Accuracy in Media

Among the media hysteria and frenzy surrounding the almost party-line impeachment vote in the House of Representatives, two moderate Democratic congressmen joined the chamber’s Republican minority and voted against impeachment.

The two congressmen did not switch party affiliations, but voted with the Republican lawmakers for various reasons. Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-N.J.), a freshman member of Congress, “has consistently opposed impeachment,” according to NBC News. Part of his statement noted that an impeachment vote “will further divide the country tearing it apart at the seams and will ultimately fail in the Senate.” Van Drew said that voters should decide in 2020 whether impeachment is the correct call by voting Trump in or voting him out of office. Van Drew’s district was one of the districts Trump won in the 2016 election in New Jersey, which could explain Van Drew’s resistance to impeachment proceedings.

Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) represents a rural district where Trump won by 30 percent in the 2016 election and Peterson blasted the impeachment vote as “hopelessly partisan.” Echoing Van Drew, Peterson said that the impeachment proceedings will die in the Republican-majority Senate and it would be better to focus Congress’s time on other important matters.

How did the mainstream media cover these two defections in the impeachment vote?

Other than NBC News, the New York Times wrote about the two defectors and their votes. Although the vote was overwhelmingly in favor of impeachment by a 232-196 vote, it is important for the media to note why two Democrats broke with the majority on impeachment.

The lack of media coverage about the two defections in the impeachment vote reiterated how the media is in a reporting frenzy about impeachment and often quoting progressive lawmakers, while mostly ignoring how moderate lawmakers perceive the impeachment proceedings. Political analysts have often said that independent voters’ minds matter in elections, and by catering to one extreme over the political middle is not a good omen for elections.

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