Real political reporting today requires that journalists focus solely on the big Republican donors
I’ve long thought that we have crossed the rubicon where it no longer makes any sense for journalists to follow, interview and report on the various Republican office holders. It is not just that they are irrelevant, but that they exist now purely as front-men or front-women. The real force, the real decision makers, behind Republican politics — and policy decisions specifically — are now controlled by a small class of Republican mega-donors.
Some will say that this is a trite observation, but the ramifications of it have not been truly absorbed, and the world of journalism in particular has not reacted to this fact. As an example of the type of new model, appropriate journalism, I suggest that you read Adele M. Stan’s piece in The American Prospect, “Selection of Pompeo Solidifies Trump’s Position with Koch Brothers.” Ms. Stan not only responsibly details the extensive Koch influence over former CIA Director/future Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, but also reports how the Koch’s have positioned themselves as the true power brokers when it comes to any potential Trump impeachment by controlling the House Republicans and by previously installing Koch sycophant Mike Pence as the Vice President, waiting-in-the-wings. An excerpt:
In 2016, both Charles and David Koch, principals in Koch Industries and builders of a vast, right-wing political infrastructure, made a big show of their contempt for Trump. Charles compared the choice of either Trump and Hillary Clinton to one between a heart attack and cancer. David declined to attend the Republican National Convention, to which he had served as a delegate in 2012, when he hosted a big party.
Whatever one thinks of Paul Manafort, the former manager of Trump’s presidential campaign who has since been indicted for conspiracy against the United States, he exercised keen political judgment when he pushed Trump to offer Koch toady Mike Pence the running-mate slot, even after the Republican standard-bearer had reportedly promised it to Chris Christie, who was then the reviled governor of New Jersey. That ensured a measure of Koch support for Trump in the general election. But it also provided the Kochs with an insurance policy of their own: Should Trump get out of control, the Koch brothers not only had a Congress that would likely serve up impeachment papers should they give the signal; they had a doer of their biddings in line to take Trump’s place. (Emphasis added.)
You have to really let the above sink in for a minute, because it so obviously right. (Subject to midterm results), the Kochs — not its bought-and-paid-for Republican majority (much less Mueller's findings) — will decide whether Trump has articles of impeachment voted against him, or not. And don’t think that Trump doesn't know that. If the Kochs decide to go forward with impeachment, it is because they have already installed their Plan B, Mike Pence — and don't think that Trump doesn't know that as well. The ramifications of this would be a bombshell — if anyone cared to acknowledge it.
In any other country — with a political dynamic this obvious — we would be reporting on the actual power dynamic, the actual power brokers, in a forthright, unambiguous manner. Here? We act like this all depends on the whims of Lindsey Graham, or . . . Jeff Flake or Bob Corker. Yet, none of these individual Senators matter more on this issue than you or me — which is to say that they don't matter at all.
The kind of analysis in Ms. Stan’s article is the only analysis that matters. Covering the “intentions” or “deliberations” of Sen. Lindsey Graham, or pretending to “grill” Speaker Paul Ryan on TV, is covering the theatrics, the circus — but decidedly not covering the decision makers. No reasonably informed person would think otherwise.
And don’t get me wrong — I am not arguing that the Koch brothers are all controlling. Just by way of example, Trump is the vassal of the (truly) billionaire Mercer family. Near all Republicans genuflect to the billionaire Shelly Adelson. Hell, even Marco Rubio has a car-dealer billionaire behind him.
The point is that to the extent any policy debate, and political jockeying, exists in the Republican party, it exists among these select billionaires — right down to nomination, election, policy making, impeachment and/or succession. There is no other viable power center, much less a democratic one.
So, whether you are Jake Tapper, Chuck Todd or Anderson Cooper . . . why the hell are you interviewing and reporting on Sen. Ted Cruz or House Leader Kevin McCarthy? Even worse, why do you make us listen to Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum?
You know where the real stories lie . . . it is with a Miami car dealer, a Las Vegas casino mogul, two brothers running an industrial company, or a loopy former Wall Street trader, and so on. The story is right there, and known (at least, somewhat).
You can stick your head up your ass if you want, but please, dear God, don’t make me listen to another interview with Tom Coburn.
And imagine the consequences if you didn't just report Chris Christie as an embarrassing stooge of President Trump, but also acknowledged that President Trump was a stooge of Rebekah Mercer? Or Paul Ryan and Trump of the Koch brothers?
Imagine if the press simply reported the power structure as it is?