NEW YORK (AP) – At one point on Thursday afternoon, Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger told CNN about what he was doing a year earlier when the US Capitol was attacked. At the same time, MSNBC reported that the Justice Department was investigating what caused the riots.
However, on Fox News, the story was very different. A network filled with hosts linked to former President Donald Trump aired a video of the dog drawing to illustrate the discussion about the people who spend the most time on the screen.
The chunk of airtime was one of many TV highlights that unfolded on the first anniversary of the January 6 uprising, when a crowd of Trump supporters violently filled the US Capitol in an attempt to thwart confirmation of President Joe Biden’s election victory. But it served as a vivid illustration of how conservative media often refuse to acknowledge the seriousness of what happened in the past year.
Differences in approaches to coverage of the anniversary became apparent from the first hours of Thursday.
Anniversary became the main topic of the morning news broadcasts. Shrinking in cold, CNN’s New Day hosts John Berman and Brianna Keilar worked outdoors overlooking the Capitol as events of the past year dominated MSNBC’s Morning Joe.
However, between 6:20 and 9:00 am on Fox & Friends’ agenda-setting program, the anniversary was mentioned twice – once in the news headline and another as a departure from host Brian Kilmead to suggest that Biden wanted to draw attention to topics. which are less harmful to him.
Instead, the show interviewed Lara Trump about how much time Biden spent in Delaware; spoke to a nurse who was fired because she was not vaccinated against COVID-19; reported a “crisis of confidence” at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; summoned a former US Marine who criticized Biden’s departure from Afghanistan; gave Florida Governor Ron DeSantis time to “step up” and announce the distribution of COVID test kits; and introduced commentator Charles Payne, who said that “every time Biden opens his mouth … he insults the American people.”
The highlight of the day was Biden’s speech at the Sculpture Hall of the Capitol, in which he delivered particularly sharp criticism of Trump. It was covered live by major broadcast and cable news networks, including Fox News.
Afterward, ABC presenter David Muir said, “You could clearly hear the passion in his voice as he told the American people what was at stake.” NBC’s Savannah Guthrie called the attack on Trump “pretty noteworthy.”
“I believe that when we look back at Joe Biden’s tenure as president, it could very well be the most powerful speech he ever made,” said CNN analyst Gloria Borger. “It was from the heart.”
CNN’s Laura Coates ridiculed Trump for the statement that Biden “used my name today to try to divide America even further,” when Biden defiantly did not reveal his name. “All he heard during the whole speech was, ‘Did anyone say my name?’” Coates said.
Fox News anchor Dana Perino’s immediate reaction was that the speech caused controversy and missed an opportunity. “We have a lot of problems that we face,” she said. “You could talk about the strength of our system.”
The anniversary comes as Fox News is faced with new ethical questions about the actions of some of the network’s most prominent personalities on the day of the uprising. This week, a special Congressional committee investigating the attack released texts showing that host Sean Hannity privately advised former President Donald Trump before, during and after the attack. Fox News anchors Laura Ingram and Kilmid also contacted Trump’s chief of staff during the attack.
Other conservative networks on Thursday also sought to play down the uprising. On Newsmax, Tom Basil said Biden believes the country is being defined at its worst. He said that Biden considers everyone involved in the attack as extremists and terrorists, “and I think the American people will be annoyed by this.”
Shortly thereafter, Newsmax approached Republican Congressman Andy Biggs with a complaint about the treatment of people who had been punished as criminals for participating in the riots.
During the day, different priorities were reflected in the amount of time the story was covered. CNN and MSNBC, for example, spent a lot of time broadcasting speeches from Democratic lawmakers that their workplace was under siege; Fox practically ignored them. During the day and evening hours, the network showed interviews with two Republican critics of Trump: Liz Cheney and Kinzinger.
The topics of discussion began to thicken: Fox News began by comparing Vice President Kamala Harris on January 6 with the attacks on Pearl Harbor and September 11, 2001, hinting that she would soon be criticized for doing so.
The most popular headlines on news site Breitbart.com were “Day of Democratic Hysteria”, “Kamala Upset” and “Biden’s Split Blames Trump.” The main article on RedState.com was titled “The Corrupted Morality of Those Obsessed with January 6th.”
In the meantime, Atlantic magazine released a reader’s guide to all of its material on the topic, including a recent cover story that said “January 6th was the practice.”
This story has dominated the digital editions of The Washington Post and The New York Times. The Post blogged about the day’s events and had an extensive photo package under the main headline “Biden Says Trump Spread Web of Lies.” The Times headline noted that the commemoration highlighted the division of the nation.
“Nearly universal outrage has returned to the separation of blue and red reality,” wrote Peter Baker in a news analysis.
Los Angeles-based television writer Lynn Elber contributed to this report.