Heroes Of the January 6 Select Committee Hearings (With An Important PR Lesson For People In our Business)

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(Editor’s Note:  This is a follow up to, PR Lessons Learned From The January 6th Select Committee Hearings That Apply To Non-Political Situations)

Arthur Solomon

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word “hero” as

a: a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability

b: an illustrious warrior

c: a person admired for achievements and noble qualities

d: one who shows great courage

The Cambridge Dictionary defines “hero” as “a person who is admired for having done something very brave or having achieved something great.”

It astonishes me, although it shouldn’t after listening to years of on-air pundits abuse simple English worlds in order to make their points. So it didn’t surprise me that phase one of the January 6 Select Committee hearings had some commentators using the word “hero” despite the fact that many of these Johnny- come- lately “heroes” had supported the lies of the former twice-impeached president for more than four years.

These “hero” awarding pundits seemingly forgot how their newly-sanctioned “heroes” stood silent as the former twice-impeached president divided the country with his outrageous comments, as he insulted  the parents of a U.S. soldier killed in action, made fun of an afflicted journalist, and didn’t show common courtesy after Sen. John McCain died.

According to a 2020 article by Atlantic editor Jeffrey Goldberg, “Trump remained fixated on McCain, one of the few prominent Republicans to continue criticizing him after he won the nomination. When McCain died, in August 2018, Trump told his senior staff, according to three sources with direct knowledge of this event, ‘We’re not going to support that loser’s funeral,’ and he became furious, according to witnesses, when he saw flags lowered to half-staff. ‘What the f— are we doing that for? Guy was a f—ing loser,’ the president told aides.”

And CNN reported in 2019, “On July 18, 2015, then-candidate Donald Trump said this about John McCain: “He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

Where were those Johnny-come-lately “heroes” when Trump disparaged McCain, a true American hero?

Is an individual a “hero” because he or she after defending the twice-impeached president for multiple years finally voluntarily or was subpoenaed by the January 6 Select Committee and told what might only be a bit of  the truth after refusing to publicly admit the former twice-impeached president was unhinged and was a treat to our democracy? Not in my opinion.

Former Attorney General Bill Barr is a prime example. For years he remained silent while the former twice-impeached president ripped shreds from America’s democracy. Barr misled the American public about the Mueller report. Now cable TV is full of clips showing Barr’s testimony during which he finally broke with the president.

Is former vice president Mike Pence a “hero” because after more than four years of standing steadfast with the former twice-impeached president Pence did his constitutional duty?

Neither of the above politicians are “heroes” in my judgment, nor do they deserve phrase.

But there were two true “heroes” in my opinion:  One is GOP Rep. Liz Chaney, vice chair of the January 6 Select Committee investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol.  The other is GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger, both of whom sacrificed their political careers in order to save American democracy. Unlike the cable-TV false “heroes,” Chaney and Kinzinger are true American “heroes.”

Important PR Lesson For People In our Business

When pitching a spokesperson it’s not the hero of the day that impresses journalists.  It’s the expertise background of the individual and relevance to your program. Also, in most cases, the hero of the day has been made available to the media previously and is old hat. Search for experts who have not been available to the media for a number of years or even better are new to them – perhaps from universities or think tanks, or athletes who have been out of the spotlight and your chances of success will be improved.


The Unspoken PR Tenet: Bad News Is Good News for Our Business By Arthur SolomonAbout the Author: Arthur Solomon, a former journalist, was a senior VP/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller, and was responsible for restructuring, managing and playing key roles in some of the most significant national and international sports and non-sports programs. He also traveled internationally as a media adviser to high-ranking government officials. He now is a frequent contributor to public relations publications, consults on public relations projects and was on the Seoul Peace Prize nominating committee. He has been a key player on Olympic marketing programs and also has worked at high-level positions directly for Olympic organizations. Early in his career he worked for a political a public relations agency, working on local, state and presidential campaigns.