Recent Comments

    Two Impeachments and a Moment of Truth: Are the Democrats Winning?

    By Peter Gallotta–

    For many of us, the impeachment hearings taking place in the House of Representatives have been like a holiday gift come early. After 3 years of agonizing waiting, it feels like we finally have a process for addressing Trump’s wrongdoings. We finally have mounting public testimony and evidence that the President put personal interests over the interests of the country. We finally have the upper hand when it comes to the truth. 

    Well, not so fast. Would Republicans ever give Democrats a win? If they didn’t allow President Obama to appoint Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, they certainly aren’t going to let Democrats own the impeachment narrative. In fact, they are doing everything in their power to spin it, flip it, and reverse it at every opportunity. 

    The result is a tale of two impeachments. 

    On the one hand, you have Congressional Democrats who are committed to a fact-finding mission. They have approached the impeachment process with the intention of unearthing the truth about whether President Trump sought a “quid pro quo” deal with the Ukraine. They are making a strong public case, bringing forward credible witnesses to testify, and focusing the inquiry on the President’s dealings with Ukraine, where there is demonstrable misconduct. 

    The Republicans, on the other hand, have chosen an alternative path: total deception. If you have been watching the impeachment hearings, you may have noticed this. GOP Congressmembers like Devin Nunes (R-CA) have been interrogating key witnesses before the House Intelligence Committee not on the facts but on baseless conspiracy theories that blame Democrats for what happened in the Ukraine. While it might seem somewhat bizarre or confusing, it’s actually deliberate. These brief, recorded exchanges between Congressmember and witness become moments that can be turned into Fox News segments or shared as Facebook or Twitter posts. It’s pure political theater used to generate content that immediately becomes part of the pro-Trump propaganda machine. 

    So, as the Democrats try to win on the merits of their case, Republicans may actually be winning in the court of public opinion, feeding millions of viewers a counter-narrative completely and utterly bereft of reality. And what they are saying—on repeat, on loop, and on Twitter—is this: Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election was actually a hoax orchestrated by the Democrats to cover up their own collusion with the Ukraine to stop Trump’s campaign. 

    Are you scratching your head yet? Because you can’t make this stuff up. Unless you’re a Republican, apparently. 

    While we all know that Fox News has never had a penchant for real news, they do have a real platform. With an average daily audience of 1.7 million viewers, Fox News had its highest-rated week of the year and its best ratings since last year’s midterms during November’s impeachment hearings, according to BuzzFeed. Hosts like Sean Hannity continue to rail against the Democrats, minimizing the testimony provided as hearsay, and blaming the Democrats for going after Trump simply because they disagree with him. He’s even called the hearings an “embarrassment” for the whole country. Whether we want to recognize it or not, his version of the impeachment proceedings is what many Americans are following.

    And this is only compounded by the fact that social media has become yet another vortex of political misinformation. Even if Americans aren’t tuning in directly to the impeachment hearings, they are likely being fed misleading information about it online. That’s because social media platforms are continuing to take a laissez-faire approach to information policing. When you are talking about thousands to millions of users reached, the consequence is not marginal. Disinformation becomes a real threat. 

    Right now, the Democrats are trying to shine a light through the darkness of Republican propaganda and the online misinformation machine to win their case against Trump. Their pursuit goes beyond a constitutional obligation to country. It is, in fact, a deeply moral one. How does a democracy survive if we cannot determine the truth? 

    If House Democrats are going to vote for impeachment in December, as I believe they should, they need to deliver a message to the American people that makes the case—and the evidence—crystal clear. They cannot let the pro-Trump machine beat them in the court of public opinion. Over 70% of Americans believe the President’s actions with Ukraine were “wrong.” There is only one impeachment story here. This is the Democrats’ moment of truth, and they need a win.

    Peter Gallotta is a 30-something LGBT political activist holding on to the city that he loves thanks to rent control and two-for-one happy hour specials. He is a former President of the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club and currently serves as an appointed member of the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee and an elected delegate to the California Democratic Party.

    Published on December 5, 2019