Don't Touch That Dial, The Coup Hearing Is On | Crooked Media
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June 08, 2022
What A Day
Don't Touch That Dial, The Coup Hearing Is On

In This Episode

  • The January 6th House committee finally begins its hearings tonight. The committee intends to lay out what happened on the day of the insurrection, the larger effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election and future elections. Dan Pfeiffer, co-host of Pod Save America, joins us to discuss what to expect and look out for.
  • And in headlines: the House voted to advance stricter gun control measures, Moderna is seeking FDA approval for an Omicron-specific COVID booster, and San Francisco voters recalled progressive district attorney Chesa Boudin.


Show Notes:



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Gideon Resnick: It is Thursday, June 9th. I’m Gideon Resnick.


Priyanka Aribindi: And I’m Priyanka Aribindi, and this is What A Day, where we’re waiting until tonight’s hearing to decide whether or not January 6th was bad.


Gideon Resnick: Yes, to be clear, we think it was bad. We think it was quite bad. But we don’t want to go beyond that without hearing from folks who are there.


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, you know what? This is what it means to be a critical thinker.


Gideon Resnick: On today’s show, we recap Tuesday’s primary results, including San Francisco recalling its progressive D.A. Chesa Boudin. Plus, more mass shooting survivors and victims families press Congress for action on gun control yesterday.


Priyanka Aribindi: But first, today is the day the January 6th House Committee finally begins its hearings tonight. To jog your memory, it has been 17 months since this happened.


[voice] Can I speak to Pelosi? We’re coming, bitch. Oh, Mike Pence? We’re coming for you too, fucking traitor.  [crowd noises]


Gideon Resnick: I turn down my volume every time.


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Really, not something you want to listen to, or, you know, turn on your TV and see happening, as happened to me on January 6th. I will never forget it.


Gideon Resnick: It’s certainly different than Young Sheldon. So tonight’s hearing will be held in primetime, and it will be the first installment of a series of hearings the committee will hold this month. The committee’s intent is to not only lay out what happened on January 6th, but to also talk about the larger effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election as well as future elections. Committee member Representative Adam Schiff, who we are scheduled to chat with for tomorrow’s show, told reporters yesterday the reasoning behind these hearings is to, quote, “expose everything that went on, that put our democracy at risk, and propose reforms to protect our country going forward.”


Priyanka Aribindi: What we should specifically expect tonight are two witnesses. One is Caroline Edwards, a Capitol police officer who was injured in the line of duty on January 6th. The second is Nick Quested, a documentary filmmaker who was actually with The Proud Boys that day. And the committee is going to great lengths to keep viewers engaged. They actually hired a former ABC News executive to help produce these hearings.


Gideon Resnick: Interesting resume leap for this person.


Priyanka Aribindi: Definitely.


Gideon Resnick: Going to be cool to see that. To get ready for tonight’s hearing, though, and find out more about what to expect and look out for going forward, we have with us Dan Pfeiffer, host of Pod Save America and the author of “Battling the Big Lie: How Fox, Facebook, and the MAGA Media are Destroying America.” Dan, welcome back to What A Day.


Dan Pfeiffer: Thanks for having me.


Priyanka Aribindi: So let’s start out with the basics. What specifically will you be watching for in this first round of hearings?


Dan Pfeiffer: Well, I think that there are two related but separate stories about January 6th. The first one is the one most people seem focused on, which is who organized the violent mob at the Capitol? What led to that? Who fomented it? And that is an incredibly important story, but there is a larger story that I think is more forward-looking that we have to tell, which is how much of the hearings are going to focus on the incredibly wide, incredibly sophisticated criminal conspiracy to overturn the election, that included members of Congress and included the president’s aides, according to reports, included outside allies, and it even included the wife of a Supreme Court justice. That’s a story that should be told because the violent assault of capital doesn’t happen without that, and that is what they are actively and openly planning for 2024.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah. And to that point, you know, we’re all pretty tapped into January 6th and what happened after, but do you expect the majority of Americans to really, like, engage with these hearings or even to honestly care about them, given everything else that’s happening? And is it going to be about what sort of new information gets presented that could actually impact opinion?


Dan Pfeiffer: I mean, we should assume the majority of Americans are not going to pay attention because the majority of Americans are not paying attention to political news on a given day. Even the majority of voters don’t pay attention to political news any given day, and we have 40% of Americans who opt out of the political process. But just because you’re not watching that night or you’re not watching the CNN or MSNBC coverage or listen to the Crooked podcast talk about it, if it becomes part of the conversation in the country, right, whether that’s around the dinner table or in family group chats or on Facebook, people could consume it. And we have seen in polling that people care a lot about this. Even if they think the election was stolen, they hate what happened on January 6th. And the new stuff matters a lot. And that was one of the mistakes I think a lot of Democrats made during the first impeachment was we knew everything before anyone. So they told us what was going to happen, and then a often compelling, credible witness sat down and then told us again. And reportedly they’re holding some stuff back in order to get the networks to cover it and people to tune in. And surprise is an incredibly important currency in the Internet attention economy.


Priyanka Aribindi: Totally.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah. That’s a super interesting point. And to that end, there is intentionality here about having this first hearing in primetime. How do you think that that sort of will impact the flow of information from this, the actual ability to get attention to it? And are there any potential downsides to deciding to do that?


Dan Pfeiffer: I don’t think there’s any downsides of doing it in primetime.\, As long as people are going to give you airtime when the most people have their eyeballs on their television. It’s a little bit of an outdated concept because primetime used to matter a lot because you can only watch a certain number of channels. And, you’re like, I want to watch Chicago Fire, but look, now I have to watch Adam Schiff. But that’s not how the world works anymore, right? The other thing that doing it primetime allows them to do is not depend on the media to be the ones who communicate what happened to the voters. Because that always advantages Republicans in my mind in two ways. One is, Republicans can–like in the impeachment hearings–can throw their temper tantrums, their fits, and then the coverage is “Democrats, Republicans fight.” And then the voters that you’re most trying to reach are the ones who are, don’t turn in into politics, are a little more inherently cynical about politicians, about the process, about the press, and they just kind of throw up their arms and say this. And those people don’t trust the press very much, and so they tune out. If you can communicate directly with voters and directly to the public, that’s always a better way to do it.


Priyanka Aribindi: Speaking of prime time and networks, one place that this notably will not be is Fox News. They are not airing these hearings. How worrisome is that, and is that just something that we should expect at this point?


Dan Pfeiffer: We should not be surprised by it in any way, shape, or form. Like, the mask is off, right? Fox, which has always been a right-wing propaganda disinformation organization whose goal is Republican political power–that’s why it exists, that’s Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch started it. And they pretended to do journalism because as I write in my book, that is a way to get regular people, and other media outlets to cover what you do because you’re a, quote unquote “journalist.” That is why. And they have a financial incentive to do this, because as we remember when they called Arizona for Biden and initially decided not to abide by the Big Lie, what happened was all of their viewers left and went to OAN and Newsmax. And Fox for the first time was not number one in cable ratings. So what did they do? They fired the people who made the Arizona prediction. They got rid of an hour of news. And what are they going to do? This is what is so offensive: it’s not just that they’re not covering it, they are going to air Tucker Carlson, the person who has done more to spread conspiracy theories about who is responsible for this incident at the Capitol than anyone else. And he’s what’s, who’s going to be on TV. And so this is why the right wing has wanted to do, which is create a hermetically-sealed information bubble, where they decide what good news gets to them, what bad news gets to them, and they are going to shut these hearings out. That is, speaks to the power of what I like to call them the MAGA megaphone.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah. And to that point, the book is called “Battling the Big Lie: How Fox, Facebook, and the MAGA Media Are Destroying America.” And to stick with that point that you’re bringing up and what we’re going to find and learn from these committee hearings, how much do you sort of anticipate that this sort of hermetically sealed ecosystem is going to be directly confronted and directly linked to the notion that people could even be incentivized and persuaded to storm the Capitol?


Dan Pfeiffer: We should be crystal clear that January 6th does not happen without Fox News and Facebook. I think it’s important to step back and think about what really happened here. There was a close Electoral College victory for Joe Biden. It was close. It wasn’t that much closer than Trump’s win in 2016. And in both of those times, the vast majority of Americans believed in the integrity of the results. In this case, independent election officials and Republican election officials testify to the integrity of the results. Courts, with judges appointed by Trump, throughout all the claims and no piece of evidence has ever been produced that showed any votes were stolen, and 70% of Republicans still believe that the election was stolen. And that is not an accident. That is the final result of a decades-long, billionaire-funded operation to build up this right-wing disinformation and propaganda operation. This is where we are. And I think, and that’s why I wrote the book, it’s the most powerful weapon in American politics, and it’s the greatest threat to democracy.


Priyanka Aribindi: There are going to be several more hearings, you know, in the coming weeks, some of which will be in primetime, some won’t be. What is the best way for people who are consuming this at home to kind of keep track of what’s going on?


Dan Pfeiffer: I mean, obviously, I can think of a few daily news podcasts people should listen to that would be a great way of doing that.


Priyanka Aribindi: That wasn’t the point of the question, I promise.


Gideon Resnick: Nicely done.


Dan Pfeiffer: Yes. This is the challenge for Democrats on the committee. And I keep saying Democrats, but it’s not, I should be clear, it’s not Democrat. This is a bi-partisan committee. And the committee has to lay the story out in pieces. They have to present all the evidence, but it can’t be too complicated. But I really hope is that the committee is forward-looking about the ongoing threat. Because it is a rallying cry on the right that January 6th was practice. And January 6th, when, like that, that’s the Proud Boys and militias saying that about the violence on that day, but it’s also all of the Big Lie- believing people are running for office all around this country. They have to tell this as a story. And I think it has to be in chapters, because people’s attention span are not such that if you tell half the story about this one part on Wednesday and then you come back on Monday, that people are going to follow that. It has to like, you have to be able to watch one hearing or consume one day of news and understand in totality one important piece of this puzzle.


Priyanka Aribindi: Totally. That was Dan Pfeiffer, the host of Crooked’s Pod Save America. Dan, thank you so much for being here with us today.


Dan Pfeiffer: Thanks for having me.


Priyanka Aribindi: Dan’s book, “Battling the Big Lie” How Fox, Facebook, and the MAGA Media are Destroying America” is out now. You should check it out. Get your copy. I have. Mine on the way. It’s actually signed. But, you know, you can get yours, too. I’m sure he’ll sign it.


Gideon Resnick: But who’s bragging? But who’s bragging?


Priyanka Aribindi: I’m sure he’ll sign it if you run it to him. We’ll be sure to keep you updated on all things January 6th hearings. The second hearing will be on Monday at 10 a.m. Eastern. And tune in to tomorrow’s show, where we will also be speaking to Andrea Bernstein, the co-host of the podcast “Will Be Wild.” We’ll be back after some ads.


[ad break]


Gideon Resnick: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.


[sung] Headlines.


Gideon Resnick: Hours after hearing emotional testimonies from survivors and several family members of victims of recent mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo, New York, the House voted almost entirely on party lines to advance stricter gun control measures on Wednesday. These include raising the minimum age for the purchase of most semiautomatic rifles to 21, and banning high-capacity magazines. The testimonies that the committee members heard just prior included a prerecorded video of 11-year old Miah Cerillo of Uvalde. She spoke about how she had to stay quiet as the gunman shot her classmates and her teacher in the head. Several parents from Uvalde called for specific gun policies like the ones the House voted on, and lamented the changes they’ve seen in students who survived the horrific shooting over the past two weeks. And Zeneta Everhart, the mother of a survivor in the Buffalo supermarket shooting, describes caring for her son now:


[clip of Zeneta Everhart] Now to the lawmakers who feel that we do not need stricter gun laws, let me paint a picture for you. My son, Zaire, has a hole in the right side of his neck, two on his back, and another on his left leg, caused by an exploding bullet from an AR-15. As I clean his wounds, I can feel pieces of that bullet in his back. Shrapnel will be left inside of his body for the rest of his life. Now, I want you to picture that exact scenario for one of your children. This should not be your story, or mine’s.


Gideon Resnick: She’s right. Of course, republicans in the Senate are not expected to be on board with the same restrictions that the House is. They’re still working on a bipartisan deal to accomplish what they can on the issue.


Priyanka Aribindi: The time to sit around and talk about a bipartisan deal is really running out. You got to do something.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah.


Priyanka Aribindi: A group representing 90 women, including multiple Olympic gymnast Simone Biles, has asked the FBI for $1 billion in damages over its mishandling of the Larry Nassar sexual abuse case. To recap, over 250 women and children accused Nassar of sexually assaulting and abusing them during his tenure as the doctor for the U.S. Olympic women’s gymnastics team. The abuse was reported to the FBI in 2015, but there was little to no follow-up for over a year after the report was made. The FBI admitted to its botched investigation last year, but in May, the Department of Justice announced that the FBI agents deemed responsible for the bureau’s failure to arrest Nassar sooner would not face any criminal charges. Wednesday’s claim states that the FBI’s negligence allowed Nassar to abuse more victims during that time period when no action was taken. And this comes after survivors of Nassar’s abuse settled with Olympic officials for $380 million last year over their negligence on the issue. Olympic gold medalist McKayla Maroney, who’s part of the group behind yesterday’s legal claim, said, quote, “My fellow survivors and I were betrayed by every institution that was supposed to protect us. It is clear that the only path to justice is healing through this legal process.”


Gideon Resnick: We are approaching the most hotly-anticipated release of 2022, apart from the superhero vampire thriller Morbius–that one is for the Tuesday WAD fans, we thank you so much for sticking around–


Priyanka Aribindi: That’s me.


Gideon Resnick: –for Morbin’ time again. An Omicron-specific COVID booster could be coming soon from Moderna, which announced yesterday that it is seeking the FDA’s approval for its new shot. The company released preliminary data yesterday showing that this new booster is much more effective against the BA1 variant than its existing vaccine. However, it’s unclear how it will fare against newer Omicron-sub variants, and there are quite a lot of them. Since Moderna ran these tests, BA1 has been joined by its little cousins, BA4 and BA5, which have proven to be even better at evading the immune system’s defenses–just as actual little cousins are in human form as well. But Moderna says that at the very least, its new booster will provide people with another layer of protection as more sub-variants emerge–and if nothing else, it’ll give us all a blissful 15 minutes to sit in a chair and do nothing while being monitored by a health care provider. The bottom line: more effective vaccines are critical right now as the nation braces itself for a possible fall or winter COVID wave. Ay yi yi.


Priyanka Aribindi: Okay. This is incredible news. As someone who recently had COVID for a second time, it wasn’t pleasant, wasn’t fun, had to miss out on things in my regular life, and if I had this and was boosted, I probably wouldn’t have had to miss. So, that’s just your message everybody: get boosted when you can. Then you won’t miss out on fun things in your social life.


Gideon Resnick: That’s right.


Priyanka Aribindi: Los Angeles voters proved that there are limits to how much they love malls on Tuesday, when they declined to give billionaire and titan of retail Rick Caruso the electoral majority he needed to avoid a runoff in the city’s mayoral race. After spending almost $39 million of his own money on the campaign, Caruso came away with 43% of the vote, setting him up to face Representative Karen Bass in November. And progressives better hope that she beats him, since Caruso’s Giuliani-esque plan to quote, “clean up L.A.” involves hiring over a thousand more police officers and prosecuting more low-level crimes. Further north in California, in San Francisco, voters did go full Law & Order on Tuesday, they voted to recall Progressive District Attorney Chesa Boudin by a 20 point margin, indicating that they thought his efforts to reform the criminal justice system were making the city less safe. The numbers don’t bear this out, though. S.F. Mayor London Breed will appoint Boudin’s successor. A couple other takeaways from Tuesday’s primaries, which were held in seven states, in House primaries nationwide, Trump-aligned primary challengers generally lost their races against Republican incumbents. So it seems like spending ten grand on bready Calamari at Mar-a-Lago may not be enough to win you an election anymore–sorry to say, the moment has passed. And in New Jersey, residents voted to formalize Take-your-son-to-work day, Democrat Bob Menendez Jr. won his house primary to represent the state in the halls of Congress. And if you don’t know who that is, he is the son of Senator Bob Menendez, who also represents New Jersey in those same halls of Congress.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, it’s important to not look for any other possible politicians that are outside one specific nuclear family. That is the goal of every race.


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I hear that’s the rule of thumb. If you recognize the name, you vote for that.


Gideon Resnick: Exactly right.


Priyanka Aribindi: That is historically, how it’s gone.


Gideon Resnick: Unfortunately, it’s true. I also wonder this calamari, if the bigger issue is the fact that the exterior could be bready, or if the interior is too spongy–which is also, can be a problem if you drop 10,000 on it.


Priyanka Aribindi: I fear we may need to go to investigate this for ourselves.


Gideon Resnick: It’s true.


Priyanka Aribindi: WAD investigates?


Gideon Resnick: We need $10,000 to eat as much as we can at Mar-a-Lago, and also for the medical bills that will follow. Okay, and those are the headlines.


Priyanka Aribindi: One more thing before we go: this week on Pod Save The World, Ben and Tommy are joined by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He was in the office. Looked awesome. Didn’t get the memo that he was going to be there. Fine. This is the first time a sitting head of state has been on a Crooked pod and they discussed the state of democracy, the best comedians in Canada, Ukraine, and gun control. Take a listen to this excerpt:


[clip of PM Justin Trudeau] One of the big challenges we have is illegal guns flowing across the border from the U.S. into Canada. And our proximity to the U.S. and the gun numbers here has always meant that we have more guns than perhaps another equivalent country would, in Canada. So we’ve been really cracking down on the border. Last year we seized more than twice the amount of the previous year of illegal guns smuggled across the border. And there’s lots more to do. One of the things that we’re seeing with the debate in the states is you get more and more of the American-style, you know, right-to-carry, self-defense arguments filtering up through the, you know, the usual more right-wing communications channels.


Gideon Resnick: Things are so bad here that they are bad elsewhere, is the message I’m taking from that.


Priyanka Aribindi: That, and that his voice has a vague hint of McConaughey in there. You getting that? Like, just a little bit? Not like the twang part.


Gideon Resnick: Some like fry, I guess, yeah.


Priyanka Aribindi: But like the, like gravelly, and like–I don’t know, I have a lot of voice commentary lately on the show. Anyways, it’s an episode you don’t want to miss. To listen, head to the Pod Save the World feed today.


Gideon Resnick: That is all for today, if you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, spend a blissful 15 minutes in a chair, and tell your friends to listen.


Priyanka Aribindi: And if you’re into reading, and not just the directory at malls not owned by Caruso like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at I’m Priyanka Aribindi.


Gideon Resnick: I’m Gideon Resnick.


[together] And it’s still Morbin’ time!


Gideon Resnick: It’s never not. Until we say it, assume it always is.


Priyanka Aribindi: I learned about Morbius entirely from listening to Tuesdays WAD. I was taking a lovely scenic walk and was just dying of laughter.


Gideon Resnick: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzy Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producers are Leo Duran and me, Gideon Resnick. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.


Gideon Resnick: Hey, WAD squad. Going to high school can be intense. And when your high school is in the most racially-segregated district in the country, there is a whole other layer to contend with. Join reporter Alana Casanova Burgess for a special series called “Keeping Score” on the podcast “United States of Anxiety.” She’ll take you inside a Brooklyn school building, where students are trying to connect with each other through sports. Two teams, one disproportionately white and the other mostly Black and LatinX are playing together for the first time. From WNYC Studios and The Bell, it’s “Keeping Score.” Listen to this special series on the United States of Anxiety podcast wherever you get your podcasts.