When “Vice News Tonight” launches a special 50-minute show at 7:30 this evening dedicated to President Trump’s first 100 days in office, viewers might be surprised to find that the nation’s Commander-in-Chief doesn’t figure very prominently in it.
“You may hear a few of his words. You may see him in the background shot, but you are not going to see a lot of him at all,” says Josh Tyrangiel, executive vice president of content, news at Vice Media and the overseer of its weekday HBO evening news program, “Vice News Tonight,” in an interview. “Our show is about the impact of all that he’s done on people around the world.”
When Vice launched “Vice News Tonight” in October of last year, the company hoped to devise a product that gave a generation that laps up news headlines via social media on a second-by-second basis a good reason to sit down for a daily wrap-up. The company specializes in immersive, narrative reportage that makes viewers feel that they are on the scene with the correspondent.
Tonight’s special shows producers trying to take some of that coverage and turn it their version of another TV-news staple – the in-depth standalone broadcast typically reserved for deep conversations with hard-to-get figures or reviews of important national events. “Vice News Tonight” viewers will see their share of interesting people, like Jamie Dimon, Roger Stone and Carter Page, but they will also bear witness to a heightened presentation metabolism: In a fast-paced video collage, the “Vice News Tonight” audience will also hear the point of view of an Alaskan woman grappling with cancer and health insurance, and Muhammad Ali Jr, the son of the championship boxer who has been questioned while traveling at two U.S. airports.
“We tried to be true to what the events of the first 100 days were about,” says Tyrangiel, who notes producers wear eager to get clear of rhetorical noise that comes from White House press briefings and Trump surrogate interviews. “There’s a lot of stuff about immigration, a lot about health care, a fair amount of our own policy in Iraq and Syria, and then there are also those quieter moments where something broke through the noise but may have floated by.”
Viewers who watch the special will also hear from Andrew Puzder, the Trump nominee for Secretary of Labor who did not make it to office, or the creator of the “pussy hat” that figured so prominently in protests earlier this year.
Episodes of “Vice News Tonight” have been aggregating a following of about 500,000 viewers (HBO shows them multiple times across its various channels), according to data from Nielsen and HBO. Approximately 25% of that viewing comes from HBO’s on-demand and video-streaming services.
“I’m a reasonable human being. I’m also a consumer of a lot of news as well,” says Tyrangiel. “I’m not so deluded that I think people are going to watch us every night at 7:30 religiously, but we seem to have been able to build and audience and keep it growing.”
Producers decided about halfway through President Trump’s term that a special program on his first 100 days in office was warranted. “It was our own desire to really understand what was going on. In the thick of covering day in and day out, it can get a little blinding,” he adds. “If we felt that way, our audience probably felt that way, too.”