Cathy Garnaat was doing the work of a motivated citizen. Earlier this week, the 69-year-old Michigander went to a town hall featuring Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) — a highly publicized event at which the congressman defended his call for impeachment proceedings against President Trump. He is the only Republican to do so.
Volume II of the Mueller report, which lays out 11 instances of possible obstruction of justice by Trump, forms the basis of Amash’s position on impeachment — even though special counsel Robert S. Mueller III found that the evidence didn’t establish an underlying conspiracy crime of campaign collusion with Russia. “Obstruction of justice is more relevant when there is no charge in the underlying crime,” said Amash to a critic at the town hall, according to a report by NBC News.
NBC News quoted Garnaat as follows:
Cathy Garnaat, a Republican who supported Amash and the president said she was upset about Amash’s position but wanted to hear his reasoning. She said that she will definitely support Trump in 2020 but that Tuesday night was the first time she had heard that the Mueller report didn’t completely exonerate the president.
“I was surprised to hear there was anything negative in the Mueller report at all about President Trump. I hadn’t heard that before," she said. “I’ve mainly listened to conservative news and I hadn’t heard anything negative about that report and President Trump has been exonerated.”
In search of a bit more detail, the Erik Wemple Blog rang up Garnaat on Thursday. “I usually watch Fox News,” Garnaat told us, noting that she doesn’t tune in every night. That’s not all, however: She’ll occasionally check in with MSNBC and other outlets. “I just mainly like to focus on Fox [News],” particularly its evening fare, with Sean Hannity and other prime-time mainstays.
Explaining how she came to attend the town hall, Garnaat said this about coverage of the Mueller findings: “What I had heard about Trump in watching conservative news is that there wasn’t any foul play by him, nothing in the bad range,” she said. Indeed, Hannity said this on Fox News in the hours following the release of the redacted Mueller report, “The witch hunt is officially over. The Mueller report is out. And the president of the United States has been totally and completely vindicated.” Garnaat says it’s possible that she merely “missed” a show or segment in which the president’s exposure for obstruction was discussed.
Then she heard that Amash favored impeachment proceedings. “I was shocked and, frankly, ready to throw in the towel on Amash, but wanted to hear his side of the story. After I heard him speak I said, ‘I need to look into this myself. I need to read the Mueller report, especially the second volume,’ ” said Garnaat, who owns and manages rental housing. (Full disclosure: The Erik Wemple Blog sent Garnaat a link to the document.)
There’s a reason Garnaat tunes in to Fox News: She’s conservative and Christian, she says, and she doesn’t find her views represented well on other outlets. “I want to hear that side of the story, too, not just the liberal side. Fox News does bring in other points of view, but I do like the point of view that the moderators take,” she says. “I think liberals like to watch liberal news and conservatives like to watch conservative news. A person gravitates toward what he believes and trusts.”
Another aspect of Fox News prime-time programming is the demonization of the mainstream media. And at the Amash event, Garnaat came face to face with some of these people, as the New York Times, NBC News and MLive.com all quoted her comments. “I must look like middle America to all the news people,” says Garnaat, who was pleased with the coverage of the event. The reporters, she says, were “all very nice in the interviews. They weren’t trying to get me riled up or trying to get me to slant anything. I, frankly, was very surprised. I just thought there would be more trying to be slanted by the news people.”