For the second time in three weeks, Fox News has been shoved into the insurrection spotlight by the House select panel investigating Trump’s coup attempt. It probably won’t be the last time the Congressional body sets its sights on Rupert Murdoch’s propaganda network. The unprecedented glare is highlighting just how duplicitous its hosts are, as we learn they were beseeching the White House 52 weeks ago to call off the insurrection hounds on the eve of January 6.
Today, Fox News dismisses the Trump riot — the same way it dismisses Covid — and attacks Democrats over their fact-finding mission. But the latest Sean Hannity insurrection texts released by the committee don’t lie. And they were flying fast and furious one year ago. More importantly, it’s clear that the media-savvy committee is going to keep up the pressure on Fox News in a way no government body has since the network debuted more than two decades ago.
The January 6 panel announced yesterday it wants to call Hannity as a “fact witness.” It’s not trying to subpoena Hannity because he can hide behind laws that are designed protect journalists, even though he isn’t one. (Hannity a journalist the same way Alex Jones is a journalist.) So this isn’t going to be a long drawn-out legal battle. It’s a public relation showdown, and so far the committee is scoring wins. (Murdoch hates playing defense.) Especially as the panel releases the damning texts in batches, instead of all at once, which generate rolling headlines.
The revelations pull back the opaque curtain Fox News tries to hide behind in terms of claiming to be a legitimate operation. The communications show Hannity to be a plugged-in operative for an administration he was supposed to be covering.
There has been a long media tradition inside the Beltway of opinion journalists getting the ear of a president and acting as something of an ad hoc advisor. The New York Times’ Arthur Krock did it with FDR and JFK. But Hannity was doing something entirely different. He became entangled in a criminal enterprise to obstruct justice by trying to stop Congress from certifying legal election results.
The texts highlight just how unglued Hannity thought Trump was in late 2020 and early 2021. The host angrily referred to the president as basically being unreachable on the topic of the election. These aren’t Democrats making the claim that Trump had lost his bearings, it was his closest media ally.
“Guys, we have a clear path to land the plane in 9 days,” Hannity frantically texted to Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows on January 10. “He can’t mention the election again. Ever. I did not have a good call with him today. And worse, I’m not sure what is left to do or say, and I don’t like not knowing if it’s truly understood. Ideas?”
Days before the actual siege, Hannity was deeply anxious about the looming, Trump-made storm. On Jan. 5 he sent Meadows a note saying he was “very worried about the next 48 hours.”
Hannity’s texts are telling because Fox News had worked feverishly for weeks to build up hysteria around the claims of a stolen election. “They laid the groundwork in the months leading up to the election for Trump to cry fraud, and once he did, they cheered on his cynical effort to subvert the vote and usher in the end of American democracy,” Media Matters’ Matt Gertz wrote one year ago.
The latest Hannity text headlines come three weeks after it was revealed a laundry list of Fox News hosts anxiously texted Meadows on January 6, begging Trump to stop the deadly mob that was laying siege to the U.S. Capitol.
“Please get him on TV,” the network’s Brian Kilmeade messaged. “Destroying everything you have accomplished." Pleaded Laura Ingraham: “Mark, the president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home. This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy.” And from Sean Hannity, “Can he make a statement? Ask people to leave the Capitol?”
All three have since moved aggressively to dismiss the violence that day at the US Capitol. Just last month, Kilmeade mocked news outlets for focusing too much on the insurrection inquiry. “It's 45 minutes an hour on January 6, that's all they got. ‘Mark Meadows, what’s going to happen?’ January 6, that's all they got,” he complained. “So they don't even want to report any other things, so it's non-reporting by omission.”
This, while “Fox News host Tucker Carlson produced a documentary, “Patriot Purge,” for the Fox Nation streaming platform that included the baseless claim that the deadly attack was a “false flag” operation intended to demonize conservatives,” Huff Post reported.
Thanks to the January 6 committee, we now know Fox hosts were frantic about the unfolding coup attempt, and demanded Trump stop making claims about the ‘stolen’ election. What will be the next Fox shoe to drop?
Reprinted with permission from PressRun
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