Release the Executive Summary!

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

Dan Drezner has a question:

This question has come up a lot recently, and I’m pleased to help out. Here’s the answer: if the Mueller report is like every other report done in Washington DC, it includes an executive summary that’s, oh, probably ten pages long. Since this is Mueller’s summary of his own report, you can trust that it accurately portrays the main body of the report. Thus, all you have to do is read the executive summary, grab a few quotes and factlets from the body of the report, and then summarize the summary.

This is how almost everyone handles long reports. Barr surely didn’t want to read hundreds of pages of Mueller droning on about how Donald Trump might be guilty of obstruction of justice, but he also wanted to avoid embarrassing himself by missing something important because he only skimmed the report. The executive summary makes this possible, since nothing truly important will be left out. But take it from a pro: you should be careful to take your quotes from the report itself so that people don’t think that you only read the executive summary.¹

And while we’re on the subject, this is what I think Bill Barr could release right away: the executive summary of the Mueller report. These summaries usually don’t include the kinds of details that might compromise sources and methods, nor would they jeopardize ongoing trials. What’s more, even if you’re afraid that some parts might need to be redacted anyway, the whole thing is only a few pages long. It could be reviewed in hours or days, not weeks.

And yet, apparently Barr has no intention of letting us see even this. Does anyone besides me find that suspicious?

¹No, of course I don’t do this myself. I read every report carefully and thoroughly. Please.

Dear Reader,

This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

Monika Bauerlein, CEO, Mother Jones

Dear Reader,

This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

Monika Bauerlein, CEO, Mother Jones

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate