TUESDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2021
Trump Junior, left in the dark: Liz Cheney's presentation last night has produced a great deal of reaction.
Cheney read a series of texts—and we're glad she was willing to do it. The texts had been sent to Mark Meadows during the January 6 riot at the Capitol.
"These texts leave no doubt," Cheney said. "The White House knew exactly what was happening at the Capitol."
Some of the texts came from embattled members of Congress—from badly frightened people right there on the scene. Perhaps a bit more surprisingly, other texts came from major figures at Fox News.
CHENEY (12/23/21): Indeed, according to the records, multiple Fox News hosts knew the President needed to act immediately. They texted Meadows that:
"Hey Mark, the president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home...this is hurting all of us...he is destroying his legacy." Laura Ingraham wrote.
"Please get him on tv. Destroying everything you have accomplished." Brian Kilmeade wrote.
"Can he make a statement?...Ask people to leave the Capitol." Sean Hannity urged.
Hannity, Ingraham and Kilmeade were disturbed by what has happening. That said, the most intriguing of these texts to Meadows came from a Trump family member.
According to Cheney, Donald Trump Junior had texted Meadows "again and again" as the riot continued. This is what the dutiful son had said:
CHENEY (continuing directly): As the violence continued, one of the President's sons texted Meadows:
"He's got to condemn this s*** Asap. The Capitol Police tweet is not enough." Donald Trump, Jr. texted.
Meadows responded: "I'm pushing it hard. I agree."
Still, President Trump did not immediately act.
Donald Trump, Jr. texted again and again, urging action by the President:
"We need an Oval address. He has to lead now. It has gone too far and gotten out of hand."
But hours passed without the necessary action by the President.
Trump Junior texted again and again. In reply, Meadows said he agreed with Trump Junior. Meadows said that he was pushing that point of view hard.
Was Meadows really telling the president that he needed to "condemn this s***?" At this point, there's no obvious way of knowing.
It's possible that Meadows really was telling Trump that he needed to act. It's also possible that he was just saying that to Trump Junior.
What was actually happening inside the White House? We can't exactly tell you.
But in all the attention which has been given to Cheney's presentation, we don't think we've seen anyone note a certain point, though someone certainly may have. That basic point would be this:
If we take those messages at face value, that means that Donald Trump Junior didn't expect a violent riot to take place that day.
Unless he was deceiving Trump Junior, it looks like Meadows was unaware of any such plan as well.
Was that riot part of a plan—a plan involving President Trump? Had Donald J. Trump, and other coup-plotters, really planned for that violent riot to happen?
We don't know the answer to that question but, within the liberal world, that theory has functioned as conventional wisdom for a long time now.
It may well be that the theory is true. It may well be that Donald J. Trump did plan, all along, for a violent physical invasion of the Capitol to take place.
Who knows? In time, the January 6 committee may end up demonstrating that President Trump was involved in some such plan. But we were struck, last night, by the apparent fact that Donald Trump Junior was unaware of any such plan—and that the same was true of the hapless Meadows, if his texts to Trump Junior can be believed.
Surprise! Three Fox stars were surprised and disturbed by what was happening that day! So was Donald Trump Junior—and so, it seems, was Meadows himself.
That struck us as a surprising "reveal" in Cheney's presentation. If Donald J. Trump had been plotting a coup, his own son hadn't known it! Neither did those major Fox hosts—and neither, it possibly seems, did his hapless chief of staff.
That struck us as an interesting takeaway from Cheney's presentation. That said, we don't think we've seen anyone articulate this point.
Instead, the anti-Trump crowd within our own tribe has criticized those Fox News hosts for their subsequent behavior. At times like these, tribal warriors will possibly tend to be somewhat selective in what they do and don't choose to say following some reveal.
If Donald Trump Senior had been plotting a (violent) coup, Donald Trump Junior had been left in the dark! Could that mean that Donald Trump Senior was also caught by surprise when the violence started?
We don't know the answer to that. Nor will you see the question asked on our own tribe's cable channels.
At times like these, the Montagues and the Capulets will have their own facts, their own logic. The Jets and the Sharks will possess dueling stories—and so will our "cable news" stars.
Indeed, at highly partisan times like these, our very capacity for logic and fact may sink beneath the tsunami of our more primal emotions. We may tend to fall back on Storyline, and the more of that the better.
That said, just how logical have we "rational animals" ever actually been? Consider:
Over the weekend, we saw Kevin Drum draw some basic distinctions as he asked a perfectly sensible question about the pro-Trump tribe.
Do conservatives really believe that the last election was stolen? In his discussion of that question, Drum drew some basic distinctions—and after that, the deluge!
After that, the comments began! Drum had drawn some basic distinctions. They were quickly observed in the breach.
All week long, we'll be asking a question:
Should we trust our own tribe's facts, our own tribe's logic, as current discussions unfold?
The other tribe's facts and logic are routinely quite bad. The other tribe's facts and logic are bad—but how about our own?
Tomorrow: What do The Others believe?
This afternoon: We return, perhaps for the final time, to one of our own tribe's recent "facts"