On Thursday night, June 9, a long list of television networks and cable channels aired the first in a series of public hearings that are being held by the January 6 select committee — including CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, NBC, C-SPAN and CNBC. Conspicuously missing from that list was Fox News, although its sister channel, Fox Business, did carry the event.
The hearings, as of Monday, January 13, moved from prime time to daytime, and Fox News decided to carry the second hearing. Fox News' Tucker Carlson isn't happy that the first hearing received as much attention as it did.
Carlson, a far-right conspiracy theorist who now has the highest ratings on Fox News' prime-time lineup, attacked the hearings as Democratic "propaganda" and accused other networks and cable news outlets of "colluding" with Democrats. On his show, Carlson has defended the insurrectionists who attacked the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021, describing them as well-meaning Americans who were merely expressing their understandable frustration.
Fellow Fox News opinion host Sean Hannity has slammed the hearings as well, calling them a "sham." And his colleague Laura Ingraham has mocked the police officers who were injured while defending the Capitol on January 6, 2021, including Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell.
CNN's Brian Stelter, describing Fox News' decision to air the June 13 hearing but not the opening hearing on June 9, explains, "Fox's argument seems to be that prime time is different from daytime: Prime is for opinion hosts like Tucker Carlson, who rejected last Thursday's hearing, but daytime is for news. This plan means that Fox intends to show live testimony from one of its former employees, Chris Stirewalt, who was Fox's digital politics editor during the 2020 election. Stirewalt went on Fox's air on election night to defend the decision desk's Arizona call. He was fired in the aftermath."
Stelter adds, "Stirewalt has given numerous interviews and joined the upstart NewsNation channel, but he has always been somewhat circumspect about the specifics of those perilous days and weeks at Fox. So, it will be fascinating to see how his testimony fits into the narrative of the House committee. He will be up first on Monday, alongside a surprise addition announced on Sunday: Donald Trump's 2020 campaign manager Bill Stepien."
Fox News has drawn criticism not only for its decision to fire Stirewalt, but also, for promoting the Big Lie — the false claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from former President Donald Trump through widespread voter fraud. And Fox News is facing a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems, which is suing Fox News as well as its competitors Newsmax TV and One America News (OAN) for promoting the false claim and nonsense conspiracy theory that its voting equipment was used to help now-President Joe Biden steal the 2020 election.
Fox News' civil trial in the Dominion lawsuit is scheduled to begin in April 2023.