Tuesday’s marathon hearing in the Trump impeachment inquiry began at 9 a.m. Eastern and ended around 8:25 p.m. On Fox News, Tucker Carlson was dismissive of the four witnesses, saying “the circus train of impeachment remains stalled on the tracks.” But others saw a deepening crisis rather than a circus. On CNN, Jeffrey Toobin said “today was a graveyard for Republican talking points.”
Of course, most people didn’t watch every single minute of the televised testimony. Greg Jaffe of the Washington Post wrote on Twitter, “I watched all 10 hours of impeachment testimony and I can’t imagine that made sense to anyone who hasn’t followed it religiously.”
Jaffe said he has followed it religiously, and until House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff’s closing remarks at 8:25pm “it felt like an incomprehensible fog of meetings, texts, dates and times.”
Charlie Warzel of The New York Times made a similar point — he said these recaps by John Heilemann and John Battelle’s new venture The Recount “are very well done” — Warzel said “I keep thinking that, given the length and depth of the impeachment hearings, the recapping will probably be more crucial than the live coverage for non-news obsessives to formulate their opinions on it all.
How C-SPAN is keeping up with all the action
“This is a long day,” C-SPAN’s Jon Kelley said on Tuesday, “but we staff accordingly since it is the high profile event” of the moment.
C-SPAN is the “pool,” providing seven camera angles for all the networks and other news outlets that want access to the footage.
“We staffed this hearing with 6 times the staff we would use for a regular hearing (24 people vs. 4 people),” Kelley said via email. “In addition, we have great experience on our crew covering this and they know how to get the shots and tell the story. Many of the people on our crew have been here for 20, 25, 30 or more years of the 40 years C-SPAN has been in existence. They are simply the best at covering these high profile hearings.”
Kelley said one of the day’s only hiccups was out of his control: “One of our small cameras focused on the witness table got bumped by a still photog,” he said, “and we had to wait until the break to fix it.”
’Co-conspirators of Trump’s crime’
I asked CNN senior congressional correspondent Manu Raju for his top takeaway from the day. Here’s what he wrote: “The House Intelligence Committee used to be one of the most bipartisan in Congress. That was before Trump became president. Starting with Devin Nunes briefing Trump during the Russia probe in 2017, which led to his decision to step aside from running his panel’s inquiry last Congress, relations have grown increasingly tense to the point where private shouting matches are not uncommon.”
“Sometimes,” Raju continued, “they spill out into the public, like last week when Rep. Mike Conaway – a mild-mannered Republican who used to be friendly with Chairman Adam Schiff – berated him as the first impeachment hearing closed because Schiff didn’t want to entertain debate over issuing a subpoena to the whistleblower. ‘What are you afraid of?’ Conaway asked as Schiff left the room. But Democrats are tired of GOP antics, pretending to be ignorant about the rules about the hearings’ procedures, painting themselves like victims, going after the whistleblower and falsely accusing Schiff of coordinating the whistleblower’s complaint. As one Democrat told me, his colleagues see Republicans on the committee as ‘co-conspirators of Trump’s crime…’”
Red Bull, energy bars, chips for reporters
“Politico sent a care package to our Congress team this week,” reporter Melanie Zanona told me. It included Keurig pods, Red Bull, energy bars, and chips.
“A few of us took a much-needed break from impeachment hearings today to go watch the John Boehner portrait unveiling,” she said, “which was a very bipartisan, feel-good moment that felt like a bygone era.” Nancy Pelosi, Mitch McConnell, Kevin McCarthy, Chuck Schumer, and former speakers Paul Ryan and Newt Gingrich were all in attendance…
Meme of the day
It had to be McClatchy’s Emma Dumain chugging a massive cup of coffee during the morning session.
So Slate’s Heather Schwedel interviewed her… Check it out here…
Turns out Dumain had the exact same kind of morning I did: “We have a 19-month-old, and she got up a little bit before 6… I went into her room and tried to get her back to sleep on me. We kind of went in and out of sleep for another 45 minutes.” Yep…
“It was a very disorienting morning where I didn’t have my coffee at home,” Dumain said. “Usually by 9 a.m. on a weekday, I’m onto my second cup, and there’s a lot less urgency to gulp it down. That’s kind of the story I want to put out there: I’m just a tired workin’ mom trying to do it all.”
Keep it simple for viewers!
Oliver Darcy emails: Observing coverage of the impeachment hearings, I’ve noticed a tendency among some chyron and headline writers at various news organizations to assume that viewers and readers know who the key players are. BUT I would suggest that is perhaps not the case. While the public might be familiar with the contours of the Ukraine scandal, I would wager that most people are not familiar with each and every witness.
When writing chyrons and headlines, my humble suggestion would be to keep it simple. Refer to Tim Morrison as a former White House aide. Refer to Jennifer Williams as a former Pence aide. Viewers who casually tune in will probably be more concerned with the witness’ position and how they fit into the story versus their name…
Schiff’s poor timing?
NBC’s Garrett Haake tweeted: Adam Schiff “is as angry/worked up giving his closing statement as I can recall ever seeing him. Says Republicans aren’t upset about POTUS conduct – they’re upset that he got caught.”
I was struck by his closing statement too… and by the timing. Schiff was only speaking to the news junkies who were watching on cable. The broadcast networks had cut away from the hearings hours earlier. Perhaps his remarks would have been more effective at 9am?
Sondland speaks on Wednesday
“I think there is an enormous amount of anticipation going into Gordon Sondland’s testimony,” Carrie Cordero said on CNN Tuesday night, “because he was in touch with the president AND he was working with Rudy Giuliani AND he was working with the State Department.”
Sondland is all by himself at 9am. Then Laura Cooper and David Hale will testify starting at 2:30pm.
Here’s Marshall Cohen with WHAT TO WATCH FOR on Wednesday:
– Sondland’s turn in the hot seat
– Reckoning with “Biden” versus “Burisma”
– Did Trump undermine US policy for political gain?
– A closer look at US military aid for Ukraine.