I remember watching the President Clinton impeachment process and thinking, “Holy crap, we are really impeaching a sitting president of the United States of America” (I remember watching Nixon’s…pretty somber… I wasn’t alive for the very first impeachment so I can’t speak to the mood of the country then.) I took a look around me and saw spectators egging on the combatants in the House chamber like it was some damn football game. Granted, I live in Dayton, Ohio so the fans I was surrounded by were rooting for the other team (Limbaugh, Drudge, Gingrich, that Big Bird-looking fellow, I forget his name… H-something…)
This is not a damn sporting event! This is not entertainment! This is not show business! I remember screaming in my head at ear-shattering decibels.
But to them, it was. At its core… politics has become show business. I don’t blame the media entirely, but they were supposed to be the referees, not the touchline, not the drunken fans.
I knew how the impeachment vote would go down in the House. The bloodsport was so thick, so palatable that you just knew. Even “moderate” Republicans who may have looked around at their peers and thought, “this is nuts! We are really going to be impeaching a sitting president over what is just not a high crime or misdemeanor?” knew. They knew how the vote was gonna go down and dammit, if they didn’t vote that way, their political careers would be over… maybe if they voted on one or two articles and not all four, it would somehow assuage their conscience. “I hope to God the Senate doesn’t convict on trial,” they must have been thinking as they cast their vote, washed their hands.
Cooler heads in the Senate prevailed as they should have, but I remember the cheering going on around me about how they forcibly removed Clinton from office, hurling him uncerimoniously from office like he was a drunk in a bar. High-fives all around, power to the people… oh, wait, a Senate trial? What? UNCONSTITUTIONAL!!!
My point to this very long screed is this is now where we are at, the Senate trial. These “journalists” (I know, I know… but I was once one of you…I get it, everyone does air quotes around “journalist”) are hoping that the voters are now the Senators and realize what the drunken mob created, even as they were the ones who maybe saw the insanity but went along to get along.
It is their job to call out imbalance, ineptitude, hubris, power-abuse… when a politican says, “The sky is red” it IS the responsibility of the journalist to say, “no, it’s BLUE! You are wrong, sir!*” loudly and often, not just report as folks like Chuck Todd says, “it is the journalist job to report that the politician said the sky was red.” (I was paraphrasing…. FWIW, dude totally blocked me on twitter… I can handle it.)
Is it easy? Hell no it’s not easy. Journalists can lose their jobs for pushing back like that.. Melissa Harris-Perry comes to mind right about now… but in time, when media has nobody but pricipled journalists to hire, maybe, just maybe…..
Thanks for reading this, but I may have assumed too much already. I didn’t sod off like you suggested the last time we spoke. Just for the record, but this isn’t a horse race you and I are running… we’re the Senate now.
*I gendered that, because really, it’s almost always the men who are wrong. Except Marsha Blackburn, but she’s just an idiot. And who doesn’t like using a Willie Wonka voice first thing in the morning?