Clearly inspired by veteran NBC journalist Tom Brokaw’s sermon warning of the dangers of “rushing to judgement” on the over half-dozen different charges of sexual harassment against Democratic Senator Al Franken, both Andrea Mitchell and Washington Post Deputy Editorial Page Editor Ruth Marcus rode to the rescue to back him up.
For her part, Marcus was particularly saddened by the news that Franken will resign soon as a result of the allegations against him. She made the case to Mitchell and her viewers that the Minnesota Senator’s departure from the Senate would be not be a victory for either “women” or “justice” given that Franken was afforded less due process than a “dope-peddler.” Mitchell chipped in by lamenting how “a potential 2020 candidate” had been felled in “the prime of his political life.”
Mitchell and Marcus’s conversation about Franken took place right after Brokaw’s appearance on Thursday’s Andrea Mitchell Reports:
MITCHELL: Indeed, and Ruth Marcus is here. Ruth, you have written and thought about all of these issues very deeply. Al Franken was even being discussed as a potential 2020 candidate. His best-selling book had come out. He was, really, in the, you know, the prime of his political life after a very cautious start making that transition, in this case, he was saying, from entertainer to political figure. He evoked Paul Wellstone, an icon, the late Minnesota senator who, of course, died in that horrific airplane crash. Ruth, what are the guidelines here going forward?
MITCHELL: And is it – it's very clear to me that this would not have happened absent the Alabama race, that what happened here is that the Democrats wanted to, after Nancy Pelosi's performance on Meet the Press, wanted to get rid of Conyers, wanted to force Franken out, because they want to draw a bright line between the way they handle these issues and what is, you know, apparently, happening with the endorsement by the President now of Roy Moore and the support of the Republican National Committee.
MARCUS: So, there are so many things to unpack here, and Tom made a lot of really important points. We are in the middle of this revolution, and in every revolution there are moments of excess. And I have some real serious concerns about whether this is one of them here. I have very little doubt that for the – for the Repu– , Democratic Party, this is the right outcome. As you say, um, it puts, it, um, whataboutism off the table for the Democrats. They had their problem members. Representative Conyers, Senator Franken, they dealt with them.
So for Democrats, in terms of short-term political benefit, this is a good outcome. For Senator Franken, for justice, and in some way, maybe for women, I'm not so confident that this is a good outcome. Because, I mean -- Tom raised the question of what do we d- -- he doesn't have as much process as a dope-peddler. We have a sitting United States senator, Senator Menendez, who is under indictment, who’s been in a criminal trial, who may be retried. He is going to get the benefit of the ethics process, a benefit that Senator Franken is not getting. And I still think we are just tip-toeing our way through this minefield here, trying to sort out what the proper response is. We say “zero tolerance.” Does that mean that every act deserves the death penalty? Which was what we saw for Senator Franken here, is the political death penalty.
Marcus’s argument is nothing new. In late November, just a couple of weeks ago, New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg had a very similar line of reasoning as to why Franken should not leave the Senate (Goldberg had called for his ousting just the week before). She insisted that politicians like Franken who “care about women’s rights shouldn’t be expected to prove it by being willing to hand power to people devoted to taking those rights away.” In other words, it’s all still about politics. Democrats on Capitol Hill and in the media really don’t want to punish Franken, but they need to do so for appearances.
What steadfast, principled people they’ve got over at America’s two flagship newspapers! I’m so glad they’re keeping the flame of democracy alive. Surely, it couldn’t survive without a steady dose of liberal media hypocrisy.
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