Brian Stelter, an MSNBC political analyst and author of the book “Network of Lies: The Epic Saga of Fox News, Donald Trump and the Battle for American Democracy,” discussed various aspects of his book in an interview with Mediaite’s podcast, “The Interview.” Stelter delved into the role of Fox News in relation to the January 6 Capitol riot, based on the extensive documents revealed during the discovery process in the defamation litigation with Dominion Voting Systems.
Stelter highlighted the significant impact of the Dominion trial on his book, as it provided a wealth of documents and records that were previously undisclosed. He emphasized that these documents, including text messages and emails from Fox News executives and personalities, are now part of the public record, offering a unique insight into the inner workings of Fox News.
Regarding Fox News’ culpability in the January 6 riot, Stelter acknowledged that the network’s on-air personalities were not explicitly encouraging the attack on the Capitol. However, he argued that Fox News had been “softening the ground for months” by spreading misinformation and lies about the election. Stelter pointed to the smears against Dominion and Smartmatic, noting that these narratives were propagated on Fox News, creating an environment where false claims about the election thrived.
Stelter also raised concerns about the influence of Fox News on individuals who participated in the Capitol riot. He cited cases of rioters who had pleaded guilty and admitted to consuming misinformation from Fox News. He emphasized the role of the network in shaping the beliefs and actions of its audience, leading some to engage in acts of violence.
I know media has covered some of these cases of rioters who have pled guilty, who have said they were watching Fox. They’re watching too much Fox. You know, you don’t get on a plane and fly across the country whether you’re Ashli Babbitt, the woman who was shot, whether you’re Ray Epps, the man who was smeared by Fox and is now suing Fox for defamation. You don’t fly across the country unless you’ve consumed a lot of these lies. You’re not just watching for 20 minutes and then booking an airline ticket. You have to live in this network of lies. You have to live in this stuff every day for months. So that’s why it matters that this was going on for two months.
In the interview, Stelter mentioned Sean Hannity’s knowledge before January 6, highlighting Hannity’s texts to Mark Meadows expressing concerns about the upcoming events. Stelter expressed frustration that Hannity has not addressed what he knew about Trump’s mindset before and after the riot. He emphasized that Hannity could be a crucial source of information regarding Trump’s state of mind during that critical period.
Overall, Stelter provided insights into the revelations from the Dominion trial and their significance in understanding Fox News’ role in shaping public opinion and contributing to the events of January 6.
And, you know, who knew it was dangerous? Sean Hannity knew it was dangerous. Sean Hannity was texting Mark Meadows he was worried about January 6. Mark Meadows, you know, was getting those texts from Sean Frickin’ Hannity.
Sean has still never addressed what he knew about Trump’s mind before and after the riot. Sean Hannity harboring secrets of what happened before and after January 6th. I get a little passionate about that ’cause I think it’s so interesting and under-appreciated. Sean Hannity was asked by the January 6 Committee to come in and testify. He didn’t. Kayleigh McEnany did. And of course, she was press secretary at the time. But, you know, that’s a colleague who testified.
Anyway, I just think it’s so interesting. Hannity is one of the missing pieces of January 6. I’m not blaming him for any of it. I’m not pointing the finger at him. I’m saying he was on the phone with Trump aides. He was on the phone with Trump. He knows a lot about Trump’s state of mind and he’s never told us.
Now, let me stop here and be crystal clear: those who truly support President Trump, those that believe they are part of the conservative movement in this country, you do not — we do not support those who commit acts of violence.
They — people we don’t believe should be vandalizing our nation’s Capitol, attacking the brave men and women that keep us safe in law enforcement. They don’t storm the Capitol. They don’t place pipe bombs at the RNC and anywhere else. And all of today’s perpetrators must be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
But every good and decent American, we know, will and must condemn what happened at the Capitol, and moving forward, we have to do a dramatically better job protecting the innocent men and women who work there. We’ve got to protect our law enforcement officers. We’ve got to protect every single elected member of Congress and Senate.
This is not politics. They deserve to be protected.