Opinion: Republicans Are Confident the Media Will Help Trump Escape Prosecution

Republicans “warned” Democrats on Monday that if they dared to hold former President Donald Trump legally accountable via any kind of DOJ prosecution for his role in the January 6th terrorist attack, Republicans would – wait for it – accuse them of political motivations, and it would hurt Biden.

If that reads to you like how terrorists work, well. This is coming from the Trump Republican Party, the mob/thug pro-Putin “wing” (aka, most of the party). Basically, the Republican message reads like organized crime messaging instead of one of two major political parties in a democracy: ‘Tell the law, and you’ll pay.’

The Hill reported:

Republican lawmakers are warning that any Department of Justice prosecution of former President Trump will turn into a political battle, setting a high bar for Attorney General Merrick Garland to act on an expected criminal referral from the House’s Jan. 6 committee.

But Republican lawmakers and strategists warn that any federal prosecution of Trump will be accused of being politically motivated, boost Trump within the GOP and turn into a partisan food fight at a time when President Biden is pivoting to the center and trying to keep his 2020 campaign promise to unify the country.

Republicans are confident this warning will shut down any Department of Justice investigation into Trump’s potential crimes.

Republicans have come to such a place of confidence in their ability to lead the media around by the nose that they know this cheap shot will work. Republicans know that they can tell the media something is “politically-motivated” and the media will conflate that with the facts of why Trump is being prosecuted because “both sides” are equal to our modern-day media.

Even when one side has been telling consistent lies in their attempt to overthrow our democracy.

Why are Republicans so confident? You might recall the contrast between the way legacy media like the New York Times (all criticisms herein are not meant to negate the very excellent work of the Times, but rather meant to shore up holes in our weakening democracy) covered Hillary Clinton’s emails versus the way they covered Donald Trump’s campaign being (willingly, we now know thanks to Mueller’s report) assisted by the Russians.

In fact, the Columbia Journalism Review conducted a study published March 3rd, 2017 of the way traditional media was basically led around by the nose (my words, obviously) by the hyper-partisan conservative media agenda, which also notes that this hyper-partisanship was “asymmetric”:

Our own study of over 1.25 million stories published online between April 1, 2015 and Election Day shows that a right-wing media network anchored around Breitbart developed as a distinct and insulated media system, using social media as a backbone to transmit a hyper-partisan perspective to the world. This pro-Trump media sphere appears to have not only successfully set the agenda for the conservative media sphere, but also strongly influenced the broader media agenda, in particular coverage of Hillary Clinton.

While concerns about political and media polarization online are longstanding, our study suggests that polarization was asymmetric. Pro-Clinton audiences were highly attentive to traditional media outlets, which continued to be the most prominent outlets across the public sphere, alongside more left-oriented online sites. But pro-Trump audiences paid the majority of their attention to polarized outlets that have developed recently, many of them only since the 2008 election season.

Baked into that finding is also yet another oft-ignored fact that bias does not necessarily equal disinformation or misinformation. Bias on the left is often (the study provided charts to show that readers of left-leaning websites like PoliticusUSA also often visited NYT, Washington Post, CNN, and other mainstream news outlets) based on facts established by traditional media.

CJR noted, “…attention to these more partisan outlets on the left was more tightly interwoven with attention to traditional media” (their charts):

Chart:Tweeting chart by Columbia Journalism Review

Facebook Image 1 Republicans know that they can tell the media something is "politically-motivated" and the media will conflate that with the facts of why Trump is being prosecuted because "both sides" are equal to our modern-day media.

“Liberal bias” is used by conservatives to dismiss information that comes from even mainstream outlets, and yet, in reality, mainstream outlets have been more impacted by conservative bias.

Perhaps not their own bias (for some reason in this modern media landscape, very conservative, wealthy people can own a media outlet that seems biased toward the elite and claim they’re not biased, but anyone batting for The People must announce their “liberal bias” – and since those very conservative people own most of the traditional media outlets, they are also the “gatekeepers” of “the truth” regarding “bias”), but the bias of their coverage.

In fact, many of conservative media’s most shared stories were what the study authors consider to be “disinformation”: “Attacks on the integrity and professionalism of opposing media were also a central theme of right-wing media. Rather than “fake news” in the sense of wholly fabricated falsities, many of the most-shared stories can more accurately be understood as disinformation: the purposeful construction of true or partly true bits of information into a message that is, at its core, misleading.”

That study was published in 2017, and if anything under the authoritarian bent of Trump, media began self-censoring itself much more to give the embattled President the benefit of the doubt, even though his myriad lies had long ago determined he and his foot soldiers to be unreliable witnesses.

We spent the years under Trump falling victim to his very Putin-esque trick of teaching his followers that only he can be trusted to tell the truth. By consistently sowing chaos by leaking one thing and then after it was reported denying it, Trump managed to make most Americans question what was real. The press ran wildly after him as he and his right-wing media echo chamber sought to tilt reality on its axis.

This is the landscape into which Republicans happily find themselves, so much so that they believe they can pretend they are anti-Putin after years of cheering on Donald Trump’s dangerous appeasement of Putin and mocking “Russia gate” as “fake news,” when in fact it was established through tireless investigation, led by none other than a Republican.

Republicans can announce that something is x, and the media will bend, either with desperate attempts to seem unbiased by conflating facts with Republican words or through blatant favoritism for the cash cow that is the Trump Republican Party.

But no matter what Republicans say, here are a few facts:

1. The only people responsible for Trump if he runs again are the very people trying to blame Democrats for elevating Trump if he is prosecuted in any way for January 6th. Republicans as a party (leaders, majority) have not distanced themselves from Trump — even after the January 6th terrorist attack. Republicans have, in fact, allowed state Republican officials to be harassed for their integrity in refusing to lie/cheat an election that Donald Trump lost and are silent as more and more evidence comes forward of the Republican plot to overthrow a democratic election. In a world where the media could just say that, Republicans would face an uphill battle in the 2022 midterms.

2. While we’re here, the only person responsible for invading Ukraine is Putin, although Republicans are desperately trying to blame President Biden — after refusing to convict Donald Trump during his first impeachment for withholding arms to Ukraine in an attempt to coerce them into making up dirt on Joe Biden. Putin’s crimes against humanity in Ukraine are Donald Trump and his enablers’ fault, if any fault can be laid upon Americans.

Republicans are right to count on the media for a huge assist in their attempt to intimidate lawmakers and the Department of Justice. It shouldn’t go unnoticed, however, that their very threat is so reminiscent of the mob-type way Trump operates as to negate their entire claim that somehow Trump running again would be the fault of Democrats.

A party this corrupt will let Trump run again (what are they doing to stop him?), but if they manage to dump the Putin-stenched Trump, there is always a new grifter puppet waiting to take the Palin/Trump mantle.

But hey, law and order people: If you try to hold Trump/Republicans accountable, Biden will suffer the most, even though he is accused of no crime and has arguably done his best to unite this country in the first post-Trump year of a very bleak pandemic.