Op-Ed: Sean Davis: The top 10 undercovered news stories of 2017
There were so many gigantic news events in 2017 that the merely huge, or yooge, got the dog-bites-man treatment. What happened while we were focused on the president’s tweets; the attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act; the hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico; the tax bill; and #MeToo? Opinion asked two close observers of the media environment, Adam H. Johnson (from the political left of center) and Sean Davis (from the political right of center), to list the top 10 under-covered stories of the year. Read Davis’ contribution below and Johnson’s here.
1. “Russian collusion” charges were a dud
Despite a year’s worth of investigation into the matter, zero independently verifiable evidence of alleged illegal collusion between Donald Trump and the Russian government has been offered to the public. In fact, there’s far more evidence that President Obama’s Department of Justice colluded with a shady DNC-funded outfit — Fusion GPS — to cook up a pretext for spying on the administration’s political opponents. The anti-Trump collusion hand played by Trump’s detractors is so far a complete bust. The real story is a journalistic jackpot that for some reason nobody wants to claim.
2. The economy roared
The U.S. economy came roaring back in 2017. GDP growth is strong and steady, and the unemployment rate now approaches lows not seen since the early 2000s. The economy has added over 1.9 million payroll jobs this year. Consumer confidence is at a 17-year high. The 2017 economic recovery is nonetheless a major story widely ignored by the political press.
Months after the deadliest mass shooting in American history, we don’t know why the gunman fired on a crowd of innocent concertgoers.
3. The stock market boomed
It’s not just the economy, though. The stock market, following a lost decade of equity returns, also came roaring back over the last year. Although New York Times columnist Paul Krugman predicted after Trump’s election that the stock market would “never” recover, the exact opposite has happened, with the Dow Jones industrial average repeatedly posting record highs throughout the year.
4. Islamic State was crushed in Raqqah and Mosul
A year ago, the Islamic State wasn’t just on the rise in the Middle East, it was firmly in charge, with wide swaths of the region under its control. But in October, U.S.-backed forces completed the total liberation of Raqqah, the Islamic State’s Syrian capital. That followed the liberation of Mosul, a major Iraqi city captured by the Islamic State in 2014. In less than a year, Trump and his national security team accomplished what the previous administration suggested was impossible.
5. Thanks to James Comey, the FBI’s reputation is in tatters
This year we learned that the FBI’s top ranks were infested with political actors eager to use the agency to settle scores. Not only did former Director James Comey abscond with confidential documents, he leaked them to his friends and the press, then refused to give those documents to Congress. In addition, his top deputies — those responsible for investigating both Hillary Clinton and Trump — were sharing text messages about how important it was to defeat Trump. One of these Comey deputies even mused about deploying a secret “insurance policy” to keep Trump out of the White House. Comey’s biggest accomplishment wasn’t equitable enforcement of the law; it was the corrupt politicization of the agency’s leadership ranks and the destruction of its reputation.
6. We still know nothing about what motivated the Vegas shooter
Months after the deadliest mass shooting in American history, we don’t know why the gunman fired on a crowd of innocent concertgoers. If law enforcement authorities have any leads or theories, they’re not sharing them with citizens eager for answers. Perhaps the feds don’t have a clue, either. Either way, it’s shocking that, months later, the country is still in the dark about what happened.
7. The Iran deal’s facade collapsed
Despite the Obama administration’s assurances that Iran would be a reliable partner for peace, the opposite has proved true. By deliberately funding and fomenting terror against the U.S. and its allies in the region, Iran has shown that it cannot be trusted, and the Obama administration’s claims about the peaceful intentions of the top terror sponsor on Earth had no basis in reality.
8. Persecution of religious minorities continues across the globe
In the U.K., Jews were targeted in record numbers in 2017. Just weeks ago, a synagogue in Sweden was firebombed. Throughout India, Christians continue to be targeted by violent religious extremists. In North Korea and China, totalitarian atheist governments regularly imprison and torture those who openly worship and proselytize. And in the Middle East, Muslims remain the No. 1 target of radical jihadists hell-bent on purging from the Earth anyone who rejects the authority of the Islamic State’s caliphate.
9. The worldwide leader in sports is in deep trouble
ESPN is in deep trouble, and it doesn’t have cord-cutting to blame. Unaffordable content deals, unpopular programming choices, and seemingly nonstop left-wing politics have severely damaged the network’s financial prospects and its relationships with viewers. The worldwide leader can recover, but only if its executives finally accept responsibility for the network’s mounting woes.
10. Due process and rule of law were restored to college campuses
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos finally restored the rule of law to college campuses and put an end to disastrous campus courts. Prior to her much-needed rule change, campuses across the country declared that secret proceedings, bereft of due process, were the best way to handle sexual assault allegations. That kangaroo system, justifiably gutted by DeVos, resulted in predators who were allowed to avoid law enforcement, victims who never received justice, and innocent people who were denied basic rights such as jury trials and access to attorneys.
Sean Davis is a cofounder of the Federalist. He previously worked as chief operations officer for a state-based journalism nonprofit, as chief financial officer of Daily Caller, and as chief investigator for Republican Sen. Tom Coburn.
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