The media narrative considered it a Trump v Cheney showdown. While Cheney was happy to oblige the media, the truth was far more complex.
Congresswoman Liz Cheney was removed from her post as leader of the House Republican Conference on Wednesday, though she has vowed to remain in Congress and run for her Wyoming At-Large seat in 2022.
- When addressing her Republican peers before the vote, Cheney took aim at former President Trump, saying “We cannot let the former president drag us backward.”
- The night before, Cheney addressed the House floor, “cast[ing] herself as a defender of the Constitution” and that Trump’s supporters are “undermining our democracy.”
- Republican members of the Senate rushed to Cheney’s aid, saying the vote to oust Cheney was “bad for the party”, while drawing the distinction between Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, who has largely avoided the issue of the 2020 election since January 6th, and Cheney who continues to poke the bear.
- The New York Times gave Cheney huge opportunities to garner sympathy from readers, saying she was booed and surreptitiously painting those supporting her removal as nefarious, including House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy.
- NBC News published an opinion piece by a Republican strategist who said Cheney being a woman had to do with the efforts to remove her from House GOP leadership, saying “moderate Republican women are struggling to find a path forward” in the party.
- CNN’s Gloria Borger practically anointed sainthood on Liz Cheney, saying “she broke with her fellow leaders” “loudly and purposely”, characterizing her as a bulwark against Trump, a narrative the mainstream media has been spoon-feeding its audience since the brouhaha began.
- The Washington Examiner interviewed Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw, who is home recuperating from eye surgery, in which he said he was “grateful” to not have been in Washington for the “drama”, is “sick of the infighting”, and that Republicans must train their sights on the 2022 and 2024 elections.
- OAN highlighted former President Trump’s childish reaction to Cheney’s ouster, in which he called her a “bitter, horrible human being” and a “warmonger.”
- Townhall’s Mark Davis wrote a listicle underscoring some of the fictional narratives that were built to support Cheney in the mainstream media.
It’s another story the mainstream media refuses to report on holistically. The truth of the matter is there were more complex reasons for what culminated in Cheney’s removal. As Eliana Johnson wrote in Politico a week ago, Rep Cheney did not put the effort in to create a durable political network among her colleagues, and suggests some level of political tone deafness when she continued to insist on making her own potential primary challenge “a referendum on the [Jan 6th] attack” on the Capitol. She is compared to embattled New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, both of whom are offspring of larger-than-life political figures who put the time in to build friendships and networks. Neither Cuomo or Cheney did that according to Johnson. Instead, they relied on the networks built by their fathers.
Only the Washington Examiner put effort in to talking to rank-and-file GOP House members, who say it was deeper and more complex than pro-Trump vs anti-Trump. Nine other House Republicans voted to impeach President Trump, and while they have faced blowback in their home districts, they have largely put the impeachment vote behind them. They turned their focus on the Biden administration, the future, and the 2022 elections. It is apparent Rep Cheney refused to do so, and willingly or not, allowed the mainstream media to use her as a wedge to divide the Republican Party. Which, by the way, should be the job of the Democrat Party, not the mainstream media. Adding fuel to the fire is President Trump’s childish taunting after Cheney was kicked out. It’s simply unbecoming.
© Dallas Gerber, 2021