Did not find

NB: Now that some time has passed and we’ve moved from the Mueller Report to the House Investigation to the Impeachment to the vote, this is not a “hot” topic but one just about the nature of proof and belief and the words we use to describe them.

“Did not find” vs. “found no”

I’ve been surprised at the number of “journalists” who have made a high-school level mistake in reporting on the Mueller report as described by the Barr letter. The Barr letter says several times words to the effect that the report “did not find collusion/a crime” and does not say the report “found no collusion” or “found no crime.” Now, I guess that most folks read those as meaning the same thing because nearly every report I’ve seen (even form people who write enough puns that I think they pay attention to words) has used words more like “The report found no collusion….”

Now maybe my very expensive law school education has warped me permanently, but those two phrases don’t mean the same thing. In general, the second means that the report cleared the president and his campaign; the first, the words used by Barr, say only that the report did not find a crime and leaves open the possibility that there was a crime.

Now, I don’t know who did what, and as someone wrote yesterday, we’re all better off if the President didn’t in fact commit any crimes. But until we see what the report says, I’m not in favor of slanting the words to favor the president when the Attorney General didn’t do that.

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