'Times' Reporter Finds A Way To 'Both Sides' Impeachment

'Times' Reporter Finds A Way To 'Both Sides' Impeachment

Peter Baker

House Republicans are engaging in a completely partisan, evidence-free impeachment inquiry—but Peter Baker of The New York Times wants to talk about how the White House is treating this as a political issue. And just to get this out of the way right off the bat, the paragraph count before Baker acknowledges that Republicans have no evidence against Biden is seven.

In paragraph eight, he gets around to, “The Republican investigation so far has not produced concrete evidence of a crime by the president, as even some Republicans have conceded.” Even there, the implication is that the Republican investigation has produced some evidence, and they just need to make it concrete. In reality, the Republican investigation has produced no evidence that the president has engaged in any misconduct, let alone a crime.

Before the reader gets to that halfhearted admission, though, they’ve had to plow through a great deal of fretting about how the White House is treating this as political:

Forget the weighty legal arguments over the meaning of high crimes and misdemeanors or the constitutional history of the removal process. Mr. Biden’s defense team has chosen to take on the Republican threat by convincing Americans that it is nothing more than base partisanship driven by a radical opposition.

How exactly would Baker propose the White House make weighty legal arguments when there is no legal case against Biden? When after months of fruitless investigations into Biden, Republicans have simply decided to go ahead with claiming to have found the things they looked for and didn’t find? What would he have the White House or any other Democrats do in response?

At one point, Baker quotes Julian Epstein, a Clinton-era lawyer for the Democrats of the House Judiciary Committee. “Overall, this has not been handled well by the White House,” Epstein argued. “The team there has violated the cardinal sin of investigations — allowing new information to trickle out continuously and while being stuck in stale Baghdad Bob-like ‘no evidence’ denials.” But if the White House hadn’t allowed new information to come out organically, the Peter Bakers of the world would have said that Biden was suppressing evidence! And how is the White House supposed to characterize the lack of evidence other than to point out that lack?

As always, Democrats are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. If Democrats were to cede the political fight and allow Republicans to beat the crap out of Biden while the Democratic Party was busy making “weighty legal arguments over the meaning of high crimes and misdemeanors or the constitutional history of the removal process,” it might satisfy Baker for a minute, but it would be a disastrous course of action. As it is, through sheer repetition and relying on lousy media coverage that doesn’t call a lie a lie, Republicans have convinced a substantial fraction of the public that there must be a there there when it comes to Biden and corruption. Imagine if Democrats voluntarily disarmed.

As entries in the Peter Baker oeuvre go, this one is pretty pedestrian and uninspired, nowhere near as creative as the time he wondered at length if it was a problem for Biden that Donald Trump was getting all the attention by being indicted. You didn’t have to beThe New York Times Pitchbot to know that the Times would respond to the White House documenting Republican lies about the basis for impeachment and calling on the media to cover it better by fretting about the White House violating norms. As tired and predictable as it is, though, it’s still harmful to have the Times pretending there’s equivalence between a fraudulent impeachment inquiry and attempts to push back on such an inquiry by pointing out that it is fraudulent.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.


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