NBC & CBS: Dems ‘Need to Weave a Compelling Tale of Wrongdoing’

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As Tuesday’s impeachment hearing was about to begin, special coverage on NBC and CBS focused not on facts but on how House Democrats could “weave a compelling tale of wrongdoing” against President Trump that would result in them “winning the court of public opinion.”

Talking to Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd during the NBC News special report at the top of the 9:00 a.m. ET hour, Nightly News anchor Lester Holt wondered if the impeachment case had already been made: “...we’ve seen transcripts of this testimony already. We know what’s being said, we know what was said last week. Has the case, in many ways, been made?”

 

 

Todd worried that Democrats had not yet “made the case that it hits this extraordinarily high bar that says, ‘You know what? Disqualify him from even being able to seek re-election.’”

Moments later, Today show co-host Savannah Guthrie turned to NBC News legal analyst and former member of Robert Mueller’s investigative team, Andrew Weissmann, and wondered:

And as we’ve observed many times, this is not a court of law. The rules of evidence don’t apply. But one thing is similar, you have Democrats who need to weave a compelling tale of wrongdoing and they have to keep it tight and simple and understandable and compelling, as mentioned. Do you think they’ve done that?

Weissmann praised Democrats for having “done very well with the three witnesses last week,” but warned that “it’s going to be a bumpy week” ahead for them in the next round of impeachment hearings.

“We’re learning now that Speaker Pelosi sent a letter to her colleagues about changing the language that they use to describe this, talk about abuse of power,” Evening News anchor Norah O’Donnell noted to Face the Nation moderator Margaret Brennan during the CBS News special report.

Brennan gushed: “Exactly, you will hear sharper terms used by the Democratic lawmakers, they know this is about winning the court of public opinion, to convince the public that this impeachment inquiry was worth undertaking.”

She continued: “Bribery, treason, and high crimes and misdemeanors are how the Constitution defines impeachable offenses. So you will hear language that is trying to make the case that ultimately these things....are amounting to something that they can prosecute when they bring those to the Judiciary Committee to ultimately write those articles of impeachment.”

So much of the liberal media coverage focuses on the show of the impeachment hearings and not the actual substance. To many journalists, the facts seem to be secondary to the rhetoric Democrats employ to sell the partisan effort.

In recent days, the press have been working diligently to coach Democrats on the best way to push impeachment and even helped them come up with new talking points.  

Here is a transcript of the exchange during the November 19 NBC special coverage:

9:04 AM ET

(...)

LESTER HOLT: And, Chuck, we’re gonna hear – we’ve seen transcripts of this testimony already. We know what’s being said, we know what was said last week. Has the case, in many ways, been made? And if so, what’s this all about?

CHUCK TODD: Well, I think the Democrats have made the case that the President appeared to tie all this Ukrainian – both the meeting and assistance – to this [investigation of Bidens]. The question is whether they have made the case that it hits this extraordinarily high bar that says, “You know what? Disqualify him from even being able to seek re-election.” Right? That continues to be the bar they have to hit at some point if they’re gonna, you know, if this impeachment case sees its way through.

(...)

9:06 AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Let me turn to Andrew Weissmann, who is our only experienced trial lawyer here. And as we’ve observed many times, this is not a court of law. The rules of evidence don’t apply. But one thing is similar, you have Democrats who need to weave a compelling tale of wrongdoing and they have to keep it tight and simple and understandable and compelling, as mentioned. Do you think they’ve done that? What do they need to do?

ANDREW WEISSMANN: Well, I think they’ve done very well with the three witnesses last week. This week, I think, is going to be, as they say, fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy week.

(...)

Here is a transcript of the discussion during CBS special coverage:

9:07 AM ET

(...)

NORAH O’DONNELL: Margaret Brennan is with us, our senior foreign affairs correspondent, moderator of Face the Nation. You’ve spoken with the top lawmakers involved, Speaker Pelosi of course, Jim Jordan, on Face the Nation. We’re learning now that Speaker Pelosi sent a letter to her colleagues about changing the language that they use to describe this, talk about abuse of power.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Exactly, you will hear sharper terms used by the Democratic lawmakers, they know this is about winning the court of public opinion, to convince the public that this impeachment inquiry was worth undertaking.

Bribery, treason, and high crimes and misdemeanors are how the Constitution defines impeachable offenses. So you will hear language that is trying to make the case that ultimately these things that you hear being laid out as troubling patterns of behavior that bring you to the White House, but not yet directly to the President’s door, are amounting to something that they can prosecute when they bring those to the Judiciary Committee to ultimately write those articles of impeachment.

(...)

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