Dozens of texts exchanged between Sean Hannity and former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows between November 2020 and Joe Biden’s Inauguration Day show the Fox News host growing increasingly exasperated about MAGA “lunatics” pushing Donald Trump to overturn the election results.
The 82 texts were among more than 2,300 of Mr Meadows’ messages obtained by CNN, and reveal that Mr Hannity was initially a committed supporter of efforts to invalidate Mr Biden’s election victory before becoming “fed up”.
The pair discussed getting Fox News chief executive Suzanne Scott on board efforts to push the so-called big lie that Mr Trump had won the election.
And as their hopes of overturning the election results appear to fade, Mr Hannity proposes they enter into a joint real estate business venture.
In one exchange on 22 December 2020, Mr Hannity contacts Mr Meadows seeking an update on the fruitless efforts to find fraudulent votes.
“Hey my friend. How are you doing?” Mr Hannity asks, in the texts obtained by CNN.
Mr Meadows says: “Fighting like crazy. Went to Cobb county (Georgia) to review process. Very tough days but I will keep fighting.”
The Fox host replies: “You fighting is fine. The fing (sic) lunatics is NOT fine. They are NOT helping him. I’m fed up with those people.”
On 11 December, Mr Hannity shares conspiracy theories about the “deep state” and his belief that the media had been “protecting” Joe and Hunter Biden.
“They steal an election. What am I missing Mark? We r so F’d as a country.”
The next day, Mr Meadows responds: “I am afraid you are not missing anything. The evil prevails for a time and they are rejoicing. But we must continue to fight.”
They go on to discuss the Georgia Senate run-off elections at length, with Mr Hannity saying the seats are “slipping away”.
“Kemp is a total idiot,” Mr Hannity says, referring to Georgia governor Brian Kemp.
Mr Meadows said he planned to set up an organisation of lawyers that “fights election laws in every state and fight Biden actions every day, starting on Jan 20”.
The text messages offer a revealing insight into the coordination between the White House and Fox News, as well as internal conflict inside the right-wing network.
In an exchange on 6 December, Mr Meadows sent a link to an article in which former Fox host Chris Wallace interrupted Health Secretary Alex Azar after he referred to Mr Biden as “vice president” rather than “president-elect.”
Mr Meadows says: “Doing this to try and get ratings will not work in the long run and I am doubtful it is even a short term winning strategy.”
The same day, Mr Hannity replies: “I’ve been at war with them all week. We will talk wen I see u.”
He adds: “Also if this doesn’t end the way we want, you me and Jay are doing 3 things together. 1- Directing legal strategies vs Biden 2- NC Real estate 3- Other business I talked to Rudy. Thx for helping him.”
A few days later, Mr Meadows asks for Fox CEO Suzanne Scott’s phone number.
“Send me Suzanne Scott’s number if you can. I can call through switchboard but that makes it a bigger deal.”
Mr Hannity replies that he will.
The Independent has contacted Fox News for comment.
On the day of the Capitol riots, Mr Hannity appeals to Mr Meadows to get the president to call off the rioters.
“Can he make a statement. I saw the tweet. Ask people to peacefully leave the capital,” the Fox host texted.
He then sends a link to a tweet suggesting that Trump cabinet secretaries were discussing invoking the 25th Amendment to remove the president.
CNN reported that Mr Meadows was also in text contact with other Fox hosts Maria Bartiromo, Tucker Carlson and Brian Kilmeade.