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Column: Disney + launched the same week as the accused hearings. Coincidence or distraction?

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I don't think Bob Iger and Walt Disney Co. wanted to harm democracy by launching Disney + this week. Rattle Netflix, sure; absolutely colonize the digital landscape; ask if you want the credit card that you use to register for your free month of Disney + to be saved for all Walt Disney companies, you gamble.

But with the possible exception of antitrust laws, tax reductions by Anaheim and all press releases that it considers unfairly critical, Disney seems to be at peace with democracy as a concept.

Unfortunately, and no doubt by accident, the launch of the new Disney media platform coincided with the start of hearings on television about the investigation of the charges against President Trump.

Ten million households immediately signed up for Disney +. I sincerely hope that this does not mean that 10 million households were more interested in viewing the new Star Wars series "The Mandalorian" or the classic and live-action versions of "Lady and the Tramp" than a testimony that the indictment investigated that Trump tried to buy. the President of Ukraine to publicly investigate his very possible 2020 election opponent Joe Biden and whether this is an unassailable crime.

But it could be.

And frankly, who would blame them? The term "conference hearing" has the unique property of being both sleep-inducing and irritating, unlike that scene where Lady and the Vagabond eat the same set of spaghetti and stuffed animals, which is still fantastic at every level. And, as my colleague Lorraine Ali recently pointed out, Trump's accusation has been going on for so long that many people were tired of the hearings before they even started.

According to Gallup, 71% of Americans watched the Watergate hearings (testimony in the Clinton impeachment hearings was not broadcast on television, although the Senate trial was, although more than 20 million people read the Starr report online after it appeared, making it still crashing emerging internet), a percentage that is hard to imagine that the sessions of the Ukraine port will match.

Thirteen million views of Wednesday's opening witness of Ukraine-gate hearings on cable and news broadcasts – 2 million more than matched to the Country Music Awards show at ABC that evening, but slightly more than half the number that had looked at “Sunday Night Soccer & this week and nowhere near 71% of Americans.

That gap is not caused by boredom, or inflammatory political divisions or even disinterest. That gap is caused by Disney +.

And yes, Apple TV + and Netflix, YouTube, Amazon and Hulu, the cable and broadcast networks and, for those who still use one, the DVR queue full.

In other words, every television that screams for our attention, exhausts our eyes, leads us through Fire TV wormholes that cross platforms and spans centuries and when did "Call the Midwife" get eight seasons?

The Watergate hearings were the first investigation into allegations of television on TV in the history of the nation, but that was not what made them the must-see TV. Everyone looked at them because they were the only ones. Everywhere and always. The "must-see" was literal. There was no streaming, no cable, no YouTube; damn it, you couldn't watch a movie on VHS yet.

If you wanted to watch television in the spring and summer of 1973, you went to watch the Watergate hearings, or the best part – Rep. Barbara Jordan (D-Texas) – played or not.

(And if, like me, you were a kid who just wanted to exercise her God-given right to see a few cartoons instead of all those boring guys who talked all the time, you started complaining about this fact. A lot of. )

The Trump investigation into allegations is also available everywhere, and also through the wonders of streaming, YouTube and 24-hour news television. But it is far from the only thing, because "on" no longer means what it did in 1973. "On" no longer means much of anything, nationally or even collectively, because fewer and fewer people are even watching live events in their planned time slot.

In 2019, 71% of Americans will not watch anything at the same time, not even (gasp) for the Super Bowl.

It is clear that & # 39; at the same time & # 39; not at all & # 39; at all & # 39; means. Thirteen million is not great for an important live event when you consider that the same number of people are the first broadcast of the final of & # 39; The Game of Thrones & # 39; and that was on HBO, for which you have to pay. But no doubt many millions have watched more, if not the entire hearing, than at least part of it, through websites and social media, on their phones and personal devices.

At least I hope so.

Because it can be as boring or predictable or (insert the desired descriptor here) as conference hearings, they are very important. To everyone. At a time when many, including the president, mock the news media for bias, a hearing on television, if nothing else, becomes as purely objective as news. The only yelling and politicization is done by the news makers themselves – neither Rachel Maddow nor Sean Hannity are in the room.

Without the attributes of commentary or even the need for editing and story choice, hearings on television are the definition of simply presenting the news, which is exactly what so many Americans say they want.

But … "The Mandalorian"!

Enjoy it. Enjoy Disney + and Apple TV +, enjoy all the benefits and all television. It is endlessly entertaining, provocative, soothing, educational, inspiring and comfortable, and it still connects us. But also pay attention to all hearings. Because you can and should do that easily. We can argue all day about the relative importance of popular culture versus the political system, but for democracy to work, we need to pay attention to what is happening. And then decide what to do next.

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