Dueling Media Narrative: White Women or ‘Women of Color,’ Who Gets Credit for Impeaching Donald Trump? 

New York Representative (D) Alexandria Octavio-Cortez (center) poses for a picture with other women ahead of President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Feb 5, 2019. (Credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s impeachment is far from a reality, but the media are already speculating as to who should get credit for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision last week to unilaterally announce the start of an inquiry into the president’s phone conversation with the Ukrainian president in July.

CNN decided that five freshman Democrat women in the House — who are white — should get the credit in a big way: “These five freshman congresswomen changed history by becoming unlikely leaders on impeachment” the headline of the story read.

Meanwhile, a writer for the Intercept took offense at CNN’s claim and penned an article on the “heroes” behind an effort to remove a duly elected president with this headline: “Trump Attacked the Women of Color Who Led the Push for Impeachment. Then CNN Erased Them.”

CNN’s piece argues that the five “moderate” Democrats were the impetus for the Party to embrace the impeachment effort:

When a group of moderate House freshmen Democrats moved from hard no to hell yes on starting an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, they changed the dynamic for House Democrats, and indeed — the course of history.

The reason they made their announcement and explained their reasoning as a group, in an op-ed in The Washington Post, is because they had already formed a bond over their national security background — especially the five women: Elissa Slotkin of Michigan and Abigail Spanberger of Virginia, both ex-CIA officers; Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania who was in the Air Force; Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey and Rep. Elaine Luria of Virginia were Naval officers.

They became fast friends, and called themselves the “badasses.”

“I think badasses kind of came organically from the group since we all had either served in the military or in the CIA,” Houlahan said. CNN reported:

The op-ed the women penned, along with Gil Cisneros and Jason Crow, two freshmen male veterans, opened the floodgates for others who had been resistant, and gave House Speaker Nancy Pelosi critical political cover as she announced a formal impeachment inquiry on Tuesday.

“A great example of the power of teamwork,” Houlahan said.

And while CNN does mention “the so-called squad” of freshman women in the House although not by name, the Intercept article argued that on top of Trump’s criticism of the far-left lawmakers – Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) – CNN “erased” them — all “women of color” — from the impeachment scenario.

“The Squad, alongside a number of other progressive members of Congress, many of them people of color, do deserve the credit for pushing the House toward impeachment,” the Intercept article said.

The Intercept’s report said the media “has selected different heroes of the burgeoning impeachment effort — without including the leftist women of color.”

The Intercept slammed CNN for its selection:

According to a weekend CNN feature, credit for the impeachment effort should instead go to four [sic] freshmen members of Congress — all of them white women with backgrounds in national security work. These women, who rather unbearably call themselves “the badasses,” only came around to supporting impeachment in the last two weeks.

Trump — in his identification of the Squad as the source of his problems — has hit on something that CNN can’t seem to grasp: Women of color are leading the way on these efforts. Yet, instead of rousing defenses against Trump’s attacks and acknowledgements of the political risks women of color are taking, the media seems to be writing them out of the story.

The CNN feature paints a picture of lawmakers who have bonded over their careers, as mothers of young children and now members of Congress.

But the Intercept sees race as the real issue and included a statement from someone who agrees.

“White people being credited for something initiated or created by people of color is nothing new, but it’s always infuriating when it has to be pointed out,” Paul Meara for BET, wrote in response to CNN’s piece.

”The CNN article, written by Dana Bash, is peppered with the lexicon of a personified pink pussy hat; the women are framed with all the trappings of white liberal feminism,” the Intercept article said.

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