There is a good chance that when you turned on your TV this week (or watched your DVR), instead of seeing your preferred daytime fare you saw a group of people asking questions. It's the coverage of the Trump impeachment inquiry by Congress. This is not the first time such an interruption has happened.
In July of 1973, an investigation of Richard Nixon was launched. Quickly, Watergate surrounded the investigation of the president having a group of men burst into the Washington, D.C., hotel to get dirt on the Democratic National Committee. Some stations — there were only three at the time — often stayed on it until midnight.
While the hearings did not end in impeachment, they were part of the reason Nixon resigned. They found tapes confirming what went on. It even had its own whistleblower, John Dean. After endless coverage of the proceedings, stations could not afford to lose the advertising or deal with the light-up of their switchboard with "Where's my show?" complaints. Nixon had the first head of the hearings, Archibald Cox, removed. He was replaced by Robert Mueller. Yes, that Robert Mueller. When regular TV stepped away from the investigation, PBS took over. Two guys, Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer, took over. Yes, those two. It was the first time they had worked together on air. For decades, their show was really where you got "fair and balanced" news reporting.
In 1995, O.J. Simpson went on trial for the murder of his wife, Nicole, and a friend, Ron Goldman. It was televised from July to October. He was acquitted of the charges. There is one thing we know he killed: soap operas. When they resumed airing, numbers slid. Television reporter Michael Logan and I watched the trial together — he from LA, I from New York. We continue to be the best of friends.
Now for the present gavel to gavel, Ron Carlivati and what it means for the regular programming.
First of all, the new department decides when a show is preempted. Here is what happens when a soap opera is out on hold. If the entire show is preempted, it will air in full after the hearings conclude.
The day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, CBS interrupted the show for several minutes. The actors didn't know why. A few minutes later, the network went back to "As the World Turns." The cast had no idea why the show was cut into. Helen Wagner (Nancy) recalled that they were looking at each other in disbelief. If 20 minutes or less is not shown, these scenes are gone. If the scenes are an integral part of the story, they will be edited into future shows.
"Days of Our Lives" producer has a suggestion. Run this on CNN, PBS, not regular channels. Major plots are playing out on daytime drama. Missing some scenes is like ripping pages out of "War and Peace."
Here's an idea: Run a crawl saying their shows will air in their entirety in the wee morning hours so they can be recorded.
To find out more about Lynda Hirsch and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
Photo credit: Madskip at Pixabay