It is June 9th. That means tonight all eyes will be on the first public hearing of the special January 6th Committee. Well actually that’s not true. Only some eyes will be on the hearing. Whereas CNN and MSNBC and other outlets are hyping the inaugural event, promising wall-to-wall coverage, the most-watched cable news network, Fox News, won’t broadcast any of it live. What’s more, it plans a cornucopia of counter-programming, elevating contrarian voices who will minimize the violations and violence of January 6th.
So what impact will the hearings have? Put another way, if a congressional proceeding falls in prime time, but no one can hear it on Fox News, does it make a sound? The answer depends in part on what you believe the purpose of these hearings should be. If they are meant to be an exercise in persuasion, an effort to awaken a nation-saving Constitutional spirit in citizens who have characterized the insurrectionists as just some peaceful tourists, then I’m not sure the proverbial needle will move.
The already-persuaded will watch and wince, rage and lament, and wonder why every patriotic American’s blood doesn’t boil over the violent attempt to overturn a legitimate election. The unpersuaded will shrug and smirk, ignoring compelling evidence of a coup, and presidential participation, because they won’t even be watching, and the snippets they may catch will be cherry-picked and context-free, amid a torrent of admonitions to focus on genuinely important, but non-existential, problems like the price of gas and the scarcity of baby formula.