Now a day after the televised first hearing of the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection/riot, all the data is in and it appears the session last night was a media success.
All the lines were marked and all boxes checked — T-Rump is guilty as shit of sedition, and a goodly chunk of Americans watched the play-by-play, near-prosecutorial presentation of the facts.
Anyone watching last night knows it.
In this reading, a sight of ‘Must See TV’ for the time:
I was wrong: The @January6thCmte hearings did much better than usual network summer fare and were a big hit on MSNBC and CNN. More than 20M viewers watched, and that was with Fox News boycotting. Far bigger audience than NBA Finals or the Oscars; MSNBC/ABC beat FNC #January6th https://t.co/m6epPXgF8d
— TVMoJoe (@TVMoJoe) June 10, 2022
Details on TV watchers via The Washington Post late this afternoon:
Nearly 19 million television viewers watched the first prime-time hearing of the House select committee probing the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol — a quantifiable success for the Democratic-led team of lawmakers who hoped their investigation would jolt the nation’s attention.
Ratings data released Friday indicated the hearing was watched by roughly 18.8 million people across the six major American broadcast and cable networks that aired the program live Thursday night.
The preliminary data comes from the Nielsen ratings service and does not include the millions more who watched the hearing on streaming apps or social media, where many clips of testimony went viral.
The major broadcast networks — ABC, CBS and NBC — cleared their popular prime-time entertainment schedules to broadcast the hearing, without commercial interruption, from 8 to 10 p.m., Eastern time, as did cable news channels such as CNN and MSNBC.
ABC drew the biggest audience, nearly 4.9 million total viewers, followed by MSNBC, NBC and CBS and CNN.
Viewers who flipped between channels found a striking uniformity in presentation of the hearing, with networks mostly keeping an unblinking camera on the proceedings of the committee, distinguishing themselves only with their choice of anchors and pundits to analyze the hearing after its conclusion at 10 p.m.
Those in the television business had particularly lofty expectations for Thursday’s broadcast considering the behind-the-scenes role played by former ABC News president James Goldston, who helped hone the committee’s presentation for a television audience.
“The tone was sober. The thematic through-line was tight and focused. The timeline video was hard to watch but not exploitative, in my view,” said Andrew Heyward, former head of CBS News.
“All in all, I felt the production reinforced the gravity of the moment without sensationalizing it.”
Industry watchers expressed some advance skepticism about viewership, considering the trends of recent decades. While some 71-percent of Americans told Gallup that they watched some of the Watergate hearings live back in 1973, the first televised hearing of Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial drew only about 13 million viewers in 2019, though it aired starting in the lesser-watched morning hours.
Former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s testimony in July 2019 also drew nearly 13 million viewers, which was shy of the 19.5 million TV viewers who watched former FBI director James B. Comey’s testimony in 2017.
In this regard, I hope the rest of the hearings carry the same popular weight, if not more, and maybe create a burst of energy going into the midterms.
We can hope.
Ratings high or low, once again here we are…
(Illustration out front is of a New York state high-school student exhibit: ‘The piece was displayed during student-driven art show at Shenendehowa High School. It consisted of at least 12 identical black-and-white pictures of Donald Trump. There was also a sign above the pictures that read, “Draw on Me.” Using markers from the art classroom, some students opted to scribble critical messages and profanities on the pictures‘ — and found here).