:
The deepest conspiracies on the liberal side see the release of the memo as a slippery slope toward Donald Trump deconstructing the Department of Justice and, ultimately, making it a subservient arm of the Executive Branch.
In contrast, Republicans used a special House rule to prompt the release of the classified information. They see their efforts as legitimate oversight by the House Intelligence Committee to reveal potential bias in the FBI and want to preclude the FBI of any vetting because of their very role in the memo’s contents. This thinking has captured the minds of right wing extremists who want to see “Obama’s DOJ” and “Comey’s FBI” as being rife with conspirators who have protected former President Obama and former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton from proper adjudication and who have only served to undermine the Trump administration.
Cutting it down the middle, this memo is most likely way too short to impact the security of the nation—or to carry anything but cherry-picked examples of possible bias. Its release, trending on Twitter as #releasethememo, is impending, but is not necessarily a bad thing so long as it is accompanied with the Democratic rebuttal and possibly a closer analysis. At this point, the only thing to do is release the memo so that people know what’s in it. Anything else would just feed the fire for those making dubious claim on Twitter.
Benjamin Greene is a S.E.O. analyst and content marketer living near the sunny beaches of Tampa, Fla.