On Wednesday, House impeachment managers laid out their case for convicting former President Donald Trump. When impeachment lead Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Maryland) said, “You will not be hearing extended lectures from me because our case is based on cold, hard facts,” in his opening remarks on Tuesday, he wasn’t kidding. For hours, impeachment managers laid out stunning evidence of tweets, news articles and video after video to demonstrate Trump’s culpability. Much of the evidence, including never-before-seen footage of January 6, was jarringly violent and unsettling.
Evidently, Fox News got tired of showing the impeachment managers’ case. At 5 pm, the outlet abruptly cut off Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-California) mid-sentence, switching instead to a commentary show in which they immediately questioned the legitimacy of the impeachment trial.
They showed a few clips, showed Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) arguing against impeachment, then cut to commentary. One commentator, Greg Gutfeld, who has deep ties to the white supremacist militia Proud Boys and whose show the network announced Wednesday would be expanding, called it “political theater.”
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Jesse Watters, the host of the show, said, “The political math doesn’t add up,” complaining about how Congress was pressing on with the trial even though Republicans won’t vote to convict.
Then, soon after switching off the trial, which every other major network was broadcasting, they moved on to criticizing the Joe Biden administration. What they missed by cutting Swalwell off was footage of how close of a call it was for members of the House that day as Trump’s angry mob encroached on the House chambers. While Fox News was dismissing the trial, saying that the nation had other things to focus on, Swalwell began establishing evidence that Vice President Mike Pence’s life was very much in danger that day, largely thanks to antagonization by Trump.
Later that night, Tucker Carlson spewed conspiracy theories about the death of George Floyd, saying that the Black Lives Matter protests were worse than what happened on January 6. However, Carlson admitted that he hadn’t even watched any of the first day of the trial, saying, “At this point, honestly, who cares?”
Cannot overstate how important it is to get Tucker Carlson off the air. The damage he does to this country every night is immeasurable. https://t.co/COv0lW2akN
— Carlos Maza (@gaywonk) February 11, 2021
Though many have said that the evidence presented so far has been damning, Fox evidently doesn’t mind if their viewers don’t see it — the trial went on for an additional two and a half hours after they cut it off. Fox News’s willingness to both censor the narrative about Trump’s guilt in inciting the January 6 coup attempt while also downplaying the importance of the ongoing impeachment trial might be part of a larger attempt to deny the network’s own culpability in inciting the mob that day. As The Washington Post opined last month, “Trump couldn’t have incited sedition without the help of Fox News.”
Fox’s evident stoking and downplaying of violence may also help to explain why a new poll of 2,016 adults by the American Enterprise Institute found, concerningly, that nearly 4 in 10 Republicans think that violence may be necessary to “protect America” if elected leaders fail to act. That’s in contrast to 17 percent of Democrats.
Republican lawmakers, too, seemed to look the other way in regard to the House managers’ case on Wednesday. Sen. Mike Braun (R-Indiana) was caught falling asleep; Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) was doodling and left the chamber for some time; Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) sat in the balcony with his feet propped up, reading unrelated documents.