January 6 Committee Opens With a Narrative MasterClass

Teasers, hooks, special guests, mic drop—what we just saw is must-see TV.

Mother Jones illustration; Tom Williams/Congressional Quarterly/Zuma

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Look, who knows what the upshot of the January 6 Committee hearings will be. That Trump and his cronies tried to overthrow election results has been clear for more than a year to those who are paying attention.

But what if you haven’t been?

Well, the January 6 Committee has made a deft play to get your attention, and they’re doing it by deploying all the tricks of a limited-run HBO series or podcast. First, they use structure—a “seven-part plan” to overthrow a free and fair election, as Reps. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) told us, and they’re going to devote an episode to each part of that plan. Care to see which members of Congress begged for a presidential pardon for their role in the coup? Tune in to episode 4!

In the prologue, they laid out where they’re going to go, and which night you can tune in for what part. They’re dropping little previews of the juicy depositions (I especially appreciated the way they let Jared show himself to be the callous traitor he is) and other evidence to come. And then they cut to a film, a timeline of sorts, of what went down that day—maybe 10 minutes of how the rioters talked of their plans, how they started to breach the Capitol, how Trump egged them on from the bandstands and then via Twitter, how the police fought for their lives and the lives of members of Congress.

By the end of the ransacking clip, my pulse was racing. I had a bit of a PTSD reaction. Then they dropped the mic and went to a 10-minute recess, allowing room for the TV pundits to express how they, too, were blown away by the storytelling.

Maybe it’ll bog down. Maybe none of it will matter. But one thing is for sure: Lawyers, TV producers, and storytellers of all stripes will be coming back to this first hour for years to come.

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