Support The Bulwark and subscribe today.
  Join Now

Fox Hosts Begged Trump to Stop the January 6 Attack on the Capitol

Trump’s cheerleaders knew he could have stopped the riot. And they begged Mark Meadows to get him to do it.
December 13, 2021
Fox Hosts Begged Trump to Stop the January 6 Attack on the Capitol
(Photos: GettyImages / Shutterstock)

Turns out, some of former President Trump’s biggest, most powerful fans/informal advisors at Fox News knew he did something terrible on January 6. And so did his family. And members of Congress. And Trump administration officials.

They knew he was enabling the riot.

How do we know this? Because they explicitly begged his former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to ask Trump to take action to stop the riot in real-time texts as the destruction unfolded that day. These texts—which are devastating in their detail, and depict Fox hosts acting more as crisis communications consiglieres to the president than as journalists covering his administration—were revealed by the January 6 Committee at a contempt hearing for Meadows Monday evening.

Trump, of course, did not take any action to stop his mob from storming the Capitol. Meaning, he let it happen. He let them violently interfere with the peaceful transfer of power. Today, many of those same supporters, including those on the airwaves at Fox, deny he could have much of anything to stop the violence that day. But on January 6, they knew better. They knew the truth.

Reading from a transcript, the co-chair of the committee Liz Cheney said:

Indeed, according to the records, multiple Fox News hosts knew the President needed to act immediately. They texted Meadows that:

“Hey Mark, the president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home…this is hurting all of us…he is destroying his legacy,” Laura Ingraham wrote.

“Please get him on TV. Destroying everything you have accomplished,” Brian Kilmeade wrote.

“Can he make a statement?…Ask people to leave the Capitol,” Sean Hannity urged.

Even Trump’s family members were asking Meadows to push Trump. Cheney again:

As the violence continued, one of the president’s sons texted Meadows:

“He’s got to condemn this [shit] ASAP. The Capitol Police tweet is not enough,” Donald Trump, Jr. texted.

Meadows responded: “I’m pushing it hard. I agree.”

Still, President Trump did not immediately act. Donald Trump, Jr. texted again and again, urging action by the president: “We need an Oval address. He has to lead now. It has gone too far and gotten out of hand.”

There were also members of Congress who texted Meadows, too.

More Cheney:

Members of Congress, the press, and others wrote to Mark Meadows as the attack was underway:

One text Mr. Meadows received said, “We are under siege up here at the Capitol.”

Another, “They have breached the Capitol.”

In a third, “Hey, Mark, protestors are literally storming the Capitol. Breaking windows on doors.

Rushing in. Is Trump going to say something?”

A fourth, “There’s an armed standoff at the House Chamber door.”

And another, from someone inside the Capitol, “We are all helpless.”

Dozens of texts, including from Trump administration officials, urged immediate action by the president. More details from Cheney:

“POTUS has to come out firmly and tell protestors to dissipate. Someone is going to get killed”

Another, “Mark, he needs to stop this. Now.”

A third, in all caps, “TELL THEM TO GO HOME.”

A fourth, “POTUS needs to calm this [shit] down.”

These texts prove something essential.

No matter what they say now, Trump’s loyalists knew at the time that what was happening at the Capitol was not a peaceful protest. They knew that it was a dangerous attack on American democracy. And they knew that Trump was responsible for it. That’s why they sent the texts pleading with him, through his staff, to make it stop.

Amanda Carpenter

Amanda Carpenter is an author, a former communications director to Sen. Ted Cruz, and a former speechwriter to Sen. Jim DeMint. She was formerly a Bulwark political columnist.