News Organizations That Ought To Know Better Cover Impeachment Hearings Like “Dancing With The Stars’

Ken AshfordL'Affaire Ukraine, Right Wing and Inept Media, Trump & Administration, Trump ImpeachmentLeave a Comment

That’s a story by Jonathan Allen, where he pitched yesterday’s events this way, as a measure of whether Democrats had achieved their goal of ousting the president.

But at a time when Democrats are simultaneously eager to influence public opinion in favor of ousting the president and quietly apprehensive that their hearings could stall or backfire, the first round felt more like the dress rehearsal for a serious one-act play than opening night for a hit Broadway musical.

Allen did that in a piece where he emphasized that witnesses Bill Taylor and George Kent spoke from their “nonpartisan roles in government,” and judged that “Republicans poked no real holes in witness testimony.”

We don’t have great journalism. We never had universally great journalism, but we had a standard that managed to keep mostly on target. Regular old journalism is boring statement of facts. Some obvious, some not, & some you have hunt them down because they’re hella elusive. Instead, we have a packs of styrofoam peanuts shoved into Hugo Boss suits always looking for a hot mic. The American press is always looking for the highest highs, the flashiest story. Much like watching McG’s cinematic oeuvere, they think everything should be the noisiest, most explosive drama, no matter how serious the issue is. When our media behaves like this, no wonder we’re pretty far gone into fascism. I can’t see a future where we survive this mess and the press stays the same. I’ve watched it locally and seen how it mirrors the national media. Reporters, pundits, analysts – they want flash & smoke. What they don’t get is that this teaches people who need to be told about the facts, that the issues aren’t really that important. …

It’s a good profession, journalism. Pity so few are actually working in it.

Maybe somewhere, a batch of good journos are trying to do something about this mess bourne of 24/7 news channels and the idea that news should be as glitzy as tv show. I bid them good luck. And I chuck a hefty twitter brick at this media analysis about impeachment hearings needing PIZZAZZ.

Here’s the thing: If the hearing had been filled with drama and reality TV/Broadway musical flourishes, these very same reporters likely would have complained that it was unserious and showed that Democrats were overreaching and that Republican ranting about a “witch hunt” was accurate. But Republicans decided that the winning message for Wednesday was “boring,” and the media went right along with that, too, rather than focusing on any of the hearing’s big moments (whichuhexisted). Funny how that works.

Of course, it is better than Fox News, which peddled conspiracy theories:

Try to square Fox’s prime time talking points with “Fox News Sunday” moderator Chris Wallace’s midday assessment: “I think that William Taylor was a very impressive witness and was very damaging to the president…” (The Hill)– 

“The Republican playbook here is a time-honored one: delay, deny, obfuscate, and, if that fails, beg Americans to turn off the TV,” Susan Glasser writes… (New Yorker)

All day long, pro-Trump websites hyped clips of GOP stars like Jim Jordan and Devin Nunes “eviscerating” or “destroying” their opponents. THOSE were the moments that generated focus — not the instances when Taylor or Kent shed new light on the Ukraine scandal. And after the hearings wrapped, Trump’s defenders in media dismissed the hearings as “boring” and a bust for the Democrats. If you were watching the hearing through the lens of the right-wing media, you probably didn’t see a case against the president being built. You probably walked away thinking the Democrats’ case collapsed.

UPDATE: Although there are no hearings today, there is still some impeachment news: