Impeachment Hearings Suffer From Low Ratings, And Democrats Are Worried About It

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Mark Makela / Getty Images

Though the impeachment proceedings dogging the White House seem to be dominating the web, it doesn’t seem to be translating onto television screens. Business Insider is reporting that substantially fewer Americans are tuning in compared to the Nixon impeachment process or even the publicized hearings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and former F.B.I. Director James Comey.

According to just-released Nielsen ratings, around 13 million Americans watched the first impeachment hearing that took place this past Wednesday, November 13. Though the number may seem high compared to entertainment television, it is about 60 percent lower than other comparable testimony events and substantially lower than the viewership for Nixon’s impeachment inquiry.

Moreover, reactions to the hearing were lukewarm at best. In a piece in The New York Times titled “I’m Sorry, Is Impeachment Not Entertaining Enough for You?” author Jennifer Weiner called out NBC for claiming that the hearings “lacked the pizzazz necessary to capture public attention.” Similarly, Reuters wrote in their headline that the event was “consequential, but dull: Trump impeachment hearings begin without a bang.”

As a result, many Democratic politicians have stressed the point that the impeachment inquiry is not entertainment, but a necessary process.

However, even some Democratic lawmakers have claimed that they are “worn out” from the political circus. As previously reported by The Inquisitr, Democratic Rep. Jeff Van Drew confessed that many Democrats in the House of Representatives were worried after the performance last week that the decision to launch an impeachment inquiry might backfire on them.

In comparison to last Wednesday’s event, around 20.4 million viewers watched the Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford hearings. The 20.4 million figure did not include streams from computers, phones, or tablets, and experts accordingly believe that the final number was much higher.

Similarly, Business Insider noted that testimony from former FBI Director James Comey in June 2017 received 19.6 million live TV viewers, and Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney and fixer, managed to earn around 16 million viewers when he testified this past February.

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adam schiff at podium with microphone
Representative Adam Schiff holds a press conference after Wednesday’s Impeachment hearings. Sarah Silbiger / Getty Images

It also earned much less than the Nixon impeachment hearings, which were watched by an estimated 80 percent of Americans. However, analysts have pointed out that the Nixon hearings were aired during primetime television, instead of in the morning like the recent testimony. In addition, like with the Kavanaugh and Ford hearings, the Nielsen ratings do not take into account streams from other sources, so the number of people watching could be higher than previously estimated.

The impeachment hearings did manage to tie another event: the Mueller Report findings. However, Democrats were, by and large, disappointed by the impact the report had on the public, and they are hoping that the impeachment inquiry will have a much larger effect on President Trump’s popularity — especially with the 2020 Presidential Election looming.