When Representative Bennie Thompson ordered the hearing, Fox’s Tucker Carlson ignored him. Carlson declared that the “ruling class” was giving “another January 6th lecture.” He called the audience “propaganda” and was amused by Fox’s decision not to air it. He said “they are lying and we are not going to help them do that”.
Carlson then lied: he said that “if anything noteworthy happens” at the hearing, “obviously we’ll bring it to you right away”. But his show didn’t do that.
When Thompson said January 6 was “the culmination of an attempted coup”, Carlson asked why the media cared. He barely mentioned Donald Trump, but asked why other networks were “collusion” with the House by televising the hearing. His guest Jason Whitlock said, “Because the Democrats and the left are desperate.”
When Rep. Liz Cheney revealed many of the committee’s findings for the first time, Carlson said everyone knows the United States “may face some real problems soon”; she implied that Congress shouldn’t waste time on the 1/6th investigation; and called Thompson and Cheney “lunatics”.
Carlson looked like an amateur magician trying to distract kids when a performance collapses: “Look this way, not that way.” He said: “Gasoline is over five dollars. Inflation is higher than it has been in the lifetimes of most Americans. Violent crime is making cities unlivable, and more than 100,000 Americans have overdosed on drugs in last year. Why isn’t there? Is there a prime time hearing about this?”
Fox ignored his own role
When Cheney read a text exchange between Fox stars Sean Hannity and Kayleigh McEnany from January 7, 2021, with Hannity asking for “no more freaks” and “no more talk of stolen elections”, Carlson showed the live coverage. on other networks and made fun of those networks. He didn’t mention anything about the texts.
Newsmax, Fox’s right-wing rival, actually showed most of Cheney’s comments, but cut to pro-Trump commentators’ scrutiny. The network’s banners also promoted Trump’s talking points and, at times, the Newsmax app itself.
When the video was completed, Rob Schmitt of Newsmax said, “We saw a lot worse in the summer of 2020, spurred on by comments from across the hall, which set the major cities of this country on fire. Where is the audience on this? Well they don’t. have this hearing, because they don’t care about your life, where you live.”
Sean Hannity took over Fox, but nothing has changed. Hannity said the hearing – still in progress – was “the most monotonous, the most boring” Democratic “fundraiser”. He didn’t touch a word Cheney said. He focused on security lapses and placed the blame squarely at the feet of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
When the committee swore in its witnesses, Fox banners called the hearing “FAIL” and “ANTI-TRUMP SHOW TRIAL.”
By the time the hearing was over, and analysts at the other networks had absorbed the enormity of what was presented, the pro-Trump media narrative was already baked. In Newsmax, Schmitt dismissed it as a “completely one-sided hearing about something that happened a year and a half ago.” On Fox, the banner for Laura Ingraham’s 10pm show read: “January 6 FLOPS IN PRIMETIME.”
“Do not misunderstand me…”
Why does right-wing media opposition matter? Because it ensures that the country remains on two totally different information paths.
Made for television?
OLIVER DARCY WRITE:
We’ve all heard that this would be a made-for-TV audience, a performance designed to capture the audience’s attention in a way that normal Capitol Hill events simply cannot. Specifically, we heard that the 1/6 committee was consulting with James Goldston to help with production. The NYT joked that Goldston had been hired “to produce the ratings as if they were a docudrama or a must-have miniseries.”
But in reality, the audience didn’t feel like a “docudrama” or “must see miniseries.” Not even close. Instead, he mostly employed the style of an ordinary audience on Capitol Hill. Yes, there was also a haunting video pack showing the raw violence of that day. But that video, the only real departure from the typical hearing format, contained only part of the two-hour case.