Ex-Fox News Editor Slams Former Colleagues Over Jan. 6 Attack: 'They Created that Space'

A former Fox News editor called out former colleagues—including popular hosts Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity—saying they "created the space" that led to the January 6 attack against the U.S. Capitol.

Chris Stirewalt previously worked as the digital politics editor at Fox News but was let go by the network in January 2021. He was fired after facing significant backlash from former President Donald Trump and his supporters because his team correctly called Arizona for now-President Joe Biden early on election night in November 2020.

In an interview with CNN on Thursday evening, Stirewalt discussed text messages that several prominent Fox News hosts sent on January 6. In those messages, they urged Trump's then-chief of staff Mark Meadows to call on the then-president to do more to stop the violence. Stirewalt accused former Fox News colleagues of backing Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 elections results by parroting many of his baseless claims of widespread voter fraud prior to the assault on the Capitol.

"And when sort of his supporters lived down to the expectations, the worst expectations that people had of them as they assaulted the Capitol, that sort of ruined the game, right? It ruined the pitch, which was, well, we're just asking serious questions about an election that may be rigged," the former Fox News editor said.

Fox News building
Former Fox News editor Chris Stirewalt called out former colleagues saying they "created the space" that led to the January 6 attack against the U.S. Capitol. Pictured, a flag with the new logo for FOX flies outside of their corporate headquarters on 6th Avenue in Manhattan on April 24, 2019 in New York City. Gary Hershorn/Getty Image

"Those people who stormed the Capitol took seriously what hosts like Hannity and Ingraham and others said over the course of the election. This is very suspicious, mail ballots are very bad. This whole thing could be rigged. As they echoed Trump, they primed the pump, they created that space," Stirewalt added.

The texts from three prominent Fox News hosts were released publicly on Monday by the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack. Representative Liz Cheney, a Wyoming Republican, read the texts aloud during a hearing.

"Mark, the president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home," Ingraham wrote to Meadows in one of the texts. "This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy."

"Please, get him on TV. Destroying everything you have accomplished," host Brian Kilmeade wrote in a message to Trump's chief of staff.

Hannity asked: "Can he make a statement? Ask people to leave the Capitol."

Despite their apparent concern on January 6, the Fox News personalities would go on to question whether the attack was actually carried out by Trump's supporters. Some Fox News hosts have promoted conspiracy theories that Antifa was behind the violence or that the entire event was a "false flag" operation by the so-called "deep state."

"What they were doing that night and thereafter was spinning for Republicans, right? They were saying, 'Oh, well, maybe it was Antifa. Actually, the election was a mess. What about this?'" Stirewalt told CNN.

The former Fox News editor said the hosts "were functioning as an arm of the Republican Party."

"But what you could really say is that what they're advising for the Republican Party isn't even good for Republicans. The right thing for Republicans to have done on January 6 was to take a step back. 'Uh-oh! What did we do? This got way out of hand!' But that's not good for TV. That's not good for revenue," he said.

Stirewalt made similar remarks in a column published by The Dispatch, where he now works as a contributing editor.

"The spinning here would make a press secretary blush. Within hours of an attack that Ingraham and Hannity acknowledged in private was grave and consequential, both were trying to turn the issue around and use it as a weapon against the political enemies of their party," he wrote on Thursday.

"By the way, this isn't even helpful for the party. Republicans' inability to be honest with themselves about Trump, the election-theft gambit, and the January 6 attack is a liability, not an asset," the ex-Fox News journalist said.

After the texts were made public, Hannity and Ingraham responded publicly.

"I am an honest, straightforward person. I say the same thing in private that I say to all of you. Liz Cheney knows this. She doesn't seem to care. She's interested in one thing and one thing only — smearing Donald Trump and purging him from the party," Hannity said on Tuesday.

Ingraham argued that her actions on January 6 had been misrepresented. "The entire January 6 campaign has become one of revenge and defamation, of false characterization and false equivalencies," she said.

A spokesperson for Fox News told Newsweek on Friday that it "should be noted that all of them [the Fox News hosts] condemned the acts of Jan 6th in real-time and their on-air comments mirror the sentiments in the texts."

A spokesperson for the network previously told Newsweek this week that "[despite being misreported elsewhere], Fox News widely condemned the acts of January 6, including Sean Hannity, Brian Kilmeade and Laura Ingraham."

Kilmeade said on Fox & Friends on January 7: "And to put up a Trump flag and take down the American flag is not patriotic. One of the worst things I've ever seen."

Hannity previously said: "Those that believe they are part of the conservative movement in this country, you do not—we do not support those that commit acts of violence."

Ingraham criticized those who attacked the Capitol, saying: "if you are a Trump supporter hoping to display your support for the president, well today's antics at the Capitol did just the opposite."

Hundreds of Trump's supporters violently stormed the Capitol on January 6 in an apparent effort to prevent the formal certification of Biden's Electoral College victory in Congress. The mob of rioters was largely animated by Trump's groundless conspiracy theory that the 2020 election was "rigged" or "stolen" in favor of Biden.

While Trump and his allies continue to promote claims of widespread voter fraud, they have not provided evidence substantiating the extraordinary allegation. To the contrary, more than 60 election challenge lawsuits filed by the former president and his supporters have failed in state and federal courts. Audits and recounts in key battleground states have consistently reaffirmed Biden's win as well.