Opinion | White House

Press: Ukraine's not the only outrage

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All Americans should be grateful that the impeachment inquiry is finally underway and off to a powerful start. Donald Trump's finally being held accountable. Thanks to testimony from three highly credible witnesses, the first week of public hearings laid out a compelling case of bribery by the president of the United States.

As House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said in his opening statement, "the facts are not contested." President Trump invited a foreign government to intervene in an American election, withholding $400 million in congressionally-approved military aid unless Ukraine agreed to launch an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden. "It's as simple and terrible as that," Schiff said, before concluding: "If this is not impeachable conduct, what is?"

But there's also a downside to the impeachment process. Yes, it's a big deal: only the third time in history the House has held an impeachment inquiry, with Donald Trump much more deserving of impeachment than either Andrew Johnson or Bill Clinton. Yet impeachment comes at a cost, which is perhaps unavoidable: so many other news-worthy stories simply get lost in the mix.

Actually, that's been the case since Day One of the Trump administration. Donald Trump does so many crazy things, makes so many outrageous statements, sends out so many ugly tweets, the media can't keep up with them. It's like standing in front of the proverbial fire hose. Reporters barely finish one big story, which would normally dominate the news for days, before they're off chasing the latest Trump outrage, barely an hour later. Consider, for example, some of the outrages that got lost in last week's impeachment blitz.

Stephen Miller. Breaking news! One of the president's top advisors is an outright white supremacist. A stash of recently-released emails show that Miller, while an aide to Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), regularly fed white supremacist propaganda to Breitbart News, hoping to shape its coverage of immigration issues. Any other time, there'd be a firestorm to force such an avowed racist out of the White House.

Vaping. In September, facing a serious public health crisis - now 2172 reported cases of illness and 43 deaths among young people due to vaping - President Trump pledged to ban flavored E-cigarettes. Yet last week, worried a ban might displease some members of his loyal political base, Trump totally reversed himself and dropped the ban. For him, getting reelected is more important than saving lives.

Coal Plants. He doesn't talk about it much anymore, but Trump continues his losing crusade to bring back America's coal industry. On Nov. 4, reversing a 2015 Obama rule, EPA allowed coal-fired power plants to resume dumping wastewater laden with toxic coal ash, arsenic, mercury, and selenium into streams and rivers. Again, public health be damned.

Fed-Ex. In 2017, nobody lobbied harder for Trump's tax cuts than Fed-Ex Chairman Fred Smith. It paid off for him big time. The New York Times reported Fed-Ex saw its tax rate cut from 34 percent to 0 percent in 2018. They paid $1.6 billion in taxes in 2017, and zero taxes - big fat zero! - in 2018.

Jim Jordan. While he snags lots of headlines for his immature outbursts in the impeachment hearings, Jordan's involved in one of the biggest sexual abuse scandals in history: accused by two men of dismissing their complaints, when he was assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State, that the team doctor was routinely abusing members of the team. Shades of Penn State. Couldn't Republicans find someone clean as their lead impeachment bulldog?

Each of those stories deserves a week of coverage, but I wouldn't be surprised if you never heard of any of them. Democrats have to impeach Donald Trump fast, so we can get back to the rest of the news.

Press is host of "The Bill Press Pod." He is author of "From the Left: A Life in the Crossfire."

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