Now that US media outlets are starting to openly discuss impeachment with regard to Donald Trump, it’s probably a good idea to look back at the only impeachment that resulted in a president resigning—that of Richard Nixon. Going online, the first thing that strikes one is the relatively measured and low key tone of the media coverage in 1974. Reading the stories filed in the Washington Post by reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein you can’t help but draw a contrast between the tone of those stories and the hair-on-fire stuff we currently see on CNN. Then the reporters crafted stories that simply piled fact on fact in an almost dispassionate tone. It took the New York Times and the broadcast media a while to catch up to the Washington Post, but again there was little of what we see now – a race between news outlets to be the first to report some small tidbit. Of course the big difference between now and then was the absence of cable news. The only TV news available was at the supper hour, and was helmed by the likes of Walter Cronkite who wouldn’t have been caught dead coming back from every commercial break exclaiming “Breaking News” as Blitzer annoyingly does. Trump has proven to be a total buffoon, maybe worse; and at the end of the day there may be some impropriety associated with his Russian contacts during the 2016 campaign and after; but as news editors understood in 1974, the fact that something as serious as impeachment is even a possibility, requires the media to be extra scrupulous in their coverage. A cheerleading tone will destroy the credibility that has just started to creep back into the traditional media since Trump’s election. A media-driven witch-hunt will polarize the US like never before. And the half of the population that will be enraged are the ones who really like guns. The reason Nixon resigned was not because of the media or the opposition Democrats; it was because he had lost the support of key members of his own party and a significant number of people who voted for him. The reason that could happen was because back then there was a great deal more trust in the media as an unbiased source of information.
Still in great form
The term Pentecost comes from the Greek meaning “fiftieth”. It refers to the festival celebrated on the fiftieth day after Passover, also known as the “Feast of Weeks” in the Septuagint and the “Feast of 50 days” in rabbinic tradition. The Christian feast of Pentecost falls on the fiftieth day after Easter. And so it was on Pentecost Eve Day that the faithful (some admittedly not as much) were off to Our Lady of Assumption to celebrate a 12 year old grandson’s confirmation. It was a pleasant surprise to see retired Bishop Anthony Tonnos leading the service. At 81, he looks many years younger and with his strong resonant voice he took the class of youthful congregants through a gentle line of questioning that was filled with good humor. With the burdens of church administration behind him, His Excellency told the audience he really enjoys getting out to pastoral events like these. For their part, the kids were captivated by a speaker whose ability to hold an audience is undiminished.