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Tag: right wing media

How Right-Wing Media Greased Path For Trump’s Coup Attempt

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

The Atlantic staff writer Adam Serwer has a must-read new piece, "Trump's Plans for a Coup Are Now Public," really examining the scope of former President Donald Trump's multiple attempts to overthrow the results of the 2020 election.

Putting these pieces together becomes especially important in light of the newly revealed memo by Trump attorney John Eastman, who proposed that Vice President Mike Pence should have unilaterally refused to count Joe Biden's Electoral College votes — or even have just declared Trump the winner — at the joint session of Congress on January 6.

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The Capitol Riot Aftermath Bodes Ill For Democracy

Someday, the past year or so may be remembered as a bout of temporary insanity among a large share of the American people. This group refused to take basic precautions against a devastating pandemic, swallowed the lies of a president who had lost an election, and excused a violent mob that attacked the Capitol to prevent Congress from doing its constitutional duty.

Or maybe not. Maybe it will come to seem perfectly normal. Maybe this period will be known as the time when we lost our bearings for good, dooming us to a catastrophic national unravelling.

The rise in insanity is hard to overstate. A recent poll found that 20 percent of Americans — including half of those who are unvaccinated against COVID-19 — believe the inoculation implants a microchip that the government can use to track them. Nearly half of Republicans don't plan to get vaccinated.

Even as the Delta variant fuels a surge in infection, governors in some red states have rejected mask requirements in public schools, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis vowing to "provide protections for parents and kids who just want to breathe freely."

Right-wing politicians and their media allies have spread the preposterous claim that massive fraud deprived Donald Trump of reelection. A May Reuters-Ipsos poll showed that 61 percent of Republicans believe it. An April Reuters-Ipsos poll found that a majority of them agree that "the January 6 riot at the Capitol was led by violent left-wing protestors trying to make Trump look bad."

It gets worse. A poll sponsored by the Public Religion Research Institute found that the lunatic QAnon movement has gained a significant following, with 23 percent of Republicans affirming that "the government, media and financial worlds in the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation." GOP Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado have praised QAnon.

This week's hearings on the Capitol insurrection were another reminder of the alarming radicalization of the Republican Party, something exploited and encouraged by Trump.

The mob set up a gallows, chanted "Hang Mike Pence," forced both Republican and Democratic members to flee for their lives and savagely beat police officers. But congressional Republicans now want to move on, treating it as a minor incident grossly exaggerated by Democrats and the media — rather than an extremist effort to block a legitimate transfer of power.

GOP senators blocked the creation of an independent commission to investigate the attack. House Republicans tried in vain to stock a House committee with Trump henchmen who could be counted on to disrupt the inquiry.

Many Republican politicians are too infatuated with Trump — or too afraid of him — to admit the terrifying scope of the danger the insurrection represents. The party's elected officials have become a coalition of crazies and cowards.

It fell to a lonely pair of GOP conservatives, Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, to join the House investigative committee and decry the events of January 6 as a horrific attack on the nation and the Constitution.

Kinzinger did something else, debunking the pernicious claim that the Capitol attack was not as bad as the riots that erupted in cities last summer over the police murder of George Floyd.

"I was called on to serve during the summer riots as an Air National Guardsman," he said. "I condemned those riots and the destruction of property that resulted. But not once did I ever feel that the future of self-government was threatened like I did on January 6. There is a difference between breaking the law and rejecting the rule of law, between a crime — even grave crimes — and a coup."

In Tuesday's hearing, Kinzinger struck a hopeful note: "Democracies are not defined by our bad days. We're defined by how we come back from bad days."

But the response of Republicans to the attack is even more ominous than the attack itself. The aftermath offered a moment for them to confront the cancer that has embedded itself in the party and act to cut it out. They refused.

The majority of GOP voters have insisted on rationalizing or defending the insurrection while staying loyal to the defeated president who did so much to incite it. By indulging them, Republican leaders are inviting more of the same — and worse.

What kind of democracy is defined by its bad days? A dying one.

Follow Steve Chapman on Twitter @SteveChapman13 or at https://www.facebook.com/stevechapman13. To find out more about Steve Chapman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com

Study: Right-Wing Media Promote Conspiracies And Distrust In Health Officials

People who regularly consume conservative media, like Fox News and Newsmax, are much more likely to believe in Covid-19 misinformation and conspiracy theories, and less likely to trust public health officials, according to a study by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

The survey, conducted in June, found that though the general public's trust in the Covid vaccine went up -- 78 percent in June compared to 74 percent in April -- the more ideologically conservative someone is, the "less likely" they are to believe it is safer to get the Covid-19 vaccine, according to Axios.

"When you begin to reduce trust in experts and agencies telling you that vaccines are safe, you're creating all kinds of susceptibilities that can be exploited for partisan gain," Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, said, quoted by Axios.

The study also found a growing number of people believe conspiracy theories about the virus that has killed over 600,000 Americans.

For example, more than a third of Americans, 35 percent, believe that coronavirus is a biological weapon created by China, which was up from 31 percent in April.

Axios reports the news as public officials are sounding alarms over Covid vaccine misinformation leading to flat-lining vaccination rates, especially in convective communities.

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy stopped just short of saying Fox News is killing people last week on CNN.

"My worry is that all of this is misinformation that's floating around, it's having a real cost that can be measured in lives lost and that is just tragic," said Murthy when asked by Anchor Dana Bash if conservative media is killing people.

Dr. Rob Davidson, an emergency room physician in Michigan, took that next step, blaming conservative media for spreading "life-threateningly wrong" information about coronavirus.

"They should listen to their family doctors for medical advice, not Sean Hannity — whom researchers have connected to higher infection rates — or Tucker Carlson, who suggested with zero evidence that Covid-19 vaccines don't work," wrote Dr. Davidson in an NBC News opinion.

He doesn't blame his patients for their refusal to get the highly effective vaccine, he "blame[s] Fox News and other right-wing media outlets for poisoning the minds of millions of Americans with the deceptive propaganda they spray into living rooms 24/7."

Right-Wing Propaganda Outlets Intensify Schizoid Vaccine Scare

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

The White House has been stepping up its community outreach efforts for the coronavirus vaccines, with President Joe Biden announcing an effort to get ahead of emerging variants in a speech on July 6. But at the same time as many public health experts say there should be even more stringent requirements for people to get vaccinated, right-wing media outlets are instead waging their own scare campaign against even the community outreach, continuing their shameful record of undermining the vaccination campaigns.

Polling data has shown that Republican voters are far less likely than Democrats to even want to get the vaccines, seriously contributing to the country having missed Biden's goal for 70 percent of adults to have been vaccinated by July 4. (Most of the states that fell short were won by former President Donald Trump in 2020, while the states that have surpassed the goal were all won by Biden.)

But conservative media figures have quickly seized on one particular line from Biden's speech on Tuesday, in which he appealed to people to get vaccinated as "a patriotic thing to do."

"Now we need to go to community by community, neighborhood by neighborhood, and oftentimes, door to door — literally knocking on doors — to get help to the remaining people protected from the virus," Biden said. "Look, equity, equality — it remains at the heart of our responsibility of ensuring that communities that are the hardest hit by the virus have the information and the access to get vaccinated."

Now, right-wing media is engaged in a dishonest and irresponsible spin operation, warning people that the government is coming to get them with the vaccine.

Saving Lives With Vaccine Is 'Worse Than The Iraq War'

Fox News prime-time host Tucker Carlson, who has led a propaganda campaign in concert with anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists and with Fox's full corporate support, fear-mongered about Biden's speech during his program on Tuesday night.

Following a segment in which he claimed the pandemic had been "overhyped "because most deaths occurred in the elderly — though this argument also disregarded other adverse effects associated with "long COVID" — Carlson warned anyone who might come knocking to promote the vaccine to "stay the hell out of my house, for real." Carlson then claimed that a door-to-door vaccine promotion campaign was a "much bigger" scandal than even the Iraq War.

TUCKER CARLSON (HOST): So, because this disease -- the median age in Ohio of death is 80, your 15-year-old needs to have Joe Biden's health authority show up at your house with a needle. I mean, I don't — this is the — I think — I honestly think it's the greatest scandal in my lifetime by far. I thought the Iraq War was, it seems much bigger than that.

The idea that you would force people to take medicine they don't want or need, is there a precedent for that in our lifetimes?

BRIT HUME (FOX NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST): Well, look to be fair, it seems to me that what they're doing is — what their argument would be, Tucker, that what they're trying to do is make it as easy as possible for people to get the vaccine and, for people who are hesitant, to perhaps encourage them that they have nothing to fear. However, you know, vaccines do have side effects.

This after all is not yet an FDA-approved medicine. This is operating under a temporary use — a temporary emergency-use authorization. Perhaps it will in the future be authorized, fully authorized by the FDA, fully approved. But it's not yet, and if people — it seems to me, if people are hesitant to take it, particularly if they're not in the vulnerable category, it seems to me that's not an unreasonable thing and should be respected.

So that's what I would have to say about that.

CARLSON: Yeah, not letting kids get education if they're not vaccinated. Pretty amazing.

Fox's far-right competitors were not to be outdone Tuesday night, either. One America News warned its viewers that "the Biden administration is threatening to send political operatives to the homes of people who refuse to take an experimental COVID vaccine." Newsmax host Grant Stinchfield declared, "Hey, Joe, how about no — and I'm the guy that steps out onto my porch and calmly asks you to get off my lawn," even as Stinchfield capped off a defense of people refusing the "vaccine Kool-Aid" being pushed by both government agencies and businesses.

Shouldn't We Give Trump Credit For The Vaccine?

During a Wednesday morning panel discussion, however, it was disgraced former MSNBC analyst and Newsmax contributor Mark Halperin who reminded other conservative commentators that they ought to be promoting the vaccines on behalf of former President Trump.

"I think this is the depth of partisan lunacy," Halperin told former Trump administration staffer Hogan Gidley, who had been denouncing the "government overreach" of the vaccination campaigns and defending people for not trusting the expert advice.

"With all due respect to Hogan — Hogan, who developed the vaccine?" asked Halperin. "Your former boss, President Trump doesn't get nearly enough credit for what he did to unshackle the administration and the regulation and allowed these private-sector companies to go forward. The vaccines are, by historical standards, effective and safe, and everybody should get them. If people don't want to get them, it's their choice, but everybody should get them."

People "Up In Arms" — According To Fox & Friends

Meanwhile, the manufactured outrage continued on Fox & Friends, with co-host Ainsley Earhardt declaring: "People are up in arms about this, because we as Americans can make our own choices for our own families, for our own bodies. And when someone's knocking at your door with a vaccine — are they going to have the shot in their hand? Or are they going to encourage you to go, ask you questions like the Census Bureau does?"

Co-host Brian Kilmeade also warned of negative side effects from the vaccines.

"More and more people are saying — I'm not saying it's an epidemic and a problem — but no one addresses the fact that there are some people having negative reactions," Kilmeade said, discussing worries about vaccine requirements being imposed for sports at his own daughters' schools.

"How scary is that for you as a parent," Earhardt said, "because you're hearing all these kids that are having heart problems, inflammation."

Despite what Kilmeade and Earhardt said, media outlets and experts are indeed addressing these questions: The New York Times reported in late June that researchers had "estimated that out of a million second doses given to boys ages 12 to 17, the vaccines might cause a maximum of 70 myocarditis cases, but would prevent 5,700 infections, 215 hospitalizations and two deaths."

In a later segment, Fox News medical correspondent Dr. Marc Siegel — who had previously downplayed the pandemic and publicly supported various missteps by Trump — attempted to play a political game of gotcha: "I don't think we have to allow Biden on our door with a syringe yet and say here's a vaccine — after he doubted the vaccine to begin with." (Siegel appeared to be referring to statements Biden made during the 2020 campaign, saying he would trust scientists on the vaccine but not Trump's promises to have a vaccine distributed in time before the election.)

Knocking On Doors "Goes To The Core Of Our Country"

And during America's Newsroom on Wednesday, co-anchor Dana Perino spoke with Fox medical contributor Dr. Nicole Saphier, with the two actually talking about the importance of educating the public about vaccines — but Saphier argued that the appearance of compulsion and being "confrontational" about it would go against "the core of our country."

DANA PERINO (CO-ANCHOR): I also noted today, in The Washington Post it said in Maryland, 100 people died of COVID in June in Maryland — and 100% of them were unvaccinated. And that was one of the things that the president was trying to say yesterday, I suppose.

DR. NICOLE SAPHIER (FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR): Well, and that's not just Maryland, that's many states across the country, and other countries are seeing that as well. Yes, the deaths that are still occurring from SARS-Cov2 tend to be those that are unvaccinated. So, the best way to protect people is to get vaccinated.

But again, this is a freedom of choice, and that is what is very important. It goes to the core of our country. When you turn on other media outlets, you actually hear people calling for requiring them -- and mandates. And if — you can't declare independence and the freedom to choose vaccination and then require them as well and say we're going to be sending government officials. These are conversations that need to be had between physicians and patients and not by low-level grassroots people knocking on doors.

Mollie Hemingway: Just Stop Trying — And Declare It A "Win"

Co-anchor Bill Hemmer spoke later in the program with Fox News contributor Mollie Hemingway, who has spent much of the pandemic era undermining public efforts around mask-wearing and previously denounced Biden's July 4 goal as "just so un-American." So it might seem odd that Hemingway was brought on by a purported "news side" program to discuss the matter at all.

This time around, Hemingway's advice was for Biden to essentially "take the win" by moving his own goalposts.

MOLLIE HEMINGWAY (FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR): More importantly, vaccine — vaccination rates among the vulnerable populations, older people and people with comorbidities, is really high. And so, President Biden needs to just take the win. I know he missed his own personal goal for vaccination rates, but we've done a good job, and he should accept that and keep going forward.

BILL HEMMER (CO-ANCHOR): We can still get there, probably get there pretty soon actually.

Of course, the strategy of simply trying to do nothing and declare victory goes back a long way during the pandemic — and it kept failing.

Fox's "Straight News" And Opinion Hosts Push Same Scare Campaign

On Wednesday's edition of The Story with Martha MacCallum, guest anchor Trace Gallagher opened a segment by likening "door-to-door vaccine pushers" to door-to-door salesmen. Gallagher then ended a discussion with Fox & Friends Weekend co-host Will Cain by quoting an old line from Ronald Reagan about being afraid of the government — sounding remarkably similar to a tweet sent by a right-wing U.S. representative about an hour-and-a-half earlier.

TRACE GALLAGHER (FOX NEWS ANCHOR): Yup. Ronald Reagan once said, "The government's at your door saying, 'We're here to help.' And that's when —

(CROSSTALK)

WILL CAIN (CO-HOST, Fox & Friends Weekend): The scariest thing you could hear. Right?

GALLAGHER: Right.

CAIN: That's right.

Things only got worse that night. In a segment titled "Power Grabs & Needle Jabs," Laura Ingraham connected the vaccination campaign to the conspiracy theory of "global resetters" purportedly involved in COVID-19 public health protocols, and praised Americans for "wising up" by refusing the vaccines. (The monologue also featured a cartoonish visual of Biden holding a needle to a crying baby. Just to be clear, the COVID-19 vaccines have thus far been recommended for children ages 12 and up, not for infants.)

LAURA INGRAHAM (HOST): Every day, the barbarity of the left's COVID lockdowns and school closures becomes more apparent. The great global resetters, who love seeing us shut in and shut up, who were fine with seeing our economy destroyed, and even turning kids into screen zombies. The political forces that exploited health fears, the medical officials who became stars by helping them, and the media that covered for them all. All of them should be held accountable.

Now, it took a while, but Americans are wising up to this charade. Yet, despite everything the experts either got wrong or lied about, they still think that parents should trust them and inject their kids with an experimental drug to prevent a disease almost none of those kids will ever get sick from.



Going door-to-door? This is creepy stuff. You know, someone comes up to your door, outside wearing a mask, showing up at your house, claiming to work for the government, asking you personal medical questions. What could possibly go wrong there?

By the way, are these government vaccine ambassadors going to ask people about their vaccine status? What sort of notes will they take on each door-to-door encounter? And what will be done with those notes? How will this information be used? These are all important questions that bear directly on matters of personal medical privacy.

And on Fox & Friends, Kilmeade warned again: "They're going to be knocking on your doors, I guess with a cotton ball and a needle, and they're going to look to put a needle into your deltoid — stop asking questions."

Kilmeade then responded to a video of Dr. Anthony Fauci the night before on MSNBC's All In with Chris Hayes, urging people to "get over this political statement" of not taking the vaccine, and instead to "try and save the lives of yourself and your family."

Kilmeade then got nearly to the same point that Halperin did the day before: "How about saying, 'I just have to underline the fact that this vaccine was driven by the Trump administration, and conducted by and pushed forward by Operation Warp Speed. It was put together by the previous administration, and implemented by this one.' As much as they want you vaccinated, they are determined not to let you know who came up with it."

In response, though, Earhardt continued to warn of harmful side effects from the vaccines, and then Hegseth cued up a video clip from Ingraham's show the night before, in which a guest claimed that "no one under age of 30" should get the vaccines.

So it appears that right-wing media have arrived at a new resolution of competing ideas: The vaccines are one of the great accomplishments of the Trump administration, for which Trump is being denied his personal credit — and they are also very dangerous, and people shouldn't take them.

Newsmax Has 'No Plans To Hire Rep. Gaetz'

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

As Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL.) expressed interest in pursuing a career as a political commentator, he was immediately linked to news outlets like Fox News and Newsmax. However, the federal investigation he is facing for alleged sex trafficking appears to have nixed all possibilities of him pursuing a career in right-wing media, at least for Newsmax.

On Monday, June 7, Newsmax spokesperson Brian Peterson released a statement to Reuters confirming where the network stands regarding the Florida lawmaker.

"Newsmax has had no plans to hire Rep. Gaetz," Peterson told Reuters. An individual with knowledge of Newsmax's policies also said, "Earlier this year, [Gaetz] reached out and said he might leave Congress early and was interested in TV work."

But despite Gaetz's interest, the person said at the time that Newsmax "never told him we were interested."

The latest comes as the federal probe into Gaetz continues. Federal authorities have also focused their investigative efforts on Gaetz's associate Joel Greenberg. In May, the former Seminole County tax collector "pleaded guilty to charges of trafficking a female minor to other adult men who engaged in sex acts with the minor," according to Reuters. In addition to the guilty plea, he also agreed to cooperate with prosecutors as part of his deal.

When Gaetz spoke to Newsmax last month, he weighed in on the investigation saying, "The anonymous allegations against me range from total distortions of my life to these crazy and wild conspiracy theories that will never be proven, but they always come for the fighters."

Over the last two months, Gaetz's case has evolved.

Talking Points Memo reports:

"Allegations of misconduct by Gaetz have ballooned to include payments to women in exchange for sex in arrangements with his wingman, former tax collector Joel Greenberg, who has pleaded guilty for child sex trafficking. Investigators are also reportedly looking at whether Gaetz was involved in a pay-for-play scheme in Florida's marijuana industry."

As of Tuesday, June 8, Gaetz has not yet been charged in connection with the investigation.

#EndorseThis: With Millions Watching, Republicans Whine About Being 'Silenced'

Republican politicians incessantly claim that they are being silenced by the "radical left-wing media." But how can you be silenced when you're regularly speaking to millions upon millions of viewers on the most viewed news channel in America, Fox News?

Like a lot of things right-wingers say, it makes no sense. And The Washington Post isn't letting them get away with such obvious lies and fabrications.

You may be surprised how funny this brisk debunking is. Enjoy!


With millions watching, Republicans claim they are being silenced www.youtube.com

Trump’s Departure Drives Fox News Deeper Into Fever Swamps

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Fox News spent the last four years remaking itself as President Donald Trump's personal propaganda tool. Until the very end, it was a remarkably effective strategy: The network's audience swelled to record heights while its hosts achieved unprecedented influence as personal advisers to the Fox-obsessed president. But Trump's reelection defeat -- and his subsequent turn against Fox for acknowledging it -- has left the network in a precarious position at the dawn of Joe Biden's presidency, scrambling to recapture lost viewers and build a new identity without its key audience in the White House.

Trump's feud with Fox has the right-wing network facing real competition for the first time in years. The network lost its decades-long dominance of the cable news ratings war as viewers answered the president's call for his supporters to switch to its fringe-right rivals, Newsmax TV and the One America News Network, or tuned out from cable news altogether. Pro-Trump outlets that once accepted Fox's primacy in right-wing media are now trying to grab market share by positioning themselves against it. And mainstream commentators on the center-left and center-right are denouncing Fox's election fraud lies and calling for corporate action to stymie its reach.

This conflict will shape the right-wing media ecosystem and the Republican Party during the Biden administration. And the network's likely strategy to regain its edge can already be seen in its post-election decisions.

Fox's 2020 coverage helped stymie the response to a pandemic that has killed more than 400,000 Americans to date and triggered an insurrection in which pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol. What comes next will be worse. In response to sagging ratings, network executives are taking steps to increase Fox's reliance on incendiary right-wing propaganda, while weakening the internal faction that had at least a nominal commitment to reality.

The result will be a race to the bottom of the fever swamp, as Fox competes with its rivals for viewers by promoting ever-more-unhinged conspiracy theories and using increasingly apocalyptic rhetoric that encourages more violent insurrections. And that irresponsible behavior will court a backlash from the corporate interests that make the network's bigotry and lies a profitable endeavor.

Fox's Faltering Business Model

Fox has a two-track business model. The network attracts its audience with right-wing demagoguery. But it monetizes those viewers through payments from advertisers and cable carriers.

Those companies are rightfully uneasy about associating their brands with the network's worst excesses, and advertisers have largely abandoned its most controversial properties. Fox executives traditionally keep them from dropping the network entirely by highlighting their "news" hours, which they claim are independent and credible, while occasionally cutting tieswith low-level commentators when their inflammatory rhetoric draws too much attention.

Trump made that strategy untenable by denying the network its "news"-side fig leaf.

The president watched Fox's programming constantly and lashed out whenever he saw the "news" side producing coverage he considered insufficiently supportive. He raged against the network in November after its decision desk declared first that Biden had won Arizona and then that he was the president-elect. And over the following weeks he increasingly consumed, touted, and promoted programming from Newsmax and OAN, which refused to acknowledge Biden's win, bolstering their ratings at Fox's expense.

Fox executives had two potential pathways in the wake of Trump's defeat, each with perils to its business model. They could try to reinforce the "news" side and compete for current CNN and MSNBC viewers by producing credible journalism, even if it cost them with the network's traditional right-wing audience. Or they could double down on the right-wing propaganda of the "opinion" side in hopes of winning back pro-Trump viewers, but risk an advertiser revolt.

Every public move since Election Day suggests that they prefer the latter strategy. They are rewarding the "opinion" side for its years-long effort to lie to its audience in support of Trump, while purging the "news" side of individuals who tried to keep viewers at least somewhat tethered to reality.

Fox "opinion" hosts spent the weeks furiously promoting internet conspiracy theories about voter fraud costing the president the election. That full-throated endorsement of feverish nonsense got the network into potential legal trouble, triggered embarrassing on-air corrections, and led to the violent pro-Trump insurrection of January 6. Those same commentators responded to the storming of the Capitol by validating the rioters' concerns and repeating the lies that incited the mob.

Meanwhile, the network's executives broke their tacit agreement to use Fox's "news" programming to protect blue-chip advertisers from their right-wing ideologues. Fox's purportedly independent "news" hours began featuring clips from the "opinion" hosts, promoting their prime-time shows, and running ads in which they cast doubt on the election results.

A staffing shakeup reportedly ordered by Rupert Murdoch is now underway. Fox is cannibalizingone of the network's highest-profile "news" shows in favor of another hour of right-wing commentary. The potential "opinion" hosts receiving tryouts in that time slot include Brian Kilmeade and Maria Bartiromo, both fanatically loyal Trumpists who pushed absurd conspiracy theories about election machines flipping votes from Trump to Biden.

As it promotes its "opinion" hosts, Fox is conducting what insiders describe as a "purge" of the network's "real journalists." The layoffs are reportedly masterminded by former Sean Hannity executive producer Porter Berry, who oversees the network's digital operation, as part of Fox's "larger effort to pivot its website from straight-news reporting to right-wing opinion content in the mold of Fox's primetime programming." Political editor Chris Stirewalt is the highest-profile victim -- an apparent casualty of Trump's war on Fox's decision desk -- while senior vice president Bill Sammon is retiring; both were longtime members of the "news" side.

In the months to come, this ratings pressure from the right will continue sending Fox down fringe-right rabbit holes. And its programming, in turn, will influence the way the Republican Party responds to the post-Trump era.

Fox's Choice Will Shape Right-Wing Media -- And The GOP

Fox has always mimicked the attributes of the leading elements of the era's Republican Party. It was founded by former Nixon adviser Roger Ailes as a pro-GOP network to push back on what conservatives saw as a hostile, liberal press, and it both shapes and reflects the party it supports. Fox was a jingoistic, pro-war network during the Bush administration; rebranded as an anti-tax, anti-spending, tea party-booster after President Barack Obama's election; and morphed into a state TV outlet under Trump.

The network's executives would likely prefer to move on from Trump and pivot back to its Obama-era brand, becoming the "voice of opposition" to the incoming Biden administration. The network could focus its programming on smearing Biden officials, conjuring up Biden pseudo-scandals, stalling or blocking Democratic proposals, and bolstering anti-Biden political movements and Republican challengers. That was a unifying message for the right in 2009 that garnered huge ratings for the network. And Republican leaders would doubtless appreciate new Benghazis and "death panels" as cudgels to use against the incoming Democratic administration.

At the same time, Fox's on-air talent will come under tremendous pressure to rebuild its once-record audience. The clearest path to that goal will be to give the recalcitrant Trumpist viewers what they want: more lies that Trump actually won, more unhinged conspiracy theories about Democrats, more paranoid fantasies about the left, and more apocalyptic culture war rage. That will incentivize the rest of the right-wing media to do the same, in hopes of either snagging guest appearances on the network or pulling away some of its market share.

And with Trump refusing to cede the stage, the network may be unable to cut him loose. Fox could face constant loyalty tests from Trump to keep him as the network's main character, which competitors like OAN, Newsmax, and others would eagerly exploit in order to build their audiences.

The result could be that Fox, and the Republican Party it shapes, remain firmly planted in an alternate reality and functioning as Trump's state TV outlet and personality cult. Indeed, the network's propagandists are already trying to purge the party of leaders it views as insufficiently loyal to Trump.

This reckless strategy could win back Fox's faltering viewership. But it also poses serious risks for the network's business model. It sends a clear message to the network's advertisers and the cable providers that carry it that Fox is unwilling to reform from within, that it will only get more dangerous, and that it is no longer willing or able to provide them with cover. That puts the onus squarely on Fox's corporate enablers to stop rewarding the network for its dangerous behavior.

Right-Wingers Insist They’re The Victims Of Trump Insurrection

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

In the days since a mob of Trump supporters waged an attack on the U.S. Capitol, I've been thinking a lot about the week in October 2018 when a supporter of President Donald Trump was caught mailing explosives to prominent Democrats and a right-wing gunman slaughtered 11 people at a Pennsylvania synagogue. Specifically, I've been thinking about Trump's reactions to the events, which were arguably inspired by his own rhetoric.

Trump opened his remarks during the 2018 Young Black Leadership Summit event at the White House with an update on the bombing story, which had dominated the news that week: An arrest had been made.

"These terrorizing acts are despicable and have no place in our country," he told the crowd, describing an actual attempt to murder his political rivals. But within minutes and without a trace of self-awareness, Trump asked the crowd, "Who gets attacked more than me?"

"I can do the greatest thing for our country, and on the networks and on different things, it will show bad," he sulked. At another point during his speech, he attacked "globalists" ("They like the globe. I like the globe too.") and grumbled that a White House announcement the day before "didn't get the kind of coverage it should have" because it was "competing with this story that took place," referring to the bombs being sent to Democrats.

That speech will forever stand out as not just a summation of the Trump presidency, but of the conservative movement and its victimhood complex, in general.

The man arrested for sending those bombs was Cesar Sayoc, a hardcore Trump supporter who pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. The day after Trump's speech, a white nationalist named Robert Bowers murdered 11 people in a shooting spree at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Bowers' attack was driven by a belief that a migrant caravan was being secretly funded by billionaire George Soros. This was a popular narrative in right-wing media that continued on in the weeks following the attack.

Trump Holds A PIty Party

Trump's response to the synagogue shooting, like his response to Sayoc's bombing spree, omitted details about the motivations behind the attack. Rather than criticizing the absurd narrative that helped drive the attack, Trump instead condemned hate in a general sense before suggesting that the victims of the massacre should have protected themselves.

Even as the mob tore through the Capitol, Trump continued to position himself as the actual victim. Sure, five people died, members of Congress were terrorized, and the rioters chanted, "Hang Mike Pence," but Trump couldn't help but throw himself a pity party.

"Mike Pence didn't have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!" tweeted Trump, continuing to push the lies that he was the true winner of the election and that Pence had betrayed him by refusing to single-handedly overturn the results.

Even in his tweet urging people to go home, he justified what had happened by portraying his supporters as the real victims, writing, "These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!"

The insurrection was hardly spontaneous. While it's no surprise that fringe social media sites like Gab, Parler, and the pro-Trump Reddit clone TheDonald.win were filled with calls for violence ahead of the January 6 certification of the Electoral College votes, mainstream platforms like Twitter and Facebook were also unwitting staging grounds for the violent uprising.

Although Twitter and Facebook have long had rules against inciting violence and have each pledged to crack down on accounts which support the QAnon conspiracy theory, enforcement has been spotty. That changed after the 6th. Trump, whose lies about the election being stolen from him have helped fuel the right-wing rage, has had his account banned or suspended by virtually every social media platform so as not to incite additional attacks. But these well-deserved bans simply gave the right another opportunity to play the victim.

As thousands of other accounts were suspended in the wake of the Capitol attack, conservatives working in media and government focused on what's really important: their follower counts.

Twitter explained what was happening in a statement to NBC News:

"The accounts have been suspended in line with our policy on Coordinated Harmful Activity," a Twitter spokesperson told NBC News. "We've been clear that we will take strong enforcement action on behavior that has the potential to lead to offline harm, and given the renewed potential for violence surrounding this type of behavior in the coming days, we will permanently suspend accounts that are solely dedicated to sharing QAnon content."

Being suspended for violating a social media platform's rules is not evidence of bias, but even if it was, it takes a really outsized sense of victimhood to respond to a violent insurrection whipped up as the result of a blatant lie about the election results by turning yourself into the real victim -- even more so when many of the people complaining about their lost followers were the same people who promoted the lie in the first place.

TheBlaze's Glenn Beck appeared on the January 12 episode of Fox News' Tucker Carlson Tonight, where he argued that social media platforms taking steps to avoid being places where terrorist attacks are planned is just like what the Nazis did in the 1930s.

"You can't have freedom of speech if you can't have -- if you can't express yourself in a meaningful place," he said. "This is -- this is like the Germans with the Jews behind the wall. They would put them in the ghetto. Well, this is the digital ghetto. 'You can talk all you want. Jews, you do whatever you want behind the wall.'"

And Beck wasn't the only right-wing media figure to make this obscene comparison of Trump supporters to victims of Nazi persecution:


Embracing The (False) Role Of Victim

Every mean-spirited thing conservatives do seems to come from a place of self-victimization or, at the very least, is often justified by self-victimization. And in the case of the Capitol attack, these narratives of conservative victimhood were building for two months following Trump's electoral defeat, as right-wing media figures worked overtime to falsely claim that he had really won the election which Democrats were trying to steal through overwhelming fraud.

In a December interview with Charlie Kirk, right-wing radio host Eric Metaxas said he needed "to fight to the death, to the last drop of blood" to overturn the election, an explicit endorsement of violence. Rather than admit that it was an election that Trump lost, Metaxas and Kirk both agreed that Trump was the rightful winner and that the election was stolen from him. Metaxas compared Biden's win to "stealing the heart and soul of America. It's like holding a rusty knife to the throat of Lady Liberty."

Metaxas couldn't just come out and say that Trump should remain in power despite losing the election. Instead, he framed his proposition as simply trying to right a wrong that was done to him and to the country.

Acts of bullying, whether taking the form of verbal abuse, physical altercations, or just a general disregard for others, are framed in conservative victimhood narratives as justifiable responses to imagined attacks from their political enemies. Metaxas justified his bloodlust by portraying any actions he may have to take as being retaliation for an election that was stolen. Conservatives regularly fight to oppress and curtail the rights of already marginalized groups under the guise of defending themselves in the culture war. Anything can be justified in the fight to "stand up to woke America," as the school newspaper of the far-right Hillsdale College framed legislation and court decisions targeting transgender people.

No matter the subject, the message of right-wing media to conservatives is always the same: You are the real victim here. And when you are the victim, you can justify just about anything -- even inciting a terrorist attack.