- The Washington Times - Monday, October 21, 2019

Sen. Lindsey Graham, on Sunday on “Axios on HBO,” told host Jonathan Swan that “sure,” he’d support the impeachment of Donald Trump — if in fact it were shown the president had committed an impeachable offense, that is.

And from that, all the anti-Trumpers in the media went: One of Trump’s biggest supporters wants to impeach!

This is why the press registers around zero on the scale of believability. Of course, Graham would support impeachment if there were an impeachable crime that had been committed. Saying otherwise would put Graham in the position of defending a criminal — or, at the very least, of being derelict in his duty to the American people.

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But there’s a deeper anti-Trumper reason for this reporting. It’s not just an insignificant moment in media time.

In the interview, Swan asked Graham, “Are you open-minded if more comes out that you could support impeachment?” Swan was referring to a “quid pro quo” between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

And Graham answered: “Sure, I mean show me something that is a crime. If you could show me that, you know, Trump actually was engaging in a quid pro quo outside the phone call, that would be very disturbing.”

That’s called Speaking The Obvious.

But from that, came a score of headlines suggesting Graham had sort of, kind of, pretty much turned his back on Trump and was just about, very nearly, almost at the point of impeaching.

Lindsey Graham says he may change his mind on Trump impeachment,” Insider wrote.

Lindsey Graham, one of Trump’s staunchest GOP allies, called the president a ‘handful’ and suggested he may support impeachment if new evidence comes out,” Business Insider wrote.

Lindsey Graham does not rule out the possibility of Trump impeachment if new evidence emerges,” CNN reported.

Come on, now.

Even these same media outlets had to ‘fess up.

Way, way down into CNN’s story was this tidbit: “A spokesman for Graham on Sunday underscored that the senator has not seen anything yet from Trump that he considers an impeachable offense.”

Way, way down into Insider’s story was this: “But Graham told Axios that he did not consider the call between Trump and Zelensky to be enough evidence of an impeachable offense.”

And political watchers know that Graham’s said for some time that he sees nothing impeachable in the July 25 telephone call between Trump and Ukraine’s president.

But the press must have its “impeach Trump” headline of the day.

This is a classic example of bias masked as news — of using a non-story to score political points. And you know why members of the media do this? Because they know most people don’t read past headlines. Most Twitter feeds only post the titillating choicest of words.

Soon enough, suggestion and innuendo become fact.

Soon enough, talk of the political town turns to: Graham wants to impeach.

“Though Graham has been one of Trump’s most loyal GOP allies, his recent comments suggest that his view of Trump is beginning to slip,” Insider wrote.

Or not.

Or: Graham’s recent comments suggest that he would do his job as a senator — but that, in the case of impeachment against this president, he sees absolutely nothing worthy of pursuing. To the press, that may be “eh, potatoes, potahtoes.” But to the rest of us? That’s called truth.

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter, @ckchumley.

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