Media Whiffs Coverage Of January 6 Committee, Vows To Go Forth And Whiff Again
File:SMirC-thumbsdown.svg - Wikimedia Commons

The January 6 Select Committee members have been busy bees of late, racing toward the midterms on the operating assumption that there's a good chance Republicans take back the gavel and shut the whole thing down in 2023. It's a complicated undertaking with a lot of moving parts. Luckily our media is here to bollix it all up in an orgy of both-sides access journalism.

Let's round up some of the recent offenders.

We Must Always Begin With The New York Times.

First up, the New York Times plays right into GOP talking points with an article this weekend explaining that the Committee is "borrowing techniques from federal prosecutions, employing aggressive tactics typically used against mobsters and terrorists," and "using what powers it has in expansive ways in hopes of pressuring Attorney General Merrick B. Garland to use the Justice Department to investigate and prosecute them." By this metric, if we don't see Donald Trump perp walked in leg irons, the whole exercise is a failure.

Here on Planet Earth, the Committee has an investigative and legislative role, but is explicitly prohibited from conducting law enforcement. They can't arrest anyone, and they can't make the Justice Department do it either. Their job is to find out what happened, and make sure it doesn't happen again. And although members of the Committee have alluded to possible charges for Trump and his minions, that's not their primary purpose.

“It’s not a criminal investigation," Rep. Adam Schiff told the Times, "But having experienced former prosecutors who know how to run complex, white-collar investigations working on a plot to overturn the presidential election is a very useful talent among your team.” And that's particularly true when you're facing a wall of obstruction thrown up by the former president and his cronies.

The problem with this framing isn't just that it sets as a measure of success something that's totally outside the Committee's remit. It also plays into Republican efforts to frame the whole thing as a partisan witch hunt, as opposed to a legitimate legislative inquiry into an attack on Congress. Literally every single one of the lawsuits challenging the legitimacy of Committee subpoenas argues that it is engaged in prohibited law enforcement activity. Why are they subpoenaing me, argues, say, Mike Lindell?I didn't do anything illegal. Which is not the point! So, thanks, NYT!

Your Turn, AP.

Over at the AP, Ivanka Trump is still benefitting from the loving media treatment she earned during the Trump era by leaking to half of Washington.

"It is highly unusual for congressional investigators to target a family member of a president," the outlet writes of her invitation to speak to the Committee, as if Princess Goya von Nepotism and her idiotic husband didn't voluntarily install themselves in the West Wing despite their total lack of qualifications and inability to qualify for a security clearance.

"As a senior adviser to her father, she also had a perch close to power," the article concedes, before going on to describe her efforts to persuade her father to call off the mob he himself summoned on January 6. Nowhere does it acknowledge that Ivanka and her husband willingly subordinated their roles as "family members" to their duties as federal employees. Nor does it grapple with the reality that Ivanka knew before he came down that ridiculous golden escalator how manifestly ill-suited her father was to govern.

She bought the ticket, she can bloody well take the ride.

Chuck Todd.

Over at NBC, Chuck Todd interviewed Vice President Mike Pence's Chief of Staff Marc Short on "Meet the Press" this weekend. Graded on the Chuck Todd scale, it could fairly be characterized as "hard-hitting." And yet, Short was still given free rein to spout lies about election fraud and the make-up of the Committee itself, all while looking reasonable because he backed Pence's admission that he lacked the unilateral authority to overturn the election results.

"I think there are significant concerns about what transpired in Pennsylvania, what transpired in Wisconsin, what transpired in Georgia when you said you had a matching signatures, you didn't," he insisted, eliding that it was Republicans who changed the vote-by-mail law in Pennsylvania, that Wisconsin conducted a recount that confirmed the results, and that Republican officials in Georgia performed a signature match audit that confirmed Joe Biden's win.

"You had election officials overruling state officials and saying, 'We'll keep the balloting open,' allowed universal access and mail-in balloting," which seems to us an admission that the GOP's goal isn't fraud prevention, it's vote prevention.

Do you even have to ask if Chuck Todd pointed this out? You do not!

Let's give Chuck Todd half credit, though, for noting that there could have been a bipartisan multi-cameral congressional inquiry into the Capitol Riot, but GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell torpedoed it. But only half, since he let this whopper slide right by:

SHORT: There was – there was going to be a bipartisan committee as well in the House, Chuck. And Kevin [McCarthy] was not afforded the opportunity to put his five people on because [Speaker Nancy Pelosi] decided to unilaterally reject both Jim Jordan and Jim Banks.

In fact, the House Committee is bipartisan, since Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger are longstanding members of the GOP. And House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy could have named five members to the Committee, just not Jim Jordan or Jim Banks. His other three nominees were accepted, and he could have named two more. Instead he chose to stomp off and refuse to participate.

Short, who is currently leading an astroturf outfit dedicated to "protecting" American workers by lowering corporate taxes, got a lot of attention for his comment that "unfortunately the president had many bad advisers, who were basically snake oil salesmen giving him really random and novel ideas as to what the vice president could do." But aside from letting Trump off the hook for his blatant attempt to foment a coup, Short followed it up by insisting that "Donald Trump has an incredibly important voice in the Republican Party moving forward."

And although Short acknowledged he had no choice but to cooperate and testify before the Committee upon receipt of a subpoena, he was remarkably uncommitted to democratic norms when it came to his former boss.

"I think it's very different to subpoena a former vice president to talk about private conversations he had with the president of the United States. It's never happened before," he said. "And I think we have significant concerns about the committee, Chuck. The committee truly is not really a bipartisan committee."

Once again, no pushback.

Can't Write One Of These Without Politico.

Politico had a fun little feature on the GOP's dilemma: should they shitcan the whole Committee next year, or should they turn it into a tool to attack Democrats for sending the FBI and Antifa to slap on MAGA hats and attack Congress?

While the vast majority of members questioned said they expected the thing to die quietly, Politico is required by law to stick a megaphone in the face of the most incendiary bomb-throwers and pretend that they are serious legislators.

“There are so many questions that are unanswered that people would like to have an answer to when it comes to Jan. 6,” said congresstroll Madison Cawthorn.

Which sounded downright rational compared to Newt Gingrich, who is promising to do LOCK HER UPS to Adam Schiff. Kinda weird they talked to him, since he's not even in Congress anymore.

“I think when you have a Republican Congress, this is all going to come crashing down," Gingrich told Fox News. "And the wolves are going to find out that they're now sheep and they're the ones who are in fact, I think, face a real risk of jail for the kinds of laws they're breaking."

Needless to say, no one demanded to know what laws the former congressman had in mind, nor did Politico point out all the ways this is just ridiculous. Here, I'll start: Speech or Debate Clause.

And that is how the sausage gets made. Makes you want to be a vegetarian, huh?


[NYT / AP / NBC / Politico]

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Liz Dye

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.


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