There is no shortage of blame to go around for the impeachment follies that wasted America’s time for the past five months. To be fair, congressional Democrats own the lion’s share of this blame, but they could not have done it alone. This ridiculous effort would never have gotten off the ground had Democrats not been confident that a compliant news media would play lap dog for them, licking up lies at every turn.
It was bad enough that most of the news media trumped up minor developments as major revelations throughout the process. In many cases, they simply failed to apply the slightest bit of incredulity when House Democrats made demonstrably false assertions. Five incidents stood out over this impeachment process, but there were many, many more.
1. Republicans Aren’t Arguing the Facts
Over and over during the House impeachment process we heard from the left that Republicans were not arguing the facts but instead just harping on what they called an unfair process. Did the GOP say the process was unfair? Yes. Was the process unfair? Yes. But the Republicans in the House were also arguing the facts, and arguing them pretty well.
This is a consistent theme in all of this. Confronted with several arguments from the president’s supporters, the mainstream media always selected only the ones they thought helped Democrats. The House Republicans made a simple argument based on four facts that never change. 1. There is no quid pro quo in the transcript. 2. Both Trump and Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky said there was no pressure. 3. Zelensky did not know U.S. aid was held up. 4. The aid was released with no announcement of investigations.
Those are not process arguments.
2. Gordon Sondland Did Not Say He Knew a Quid pro Quo Happened
European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland caused a stir when he changed his testimony in the secret House hearings. He said there was no quid pro quo linking military aid to investigations, then said there was in open testimony. Surely this was the final straw that would break Trump. But when pressed by Republicans, Sondland admitted that he was just presuming this was why the aid was held up. He had no actual knowledge from anyone to back that up.
But this of course did not stop the news media from pointing at Sondland as the next big domino falling towards Trump’s demise. Sondland’s presumption somehow became a fact.
3. Alan Dershowitz Didn’t Say the President Could Do Anything
The news media bungled Alan Dershowitz’s presentation for the president in myriad ways, but none more awful than their misrepresentation of his remarks during questions from senators. There Dershowitz said that if the president did something in the national interest that also helped his chances at reelection, which he obviously also sees in the national interest, that cannot be impeachable.
Almost immediately this was twisted into Dershowitz saying that a president can do anything to get reelected because he thinks his reelection is in the public interest. As Dershowitz clarified in the ensuing days, this was not what he had said at all. But that didn’t stop the talking point from resonating across cable news and print outlets.
4. Of Course There Were Witnesses
How can you have a trial with no witnesses, the president’s critics ask? In fact many go so far as to say that his acquittal is not a real acquittal because there were no witnesses. The problem with this is that there were witnesses. While the Senate voted against hearing from additional witnesses, they did have testimony from 17 witnesses and thousands of documents from the House.
Nonetheless, we kept hearing, “A trial without witnesses is not a fair trial.” Never let the facts get in the way of a narrative.
5. Republicans Didn’t Change Their Argument to ‘Guilty but not Removable’
In another case of the news media selecting only the facts that hurt Trump’s case and no facts that helped it, Americans were told that nervous Republicans were abandoning the argument that the president did nothing wrong. Instead, we were told the GOP was going with, “He is guilty but his actions are not impeachable.” This just never happened.
A handful of senators, including Lamar Alexander, Marco Rubio, and Susan Collins, did criticize the president’s handling of U.S. subsidies to Ukraine, but none went so far as to say he was “guilty.” More importantly, the vast majority of GOP senators and in fact Republicans in general never embraced this. Rather, they continued as always to argue that the president was acting within his legitimate authority. But opponents of the president were so desperate for this narrative to be true that they simply ignored that vast majority.
The good news for Trump and the American people is that the lies didn’t win. A Republican Party with backbone stiffened by Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stayed the course throughout the bombardment of falsehoods. Today their resolve will be rewarded by the acquittal of President Trump.
There is a lesson here for the media as well. No matter how much they hate Trump, no matter how badly they want to hurt him, lies will never achieve that end. Just as quickly as the left can make up talking points, conservatives can shoot them down. Perhaps the liberal media will learn that lesson this time. But don’t hold your breath.