On January 6, 2021, as a mob stormed and ransacked the Capitol in an effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election, Fox News host Laura Ingraham sent this telling text message to Mark Meadows, President Trump’s chief of staff: “Mark, the president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home. This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy.”
This is hurting all of us. What a curious sentence. Ingraham’s text was one of several from Fox News hosts to Meadows. As we reported in our Morning Dispatch, Brian Kilmeade texted, “Please, get him on TV. Destroying everything you have accomplished.” Sean Hannity wrote, “Can he make a statement? Ask people to leave the Capitol.”
But Ingraham’s statement stands out. It speaks explicitly to the symbiotic relationship between Fox News and the president. In many ways, the Trump administration and (especially) Fox prime time represented a joint venture. They shared a message, a mission, and purpose. Together, they unleashed the whirlwind, and key Fox hosts were with the president right until things went too far.
Then they pulled back. At least for a little while. At least until they decided to defend the president and his “patriots” again—by minimizing the importance of January 6, deflecting responsibility to others, and zealously going to the barricades to protect Trump from the impeachment and conviction he so richly deserved.