House Dems lament: Why didn’t cable TV broadcast our John Dean stunt live?


Perhaps they should be grateful that so few people witnessed the spectacle. “It should have been on CNN and MSNBC and Fox,” Steve Cohen steamed after John Dean’s flop at the House Judiciary Committee yesterday. Afterward, however, even some of Cohen’s colleagues in the House Democratic caucus wondered what they had accomplished with their walk down Watergate Memory Lane:

It was supposed to be a made-for-TV moment for House Democrats: former Richard Nixon counsel and Watergate icon John Dean testifying before lawmakers in the Judiciary Committee’s first hearing solely devoted to the substance of Robert Mueller’s findings on whether President Trump obstructed the Russia investigation.

After the four-hour hearing wrapped on Monday, though, not all Democrats were reveling in the testimony of Watergate’s star witness. Some were even wondering if anyone had bothered to watch. …

“It should have been on CNN and MSNBC and Fox,” argued Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) as he walked out of the hearing. “For whatever reason they didn’t choose to do it. CSPAN-3 ran it, and I understand at 3:30 they switched to a helicopter crash [which killed one person in midtown Manhattan on Monday afternoon] in New York.”

Eyeballs matter to Democrats as they attempt to navigate the latest stretch of political terrain following the release of the Mueller Report seven weeks ago.

If eyeballs matter, it’s completely unclear why they called Dean at all. Dean has spent the last four decades accusing each Republican administration since Nixon’s as being progressively worse than Watergate. At best it’s a predictable, rote rite of passage in any controversy. At worst it’s as dull and uninteresting as Dean otherwise is. Dean couldn’t manage to be exciting if he delivered his testimony with a circus act, perhaps especially in the middle of this circus act.

Let’s put it this way: when MSNBC declines to provide live coverage for someone bashing the Trump administration in Congress, you know it’s going to be dull and pointless. And since Dean has no insight into specifics of government wrongdoing that took place any time anytime before the Donny & Marie Show, dull and pointless might have been aspirational.

It was nothing more than a publicity stunt, and Democrats are just sore that the media didn’t bite on it. Even C-SPAN decided to bail out of the trainwreck when a more important story emerged — even though all of the cable nets were covering that story, too.

The New York Post editorial board offered a suggestion to Nadler for his next attempt at a PR stunt:

If Nadler wants to avoid a complete flop, he needs to get not just cynical, but creative. Maybe subpoena Monica Lewinsky?

Naaah. Lewinsky’s too smart to get used in that manner anyway, but even if she was willing to play along, that would only remind everyone about Bill Clinton’s admitted perjury and obstruction of justice — which Nadler at the time didn’t think was impeachable. Republicans would have a field day with that, and you can bet that Fox would be on hand to broadcast that live.

To wrap up this Dean faceplant, here’s former House Oversight chair Jason Chaffetz offering his assessment of Dean’s appearance. “Jerry Nadler’s running this like some high-school show.” Tough to argue with that.

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