Remarks at the National Conference for Media Reform in Memphis, Tenn., January 13, 2007.
By David Swanson
By any serious standard of journalism, impeachment should be in the news right now. This illustrates the worst problem with our media. It's not how they cover stories. It's how they do not cover stories.
A Newsweek poll a while back said that 51 percent of Americans want Bush impeached and 44 percent do not. That's about double the support there was for impeaching Clinton when it was in the news every single day.
Dozens of cities have passed resolutions for impeachment. State legislatures have introduced the same. One outgoing congresswoman introduced articles of impeachment in December. Dozens of scholars have written books advocating for impeachment. There are DVDs, forums, marches, rallies, protests. A week ago, we packed a huge ballroom for an impeachment forum, and to make it easy, it was the ballroom in the National Press Club. The media couldn't make the elevator trip to be there.
And of course, the evidence of impeachable offenses is clear and overwhelming, but rarely presented in the media.
The number one reason that Congress members and their staff tell you in private that they are not yet impeaching is fear of the media. The number two reason is fear of Nancy Pelosi.
The number one reason that well-meaning citizens tell you they don't want impeachment consists of a PR strategy. People want to present an image that does not include what the corporate media says impeachment is. It is a long journey to move from seeing this as smart and strategic to seeing it as a self-defeating surrender to the corporate media.
And the independent media isn't where it needs to be either. In part, this is because it tends to retell corporate stories in a more honest way, rather than telling stories that have been untold.
It is a relatively short journey to see failure to demand impeachment as a moral failure. If we go into the next presidency with the next president free to launch wars on the basis of lies, torture, murder, detain without charge, spy without warrant, rewrite laws with signing statements, hide the workings of our government, disobey laws on his or her whim . . . I don't care what party he or she is from, I don't care if it's Nelson Mandela, you don't give that power to a human being. And that's what we're doing if we fail to impeach Bush and Cheney.
Impeachment is too important to stop for consideration of elections, but if you do, and if you read John Nichol's book, you realize that impeachment is not politically dangerous. Failure to impeach when the case is clear is politically dangerous. History shows this, and you can ask John.
Impeachment does not conflict with other agenda items, such as ending the war or raising wages. Watch the video of Daniel Ellsberg from January 4th. http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/node/16941 It was only the threat of impeachment that led Nixon to not veto the bill cutting off funds for the war. And it was only the peace movement that made impeachment happen. Progressive movements help each other. We are not in competition.
There are a lot of great spokespeople for impeachment. The Mayor of Salt Lake City today called for the impeachment of Bush and Cheney. I wouldn't hold my breath until you see him on Meet the Press. Liz Holtzman and I have been on a few shows. We were on Hannity and Colmes. But Hannity attacked us and Colmes basically sided with Hannity.
The media should be talking to all sorts of voices for impeachment and against it. Rather than demanding that Congress Members swear they won't do it (an oath, by the way, that's based on a common understanding that the grounds for impeachment exist but should be ignored) rather than doing that, the media should do what Sam Husseini did last night when he asked Congressman Dennis Kucinich why he has yet to introduce articles of impeachment. It's not the same question, and it matters which one is asked. If our media were serious and substantive and covered the evidence and the issues, then reporters would be unable to avoid asking Why not? rather than Will you swear you won't?
So, what can we do? Go to www.afterdowningstreet.org and get involved in urging pollsters to poll on impeachment, writing letters to editors, calling talk shows, calling producers, and protesting at media outlets.
Create a short video of yourself with your name, Congressional district, and why you want impeachment. Post it at Youtube. Learn more here: http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/impeachvideo
Plan to organize a protest at your local newspaper or television station in March. Learn more at http://www.fair.org
With enough pressure from us on the media and Congress, plus impeachment being sent from state legislatures, plus investigations underway in Congress, and the ongoing and worsening war, we will get to impeachment. But our window of opportunity to get this up and rolling is the next few months. This is an urgent demand for media activism. Put impeachment on the table and the airwaves!