The Friday night edition of Amanpour & Co. on PBS, hosted by Bianna Golodryga, aired with House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy’s elevation to Speaker still uncertain: McCarthy would eventually win election on the 15th ballot after making deals with conservatives, including the Freedom Caucus.
One segment demonstrated the press’s relentless obsession – at the halfway point to the next presidential election -- with 2020 “election deniers.” The definition of the term is conveniently elastic, ranging from unsubstantiated claims about rigged voting machines to factual events, like the FBI spurring suppression on social media of news about the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop.
Golodryga was joined by a familiar face, New York Times Magazine writer Robert Draper, author of the PBS-friendly tome Weapons Of Mass Delusion: When The Republican Party Lost Its Mind, and former Democratic congressman Mondaire Jones.
The host marked the two-year anniversary of the January 6, 2020, attack on the Capitol and forwarded her highly dubious election denier figure.
Robert [Draper], as we noted, today is a solemn day. It marks the two-year mark of the attack at the Capitol. And, not all of these 200 that are behind McCarthy are election deniers, but a good portion are. And of the 20 that are the holdouts, I believe all of them are election deniers. So, yes, we can say two years later, democracy prevailed, but I am just wondering, given that these 20, at least, maybe the number has gone down a bit now, are holding this process hostage: What does this say about the threat to democracy going forward in our capital, in our government?
After an anecdote from Draper about helping set up a water station for Capitol Police under attack on January 6, he readily agreed with Golodryga alleging all 20 voting “holdouts” were “election deniers,” then complained Republicans wouldn’t be investigating their own actions but those of Democrats like Speaker Pelosi.
….And I do think that to your point, that the 20 holdouts were all election deniers. One thing that we can certainly see is far from any kind of -- oh, I don't know, repair or self-repudiation about what they did and didn't do that day. We will instead, likely, see among the investigations that takes place, the investigation of the January 6th Committee itself.
Even the New York Times, no less hostile to the Republican Party, only found 12 out of the 20 to be “election deniers” in its own forensic examination of “the candidates’ social media accounts, political emails and newsletters, speeches, interviews and campaign materials”: “How Far Right Are the 20 Republicans Who Voted Against McCarthy?” The myriad metrics of documenting vaguely defined “election denial” just demonstrates how obsessed the media is with January 6.
For his part, Jones anticipated the expected liberal media pushback against imminent investigations into the Biden family by the Republicans. He also took a dig at McCarthy and the press from the left, suggesting the now-Speaker of the House is “not nearly as moderate as many people in the press have been describing him as. He's just more moderate than the extreme far-right that is now voting against him.”
(Speaking of congressmen who deny election results, Hakeem Jeffries, who was just elected House Minority Leader, would also qualify, based on his fiery reaction to Donald Trump’s 2016 victory. But don’t wait for PBS to be troubled about that.)
While Golodryga admitted “some of these proposals” from the Freedom Caucus and other conservatives, such as opening up more floor debate on issues, “one could argue are legitimate, some are just to blow the system up as a whole.”
A partial transcript is below, click "expand" to read:
Amanpour & Co.
January 6, 2023
11:32:57 p.m. Eastern
GOLODRYGA: .…I'm joined by Mondaire Jones, former Democratic congressman who was at the Capitol during the attack two years ago. And also with us is Robert Draper, he’s the author of Weapons of Mass Delusion: When the Republican Party Lost Its Mind, and has been reporting from the Capitol all week.
Welcome, both of you. Robert, let me start with you. So, going into today's session, Kevin McCarthy said that he expects holdouts voting for him today, that some of those 20 will in fact turn. And that is what we saw in the first voting session of the day. Obviously, a better day for Kevin McCarthy than it has been in the days prior, but that is all relative. What do you expect to happen at the end of the day? Will he solidify leadership?
DRAPER: ….The problem, of course, is that this is a very rambunctious, arguably ungovernable, unmanageable group of Republicans who will chop at the bit for the possibility to do this. I think that some of the other changes were arguably welcome amongst mainstream Republicans. Even including allowing, say, more Freedom Caucus types to be on the Rules Committee. But the motion to vacate is, you know, essentially -- I mean, it's -- it could auger a very, very short speakership for McCarthy.
GOLODRYGA: Yes, some of these proposals, one could argue are legitimate. Some are just to blow the system up as a whole. Mondaire, as we said, we haven't seen something like this take place in 164 years. I'm just wondering, given your perch, you are now not in Congress but you were. And you were there two years ago, and we're going to talk about the meaning and the symbolism of all of this happening today. What is your take on the issue at hand and how Democrats are responding in unison, right now, just watching this from the sidelines?
FMR. REP. MONDAIRE JONES (D-NY): ….They're going to be investigating Hunter Bidens, and, you know, giving a lot of money to other investigations that the American people did not elect them to do and that are distractions from the issues of inflation and crime and immigration and the other things that they ran on.
And that is going to mean that he is going to have a short-lived speakership. Because you can easily find a small number of Republicans, including the ones who have been voting for someone other than Kevin McCarthy this week -- to align themselves with Democrats who would be thrilled to replace Kevin McCarthy. Who, by the way, is not nearly as moderate as many people in the press have been describing him as. He's just more moderate than the extreme far-right that is now voting against him.
GOLODRYGA: Yes, people like Matt Gaetz, threatened that he would just resign if anybody from his party worked with Democrats. So, we'll see if that does end up transpiring at some point in terms of nominating somebody there for speakership.
Robert, as we noted, today is a solemn day. It marks the two-year mark of the attack at the Capitol. And, not all of these 200 that are behind McCarthy are election deniers, but a good portion are. And of the 20 that are the holdouts, I believe all of them are election deniers. So, yes, we can say two years later, democracy prevailed, but I am just wondering, given that these 20, at least, maybe the number has gone down a bit now, are holding this process hostage: What does this say about the threat to democracy going forward in our capital, in our government?
DRAPER: Sure. Bianna. I just want to say that two years ago, at precisely this time, I was walking through the Capitol Rotunda and happen to see on my left some Capitol policeman running up the steps of the West Terrace. I went over there. And before -- in a matter of minutes, found myself being among ad-hoc group that was helping to splash, to set up a water station so that the police could remove the mace from their eyes. It was a really, really horrific day.
And it's, and it was interesting to see in the last couple of days when Democrats have stood up and denounced the Republicans for their behavior on January the 6th to see no effort at rebuttal on their part. And I do think that to your point, that the 20 holdouts were all election deniers. One thing that we can certainly see is far from any kind of -- oh, I don't know, repair or self-repudiation about what they did and didn't do that day. We will instead, likely, see among the investigations that takes place, the investigation of the January 6th Committee itself. That they will be burrowing through the evidence boxes to see if there's anything to suggest, for example. If Speaker Nancy Pelosi had played some role in the laxness of the security. That is certainly a conclusion that a lot of these Republicans have reached. And now they are going to find evidence to support that conclusion.
DRAPER: Well, sure. I think that, you know, the silver lining for Biden and the Democrats and the Democrats losing control over the House is that the Republicans now are in control of the House, and with this, majority of five or so.
And so, the Biden administration, while doing, you know, other things, will certainly take every opportunity to contrast their own performance and their own efforts at good governance with the chaos that presumably will surround Kevin McCarthy's Republicans. This will be the reminder that if you allow -- the American voter -- if you allow Republicans to run the table to control the Senate, the House, and the Executive branch, then you will see this pervasive dysfunctionality….