The House hearings with Bob Mueller this week revealed something, but not what I was expecting.
Here was a moment when the man with the stellar reputation, who had led a historic investigation to understand how Russia had interfered in our election, and to learn how the president and his associates behaved while we were being attacked, and then again how they behaved once under investigation, would speak about what he uncovered. Yes, his Report has been available to the public for a while but it is abundantly clear that most Americans haven’t read it, or even part of it.
Those of us who follow politics closely already knew what was in the Report, and how it was mischaracterized by the Attorney General. But now was the time when Mr. Mueller himself would answer questions on TV so that a much wider audience of citizens would finally learn what the investigation revealed.
The media, though, did not appear to grasp the point of the hearing. At all.
No, instead, the news programs and pundits acted as though these hearings were just for them and their media colleagues. (Hello? There are people on the other side of the TV who are listening to you.) The media folks were unhappy that no new information was revealed. (Uh yeah, if you’ve read the Report, no new information should have been expected.) They were unhappy that Mr. Mueller didn’t make for “good TV” or that there weren’t any “fireworks.” (Mr. Mueller isn’t here to tap dance for you, you dolts.)
So instead of getting wall-to-wall coverage from the media to explore what Mr. Mueller said, putting that information into context for the viewer, demonstrating its importance both now and historically, what we got was them whining about Mr. Mueller’s delivery, blaming the Democrats for that (???), and then moving right along to the next story.
Seriously, throughout the day yesterday, I switched between major news channels and was dismayed that the media had essentially stopped talking about the hearing.
Now some of you might find that putting any kind of trust into the media to get the story right is misplaced. But the way I see it, how the media handled this hearing affects another fairly major issue that’s on everyone’s minds: Impeachment.
I think this president deserves to be impeached then convicted, and thrown out of office. He has clearly obstructed justice and should be impeached just for that. He’s also done a great many things in office that I personally think is impeachable. But I get that impeachment is complicated politically and that there are many opinions about it.
Most everyone I know who is pushing hard for impeachment understand the sad reality that the Republicans will not come through for us, so a conviction in the Senate is incredibly unlikely. Like 0% chance. But they argue that having impeachment hearings in the House to lay out all the evidence is critical so the American people understand what a lawless president we have.
That argument made a lot of sense to me, but post-Mueller hearing, are you seeing the same problem I am?
Sure, the Democrats have the power to start impeachment hearings, but for the hearings to be effective at all, they’ll need the media’s help. And we just saw how the media handled the Mueller hearing. Essentially we got, “Yawn, I didn’t learn anything new. I already knew this. Was it me or was he just ‘off’? Anyway, moving on to our next story, which is what summer movie the Democratic presidential candidates want to see next!”
If the media handles impeachment hearings the same way, the whole effort is utterly pointless. We rely on the media to get news and information out to the broader public. If they won’t do that, there are precious few remedies. Honestly, I can’t think of one.
Again, for the record, I will be 100% behind impeachment if the Democrats open an inquiry. I have called all three of my members of Congress about this and was thrilled to learn just yesterday that my Representative is now on record for supporting an impeachment inquiry.
But ultimately, what I want is to have this president held accountable. An impeachment in the House that doesn’t lead to a Senate conviction doesn’t do that. An impeachment inquiry in the House that is barely or poorly covered by the media doesn’t do anyone any good. Too much of this process is out of my control and that makes me anxious.
So I’m going to concentrate on putting my energies into an activity that I can control, that I understand, and that if successful will make Trump pay for what he’s done: I’m all in on getting the biggest Democratic voter turnout the country has ever seen in 2020 and kicking his sorry ass out of my White House.