Accuracy in Media

With evidence abounding that the House impeachment inquiry is not moving the needle toward support for removing President Donald Trump, mainstream media has turned to another tactic to slow the avalanche of bad polling news: to paint House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as a reluctant warrior who, upon seeing recent facts, decided she has an obligation under the Constitution to move forward with impeachment.

Only neither the story in the Washington Post nor the story in the New York Times on Friday could put a finger on what changed her mind.

The Times tried. “Pelosi’s Leap on Impeachment: From No Go to No Choice,” it wrote over Sheryl Gay Stolberg’s story. “Nine months ago, the speaker said President Trump was ‘just not worth it.’ Then she saw an explosive headline,” read the subhead.

That headline came not this week during the hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, nor last week during the hearings before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, but in late September, according to Stolberg. The headline, which appeared on the Wall Street Journal front page, read: “Trump Repeatedly Pressed Ukraine to Investigate Biden’s Son.”

She had “resisted calls for impeachment,” Stolberg wrote. “But the news of Mr. Trump’s repeated entreaties for Ukraine to investigate a leading political rival was too much for Ms. Pelosi.” So she ordered up the impeachment inquiry. “Now, Ms. Pelosi has … reached a critical turning point” and directed her “lieutenants to draft articles of impeachment against Mr. Trump.”

The nature of that turning point was never mentioned. Instead, we’re told this was “in part the story of her sense of timing, her methodical approach to decision making and her ability to read the sensibilities and political needs of her fractious and unruly caucus,” and that her speech, “with six American flags behind her,” Stolberg wrote, “was the speaker’s equivalent of a presidential address from the Oval Office.” She had indeed “chose the same spot, and the same format, when she announced the opening of the House inquiry in September, days after she saw that headline that persuaded her to move forward.”

It then further confuses matters by quoting Rep. Pramila Japayal, D-Wash., saying “Once the speaker is on board with a strategy, she is completely on board,” even though, for months, she was on board but not really on board.

At the Post, the headline on the story by Rachael Bade and Mike DeBonis read: “‘The president gave us no choice’: Pelosi resisted Trump’s impeachment, now she’s the public face.”

She had warned Democrats before the Intelligence Committee hearings last month not to “expect these hearings to trigger a massive shift in public support toward ousting President Trump,” which “reflected her innate skepticism that has influenced her every move as she has guided her Democratic majority through a tumultuous moment in the nation’s history.”

Even after the whistleblower complaint reportedly “compelled Pelosi to launch the investigation she has long resisted, she has treated impeachment as a political liability and sought to redirect public attention to the pocketbook issues she considers responsible for her majority.”

She’s still somewhat reluctant, the Post insisted. “The speaker’s discomfort was on full display, starting with her morning address, in which she gravely announced her decision to move forward with impeachment with the cautionary words of the Founding Fathers. Two hours later, she was rattled when a reporter asked if she hates Trump – a question meant to elicit a response to a frequent GOP attack, but one she instead took as a personal slight,” DeBonis and Bade wrote.

Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) said, “It would be hard to characterize this as anything but reluctant. This not where she wanted to be, even a couple months ago.”

Why is she not there anymore? Neither article ever covered that.  

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