During a gripping 13 minutes at the start of Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial Tuesday, television’s biggest networks aired footage of the U.S. Capitol siege with unusually explicit language.
The tape, compiled from several sources by the House impeachment managers, offered a chronological view of the former president’s statements on Jan. 6 and the actions by a mob of his supporters as they broke into the Capitol.
It included several examples of rough language, including a chant, “f—- the blue,” apparently directed at police officers, and use of the word “motherf——-” by a rioter. The footage was aired on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC as part of live coverage of the trial’s first day.
Not only was the language heard, but some of it was written on the screen by preparers of the tape, in case the audio wasn’t clear.
Airing such language is a tough call, but news executives have to judge whether it is their role to censor what is being shown on the floor of the U.S. Senate, said retired NBC News executive Bill Wheatley.