Insightful commentary. Some excerpts:
Here’s one thing I understand—one thing that’s directly relevant to the prime-time hearings about January 6: Rank-and-file Republicans are shockingly ignorant of Trump’s misdeeds. It is simply not the case that they understand everything that Trump has done and support him anyway. They have far, far more knowledge of Democratic misconduct and media malfeasance than they have of anything Trump has done...
[T]he “perception gap” between belief and reality is a bipartisan phenomenon. In 2020 the group Beyond Conflict released a study called “America’s Divided Mind,” which studied what Americans think about each other. Here’s a key finding:
Large majorities of both Democrats and Republicans substantially exaggerate the extent to which members of the other party dehumanize, dislike, and disagree with them—creating a significant divide between perception and reality.
This finding supplements and complements the findings of the group More in Common’s 2019 report on Americans’ mistaken views of each other:
Overall, Democrats and Republicans imagine almost twice as many of their political opponents as reality hold views they consider “extreme”. Even on the most controversial issues in our national debates, Americans are less divided than most of us think....
Let’s put this all together and apply it to ordinary Republican views of January 6. First, they’re going to know a lot less about the Trump team’s misconduct than you might think. Mention the John Eastman memos that urged Vice President Pence to reject Joe Biden’s electoral-vote majority, and many will shake their heads. Never heard of it.
Bring up Trump’s infamous phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and they’re mystified. They simply don’t know that the president threatened Georgia’s top election official with criminal prosecution and demanded that he “find” the votes necessary to change the outcome of the state’s presidential election.
I could go on and on. They don’t know about Trump’s effort to create a slate of shadow electors. They don’t know anything about Steve Bannon’s “Operation Green Bay Sweep,” the plan he developed with Peter Navarro to leverage the objections of more than 100 GOP members of Congress to delay election certification...
This perception gap is precisely why Fox News’s decision not to carry the January 6 hearings live is so pernicious. It relegated the coverage to Fox Business, a network that has a fraction of the prime-time viewers. This means that the community of Americans who most need to learn the facts about January 6 will once again be protected from the truth.
But it’s worse than that. Through the mockery and spin of the prime-time Fox voices they trust, they’ll become even more immune to legitimate concerns about threats to the American republic, and they’ll remain open to the idea that Donald Trump should once again occupy the Oval Office.
I share these realities not to excuse ordinary Republicans, but to help us understand what they know and how they think.