Fox News hosts are now attempting to claim that their texts to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows urging then-President Donald Trump to condemn the Jan. 6 Capitol attacks were consistent with their on-air rhetoric about the incident.
On January 6, 2021, Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham each promoted the conspiracy theory that leftist protesters — not Trump supporters — were to blame for the riots at the Capitol that left five people dead and hundreds injured.
But in their private texts to Meadows, Hannity and Ingraham made it clear they knew the attack was in service to Trump.On Tuesday night, the hosts addressed the texts that were revealed in a congressional hearing by Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY). For much of the day on Tuesday, Fox ignored the texts and did not inform their viewers of the network's intimate involvement in the story they were reporting on.
Ingraham complained that "left-wing media hacks" and "regime media" had twisted her messages to Meadows "to try and tar me as a liar and hypocrite who privately sounded the alarm on January 6 but privately downplayed it."
"It's time to face facts, shut down the false narrative and treat Cheney and her clique the way the American people treat them: by tuning them out," she concluded.
But on her broadcast on January 6, Ingraham offered a different message than in her texts.
Writing to Meadows, Ingraham said, "Mark, the president needs to tell the people in the Capitol to go home. This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy."
But on Fox, she claimed that the rioters "were likely not all Trump supporters," and cited anti-fascist protesters as potential culprits in the attack.
"There are some reports that antifa sympathizers may have been sprinkled throughout the crowd," Ingraham added at the time.
The Federal Bureau of Investigations has debunked the claim that anti-fascist protesters were responsible for the attack.
Ingraham's fellow Fox News host, Sean Hannity, also tried to say that his public and private comments on January 6 were in sync.
"I said to Mark Meadows the exact same thing I was saying live on the radio at the time and on TV that night," Hannity told viewers on Tuesday night, describing reporting on his texts as a "weak attempt to smear" his reputation.
But on January 6, Hannity gave the impression to Fox viewers that he could not tell who the Capitol attackers identified with politically, saying, "I'd like to know who the agitators were."
His comments were made even as footage showed attackers carrying pro-Trump flags and other paraphernalia while also parroting Trump's false allegation that the election was being "stolen."
On his January 6 radio show, Hannity said, "We had the reports that groups like antifa, other radical groups — I don't know the names of all of them — that they were there to cause trouble."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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