(NewsNation Now) — Former Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly said he “wouldn’t have” sent the types of messages Fox News hosts Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity sent to former chief of staff Mark Meadows during the Capitol riot.
Republican Rep. Liz Cheney, of Wyoming, vice-chair of a House committee investigating what happened Jan. 6, read excerpts from the texts Monday.
“Mark, the president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home,” Laura Ingraham wrote, according to the excerpts. “This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy.”
“Can he make a statement? Ask people to leave the Capitol?” Sean Hannity wrote to Meadows about Trump, according to the text excerpts.
O’Reilly said the texts may have crossed the journalistic line, but he would have to see them in the context of the discussion taking place at the time.
“I wouldn’t have done it myself,” O’Reilly said on NewsNation’s “Dan Abrams Live” on Tuesday. “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.”
Abrams said the problem with the messages from Hannity and Ingraham is the hosts later minimized the riot.
“I think the thing that Bill didn’t really address with me was not the fact that the Fox hosts and reporters, whoever they were, were writing to Mark Meadows and even what they were saying,” Abrams said on “Morning in America”. “It’s what they said later about it, which seemed different from what they were saying in real-time. And I think that’s the media question because I think everyone reasonable agrees that what happened on January 6 was it was a total outrage.”
O’Reilly said he “never heard Hannity do that.”
Hannity also responded, sending Abrams a text message while the show was on air with a long quote about what he said Jan. 6. Abrams responded to the text on air, saying he “backed off” his criticism of Hannity, though he would check to see if Hannity’s statements over the last year have been consistent. The Mediaite Moment, a daily segment on “Dan Abrams Live,” strives to hold cable news shows accountable by scrutinizing clips from multiple networks.
O’Reilly said Fox News is “a different place than it was when I was there” and “diminishing the Capitol riot could never have happened” while he was with the network.
“I don’t follow it that closely anymore,” O’Reilly added. “But when I was there, there was a discipline from management.”
Without naming shows, O’Reilly called out the current slate of the cable news landscape for preaching to the choir.
“They said OK, and, ‘Here’s our next guest who agrees with me entirely. And here’s my next guest who agrees with … 95%,'” O’Reilly said. “I think it’s boring myself. I couldn’t possibly do a show like that. I want to hear the other side. That’s what makes it fun.”
Abrams weighed in on his interview with O’Reilly on “Morning in America” on Wednesday morning, saying O’Reilly is walking the line when critiquing his former network.
“If you read between the lines, what Bill O’Reilly is really saying is that ‘Fox News is not the place from when I was there, that the sort of coverage you’re seeing, diminishing the riot wouldn’t have happened when he was there back in the day, the Roger Ailes era,'” Abrams told Adrienne Bankert. “I think that from a sort of media perspective, that’s really interesting. The idea that Bill O’Reilly is very softly, but obviously, critiquing what he currently sees on Fox News.”
You can watch Abrams’s breakdown of the full interview with O’Reilly on “Morning in America” below.
O’Reilly also discussed his speaking series with Trump called “The History Tour.” He said it’s grossed $7 million, and he called some journalists’ photos showing empty seats in the venues “bull.”
O’Reilly pledged that during upcoming tour dates in Dallas and Houston, he would ask the former president if he acted quickly enough on Jan. 6, and how he would act if the situation could be done over. However, he said he would not challenge Trump’s assertion that the 2020 election was stolen, and said he’d told the former president privately that was a “loser” of an argument.
“He’s entitled to his opinion,” O’Reilly said.