Even MSNBC Isn't Buying Democrats' Impeachment Spin

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There is no surer way to know that the Democrats' anti-Trump messaging is having a bad day than when it is called out on MSNBC. But on Thursday's MSNBC Live that is exactly what happened. Against the backdrop of the House Judiciary Committee approving what they claim to be rules governing an impeachment inquiry, host Craig Melvin, NBC correspondent Geoff Bennett, and Politico's Jake Sherman called out the Democrats' doublespeak on the issue.

Melvin began the segment by showing a clip of Bennett quizzing Speaker Nancy Pelosi's at her recently concluded press conference. Pelosi stated that she supports the committee colleagues doing "what we have been doing all along" to which Bennett asked a the simple question, "Is the specific language not important? I mean, how should the American people understand the work of this committee when members are speaking very differently about it?" 

 

 

Pelosi interrupted, dodged the question, and blamed the media for any confusion, saying "the American people understand." Not convinced, Bennett pressed, "That's not true ma’am ... Rank and file members talk very differently about this." Pelosi again dodged the question and in an attempt to do some damage control, said that was the only question she would take on the subject that her Democratic colleagues spent the earlier part of the day insisting was a big development.

Back in studio, Melvin asked Sherman, who was also at the press conference, his thoughts. Sherman also wasn't buying Pelosi's evasive answers:

Frankly, she's frustrated by these questions and thinks they're not really out of line, but that they're a waste of time, because until there are impeachment articles in front of the committee, all Democrats are doing is investigating. So that's the way she views it. She views the kind of all over their rhetoric as a creation of the media. Of course, we don't view it as that. Democrats have been all over the map when it comes to what they are doing to hold the president accountable, but in Nancy Pelosi’s view, they have been consistent and she hasn't moved one iota. 

Later in the segment after some thoughts from nominal Republican Michael Steele , Melvin returned to Sherman, "Your newsletter, Jake Sherman there, Politico, you called it a dumpster fire this morning. What makes it such?" Sherman then rightly pointed out that Democrats are not confused as some have suggested, but are rather trying to have it both ways in order to appease the competing factions of their party:

There's competing dynamics here. There's the leadership which sees their caucus which is made up of people who won in a lot of right-leaning districts or more right-leaning than others. Then you have more Progressive Democrats in touch with the base and the base, the Democratic Progressive base no doubt wants to impeach this president. So, you have a push and pull there.

In words not often said here, MSNBC is exactly right. Bennett called Pelosi out to the point where she no longer wanted to talk about it and while some have seen the "dumpster fire" as signs of chaos and confusion, Sherman rightly sees it as a way to appease the progressive base while covering for the moderate members facing tough re-election bids next year.

Here is a transcript for the September 12 show: 

MSNBC

MSNBC Live with Craig Melvin

11:43 AM ET

CRAIG MELVIN: In the last few minutes shows House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made it clear she is over all the questions about whether Democrats are actually taking steps to impeach President Trump. Here is what she just told our Geoff Bennett. 

BEGIN CLIP

NANCY PELOSI: I stand by what we have been doing all along, I support what is happening in the Judiciary Committee because that enables them to do their process of interrogation and their investigation and I salute them for that work. 

GEOFF BENNETT:  Is the specific language not important? I mean, how should the American people understand the work of this committee when members are speaking very differently about it? 

PELOSI: The American people understand -- you're the only ones who are sewing this -- 

BENNETT: That's not true ma’am. 

PELOSI: It isn’t true

BENNETT: Rank and file members talk very differently about this

PELOSI: I've traveled the entire country. Come with me sometime and you'll hear what the American people are saying. They understand that impeachment is a very divisive measure, but if we have to go there, we'll have to go there… That's the only question, that’s all I'm going to say about this subject. 

END CLIP

MELVIN: That came about an hour after the House Judiciary Committee ramped up works to set guidelines for a potential impeachment hearing. I'm joined by Politico senior writer and MSNBC political contributor Jake Sherman and former RNC chair and MSNBC political analyst Michael Steele is with us as well. Jake, I'll start with you. I know you were in the room with Nancy Pelosi a short time ago. It would seem as if she's over all the impeachment talk. 

JAKE SHERMAN: She's over the questions, that's for sure and what I’ve been saying the last couple days and what sources have been telling me non-stop is the only person you need to watch here and we've talked about this before on air, Craig, is Nancy Pelosi. Nancy Pelosi has been remarkably consistent. Yes, People around her, other House Democrats have wanted to go farther, there’s no question about that, but Nancy Pelosi said that, one bit that we didn’t see that Democrats are legislating, investigating, and litigating, a three-prong approach she believes is the key to success for House Democrats right now. Frankly, she's frustrated by these questions and thinks they're not really out of line, but that they're a waste of time, because until there are impeachment articles in front of the committee, all Democrats are doing is investigating. So that's the way she views it. She views the kind of all over their rhetoric as a creation of the media. Of course, we don't view it as that. Democrats have been all over the map when it comes to what they are doing to hold the president accountable, but in Nancy Pelosi’s view, they have been consistent and she hasn't moved one iota. 

MELVIN: Your newsletter, Jake Sherman there, Politico, you called it a dumpster fire this morning. What makes it such? 

SHERMAN: Well, I mean, listen. It's right to point out there are a lot of people saying a lot of different things on impeachment. Yesterday Steny Hoyer, the number two Democrat had to walk back some of his comments on impeachment, then you had the Judiciary Committee just weeks ago touting what they eventually passed today as the first step toward getting more serious about an impeachment inquiry. There's competing dynamics here. There's the leadership which sees their caucus which is made up of people who won in a lot of right-leaning districts or more right-leaning than others. Then you have more Progressive Democrats in touch with the base and the base, the Democratic Progressive base no doubt wants to impeach this president. So, you have a push and pull there. One thing I would point out is anybody can ask for impeachment vote at any point. It is privileged on the House floor, which means as soon as it comes to the floor it will get a vote almost immediately. You could put it off for a couple of days or some period of time. But Democrats haven't even begun ratcheting up the pressure on the Speaker as in the way that they could. I'm not sure that they will, but that's an important dynamic to watch out over the next couple of months. I want to make one more quick point here. There are only 37 legislative days left in this year. So, if the Democrats are going to do something, something has to happen and very, very soon. 

 

 

NB Daily Congress Trump Impeachment MSNBC MSNBC Live Video Jake Sherman Craig Melvin Donald Trump Nancy Pelosi
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