Fox News has spent the bulk of the year deflecting blame for the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol from former President Trump, while placing it onto left-wing activists the network’s hosts claim without evidence instigated the insurrection. The propaganda push was exposed for what it is on Monday night, when Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) read urgent texts some of network’s biggest stars sent Mark Meadows on Jan. 6, begging the White House chief of staff to get the president to make a national address imploring his supporters to go home.
The network’s programming had not addressed the bombshell texts from its anchors since they were revealed Monday night, as of Tuesday afternoon.
It isn’t surprising that Fox News doesn’t want to draw attention to the discrepancy between what its hosts were saying in private on Jan. 6 and what they were telling millions of Americans on the air. While Ingraham, Hannity and Kilmeade all condemned the violence and cast the riot as a blow to the MAGA movement, they also did what they could to instill the idea that the left deserved some of the blame, despite the absence of evidence that this was true. Hannity is still trying to push this idea. On his radio show Tuesday, he said he still believed some aspects of the riot were staged. “Do I think there were some people, based on the reports, that there were people that had staged certain things?” Hannity said. “Yeah, I think that’s true.”
Here’s a brief rundown of the texts Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, and Brian Kilmeade sent Meadows on Jan. 6 — which indicate Trump had control over the mob because, you know, it was comprised of his supporters — compared to what they told their audience the same day.
Text to Meadows: “Mark, the president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home. This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy.”
Message to viewers: “From a chaotic Washington tonight, earlier today the Capitol was under siege by people who can only be described as antithetical to the MAGA movement,” Ingraham said on Jan. 6. “Now, they were likely not all Trump supporters, and there are some reports that antifa sympathizers may have been sprinkled throughout the crowd.”
“I have never seen Trump rally attendees wearing helmets, black helmets, brown helmets, black backpacks — the uniforms you saw in some of these crowd shots,” she added.
Text to Meadows: “Can he make a statement? … Ask people to leave the Capitol.”
Message to viewers: “I’d like to know who the agitators were,” Hannity said on Jan. 6, holding that “those who truly support President Trump … do not support those that commit acts of violence.”
“I don’t care if the radical left, radical right — I don’t know who they are,” he added. “They’re not people I would support. So how were officials not prepared? We got to answer that question. How did they allow the Capitol building to be breached in what seemed like less than a few minutes?”
Text to Meadows: “Please get him on TV. Destroying everything you have accomplished.”
Message to viewers: “I do not know Trump supporters that have ever demonstrated violence that I know of in a big situation,” Kilmeade said on Jan. 6.
While news of its hosts’ texts was breaking on Monday night, Fox News was not covering the committee’s meeting live, nor did Hannity nor Ingraham addressed it on their primetime programs. Even when Hannity interviewed Meadows on his show that night, neither mentioned the messages, according to The Daily Beast, which also reported that Kilmeade did not bring up his texts to Meadows during Tuesday morning’s three-hour episode of Fox & Friends.
Hannity did address the comments on his radio show on later Tuesday. “Now, why would they release this, except that they’re trying to make a point?” he said.
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) noted the network’s deafening silence during a committee meeting on Tuesday. “As of the start of the meeting … there has been zero mentions on Fox News of their hosts’ texts to Mark Meadows,” he said. “Not one, and that’s despite the fact that one of the hosts that texted him was on the air all morning,” McGovern added, referring to Kilmeade.
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA): “There has been zero mentions on Fox News of their hosts’ texts to Mark Meadows.” pic.twitter.com/iGwd8iDIVO
— The Recount (@therecount) December 14, 2021
Fox News has not issued a statement on the texts from its anchors and did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Rolling Stone.
This breaking news post has been updated.