Yesterday’s second “episode” of the January 6 insurrection hearing mini-series was relocated to daytime, lest our elected officials risk competing against both the NBA Finals and FOX News (Nice win, by the way, Warriors). And in a nod that was far more a clear strategic acknowledgement that a steady audience of three million viewers that did not decline against Thursday night’s opening installment would now not be at risk, even FOX News Channel decided to carry yesterday’s festivities.
And why not? Their sister owned-and-operated stations do very well in their daytime time slots with game shows, and yesterday played out more like a typical daytime show than the slickly produced 20/20-like special that occupied prime time Thursday night. Specifically, the classic TO TELL THE TRUTH.
No, not the snark-laden reboot that Anthony Anderson and Mama Doris have executed in prime time since 2016. The current version primarily features celebrity comedians often reading from a list of suggested questions written to evoke laughter (often from inneundo) while they “compete” to see who can avoid the ignominy of finishing last among their fellow panelists. There is nothing at stake for the contestants other than the chance to be seen on TV to help their social media footprint.
The original versions were much more traditional panel shows, featuring a cast of erudite interrogators, the most successful daytime version aired in the 1970s with their regular trivuverate of “Cass (Peggy), Cullen (Bill) and Carlisle (Kitty)”, featured subjects plucked from recent headlines or human interest stories who weren’t immediately recognizable in a Google-less world and, most notably, some extremely skilled liars who often were executives from companies based in New York City where the daytime versions eminated from. All in the quest for a top prize of $250.
In a more leisurely two and half-ish hours we saw a parade of personalities who offered insight on how President Trump chose to close his ears to the consistent messaging that he had lost the 2020 election from the overwhelming majority of his allegedly trusted aides and even his family and embraced the enabling rants of his lawyer, “America’s Mayor” and MASKED SINGER contestant Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani was described by his campaign manager, Bill Stepien, as being “visibly intoxciated” on Election Night, and eventually headed up one of two parallel internal task forces commissioned by Trump to figure out how he would retain power. The team NOT headed by Giuliani was described by Stepien as “Team Normal”. So, by process of elimination, “Team Abnormal” was likely running the show.
Later, former attorney general Bill Barr, remarkably resembling a cross between Cullen on prenozone or perhaps Nathan Lane, delivered his own accounting of his conversations with Trump, testifying that the theories driving Trump’s beliefs, such as the “2000 Mules” allegations and “thousands of ballots stuffed into briefcases” in battleground states such as Michigan and Pennsylvania were, as Barr eloquently put it, “bullshit”. Well, Kitty Carlisle never said anything like that, at least on camera, but the point was clear.
And in a note to rhe “tune in tomorrow” nature of daytime soaps, representative Zoe Lofgren dropped a last-minute bombshell that, as USA Today reported, the Trump campaign “misled” campaign donors that their money would be used for election fraud claims. But instead of supporting litigation, she said funds went to a Trump-backed political action committee called Save America PAC.” The effort raised $250M, much of which was channeled to causes such as paying Kimberly Guilfoyle, Donald Trump, Junior’s shy and reticent girlfriend and former FOX News anchor, $60,000 to introduce the speakers at the January 6 rally that Trump spoke at in Washington. For two minutes of work. Heck, Anthony Anderson isn’t even that well-paid.
So this will continue tomorrow, once again in daytime, with more comedy, tragedy and yes, lies. And, in all likelhihood, more deflecting and whataboutisms from the regular FOX News contributors in prime time, preaching to their loyal choir of three million on one network versus the ballyhooed 20 million-ish who watched on the array of networks of platforms that carried the proceedings. (Note to media reporters: When something airs on multiple channels, there’s a greater chance more people will see it. When you compare this figure with the audience watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, you’re comparing apples and oranges. The fact people are watching is indisputable, but don’t make a comparison that isn’t a fair one),. FOX News’ viewers are likely not watching, a shame since they are the audience that arguably should be exposed to the other side of the argument.
But Barr’s AG successor Merrick Garland did say he is watching. He’s the one with the deciding vote, and there’s much more at stake here than TTTT offered back in the day, even when you add in Sarah Coventry jewelry or Turtle Wax. He’s the ultimate judge in this case. Depending upon what goes down in the next few months, he may be looking for his next gig,
Hey, maybe he could be a guest panelist on To Tell the Truth. He might not even need the suggested questions.
Until next time…