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Fox News was the only major cable news network not to carry the Jan. 6 committee’s first primetime hearing last week, opting to allow hosts Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham to talk over the House select panel and rebut its findings commercial-free.
“We’re not playing along,” Carlson told viewers, adding that the top-rated cable news network would “not be carrying their propaganda live.”
On Monday morning, however, Fox News did play along, carrying the Jan. 6 hearing live as scheduled.
And those who tuned in saw testimony from Chris Stirewalt, a former Fox News political editor who was fired by the cable network in January 2021 amid backlash from former President Donald Trump’s supporters over the network's decision to accurately call Arizona for Joe Biden on election night.
Stirewalt defended the call, telling the committee that after Trump lost Arizona, he was “better off to play the Powerball” than win reelection.
They also heard videotaped testimony from former Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien, adviser Jason Miller, Ivanka Trump and other top aides who said they alerted the former president to that reality on election night.
The aides told the committee that Trump instead decided to listen to the advice of Rudy Giuliani, who Miller said appeared to be intoxicated when he urged the former president to declare victory and say the election was being stolen.
During a break in the hearing, Fox aired analysis from pundits, including former State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf, who said that Monday’s testimony from aides shows that Trump gave his supporters “a false sense of hope” and “lit this match” that led to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
“We saw a portrait of a president today who was increasingly at odds with reality,” Harf said.
The decision not to air last week’s primetime hearing likely contributed to Fox losing its usual top spot in the cable news ratings that night.
According to Nielsen, MSNBC’s coverage of Thursday’s primetime hearing drew more total viewers (4.16 million) than Fox (2.96 million) and CNN (2.62 million). And CNN drew more viewers in the coveted 25-to-54-year-old demographic (709,000) compared with MSNBC (550,000) and Fox (513,000).
ABC, NBC and CBS also preempted their regular coverage to cover Monday’s hearing.