So you made it through Thanksgiving without picking a fight with your cousin about the impeachment hearings.
Good for you, and wise choice. Chances are, you weren’t going to change any minds anyway.
Several news outlets produced stories offering tips and suggestions about how to navigate the subject of politics over the Thanksgiving dinner table. That’s a pretty good indication that this is a divisive issue.
The phone calls to the executive editor last week offered a similar assessment. I took six calls on Monday and Tuesday about coverage of the impeachment proceedings in the Telegraph Herald.
Three people were adamant it should be on the front page, that the president had committed an impeachable offense and it should be our top story.
The other three thought the coverage that ran on the nation page was slanted against the president and declared this whole issue to be “fake news” drummed up by the Democrats.
All the callers were fairly certain that the way it was covered in the TH was indicative of the political leaning of the paper to the left or the right, depending on their perspective.
I found the 50-50 split interesting as it nearly exactly mirrors public sentiment in recent surveys. Two polls released last week showed Americans are just about evenly split on whether President Trump should be impeached and removed from office.
What’s particularly interesting is that after 30 hours of televised hearings of a dozen witnesses, the polls show the needle didn’t move. Those inclined to back the president believe he didn’t do anything wrong. Those who dislike him thought the evidence clearly showed an impeachable offense. Clearly, it depends on your perspective.
As for how we cover it in the TH, there’s another factor that has nothing to do with either side of the impeachment argument. We are first and foremost a local newspaper. Readers buy our products for our coverage of business, government, sports, education, arts, health care, religion and myriad other topics in the tri-state area. While we include state, national and world news as well, it seldom lands on our front page.
News of the impeachment is available anywhere and everywhere; consumers can digest as much or as little as they wish from any number of sources. Most readers who pick up the morning TH or open the app are looking mainly for what’s happening in our community, not what happened yesterday in Washington.
Given the rarity of impeachment proceedings from a historic perspective, there might well be a front-page TH story out of this yet as the hearings reach some conclusion. Our version will likely include comments from our local lawmakers, making it a tri-state version of that story.
Local news will almost always be the top news of the day around here. Like at the Thanksgiving dinner table, we think there are important and interesting things to focus on besides Washington politics.