The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held the first hearing Thursday in the chamber’s impeachment inquiry against President Joe Biden into the litany of disturbing facts showing a life of corruption and ruin inside his family led by his son Hunter and brother Jim. Naturally, the major broadcast networks of ABC, CBS, and NBC used their flagship Thursday night and Friday morning news shows to insist there’s nothing to see here.
ABC’s World News Tonight anchor David Muir framed Republicans Thursday as though the party writ large was unconcerned with the possible government shutdown: “Meanwhile, as millions brace for a shutdown, and what this could mean for their pay, House Republicans moving forward on something else: the impeachment inquiry into President Biden.”
After touting the “major headline” that “the Republican-led committee’s own witnesses testifying that there is no evidence right now” justify an actual impeachment, Muir gave way to senior national correspondent Terry Moran to continue the shilling he did hours earlier (click “expand”):
MORAN: Today, the Republicans made it official, holding their first hearing on whether to impeach President Biden, looking to uncover whether he accepted bribes or abused his office in connection with his son Hunter’s overseas business dealings.
CONGRESSMAN JIM JORDAN (R-OH): This is a tale as old as time. Politician takes action that makes money for his family, and then he tries to conceal it.
MORAN: But from the start, the Republicans faced a problem, despite months of investigations, they have no concrete evidence of any wrongdoing by the President. Even their own witnesses testified there is no proof of misconduct on the part of the President.
JONATHAN TURLEY: I do not believe that the current evidence would support articles of impeachment. That is something that an inquiry has to establish. But I also do believe that the House has passed the threshold for an impeachment inquiry.
MORAN: And Democrats immediately pounced —
CONGRESSWOMAN ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): This is an embarrassment.
MORAN: — denouncing the proceedings as a sham, an embarrassment, and a complete waste of time with the government on the verge of a shutdown.
Moran later bragged that Democrats relished “fir[ing] back” with “[o]ne of them saying the problem with slinging mud is, you have to have some mud.”
On Friday’s Good Morning America, ABC senior congressional correspondent Rachel Scott also made the GOP seem single-minded: “But what Republicans have been focused on? Launching an impeachment inquiry into President Biden, holding a six-hour hearing, alleging he benefited from his son Hunter Biden’s business dealings as vice president. But even their own witnesses testified there’s no evidence of that.”
Thursday’s NBC Nightly News had impeachment as one of the lead stories. Anchor Lester Holt’s open about the looming government shutdown added this jab at the GOP: “Yet despite all that, the shutdown threat was not the only matter consuming Congress today. Republicans turning some of their focus to an impeachment inquiry into President Biden despite a key witness who testified today, the case against the President so far isn’t there.”
Correspondent Ryan Nobles played Biden adviser, even sparring at a press conference with a Republican congressman (click “expand”):
NOBLES: And while many are planning for the worst, House Republicans kicked off their first impeachment inquiry hearing. Democrats posting a shutdown clock, and arguing Republicans have yet to provide evidence President Biden directly benefited from his son’s lucrative foreign business dealings.
CONGRESSMAN JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): If the Republicans had a smoking gun, or even a dripping water pistol, they would be presenting it today. But they’ve got nothing on Joe Biden.
NOBLES: Republicans countering they’ve collected evidence that is worth further exploring.
CONGRESSMAN JASON SMITH (R-MO): Whether it was lunches, phone calls, White House meetings or official foreign trips, Hunter Biden cashed in by arranging access to Joe Biden.
NOBLES: Before today’s hearing, we pressed the top Republican about what message Hunter sent while his father was not in office, describing the Biden brand as his family’s only asset. [TO SMITH] How does that demonstrate that there is some sort of political influence being put over him if at that time he is not a political — he’s not an elected official?
SMITH: I’m definitely not going to pinpoint one item. I think we’ve outlined —
NOBLES [TO SMITH]: You presented it. You — it was the first thing you brought up.
SMITH: So apparently you don’t agree with it, so of course you disagree
NOBLES [TO SMITH]: It’s not that I don’t agree with it. I’m asking you to explain it.
SMITH: I’ll take the next question.
By Friday morning, NBC’s Today had chief White House correspondent Peter Alexander on the case to relay that “some Republicans this morning are privately grumbling how that first impeachment hearing went” with the whole “effort…at risk of backfiring” as there were “[n]o bombshells, no direct evidence that President Biden did anything wrong.”
Pinch-hitting for Norah O’Donnell on the CBS Evening News, John Dickerson did his part to further the talking point of Republicans being heartless toward the military and government workers who wouldn’t be paid during a shutdown:
We begin with the federal government facing a shutdown, now just two days away. But House Republicans were focused on other issues, principally the first hearing in the impeachment inquiry of President Joe Biden. House leaders are accusing the President of corruption and abuse of office, while Democrats say the entire process is an evidence-free waste of time. In testimony, some of the GOP’s own witnesses did not agree with those who invited them, saying there is not enough evidence to support articles of impeachment.
Congressional correspondent Nikole Killion said her piece as well, insisting “[t]here was little new evidence presented during this impeachment hearing, and Democrats blasted Republicans for holding it while the government is in danger of shutting down”
On both the Evening News and CBS Mornings, Killion cheered “the panel’s own GOP witnesses” for “knock[ing] some of the allegations down” even though one of those witnesses in George Washington University law professor and Fox News contributor Jonathan Turley noted he would still support an impeachment inquiry even though he would still need to be convinced to back any articles of impeachment.