By:
February 11, 2021

The impeachment trial of Donald Trump continues. Wednesday was highlighted by House managers presenting the case to convict Trump.

And what a presentation it was.

The argument, complete with what continues to be absolutely bone-chilling video outside and inside the Capitol on Jan. 6, was detailed, methodical and harrowing. Much of it was never-before-seen security footage that showed just how frightening that day was and how close lawmakers came to danger.

It included this moment when Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman turned around Sen. Mitt Romney to keep him from potentially walking straight into a mob of insurrectionists, as well as horrifying scenes of rioters breaking into the Capitol and announcing that they were looking for lawmakers.

CNN’s Dana Bash noted, “Eugene Goodman saved Mitt Romney’s life. We did not know that until today.”

Romney’s son, Matt, tweeted, “We appreciate your bravery and service, Officer Eugene Goodman!!”

There also was security video of Sen. Chuck Schumer going in one direction and then running back in another direction because rioters were moving his way.

Later, as noted in the presentation, one of the rioters told authorities they might have killed people such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence, given the opportunity. Another video showed a rioter yelling, “Where are you Nancy? We’re looking for you, Nancy. Oh, Nancy! Nancy! Where are you, Nancy?”

There also was new police bodycam video, as well as radio communication of police pleading for support as the mob charged the Capitol.

Vox senior politics correspondent Andrew Prokop made an astute point when he tweeted: “Overall this is a really effective demolishing of the still-popular-in-some-circles talking point that the Capitol-stormers didn’t really have violent intentions and that the thing was no big deal.”

But, CNN’s Brian Stelter was likely correct when he tweeted that those who actually subscribe to that talking point probably aren’t watching the trial.

For those who are watching, the trial really is a powerful reminder of just how scary Jan. 6 was.

Veteran journalist Dan Rather tweeted Wednesday: “I know this might strike some as dated, but I think every network should be carrying the impeachment trial live, in its entirety. This is about the future of our democracy.”

CNN chief national affairs correspondent Jeff Zeleny, who was inside the Senate chambers, said, “We do not know if this is going to change any minds, but a couple of things here. Yes, this was a presentation for the jury — those 100 senators sitting in the chamber, Republicans and Democrats alike. But it’s also more than that. It’s a presentation for history, for the ages to chronicle this … Trump era and that insurrection in greater detail than we’ve ever seen before.”

Media reaction

Two TV veterans had strong reactions to what we saw during the trial on Wednesday

NBC News political director Chuck Todd said the prosecution did a good job putting all the pieces together of how the events on Jan. 6 played out.

“That vote just got a lot harder if you are trying to find a political way out of voting to acquit,” Todd said. “History is not going to look kindly on this acquittal vote.”

CNN’s John King was even more pointed in his remarks, calling the presentation “emotional but factual.” King again referred to the Republican party as the GOP — the “Grand Ostrich Party” — because when it comes to Trump, he said, many bury their heads in the sand. By doing so, King said, they enabled Trump.

“What they have enabled,” King explained, “by saying, ‘It’s just a tweet’ or ‘Can we just not talk about that’ or ‘I don’t pay attention to that.’ You cannot watch this today …  if you do not believe the former president should be convicted in the impeachment trial, what do you believe? What is the accountability test? Does he get a pass? Does he get to walk? That’s what you want here? If you want to make that case, make that case.”

Put your feet up

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) walks on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Some media are allowed into the Senate chambers as the Senate holds the Trump impeachment trial. Because of that, CBS News’ Norah O’Donnell noted that means reporters can observe how the various senators are reacting to the trial. Specifically, O’Donnell noted how there were reports that Sen. Josh Hawley, the Republican from Missouri who objected to the certification of Pennsylvania’s Electoral College votes back on Jan. 6, sat in the gallery with his feet propped up on a seat while reading.

Hawley later explained that being in the gallery allowed him to spread out and feel a “little less claustrophobic.” He insisted that he was reading trial briefs and paying full attention to the proceedings.

MSNBC contributor Claire McCaskill, herself a former Democratic senator from Missouri, called Hawley’s body language “disrespectful.”

MSNBC’s Garrett Haake said Hawley was reading “nonrelated material” and did not look down at the proceedings.

During CBS’s coverage, O’Donnell asked chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett if it’s dangerous for senators to make it look like they might not be taking the proceedings seriously.

Garrett said that’ll be for their constituents to decide, and pointed out that with socially distant protocols, it’s permissible for Hawley to sit in the gallery. (Haake reported Hawley was the only senator to do so.)

“But you could read that one of two ways,” Garrett said. “It’s ‘I’m reading the briefs carefully.’ Or ‘I’m sort of nonchalant about this because I’ve already made up my mind.’ There’s a part of me that suspects Sen. Hawley would like people to interpret it both ways … just to be safe.”

Here’s what they think

Here’s pretty much all you need to know about Newsmax, the pro-Trump “news” network. (Yes, the quotes around the word “news” were purposeful.)

At 5 p.m., as the impeachment trial was presenting disturbing video from Jan. 6, Chris Salcedo opened his show by saying, “We have continuing coverage of a bipartisan betrayal of the American people and our Constitution. If these elites in Congress do something like this to citizen Trump, imagine what they can do to you and me. … Let’s watch the dagger plunge even further into the backs of we the people and this country.”

Little birdy says Trump is banned forever

Donald Trump’s ban from Twitter really is permanent. After banning Trump in the final days of his presidency for lying and dangerous tweeting that helped sparked the insurrection on the Capitol on Jan. 6, Twitter’s chief financial officer says Trump will remain banned — even if he runs again for president and even if he actually becomes president again someday.

In an interview with CNBC, Twitter CFO Ned Segal said, “When you’re removed from the platform, you’re removed from the platform. Our policies are designed to make sure that people are not inciting violence. He was removed when he was president and there’d be no difference for anybody who’s a public official once they’ve been removed from the service.”

And this idea that banning Trump has led Twitter users to leave the social media company en masse for other platforms? Don’t buy that, Segal said. The company is doing just fine.

“We added 40 million people to our DAU (daily active user count) last year, and 5 million last quarter,” Segal said. “In January, we added more DAU than the average of the last four Januarys, so hopefully that gives people a sense for the momentum we’ve got from all the hard work we’ve done on the service.”

During the company’s earnings call on Tuesday, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said, “We’re a platform that is obviously much larger than any one topic or any one account.”

Baron’s thoughts on journalism

Washington Post executive editor Marty Baron. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

I’ve been meaning to get to this for a couple of days now, but The New Yorker’s Isaac Chotiner did an excellent Q&A with Marty Baron, the Washington Post executive editor who plans to retire at the end of the month.

Baron talked about how running a newsroom is different now than when he ran The Boston Globe in the early 2000s, the internet’s role in journalism, how big news organizations such as the Post and The New York Times are impacting local journalism, competition against the Times, Post owner Jeff Bezos and many other topics.

One of those other topics which I found particularly interesting — and is a conversation going on in many newsrooms these days — is social media. Specifically, is there a line journalists need to be cognizant of when expressing opinions on social media?

Baron said, “I think that our policy is very consistent with what a lot of other news organizations have. It’s consistent with what the New York Times has. It’s consistent with what the Wall Street Journal has. It’s consistent with what the BBC now has with their new policy. So I don’t think that we’re an outlier in any way. We try to take a lot of care with what we publish, in print and online, and when somebody is posting on social media, there’s no editor acting as an intermediary. So it’s important that reporters take care and exercise restraint when they’re posting, and that they continue to meet the standards of the organization.”

He added, “We recognize that they are representatives of the Post wherever they are — they are certainly perceived as representatives of the Post — and the reason that many of them have large followings is because they work at the Post. And so we ask that they abide by our standards, the same standards that would apply if they were writing something for print or for the Web, or fulfilling a speaking commitment, or appearing on the radio or television. Now, they can write with a different style. They can offer insights. They can write with wit. They can show more of their personality — all of that, that’s fine. But the standards don’t vanish just because someone’s posting on social media.”

Sad news

Terez Paylor, a senior NFL writer for Yahoo Sports, died unexpectedly on Tuesday. No cause of death has been made public. Paylor was 37.

Paylor joined Yahoo after 12 years at The Kansas City Star, where he covered the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Kansas City Star’s Sam Mellinger wrote, “He wanted to be great. He was honest about what that would require. He attacked it with uncommon energy and focus.”

In a statement, Yahoo Sports editor in chief Johnny Ludden said, “We are heartbroken to learn that our friend and teammate Terez Paylor has passed away. Terez was a dogged, thoughtful reporter to many who knew him in the NFL. To us, he was a friend who always had a warm smile and a kind word. He cared deeply about his family, was passionate about his work and remained intensely proud of his Detroit and Kansas City roots.”

Yahoo Sports has a thoughtful remembrance of Paylor. And here’s a touching column from Yahoo Sports NFL columnist Charles Robinson.

Paylor passed away the same week as longtime NFL.com writer and podcaster Chris Wesseling, who died at age 46 of cancer. ESPN baseball writer Pedro Gomez died unexpectedly on Sunday at the age of 58.

Scary news

The day after the Super Bowl, many tuned in to hear what popular radio/TV sports talk host Colin Cowherd had to say. So it was surprising to see Nick Wright filling in for Cowherd. Sports talk show hosts rarely take days off after the Super Bowl unless something is wrong.

Unfortunately, something was wrong with Cowherd, who revealed what happened in an Instagram video posted Tuesday night. Cowherd said he was having dinner with his wife last Saturday night when he felt a sharp pain under the right side of his chest.

“It was the most pain, I think, I’ve ever been in,” Cowherd said.

He went straight to the hospital and tests revealed he had a small blood clot in his right lung. By Tuesday, he was already back home.

“I’m going to be back on the air as soon as I can,” Cowherd said in the video.

Big move at the Times

(AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)

Jia Lynn Yang has been named National editor of The New York Times. She replaces Marc Lacey, who is becoming assistant managing editor with responsibility for live coverage.

Yang joined the Times in 2017 after seven years at The Washington Post, where she was a business reporter and editor and then the deputy national security editor. Before that, she wrote for Fortune magazine. In 2018, Yang was a part of the team that won a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

A daily dose of Gutfeld

Greg Gutfeld’s Saturday night show on Fox News will expand to a daily weeknight show in the second quarter of 2021. “The Greg Gutfeld Show” will air weeknights at 11 p.m. Eastern. “Fox News @ Night” will move to midnight Eastern. A replacement show for Gutfeld’s Saturday night show will be announced at a later time.

Fox News describes Gutfeld’s show as a “comedic hour featuring parodies on current events and signature monologues.”

In announcing the move, Fox News Media CEO Suzanne Scott said, “People need a reason to laugh. Greg’s unique and irreverent talk show has been an incredible success, often beating the late night broadcast competition, despite its Saturday timeslot. With one of the most loyal and engaged audiences in cable news, we’re thrilled to bring the show to weekday primetime and further solidify Greg’s place among late night television stars.

Hot type

Have feedback or a tip? Email Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones at tjones@poynter.org.

More resources for journalists

The Poynter Report is our daily media newsletter. To have it delivered to your inbox Monday-Friday, sign up here.

Follow us on Twitter and on Facebook.

Support high-integrity, independent journalism that serves democracy. Make a gift to Poynter today. The Poynter Institute is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, and your gift helps us make good journalism better.
Donate
Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for Poynter.org. He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30…
More by Tom Jones

More News

Back to News