by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
“The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America” is the title of a 1960s book by historian and librarian of Congress Daniel Boorstin. Pseudo-events, he wrote, are staged solely to generate news media coverage. Real events involve independent actors and have unpredictable outcomes. Pseudo-events are shows.
It’s not difficult to say which category the House Democrats’ impeachment hearings belong in. It’s a classic pseudo-event stage-managed to prod sympathetic media into running predictable stories. Inconvenient questions from Republican members are blocked, and the name of the original “whistleblower” is concealed, though the stage managers know who he is.
Yet on the front pages and cable news breaking-news bulletins, this pseudo-event is crowding out two genuine events of potentially world-shaking importance and uncertain outcome.
President Donald Trump is going to be impeached by the House and will not be removed from office by the Senate. But the potential for regime change — or regime rigidification — resulting from the prolonged rioting in Hong Kong and recent protests in Iran is hugely consequential and entirely unpredictable. …
… It’s possible that the regimes of post-Mao China and the mullahs’ Iran might collapse after 40 years of tyranny. Or, less happily and more likely, these regimes may sweep aside the protests and last for centuries, like so many Chinese dynasties and Persian monarchies. Real events have uncertain and possibly momentous outcomes.
Not so with the impeachment hearings.