Does the Press Actually Care About Democracy?

Dan Rather (photo via AXSTV)

I’ve been following the rift between Liz Cheney (the #3 Republican in leadership) and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy since the insurrection. Now with the GOP poised to take a vote to purge her from their leadership, we should talk about what this means.

Essentially, Liz Cheney is one of the Republicans who was horrified by the insurrection and thinks that Trump went too far. She impeached him and has remained vocal in her opposition to him since January 6th. Meanwhile, Kevin McCarthy was initially aghast at what happened that day, but he’s softened his stance with each passing day.

McCarthy has decided to bet the future of the Republican party on Trump, and Liz Cheney vehemently disagrees. And her leadership post requires that she stay “on message” — McCarthy believes that means that all Republicans must go along with “the big lie,” i.e. parrot Trump’s claims that the election was stolen from him. This is why Cheney is being booted from leadership. That vote is expected to happen in days.

What does this have to do with the press?

Well, we are no longer looking at a political environment where we have two parties who both want what’s best for the country but just have different solutions to the problems that ail us. That still describes the Democrats, but Republicans have now devolved into something else. If they don’t care about the truth, and are going out of their way to spread lies, and are trying to cement their power by restricting the vote in the states, the media needs to start asking the question — Do Republicans care about democracy anymore?

This is the exact question that the legendary former anchor Dan Rather asked in his most recent blog post: Do Republicans Believe in Democracy? The press needs to start asking. It’s a fantastic post, and I hope you take a few minutes to read it.

“Throughout the country, Republicans are doubling down on anti-democratic measures just because they see them as anti-Democratic (small “d” suppressing big “D”). Most egregious are the naked and overtly racist attempts in statehouses across the nation to undermine the vote… This movement isn’t about some mythic “fraud.” It’s about winning elections, even if the majority of the electorate is against you.”

And Rather implores the press to point this out. Every day. Repeatedly. To be dogged about this. He even includes a handy list of 8 questions they should ask any Republican before putting them on the air. As he says, “There is nothing in journalistic standards that says you have to give a platform for someone to spread lies… If someone is spreading the Big Lie do they deserve to be on television?

I’m 100% with Rather on this. The Republicans are making it known that they would rather have authoritarianism in America, and we all need to push back hard on this. For those of us who pay attention to politics every day understand this. But the media has the ability to get this out to the general public. In the end, the story is not Cheney v. McCarthy. The story is democracy and truth versus authoritarianism.

The media needs to do better.

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2 replies

  1. Thank you for this post. I’ve been asking this question for weeks. If for no other reason than self-preservation, I would expect the press to cover the exponential explosion of authoritarianism as the 5-alarm fire that it is. Instead, they are hesitant and vague while civil rights are eroded on a daily basis. This idea that it can’t happen here as it IS happening here is the gravest danger that I’ve witnessed in my lifetime.

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