How the conservative media downplayed the anniversary of the Jan.6 siege on the U.S. Capitol
NEW YORK (AP) – At one point on Thursday afternoon, Representative Adam Kinzinger was on CNN, recounting what he was doing a year earlier when the U.S. Capitol was attacked. At the same time, MSNBC was reporting on the Justice Department’s investigation into what led to the riot.
Yet on Fox News Channel, the story was quite different. The network, filled with hosts allied to former President Donald Trump, released a video of a dog painting to illustrate a discussion about people maximizing their screen time.
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This slice of airtime was one of many televised moments that unfolded on the first anniversary of the January 6 uprising, when a crowd of Trump supporters violently stormed the United States Capitol in an attempt to prevent certification of President Joe Biden’s electoral victory. But it has served as a powerful illustration of how the conservative media often refuse to acknowledge the gravity of what happened in the past year.
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The divergent approaches to anniversary coverage were clear from the early hours of Thursday.
The birthday was the main topic of the morning news broadcasts. Snuggled up against the cold, CNN’s “New Day” hosts John Berman and Brianna Keilar worked from an outdoor location overlooking the Capitol, while the events of a year earlier dominated discussions on “Morning Joe.” MSNBC.
Yet between 6:20 a.m. and 9 a.m., on the Fox & Friends show, setting Fox’s agenda, the birthday was mentioned twice – once in a press headline and another as an aside by the host. Brian Kilmeade to suggest that Biden wanted to draw attention to topics that were less damaging to him.
Instead, the show interviewed Lara Trump about Biden’s time in Delaware; spoke to a licensed nurse for not having been vaccinated against COVID-19; reported on the âcredibility crisisâ to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; brought in a former US Navy who had criticized Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan; gave Florida Governor Ron DeSantis time to “step up” and announce the distribution of COVID test kits; and featured commentator Charles Payne saying that “every time Biden opens his mouth … he insults the American people”.
The centerpiece of the day was Biden’s speech at Statuary Hall on the Capitol, in which he delivered a particularly forceful critique of Trump. It was covered live on major cable news and broadcast networks, including Fox News.
Afterwards, ABC presenter David Muir said, “You could clearly hear the passion in his voice as he told the American people what was at stake.” NBC’s Savannah Guthrie said the attack on Trump was “quite remarkable.”
âI think, when we look at Joe Biden’s tenure as president, it just might turn out to be the loudest speech he’s ever given,â CNN analyst Gloria Borger said. “It was from the heart.”
CNN’s Laura Coates ridiculed Trump for a statement that Biden “used my name today to try to divide America further” when Biden ostensibly did not name him. âAll he heard during the whole speech was, ‘Did someone say my name?’ “Coates said.
Fox News anchor Dana Perino’s immediate reaction was that the speech was divisive and a missed opportunity. âWe have a lot of challenges that we have to face,â she said. âYou could have talked about the strength of our system. “
“Headlines on the Breitbart.com site were âDemocratic Day of Hysteria,â âKamala Unhinged,â and âDivineâ Biden Blames Trump. âFox News website led with comparison of Vice President Kamala Harris between January 6 and the Pearl Harbor and September 11, 2001 attacks.“
The anniversary comes as Fox News faces new ethical questions over the actions of some of the network’s most prominent figures on the day of the insurgency. The Congressional select committee investigating the attack released texts this week showing host Sean Hannity privately advised former President Donald Trump before, during and after the assault. Fox News hosts Laura Ingraham and Kilmeade also contacted Trump’s chief of staff during the attack.
See: Fox News figures defend Meadows texts released by January 6 committee as consistent messages
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Other conservative networks also rushed Thursday to downplay the insurgency.
On Newsmax, Tom Basile said Biden believes a country defines itself in its worst times. He said Biden considered everyone involved in the attack to be extremists and terrorists, “and I think the American people are going to get angry at that.”
Shortly after, Newsmax called on Republican Representative Andy Biggs to complain about the treatment of people being punished as criminals for their involvement in the riot.
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Throughout the day, the different priorities were reflected in the time devoted to the story. CNN and MSNBC, for example, spent considerable time broadcasting speeches from Democratic lawmakers about their workplace being under siege; Fox practically ignored them. The network aired afternoon and evening interviews with two Republican critics of Trump: Reps Liz Cheney and Kinzinger.
Talking points began to freeze: The Fox News website led with Vice President Kamala Harris’ Jan 6 comparison to the Pearl Harbor and Sept 11, 2001 attacks, a hint that she would soon be criticized for it.
Headlines on the Breitbart.com news site were “Democratic Hysteria Day,” “Kamala Unhinged” and “Dividin ‘Biden Blames Trump.” The main story on RedState.com was titled “The Twisted Morals of Those Who Observe Jan 6”.
Meanwhile, Atlantic magazine published a reader’s guide to all of its subject coverage, including a recent cover story that warned that “January 6 is the practice.”
History dominated the digital editions of the Washington Post and The New York Times. The Post maintained a blog of the day’s events and an extensive set of photos under the main headline, “Biden Says Trump Spread a ‘Web of Lies.’ The Times headline noted that the commemorations highlighted the nation’s divide.
“Almost universal outrage has reverted to separate blue and red realities,” wrote Peter Baker in an analysis of the news.
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