Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham vehemently defended themselves for texting Jan.6, urging Mark Meadows, the last White House chief of staff under Donald J. Trump, to persuade the president to the time to take action to stop the Attack on the Capitol.
The texts brought to life something that was already no secret – that key players in the network acted as informal advisers to Mr. Trump. This is a situation which flouts journalistic ethical standards but does not seem to deter Fox viewers. In November, Fox News was the most-watched network, not only for cable news, but also for cable television as a whole, with an average audience of 1.5 million people.
Mr. Hannity and Ms. Ingraham said on Tuesday that their texts – which were read aloud to Congress on Monday night by Rep. Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming – did not differ from their public statements that day.
Both said they believed the pro-Trump siege on Jan.6 – in which rioters breached and entered the Capitol building, police were injured, millions of dollars in damage were damaged. been caused and a rioter was shot and killed – was similar to previous civil unrest, adding that it had been exaggerated by other media. Their on-air statements continued their strong defense of Mr. Trump, 11 months after his attempt to overturn the election and his encouragement to the mob that perpetrated the violence.
The texts also suggested that the hosts believed Mr. Trump – who had delivered a combative speech on the Ellipse near the White House to thousands of his supporters in the hours leading up to the breach – had some responsibility for what was happening. ‘had passed that day.
“Mark, the president needs to tell the people on Capitol Hill to go home,” Ms. Ingraham wrote. “It hurts us all. He destroys his heritage.
Brian Kilmeade, a “Fox & Friends” host, echoed this concern. “Please put it on TV,” he wrote in a text to Mr Meadows. “Destroy everything you’ve accomplished.”
Mr. Hannity wrote: “Can he make a statement?” Ask people to leave the Capitol.
Ann Marie Lipinski, former editor-in-chief of the Chicago Tribune who heads the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, said Fox News hosts violated journalistic standards by sending advice to a White House official as and when as the news unfolded.
“For there to be a live and live violent riot on Capitol Hill in which presenters communicate their preferences on what the president should do with the president’s staff is inappropriate to say the least and highly unethical in my eyes, ”Ms. Lipinski said. noted.
“I think that’s part of the deal that Fox News offers its viewers: ‘We have a different relationship with the government and a different relationship with the Republican Party,” she added. “I think a lot of viewers go there for that.”
Understanding the U.S. Capitol Riot
On January 6, 2021, a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol.
A Fox News representative declined to comment for this article. The network has not made any public statements about the text messages.
On Tuesday, after showing a clip of Ms Cheney reading aloud the text she sent to Mr Meadows, Ms Ingraham, who hosts “The Ingraham Angle”, accused “the regime media” of “Somehow try to distort this post to try to call me a liar, a hypocrite who privately sounded the alarm on January 6, but publicly downplayed it.
In his show, Mr. Hannity set up a confrontation between Geraldo Rivera and Dan Bongino, a right-wing polemicist who joined the channel in 2019.
“It was a riot started, instigated and inspired by the President of the United States, which targeted the heart of American democracy,” Rivera said on the show.
Mr. Hannity told Mr. Rivera to stop talking and reminded his viewers that his guest’s words only represent his opinion. He then proceeded to the House inquiry stating, “The question is, this corrupt committee. The question is, why this riot and not 574 other riots?
After Mr. Rivera asked the host to “remember the state of mind you were in when you wrote this text on January 6,” Mr. Hannity told Mr. Bongino.
“The stab wounds you are doing on the president’s back are really disgusting,” Bongino said, addressing Mr. Rivera.
Mr. Trump’s close relationship with Fox News began in 2011, when Mr. Trump appeared as a weekly contributor to “Fox & Friends.” After taking office, Mr. Trump and Fox News grew closer. The president, along with his advisers, allies and family members, have become staples of the channel, and prime-time hosts have widely promoted his policies.
After the election, some Fox News and sister company Fox Business Network presenters were accused of providing a venue for Mr. Trump’s false conspiracy theory that voting machines were rigged, an endorsed theory by violent agitators on January 6. In February, Smartmatic, an election technology company, filed a $ 2.7 billion lawsuit against Fox and named anchors Maria Bartiromo, Lou Dobbs and Jeanine Pirro as defendants. In March, Dominion Voting Systems filed a lawsuit for $ 1.6 billion in damages against Fox. Both lawsuits are ongoing. Fox seeks to dismiss both lawsuits.
For the past 11 months, prime-time Fox News hosts have played down the Capitol siege. During a July episode, Ms. Ingraham said that “many riots in American history”, including the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020, “were much worse than this.”
In September, Tucker Carlson, the top-rated cable news anchor, showed snippets from January 6 and said of the people inside the Capitol: “They don’t look like terrorists. They look like tourists.
Main aspects of the January 6 investigation
“They were not insurgents,” he continued. “They shouldn’t have been there. They were not trying to overthrow the government. It’s a total jug.
In November, Mr. Carlson released a three-part special about the January 6 attack, “Patriot Purge,” produced for the streaming platform Fox Nation. It included the baseless suggestion that the riot was a so-called “false flag” operation created to demonize the political right.
There was some internal dissent. Mr. Rivera, who joined Fox News in 2001, has publicly criticized the Carlson Special. As did two conservative Fox News contributors, Jonah Goldberg and Stephen Hayes, who resigned in protest.
Mr. Hannity also played down the riot. Last week, when Mr. Meadows was a guest on his show, he took the opportunity to praise the way Mr. Trump handled the events of the day and said he had “condemned” the committee of Congress reviewing Jan. 6.
Mr. Hannity’s closeness to the former president is well known. In 2018, he appeared alongside Mr. Trump at a campaign rally. Fox News berated him for this display of partisanship, saying in a statement at the time: “It was an unfortunate distraction and has been corrected.”
The revelation of the three hosts’ Jan.6 communications with Mr Meadows made headlines nine days after CNN fired Chris Cuomo, a sacking that came days after a report released by the New York attorney general with new details on the role of the anchor. played by advising his brother, Andrew Cuomo, the former governor of New York, as he faced charges of sexual harassment.
Fox News made a strong comeback a year ago, when it lost viewers to Newsmax, a competing conservative news network. The drop in odds came after Fox News made the first projection that Joseph R. Biden beat Mr. Trump in key Arizona state on election night.
In the months since Arizona’s call, as Fox appeared to reaffirm his pro-Trump stance, the network fired veteran political writer Chris Stirewalt and two liberal commentators, Juan Williams and Donna Brazile, left. chain.
Chris Wallace, who hosted “Fox News Sunday,” was one of the channel’s presenters who described a link between the January 6 violence and Mr. Trump’s rhetoric. “You had the President for an hour on the Ellipse filling out a host of inaccuracies, with facts that have been absolutely shredded in state courts, in federal courts, by the judges of Trump, by a Tory majority in the Supreme Court, by Trump’s own attorney general, “Wallace said on a broadcast that day. He had also expressed his concern about the Carlson special to the executive of Fox News.
On Sunday, after 18 years at Fox News, Mr. Wallace left Fox News for a new job at CNN.