If you’d blinked you might have missed it. By texting that most inclusive yet ordinarily innocuous of personal pronouns, “us,” Fox News host Laura Ingraham gave the game away. During Monday evening’s January 6 committee hearing, Representative Liz Cheney read aloud several texts from January 6th that were sent to then Trump Chief-of-Staff Mark Meadows begging him to get Trump to do something to stop the rioting. Among those texts was this one from Ingraham. “The president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home,” she wrote. “This is hurting all of us.”
With a single two letter word Ingraham let it be known that Trump, Meadows and Fox News were all joined at the hip, and that the violent doings at the Capitol Building were not a good look for any of them. The insurrection would not play well to history. In that very narrow sense she was right, of course. There was no good way to spin what was going down at the Capitol without looking like a propeller-headed, conspiracy-crazed fool, a proposition that Ingraham and the rest of the Fox News propaganda machine have since taken up out of grim necessity.
None of that propaganda team wanted the January 6th riot to happen, not Sean Hannity, not Brian Kilmeade and certainly not Ingraham, because they understood right away that they couldn’t simultaneously remain Trumpists and condemn the Trump-supporting rioters. They were going to have to find some far right implausible narrative in order to walk that tightrope, and they knew it was going to be a narrative that would be hard to pull off with a straight face.
Some refused to play that game, or even be a part of a team willing to play it. The recent defection of Chris Wallace from Fox to CNN+, that network’s new streaming service, is a case in point. Wallace quit the show because he’d had enough, not just because of the mind-crippling Trumpists driving the Fox News propaganda juggernaut, but also because of its hatred-obsessed, red-hatted viewers.
Wallace joins Stephen Hayes and Jonah Goldberg, who left the show last month as a protest of network star Tucker Carlson’s three-part series on the January 6th insurrection, which relied on fabrications and conspiracy theories to exonerate the Trump supporters who planned and executed the attack. The ratio of sanity to insanity at Fox is thus getting steadily smaller.
As for Laura Ingraham, there’s even more to her use of that narrowly inclusive two letter pronoun “us.” As a journalist, Ingraham understands how to communicate her ideas with precision, however deceptive those ideas may be. If she was pretending to be a patriot at that moment, why didn’t she just say “This is hurting America”?
No, what Ingraham meant by “us” was her, the Trump propaganda machine, Meadows and Trump himself — and to hell with America. Ingraham had nothing to say about the harm the insurrection was causing to people and property. Her focus was on her image and how the insurrection would play at Fox News, and what it would do to the dishonestly crafted image of Trump and Trumpists. If it had been otherwise she would have texted otherwise. She really couldn’t have cared less about the sacred, time-honoured tradition of the peaceful transfer of power in America.
Ingraham was texting what she insanely believed to be a private message between herself and Meadows. It never occurred to her that anything said in writing that historic day would come out later — because she’s that kind of fool. Let’s face it, Einstein’s legacy has never been under serious threat from the likes of Laura Ingraham.
Now that she’s been definitively outed for the hypocrite that she is, will Ingraham finally slink away and write a book, Kellyanne-style, then disappear from public view? Of course not. She’ll spin this too, or simply never mention it again, expecting the whole thing to go away. She’s probably right. In an ocean of outrageous hypocrisy and lies, it’s getting increasingly easy to hide individual hypocrisies and lies in the steadily increasing filthy miasma that is Fox News. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.