Conservatives love to howl and scream about how biased cable news outlets like MSNBC and CNN are against right-wingers because they occasionally push back against the outrageous lies and conspiracies that make up the majority of Republican rhetoric these days. But in reality, these corporate media behemoths often work as hard as FOX News does to whitewash and rehabilitate the reputations of some of the worst Republican offenders.
Case in point: MSNBC anchor Kasie Hunt ended this morning’s program with a monologue idolizing departing Senator Rob Portman:
“I just want to take a moment to reflect on what it means for Senator Rob Portman, who many of you probably know, some of you I’m sure do not, but he is someone I’ve covered for many years, he has been a serious legislator who has worked across the aisle on many important issues, and he’s leaving, and he says it’s because it’s a hard time to be a public servant. Our government is only as good as the people are willing to come here and serve us in it, and if we create an atmosphere where good people no longer want to be here serving us, we’re the ones who will suffer.”
Even if you’ve never heard of @senrobportman, and no matter your party, he’s served as a serious and sincere legislator.
If people like him no longer want to serve, we ALL suffer. Service matters.
— Kasie Hunt (@kasie) January 26, 2021
This is an appalling misrepresentation of Rob Portman’s tenure in the Senate and a disgusting roundabout way of blaming Democrats for making it a “hard time to be a public servant.” Portman, who is a millionaire, has not been anything resembling a “public servant,” preferring instead to serve the industries and needs of capital while actively working to heap suffering on his voters. While in the past he may have scored highly on the byzantine and indiscernable metrics of “bipartisanship,” he has dutifully voted with his party for some of the worst of Donald Trump’s excesses — and has been a resolute enemy of social progress for over a decade.
It's long been striking how Portman has managed to retain the moderate, bipartisan aura despite having, say, voted against the big Manchin-Toomey bill for improved gun background checks after Sandy Hook, unlike several other Republican senators. https://t.co/oGXlxDg8yM
— Alec MacGillis (@AlecMacGillis) January 25, 2021
These include voting for the “skinny repeal” of the Affordable Care Act, the tax cuts for the wealthy, the ascension of accused rapist Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, and the rushing through of Amy Coney Barret’s Supreme Court nomination three weeks before the election in an outrageous rejection of the standards set down by Johnson and the Republicans when they refused to confirm President Obama’s nominee during an election year.
Just a few hours after Hunt said this, Johnson decried Democratic efforts to punish Donald Trump for inciting a mob to storm the Capitol Building and disrupt the peaceful transfer of power as being “divisive” and “vindictive.” He joined 44 other Republicans in a vote to declare the second impeachment “unconstitutional,” which it certainly is not.
Sen. Ron Johnson: "A trial of a former president is simply vindictive. It will divide." pic.twitter.com/PbG6sBTrYX
— The Hill (@thehill) January 26, 2021
It is beyond frustrating to see cable news hosts engage in such laughably dishonest efforts to keep up this charade that there are Republican politicians of any moral fiber or hold any sincere concern for the well-being of anyone but the very wealthiest Americans when their records tell you all you need to know about what kind of people they are and what they believe in.
The only reason that Portman is retiring, and the reason he’s complaining about how hard it is to be a public servant, is because his actions are finally having consequences. The Republican Party is now wholly dominated by the immense figure of Donald Trump, and Johnson doesn’t want to have to tow the line between appeasing the MAGA chuds and being associated with incidents like the recent planned assassination of several Democratic members of the House — and the knowledege that there’s a cushy fake job on the board of some predatory company waiting for him whenever he wants.
Part of the reason these ghouls keep on getting re-elected over and over again is because they know that flaks in the media will laud them for being “serious and sincere legislators” without any consideration of the regressive and monstrously cruel political agendas they fight to impose on an unwilling nation through a thoroughly undemocratic institution.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.