More than 13 million Americans tuned in to watch bombshell testimony from a former White House aide this week, making the Jan. 6 committee’s latest hearing its second-most-viewed thus far.
The Tuesday afternoon hearing, which the committee announced just a day ahead of time, featured 25-year-old Cassidy Hutchinson, who served as an aide to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Her dramatic testimony attracted 13,231,000 viewers across all major networks, including ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and MSNBC, according to numbers from Nielsen, a ratings firm. This total topped the previous four hearings, which won audiences of about 10 million to 11 million people. The first Jan. 6 hearing, on June 9, drew about 20 million viewers, but it aired in prime time.
Although the numbers indicate that millions of people are watching the hearings, it’s not yet clear how many Americans will ultimately tune in — the hearings are slated to continue into July — or what conclusions they will form. In 1954, about 80 million Americans (out of a much smaller U.S. population of about 169 million people) followed the series of hearings that led to communist-hunting Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s downfall. About 3 in 4 American households watched at least part of the 1973 Watergate hearings, according to Nielsen estimates.
Although a majority of Americans — 58% — say they are following news about the work of the Jan. 6 committee, only 26% are following it very closely, according to a poll released last week by Quinnipiac University. Just 40% of Americans report that the Jan. 6 attacks had a major effect on their worldview, a Politico-Morning Consult survey found.
The hearings’ impact is still growing, a top Democratic pollster said.
“The support for the hearings has increased over time,” Celinda Lake, president of the polling firm Lake Research Partners, told reporters on a press call on Thursday. “And what is emerging very, very strongly from the hearings is not just that [former President] Trump was responsible, but there was a faction of the Republicans, Trump Republicans, who were responsible as well. And that this was about overturning the will of the people, overturning the elections. And people take that very, very seriously.”
Lake said that according to her research, 80% of Americans want accountability for those involved in the Jan. 6 violence, including elected officials. The hearings may affect how Americans vote in upcoming elections too, she said.
“There is an evolving narrative. People see it as a crime, but they also see it as a criminal conspiracy,” she said. “They demand accountability, and they’re very serious about what they consider accountability. And we are seeing these numbers increase quite dramatically over the course of the hearings, including with independents who traditionally don’t pay very much attention.”
Times staff writer Arit John contributed to this report.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.