Looking at the January 6th insurrection and attempted coup from its beginning, as Media Matters analyzed and warned about it, provides a unique perspective on how the GOP and its mouth piece Fox "News", operate. [Related post: Highlights Of The Second Impeachment Trial's Case Against Trump With Late Night Hosts]
Unpacking the Capitol Riot & Four Years of Trump’s Bulls**t | The Daily Social Distancing Show - New information comes out about the Capitol riot, Fox News pundits defend the rioters, Lindsey Graham takes a stand against President Trump but then backtracks, and Republicans call for unity.
Media Matters: Fox News propagandists and GOP leaders are pushing the country toward the abyss
Key Republican leaders are collaborating with Fox News’ propagandists to further inflame their party’s base, standing behind President Donald Trump's lies that the election is being stolen from him through widespread voter fraud as the ballot count edges Democratic nominee Joe Biden closer to victory.
Fox’s prime-time programming on Wednesday was a vile slurry of innuendo and conspiracy theories, as the network’s hosts parroted viral social media lies to their audience of millions in an effort to delegitimize the election results. Thursday night’s shows, which followed Trump’s deranged and lie-filled performance before the White House press corps, were even more unhinged and reckless. The hosts promoted nonsensical and unverified claims of voter fraud and cast doubt on the legitimacy of the results, floating as remedies a “do-over” election in Pennsylvania and Republican state legislators ignoring the results in favor of Trump.
“I can factually tell you tonight, it will be impossible to ever know the true, fair, accurate election results,” Fox star and Trump operative Sean Hannity claimed. “Americans will never be able to believe in the integrity and legitimacy of these results.”
The size of the Fox audience would make this reckless, incendiary rhetoric from its prime-time hosts concerning under any circumstances. But its coverage has been particularly unnerving given the slew of senior Republican leaders who rushed to the network’s airwaves in order to speak from the same hymnal. Together, they are pushing the country toward the abyss, risking a destruction of confidence in the election system -- and a violent backlash.
The conspiracy theory-mongering extends to the highest ranks of the party’s congressional leadership. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) claimed on Fox that the election results were corrupted by fraud and that Trump was the real victor.
“President Trump won this election,” he told Laura Ingraham. “Everyone who is listening, do not be quiet, do not be silent about this. We cannot allow this to happen before our very eyes. We need to unite together.”
Likewise, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, went on Fox and claimed the election had been rigged and that he was making a hefty donation to the president’s legal fund to stop it.
“Everything should be on the table,” Graham replied when Hannity asked him if the Pennsylvania state legislature should “invalidate” the results. “Philadelphia elections are crooked as a snake,” he added.
Potential 2024 GOP presidential candidates are also getting into the action. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) used a Fox appearance to falsely claim poll watchers had been denied access in Philadelphia, and call the results into question.
“What we've been seeing the last three days is outrageous. It is partisan, it is political, and it is lawless,” he told Hannity. “I am angry and I think the American people are angry because by throwing the observers out, by clouding the vote counting in a shroud of darkness, they are setting the stage to potentially steal an election not just from the president, but from the over 60 million people across this country who voted for him all across this country.”
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), another 2024 contender, similarly undermined confidence in the election results.
“We've seen reports of Detroit about ballots brought in there, new ballots in the middle of the night. And we've seen it in Philadelphia,” he told Fox’s Tucker Carlson. “Now, again, to your point a second ago, I don't know if these allegations are well founded or not.”
Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House and longtime Fox contributor, is what passes for a GOP elder statesman. He went on Hannity to claim that “you are watching an effort to steal the presidency of the United States” and to call on Attorney General William Barr to arrest election workers.
Media Matters: Trump’s coup depends on the right-wing information bubble
President Donald Trump and his supporters are actively working to overturn the results of the election he lost to President-elect Joe Biden in order to keep him in power. Their despicable plot revolves around disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of Americans, in large part voters of color, on the grounds that their ballots were fraudulent. Their claims have been thoroughly demolished in legal proceedings finding no evidence that widespread fraud took place, because it did not. Top federal, state, and local officials have said that there were no election security problems, and the president’s legal team at times has acknowledged in court that no fraud took place.
GOP leaders spent decades building an elaborate disinformation network of partisan media outlets and telling their supporters not to believe reporting from mainstream news sources. It worked -- polls show that Republicans overwhelmingly trust right-wing outlets with low or nonexistent journalistic standards and scorn more credible news outlets, and the president’s most fervent supporters are Republicans who trust Fox News. A vast swath of the public is now firmly ensconced within an alternate reality, making decisions about not only politics but their personal health and safety based on propaganda and conspiracy theories.
Within that right-wing information bubble, it is virtually uncontested that Trump is correct that the 2020 election was rife with voter fraud and that he actually won if you only count the “legal votes.” The result is that polls show a majority of Republicans say that the election was stolen from Trump.
Fox declared Biden the president-elect on November 7. But since then, both its news and opinion sides have pushed conspiracy theories about the election and cast doubt on its results hundreds of times.
Jordan Klepper Sees It All at The Capitol Insurrection | The Daily Social Distancing Show - Pitchforks, Proud Boys, and a one-man “Tyranny Response Team.” Jordan Klepper saw it all at the Capitol insurrection.
Media Matters: The Fox News coup
Trump’s propaganda outlet and others in right-wing media helped make this happen
As I write this, the U.S. Capitol has been breached by a riotous mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters who are bent on preventing the peaceful transition of power to President-elect Joe Biden. The House of Representatives and the Senate, whose members had convened in their separate chambers after some Republicans objected to the counting of Arizona’s electoral votes, are locked down, while Vice President Mike Pence, who was presiding, has left the area. Insurrectionists continue to stream into the building. It’s unclear when or how the legislators will be able to proceed with their constitutional duty.
A coup attempt is underway in the United States of America, which prides itself on being a beacon of democracy.
It was not an accident. It did not just happen. Democracy in this country has enemies.
The American people spoke, and Trump lost the election by a sizable margin. But rather than accept that reality, he claimed that the election had been rigged, stolen away from him by fiendish Democratic operatives in a number of states. These were wild conspiracy theories, the dregs of the internet fever swamps.
Fox News and others in the Trumpist media could have explained this to their audiences. Instead, they chose to lie. They laid the groundwork in the months leading up to the election for Trump to cry fraud, and once he did, they cheered on his cynical effort to subvert the vote and usher in the end of American democracy.
When protesters descended on Washington, D.C., this morning for rallies the president had supported, they celebrated that too. Then Trump gave a rally speech before the assembled crowd, told them that the election had been stolen and “we’re not going to let it happen,” and the mob listened.
Like the senior Republican official who questioned what “the downside” was for “humoring [Trump] for this little bit of time,” many at Fox likely assumed they could continue to stoke the fury of their viewers without consequences.
But now the bill has come due. They cheered on a coup, now it’s here, and no one can say what will happen next. And no one should ever let Fox forget its role in causing it.
Jordan Klepper At The Capitol: More Sedition Edition | The Daily Social Distancing Show
Media Matters: Fox hosts downplay Trump’s culpability for the insurrection -- and their own
Fox News doesn’t want its viewers to know what Donald Trump did. The network abruptly cut away from the House impeachment managers’ presentation at the start of the 5 p.m. hour for its regular programming on Wednesday. In lieu of the devastating footage of a pro-Trump mob attacking law enforcement during the January 6 Capitol insurrection, the network aired the panel show The Five, which featured four conservatives who argued against impeachment and dogpiled the broadcast’s lone liberal, Juan Williams. “You guys are all ignoring” the trial because “you don’t want to deal with the news,” Williams said during the ensuing shoutfest.
Williams' comment, while directed at his co-hosts, applies equally to the rest of the network’s Trumpist propagandists, who spent the ensuing hours dodging the story and downplaying the former president’s culpability. To do otherwise would be to implicitly acknowledge the role they themselves played in the brutal attack. “Fox helped sell Trump’s lie about a stolen election, propelling true believers like Ashli Babbitt -- a fan of Fox personalities like Tucker Carlson -- to storm the Capitol,” as The New York Times’ Nick Kristof noted in his latest column.
The House managers explained on Wednesday that Trump bore responsibility for the riot because he spent months -- before Election Day and after it, up until his rally speech that very afternoon -- inflaming his supporters with false conspiracy theories that Democrats had used widespread voter fraud to steal the presidency, and trying to leverage their rage to overturn the results. New video evidence aired during the presentation showed the results of Trump’s rhetoric, with rally-goers responding to his speech with shouts of “take the Capitol” -- and demonstrated how close Vice President Mike Pence and members of Congress came to a confrontation with the rioters inside the building.
Even the editorial board of the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal admitted that the “visceral case” laid out by the managers proved that Trump “bears responsibility” for the insurrection. “Mr. Trump told an apocalyptic fable in which American democracy might end on Jan. 6, and some people who believed him acted like it,” the editors wrote.
But Fox’s propagandists can’t acknowledge this because they were telling their viewers the same fable leading up to the insurrection. Like Trump, they laid the groundwork for post-election violence by baselessly warning of the prospect of widespread voter fraud. And like Trump, they seized on conspiracy theories and ephemera to denounce the election as rigged and suggest that it should be somehow overturned. If Trump’s plot had succeeded, it would have been the end of American democracy. If his actions made him responsible for the insurrection, then theirs were as well.
And so Fox hosts responded to Wednesday's impeachment presentation by minimizing both the events of January 6 and Trump’s culpability for them.
Tucker Carlson told his audience in late November that “the 2020 presidential election was not fair” because “the system was rigged against” Trump. On Wednesday night, he said that there’s “no question” that the impeachment managers are “flat-out lying” about the insurrection. Carlson claimed their behavior echoed his unhinged conspiracy theory about “Democratic partisans” using “a carefully concocted myth” about the police killing of George Floyd “to bum-rush America into overturning the old order and handing them much more power.” He suggested that elected Democrats were lying about being in danger during the Capitol riot, as purportedly evidenced by how “the only recorded casualties on January 6 were people who voted for Donald Trump.”
Sean Hannity said in December that “there’s no doubt this was stolen” and that “if we don’t fix it, … you’re never going to have an honest election” again, using his show as a clearinghouse for election fraud conspiracy theories and endorsing a legal effort to subvert the results. On Wednesday, he described the trial as a “sham” and engaged in extended whataboutism regarding the rhetoric of Democrats.
Jeanine Pirro said in late November that she supported legal efforts to overturn the election because “the risk of not looking at what is staring us in the face is too great to not stop us.” (She was named in a $2.7 billion lawsuit against Fox due to her false claims that voting machine software had been used to alter “millions of votes.”) On Wednesday night, she called the impeachment trial a “nothing burger” because there was “no incitement to insurrection.”
Brian Kilmeade hyped a lawsuit that asked the Supreme Court to throw out the results in states Trump lost, and as recently as mid-December described President Joe Biden as “the former vice president who is, according to some, president-elect.” He sneered at the House impeachment presentation on Thursday morning’s Fox & Friends, calling it “almost like the cold open to [MSNBC’s] The Rachel Maddow Show,” and he defended Trump on the grounds that “I don’t think he ever intended” for the situation to get “out of control.”
Kilmeade and his colleagues probably didn’t expect their commentary to help usher in the storming of the Capitol either. But they are still culpable as well -- and, like Trump, they must be held accountable.
Media Matters: CNN's Brianna Keilar calls out Fox News' lies about “spontaneous” Trump rally
Keilar: “Fox is becoming its own worst nightmare, completely predictable: Worship Trump, blame Democrats, spotlight fear. Rinse, lather, repeat.”
Media Matters: Desperate not to take responsibility for what they’ve set in motion, pro-Trump media pivot to conspiracy theories
They're scrambling for a narrative after months of stoking anger and paranoia over the election results
Right-wing media have spent more than two months telling audiences that November’s election was “stolen” from President Donald Trump and promoting efforts to overturn the results. They’ve presented Trump’s loss as a great injustice and as a wrong that must be righted. Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich went so far as to call Biden’s election “the most dangerous assault on the very nature of America, certainly in our lifetime, and maybe since the previous Civil War.” Right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh has floated the idea of secession.
On Wednesday, that all came to a head when Trump called on his supporters to march on the Capitol -- and they listened. Months of lies and incendiary rhetoric from Trump fueled by his media allies reached its inevitable conclusion: a violent attempt to overthrow democracy.
Rather than take any accountability for how their reckless conspiracies had inspired a riotous mob to storm the Capitol, numerous right-wing media figures pounced on a different conspiracy theory that conveniently allowed conservatives to dodge responsibility: Antifa did it.
All week, conservatives have struggled to coalesce around a coherent narrative about what happened on Wednesday, especially in light of the president’s temporary suspension from his favorite social media platforms.
On one hand, a number of Trump’s most loyal backers on Fox News and elsewhere rushed to defend the insurrectionists. Tucker Carlson urged people to empathize with the perpetrators during his Wednesday show. Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum called the attack “a huge victory” for the pro-Trump forces. Meanwhile, Fox’s Bret Baier, John Roberts, Griff Jenkins, Lou Dobbs, and Mike Tobin all downplayed the afternoon’s events. Laura Ingraham and Fox contributor Katie Pavlich both compared what happened to Black Lives Matter protests.
Former Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka called the rioters “patriots” who “have taken over Capitol Hill.” Newsmax host Rob Schmitt justified the attack by saying that the people involved in it clearly felt “a tremendous amount of frustration” and that he believed it came from “a very, very logical place.”
Media Matters: Right-wing figures have decided that the person to blame for January 6 is Nancy Pelosi
As questions continue to swirl over the lack of security preceding and during the January 6 attack on the Capitol, Republicans, with the help of former President Donald Trump’s allies in the media, are attempting to deflect criticisms to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), suggesting that she is somehow responsible for the attack and intentionally withheld the National Guard from protecting the Capitol that day.
Recently, Pelosi announced a “9/11-style commission” to investigate the insurrection and security failures. Republicans responded by directly questioning whether Pelosi herself withheld security measures on January 6, possibly for the “political theater.”
Four GOP members of Congress have written a letter to Pelosi accusing her of personally delaying security on January 6 -- citing, in part, a letter written to Pelosi by former Capitol Hill Police Chief Steven Sund, who resigned on January 7 amid pressure following the security failures. In the letter, Sund makes the case that the intelligence community as a whole missed signs that there would be a coordinated attack on the Capitol and alleges that his prior requests for the National Guard were rejected.
Republican lawmakers and conservative media have seized on this letter to suggest that Pelosi personally withheld security, rejected requests for the National Guard, and was solely responsible for security on January 6 as the speaker of the House. Pelosi oversaw Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving -- who reportedly rejected the requests for the National Guard and has since resigned -- but reports indicate Irving never spoke to Pelosi about the request. Pelosi is also not directly responsible for Capitol Police, as some Republicans and their media allies are suggesting.
Now, Republican lawmakers are rushing to right-wing media outlets to suggest that Pelosi may have endangered their lives by rejecting security measures, asking some variation of: “What did Pelosi know, and when did she know it?” Conservative media have in turn dutifully worked to boost these Republicans and disseminate the talking point throughout the right-wing social media ecosystem.
Ironically, though, these same figures have largely avoided criticizing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who had the same degree of oversight over Irving’s sergeant-at-arms counterpart in the Senate.
- Fox host Laura Ingraham hosted Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), who signed the letter to Pelosi’s office, to peddle suspicions about Pelosi’s role in the insurrection. Ingraham introduced the upcoming segment by rhetorically asking, “What was Nancy Pelosi's role in allowing the circumstances to exist that opened the door for the hideous January 6 riots?”
- Fox host Sean Hannity hosted Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Fox News contributor Jason Chaffetz, who had just written a Fox column on 13 questions Pelosi needs to be asked about security. Chaffetz claimed that Pelosi has “been in charge for years. She hasn't learned how to protect herself, members of Congress, the Capitol complex. The National Guard was ready to go. Why didn't those things happen?”
Other notable posts:
Media Matters: Fox News host defends the Jan. 6 insurrectionists: “They love freedom” - Pete Hegseth: “You don't have to believe the election was stolen to know that the system has begun to undercut people who love our country”
Media Matters: As pro-Trump insurrection unfolded at the US Capitol, these Fox News figures downplayed the attack
Media Matters: Fox News' validation of the insurrectionist mob makes it more likely it will strike again
Media Matters: Citing the American Revolution, Rush Limbaugh implicitly endorses political violence - Limbaugh: “There's a lot of people calling for the end of violence. ... Regardless of the circumstances. I am glad Sam Adams, Thomas Paine, the actual Tea Party guys, the men at Lexington and Concord didn't feel that way.”
Media Matters: Fox News called for more and more Benghazi investigations. Now the network wants to “just move on” from the January 6 attack.
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