Nicole Hemmer, a historian at Columbia University and the author of “Messengers of the Right: Conservative Media and the Transformation of American Politics,” said the Fox News decision to put the Jan. 6 committee hearing on its smaller platforms fit into a larger conservative argument that the insurrection was “not that big of a deal.”
“To air it on their tiny sister network, they are reinforcing that argument: This isn’t important,” she said.
Fox News disputed that claim on Tuesday, saying the hearing will be available to its audience in several ways. The coverage on Fox Business will be led by Bret Baier, Fox News’s most prominent host who is not overtly partisan, along with Martha MacCallum. That programming will also run on the Fox News website as well as on Fox’s streaming service, Fox Nation. Mr. Baier and Ms. MacCallum will appear on Fox News after prime time with an 11 p.m. posthearing special.
The network also pointed to its past coverage, in full, of other sessions from Capitol Hill, such as Supreme Court confirmation hearings. Those were daytime events.
By not carrying the hearings live in prime time, Fox News is potentially sparing itself an awkward on-screen moment. Private communications between several Fox anchors and the Trump administration were unearthed during the Jan. 6 committee investigation. Multiple messages show how the hosts were deeply concerned about the rioters and Mr. Trump’s refusal to rebuke them on the day of the attack.
In text messages, Mr. Hannity, Ms. Ingraham and Brian Kilmeade, a host of the morning show “Fox & Friends,” expressed growing alarm to Mark Meadows, Mr. Trump’s chief of staff, as the attack played out. “He is destroying his legacy,” Ms. Ingraham wrote in one message obtained by the committee.
The other major TV networks plan to cover the hearing with their highest-profile journalists. The broadcast networks will call in their evening news anchors — David Muir, Lester Holt and Norah O’Donnell — to lead two hours of coverage. CNN will turn to Jake Tapper and Anderson Cooper, along with a small army of reporters and correspondents. Rachel Maddow, Nicolle Wallace and Joy Reid will anchor the coverage on MSNBC.