Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters
The Senate’s impeachment trial of President Donald Trump began last Tuesday, and cable news has mostly broadcast the proceedings live in their entirety — with the notable exception of Fox News’ evening shows.
Since Tuesday, January 21, Fox has aired just 13 hours and 39 minutes of the trial. By contrast, CNN and MSNBC have both aired the trial nearly in its entirety — CNN has aired 24 hours and 33 minutes while MSNBC has aired 24 hours and 14 minutes. (MSNBC’s slightly lower time total is primarily due to commentary during roll call votes, which we did not count.)
The gap in coverage among the networks — nearly 11 fewer hours on Fox — is almost entirely due to the network’s evening shows (5 p.m. to midnight), which largely ignored the live proceedings after Day 1.
Fox aired 3 hours and 52 minutes of the January 21 session during evening broadcasts while CNN aired 6 hours and 18 minutes and MSNBC aired 6 hours and 1 minute.
During the January 22 session, Fox aired just 15 and a half minutes of coverage during evening hours while both CNN and MSNBC aired 3 hours and 58 minutes. During prime-time programming, Fox’s Tucker Carlson Tonight and Hannity aired a combined total of just under 2 minutes of live trial footage. During that same time frame, CNN and MSNBC each aired 1 hour and 43 minutes.
During the Senate’s January 23 session, Fox’s evening coverage aired a paltry 4 and a half minutes of the trial live while both CNN and MSNBC each aired 4 hours and 24 minutes. Fox’s prime-time shows virtually ignored live broadcasting of the trial; between 8 and 11 p.m., the network aired a total of 22 seconds, all of which were brief transitions between regular programming and commercial breaks during Tucker Carlson Tonight. During that same time frame, CNN and MSNBC aired approximately 2 hours and 14 minutes each.
Of particular note, Hannity aired less than 1 minute of live coverage during the January 21 session, less than half a minute during the January 22 session, and none of the trial during the third session. The Five aired no live footage at all of the trial during both the January 22 and 23 sessions. Additionally, The Story and The Ingraham Angle likewise completely avoided broadcasting any live coverage during the January 23 session.
Afternoon coverage, from 1 to 5 p.m., was generally similar across all three networks. During the January 21 session, the cable networks all aired roughly 3 hours of live coverage each. During the January 22 session, CNN and MSNBC aired about 3 and a half hours of live coverage each while Fox aired 3 hours and 12 minutes of live coverage. And during the January 23 session, CNN and MSNBC aired 3 hours and 28 minutes each while Fox aired 3 hours and 14 minutes. Fox’s discrepancies on January 22 and 23 are explained by the network cutting to commercial during some portions of the live proceedings.
Media Matters reviewed raw video from the Snapstream video service of Trump’s Senate impeachment trial on January 21, 22, and 23, 2020. We reviewed video from the moment the trial was scheduled to go into session, 1 p.m., until it was adjourned by Chief Justice John Roberts. We counted coverage as “live coverage” if the network aired audio and video of the trial without commentators speaking over it.
The January 21 session adjourned the following morning at approximately 1:50 a.m. We included the additional hours in our evening analysis. The January 22 session adjourned at approximately 9:43 p.m. that evening. The January 23 session adjourned at approximately 10:32 p.m.