By insisting the J-6 Committee is not political and is earnestly investigating facts, the press eschews responsibility.
On Tuesday, it was borderline disturbing to watch as a flood of journalists from prominent news outlets were pushing out glowing coverage of the testimony by former White House assistant Cassidy Hutchinson. Her explosive comments were historic, according to the pundits and pawns in the press, with many invoking Watergate and some even suggesting her anecdotes exceeded anything heard from that investigation.
The blanket repeating of Hutchinson’s words by so many was remarkable, not because the press was seen as being hysterical in their desire to cover her exposé. We all knew they had been waiting to report on anything this landmark from the hearing – and that is a tell right there, that this committee has not delivered anything of note in its yearlong investigation. But what was revealed by these journalists was a complete lack of curiosity and investigation.
Did any of her claims make sense to these journalists? Do they really believe Trump had access to the driver’s cabin in the presidential limousine and that he tried to choke out a Secret Service agent? Did anyone question the story of guns being visible in the mall where Trump spoke, and no one taking action to prevent him from speaking? The lack of pragmatic analysis is stark here.
We are beginning to see the thought process behind their abdicating journalistic responsibility and resorting to being a PR wing for the committee. At The Atlantic, Anne Applebaum delivers a lengthy piece about how she regards the January 6 Committee as a fact-checking project designed to “write an accurate account of what happened in the run-up to the Capitol attack.” No, seriously — she actually wrote that. Bad enough as that is, her words were amplified by none other than Brian Stelter.
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) June 30, 2022
This begins to convey precisely the framework behind the whole J-6C enterprise. The rigged committee is positioned as a fact-gathering body, therefore the press need not be bothered with verifying their alleged claims and findings, thus simply repeating what has already been deemed as fact takes place. No investigating or inquisitiveness on the part of journalists is needed, just regurgitate the content and all have been served.
This leads to what transpired this week. Cassidy Hutchinson delivers her jarring commentary, and the journos broadcast her words loudly, with all of their hyperbolic adjectives elevating the transcript, except in a matter of a day her testimony was already crumbling. The Secret Service detailed that agents involved in her story contested her claims. This means the committee – alleged to be a sanctified fact-gathering force – never even entertained speaking with the SS about this tale.
Politico reports that it has been 11 days since the committee even reached out to the agency. How is it that if these explosive facts are coming out, the committee had no interest in vetting the details of the Presidential Limo ride? And how does the press sell us this myth of the committee being a fact-checking body when they display an aversion to looking into facts?
Other aspects of the Hutchinson commentary are also in need of verification. The claim that Cassidy spoke with lawyer Pat Cipollone is now in dispute. Another challenge regards who wrote a letter on January 6 to President Trump — was it Hutchinson or White House lawyer Eric Herschmann? All of these should be the type of conflicting details a reporter would be curious to examine.
Instead, looking into the facts is being regarded as a partisan attack. In his newsletter, Stelter referenced this LA Times article, about Hutchinson being a victim of right-wing efforts. Calling out factual errors and wanting facts verified is a campaign to discredit. The cold irony is this is in a piece from Stelter lauding the committee as a fact-checking body. Now he is policing those who are looking for answers.
This is the flawed enterprise we are being sold. If you question Hutchinson’s testimony you are part of an “attack campaign.” Call these methods of the committee into question and you become a “denier.” Asking for facts to be proven leads to the charge “you hate the facts.”
But here we have a media complex walking away from its job. Demanding better facts and requiring solid evidence should be the cause of the press. Instead, we get the opposite. All committee claims are amplified, all witnesses are raised to mythic status, and any dispute or demand of firm proof is a partisan attack.
This is how a sham show trial operates, and how a compliant press corps behaves on its behalf.