Going out with a whimper instead of a bang, the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 events revealed little of note under the lights of primetime Thursday night.
Wisely, committee chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) sat this one out, presiding remotely after contracting coronavirus. Perhaps he should have avoided the proceedings altogether, since his primary contribution was a patently false accusation.
The focus, as expected, was on the actions or inactions of former President Donald Trump during the Capitol protests.
In that vein, Thompson opened the spectacle with the assertion that Trump did nothing in the face of “desperate pleas.” Even as the “armed and violent mob savagely beat and kill(ed) law enforcement officers,” Trump supposedly sat at his dining room table.
Another case of playing fast and loose with the facts was seen in testimony that there was a “heated discussion” between Trump and members of the Secret Service. Gone was the “explosive” narrative of an unhinged lunatic lunging at the neck of one of his protective detail.
No. That image dissipated when exposed to daylight. No more trying to hijack his own presidential vehicle, which was absurd from the start. No mention of the president of the United States committing assault.
Now the committee merely asserts the president became heated. Every president in the history of the nation, with the possible exception of the present officeholder, has been heated at times. That’s not news.
A pair of former Trump White House aides who resigned after the day’s events, Matthew Pottinger and Sarah Matthews, testified at the hearing.
Using their accounts, committee members tried repeatedly to make the case that Trump’s lack of immediate action amounted to a dereliction of duty.
In an MSNBC review that could pass for satire instead of the rantings of a partisan news organization, the hearings were praised as a “slick production.” The “casting” was described as “stellar” and the 3D “mockups” were “pretty phenomenal.”
This is news reporting?
Of course, the select committee may hardly be accused of conducting an actual investigation. Instead, it was as MSNBC described — a primetime spectacle, spectacularly one-sided, with a hand-picked jury charged with a predetermined outcome. The only thing missing was a kangaroo.