Trump blows up Fox’s January 6 select committee talking point

Background of J6 hearing with images of Trump and the Fox logo

Citation Andrea Austria / Media Matters

Donald Trump inadvertently demolished a talking point Fox News had used to try to defuse the impact of the January 6 select committee hearings when he acknowledged on Wednesday that it was House Republicans, and not Democrats, who had limited the party’s representation on that body. 

Fox’s “straight news” anchors responding to the hearings’ revelations have adopted a familiar refrain: The substance of the hearings may look bad for Trump, but the hearings nonetheless lack credibility because the “opposition” isn’t represented on the committee. (Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, who were appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi because they are Republicans who took the January 6 insurrection seriously, apparently don’t count.) 

“One of the things that stands out to me, John, just in terms of the political landscape here, is that a, there is no opposition questioning, and I think that most of these people would hold up quite well under it, probably,” Fox anchor Martha MacCallum said during a break in Tuesday’s hearing. “But I think that it would lend a little bit more credibility to it to have someone in that room saying, ‘Yes, but what about this, and what about that.’ However, we are not getting that in this current environment here.”

“If we saw a more balanced composition to this committee, if Speaker McCarthy had been able to get some of the members from his side of the aisle seated that he wanted seated, that Nancy Pelosi rejected, how would the tone and tenor of those hearings be different than what we’re seeing?” Fox anchor Jim Roberts later asked, incorrectly identifying the position of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).

When my colleague Lis Power noted on Twitter that this framing is “fundamentally bullshit” because “McCarthy *could have* seated some of his members, he *chose* not to,” Roberts pushed back with a pathetically hackish argument.

It’s unclear what, exactly, makes Banks and Jordan sacrosanct “main picks,” other than their close ties to Roberts’ prime-time colleagues Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity, respectively. Last year, McCarthy selected five Republican members to sit on the committee: Banks, Jordan, Rodney Davis (R-IL), Kelly Armstrong (R-ND) and Troy Nehls (R-TX). Pelosi accepted Davis, Armstrong, and Nehls but rejected Banks and Jordan on the grounds that their support for Trump’s effort to overturn the election would compromise the investigation. 

But McCarthy could have named replacements for them. Instead, he decided that his caucus would boycott the committee altogether, with news outlets reporting that this was a deliberate strategy to “make it seem like a one-sided, one-party witch hunt.”

Roberts may find those facts “fundamentally disingenuous” — but Trump himself is now making the same argument. Punchbowl News reported Wednesday that Trump had told the outlet that McCarthy erred by not selecting replacements for Banks and Jordan because now “the Republicans don’t have a voice.” The story quotes Trump saying:

“I think it would’ve been far better to have Republicans [on the panel]. [Jim Banks and Jim Jordan] were great. They were great and would’ve been great to have them. But when Pelosi wrongfully didn’t allow them, we should’ve picked other people. We have a lot of good people in the Republican Party.”

“Trump added there’s ‘not even a question’ that McCarthy should’ve put Republicans on the select committee,” Punchbowl News further reported.

When you’re a putative “straight news” anchor who is carrying more water for the GOP than Trump himself, it’s time to pause and reflect on your life choices.