FBI Director Christopher Wray testified Tuesday to the Senate Judiciary Committee about the January 6 insurrection, debunking a number of right-wing myths about the siege on the U.S. Capitol committed by former President Donald Trump supporters — though Fox News didn’t cover it much during the day. Prime-time host Laura Ingraham, however, took a different route: She presented a funhouse mirror version of the hearing, in which Wray supposedly discredited Democratic concerns.
Earlier in the evening, there was only a headline mention of the hearing on Special Report with Bret Baier, which included footage of Wray making it clear that “anarchist violent extremists or people subscribing to Antifa” were not involved in the attack. However, this news update was only about a minute long.
But during Ingraham’s opening monologue, The Ingraham Angle played a selectively edited clip from Wray’s committee appearance, during which he also said that the number of arrests of violent anarchists “has also grown” over the past year.
Using those comments, claimed that “the FBI director didn't write off antifa so glibly” as did Democratic senators. “Translation, antifa is real, and it’s dangerous,” Ingraham added. “And by his account, it's growing.”
But Ingraham certainly did not show any clip in which Ray explained that white supremacist ideology continues to be the biggest domestic terrorist threat.
Ingraham later had a discussion with Fox News contributor Mollie Hemingway, which proved to be a masterpiece of Orwellian doublethink. Not only did the two of them make claims that were demonstrably false — but most of the claims were contradicted even by the cherry-picked video clips that Ingraham had just shown.
- Ingraham set up a video with clips of Wray’s comments by declaring that in contrast to accusations that the event had been a planned insurrection, “FBI Director Chris Wray finally had to admit this.” The video showed Wray saying that the “largest group” on January 6 had been “peaceful maybe rowdy protesters.” But it also showed him clearly saying, “Some of those people clearly came to Washington, we now know, with plans and intentions to engage in the worst kind of violence.”
- Similarly, Ingraham cited a report from George Washington University, claiming that “just over 12% of those arrested in connection with January 6, belong to what they would call a militant network.” From this, Ingraham went on to claim that it had been “one of the big lies that this was a coordinated insurrection” — even though Ingraham’s own video clip showed Wray saying it had been planned, and Ingraham had just cited a statistical example. (And previously on January 6 itself, Ingraham declared that the attack had to have been set up by infiltrators, claiming, “I have never seen Trump rally attendees wearing helmets, black helmets, brown helmets, black backpacks.” Thus, she implied it had been premeditated by somebody.)
- Hemingway claimed that the description of January 6 as an armed insurrection was “a curious qualifier, given the lack of actual arms that were used, in this sad instance of violence.” To be clear, police did find handguns on the insurrectionists, as well as a variety of other weapons including bombs, knives, and bear spray.
- Ingraham and Hemingway also continued to cast doubt on the causes of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick’s death — a clear facet of right-wing conspiracy theories. (Current reports suggest that the FBI is targeting a suspect and that Sicknick’s death is now believed to have been the result of inhaling bear spray used in the attack on January 6.) Ingraham also did not show her audience that Wray had reaffirmed to the senators that the Capitol Police had “categorized it, I think appropriately, as a line of duty death,” but that he could not share details of the investigation at this time.
And last week, a new indictment alleged a conspiracy by members of the Oath Keepers who allegedly planned and trained for the Capitol attack, and exchanged messages showing that the participants believed that Trump “wants us to make it WILD. … He called us all to the Capitol.”
Immediately following the conversation with Hemingway, Ingraham then had another discussion with Trump’s former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, who had been known during his tenure for engaging in selective leaks of discredited intelligence material meant to help Trump politically.
For this discussion, Ingraham criticized Wray for saying he had “elevated racially and ethnically motivated violent extremists to our highest threat priority, on the same level with ISIS,” which Ingraham called a “deranged comparison.” Then for a comparison of her own, she deflected to asking Ratcliffe why the FBI wouldn’t say that left-wing violence had been as much of a threat as white supremacist violence — a false equivalency that Ingraham had attempted to draw while the attack itself was going on.
For his part, Ratcliffe essentially declared that all terrorism matters.
Perhaps the reason why the FBI is so focused on the white-supremacist terrorism is because — as Wray said — it is the biggest domestic threat.