It’s becoming a familiar playbook.
Two months after exhaustively covering former President Donald J. Trump’s arraignment in a Manhattan courtroom in a separate case, the national television news media was back in force in Miami on Tuesday afternoon.
Three of the major broadcast networks — ABC, NBC and CBS — interrupted their usual afternoon programming to cover the news. NBC sent its evening news anchor, Lester Holt, to Miami, as did CBS with Norah O’Donnell.
The cable news networks turned to its top news anchors. Jake Tapper and Anderson Cooper oversaw coverage on CNN, and Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum helped lead coverage on Fox News.
Like Mr. Trump’s trip to a Manhattan courthouse, the six major broadcast and cable news networks all used overhead shots to show Mr. Trump’s motorcade making the roughly 20-minute trip to downtown Miami, where the former president was arraigned.
The wall-to-wall coverage represented yet another day in which Mr. Trump dominated the airwaves. Many of the panelists who took part in the coverage discussed the momentous nature of the day.
“Whenever politics and law clash, there’s always a tension because they are both places where fighting takes place,” John Dickerson of CBS said from a makeshift set on a balcony overlooking the courthouse in Miami. “Politics is the fighting of the barroom, and the law is more like a boxing match — there are some rules.”
Unlike the arraignment in April, there was decidedly a lack of useful footage. There were no shots of Mr. Trump entering the courthouse — his motorcade entered a garage — nor were there any images inside the federal building. The networks relied instead on images of demonstrators outside the courthouse.
Fox News broadcast live images of a person the network’s anchors described as Melania Trump, the former first lady — though within a few minutes the network said it was, in fact, not her. “A day like this, with so many comings and goings, it’s easy from a distance to mistake two people,” said John Roberts, the Fox anchor, who clarified it was actually Margo Martin, a Trump aide.
Earlier in the day, Fox News carried a news conference outside the Miami courthouse by Vivek Ramaswamy, a Republican presidential candidate, in which he asked other candidates to commit to pardoning Mr. Trump. Five hours later, Mr. Ramaswamy sat for a live Fox News interview with Ms. MacCallum, this time in studio in New York. “You’re moving around quickly today,” she observed, before he denounced a “politicized indictment.”
All day long, MSNBC seemed to be looking ahead, displaying a graphic in the lower-right hand corner of its screen, featuring an image of Rachel Maddow, Nicolle Wallace and Joy Reid, billing an 8 p.m. prime-time “post-arraignment special.”
The news about Mr. Trump has been good for MSNBC’s ratings. Last week, the network finished No. 1 among the cable news networks in total viewers in prime-time for the full calendar week — the first time it had achieved that in more than two years. The network averaged 1.52 million viewers, narrowly besting Fox News’s 1.51 million viewers and overwhelming CNN’s average of 677,000 viewers.
It was also MSNBC’s highest viewership during weekday prime-time hours since Mr. Trump’s April arraignment.
John Koblin covers the television industry. He is the co-author of “It’s Not TV: The Spectacular Rise, Revolution, and Future of HBO.” @koblin
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