How the January 6 committee used Fox News against Donald Trump

A video of Fox News on January 6, 2021, is displayed on a screen as the House select committee investigating the attack on the US Capitol holds a hearing in Washington on July 21, 2022.

CNN  — 

Everyone knows that Donald Trump is a devotee of Fox News. During his presidency, he would regularly live tweet his favorite shows and viewed prime-time hosts like Sean Hannity as de facto advisers to his White House.

On Thursday night, the January 6 committee used the former President’s viewing habits against him, making a compelling case that Trump had to know about the violence happening at the US Capitol on that fateful day.

Virginia Rep. Elaine Luria, a Democrat, said that witnesses had told the committee that Trump had Fox News on in the White House dining room where he spent much of the afternoon of January 6, 2021.

Luria and Illinois Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who alternated laying out what Trump was doing on the afternoon of January 6, repeatedly played clips of what was airing on Fox News at the time. And repeatedly, those clips showed Fox News anchors making clear that the initial protest was turning violent – as early as the 2 p.m. Eastern hour.

At one point, the committee showed a layout of the White House, complete with a TV showing exactly what was on Fox News at the time Trump would be watching.

The committee also displayed texts between then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and the likes of Hannity and fellow Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham, who urged Meadows to tell Trump to issue a statement telling the crowd to go home.

(Sidebar: None of this was shown on Fox News Thursday night. They didn’t cover the January 6 committee hearing live.)

It made for a compelling argument. This wasn’t Luria or Kinzinger – or anyone else on the committee – saying that Trump knew that the violence was happening and did nothing about it. They used his preferred network – and the preferred network of Republicans – to help demonstrate it.

So, in order to dispute what the committee was presenting, Trump and his allies would have to say that he wasn’t watching Fox News at all that day. Which is very hard to believe given what we know about Trump, as well as from the witnesses who testified Trump was, in fact, watching Fox News.

The January 6 committee’s use of Fox News at Thursday night’s hearing boxed Trump in – using his own habits to make the case against him.