Lazy Caturday Reads
Posted: June 11, 2022 Filed under: just because
Couch Potatoes, by Beryl Cook
The January 6 committee’s first public hearing on Thursday night was a ratings hit. More than 20 million people watched on the TV networks that carried it. Many others viewed it on streaming platforms, and those numbers haven’t yet been tabulated. To give you an idea how amazing that is, game 3 of the NBA finals had 11.52 million viewers on ABC. The committee should consider hold more of their hearings in prime time.
Brian Stelter at CNN: January 6 prime-time hearing watched by more than 20 million.
More than 20 million TV viewers tuned in to Thursday’s prime-time presentation about the January 6 attack, and it reached a far larger number through all manner of social and old-school media.
According to early Nielsen estimates, nine of the channels that carried the hearing averaged a combined 19 million viewers during the two-hour hearing. This data doesn’t count every TV channel, however, or most web streaming, so the true total is larger.
Big live events are sliced and diced in dozens of different ways across radio, TV and the internet, so every attempt to measure total audience is inherently incomplete.
The early numbers are respectable, given the fragmented state of TV, but other widely-carried political events have garnered bigger audiences lately. President Biden’s State of the Union address in March averaged 38 million viewers across sixteen channels….
Between 8 and 10 p.m. Eastern, roughly 5 million people watched the hearing on ABC; 3.6 million on NBC; and 3.4 million on CBS.
On cable, more than 4.3 million watched on MSNBC and more than 2.7 million watched on CNN, between three and four times the typical prime-time audience for the channels.
Drew Harwell and Will Oremus of The Washington Post examined the coverage on right wing outlets: How the Jan. 6 hearing played out on the pro-Trump web.
Former president Donald Trump’s supporters scrambled to defend him online in the hours after the Jan. 6 committee’s hearings began, seeking to sow doubt about his involvement via the same social media channels that had captured clear evidence linking him to the Capitol assault….
Still Life with Green Soup, Fernando Botero
Trump War Room, a Twitter account once run by his reelection campaign, tweeted, “Trump and the rally had nothing to do with the Capitol breach!,” defying the House committee’s effort to pin responsibility for the riot squarely on Trump.
On the message board Patriots.win — a spinoff of TheDonald.win, where members had shared ideas on how to sneak guns into Washington before the riot — a popular thread Friday called Jan. 6 “the most patriotic thing I’ve ever seen” and said anyone who disagrees is “an enemy of the nation.”
And on pro-Trump channels on the chat service Telegram, supporters ridiculed the hearing as overly scripted or a partisan circus, if they mentioned it at all.
The outpouring of Trump support came in response to a hearing that brought together new testimony with previously unreleased footage to document both the gravity of the attack on the Capitol and Trump’s role in spurring it. It also underscored how the social media landscape has shifted in the 17 months since Trump was suspended by the leading online platforms for his role in fanning the violent attempts to overturn Joe Biden’s election as president.
For the most part, Trump and some of his most ardent backers were relegated to smaller platforms as they sought to respond.
Read more at the WaPo.
Also at The Washington Post, former GW Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson writes: History will accept only one Jan. 6 narrative. This committee has it.
The Jan. 6 committee’s riveting televised opening night might not have converted the pro-Trump revisionists, but it has left them without excuses. The evidence is overwhelming that a sitting president gathered a violent mob and charged it with intimidating members of Congress and his own vice president into illegally reversing the outcome of a presidential election on the basis of an obvious lie.
There is only one narrative about Jan. 6 that history will accept: the evidence meticulously gathered and presented by the House select committee.
In some ways, pressing the case against former president Donald Trump is not hard, because he confirms its general outlines. He still seems to regard the riot as the highest expression of MAGA loyalty to his person. He still insists he should be reinstated as president. He still seems to believe then-Vice President Mike Pence was a weak-kneed traitor for refusing to overturn the constitutional order. Because Trump can’t admit error, he often effectively admits guilt.
Cat and woman, Peter Harskamp, Dutch artist
The response of congressional Republican leaders to Thursday’s hearing — that it is more important to focus on inflation than sedition — has demonstrated their vast political and moral shallowness. The juxtaposition of testimony by U.S. Capitol Police officer Caroline Edwards (“I was slipping in people’s blood”) and a tweet from Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee account (“All. Old. News.”) was telling.
One imagines a 20-something GOP staffer straining (and failing) to be clever. The contrast between the police officer’s sacrifice and the tweeter’s infantile partisanship raises some questions: Is anyone teaching young Republicans that public service can be honorable and costly? Why doesn’t some mature public official shake these shills and urge silence in the presence of patriotic virtues they don’t possess?
On the contrast between Trump’s and Pence’s behavior on January 6:
In his rambling, over an hour-long remarks to the “Stop the Steal” crowd, Trump pressured Pence to reverse the election’s outcome more than 10 times — then continued doing the same on Twitter. As the committee revealed, one of those tweets was relayed, via bullhorn, to the rioters, who took up the chant “Hang Mike Pence.” According to the committee’s vice chair, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), Trump was pleased by their stated intention….
For several hours on that fateful day, Trump ceased to be the American president. He was an insurrectionary leader watching his work unfold in coordinated violence. He refused to take the advice of some of his closest advisers, who urged him to recall his forces from their assault on the Capitol. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark A. Milley, noted Trump’s absence in the chain of command. At a key moment, Trump was interested only in serving his wildly implausible mission of retaining power, not protecting the legislators, staff and police officers at the Capitol. In contrast, Pence attempted to take charge and fill the gap of leadership.
It is hard to heap praise on Pence. He was the loyal lieutenant to the worst president in history. But beneath a quivering mass of compromise, there was a core of principle, particularly in defending the Constitution.
More on Pence from Betsy Woodruff Swan at Politico: Pence team couldn’t verify Trump campaign’s election fraud claims, new memo shows.
In the days before the Electoral College certification, then-Vice President Mike Pence’s legal team laid out that they found most of the Trump campaign’s assertions of election fraud minor or unverifiable, according to a previously unseen memo obtained by POLITICO.
The memo shows Pence’s legal team didn’t just track the barrage of wild legal arguments from former President Donald Trump’s lawyers and allies, but also meticulously monitored the allegations of election fraud and mismanagement. It specifically includes charges leveled by the Trump campaign itself in court.
The National Archives and Records Administration provided the memo to the select committee, according to a person familiar with the document.
Mademoiselle Mink breakfasts, Janet Hill
The 10-page memo, titled “Unlawful Election Conduct in Six States,” is addressed to Pence from his White House legal team. It opens by summarizing that “the GOP and related plaintiffs” alleged procedural violations of election laws and substantive issues of election fraud in six swing states. It then notes that the alleged procedural violations worried Pence’s team, but that the actual accusations of voter fraud were mostly unpersuasive. Later in the memo, it singled out a host of month-old allegations from the Trump campaign itself as unverified.
“In general, there is strong evidence that state and local election officials committed numerous procedural violations that reduced transparency and/or favored Democrat candidates,” the memo reads. “However, most allegations of substantive voter fraud — defined to mean the casting of illegal ballots in violation of prevailing election laws — are either relatively small in number, or cannot be verified.”
Too bad Pence waited until the bitter end to start fact-checking Trump’s lies.
At The Daily Beast, Zachary Petrizzo has a piece about Ali Alexander’s reaction to the hearing: Jan. 6 Organizer Has Meltdown as House Committee Lays Out Its Case.
As the Jan. 6 committee tasked with investigating the Capitol riot presented its case to the American people on Thursday evening, Jan. 6 organizer and “Stop the Steal” leader Ali Alexander had a meltdown on Donald Trump’s Truth Social platform.
“Edited audio!” he wrote. “Have you ever seen a video with more fake edits and SPLICES? This video is a spoof! Audio is completely edited.”
“J6 Committee, you won’t be getting an Oscar for this! Hoax!” Alexander continued as he sent out a dozen frenzied posts about the testimony.
“This is SO overly scripted. All teleprompter. No authenticity. This ain’t convincing anyone!”
In another message posted to Truth Social, Alexander, who spoke to the Jan. 6 committee for more than eight hours back in December, wrote: “WE. DID. NOTHING. WRONG.”
Good luck with that.
This is from Peter Wehner at The Atlantic: The Moral Desolation of the GOP.
That Donald Trump acted the way he did [on January 6] was hardly a surprise; some of us had been warning about his borderless corruptions and disordered personality since before he became president. It’s hard to imagine that there’s any ethical line this broken, embittered, vindictive man wouldn’t cross, including telling White House staff that Vice President Mike Pence deserved to be hanged by the violent mob that stormed the Capitol, because Pence wouldn’t refuse to certify the election.
The Laughing Cat, Jane Lewis
But the story of the Trump presidency isn’t only about the corruptions and delusions of one man; it’s also about the party he represents. Trump recast the Republican Party, of which I was long a proud member, in his image. His imprint on the GOP is, in important respects, even greater than Ronald Reagan’s, despite Reagan being a successful two-term president.
It was bad enough that many Republicans were complicit in Trump’s wrongdoings when he was president; that they continue to be complicit 17 months after Trump left the presidency is an even more damning indictment. They’ve continued to embrace Trump even though he’s a loser.
Republicans stayed loyal to Richard Nixon far longer than they should have, but at least they abandoned him after the “smoking gun” tape was released that proved his involvement in the Watergate cover-up. What Trump has done is worse even than what Nixon did and yet Republicans—despite the case against Trump being far more comprehensive and detailed than we knew in the immediate aftermath of January 6—continue to propagate his lies and either defend his seditious conduct or act as if it never happened. It’s “old news,” we’re told. Nothing to see here. Time to move on.
Not so fast.
The sheer scale of Donald Trump’s depravity is unmatched in the history of the American presidency, and the Republican Party—the self-described party of law and order and “constitutional conservatives,” of morality and traditional values, of patriotism and Lee Greenwood songs—made it possible. It gave Trump cover when he needed it. It attacked his critics when he demanded it. It embraced his nihilistic ethic. It amplified his lies. When House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy—a man who for a few fleeting hours after the January 6 insurrection dared to speak critically of Donald Trump—traveled to Mar-a-Lago a few days later to kiss his ring, it was an act of self-abasement that was representative of his party, his morally desolate party.
Make no mistake: Republicans are the co-creators of Trump’s corrupt and unconstitutional enterprise. The great majority of them are still afraid to break fully with him. They consider those who have, like Liz Cheney, to be traitors to the party. They hate Cheney because she continues to hold up a mirror to them. They want to look away. She won’t let them.
Cat on a Man’s Head, Peter Harskamp
I’ll end with this interesting historical article about the speech John F. Kennedy was prepared to deliver on the day he was murdered. Jeff Nussbaum at Politico: The Warning About Trump That JFK Never Got to Deliver.
Shortly before noon local time on Friday, November 22, 1963, John F. Kennedy landed at Dallas’s Love Field as he neared the end of a two-day, five-city tour of Texas.
Kennedy had much he hoped to accomplish on that trip: He hoped to lay the groundwork for his nascent 1964 reelection campaign; he hoped to heal a schism among party leaders in Texas that he feared might jeopardize his success in that key state, and he wanted to road test themes and refrains he felt would define his 1964 campaign, including national security and world peace.
But as he disembarked from his 13-minute flight from Fort Worth, there was something else on his mind: domestic extremism, disinformation, and the corrosive effect it could have on the United States.
In Dallas he was prepared to decry, “voices preaching doctrines wholly unrelated to reality,” which he feared could, “handicap this country’s security.”
He planned to say that “We cannot expect that everyone, to use the phrase of a decade ago, will ‘talk sense to the American people.’ But we can hope that fewer people will listen to nonsense.”
It was to have been a bold statement and a sharp warning, one that might have altered to contours of our national response to today’s violent, disassociated rhetoric — had he lived to deliver it.
Read the rest at the Politico link.
I hope to have a quiet weekend as I wait for the second installment of the January 6 committee hearings on Monday at 10AM. Please share your thoughts and links to stories you’re following in the comment thread and enjoy your weekend!