Thursday Night Owls: Some media seem to have forgotten that first impeachment was cut and dried, too

Thursday Night Owls: Some media seem to have forgotten that first impeachment was cut and dried, too

Night Owls is a themed open thread appearing at Daily Kos seven days a week.

Alex Shephard at The New Republic writes—The Press’s Strange Memory-Holing of Trump’s First Impeachment. His second impeachment trial is being presented as a cut-and-dried case, in contrast to its predecessor. But the first impeachment was cut-and-dried, too:

No piece of Covid-era filmmaking has been praised quite as much as the 13-minute montage that opened the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump. CNN’s Chris Cillizza argued that it was “unfathomable that any senator—Republican or Democrat—could watch that 13-minute video and not be changed by it.” The Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan noted that “every second seemed as terrifying as the day it was recorded. More so, in fact.” MSNBC’s Chris Hayes opened his television show by playing it in its entirety.

It is undoubtedly a powerful piece of filmmaking (as was the video, never before seen, that was featured on the second day of the trial). Consisting of footage captured by security cameras, cell phones, and uncharacteristically frightened television cameramen, the video distilled the events of January 6 into a concise and harrowing narrative: A mob, spurred on by the president, attacked the Capitol and came astonishingly close to harming or even killing members of Congress and members of the executive branch. It provided an irrefutable account of the president’s role in an event that left seven dead and threatened the peaceful transition of power.

The video was so damning that it short-circuited political reporters’ hard-wired impulse to equivocate, water down, and, above all, hear both sides. The visual evidence on display—aided, it should be added, by the incompetent performance of Trump’s defense attorneys—made the Republican case irrelevant. How could they compete with such stirring documentary evidence? The video got such rave reviews that it would surely have a 100 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes had it been given a theatrical release. Trump’s own impeachment lawyers praised it during their opening statements. Even Steve Bannon was impressed!

The video was so convincing, however, that it led reporters and analysts into some erroneous historical revisionism. The second impeachment trial is an open-and-shut case, they said; the first one, not so much. The truth was that the first impeachment trial was also open-and-shut, and the fact that it is no longer seen as such reveals the extent to which the Republican narrative continues to dominate coverage of Washington. […]

THREE OTHER ARTICLES WORTH READING

TOP COMMENTS RESCUED DIARIES 

TWEET OF THE DAY

I’ve closely studied every impeachment trial in our history. No impeachment has ever been as ably prosecuted in the Senate. In no prior impeachment has a conviction been as overwhelmingly justified. Now the Senate is on trial. To acquit itself, it must convict Donald J. Trump.

— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) February 11, 2021

QUOTATION

“Many social justice activists–many feminists–continue to work against one form of oppression while feeding the flames of another, without noticing that the blow torch behind the flames must be tuned off before we can have any hope of putting out the resultant fires.”
          ~~Lisa KemmererSister Species: Women, Animals and Social Justice (2011)

BLAST FROM THE PAST

On this date at Daily Kos in 2008—Laura Bush: Hillary’s Criticism is Out of Bounds:

Mrs. Bush, forgive me if I think Mrs. Clinton faced a bit more personal humiliation and vitriol from the “compassionate conservative” side of the aisle during President Clinton’s term of office than your husband faces today (and with a lot more grace and class than he does, I might add). Her intimate life was combed over with glee by opponents during and after the Lewinsky scandal; she was—and remains to this day—the target of some of the most misogynistic, woman-loathing rhetoric on the American scene.

Many wives in Mrs. Clinton’s circumstances would have dumped their philandering spouses and slunk off to a corner of Montana to float the rest of their lives away in a lake of chardonnay. Instead, she ran for political office and won. She’s not a member of some mythical Former First Ladies Club in which you, Mrs. Bush, can call in chits, nor did she ever position herself to be.

She’s a working opposition senator, and calling your husband’s administration on its lies, deceptions and ineptitude is her job as part of those quaint checks and balances.

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