House select committee hearings on the events of January 6, 2021 continue today.
If this were a TV show — and some have made that comparison — last Thursday’s debut was a must-see box office hit. Nearly 19 million watched it on television.
And that’s just the TV numbers. That doesn’t include the millions more who likely watched on streaming apps and social media or at least watched many of the clips that went viral. So the real total is probably more than 20 million.
Margaret Sullivan of the Washington Post wrote: “The hearing was riveting. It was cleverly and wisely presented for an American audience that has not been paying attention to all the news or investigations stemming from the incomprehensible January 6 assault on Capitol Hill. An audience that, for a multitude of reasons, may have been turned off. And it was horrible.”
However, Sullivan added, “strangely, at least for me, the audience was also encouraging, and even inspiring. The material was horrible to behold, but these two hours, presented on all broadcast networks without interruption during prime time, radiated something simple and profoundly important: the truth.”
It’s still amazing to think what these hearings are about.
NBC “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd put it well on his show Sunday when he said, “Never before in the history of this country have we seen a president charged with a criminal conspiracy to end democracy. But that is exactly what we saw at the opening hearing on Thursday, January 6, where former President Trump was placed at the center of the effort to nullify the election and inspire riots on Capitol Hill. We even heard testimony that Mr. Trump suggested that the rioters were right to demand that Vice President Pence be hanged simply for certifying the election results. The committee has begun to show its evidence. But does the country have the will or the ability to hold Donald Trump accountable in the wake of all this evidence?
Todd continued: “If this was happening in another country, what would we think? What is strong enough to preserve its democracy and rule of law? Or subject to the rule of the mafia? And what would be the reaction here to the impeachment of a former president, who is the favorite for the Republican nomination in 2024? He may even be an active candidate when he is indicted. Shortly after January 6, we asked: Is this the end of something or the beginning? Keep that in mind as you watch the hearings, and remember that many of those who tried and failed to undermine democracy in 2020 are working hard to succeed in 2024.”
- CNN’s Chris Cillizza with “The most damning moment from the first committee hearing on January 6.”
- Writing for The Hill, Joe Ferullo compared the committee’s vice chair, Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), to a news anchor. “Multiple storylines often lead to audience confusion: It can be difficult to keep track of where things are and where they are going. In TV news, that’s where the anchor comes in,” Ferullo wrote. He added that Cheney handled her job as co-chair in a “polished, understated manner that was reminiscent of what the best broadcast and cable television professionals do.”
- The latest from Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin: “7 Questions I Want the Jan. 6 Committee to Answer at Their Upcoming Hearings.” Among Rubin’s questions: How did Trump’s statements and tweets promote violence against his supporters? And, Rubin wrote, “Perhaps the most intriguing question: If White House chief of staff Mark Meadows knew the fraud claims were false (“no, there, there,” as he put it), what was doing while the plot was gaining momentum?
- We could start getting some answers today to Rubin’s questions about how Trump’s statements and tweets led to the violence. The Washington Post’s Amy B Wang and Jacqueline Alemany write that today’s hearing is expected to “focus on then-President Donald Trump’s baseless claims that the 2020 election was stolen, dubbed the ‘big lie,’ and how those false claims were connected to the pro-Trump mob that attacked the US Capitol that day in an attempt to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral college victory.” Among those expected to testify today is former Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien.
- Also testifying today: Former Fox News Political Editor Chris Stirewalt. He was fired in January 2021, just a couple of months after he was a big part of the team that called the state of Arizona for Joe Biden, angering Trump and his supporters. (Rupert Murdoch, whose media conglomerate owns Fox News, said that decision had nothing to do with his firing.) Stirewalt told The Hill’s Dominick Mastrangelo that after the hearings, he hopes people will have “clear eyes and steady feet knowing that we can keep our constitutional system in place. This is the first time in the country’s history that we have really threatened a peaceful transfer of power. We need to make sure that doesn’t happen in 2024.”
- Maureen Dowd’s gripping column in The New York Times: “Donald Trump, American Monster.” Dowd wrote: “In his dystopian inaugural address, Trump promised to end the ‘American carnage.’ Instead, he handed it over. He must now be held accountable for his attempted coup, and not just in the court of public opinion.”
How are the hearings going at Trump World?
CNN’s Brian Stelter made a smart point on his “Reliable Sources” show on Sunday when he said, “In the MAGA media universe, the January 6 hearings are not about Trump, they’re not about the plot to steal the election, they’re not about about the use of force to end democracy. In the MAGA media universe, these hearings are about Democrats trying to make Republicans feel bad, guilty by 1-6. That’s the narrative.”
Case in point: Much of the framing was done by prime-time anchors on Fox News, which didn’t televise the opening night of Thursday’s prime-time hearings. Sean Hannity called it “the dullest, the dullest, absolutely nothing new, a multi-hour Democratic fundraiser disguised as a January 6 hearing.”
Drew Harwell and Will Oremus of the Washington Post wrote: “Supporters of former President Donald Trump rushed to defend him online in the hours after the January 6 committee hearings began, seeking to cast doubt on his involvement through the same. social media channels that had clearly picked up evidence linking him to the Capitol assault. In doing so, they reinforced the unmistakable role social media played in the 2021 insurrection and made it clear that their supporters are determined to remain a major force on the internet, despite Trump’s ban on major platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Twitter. Youtube”.
Harwell and Oremus added that on various pro-Trump message boards and Twitter accounts, audiences are being ridiculed or ignored altogether. Harwell and Oremus wrote: “After the hearing, Trump allies tried to dismiss the committee’s findings, based on 1,000 interviews, 140,000 documents and hours of visual evidence, as biased or flawed. Ali Alexander, a conservative activist who organized a ‘Stop the Steal’ rally on January 6 and testified before the committee in December, told Truth Social that the committee had used edited video and fake audio, without giving any evidence to support uploading. those claims. ‘Have you ever seen a video with more fake edits and SPLICES?’ he wrote.”
- LIV Golf is a new golf league funded by the Saudi government and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He’s paying big bucks and drawing some decent names, including Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia. But Josh Peter of USA Today writes, “‘They Should Be Kicked’ From Majors: Jamal Khashoggi’s Fiancée Criticizes LIV Golfers.”
- Journalist Yashar Ali is suing Los Angeles Magazine for defamation. Nathan Solis of the Los Angeles Times has more.
- Katy Tur of MSNBC/NBC News appeared on “CBS Sunday Morning.”
- The Stanley Cup Finals begin Wednesday in Denver with the Colorado Avalanche hosting the Tampa Bay Lightning. It will be the first time the finals have been televised on ESPN/ABC since 2004 when the Calgary Flames played the… Tampa Bay Lightning. All final games will be on ABC and ESPN+.
Do you have comments or advice? Email Poynter Senior Media Writer Tom Jones at email@example.com.
The Poynter Report is our daily newsletter. To receive it in your inbox Monday through Friday, sign up here.
Follow us Twitter and Facebook.