Fox News anchors Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham dismissed the release of their messages to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows during the 6 January Capitol Hill riot, calling it a “smear campaign” against them.
On Monday, the House Select Committee investigating the insurrection released a report detailing Mr Meadows’ communications, including tests from former president Donald Trump’s son, Fox News personalities and lawmakers, urging him to get the then-president to stop the riots in real-time.
Among the Fox News personalities whose messages were read out by Congresswoman Liz Cheney, the committee’s vice chair, were from Mr Hannity and Ms Ingraham.
“Can he make a statement? Ask people to leave the Capitol?” wrote Mr Hannity in an alleged text to Mr Meadows.
Later on Monday, Mr Hannity invited Mr Meadows on his show to defend himself, but made no mention of his text messages to the former White House official urging him to ask Mr Trump to stop the riots.
Under fire for not addressing the text messages on his show on Monday, Mr Hannity said on Tuesday that the text messages only said what he has said publicly.
“In an attempt to smear yours truly (pointing to himself) as well as president Trump, Congresswoman Cheney presented one of my text messages from 6 January to Mark Meadows,” Mr Hannity said on his show on Tuesday.
“Surprise, surprise, surprise! I said to Mark Meadows the exact same thing I was saying live on the radio at the time and on TV that night ... 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.”
Mr Hannity then hit out at Ms Cheney for reading out his texts in public.
“I am an honest, straight forward person. I say the same thing in private that I say to all of you. Liz Cheney knows this. She doesn’t seem to care.”
“She is only interested in one thing. Smearing Trump and purging him from the party. And now she’s partnering with the very same people (interestingly people should ask her if they ever get to interview her), the same people who are evil murdering war criminal and a crook. In order to what? Take a shot at the former president?”
He also demanded that Ms Cheney’s text messages with the former president be released to establish her vested interests to settle personal scores through the committee.
Later on her show on Tuesday night, Ms Ingraham also defended her text messages from 6 January.
In her message to Mr Meadows, Ms Ingraham had written, “The president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home. This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy.”
“Of course, the regime media was somehow trying to twist this message to smear me,” she said on Tuesday, adding that she too had said in the text message what she has said in public before.
“Both publicly as well as in private I said the same thing. That the breach of the Capitol was a terrible thing,” she said.
“Crimes were committed, some people were unfairly hounded and persecuted and prosecuted. But it was not an insurrection. To say anything different, is beyond dishonest and ignores the facts of the day.”
Ms Ingraham also hit out at the Biden administration’s investigation into the 6 January Capitol Hill riot and said, “As a practical matter, there is this inconvenient truth. The Democrats have been going after 6 January riots for the whole year.”
“What happened to bringing the country together? What happened to shutting down Covid?” she asked.
The full House of Representatives will vote on the measure to advance referring Mr Meadows to the US Department of Justice on criminal contempt of Congress charges on 14 December.
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