Something is very wrong with the supposedly right-of-center media outlets and commentators treating the Jan. 6 committee like something other than the appalling Stalinesque show-trial that it is. In particular, the Washington Examiner and National Review both ran embarrassing, delusional op-eds about the hearings this week. The Examiner even ran an editorial declaring, “Trump proven unfit for power again.”
Why is Trump “unfit for power”? Because of former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony on Tuesday. It was hailed by the corporate press as “explosive” and “damning,” featured on the front pages of the New York Times and the Washington Post, and replayed ad nauseum on all the cable news shows.
Before we get to the Examiner and National Review, we need to talk about the Hutchinson testimony. Hutchinson, who was billed as a star witness for the committee, did indeed make a number of explosive claims on Tuesday. The problem is that she didn’t actually witness anything. Her hearsay claims were blown to pieces almost as soon as they appeared, in some cases because people with firsthand knowledge immediately came forward to dispute them, and in other cases because the claims themselves were ridiculous on their face.
Perhaps the most outrageous accusation from Hutchinson was that on Jan. 6 an enraged President Trump tried to grab the steering wheel of his presidential vehicle and lunged at his security detail when he was told he could not join the protesters marching from the White House to the U.S. Capitol after his rally.
Hutchinson admitted she had no firsthand knowledge of this alleged physical altercation between Trump and his security detail, and said she was relaying a conversation she had with Tony Ornato, White House deputy chief of staff for operations, and Bobby Engel, head of Trump’s security detail.
Not long after Hutchinson testified, NBC News’s Peter Alexander reported that Engel and the Secret Service agents inside the vehicle with Trump that day say the president didn’t try to grab the steering wheel and didn’t assault any agents. Later, a Secret Service spokesman told Alexander that all the agents who were in the president’s SUV on Jan. 6 are “available to testify under oath, responding to [Hutchinson’s] new allegations.”
Politico later reported that the Jan. 6 committee didn’t even reach out to the Secret Service before airing Hutchinson’s testimony: “Anthony Guglielmi, the service’s chief of communications, told Politico that select committee investigators did not ask Secret Service personnel to reappear or answer questions in writing in the 10 days before asking Hutchinson about the matter at the hearing.”
But that wasn’t the only problem with Hutchinson’s testimony. She also claimed to have written a note about a potential Trump statement meant to quell the rioting at the U.S. Capitol. In fact, the note was written by Trump White House attorney Eric Herschmann.
“The handwritten note that Cassidy Hutchinson testified was written by her was in fact written by Eric Herschmann on January 6, 2021,” said a spokesperson for Herschmann. “All sources with direct knowledge and law enforcement have and will confirm that it was written by Mr. Herschmann.”
All of this was known and reported, at least in part, the same day Hutchinson testified before the committee. That didn’t stop the Examiner’s editors from going along with the rest of corporate media and simply regurgitating Hutchinson’s outrageous and disputed claims before concluding, “Hutchinson’s testimony confirmed a damning portrayal of Trump as unstable, unmoored, and absolutely heedless of his sworn duty to effectuate a peaceful transition of presidential power.”
Hutchinson’s testimony did no such thing, and the ridiculous moral preening of the Examiner’s editors doesn’t make her account any more credible. If anything, Hutchinson unwittingly confirmed that the Jan. 6 committee is a farcical show-trial, the purpose of which is to criminalize political opposition to Democrat Party rule and advance the false narrative that President Trump is not just responsible for the Jan. 6 riot, but that he’s guilty of treason.
You have to wonder what’s wrong with these editors that they would publish such garbage. Do they not realize that one of the propaganda goals of the Jan. 6 committee is to elicit these kind of editorials? Mission accomplished, Liz Cheney!
Even worse in some ways was the take from Tim Carney, a columnist for the Examiner and a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (who, to be fair, has had a hard time thinking clearly about Trump lately). On Wednesday, long after the problems with Hutchinson’s testimony were widely known, Carney penned an unintentionally hilarious column headlined, “Ignore Democrats’ distractions: Here’s how Trump proved his unfitness on Jan. 6.”
Ah, yes, because the thing we need to focus on here isn’t the phony hearsay testimony from a patently unreliable witness in a Soviet-style show trial being conducted by House Democrats, but how we can spin this episode to scold the right about how Trump wasn’t a “good shepherd.” It’s like Carney sits around thinking up ways to help the left, even when their deceptive schemes are exploding in real time.
For its part, National Review posted a long-winded column Tuesday night by Andrew McCarthy declaring Hutchinson’s testimony to be “devastating,” even though key parts of it had already been called into question by people with firsthand knowledge. Since then, McCarthy has penned two additional posts about how the Jan. 6 committee has undercut this “devastating” testimony from Hutchinson, and how the fact that its hearsay is “part irrelevant and part inaccurate.” (McCarthy, for those who don’t know, is a former federal prosecutor who over the course of his punditry threw cold water on the mere suggestion that former FBI director James Comey was dishonest, that Robert Mueller was out to lunch, or that the FBI would ever try to obtain a FISA warrant on abject nonsense, despite later writing a book refuting himself.)
I recount this depressing spate of commentary not because it’s compelling but because it’s representative of a weird tic on the right to run interference for the left while scolding and betraying the people whose side you’re ostensibly on. I don’t know if it stems from a burning desire to be liked by their leftist peers and cultural tastemakers at The New York Times and The Atlantic, or if they really just want to write for those outlets and be on the Sunday shows.
Or maybe they secretly despise the right and need to feel like they’re sticking to their principles and speaking the truth to their own side. Maybe it makes them feel righteous and noble.
I don’t know. But I do know that the testimony we heard on Tuesday was a farce, that the Jan. 6 committee is an abysmal spectacle and an abuse of government power, and that anyone on the right who can’t see that should either hang up his commentator hat or go ask The Atlantic to host his newsletter. I hear it’s nice work, if you can get it.