Fox News is trying to bury a major development from the bipartisan House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection: its announcement Wednesday night in a legal filing that the committee is building a case that former President Donald Trump and his campaign "engaged in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States," involving Trump’s efforts to overturn his defeat in the 2020 election.
The filing, made in a challenge to lawyer and Trump ally John Eastman’s claims of attorney-client privilege, is a development that the Associated Press described as “the committee’s most formal effort to link the former president to a federal crime.” The committee publicly announced this development just after 9 p.m. EST on Wednesday evening. Fox News’ coverage, however, has thus far included the story only twice — once at 12:51 a.m. EST, and again almost by accident on Thursday afternoon, in circumstances not of Fox’s own making — while other legitimate news networks have covered the story numerous times since it first broke during prime time.
Fox News has previously attacked other networks for covering the committee’s ongoing investigation into the events leading up to the deadly January 6 insurrection. (Of course, the network provided boundless coverage to previous investigations targeting a Democratic administration.)
MSNBC did an impressive job of working quickly in a narrow time frame to report on the story as soon as it broke, with The Rachel Maddow Show running a full 9-minute segment on the bombshell development. Guest host Ayman Mohyeldin explained the significance of the filing, and then discussed the story in depth with former U.S. attorney and NBC News legal analyst Barbara McQuade.
CNN ran its own segment about 45 minutes later on Don Lemon Tonight. CNN senior legal affairs correspondent Paula Reid explained that the filing was “one of the biggest headlines out of this committee so far,” and CNN senior legal analyst Elie Honig further explained, “This is not an indictment, this is not a criminal charge” adding, “However, what it is is a road map” for the Department of Justice to pursue a criminal case against Trump or his associates. Honig called the court filing “a call to action by the committee to DOJ.”
Fox, however, had nothing to say about this major news event during the 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. hours. Previously, prime-time hosts Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham vocally opposed the investigations of the January 6 insurrection, and they have since attacked the committee’s work in morally reprehensible ways. On Wednesday night, rather than covering the last development, Hannity spent his time rehashing the network’s false claims that the Biden administration’s climate and energy policies are to blame for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Laura Ingraham also neglected the news about the January 6 committee. Instead, she had time to interview Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) about why she felt it was appropriate to interrupt President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address while he was discussing the plight of veterans suffering from chemical exposure, potentially including his late son Beau. Ingraham also spoke with Fox News contributor and her frequent guest Raymond Arroyo, for a segment in which Arroyo made fun of Biden for, among other things, wiping his nose with a tissue during a speech on Wednesday.
Fox’s only intentional mention of the story was buried in its midnight time slot, during a brief news headline update at 12:51 a.m. on Fox News @ Night with Shannon Bream. Fox committed less than 25 seconds to this breaking story before correspondent Ashley Strohmier moved on to the next item.
The only other time Fox aired a mention of this development from the January 6 committee occurred by accident, while the network was carrying a live feed of White House press secretary Jen Psaki’s briefing with reporters. This time, a non-Fox reporter asked about the story.
Psaki reiterated Biden’s position that Trump’s actions in trying to subvert the election “represent a unique and existential threat to our democracy,” while further adding, “We of course respect the independence of the Department of Justice — that gives confidence to the American people, that’s how it should always be — and they will make a decision about how to move from here.”
Immediately following Psaki’s response, Fox News White House correspondent Jacqui Heinrich pushed ahead with more of the network’s talking points on energy policies in the context of Russia’s war against Ukraine. The network eventually cut away from the briefing after Heinrich’s turn was over, with co-anchor Sandra Smith continuing to push more commentary to counter Psaki’s answers with Heinrich.
Thus, Fox had the January 6 story swept back safely under the rug.