Why The January 6th Committee Hearings Were Just As Riveting In The Room As They Were On TV
14th October 2022

The January 6th Committee’s proceedings this week may have been its final chance to deliver a closing argument about Donald Trump’s culpability in the attack on the Capitol, and it did so by once again exceeding expectations.

Related Story

Donald Trump Mocks Jan. 6 Committee As “Bust” After It Votes To Subpoena Ex-POTUS

Once again, the committee offered up new morsels of evidence and information, again with the heavy use of audio and visual clips and graphics, along with a newsmagazine-like way of delivering teasers for what’s next and culminating with one last bombshell. In the most recent case, it was the committee’s final vote to subpoena Donald Trump.

The atmosphere is quite a bit different in the Cannon Caucus Room, the stately yellow, chandelier-ed meeting space that, with the aid of lights, has been transformed into a TV studio. Nowhere was this more apparent that in the oversized screen behind the committee members, a signal of the importance that they placed on showing rather than telling.

That was proven true again Thursday, when committee member Jamie Raskin introduced behind-the-scenes footage of Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and other congressional leaders in their secure location after evacuating the Capitol. The images were from Alexandra Pelosi, a documentary filmmaker and the House Speaker’s daughter, and provide a rare glimpse of leadership in the midst of a crisis.

RELATED: January 6 Committee Votes Unanimously To Subpoena Donald Trump Over Attack On U.S. Capitol

On TV, those clips were riveting. In the Cannon room, projected on a big screen, it was even more so. The room grew a bit quieter, as many reporters who normally were clattering away at their laptops, briefly stopped what they were doing to focus on the footage.

What’s been remarkable about the hearings has been that there have been so many of these moments — quite a contrast from most congressional proceedings, which are typically marathons of endurance for journalists and staffers.

Instead, the January 6th Committee enlisted James Goldston, the former president of ABC News, to consult, and the impact of his producing team has been apparent in not just the use of clips but in the way that they were edited.

That’s not to say that the hearings would have packed the same punch had the committee not gathered so much evidence, particularly from the Trump inner circle, or had figures like White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson not agreed to testify live and in person. But it’s hard to believe that the impact would have been the same had it merely been members reading statements or reciting from written testimony.

The committee has focused on laying out a narrative, even when it has meant returning to the same timeline, in a way that is pretty mindful of attention spans by viewers, those on social media and those in the room.

One standout moment was at a July hearing, when the committee ran a brief clip of Sen. Josh Hawley scrambling from the Senate chamber on January 6, just hours after he had flashed his fist in solidarity with the protesters. The way it was edited seemed perfectly timed to elicit some comic relief. TV viewers didn’t hear the laughs in the room, but Dan Przygoda, a producer working with the committee, posted the reaction.

There were a few of those moments Thursday, as there have been at other points. The committee ran a deposition clip of attorney Sidney Powell, chief amplifier of the unfounded election claims, and finished it with an extraneous moment of her taking a gulp of Diet Dr. Pepper. That, too, triggered laughs in the room, if only for the absurdity of it, along with some social media buzz.

The committee hearings not only have had a TV producer’s touch, but the venue has been well-suited for the networks. The caucus room famously was the site of many of the House Un-American Activities Committee hearings back in the 1940s and ’50s, but it’s also adjacent to space prized for today’s nonstop news cycle: the Cannon rotunda, where major outlets to do setups for their correspondents and get easier access to committee members after each proceeding concludes.

That’s a good thing, as there is a scramble by reporters to catch members for comment as they exit. Typically, the leave via one of two corridors on either side of the Cannon Caucus Room. Inevitably, this ends in a chaotic moment when journalists staked out in one corridor are tipped that Chairman Bennie Thompson had exited in the other, resulting in a bit of a mad dash along the marble floors to try to a snippet of a gaggle in progress.

On Thursday, Raskin made it a bit easier, as he split the difference, appearing at the committee room’s entrance for a chat a handful of journalists. Within about a minute, about 30 reporters and photographers were surrounding him.

First and foremost on their minds was the committee’s subpoena of Trump.

Raskin, no stranger to these gaggles, told them: “I would encourage all of you to just interview a hundred people on the street and ask them if they were accused of trying to overthrow the American system of government and the presidential election, would they come and testify and explain why [they] didn’t do it?”

At one point, though, he seem a bit puzzled when one reporter asked him about inflation “when the focus right now is still January 6th. … Is this the messaging you want to take into the midterms?”

Raskin pointed out that the issue at hand was the Capitol attack.

That said, there is a great deal of mindfulness among Democrats of just whether the hearings will have an impact on how people vote. Many Democratic candidates are talking about other issues, even against candidates who embraced Trump, and how the hearings have shown just how close things came to a crisis of democracy, and how fragile it still remains.

The committee hasn’t said whether it will issue a final report or even whether Thursday’s proceeding will be its public finale. Trump has fought other subpoenas, so it’s hard to fathom that he would do so in this case, but you can imagine the must-see moment, on screen and in the room.

Must Read Stories

Daniel Radcliffe & Others Pay Tribute To ‘Harry Potter’s Beloved Hagrid; Obit

‘LOTR: Rings Of Power’ Finale: Showrunners & EP Talk Sauron Twist, Tease “Grittier” Season 2

‘Halloween Ends’ Slices Off $5.4M In Thursday Previews

Joel McHale To Headline & Exec Produce Fox Comedy Series ‘Animal Control’

Read More About:

Source: Read Full Article