Fox News Stars’ Desperate Excuses for Bombshell Jan. 6 Texts
After waiting an entire day to come up with a coordinated response following a wave of backlash, Fox News stars Sean Hannity, Brian Kilmeade, and Laura Ingraham finally addressed the damning texts of them begging White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to get then-President Donald Trump to halt the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
According to Hannity and Ingraham, it was a disturbing invasion of privacy that their texts with a prominent figure were shared by the House Jan. 6 committee. At the same time, there is nothing at all contradictory about these messages and they were consistent about condemning the Trump-inspired rioters, publicly and privately.
Along the way, they were given a big assist by Fox News star Tucker Carlson, who laughably claimed that the messages were “exculpatory” for the three Fox News hosts and “were a tribute to the people who wrote them.”
During Monday night’s Jan. 6 committee hearing to consider contempt of Congress charges against Meadows, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) dropped a bombshell when she revealed that a number of prominent conservatives, including Donald Trump Jr., frantically pressed Meadows to implore the president to call off the MAGA mob storming the Capitol.
“He’s got to condemn this shit ASAP. The Capitol Police tweet is not enough,” Trump Jr. messaged Meadows about his own father, adding: “We need an Oval Office address. He has to lead now. It has gone too far and gotten out of hand.”
Hannity, a close confidant of Trump’s who relentlessly pushed his “stolen” election lies ahead of Jan. 6, texted: “Can he make a statement. Ask people to leave the Capitol.” Ingraham, meanwhile, wrote Meadows that “the president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home” because it “is hurting all of us” and “destroying his legacy.”
Kilmeade, co-host of Trump’s favorite morning show, Fox & Friends, wrote to Meadows: “Please, get him on TV. Destroying everything you have accomplished.”
The private concern the three hosts expressed to Meadows somewhat flew in the face of what they were saying on-air in the immediate aftermath of the insurrection.
While they all publicly expressed displeasure at the “disgraceful” riot throughout Jan. 6, with Ingraham saying “the president needs to tell everyone to leave the building,” the Fox stars also cast doubt that Trump supporters were largely responsible for the violence. “I do not know Trump supporters that have ever demonstrated violence that I know of in a big situation,” Kilmeade said at one point, and Hannity and Ingraham suggested left-wing agitators and “antifa” were the real rioters.
Fox News viewers were left in the dark on Monday and most of Tuesday about the hosts’ text messages to Meadows. Ingraham and Hannity did not address the topic on Monday night—despite Hannity hosting Meadows on his show—and it didn’t earn a mention during Tuesday’s three-hour Fox & Friends broadcast.
Fox News correspondent Chad Pergram eventually broke the news on-air Tuesday afternoon, noting that “Laura, Sean, and Brian all say they stand by what they texted to Meadows privately and what they talked about on the air publicly.”
Pergram added: “Laura Ingraham told Meadows the president needs to tell people at the Capitol to go home. On the air that night, she said while you couldn’t tell at the time who was in the crowd she also said the attacks did the opposite of showing support for the president. And she said there was no license for violence or chaos.”
Chief political anchor Bret Baier also told viewers that Kilmeade had discussed the matter on his Fox News Radio program that day and that Ingraham and Hannity would “address this in-depth” on their Tuesday night shows.
Carlson, who has relentlessly downplayed the Capitol riot and recently released a documentary suggesting Jan. 6 was a “false flag” orchestrated by the FBI, first kicked things off in primetime on Tuesday night by offering a full-throated defense of his colleagues.
After railing against Cheney for supposedly invading the Fox hosts’ privacy by releasing the texts, Carlson then claimed that the messages actually “undercut her case” because they “were exculpatory.”
“These are principled people. What they say in public is not that far from what they say over text message,” he said. “These are not phonies. We can personally confirm that.”
“So the texts that she read aloud yesterday were a tribute to the people who wrote them,” Carlson added. “But because she is a liar, Liz Cheney attempted to twist these texts into proof of some kind of conspiracy—part of the insurrection storyline—which by the way, is getting very old.”
Hannity thanked Carlson during their programs’ handoff before launching into a lengthy defense of his text exchange with Meadows. Having already touched on the matter briefly during his afternoon radio show, the primetime host claimed the text release was a “weak attempt to smear” him and an attempt to “purge” the Republican Party of Trump supporters.
“Congresswoman Cheney presented one of my text messages from January 6 to Mark Meadows,” he bellowed. “Surprise, surprise, surprise: I said to Mark Meadows the exact same thing I was saying live on the radio at that time and on TV that night on Jan. 6 and well beyond Jan. 6. And by the way, where is the outrage in the media over my private text messages being released again publicly? Do we believe in privacy in this country? Apparently not.”
Hannity then demanded that Cheney release all her communications with Trump because “sources” told him that “Liz and her family begged and begged Donald Trump to pardon Scooter Libby.” The former president ended up pardoning Libby, the ex-chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney convicted of perjury and obstruction, in 2018.
Fox News correspondent-at-large Geraldo Rivera was the lone dissenting voice of Tuesday evening, noting that while Hannity has long claimed Trump told the mob to act “peacefully” that day, in those desperate hours he held Trump responsible.
“I beg you, Sean, to remember the frame of mind you were in when you wrote that text on Jan. 6,” he said. “And when Laura did. And when Brian did. And when Don Jr. did! Remember that concern you had. Remember the frustration you had at our beloved 45th president.”
Finally, it was Ingraham’s turn to defend her actions while railing against the media, Democrats, and Cheney.
Calling the press coverage of her text a “smearfest” that “grossly” mischaracterized what she had said about the riots on Jan. 6, Ingraham claimed she was only reporting that facts at the time when she mentioned the possibility of antifa taking part in the Jan. 6 attack.
She also aired her on-air remarks from that day, which included her saying “some antifa sympathizers may have been sprinkled in the crowd” and that the violence at the Capitol wasn’t representative of Trump events and supporters.
“Does that sound like I was downplaying it to you?” Ingraham rhetorically asked, only to say mere moments later: “It was not an insurrection.”
The Fox News host also spotlighted a number of tweets she sent throughout the afternoon on Jan. 6 in which she called the attack on the Capitol “disgraceful” and that the violence “hurts the movement.”
“Both publicly and privately, I said what I believe,” she insisted.