CNN's Brian Stelter: “The pro-Trump media set the stage for the riot and that’s something the 1/6 committee clearly wants to explore”

Stelter: “What is Sean Hannity hiding? What does Hannity know that he's been hiding from his audience?”

Video file

Citation From the January 4, 2022, edition of CNN's Newsroom with Alisyn Camerota and Victor Blackwell

VICTOR BLACKWELL (CO-HOST): Your reaction now to this appeal from the committee to get Hannity to cooperate. 

BRIAN STELTER (GUEST): Well, I think the big question that a lot of people are going to want to know, including Sean Hannity's viewers, is what is Sean Hannity hiding? What does Hannity know that he's been hiding from his audience? Because he has an audience of millions of people who rely on him, who trust in him, who believe him, even though he's given them many reasons to disbelieve.

And so what has he been hiding from them for the past year? I think its very significant this is voluntary, it's not a subpoena. It is not the situation where we're going to be talking about dramatic First Amendment debate. Certainly, if it did escalate to that point there would be interesting questions about the role of a media personality who acts as a shadow chief of staff to a former president and what that shadow chief of staff knew in the days leading up to the riot. That's an interesting First Amendment issue at some point. But, this is just a voluntary request. 

And let's also remember that Sean Hannity has repeatedly and loudly for the last 11 or 12 years said that journalism is dead in America. He says journalism is dead but all of the sudden as soon as there's a request from a legal committee he doesn't like, he wraps himself in the First Amendment flag and says this would breach the First Amendment. So I think it really comes down to that key question: What's he hiding? What does has he known over the past year that he hasn't told his viewers or told the public? Is he in on it in some way? As we know, we're learning about this vast conspiracy, was he in on it in some fashion? And if not, I'm sure he'll want to share that as well. 

ALISYN CAMEROTA (CO-HOST): Well, I mean, when you say what is he hiding, you mean if he refuses to show up. At the moment, what makes you think that he's hiding anything? 

STELTER: Well, I think for the past year he has defended Donald Trump and promoted Trumpism, even though he was text messaging on January 6th trying to stop what was going on just like so many others at Fox and elsewhere. You know, as I report on Fox over the years, people have always singled out Hannity as the single biggest Trump sycophant and the most important adviser to the then-president. He was on the phone with Trump before and after his shows in primetime. They essentially produced each other's shows and he produced Trump's presidency. And so he certainly knows more than he has shared about what happened between Election Day and the insurrection. I think that's absolutely true because he was on the phone, he was texting and all of this, of course, Alisyn, goes to the bigger issue. The pro-Trump media set the stage for the riot. And that's something the 1/6 committee clearly wants to explore.