SENATOR PATTY MURRAY (D-WA): I know firsthand that January 6th was a dark, violent chapter in our nation's history. So imagine my shock and my anger to hear a prime time Fox News host trying to downplay this horrific event, trying to say this was just people on a sightseeing tour. Now, I have taken constituents on a tour of the Capitol. I’m sure the presiding officer has. And I'm sure we all know, you don’t bring gas masks on a tour. You don’t bring pepper spray on a tour. You do not bring bats, or knives, or tasers. They actually had zip tie handcuffs in their possession.
For Fox News to let Tucker Carlson try and paper over this by showing a few minutes of footage—which by the way, to be clear, even that footage is showing people who walked past gates, barricades, blaring alarms, police lines, in total disregard of the law, to go somewhere it was abundantly clear that they should not.
But to show that footage and pretend it tells the full story, while ignoring the reality of footage of offices being ransacked, equipment being stolen, windows broken; ignoring the footage of white supremacists parading these halls with confederate flags and zip tie handcuffs; ignoring the footage of Capitol Police being swarmed and beaten and battered?
As the Dominion lawsuit is showing, Fox News has been utterly failing to meet it. In fact, they have been actively pushing lies and disinformation in the most cynical way possible. The depositions and discovery have shown, plain as day, Fox News personalities were spreading dangerous lies, promoting shameless liars, and what’s more: Fox knew it.
We aren’t talking about a difference of opinion or an honest mistake. We are talking about fraud in prime time.
They repeatedly brought on Sidney Powell to spout baseless conspiracies about Dominion voting machines, all the while: Tucker Carlson told his producer Powell was lying; he told his colleague, Laura Ingraham, Powell was lying; Ingraham’s producer texted a Fox executive that he had told her the Dominion conspiracy was ‘B.S.’; Ingraham herself said Powell was a quote ‘complete nut’; Senior Vice President Shah said Powell was ‘clearly full of it’; Lou Dobbs’ producer told him it was ‘complete B.S.’—only for the show to have Powell on three days later.
I mean the list of people at Fox News who knew President Biden fairly won that election—knew these fraud claims were baseless—goes on and on, and in fact it goes straight to the top.
[Rupert] Murdoch, owner of Fox News, called Rudy Giuliani’s lies about the election ‘really crazy stuff.’ And yet, as he admitted under oath, Fox News hosts endorsed those conspiracies and he let it happen, even though he could have done more to step in and stop it.
Instead of putting the Big Lie under scrutiny—Fox put it in prime time.
And when reporters with the network tried to be accurate, tried to tell the truth, tried to set straight the lies their own network was spreading—they were reprimanded. Carlson, who told his colleagues Powell was lying, called for a Fox reporter to be fired for fact checking a tweet about the Dominion conspiracy. Shah, the Senior Vice President who said Powell was full of it, labeled an anchor a ‘brand threat’ for cutting away from an accurate Trump White House Press conference.
Let’s be clear: this was the number one cable news outlet in America stifling the truth, this is so dangerous and we cannot, we absolutely cannot accept this.
This is not how legitimate news organizations behave. How are viewers supposed to trust them? How am I supposed to trust that they will represent my positions fairly?
Now, there are reporters at Fox who are committed to the basic principles of objective journalism and the truth, and I respect them. And many reporters at local Fox affiliates are doing their best to report the honest truth to viewers in my home state of Washington and around the country.
But even if I trust them to try and work in good faith—how do I trust they won’t get overruled by the same executives who oversaw this election disinformation operation?
And Mr. President, let’s not forget the nature of these lies. These weren’t just small white lies or debatable points—these were wild, sprawling conspiracies, which were repeatedly debunked—including by Fox’s own fact checkers—and which were actually designed to disrupt the peaceful transition of power, designed to undermine the cornerstone of our democracy: the public’s faith in our free and fair elections. And they did.
Mr. President, on January 6th, a violent mob, spurred by the lies Fox spread, stormed the capitol. And now, as I detailed earlier, Fox hosts are lying about that. Fox News is discoloring our past when we should be learning from it, when we should be learning from it.
Mr. President, it’s important to consider the scope of these lies as well. This wasn’t one anchor saying something dubious and network executives looking the other way. Fox engaged in a top-down, deliberate, and coordinated effort to push out lies to its viewers. We cannot ignore that. Tucker Carlson can selectively edit as much footage as he wants—but I refuse to let him succeed in rewriting history, and lying to the American people about the January 6th insurrection. America has already seen what Tucker Carlson failed to show.
So, here’s the honest truth: public figures and other media outlets need to grapple with this: Tucker Carlson is determined to make sure Fox ‘News’ is not ‘News’ at all. Fox is a political vehicle for [Rupert] Murdoch and his right-wing causes. It is a political entity that will gladly push disinformation and lies if it means profits or political gain. Let’s just call it what it is.