Online and on TV, 'Impeachment' Mentions Soar

Online and on TV, 'Impeachment' Mentions Soar
AP Photo/Evan Vucci, file
Online and on TV, 'Impeachment' Mentions Soar
AP Photo/Evan Vucci, file
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From the earliest days of his presidency, Donald Trump has faced calls from Democrats for his impeachment. Events this week have propelled media coverage of, and search interest in, this subject to the highest levels of the past decade, far exceeding rumblings after release of the Mueller report.

The timeline below shows the percentage of airtime on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News from July 2009 to present that mentioned the words “impeach” or “impeachment” or “impeachable” or “impeaches” or “impeached” using data from the Internet Archive’s Television News Archive processed by the GDELT Project.

Click on the chart for a larger image.

Impeachment rumblings can be seen starting in early 2017, almost from Trump’s inauguration, as Democrats grappled with how to respond to an unexpected election outcome. Those calls  steadily built over the course of the Mueller investigation, but this past Wednesday mentions of impeachment exceeded 14.6% of CNN’s airtime, 15.5% of MSNBC’s and 14.4% of Fox News’ airtime.

Add in mentions of “Ukraine” or “Ukrainian” or “Biden” and a full third of the airtime on each of the three news channels revolved around the story Wednesday.

Narrowing to the period from Trump’s entrance into the race in June 2015 to present, the timeline below shows the percentage of all mentions of “Trump” on the combined airtime of the three channels that also mentioned impeachment within 15 seconds before or after.

On Wednesday, roughly 17.7% of mentions of Trump also mentioned impeachment in the same breath, showing just how much it has consumed media coverage of his presidency this week. Add in mentions of Ukraine and Biden and that number rises to 44%.

The impact of impeachment is even more starkly apparent in online news coverage. The timeline below shows the percentage of worldwide online news coverage monitored by the GDELT Project that mentions “Donald Trump” that also mentions impeachment in the 65 languages it monitors.

On Wednesday, just over half of all online coverage GDELT monitored about Donald Trump included the specter of impeachment. Add in mentions of Ukraine and Biden and more than two-thirds of online coverage about Trump on Wednesday made reference to the events of this week.

Whereas earlier this year the media’s focus on impeachment was not matched by public search interest, this time the public is just as interested.

The timeline below shows U.S. public search interest in the word “impeachment” from January 20, 2017 to present using data from Google Trends. Google doesn’t report the actual number of searches, instead reporting the day with the most searches as 100 and scaling the rest of the days according to their respective volumes.

Even the May 17, 2017 appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel generated less than half the amount of impeachment searches as occurred Wednesday, showcasing how closely both media and public interest are aligned this time.

In the end, it is clear just how much Trump’s conversation with the Ukrainian president has ratcheted up the subject of impeachment, which could come to define his entire presidency.

RealClear Media Fellow Kalev Leetaru is a senior fellow at the George Washington University Center for Cyber & Homeland Security. His past roles include fellow in residence at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service and member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Future of Government.



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