Today is an anniversary. But not one to celebrate.
However, it is one to recognize and remember. And never forget.
One year ago today — Jan. 6, 2021 — we witnessed troubling and horrific images we never thought we would see in this country. Protesters — spurred by a sitting president and cable news pundits and a wildfire of conspiracy theories — stormed the U.S. Capitol building in an attempt to stop the certification of a freely and fairly held presidential election.
The pillars that have always held up the greatness of the United States — the voice of the people through fair elections, the peaceful transfer of power — nearly crumbled in one of the darkest days in American history. And it’s a day that continues to have serious consequences and aftershocks. As I’ve written several times this week, Jan. 6 wasn’t the culmination of something, but the beginning.
So where do we even begin as we look back and look forward?
Well, the best way is to look at the coverage. Today’s newsletter will be heavy with links as I try to direct you to some of the most important work being done to help us understand Jan. 6, 2021.
Start with these pieces:
- The Associated Press’ Mary Clare Jalonick with “‘We were trapped’: Trauma of Jan. 6 lingers for lawmakers” and “In their own words: House lawmakers remember Jan. 6”
- The Washington Post’s Joe Heim with “As Jan. 6 anniversary approaches, fear, disbelief and anger still felt in Capitol Hill neighborhood.”
- The New York Times’ Shane Goldmacher and Maggie Haberman with “A Year After Capitol Riot, Trump’s Hold on G.O.P. Is Unrivaled.”
- CNN’s Jeremy Herb with “How January 6 changed what it means to be a Republican in one Pennsylvania county.”
- Politico’s Brittany Gibson with “They stormed the Capitol. Now they’re running for office.”
- The Daily Beast’s Matt Fuller with “The Real Tragedy of Jan. 6 Is That It’s Still Not Over.”
- ABC News’ Jonathan Karl (including an eight-minute video that is a reminder of how scary it was) with “Beyond the riot, Jan. 6 was a dangerously close call. How Trump’s plot nearly succeeded.”
- Also from ABC News: “Jan. 6 officer to David Muir: ‘I guarantee people are imagining this happening again.’” Speaking of Donald Trump, Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell tells Muir, “I do hold him accountable.”
And in a powerful guest essay for The New York Times, former President Jimmy Carter with “I Fear for Our Democracy.”
Carter smartly and sadly sums up what Jan. 6 has shown and done to our country when he writes, “There followed a brief hope that the insurrection would shock the nation into addressing the toxic polarization that threatens our democracy. However, one year on, promoters of the lie that the election was stolen have taken over one political party and stoked distrust in our electoral systems. These forces exert power and influence through relentless disinformation, which continues to turn Americans against Americans.”
Here’s today’s front page of USA Today’s special section about Jan. 6.
Asking the question
Part of the reason the Big Lie continues a year later is that many lawmakers continue to avoid answering the question of whether or not they believe Joe Biden was fairly elected as president. The Sunday morning news programs have been littered with examples over the past year of Republicans dancing around the answer by saying things such as “Biden was certified” without really ever saying if they believed it he truly won.
Whether it’s because they don’t want to anger Donald Trump or alienate their base or they genuinely believe the lie, most Republican lawmakers have avoided directly answering the question.
HuffPost’s Jennifer Bendery published a story Wednesday and introduced it this way on Twitter: “It’s been a year since 147 Republicans voted to overturn the 2020 presidential election after fueling a lie about widespread voter fraud. I asked all of them if they think Biden fairly won and if they regret their vote. Nearly all declined to answer.”
Bendery gave detailed accounts of how she tried to (and could not) get answers to that question from Republicans such as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith and Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy. Some senators, such as Missouri’s Josh Hawley and Alabama’s Tommy Tuberville, said “yes” when asked if they believed Joe Biden won the election fair and square.
Bendery wrote, “Of the 139 House Republicans who voted to overturn the election, an aide to just one of them ― one! ― responded to HuffPost’s questions.”
On the other hand …
There were Republicans who voted a year ago to charge Donald Trump with inciting an insurrection for what happened on Jan. 6. The New York Times’ Jonathan Weisman and Luke Broadwater write about them in “A Long, Hard Year for Republicans Who Voted to Impeach After Jan. 6.”
Weisman and Broadwater write, “But in the year since the deadliest attack on the Capitol in centuries, none of the 10 lawmakers have been able to avoid the consequences of a fundamental miscalculation about the direction of their party. The former president is very much the leader of the Republicans, and it is those who stood against him whom the party has thrust into the role of pariah.”
A personal story
We often talk about what the events of Jan. 6 mean to our country — and we don’t necessarily attach faces and real people to what’s going on. But there are also heartbreaking stories, as well, including this story by David Gilbert on Vice News who writes about an 18-year-old who turned in his father for attacking police at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
On the TV
In my newsletter this week, I’ve been teasing the coverage planned by the outlets for today (and this week) to look back at Jan. 6. Here’s more:
- President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will deliver remarks about Jan. 6 this morning. All the news networks are expected to carry it.
- “PBS NewsHour” anchor Judy Woodruff will interview Harris on tonight’s newscast.
- Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), vice chair of the select committee investigating the attacks of Jan. 6, will be interviewed on today’s “Bret Baier Reports” on Fox News.
Don’t miss the Jan. 31 deadline to enter this year’s Collier Prize for State Government Accountability. The $25,000 annual prize honors the year’s best investigative and political reporting of state government. The award is available to any news organization on any platform. Click here to enter.
The Elizabeth Holmes case
The Elizabeth Holmes trial was fascinating for those of us who have been following the story of Theranos since The Wall Street Journal’s John Carreyrou blew the lid off the fraud starting in 2015. A subsequent book by Carreyrou and a documentary, “The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley,” eventually set up a trial that concluded this week with a jury finding Holmes guilty of four out of 11 fraud charges.
On ABC News’ podcast, “The Dropout,” a juror spoke about the verdict. Juror No. 6, Wayne Kaatz, said after three days, the jury had already decided on eight of the 11 counts, but couldn’t come to a decision on three counts.
“We were very saddened,” Kaatz said. “We thought we had failed. Everyone spoke their mind, and we were all still exactly where we all were when we started, and we had nowhere else to go, nothing else to say. That’s why we came in with the verdicts we did.”
Bethany McLean — a contributing editor at Vanity Fair who co-authored a book about the collapse of Enron — has a guest essay for The New York Times: “A Very American Question About Elizabeth Holmes and the Price of Success.”
McLean writes, “A jury’s verdict is black-and-white, but the real story is rarely so simple. We think of visionaries and fraudsters as polar opposites. In reality, just like Isaac Newton, many of today’s great entrepreneurs have some characteristics of both.”
That’s just a taste of the essay that you’re likely to find interesting.
This seems like an iffy idea. According to New York Post sports media columnist Andrew Marchand, ESPN might shake up its “Sunday Night Baseball” broadcast and shift lead analyst Alex Rodriguez to a broadcast similar to the one that Peyton and Eli Manning do for “Monday Night Football.”
Marchand writes, “The look and feel of a potential ‘A-Rodcast’ may not exactly mirror what Peyton and Eli do. ESPN has been doing alternative broadcasts for many years, so A-Rod’s shows could have their own wrinkles.”
The ManningsCast has been a hit with critics and fans (the broadcast averaged 1.6 million viewers for the season) because of the chemistry and personalities of the brothers. A-Rod is much more polarizing among viewers. His baseball knowledge is solid and he has turned into a good traditional-type analyst, but he seems a bit stiff to carry out the kind of broadcast that the Mannings do.
If A-Rod is moved, Marchand reported that former major-leaguer David Cone, who works on Yankees broadcasts, could be the lead analyst for “Sunday Night Baseball.” But A-Rod could return, too.
- Speaking of “Monday Night Football,” the regular broadcast had a superb 2021 season. The regular ESPN broadcast averaged 13.5 million viewers per game — up 11% from 2020 and 7% from 2019.
- More sports news: Fox Sports has acquired the rights to horse-racing’s Belmont Stakes for eight years starting in 2023. The third leg of the Triple Crown has been on NBC since 2011.
- The Washington Post’s Paul Farhi and Elahe Izadi with “NPR is losing some of its Black and Latino hosts. Colleagues see a larger crisis.”
- Jared Hohlt is stepping down as editor-in-chief of Slate after three years. The New York Times’ Marc Tracy has more.
- Alex Sujong Laughlin, writer and editor of Poynter’s The Cohort newsletter, with “I’m not mad about Ben Smith; I’m mad at all of this.”
- The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple with “Sean Hannity’s bottomless corruption.”
- Wow, Jon Stewart goes on an R-rated, but quite entertaining, rant about Newsweek magazine. You’ll enjoy it, unless you work for Newsweek. Here’s the clip.
- The Grammy Awards, scheduled for Jan. 31 in Los Angeles, have been postponed. In a statement, the Grammys said, “The health and safety of those in our music community, the live audience, and the hundreds of people who work tirelessly to produce our show remains our top priority. Given the uncertainty surrounding the Omicron variant, holding the show on January 31st simply contains too many risks.” They hope to announce a new date soon.
- Longform is a valuable resource for readers who love to read good longform journalism. It links to some of the best stories around. But, sadly, it announced on Twitter on Wednesday that it is shutting down its article recommendations service. The site started in April 2010 and has recommended more than 10,000 pieces of nonfiction. Longform will continue to publish a weekly podcast.
- For The Washington Post Magazine, Marian Chia-Ming Liu with “The Power of Reclaiming My Asian Name.”
- The Ringer’s Adam Nayman looks ahead with “The 19 Biggest Movies of the Year.”
- A fun piece on ESPN.com by Ryan Hockensmith: “The secret MVP of sports? The port-a-potty.”
Have feedback or a tip? Email Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones at email@example.com.
More resources for journalists
- Covering COVID-19 with Al Tompkins (Daily briefing) — Poynter
- Hiring? Post jobs on The Media Job Board — Powered by Poynter, Editor & Publisher and America’s Newspapers.
- Leadership Academy for Diversity in Media (Seminar) Oct. 9-14 — Apply by Jan 15
- Essential Skills for Rising Newsroom Leaders (Seminar) March 21-25 — Apply by Jan. 28
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