On the week of the long-awaited January 6 hearings, America’s top-rated cable news network announced that it wouldn’t carry any of them live. Instead, Fox News will continue to feed its viewers their regular diet of spin from Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, and Tucker Carlson.
Fox’s hosts “will cover the hearings as news warrants,” the network said Tuesday in a statement to the New York Times.
Ingraham expanded on that justification with a laudably candid admission, saying that Fox does “something called, you know, cater to our audience.”
Earlier this week, Carlson called the hearings “grotesque.” Meanwhile, both Ingraham and Hannity have found themselves caught up in the fallout from the committee’s investigation. In December, the committee released Ingraham’s and Hannity’s communications with Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows on the day of the attack. The texts showed both hosts in a state of panic over what they immediately recognized to be a chilling assault incited by the defeated president.
“[Trump] needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home,” Ingraham begged Meadows. “This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy.”
To give Fox it’s (very small) due, the network isn’t avoiding the hearings entirely—hosts Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum will be covering them live on the lesser-watched Fox Business channel. But the decision to filter one of the largest news stories of the year through the opinions of Ingraham, Carlson, and Hannity cuts quite a contrast to the 1,100 news segments the network ran on the terrorist attack in Benghazi.
As the Washington Post‘s Philip Bump pointed out, this move isn’t exactly unexpected, and Fox has a history of cutting away from live hearings and impeachments at points when information contradicting the network’s narrative seems to emerge.
The odds were always close to zero that the network would give the hearings the treatment they warrant, and the announcement simply reaffirms that the battle lines over January 6 have already hardened. Republicans have their (completely baseless) narrative: January 6 was a minor scandal at worst and a “tourist visit” at best. The people who stormed the capital chanting “hang Mike Pence” were patriotic Americans—incited or egged on by a loose mix of federal informants and/or antifa operatives—who have since been unfairly persecuted by law enforcement.
Fox has played its part in helping these fabrications take hold. No matter how damning the committee’s findings turn out to be, don’t expect the hearings to shake them loose.