The impeachment of President Donald Trump Wednesday will undoubtedly thrust him into our lives again over the coming weeks.
What Trump did was wrong. Full stop.
However, the act of impeachment and removal is political at its heart, and its rare use in our country’s history will turn it into a spectacle – one we should watch but not overindulge in. Naturally, it will drive ratings for the media, but it will also unfortunately give Trump the spotlight once again, allowing him the ability to repeat his dangerous lies on a national stage.
This time around, impeachment was supported by members on both sides of the aisle, but the act of impeachment will cause a firestorm of reports related to a lame-duck president and, in turn, obfuscate the news we should all be focusing on – like the deadly pandemic and President-elect Joe Biden’s first weeks in office.
Newspapers, broadcasters and radio hosts engage in something called gatekeeping every day. Gatekeeping means there are only so many seconds in a day, so many inches of text in a newspaper and a plethora of things to cover within those constraints. That time and space is very valuable since it sets a national agenda for the dissemination of vital information.
With gatekeeping comes a responsibility to focus on the most important things that affect our daily lives.
The fact of the matter is that within days, Trump will pack his bags and leave the White House. His power will diminish, and he will return to a life as a civilian, just like the rest of us.
People on both sides of the aisle agreed that the following things amounted to impeachable offenses and possible removal from office: inviting a crowd to Washington, D.C., lying to them about the election, encouraging them to march on the Capitol to change the outcome of an election and saying “if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
There is not enough time to properly complete a Senate trial for removal before Biden is sworn in as our 46th President of the United States. Trump ought to have time to mount a defense, which is foundational to our rule of law. Considering this, impeachment will likely take weeks, not days, meaning it will consume and clog the airwaves while Biden is rolling out initiatives that will affect our lives.
A Senate trial therefore means Trump will likely consume vast amounts of – already limited – time journalists have to report on things that matter greatly to our health, wellbeing and future.
As many media scholars have noted, readers have already been subjected to a megadose of Trump in the form of beginning-to-end coverage of his political rallies, daily commentary on his incessant tweets and hypothetical discussions on things gleaned from the people surrounding him.
Media outlets ought to take a hard look at how to proceed in the post-Trump presidency. National coverage and political debates have moved away from substantive policy discussion toward more sensational, eye-catching, drama-filled banter that seems vapid in retrospect.
Biden deserves to be scrutinized just as hard as any president before him. That’s the job of the press. That’s the work that will provide actual utility in people’s lives.
That is what the Chronicle-Tribune plans to do: hold public officials accountable. Our reporters are committed to writing about local news, using our pages to provide you with news you cannot get anywhere else.
Our gatekeepers will remain focused on local government, education and crime beats to keep you informed on things that affect your daily life. That’s what we’ve always done.
We hope the community spends its time and energy wisely during this time of economic uncertainty amid a global health crisis. The Trump saga will continue, but it should not prevent us from using our time to make the world better.
Ignore the noise, and stay engaged locally. Our community, in the end, is truly what matters today, tomorrow, always.