Two Simple Questions For Mitch McConnell
One of the main features of Trump, his associates, and his administration is the propensity to lie, almost all the time and about almost everything. Similarly, one of the failures of our current media environment is both the inability and unwillingness to actually pin those liars down on camera in a true “gotcha!” moment that might actually resonate through all the noise, chaff, and propaganda that Trump and his defenders constantly put out.
This is not to say that the press in general has not done a good job in reporting on the myriad of abuses by Trump and his administration. But so much of that reporting has been done by the print media with excellent analyses of that reporting added by alternative media. On the other hand, the White House press corps, perhaps with the exception of CNN’s Jim Acosta, has failed rather miserably in pursuing tough lines of inquiry when the opportunity to question the President and Sarah Sanders arises. They distinctly refuse to follow up their fellow reporters’ critical questions that get stonewalled and attempt to at least force an answer. They consistently chase after the latest Trump distraction, “Tim Apple”, for example, rather than, say, trying to get Trump on the record about whether he spoke to Matt Whitaker about interfering in the SDNY investigation. And at least some portion of that group believes it is their function to be stenographers for the White House message, ensuring that the President’s views are disseminated, and/or engaged in purely access journalism.
Admittedly not all the media’s issues are their own making. Trump held just one real press conference in his first year in office and what passes for press conferences now are usually impromptu affairs associated with events for specific issues, such as his declaration of a national emergency to build his border wall. In addition, Trump, Trump’s family, and close associates critical to the Mueller investigation rarely if ever are willing to grant interviews to anything other than friendly media outlets. Finally, the media itself is populated with propaganda outlets like Fox who the President and his cronies can count on for softball questions.
All of this has created this bizarre moment in a monumentally corrupt administration where a reporter’s rare challenge in an on-air interview becomes news in itself. Chris Wallace’s refusal to let Sarah Sanders get away with lying about the fact that terrorists were pouring over the southern border made a splash. Paula Reid of CBS received props for simply asking Sarah Sanders the very straightforward question of why Donald Trump wrote a $35,000 personal check to Michael Cohen. I think we all know the reason why but it certainly doesn’t hurt to try to show how the White House refuses to actually answer it. Erik Prince made the mistake of going on Al Jezeera to be interviewed by Mehdi Hasan, who quickly embarrassed Price by pointing out he had lied to the House Intelligence Committee about an August, 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Don Jr., Stephen Miller, George Nader, and Joel Zamel, presumably to talk about social media manipulation which is what Zamel was selling. In Congress, Katie Porter and AOC have made news and names for themselves with their aggressive questioning of Michael Cohen and exposing the lies of financial services executives. In all these cases, it simply took one or two questions to get to the heart of the matter.
Amy Klobuchar made an important point in a recent interview at SXSW. In response to a question about Russian meddling in our elections, Klobuchar responded, “Never call this ‘meddling.’ That’s when I call my daughter on a Saturday night and ask what she’s doing. This was an attack.” That is something that the US intelligence community unanimously agrees with.
All of which leads me to Mitch McConnell, a man who takes questions fairly regularly from the press and who also believes that he is and should be the final arbiter of what legislation comes to the Senate floor. I just want someone, anyone, to ask him two simple questions. Does he agree with Klobuchar’s statement that it was an attack and, if so, why did he refuse to support a bipartisan effort to repel that attack in October, 2016. And, while we’re at it, we might want to ask his colleagues in the GOP leadership what they think about that as well.