I absolutely love watching political news, endlessly. But when there's NO actual news to report (at any time, but especially on Primary Days until the polls close), I hate endless repetition of nothingness instead of not covering important news around the country and the world.
And "nothingness" is not hyperbole. When it's Election Day, there's no story until the polls close, and the votes start to get counted. Reports about the weather and turnout and last-minute campaigning are fine. But 12 hours of "Breaking news: People continue to vote in New Hampshire" is irresponsible, most especially when there actual is actual news that is actually important.
For instance, the Republican Senate under Mitch McConnell just blocked three bills that would provided election security. Two of the bills would have required campaigns to alert the FBI and Federal Election Commission in case of foreign offers of assistance -- something one wouldn't think was terribly controversial, since accepting assistance from a foreign government is against the law (unless, apparently, you're a Republican president under impachment). The other bill would have provide additional election funding and banned voting machines from being connected to the internet. All blocked by the Republican Senate, not even voted down. And none of it covered by the TV news media, as far as I can tell.
And then there's the story of Trump chastising the Department of Justice's sentencing recommendation for the convicted Roger Stone, which the DOJ subsequently overruled the lawyers on the case and said they'd be lowering the recommendation -- upon which four Department lawyers resigned from the case, one of whom resigned from the Department of Justice entirely.
Happily, this story was not ignored. Unhappily, not by much. This is a major, significant story. Former DOJ lawyers have said that they're unaware of anything like this happening at the agency before. It speaks to more than just this one case (which is substantive on its own), but also a breakdown of the Department of Justice, inappropriate interference by the president, and a crisis of confidence. And being short shrift in an "Oh, by the way" kind of effort doesn't cut it -- most especially when for 12 hours you're covering the Breaking Story that "People are voting in New Hampshire."
One other thing of note about this story which I haven't heard mentioned today. And that's how as big as its impact is on the Department of Justice as a government agency, it may conceivably have zero impact on the Roger Stone case.
The DOJ sentencing recommendation is just that and nothing more. It's a recommendation to the judge. And the judge is under no obligation to follow it. Keep in mind that when the lawyers recommended a long sentence for Paul Manafort, the judge gave him much less. That could always be the case here with Roger Stone. In fact, it could also be the opposite -- if the DOJ now recommends a short sentence for Stone, the judge could ignore that and give him a much longer one.
And all this, along with the witness firings, by Trump within just a week of his acquittal.
And all I could think of was -- rest easy, this time it's not about the GOP enabling Trump and being complicit -- that the question to ask is not about Trump but whether Susan Collins (R-ME) has finally learned her lesson.
History suggests probably not, and it's too little too late if she has, but it's still the more interesting question, since almost no one but her thought the question was ever if Trump had. Or will.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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