Fox News is burying Thursday’s revelations about the plot by then-President Donald Trump and Trump lawyer John Eastman to pressure then-Vice President Mike Pence to illegally reject electors from key states that supported Joe Biden and thus subvert the election to keep Trump in office, detailed during Thursday’s hearing of the House Select Committee investigating the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.
The only mentions of that conspiracy during Fox’s prime-time block Thursday night came from Fox host Mark Levin – who apparently worked with Eastman to develop the plot and spoke out on Thursday in support of it.
Former Pence legal counsel Greg Jacob described at Thursday’s hearing Eastman’s scheme for Pence, during the January 6, 2021, joint session of Congress to count Electoral College votes, to either reject the votes from some states outright or send them back to their state legislatures for review. According to Jacob, during one meeting in which Eastman sought to pressure Pence to participate, the Trump lawyer acknowledged that the plot was illegal. The committee also aired video testimonies of other Trump aides saying that they had told Trump the plan was illegal, and produced an email from after the riot in which Eastman sought a presidential pardon.
J. Michael Luttig, a retired federal appeals judge and conservative icon who advised Pence with regard to the scheme, warned at the hearing’s conclusion that “Donald Trump and his allies and supporters are a clear and present danger to American democracy.”
“That’s not because of what happened on Jan. 6,” he added. “It’s because to this very day the former president, his allies and supporters pledge that in the presidential election of 2024 — if the former president or his anointed successor as the Republican Party presidential candidate were to lose that election — that they would attempt to overturn that 2024 election in the same way that they attempted to overturn the 2020 election. But succeed.”
Fox “news side” programs Your World and Special Report each ran news packages on the story that day, sandwiched around the “opinion side” panel show The Five, where discussion of January 6 was limited to sympathy for the perpetrators. Then at 7 p.m. ET, the real Fox came on, and the coverage of the hearing essentially vanished.
Eastman’s name was mentioned only once after that – by Levin, who in an appearance on Hannity criticized the select committee for not producing “professors on the left who actually agreed with John Eastman’s position before it was John Eastman’s position.” The Fox host, who has long publicly supported Eastman’s legal theory, went on to allege that “it is not clear under the 12th Amendment what the responsibilities of the vice president of the United States are and how they are limited.”
Neither Levin nor Sean Hannity noted that Levin was not just a commentator who supported Eastman’s plot, but apparently an active participant in its development.
In May, Eastman sought to prevent the release to the January 6 committee of a dozen emails he exchanged with a person matching Levin’s description. According to the filing, Eastman was communicating with Levin in order to collaborate with him on the litigation in Levin’s role as an attorney, and thus the emails should be protected by lawyer-client privilege. Notably, Eastman reportedly first caught Trump’s attention by expounding on a nearly limitless view of Trump’s legal authority during a 2019 appearance on Levin’s Fox program.
Levin’s comments on Hannity were the only meaningful discussion of the coup attempt on Fox’s evening “opinion” block. Jesse Watters, Tucker Carlson, and Laura Ingraham all ignored the substance of Thursday’s hearing on their programs (Ingraham did, however, host Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene [R-GA] to defend the rioters).
On Friday morning, the story was all but absent from Fox & Friends.
The name "Eastman" hasn't been said on Fox & Friends this morning; the program's sole coverage of yesterday's hearing is this 20-second news brief. pic.twitter.com/7zoftpS59Y
— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) June 17, 2022
It’s not hard to figure out why Fox hosts aren’t covering Trump’s coup attempt – they regret that it didn’t succeed. And when Republicans attempt a similar scheme in the future, as Luttig suggested they would, the network’s propagandists will be actively supporting it.
Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.