CHICAGO — They all watched the same hearing. They just saw it differently. Very differently.
A day after the first public testimony in the House impeachment inquiry, Americans had plenty to say. But whether the hearing in Washington was seen as a partisan charade or a damning blow to President Trump depended largely on a person’s pre-existing political sympathies.
To better understand how the hearings are playing across the nation, reporters for The New York Times are listening to callers and hosts on talk radio shows on both ends of the political spectrum. Some shows are national, some local. They are playing in markets across the country. This is what is being said:
WCPT 820 AM Chicago: ‘The evidence is already there’
The evidence? Compelling, listeners agreed. The witnesses? Impressive. The president’s conduct? Impeachable without a doubt.
But would it — could it? — end in Mr. Trump’s removal from office?
“Some are saying that there are some Republican senators that are, believe it or not, ready to throw him under the bus to protect their own,” said Cliff Kelley, a former Chicago alderman who was filling in as the morning host.
Roosevelt, the first caller, was not as sure. He predicted that there would not be enough senators to remove Mr. Trump from office. But perhaps there would be “enough to raise eyebrows” and doom the president politically.
“His re-election, to me, is over,” Roosevelt said. “That middle is going to get shifted over to the Democratic side.”
All through the morning drive, callers on Chicago’s liberal talk station voiced outrage about the president, but offered mixed views of what impeachment would mean.
Brad from Elk Grove Village said he was “doing good — and better every day now that we’ve finally got this in front of the public.” Ronald said Democrats should stay focused on other priorities, too. Louis said the Democratic presidential candidate platforms had been overshadowed by the impeachment hearings.
In addition to disgust for Mr. Trump, many callers shared one nagging concern: That the other side was unlikely to be persuaded.
“Impeach Trump: the evidence is already there,” a caller named Pam said. “It’s just a matter of exposing it to the public. We won’t change Republicans, Cliff. Maybe independents, perhaps.”
The Mark Levin Show: ‘You’re a liar, Schiff’
Mark Levin had a message for the listeners of his nationally syndicated show on Wednesday evening. There was no quid pro quo, he told them. No bribery. Nothing at all worthy of impeachment.
“The Republicans did a fantastic job,” Mr. Levin said. “Ignore the phony media. Ignore the phony legal analysts.”
Mr. Levin, whose program airs on hundreds of stations nationally, dismissed both the style and substance of the impeachment inquiry. He said the accounts of the witnesses were unreliable. And he claimed the real corruption was being perpetrated by Democrats.
“You’re a liar, Schiff,” he said, referring to Representative Adam B. Schiff, the Democrat presiding over the hearing. “Take a lie-detector test. Or step down from the chairmanship.”
Mr. Levin, echoing the claims of Mr. Trump and other Republicans, said the impeachment was little more than a way to undermine the will of the people. He dismissed the possibility that Mr. Trump tried to bribe Ukraine. And he told his listeners to beware of other accounts of the process, to not trust the press, to think for themselves.
“They keep throwing around bribery because their base is stupid, the media is stupid and ideological, and they figure you are,” Mr. Levin said. “But you’re not.”
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