- Fox News hosts immediately after the Capitol riot used their shows to deflect blame from Trump.
- But new text messages sent to Mark Meadows showed them taking a very different position in private.
- They show the likes of Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham pleading for Trump to intervene.
Text messages released by the January 6 committee on Monday showed that Fox News hosts were among those urging the former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows of to get Trump to call off his supporters as they swarmed the Capitol.
Their efforts then are in stark contrast with the message they gave to their viewers on the day of the riot.
Sean Hannity, a longtime friend and confidante to Trump, texted Meadows in a bid to get Trump to call off his supporters.
“Can he make a statement. Ask people to leave the Capitol,” read Hannity’s message.
—Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) December 14, 2021
Laura Ingraham, a network host and hardline Trump ally, echoed the request.
“Mark, the president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home. This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy,” she texted to Meadows.
—Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) December 14, 2021
And Brian Kilmeade, host of Fox & Friends, texted: “Please, get him on TV. Destroying everything you have accomplished.”
The hosts, clearly dismayed, all gave the same impression: Trump had the power to stop the riot, but did not use it.
But as the three went on air that night, their focus was on shifting the blame away from Trump and his supporters.
All three condemned the violence used the the rioters, but played up baseless theories that the damage done was mainly the fault of left-wing groups.
Ingraham used her January 6 show to argue that the rioters didn’t look like Trump supporters.
“I have never seen Trump rally attendees wearing helmets, black helmets, brown helmets. Black backpacks. The uniforms that you saw in some of these crowd shots,” she said.
“Have you ever seen them wearing… those knee pads and the, you know, all of the pads on their elbows?”
“I just, I mean, I’ve been to a lot of these rallies. I know you, you both have covered them. I have never seen that before. Ever.”
Kilmeade in an interview on Fox News that evening expressed skepticism that Trump supporters were behind the violence.
“I do not know Trump supporters that have ever demonstrated violence that I know of in a big situation,” he said.
And Hannity on his radio show that night pushed the conspiracy theory that Antifa, the loose anti-fascist movement, had infiltrated the protests.
On his TV show, he suggested that “bad actors” may have been behind the chaos.
“We also knew that there’s also bad actors that will infiltrate large crowds,” he said during his opening segment that night.
A Fox News spokesperson did not immediately reply to Insider’s request for comment.
Several of the network’s hosts in the wake of the riot continued to push conspiracy theories about who was behind the violence, and sought to absolve Trump of blame.
Top-rated host Tucker Carlson in a recent documentary groundlessly claimed that that law enforcement officials had instigated the violence on January 6 as part of a bid to discredit Trump supporters.