“Today stands alone in American history,” Anderson Cooper said at the top of “AC360” Tuesday night. “Only three presidents, as you know, have ever been impeached. Only one has been impeached twice. And today his second trial began. It takes place at a crime scene, and that too is a first.”
Earlier in the day on MSNBC, Nicolle Wallace said “we should be very cautious not to cover this as a political story. This is a security story, and this is a vote about security, a vote about truth. I know there’s always a temptation to make this about the gravitational pull of Donald Trump’s politics. But that is not what this is about.”
However, the right-wing media only has one setting, raw partisanship. So when news anchors talk about the day that pro-Trump terrorists attacked the Capitol, remember that MAGA media hosts are talking about the riot totally differently, delicately referring to “the events of January 6” or a protest that “got out of hand.” The denial runs deeper than anyone can measure…
But I want to know: What did the GOP base watch on Tuesday? What did the senators’ voters see and hear? What effect did the graphic video presented by the House impeachment managers have, if any? How many people actually watched?
TV ratings and web traffic stats will give us a partial sense later in the week. But I’m setting up a bigger question: Will any Trump allies feel pressured by their constituents to hold the former president accountable? Or will there be a national equivalent of a shrug emoji?
Trump’s “terrible” lawyer
One hour later, Sean Hannity said the impeachment “sequel” was even worse than the first one. He said the trial might be “lengthy,” which was weird, since it won’t be; called it a sham and a “show trial;” and brought Donald Trump Jr. on the air to tell Republicans that “we have to play hardball.”
Sometimes I worry, and I know this goes for Oliver Darcy as well, that we’re being repetitive when we write about warped right-wing media narratives. But we do it because these alternative realities drive so much of the dysfunction in American politics and because we feel like mainstream news coverage doesn’t adequately show this divide. Everyone who watched the Democrats’ video of the 1/6 attack and thought “how can Republicans possibly acquit Trump?” needs to see Fox’s prime time storytelling. And then it makes a certain amount of sense. The overarching story from Fox to Newsmax to OAN is: Democrats are mean; no, they’re downright hateful; and, you know what, they stoked violence too; and they’re worse than Trump; so why won’t they just leave us alone?!
It’s a meandering argument, a lot like Castor’s, but it feels good, and it has to be seen to be appreciated…
Inside the chamber
Should Biden speak in prime time when this is all over?