After the 2016 election, Merriam-Webster announced that their word of the year wasn’t “emails” or “alt-right” or “emails,” but “surreal”—perhaps the best descriptor of the craziest year in recent memory (though 2017 looks like it will give it a run for its money). But one of the craziest aspects of the 2016 election—the possible alliance between Russian intelligence and the Trump campaign—still seemed far-fetched. Russian intelligence was allegedly involved in the hacking of the DNC, but a coordinated effort between Trump’s campaign and Russia seemed like a fever dream, in part because the Clinton campaign was clearly trying to use Russian involvement as a shield from some of the hack’s more damaging revelations. When BuzzFeed published the infamous pee-gate dossier alleging unsubstantiated relations between Trump and Russia, the levelheaded response was to emphasize the completely “unverified” part of it.
After November, the media, which failed miserably to call the election, tried to wake up to reality. But Trump’s first month in office has only plunged us deeper into the weirdness—he has attempted to institute a Muslim ban, his advisers lie baldly on a daily basis, and scandal after scandal is leaking out of the White House like a sieve with a hole punched through it. Sober reality is not setting in any time soon.
Mike Flynn’s resignation has only added to the drama. With Trump, Sean Spicer, and Kellyanne Conway unable to keep their stories straight on Flynn’s resignation, and The New York Times reporting that members of the Trump campaign were in contact with Russian intelligence “in the year before the election,” the Trump administration is looking like the Boogieman from The Nightmare Before Christmas. The story is far from done; the Times piece is based on anonymous intelligence officials and we still don’t know what exactly happened with Flynn. But the thread is unravelling quickly.