Around 20 million people tuned in to the first day of the House Select Committee on January 6 hearing. However, after day two, there is little evidence the events have moved the needle on public opinion.
The committee’s chairman, Bennie Thompson (D-MS), opened the second session by stating that, last week, it had “laid out a preview of our initial findings of the conspiracy, overseen and directed by Donald Trump to overturn the result of the 2020 presidential election.” That would have been an appropriate statement for the prosecution in a court trial, just as the defense would have been equally vigilant in presenting the counterargument in favor of the defendant, while the jury sat by, observing, listening, thinking, and debating the evidence. But there is no defense or impartial jury. The committee plays the prosecutor, judge, jury, and ultimately, perhaps, political executioner.
It appears the purpose of the proceedings is not to give the defendant a fair hearing but to aggressively prevent one. Such events are commonplace in corrupt dictatorships. They are called show trials – propaganda campaigns carefully orchestrated by regimes to create the illusion of the rule of law to eliminate a perceived threat to their grip on power.
Such tactics may work in North Korea, where people have no access to uncensored information and little tradition of fair trials. But in the United States, a show trial may have the opposite effect. Democratically enlightened viewers might ask such questions as “When will we hear the other side?” When the other side never appears, observant viewers ask, “What do they fear? What are they trying to hide?”
For instance, Benjamin Ginsberg, who served as national counsel to the Bush-Cheney presidential campaign, testified that President Donald Trump lost 61 court cases on fraud and illegitimate votes. If the defense had been allowed to respond, it could have pointed out that the courts in most instances never considered the evidence, and the cases were thrown out based on technicalities such as legal standing.
Another example is former Attorney General Bill Barr, who found Dinesh D’Souza’s recent documentary 2000 Mules laughable. He testified that finding 2,000 people who visited ten or more voting drop boxes was inevitable when searching through a database of 5 million cell phones. If it had been allowed to respond, the defense might have suggested that all the so-called “mules” also visited non-governmental organizations involved in the election and that True the Vote – the group that analyzed the data used in the film – performed a statistical test against a control group to rule out selection bias.
Polls indicate that people are more informed than the committee expects. President Joe Biden’s aggregate approval rating fell to a record low 39.7% on the second day of the hearing, according to FiveThirtyEight. This puts the incumbent 15 points underwater; more than a half-point drop since the first hearing.
Liberty Nation’s readers provide a clue to Biden’s lackluster numbers. In our poll, 68% responded that the economy will be the most significant issue in the November elections, which generally agrees with other surveys. However, unlike most others, we also included “election integrity” as a response option, and it came in as a firm number two with 18%, and gun control a distant third with 7%.
By conducting a show trial in the middle of an inflationary spiral and economic downturn, Congress demonstrates that its priority is neither the American people and their struggles nor national unity and trust in the election process. In less than five months, the voters will be the final arbiters of whether the January 6 hearings have been about facts or fantasy.
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