Picture this: It’s early 2023, and Congressional Republicans, having regained majority control of the House of Representatives, announce the formation of a select committee to hold hearings on allegations that President Biden had some involvement in son Hunter’s shady business dealings.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, while objecting to the planned hearings, duly submits the names of Democratic House members she has appointed to serve on the committee.
But Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy vetoes several of those names—denying the right of the Democratic House leader to appoint the Democratic members of the committee!
Outraged at this violation of protocol, not to mention fair play, Pelosi pronounces the committee and hearings illegitimate, and refuses to appoint ANY Democrats to participate in them. McCarthy, the Republican leader, then takes it upon himself to appoint the Democratic representatives on the committee—two Democrats whom he knows to be critical of the Bidens’ financial maneuverings.
How do you think mainstream media would react?
I have little doubt they would see Pelosi’s outrage and raise it; echo her denunciation of the hearings as illegitimate; and give them short shrift in terms of news coverage.
And I believe all fair-minded Americans would agree with that judgement.
Yet the above scenario is exactly what has happened—in reverse—with regard to House hearings on the January 6, 2021 storming of the U.S. Capitol by several hundred Trump partisans.
Speaker Pelosi, after announcing the formation of a select House committee to investigate the uprising, vetoed two of the Republicans named to the committee by Republican Minority Leader McCarthy—leading McCarthy to rightly label the committee and its hearings a partisan sham, and refuse to appoint any Republicans to participate. Democrat Pelosi countered by appointing two Republicans known to be harsh critics of Trump and his supporters: Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger.
And the mainstream media, having grown unabashedly partisan itself, barely batted an eye at Pelosi’s flagrantly partisan power-grab; fully embraced the totally one-sided hearings as legitimate; and excoriated anyone who disagreed.
This week, Pelosi and the Democrats—desperately casting about for something to slow the GOP’s perceived momentum heading into the mid-term elections—held public hearings on the Jan. 6 riot. And mainstream media were all in, with wall-to-wall coverage.
Hard to imagine such coverage of hearings into the Bidens’ financial dealings, should the Republicans retake the House and initiate such hearings. Even if those procedures are done legitimately, with both parties able to select their own participants, such hearings are virtually guaranteed to be downplayed by mainstream media outlets.
Now I write this as someone who has forcefully condemned the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol, and who would have welcomed legitimate, bi-partisan hearings designed to get to the bottom of what actually happened, who was actually responsible, and what can be done to prevent a recurrence. For some reason, Speaker Pelosi, supported by her party and mainstream media, did not want such bi-partisan hearings, and used (abused?) her powers to prevent them from happening. Why?
I also recognize that double standards are not the sole province of one political party or one point of view. Take, for example, both parties’ handling of Supreme Court nominations. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland ten months before a presidential election, then rushed to confirm President Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett just a month before a presidential election. Democratic Vice President Joe Biden supported confirmation of Garland in 2016, after he had called, as a U.S. Senator prior to the 1992 presidential election (when a Republican, George H.W. Bush, was president), for “not scheduling confirmation hearings” on any potential Supreme Court nominee “until after the political campaign season is over.”
Both parties engage in double standards, and both are fair game for criticism.
But Pelosi’s action seems a new and radical departure. For the leader of the majority party in Congress to presume to dictate to the minority party leader which of his duly elected members he may or may not appoint to a House committee seems like a stake through the heart of any hope for renewed bi-partisanship in Congressional deliberations.
Mainstream media doing their job as public watchdogs should be as one voice in denouncing this. Instead, they are in almost complete lockstep enabling it.
They have their own partisan double standards.