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Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham attack Liz Cheney over Jan. 6 texts release

Sean Hannity is shown on his Fox News program.
Sean Hannity defends his response to the Jan. 6 riots on his Fox News program.
(Fox News)
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Fox News hosts who texted then-President Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, as rioters swarmed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 sought to explain their actions Tuesday — while lashing out at Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), for revealing the communications.

The texts read by Cheney on Monday night at a hearing of the congressional committee investigating the events of Jan. 6 clearly showed Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Brian Kilmeade, a host on “Fox & Friends,” were alarmed by the former president’s response at the time, even though they have never held him responsible when discussing the matter on their programs in the months since.

The texts revealed how the conservative Fox News hosts are careful not to offend Trump’s base — which makes up a large part of their audience — even when they are personally disturbed by the former president’s actions.

Hannity and Ingraham rarely apologize and usually respond to criticism by shooting at the messenger, and the Tuesday editions of their Fox News programs were no different.

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They defended their actions and delivered their usual talking points on the events of Jan. 6 that largely ignored the former president’s involvement in encouraging the insurrection.

The claims raised in Carlson’s “Patriot Purge,” shown on Fox News’ streaming service, have been disputed by the network’s own reporting.

Hannity denounced Cheney for reading the texts, and referred to her committee’s investigation as “a sham” and a “witch hunt” intended to damage Trump and his chances of running for president again in 2024. Cheney is vice chairman of the committee and one of only two Republicans serving on it.

“Where is the outrage in the media over my private text messages being released again publicly?” Hannity told viewers. “Do we believe in privacy? Apparently not.”

Hannity went back to his usual rationale for Jan. 6, repeatedly asking why Congress has not formed a commission to investigate the unrest in cities across the country that erupted in 2020 after the police killing of George Floyd.

“These lawmakers, they don’t really care about you,” Hannity said. “If they did, they would have a committee; they would have a commission. They care about their house, not your house. They care about their neighborhood, not your neighborhood.”

Hannity did not discuss Trump’s actions that day — he shut down Geraldo Rivera, a guest on his Tuesday show, when he tried to raise the issue — even though his texts to Meadows clearly indicated he was disturbed that the former president didn’t act fast enough to stop the violence on Jan. 6, which led to the deaths of five people.

“Can he make a statement? Ask people to leave the Capitol?” Hannity wrote to Meadows, according to the texts read by Cheney.

The tone of Hannity’s program was best described by a graphic on the bottom of the screen that read: “Dems Jan 6th Obsession Part of Larger Effort to Grab Permanent Power and Punish Critics.”

Hannity did condemn the riots on the program that aired the night of the insurrection. “All of today’s perpetrators must be arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” Hannity said. “Every good and decent American we know will and must condemn what happened at the Capitol.”

But Hannity was among the conservative commentators in 2020 who questioned the fairness of the election, even calling it a “train wreck.”

Ingraham also used her show Tuesday to minimize the difference between her public stance and her private concerns expressed to Meadows.

“Mark, the president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home,” Ingraham wrote to Meadows on Jan. 6, according to text excerpts Cheney read. “This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy.”

Ingraham has denounced the Jan. 6 riot but refuses to call it an insurrection, even though the intent of the protesters was to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

On the night of Jan. 6, Ingraham’s condemnation of the riots was mitigated by unsubstantiated reports that the agitators were “likely not all Trump supporters” and that Antifa sympathizers “may have been sprinkled in the crowd.” She did later clarify that the report was not confirmed.

Ingraham has since repeatedly downplayed the Jan. 6 attack. In April, she said that the country should be more concerned about President Biden “and the well-heeled, powerful forces who want us to lose sight of what made America great in the first place.”

On Tuesday, Ingraham dug in, saying there was no difference in what the texts revealed and what she said on the air.

“Both publicly and privately I said what I believe, that the breach of the Capitol on Jan. 6 was a terrible thing — crimes were committed, some people were unfairly hounded and persecuted and prosecuted but it was not an insurrection,” she said. “To say anything different is beyond dishonest and it ignores the facts of that day.”

Ingraham also said the Jan. 6 narrative is hurting the Democrats in the polls and the ratings of MSNBC. “They’re all so out of touch,” she said.

The Jan. 6 insurrection continues to be problematic for Fox News.

The network took heat for a documentary series produced by Tucker Carlson that pushed a conspiracy theory that suggested government involvement in spurring the Jan. 6 riots. The programs that aired on the Fox Nation streaming service upset many of the journalists at the network’s Washington bureau.

Veteran anchor Chris Wallace was among those who complained to management and on Sunday announced he is leaving the network after 18 years to join CNN’s upcoming streaming service.


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