Nov 22, 2019

Yovanovitch testimony was the most viral impeachment hearing

Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

While TV ratings for the impeachment hearings peaked on the first day of testimony from Bill Taylor and George Kent, none drew as much online attention as former ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, according to data from NewsWhip.

Why it matters: Democrats hoped to sway public opinion with revelations about a smoking gun of Trump's involvement in a quid pro quo, but the numbers highlight the power of an emotional appeal.

  • Yovanovitch became a sympathetic figure to many over perceptions that she was wrongfully removed from her post.

Yes, but: Since she had been removed from her post by May, Yovanovitch couldn't speak to central details around the impeachment inquiry focused on events in July.

The big picture: TV ratings steadily declined over the course of the 5 days of hearings, according to Nielsen data.

  • The first day of testimony pulled in 13.8 million viewers and Yovanovitch got 12.7 million.
  • Tuesday and Wednesday of this week both got 11.4 million viewers. Thursday's hearing pulled in 11.3 million.

By comparison to other big Trump-era television events:

  • Christine Blasey Ford/Brett Kavanaugh: 20 million
  • James Comey: 19.5 million
  • Michael Cohen: 15.8 million
  • Robert Mueller: 13 million

The 5 biggest stories of the impeachment hearings, per NewsWhip:

  1. "Yovanovitch gets standing ovation at the end of 5-hour hearing" (The Week) - 675k interactions
  2. "Flashback: Obama Fired All Of Bush’s Politically Appointed Ambassadors In 2008" (The Daily Caller) - 490k
  3. "Alexander Vindman has reached out to Army about his family's safety amid attacks by Trump and GOP lawmakers" (CNN) - 229k
  4. "Marie Yovanovitch admits Obama admin prepped her on Hunter Biden before her confirmation" (New York Post) - 203k
  5. "The Army is prepared to move Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and his family to a safe location if necessary" (Business Insider) - 162k

Go deeper: The highlights from all of the public impeachment hearings

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First casualty of impeachment war

Marie Yovanovitch arrives to testify yesterday. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

An important human dimension gets obscured in the wider impeachment war: Former Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch is already a three-time victim of the Ukraine scandal and public hearings.

Why it matters: Maybe the only thing House Republicans and Democrats agree on is that Yovanovitch was a widely respected ambassador to Ukraine. Yet, she lost her job, endured a hit job by The Hill newspaper, and had her reputation vilified and sullied publicly by the president of the United States. 

Go deeperArrowNov 16, 2019

"SNL" cold open reimagines impeachment hearings as a soap opera

A screenshot of Jon Hamm as Bill Taylor and Kate McKinnon as Rudy Giuliani on "Saturday Night Live." Photo: "SNL"/NBC

"Saturday Night Live" parodied the Trump impeachment hearings as a "Days of Our Lives"-inspired reimagination — dubbed the "Days of Our Impeachment" — in its latest cold open, with Jon Hamm starring as diplomat Bill Taylor.

The big picture: Other highlights included Cecily Strong as Marie Yovanovitch, the former Ukraine ambassador targeted by President Trump's tweets as she testified Friday. And Kate McKinnon was back as Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, declaring: "Mercury’s in retrograde, so my powers are at an all-time high."

Go deeper:

Keep ReadingArrowNov 17, 2019

Pompeo again declines to defend diplomats embroiled in impeachment

Pompeo. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo dodged multiple questions at a press conference Monday about why he has declined to offer public support to State Department employees, like former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who have been caught up in impeachment proceedings.

Why it matters: President Trump has attacked career civil servants in general — and Yovanovitch in particular — as "Never Trumpers" determined to remove him from office. Former diplomats have warned that such rhetoric is inflicting lasting damage on the foreign service, and Pompeo's silence on the issue has been met with significant criticism.

Go deeperArrowNov 18, 2019