Yesterday, Ambassador Bill Taylor and Deputy Secretary George Kent provided several hours of televised testimony, in which they outlined the Democrats’ case for impeachment against President Donald Trump. The testimony was clear and thorough, and the witnesses themselves — career diplomats — non-partisan and unimpeachable. By listening to two people inside the diplomatic bureaucracy, we gained a better understanding of why President Trump’s actions were so unusual; the way his behavior undermines international diplomacy while giving advantage to the Russians; and how both he and Giuliani have repeatedly chosen their personal and financial interests over those of the country.
But, unfortunately, neither Mr. Kent nor Mr. Taylor lit themselves on fire. They did not perform any magic tricks. They did not boot anyone from an island or offer anyone a rose. No one was fired on public television or out of a cannon, and the closest thing we heard to salty language was the one time that George Kent said “pissed.” Alas, there were no sex scandals involved; there was no passive-aggressive shade, only blunt, damning observations; no one once took off their shirt.
Some in the mainstream media were disappointed that they had to spend the entire day documenting history instead of marking partisan scorecards and calculating clap backs. #TakeOffYourShirtGeorgeKent
Consequential, but dull: Trump impeachment hearings begin without a bang https://t.co/ShiVlzppn1— Jeff Mason (@jeffmason1) November 14, 2019
Analysis: The first two witnesses called Wednesday testified to President Trump's scheme, but lacked the pizzazz necessary to capture public attention. https://t.co/1UfkaeZ3I4— NBC News (@NBCNews) November 14, 2019
NBC and Reuters, among others, were greeted last night and this morning with the sort of clapbacks and shade that they would otherwise have loved to have covered during the impeachment hearings, only it was directed at them:
I'm sure you'll all join me in hoping Adam Schiff does a better job of razzle-dazzling America today than yesterday, since apparently that's what really matters.— Daniel “parade & dog show” Summers (@WFKARS) November 14, 2019
I mean seriously — are WH and political reporters so conditioned by the cycle of insanity of this presidency that they themselves are addicted to it? Like Fox News viewers, awaiting the next information high, and needing more and more to keep the rush?— Molly McKew (@MollyMcKew) November 14, 2019
Those are the actual, objective facts established in yesterday's hearings. If that's to be discounted because it lacks "pizzaz" or "bang" we should probably just give up.— Craig Calcaterra (@craigcalcaterra) November 14, 2019
Great to see the media continue to not learn a damn thing from 2016 SMDH. Of course if the witnesses *did* show "pizzaz" during a friggin Presidential impeachment hearing this headline would probably be about a "circus atmosphere" instead. GTFOHWTBS https://t.co/wHKpH0m6Jf— Stephen White (@sgw94) November 14, 2019
Serious, detailed, hugely consequential confirmation that the President abused his office, but the cinematography could have been better https://t.co/jeb8ZXqiYC— Ben Rhodes (@brhodes) November 14, 2019
Today 👏 was 👏 not 👏about👏 your 👏 entertainment. https://t.co/m7wNHExMPL— David Cicilline (@davidcicilline) November 14, 2019
I obviously ultimately agree with the Twitter mob here raining piss down Reuters and NBC’s leg. The impeachment proceedings are not designed to provide entertainment value. On the other hand, media outlets do have to sell ads and generate clicks, and above all, this impeachment hearing — which doesn’t offer much that is new — is designed to persuade public opinion, and that public opinion cannot be persuaded if the public tunes out.
That’s when it becomes the job of news organization not to bemoan the lack of “pizazz” or even generate pizazz on their own, but to outline the historical importance of what we’re seeing; to explain to its viewers the gravity of the situation. Instead of debating whether Taylor and Kent are “Never Trumpers,” provide some goddamn context; interview experts; and you can even throw in a rant here and there! This is the biggest story of 2019, and if you can’t capture viewers’ attention with this, that sounds like a you problem.
There’s plenty of drama inherent in the impeachment proceedings — the future of Trump’s presidency and democracy itself hang in the balance. There’s your hook, folks! “After One Day of Public Testimony, Is America In Less Danger of Shitting Itself? Or will we continue soiling ourselves for the next one to five years? Tune in tonight after Stumptown to find out!”
Either that or the witnesses could start lighting themselves on fire for the edification of NBC, Reuters, and Twitter hashtags #BillTaylorIsOnLiteralFire #YesIMeantLiteral
On the other hand, a good soundtrack can make all the difference.
Oh hell yeah pic.twitter.com/SeNa3SKsV8— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 13, 2019