If you’ve been enjoying ad-free PRESS RUN since its launch, or have just recently become a reader, please consider subscribing for $6 a month. Thanks!
As the impeachment curtain rises in the Senate today, with Trump being charged with "incitement of insurrection" for his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, the D.C. press once again seems to think the impeachment of a Republican president poses political problems…for Democrats. It's a strange prism through which to view the historic proceedings, as Trump becomes the first president in 240 years to be impeached twice — and in the span of just 13 months.
Politico breathlessly reported on Monday that "torn" Democrats were standing at a "crossroads" on the eve of the impeachment trial: "Do they go all out to convict Trump by calling a parade of witnesses to testify to his misdeeds? Or do they concede it’s a lost cause, finish the trial ASAP — and get on with President JOE BIDEN’S agenda?"
Note the strange either/or construct Politico presents: Democrats can call witnesses and try to win a conviction, or they can forgo witnesses and mail it in because conviction is a "lost cause." Politico clearly implies that not calling witnesses means Democrats aren't serious about the impeachment endeavor. Also note how Politico pretends there's an actual chance of conviction; that there are 17 Republican senators who are open minded and willing to vote YES on Trump impeachment. (Spoiler: There are not.)
Pushing the Dems in Disarray storyline, Politico also reported House impeachment managers feel "muzzled" over not calling witnesses, but Politico included zero sourcing for the claims — it's just reported as fact. House managers actually talked to the New York Times over the weekend where they detailed their strategy and made no suggestion that anyone was being "muzzled."
Overall, the press seems much more focused on the fact that Democrats likely won't win a conviction, than they are on the swelling movement nationwide in favor of conviction. Republicans are clearly out of step with the public, but it's Democrats who are portrayed as being boxed in and "muzzled."
As for Republicans and the political consequences impeachment poses for them? Politico wasn't interested, and made no suggestion that the GOP stands at the crossroads regarding Trump and the murderous mob he inspired to ransack the U.S. Capitol. The GOP, apparently, faces no impeachment fallout, only Democrats.
This is the type of coverage we saw during Trump’s impeachment last year, when news outlets flipped common sense on its head and became wed to idea that an unpopular Republican president being impeached represented a political problem for his opponents. The Washington Post insisted "hand-wringing" Democrats were "bracing" for scores of impeachment defections in the House. In the end, exactly two Democrats defected. Meanwhile, adopting Republican talking points, the New York Times reported that the first impeachment was "a political plus" for Trump, and "risky" for Democrats.
Talk about turning the tables. Back when Democrat Bill Clinton was impeached in 1999, the overriding political story was how badly would the historic proceeding damage Democrats? That, despite the fact that polling showed Americans overwhelmingly opposed the impeachment of Clinton, whose approval rating swelled into the 70's while being persecuted by the GOP. Yet last year when it was Democrats who were doing the impeaching, and when they had the support of the public, the press assumed they'd be the ones to pay a high price. Same is true again this year.
For Democrats, it’s heads you lose, tails you lose.
Can you imagine how hostile the press coverage today would be if two-thirds of Americans disapproved of Trump Impeachment II as they did of Clinton’s Senate trial? Recall that in January 1999, Republicans failed by 22 votes to secure a Senate conviction of Clinton. At the time, there was very little "lost cause" coverage from the press, which was completely obsessed by the GOP-produced spectacle.
Today there continues to be reluctance to present impeachment as a political plus for Democrats. A recent on-screen caption at CNN asked, "Will the rush to impeach backfire on the Dems?" During Trump Impeachment I, the press asked if Democrats were moving too slowly. Now the concern is they're moving too quickly.
Touting its latest polling data, ABC News claimed "a narrow majority of Americans" say Trump should be convicted. But it wasn't "narrow" at all — a clear majority of 56 percent wants Trump convicted, while 43 percent do not. A Morning Consult poll found that even more — 58 percent — want Trump barred from ever holding public office again.
Those results are especially telling because that means there are millions of Republicans who voted for Trump who now want him convicted and barred from office.
By the way, if TV ratings for the impeachment trial aren't robust, be on the lookout for media claims that Americans just aren't interested and don't care about Democrats seeking justice. As if the entertainment value is what's most important.
Democrats aren't prosecuting a trial in order to get good TV ratings. They're doing it hold a criminal president accountable.
(photo Paul Morigi/Getty Images)
Friday night brought news that Lou Dobbs had been terminated from the Fox Business Network, one day after he was named in a $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit brought by the election software company, Smartmatic. Now the fallout begins.
From the Washington Post’s “Lou Dobbs is Lashing Out at Fox on Twitter for Dropping His Show”:
But Dobbs, 75, who is one of the network’s most outspoken allies of former president Donald Trump, has been on something of a tear ever since, retweeting dozens of tweets supporting him, including many that criticize Fox. He even boosted a tweet from a supporter suggesting that Fox News viewers “ditch Fox for @OANN,” the far-right network and would-be competitor to Fox News.
“FOX in a tailspin," radio host Mark Simone said in one of the tweets that was reposted by Dobbs. In another tweet that was shared by Dobbs, conservative Carmine Sabia wrote: “Fox News is desperate to be accepted by people who will not accept them. Cancelling @LouDobbs is not going to satisfy the blood lust of the rage mob.”
FUN STUFF — BECAUSE WE ALL NEED A BREAK:
Joshua Radin, “Better Life”
As President Joe Biden hurries to dismantle Trump’s inhumane immigration policies, Radin arrives with a poignant, uplifting folk hymn (and wonderful music video) about the many who have tried, and still want, to start a new life in America.
I don't know which way you're going
And I don't know the things you've seen
All I know is I'm still holding onto
Every word you said to me