7/31/08—CNN's Election Center program devoted a July 25 report to mocking a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee investigating White House abuses of power.
"Believe it or not, there was a congressional hearing today about impeaching the president," scoffed host Campbell Brown, who added: "It was all stagecraft, though." Brown went on to introduce the report by CNN correspondent Erica Hill by saying, "Tell us about this piece of Kabuki theater, Erica."
Hill explained: "From the beginning it was pretty clear this was all just stagecraft, for what one Republican lawmaker deemed impeachment light." Hill underscored this notion by claiming: "The Democratic leadership made it clear impeachment is not on the table at this hearing today for two reasons. Not only is there not enough time left in President Bush's term, but also they know any real impeachment hearings at this point could cause a major backlash."
It's difficult to know exactly who Hill is referring to; at the hearings she was apparently covering, there was scarce mention of a potential "backlash" from voters, nor was there much time spent determining precisely when it might be too late to bring impeachment hearings. More typical were comments from Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), responding to the sentiment that impeachment would be "overzealous partisanship":
But I ask, would impeachment be a vehicle to restore life and vitality to the delicate system of checks and balances, which is the hallmark of our Constitution and which this administration has shattered--aided and abetted by the do-nothing, Republican-controlled, rubber-stamp Congress which failed to exercise its constitutional responsibility to oversee the operations of the executive branch of our government?Johnson went on enumerate the criticisms of the White House:
Warrantless wiretapping of Americans; torturing and kidnapping and detaining numerous prisoners, foreign enemy combatants, prisoners, whatever they could be classified as; the fact that we have become a severely surveilled population now with the abuses of the Patriot Act--all done under the cloak of government secrecy. Political spying; the attacks on academic freedom; the politicization of the Justice Department; selective prosecutions--so many areas fertile for inquiring by this Congress.Host Campbell Brown closed the report by saying: "All right. So this is really just stagecraft, not to mention a real waste of taxpayer money and Congress' time." Needless to say, the suggestion that looking into the weighty matters addressed by the hearing is a "waste of taxpayer money" is a remarkable statement from a supposedly unbiased anchor.
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This story was published on July 31, 2008.