As the impeachment trial in the Senate gears up to start on Tuesday, both sides are sharpening their best tools for battle. For the Democrats, that means coordinating with mainstream media in an effort to position their narratives for maximum headline potential. They’re already feeding talking points to a willing press, one who will play a major role in determining how America views the proceedings.
President Trump is doing what he did best before becoming President. He’s preparing to entertain an audience of American viewers who will make their decisions based on presentation as much as merit. He applied his showmanship in the selection of his defense team, inserting legal (and television) veterans Alan Dershowitz and Ken Starr to help deliver the message of innocence.
Both are Fox News contributors. Both have appeared in high-profile cases that required their arguments to be made to a larger audience than the courtroom. And both have the flare necessary to generate moments that can be viewed over-and-over again on the internet even if mainstream media fails to air their zingers. We can expect the President to do his part by Tweeting out videos of some of the best clips.
This isn’t really a trial intended to sway the views of most Senators. Both sides are targeting voters. Democrats want to convince as many as possible that the President is unworthy for reelection while the President’s team wants to deliver the message that this impeachment should never have existed in the first place. It’ll be a test of the reach of network news, CNN, MSNBC, and news outlets like the NY Times and Washington Post versus a handful of high-reach right-leaning outlets like Fox News, OANN, and independent online news outlets (like NOQ Report).
Democrats have the advantage on reach. Even though Fox News is the most watched cable news network, its pro-Trump coverage will be less watched than the combined anti-Trump coverage of the networks and the other two cable news networks. There will also be a dramatic gap between the quantity and reach of anti-Trump articles versus pro-Trump posts. But where the President has the advantage is in the replay factor. His army of digital warriors will help echo the clips the President and his campaign collect as his “made-for-TV” legal team attempts to make mundane legal points as entertaining as possible.
This impeachment trial is 100% about November. Echo chambers on both sides will make their case about the election while pretending they’re talking about impeachment. Thankfully, the President has the truth on his side. But he still needs our help.