“Propagandistic right-wing television network downplays attack on democracy on air despite private concerns” reads like a sub-plot from a dystopian novel. It is also, in the United States, a real thing that actually happened.
This week, Americans learned that on 6 January 2021, as an angry mob stormed the Capitol to try to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s election, Fox News anchors texted Donald Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, to try to persuade him to get the then president to call off the rioters. Representative Liz Cheney, a Republican who was stripped by her party of her leadership role after blaming Trump for the 6 January riot, read some of the texts aloud in Congress.
“Mark, the president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home,” texted Laura Ingraham. “This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy.”
Ingraham, however, must have decided destruction of legacy isn’t all that bad: she has since, on air, made fun of the officers in the Capitol that day who testified that they feared for their lives.
“I don’t care if the radical left, radical right — I don’t know who they are,” Fox News host Sean Hannity would later say on air while condemning the storming of the building. At the time of the attack, however, he texted Meadows asking Trump to make a statement telling people to leave the Capitol, suggesting that he did indeed know who they were and why they were there.
But, then, this is the same television network that rails against vaccine mandates despite having a vaccine passport system in place at work and most of its staff reportedly vaccinated. Perhaps the real issue for Fox News was not the attack on democracy, but that the people storming the Capitol were too obvious when they did so.