All three Fox News primetime star hosts, along with a bevy of Newsmax TV personalities, found their newest baseless conspiracy theory on Wednesday, declaring that left-wing “antifa” activists were to blame for a mob of thousands of pro-Trump demonstrators stormed the U.S. Capitol.
Furthermore, several Fox News stars also suggested that the U.S. government had it coming, largely because conservatives are angry over the Russia investigation and Trump’s false belief that widespread voter fraud stole the election from him.
Prior to a violent anti-democratic insurrection that resulted in at least one death and featured Trump supporters clashing with police officers while breaching the Capitol, President Donald Trump whipped up a MAGA crowd to “walk down to Congress” and “fight” for him to win the election he lost.
While abundantly clear it was far-right MAGA protesters who stormed the Capitol, it didn’t take long for right-wing pundits to attempt to excuse the chaos—without a scintilla of evidence—by saying it was all the fault of antifa, a catch-all bogeyman for the right.
“So that you have a complete picture of what’s going on, the last couple of times we’ve seen these rallies, it hasn’t just been the president’s supporters,” Newsmax anchor Tom Basile said as Trump supporters ran wild in the Capitol. “We have seen antifa, we have seen Black Lives Matter, we have seen other leftist groups that have tried to stir up violence.”
“That’s a great point, Tom, because I am hearing from some people on the ground that there is a question of, if antifa has infiltrated the Trump rally-goers and are fomenting some kind of unrest,” White House correspondent Emerald Robinson credulously added. “So that is the conversation that’s being had outside of these doors.”
This was far from the only time the Trump-boosting cable channel floated the conspiracy. In a later segment, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell—who has funded some futile Trump-backed legal efforts to overturn the election—claimed the riot was “very peaceful” and that there was "probably some undercover antifa that dressed as Trump people and did some damage to windows and got in there."
“I've heard those reports, too," Newsmax host Chris Salcedo agreed.
And the Trumpiest host on the network, Greg Kelly, took it several steps further during his 7 p.m. ET program, invoking liberal philanthropist George Soros, who also happens to be a villain in Newsmax’s ongoing conspiracy theories about Dominion Voting Systems.
“We’ve heard about outside agitators all summer long with the Black Lives Matter protests that all the looting was done by, you know, foreign sources from some far away place,” he declared. “Look, these don't look like Trump supporters. Trump supporters don't do these things.”
Over on Fox News, meanwhile, primetime host Laura Ingraham got the ball rolling when she called in during the network’s news coverage of the chaos, suggesting that antifa was responsible for the mayhem.
“We knew this would happen when you had a huge group of people descending on Capitol Hill, when you have members of the Trump support organizations and antifa threatening to show up at the same time,” she said. “We’ll learn more to the extent that that happened. I’m getting a sense that there’s clearly a big split in the MAGA groups that have come to peacefully protest with whoever is behind this intrusion in the Capitol, which by any account is unacceptable.”
Fox Business host Lou Dobbs, who has been one of the biggest boosters of Trump’s election conspiracies and attempts to subvert the vote, brought on Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) and baselessly speculated that this could have been an antifa false flag. Brooks, meanwhile, delivered a barn-burning speech earlier at the “Stop the Steal” rally in which he helped whip the MAGA mob into a frenzy.
And during his afternoon radio show, Trump friend and unofficial adviser Sean Hannity agreed with a caller who repeatedly claimed antifa was behind the chaos. The Fox host added that he “heard these reports that they might even wear MAGA gear.”
“I don’t know who the people are that got in there,” he added. (Hannity would also float the theory on his primetime Fox show, saying it was possible “bad actors” who may have been part of the “radical left” infiltrated the crowd.)
Former Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin, meanwhile, appeared for a lengthy Fox News interview with anchor Martha MacCallum on Wednesday evening, and wasted no time in peddling this same conspiracy.
“We don’t know who all were the instigators in these horrible things that happened today, I think a lot of it is the antifa folks,” she claimed, citing “pictures” sent to her.
MacCallum—ostensibly a member of Fox’s “hard news” roster—offered no skepticism or response to the former governor’s baseless claims.
And Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume took to Twitter on Wednesday evening to tell his followers to “not be surprised if we learn in the days ahead that the Trump rioters were infiltrated by leftist extremists.”
When Fox News stars weren’t blaming antifa for the pro-Trump coup attempt, they were suggesting America had it coming.
While the other cable news networks devoted live coverage to the Senate returning back to the Capitol floor to debate over the Electoral College vote, Fox News instead turned to far-right host Tucker Carlson for a monologue explicitly telling Trump supporters they are not to blame for the violence.
“Millions of American sincerely believe the last election was fake. You can dismiss them as crazy, call them conspiracy theorists, kick them off Twitter, that won't change their minds,” he blared. “Rather than try to change their minds to convince them and reassure them the system is real democracy works as he would do if you cared about the country, our new leaders will try to silence them. What happened today will be used by people taking power to justify stripping you with the rights you were born with as un-American.”
Carlson, framing reaction to the riots as a means for elites to strip Americans of their rights, then finished his monologue with this thought: “It is not your fault, it is their fault!”
Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade had a similar viewpoint just moments earlier during an interview with MacCallum.
“I do not know Trump supporters that have ever demonstrated violence that I know of in a big situation,” he insisted before blaming the probe into Russian election interference as a reason why Trump supporters would storm the Capitol.
“I think this is a culmination of four years of them denying that their president won the election, claiming that the Russians flipped votes, this is four years of investigation, four years of a very frustrated electorate, 75 million that voted,” he exclaimed. “They feel that they have not had their day in court, let alone lost in court.”
And, perhaps inevitably, Carlson finally gave voice to a right-wing live-streamer who speculated that “maybe there were antifa infiltrators” in the mob that stormed the Capitol. Carlson nodded along.