- Psaki criticized Fox News hosts who tried to get Trump to stop the rioters on January 6 but publicly took a different tone.
- “Well it’s disappointing and unfortunately not surprising,” Psaki said Tuesday.
- The comments come after the January 6 committee revealed texts that Fox News hosts sent to Mark Meadows.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday called out prominent Fox News hosts for privately trying to get former President Donald Trump to stop the pro-Trump Capitol rioters on January 6 before publicly blaming the insurrection on antifa and others.
“Well it’s disappointing and unfortunately not surprising that some of the very same individuals who are willing to warn, condemn and express horror over what happened on January 6 in private were totally silent in public,” Psaki said during a press briefing.
“Or, even worse, were spreading lies and conspiracy theories and continue to since that time. So, disappointing, not surprising, unfortunately we’ve seen a trend from some of the same individuals,” she added.
Psaki’s comments came in response to a question about the White House’s reaction to text messages that Fox News hosts and lawmakers sent to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows during the Capitol riot, urging him to get Trump to put an end to the violence.
The House select committee investigating January 6 revealed the texts during a hearing on Monday. Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, vice chair of the bipartisan panel, read them aloud, including ones from Fox News hosts Sean Hannity, Brian Kilmead,e and Laura Ingraham.
“Can he make a statement? Ask people to leave the Capitol,” Hannity texted Meadows as the riot was ongoing on January 6.
“Please get him on TV. Destroying everything you have accomplished,” Kilmeade wrote.
“Mark, the president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home. This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy,” Ingraham texted.
The three Fox News anchors expressed different sentiments publicly that same evening. Although they condemned the violence, they shifted the conversation away from Trump and his supporters.
Instead, the hosts floated conspiracy theories claiming that groups like antifa had infiltrated the crowd and were behind the attack. The FBI said its found no evidence that outside groups such as antifa had been involved in the riot.
“I’ve been to a lot of these rallies,” Ingraham said hours later on Fox News, raising doubts about whether the crowd was made up of Trump supporters. “I have never seen that before. Ever.”
“I do not know Trump supporters that have ever demonstrated violence that I know of in a big situation,” Kilmeade said in a Fox News interview that night.
On his radio show, hours after his text to Meadows, Hannity said “we had the reports that groups like antifa, other radical groups — I don’t know the names of all of them — that they were there to cause trouble.” And on his TV show, Hannity suggested that “bad actors” could have been responsible for the violence.
Since then, the Fox News personalities have downplayed what happened on January 6.