PBS's Washington Week Sees Dangerous GOP, Is Sad Hunter Trial May Make Joe Unhappy

May 20th, 2024 8:28 PM

It was a livelier-than-usual roundtable on Friday’s Washington Week with The Atlantic, as the import of former President Trump’s polling strength in the face of multiple trials seemed to be causing panic among the press corps. Moderator Jeffrey Goldberg led the feisty journalists in the discussion, including Laura Barrón-López of PBS NewsHour, Eugene Daniels of Politico, Susan Glasser of The New Yorker, and Steve Inskeep of National Public Radio.

Susan Glasser of The New Yorker suggested it was only Republican members of Congress who were "play to the crowd" and "the cameras":

Institutions are unraveling, not just the institution of the U.S. Congress, in fact, you see the Trumpification arguably of the Senate Republican conference, where the traditions have held up across-aisle-civililty much stronger until more recently. I think that this is, we’ll talk more about the Supreme Court, we’re seeing not only the hyper-politicization of our institutions but a kind of constant playing to the crowd, to the cameras, to the social media, and Marjorie Taylor Greene is a very effective example of this strand of our politics. It’s not going to go away.”



Glasser found it tacky for Congressional Republicans to travel to New York to support Donald Trump on trial. Then she really went low:

GLASSER: ….not only is it Trump's party, but they even dress up like Donald Trump now. And that was something that -- for me, that is a visual marker, in some ways, of just what the decline of the Republican Party has been in many ways into a kind of a cult of personality, right? So, it's not only that the Republican Party is going to have as their nominee, someone who might well be convicted of felony crimes, who's even essentially acknowledged already in a court of law to be a sexual assaulter.

GOLDBERG: He is a civilly adjudicated sexual offender?

GLASSER: Yes. You know, this is a phrase that you used and I thought it was really notable. I don't think it's broken through to most people, a civilly adjudicated sexual offender is going to be the third time in a row the nominee of the Republican Party, and here they are dressing up like him.

Meanwhile, Democratic President Bill Clinton paid Paula Jones $850,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit while president in 1998. He spoke to the 2000 Democratic National Convention as president and at every convention since then, so he’s not yet a party pariah, not even after the #MeToo era.

As for dressing up in solidarity for a cause, surely Glasser recalled the Democratic leadership dressing and kneeling wearing kente cloth to support police-reform legislation after the killing of George Floyd. She can read her own magazine for some pungent criticism of the stunt.

Eugene Daniels of Politico was worried that average people weren’t as scared of Trump as the smart journalists who were paying attention, harping on a tweet from Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL) in support of Trump: “Standing back and standing by, Mr. President”:

DANIELS: …the folks that are paying attention right now are were all kind of nervous about it, but the American people really aren't making those kinds of connections, right? When you talk to the American people, they say Congress is broken versus the Republican Party is, you know, all going on the Acela up to New York to dress the same, to defend Donald Trump, to do all the things he can't do, and also to wink and nod to the most dangerous aspects of the Republican Party, the most dangerous aspects of the Trump base, that, hey, we may need you to do something here. And this would be hyperbolic if the insurrection hadn't happened on January 6th….

GOLDBERG: Steve [Inskeep], I just want to ask you to switch subjects to another trial that is coming next month -- the Hunter Biden trial, gun possession. Now, Hunter Biden is not running for president, there is a big difference. But the question is, how is this going to affect the mood and happiness and effectiveness of Joe Biden?

Hmm. WAs that really the big question? There was no speculation or even a hint regarding President Biden’s own possible culpability, even though the president was allegedly heavily intertwined with his son Hunter’s financial mis-dealings. For journalists, it’s always only about the president’s personal anguish of seeing his son on trial.

Inskeep also kept the issue on a personal, not legal, level for the President: “…he’s gonna take it personally because he takes this personally.” Goldberg somberly stated: “He's a father and it’s gonna affect him.”