Television Takes on the Trump Trial


The coverage of the impeachment trial impacts the attitudes of viewers. (Courtesy of Twitter)

The impeachment trial of President Donald Trump could be described as a roller coaster of partisanship, lectures and revelations. More likely than not, you have found your screen inundated with the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump. In this respect, major news networks take center stage in the trial. This may not seem like much on the surface, but the media portrayal of such a historic event speaks volumes.

The media’s influence in the impeachment trial of Trump is something that cannot be denied. News networks such as CNN, with an inclination of being politically liberal, may cover key circumstances encompassing the trial that are vastly different from agencies like Fox News, with more conservative leanings. CNN reported on Trump’s Ukraine call as “President Donald Trump repeatedly pushed for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate a potential 2020 political rival, Joe Biden, and his son, Hunter, during a July 25 phone call, according to a transcript of the conversation released by the White House.” 

Compare this to Fox News’ report on the transcript which states, “On Monday, Republicans still questioned the process.”

“Democrats cherry pick which transcripts they release and when,” said Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan. “Why not release Ambassador Volker’s testimony? He was the very first witness to testify!”

It is apparent how these sentiments differ, as CNN adopts an accusatory tone, where Fox News sounds incredulous to the endeavors of the Democratic party to implicate President Trump. 

Regardless of political standings, one cannot deny the impact such media representation has over the trial. Depending on how both liberals and conservatives present the information, they will be able to manipulate public opinion on the trial. Fox can brand into the minds of many Americans that Trump did nothing wrong, and should be vindicated of his accusations. On the other hand, CNN’s dissemination of the trial information can persuade Americans that Trump is guilty of the misdemeanors he is charged with and should be convicted. Public opinion will grow so disparate that it will become almost impossible to ignore. After all, members of the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives are elected to work in the best interest of their constituency. 

How the public receives such information is crucial to the trajectory the impeachment trial will take. The facts regarding the trial eventually become blurred as a result of how those contrasting news networks have mobilized them to better serve their political interest. The sway of the public opinion in relation to such mobilization of the facts will be highly impactful. 

However, there are a multitude of quintessential elements at play that make the intricacies of impeachment function. A more obvious example of this can be found within the imperiled White House walls: the White House’s representatives. A common sentiment amongst such representatives is that the impeachment trial is a tool concocted by the Democrats to tarnish Trump’s election prospects in 2020. For example, South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy stated, “Trump impeachment trial is not about him. This is what the Democrats want now.” Claims like these affect the way society views the trial, and even the Constitution. 

What is apparent is that impeachment is a method engendered by our founding fathers to accuse and ultimately thwart an oppressive government. However, by making claims such as this, White House representatives are almost defying this intent by stating that impeachment has become less about the interests of the nation and more so about politicalization and partisan desires. 

This is a dangerous way to think about impeachment because no matter what is to be the fate of Trump’s now imperiled presidency, should we have a president who presumptuously oversteps the bounds placed unto him or her by the Constitution? How can we as a nation address this threat when our understanding of the meaning of “impeachment” has been clouded by ignorant notions of partisan interest rather than national interest? Comments like these sow and perpetuate ignorance, and I believe that if America begins to think in terms of partisan ideals rather than national interest, we may be headed for dire straits worse than the divisive impeachment trial.

Trump’s defense commenced on Saturday, a time slot which he has dubbed “the death valley of TV.” Additionally, Deadline News states, “The Senate impeachment schedule will see President Donald Trump’s White House and personal lawyers begin their allotted 24 hours of oral arguments defending Trump on Saturday … that is no good for ratings.” However, no matter how you decipher the ratings, the impeachment trial of Trump is something that the world will always be tuned in to, whether it is the first 30 minutes, or the lengthy almost 24 hours.

The impeachment trial of Trump may even be the potential series finale to what many Americans have named “the soap opera presidency.” This may be a finale for the ages, or just another special episode that is Trump-ier than ever. One thing is certain: the world is watching.


Noah Osborne, FCRH ’23, is a journalism major from Harlem, N.Y.