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The press has a Rudy Giuliani problem

2 min read

The impeachment battle lines now appear to have been drawn in terms of the unfolding messaging war that will dominate the airwaves for months to come: Democrats are doggedly perusing the checked-out claims of a government whistleblower, while Republicans are lying about everything.

That's not an exaggeration. Embracing Donald Trump's signature and constant disregard for the truth, Republicans defending the president are operating in a truthless environment, utterly unencumbered by reality, as they fabricate claims and toss out nonsensical conspiracy theories in an attempt to protect Trump from his admission that he pressured the Ukraine government to dig up dirt on Joe Biden. Leading that reckless brigade is Rudy Giuliani, which means it's time for the press to quit Rudy Giuliani.

On Sunday, the Biden campaign put a finer point on that. “In a letter addressed to the heads of the major news and cable networks, as well as top news anchors, two top Biden campaign advisers make the case that by peddling routine falsehoods about the work of Biden and his son Hunter in Ukraine, Giuliani’s presence on the airwaves is editorially untenable,” The Daily Beast reported. Biden aides Anita Dunn and Kate Bedingfield wrote, “While you often fact check his statements in real time during your discussions, that is no longer enough. By giving him your air time, you are allowing him to introduce increasingly unhinged, unfounded and desperate lies into the national conversation.”

The Biden letter goes on to make several key points, including the fact that Giuliani, a former mayor of New York, is not a government or Trump administration official or even a spokesperson. If the White House had put forth a top aide this weekend to defend Trump on the collusion scandal, then it would have been a bit more difficult (although certainly not impossible) for news outlets to refuse to put that person on the air. But Giuliani “holds no public office that would entitle him to opine on the nation’s airwaves,” the aides write.

Yes, some people might recoil at the idea of a campaign making the demand that television news outlets stop booking a particular guest, simply because that's never been the role of a campaign and because the press, of course, is free to invite whomever they want to discuss the day's news. But if you view the Biden campaign letter as encouraging or imploring television news outlets to make a journalistic decision to drop Giuliani and his marathon of lies, then the scenario doesn't seem so unusual. Television news programs decide everyday whom to put in front of the cameras and whom not to. By putting Giuliani on, they're making a conscious decision to air a pathological liar at a pivotal moment in our history.  

The simple fact is that drastic steps need to be taken, because right now Republicans have the media system rigged.

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