(Salon) — House Democrats can finally rein in Donald Trump through their many planned investigations if the hearings are televised. Televised hearings could erode Trump’s base to the point where Republicans no longer need it to get elected. That’s what happened to Richard Nixon when 85 percent of U.S. households watched the Watergate hearings. Variety called them “the hottest daytime soap opera.”
Nixon had a 68 percent Gallup Poll approval rating when he started his second term in 1973. Then, on May 18, the Senate began nationally televised Watergate hearings. By July 27,1974, when the House Judiciary Committee passed its first article of impeachment charging obstruction of justice, Nixon’s approval ratings had dropped to 24 percent, and fully 57 precent believed he should be removed from office.
“Trumpgate” hearings should be even more impactful because Trump’s transgressions make Nixon look like he didn’t return a library book on time. Trumpers are sure to tune in. In fact, ratings data suggest they already are. As of October 30, Fox News, the most Trump-supportive news channel, had 2,829,000 prime time daily viewers to MSNBC’s 1,575,000 and CNN’s 931,000.