The House committee investigating the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol is gearing up for a significant week as it prepares to reveal its findings to the public. The committee’s decision to hold an 8 p.m. hearing in prime time reflects its intent to reach a wide audience and convey the gravity of the events of that day.
Constructing a Compelling Narrative
One of the committee’s primary goals is to construct a compelling narrative that effectively communicates the significance of the January 6th attack to the American public. The committee has conducted numerous depositions and gathered evidence, and now it aims to craft a story that resonates.
However, the challenge lies in capturing the attention of those who may already have their preconceived notions about the events or are eager to move on from the attack. Recent polling indicates a near-even divide in public opinion, with 52 percent believing it’s important to learn more about what happened and 48 percent feeling it’s time to move on. This divide is largely partisan.
Navigating a Polarized Information Environment
The committee faces the obstacle of communicating its findings effectively in a polarized information environment. Ryan Goodman, co-director of the Reiss Center on Law and Security at New York University School of Law, points out that the committee’s efforts may be hampered by the segmented information landscape in which many Americans exist.
However, the visual impact of solemn public hearings, live testimonies, and potentially compelling video material has the potential to focus public attention on the issue. The committee’s objective is not merely to reach those who view the attack as an assault on democracy but also to engage independents and conservatives who may have reservations due to partisan framing.
The Importance of Framing
The committee must carefully frame its messaging to appeal to a broader audience. Rather than a Trump versus Biden narrative, emphasizing the Trump versus Pence aspect of the events may resonate better with many Americans. Highlighting the threat to Mike Pence on January 6th, rather than a purely political angle, could make the issue less partisan.
The committee has reportedly considered inviting Pence’s legal advisers and chief of staff to testify, indicating a focus on this aspect of the events.
Bipartisan Approach and Information Dissemination
The committee’s composition, with both Democrats and Republicans on board, sets it apart from previous high-profile investigations. This bipartisan approach could significantly impact the tone and presentation of information. The absence of Republican members opposing the committee’s mission may lead to more solemn, truth-seeking hearings.
The committee has not yet disclosed who will testify at the first hearing, but it has promised to unveil previously unseen material from January 6th. The release of new footage and information could capture public interest.
While live TV coverage may seem repetitive to those who followed the attack closely, video recordings from the committee’s extensive depositions and any shocking new revelations could prove captivating to the public.
Breaking through the summer news cycle’s noise will be a challenge, but the committee’s mission to provide essential information about the attack’s coordinated effort to overturn the 2020 election is critical.
The Jan. 6 committee faces the formidable task of navigating a polarized information landscape, framing its message effectively, and presenting new information to engage the public’s attention. The success of its efforts will be crucial in conveying the gravity of the events of January 6th to a divided nation.