A Case Study On The Epidemic Of Bothsidesism In Journalism

INSIDE: Jack Smith ... Donald Trump ... Jennifer Little
Fort Washington, MD - March 4 : Former President Donald J. Trump speaks on the third and final day of the Conservative Political Action Conference CPAC held at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center on S... Fort Washington, MD - March 4 : Former President Donald J. Trump speaks on the third and final day of the Conservative Political Action Conference CPAC held at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center on Saturday, March 04, 2023, in Fort Washington, MD. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo.

Hahahaha … Sob

I started this WaPo story – headlined “Much of the 2024 GOP field focuses on dark, apocalyptic themes” – with hope and optimism. Awesome, the bigs are treating this as not normal, which is good, just what democracy needs!

It starts off strong, citing Trump’s “I am your retribution” speech and building up to a compelling nut ‘graph:

The trio of comments from 2024 Republican presidential hopefuls — either declared or expected — underscore the dark undertones and apocalyptic rhetoric that have pervaded much of the Republican Party in the era of Trump.

But in the very next ‘graph, immediately undercutting the story’s own premise, comes the first sign that the story is infected with the insidious journalistic trope of bothsidesism:

President Biden and Democrats often engage in their own existential messaging, warning that some Republicans — whom they deride as “extremists” — are out of step with most Americans, eager, for example, to cut programs like Medicare and Social Security.”

Wait, what? Equating the defense of Medicare and Social Security with “I am your retribution”? Putting extremists in quotes was a nice touch, too.

From there, the story’s structure deteriorates into a both-sides dipsy doo of apocalyptic things Republicans have said followed by “to be sure”-style tut-tutting over Democrats just to even things out, culminating in: “Of course, Democrats also deploy hyperbolic and dark language against their Republican foes.” Of course?!?

The peak of the bothsidesism comes when the story hands the baton to a dyed-in-the-wool Trumper who invokes … 85-year-old Jane Fonda … as representative of elected Democrats. What is this, 1972?

Cliff Sims, a former Trump White House official, pushed back on the notion that only Republicans are using overheated language. He pointed to the recent comments by actor and liberal activist Jane Fonda on ABC’s “The View,” in which she suggested the “murder” of antiabortion politicians — she later said she was using hyperbole and had made the suggestion in jest — and what he called “the never-ending drumbeat of Democrats who call Trump ‘Insert Authoritarian Phrase Here.’”

Remember this is a story ostensibly about how GOP contenders for president in 2024 are using dark and apocalyptic language, but okay sure Hanoi Jane half a century later as a counterpoint.

Democracy dies in darkness, though to be sure light has its own issues and has yet to account for its role in the arson problem.

Jack Smith’s MAL Probe Casts Wide Net


At least two dozen people – from Mar-a-Lago resort staff to members of Donald Trump’s inner circle at the Florida estate – have been subpoenaed to testify to a federal grand jury that’s investigating the former president’s handling of classified documents, multiple sources familiar with the investigation told CNN.

Yet Another Trump Lawyer Caught Up In MAL Probe

ABC News:

Investigators have also sought to compel the testimony of another attorney for the former president, Jennifer Little, who has also sought to assert attorney-client privilege, as part of the investigation into the Mar-a-Lago documents, sources tell ABC News. 

Do Tell!

The Georgia special grand jury heard the recording of another phone call from then-President Donald Trump pressuring a state official to overturn the 2020 election results.

Trump Lawyer Using Civil Suit To Fish For Info On Criminal Probes

The Daily Beast:

As Donald Trump prepares for an indictment that could come any minute now, one of his top lawyers is apparently trying to use another case to siphon information about every possible pending investigation into the former president—including ones that Trump might not even know about yet.

That covert effort was revealed this week in a previously unreported letter that the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James (OAG) submitted in state court. James and Trump’s attorneys have battled over subpoenas for weeks as her $250 million fraud suit against the Trump Organization barrels ahead.

This Is Golden

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson has ordered Garcia to appear Monday in person for a hearing on whether he violated the terms of his pre-trial release by going to CPAC. In doing so, she imposed strict limits on his trip to DC for the hearing: “Defendant is only permitted to leave the district where he lives to travel directly to DC, and he may go only to his hotel, his lawyers office, and the courthouse, where he must be accompanied by his lawyer at all times.”

This Isn’t That Hard, Folks

For those of you in the back, yes, raising the retirement age is a cut to Social Security benefits.

Speaking Of Raising The Retirement Age

Amid large street demonstrations, French President Emmanuel Macron bypassed Parliament and invoked special constitutional powers on Thursday to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64.

TOPSHOT – A protester on a traffic light holds a placard reading “Macron at the service of Black Rock, Black bloc at the service of the people” during a demonstration on Place de la Concorde after the French government pushed a pensions reform through parliament without a vote, using the article 49,3 of the constitution, in Paris on March 16, 2023. – The French president on March 16 rammed a controversial pension reform through parliament without a vote, deploying a rarely used constitutional power that risks inflaming protests. The move was an admission that his government lacked a majority in the National Assembly to pass the legislation to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP) (Photo by THOMAS SAMSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Put Me In, Coach!

I’m loving the sleuthing the WSJ is doing on the Nord Stream sabotage, especially since it involves reporting in German yachting circles and excursions to obscure (to me) Danish ports. Tough assignment, guys:

At least some of the six people on the suspected sabotage team boarded the Andromeda in Rostock’s Hohe Düne harbor, which caters to upscale tourists and hosts international yachting events. … From there, the Andromeda traveled to the Yachthafen Hafendorf in Wiek on the island of Rügen, a far more discreet harbor off the beaten track, with no camera surveillance at night, according to René Redmann, the harbor master.

German investigators believe that it was in quiet, out-of-the-way Wiek that the suspected saboteurs loaded explosives—ferried to the port in a white van—and additional operatives onto the Andromeda, according to a German official briefed on the investigation. …

After Wiek, the Andromeda sailed to the busier Danish port of Christiansø, farther north.

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Notable Replies

  1. Avatar for bdtex bdtex says:

    First. We all knew there were other phone calls out there like the Georgia calls. Gotta be some in AZ too.

  2. “Both sides do it.”

    My sister says that nearly every time we talk about politics.

  3. ‘Bothsiderism’ was a problem with the press covering GWB as well. He made so many stupid statements and had so many bad policies that objective coverage of them made the press seem extremely critical and one-sided: as though they were picking on him. This was of course true on steroids in the Trump administration, where the press clearly struggled to find positive stories to write.

  4. It is St. Patrick’s Day and here is my cat photo.

    giphy (19)

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