Raleigh professor: Impeachment fatigue seen in television ratings

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – It’s been hard to get away from the non-stop coverage of President Donald Trump’s impeachment proceedings. People are experiencing a sense of impeachment fatigue no matter which side of the aisle they lean toward.

William Peace University professor Elizabeth Kusko said it’s not just exhausting. It can also be confusing for people.

“This is just kind of inaccessible stuff, complicated stuff that I know that impeachment is important, but I don’t understand all the moving parts,” Kusko said. “It’s about Ukraine, but it has to do with the Bidens. And was there quid pro quo, and is this executive power that’s OK?”

Another factor is the level of predictability as to how it will turn out.

“I would say that’s my main argument,” Kusko said. “The fact that we already know the outcome is why people don’t necessarily need to watch anymore. We know how the story ends, and Trump is not going to be removed from office even though he was impeached.

“And, I think that also relates to the hyper-partisan environment that we live in. Party has become the end all be all. We know that Republican senators will vote with the party of the president, and that’s what people expect. And, that’s what people know is going to happen.”

Kusko added that it’s not just the fact the formal impeachment started in December in the United States House. It’s that we’ve been talking about since Trump was inaugurated.

Fatigue can be seen in the ratings. Instead of watching 12 hours a day of the Senate trial, people can get a quick update on their phones. Eleven million people watched the first day of the trial. By the end of the first week, those numbers fell to 6.8 million.

The first day of Trump’s defense saw viewership climb to 10.1 million.

“You have to figure out to grab the attention of the average American who has access to thousands of different options of things to watch,” Kusko said.

The vote on whether to allow witnesses could get some of that attention as 75 percent of voters want to hear other testimony. Otherwise, Kusko said it feels like the same old script.

“Is this really helping us? Is this informing us? Is this making us better voters? Maybe not,” Kusko said. “I hope so, but I think people are ready to move past it and talk about the Democratic primaries (and) talk about the general election.”

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