Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.
With the midterm elections only four weeks away, a slew of Fox News commentators are warning their conservative viewers that they are physically imperiled by a “violent” leftist “mob” and must vote to keep Republicans in power in order to protect themselves. Their argument is an effort to turn out the GOP base by weaponizing conservative criticism of the protestors who opposed Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.
“Anyone who sits right of center, anyone who’s a Trump supporter, we’re all targets” of public harassment from the left, contributor Tomi Lahren explained on Fox & Friends Tuesday morning. “The average citizen, if you’re on the right, should be concerned and in danger.” Sebastian Gorka, a former White House aide now at Fox, similarly argued that the Democrats had “normalized violence in America,” comparing the need to fight back against that purported effort to the Revolutionary War.
Fox’s message has not appeared in a vacuum — as usual, the network is taking cues from the Republican Party. Most Americans disapprove of the job President Donald Trump is doing and abhor the Republican Congress, making it more likely that Democrats will gain control of the House or Senate and exercise much-needed oversight of the administration. In response, Republicans have seized on protests against Kavanaugh’s confirmation, trying to whip up their base by conflating those protests and Democrats as a whole. That opposition, they claim, is a dangerous “mob” that cannot be allowed to gain power.
“In their quest for power, the radical Democrats have turned into an angry mob,” Trump said at a rally in Topeka, KS, on Saturday. “You don’t hand matches to an arsonist, and you don’t give power to an angry left-wing mob. That’s what they have become. The Democrats have become too extreme and too dangerous to govern.”
Trump’s framing of the midterm elections as a battle against the “angry left-wing mob” consumed Fox’s prime-time programming on Monday.
“In 29 days, the choice is going to be clear,” argued Sean Hannity, the Trump propagandist with so much influence on the president that White House aides describe him as the shadow chief of staff. “Do you want mob rule or law and order?” He went on to say that viewers who lived in states with toss-up Senate races had the opportunity to reject senators who “gave in to the Democratic mob” by voting against Kavanaugh’s confirmation, adding that “there are no more moderates left in the Democratic Party,” which has “evolved into a party of the radical far left.”
Laura Ingraham, who at one point was considered for the White House communications director job, made the exact same point on her Fox show. “There is too much on the line for intraparty squabbles any longer,” she argued Monday. “And the choice for voters is now really simple. Mob rule or the rule of law? Perpetual rage or real results?” Later in the program, Monica Crowley, a Fox contributor who decided not to join the Trump administration following the revelation that she had plagiarized parts of her book, argued that the left is “violent” and “at war” against, among other things, “individual liberty.”
And Tucker Carlson, another host with keen influence over the president, said that Democratic donor Tom Steyer’s claim that Kavanaugh had been supported by “entitled white men” was “exactly the kind of thing that Hutu leaders in Rwanda were saying in the early 1990s” before committing genocide against the Tutsi tribe.
Fox has long operated as the communications arm of the Republican Party, remaking itself since Trump’s ascension as his personal propaganda outlet. Expect to see its commentators pull out all the stops over the next month in order to maintain congressional Republicans’ majority and protect Trump from meaningful oversight.
Header image by Melissa Joskow / Media Matters