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Press Watch: Political reporters still can’t handle the GOP’s moral and ethical collapse



This article was co-produced with Press Watch, a new website that monitors and critiques American political coverage. Please consider supporting Press Watch by making a donation.  After two weeks of gripping testimony that established Donald Trump’s flagrant abuse of power beyond any reasonable doubt, after an effectively uncontested accusation that Republican conspiracy theories about Ukraine advance a Russian agenda, and after the ostensibly “moderate” members of Trump’s party actually hardened their support for the president, there is precisely one huge, overarching news story that demands to be written: That the GOP has fully descended into lawlessness and lunacy.Advertisement:  But our elite political reporters simply can’t bring themselves to say so. Over in the opinion sections, it’s a cacophony, almost entirely across the political spectrum. But in the news columns, it’s just another story with two sides and reporters aren’t taking either one.   The problem of course is that on one side, facts don’t matter. So equating both sides is not a neutral act. It means facts don’t matter to you, either. It’s a nihilistic way to cover politics.  The top of Greg Miller’s Washington Post article about Fiona Hill’s testimony was an extraordinary — possibly legendary — example of both-sides-ism, in which Miller tried to recast Hill’s blistering indictment of Republicans into a commentary on “the insidious forces — including the spread of conspiracy theories — infecting American politics.”Advertisement:  Miller wrote that Hill put the “unfolding Ukraine scandal in a broader political context” with her warnings “that the country’s susceptibility to baseless allegations and partisan infighting are more than unfortunate byproducts of this political era.”  And “above all, she spoke with palpable concern about the extent to which partisanship in the United States’ political system has weakened the country’s ability to agree on objective reality. ‘Our nation is being torn apart,’ she said. ‘Truth is questioned.’  But as even Miller finally had to acknowledge, Hill’s testimony was actually “a bristling rebuke of Republican lawmakers — and by extension Trump — who have sought to sow doubt about Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election.”Advertisement:  There was no equivalent critique of Democrats. This is not “the country’s susceptibility” — it is the Republicans’.   NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen was appropriately outraged:  For a model of good coverage, look instead at how Lisa Mascaro, Mary Clare Jalonick and Eric Tucker covered Hill’s testimony for the Associated Press without any such attempts to impose false balance. Advertisement:  Nothing to see here  How jaded do you have to be to conclude that after an epic, historic two weeks of testimony, the needle hasn’t moved?  According to Peter Baker at the New York Times, “Trump was acting as if nothing had changed.” And “In a way, it had not”:Advertisement:  Trump was pleased, Baker reported c

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