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Fox News Breaks With Trump Over His Jan. 6 Obsession

Newsweek 3/27/2023 Nick Reynolds
Former President Donald Trump and Fox News Host Brian Kilmeade (inset.) © Brandon Bell/Roy Rochlin/Newsweek Photo Illustration/Getty Images Former President Donald Trump and Fox News Host Brian Kilmeade (inset.)

A prominent Fox News host broke with former President Donald Trump over the sympathetic stance he's shared toward imprisoned Jan. 6 rioters at his Waco rally over the weekend.

Speaking on the network's flagship morning show Fox and Friends on Monday, host Brian Kilmeade criticized the current Republican candidate for his seeming obsession with the plight of the rioters—particularly, his decision to open his rally over the weekend with a recording of the national anthem he'd made with a number of them—as "absolutely awful" and "insane" amid a campaign season dominated by other issues.

In particular, Kilmeade admonished Trump for spending "80 percent of his time" on the campaign trail "complaining about court cases" instead of explaining how he would address issues facing the country, including the recent collapse of several high-profile financial institutions and increasingly tenuous relations with countries like Russia and China.

"Instead, the United States former president opened up [his rally] with a January 6 video, which is insane," Kilmeade said. "He should be running from that, period. I don't care his point of view, that is not a good thing for him. I thought that was absolutely awful. Even though he is winning in the polls, that will not help."

Newsweek reached out to Trump's campaign via email for comment.

It's not the first time Fox News has publicly split with the former president, particularly as the company continues to grapple with the fallout from allegations the network and its personalities knowingly spread misinformation about the result of the 2020 presidential election.

Last week, Fox News host Harris Faulkner described Trump as a "philanderer" in a discussion about his pending indictment by the Manhattan District Attorney's office over alleged hush money payments made to former adult film star Stormy Daniels in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election.

Meanwhile, polling has shown some viewers have begun to grow divided over a future Trump presidency amid the network's comparatively favorable coverage of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. On his own show earlier this month, Kilmeade interviewed the 2024 presidential hopeful over a game of catch, drawing allegations from some observers of being too soft on one of Trump's biggest obstacles to reelection.

Thematically, Trump's weekend rally in Waco closely synchronized with the messaging that helped deliver him the presidency in the first place, claiming that the system was rigged against him and, therefore, against his supporters by an elite cabal that will do whatever it takes to silence him.

As rumors swirled of his impending arrest last week, Trump's campaign sent out numerous appeals to his supporters asking for their financial support, using the episode as an opportunity to galvanize the support of his base. Speaking to his supporters, Trump sought to make it clear that any alleged effort to silence him was an attempt to silence his base as well.

"When this election is over, I will be the President of the United States. You will be vindicated and proud," Trump told supporters Saturday. "And the thugs and criminals who are corrupting our justice system will be defeated, discredited, and totally disgraced."

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