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  • Nixon and Trump.

  • Both presidents faced major FBI investigations,

  • were accused of obstructing justice.

  • called their investigations "witch hunts,"

  • and oozed raw sexual charisma.

  • It's not a perfect analogy,

  • but the similarities have led some to argue that,

  • like Nixon, Trump's time is running out.

  • What's going on here is very Nixonian.

  • Having prosecuted the Watergate case,

  • we're well on our way to impeachment.

  • I was in the Nixon administration, as you know.

  • I think we're in impeachment territory now.

  • But the truth is

  • these two are living in totally different worlds.

  • And that has less to do with

  • what's happening at the FBI

  • and more to do with what's happening

  • on Fox News.

  • The media and the Democrats have lied to you.

  • Trying to create a Watergate out of this.

  • Desperate to get back to the days of Watergate.

  • The elite media is part of thedeep state.”

  • You, the American people, should never trust

  • thisdestroy Trumpcorrupt media.

  • I know we're all trapped

  • in a flaming media hellscape right now.

  • But during Watergate, things were way different.

  • At the time,

  • there were three national nightly broadcast news shows,

  • 30 minutes each.

  • Big cities typically had one or two major papers.

  • There were a couple of radio stations.

  • And that was about it.

  • No 24-hour cable news, no push notifications,

  • no Twitter, no blogs, no internet.

  • God, that sounds peaceful.

  • And that meant that, Democrat or Republican,

  • Americans were basically getting the same news.

  • This is the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite.

  • People are basically reading and hearing

  • and watching the same things.

  • And they by and large believe the news that they hear.

  • This is Nicole Hemmer,

  • political historian and author of

  • Messengers of the Right: Conservative Media

  • and the Transformation of American Politics.

  • We'll get to that "transformation" in a second.

  • Hemmer says there is conservative media in 1970;

  • it just looks really different.

  • There is conservative talk radio.

  • There are conservative publications

  • like National Review and Human Events,

  • but they're so much smaller than they are today.

  • Like, when I talk about Human Events and National Review,

  • that's just about it when it comes to

  • weekly conservative publications.

  • And while that might seem like a supply problem,

  • it's actually a demand problem.

  • In the 1970s, Americans had incredible trust

  • in the news they were getting.

  • 69 percent

  • Nice.

  • Are you serious?

  • 69 percent of Americans expressed

  • a great or fair amount of trust in the media.

  • And that trust meant there wasn't really an appetite

  • for right-wing news.

  • Most Americans have faith in the objectivity

  • of mainstream media.

  • They trust it.

  • If Walter Cronkite says something,

  • it's not seen as liberal propaganda.

  • It's seen as, here's this guy who knows something,

  • who's telling us something objective and true

  • about the world.

  • And that's the way it is.

  • That's the way it is.

  • That's the way it is.

  • That became a big deal during Watergate.

  • As the investigation turned into a national story,

  • Nixon lashed out, calling it a witch hunt

  • and attacking the media for covering it.

  • I have never heard or seen such outrageous reporting

  • in 27 years of public life.

  • And conservative outlets came to Nixon's defense.

  • One conservative radio personality said the press

  • had turned a prosecution into a persecution.

  • An article in National Review even suggested

  • that Watergate was a trap set up by the CIA.

  • They definitely didn't use the language of thedeep state,”

  • but that was kind of lurking there.

  • But despite their efforts,

  • conservative media just couldn't change people's minds

  • about what was going on.

  • They don't have the power to drive

  • or to shape the conversation about Watergate.

  • There's not really an alternative story

  • Republicans can credibly spin,

  • because they're not just going up against Democrats;

  • they're going up against all the networks,

  • all the newspapers.

  • And so having that uniting narrative,

  • that really matters.

  • To be under a constant barrage

  • on each of the three major networks

  • tends to raise some questions in the people's mind.

  • That's really too much for Republicans to resist.

  • My phone calls were 100 to 1 in favor of pursuing

  • the path of impeachment, which was rather shocking to me.

  • By 1974, Republicans in Congress begin

  • moving to impeach Nixon.

  • And by August, Nixon resigns.

  • Events have been rushing toward one seemingly

  • inevitable conclusion: removal from office.

  • There was kind of a cohesive message about

  • what Watergate was, what it meant.

  • It would have been nearly impossible for

  • the Nixon administration to muddy the waters.

  • That's not the case today.

  • Right.

  • Today.

  • The flaming hellscape.

  • Or as Hemmer might call it: the transformation.

  • In the past 50 years,

  • trust in traditional media has plummeted,

  • with all Americans but especially with Republicans.

  • And the demand for conservative media has exploded.

  • What started off as a few rinky-dink conservative magazines

  • has become an entire ecosystem

  • of right-wing TV, talk radio, and websites.

  • You can now exist within a comprehensive,

  • closed conservative media ecosystem.

  • Whether it's having Fox News on all the day or talk radio on all day,

  • you don't need to really ever step out of that bubble,

  • which is something you couldn't have done before.

  • Republicans aren't getting their news from Cronkite anymore.

  • They're getting it from Fox.

  • And that's a huge deal when it comes

  • to the Mueller investigation.

  • Republicans during Watergate were

  • turning on their TV and seeing this:

  • The country tonight is in the midst of what may be

  • the most serious constitutional crisis in its history.

  • Now they're seeing this:

  • Biggest non-story ever being hyped by the liberal media.

  • Greatest political hoax.

  • Farce and a witch hunt.

  • It's a sham.

  • It is a house of cards.

  • The American people will put up with a great deal,

  • but they will not put up with anyone

  • who claims to be above the law.

  • The president says it's fake news.

  • Do you even care?

  • How can anyone trust the Mueller office?

  • Bunch of Trump-hating, Hillary-loving partisan hacks.

  • A grave and profound crisis

  • in which the president has set himself against

  • his own attorney general and the Department of Justice.

  • It's one giant, huge web of corruption.

  • The FBI has become America's secret police.

  • The FBI needs a complete cleansing.

  • Mueller is, frankly, a disgrace to the American justice system.

  • These people need to be taken out in cuffs.

  • That uniting narrative we had during Watergate

  • it's gone.

  • And without it, Republicans in Congress

  • have a strong incentive to turn their backs

  • on the Mueller investigation.

  • They know that the Republican base is tuned in

  • to conservative media and hearing these messages

  • that the Mueller investigation is a sham,

  • that this is a project of thedeep stateto bring down the president.

  • Mueller is out to get the president, it appears, at any cost.

  • And so if a Republican politician breaks with that,

  • then all of a sudden, it looks like he's siding with the enemy.

  • And siding with the enemy could be a political death sentence.

  • A 2017 study found that watching Fox News

  • had a significant effect on elections,

  • shifting 6 percent of voters

  • toward the Republican presidential candidate in 2008.

  • In that environment, politicians have to choose sides.

  • And if you're a Republican,

  • do you choose to side with the media that

  • all your base listens to,

  • or do you choose to side with the ones they all oppose?

  • House Republicans have already released a report

  • attempting to undermine the Mueller investigation.

  • There's no reason to continue this.

  • We've turned up nothing.

  • And some have begun echoing Fox News's talking points.

  • Mueller is desperate.

  • He doesn't have a case he can make.

  • This Mueller investigation is built on a false premise

  • and rotten to the core, Tucker.

  • Is the integrity of the agency in question then, now?

  • Of course it is.

  • We know there's bias; we know there's a conflict.

  • I agree with you, Sean.

  • They're trying to manufacture a process crime.

  • This is increasingly becoming scary stuff.

  • Do you agree?

  • Yes, I do agree with that.

  • Of course, we don't know if Trump will fire Mueller

  • or if Mueller will actually dig up any dirt on Trump.

  • But if either of those things do happen,

  • it'll be up to Republicans in Congress to do something about it.

  • And right now, Hemmer isn't confident they will.

  • It's very hard to imagine a future in which all of a sudden

  • they're going to say, "Oh, wait, we now need to listen

  • to this independent counsel who

  • most of the conservative media have been

  • undermining and delegitimizing for months now."

  • And before you call me dramatic,

  • listen to how actual Fox News hosts

  • are talking about this stuff.

  • Nixon never would have been forced to resign

  • if you existed back in 1972, '73, '74.

  • I was literally 11 years old.

  • It's too bad for Nixon because nobody like you existed then.

  • Our prime responsibility now

  • is to unshackle the 45th president of the United States.

  • These investigations might be really similar,

  • but on TV, they could not look more different.

  • And for Republicans in Congress,

  • that might be all that matters.

  • That's the way it is.

Nixon and Trump.

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The big problem with comparing Trump to Nixon

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    Samuel posted on 2018/05/14
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