Sunday, May 2, 2021

Remember January 6th! News media must hold the congressional perps accountable.

Margaret Sullivan at the WaPo reports on The politicians who tried to overturn an election — and the local news team that won’t let anyone forget it.

Excerpts follow. (And thanks to the alert from Scriber’s Editor-at-Large, Sherry.)

The journalists at WITF, an all-news public radio station in Harrisburg, Pa., made a perfectly reasonable decision a few months ago.

They decided they wouldn’t shrug off the damaging lies of election denialism.

They wouldn’t do what too many in Big Journalism have done in recent months: shove into the memory hole the undemocratic efforts by some Republican elected officials to delegitimize or overturn the 2020 presidential election.

Too many Sunday news shows repeatedly book the likes of Kevin McCarthy, Ted Cruz and Ron Johnson without reminding viewers how these members of Congress tried to undo the results of the election — and encouraged the Trumpian lies about election fraud that led to the violent assault on the U.S. Capitol less than four months ago. A rare exception is CNN’s “State of the Union,” which hasn’t booked a single member of the so-called Sedition Caucus since January.

Sullivan names names and indicts news outlets for their kind treatment of those lawmakers who attacked our democracy.

"There’s a kind of clubby atmosphere on these shows, part of the Beltway Bubble mentality, in which it’s become almost impolite to raise the topic of the insurrection,” Princeton University history professor Kevin Kruse told me.

[Sullivan winds up:] I’d like to see more accountability. So would Princeton’s Kruse. “There’s a tendency in the political media to get caught up in the story of the day and not dwell on the things that need to be reckoned with,” he said.

If it were up to him, Kruse would prescribe a simple rule for network TV producers thinking about putting election denialists on-air: “Don’t book them, as long as they haven’t publicly retracted.” The Harrisburg station expects to continue its practice at least through the 2022 elections and possibly through 2024. If legislators change their minds, the station will reflect that in their language, but it won’t simply wipe the slate clean for them.

“Elected officials are going to run on this,” Blanchard said. “This is an example of their judgment.” In other words, no memory hole. No “let’s just move on.” And, sorry, no amnesty.

Certainly not for those actors in the Jan. 6 insurrection.

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