If it bleeds, it leads. So goes the clarion call of newsrooms across the world. And the media are hoping for a bloodletting in the second Senate impeachment trial of former President Donald J. Trump. But when precedent, point of order votes, and just plain math signify that the conviction is a non-starter, what benefit lies in deceiving the public?
In a frenzied rush, outlets are hunting down academics, lawyers, “unnamed sources,” and disgruntled ex-employees to expound on how they see the trial as constitutionally valid. This is not a case of people of import providing valuable analysis; it is the building of a case that the Fourth Estate will be forced to defend at a later date.
Trump’s legal team has already announced that it intends to fight the charges not on the grounds set out by the House impeachment managers – incitement – but rather on whether this is a constitutional act. When – as is likely – the upper chamber fails to find 67 senators willing to convict, the media are going to paint those who did not vote with the Democrats as either misunderstanding the Constitution or ignoring it.
There is political hay to be made here – not by convicting Trump but by decimating the reputation of those who support him.
No Mention of Outcomes
News, analysis, and commentary form the Holy Trinity of the newsroom and its editorial guardians. To paraphrase James Bond author Ian Fleming: When one of these pillars is ignored, it is a coincidence, when two, just happenstance, but three, well, that’s enemy action. Coverage of the impeachment trial has jettisoned the big three for one: a singular opinion.
Numerous outlets ran with a story highlighting the words and opinions of Chuck Cooper. No, not the first African American NBA player, not the Tony Award-winning actor, not even the baseball coach, but the attorney. He may be a superb lawyer – he did, after all, work for former National Security Advisor John Bolton — but why would someone very few folks outside of the D.C. legal scene even knew existed be making top headlines in American news outlets?
By printing a series of opinion articles that bolster the case for the Senate trial’s constitutionality in advance, when/if Trump is eventually not convicted, the legacy agencies can once again revive the hammering of the drums. The media grandmasters will have yet another story to fill the empty column inches and dead news hours that has the added advantage of bolstering their partisan position.
The legacy media bosses think they can just keep hitting the public with one manufactured outrage after another, and, like the ill-fated whack-a-moles, it will just keep coming back.
Some Republicans will side with the almost certain unanimous Democrat vote to convict, but not 17. No serious outlet would be brave enough to posit that more than a third of GOP senators are willing to jump ship. But the media refuse to state this plain fact. Instead, the viewing and reading publics are supposed to believe that the outcome is unknown and are primed to receive the next big pre-packaged scandal.
Read more from Mark Angelides.
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