by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
In early October, Chuck Todd stared stone-faced into MSNBC’s living rooms and intoned gravely, “I don’t say this lightly, but let’s be frank — a national nightmare is upon us. The basic rules of our democracy are under attack from the president[.] … [T]hat all but ensures his impeachment in the House of Representatives. … This moment should arguably be a national emergency. The Founding Fathers would have considered it a national emergency — if the president publicly lobbied multiple governments to interfere in the next election. It’s tough to say lightly, but this is the moment we’re at.”
Said lightly or not, coming a week after House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s announcement of an impeachment inquiry, Charles David “Chuck” Todd — the 12th incarnation of Meet the Press moderators and NBC News’s political director, responsible for all aspects of NBC’s political coverage — was initiating a “moral panic.”
Using his platform as the voice of “the longest-running program on network television,” and arguably mass media’s highest-profile soldier in the Trump resistance, Todd’s intention was deliberate and unmistakable: to instill public fear.
It had moral panic written all over it — perfect for an impeachment. …
… Most crucial to Todd’s (or any) moral panic is the powerful role of the mass media, which in this case not only has defined, reported, and managed the “threat” posed by the president, but also branded him as “deviant” — someone who menaces our culture, our principles, and our way of life.