We've documented how quickly CNSNews.com got over the Capitol riot, slipping into reflexive defense mode as the House of Representatives impeached President Trump for inciting it. That grousing about impeachment continued in the days afterward, featuring complains from Republican politicians:
- Rep. Nancy Mace: There Was a Bipartisan Effort to Look at Censuring Trump, But Pelosi Wouldn’t Allow It
- Sen. Graham: Biden 'Incredibly Weak' If He Does Not Oppose Impeachment After Trump Leaves
- Sen. Paul: If Senate GOP Leaders Help Impeach Trump, 'They Will Destroy the Republican Party'
- Graham: 'We're About to Impeach a Guy in Florida, OK?' 'Continues to Divide the Country'
- Rubio: Holding an Impeachment Trial for Trump Would be ‘Stupid’—Like Throwing Gasoline on a Fire
- Sen. Cotton: 'I Don't Think This Trial...Is Within the Senate's Constitutional Authority'
- Rep. Jordan: 'How Do You Unify When You're Trying to Impeach a President With No Due Process?'
- Rubio: 'For the Political Entertainment Business, This (Impeachment) Is About Ratings and Clicks'
- Sen. Rand Paul: If You Impeach Trump, You Should Impeach Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Maxine Waters and Cory Booker
CNS also uncritically repeated Sen. Rand Paul's counterfactual recounting of the shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise and other Republican politicians at a baseball field:
I was at the ball field when the Bernie Sanders supporter showed up and shot Steve Scalise, almost killed him, shot four other staffers, shot one of the staffers 10 feet from me. It was a very violent episode, but as the guy was shooting at us, he was saying “this is for healthcare," and at that time, the Democrats were saying that the Republican health care plan was “you get sick and then you die.” You can see how that kind of language might have incited this person. But I never in my wildest dreams or any kind of sense of fairness would’ve said “oh we need to have a hearing to impeach Bernie Sanders, and that it’s his fault that this crazed gunman came.”
We found no contempraneous accounts from Paul claiming that the shooter said "this is for healthcare" as he was shooting. Further, Paul identified nothing Sanders personally said that could possibly have incited the shooter; indeed, Sanders quickly condemned the shooting.
In this time period -- Jan. 18 to Feb. 1 -- CNS published only two article featuring a Democratic politician's view of impeachement: a Jan. 19 piece by Craig Bannister featuring Rep. Rashida Tlaib arguing that had President Obama did what Trump did in inciting the Capitol, he would almost certainly be conviced by the Senate, and a Jan. 26 piece by Susan Jones featuring Rep. Eric Swalwell claiming that Trump incited the riot to disenfranchise Black Americans. There was also a Jan. 26 article by Patrick Goodenough framing president Biden's statement that the impeachment trial "has to happen" as being made even though he "came into office aiming for 'unity'."
CNS was also dismissive of Republicans who supported impeachment. In a Jan. 25 article, Jones editorialized that "Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), never a Trump supporter, sounded a lot like Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Sunday when he was asked about the impeachment of former President Donald Trump," adding that "Schumer used some of the same words in a speech on the Senate floor last Friday."
When Paul's Senate motion to declare Trump's impeachment trial unconstitutional failed when five Republicans chose not to support it, Goodenough devoted ample space in a Jan. 27 article to Paul's arguments for it -- 11 paragraphs of statements from Paul and GOP Sen. Thom Tillis, cmpared with three paragraphs from Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer -- and named the five Republicans who voted against it, pointing out that they "are all known critics of Trump," further complaining that one of them, Romney, "was the lone Republican to vote to find the president guilty of one of the two charges he faced – abuse of power" and that two others "both called on Trump to resign, following the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol."
Goodenough encapsulated the partisan, pro-Trump framing that CNS would go on to use for the impeachment trial itself -- just as it did last time.