There is a ‘direct line’ from Fox News lies to Trump supporters trying to overturn elections: NYT columnist
Fox News personality Jeanine Pirro (screengrabs)

Fox News has played a critical role in undermining democracy in America by spreading lies about the election that incite violence, according to a New York Times column published online on Thursday.

"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?" columnist Frank Bruni asked. "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."

The network has received a great deal of scorn for its hypocrisy after Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) read the texts messages into the public record.

"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," Bruni explained. "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."

READ: WATCH: Former Fox News journalists recall how ‘freaks’ praising ‘heathen god’ Trump took over network

Bruni noted comments by Fox News personality Jeanine Pirro and Fox Business hosts Maria Bartiromo and Lou Dobbs.

"And their evidence? It was fugitive then, and no one has tracked it down since. That’s because it doesn’t exist. It’s a conspiracy-minded, ratings-driven hallucination," he wrote. "And they’re being motivated and cheered, both directly and obliquely, by what they see and hear on Fox News. I care less about Hannity’s and Ingraham’s precise words on Jan. 6 than about what they and their colleagues on Fox News said before and after, and what they’re saying now. It’s reckless. It’s subversive. And it’s scary."

Read the full column.

Watch Liz Cheney read the text messages.

Rep. Liz Cheney Reads January 6th Texts from Fox News Hosts to Mark Meadows