By Marshall Cohen
A January 6 rioter who downplayed the insurrection in a Fox News interview one day after she was sentenced to probation for storming the Capitol was “played by Laura Ingraham” and manipulated into whitewashing the attack, her lawyer said Thursday.
Anna Morgan-Lloyd received national attention in June for becoming the first Capitol rioter to be sentenced for their role in the insurrection. She offered an emotional apology in court and swore that she had a political awakening after January 6 — and she avoided jail. One day later, she went on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle” and seemed to defend what she called the “very polite” people involved the assault.
Her attorney Heather Shaner said at an unrelated court hearing on Thursday that Morgan-Lloyd “was played by Laura Ingraham” and accused the conservative Fox News host of taking advantage of a frazzled grandmother to push a pro-Trump counternarrative about January 6.
Ingraham and other Fox News personalities have spent months downplaying the violence, defending some of the rioters, and giving credence to conspiracy theories about January 6.
‘I felt betrayed,’ lawyer says
Shaner said Morgan-Lloyd spoke with Ingraham before the on-air segment, which is a normal practice in TV news. During that off-air conversation, Ingraham asked “40 to 50” questions, and Morgan-Lloyd said many of the same things she said in court — she didn’t see violence, but learned about it later, and that she was deeply sorry and ashamed that she entered the Capitol.
A Fox News spokesperson denied that Morgan-Lloyd spoke with Ingraham directly, but said “a producer from the show did a pre-interview with Morgan-Lloyd, which is a normal practice in television news.”
It is not uncommon for lengthy pre-interviews to be distilled down in much shorter on-air appearances, but when Morgan-Lloyd was on her show, Ingraham picked a very specific line of questioning. During the brief on-air interview, Ingraham focused on whether Morgan-Lloyd participated in the violence or whether she personally witnessed anyone attacking police. She said people were “polite” and claimed she only went into the Capitol to protect a 74-year-old woman.
In reaction to the interview, Shaner said, “I was angry. I felt humiliated. I felt betrayed.”
“She was played,” Shaner said in court Thursday about the Fox News interview. “And she did not want to go back on the air and correct what happened to her on-air. It is very difficult for an individual to appear on Fox News, or even on the other networks, where they are really less interested in the truth than they are in creating sensation and entertaining. It was a stupid, horrible idea.”
The interview gave the impression that Morgan-Lloyd was not remorseful, but that isn’t the case, her lawyer said. The lawyer said her client already paid the $500 in restitution that was part of her punishment, to help cover the damages to the Capitol, and she has completed her 120 hours of community service.
Fox News’ role in Jan. 6
Shaner also said on Thursday that Morgan-Lloyd wrote a letter to the judge who handled her case immediately after the Fox News interview. The attorney didn’t answer CNN’s request for additional comment about the case, and the letter is not yet available on the public court docket.
Several judges handling January 6 cases have expressed concern about the Morgan-Lloyd situation while sentencing other rioters, as they try to determine if rioters are truly remorseful or are just trying to avoid incarceration. At a sentencing hearing Thursday for another rioter, Chief Judge Beryl Howell invoked Morgan-Lloyd and said, “judges are human, we can get played.”
The role that Fox News and other right-wing outlets played in fueling the insurrection has become a recurring theme in the January 6 cases. Many of the rioters have said they were transfixed by news coverage about voter fraud, and that they have since cut political news out of their media diet. One lawyer infamously claimed his client stormed the Capitol because he had “Foxitus.”
A lawyer for Thomas Sibick, who is one of the men charged in the assault of DC Police Officer Michael Fanone, told a judge this week that Sibick had been “watching Fox News in a manic phase” after the 2020 election and was “deluded by claims of stolen elections.” A judge released Sibick from jail and ordered him not to watch political news while on house arrest.
“I’m not going to order him to not watch Fox News,” Federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson quipped, but Sibick will be legally required to avoid all political news on television. “No MSNBC either.”
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