Heading into a week featuring star witness Gordon Sondland and with Donald Trump claiming this morning he might show up too, the start of the impeachment hearings of the 45th President of the United States may be remembered more as a stage setter than a showstopper.
However, over two days of partisan jousting, three career diplomats, social media salvos from the ex-Celebrity Apprentice host and wall-to-wall coverage, it has proven to be a fairly well watched stage setter after all – despite the White House line that the whole thing was a bore.
Coming off a debut viewership of around 13.8 million over nearly a dozen cable and broadcast outlets on November 13, the November 15 sworn testimony of pink slipped Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch earned praise from many non-GOP and Oval Office quarters. Facing what some termed “witness intimidation” in real time from Trump’s Twitter feed, the frontline career diplomat received a standing ovation from onlookers in the hearing room when she concluded her time in the spotlight.
Covered live for over four hours by CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, CBS, NBC and ABC, along with C-SPAN, PBS, Telemundo and streamed heavily online, Yovanvitch’s testimony was watched by 12.7 million. That a dip of about 3% from the same outlets on November 13, which went about five and a half hours.
With a one-day break in-between, comparing Day 2 to Day 1 of the public start of the fourth ever impeachment of an American president, the well wired nation’s interest remained pretty much in this miniseries of sorts produced by the House Select Committee on Intelligence. Like two days before, FNC was tops with 2.7 million tuning in and the Comcast-owned MSNBC was in second place over all among the broadcasters and cable newsers with an audience around 2.6 million. Again, like the overall results, those November 15 numbers were basically the same as the November 13 viewership.
In what is the only significant though small change between Day 1 and Day 2 of the hearings, CBS and ABC swapped third and fourth place with 2 million and 1.93 million viewers respectively. Likewise, CNN and NBC also changed their standing with the former getting a last place 1.61 million and 1.82 million for the latter. While number #1 in primetime later that day, FNC slipped to from second place to fourth in the 25-54 demo. NBC was first with an average of 512,000 in the key news demo, ABC had 483,000, CBS had 432,000, FNC snagged 398,000, MSNBC had 378,000 and CNN snared 330,000. We will see some movement in the overall numbers once Nielsen adds in the remaining outlets covering Yovanovitch’s testimony.
After weeks of closed hearings, the public and live opening accounts by Ambassador William Taylor and Deputy Secretary of State George Kent of what they believe really what really went down with POTUS allegedly trying to strong arm the newly minted leadership of the former Soviet republic to openly probe the business affairs of Joe Biden’s son in their country and whether or not Ukraine messed with the election of 2016 took over the small screen last week.
Starting tomorrow, this week will see current U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. Sondland offer up his version of what Trump told him to pursue against the Bidens and the Democrats in Ukraine with Rudy Giuliani. Having already remembered vital information he left out of his first round of testimony behind closed doors, big Trump donor Sondland will surely be hauled on to the Congressional coals for the revelation by Ambassador Taylor on November 13. In his time before the Committee, Taylor told elected officials that a staffer of his overheard a telephone conversation by Sondland and Trump while in a Kiev restaurant. Sondland supposedly got off the cell phone call and said that Trump was more interested in digging into the former VP’s family and Hunter Biden’s membership on a Ukrainian energy company’s board that releasing financial and military aid to the country.
Before Sondland’s testimony, Jennifer Williams and Lt Col Alexander Vindman will be before the Adam Schiff-run committee on Tuesday morning with Kurt Volker and Tim Morrison later that day. With network pre-emptions likely to wane, Laura Cooper and David Hale will succeed Sondland on November 20 and Fiona Hill will appear on November 21.
As is the case in any good unscripted show, all have previously testified behind closed doors to the deeply divided committee.
In that vein, Trump took to Twitter early Monday to counter Speak Nancy Pelosi’s contention over the weekend that he should step up and be sworn in for the impeachment hearings – how serious the President is remains to be seen:
Our Crazy, Do Nothing (where’s USMCA, infrastructure, lower drug pricing & much more?) Speaker of the House, Nervous Nancy Pelosi, who is petrified by her Radical Left knowing she will soon be gone (they & Fake News Media are her BOSS), suggested on Sunday’s DEFACE THE NATION….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 18, 2019
….that I testify about the phony Impeachment Witch Hunt. She also said I could do it in writing. Even though I did nothing wrong, and don’t like giving credibility to this No Due Process Hoax, I like the idea & will, in order to get Congress focused again, strongly consider it!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 18, 2019
BTW – this week also sees Joe Biden and other leading contenders for the Democrat’s presidential nomination meeting in Atlanta on the 20th for yet another debate. Two guesses what will will be one of the top topics?
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