The primetime January 6 hearing Thursday evening failed to impress many observers.
The January 6 House select committee faces the difficult problem of gaining public attention, says Peter Nicholas of NBC News. Furthermore, the committee has to persuade voters that former President Donald Trump was responsible for the riot in the U.S. Capitol, and that could undermine its credibility, says Nicholas.
“By making Trump a singular focus, the committee risks appearing to be a partisan player, not a neutral fact-finder,” writes Nicholas.
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As Deadline Hollywood wrote—after editorially changing its TV review to a commentary—the hearing “was a stream of talking points and underwhelming clips,” “the nearly two-hour hearing simply failed to read the national room,” and “preached to the already converted.” (The Hollywood angle to the hearing was former ABC News president James Goldston, who helped produce the show.)
It’s not like they didn’t try to put on a show. The Justice Department, legacy news media, and House Democrats coordinated their attempts to control the narrative all week, says Julie Kelly, in American Greatness.
“Roughly 24 hours after [Rep. Lynn] Cheney’s interview [with CBS News’ Robert Costa] aired, Matthew Graves, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia handling the January 6 criminal prosecution, announced seditious conspiracy charges against five members of the Proud Boys, the so-called militia group involved in the Capitol protest,” wrote Kelly.
Yet the committee hearings will not investigate why the U.S. Capitol was relatively undefended, after the FBI warned House Speaker Nancy Pelosi four days earlier the election protest could be disrupted or disruptive, and President Donald Trump offered federal troops for crowd control.
Live on Fox
The Fox network carried the Jan. 6 committee’s primetime presentation live, as did all the other broadcast television networks; but the news media, including newsprint publications, focused today on the fact the Fox News cable channel (which has only a fraction of the number of viewers for Fox’s broadcast network) did not cover the hearing like the other cable news channels (which have only a fraction of the audience of Fox News).
The elites are flummoxed by the lack of public appetite for the partisan proceeding, says Kimberley A. Strassel in The Wall Street Journal.
“The vexed are already laying blame,” wrote Strassel. “It’s the fault of Republicans who will ‘downplay’ the findings, Americans who are too focused on gasoline prices, and Fox News for deciding not to air Thursday’s hearing live (although Fox Business and every other station said they would).”
Pelosi rejected Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s appointees to the committee, which proceeded to work in an entirely partisan manner, says Stassel.
“How much confidence should Americans be expected to have in a body that has abused its investigative powers for political gain?” writes Stassel. “Speaking of those powers, is it fair for the nation to be skeptical of a committee that has trampled any number of institutional norms and practices in the name of returning us to institutional norms and practices?”
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