Fox News couldn’t possibly cut off its star attraction.
Tucker Carlson’s show airs from 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET. The Jan. 6 committee hearing’s debut on Thursday begins at 8 as well. It’s hardly a surprise that the network announced yesterday that it won’t air at least the first hearing live — Tucker has amassed a cult following, coming out on top consistently with the highest ratings of any show on cable news networks.
The network probably doesn’t want to have to answer to a large hoard of religiously loyal viewers if they cut Carlson’s show to air the panel’s hearings — but even setting that aside, it would be surprising for it to do so. After all, Carlson has spent the last year spreading conspiracy theories and convincing viewers that the Capitol insurrection was not only not that big of a deal, but also that the committee’s work is entirely illegitimate.
As a consolation prize, the network will cover the hearings “as news warrants” and b-lister Fox News anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum will hop on over to Fox Business Network to cover the hearing live for FBN’s paltry 100,000-person viewership (compare that to Fox News’ three million average).
Part of the calculus for holding the hearings live during primetime was to attract the largest number of viewers possible as the panel attempts to paint a broad and compelling narrative about Trump and his allies’ efforts to overturn the 2020 election and incite the violent attack on the Capitol — seeking to disrupt or altogether halt the democratic process of certifying President Biden’s victory.
Among the Americans who congressional investigators would like to reach are those who watch Fox News — those who either don’t know a lot about what unfolded on and before Jan. 6, but also those who have been straight up lied to by the network’s hosts about the gravity of the entire election stealing scheme.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called Fox’s decision “cowardly.”
“After all of the false facts that Fox News has allowed to be put on the air by its commentators and everyone else, they have an obligation to show the true facts by allowing the hearing to be seen by their listeners,” he said during a press conference Tuesday, nodding at Carlson and his three-part fact-free documentary, “Patriot Purge,” which paints the insurrection as a government inside job.
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) expressed similar frustration, claiming that it might be easier to get straight news through on Russian state-run media than it is to get the truth at Fox.
“I know CNN and the new leadership is looking at going more toward the middle and getting a broader viewership, but Fox has the predominance of the Trump supporters and Republicans,” Cohen said during an interview on CNN. “And it’s harder to get the news through Fox than it is to get it in Russia through Russian television.”
The Best Of TPM Today
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The latest from Josh Kovensky: A Glimpse At Devin Nunes’ Comp As CEO Of Trump’s TRUTH Social
A TPM readers’ guide for the hearings beginning Thursday: What We Know About Focus Of Jan. 6 Panel Public Hearings
Yesterday’s Most Read Story
What We Are Reading
The Lie That Helped Kill the Labor Movement — Ian Ward
Two January 6th Defendants and the Consolidation of Right-Wing Extremism — Andrea Bernstein and Ilya Marritz
How the White House lost Joe Manchin, and its plan to transform America — Jeff Stein and Tyler Pager