The Jan. 6 September surprise

"Trump's Culpability Proven in January 6 Insurrection"

"How Democracy Almost Died"

"Liz Cheney Puts Nation First"

Come late September, when the Jan. 6 Committee releases its final report, these are the headlines that will be splashed across the country, will be rehashed endlessly on cable, and will dominate social media feeds.

Nary a mention will be made of the pre-election timing, no discussion of nonexistent evidence will be made, nothing will be said about contradictory testimony, and nothing at all about the beyond dubious assertions made.  Fact-checkers will find the facts fine, pundits will proclaim propriety, voting systems will be validated, reporters will rousingly render it robust and resounding, and the swamp will hold its breath until November 8 to see if it worked.

There will be no headlines about "Congressional Misinformation," nothing about it being a sordid attempt to influence elections, exactly zero social media/search engine slowdowns and blockages, no sweeping statements about it not being newsworthy, no one questioning any testimony, no doubts raised about motives, and definitely no letter signed by 51 officials calling the entire process into question.

In other words, the report is not going to get the Hunter Biden laptop treatment.

While the committee's show trial has produced scant new information — and much of what seems at first new turns out not to be true (grabbed the steering wheel?) — and is admittedly intended to destroy a specific political candidate, the report will be treated with Talmudic reverence.  And if you raise any questions, you are evil and stupid and evil and wrong and evil and delusional and evil.

In fact, the coverage will be the exact opposite of the laptop affair despite the fact that the laptop was really Hunter's, that Joe Biden has been confirmed multiple times as "the big guy," and that actual crimes were personally documented in writing by Hunter himself.  To say the evidentiary difference between what is on the laptop and what the committee report will claim is vast is an understatement of rather epic proportions.

It will not take the Washington Post or the New York Times 18 months to find the report impeccably truthful and incredibly damning — since that was decided months ago, it won't even take 18 seconds.

The public editor of NPR will not proclaim "that the assertions don't amount to much," and her managing editor will definitely not be saying that "we don't want to waste our time on stories that are not really stories, and we don't want to waste the listeners' and readers' time on stories that are just pure distractions.  And quite frankly, that's where we ended up, this was ... a politically driven event and we decided to treat it that way."

Google, Twitter, and Facebook will tout the report, not bury it, a process that seems to have possibly already begun — search "Jan. 6 Committee lies" or "Jan.6 Committee false," and one finds on the first page (the one 92 percent of searchers never go beyond) only references to how the committee is not lying and is not spreading falsehoods (except for the ads — Google's still gotta get paid).

That pre-confirmation process started even before the committee held its first hearing and has — and will continue — to be shouted loudly.  Terms like "riveting," "remarkably effective," and "comprehensive" litter the pages and airwaves.  Interestingly, this item calls out as a positive the committee's "construction of an easy-to-follow narrative." 

Pretty sure that's usually just called a story.

So, come the end of September (it won't be October, so it can't be belittled as an "October surprise"), get ready to play a few rounds of buzzword bingo and ask yourself, "What would Hunter do?"

But, for the love of God, don't actually do it.

Thomas Buckley is the former mayor of Lake Elsinore and a former newspaper reporter.  He is currently the operator of a small communications and planning consultancy and can be reached directly at  You can read more of his work at

Image: Artgate Fondazione Cariplo.

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