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Andrea Austria / Media Matters

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The lies Fox is telling about the January 6 hearing

Rather than showing its audience the televised hearing of the House select committee investigating January 6, Fox News spread lies and misinformation about the committee’s investigation

Fox News announced in advance that it would not air the June 9 public hearing from the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection. Fox’s decision was an apparent effort to keep the committee’s revelations hidden from its audience. So instead, the network aired its regular right-wing programming which spread lies about the election, the insurrection, and the select committee.

  • June 9: Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity hosted conspiracy theorists while pushing lies about the election and insurrection

  • Carlson lied that no insurrectionist had firearms. During the opening monologue of his 8 p.m. ET show, prime-time host Tucker Carlson said: “It was not an insurrection. It was not even close to an insurrection. Not a single person in the crowd that day was found to be carrying a firearm. Some insurrection.” In fact, as CNN reported in July 2021, “three individuals have been charged for allegedly bringing a gun onto Capitol grounds on January 6. At least two other individuals have also been charged with gun crimes in relation to the events of that day.” CNN also reported that the far-right Oath Keepers “likely stored weapons at a hotel in Arlington, Virginia, as part of their plan to have an armed rapid-response force during the January 6 insurrection.” An NPR investigation of right-wing lies about the presence of guns among the insurrectionists that day noted that while many people involved in breaching the Capitol “are suspected of possessing guns during the riot … the vast majority of the estimated 800 rioters were not searched that day.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 6/9/22; CNN.com, 7/28/21; NPR, 3/19/21]

    Carlson spread Trump’s big election lie and endorsed the motives of the January 6 attackers. During his program, Carlson pushed doubts about the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election and said the insurrectionists “were very upset about that, and they should have been. All of us should be.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 6/9/22]

    Carlson hosted Darren Beattie, a January 6 conspiracy theorist, who claimed the attack was “a clear hoax.” Beattie was a speechwriter for disgraced former President Donald Trump and left the administration following reports that he attended a white nationalist conference. He previously spread the debunked conspiracy theory — both on Fox and his website Revolver News — that the January 6 attack on the Capitol was some kind of inside job by the FBI. During his appearance on Carlson’s show, Beattie again made those claims, saying, “It's a clear hoax. We know what's happened but there's unfinished business and we need to expose the feds for what they've done.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 6/9/22; CNN.com, 8/19/18; The Bulwark, 1/18/22; Media Matters, 1/12/22; January 6th Committee, 1/11/22 via Twitter]

    Carlson hosted January 6 conspiracy theorist Julie Kelly. Kelly, a columnist for American Greatness, previously claimed on Carlson’s program that the FBI was likely behind the January 6 attack and that the agency may have “helped make up this pipe bomb hoax.” (The pipe bombs discovered in Washington, D.C., that day were active devices and not a hoax.) She had also dismissed the congressional testimony of a D.C. police officer injured during the insurrection, calling him a “crisis actor.” On June 9, she mainly discussed the arrest of a Republican gubernatorial candidate in Michigan, who was arrested in relation to his alleged involvement in the insurrection, and criticized the FBI’s role in that case. [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 6/9/22; Media Matters, 7/27/21, 2/17/22, 1/12/22; ABC News, 1/5/22]

    Carlson hosted QAnon-linked congressional candidate Joe Kent, who has said the election was “stolen” and who spoke at a rally in support of January 6 insurrectionists. Kent is a Republican candidate for Congress from Washington who has been endorsed by Trump. He has previously appeared on a QAnon streaming show, referred to the “stolen election of 2020” on Steve Bannon’s War Room podcast, and spoke at a “Justice for J6” rally in support of people charged with crimes related to January 6. On Carlson’s June 9 show, Kent further spread mistrust of the 2020 presidential election results, saying, “The only reason that people were there on that day of January 6 is that the American people, a vast majority of them, did not feel like their voices were heard at the election box.” Carlson added: “The senile guy got 10 million more votes than Barack Obama. Really? Tell us how that happened. ‘Shut up, you're going to jail.’ That’s not an adequate answer, I would say.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 6/9/22]; Business Insider, 3/3/22; Media Matters, 6/4/20, 11/18/21, 1/4/22; The Atlantic, 9/18/21]

    Carlson hosted right-wing pundit Ned Ryun, who has spread election conspiracy theories. Immediately following the 2020 election, Ryun spread baseless claims of election irregularities and suggested there should be a violent response. And Ryun has previously called the January 6 select committee a “distraction.” On Carlson’s show, Ryun referenced the long-debunked conspiracy theory that the FBI was responsible for the violent attack on January 6, 2021. [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 6/9/22; The Bulwark, 1/25/21; RealClearPolitics, 1/8/22; Media Matters, 1/12/22]

    Carlson hosted The Federalist’s Sean Davis, who has dismissed the experience of one police officer at the January 6 attack and has pushed a conspiracy theory about the attack. In a tweet one year after the January 6 attack, Davis wrote, “There’s more evidence that the Feds orchestrated muh insurrection than there is that Trump orchestrated it.” He also attacked Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn for testifying that the crowd at the Capitol yelled racial slurs against him. On Carlson’s show, Davis rambled about events such as the COVID-19 pandemic being “used as a pretext to just do a massive roll-up of power,” and the select committee being “a pretext to just criminalize opposition to anything they are doing.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 6/9/22; Sean Davis, 1/6/22 via Twitter; Media Matters, 7/27/21]

    Hannity claimed the committee is “illegitimate” and “hyper-partisan” and the hearing was a “made-for-TV smear campaign against President Trump.” Hannity also claimed, “People who support Donald Trump were not allowed to participate on this illegitimate, hyper-partisan committee.” Contrary to Hannity’s claims, the committee is a legitimately authorized bipartisan congressional body. Republicans in the Senate blocked the formation of an independent commission to investigate the attack on the Capitol, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) later pulled his five GOP nominees to the select committee after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) rejected two of them for being closely aligned with Trump’s attempts to steal the 2020 presidential election. However, two Republicans do serve on the committee: Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL). [Fox News, Hannity, 6/9/22; NPR, 5/28/21; CNN.com, 5/2/22, 7/21/21, 6/8/22; The Hill, 1/20/22]

    Hannity lied about Democratic leadership’s responsibility for security at the Capitol. During his program, Hannity tried to portray Democrats such as Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) as responsible for lax Capitol security, specifically regarding the predeployment of National Guard forces. But fact checks have long ago debunked such claims. In July 2021, the CEO of the U.S. Capitol Historical Society, Jane L. Campbell, told CNN, “The Speaker of the House does not oversee security of the US Capitol, nor does this official oversee the Capitol Police Board.” CNN also reported, “According to testimony from the former Capitol Police chief, Pelosi was not involved in the decisions made ahead of January 6 regarding the National Guard.” FactCheck.org noted that a bipartisan Senate investigation of security, planning and response failures on the day of the attack “made no mention of any missteps by Pelosi.” [Fox News, Hannity, 6/9/22; CNN.com, 7/21/21; FactCheck.org, 7/29/21]