Fox Runs the GOP. And Fox Wants War.
Republicans have a truly remarkable capacity to see themselves as victims even at the moment when they are beating people to death with flagpoles and fire extinguishers.
On Wednesday, Jan. 6, Donald Trump told the group gathered at the #stopthesteal rally, “We’re going to walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women, and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them, because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.” Trump urged his supporters to storm the capital because of his big lie that the 2020 election had been stolen from him, when in fact he actually lost by seven millions votes.
It was a Big Lie but not an unexpected one. After all, Trump is our first post-truth president. Historian Timothy Snyder wrote in The New York Times, “When we give up on truth, we concede power to those with the wealth and charisma to create spectacle in its place.” We did that. America did concede its power to a wealthy(ish) and charismatic(ish) reality television host. Trump, in turn, has effectively conceded that power to Fox News opinion hosts.
Those same Fox hosts have now decided that Trump should not be held accountable for the armed insurrection at the Capitol because it might upset his followers. Brian Kilmeade, one of Trump’s favorite morning sycophants, made this argument: “This country is ready to explode. You saw what happened. You see the anger that the 74 million people feel.” Therefore, Kilmeade reasoned, “good leadership would bring down the temperature a little, look to turn the page, be inclusive…”
Then Kilmeade tried out the classic mobster persuasive technique of nice little country you got there, it would be a shame if something happened to it: “We see what's happening around this country, how 50 state houses are being threatened on Inauguration Day, this is the last thing you want to do.” In other words, Kilmeade is saying, after Republicans have practically torn the country in two, if Democrats so much as point that out, then they’re the ones being divisive.
In fact, Trumpers have decided that the mere act of trying to hold them accountable for their armed insurrection is akin to making them victims of modern day Nazis. I’m not fucking kidding. “Judge” Jeanine Pirro compared deplatforming of the far-right network Parler to Kristallnacht, which was a campaign of victimization by Nazis, not of Nazis. “And now that they’ve won,” Pirro said, “what we're seeing is the kind of censorship that is akin to a Kristallnacht, where they decide what we can communicate about.” She said this days after the attack on our capitol where one “protester” was seen in a Camp Auschwitz sweatshirt, and others wore ones that said 6MWE, an acronym for Six Million Wasn’t Enough.
But Fox is still banging this sick drum. Just as this column was posting, Glenn Beck said the tech companies banning Trump was "like the Germans with the Jews behind the walls."
The Austrian-born Arnold Schwarzenegger, former governor of California, rightly compared the Capitol rioters to Nazis in a video he posted on Jan. 10. Someone needs to tell Judge Box of Wine that the Nazi calls are coming from inside the House. The domestic terrorists who stormed the Capitol don’t just resemble Nazis. If you are literally breaking windows and killing people, you resemble the perpetrators of Kristallnacht rather than their victims. Republicans have a truly remarkable capacity to see themselves as victims even at the moment when they are beating people to death with flagpoles and fire extinguishers. Insurrection enthusiast Josh Hawley blamed the “woke mob” for his book getting canceled and little Miss Jim Jordan wannabe Elise Stefanik blamed the “woke mob” for her getting removed from the Harvard Institute of Politics’ senior advisory committee.
A lot of times during the past four years it’s been impossible to tell who is leading the Trump administration. Is it Trump or is it Fox News? Is Trump coming up with his policies, or is he merely responding to Tucker Carlson or Sean Hannity? In June of 2019 Tucker told Trump not to go to war with Iran even though Trump really wanted to. Trump didn’t go to war with Iran.
Media Matters for America’s Matthew Gertz, who has basically spent the last four years watching Trump watch Fox, noted in Politico, “Here’s what’s also shocking: A man with unparalleled access to the world’s most powerful information-gathering machine, with an intelligence budget estimated at $73 billion last year, prefers to rely on conservative cable news hosts to understand current events.”
This means that Rupert Murdoch and Tucker Carlson could shut this down right now. Yes, lives could be saved and violence averted if Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity would go on TV and say, “Look, Trump didn’t win the election. He’s lying to you.” Pundits have argued that Republican leaders need to come out and address the Big Lie, but I would argue that those people aren’t the real leaders of the Republican Party.
There’s a case to be made that ultimately the Republican Party is controlled not by its politicians but rather by its media personalities. Even Trump seems to sort of understand that there would be no Donald J. Trump without years of hateful and divisive rhetoric from Rush Limbaugh. CNN’s Oliver Darcy tweeted that “Too many people — particularly political journalists — simply do not seem to understand that outside Trump, the Republican Party is not controlled by lawmakers as much as it is controlled by media personalities such as Hannity, Limbaugh, Levin, Beck, Carlson, Ingraham, etc.”
So this is me, just a girl standing in front of the internet begging Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity and Rupert Murdoch to use their power to put an end to the Big Lie once and for all. We know what happened the last time a Big Lie didn’t get debunked. The stakes are incredibly high. How many more need to die before Rupert Murdoch develops a conscience, or at least a rational fear of massive legal damages?