After covering the first three public hearings of the House committee investigating the January 6 insurrection during segments from its national correspondents, Sinclair Broadcast Group has failed to produce any more such segments for the fourth, fifth, and sixth hearings.
Media Matters reviewed prerecorded news segments from Sinclair national correspondents Scott Thuman, Kristine Frazao, and Ahtra Elnashar that air on dozens of local newscasts from Sinclair-owned or -operated television stations nationwide and found that none of these segments covered the three most-recent January 6 committee hearings held on June 21, 23, and 28.
These hearings have provided important information about the illegal and unconstitutional efforts by disgraced former President Donald Trump to upend American democracy and remain in power after he lost the 2020 presidential election. During the fourth public hearing, held on June 21, the House select committee presented testimony by Georgia election worker Shaye Moss about how she and her mother “were targets of a false conspiracy theory spread by the former president and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani,” as NPR reported. Moss also detailed racist death threats and harassment she suffered as a result of being targeted by the Trump campaign and its allies. The committee also presented evidence that Trump was directly involved in the fraudulent effort to present fake electors to Congress, and more testimony that state lawmakers were pressured by Trump and his allies to overturn their states’ election results.
The fifth public hearing on June 23 focused on the Trump administration’s efforts to force the Department of Justice to investigate false claims of voter fraud and otherwise undermine the election results. The hearing also presented prerecorded testimony from senior White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson. Hutchinson named six House Republican lawmakers who asked for a presidential pardon in the wake of their involvement in Trump’s scheme to overthrow the government.
And the surprise sixth hearing on June 28, which featured Hutchinson’s live testimony, presented bombshell evidence that Trump expressed no concerns when he was informed that many of his supporters in attendance at his January 6, 2021, rally were carrying firearms. She further testified that Trump demanded the removal of metal detectors at his rally to allow armed supporters to join the throng that would later besiege the Capitol and that Trump also demanded to accompany his armed supporters on their march to the Capitol.
In contrast to Sinclair’s failure to air national segments on the three most-recent hearings, the outlet did air multiple segments discussing the first three hearings. This coverage, however, heavily tilted toward Republican talking points or quoted lawmakers opposed to the committee’s investigation. Before deciding to stop covering the committee proceedings altogether, Sinclair offered viewers a distinctly slanted perspective on the hearings.
On June 9, Frazao previewed the first of the hearings, while also pushing GOP talking points that the focus of the committee’s work should be on security lapses at the Capitol on the day of the insurrection and that the committee’s current focus was “political theater” and a distraction from other issues.
Thuman also reported on the first hearing on June 10 but instead of covering the actual content of the hearing, he spent much of his segment downplaying it as boring and not interesting enough to watch, another criticism popularized by Trump’s right-wing apologists. Thuman also pushed GOP talking points that the hearings were a distraction from economic issues and “political theater.”
On June 13, Frazao covered the second hearing, and the segment featured some of the damning testimony presented and comments from the committee’s members. However, she also aired conservative misinformation questioning the legitimacy of the committee and yet again framed the committee as “clouded by politics.”
Another Thuman national segment from June 14 covered the debate about whether the evidence from the January 6 committee should lead to criminal charges for Trump and his co-conspirators. But Thuman also aired comments from Republicans calling the hearings a waste of time and a distraction from the upcoming midterm elections.
And on June 16, Thuman covered the third hearing topic -- the pressure Trump and his allies put on then-Vice President Mike Pence to refuse to certify the election on January 6. Thuman also briefly pushed GOP criticism that the hearing wasn’t focusing on security problems instead.