Are You Not Entertained?

The epigraph that leads perhaps the greatest book on 2020 and how it led to the Jan 6 insurrection is an Edward R. Murrow quote: We are in the same tent as the clowns and the freaks—that’s show business. The intersection of politics, journalism, clowns, and freaks will be on full display at the Jan. 6 committee’s prime-time public hearing that kicks off on Thursday night, which ironically was, for many years, labeled by NBC as Must-See-TV. How must see will this TV be? That is the question. The future of American democracy may hinge on whether the US Congress can create great television. There are actually two big questions about these hearings. First, will people watch? I worry that even I don’t really want to sit through more hearings, and I’m a sick, twitchy news addict who dreads being alone with his own thoughts. And second, if we watch, will it change any minds? It seems like the issue is less about what Trump and his cronies did, which we saw in real time, and more about whether there will ever be a price to pay (and the related question: why does half of America not care?). A lot depends on these questions, including whether or not we get a sequel to the effort to overthrow democracy. What to expect from tonight’s prime-time Jan. 6 hearing.

+ As the legal walls close in on Trump, he will be further motivated to announce his 2024 candidacy. It’s easier to spin these hearings as a politically-driven hoax if the committee is going after a current candidate rather than a former president. And insurrectionists running for office is all the rage these days. Michigan candidate for governor, Ryan Kelley, arrested by FBI for Jan. 6 involvement. (Who knows. It may help him in the polls…)

Copied to Clipboard