It’s becoming more clear by the day that the January 6th Committee is succeeding. The investigative process it’s used behind the scenes has produced crucial evidence ranging from PowerPoint to metadata, has exposed key secrets such as Donald Trump’s private meeting with January 6th organizers, and has secured the cooperation of numerous people including Mike Pence’s Chief of Staff.
Now that the committee is using its findings to trip up witnesses, get witnesses arrested for contempt, pressure witnesses into cooperating, and so on, the evidence it’s amassed is beginning to spill over into public view. All these claims that the committee has been doing “nothing” or “lacks urgency” or “is being outsmarted by Trump’s allies” are starting to look awfully foolish. Which is why they’re only going to get louder.
Large chunks of the mainstream media, and large numbers of pundits, have spent months amassing ratings and retweets by insisting that the January 6th Committee either isn’t doing its job, or can’t get anywhere even if it tries to do its job. But as it becomes gradually more clear this month to the average audience member that the committee is in fact winning, that just makes the audiences question why the media and the pundits have spent months trying to scare them into believing that the committee was crashing and burning. The only way for them to counter this is to get even louder and more hyperbolic with the doomsday stuff, so as to drown out the increasingly good news about the committee’s prospects.
To that end, we’re seeing major media outlets push the “our democracy is nearly dead” narratives even more loudly than ever right now. The media is rapidly shifting from having told you that the committee wouldn’t get anywhere, to now telling you that it doesn’t matter if the committee gets anywhere. And the doomsday pundits are now just foaming at the mouth about the committee as histrionically as possible, to try to distract us from how just how wrong they’ve been about it all along.
There’s no more perilous time than when something starts heading in the right direction. That’s when the media and the pundits start to worry that the doomsday hysteria they’ve been selling is going to stop working for them, and is instead going to expose them as mere performance artists. And that’s when their increasing hyperbolic doomsday narratives end up scaring would-be activists into giving up hope and sitting on their hands instead of fighting.
Of course once the January 6th Committee begins holding public hearings within weeks and truly puts on display everything that it’s uncovered, and the criminal referrals start truly flying, the media and the pundits will no longer even be able to try to convince audiences that the committee is failing. That’s when they’ll just start ignoring the topic, and move on to insisting that we’re all doomed because we’re automatically going to lose some other battle such as voting rights.
We’re in a perverse era where the media and the pundits benefit the most by telling us we’re going to lose no matter what, because attention is attention, and they can always move the goalposts later once their doomsday prophecies prove false. This media backdrop makes it incredibly difficult for the rest of us to get the factual truth out there, educate the public, and allow activists to see that they can in fact win if they simply roll up their sleeves and put in the work required. But we’re going to keep fighting no matter what. Just keep in mind that half the battle each day consists of tuning out the people who keep telling us we’re going to lose no matter what. These types are only proven correct when they demotivate us into not bothering to fight and win.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report