The Bob Cesca Podcast: Freaks and Weirdos

Belafon11/22/2019 7:39:52 am PST

If you wonder why you have to speak up on Facebook, here it is:

There Are Two Separate Impeachment Hearings Happening Right Now — And Republicans Are Winning Theirs

Nothing Republican Rep. Devin Nunes does during the hearings makes sense if you watch it in the moment. When it’s posted on Facebook later, though, it works perfectly.

Democrats have hoped that the impeachment hearings might bridge the vast divide between the how the ideological factions in the country view President Donald Trump’s wrongdoing. On Wednesday, as Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union, read his opening statement, liberal Twitter users buzzed optimistically that it might finally be the moment.

“I know that members of this committee have frequently framed these complicated issues in the form of a simple question: Was there a quid pro quo?” Sondland said. “As I testified previously, with regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is yes.”

“Holy cow Gordon Sondland going full John Dean in opening statement,” MSNBC host Ari Melber tweeted.

But there are two impeachment hearings unfolding in the nation’s capital. One, carried out by the Democrats, is designed to ascertain the truth as to whether Trump sought a “quid pro quo” deal with Ukraine to get the country to investigate Joe Biden and the 2016 presidential election in exchange for aid money. The other, being carried out simultaneously by the Republicans, is quite different. Instead of trying to learn the truth, it seeks to create not just a counternarrative but a completely separate reality.

Each round of GOP questioning is not meant to interrogate the witnesses, which today included Sondland, but instead to create moments that can be flipped into Fox News segments, shared as bite-size Facebook posts, or dropped into 4chan threads. Their alternate universe — built from baseless online conspiracy theories and reading the tea leaves of Trump’s Twitter feed — dominates Fox News and Facebook. And the Republicans’ strategy, as confusing and bizarre as it may seem to those on the outside, is working.

As for articles mentioning the witnesses by name, Vindman and Yovanovitch have been targeted the most heavily. The second-most-shared story about Vindman was a Breitbart piece titled “Alexander Vindman Admits Making Up Parts Of Trump Call Summary” (97,300 engagements). The top story about Yovanovitch was by the New York Post, titled “Marie Yovanovitch Admits Obama Admin Prepped Her On Hunter Biden” (141,100 engagements), which was shared 15,000 times from the Texas for Donald Trump 2020 Facebook page and 10,000 times from the Silent Majority page.

For every piece on Facebook about impeachment from a mainstream publication, there are dozens of unhinged right-wing conspiracies going viral on the social network. A post with a transcript from Rush Limbaugh’s radio show titled “George Kent Made The Case For Investigating The Bidens” (15,000 engagements) was ranked third among this week’s stories with the most engagement about George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, who testified publicly last week. “Impeachment Witness Bill Taylor Admits: I Can ‘Tell You What I Heard From People’” (37,600 engagements) by right-wing news site Western Journal was the third-most-shared story about Taylor.

I didn’t copy the embedded links. But, if you want to know why people aren’t deciding it’s time to end the presidency, realize that just putting out the truth on TV isn’t winning the propaganda war.