The first Jan. 6 committee hearing on Thursday night was one of the biggest news stories of the year. Fox News decided not to cover it live, instead letting their primetime lineup of propaganda pushers distort and minimize the committee’s findings — just like they do every night with everything else that happens in America.
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It quickly became clear why Fox News was so scared of airing the hearing live. Reps. Bennie Thompson and Liz Cheney painted a damning picture of what happened during the Capitol attack, how former President Trump cheered on his supporters as they violently stormed the building, and how many in his administration knew the Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen was exactly that. They played shocking footage of the carnage, and interviewed a documentarian who was embedded with the Proud Boys militia group Trump told to “stand back and stand by,” as well as a Capitol Police officer who was knocked unconscious as her and her colleagues tried to stave off the riot — to no avail.
Here’s how Fox News tried to distract their viewers from the reality of what was presented during the hearing.
Minimizing the attack and the committee’s findings
Republican politicians and right-wing media have spent the past year and a half trying to gaslight Americans into believing that what happened last Jan. 6 practically peaceful and that Democrats are blowing it out of proportion in order to distract from high gas prices. Tucker Carlson on Thursday night called the attack that resulted in at least seven deaths and dozens of injuries “forgettably minor.”
Sean Hannity delivered a similar message, monologuing about how the hearing was “the dullest, the most boring, there’s absolutely nothing new, multi-hour Democratic fundraiser masquerading as a Jan. 6 hearing.” He added that the “so-called hearing” was a “100-percent Hollywood production with all the creative license that would go along with that,” before blaming the attack on the Capitol Police for allowing the riot to happen, rather than the Trump supporters who did the rioting.
It’s understandable why Hannity in particular wanted to distract from the hearing. The committee showed texts a panicked Hannity sent about preventing Trump from continuing to push the Big Lie, and the prospect of Trump being removed from office.
Refusing to show anything that might resonate with viewers
Carlson’s claim that the attack was “forgettably minor” was pretty clearly dispelled by the 10-minute compilation of attack footage the committee aired. Carlson didn’t show the video, only footage from the hearing room as the video was playing, and only on half the screen as he and a guest were talking. During particularly damning moments — like when rioters were literally breaking into the Capitol — Fox News cut away from the video and only showed people watching it in the hearing room.
Capitol Police officer Caroline Edwards, who was knocked unconscious during the attack, gave a graphic, emotional account of the “carnage” she and her colleagues witnessed as Trump supporters overwhelmed them and broke into the Capitol. “It was something like what I’d seen out of movies. I couldn’t believe my eyes,” she said. “There were officers on the ground. They were bleeding. They were throwing up. I saw friends with blood all over their faces. I was slipping in people’s blood. I was catching people as they fell. It was carnage. It was chaos. I can’t even describe what I saw. Never in my wildest dreams that as a police officer I would find myself in the middle of a battle.”
Fox News didn’t want viewers to get a good look at Edwards’ face as she was recounting what she experienced.
Limiting commercial breaks
Fox News didn’t air commercial during Tucker Carlson Tonight … for some strange reason.
Bringing on a string of right-wing guests to talk over the footage of the hearing
The footage Fox News did show of the hearing was crammed into a box about a third of the size of the screen, and drowned out by audio of right-wing guests who would also like Americans to forget what actually happened last Jan 6. Carlson guest Matt Schlapp tweeted on Friday that one of his key takeaways from the first hearing was that “Ivanka is still beautiful.” He didn’t mention that Ivanka said former Attorney General William Barr’s belief that the election was legitimate changed her perspective on the issue.
Fox News didn’t refuse to air the first Jan. 6 hearing because they thought it was a “show trial.” They refused to air it because they knew broadcasting the committee’s findings to their audience would go a long way in undoing a year’s worth of propaganda about how the Capitol attack wasn’t a big deal, how it wasn’t actually that violent, and how an election Trump lost convincingly was actually rigged against him. It’s all “bullshit,” as Bill Barr said in a video the committee played on Thursday, but you wouldn’t have known it from watching Fox News.
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