Letting the televised impeachment hearings play out

On May 17, 1973, the first witness to testify in the Senate’s Watergate hearings took the stand. It wasn’t former White House Counsel John Dean, or former Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman, or the burglar James McCord, but Robert C. Odle, Jr., a “baby-faced” 29-year-old who had been the office manager on Richard Nixon’s reelection campaign. Yesterday, on MSNBC, Rachel Maddow revisited coverage of Odle’s testimony on the eve of the first televised impeachment hearing of the Trump era. “Nobody had ever heard of him,” Maddow said of Odle. Lawmakers “were not trying to wow the country coming out of the gate with some big, explosive witness.” Rather, the committee had Odle walk through the organizational structure of the Nixon campaign—who sat next to whom, and so forth. The day after the hearing, the Washington Post’s Jules Witcover wrote that it was “not exactly high drama.” He compared it to watching grass grow. Maddow returned to Odle because, in her view, today’s House Democrats are taking a similar tack: like Odle, today’s witnesses—Bill Taylor and George Kent, both senior diplomats involved in Ukraine policy—can speak to how things should work, to emphasize the recent aberrations. Still, in 2019, Democrats aren’t betting that viewers will take the time to watch grass grow. Last week, a House leadership aide told CNN’s Lauren Fox that “the first hearing has got to be a blockbuster.” Brian Stelter, of the same network, agreed with the assessment.  “I hate to say this, because... Continue reading at 'Columbia Journalism Review'

[ Columbia Journalism Review | 2019-11-13 13:14:35 UTC ]
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