The results are in, and they show what Americans really care about: the head-bashing business of professional football.
“Sunday Night Football (on NBC) delivered 15.78 million viewers in the fast nationals for the Buffalo Bills’ 17-10 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. That’s up 16 percent over last week’s preliminary tally of 13.57 million, which ended up at 17.88 million in the finals,” the Hollywood Reporter said on Tuesday. “Per usual, SNF was the top show in primetime by a wide margin.”
In the same week that the Bills and Steelers were going at it in a mediocre National Football League (NFL) game, the U.S. House of Representatives was engaged in a much bigger game – impeachment of a U.S. President – with huge implications for the nation.
That vote pitted the majority Democrats against the minority Republicans in a battle fought along undivided partisan lines. It aired live on NBC just like SNF and drew about 5 million viewers. With the vote also on the Fox News Channel, MSNBC and CNN, however, total viewership was “at least 15 million…,” ABC News reported.
That’s less than half number of people who tuned on the afternoon of Nov. 24 to watch the powerhouse New England Patriots take on “America’s Team,” the Dallas Cowboys, on Fox.
Almost twice as many people watched that game as turned in to view the impeachment vote.
Impeachment viewership was low enough that Associated Press Media Writer David Bauder wrote that they “seemed to justify decisions made in network executive suites about coverage of the impeachment vote. Both CBS and ABC left the debate to air entertainment coverage, while NBC stuck with the news.
“At 8 p.m., CBS had 6.7 million viewers for the ‘Survivor’ season finale, while ABC had 5.7 million for its live remakes of two classic Norman Lear sitcoms, Nielsen said. That’s almost certainly more viewers than they would have attracted if they had stuck with news.”
What this says about the state of politics in the currently unUnited States of America will be left to readers to decide.
All that is clear is that Americans love their version of football despite what it does to the people who engage in it as a profession. The average NFL career lasts 3.3 years, less time than it takes to finish medical school as Richard Figler and Prem N. Ramkumar observed in a study of football injuries.
If President Donald Trump survives until May 20 of next year, his career as president will have lasted as long as that of the average NFL player. And sports bookies are at this point posting 5000-to-1 odds that Trump survives an impeachment trial in the Senate, whenever that happens.
“Now that President Trump has been impeached, most believe that preparations for a Senate trial begin immediately and that it would start in early 2020. However, following the impeachment vote, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said she may delay sending the articles of impeachment over to the Senate until she is guaranteed assurances of a fair hearing,” Odds Shark observed today. “By holding the articles back, Pelosi could delay the start of a Senate trial indefinitely.
“To reiterate, given the way Republicans have fervently defended Trump throughout and with Republicans possessing a 53-46 advantage in the Senate, it’s unlikely the president is removed from office. In order to remove him, every Democrat along with 20 Republican colleagues would need to vote ‘Yes.'”
Odds Shark noted the betting site Bovada is giving better odds – 500 to 1 – that Trump will resign. The shark also reported various betting sites giving odds on key Republicans in the Senate who might vote to remove Trump from office.
Among those on the list were Sen. Lisa Murkowsksi, R-Alaska. It was 3-2 she’d vote to keep Trump.
The bookies were also thinking a House impeachment followed by a Senate judgment in Trump’s favor would aide a bid for re-election.
“It’s interesting to note that on the day the impeachment inquiry opened on September 25, the president’s odds to win the 2020 election were +120 at online sportsbook Bovada,” the Shark reported. “However, the day after the House of Representatives voted to impeach, his odds to win the election are at a four-month high at -105.”
How many Americans are truly interested in any of this is hard to tell. Less than 55 percent of the voting-age population went to the polls to vote for a president in 2016, according to the United States Election Project.
A long battle
The election that followed was close, and Democrat efforts to oust Trump began before he was even sworn in. That coupled to the President’s ranting, bombastic, in-your-face, never-apologize personality turned up the political heat and heightened the interest within the political class both left and right, but there are some indications average Americans are tired of listening to all the squabbling.
Some people say they’ve grown so weary they’ve turned off the news, and there are some indications that might be happening on a significant scale.
Newspaper readership continues to fall, according to the Pew Research Center. Online readers who were once increasing have flatlined since 2016, and time spent on traditional, mainstream news website is declining.
Faith in the media has dipped to 41 percent, according to Gallup, despite being buoyed by a big pool of Democrat believers.
“Americans remain largely mistrustful of the mass media as 41 percent currently have ‘a great deal’ or ‘fair amount’ of trust in newspapers, television and radio to report the news ‘fully, accurately and fairly,'” the polling organization reported in September. “(But) 69 percent of Democrats say they have trust and confidence in it.”
The split between the Democrat/liberal/progressives and everyone else has only furthered debate and argument about which news organizations lean left and which lean right. The bickering doesn’t do much to enhance the credibility of journalists in general among independents and non-partisans.
Only about 36 percent of those readers trust the news, but that’s more than twice the 15 percent of Republicans. The reaction of some news organizations appears to have been to turn toward their liberal base.
The news environment is now such it is possible that some people have decided the headbanging of the NFL looks less unsettling. University of Nebraska-Lincoln researchers in September reported their polling of Americans found a surprising number of people having trouble coping with the current political news.
Staying away for a reason?
“…Nearly 40% of respondents report experiencing stress as a result of politics, while roughly a fifth or more report losing sleep, being fatigued, or suffering depression because of politics,” their peer-reviewed study at Plos One reported. “More than 10 percent report non-specific physical health issues related to politics and four percent even indicate they have considered suicide as a result of politics. Approximately 10 to 30 percent of the population also believed that politics took an emotional toll on them by triggering anger, frustration, hate, guilt, or leading to comments they later regretted.”
“Our sample was designed to be representative of the approximately 248 million adults living in the United States,” the researchers said. “Important caveats always attend when extrapolating from samples to populations but if our findings are even remotely externally valid then tens of millions of American adults perceive politics as exacting significant social, psychological and even physical health costs. Rough estimates based on Table 2 would be that approximately 94 million people believe they have been stressed by politics, 44 million believe they have lost sleep, 28.5 million that their physical health has been adversely affected, and 11 million that politics led them to consider suicide, though particular caution surrounds behaviors that are less common.”
So about as many people watched the impeachment hearings as were moved to think suicidal thoughts shortly after Trump’s election, which is when the Nebraska researchers gathered their data. They speculated that might have skewed the results.
“Our results also provide insight into the populations most likely to believe politics is adversely affecting them at the time the survey went to the field. They are younger and unemployed; more disagreeable (more critical and quarrelsome), and less emotionally stable (more anxious and easily upset). They tend to be politically liberal, strongly disapprove of President Donald Trump, and have low opinions of their political opposites (they see them as uninformed, closed-minded, and untruthful),” the researchers wrote. “They also tend to discuss politics frequently and to be actively involved in a range of political activities.
“It may be that the costs of politics were unusually acute when this survey was administered, just two months after the inauguration of an extremely polarizing president. The fact that left-leaning people who disapproved of Trump were among the most consistent in reporting negative health costs raises the possibility that our sample is capturing a moment in time when costs for that group were particularly high.”
Sadly, one might surmise their negative health costs are likely higher now with efforts to oust Trump having dragged on for so long and the Senate looking like it could support him.
Dr. Robert Lustig, a noted endocrinologist has theorized a biochemical basis for this stress overload labeled Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS), “ostensibly a mental condition in which persons have been driven effectively ‘insane’ due to their dislike of Donald Trump to the point at which they abandon all logic and reason.”
Writing for MedPage Today, Lustig laid out how he believes “Trump has turned our brains reptilian” by triggering emotional responses that set dueling cortisol and dopamine flooding through the veins of some Americans.
As a result, he said, “many of us have now become Trump. The more dopamine and cortisol, the more we lose our ability to discern truth from post-truth, the more irritable we become, and the more we abandon our cognitive control and with little regard for the consequences.”
Watching football might be considerably healhier.