Bill O’Reilly: ‘Diminishing the Capitol riot could never have happened’ while he was at Fox News
Former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly said downplaying or diminishing the seriousness of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol is something that “could never have happened” during his time at the network.
“Fox News is a different place than it was when I was there,” O’Reilly said Tuesday evening while appearing on Dan Abrams’ primetime show on NewsNation. “I don’t follow it that that closely anymore, but when I was there, there was a discipline from management that diminishing the Capitol riot could never have happened. And I’ll state that firmly on the record.”
O’Reilly had joined Abrams’ program to discuss revelations this week that top hosts at Fox, including his former colleagues Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Brian Kilmeade, had been texting with then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows during the riot, urging Meadows to convince former President Trump to do something to stop the attack.
“I wouldn’t have done it myself,” O’Reilly said of the text messages the hosts sent Meadows. “I would have asked the question, ‘Say, are you guys going to make a statement? What are you going to do? Looks like things are out of control?’ I don’t think I would have advocated; that’s not what journalists do. But it was in a very intense, quick-breaking situation. So I’m not going to condemn anybody here.”
Hannity and Ingraham both defended their texts to Meadows during their nightly programs on Tuesday and played for their audiences portions of their statements the night of the attack.
“I said to Mark Meadows the exact same thing I was saying live on the radio at that time and on TV that night on Jan. 6 and well beyond Jan. 6,” Hannity said Tuesday.
“Both publicly and privately I said what I believe: that the Jan. 6 breach at the Capitol was a terrible thing. Crimes were committed,” Ingraham said during the next hour. “Some people were unfairly hounded and persecuted, but it was not an insurrection. To say anything different is beyond dishonest and it ignores the facts of that day.”
After O’Reilly defended Hannity’s comments on Jan. 6, Abrams asked him about Tucker Carlson, who hosts the top-rated show in the country, and his production of a controversial miniseries for the network’s streaming service focusing on the Jan. 6 attack.
Carlson’s “Patriot Purge” miniseries purports to tell an alternative view of the Jan. 6 attack and features one subject who suggested the incident could have been a so-called “false flag” operation.
“I’m not going to comment on that,” O’Reilly said. “I haven’t watched [Patriot Purge.]”
O’Reilly was forced out of his prime time show on Fox News in 2017 amid allegations of sexual harassment and was eventually replaced in the network’s 8 p.m. hour with Carlson.
O’Reilly, a close personal friend of Trump for years, has since launched a speaking tour with the former president but has appeared rarely in interviews with mainstream media outlets since his ouster from Fox.
Fox declined to comment on O’Reilly’s remarks.