We are well into the third month of the Trump impeachment extravaganza and it is not only not gaining traction, it is losing ground. If one looks at “persuadable” voters, one finds that most of them see impeachment as it is, a political act. This, one would think, would be the controlling narrative in the media. It would have the virtue of truthfully describing the situation. But that isn’t how Washington Post columnist and former “public editor” Margaret Sullivan sees it.
The diplomats have been inspiring, the legal scholars knowledgeable, the politicians predictable.
After endless on-air analysis and written reporting, pundit panels and emergency podcasts, not much has changed.
If anything, weeks into the House of Representatives’ public impeachment hearings, Americans’ positions seem to have hardened on whether President Trump should be impeached and removed from office.
So, is the media coverage pointless? Are journalists merely shouting into the void?
Columnist Michelle Goldberg of the New York Times offered a name Wednesday for one aspect of what’s happening before our eyes.
Responding to the absurd statement of Rep. Douglas A. Collins (R-Ga.) — “there are no set facts here” — she said it summed up the long-term Republican strategy: “epistemological nihilism.”
In other words, there can be no knowledge and no meaning, so don’t even bother.
It brings to mind Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway’s coinage of the infamous term “alternative facts” early in the administration. Or Trump surrogate Scottie Nell Hughes’s on-air comment in 2016: “There is no such thing, unfortunately, anymore of facts.”
That strategy runs in direct opposition to what journalism is supposed to be all about: establishing facts and knowledge so that citizens can make decisions, armed with what Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein calls “the best obtainable version of the truth.”
How should journalists respond to the stalemate, other than to keep doing exactly what they’ve been doing?
While we can agree, in principle, that journalists should be trying to inform the citizenry, that is not what the media is doing and it is not what Sullivan recommends.
The facts here are pretty simple. An American president acted within his legal authority. Period. Full stop. What is the subject of the kangaroo court in the House of Representatives is an attack on the actions of the president because the Democrats don’t like those actions. And they don’t like those actions because they’ve never come to grips with the fact that Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton:
Collins on the impeachment process: "It didn't start with Mueller, it didn't start with a phone call. You know where this started? It started with tears in Brooklyn in November 2016, when an election was lost." https://t.co/5Pgb8iGzpR pic.twitter.com/P5IiMKKPkJ
— CBS News (@CBSNews) December 4, 2019
Any fair coverage of the impeachment process would immediately debunk the outright lie that Trump was asking for a personal favor:
Jim Jordan Busts Dem Law Prof Pam Karlan For Misrepresenting Trump’s Words on Ukraine Call https://t.co/kTyP9QYzLw
— RedState (@RedState) December 5, 2019
Any fair coverage would be asking how it is that Joe Biden’s coke-addled, sister-in-law banging, adulterous, stripper-impregnating son got an $83,000/month gig in a country he’s never visited on the board of a directors of a company in an industry of which he’s totally ignorant that uses a language for its written documents that he can’t read. But we have crickets.
Any fair coverage would not take at face value the transparently false narrative spun by Biden and the Democrats that this was not a monumental act of corruption that is inextricably tied to Hunter Biden’s seat on Burisma’s board of directors.
Here’s Joe Biden bragging about how he threatened to pull $1B in loan guarantees from Ukraine if it didn’t immediately fire Prosecutor General Viktor, who was leading a corruption investigation into Burisma which employed Hunter Biden pic.twitter.com/rNr7UT50F9 #impeachment #maga
— Matt Batzel (@MattBatzel) December 4, 2019
In fact, the media is doing exactly and precisely what Sullivan wants. It is pushing every lie about the Ukraine flap as though it were true and studiously refusing to examine either the events or the premise behind them. They are portraying braying, slobbering nutjobs like Adam Schiff as statesmen out to save the Constitution and screaming, hair-on-fire partisan vigilantes like Pamela Karlan as dispassionate legal experts. While she belittles “alternative facts,” she shows that she has credulously and uncritically accepted the Democrat fairy tale as fact without even bothering to examine what actually happened and is not interested in examining their fable, probably out of fear of what will happen.
The major thing this shows is that the case against President Trump is so overtly partisan and nonsensical that even the concerted positive coverage given the proceedings by the media can’t convince anyone but rabid progressives that this is a serious act by serious people.