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Monday, November 11, 2019

Why DC journalists get it wrong



As an impeachment farce looms in Washington, Peggy Noonan is swooning over John Bolton.

Again.

She wrote, "There is John Bolton’s testimony, if he testifies. He’s not known as a shy man. He is a conservative who has made his career as a professional (worked for four presidents, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, head of the National Security Council), a foreign-affairs tough guy, a Fox News contributor. Some, perhaps many conservatives were heartened when he came aboard with the president in the spring of 2018.

"He would know a great deal about the issues at hand. Did the president act in a way he disapproved of on Ukraine? Was there a side-game foreign policy? All that would be powerful. But what if he was asked to think aloud about what he saw of the way Mr. Trump operates, of what he learned about the president after he came to work for him, of what illusions, if any, might have been dispelled? To reflect (as the generals who used to work for the president reflect, off the record)? What if he is questioned imaginatively, even sympathetically, with a long view as to what history needs to be told?"

Those questions are irrelevant.

An impeachment is limited to treason, bribery, high crimes, and misdemeanors. The Constitution limits the House to real crimes because the Founding Fathers knew exactly what sort of mischief a parliament can cause if there are no rules. There are other less dramatic (and more effective) ways to rein a president in.

Her questions are hooey.

She would ask Bolton "Did the president act in a way he disapproved of on Ukraine?"

How foolish. We elected Donald John Trump president. Bolton was hired to carry out President Trump's policies.

And how childish. She wrote, "What if he is questioned imaginatively, even sympathetically, with a long view as to what history needs to be told?"

The long view of history thus far is that Noonan and her kind have been unerringly wrong.

Not to pick on Noonan, but last month she wrote, "Trump’s Reckless Rush to Withdraw. The Syria pullout boosts the impression that he’s all impulse, blithely operating out of his depth."

And yet events unfolded in a way opposite to the way the generals told the Noonans in Washington. There was no genocide. Russia did not take over Syria. And not only did ISIS not rise again, but its leader and his heir apparent died.

But accuracy does not matter to most DC journalists. Pleasing John Podesta and the rest of the power brokers is what matters to them. We saw that in the DNC emails in which reporters curried favor with Podesta for scoops and interviews.

Ever since Watergate, most of the Washington press corps has worked for Deep Throat. Who do you think their anonymous sources are?

Far from an independent press, we have a press very dependent on the deep state for fear of retribution when Democrats regain the White House.

She is being a good little girl, following the script and never forgetting that President Trump is the bad guy -- not the FBI that wiretapped him, not the CIA that tried to set him up, and not the previous president who embedded spies in the new administration.

If they broke the rules they had to because Donald Trump is president, and they are stopping Hitler, right?

And that justifies bringing him down by any means necessary, even ignoring the constitutional limits on impeachment.

But journalism is not dead in Washington. Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone tried to warn his colleagues about buying the Russian dossier.

While Noonan was chasing an impeachment, Taibbi was reviewing the scene of the actual crime: the intelligence community's attempted coup. He was unvarnished about the role of the press.

Pimping the Russian dosier was only the latest media malpractice.

He wrote, "The WMD affair showed what happens when we don’t require sources to show us evidence, when we let political actors use the press to 'confirm' their own assertions, when we report on the journey of rumors instead of the rumors themselves, and most especially when we lionize intelligence and law enforcement figures, who usually turn out to be just as craven and unreliable as the rest of us.

"When we let stuff like this go, the public sees us as fools, at which point it doesn’t matter whether what we write is for or against any politician, because nobody believes us anyway. Is this really the industry standard we’re gunning for? Are we never going to own up to this one?"

Of course not. John Podesta is their only audience now.

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