Fox News accused of cutting away from Trump impeachment proceedings to avoid bombshell videos

Conservative broadcaster instead featured heated row between The Five's pundits

Joe Sommerlad
Friday 12 February 2021 08:13 GMT
Related video: New video reveals Mike Pence's narrow escape during Capitol riot

Fox News has been accused of cutting away from its coverage of the Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump as shocking new security camera footage of the Capitol riot was presented by House Democrats.

As part of the prosecution, Democrats on Wednesday showed new footage, with scenes showing rioters smashing into the Capitol, and senators fleeing, in an attempt to convict the president for inciting the attempted insurrection on 6 January.

Justin Baragona, a contributing editor to The Daily Beast, noticed the cutaway and tweeted: “Fox News is now pre-empting the House impeachment trial – which is currently featuring Democrats introducing chilling never-before-seen footage from the insurrectionist riot – so they can air The Five, which includes Jeanine Pirro today.”

Fox had been broadcasting the impeachment trial for five hours from 12-5pm - as had centrist rivals ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC and NBC - and returned to it from 6pm but switched to The Five in the interim as California congressman Eric Swalwell began to introduce the footage, which revealed how close the likes of Mike Pence, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and Mitt Romney had come to encountering the pro-Trump rioters who had invaded the Capitol, some bearing Confederate flags and Nazi insignia.

Follow the latest from the impeachment proceedings in our liveblog

The conservative network’s alternative programming included a heated row between pundits Jesse Watters, Greg Gutfeld and Juan Williams regarding its own coverage of the trial.

Mr Williams accused his colleagues of “ignoring” the impeachment proceedings, provoking anger and disagreement.

“I want you guys to come back, come and join the conversation, pay attention to the news!” he said. 

“Clearly, what’s going on on Capitol Hill today is an attempt to hold democracy and the Constitution up. To celebrate that as the basis that we are a country of laws.”

He continued: “This impeachment trial that you guys are all ignoring, I guess you are afraid of it because it’s a reminder...”

The remark provoked a furious response from Mr Gutfeld, who cautioned him against presuming to read his fellow panellists’ minds.

“It seems to me that what you heard today is how Trump was attacking not only Democrats but Republicans, and now he’s forcing Republicans to make a choice,” Mr Williams persevered. 

“You can stand with the mob that stormed Capitol Hill and said ‘bleep the cops.’ You can join the QAnon conspiracy. You can join the Proud Boys violent extremists.”

Before being shouted down, he concluded: “Facing the truth is the way that we solve it, is the way we bring the country together. Ignoring problems is never the way to solve a problem.”

Mr Watters moved to admonish Mr Williams, telling him: “What you just did there Juan, that wasn’t cool… You’re a colleague of ours. We’ve been talking about this for over a month and none of us are standing with the mob, we’ve never stood with this mob. We’ve condemned it outright. We’re not ignoring it, we’ve just done 10 minutes on it.”

“We’ve denounced all violence, unlike you!” said Mr Gutfeld.

A Fox News spokeswoman told the AP she had no comment on the programming choice. 

The Independent has also approached Fox News for comment.

Tucker Carlson, another leading anchor on the network, said he had not watched the first day of the trial on Tuesday evening, commenting: “At this point, honestly, who cares? Impeachment? The whole thing is ridiculous. They’re literally impeaching a president who isn’t the president anymore. They’re yelling at somebody who has already left the room.”

Fox rival Newsmax went even further in its rejection of the process, with host Chris Salcedo telling viewers scornfully on Wednesday: “We have continuing coverage of a bipartisan betrayal of the American people… Let’s watch the dagger plunge even further into the backs of we the people and this country.”

By contrast, NBC’s Lester Holt called Wednesday’s video evidence “emotionally wrenching”.

“It almost dares members of the Senate not to vote for impeachment,” he observed.

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