Why America Isn’t Getting the Jan. 6 Investigation It Needs

Some of this sentiment reflects how conservative media has covered — or, perhaps, not covered — the siege. The events of Jan. 6 have been mentioned about four times as often on CNN and MSNBC as on Fox News, according to an analysis of television news clips. And it certainly reflects how dominant partisanship has become in our politics.

But these beliefs also show how difficult it will be for Speaker Nancy Pelosi to persuade large parts of the country that her select committee is conducting a truthful and nonpartisan investigation into the Jan. 6 riot. Republicans in Congress can opt out of participating in a bipartisan investigation into one of the most shocking events in the history of American politics with little fear of backlash from their base. In fact, many of their voters don’t want to hear much about the Jan. 6 attack at all.

Others are clearly looking for their leaders to defend rioters’ actions that day. That’s partly why Ms. Pelosi rejected two of Representative Kevin McCarthy’s picks for the committee, prompting Mr. McCarthy, the minority leader, to pull all of his Republican nominations from the panel.

Those two selections, Representatives Jim Banks of Indiana and Jim Jordan of Ohio, had openly expressed hostility to the mission of the committee and trafficked in revisionist history about the siege, and they may be material witnesses to the events leading up to that day.

Would keeping Mr. Jordan and Mr. Banks on the committee have helped build credibility for the effort among Republican voters? That seems unlikely, given that both had already broadcast their intention to undermine the effort.

Ms. Pelosi can still argue that her panel is bipartisan. It will include Representative Liz Cheney, a Wyoming Republican, and reports suggest that she could add Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, also a Republican. Both lawmakers are reviled by their party’s base for attacking Mr. Trump’s effort to overturn the election and are unlikely to be seen as credible messengers by many Republicans.

Mr. McCarthy, meanwhile, has vowed to conduct his own investigation.

So after months of negotiation, the end result is likely to be two panels, one led by Democrats and the other by Republicans. It’s a situation that encapsulates our divided political moment: Whatever the process, the testimony or the findings, the results of either committee are unlikely to be trusted by voters from the opposing party. And reaching any kind of national consensus about what happened on that awful day feels like as much of a fantasy as any false-flag conspiracy theory.

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