Ryan Broderick at Buzzfeed:
But there are two impeachment hearings unfolding in the nation's capital. One, carried out by the Democrats, is designed to ascertain the truth as to whether Trump sought a "quid pro quo" deal with Ukraine to get the country to investigate Joe Biden and the 2016 presidential election in exchange for aid money. The other, being carried out simultaneously by the Republicans, is quite different. Instead of trying to learn the truth, it seeks to create not just a counternarrative but a completely separate reality.
Each round of GOP questioning is not meant to interrogate the witnesses, which today included Sondland, but instead to create moments that can be flipped into Fox News segments, shared as bite-size Facebook posts, or dropped into 4chan threads. Their alternate universe — built from baseless online conspiracy theories and reading the tea leaves of Trump’s Twitter feed — dominates Fox News and Facebook. And the Republicans’ strategy, as confusing and bizarre as it may seem to those on the outside, is working.
These exchanges may seem irrelevant, but they create content for the pro-Trump information machine, which is running parallel to the hearings. Nunes’ probes of Vindman were the perfect hook for right-wing outlets like Gateway Pundit to publish stories connecting the lieutenant colonel to the CIA officer and former National Security Council staffer whom pro-Trump media has accused of being the whistleblower. (BuzzFeed News does not know the identity of the whistleblower.) Those stories have gone viral, despite Facebook telling BuzzFeed News earlier this month that it would be blocking the CIA officer’s name. Since it was published on Monday, Gateway Pundit’s article had been shared a thousand times on the platform.