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CNN anchors and analysts were enthusiastic Tuesday at the idea of a veteran TV producer helping shine up the January 6 committee’s hearings beginning this week, calling it necessary to capture the attention of the public.
Former ABC News president James Goldston is helping produce the House committee’s hearings, the first of which will air in primetime on Thursday night, as members hope to weave a compelling narrative tying together former President Trump, top Republican allies and the Capitol rioters who stormed the building last year as Congress certified Joe Biden’s 2020 victory.
“New Day” co-host John Berman, acknowledging he once worked under Goldston at ABC News, called him a “terrific television producer.”
CNN anchor Laura Jarrett, the daughter of former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrret, fretted much of the American public has likely tuned out of Jan. 6 coverage, and it might need a media pro’s touch.
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“It shows you they want to make this compelling,” she said. “They know that a certain segment of the American public has a tin ear to this, sadly, and shouldn’t, but has seen that video of them storming the Capitol so many times now it may not have the same impact, and so I think that they brought in essentially an expert, a showrunner, to try to package it in a way that breaks through.”
CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin chimed in that it was “worth remembering that most congressional hearings are absolutely awful to watch on television.”
“There seems to be an acknowledgement here… we have to make a television show and that’s why they hired a television professional. We’ll see what he produces, but it seems to me, at least, that they are thinking in a more intelligent way about it,” he said.
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According to the Washington Post, the hearing’s first day will focus in part on the involvement of the far-right Proud Boys in the Jan. 6 melee, with testimony from a British filmmaker who recorded some of them storming the building, as well as a Capitol police officer who was injured that day.
Berman questioned why the hearings wouldn’t begin with direct focus on Trump himself, who would ostensibly be the biggest draw. Left-wing CNN “Reality Check” host John Avlon said it was a matter of building up to the “main point,” with Toobin asking why they wouldn’t lead with the strongest material.
Avlon said the committee had a responsibility to dazzle the public with the hearing’s presentation, adding it was not a “partisan exercise.”
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“There’s high expectations around this,” he said. “You cannot emphasize enough what we’re doing despite the fact that we’ve been covering this so long. This is unprecedented in American history. This is not a partisan exercise. This goes to the heart of our democracy, so, yeah, people better pay attention, but if you need to make it more palatable by telling the story well that’s also your obligation as someone trying to uphold the Constitution.”
The committee consists of seven Democrats and two Republicans, Reps. Liz Cheney, Wyo., and Adam Kinzinger, Ill., both of whom voted to impeach Trump for inciting an insurrection last year.
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