ABC, CBS and NBC covered the House impeachment vote of Pres. Trump on Wednesday in different ways.
All 3 covered the proceedings throughout the day. However, NBC News was the only one of the big 3 to present live coverage of the vote when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi struck the gavel after announcing passage of articles 1 and II of impeachment against Pres. Trump.
This took place in the 8 p.m. ET hour.
NBC was live for Pelosi’s announcement, which took place early in the hour, while CBS was in regularly scheduled programming on the East Coast, which in this case was the season finale of Survivor.
ABC was presented a Live in Front of a Studio Audience special event, which featured 1970’s Norman Lear sitcoms All in the Family and Good Times being performed live in front of a studio audience (as the title suggests).
Fox, which left its cable news channel to cover the events of the day, was airing TV’s top entertainment series, The Masked Singer, when Speaker Pelosi struck the gavel announcing the House had impeached Pres. Trump.
As the AP’s David Bauder noted, ABC’s decision to switch away from impeachment coverage to the Norman Lear special at 8 p.m. ET seemed a bit sudden. Shortly after ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos said the special would be shown later in its entirety, ABC cut away.
However, both ABC News and CBS News broke in for special reports after the votes were concluded, before returning prime time entertainment programming.
News junkies and critics will contend that ABC and CBS were doing Americans a disservice by not immediately breaking in with special reports showing Speaker Pelosi’s announcement that Trump had been impeached by the House (though both broadcast nets had been delivering impeachment coverage throughout the day).
However, the season finale of Survivor is a big deal for CBS and will probably fetch the network a larger audience than impeachment coverage would.
Impeachment coverage was still available on all CBS News platforms, including CBSN, the network’s 24/7 streaming news service.
ABC had been planning and promoting this Norman Lear special for a long time, and the decision whether to preempt it for the final impeachment vote had to have been a tough call as well.
Like CBS, ABC viewers could keep tabs on live impeachment coverage via ABC News’ digital platforms.
NBC would have been preempting the 2nd night of the Ellen’s Greatest Night of Giveaways 3-night event. No offense to that program, but Survivor and the Norman Lear special are probably more important to CBS and ABC, respectively, than the Ellen holiday-themed special is to NBC. The decision for NBC executives whether to take the special or stay put with impeachment coverage was probably an easier one than the decision ABC and CBS execs had to make for when it came to their programming.