January 6 primetime hearings: does America care?

Committee vice chairwoman Liz Cheney outlined major highlights of coming schedule - but will people tune in?

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In the primetime spotlight, the January 6 House of Representatives committee cast aside any doubts about its potency as it linked former president Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election to the violent insurrection at the US Capitol.

Speaking from the Port of Los Angeles in California on Friday, President Joe Biden said the hearings demonstrate the battle for the nation's soul is not yet won.

"It's important the American people understand what truly happened. And to understand that the same forces that led January 6 remain at work today," Mr Biden said.

More than 19 million people across the US tuned in to Thursday night's hearing, The New York Times reported, citing preliminary data from Nielsen.

Fox News was the only major network not to air the event, instead rolling out its traditional late-night lineup of conservative anchors Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity, who spent the evening discussing the perceived failures of the Biden administration, including skyrocketing gas prices, baby formula shortages and supply chain problems.

The Watergate hearings, which led to the impeachment and resignation of US president Richard Nixon, took place over 51 days and became must-see TV.

The House panel's primetime hearing, in which it linked Mr Trump's efforts to overturn the election to the insurrection, promised to reveal information that would be just as compelling.

Committee vice chairwoman Liz Cheney carefully laid out the panel's schedule but stopped short of saying who will give evidence.

She spoke of sworn testimonies and social media posts from white supremacist groups answering Mr Trump’s call to arms.

“There is no room for debate. Those who invaded our Capitol and battled law enforcement for hours were motivated by what President Trump had told them,” said Ms Cheney.

“President Trump summoned the mob, assembled the mob and lit the flame of this attack.”

June 13

Monday's 10am hearing will focus on how, despite the fact that numerous aides and legal advisers told Mr Trump that the election was legitimate, he continued to engage in a "massive effort to spread false and fraudulent information”.

June 15

On Wednesday, viewers can expect evidence from a parade of senior officials from both the Department of Justice and the White House who confronted Mr Trump in the Oval Office, threatening to resign over the events surrounding the January 6 attack.

Mr Trump promised pardons for any staffers or members of Congress caught up in any January 6-related legal trouble. His son-in-law and White House adviser, Jared Kushner, said in a video statement that pardons were the focus of his last days in the White House.

June 16

Thursday's hearing will focus on Mr Trump’s exertions to "pressure" former vice president Mike Pence to overturn the election.

“You will hear that President Trump was yelling and really angry at advisors who told him he needed to be doing something more and aware of the rioters chanting to hang Mike Pence,” said Ms Cheney.

“The president responded with this sentiment: ‘maybe our supporters have the right idea’… Mike Pence, ‘deserves it’”.

Following hearings

The dates for subsequent hearings have not yet been set, but will cover Mr Trump's efforts to “find votes” and his pressuring of state legislators and election officials into changing their election results, Ms Cheney said.

Who cares?

But despite the potentially history-making subject matter, it is unknown whether people will tune in to watch.

With many Republican leaders in addition to Mr Trump deriding the committee as "illegitimate" and a sham, it is almost a given that conservatives will ignore the proceedings.

"We [conservatives] don't care about [the hearings]," said Jon Ruthven, a Republican army veteran from Idaho.

"When BLM wants 'change', they burn down cities causing billions of dollars in damages. But when Trumpers do it, at least they go to the government's place of work," he said, referring to the Black Lives Matter movement.

At the same time, he expressed disdain for the rioters, saying they "should be put against a wall and shot for treason".

"Both sides are dumb."

Some people were just mad that Thursday's hearing bumped the CBS television show Young Sheldon, while others praise the hearings as an example of transparency in government.

VoteVets posted on Instagram: "Weird that Fox News wouldn't cover the #Jan6 hearing considering their viewers are the stars of the show."

Updated: June 10, 2022, 11:12 PM
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