American News

The Daily Devil’s Dictionary: Defining “Collusion on All Sides”

Donna Brazile, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, Trump news, Clinton news, US politics, American politics, US news, American news

Democratic Presidential Primaries © Joseph Sohm

November 06, 2017 18:47 EDT

The media seem to have trouble distinguishing between the meanings of collaboration, collusion, conspiracy and corruption.

Today’s 3D Definition: Collusion

Politicians think of it as collaboration, but as soon as the facts of such collaboration are known to the public, the act can be described by three other words beginning with the prefix “co”: collusion, conspiracy and corruption.

This week’s news offers us two outstanding examples, one from the Trump camp and another from the Clinton camp. Donna Brazile’s newly-released book, Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns that Put Donald Trump in the White House, apparently could reasonably be subtitled, What Really Happened!

Here are the 3D definitions of each:


One of three words used to describe a standard form of collaboration and decision-making in politics. The two others are: conspiracy and corruption. They are differentiated by virtue of the identity of the speaker: If the person speaking or writing is a rival of the person accused, it’s collusion. If it is a lawyer hired by the rival, it’s conspiracy. If it’s an impartial investigative journalist — a nearly extinct species — it is corruption.


One of three words used to describe a standard form of collaboration and decision-making in politics. The two others are: collusion and corruption.


One of three words used to describe a standard form of collaboration and decision-making in politics. The two others are: collusion and conspiracy.

Contextual note

Sam Pillsbury, a professor of law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, informs us that “Collusion describes the larger wrong that has been alleged against the Trump campaign, encompassing both political wrongdoing — basically disloyalty to the U.S. — and a variety of criminal and civil law violations that may have been committed as part of the collusion.” But, according to the same article, the specific charge is conspiracy.

Historical note

Everyone knows about Donald Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia to win the 2016 election, which has now entered the critical stage of the actual filing of formal charges. The breaking news is that former Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairwoman Donna Brazile’s revelation of documents prove what many suspected concerning the Democratic primaries — that the Hillary Clinton campaign was colluding with the DNC to guarantee her victory over Bernie Sanders.

In one sense, everyone should be satisfied, since both parties have been proved corrupt. But the idea that electoral choice will always be based on selecting one form of corruption over another appears to upset a lot of people unfamiliar with the basic rules of politics. It was out of the naive belief that a billionaire couldn’t be corrupt that many people voted for Trump. It was out of the equally naive belief that Clinton’s professionalism and vast experience of the federal government put her above possible corruption that incited 3 million more Californians to vote for her rather than Trump.

*[In the age of Oscar Wilde and Mark Twain, another American wit, the journalist Ambrose Bierce, produced a series of satirical definitions of commonly used terms, throwing light on their hidden meanings in real discourse. Bierce eventually collected and published them as a book, The Devil’s Dictionary, in 1911. We have shamelessly appropriated his title in the interest of continuing his wholesome pedagogical effort to enlighten generations of readers of the news.]

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.

Photo Credit: Joseph Sohm /

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