Never Forget: It’s Bigger than Trump
Although the Trump problem is urgent, Trump is also a symptom of a much deeper problem that permeates today’s Republican Party. So any strategy to protect the nation should take that into account.
Even if Trump goes down, the next people in line for the presidency are morally bankrupt as well. In case either Mike Pence or Paul Ryan ever becomes president, a good strategy should be making sure even now that the dirt they’ve earned by their conduct during the age of Trump is visible to the public. And even if Trump remains president, a good strategy should make sure that the rot of this Trump presidency is understood by Americans to infect also the GOP’s other leaders.
Going After Pence and Ryan for Their Sins
When it comes to spreading the gangrene, hats off to two hosts on MSNBC’s evening line-up.
It was Rachel Maddow who repeatedly stressed — starting back in March — how Mike Pence’s story regarding Mike Flynn did not make sense. She pointed out how Pence went so far out of his way (“methinks he doth protest too much”) to say how he was only just then learning about Michael Flynn’s being an agent of a foreign power. And she showed how implausible that claim was, in view of various messages being sent to the Trump transition team of which Pence was in charge.
Nowadays, such apparent lies from Pence are getting more media attention. But, to the best of my knowledge, it was Maddow who flagged Pence’s apparent complicity in the campaign by Trumpworld to deceive and cover-up.
A good Democratic strategy would keep Pence’s involvement in the spotlight, and keep alive the question, what did Pence know and when did he know it?
It was Lawrence O’Donnell who recognized that the story of the Kevin Nunes affair appears to implicate Paul Ryan. O’Donnell has tried repeatedly — but it seems unsuccessfully — to direct media attention to investigate what scraps of evidence clearly pointed to: that Paul Ryan seems to have played an untold role in that Nunes affair in which Devin Nunes disgraced himself by colluding with the White House he was supposed to be investigating.
Back at that time, O’Donnell pointed out
- that Nunes said — let it slip, O’Donnell would say — that the first thing he did (in his bizarre odyssey of collusion with the White House that led to his having to withdraw from his leadership of the investigation by the House Intelligence Committee) was to go talk to the Speaker of the House;
- it was only after that meeting with Paul Ryan that Nunes made his farcical and ill-fated trip to the White House;
- that whatever a person in Nunes’s position would do, after such a meeting with the Speaker of the House, would invariably be either with the approval or at the instigation of the Speaker.
(Despite O’Donnell’s efforts, Ryan has not been pressed much on this. A writer on Daily Kos did pick up on it in the latter half of March:
This means that Ryan instructed his House Intelligence Chairman to brief the very person his committee is investigating on confidential information germane to that investigation… before he’d shared it with any of the other members of the committee.
This could be classic Obstruction of Justice.)
A good Democratic strategy will press that issue with Ryan, repeatedly, questioning Ryan’s denial that he played any role in the Nunes’ fiasco, which is surely part of the effort by the Republicans, as well as Trump, to obstruct justice.
That last point of O’Donnell’s — about what the relationship between the Speaker of the House, and a Committee chairman whose power and status depend completely on that Speaker — is indicative of what O’Donnell consistently brings to our understanding of these fraught times.
O’Donnell spent years as a Senate staffer, and he knows a great deal about how the place works. Such knowledge is important in these times, and O’Donnell offer frequent insights not readily gained elsewhere. (Most recently, he conjectured helpfully about why James Comey would have accepted the invitation for his public testimoy from the Senate Intelligence Committee but did not accept the invitation from the Senate Judiciary Committee.)
Rally to Save O’Donnell
Yet it has recently been disclosed that MSNBC will not be renewing O’Donnell’s contract, which expires next month. This is not about ratings, as O’Donnell’s Last Word is the second most highly rated show in the MSNBC line-up.
So why would NBC/MSNBC fire an excellent host of a highly rated show? Reports lay the responsibility at the door of Andrew Lack, NBC News and MSNBC Chairman. Lack is said to be “no fan” of the show. But beyond that, it is said that another factor is that Donald Trump is also no fan. Indeed, Trump has in the past gone out of his way to express his animus against O’Donnell.
Why a network should be intimidated by the hostility of a president who is on the ropes is unclear. But then there’s the other thing that’s said about the network’s refusal to renew O’Donnell’s show: that Andrew Lack wants to remake the progressive MSNBC into a Fox News Jr.
Whatever the reasons why O’Donnell seems likely soon to lose the platform from which he has lately been performing at the top of his game, the question arises: Can anything now be done to save O’Donnell’s show? (And save MSNBC from being pushed to the right?)
The Daily Kos evidently thinks so. It has launched a petition drive to accomplish this.
If all that’s at stake here is O’Donnell and his show, that’s reason enough to fight this battle, if there’s any chance of success.
But if it is the whole progressive tilt of MSNBC that is at stake, then it is imperative that this battle be joined.
If the O’Donnell case is just a piece of a larger drive to silence the highly intelligent, well-informed, morally courageous voices of people like Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow, Joy Reid, etc., and replace them with people like the refugees from Fox News that the Network has lately been hiring, we should know by now that the stakes are very high.
We have witnessed how the dominance of the airwaves by Rush Limbaugh on the radio and Fox on cable news has degraded the nation. As Fox News is falling apart because of its own corruptions, and people like Hayes/Maddow/O’Donnell are doing yeoman work to uncover the truth about these times, our forces should rally to block Andrew Lack’s apparent intentions to silence the truth-tellers and fortify the right.
Does anyone here know if that can be done, and if so, how?