One of the standout moments from the first meeting of the January 6 Select Committee came when Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) fought back tears as he addressed the four witnesses, police officers who defended the Capitol from pro-Donald Trump rioters.
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On CNN’s The Situation Room, anchor Wolf Blitzer asked Kinzinger about the comments.
“That personality on that television show, I don’t think has ever served in uniform a day in his life,” Kinzinger said. “I would argue that is a very cold hearted thing. Or it’s just simply driven on expanding your cold hearted personality for ratings.”
Blitzer later pointed out that his question referred to Ingraham, even though both she and Carlson targeted Kinzinger, one of two Republicans on the committee.
Fox News carried the hearing earlier in the day, and afterward anchor Bret Baier said of the police officers’ testimony, “You cannot watch this testimony and say that it’s not a big deal.”
But seven hours later, as the network went into its primetime opinion hosts, Carlson and Ingraham went after the testimony of the officers themselves.
Among other things, Carlson played a clip of Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone testifying that he had been left with “the psychological trauma and emotional anxiety of having survived such a horrific event.”
Then Carlson laughed, and said, “Now not to underplay the crimes that were committed on January 6, and there were crimes committed on January 6, but compared to what? What’s interesting is that Michael Fanone didn’t mention experiencing any trauma during the time he spent last year,” referring to the unrest in D.C. following the killing of George Floyd.
In his testimony, Fanone described getting beaten on the Lower West Terrace of the Capitol, as rioters chanted at him, “Get his gun! Kill him with his own gun!” He said that he was “electrocuted again and again” with a taser. “I thought that I would be torn apart or shot to death with my own weapon,” he told the committee.
Ingraham, meanwhile, handed out mock awards for “best performances,” accusing the officers of exaggeration or of playing partisan politics.
Their commentary drew attacks on Wednesday morning from figures on CNN and MSNBC. Morning Joe co-anchor Joe Scarborough didn’t mention the names of the Fox News figures, but it was clear that he was talking about the Carlson and Ingraham segments as well as that of other media figures on the right. “It’s a disgrace to America. It’s a disgrace to the networks that they’re members of. It’s a disgrace to all of us that people like that mock the service of the men in blue who protected us in the middle of a constitutional crisis.”
Fanone, meanwhile, told CNN that “what does concern me is the fact that you know, those entertainers have an audience, and that audience takes their words and, you know, the rhetoric that they use as more than just entertainment. They think it’s real, and that thought process has real-life consequences. We saw that on January 6.”
Another officer who testified, Harry Dunn of Capitol Police, told the network later on Thursday, referring to clips that Don Lemon played of commentators on the right, “An act? It was an act? Wow. …It’s frustrating. It’s more than frustrating. It makes you so angry, but I am unwavered and I still am going to do my job tomorrow.”
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