Fox stars who publicly denied Trump role in Capitol riot privately asked he stop it

Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity both texted Mark Meadows on January 6

Richard Hall,John Bowden
Tuesday 14 December 2021 03:35
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Fox News hosts including Sean Hannity texted Mark Meadows during Capitol riot begging for Trump to take action

Fox News hosts who downplayed Donald Trump’s role in inciting the attack on the US Capitol made desperate pleas for the then president to call off his supporters at the time, it has been revealed.

The House select committee investigating the January 6 attack released text messages on Monday that were sent to Mr Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, by prominent Fox personalities as the riot was ongoing.

Among them were messages Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity, both of whom have publicly defended Mr Trump’s actions on that day.

“The president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home. This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy,” Fox anchor Laura Ingraham said in a text, which was read by Congresswoman Liz Cheney, the committee’s vice chair.

Sean Hannity, one of Mr Trump’s favourite Fox hosts, wrote in a message to Mr Meadows: “Can he make a statement? Ask people to leave the Capitol?”

In the days and months after the attack, both Fox personalities floated conspiracy theories about the riot being instigated by Antifa or unknown agitators.

Ms Ingraham has mocked testimony from Capitol police officers speaking to the January 6 committee on her show, The Ingraham Angle. In a segment titled “The Angle Awards for today’s best performances”, she suggested police officers exaggerated the events of that day.

“The best performance in an action role the winner is [Capitol police officer] Michael Fanone,” said Ms Ingraham who also gave an award for the best use of exaggeration in a supporting role “the winner is Aquilino Gonell”.

Michael Fanone, Aquilino Gonell, Harry Dunn and Daniel Hodges spoke to the committee about their experiences during the capitol riots, which included racial abuse and assault.

Despite Mr Hannity’s plea for Mr Trump to call off the attackers, the Fox host later defended the former president on his show during an interview with Mr Meadows.

"This is the same Donald Trump that said, ‘Many of you will peacefully and patriotically march to the Capitol so your voices may be heard,’’ Mr Hannity said.

In a November interview with Mr Trump, Mr Hannity suggested that the January 6 committee had a “pre-determined conclusion” which is to “bludgeon you.”

Mr Hannity was even accused by his fellow Fox personality, Geraldo Rivera, of “gaslighting” his viewers about the January 6 attack.

"I think you’ve been, with all due respect and I love you, gaslighting, changing the subject. The subject is Jan. 6th and what happened to the United States Capitol and why it happened. Those two things," Mr Rivera said in response to Mr Hannity’s defence of the president.

"The fact that the Capitol was targeted and that the prime instigator, the one who unleashed the mob, was the president of the United States. For god sakes, Sean …"

Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade also reached out to Meadows on Jan. 6, according to Cheney.

"Please get him on TV," Kilmede texted. "Destroying everything you have accomplished."

The text messages from Fox hosts were revealed alongside a series of similar messages from lawmakers and even the president’s own son.

In the texts, lawmakers described an “armed standoff” outside the door to the floor of the House of Representatives, while Donald Trump Jr pleaded with Mr Meadows: “He’s got to condemn this s*** ASAP. The Capitol Police tweet is not enough.

"He has to lead now. It has gone too far and gotten out of hand,” added Mr Trump Jr.

Mr Meadows reportedly responded to the president’s son, writing in agreement: “I’m pushing it hard.”

Mr Meadows, the former North Carolina congressman, now faces the possibility of contempt of Congress charges after the select committee voted to refer him for prosecution for defying a congressional subpoena.

The former White House chief of staff will now see his fate head to the full House for a vote, which will likely pass in the same fashion that a previous referral to the Justice Department for contempt did in the case of Steve Bannon, Mr Trump’s close ally and the former head of Breitbart News.

The Independent has reached out to Fox News for comment.

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