Right-wing media and Republicans are blaming Democrats and President Obama for allegedly "ginning up" the issue of impeachment for political benefit, but that Pandora's Box was opened by conservatives themselves, who have been demanding impeachment since Obama first took office.
In an interview with conspiracy website WND (which has its own "Impeachment Store"), Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) told conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi that President Obama “wants us to impeach him now” because “his senior advisors believe that is the only chance the Democratic Party has to avoid a major electoral defeat. Evidently Obama believes impeachment could motivate the Democratic Party base to come out and vote.”
Stockman's proclamation that the president is “begging to be impeached” was quickly trumpeted as the top story on the Drudge Report and Fox Nation, and Stockman isn't the only one trying to pin the increase in impeachment discussion on Democrats. While refusing to answer whether impeachment is off the table for House Republicans, incoming House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) claimed “this might be the first White House in History that's trying to start the narrative of impeaching their own president.”
Fox News America's Newsroom host Martha MacCallum also attempted to distance impeachment rhetoric from the right and pin it on Democrats, claiming that while “some” Republicans have called for impeachment, “The White House itself has been talking a lot about this potential impeachment, even though a lot of members of the GOP want nothing to do with it.”
She continued, saying impeachment was “kind of crazy when you think about it,” and dismissed Fox News contributor Sarah Palin's impeachment call, saying “it really gained no traction among Republicans. A couple talk show hosts also liked the idea, apparently, but that seemed to be pretty much as far as it went. And now, there seems to be a move to convince Americans that all Republicans are interested in that option.” Her guest, Republican New Hampshire Senate candidate and former Fox News contributor Scott Brown, responded by saying that there is “no appetite” for impeachment among Americans.
While MacCallum claimed Palin's call for impeachment “gained no traction among Republicans,” in Fox News' own poll released last week, a majority of Republicans (56 percent) endorsed the idea of impeaching Obama.
Furthermore, these attempts to pivot and shift blame towards Democrats for invoking impeachment severely downplay conservatives' responsibility for the narrative.
A number of conservative media figures -- including some on Fox News -- have been floating impeachment since Obama's first few months in office. Less than fifty days after Obama's inauguration, conservative radio host Michael Savage told his audience that Obama was already “out of control” and concluded, “I think it is time to start talking about impeachment.” By 2010, Dick Morris, Sean Hannity, and others had all also invented reasons for impeachment -- with Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) giving credence to Morris' claims on Fox News. Impeachment talk continued unabated after Obama's re-election, with a Fox News contributor telling his Twitter followers the night of the election, “the first order of business should be a full investigation of Benghazi -- followed by impeachment proceedings.” Since then, right-wing media figures have called for impeachment over sequestration, the Boston Marathon bombings, and Obama's “dictatorship,” among other things.
In this most recent round of impeachment threats, a handful of figures on Fox News have spoken out against impeachment, claiming the move would hurt Republicans in the November midterm elections. However, Palin is far from alone among Fox News employees in trying to breathe new life into the impeachment movement.
Allen West, a former Republican congressman and Fox News contributor, has repeatedly called for impeachment this year while using the issue to fundraise for his PAC.
Fox News' flagship news program Special Report with Bret Baier found the calls for impeachment from Palin and West notable enough to highlight them on July 10, calling them two examples of how “some prominent outside conservative voices” have been demanding Obama's removal from office.
Fox News host Jeanine Pirro has given at least two separate monologues in recent months calling for impeachment, while Fox News contributor Andrew Napolitano has brought the issue up repeatedly since Obama took office.
While House Speaker John Boehner has waved off impeachment talk, members of the Republican caucus have not been nearly as dismissive. Appearing this weekend on Breitbart News Saturday, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) reportedly told listeners that if President Obama enacts executive actions regarding immigration, “we need to bring impeachment hearings immediately before the House of Representatives.”