Four Capitol Police officers testified Tuesday before the new House “Select Committee on the January 6th Insurrection” and told heartbreaking tales of the riotous mob that tore into the Capitol on Jan. 6. The emotion was palpable, both from the policemen and from the members of Congress that shared their fear during the riot. Empathy was almost demanded by this frightening recounting.
This didn’t feel political. This was just a horrible human experience. But that’s not how the media is going to mediate it. This is a political story. You can pretend it’s not political, but even that pretense is political.
The Republicans and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy wanted to focus on other policemen who feared dying in riots and were injured in 2020 — in Portland, Ore.; in New York City; in Minneapolis; and even Secret Service agents outside the White House, who did not get their moment of live coverage on national TV. The Republicans wanted to round out the riot picture — and the Democrats refused. That was “whataboutism” — a term liberals use to defend their tunnel vision as the only vision.
On July 21, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi denied two of McCarthy’s GOP selections for the committee. That night, ABC’s Terry Moran called it a “stunning and unprecedented move.” CBS’s Nikole Killion called it a “bold move.” It was also an incredibly partisan move.
NBC aired Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) claiming the committee needed “patriots serving on this committee, not partisans” and then Rep. Liz Cheney lecturing, “The idea that any of this has become politicized is really unworthy of the office that we all hold and unworthy of our republic.” Claiming this isn’t political is an unworthy argument.
For “balance,” Pelosi hand-picked for the committee Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger, two Republicans who voted to impeach President Donald Trump for inciting the riot. That was the litmus test for admission to this committee.
The Democrats and their media partners have been hammering on Jan. 6 daily and exaggerating it into something equivalent to 9/11. A far better equivalent to this House select committee is the Benghazi select committee established in 2014. The “mainstream” media claimed that investigation was a viciously partisan witch hunt targeting Hillary Clinton.
Before the first hearing of the insurrection committee, CNN’s Brian Stelter taunted the “far-right TV fortress” to cover the proceedings live. He didn’t recall what his boss, Jeff Zucker, said about airing live Benghazi House select committee hearings in 2014: “We’re not going to be shamed into it by others who have political beliefs that, you know, want to try to have temper tantrums to shame other news organizations into covering something.”
Demand they cover the Jan. 6 hearings? That’s patriotism. Demand they cover the Benghazi hearings? Temper tantrum.
Naturally, when the Benghazi committee first held hearings on Sept. 17, 2014, CNN and MSNBC didn’t cover them live. Fox News carried some of that first hearing live, as well as some of the first insurrection committee hearing, so which network is least partisan?
A study from my company, Media Research Center, found that in all of 2015, ABC, CBS, and NBC delivered just 46 minutes of Benghazi coverage on the evening news, two-thirds of which (31 minutes) focused on Hillary Clinton’s testimony to the House committee. Hours before that testimony on Oct. 22, NBC host Savannah Guthrie cracked: “Hillary Clinton has done a fairly good job of trying to disqualify this panel. Some would argue they disqualified themselves.”
This is our “mainstream media,” perennially trying to discredit Republican-led probes and present Democrat-led probes as patriotic, nonpartisan fact-finding missions. They cannot be trusted.
Tim Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org.