Fox News has helped to sell the fiction that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, and there’s a direct line from that lie to the rioting. There’s a direct line from that lie to various Republicans’ attempts to develop mechanisms to overturn vote counts should they dislike the results.

What did Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham say about the Jan. 6 rioting at the United States Capitol — and when did they say it?

Were they suitably censorious of the violence? At the time, did their public remarks match their private horror?

Those questions have been heatedly and extensively hashed out over the days since a House committee released text messages from Jan. 6 in which Hannity and Ingraham, the popular hosts of prime-time shows on Fox News, separately implored President Donald Trump’s chief of staff to get Trump to say and do something to disperse the protesters and quell the violence. Hannity and Ingraham knew that he had stirred those protesters and could sway them, more so than they ever acknowledged on-air, according to their critics. According to Hannity and Ingraham, they’re just the victims — yet again! — of left-wing media smears, writes Frank Bruni in the New York Times.

You can delve into the weeds of this or you can pull back and survey the whole ugly yard. And what you see when you do that — what matters most in the end — is that Fox News has helped to sell the fiction that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, and there’s a direct line from that lie to the rioting. There’s a direct line from that lie to various Republicans’ attempts to develop mechanisms to overturn vote counts should they dislike the results.

That lie is the root of the terrible danger that we’re in, with Trump supporters being encouraged to distrust and undermine the democratic process. And that lie has often found a welcome mat at Fox News.

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