All three networks began Friday night’s newscasts with two or three breathless segments touting the day’s Democrat impeachment narrative, centered on former Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, who they fawned over as a “respected anti-corruption champion” subjected to a “smear campaign” by the president and his advisers.
CBS Evening News offered three stories and won for the the most florid opening, from anchor Norah O'Donnell:
NORAH O'DONNELL: Thank you for joining us tonight on this extraordinary night in U.S. history. President Trump tonight is accused of witness intimidation, and now faces another possible impeachment charge. Never before has a president publicly attacked an impeachment witness at the moment they were testifying as Mr. Trump did today on Twitter. It came during chilling testimony from Marie Yovanovitch, the highly respected diplomat and anticorruption crusader told Congress she felt threatened and intimidated by President Trump. Yovanovitch said she was removed from her post in Ukraine after being, quote, "knee-capped" by a shadowy smear campaign. Democrats claim that takedown cleared the way for the president to attempt to bribe Ukraine's new president into investigating Mr. Trump's rivals.
Nancy Cordes then touted how “Congress was riveted as she essentially accused President Trump of siding with some notoriously corrupt Ukrainians over his own U.S. Ambassador and allowing, quote, 'shady interests' to hijack U.S. policy.”
On NBC Nightly News, Lester Holt began: "The impeachment effort against President Trump turned today on the steely public testimony of the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine. Marie Yovanovitch was abruptly removed by the president in may as part of what she believes was an orchestrated smear campaign by Trump and his operatives."
Reporter Peter Alexander added: "Tonight, Democrats calling the former ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, focusing on why the respected anti-corruption champion was abruptly removed from her job."
NBC veteran Andrea Mitchell won the night for Strongest Schiff Salesmanship:
LESTER HOLT: Andrea, Yovanovitch said she felt personally targeted by the president. Did she put a human face on this?
ANDREA MITCHELL: Absolutely. Here you had a career veteran diplomat who had served in conflict zones since the Reagan years. Yanked from her embassy post in the middle of the night on a call, with no cause. And at the same time, being told that she is in her testimony today being attacked by the president on Twitter in real time. Smeared and attacked by the president of the United States. That's unprecedented.
It's a little odd to find it "unprecedented" to see a witness attacked by the president on Twitter....which is about ten years old. Obama liked to use it to send public love notes to his wife.
On ABC's World News Tonight, anchor David Muir also delivered the Schiff spin: "The former ambassador to Ukraine who joined the foreign service under President Reagan, was testifying about the smear campaign against her before she was then ousted from her job, and then describing her shock when she learned president trump brought up her name with the president of Ukraine on that infamous phone call. Describing how it was threatening, unsettling.
Reporter Mary Bruce continued the Schiff narrative: "As ambassador, she says she came under attack by the president's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, who saw her as an obstacle to the politically motivated investigations trump was hoping for. That she was smeared by the president's son and a host on Fox News."
Bruce produced Rep. Will Hurd and Rep. Elise Stefanik strongly praising Yovanovitch for her service -- and no mention of how Rep. Adam Schiff pressed Stefanik to stifle herself. None of them had that.
ABC’s second story – on Trump and his tweet – included Rep. Liz Cheney denouncing the tweet.