Republicans have one line and they’re clinging to it no matter the evidence, thank you very much.
The White House sent a very falsely false statement from Stephanie Grisham, the press secretary who doesn’t do press secretary things like answering questions or holding press briefings, to my email box:
“Today’s second hearing is over, and the Democrats’ central allegation in this impeachment sham has again been completely debunked. Specifically, Ambassador Volker confirmed under oath that he had no indication whatsoever of anything that resembled a quid-pro-quo, corroborating his previous deposition testimony that ‘there was no linkage like that.’ With the Democrats’ poll-tested ‘quid-pro-quo’ and ‘bribery’ narratives in shambles, the American public should not be forced to endure this charade for one more second” (sic)
No, no and no. Also, Trump doesn’t need to have been successful in his bribery. He only needs to have tried to bribe someone. Well, if Republicans can’t dispute the facts, how about claiming that no one cares? Yeah, that’s the ticket. Thus the “No one is watching!” defense was born: So sure, maybe some bribery but no one cares so let’s get back to the Trump family plundering the United States and leveraging their stay in the White House for immense personal gain around the globe.
RNC Research swiftly conflated watching the impeachment hearings with polling on the impeachment hearings in order to make the case that no one is watching and so impeachment should stop. They sent a “briefing” to my email reading, “Today, Public Polling Shows No One Is Watching The Inquiry As Witnesses Continue To Undercut Democrat Allegations Stating There Was No Quid Pro Quo Arrangement.” This was followed by a lot of heavily parsed quotes that told the story Individual Number One wants to hear, but was not an accurate portrayal of what went down so far in the hearings.
RNC Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel slammed the impeachment hearings saying Americans have returned to their day jobs and want Democrats to do their jobs legislating (which they actually are, and Republicans have had a tough time doing for over ten years now).
She backed this up with a claim that the ratings have plummeted, “… Ratings for Schiff’s circus have already plummeted and opposition among independents to the impeachment inquiry jumped 10 points within the last week according to a recent Politico-Morning Consult poll. 47 percent of independents now oppose the inquiry, up from 37 percent just last week…”
Romney McDaniel left out the part of the Politico Morning Consult poll that said slim pluralities still support the House voting to impeach and the Senate voting to remove Trump from office: “But heading into the second week of public proceedings, during which House lawmakers are squeezing nine witnesses into three days of hearings, slim pluralities of voters still support the House voting to impeach Trump (48-44 percent) and the Senate voting to remove him from office (47-42 percent).”
Additionally, an ABC News/Ipsos poll showed that 70% of Americans say Trump’s Ukraine actions were wrong and 51% want him removed from office.
Public polling does not show what people are watching on TV. To understand that, we turn to this thing called “television ratings” that Republicans are pretending don’t exist, along with the evidence about Trump’s bribery and extortion of a foreign country that they refuse to even acknowledge exists.
Television ratings sort of tell the story, but even they do not show the people live streaming, recording, etc. But television ratings show that 13 million people watched the second day of the impeachment hearings. Which is to say the same number as watched the first day. Which is to day, people are not tuning out.
“More than 13 million people watched live coverage of the second day of impeachments hearings before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Friday, with Fox News Channel drawing the largest audience, 2.7 million viewers between 9 a.m. ET and again from 1 to 2 p.m. ET.”
It’s been years since 13 million people watched Donald Trump do anything outside of the State Of The Union, so maybe this line of attack isn’t the best for Republicans. But they don’t have a strong line up of defenses from which to choose, because the testimony and evidence are only reinforcing that Trump did in 2019 with Ukraine what he did in 2016 with Russia.
That is to say, Trump is violating our laws. He is an active risk to our national security. And Republicans are reacting to this by attacking military officers, refusing to read evidence, insulting witnesses and pretending the public doesn’t care.
The public is over Donald Trump and his daily dramas. The public is sick and tired of Trump. So if the public does tune out of the impeachment hearings, it won’t be because they support Donald Trump as president.
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah has won two Telly Awards and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.