The ladies of ABC’s “The View” will get the day off Wednesday — along with Sesame Street’s cast of characters and the host of CBS’s “Price is Right” — as Congressional impeachment hearings take over live television on all major U.S. television networks.
In a throwback to the Watergate era of the early 1970s, when congressional hearings were practically the only thing on television for days on end, ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS say they will all preempt regular programming on Wednesday beginning at 10 a.m. Eastern Time when the House of Representatives kicks off public hearings into President Donald Trump‘s dealings with Ukraine.
All of the cable news outlets will carry the hearings live as well.
Among the other shows that will go missing are soap operas such as “Days of Our Lives,” “The Bold and the Beautiful,” and “The Young and the Restless,” and a number of childrens’ shows on PBS. Chat shows like “Strahan, Sara and Keke,” which starts at 1 p.m. on ABC, along with “The Talk,” which starts at 2 p.m. on CBS, are also likely to go quiet.
The first witness to testify publicly will be William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in the Ukraine, who is expected to address questions of whether Trump tried to tie U.S. military aid to that country to an agreement to investigate the president’s political rivals. A second round of hearings is expected Friday.
The Trump impeachment inquiry is likely to draw high ratings in an era of modern media consumption on multiple screens, with streaming and broadcast options. https://t.co/q7BA0IG34V— KSDK News (@ksdknews) November 10, 2019
The last time the U.S. House held hearings on whether to impeach the president was 1998, when Bill Clinton was charged with lying under oath and obstruction of justice for attempting to conceal a sexual relationship with a White House intern. Those hearings were covered live by all the news channels and Court TV, but the broadcast networks only interrupted regular programming for the vote itself. Nearly 6 million people tuned into the hearings, according to Reuters.
More recently, in 2017, nearly 20 million people tuned in to watch Former FBI Director James Comey testify about Trump before the Senate Intelligence Committee and an equal number tuned in to watch Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings in 2018.
According to a Gallup poll at the time, more than 71 percent of Americans said they watched at least part of the Watergate hearings that began in May 1973 and 21 percent reported watching as much as 10 hours or more of them. President Richard Nixon resigned a year after the hearings.