Fox News hosts are getting mighty defensive about the release of their Jan. 6 texts frantically pleading with the White House to stop the Capitol riot.
On Wednesday, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham—two of the Fox News hosts implicated—attacked the Jan. 6 House committee and Rep. Liz Cheney, the Republican who read their text messages out loud in Congress, just a day earlier. They had sent messages to
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows as the riot was taking place, imploring him to get then-President Donald Trump to stop the violence.
And a heated, personal argument also broke out during Hannity’s show Tuesday night, after Fox News contributor Geraldo Rivera brought up the text messages and his colleague Dan Bongino then accused him of “backstabbing” Trump for criticizing his conduct during Jan. 6.
The texts were released as part of thousands of pages of documents Meadows handed over to the committee before he stopped cooperating with them last week.
Ingraham texted Meadows Jan. 6 to plead with him to convince Trump to make a statement and said the former president was “destroying his legacy,” and then went on her show that night to seed the conspiracy theory that antifa activists were actually behind the attack.
During her show Tuesday, Ingraham complained about “left-wing media hacks” at “regime media” such as CNN and the Washington Post attempting to “defame” her, and said Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger, the only other GOP member of the committee, would become contributors at liberal network MSNBC after they left office.
"Both publicly and privately, I said what I believe—that the Jan. 6 breach at the Capitol was a terrible thing. Crimes were committed," Ingraham said Tuesday. "Some people were unfairly hounded and persecuted and prosecuted, but it was not an insurrection. To say anything different is beyond dishonest, and it ignores the facts of that day."
Later, Ingraham had contributor Byron York and Rep. Jim Jordan on as guests and opened with the question: “Did they care to look at any of [my] public statements on this?” York responded: “Who could disagree with a word of the text?”
Hannity, who had texted Meadows asking if Trump could make a statement and get people to leave the Capitol, addressed his messages during his show Tuesday night. In his monologue, Hannity called himself an “honest, straightforward person” and said the release of the text messages was a “weak attempt” by Cheney “to smear yours truly and, presumably, President Trump.”
Hannity also complained about an invasion of privacy. “Where is the outrage in the media over my private text messages being released again publicly?” he said, ostensibly referring to text messages between himself and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort which were unsealed by a federal judge in 2019.
“Do we believe in privacy in this country?” Hannity asked. “Apparently not.”
Geraldo Rivera, Hannity’s fellow longtime Fox personality, later appeared on Hannity’s show and renewed his criticism of Trump over Jan. 6. “This was a riot that was unleashed, incited, and inspired by the President of the United States which targeted the heart of American democracy,” Rivera said, before Hannity interjected and defended Trump.
“I don’t even want to go down that road, that’s not the question tonight,” Hannity said. “The question is this corrupt committee.”
"I beg you, Sean, to remember the frame of mind you weren’t when you wrote that text on Jan. 6,” Rivera said. “And when Laura did. And when Brian [Kilmeade] did. And when Don [Trump] Jr. did!"
“Geraldo, we’ve been arguing about this forever. The backstabbing of the president you’re engaging in is really disgusting,” Bongino said. “It’s really vile that you pretend to be this guy’s friend and continue to do this.” Rivera and Bongino continued to argue until Hannity cut them off for a commercial break.
Kilmeade did not publicly address his text to Meadows during his appearances on the network Tuesday, but Fox News reporter Chad Pergram later said on-air that Kilmeade, Hannity, and Ingraham “stand by what they texted to Meadows privately and what they talked about on the air publicly."
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