Trump cable tv
Ceci Freed / Media Matters | Gage Skidmore via Creative Commons

Research/Study Research/Study

Fox News aired only a little over half of Trump's impeachment trial live

CNN and MSNBC aired the trial nearly in its entirety

  • In the two weeks since opening arguments began in President Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial, the three major cable news networks -- CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC -- have collectively aired 162 hours and 48 minutes of the trial live. Fox’s share of that figure, however, is substantially less than that of its counterparts. It has aired just 57% of the trial, or 37 hours and 52 minutes. By comparison, CNN and MSNBC have respectively aired 95%, or 63 hours, and 94%, or 61 hours and 56 minutes, of the trial live.

  • Cable news’ live coverage of Trump’s Senate impeachment trial
  • The major disparities between Fox’s coverage and CNN’s and MSNBC’s coverage mainly come from the evening hours. In the first three days of the trial, Fox’s evening and prime-time shows -- airing from 5 p.m. to midnight -- mostly avoided broadcasting any of the trial live while CNN and MSNBC largely aired it live in its entirety. That trend has continued as the proceedings went on. (The trial did not extend into the evenings of January 25, January 28, and February 3.)

  • Cable news evening coverage of impeachment
  • Instead of live coverage in the evenings, Fox subjected viewers to punditry decrying the proceedings as a “sham,” and on one evening, the network aired as little as 22 seconds of the trial live between 7 p.m and 11 p.m. But on the first weekday session of the Trump defense team’s arguments, Fox aired more of the trial live in the evening than it did in the three prior evenings combined when the House impeachment managers were presenting their arguments.

    Here’s a breakdown of the networks’ overall daily coverage:

  • Methodology

  • Media Matters reviewed raw video from the SnapStream video service of Trump’s Senate impeachment trial on January 21 through February 3, 2020. We reviewed video from the moment the trial was scheduled to go into session until it was adjourned by Chief Justice John Roberts. We counted coverage as “live coverage” if the network aired audio and video of the trial without commentators speaking over it.

    We used the C-SPAN website to find unedited video of the Senate trial in its entirety.

    The January 21 session adjourned the following morning at approximately 1:50 a.m. We included the additional hours in our evening analysis. The January 22 session adjourned at approximately 9:43 p.m. The January 23 session adjourned at approximately 10:32 p.m. The January 24 session adjourned at approximately 8:54 p.m. The January 25 session adjourned at approximately 12:02 p.m. The January 27 session adjourned at approximately 9:03 p.m. The January 28 session adjourned at approximately 2:55 p.m. The January 29 session adjourned at approximately 11:06 p.m. The January 30 session adjourned at approximately 10:41 p.m. The January 31 session adjourned at approximately 7:59 p.m. The February 3 session adjourned at approximately 3:00 p.m. All times are Eastern Standard Time.