Nearly 100,000 Americans in a petition delivered by the grassroots group Common Cause on Tuesday joined veteran journalist Bill Moyers' call for PBS to re-air impeachment hearings against President Donald Trump in their entirety during prime time.
Common Cause gathered in just seven days the signatures of more than 98,000 people across the U.S. who want the nation's public broadcasting network to show not just live gavel-to-gavel coverage of the historic proceedings, but also air the hearings in the evening after many Americans get home from work and school.
The network is currently re-airing its coverage only on its digital subchannel WORLD, which reaches only about 64 percent of U.S. households, according to Multichannel News.
"Every American should have the chance to see the full case against Donald Trump firsthand in prime time in order to make up their own mind about whether their elected representatives in Congress should impeach the president," said Michael Copps, former FCC Commissioner and a special advisor to Common Cause. "History is unfolding on Capitol Hill while most Americans are at work or school and as the nation's public broadcaster, PBS should be airing the proceedings during prime time as [a] service to the nation."
The petitions were delivered days after Moyers and Common Dreams senior writing fellow Michael Winship first called on PBS to offer prime time coverage in a full-page ad in the New York Times on Nov. 8.
In the days that followed, other journalists expressed agreement on social media:
Hi @PBS, please reconsider this decision and repeat the impeachment hearings during primetime hours--after the work day. This is one of the most important events in US history. https://t.co/hlCbSeMD8J
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— Kimberley Johnson (@AuthorKimberley) November 11, 2019
PBS and commercial networks should air impeachment hearings at night when working people can watch. It might cost them a bit. So be it, that’s the cost of sustaining democracy.https://t.co/sQ0cnQpm2k
— John Nichols (@NicholsUprising) November 13, 2019
During the Watergate hearings against President Richard Nixon in 1974, Moyers and Winship wrote, PBS helped ensure all Americans could watch all 247 hours of the proceedings by airing them during the day and in the evening.
"The petition emphasizes that it is vitally important for PBS to do the same thing again now as a sitting U.S. President is once again facing impeachment," said Common Cause.
Prime time coverage would give all Americans "the opportunity to view the entire process rather than have it delivered to them in soundbites and with partisan spin," Copps said. "The impeachment hearings are too important to the future of our democracy for the nation's public broadcasters not to air them in prime time."