It’s not really a huge surprise that Fox News is declining to air the public hearings of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol. I mean, what did we expect?
The conservative media outlet made the announcement Monday, stating that its hosts will “cover the hearings as news warrants.” Shannon Bream, Fox News’ chief legal correspondent, will anchor a two-hour live special on the hearings, and anchors from Fox Business (the lower-rated network) Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum will host live continuous coverage, The Hill reports.
There are numerous reasons one can point to for why Fox won’t air the coverage, starting with the fact that the constant stream of bullshit from off-the-rails GOP faves Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham garners the network millions of eyes nightly. The loss of revenue is probably a consideration since the network has spent every second since Jan. 6 assuring its viewers that the entire event was a tourist trip and the investigating committee is a witch hunt.
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But another important reason is the direct involvement of many of Fox News’ biggest players on Jan. 6 itself—the day a bunch of white supremacists and QAnon-ers stormed the Capitol, cheered on by Trump and assured by Fox News that the election had been stolen.
As we reported in January, Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs, and Jeanine Pirro, to name a few, were on the Oval Office’s speed dial, and on Jan. 6, Ingraham, Brian Kilmeade, and Hannity all texted Trump’s former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, in the hopes of getting him to intervene during the insurrection.
“Mark, the president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home,” Ingraham wrote, per The Washington Post. “This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy.”
Kilmeade urged Meadows to get Trump “on TV” and stop the terrorists, and Hannity begged Meadows to demand Trump “make a statement” and “ask people to leave the Capitol.”
According to CNN, one of the last texts on the chain of the 2,319 texts to and from Meadows starting from Election Day 2020 to President Joe Biden’s 2021 inauguration was from Hannity.
The Fox News host shared the video of Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell denouncing Trump from the Senate floor, saying the insurrectionists were “provoked by the President and other powerful people.” Hannity’s text read: “Well this is as bad as this can get.”
Hannity has been remarkably comfortable appearing in public with former President Donald Trump for years. He appeared on stage with Trump during a midterm election rally in Missouri in 2018, where he had the audacity to call the assembled media covering the event “fake news,” just as he’s referred to the five Democrats and two Republicans on the select committee continuously as “fake,” The New York Times reports.
But Trump ignored his buddies at Fox News and elsewhere and allowed the riot to explode, resulting in the deaths of five police officers who served at the Capitol. Fox News has mostly refused to acknowledge or cover what happened on Jan. 6.
Philip Bump, a national correspondent with The Washington Post, compared coverage of Jan. 6 by Fox News with its competitors MSNBC and CNN to find that on average, Fox rarely mentioned it at all—less than 1% during any 15-second segments in a week. They also rarely, if ever, mentioned the House select committee, the riot at the Capitol, the Proud Boys, the bogus GOP electors, and certainly not text messages from Meadows.
Bump also sites Fox’s coverage of Trump's impeachments. During impeachment hearing number one, the networks aired it without sound, allowing its hosts to babble on about it audibly. And during impeachment hearing number two, “the network cut away at key points,” Bump writes.
At least one Republican lawmaker has spoken up about Fox News’ cowardly decision not to air the hearings. Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois wrote on Twitter, “If you work for Fox News and want to maintain your credibility as a journalist, now is a good time to speak out, or quit. Enough is enough.”