There are many things you can say about former FBI Director James Comey, but one thing is certain: he is a master storyteller.
The narrative that he weaved today in his opening statement and in fielding questions from the Senate panel, was as gripping as it was deeply disturbing. It could have been the pitch for a Hollywood film, but sadly it is all too real. Once Donald Trump could control the news cycle. No longer.
As a journalist, there are some moments when stories explode (often literally) with the unexpectedness of breaking news – a terrorist attack, an assassination, a tsunami or earthquake. There are others that build, sometimes very slowly, rising from small articles buried in the back of the newspaper to headlines blaring across the front page. They are often ones that require a lot of investigative reporting – like Watergate, or that take time to reach a consensus on their seriousness, like climate change. This Russia story is moving with the speed of breaking news, but it is fueled by all the reporting and seriousness of the most important inflection points of history. It is unlike anything I have ever seen – a story that will reverberate across the ages.
Since the time of the ancients who gathered around fires, storytelling is the way we best share information as a species. “Tell me a story,” was the mantra at CBS News when I was coming up. And it was true. You could have all the facts, but if you could make it connect through a story then you could have a much bigger effect.
That is what James Comey did today. He wrestled the narrative to his vantage point. He was clear. Direct. Precise. But this is not the end of the story. President Trump has many defenders, as shown by several of the questions by the Republican senators today. However in the end, this story is beyond their or the President’s control. And it is not a hard one to grasp. What was the President hiding and did he obstruct justice? The fate of his Administration and the future of our nation hangs in the balance.
Do you think the testimony today will change the direction we have been going up until now?