UPDATED: Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham addressed the release of text messages they sent to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows as the January 6 siege on the Capitol unfolded, in which they each urged him to get the president to speak out and get the rioters to stop.
Hannity insisted to viewers that he says “the same thing in private that I say to all of you,” after the release of the message. in which he wrote to Meadows, “Can he make a statement, ask people to leave the Capitol?”
On his show on Tuesday, Hannity said, “Surprise, surprise, surprise: I said to Mark Meadows the exact same thing I was saying live on the radio at that time and on TV that night on January 6 and well beyond January 6. And by the way, where is the outrage in the media over my private text messages being released again publicly? Do we believe in privacy in this country? Apparently not.”
Hannity’s comments came just hours before the House of Representatives voted to hold Meadows in contempt of Congress. The Justice Department will now decide whether to prosecute.
Meadows provided the committee investigating January 6 with thousands of pages of documents, including text messages he received on that day from Hannity and other Fox News hosts, as well as from lawmakers and Donald Trump Jr. Meadows, though, has declined to appear before the committee to answer questions.
The texts were revealed on Monday, as the January 6 Committee held a hearing on Monday to sanction Meadows. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), the committee’s vice chair, read Hannity’s message aloud, along with those from Ingraham and another Fox Ness host, Brian Kilmeade.
Ingraham had written, “Mark, the president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home. This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy.”
Kilmeade had written, “Please, get him on TV. Destroying everything you have accomplished.”
On his show, Hannity blasted Cheney, and called for the release of texts between Cheney’s family and Trump over a potential pardon for Scooter Libby, who was Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff. “Let’s release any and all emails and texts,” he said.
“Clearly, Liz Cheney has lost her way. She will lose her seat, and then I am sure will make a fortune at Hallburton or some other big conglomerate and make millions probably doing next to nothing,” Hannity said.
But Hannity and Ingraham have been criticized for downplaying the January 6 siege since then, even though they expressed alarm as the events unfolded.
Earlier on Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked about the release of the text messages and told reporters that it was “disappointing and unfortunately not surprising” that “some of the very same individuals who were willing to warn, condemn and express horror over what happened on Jan. 6 in private were totally silent in public. Or, even worse, were spreading lies and conspiracy theories and continue to since that time.”
Hannity, however, denied that what he said in private differed from what he said in public.
On his show on January 6, Hannity condemned the violence and said that “all of today’s perpetrators must be arrested an prosecuted to the full extent of the law.” But he went on to call the election a “trainwreck,” and cited a Gallup poll that showed 83% “do not have faith in these election results.”
He also has questioned why there wasn’t the level of concern over other riots and disturbances, like those that took place after the killing of George Floyd in 2020.
Later in his show on Tuesday, Hannity featured a segment with Geraldo Rivera and Dan Bongino, in which the host called the January 6 Committee “corrupt.”
Hannity said, “The question is why this riot and not 574 other riots. The question is, is there any privacy in this country anymore, or do they get to release thousands more individual private citizens’ texts?”
Rivera responded, “I beg you, Sean, to remember the frame of mind that you were in when you wrote that text on January 6, and when Laura did, and when Brian did, and when Don Jr. did. Remember the concern you had. Remember the frustration at our beloved 45th president. Where was he? Why can he be doing this? Why doesn’t he say something?”
Bongino said to Rivera, “The backstabbing of the president you are engaging in is really disgusting, and it is really vile that you pretend to be this guy’s friend and you continue to do this.”
Rivera then interjected, “I resent that. I supported Donald Trump until he abandoned democracy.”
Ingraham, meanwhile, also attacked Cheney, as well as another Republican member of the January 6th Committee, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL). “The entire January 6 campaign has become one of revenge and defamation,” Ingraham said.
She also denied that she was downplaying the January 6th siege, but said it was not an insurrection. On her show on the evening of January 6, Ingraham cast doubt on who was to blame for the riot. She cited a Washington Times story to suggest that “antifa sympathizers may have been sprinkled throughout the crowd.” That story, however, was retracted the next day.
Ingraham also mocked the January 6 Committee’s first public hearing, in which police officers testified about being attacked by rioters and the trauma they felt on that day. Ingraham handed out awards for “best performances,” accusing the officers of exaggeration or of playing partisan politics.
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