Jan. 6 blackout: Fox News refuses to air hearings as GOP plans "counterprogramming" to defend Trump

Fox News will not air continuous coverage of Jan. 6 hearings as Trump plans messaging blitz

By Jon Skolnik

Staff Writer

Published June 7, 2022 11:09AM (EDT)

Tucker Carlson, Donald Trump and Sean Hannity (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Tucker Carlson, Donald Trump and Sean Hannity (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

Fox News Channel has decided not to air live coverage of the upcoming hearings around January 6, saying that it will "cover the hearings as news warrants."

The right-work network has instead said that live coverage will be carried on Fox Business Network, with hosts Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum. 

According to Fox News Media, their flagship channel will air Tucker Carlson Tonight and Hannity on Thursday, when the first hearing is set to take place. Fox News will likely be the only major American news network to not provide continuous coverage of the hearings. 

RELATED: Fox News has a Jan. 6 problem: Sean Hannity's text messages make clear his complicity

The news comes amid a CNN report that Trump is asking his allies in Congress to vigorously defend him in the proceedings. The outlet cited a "broad range" of plans to protect the former president's public image, even while most Republicans have sought to avoid talking about the insurrection. 

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Key in the president's defense will be Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., who will be "tasked with coordinating the party's messaging response and ensuring key allies and surrogates have talking points," according to CNN. 

"Just like impeachment, at the urging of President Trump and his team, Stefanik is going to play an outsized role defending President Trump and House Republicans on the issue of election integrity," a senior GOP source told the outlet. 

Among those slated to join her are Reps. Jim Banks, R-Ind., and Jim Jordan, R-Ohio. 

"We're going to push back," Banks told CNN. "There were serious failures that occurred on January 6 that have got to be fixed. This sham committee hasn't done anything to address them."

RELATED: The Jan. 6 committee hearings are finally here — and Republicans are running scared

Matt Schlapp, former Trump White House political director and chairman of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), is also expected to play a significant role in the messaging blitz, according to Axios

Republicans will no doubt face an uphill battle in the proceedings, largely because they haven't been privy to the evidence that the Democratic-led panel has uncovered.

One House leadership aide told the outlet that Republicans are betting on voters to have insurrection "fatigue."

"We've got to be rigid and responsible, but a lot of Republicans think if Dems want to just talk about Jan. 6 between now and the midterm election – good luck," the aide explained. 

Republicans are also reportedly angling to brand the hearings as "rigged."

"Define Democrats being the real election deniers," reads one Republican National Committee talking point, according to Vox. "Attack Nancy Pelosi's committee and its members, portraying them as partisan, illegitimate, and a distraction for real issues," state another. 

"We're ready for any machination of this process, and are prepared to provide facts in real time and push back in real time, through a coordinated and in sync effort," the GOP aide said.

So far, it appears as though the GOP strategy to downplay Trump's coup is working. According to an NBC News poll released this week, fewer Americans now blame Trump for the Capitol riot than did in January of 2021. 

The first hearing is set to be conducted on June 8 at 8:00pm ET.

By Jon Skolnik

Jon Skolnik was a former staff writer at Salon.

MORE FROM Jon Skolnik

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Brief Capitol Riot Donald Trump Fox News Gop Jan. 6 Jan. 6 Hearings Republicans Trump's Coup