erik lundegaard


Sunday May 14, 2017

OK, Can We Impeach NPR's Mara Liasson Then?

Here's a dialogue about the past week in politics between NPR's “Weekend Edition” host Lulu Garcia-Navarro and NPR National Political Correspondent Mara Liasson, which ran this morning:

Garcia-Navarro: What about the left? I see a whole political spectrum mobilized by Comey's firing. You know, you look on social media and cable news, they‘re calling for Trump’s impeachment. What do you think when you hear calls like that? Is it feasible?

Liasson: No. I don‘t. I think there’s a lot of magical thinking on both ends of the political spectrum. You know, his supporters think he‘s rewritten the rules, and they’ll tell me, “It doesn't matter what he does, it doesn't matter what his approval ratings are.” Remember during the campaign he said he could stand on 5th Avenue and shoot someone and not lose any voters. On the left, I think they are in the grip—many people, critics of him—are in the grip of this delusion that he's going to be impeached, or that we‘re in a full-fledged constitutional crisis. So this is a phenomenon of our very tribalized politics. 

I can’t imagine a more blasé response from a political reporter to an unprecedented week in politics.

Reminder: This week, the president of the United States fired the director of the FBI, who was in the midst of investigating his presidential campaign. According to initial reports, the president did this because of the director's handling of an unrelated matter, and he did it only upon the recommendation of the attorney general and assistant attorney general. A day later, the president admitted on television, no, it was his decision, and that he fired the FBI director because of the investigation into Russian ties—which he feels are baseless. It's also been revealed that in January the president demanded the FBI director swear loyalty to him rather than to the Constitution. Later, the president tweeted a veiled threat to the FBI director if he should leak any information. 

I could go on. Even The National Review (The National Review, Liasson) concludes there are only three reasons for James Comey's firing:

  1. the initial stated one (Clinton, emails)
  2. the Russia investigation, because POTUS feels it's baseless
  3. the Russia investigation, because it's not baseless

TNR disimisses 1) as both absurd and contradicted by POTUS, feels 2) is likely, but is open to 3).

The third one is definitely obstruction of justice, which is an impeachable offense. My question: Is 2) obstruction of justice as well? I'm looking for someone to answer that. Maybe a national political correspondent for a prestigious radio network. 

But here's where Liasson really pissed me off:

Liasson: I talked to a conservative yesterday who accused the media of “Trump Derangement Syndrome” because CNN was focusing on the fact that Trump gets two scoops of ice cream when everyone else gets one at the White House. So I think that Trump is a divisive figure, and he's divided America even more.  

Garcia-Navarro (amused): Trump Derangement Syndrome. 

Liasson: Well, there was also Obama Derangement Syndrome on the right! So this is a real phenomenon, unfortunately, of our politics today. 

Really? Obama insures millions, kills Osama bin Laden, opens up Cuba, tries to extricate U.S. ground troops from foreign wars, conducts himself with civility and propriety ... and the right-wing froths at the mouth. Trump tries to take away insurance from millions in favor of a tax break for the uber-wealthy, appoints dept. heads who despise their departments, enacts unconstitutional executive orders, signs more executive orders in his first 100 days than any president ever, is chiefly advised by his daughter and son-in-law as well as people tinged with anti-Semitic ties, blames everyone but himself, and fires the FBI director investigating him ... and the left-wing calls for impeachment. Can you spot the difference? It's a little easier than “Where's Waldo?” but I don't know if Liasson can see it.

The goal should be to strive for objectivity without descending into stupidity. Liasson, and most of NPR, are failing at this.


Posted at 11:02 AM on Sunday May 14, 2017 in category Media