Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), the chair of the House rules committee, slammed Fox News hosts for publicly downplaying the attack at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 after privately pressuring former President Donald Trump to stop his rioting supporters.
“I think it’s notable that as of the start of the meeting, that there has been zero mentions on Fox News of their hosts’ texts to Mark Meadows,” McGovern said during a rules committee hearing Tuesday. “And that’s despite the fact that one of the hosts that texted him was live on the air all morning.”
The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot revealed during a meeting Monday that Fox News’ Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Brian Kilmeade each reached out to then-White House chief of staff Meadows during the siege, imploring him to persuade Trump to do something to end the violence.
“I’m glad these hosts privately pushed to stop the violence on that awful day,” McGovern continued, “but what I’m upset about is what they’ve publicly said ever since: That what happened that day somehow wasn’t the fault of Donald Trump and his allies. That what happened really wasn’t a big deal. That all this is being overhyped.”
“This would be a good time for these hosts to use their platforms to tell the American people the truth, just like they were privately texting Mark Meadows the truth on that terrible day,” he said. “But I have to say that their silence is deafening.”
Fox News let over 16 hours pass before even mentioning the damning revelation about the texts, liberal watchdog Media Matters observed. The conservative network broke its silence on the messages shortly after McGovern’s remarks, when congressional correspondent Chad Pergram mentioned it briefly. He did not name the cable news channel’s hosts involved or reveal what they wrote.
Hannity suggested in a Jan. 6 message to Meadows that Trump should make a statement to ask people to leave the Capitol. Ingraham said the president “needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home.” And Kilmeade said Trump was “destroying everything you have accomplished.”
Many Fox News personalities, including the three who texted Meadows, would later go on to play down the attacks and question who was behind them. Hannity and Ingraham promoted false claims that rioters could have been left-wing militants, in contrast to their private pleas that Trump call off his supporters.
The two hosts were also vocally opposed to an investigation into the Jan. 6 riot, claiming it would be used as an excuse to attack Trump and his followers.
Despite their personal involvement, and even though Hannity hosted Meadows himself on his show, neither Hannity nor Ingraham mentioned the explosive revelation on their prime-time broadcasts Monday. Kilmeade, who was on air for nearly three hours Tuesday morning, also ignored the subject.
The select committee voted unanimously Monday to recommend holding Meadows in contempt of Congress for failing to comply with a congressional subpoena. It is now up to the full House to determine if it will refer the matter to the Justice Department to pursue criminal charges.