Capitol Riots Day 1 Analysis

An emotional day set the tone for the investigation.

In yesterday morning’s post, “Capitol Riots Hearings Start Today with Political Theater,” I questioned whether emotional testimony from police officers about what they experienced that day as going to be helpful in learning more about it or persuading Republicans about how truly awful the event was. We likely won’t know the answer to that for a few days.

One has to scroll down very far on the front page of the New York Times website to find hearing coverage at all. The first non-opinion piece I found was “‘A hit man sent them.’ Police at the Capitol recount the horrors of Jan. 6 as the inquiry begins.,” The lede does a good job summarizing the events:

One officer described how rioters attempted to gouge out his eye and called him a traitor as they sought to invade the Capitol.

Another told of being smashed in a doorway and nearly crushed amid a “medieval” battle with a pro-Trump mob as he heard guttural screams of pain from fellow officers.

A third said he was beaten unconscious and stunned repeatedly with a Taser as he pleaded with his assailants, “I have kids.”

A fourth relayed how he was called a racist slur over and over again by intruders wearing “Make America Great Again” garb.

“All of them — all of them were telling us, ‘Trump sent us,'” Aquilino A. Gonell, a U.S. Capitol Police sergeant, said on Tuesday as he tearfully recounted the horrors of defending Congress on Jan. 6, testifying at the first hearing of a House select committee to investigate the attack.

One by one, in excruciating detail, Sergeant Gonell and three other officers who faced off with the hordes that broke into the Capitol told Congress of the brutal violence, racism and hostility they suffered as a throng of angry rioters, acting in the name of President Donald J. Trump, beat, crushed and shocked them.

More than six months after the assault, the accounts of the four uniformed officers — as precise as they were cinematic — cut through a fog of confusion, false equivalence and misdirection that Republicans have generated to try to insulate themselves politically and placate Mr. Trump.

They provided a set of gripping first-person narratives that brought home the harrowing events of Jan. 6, when Mr. Trump’s supporters, urged on by his lie of a stolen election, stormed the Capitol to disrupt the official counting of electoral votes to formalize President Biden’s victory.

We do know that all but the craziest of the right-wing infotainment complex aired the hearings live.

CNN‘s Brian Stelter (“How right-wing networks covered the January 6 hearing after months of soft-pedaling the Capitol attack“):

While viewers of other TV channels heard House Democrats denouncing the “whitewashing” of the January 6 attack, One America News viewers witnessed the whitewashing first-hand.On OAN, Tuesday’s select committee hearing about the insurrection barely happened at all. The channel’s poorly-produced programs avoided the substance of the hearing; slipped in several factual mistakes; and promoted the GOP’s counter-programming instead.In other words, Donald Trump would have loved OAN’s coverage.

It stood in stark contrast to Fox News and Newsmax, two other right-wing channels that actually showed the hearing while police officers described fearing for their lives when a pro-Trump mob overwhelmed law enforcement at the Capitol on January 6.

Fox and Newsmax did however air complaints about the hearing before and afterward. Newsmax featured an interview with a father and son who entered the Capitol during the riot and described a peaceful scene, including police officers being “really cordial.”

But the mere act of carrying the police testimony at all is noteworthy because right-wing media has so thoroughly downplayed the crimes of that day.Immediately after the hearing, which included a video compilation of the assault, Fox anchor Bret Baier said the hearing “was an eye-opener” for “anybody watching who… thought it was not violent.”Of course, it’s impossible to know how persuasive a single hearing might have been. Trump fans have been primed ever since January 6 to excuse or ignore the insurrection.

Stelter devotes the rest of the report to OAN but they’re largely irrelevant to this discussion. The lunatic fringe is unreachable. Fox News, on the other hand, is far and away the most-watched channel on cable. Not just the most-watched cable news network. The most-watched network, period. Granted, that audience is primarily driven by the talking heads shows, with Tucker Carlson’s and Sean Hannity’s easily the most popular. But Baier is a newsman and his commitment to the truth here will matter, at least on the margins.

Newsmax has a negligible audience and OAN has such low viewership that it’s not even on Nielsen.

The Washington Post has numerous opinion pieces reflecting on the day but their main news report is “Jan. 6 hearings open with visceral accounts of Trump supporters’ assault on police.” The bits I found most illuminating:

The select committee’s members believe the first-person accounts of such intensely traumatic experiences will resonate with the American public, cutting through the bitter political war in Congress over how the Capitol riot should be investigated — and who bears responsibility for it. Republican leaders have boycotted the investigation and sought to blame House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for the casualties as a way of deflecting scrutiny away from Trump, who was impeached and acquitted earlier this year on charges he incited the violent bid to prevent lawmakers from certifying electoral-college results and declaring Joe Biden the next president.

So, Pelosi and company aren’t pretending that this wasn’t political theater with partisan intent. They’re simply arguing that it’s necessary to reset the conversation. And it’s not an unreasonable argument.

By contrast, the GOP counter-programming is just transparently bizarre:

McCarthy, Jordan and other GOP leaders have resisted the idea of any special panel to investigate the Capitol riot, charging that each proposal was too biased in favor of Democrats to give Trump a fair shake. On Tuesday, they sought to preempt the special committee’s first hearing with a news conference in which they accused Pelosi of bearing responsibility for the attack by not having better steeled the Capitol for such violence and of refusing to appoint McCarthy’s committee picks because they would have scrutinized her office. “She didn’t want those questions asked,” said Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.).

Aside from the fact that a Capitol Police Board makes such security decisions, it’s just silly to argue that Pelosi should have anticipated Trump instigating a riot that stormed the Capitol, much less that she should be the focus of the hearing. And, really, “You should have known Trump partisans would do this” is hardly a winning argument.

As to giving “Trump a fair shake,” He’s already been impeached by the House for his role that day but the Senate all but refused to hold a trial.

FILED UNDER: Capitol Riot, Congress, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Kathy says:

    Kevin seems to be saying “We all knew what was going to happen, why didn’t Pelosi prepare for it?”

    5
  2. gVOR08 says:

    I happened just a few minutes ago to see WAPO’s fact check on claims Pelosi interfered with the Guard being deployed. Said they gave Jordan four Pinocchios when he first said it and no one’s presented any evidence for it since. But what else were we expecting? It’s mommy’s fault ‘cause she didn’t stop me. Party of personal responsibility my ass. Children.

    12
  3. wr says:

    In order to decide that a simple airing of the facts — as yesterday’s hearings were — has “partisan intent,” we have to assume that any investigation will find that Republicans are guilty. Do we now refuse to investigate all crimes by Republicans, because these investigations will also be “partisan”?

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  4. James Joyner says:

    @wr: It wasn’t a “simple airing of facts” nor was it intended to be. It wasn’t a clinical recitation of events but intentionally an emotional portrayal of scared men expressing their anger at Trump and the ways the GOP leadership has treated the event. It was an attempt by the Democratic leadership to regain control of the narrative.

    That’s perfectly reasonable and, for the most part, I think their narrative is the right one. But it’s not a dry, fact-finding mission. Indeed, many OTB commenters are relishing seeing these clips in partisan political advertisements in the next campaign.

    5
  5. Kathy says:

    @James Joyner:

    Sure. but Mitch and Kevin could have had the dry fact-finding deal, had they simply voted for the 9/11 type commission proposed at the outset.

    The GOP has so become the party of the Orange Ass, they emulate his propensity for unforced errors.

    9
  6. Scott says:

    The above the fold headline in the San Antonio Express-News is: “Capitol Officers recall going ‘to hell and back’ on Jan. 6” accompanied by a large picture of Officers Gonell and Fanone emotionally hugging Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger.

    Sub headline: “In emotional testimony, they urge Republicans in Congress to stop downplaying the riot”. The online version has a series of 11 photos.

    1
  7. Scott says:

    On another front:

    Justice Department declines to defend Rep. Mo Brooks against Jan. 6 incitement lawsuit

    The Justice Department and the House of Representatives declined on Tuesday to represent Rep. Mo Brooks in a lawsuit that accuses him of helping to incite the deadly riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

    The Alabama Republican is one of several defendants in the suit filed by Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), who says Brooks knowingly incited a mob of then-President Donald Trump’s supporters to storm the Capitol, using incendiary rhetoric at a rally near the White House before the violent assault began. Trump himself, as well as Donald Trump Jr. and Rudy Giuliani, are named as defendants in the lawsuit.

    Not sure about the wisdom or the purpose about this though I would say I like to see some of these folks bear some personal cost for their irresponsibility.

    1
  8. Dude Kembro says:

    Fox News, on the other hand, is far and away the most-watched channel on cable. Not just the most-watched cable news network. The most-watched network, period.

    This truism is simultaneously important and impactful, but also regularly overstated. If all cultural liberals only watched one channel all day, that fictional channel would be the most watched network. Aside from a disproportionate number of Fox viewers being retirees with no other life, unlike young liberals, Fox is the most-watched cable channel for the same reason Hawaii is the island most visited by Americans. Where else are Americans looking for the Hawaii experience gonna go?

    @Scott: The above the fold headline in the San Antonio Express-News is: “Capitol Officers recall going ‘to hell and back’ on Jan. 6” accompanied by a large picture of Officers Gonell and Fanone emotionally hugging Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger.

    Sub headline: “In emotional testimony, they urge Republicans in Congress to stop downplaying the riot”.

    I wonder how long it’s gonna take for the Cillizza clones to admit Pelosi was right and their reflexive ‘Democrats are screwing up’ conventional anti-wisdom was wrong. Again. 2018, 2020, and Georgia sending a black guy and a Jew to the senate didn’t do the trick; how many more election cycles do Republicans need to lose for media bros to recognize that Trump voters and in diners and whites who use ‘woke’ as a pejorative are not the only Americans who exist?

    8
  9. charon says:

    Perhaps what I just posted to the forum would be more appropriate here:

    https://twitter.com/EricBoehlert/status/1420070748471840770

    pulling his members from Jan. 6 committee is going to haunt Kevin McCarthy.

    boy, did he get played by Pelosi. he walked right into her trap

    btw, this committee will work into 2022

    the Senate 1/6 Commission would’ve had a much tighter deadline, but GOP rejected that .

    pulling his members means Fox News will never have a single helpful GOP clip to air during the entirety of the 1/6 investigation

    4
  10. Scott F. says:

    @James Joyner:
    Here’s the conundrum, James. What would non-partisan even look like?

    Pause for a moment and consider how a “clinical recitation of events” on January 6th would have been any different. The ‘events’ were violent and ugly. We’ve all seen the footage and read the accounts of that day. The things that happened to these officers really happened. In what way would different context have made their accounts any less harrowing?

    As you’ve noted, the narrative the Democrats, and very importantly Cheney and Kinzinger, put forward was reasonable and right. It was also truthful. That the truth is damaging to the Republican Party isn’t some partisan chicanery on the part of the Democrats.

    The Republicans have ALL the agency here. The head of THEIR party incited a crowd to storm the Capitol to interrupt the transition of power, the leaders of THEIR party stirred their partisans with fictions about fraud before and after the election, the mouthpieces for THEIR party are perpetuating The Big Lie and downplaying the seditious behaviors, the rank & file of THEIR party are making this ‘stolen’ election their casus belli for future elections.

    But, somehow the Democrats aren’t being fair and non-partisan for pointing all this out? If these hearing damage the Republicans, isn’t that on them?

    15
  11. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    McCarthy, Jordan and other GOP leaders have resisted the idea of any special panel to investigate the Capitol riot, charging that each proposal was too biased in favor of Democrats to give Trump a fair shake.

    Last night on Bret Baier’s show Jordan implicated himself as a material witness when he admitted that he spoke to Trump on the phone on 1/6. So Pelosi was perfectly justified in excluding him from the Select Committee.

    …they accused Pelosi of bearing responsibility for the attack by not having better steeled the Capitol for such violence…

    What none of these clowns seems able to explain is what exactly Pelosi was supposed to do about security when she controls no security apparatus. Meanwhile the Commander in Chief was AWOL.

    6
  12. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @charon:

    pulling his members means Fox News will never have a single helpful GOP clip to air during the entirety of the 1/6 investigation

    Trump must be fuming that he has no one to counter the testimony or defend him. Pelosi allows McCarthy to make himself look as dumb as he really is.

    4
  13. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @James Joyner:

    Indeed, many OTB commenters are relishing seeing these clips in partisan political advertisements in the next campaign.

    The entire incident was, at it’s heart, political. A losing politician staged a coup in an attempt to maintain power. The insurrectionists stormed the Capitol in support of their favored political candidate. Every photo is thick with Trump campaign flags.
    The idea that these hearings could be anything but political is naive.
    Should Trump ever be dragged into court, perhaps those proceedings will be more clinical. But even then there will be claims of of political nature made by politicians, because the entire episode is about an election and elections are run between politicians.

    12
  14. Barry says:

    @Dude Kembro: “I wonder how long it’s gonna take for the Cillizza clones to admit Pelosi was right and their reflexive ‘Democrats are screwing up’ conventional anti-wisdom was wrong.”

    Forever and a day, or until those people feel it bite them in the wallet. Which means the same thing, unfortunately.

    If things go badly, then when they actually fear personal violence.

    2
  15. Dude Kembro says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    What none of these clowns seems able to explain is what exactly Pelosi was supposed to do about security when she controls no security apparatus.

    They also cannot explain why then-Senate Majority Leader Moscow Mitch McConnell doesn’t, by their logic, bear responsibility for Capitol security. Reporters repeatedly asked Qevin McQarthy to explain, and of course they just ignored the question.

    I’m embarrassed for the GQP that Blame Pelosi is the best they can come up with. Not even remotely convincing, even to Pelosi-haters. Truly pathetic, even for the right.

    I’m embarrassed for Cillizza-types in the media and the blogosphere that they’re still going to try to both sides, “Good news for John McCain,” and otherwise help conservatives dismiss yesterday’s hearing. Which, for the record, was really, really bad for Republicans.

    4
  16. charon says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    Trump must be fuming that he has no one to counter the testimony or defend him. Pelosi allows McCarthy to make himself look as dumb as he really is.

    Also no Republican mole to report back to the White House, the way Howard Baker did whatever he could to sabotage the Watergate committee.

    2
  17. charon says:

    @charon:

    to the White House,

    Editt correction, in this case GOP leadership.

  18. CSK says:

    Headline from an article posted at Lucianne.com:

    “Images: The Crybaby Capitol Cop Is Actually a Radical Extremist BLM in Support of Property Damage and a Good Friend of Nancy Pelosi.”

    The article was published in something called Defiant America. This is what passes for a news source at LCom.

  19. gVOR08 says:

    Feel free to dump on Pelosi and bemoan the absence of a dry, just the facts ma’am, hearing. But it just got a lot harder to say they were peaceful tourists and full of love who were invited in by smiling officers.

    4
  20. James Joyner says:

    @Scott F.: I’m mostly pushing back on the notion that a Democrat-led investigation of the actions of a Republican President and his supporters is nonpartisan or apolitical. Congressional hearings are inherently political and this one especially so. Given that the GOP leadership has gone Full Trump rather than the way of the Watergate Committee Republicans, who eventually turned on Nixon, I don’t know that there’s any way to create the illusion of nonpartisanship here.

    1
  21. CSK says:

    @gVOR08:
    I just watched a Youtube video of a guy in the Capitol picking up a phone, asking for Mike Pence, and saying that they were coming to get Pence because he was “a fuckin’ traitor.” He also promised they’d get Pelosi. There’s also footage of someone yelling that they’d built the gallows, and now they should use it.

    Peaceful. Sure.

    6
  22. KM says:

    @James Joyner:
    It’s as non-political as it can get considering. That being said, WHY exactly is it supposed to be non-political? Why aren’t Dems allowed to score points off the self-own the GOP did while at the same time exposing the actual truth of what happened by showing videoes and hearing testimony of that day? It’s not their fault the truth makes Republicans look bad. If you have to strip something down so there’s no incriminating aspects to “bias” someone… it means there were incriminating aspects to being with. They had a chance to control the message and decided to self-own again. Why should the Dems not use that?

    Frankly, this fetishizing of non-partisanship or bipartisanship misses the entire point of politics – to achieve ones’ goals. The goal isn’t to make nicey-nicey just for the hell of it; non-partisanship or bipartisanship are not end goals in and of themselves but rather preferred methods of getting to the end goal. The goal here is to stop the insanity Trump has wrought in his party and hold them accountable for what happened. It’s going to make them look terrible because they were – this whole things was idiots spurred to violence and insurrection to help other elected idiots stop a democratic process based on a narcissist’s self-serving lie. No part of this look good for them even if you use less partisan language or imagery.

    The Dems have them dead to rights and have every right to capitalize on it as that’s how politics work the world over. Dems are starting to play by the GOP rulebooks and somehow that’s not allowed. Complaining about how it’s not non-political is tantamount complaining “it’s not fair”; life’s not fair, especially when you keep kicking yourself in the ass and blaming it on others.

    21
  23. Barry says:

    @James Joyner: ” I’m mostly pushing back on the notion that a Democrat-led investigation of the actions of a Republican President and his supporters is nonpartisan or apolitical. ”

    James, your entire theme throughout several posts is simply to criticize the investigation, using whatever is handy.

    And it bears repeating that McConnell could have had a 50-50 committee with blocking power, and chose not to.

    11
  24. KM says:

    @CSK:
    Of course – Back the Blue until they don’t do what you want. Then it’s Damn Crybaby Snowflake Cops Attacked Innocent MAGAs!!!!

    Cops like to think they’re higher up in the conservative social pyramid scheme then some random MAGA schmuck – they’re not. They’ll get tossed under the bus like everyone else to preserve the true victim: white grievance.

    6
  25. gVOR08 says:

    @James Joyner:

    Given that the GOP leadership has gone Full Trump rather than the way of the Watergate Committee Republicans, who eventually turned on Nixon, I don’t know that there’s any way to create the illusion of nonpartisanship here.

    Which is a realization we all, especially the supposedly liberal MSM need to reach. Atrios quotes Chuck Todd, king of horse race political journalism,

    We ended up in this both-sides trope. We bought into the idea that, oh my God, we’re perceived as having a liberal bias. And I think for particularly the first decade of the century, I’d say mainstream media overcorrected. And we bought into the Fox motto of “balance.” And it’s like, Jesus, there’s no balance, they need the truth. There’s fairness, that’s different than balance. And so in that sense, this is why we’re in this defensive posture today.

    Atrios undercuts Todd’s revelation by quoting him saying much the same thing three years ago, but the conclusion stands. The press can support objective reality or they can appear non-partisan, Republicans have made it impossible to do both. All Pelosi can do is get the truth out. You’re right, she has no way to anoint it with some appearance of bipartisanship.

    You’re concerned the special committee won’t change any Trumpist minds. Maybe it’s time to realize they cannot be convinced, they can only be marginalized.

    9
  26. Scott F. says:

    @James Joyner:

    Given that the GOP leadership has gone Full Trump rather than the way of the Watergate Committee Republicans, who eventually turned on Nixon, I don’t know that there’s any way to create the illusion of nonpartisanship here.

    I understand where you are coming from and I agree this isn’t Watergate. But, what I’m pushing back on is the notion that nonpartisanship (even the illusion of it) has any way of being the objective given the underlying political conditions. Because of choices Republican leaders have made – of their own volition, following their own calculations, going back to well before the 2020 elections – there is no outcome from looking at the events of January 6th that plays well for Republicans. That Cheney and Kinzinger are behaving like the Watergate Committee Republicans did, yet that isn’t enough to break the hold of Full Trump leadership, should tell you something. The inability to inform or persuade Republicans you’re expressing about this first hearing has nothing to do with Pelosi or the Democrats and everything to do with what the Republicans have become. Only Republicans can get their own house in order.

    This has to play out in a partisan manner, because the problem is the partisans of the Republican Party.

    8
  27. Barry says:

    @KM: I’m seconding this, James.

    Would you please tell us what would be the ‘non-political’ path here?

    7
  28. Scott F. says:

    @CSK: You really need to stop visiting Lucianne.com. Clicking over there will corrupt you before it informs you.

    2
  29. gVOR08 says:

    @KM:

    Frankly, this fetishizing of non-partisanship or bipartisanship misses the entire point of politics – to achieve ones’ goals.

    Somebody had a line about the public saying, “Why can’t politicians come together and get anything done?” The press hear “Why can’t they come together?”, but the public are really saying, “Why can’t they get anything done?”

    13
  30. Teve says:

    @gVOR08: well put.

  31. Nightcrawler says:

    @James Joyner:

    I think their narrative is the right one. But it’s not a dry, fact-finding mission. Indeed, many OTB commenters are relishing seeing these clips in partisan political advertisements in the next campaign.

    I’m not. This is too awful to “relish.” It’s necessary in the way that removing a cancerous tumor is necessary, but it’s not something that’s enjoyable on any level.

    1
  32. CSK says:

    @Scott F.:
    I think I’m corruption-proof–at least from that particular source. Ill-informed, semi-literate crackpots don’t influence my thinking. But I get a sneaking enjoyment from gauging just how far into gibbering idiocy they can descend.

    One interesting thing I’ve noticed: A lot of LCommers are probably deeply invested in QAnon. But they never, ever speak of it.

    2
  33. Kathy says:

    @KM:

    Anything that can be killed by the truth should be.

    6
  34. Nightcrawler says:

    I think there’s very little chance that these hearings will change anything. Don’t get me wrong. I hope they do, but I have almost no hope because, unlike the 9/11 terrorists, the 1/6 terrorists have about half of Congress and just about every Red State governor on their side, along with a plethora of Red state-level lawmakers.

    We can’t just depend on voting the terrorist enablers out, because Red lawmakers on the state level are hurriedly passing laws to ensure that elections won’t matter anymore, and the ones in Congress have killed the federal Voting Rights Act.

    However, as I said yesterday, these hearings are incredibly important even if they don’t change a damn thing. If the terrorist supporters succeed in destroying the U.S. government, leveling our cities, plunging the entire world into chaos,** and killing untold millions, there will be survivors. Lots of them. There are approximately 7.8 billion people on Earth. Even if 3/4 of them die after the U.S. collapses, there will still be nearly 2 billion survivors.

    The transcripts and audio and video recordings of these hearings are on the internet now. That means the GQP can’t destroy all of them. Sure, they’ll try, but they won’t succeed. The distributed nature of the internet ensures that. All of the embarrassing things that everyone within eyeshot wishes they’d never uploaded will live forever — but so will these transcripts and recordings.

    And because the internet is distributed, it will likely stay working in at least some areas after the collapse. Hell, ARPANET was originally designed to survive a nuclear apocalypse. Even in the unlikely event that it goes down worldwide, eventually, the survivors of the collapse will get it working again.

    These transcripts and recordings will be a critical part of their historical record, so they can understand what happened, and hopefully build a world where it won’t happen again.

    ** If the U.S. collapses, the rest of the world will be pulled down with it. That’s one of the many things the pro-war people don’t fathom. This isn’t 1860 anymore, and the U.S. isn’t Somalia. We live in a global economy that’s underpinned by major developed nations. If one of those pins collapses, the entire structure goes with it. And that’s just the economic fallout. We haven’t even gotten into what’s going to happen once nukes get launched (and they will be launched).

    ^^ You would think that if a nobody like me can fathom all of this, lawmakers would, but that’s not the case, either. They don’t fathom the ramifications of letting infectious diseases run wild and kill with abandon, so there’s no way they understand this whole global economic structure thing.

    2
  35. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: More on the order of “nothing happened in the first place, but it’s all Pelosi’s fault that things got out of control the way they did.”

    4
  36. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Dude Kembro: Republicans don’t need them to be the only Americans who exist. Republicans only need them to be 47% of the electorate and 270 electoral votes. The real question, to paraphrase a question asked by Brzezinski, is “how many Republicans will quit?” (I wanted to say “die” soooooo badly, but it doesn’t sound good and this cohort doesn’t do metaphor particularly well.)

    1
  37. Michael Reynolds says:

    @James Joyner:
    You are really being stubbornly dense on this, James.

    It wasn’t a clinical recitation of events but intentionally an emotional portrayal of scared men expressing their anger at Trump and the ways the GOP leadership has treated the event.

    Sigh. You know, James, just because facts have an emotional element does not make them suspect or inaccurate. Rather, a ‘clinical recitation’ would have been dishonest in suppressing the emotional reality that police officers were very nearly murdered by Republicans.

    It was an attempt by the Democratic leadership to regain control of the narrative.

    You mean an attempt to tell the truth.

    That’s perfectly reasonable and, for the most part, I think their narrative is the right one. But it’s not a dry, fact-finding mission. Indeed, many OTB commenters are relishing seeing these clips in partisan political advertisements in the next campaign.

    Again with the dry, fact-finding bullshit. The facts aren’t dry. The facts are awful. There is nothing inherently more honest about a narrative drained of all human emotion. This is not math FFS.

    You seem simply to be uncomfortable with the facts, preferring instead a bowdlerized version shorn of context. You don’t want to see just how evil the Trump cult is. Maybe you don’t want to deal with the fact that the Republicans you work with are actually evil men. I think what you’re showing us here is your inability to look squarely at reality, an avoidance that is anything but a pursuit of truth.

    14
  38. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    The insurrectionists stormed the Capitol in support of their favored political candidate. Every photo is thick with Trump campaign flags.

    This is a good point. In any common banana republic, these people would have been mowed down in the street (which I, in fact, advocated for when Luddite and I were having coffee a couple of days later, I would add). The fact that ANYONE is around to talk about what happened is only possible because of what America had been–up to January 6, 2021.

    5
  39. a country lawyer says:

    @charon: Howard Baker made the most quoted statement from the Watergate hearings “what did the President know and when did he know it?”. It was Bakers staff who discovered the White House tapes and it was his counsel Fred Thompson who brought out the testimony from Butterfield in the hearings. That was the beginning of the end for Nixon. Baker initially believed Nixon was unaware of and took no part in the coverup, but when the facts began to come out no one was more vigorous in pursuing Nixon than Baker.

    Sadly today’s Republican party has no Howard Baker. He was a moderate Republican who would not have a place in today’s party.

    5
  40. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    You win the internet today.

    2
  41. Michael Reynolds says:

    Two recitations of facts:

    1) On January 12, 1944, internee Rebecca Goldstein and her infant daughter were put to death by camp guards.

    2) On January 12, 1944, guards at the Auschwitz extermination camp bayonetted a six month old baby while taunting her mother, who was then raped before being sent to the gas chamber.

    In this example it’s an invented story, but one taken from reality. The first is the ‘dry recitation.’ The second includes more context – emotional context. Anyone who thinks example (1) is a more accurate telling of the event is – to put it charitably – repressed.

    9
  42. charon says:

    @a country lawyer:

    John Dean had a very different view of Baker and his role, presumably from some familiarity with the Nixon White House and the GOP.

    Who to believe? I don’t know.

  43. KM says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    I feel the need to defend @James a bit here. He’s trying to use an academic lens to view things – a dispassionate, just-the-facts-ma’am, dry take on things specifically because things like emotions can be seen to “taint” facts and viewpoints. This is, in and of itself, not a bad or incorrect way to view the situation. It is, however, neither the optimal or functional way of doing it. You may be correct in that he’s using it to distance himself from something uncomfortable or displeasing but it seems to be his default way of viewing the world, based on his postings over the last few years.

    I don’t think it’s an “avoidance that is anything but a pursuit of truth” but rather a stubborn instance on a viewpoint that can’t be shoehorned into every scenario. Your point about facts that have emotional elements is valid; sometimes you simply can’t separate out the nasty humanity from the clean lines of “truth” and that’s something a person who wants bare-bones facts needs to come to terms with. This was messy, loud and by it’s very nature a passionate and deeply political and social act. There’s no way to separate out it’s inherent nature and just have a non-political, non-partisan and non-emotional conversation – something I think bothers him deep down in his analyst core.

    6
  44. drj says:

    It appears that some people like to pretend (for whatever reason) that the violence inherent in an insurrection, including its impact on the people directly affected by it, somehow does not fall in the category “facts.”

    That in itself is a whitewashing of what happened and I’m absolutely furious about it.

    8
  45. Moosebreath says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    “In any common banana republic, these people would have been mowed down in the street”

    And in most other countries, once the police got the upper hand, these people would have been herded into police wagons and charged with crimes that day and not left to walk away from the scene and need to be found later.

    5
  46. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Moosebreath: In my banana republic, there would have been no need to arrest ANYONE–with the possible exceptions of Congress people (and their personal staffs) with “R” after their names. All of this talk about arresting and trying people only shows weakness.

    [Voiceover: Tune in next time for another episode of Why Cracker Doesn’t Run For Public Office]

    1
  47. Gustopher says:

    it’s just silly to argue that Pelosi should have anticipated Trump instigating a riot that stormed the Capitol

    Is it though? They were telegraphing their intent since the election.

    We were all anticipating a shit show, just not this exact shit show.

    Not that Pelosi could have done much about it…

    When in 2024, gerrymandered state legislatures strip the voters of their states of power, and replace the duly elected electors with a slate of Trumpy electors, and we have a constitutional crisis and violence in the streets, are we still going to be saying “we couldn’t anticipate it?”

    3
  48. Michael Reynolds says:

    @KM:
    Oh, to be clear I don’t impute any dishonorable motive to JJ. His approach was one I took for much of my life. I was going to be Spock when I grew up. And I still love hard data. But there’s a category of what could be called ‘poetic fact.’ You love your spouse, for example, a statement which can be impossible to prove objectively but is nevertheless true.

    I’m not falling into the ‘my truth’ nonsense, I believe in objective reality however impossible it may be for subjective beings to fully grasp. But stripping actions of their emotional impact in service to objectivity is an error. That is pruning the data and you don’t get to understanding by excluding valid facts.

    And as @wr noted, I think in a different thread, you can’t tell a story without a beginning, and you sure as hell can’t assume that people know something just because by any reasonable standard they should. One of Chris Rock’s signature moves is the reiteration of the premise. The premise has to be clear before he proceeds with the joke.

    1
  49. a country lawyer says:

    @charon: Both could very well be true. Looking back nearly a half century later to the summer of 1973 it all seems clear-the President knew about the break in and participated in the cover up. It was not so clear at the time. Very few people at the time shortly after the break in at the Watergate thought it more than ” a second rate burglary”. It was the reporting of newsmen like Woodard and Bernstein and the lawyers and investigators on the Senate Select Committee and the special prosecutors office who turned over the rocks and made clear the extent of the cover up and Nixon’s culpability.
    The summer of 1973 was the summer before my 3rd and final year in law school. I was older than most of my classmates having spent six years in the Marine Corps and I followed the hearings closely. Until I saw John Dean testify I was convinced the whole thing was a big nothing. That was also the turning point for Baker. Baker had believed the hearings were a Democratic political show. He even called it a witch hunt.
    Baker before coming to Congress was an experienced trial lawyer. As defense counsel he had defended over a dozen capital cases. He thought like a lawyer the way to defend the case was to get the bad stuff out early-“steal the prosecutors thunder” as trial lawyers say. He advised Nixon to come clean and let his staff testify. Baker later said that Dean’s testimony was his ah hah moment. When he asked Dean “what did the President know and when did he know it” he got answers he didn’t expect. From that point on he was Nixon’s worst enemy.
    The officers’ testimony yesterday should have been an ah hah moment for Republicans but there are no more Howard Bakers in the Republican Party.

    3
  50. Barry says:

    @KM: “I feel the need to defend @James a bit here. He’s trying to use an academic lens to view things – a dispassionate, just-the-facts-ma’am, dry take on things specifically because things like emotions can be seen to “taint” facts and viewpoints. This is, in and of itself, not a bad or incorrect way to view the situation. It is, however, neither the optimal or functional way of doing it. You may be correct in that he’s using it to distance himself from something uncomfortable or displeasing but it seems to be his default way of viewing the world, based on his postings over the last few years.”

    I disagree. He’s working on diminishing everything bad about the insurrection, just as the GOP (party and mediashpere) are doing. They all went from being honestly (IMHO) shocked to realizing that they could get away with, and are proceeding accordingly.

    3
  51. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    @Barry: That…is an utterly ridiculous take on virtually everything he’s written. In this very article he calls the far right lunatics who are unreachable, and pointed out the GOP’s leadership counter-position is ludicrously silly.

    Some people here seem to think that if you aren’t right there shouting “treason” with them on every single article then you must be some sort of enemy. You know, like the most fanatic MAGAholes do. As far as I can tell James isn’t disagreeing with anyone about the facts and the horrible nature of what happening, he is trying, *as an analyst*, to identify if this is the best way to get the narrative back from the nuts. I happen to disagree with him–I think human beings, as a species, are not very logical and are very emotional and reactive so getting to them emotionally is the right way to get them to change their mind (facts don’t do it, for sure!), but the constant attacks on his character are getting ridiculous. His utter disdain for the modern GOP and their talking heads has been made abundantly clear for years, and if you can’t see the difference between how he refers to the events of January 6th and how GOP leadership and the right wing media do so then the problem is with you, not him. Equating them is just…wrong.

    7
  52. flat earth luddite says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    In any common banana republic, these people would have been mowed down in the street.

    Once again demonstrating why neither one of us will, God willing, hold any positions of real power. I understand that as a society we don’t do these things, I just don’t comprehend the why, except as an abstract intellectual exercise.

    @Moosebreath:
    Some of the more disturbing moments in my life have been when people around me realize just how my mind works. I’ve been told by Rangers and lifers (and lawyers) that they like me, but I scare the f*** out of them at times.

    2
  53. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @flat earth luddite:

    I just don’t comprehend the why, except as an abstract intellectual exercise.

    This is where I may be ever so slightly ahead of you in that I comprehend why as a part of a larger moral matrix. If I could only make the leap to valuing long-term moral over immediate practical outcomes…

    1
  54. Dude Kembro says:

    @Just Another Ex-Republican:

    These constant attacks on his character are ridiculous…His utter disdain for the modern GOP and their talking heads has been made abundantly clear for years, and if you can’t see the difference between how he refers to the events of January 6th and how GOP leadership and the right wing media do so then the problem is with you, not him. Equating them is just…wrong.

    Okay, but you can’t see the difference between yelling “Treason!” at those who coddle and enable terrorist thugs who threatened to murder the elected reprsentatives, violently storming the Capitol to stop the peaceful transfer of power based on Trump’s sore loser election lies vs “MAGAholes” who yell “Treason!” at anyone who won’t join their white nationalist alt-reality. Do you think your equation was correct?

    The question here is not Joyner’s demonstrated disdain for the GQP but rather his (bizarre) disdain for an attempt to get to the bottom of the Jan 6 terror attack and hold its enablers politically accountable, inclusive of two broadly respected traditional conservatives. James’s disdain for radical right talking heads has, sadly, not prevented him from repeating some of their dishonest dismissal of this probe as a “grandstanding stunt.”

    That characterization is ridiculous. What we heard and saw this week was serious, fact-based, and sincere. That the facts and details elicited also stirred honest emotions did not make the officers’ testimony any less important and necessary. Pelosi, Democrats, Cheney, and Kinzinger should be applauded.

    One way men of character demonstrate said character is by admitting when they’re wrong. “When the facts change, I change my opinion,” so said John Maynard Keyes. That’s character.

  55. Barry says:

    @Just Another Ex-Republican: No. James has, for example, declared people like Liz Cheney as not Republican (Enough?) because they opposed treason and will serve on the committee.

  56. Barry says:

    @Kathy:
    DARVO:
    Deny
    Attack
    Reverse Victim and Offender.