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CSotD: Getting the Picture
My intention this morning was to hold off on last night’s hearing until cartoonists had a chance to comment, and I’m not sure how many of today’s featured pieces were done beforehand — clearly several were — and how many were done in the wake of the broadcast. Whatever the count, there’s plenty to consider.
And Patrick Chappatte captures the gist of the proceedings, because I heard little that I didn’t already know, which brings about a couple of reactions, starting with the fact that I’m admittedly a news junkie and was probably following the story more closely than others.
So my first reaction is to wonder how many people who weren’t following things tuned in for the two-hour extravaganza and what they learned.
We also should ask what they expected to learn, and Peter Kuper (New Yorker) encapsulates the level of suspense involved, at least among those who gave a damn in the first place.
Reliable Sources has an excellent roundup of media reaction, but, of course, that’s not public reaction.
Brian Stelter, for instance, linked to Deadline commentator Dominic Pattenwho complained that “this was NPR when it should have been UFC.”
Granted, I don’t know if average, only moderately involved viewers found it spellbinding, though the videos were interspersed enough to keep viewers engaged and Officer Caroline Edwards’ recounting of the storming of the Capitol should have grabbed them.
But Patten writes that the hearings “sought to be reminiscent of the scathing Watergate and Iran Contra hearings,” and this old man has to object, because, wit’ all doo respeck, Patten was only four years old when the Watergate hearings aired, and I can promise you, even John Dean’s critical testimony was a bit of a slog.
The rest — aside from Tony Ulasewicz and his clownish testimony about his busman’s coin dispenser — was even less gripping.
And while Patten was 18 for Iran Contra, only CNN covered those hearings gavel-to-gavel, as Dan Rather notes, and CNN was not yet the full-throated network it became thanks to the first Gulf War.
Brian Lowry makes a more crucial, and I think more accurate, point in that Reliable Sources newsletter:
Which leads us to our
Juxtaposition of the Day
(Jimmy Margulies – KFS)
(Steve Kelley – Creators)
Margulies blames Fox News of sticking its head in the sand and declining to broadcast hearings that would run counter to their established pro-Trump narrative, while Kelley echoes the rightwing accusation that the whole thing is a sham to deflect from the perceived failures of the Biden administration.
It is a curious thing, I would note, that rightwingers have been saying that Biden should be impeached for having spoken out against slaughtering ten-year-olds, while they think plotting to falsify the election results and even encourage militant thugs to invade the Capitol and overthrow the government through force and violence is trivial.
Ostriches don’t really bury their heads in the sand when they’re frightened, but, then, lemmings don’t really hurl themselves off cliffs, either, and we’re seeing a lot of both metaphors play out at the moment.
As Lowry suggested, it doesn’t matter how many uncommitted voters sat through the two hours last night, so long as they are exposed to the points made, at which point the elephant in this Christopher Weyant cartoon should begin to repel decent people.
Though that brings to mind the apocryphal story about Adlai Stevenson, in which he said he was pleased to have the support of all thinking Americans but required a majority.
Ann Telnaes offers a hope that Trump will be seen as more disloyal to the nation and patently evil than even Richard Nixon, and I’d second her view of the two scandals.
It can be argued that Nixon’s staff worked to disrupt the election process, and that Nixon’s own fault in the matter was the cover-up, not the crime.
That is, it’s not clear that he himself ordered anyone to break into the offices of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatristor to write the Canuck letter that sank Muskie’s campaign, or that he ordered a burglary of the Democratic offices in the Watergate.
One it all began hitting the fan, however, Nixon was in up to his ears, approving payoffs to silence potential witnesses and so forth, which makes him, at best, an accessory after the fact.
That’s bad enough.
But, as Bennie Thompson and Liz Cheney plainly, clearly stated last night, Donald Trump was directly involved in instigating the criminal activities and, in fact, resisted attempts by his staff, including the attorney general, to dissuade him from pursuing his nonsensical and illegal plots against the verified results of the election.
That’s not an accessory after the fact. That’s a prime mover of the fact.
We should bear in mind that there were plenty of people who remained loyal to Nixon even after the facts of Watergate came out. They just didn’t have an entire national news network supporting and promoting their view of things.
“He should have burned the tapes,” they say, as if the crime was not what he did but that he got caught doing it.
Stand by for more of that, but, also, we need to guard against being distracted by shiny objects.
In the movie version of “All the President’s Men,” Deep Throat cautions Bob Woodward:
Deep Throat (Hal Holbrook): “…Don’t you understand what you’re onto?…Do you think something this size just happens?”
Bob Woodward (Robert Redford): “Segretti said…”
Deep Throat: “Don’t concentrate on Segretti. You’re missing the overall…”
Woodward: “What overall?”
Deep Throat: “…They bugged. They followed people. False press leaks. Fake letters. They cancelled Democratic campaign rallies. They investigated democratic private lives. They planted spies. Stole documents and on and on. Now don’t tell me you think this is all the work of little Donald Segretti.”
In this case, we certainly must keep track of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers who led the assault on the Capitol, and bring them and their cohorts to justice.
But it’s more important that we do not lose sight of who dispatched the mob that nearly made their attack succeed.
And it wasn’t little Donald Segretti.