A version of this article first appeared in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.
The distance between Trump America’s perception of January 6 and the rest of America’s understanding of the attack is growing so wide, it cannot be bridged.
To see what I mean, watch Tucker Carlson’s “false flag” conspiracy-theorizing — coming to Fox’s streaming service on Monday — and compare it to the Washington Post’s prize-worthy reconstruction of the “red flags” before Jan. 6, the bloodshed during the attack, and the “contagion” after.
For conservative news consumers, history is being erased. For everyone else, history is still being written. New facts are still emerging. The Post’s new three-part series was assembled by a team of 75 journalists. This project began “in late spring, after efforts in Congress to create a bipartisan panel to examine the Jan. 6 attack collapsed,” exec editor Sally Buzbee explained in this editor’s note on Sunday.
One of the books that will define the month of November is “Betrayal,” the new end-of-Trump-era tome by ABC’s Jonathan Karl. Like “Peril,” “Betrayal” convincingly makes the case that the period between Election Day and Inauguration Day was even more precarious than we knew at the time. I have been reading an embargoed copy of “Betrayal,” out Nov. 16, and I was struck by this line:
“I didn’t realize it at the time, but as I reported on this book, I became convinced that the peaceful transfer of power that happened, as scheduled, on January 20 was something of a miracle.”
Karl isn’t a progressive pundit or a hyperbolic columnist. He is one of the most-respected correspondents in DC. He and so many others are saying: America was on the precipice of a constitutional crisis. And we could wind up back there again soon.
But I made the point on Sunday’s “Reliable Sources” that some journalists at other news outlets, outside ABC and CNN, don’t feel like they can raise the alarms. They see what’s unfolding but they feel constrained by their newsrooms, by norms, by audience pressures.
Imagine the road ahead
I opened Sunday’s CNN telecast with the longest monologue I have ever tried to do. But hopefully it was for a good reason. I wanted to look ahead to 2022, 2023 and 2024, imagining what might happen with Donald Trump in firm control of the GOP and hell bent on revenge. We know what Trump will do. What will the rest of us do? If you’re so inclined, watch the monologue on YouTube and/or share it on social media…
“For a full week, we’re going to get to the bottom of what really happened on Jan. 6,” Carlson claimed on Friday, pushing ahead to a week-long series that will start on Monday. Oliver Darcy wrote on Friday night about Fox PR trying to get reporters to note that “Patriot Purge” will be streaming on the Fox Nation subscription service, not airing on Carlson’s 8pm show. This could be interpreted as an attempt by Fox to put some distance between its brand and Carlson’s conspiracizing. But there’s another way to think about it: As Fox PR trying to gin up more subscriptions for the streaming service. As Fox trying to capitalize on the controversy to boost the bottom line…
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