The texts from Fox News host Sean Hannity, a prominent supporter of Trump, indicate he had direct knowledge of the former president’s plans for January 6 and harbored concerns for them, the Jan 6 committee said
ByJan 9, 2022
Several of Fox News’s top hosts served as a “Cable Cabinet of unofficial advisers,” according to the Washington Post.
In recent weeks, the House select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol attack released numerous text messages from various Fox News hosts to former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows on the day of the insurrection.
A former senior administration official, who spoke to The Post on the condition of anonymity, said that the influence extended into the very heart of the president’s administration, and Trump would sometimes dial Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Lou Dobbs into Oval Office staff meetings.
“A lot of it was PR — what he should be saying and how he should be saying it; he should be going harder against wearing masks or whatever,” Stephanie Grisham, former press secretary to President Donald Trump, told The Post. “And they all have different opinions, too.”
The January 6 committee revealed that Fox News Hosts Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, and Brian Kilmeade texted Meadows as the insurrection unfolded, showing the closeness between the cable news network and the White House.
The texts indicated that Hannity had direct knowledge about Trump’s strategy for the day of the electoral vote count and had concerns about his plan, the committee said.
Fox News hosts had a direct number to reach Trump and administration officials often posed challenges for West Wing staffers, former administration officials told The Washington Post.
Grisham told The Post how highly the former president valued the opinions of Fox hosts.
“There were times the president would come down the next morning and say, ‘Well, Sean [Hannity] thinks we should do this,’ or, ‘Judge Jeanine [Pirro] thinks we should do this,'” Grisham told the paper.
Grisham told the paper that Fox News hosts weighed in on everything from personnel to messaging strategy.
The Washington Post said that several of Fox News’s top hosts served as a “Cable Cabinet of unofficial advisers.”
Alyssa Farah, a former White House communications director, told the Post that staffers would “try to get ahead of what advice you thought he was going to be given by these people” because their opinions “could completely change his mind on something.”
Farah told the paper that Trump particularly valued the opinions of Lou Dobbs, Hannity, Ingraham, and Pirro.
The reality TV star turned president has long been known for his obsession with cable television and ratings.
One former top White House official told The Post that Fox hosts often had more influence over Trump based on what they said on air rather than what they said off-screen to him and his team.
The paper reported that former Trump chief of staff John F. Kelly told White House staffers that Trump’s ideas and feelings about people often originated from Lou Dobbs’s show on Fox. Watching it was critical to understanding the president.
Michael Pillsbury, an informal Trump adviser, told the paper that the former president embraced Sidney Powell, the lawyer known for her promotion of conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, after watching her on Dobbs’ show.
“It taught me the power of the young producers at Fox, and Fox Business especially,” Pillsbury told the paper.
Jeff Cohen, the author of “Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media,” told the Post that the text messages released by the January 6 committee represent a “smoking gun.”
Cohen is the founder of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), a media watchdog group.
He said that the texts were evidence of how “deeply intertwined” the channel’s leadership was with the Trump administration.
Cohen told the paper that even though they are opinion journalists, the Fox News hosts violated the public trust by not disclosing the full extent of their relationship.