House Republicans say January 6 committee's TV ratings prove that Americans have 'moved on' from the deadly Capitol riot even though 20 million people tuned in

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Republican Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana, speaking from behind a podium while flanked by four House GOP colleagues, addresses reporters during Capitol Hill press conference.
Republican Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana speaks at a news conference in the U.S. Capitol Building on June 14, 2022 in Washington, DC.Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
  • House Republicans downplayed strong TV ratings for the January 6 committee's first public hearings.

  • Rep. Mike Johnson said Americans "have moved on," from the Capitol riot.

  • The attacks align with the GOP's rally-around-Trump strategy.

House Republicans billed the TV ratings for the January 6 select committee's prime-time hearing on June 9 — which was watched by nearly 20 million viewers — as proof that average Americans aren't interested in revisiting the deadly siege at the US Capitol.

"They thought the American people would be riveted by their production. But the ratings are in and we know the truth. The American people lived through all that and they have moved on," House GOP Conference Vice Chair Mike Johnson told reporters Tuesday, adding that the televised hearings are nothing more than a chance for Democrats to beam their "seething hatred for Donald Trump" into midterm voters' living rooms.

The twice-impeached former president tried to cast Wednesday's now-postponed hearing as the consequence of "very poor television ratings" in a blurb fired off on Truth Social, Trump's election deniers-only social media hub.


Donald Trump attacks the January 6 select committee in a Truth Social post.
Donald Trump attacks the January 6 select committee in a Truth Social post.Business Insider


Fox News host Laura Ingraham did her part by claiming that the debut prime-time hearing "bombed." But that analysis is bizarre, given that the first January 6 committee hearing pulled in over 20 million viewers on 11 networks, according to Nielson, while Fox News' commercial-free counterprogramming averaged about three million viewers during the same 8-10 p.m. window. By comparison, this was almost double the number of viewers who watched the first day of former President Donald Trump's February 2021 impeachment trial.

House GOP Whip Steve Scalise chimed in as well, accusing Democratic leaders of trying to distract the public from more pressing issues.

"Democrats want to keep talking about January 6 every day. That's not something you hear American people talking about," Scalise said at the same press conference. "They want Washington to be focused on the things that are hurting families today, and that is inflation, gas prices, and a border crisis."

Attacking the committee's viewership clearly appeals to Trump, who came to revere Nielsen ratings as host of the reality TV contest "The Apprentice." It also fits in with MAGA world's plan to shift blame for the attack on democracy to anyone but the embattled former president.

Johnson, who along with Scalise voted to overturn the 2020 election results, insisted that rehashing "a terrible event that took place a year and a half ago" is pointless.

"The criminals involved in January 6 are being prosecuted. Lessons were learned about Capitol security that day," Johnson said.

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