Accuracy in Media

CNN’s latest impeachment trial analysis claimed that the Democratic Party will “make Republicans pay the price” in the upcoming impeachment trial. The analysis’s headline read, “Democrats try to make Republicans pay the price in Trump trial,” and it outlined the playbook for the Democratic Party to pressure Republican senators.

According to CNN, the Democratic strategy is to pressure GOP senators in purple states, such as Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, to vote for impeachment out of fear that he would lose re-election if he supported Trump during impeachment. The party also planned to push the Senate to call witnesses to extend the timeframe of the trial. The majority of the analysis covered Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer’s strategy to pressure his Republican colleagues in the Senate and inferred that it will be successful in pressuring on-the-fence GOP senators to at least consider voting in favor of impeachment.

So far, the GOP-majority Senate appeared entrenched in not voting for impeachment and will conduct a quick trial to allow lawmakers to return home for the holidays. Yet it did not deter CNN from publishing a highly-speculative analysis on the Democratic Party’s impeachment trial strategy in the Senate.

CNN’s analysis lacked emphasis on how high a hurdle it will be to flip votes from Republican senators to vote in favor of impeachment. CNN mentioned that the Democrats “used their majority power to force” impeachment and that they would need “20 GOP senators to turn against their own party leader,” but it relegated those political realities in favor of drumming up hype over impeachment. Flipping twenty votes could be considered a monumental effort, considering that many GOP senators come from Trump-supporting states. It is much easier to flip a handful of votes in the Senate, but twenty votes would be too high of a bar to clear. But CNN only dedicated three sentences to the House impeachment voting process and the Senate votes needed to impeach President Donald Trump instead of emphasizing how difficult it will be to successfully implement the Democratic Party’s strategy.

CNN’s analysis focused on the impeachment trail hype and drama, but did not adequately emphasize the political reality that it will be difficult to flip twenty GOP senators to vote for impeachment. Context matters in political strategy, and though CNN acknowledged the high hurdle of flipping GOP votes, it mostly ignored it to push the Democratic Party’s impeachment strategy and narratives.

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