Last evening, I posted an Unethical Quote allegedly made by Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer that “Donald Trump’s impeachment acquittal will be meaningless because we never accepted the results of the 2016 election in the first place. Anyone who accepts an acquittal is a danger to our democracy.” I originally titled it the Unethical Quote of the Day, and later, as I read it again while responding to the predictable shocked comments, I upgraded the comment to Unethical Quote of the Century, a designation I was prepared to defend.
This morning, momentarily awake and planning to go back to sleep, I decided to check the Ethics Alarms comments, and saw this, from frequent commenter Here’s Johnny.
Re: Unethical quote:
I would think that, for the unethical quote of the century, I would be able to find a few references to it in the news media. My best Google search efforts have turned up reports from Ethics Alarms and The Sacramento Brie. The Brie does not appear to be a legitimate news site, and their reference to this quote appears to show a Fox News screen grab. Searching at Fox News did not turn up the quote. The quote does not appear in the Senate Democrats text of Schumer’s comments at the press conference where he supposedly made the comment.
So, what is going on here? Is there evidence that Schumer actually said what is in the quote? I could not find it.
This was disturbing. The post had no link, which is unusual, and I couldn’t tracj down where I got it from, though I believe the pointer came from a Trump Deranged friend on Facebook who quoted it approvingly. I’ve checked my browser history to no avail. After reading HJ’s comment, I listened to every YouTube clip I could find from Schumer yesterday. He made a number of disingenuous and hyperbolic statements about a trial with no witnesses not being a trial (The Clinton impeachment had no witnesses, and Democrats seemed to be happy with that), but nothing as outrageous as the alleged quote I posted.
Like Johnny, I cannot believe that if Schumer said something that irresponsible, it wouldn’t have been widely reported. Thus I am suspending the post pending verification, and as of this moment, assume that it was false. I also deleted the tweet that the blog generates for every post. I will continue to look for the quote and the source, and to identify exactly how this happened.
To some extent I know the latter: the news media and other Democrats have been foaming at the mouth for days, and many of the quotes are no less head-exploding than Schumer’s, except that they were not made by the leader of the party in the Senate. Assuming that there was no such Schumer quote, I was bitten by fake news that triggered confirmation bias. I have written for years that the Democrats/”resistance”/ mainstream media alliance have denied the legitimacy of President Trump’s election, and that conclusion is objectively unavoidable. Though I was stunned to see Schumer say so out loud, it was not as if what the quote indicated was out of line with reality. The second part, about “the danger to democracy,” echoed many of the irresponsible statements made by Rep. Schiff and others during the House impeachment managers’ presentation, and similar rhetoric by pundits and other Democrats. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), for example, tweeted yesterday,
“The Senate’s abdication of responsibility to the rule of law represents a much deeper threat to our democracy, our institutions, and our republic. The GOP knows that its agenda is incompatible with democracy, so their larger project is to dismantle it.”
That statement is as inflammatory and absurd as the alleged Schumer tweet, but not as shocking because OAC is, after all, an idiot. Schumer, however, is not.
I cannot apologize sufficiently for this. My attention has been even more divided than usual this past week—that’s not an excuse, but a partial explanation—and I’ve been bouncing around two computers and two many news sources to count, and, apparently, keep proper track of. I should never post a story or commentary with out verified links to the source, and, frankly, I don’t know why I didn’t this time.
Facebook is unreliable; I know that. There were plenty of aspects of the quote that should have set off my own ethics alarms, but I let my emotions take over: the quote really infuriated me, because as I suggested by noting the Schumer was “playing with fire,” that kind of rhetoric—and there has been a lot of it— rips at the connective tissue that holds this republic together. However, publishing unverified inflammatory rhetoric is just as wrong as saying such things.
Readers here have to be able to trust me; an ethics blog without trust is like a—oh, you can make up your own metaphor, I’m too upset to be clever—and this time I failed their, your, trust by not following my own procedures, and apparently being fooled because I didn’t heed my most important rule, to avoid bias making me stupid. I apologize to everyone reading this, everyone who passed along what appears to be Ethics Alarms fake news, and everyone who might have been misled by the fact that the invalid quote was passed along. I apologize to the commenters whose reactions are vanishing with the essay: I’m so sorry. I wasted your time. I also apologize to Senator Schumer.
I am going to have to do better, and I will.
I could say that I hope I can find that the quote was accurate after all, but I don’t. I am relieved that it appears to have been fabricated. I felt, when I read it, and foolishly believed it, that this was a tipping point, and a dangerous one.
Now, before I go back to bed and dream of self-flagellation, I am going to add the portion of the banned post that I know was accurate, because it had value. Indeed, another reason I accepted the quote impulsively, I think, is that it gave me a pwoerful lead-in to content I had already written. That will teach me.
Here’s the remaining section of the now zapped post, and one more time, I am so sorry:
I wonder why it doesn’t occur to Democrats that attacking as illegitimate whatever institution that is involved in their party’s defeats–let’s see, we have the Electoral College, the Supreme Court, the Chief Justice, the Constitution, democracy—might eventually begin to make them look untrustworthy and unsavory.
This is as good a time as ever to point you to Molly Heminway’s dead-on article in The Federalist, titled Top 8 Reasons Trump Already Won Impeachment. It makes me feel good, because almost all of her points have been tracked here, while my deeply smug Trump Deranged friends on Facebook have called me a Fox News shill and “on the wrong side of history. (“I can handle things! I’m smart! Not like everybody says… like dumb… I’m smart and I want respect!”)
How can the acquittal be illegitimate when Democrats didn’t even come close to engineering a fair process, a credible argument, or evidence of impeachable offenses? It’s all big lies now (this one was Big Lie #2. “Trump is not a legitimate President”); somehow, Democrats convinced themselves that if they just keep repeating, “The President should be impeached!” without anything more, that will eventually work. How much contempt for citizens does that demonstrate?
Amazingly, some “resistance” members are even more over the moon than Schumer.
Here’s Jason Johnson, editor of The Root, ranting on MSNBC:
” Imagine Donald Trump deciding sometime in June, “Well, I heard this conspiracy theory that a lot of illegal immigrants voted in California, so I’ve decided that during the presidential election California has to undergo extreme vetting because we can’t trust their votes. We’re going to shut down voting in a state.” This is literally the kind of thing he will do now. We’re not talking hypotheticals anymore….For all of these people who are worried about their elections, we’re talking about the actual country. And anything that he’ll do to Joe Biden he will do to a senator, he’ll do to a senator in his own party. So why people aren’t concerned, why people don’t realize that this is step one to actual autocracy. Not the theoretical one, not the one we talk about in class, but an actual president who will say, “This state’s votes don’t count. These people don’t have a right to vote. These people can’t come into the country.” That is what they’re allowing to happen here. And I don’t understand how anyone cannot be terrified, not just angry, but literally terrified about what the future’s gonna bring.”
Of course, this being MSNBC, nobody stopped this insane “non-hypothetical” and said to the frequent contributor, “Now calm down, and go with these nice men in the white coats. They will help you…”
Here’s Virginia political analyst and academic, also a frequent CNN guest, Larry Sabato, who claims to be non-partisan:
Someone please ask Larry how he got the idea that the Senate is required by the Constitution to convict when the House impeaches a President, especially since it never has.
On CNN, Jim Sciutto asked old Watergate sleuth Carl Bernstein why Republicans were willing to turn on President Nixon, but not on Trump, saying “Of course the key to Watergate was that you had a handful of Republican senators who in effect turned on the president. The weight of the evidence was too much. You have not seen that here. Why?”
Oh, because with Nixon there were tapes, a crime, a cover-up, and conduct that wasn’t a typical exercise of Presidential power that the Democrats had decided was suddenly impeachable. Reasons like that. (You hack.)
Instead, Bernstein answered, “Well, first of all let’s look at what Watergate was because it was about a criminal president who acted as a tyrant. And what we have here now is the Senate of the United States through the Republican leadership and membership has now joined hands with a tyrant.”
That’s truly outrageous. What has President Trump done that was tyrannical? Again, it’s another big lie, this time Big Lie, #3 : “Trump Is A Fascist/Hitler/Dictator/Monster.”
There are many more like this in the last 24 hours: MSNBC hosted Michael Moore saying that acquitting the President was like letting a wife-beater go free; NBC’s Jon Meacham today said “President Trump is functionally a monarch at this point. If the king does it, it’s okay.”
Here is Mollie Heminway’s Reason #8. Media Malfeasance:
The media always owned this impeachment process. Pelosi did her best to avoid impeachment but the media all but forced her into it. They championed it every step of the way and provided help, including the blocking of arguments against it.
For instance, although it’s fairly standard to name whistleblowers and to do journalism figuring out who key players are, many in the media decided to help Democrats keep from having to answer questions about his role with the whistleblower. They steadfastly avoided looking into him and his motivations or how that might have affected the entire proceedings.
Each day provided evidence that the media didn’t just want Trump impeached and removed from office, but desperately wanted that. There are videos of scrums of reporters fighting with Republicans over their case, but none of them fighting with Democrats. Republican senators are hounded by reporters to pressure them to change their vote, but Democratic senators don’t receive the same treatment.
It didn’t help that in the midst of the circus, a CNN host and his panel were openly yukking it up about how Republicans are all stupid.