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Is authoritarianism bad for journalism? Views differ


This is an important point. The both sides frame devolves into mordantly comic absurdity when one of the “sides” is more or less openly dedicated to eliminating free and independent journalism, because authoritarianism is fundamentally inimical to independent journalism by its very nature. That this has to be spelled out to these people is profoundly depressing, but you can be quite sure that today’s horse race and theater coverage of the 1/6 hearings will make the necessity of doing so crystal clear.

But ultimately the problem here is that we shouldn’t be having hearings at all, because we should be having criminal trials instead:

Let me rephrase that for the Class of 1954 Professor of American History and American Studies at Yale University: The perpetrators of a failed coup must be charged, tried, convicted, and punished for their crimes. If not, it’s normalized and we invite worse to come.

These threads always get pushback from the institutionalist types who claim that critics of Merrick Garland’s DOJ don’t understand just how “complicated” this kind of “investigation” is, and that therefore it’s more than understandable that the perpetrators of a failed coup have, 17 months later, been charged with nothing. This particular crime was committed on national TV. The most intricate details of the planning, commission, and aftermath of the crime have published in the nation’s leading newspapers, over and over again.

Donald Trump & Co. aren’t in prison because our system is failing. As always, this would be incredibly obvious to even the Chuck Todds of the world if this little drama were being played out in any other country, instead of in the eternally exceptional land of Guardrails and Checks and Balances and the Wisdom of the Framers, where These Things Don’t Happen.

Today’s hearings and the coverage of them will just put an exclamation point on that.

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