Shell Shocked: What the Mueller Report Reveals about Our Response to Truth

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Truth remains constant, despite our characterization of it. After two years of denying this reality, many journalists and news anchors are being reminded that the most ardent faith and fervent hope cannot change the truth. Confronted with the stark contrast between their characterization of “Russian collusion” and Robert Mueller’s findings, newsrooms across the nation have reminded us of just how difficult it can be to admit our errors and accept an unwelcome conclusion.

For two years, our nation obsessed over Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of President Trump.[1] At the helm of this unprecedented obsession was the news media. Together, The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, and MSNBC published an average of 13 articles a day on the subject.[2] Mostly relying upon anonymous sources, an avalanche of “bombshell” reports convinced the nation that Robert Mueller’s report would prove what everybody of importance already knew to be true—that Donald Trump colluded with the Russian government to steal the presidency and then sought to obstruct investigations into the matter.

So convinced were they that they refused to relent of their belief even after Attorney General William Barr submitted a summary report of Mueller’s findings, explaining that the Special Counsel did not conclude that the President had committed any crime, including obstruction of justice,[3] and stated, “The Special Counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”[4]

Weeks later, the truth could no longer be denied. Attorney General Barr told the press in advance of releasing a “lightly redacted”[5] version of the Mueller Report, “So that’s the bottom line: After nearly two years of investigation, thousands of subpoenas, hundreds of warrants and witness interviews the special counsel confirmed that the Russian government sponsored efforts to illegally interfere with the 2016 presientilal [sic] election but did not find that the Trump campaign or other Americans colluded in those efforts.”[6] Likewise, the actual report concluded, “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”[7]

Regarding the charge that President Trump obstructed justice, Barr told reporters:

The deputy attorney general and I concluded that the evidence developed by the special counsel is not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction of justice offense. Although deputy attorney general and I disagreed with some of the special counsel’s legal theories and felt that some of the episodes examined did not amount to obstruction as a matter of law, we did not rely solely on that in making our decision. Instead we accepted the special counsel’s legal framework for purposes of our analysis and evaluated the evidence as presented by the special counsel in reaching our conclusions.[8]


These clear and definitive statements sent seismic shockwaves throughout the news media. Many were shell shocked, especially considering that several of the media’s “bombshell” reports were disproven by the details in the report. Nevertheless, even this proved to be insufficient to change the minds of the true believers. Instead, they’ve attacked Attorney General Barr’s integrity,[9] demanded further investigations,[10] and issued impassioned pleas to impeach the President.[11] But for many who were promised proof of collusion by their favorite news sources, reality is setting in, and they are abandoning those who peddled the false narrative.

Rachel Maddow, who regularly spent more than half her program covering President Trump,[12] experienced a loss of 500,000 viewers from the Monday before the Mueller Report was first submitted to the Monday after. The next day, she lost another 200,000 viewers.[13][14] And her ratings continued to decline in the following weeks.[15] Likewise, CNN has hemorrhaged viewers, only averaging an audience of 690,000 from April 8–12.[16] Among these, only 180,000 belonged to the coveted 25–54 age demographic.[17]

After two years of faithful allegiance to the news media’s narrative of collusion and obstruction, citizens across our nation are struggling to comes to terms with the realization that it was built upon idealistic belief—hope and their desires rather than objective reality. As we watch them grapple with this unwelcomed conclusion, it ought to prompt us to evaluate some of our own beliefs. Might we also be guilty of blind allegiance to our feelings and preferences, despite numerous indicators that we could be seriously mistaken?

Far too many Christians have convinced themselves that God loves us too much to allow our nation to come under judgment, or even to permit His people to suffer through a time of severe national difficulty. What some may consider to be difficulties designed to alert our nation to its spiritual waywardness and national peril are dismissed by the majority as inevitable bumps along the road of national prosperity. As such, idealism, a confining definition of love, and a limited understanding of God’s character have set the stage for what may prove to be the ultimate shock: God still judges nations for sin, and this may result in difficult times even for God’s people here in America.

According to Acts 17:26–27, nations primarily exist to draw people back to God. America is no exception. Over the years, we’ve modeled what it is to be a nation that embraces God and what it is to be a nation that rejects God. America was founded on the teachings of the Bible, and for many years God uniquely blessed America, but as we’ve gradually turned our back on these principles, our convictions, and God Himself, America has experienced a decline.

As a nation we are desperately sick, having embraced many of the very practices that have provoked God to judge mighty nations in the past. In Leviticus chapter 18, God lists specific sins that drove Him to judge nations to the point of permitting them to be conquered (Lev. 18:24–25). Among these practices are homosexuality and infanticide.

This month, Mayor Pete Buttigieg became our nation’s first openly gay presidential candidate belonging to a major political party.[18] And this Monday, the Supreme Court added to its docket two important cases regarding whether the prohibition in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 against employment discrimination because of sex encompasses discrimination based upon a person’s sexual orientation.[19][20]

Also this Monday, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers vowed to veto a born-alive bill requiring doctors provide basic medical care to newborns who survive abortion procedures.[21] In fact, a practice dubbed by some as post-birth abortion has become a national debate with six states introducing bills designed to radically expand abortion laws. The New York legislature offered a standing ovation when it made abortions at any stage legal[22] and repealed its state law protecting newborns who are born alive during a failed abortion.[23][24] And Virginia Governor Ralph Northam said that only a woman and her doctor should be allowed to decide whether an infant born alive should receive medical care.[25][26]

At some point, the question should be asked, “If God judged mighty nations in the past for the very sins that America celebrates and flaunts, then what is preventing God from judging America?” Perhaps the answer rests in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. In Genesis 18:22–33, we learn that God is willing to extend incredible patience and mercy to a nation in rebellion as long as there are some righteous individuals who can shine like lights in the darkness, revealing the error of people’s ways and the truth of God’s Word. But what happens when God’s people go silent and refuse to shine like lights in the darkness? If God’s people remain silent, then at some point, God Himself must intervene to draw people back to Himself.

As long as we convince ourselves that God is too loving and merciful to allow our nation to come under judgment, or even to permit His people to suffer through a time of severe national difficulty, we will not be properly motivated to speak up and resist the moral decline of our nation. No matter how much we may hope for continued national prosperity, the truth is that judgment lays ahead if we do not alter our national trajectory (Jer. 18:7–10). Of course, there will be the true believers who refuse to believe this truth even as national difficulties increase, but the sooner we accept this reality, the more likely we are to be used by God to influence our nation. Rather than be shell-shocked by judgment, let’s prepare today to stand firm through increasing national difficulties and to minister both now and throughout such difficulties.

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Timothy Zebell

As a former missionary to Asia for twelve years and the author of several books, Timothy is passionate about helping people understand the relevancy of God's Word in today's world. His goals are to help Christians discern truth from error, empower Christians to speak into cultural matters with relevancy, and to help Christians capitalize on the opportunities that these matters provide for sharing the truth about God and His gospel message.
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1. Fordham, Evie. “Here’s How Many Articles, Likes and Shares the Mueller Probe Has Fueled Since Its Inception.” Daily Caller, March 25, 2019. Accessed March 26, 2019.

2. “The Witch Hunt Verdict: No Collusion, No Witches.” GOP Blog, March 24, 2019. Accessed March 26, 2019.

3. The New York Times. “Read Attorney General William Barr’s Summary of the Mueller Report,” page 3. The New York Times, March 24, 2019. Accessed April 22, 2019.

4. Ibid, 2.

5. Zapotosky, Matt, Carol Leonnig, Rosalind Helderman and Devlin Barrett. “Mueller Report Will Be Lightly Redacted, Revealing Detailed Look at Obstruction of Justice Investigation.” The Washington Post, April 17, 2019. Accessed April 22, 2019.

6. Neuhauser, Alan. “Barr Says Mueller Report Found ‘No Collusion.’” U.S. News and World Report, April 18, 2019. Accessed April 22, 2019.

7. The New York Times. “Read Attorney General William Barr’s Summary of the Mueller Report.” The New York Times, March 24, 2019. Accessed April 22, 2019.

8. Neuhauser, Alan. “Barr Says Mueller Report Found ‘No Collusion.’”

9. Chait, Jonathan. “Congress Should Impeach William Barr.” New York Magazine, Intelligencer, April 18, 2019. Accessed April 22, 2019.

10. Bade, Rachael, Karoun Demirjian and Paul Kane. “Democrats Insist on Pursuing Trump Investigations No Matter What Mueller Concludes.” The Washington Post, March 23, 2019. Accessed April 22, 2019.

11. Appelbaum, Yoni. “Impeach Donald Trump.” The Atlantic, March 2019. Accessed April 22, 2019.

12. Concha, Joe. “MSNBC’s Maddow Covers Russia More Than All Other Topics Combined: Analysis.” The Hill, April 13, 2017. Accessed April 22, 2019.

13. Brest, Mike. “Maddow Craters to Lowest Weekly Ratings of the Year after Mueller Conclusion.” Daily Caller, April 2, 2019. Accessed April 22, 2019.

14. Bauder, David. “Maddow, Other MSNBC Hosts See Ratings Drop, Fox Up.” Associated Press, March 27, 2019. Accessed April 22, 2019.

15. Brest, Mike. “Maddow Craters to Lowest Weekly Ratings of the Year after Mueller Conclusion.”

16. Brest, Mike. “CNN Ratings Continue to Plummet to All-Year Low.” Daily Caller, April 16, 2019. Accessed April 22, 2019.

17. Ibid.

18. Gabriel, Trip. “Pete Buttigieg Announces Official Start to 2020 Campaign.” The New York Times, April 14, 2019. Accessed April 22, 2019.

19. Hammer, Josh. “Supreme Court to Hear Huge Cases on Religious Liberty and LGBT.” Daily Wire, April 22, 2019. Accessed April 22, 2019.

20. “Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda.” Supreme Court of the United States Blog, April 22, 2019. Accessed April 22, 2019.

21. The Associated Press. “Wisconsin Governor Will Veto Republican-Backed Abortion Bill.” ABC News, April 23, 2019. Accessed April 23, 2019.

22. O’Kane, Caitlin. “New York Passes Law Allowing Abortions at Any Time if Mother’s Health is at Risk.” CBS News, n.d. Last updated January 24, 2019. Accessed April 22, 2019.

23. Sasse, Ben. “Sen. Ben Sasse: Do You Support Infanticide? Every Senator Must Choose Whether They Do or Not.” Fox News, February 25, 2019. Accessed February 26, 2019.

24. Ertelt, Steven. “Babies Born Alive After Abortion Can be Left to Die Under New York Law Legalizing Abortions Up to Birth.” Life News, January 25, 2019. Accessed February 26, 2019.

25. EWTN. “VA Governor Isn’t Backing Down from Comments Defending Third-Trimester Abortion – ENN 2019-02-01.” YouTube video, (accessed February 26, 2019).

26. Ronna McDaniel. Twitter Post. January 30, 2019, 11:02 AM. Accessed February 26, 2019.


Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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