You know, presidential historian and House Librarian Doris Kerns Goodwin is a real Babe Ruth today, she just keeps knocking it out of the park. And on Rachel Maddow tonight, she may have just provided a clue as to what to look for in the upcoming televised 1/6 public hearings.

She started her day giving a discussion presentation in the well of the House, in which she recounted that violence isn’t unknown within the walls of the US Capitol. Prior to the start of the Civil War, a pro slavery South Carolina Senator nearly caned an anti slavery northern Senator in the well of the Senate. The horror of the event so galvanized the nation that it directly led to the demise of the Whig Party, and Abraham Lincoln joining the Republican party, where became President and shepherded us through the Civil War.

Ms. Goodwin went on to say that she saw parallels between that event and 1/6. It was a nationally galvanizing event, it was either right or wrong, there was no middle ground. And she said that the signs were there, already a majority of Americans repudiate the riot, and acknowledge Biden as the legitimate President. It wouldn’t take that much of a shift in public opinion to make Republicans with a conscience start to reconsider being on the wrong side of history.

She closed her busy day with an appearance on Rachel Maddow, where she may have unintentionally dropped a bombshell in regards to the true purpose of the 1/6 committee.

She related that during the Civil War, Lincoln was a prolific and famed storyteller. Sometimes to the point of exhaustion. And when asked why he told so many stories, Lincoln calmly replied that They get the point across so much better than facts and figures. And in 1939 and 1940, before Pearl Harbor, the American isolationists, FDR became a storyteller in explaining why it was so important for the US to support Great Britain, which stood alone in the path of the Nazi’s. He said, If you give your neighbor a fire hose to save his house, his house will save your house.

And that is the vision that Doris Kerns Goodwin has for the 1/6 committee. To use their platform to tell a tight, cohesive, compelling story of the actual events leading up to, through, and after 1/6 to start molding public opinion. And I think she’s absolutely right.

Let me give you an example. In short order, there were two nationally televised hearings, Michael Cohen’s appearance before the House, and Trump’s first impeachment trial. Now, compare the two. Cohen’s testimony was uber compelling, and dominated the news cycle for days. Why? Because he is a natural storyteller, and he could engage and hold the audience. The Trump impeachment was reading of dry facts and figures, and even I labored through it. In legal circles they have an acronym for it, MEGO, My Eyes Glaze Over.

Look. If you actually have the facts and figures to back up your claims, you don’t need to gush them out in a fire hose. You can instead refer to them as you weave a compelling, easy to follow story, in which you lay out the whole sick, twisted affair. that’s the whole reason for the process in the first place.

Pop Quiz! How many televised public hearings has the 1/6 committee held? Answer: One. The hearing where four metro and Capitol Hill police officers testified personally to their experiences on 1/6. And it blew the doors off. It was compelling as hell, and the snippets dominated the news cycle for days.

And personally? That’s where I see this going as well. Just look at how the committee is handling their releases. They’re announcing new subpoenas, and deposition dates, but then Liz Cheney is coming out with tantalizing chains of e-mails, texts, and conversations to make a point. If you’re going to televise hearings, especially in prime time, give the people what they want to see. After all, you already have the facts and figures to back it up.

 

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5 COMMENTS

  1. It occurred to me while reading this, that good story telling is what Jen Psaki does. She only mentions exact facts and figures to back up her points. Hopefully this will be as impactful as it should be on the collective consciousness.

  2. IF there is a majority of Americans who are dismayed by the events of January 6th 2021 and they do not stand up to be counted, they will not matter. I do not hear anything from this “majority”. All I hear is the screaming of the supposed minority and that will win the fight unless this “majority” makes itself visible and audible.

  3. TV culture birthed this personality cult monstrosity. TV, ironically, may be what fires the majority up, & dooms the confederacy once & for all time. I’ve heard a lot about how Trump, like all autocratic leaders, use violence & fear to achieve his aims. OK, it has worked, especially with the beauracrats. What happens when the 81 million get fired up? Or Liz Cheney suddenly finds millions of centrists Republicans who don’t want neonazis running through the streets at night, after she conducts this morality play in front of America on prime time? Or Trump finds himself criminally charged by NY & others? Or he just strokes out from the stress closing in on the michael Jordan of narcissists? Maybe even the 93 million apathetic Americans who didn’t vote will realize the easy burgers & handheld computers come to an end when the autocrats stomp the pedal to the floor on fossil fuel burning. Maybe. Just maybe we won’t commit collective mass suicide & actually commit ourselves to LIFE. Maybe.

  4. After the WATERGATE public hearings Nixon’s approvals dropped 15 points and his party lost the midterms.

    NOTE: It took 2 long years of careful investigations before dozens of Nixon’s aides were indicted, many more months for them to be jailed.

  5. That is exactly the strategy that “Old country law-yuh” Sam Ervin took with Watergate, and look what tidbits jumped right out at the viewers to keep them riveted to the scene.

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