The Senate acquitted President Donald Trump on both articles of impeachment, falling short of the two-thirds majority threshold necessary to remove Trump from office. The end of the Senate impeachment trial also marked the end of the mainstream media’s defense, and in some cases, the promotion of the Democratic Party’s impeachment rhetoric.
The Senate voted mostly along party lines, with a 52-48 vote on the first article on the abuse of power and a 53-47 vote on the article of obstruction of Congress. Both votes fell short of the 67-vote threshold needed to impeach Trump. One of the more notable votes was Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who voted with the Democrats on the abuse of power impeachment article.
Now, the vote ended the media’s months-long narrative that impeachment was necessary. Within the past month, CNN claimed that Trump incriminated himself on the audio clips on his phone call with Ukraine’s president.
NBC News framed impeachment as “simple math” and agreed with Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) on the abuse of power impeachment article. ABC News joined its counterparts and described Schiff’s “impassioned plea” to the Senate to bring in more witnesses and documents into the Senate trial, which description lacked neutrality by evoking emotion.
The media also overlooked how Americans felt about impeachment. For example, one pro-impeachment rally fizzled in Washington, D.C. with zero attendees or participants. NBC News interviewed multiple citizens in various states who said that the impeachment trial was dragging on too long and was too boring. But the media’s coverage of impeachment did not reflect multiple polls’ findings of how closely divided Americans were on impeachment.
With the Senate impeachment trial over, the media’s months-long narrative about impeachment is over. It is time for the media to re-evaluate how it frames politically-fraught issues like impeachment in the future, in order to avoid both politicians’ and readers’ accusations of media partisanship and lack of neutrality.