Understanding Impeachment: A Guide for Journalists and Citizens


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Understanding Impeachment: A Guide for Journalists and Citizens

PolitiFact journalists explain the nuts and bolts of impeachment, lessons to be drawn from past history, and the current political dynamics journalists and citizens need to know. In service to our audience and our mission, Poynter is offering this one-hour webinar at a special low price.

Broadcast date: Thursday, Oct. 10, at 3 p.m. Eastern


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The most powerful tool Congress has for holding a U.S. president accountable is impeachment. The process, outlined in the U.S. Constitution, allows for the removal of a president who has committed “high crimes and misdemeanors” after impeachment by the House and a trial in the Senate. Today, House Democratsare pursuing an impeachment inquiry after a whistleblower reported that President Donald Trump withheld U.S. military aid from Ukraine to pressure the country into investigating his political rival Joe Biden. Biden’s son Hunter was a director at a Ukrainian energy company when his father served as vice president.


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PolitiFact journalists have been covering the inquiry since its launch last month. Their coverage has included explanatory reporting on the circumstances surrounding Trump’s call with Ukraine as well as fact-checking of inaccurate political talking points and online misinformation. In this webinar, they will offer a detailed explanation of the current process with forecasts for what to expect as Congress moves through the process. They will also discuss how social media and online misinformation might affect the impeachment process. Finally, they will discuss coverage priorities for journalists and how citizens can read and understand complex media reporting with discernment.

What Will I Learn?

  1. What the Constitution says about impeachment and how historians view it
  2. How the impeachment processes in the 1970s and 1990s worked
  3. How today’s Congress is approaching impeachment proceedings and what might happen next
  4. How the public and social media might react to impeachment
  5. How to be on guard against disinformation and inaccurate political messaging
  6. Considerations for journalists in setting coverage priorities
  7. Suggestions for further reading on impeachment


Angie Holan

Angie Drobnic Holan is the editor of PolitiFact, the national politics fact-checking website, and directs its coverage of the presidency, Congress and federal elections. She was a reporter on the PolitiFact team that won the Pulitzer Prize for fact-checking the 2008 election. She holds dual master’s degrees in journalism and library & information science.

Louis Jacobson is PolitiFact’s senior correspondent. He previously served as deputy editor of Roll Call and as founding editor of its legislative wire service, CongressNow. Earlier, he spent more than a decade covering politics, policy and lobbying for National Journal magazine, including the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. In 2014, he received the Weidenbaum Center Award for Evidence-Based Journalism from Washington University in St. Louis.