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Tag: tucker carlson

MyPillow Conspiracy Guy Pulls Ads From Fox News

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

MyPillow CEO and conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell is reportedly pulling his company's ads from Fox News after the network allegedly rejected an advertisement for his cyber symposium scheduled for mid-August. As The Wall Street Journal reported, Lindell "has said the symposium will prove the 2020 election was stolen from then-President Donald Trump through manipulation of election machines."

MyPillow is Fox News' single largest advertiser, after other companies have dropped ads over the years due to the network's bigotry and conspiracy theories.

Media Matters President Angelo Carusone laid out the details, including that MyPillow accounted for 18 percent of all ads on Fox News' Tucker Carlson Tonight in the first half of 2021. In 2020, there were periods when MyPillow accounted for 41 percent of that show's ad inventory.

As Carusone noted, the situation on Fox News prime time is so dire that Fox Corporation, the channel's parent company, is one of the largest paid advertisers. And now that situation goes from bad to worse, with MyPillow apparently dropping out.

(Also, for the record: MyPillow is not the only Fox News prime-time advertiser steeped in controversy. The Federal Trade Commission has charged that Balance of Nature, another top advertiser on Fox, made bogus claims that its products could ward off the coronavirus. As Media Matters has reported, such ads featured prominent right-wing media personalities, including current California gubernatorial candidate Larry Elder.)

Fox Welcomed Lindell's Deranged Conspiracy Theories — Until Now

As Media Matters and others have documented since his rise to prominence in right-wing circles during the Trump years, Lindell is a major backer of extremist conspiracy theories, ranging from calling COVID-19 vaccines the "mark of the beast" to claiming that Trump won the 2020 presidential election in a landslide (including in California).

Lindell is now trying to "prove" that the election was stolen from Trump by hosting what he calls a "cyber symposium" in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in mid-August. He's been lashing out at Fox News recently for not promoting the event, telling Salon's Zachary Petrizzo a week ago that he was going to force the issue by placing ads on the network.

One such ad that Petrizzo highlights:

Lindell Ad, Fox News - SALON.COM www.youtube.com

Ironically, Lindell has been welcome on Fox News until recently. Even after Tucker Carlson derided Sidney Powell's "Kraken" conspiracy theories about the election (and even after the January 6 attack), the Fox host still welcomed Lindell on his show to push the very same conspiracy theories.

As my colleague Matt Gertz wrote in February:

Since Lindell lost access to Twitter, Fox, Newsmax, and OAN have all eagerly provided him with access to their audiences. Fox star Tucker Carlson hosted him on the evening of his banning, giving the MyPillow CEO a sympathetic platform to push his Dominion conspiracy theories. In fact, Carlson, whose show's commercial blocks are a barren wasteland overwhelmingly reliant on the pillow company's advertisements, has repeatedly given Lindell pathetically sycophantic treatment.

Right-wing media have certainly welcomed the pillowman's money, and many of them are apparently still going to do the same when it comes to this ad. Just look anywhere and you'll see the sycophantic treatment, from Steve Bannon to Infowars to One America News Network to Newsmax to many others. But it's Fox News that has given Lindell his biggest perch -- and now it is reaping what it has sowed.

Fox news can't get enough of pillow czar Mike Lindell www.youtube.com

Fox News Attacks Biden For Implementing Fox’s Own Vaccine Policy

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Fox News is turning the White House's upcoming push for COVID-19 vaccinations among the federal workforce into just another front in its right-wing culture war and campaign to undermine public health — even though Biden's upcoming policy will be seemingly identical to Fox's practices in its own offices.

To be exact, federal workers would reportedly be given the choice of either showing proof of vaccination or instead submitting to regular testing. This policy will in fact be very similar to what is already going on at Fox News' own offices, under a program called the "Fox Clear Pass" in which employees who provide their vaccine information are allowed to bypass daily health screenings. But Fox hosts have railed against the possibility of vaccine passports as "segregation," "medical Jim Crow," and "East German-style 'show me your papers.'"

And in Fox's telling, the upcoming policy is an insult to regular people across America — who are now being dubbed "unvaccinated Americans" — and an effort to dominate them. (Just to be clear, over 60 percent of the adult U.S. population has been fully vaccinated by now.)

Fox's Opinion Hosts Attack Vaccine Policy For "Dividing Americans"

On Tuesday night, Fox prime-time host Tucker Carlson declared that the Biden administration "has decided to use this virus to cement its control of the country."

"Democrats rode COVID to victory last November through fear and blame and brand new methods of voting," Carlson said. "And they plan to keep power through next year's midterm in the very same way, by dividing Americans against one another, vaccinated versus unvaccinated."

Carlson further compared required vaccinations for federal employees to a host of medical atrocities: "Government should never require people to submit to any medical procedure, whether that procedure is sterilization or frontal lobotomies or COVID vaccinations." He then denounced "professional Republicans" for not opposing the vaccination requirements, saying they're trying to prove "they're not anything like those morons in rural America who vote for them."

On Wednesday morning's edition of Fox & Friends, co-hosts Brian Kilmeade and Rachel Campos-Duffy highlighted what they called Biden's "insulting message to unvaccinated Americans" (when he bluntly stated on Tuesday: "If you're not vaccinated, you're not nearly as smart as I thought you were"), as if such a category represented an ethnic group or other community that should be treated more respectfully.

Meanwhile, co-host Steve Doocy tied the increased push for masking and vaccination to the midterm elections — tying the Democrats' fortunes to the effort to beat the virus — thus almost seeming to acknowledge the campaign of right-wing sabotage of public health for partisan reasons.

STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): All right, so what you've got going on is — and we've been talking about this — the president's polling numbers regarding COVID are actually inching down. And the whole idea for the midterms was, the Democrats were going to run on, "Hey, listen, look, we got COVID completely under control." Brian, you accurately portrayed the fact that 99 percent of the people who are getting sick and winding up in the hospital are the unvaccinated.

So essentially, the White House realizes that it — COVID is running around the country right now with the unvaccinated, but that still makes them look bad. They're trying to get people vaccinated, so what are they doing? They are making everybody wear a mask — even though the people who, for the most part, got the shot don't need it — simply to control the people who have not been vaccinated.

Fox's 'News Side' Complains Biden Is 'Scolding' Vaccine-Hesitant

In a rare exception to the general tone of coverage, Fox News host Trey Gowdy explained the basic legalities involved during a segment on America's Newsroom. "You don't have a constitutional right to work for the federal government," he said, and the federal government can act as an employer, while state governments might even have the power to simply mandate the vaccines for their own citizens.

But later in the morning, news anchor Harris Faulkner accused Democrats of "talking down to vaccine-hesitant Americans," employing much of the same culture-war language that Carlson had used the night before.

DR. MARC SIEGEL (FOX NEWS MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT): Listen, Harris. We've said this before, and I want to say it a little differently. You need to ask somebody why they're not being vaccinated — not bludgeon them, not bully them, not shame them. You say, "What's your issue?" Well, maybe they had a side effect to a previous vaccine. … Maybe it's a religious issue. And by the way, I would counter that religious issue by talking the way you and I talk — privately and on the air — by saying, you know, religious, Judeo-Christian heritage, we want to protect our families. I's family. So talk about it in terms of family, but not mandates, not bludgeoning, not shaming, not putting people down. People are not stupid. People can be talked to.

FAULKNER: You know, I wonder if they don't just think that about us sometimes. Just as Americans in general. We're good people. You know, this is the same group that would have you believe that we're systemically racist here, too. I don't want to muddle it. I'm just saying, what do they really think of us? Because you can talk to us. I can tell you why I got it. Somebody else might tell you why they are worried about getting it, but it's an open conversation.

And later in the afternoon, news anchor John Roberts complained that "there seems to be a certain scolding characteristic coming from political leaders about vaccination," including from Biden and Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Instead, Roberts proffered, "I think you give them the information, and you say, 'Look, it's in your interest to do it, and it's in everybody else's interest. Why don't you come along to the party?'" On the other hand, maybe Roberts ought to try watching the rest of his network, to see how much outright resistance to vaccination has actually been encouraged, now making a bit of tough love actually necessary.

For example, later that afternoon Fox News contributor and law professor Jonathan Turley said the Biden administration had moved to a "coerced consent" model of vaccination, with private companies becoming a "shadow state" to implement government policy on vaccines — without noting the very company he was appearing on had already implemented the same policy.

And that night, Fox host Sean Hannity — who last week made clear that he was not encouraging vaccination following a right-wing backlash over a widely misinterpreted video clip, asked in a concerned tone: "And is the next thing a vaccine passport, which eliminates medical privacy and doctor-patient confidentiality?"

So while John Roberts really ought to watch the rest of his own network, maybe Sean Hannity needs to talk to the company's human resources department.

Research contributions from Jane Lee and Rebecca Martin

Capitol Police Testimony Moves Fox Anchor, But Network’s Pundits Sneer

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

When Fox News turned to Bret Baier for comment shortly after the conclusion of Tuesday's hearing of the House select committee investigating the January 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol by pro-Trump rioters, the network's chief political anchor was adamant that it would be impossible for anyone to downplay the devastating testimony heard that day. Over the previous several hours, four police officers had described in searing detail how they had risked their lives defending Congress from a violent, bigoted throng that sought to halt the counting of electoral votes formalizing President Joe Biden's election.

"If you were watching, you saw compelling, at times damning, emotional testimony from these four officers who fought the line to try to protect the Capitol and the lawmakers inside," Baier said. Highlighting the officers' descriptions of how they "fought to hold on to their lives," he added that while Republicans are trying to argue that the investigation is politically motivated, "you can't watch the testimony and say that's not a big deal."

Baier was describing an emerging consensus that is damaging to Republicans. But Fox exists in part to manufacture dissent, disrupting such consensuses with narratives that are more palatable to its right-wing audience. And so that evening, Baier's colleagues -- who helped lay the groundwork for the riots by trumpeting Donald Trump's baseless claims of a stolen 2020 election and then spent the last seven months downplaying and concocting justifications for the resulting insurrection -- went to work.

"We're being lectured by phony politicians about threats to our country," The Five co-host Greg Gutfeld sneered amid a whataboutist rant, going on to describe the January 6 Capitol riots as "having politicians' jobs disrupted for two hours." He added that the hearing was "a circus" and "a clown show."

Fox's star prime-time host Tucker Carlson literally snickered after playing a clip of Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone saying that he's "been left with psychological trauma and emotional anxiety" from the Capitol riots. (Fanone described being "grabbed, beaten, tased, all while being called a traitor to my country"; the assault resulted in a heart attack.)

Mocking the testimony of Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, who compared the riots to his Army deployment in Iraq, Carlson described the events of January 6 as follows: "Officers let the rioters into the Capitol. They had casual conversations with them inside the Senate Chamber. Some of the rioters had face paint and carried American flags."

Carlson also made fun of the emotional responses some members of the committee had to hearing the testimony.

Sean Hannity picked up the next hour where Carlson had left off, denouncing the investigation as a "political charade" with a "predetermined outcome" intended to "smear and slander" Trump and the Republican Party.

What followed was a parade of whataboutism, with Hannity and his guests highlighting how Democrats were fixated on the sacking of the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob intent on stopping the peaceful transition of power rather than homicides in Chicago or violence at last year's protests against police brutality.

Later that night, from her platform on Fox's 10 p.m. ET hour, Laura Ingraham described the hearing as "nothing more than performance art." She went on to announce "The Angle awards for today's best performances," including the award for "best use of an exaggeration in a supporting role" to Gonell, "blatant use of partisan politics when facts fail" to Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, and "best performance in an action role" to Fanone.

Over the prime-time block, Carlson and Ingraham aired clips from the hearing only to mock the speakers, while Hannity bashed the event without actually airing clips from it.

Whether or not they watched the hearings as Baier did, Fox's right-wing propagandists did their best to leave their audiences thinking that the testimony that day was not actually a "big deal." And by this morning, the hearings had all but disappeared from the network's airwaves.

The same phenomenon has happened over and over again: Fox's "straight news" side describes events as damning for Republicans or helpful for Democrats, only for the "opinion side" to go into overdrive to hide that from its audience.

The cycle played out after professor Christine Blasey Ford testified that then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh had attempted to rape her when they were in high school in the early 1980s. It happened again during the 2019 impeachment hearings over Trump's abuse of power in Ukraine. And it happened after Biden called for "uniting our nation" and ending "this uncivil war that pits red against blue" during his inaugural address.

Fox isn't in the business of telling its viewers what happened. It's in the business of telling them what they should think about what happened.

Research contributions from Will DiGravio

LISTEN: Capitol Police Hero Receives Vile Trumpist Death Threats

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone testified before Congress on Tuesday that supporters of former President Donald Trump almost killed him in a violent beating at the Capitol insurrection on January 6, and to make matters worse someone left him a threatening voicemail message while he was giving his testimony. "It includes some incredibly offensive language, but we think people need to hear the kind of attacks that these officers are facing right now just for telling the truth about January 6," CNN host Don Lemon said. "Play it." An unnamed caller proceeded to accuse Fanone of lying, asking him if he wanted an Emmy or Oscar, and calling him an offensive slur.

Warning: Video in this story contains profane and highly offensive audio that may be triggering for some listeners.

The caller said in his disgusting message:

"Yeah, this is for Michael Fanone, Metropolitan Police officer. You're on trial right now, lying and not. You want an Emmy? An Oscar? What are you trying to go for here? You're so full of s---, you little f----- f---er. You're a little p----, man. I could slap you up the side of your head with a backhand and knock you out, you little f-----.
"You're a punk f-----. You're a lying f---. How about all that scummy Black f---ing scum for two years destroying our cities and burning 'em and stealing all that s--- out of the stores and everything? How about that? Assaulting cops and killing people? How about that, you f---er?
"That was s--- on the goddamn Capitol. I wish they would have killed all you scumbags, 'cause you people are scum. They stole the election from Trump and you know that, you scumbag. And you, f---ing too bad they didn't beat the s--- out of you more. You're a piece of s---. You're a little f--, you f---ing scumbag."

Fanone asked CNN not to censor the audio when the network played it. "I remember like my first reaction immediately after listening to that phone call, which I actually received while I was testifying in the hearing today," Fanone said. "This is what happens to people that tell the truth in Trump's America."

Fanone's body-camera footage showed the brutal attack he suffered at the hands of rioters, one of whom tased him amid shouts of "I got one," CNN reported in May. Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn compared the insurrectionists to a hired hit man in his closing remarks Tuesday to the House committee investigating the riot. "If a hit man is hired and he kills somebody, the hit man goes to jail. But not only does the hit man go to jail, but the person who hired them does. It was an attack carried out on Jan. 6 and a hit man sent them. I want you to get to the bottom of that," Dunn said.

He was called the N-word multiple times when he revealed during the insurrection that he voted for President Joe Biden. Dunn said he told people to leave during the riot and was told: "No man, this is our house. President Trump invited us here. We're here to stop the steal. Joe Biden is not the president. Nobody voted for Joe Biden." Dunn told lawmakers he usually does his best to keep politics out of his job but in that circumstance, he responded. "'Well, I voted for Joe Biden. Does my vote not count? Am I nobody?'" Dunn said he asked rioters. "That prompted a torrent of racial epithets."

Prominent GOP commentators used less triggering language but bolstered the same sentiment of support for rioters. Fox News host Laura Ingraham mocked Fanone and Dunn on Tuesday. "The award for blatant use of partisan politics when facts fail—the Angle Award goes to Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn," she said. Of Fanone the Republican broadcaster said: "And for best performance in an action role, the winner is Michael Fanone."

Fox News' Tucker Carlson made similar remarks, mocking Fanone's trauma. "Not to in anyway underplay the crimes that were committed on January 6—and there were crimes on January 6— but compared to what," Carlson said.

Right-Wing Backlash Over Vaccination Remarks Spooks Craven Hannity

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Fox News host Sean Hannity disclosed during his radio show on Friday that he had made peace with a fellow right-wing radio host whose content mill had warned that Hannity's "feverish support of the vaccine" against the novel coronavirus betrayed his conservative audience.

"By the way, I talked to our friend Wayne Dupree," Hannity said of the Sandy Hook conspiracy theorist, who described the grieving parents of murdered children as "crisis actors." "And he put up a nice tweet saying, 'You know what, somebody on my staff put that article up, I didn't see it,' and he rightfully corrected it."

Hannity's remark closed the books on a multi-day saga during which the Fox host had offered a vaguely pro-vaccine comment, only to backpedal wildly after drawing largely unearned praise from mainstream journalists and a backlash from the right. The incident demonstrates how Fox's cowardly refusal to defy the right-wing media's incentive structure by promoting the COVID-19 vaccine is now risking the lives of its viewers.

On his July 19 Fox program, Hannity urged viewers to "take COVID seriously" and said that he "believe[s] in the science of vaccination." It was a fairly banal comment and came in the middle of a lengthy segment in which Hannity denounced universities that require their students to get vaccinated.

But Fox's coverage of the COVID-19 vaccines has been so abhorrent and irresponsible that an out-of-context snippet of the monologue circulating on Twitter went viral on Monday night, as commentators rushed to praise Hannity's segment as a divergence from the network's norm. Over the following days, mainstream news outlets incorrectly highlighted the remark as an endorsement of the vaccines, and even cited it as evidence that "Suddenly, Conservatives Care About Vaccines," as a headline in The Atlantic put it.

Fox's PR team appreciates this sort of coverage because it helps shield the network from the accurate assessment that it serves as a conspiracy theory-addled right-wing propaganda outlet that is more than willing to endanger the lives of its viewers. But for Hannity, who regularly lashes out at the mainstream press, this sort of praise is useless at best and actively harmful to his reputation at worst. Hannity's audience -- and the right-wing rivals who might try to poach away those viewers and listeners -- are what matter to him. And from them, the Fox host received little support.

Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham, Hannity's Fox prime-time colleagues, spent the week engaging in frenzied attacks on the vaccination campaign. Carlson explicitly criticized CNN -- but implicitly undermined Hannity -- when he dingedthe network for having "a position on whether you should take" the vaccine two nights after Hannity's viral monologue.

Hannity received more direct right-wing criticism for his supposed support for vaccination from outside the network, and a post on Dupree's website went after his audience directly.

"Hannity is raising ire with a lot of his supporters because of his feverish support of the vaccine," the author wrote, highlighting a series of online comments from conservatives dismayed by the Fox host "pushing" the vaccine. Dupree himself subsequently shared the post on Twitter.

screenshot

A July 20 post on Sandy Hook conspiracy theorist and radio host Wayne Dupree's website targets Sean Hannity's audience over his purported vaccine advocacy.

Hannity responded by vigorously backtracking. On July 22, he assured both his radio and Fox audiences that he "never told anyone to get the vaccine" and criticized mainstream news outlets for suggesting otherwise.

Hannity made it clear on his radio show that the Dupree post had struck a nerve. He said that the story had been flagged for him as important by one of his employees, and he seemed dismayed that Dupree, "who I've always liked," was coming after him.

"Wayne, we hope you are listening, and maybe you understand what's really going on here and stop listening to fake news," commented Hannity's producer, Lynda McLaughlin, before playing audio to clear Hannity's name.

Hannity's walkback appears to have satisfied Dupree. The story on his website that criticized Hannity was taken down some time the following day, as Dupree offereda "CORRECTION" on Twitter.

Why would Hannity go to such lengths to respond to and assuage the concerns of a Z-list crank like Dupree? Because in the right-wing media, you gain an audience by producing propaganda drenched in conspiracy theories that assures conservatives that their grievances and intuitions are correct -- and you can lose it just as quickly if that audience thinks you've gone soft.

This dynamic has been playing out on Fox since November, when the network's fringe-right rivals stole some of its market share by presenting themselves as more supportive of former President Donald Trump's lies that the 2020 election had been stolen. Ever since, Fox hosts have desperately pandered to the most extreme elements of the right in hopes of slowing the bleeding and rebuilding their audiences.

The vaccination effort has proven no different. Fox hosts could play a critical role in informing their viewers about the vaccine and helping to convince them to take it. They have a moral responsibility to try. But if they were to do so, a constellation of smaller, more adamantly anti-vax right-wing outlets is ready to lash out at the market leader and siphon away some of their viewers. So instead, they pander to the anti-vaxxers.

It's a vicious cycle. And it's getting Fox's viewers killed.

WATCH: Montana Man Tells Carlson: ‘You’re The Worst Human Being Known To Mankind’

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

A fly fishing guide in Montana had the kind of opportunity many of us only wish we could tap, and that is to tell Fox host Tucker Carlson, an irresponsibly vocal anti-vaxxer, how much damage he has done. "You are the worst human being known to mankind. I want you to know that," Dan Bailey is seen telling Carlson in video posted to the Montana man's Instagram page on Friday.

Bailey encountered Carlson in Dan Bailey's Fly Shop in Livingston, but neither is affiliated with the shop, according to a statement shared both on the business's website and at HuffPost. "On July 23rd, a well-known television personality, Tucker Carlson, was affronted while shopping at Dan Bailey's Outdoor Company. Coincidentally, the person engaging Mr. Carlson was a local resident named Dan Bailey," the store's owner Dale Sexton said in the statement. "This person has no affiliation with our business, other than he shares the same name as our founder, who passed away in 1982. To be clear, we treat every customer equally and respectfully. Our staff was professional and cordial to Mr. Carlson, as we are with all of our customers."

The Dan Bailey in the video was hilariously unprofessional and uncordial. "It's not everyday you get to tell someone they are the worst person in the world and really mean it!" he said in the caption of his Instagram post after approaching Carlson. "What an a--hole! This man has killed more people with vaccine misinformation, he has supported extreme racism, he is a fascist and does more to rip this country apart than anyone that calls themselves an American."

In support of Carlson, the former president's son Donald Trump Jr. tweeted his own form of bigotry against transgender parents. "Is the loser who went out of his way to have someone video him harassing Tucker in public for some viral content the model for the new Pregnant Male Emoji? The likeness is uncanny! #SoBrave" he said in the tweet on Sunday.

Film producer Evan Shapiro tweeted about the encounter: "Dan Bailey calmly spoke facts. Tucker tried to use his kid to shield himself from hearing them. Monday @TuckerCarlson will say Bailey attacked him. He will cry like a baby. He will try to dox Bailey in retaliation. Watch. Share. Don't let him."

Carlson has been casting doubt on the effectiveness of vaccines for months now. "If vaccines work, why are vaccinated people still banned from living normal lives," he asked on April 13, before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) did in fact issue revised guidance that it was safe for vaccinated people to interact without masks. "Honestly, what's the answer to that? It doesn't make any sense at all," Carlson added in April. "If the vaccine is effective, there is no reason for people who have received the vaccine to wear masks or avoid physical contact."

Ex-Fox reporter reveals why Tucker Carlson is lying about vaccines www.youtube.com

What Carlson's rudimentary argument failed to take into account was how the unvaccinated population affects public health in total. As of Friday, only 49 percent of the U.S. population was fully vaccinated, the CDC reported. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy told CNN host Anderson Cooper: "There have been multiple times when we have been fooled by Covid-19, when cases went down and we thought we were in the clear and then cases went up again. It means we shouldn't let down our guard until cases not only come down but stay down, and right now cases are actually going up. Cases are going up, hospitalizations are going up, death rates are ticking up."

Dr. Brytney Cobia wrote in a heartbreaking Facebook post last Sunday: "I'm admitting young healthy people to the hospital with very serious COVID infections. One of the last things they do before they're intubated is beg me for the vaccine. I hold their hand and tell them that I'm sorry, but it's too late."

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."

Gaslighting Right-Wing Pundits Whitewash Jan. 6 Insurrection

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

The American right has an insurrection problem. It knows that millions of people watched the events of January 6 at the U.S. Capitol unfold in real time. It knows that video and other evidence, such as that compiled by the New York Times' video-investigations team, shows clearly that a violent, armed mob attempted to overturn the outcome of the presidential election—unquestionably an insurrection. And because so many of them played a role in enabling and empowering that mob, they now want all that to just go away.

So they are now turning to the next essential step in creating a right-wing "bloody shirt" trope that enables them to stand reality on its head: gaslighting the public. From Tucker Carlson to Megyn Kelly to Glenn Greenwald to the nutty protesters outside the D.C. Detention Center last weekend, the right and its apologists are doubling down on the claim that January 6 wasn't an insurrection—it was just a protest that got a little out of hand. Who are you gonna believe: a slick pundit or your lying eyes?

Republicans have been parroting this attempted line of defense ever since Carlson first trotted it out in January and then doubled down continuously, leading a kind of "1/6 Truther" movement dedicated to spinning up misinformation and conspiracy theories about the event. GOP members of Congress—who first tried to blame it all on antifa and Black Lives Matter—began regurgitating it in March at a hearing on domestic terrorism.

Kelly made herself the latest leader in the gaslighting parade last week by declaring on her podcast: "It wasn't an insurrection. It wasn't."

"A faction turned," Kelly told her audience. "But there's no question the media represented this as so much worse than it actually was." She added, "We've all seen the video of people, like, screaming in the face of cops, being totally disparaging, and defecating on the floor of the U.S. Capitol, and lawmakers were understandably afraid … and I didn't like seeing it at all."

Kelly went on to argue that mainstream media outlets were "tying the political rhetoric" of Trump's repeated denials that he had lost the election and falsely claiming there had been widespread voter fraud to "what we saw that day"—in spite of the reality that Trump's denials and claims provided the primary motivation for the people who participated in the insurrection, as the hundreds of indictments (resulting in arrest) handed down against them have demonstrated.

Greenwald chimed in on Twitter, agreeing with Kelly's assertion that "it wasn't an insurrection":

Of course it wasn't. But the media spent 5 years tossing around every histrionic term -- treason, traitor, Kremlin agent -- so they now only know how to express themselves in the most unhinged and hysterical manner. Hence, a 3 hour riot becomes an *insurrection.*

Michael Tracey, a frequent Greenwald sidekick, similarly chimed in:

It's always been propagandistic nonsense that "insurrection" was somehow the only acceptable term to describe the events of Jan 6. The term was selected because it furthers the political agenda of Democrats/corporate media, and the law enforcement agenda of federal prosecutors.

Kelly also retweeted a comment from right-wing pundit Byron York, who himself promoted a Wall Street Journal column by Debra Burlingame insisting that "It's a Travesty to Compare the Capitol Siege to 9/11."

Identical sentiments were voiced by protesters Saturday outside the Central Detention Facility in Washington, D.C., where many of the arrested insurrectionists are being held ahead of trial. "Let them go! Let them go! Let them go!" the crowd chanted.

Protesters carried signs declaring that "protests are not insurrections" and "patriots are not terrorists." Protesters called the arrested indictees "nonviolent American patriots."

One of the protesters told reporter Scott MacFarlane that the January 6 Capitol siege didn't meet the definition of an insurrection: "Insurrection has a meaning in law," he said. "It means an armed attempt to take over government."

The cognitive dissonance at work here is remarkable, considering that the man's definition fully describes what the world saw on January 6: A violent attempt by an armed mob to prevent the certification of state ballots with the intention of preventing the traditional peaceful transfer of power from one outgoing president to the incoming, a hallmark of American democracy and its stability. It was fully an insurrectionary attack on our democracy in every aspect of the word's meaning. But the gaslighters want the public to believe they saw something other than what they saw.

The protesters, who were estimated to have numbered about 100 and arrived by a group bus with participants from Illinois, New York, Idaho, and other states, marched through Washington with their signs and banners, which included an American flag draped upside down. They uniformly described the January 6 defendants as "victims."

This is, of course, how the old right-wing trope of "waving the bloody shirt"—the one in which the violent bully is transformed into a victim, and the victim into a bully, all through the magical power of gaslighting—has always worked: First, minimize the violence that has been committed so that the public will have sympathy for the perpetrators and doubt the motives of the accusers. The next step—which is to characterize the accurate portrayal of the violence as exaggerated for political or other motives, and to cast aspersions on the persons attacked—is what naturally follows.

Tracey gave us a preview of that second portion of the dynamic already at work in his Substack essay that Kelly promoted on Twitter, insisting that it wasn't an insurrection:

Unless your brain has been permanently addled by the torrent of hyperbole, no one attempting to be minimally objective could possibly say with a straight face that a several-hour delay of legislative business was in any sense an "existential threat." We know this because the "existence" of the country was never in jeopardy due to the actions of a marauding MAGA mob, most of whom appeared to have no idea what they were even doing inside the "citadel." The government was never at risk of being overthrown, and any insinuation to the contrary has always been beyond laughable.

Never mind that the body of evidence reflected in the New York Times video investigation and elsewhere overwhelmingly tells us that the nation narrowly avoided a catastrophe on January 6, one in which the mob not only nearly overtook Vice President Mike Pence—whom they were demanding be hung—but also members of the House who were sheltering in place in the gallery. The idea that the mob was not mere moments away from preventing the peaceful transfer of power and installing Donald Trump as dictator is what's actually risible.

Americans aren't alone. The January 6 attack on our democracy left our allies around the world—particularly those who look to the United States as the primary beacon of sturdy democracy for other aspiring nations—shaken and concerned about our future. That concern is growing as Republicans continue not only to excuse and rationalize the anti-democratic sentiments and beliefs that fueled the insurrection, but to openly embrace them as well.

"The thing that makes me really worried is how similar what's going on in the U.S. looks to a series of countries in the world where democracy has really taken a big toll and, in many cases, died," Staffan Lindberg, a Swedish political scientist who directs the Varieties of Democracy Institute, said. "I'm talking about countries like Hungary under Orban, Turkey in the early days of Erdogan's rule, Modi in India, and I can go down the line."

As British political scientist Brian Klaas observed in the Washington Post:

U.S. allies see our democracy as a shattered, washed-up has-been. We used to provide a democratic model for the world, but no longer. The chaos, dysfunction and insanity of the past several years have taken a predictable toll.