LA Times Insists We Take the January 6 Commission Completely Seriously, Reviews It Like TV Drama

Henny Ray Abrams

Somehow, it escapes the press how their approach to the January 6 Commission reflects rather poorly on its quality.

For a year now, we have endured the regular coverage of the January 6 Commission, and now, the hearings that are airing on television. All the while, we hear words delivered about the import and gravity of these hearings, but the actions and behavior of the press indicate otherwise. There has not been sane and sober analysis–as much as there have been hyperactive reports and melodramatics.


Look over some of the reactions from journalists on “findings” by the committee. They shouted about text messages from Fox News hosts on that fateful day, ignoring that the messages held calls to end the violence, which contradict their claims. When it was announced they had a 7.5-hour gap in the White House phone logs, the stampede for the cameras was audible. But the corrections, once the complete logs were discovered, were never heard.

Recently, the emergency testimony of White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson aired, and the journos insisted her words were more vital than Watergate testimony, despite much of what she detailed being based on what she heard secondhand. Some were so enthralled and rhapsodic, they claimed her words were historic, with their reporting sounding like a dime novel. Then on Tuesday, the committee shared a video of a White House meeting, and the press was captivated – by Sidney Powell drinking a diet soda on camera.


Now following this pattern is the Los Angeles Times, which has delivered its overall impressions of the broadcasted hearings. The paper has taken a curious, but not at all surprising approach. Consider that the news outlet being based in the entertainment mecca is one influence, but then you have the approach of these hearings added in. Remember, they brought in a former ABC News producer to stage the proceedings theatrically for the cameras; so, in a way, this becomes an almost inevitable result:

The Times has basically come in with a television/movie review of the hearings.

This is far more than just a glib headline. The article by Lorraine Ali – an actual Times TV critic – covers the hearing with all of the earnestness of someone who just binge-watched a program on Netflix. We are seriously given a rundown of things so far, in the same way one would expect from a reviewer who just watched a string of episodes of “Ozark.” That she believes this in any way elevates the committee and its findings is the mirthful aspect.


Like the penultimate episode of an intense TV drama, Tuesday’s hearing opened with a “previously on …” montage of flashbacks, advanced the narrative, then closed with a staggering cliffhanger. In the final minutes of the three-hour hearing, Vice Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) dropped the hearings’ most tantalizing bombshell yet, saying former President Trump attempted to call a committee witness, and that the committee submitted that information to the Department of Justice. Stay tuned.

All the various plotlines are coming together in dramatic fashion, and the 12-month character arc has seen satisfying growth from all in the cast. It sure sounds like “J-6 Comms” will be picked up for another season!

The structure is familiar to fans of serial television — and with each public revelation, the committee has only bolstered the expectation, like an expert writers room, that there are more surprises to come.

Look, given these hearings have been held on television, it is not unthinkable to have a TV critic give us a rundown. But describing things like a made-for-television series sells this as something other than a legitimate investigation. Describing this all with thematic framing, and laying out the procedure as if these were plot devices, delivers the impression of a script from a dramatic series. That is, they are admitting to us this is all a fiction.


If the press wants to approach these hearings with an eye on Hollywood, they cannot expect us to believe we are being given an honest presentation of facts. This is a made-for-TV spectacle, with trappings set up for dramatic effect. The result: we will treat it as nothing more than a viewing diversion.

Maybe we will begin to take things seriously–as soon as the press begins doing so.


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