Fox News host defends the Jan. 6 insurrectionists: “They love freedom”

Pete Hegseth: “You don't have to believe the election was stolen to know that the system has begun to undercut people who love our country”

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Citation From the January 7, 2021, edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends

BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): Pete, where does this movement go from here, if this is the calling card they're leaving us with?

PETE HEGSETH (CO-HOST, Fox & Friends Weekend): Well, the movement is obviously defined by far more than one day. If anything, one person I talked to at the crowd sort of gave voice to the way a lot of these people feel. They say, “I'm a born-again American. I have been re-awoken to the reality of what the left has done to my country.”

This is not Donald Trump only. This is what he has exposed. See, these folks on the lawn, and there were more than I'd ever seen. These are not conspiracy theorists motivated just by lies — that's a bunch of nonsense that people want to tell us. These are people that understand first principles, they love freedom and they love free markets. And they see exactly what the anti-American left has done to America — indoctrinating our kids, opening our borders, canceling individuals, totally censoring entire viewpoints, all the double standards that exist in our country right now.

And then we're always told — and this is legitimate, this is the way republics are supposed to work — you get them at the ballot box.You come back two years later, and you get them at the ballot box. Well, and then what happens when you don't have that recourse? What happens when they use COVID as a guise to change all the guidelines constitutionally?

We could've voted in person. I can go to Walmart. I can go to a store, I can go to a restaurant, I can go to sports games in some places. You tell me we couldn't have voted? I just don't buy it.

And so, I'm actually not surprised, I wasn't surprised by what happened yesterday — I'm not saying it's OK — but I wasn't shocked. I recognize that people feel like the entire system is rigged against them. And then they look at what antifa and Black Lives Matter have gotten away with. And no, no, no. I'm sorry. You can't go to church, but I can riot during COVID, and I'm told that's OK? But if we gather as a group, we're condemned for being a bunch of conspiracy theorists who are not patriotic.

I don't buy it, and I think it's easy to fall into the universal “these people are evil” approach, as opposed to stepping back and understanding that they feel like, if you can't go to the ballot box, where are you going go? And that's a legitimate question for people to answer today.


HEGSETH: Well, I talked to a lot of them. They were hopeful something could be done but most of them acknowledged it wasn't going to happen. They were there to support the president of the United States and defend our republic. And stand up and say I just want a fair shake. I understand what this country represents. I see how the left is trying to tear it down. And I see one man in Donald Trump who has been willing to fight undeterred the poisons of political correctness, expose the media for what they are which is a left-wing cabal completely silencing conservatives across the board. They told us Russia was the biggest problem we had for four years until they dropped it and it was exposed for being totally false. So you don't have to believe the election was stolen to know that the system has begun to undercut people who love our country. That's what they were there for. And it manifested at the Capitol in a different way. That doesn't mean you need to condemn the entire thing.

AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): Pete, really quickly because we're black in about 45 seconds. Does the president have a shot now after all of this if he runs again in four years?

HEGSETH: Of course he does. Will he? I don't know -- what is the path from here? There are different ways he can handle the next two weeks. The movement that he has created is not over. It's only been -- it's only exposed further the deepening of our divide and we're going to have some serious moments coming up where people are going to have to decide whether they will stand for the Constitution or not. One of those was yesterday in the hall of Congress where some people objected. We will see.