All news channels carried events on the January 6th anniversary, albeit with different tones and tenors, but at the time of high-opinion prime time there were very different characterizations of the significance of the attack on the Capitol.
MSNBC’s Chris Hayes opened his how-to at 8:00 PM ET, saying, “Today we saw the battle for the meaning of this date in all its glory,” speaking of Donald Trump’s “failed coup” as possibly the most notorious event since September 11th.
Fox News’ Tucker Carlson said it was “really just a riot – maybe just barely” while re-platforming a theory that the events were a “false flag” operation. He even had Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) as a guest, who, with some embarrassment, said it was “sloppy and frankly stupid” to call the January 6 riot a “violent terrorist attack” earlier this week. Carlson had slammed Carlson for characterization on his Wednesday show.
CNN, meanwhile, presented a two-hour prime time special live from Statuary Hall in the Capitol, where Anderson Cooper and Jake Tapper presented interviews with lawmakers who were there that day. They started with a section that summarized what happened when rioters broke through barricades, fought the police, and sang “Mike Pence Hanging.”
Cooper asked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi what she thought would have happened if the rioters had found her.
“They said they were going to shoot me in the brain,” she said, adding that she was “not worried about myself”.
The different treatment of January 6th is hardly surprising, since it began that same evening, before the counting of votes was resumed, and has continued since then.
On a July show, Laura Ingraham mocked statements made by police officers to the January 6th committee with awards for “best performance,” although numbers on the network’s news page underscored the importance.
By far the most attention – and outrage – has gotten Carlson, the top-rated cable host. In November, Carlson presented a documentary about Fox Nation, Patriotic Purge, which supported the theory that government informants might be behind the incitement to the rioters, and he brought it up again Thursday.
His guest was Darren Beattie, who is also in Patriotic Purge, and typed in another character, Ray Epps.
“I don’t want to believe it’s true, but if it’s not true, what is the answer? I don’t think anyone should be embarrassed asking these questions, “Carlson said during the segment.
Carlson opened the show by questioning the magnitude of the events on Jan. 6.
“If you take three steps back, as historical events show, if we’re honest now, January 6th is barely a footnote,” he said. “Not much happened that day. The presidential election was not overturned. The Capitol was not destroyed. The government was not overthrown, no matter what you heard. Thank goodness not a single elected official was injured. Unfortunately the police were pushed. Beats were thrown, but the only person killed by violence was an unarmed protester who was shot and killed by a police officer. None of the so-called insurgents had weapons. When was the last time you saw such a riot? “
Politifact has called the theory that January 6th was a “false flag”, along with other characterizations of what happened that day, the “Lies of the Year”.
In his opening note, MSNBC’s Hayes: “The rest of the Republican Party has yet to agree on a consensus on how January 6th should go, other than agreeing that it wasn’t that bad. “
His warning was that, no matter how much pictures of the chaotic mob of January 6th were played on Thursday, the memory of what had happened decades into the future “could look very different”.
“There’s a faction in American life … that wants to turn this day into a holiday and an opportunity to celebrate,” said Hayes, citing Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) . the Capitol to praise the protesters and blame the Democrats.
While making an appearance at the Capitol, historians Jon Meacham and Doris Kearns Goodwin also voiced similar concerns, as Goodwin hoped that the committee would meet on Jan.
Earlier in the day, all three networks carried some key moments, including President Joe Biden’s speech at the Capitol and the minute’s silence in the House of Representatives in honor of the victims.
After Pelosi paid tribute to four police officers whose deaths were linked to the January 6 events, Fox News’s Harris Faulkner commented, “She only recognized the police officers, not the fifth person killed that day.” That was a reference to Ashli Babbitt, who was shot dead by a police officer while she and other protesters were gushing outside a room next to the house of the house. She has been called a martyr by many on the right, including Trump.
CNN and MSNBC covered other events of the day such as a series of legislative reflections on the events of 1/6 and later a prayer vigil on the steps of the house. Fox News included reminders from Congressional Correspondent Chad Pergram, as well as an interview by Neil Cavuto with Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Bret Baier’s interview with Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY). Cheney and Kinzinger are both members of the January 6th committee.
Baier asked, “When you hear Trump supporters point out his speech at the mall in which he said supporters should march peacefully and patriotically to the Capitol, what do you say?”
For Baier and numerous other interviews on Thursday, however, Cheney didn’t have any of the alternate narratives about who was responsible for that day.
“Look, I think you need to watch the speech,” Cheney said to Baier. “You have to see how much he pushed people to fight like hell. You have to see how much he has been telling people for months and weeks that he is coming to Washington, it’s going to be wild.
“I also think you need to look at what he’s been saying since then,” she added. “He continues to claim that the January 6th violence was justified. By saying that November 3rd was the uprising and January 6th was a protest, he’s continuing to undermine our electoral process. “