I wasn’t planning to write about the Donald Trump – Ukraine kerfuffle. Goodness knows, there’s plenty of that on the airwaves already. But my work experience caused me to notice something that I haven’t seen discussed, and it needs discussing.
In terms of my experience: I am a writer by trade and have been for more than 30 years. A lot of that time was spent in marketing and advertising. Some of my writing has involved press releases, with quotes from CEOs that writers like me make up and hand the CEOs for their approval.
I am also a voracious reader of news—especially sources that go in depth, present all sides, and explain issues with the nuance and complexity that characterizes just about every issue on the planet.
All of that has given me a fine-tuned ear for the difference between truth telling, serious inquiry of complex issues, and bullshit. Which brings me back to the two documents.
First, the “transcript.” I read it when it was first issued under that name (it’s now being called a memorandum), and what struck me immediately was how unlike spoken English it sounded. If you read transcripts of other conversations, they’re full of half-thoughts, incomplete sentences, ums and ers, and the normal flotsam and jetsam of speech.
Sure, this conversation was on a higher level, and you expect people at that level to speak more formally. But I can’t believe anyone speaks the way they do in the transcript/memo. We all know Donald Trump doesn’t speak that way. What’s more, as a good (and conservative) friend of mine pointed out, the spoken bits assigned to Trump and Volodymyr Zelenskiy sound very similar. The whole thing is flat, simplistic, full of platitudes.
It’s not even very good as a summary, let alone a transcript.
Next, the complaint letter. The author cites legal statutes and writes extensive footnotes. There is a commitment to accuracy, whether it “makes the case” or not—so the whistleblower freely admits that this is not firsthand knowledge and that they do not know certain details. There is no attempt at hyperbole or exaggeration, but simply a straightforward recitation of what the whistleblower has observed and been told and why it rises to the level of an “urgent concern.” By definition, such assertions of fact are open to rebuttal and refutation.
None of this means the whistleblower’s complaint is 100% accurate and grounds for an immediate vote to impeach. However, because of the contrast between the two documents, I feel compelled to give the complaint serious credence and to dismiss the transcript/memo as, at best, a sloppy representation of the actual call.
In a world full of half-truths and baseless claims shouted at one another, I just felt it was important to make a calm, nuanced statement about an underreported aspect of this controversy—and what it means for the whole business. As always, I would love to hear your thoughts.