Republicans proudly advertised their radical ways during Wednesday's impeachment hearings into Donald Trump, wallowing in conspiracies and embracing debunked claims. The question now: How does the Beltway media cover a party that has aggressively removed itself from reality? How does the news business describe and treat a political party that routinely echoes the most unbelievable claims from Fox News and the darkest corners of the right-wing media?
The truth is, this is a decadeslong game of dare that Republicans have been playing with the press, as members of the party uniformly become more radical and more antidemocratic, and basically challenge the press to call them out, knowing full well it won't happen. That's because the Beltway press basically revolves around the central idea that there are two major competing parties in this country and that they are mirror opposites of each other. Republicans are just as conservative as Democrats are liberal. Republicans are just as serious as Democrats are. Republicans are just as fact-based and honorable as Democrats are. That false equivalency drives political coverage in this country, and has for decades.
Why this obsession? Because to concede that one party operates under a radically different set of guidelines (or no guidelines at all, in the case of the GOP), journalists have to do two things. They have to defend themselves against allegations of “liberal media bias,” and they have to throw out the old, dependable rule book that allowed the press to lazily suggest that Republicans and Democrats function on the same plane, and therefore had to be treated similarly.
But how on earth do you watch the Republican performances during the public impeachment hearings and still cling to that claim? How do you pretend a party that spent hours asking witnesses about Alex Jones-type conspiracy theories somehow functions on a parallel track with Democrats, who spent the hearings ensconced in facts, testimony, and firsthand witness accounts?
The equivalent would be if, during a 2002 congressional hearing, Democrats had spent hours badgering witnesses with 9/11 Truther questions, and the press had pretended that it was totally normal. It's not! And neither is today's irrational and reckless GOP.