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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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‘Justice For J6’ Rally Distracts From Attacks On Democracy By GOP At State Level

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

More than eight months after a mob of then-President Donald Trump's supporters stormed the Capitol building while the 2020 presidential election was being ratified, some media outlets hyped a follow-up rally at the Capitol. But in fact, the real action is happening elsewhere.

Some mainstream media outlets focused attention on Saturday's scheduled "Justice for J6" rally in Washington, D.C., organized by a former Trump 2016 campaign strategist who has resurfaced to contend that people being held in pre-trial detention for their role in the January 6 assault on the Capitol are "political prisoners." But in doing so, the media unduly magnified an event that was a sparsely attended bust — and overlooked a more insidious development in the ongoing attempts to spread further lies about the 2020 election.

Another story developed in Pennsylvania this week, where a committee in the Republican-controlled state Senate has taken a major step in advancing the far-right push for "forensic audits" of the 2020 election results throughout the country.

The state Senate's Intergovernmental Affairs and Operations Committee voted along party lines Wednesday to issue a subpoena for detailed personal records of every registered voter in the state, including normally non-public information such as driver's license numbers and the last four digits of people's Social Security numbers. In addition to the clear dangers for identity theft if such information were to leak into the wrong hands, these tactics are similar to efforts by Arizona Republicans and could lead to voter intimidation.

"There have been questions regarding the validity of people … who have voted, whether or not they exist," state Republican Sen. Cris Dush, who is also the committee chair, had said in a committee hearing. These statements are similar to former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani's discredited claims from last year that great numbers of votes had been cast under dead people's names in the swing state as it was won by Joe Biden. (There have been just a small handful of cases in Pennsylvania in which votes were cast under dead people's names — in acts committed by registered Republicans, who now regret having believed Trump's propaganda about election fraud.)

An analysis by Media Matters found that in cable news coverage since Tuesday, when Pennsylvania Republicans first announced they would be seeking all this private data, CNN has mentioned the rally in at least 69 segments, while MSNBC has included the story in at least 35 segments. (Fox News, by contrast, has given the rally almost no political oxygen, mentioning it only three times during the same time frame.)

Meanwhile, the Pennsylvania story has received only a fraction of the coverage, having been mentioned in at least 13 segments on CNN and at least seven on MSNBC, according to the same analysis. (Fox News has not mentioned the Pennsylvania subpoena at all.)

Atlantic Council fellow Jared Holt, who monitors online extremism, wrote last week that the media have largely overblown the rally in their coverage. (Emphasis in original.)

Take it from me, a guy who spends 40+ hrs a week staring into the extremist abyss: What you're seeing at this point is largely speculation. To be perfectly honest, I'm a frustrated at what I've seen so far from the nation's leading publishers of journalism. It feels they have learned nothing about covering this space.
This is not to say that the event will not carry an inherent risk of attracting extreme believers, or even some with a violent disposition. For that, the event is worth monitoring and keeping tabs on. I'd also strongly advise people stay away from the rally, given that possibility. But suggestions that organized extremist groups are mobilizing at any major scale around this event are unsupported by current analysis.

The media coverage from the two networks looks even worse for CNN when examining the content itself. The network interviewed the rally's lead organizer Matt Braynard, and has aired clips from the interview multiple times, where CNN justice correspondent Jessica Schneider debunked Braynard's assertions that the people being held in detention were nonviolent protesters. One segment from Erin Burnett OutFront contained only a brief mention that Holt said the rally was expected to fail.

By contrast, MSNBC has done a much better job of explaining in detail that the event was expected to be a dud. (Though at the same time, this also means the network has given too much attention to a story that amounts to nothing.)

On Friday's edition of Morning Joe, NBC News senior reporter Brandy Zadrozny bluntly explained that far-right groups were actually discouraging their members from going to this event, that Braynard has been engaged in a "money-making enterprise" surrounding MAGA causes, and that "all of this media attention really helps him to do just that."

WILLIE GEIST (CO-HOST): You've been keeping tabs online, on these online forums where these groups who planned and plotted January 6 also organized. What are you seeing this week, what are you seeing this morning, in terms of tomorrow's planned rally?

BRANDY ZADROZNY (NBC NEWS SENIOR REPORTER): Well, it's some good news, you know. We're not seeing any signs that we might usually see before a large, national-scale political rally, MAGA rally, extremist rally. We're seeing basically, really underwhelming posts, really limited to people nearby. People who are talking about this rally that you'd usually find in these circles — Proud Boys, QAnon, MAGA, anti-vaxxers — actually they're saying to stay away. There's a conspiracy theory that this is actually a honeypot or some sort of plot by the feds to entrap people to commit crimes. There's really barely a whimper out there for the real target audience.

I talked to Jared Holt from the Atlantic Council's DFR lab, and he's just saying really, the local energy is already preoccupied with community issues like in Portland or anti-mask vaccine rallies. So people are just too busy. And it's really important to note that unlike the January 6 Capitol attack, where it was really a bunch of different factions all sort of coming together under the umbrella of voter fraud, of the stolen election conspiracy theory — and really asked to be there by President Trump — no one is really doing this.

This event is actually just planned by this guy. His name is Matt Braynard, he works for this organization that he founded called Look Ahead America. And you know, he's a former Trump campaign operative. He's sort of a C-list player who jumps from MAGA cause to MAGA cause. He raised $650,000 last year to investigate the stolen election. So this is a money-making enterprise, and it's really important to remember that. And all of this media attention really helps him to do just that.

One major difference between the events of January 6 and Saturday's rally was that last time, the rioters sincerely believed that they were acting on behalf of the sitting president of the United States — and seemingly confirming their belief, Trump refused to immediately deploy the National Guard to defend Congress. No such incentive structure exists anymore, now that Joe Biden is actually in the White House, and any backup support would be sent to the Capitol if it is needed. Furthermore, Congress will not even be in session until next week. Those facts all seriously narrow down the range of people who might show up with violence in mind — though as we have also learned, such individuals could potentially show up on any other day.

To be clear, it is completely appropriate for security officials to prepare for violence just in case, and those preparations can themselves have a deterrent effect on any violence even occurring. But media hyping of the event is only serving to puff up its visibility and the public profiles of its organizers in a way that does not appear to be warranted.

Not only that, the time could be better spent shining a light on how the spirit of the insurrection has continued in state legislatures.

Methodology

Media Matters searched our internal database of all original, weekday programming on CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC (shows airing from 6 a.m. through midnight) for segments that analysts determined to include mention of either the September 18 Justice for J6 rally or the subpoenas for personal information in the Pennsylvania State audit of the 2020 U.S. presidential election from 6 a.m. September 14 through 12 p.m. September 17, 2021.

Now Fox News Will Require Daily Testing Of Unvaccinated Employees

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

CNN media reporter Oliver Darcy has unearthed a memo distributed at Fox News from Kevin Lord, the company's head of human resources, announcing that while more than 90 percent of its full-time employees claim to have been vaccinated for COVID-19, the company was now set to institute daily testing for everyone else. (Four weeks ago, all Fox employees were required to upload their vaccination status into a human resources database.)

Keep in mind that this is the same network whose actual on-air content has undermined vaccination efforts, celebrated people who refuse to take the vaccines, and even encouraged the use of counterfeit vaccination cards. The network had also previously attacked President Joe Biden in July for instituting vaccine and testing requirements for the federal workforce, even though Fox News had already been doing something very similar with a vaccine passport system for its own offices.

"Soon we will introduce another important health and safety measure for access to our facilities — daily COVID testing for the small group of employees who are not vaccinated or have not provided their vaccination status," Lord wrote in the new memo. "Additional details about this protocol will be shared with the relevant employees in the near future."

Fox is actually going way beyond Biden's policies. The upcoming rule from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration only requires that unvaccinated employees at companies with more than 100 workers would have to test negative once a week, while Fox News is mandating daily testing inside its own walls.

And since late last week, in response to Biden's order for vaccine and testing requirements for large businesses throughout the private sector, the network's talking heads have gone positively ballistic. (At the same time, none of them have quit their jobs at Fox in protest of the network's internal practices.)

  • Fox News contributor Mollie Hemingway said on Thursday night that Biden's order for vaccine and testing requirements was "going to require everybody to stand up and resist and fight."
  • Fox & Friends Weekend co-host Will Cain on Friday night compared proposals for vaccine requirements in order to board an airplane to "the right of Black Americans to enjoy interstate travel."
  • Sean Hannity also declared on Friday night that "you better get the vaccine or Dr. Joe Biden is going to unleash the full force of the federal government against you and your loved ones and your employer. And you will be cancelled in society altogether. You will be shut out of everything."
  • Fox & Friends Weekend co-host Rachel Campos Duffy said on Monday morning that vaccine and testing requirements are "the beginning of the communist-style social credit system," claiming that "this is the beginning of that system where if you're a dissident, if you don't agree with the party in power, you will be punished."
  • And on Monday night, Fox prime-time host Tucker Carlson warned that vaccine requirements would lead to a dystopian future of surveillance and forced psychotropic medications for the conservative population. Then, he suggested that something must be done to stop all of this before his own hypothetical scenario comes true: "Without mass resistance, that is exactly what is coming and it's coming soon, and once it does come, the question is where does it go from there?"

Apparently, "where does it go from there" is a job at Fox News.

Fox News Urges 'Fight Back' Against Its Own Corporate Pandemic Policies

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Fox News' hypocrisy is on full display in its outraged coverage of President Joe Biden's announcement yesterday that large businesses would now be required to have their workers either be vaccinated or undergo weekly testing for COVID-19 — something that Fox News has already been doing for months.

Previously, the network had attacked Biden for instituting a similar policy for the federal workforce. But it was also first reported two months ago that Fox News has used an internal program called the "Fox Clear Pass," in which employees who provide their proof of vaccination could bypass daily health screenings — a policy that stands in stark contrast to the network's relentless fearmongering about vaccine passports. And three weeks ago, Fox employees were further required to upload their vaccination status into a human resources database.

Meanwhile, the network's content has relentlessly undermined vaccination efforts, celebrated people who refuse to take the vaccines, and even encouraged the use of counterfeit vaccination cards — all acts that Fox's own human resources department would likely frown upon.

Biden announced in his speech Thursday that over 175 million Americans are now fully protected by the vaccine, "Many of us are frustrated with the nearly 80 million Americans who are still not vaccinated, even though the vaccine is safe, effective, and free." He also noted that his policy lined up with what a certain company has been doing for its own workforce.

"Some of the biggest companies are already requiring this," Biden said. "United Airlines, Disney, Tysons Foods, and even Fox News."

But faced with the choice of either acknowledging that fact, or stirring up the fringe who continue to refuse safe, effective vaccines and even the most basic public health measures, Fox News has chosen the latter.

On Thursday night's edition of Fox News Primetime, rotating host Rachel Campos-Duffy bemoaned that Americans have been compliant for too long, and asked Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich whether Americans would start to "fight back" against these requirements. Neither of the two commentators acknowledged that they work for a network that has already been practicing these rules, which they have both presumably been "compliant" with in one manner or another.

RACHEL CAMPOS-DUFFY (HOST): Katie, I've just been really surprised throughout this pandemic of how compliant Americans have been, especially young people. How do we fight back? What is going to be the final straw before Americans say enough is enough?

KATIE PAVLICH (FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I think a lot of Americans are fighting back and saying enough is enough.

On a side note, Pavlich then claimed that the U.S. Postal Service union was exempted from the new rule — seemingly based on a false report and a misunderstanding of the legal nature of the USPS workforce — claiming this as evidence to declare that "we do know that people are fighting back."

And on Tucker Carlson Tonight guest host Jesse Watters spoke with former Trump campaign legal adviser Harmeet Dhillon, who said that she already had "multiple clients" asking to file a legal challenge to the regulations once they were formally issued. (The two also discussed the supposed "carveout" for postal workers.)

The two went on to say that this policy would be impossible for companies' human resources departments to actually administer. But then again, any such company that actually does find this task difficult could just ask Fox News for advice.

JESSE WATTERS (GUEST HOST): And I think if you can listen closely, you can hear every HR department in the country go hit the liquor cabinet after this, because it's going to be -- it's going to get rowdy in the workplace.

HARMEET DHILLON (FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN LEGAL ADVISER): It's that bad, and I'm an employer.

WATTERS: Yes.

DHILLON: It is going to be impossible to administer this and who are the police going to be policing it? And who is going to pay the cost of it? It is effectively a tax on the American employer, and I think it's not going to fly, frankly.

WATTERS: I would agree.

Fox host Sean Hannity also protested Biden's announcement that "scolded we, the American people," and "vilified the unvaccinated," adding: "Joe, you cancelled all medical freedom today with your broad edict and your mandates, one-size-fits-all medicine. You eliminated medical privacy. You eliminated all doctor-patient confidentiality" — in which case Hannity ought to also speak to his own company's HR department.

And on The Ingraham Angle, Fox News contributor Mollie Hemingway compared the vaccine and testing mandates to "fascism," and said it would "require everybody to stand up and resist and fight." (Still no word on whether Hemingway plans to stop going on Fox News, for its own role in having practiced these exact policies even before the "fascist" government order came down to everybody else.)

MOLLIE HEMINGWAY (THE FEDERALIST): It's just amazing that for four years, every time there was a mean tweet we were told that it was fascism come to America. And then you actually have the government ordering corporations what to do, telling individuals what to do, and the same people who were hysterical for the last four years don't seem to notice what's happening. This is a tremendous assault on American constitutional governance. It's going to require everybody to stand up and resist and fight. But we can't count on anyone in the media because they believe their job is to support one political party over its political opponents and they will paper over all these things that just a few years ago they would have thought horrific and unacceptable of any president.

This blatant lack of self-awareness continued into the morning. Introducing a news update on Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy said that Biden's order "could put jobs on the line for millions of hard-working Americans who will not have a choice."

Fox News correspondent Mark Meredith also attempted to turn this into a political gotcha moment, in line with the network's efforts to scaepgoat undocumented immigrants for COVID-19 infections despite a total lack of validity.

"Some people were noting that in the speech last night, there was no mention of requiring migrants crossing into the U.S. to get the jab," Meredith said — though one could suppose that this problem would be solved if any of them were to apply for jobs at Fox News.

With Newsom Leading In Recall, Fox News Cries ‘Fraud’

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Fox News is rolling out the next round of election-related conspiracy theories: This time, by casting doubt on the idea that a Democrat could win an election in the heavily Democratic state of California, where incumbent Gov. Gavin Newsom is facing a recall election backed by Republicans.

For what it's worth, recent polls from SurveyUSA, the Public Policy Institute of California, and even Republican polling firm Trafalgar Group have all put Newsom ahead by significant margins in the key vote to remain in office.

Fox News previously served a major role in former President Donald Trump's efforts to subvert the results of the 2020 presidential election. And beyond that, attempting to cast doubt on any Democratic win is on brand for Fox — network personalities also attacked the Georgia Senate runoffs while votes were being counted, including by casting suspicion on the high voter turnout in the election. And in the wake of the January 6 attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters, part of the network's immediate response was to push for changes to voting lawsthat would help to suppress Democratic turnout, which the network then supported in the months afterward.

In that context, Fox Nation host Tomi Lahren claimed on Tuesday's edition of Outnumbered: "The only thing that will save Gavin Newsom is voter fraud. So as they say, stay woke, pay attention to the voter fraud going on in California, because it's going to have big consequences not only for that state, but for upcoming elections."

And on Monday night, when Republican gubernatorial candidate and right-wing radio host Larry Elder appeared for an interview on Fox News Primetime, it was rotating host Rachel Campos-Duffy who brought up the subject of supposed election fraud: "A lot of people think you have the wind at your back but you seem to be concerned about some shenanigans that could be happening at the ballot box — or maybe in the mail."

Elder has indeed spread conspiracy theories about voting machines having been rigged in the 2020 presidential election, and suggested that this might happen again in the California recall, but in this instance he simply gave some rhetorical boilerplate on being "concerned about voter fraud," and said that his campaign website had a "voter integrity project set up with a bunch of lawyers ready to file lawsuits if anybody sees anything suspicious."

And last week, on the September 1 edition of Tucker Carlson Tonight, host Tucker Carlson said that expanded usage of mail-in voting in multiple states, including in the case of California, were being done because Newsom "knows that mail-in ballots, which by definition lack any form of voter ID, cannot be verified. Those kind of ballots overwhelmingly benefit his party because they abet voter fraud."

Carlson has also spread falsehoods about non-citizens voting in the recall, and he claimed on August 25 that the state would need outside observers to "to make sure this election isn't stolen."

Some in media have argued that these right-wing talking points picked up recently because the early statistics on returned ballots have indicated that Democratic voters are not sitting the election out, and therefore the groundwork must be laid for a conspiracy theory to explain a possible Republican loss.

To the extent that this explanation might be true, it should also be noted that the foundation was already being laid weeks ago, including by one of Fox News' most shameless and vitriolic promoters of election denialism: Newt Gingrich. Appearing on the August 22 edition of Sunday Morning Futures, in a segment reminiscent of host Maria Bartiromo and Gingrich's previous false claims about the 2020 election, the former GOP House speaker painted a lurid picture of vast election fraud in California:

NEWT GINGRICH (FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR): Frankly, what people ought to look at is this is going to be an election where they go all-out to steal the referendum. The secretary of state of California has now said you can print your own ballots. I mean, you think about this. You talk about the opposite of election integrity. They're going to allow you to print your own ballots. They're going to allow people to come around and harvest your ballot.

So, the unions will be out there, and they will make sure that everybody votes, even if they don't vote. And I think this may well be the most rigged statewide election we have seen probably in at least a half century.

And I think people should look carefully at this, because there's pretty good evidence that, if Newsom is in a straight, honest count, he probably — he has a good chance of losing. But if they can stuff every ballot box in California and they can cheat in every way possible — and so [Vice President Kamala Harris is] part of raising the money to pay for the cheating. I mean, it's just that simple. It's not complicated.

MARIA BARTIROMO (HOST): That is so extraordinary.

GINGRICH: Yes.

BARTIROMO: And that is the reason we continue to focus on all of these audits going on across the country. We want fair and free elections.

(Just to be clear, Gingrich's references to voters being able to "print your own ballots" involves a state program, known as the Remote Accessible Vote-by-Mail system, made in order to accommodate disabled voters and expanded during the pandemic, which has safeguards to ensure that a person can only print one ballot.)

At around that same time, Fox personalities also latched onto a local story involving a reported felon who was found in possession of 300 mail-in ballots — although it quickly became clear that these were among thousands of pieces of stolen mail, along with other items such as driver's licenses and credit cards, rather than the alleged thief having actually targeted the ballots specifically.

"There's nothing to indicate this was anything specifically to impact the election," a spokesman for the Los Angeles county clerk's office said. "It seems like this person was likely trying to steal mail."

The August 24 edition of Fox Business' The Evening Edit ran a segment with the loaded chyron asking, "Why were 300 mail-in ballots stolen in CA recall election?" — even though the ballots made up just a fraction of the overall theft of mail. Republican strategist Ford O'Connell claimed that "to be perfectly honest with you, with Gavin Newsom on the ropes, you have to think that this is just a little more than coincidental." He later upped the rhetorical ante even further: "Remember, Nancy Pelosi said she was going to activate her own operation. Maybe this is what she meant."

"We don't know — I know you're being facetious," responded host Elizabeth MacDonald, though there was not any indication of such an intent on O'Connell's part.

And on the August 25 edition of Tucker Carlson Tonight, the host claimed that Democratic efforts to campaign for Newsom were themselves a threat to democracy: "Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are now set to campaign against the recall — 'No more democracy for you!' You've got to wonder, will the state survive this? Will there be a free and fair election?"

He then interviewed Republican lawyer Harmeet Dhillon, who used the story as an example of supposed Democratic malfeasance: "Of course, they are playing fast and loose. We've seen some very alarming scenes of 300 ballots bundled together in the car of a person with a gun and some drugs, and so we are definitely looking into all of these issues."

Dhillon's invocation of the story was then followed by an on-screen visual of the stolen mail, which Carlson's production would have needed to already have prepared.

On the subject of ballots being thrown out, as well as the need to ensure a free and fair election, Dhillon previously served as a campaign legal adviser to Donald Trump in 2020. In the days following the election, she appeared with then-Fox Business host Lou Dobbs and spoke of the campaign's effort to have the Supreme Court intervene in the ongoing vote counts: "We're waiting for the United States Supreme Court — of which the president has nominated three justices — to step in and do something. And hopefully Amy Coney Barrett will come through."

So perhaps these people might not be approaching the California recall from a standpoint of supporting democracy.

Fox News Manipulates Video To Smear Biden At Dover Military Ceremony

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Right-wing media are trying to manufacture a scandal out of President Joe Biden's visit yesterday to the dignified transfer ceremony at Dover Air Force Base, in which the remains of U.S. troops killed in last week's terrorist attack in Afghanistan were received home.

And now, Fox News is even manipulating its own news video — playing it back in slow motion — in order to provide corroboration to right-wing complaints that Biden looked at his watch during the ceremony.

Notably, the initial video that circulated online included a clip from Fox News' live coverage of the transfer ceremony on Sunday, during which co-anchors Mike Emanuel and Jacqui Heinrich, Fox national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin, and news correspondent David Spunt all did not seem to notice anything amiss. But after other right-wing media personalities jumped on this visual, based on a few seconds of Biden's hand movements during the ceremony, Fox would soon find itself having to catch up.

Within about 15 minutes of the ceremony, Newsmax host Benny Johnson tweeted the clip while alleging that Biden "appears to check his watch." Johnson's claim has since spread through a number of other right-wing outlets, including the Boston Herald, The Daily Wire, the U.K.-based Daily Mail, and Fox's corporate cousin the New York Post. Many of them used a still photo from The Associated Press — one of many from the ceremony — that selected the brief moment when it might have appeared Biden was looking at his wrist.

From there, Fox has covered the story in terms of conservatives denouncing Biden, without putting the network's own name on whether the story was true. On Monday morning, during a headline update during Fox & Friends, news reader Jillian Mele said, "President Biden being criticized for appearing to check his watch … . The video going viral, and as you can understand, a lot of people have strong opinions on this."

And as can be seen by comparing the two videos, Fox has now put Biden's movement in slow motion — at roughly half the speed, in order to double the apparent time of the movements.

The manner in which Fox jumped on this bandwagon also stands in stark contrast to how the network handled past reports of disrespect to fallen troops by former President Donald Trump. Last year, when Griffin confirmed other reporting that Trump had called fallen U.S. soldiers "losers" and "suckers," and that he did not want wounded veterans included in his special July 4 military parade in 2019, other personalities on the network continued to call the story a "hoax," trying to downplay Griffin's reporting and claim that the story had been "refuted."

But now, Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich claims that the latest manufactured outrage is a lesson in the "callousness and selfishness of the current President."

Right-wing social media personalities had apparently geared up to find any reason whatsoever to criticize Biden over the ceremony. On Saturday night, a number of conservatives circulated a false claim that the remains had arrived at Dover with no administration figures present — even though the remains had not yet arrived. (Nevertheless, the claim was spread in now-deleted tweets by such figures as Fox News host Laura Ingraham and Fox contributor Richard Grenell.)

Once that story was debunked, of course, they had to move on to something else.

Fox Hypocrisy: Memo Details Network’s Mask Rules And Vaccine Passports

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Fox News has been caught promoting COVID-19 safety measures for its employees yet again, despite the network's own public downplaying of the virus and its hosts' calls for active resistance to health measures.

Fox News tracks employees' vaccination status, requires masks for all

In an internal Fox memo obtained by Adweek, the company announced on Tuesday that in response to the Delta variant, it was instructing "all employees —whether on site as part of our essential workforce or working remotely," to enter their vaccination status into a human resources database. (Emphasis in original.)

The company also said it was "requiring employees to wear a mask in small, confined spaces with limited opportunities for social distancing and where there are multiple employees, including control rooms."

All Fox employees will also be required to complete a daily health screening, and to show either a WorkCare "Go to Work" screening pass or the company's own "Fox Clear Pass," an internal vaccine passport system by which vaccinated employees are able to bypass the WorkCare screening. (The very existence of the Clear Pass, of course, stands in stark contrast to the network's relentless fearmongering about vaccine passports.)

Fox programming denounces those who carry out same health measures

On Tuesday night's edition of Fox News Primetime, rotating host Will Cain bemoaned that "it seems as though we are making all the same mistakes, for example, when we approach how to treat COVID. We keep doubling down on lockdowns or masks. We force ourselves into binary thinking, vaccinated or unvaccinated, and we don't really consider all the different ways in which we can fight this pandemic."

Later in the broadcast, Cain promoted Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee's order against mask mandates in local districts. Instead of "compliance," as Cain put it, the Republican governor is "embracing a radical concept: options and choice for families and parents." The on-screen chyron also said, "TN Governor Gives Parents the Final Say on Masking Kids."

The Fox host also falsely claimed that not even the highest quality masks would work at all: "And the truth is there's studies that suggest the N-95 masks aren't that effective, anyway. Cloth, surgical, N-95 — nothing is very effective in stopping COVID."

And the next morning's edition of Fox & Friends had a segment on "Fighting School Mask Mandates," which discussed resistance to supposedly oppressive public health restrictions not only in New York City but also in Charleston, South Carolina, highlighting a city council meeting at which attendees successfully objected to passing a mask mandate.

The segment glowingly presented a video of a local resident who said she had "fled the tyranny of New York" — though the policies she was protesting could have just as easily been the "tyranny" of Fox News with its own employees.

Afterward, co-host Steve Doocy discussed a story elsewhere in South Carolina, in which a school district closed down in-person instruction within the first two weeks of the semester and went back to remote learning after 142 students tested positive for COVID-19, as well as a number of teachers.

Doocy objected to this whole situation — not that the cases were so high, but that the schools were closing down again because of the cases. "That's causing a big problem, because they changed their mind a couple of days ago. And what are working parents supposed to do?"

"Why close down the entire district?" co-host Ainsley Earhardt also asked. "Why send everyone home and do Zoom, if it's one classroom, or if it's one school?"

"That is double the number of people who had COVID in the schools in the last year," Doocy added. "Apparently, they freaked out."

One only has to wonder how Fox News executives would "freak out" if such an event occurred in their own offices, with the guidelines they have now posted to all employees. In a previous company memo, Fox News CEO Lachlan Murdoch announced that remote work would continue through Labor Day, declaring that "the health and safety of our workforce has remained my priority."

Newspaper Exposes Fox News Collusion With DeSantis

Fox News has built up a very close and flattering relationship with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a report by the Tampa Bay Times has found, with the two sides coordinating coverage and story elements in an effort to build up the governor's profile as the new star of the Republican Party.

The network has elevated DeSantis especially on his opposition to COVID-19 lockdowns — or even any public health restrictions at all, with the governor now opposing local mandates for everything from masks in schools to vaccinations in hospitals. This summer, the state's hospitalizations have broken its previous records from 2020.

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Fox Uploads Two Versions Of Trump — With Or Without Election Lie

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Fox News was publicly caught over the weekend attempting to edit out false claims that former President Donald Trump made in a phone interview — ironically enough, on a program called Unfiltered with Dan Bongino — from the version the network posted on YouTube and its own site. And now, faced with backlash from a problem of the network's own making by even having Trump on the air in the first place, Fox has set up a Choose Your Own Adventure pathway: A person can watch Trump with his election lie, or without it.

Fox is currently being sued for billions of dollars by two voting machine companies over the network's role in helping to spread lies about the 2020 election. In addition, YouTube has previously banned content that spreads baseless claims of voter fraud to deny the 2020 election's legitimacy, in the wake of the January 6 attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters. (YouTube's enforcement has been spotty, though.)

As Mediaite documented on Sunday, Fox News clearly edited out Trump's claims of a "fake election" from the videos it posted online — otherwise posting the entire interview, but cutting out approximately five seconds.

Here was Trump during the live broadcast on Saturday, threatening that the country would not "stand for it much longer" against the "fake election":

FORMER PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: It's a disgrace what's happening, and I don't think the country's going to stand for it much longer, they are disgusted. You have a fake election, you have an election with voter abuse and voter fraud like nobody's ever seen before, and based on that, and based on what happened, they are destroying our country, whether it's at the border, whether it's on crime, I could say in plenty of instances, including military.

And here is the edited version that Fox posted to YouTube, as well as on its own website, in which Trump's words became a more generalized complaint about conservative grievances:

FORMER PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: It's a disgrace what's happening, and I don't think the country's going to stand for it much longer, they are disgusted. They are destroying our country, whether it's at the border, whether it's on crime, I could say in plenty of instances, including military.

Trump spokesperson Liz Harrington, who has vocally promoted the defeated president's election lies, then took to Twitter to attack both Fox News as a company for having put Trump's "honest statement" down an Orwellian "Memory Hole" — and host Dan Bongino personally, telling him in a since-deleted tweet (preserved in screen grabs by Mediaite) that his show ought to be called "FILTERED" instead.

Bongino then responded to Harrington, promising that he was "looking into it," and complaining that he "wasn't even contacted BEFORE" Harrington attacked him. "I've been a staunch ally to President Trump from the beginning, even when others sold him out," the Fox host wrote.

Harrington followed up on Twitter Sunday night — interestingly enough, by taking down and then posting a new version of her "Memory Hole" tweet — shifting the blame entirely onto the network. "This had nothing to do with @danbongino," she wrote, further adding: "It was @FoxNews who cut out President Trump's statement about the Fake Election, just like they have cut out coverage of election fraud ever since."

screen grab

Whether in response to the general right-wing outrage, or even a specific inquiry from Bongino, Fox has now given in — as it now provides versions of the interview both with and without Trump's election lie.

Following the video originally posted on Sunday, with a length of 16 minutes and 12 seconds, Fox has now posted a new version on Monday at 16 minutes and 17 seconds, restoring Trump's election lies roughly nine minutes into the interview.

Fox News Lies About Vaccine Mandates — Including Its Own

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Facing the growing threat of the new delta variant of the coronavirus, President Joe Biden's administration has begun implementing new vaccination rules for federal workers and moving to implement universal vaccination in the military. And outside of government, more and more private companies are requiring employees to get vaccinated as Americans return to regular office work.

But in Fox News' telling, this kind of national effort is somehow a threat to everything this country is supposed to be about — even as Fox News is doing it, too.

Yes, vaccine mandates are legal — and have been here a long time

Speaking on Thursday, Biden said it was "still a question" as to whether the federal government could mandate that the whole citizenry get vaccinated. But even if that is not the case, there would still be plenty of other opportunities for vaccine mandates by state and local governments, private companies, and the federal government in its capacity as an employer.

So far this year, courts have upheld vaccine requirements for private hospital employment and to attend state universities. And none of this should have been surprising because public school system already require vaccinations, which has suddenly become controversial amid the anti-vaccine propaganda during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Beyond that, the idea of state and local governments simply mandating that all residents get vaccinated — not just depending on a particular job or school attendance — was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court all the way back in the 1905 case Jacobson v. Massachusetts, which occurred in the context of a regional smallpox epidemic. The court ruled that "a community has the right to protect itself against an epidemic of disease which threatens the safety of its members," unless there was compelling evidence in a specific case that an individual could be harmed by the vaccination.

But Fox News is ignoring all of this context and history to further its anti-vaccine fearmongering campaign.

Fox News declares vaccine passports un-American — despite their own vaccine passport system

Just as a reminder: Fox News already has its own vaccine passport at its 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 the network has simultaneously claimed that the Biden administration was attacking "unvaccinated Americans," speaking as if such a category represented an ethnic group or other protected minority.

On the Friday night edition of Fox News Primetime, rotating host Tammy Bruce welcomed author and Republican U.S. Senate candidate J.D. Vance, who argued that "we cannot let the government or these corporations turn people into second-class citizens unless they bend the knee." The segment opened with Bruce approvingly reading a quote by Vance that "there is nothing more antithetical to what this country stands for than draconian vaccine passport mandates."

Bruce, moreover, compared the disparate treatment of people based on whether they've been vaccinated to the most disgraceful examples of racial segregation in the country's history — while of course ignoring that the company where she was working, Fox News, was already conducting an internal vaccine passport system.

TAMMY BRUCE (HOST): You know, let me say, and as we move now into these, these other ideas that would separate and segregate the American people — if you don't have your papers, or for in our American history, which thank goodness we have grown out of and become a better nation, is the idea that if you don't conform, if you don't look like other people, if you don't behave like a majority, you will have to sit in the back of the bus, you cannot sit at the counter in the diner.

Americans refuse to return to that dynamic, no matter what our skin color, but especially for communities of color and those who might not have the same kind of finances or access to power to push back.

On Friday's edition of Tucker Carlson Tonight, the host appeared against a backdrop reading "Vaccine Coercion," as he seemed to suggest that mandates would lead to violence.

"The question is, really, how long are Americans going to put up with this? What happens when large groups of people start to resist these mandates?" Carlson said. "As inevitably they will, because they're too unreasonable, they're too irrational, they're not rooted in science. They are pushing us toward something awful."

And on Friday night's The Ingraham Angle, guest host Brian Kilmeade falsely declared: "But I don't think you can mandate someone to get vaccinated, I'm pretty sure that we've never done that before."

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

Why Do Mainstream Media Enable GOP Sabotage Of Jan. 6 Investigation?

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Following the attempt by House Republicans to place members on the January 6 select committee who have not only lied about the 2020 election but openly signaled their intention to undermine the investigation on behalf of former President Donald Trump, mainstream media outlets are engaging in a both-sides narrative. Instead of focusing on the organized Republican efforts to undermine the investigation, they are shifting the blame onto Democrats for somehow not trying hard enough to keep the investigation bipartisan with those very same wreckers.

On Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) rejected two out of the five members that Republicans had offered to sit on the committee — to which Republicans replied by declaring they would boycott the committee entirely. (A single Republican remains on the committee, however: Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) whom Pelosi had already named.)

Of those two members whom Pelosi rejected, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) had previously met with Trump in late December to confer on strategy to reject the certification of the election results, and declared this week that the committee was "impeachment round 3, this is to go after President Trump" — rather than to investigate a matter of national security. The other, Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), had released a statement accusing the committee of having been formed "solely to malign conservatives and to justify the Left's authoritarian agenda."

Politico Digs In On The Both-Sides Play

This week, Politico echoed the Republican spin and ignored the obvious reality that the Republican committee picks would be set on sabotaging an investigation. The site followed up in its Playbook newsletter Thursday morning, declaring that partisan oversight had hit "a new low," at once acknowledging Republican opposition to the investigation and putting the burden on Democrats to please them.

"When Republicans voted against an outside bipartisan commission to investigate the siege because of what it might turn up in an election year, we called them out for acting in cowardice," the Playbook authors wrote. "But Pelosi's move will make the investigation even easier to dismiss for people who aren't die-hard members of Team Blue."

The newsletter also removed the moral onus from individuals sympathizing with January 6 rioters by declaring, "It also comes as polling for CBS News finds that Republican voters are increasingly sympathetic to the rioters … making a probe that's credible to the right even more important."

CNN's Chris Cillizza Keeps Blaming Democrats

Perhaps the single worst example of this kind of willful both-sides spin game is CNN's Chris Cillizza — who not only keeps pinning an equal (or greater) blame on Democrats, but also repeatedly shows with his comments that he does know better. On Wednesday, Cillizza published a widely-mocked column declaring that Pelosi had "just doomed the already tiny chances of the 1/6 committee actually mattering."

If you ever held any hope that the House select committee on the January 6 US Capitol riot might produce a report that would help us understand what happened in the lead-up to that day and, in so doing, provide us avenues to keeping it from happening again, you should give up on those hopes now.

No matter Pelosi's reasoning, her decision to reject Jordan and Banks, the two most high-profile Republicans put forward by McCarthy, dooms even the possibility of the committee being perceived as bipartisan or its eventual findings being seen as independent.

But as others pointed out, Cillizza had published another column just the day before titled "Kevin McCarthy's picks for the 1/6 commission reveal his true goals."In it, he had declared that the House minority leader's selection of Jordan and Banks demonstrated that the Republican leader had "zero interest in getting to the bottom of what really happened" on January 6 — further adding that Jordan's presence on the committee would ensure "that it will be a circus" since Jordan is there to "muddy the waters."

And during an appearance Wednesday on CNN's The Lead with Jake Tapper, Cillizza acknowledged that "the reason that we're where we are, generally speaking with this, is because Mitch McConnell decided that they didn't want to play ball within a true bipartisan, independent commission. It's the only reason that there's a select committee now."

But Cillizza wasn't alone at CNN in his obtuseness. A news article by reporters Annie Grayer and Jeremy Herb claimed in its second paragraph that Pelosi's decision had "injected new fuel into the partisan fight over the select committee" — as if the open declarations by Jordan and Banks that they would seek to undercut the investigation on partisan grounds had not done that very thing to begin with.

Other Mainstream Outlets Are Giving In

The Washington Post ran an article headlined "Bipartisan House probe of Jan. 6 insurrection falls apart after Pelosi blocks two GOP members" — though in fact, the committee still has a bipartisan membership including Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY). The article also featured a both-sides narrative about Congress' supposed inability to investigate the storming of the Capitol by supporters of a single political leader:

The inability of the House to move forward with a bipartisan committee marks the latest failure in repeated attempts by members of Congress to investigate the first storming of the Capitol in more than 200 years. Both parties have attacked the other as insincere and uninterested in conducting a fair-minded examination of the attack by Trump supporters seeking to overturn the 2020 election.

Similarly, ABC News reporter Ben Siegel wrote an article headlined "Jan. 6 commission collapses after Nancy Pelosi vetoes GOP selections Jim Jordan, Jim Banks." By contrast, Thursday morning's editing of ABC's newsletter The Note cast Cheney as "now perhaps the only person standing in the way of final Jan. 6 takeaways devolving into wearying and meaningless 'both sides-ism.'"

In a discussion on MSNBC's Morning Joe, Associated Press White House reporter Jonathan Lemire detailed the "deeply cynical" actions by congressional Republicans. But then he made the media into just a passive observer, saying that Republican efforts to cover up January 6 were "just going to lead to more and more Americans just shrugging their shoulders and saying, 'Look, this is why Washington is so broken.'"

But mainstream media voices like himself have the ability to prevent that impression from just sinking in among the American public — they don't just have to accept it.

Carlson Pushes Election 'Audits' — And Threatens Another Insurrection

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Fox News prime time host Tucker Carlson on Wednesday night elevated a melange of conspiracy theories about the 2020 election that have circulated online among the right-wing fringe, seeking to discredit President Joe Biden's victory in Georgia and promote more efforts to recount ballots again.

In so doing, Carlson has placed his show — and with his leading position at Fox News, the entire network — back at the forefront of efforts to delegitimize the 2020 election and push the lies that led to the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

Carlson Goes After Ballot-Scanners — Even After Georgia's Hand Recount

Since last week, Carlson had been teasing a segment on election "misconduct" in Fulton County, Georgia, which includes Atlanta. On Wednesday night, much of his monologue focused on alleged "fraud" involving the double-scanning of a few batches of ballots in the initial count from election night.

Just as with prior conspiracy theories about the election in Georgia, this scrutiny on ballot scans in the initial count is conveniently ignoring a simple fact: There was already a manual hand recount of the 5 million paper ballots in the state, which corrected a few mistakes in local areas but did not significantly alter Biden's victory in the state. As a result, the double-scanning of some small number of ballots in the initial count would no longer have an impact even in a very close race.

In this sense, this claim is similar to other lurid allegations about the election based on a small mistake genuinely did occur but was then blown up beyond any plausibility — even long after the error was already fixed.

Indeed, Trump gained more votes in Fulton County during the recount than Biden did, thus demonstrating that these small mistakes were found and corrected without bias in the process. Furthermore, other significant errors were found in a pair of pro-Trump counties, which when corrected in the recount served to eat into (but not reverse) Biden's overall statewide lead — and yet those errors in pro-Trump Georgia counties have not received the same attention or level of accusations as the election administration in a heavily Black, pro-Biden county.

The main claim at hand has been hyped online by discredited right-wing columnist John Solomon, former New York City police commissioner and Trump-pardoned felon Bernard Kerik, the QAnon-linked former U.S. Senate candidate Lauren Witzke, and former Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon. Other claims in Carlson's monologue were also pushed by The Gateway Pundit, which also promoted Carlson's upcoming segment. Following Carlson's monologue, far-right outlets and figures including The Gateway Pundit, The Post Millennial, and Newsmax chief White House correspondent Emerald Robinson lauded his report.

The Goal: Another Ballot "Audit"

Carlson promoted claims by VoterGA, a group that has been part of a right-wing effort to hold another ballot audit targeting Fulton County — similar to the one in Maricopa County, Arizona, which has been promoted and fundraised for by One America News, in an effort to spread the "forensic audits" nationwide — even though in Georgia the entire state already recounted all its ballots by hand. The group, headed up by a 9/11 conspiracy theorist, enjoyed some legal victories that made scanned absentee ballot images publicly available, but ultimately most of its claims have been thrown out of court.

"We already know what happened. We've counted those same ballots four times. The election has been certified. Stop already," Carlson said mockingly. "And that's the argument that Fulton County has used in court to keep those ballots locked away in a warehouse. Except it's not true. It now appears there actually was meaningful voter fraud in Fulton County, Georgia, last November. That is not a conspiracy theory; it's true."

Carlson's Claims Are Wrong — And Easy To Debunk

While Carlson seemed confident and authoritative in his assertions of serious election malfeasance, it is worth cataloging in brief terms the ways in which so many of his statements were not only false, but easily disprovable.

  • At the 4 minute mark, Carlson asserted that "the strongly left-of-center Atlanta Journal-Constitution appears to agree with this, at least in outline," having reviewed the digital ballot images and found doubles. However, Carlon omitted that the paper also made clear these mistakes would have occurred before the recount, and that as a result of such corrective processes, there was "no indication any vote for president was counted more than once in official results." (Carlson also claimed that the error affected more than 4,000 ballots — the Journal-Constitution put the number at 200.)
  • At the 6:10 mark, Carlson claimed mockingly that "the county claims that any errors were caught in previous recounts," then saying this was not true — though he did not provide any evidence that the error would have been repeated in a hand recount.
  • At the 6:33 mark, Carlson urged his viewers to "pay attention" to a video clip of an election worker inserting the same ballots into a scanner multiple times. However, the reinsertion of ballots into optical scanners can occur for normal reasons, such as when there was some problem in the initial scan and a stack had to be run through again.. An expert who debunked other examples of conspiracy theories in Michigan compared the rerunning of a ballot to "a vending machine returning a dollar bill that was inserted incorrectly." (From here, a person can also imagine how mistakes of double-counting could pop up from time to time.)
  • At the 7:20 mark Carlson read the VoterGA claim that tally sheets in the recount had been falsified, with reports of batches of ballots giving unanimous totals of 100 or 850 votes for Biden. "How is that not flat-out criminal fraud?" Carlson asked. "We'd love to know, because it certainly sounds like flat-out criminal fraud." This claim has also circulated for months, and it's already been explained: In a recount situation for just one race on the ballot — that is, the presidency — election workers often sort ballots by candidate as they count, so there end up being counted piles entirely for one candidate or the other.
  • At the 9:05 mark, Carlson promoted another set of claims, recently spread by The Federalist, that nearly 35,000 Georgia voters had moved to another county within the state but still voted in their old county. Carlson said that "violating election law is something we should care about and by law their vote should have been excluded from the total, but they were not excluded." However, despite the site's sensationalist headline "New Evidence Indicates Enough Illegal Votes In Georgia To Tip 2020 Results," even the article's own text acknowledged that such moves "could have been temporary, involving students or members of the military" and noted that "under Georgia law temporary relocations do not alter citizens' residency status or render their votes illegal."

Carlson Says There Was No Insurrection — But Threatens Another One

"Without answers to legitimate questions like the one we just posed — and those are legitimate questions — democracy dies," Carlson concluded. "People begin to understand that the system they've been told is on the level is in fact rigged, and when they believe that, God knows what they do next."

And with that warning of "God knows what they do next," Carlson essentially justified a repeat of the January 6 insurrection — just as when he had initially justified it on January 6: "If people begin to believe that their democracy is fraudulent, if they conclude that voting is a charade, the system is rigged and it is run in secret by a small group of powerful, dishonest people who are acting in their own interests, then God knows what could happen."

Since then, Carlson has painted an alternate reality in which there was no insurrection at all — or conversely pushed a 9/11 Truther-style narrative in which the attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters was instead a setup by federal authorities.

But with his parting comment Wednesday night, Carlson showed how this entire sleight of hand really works: He will at once insist that Trump supporters did not attempt the violent overthrow of democracy in America — while also threatening liberals that it may just happen again.

Research contributions from Laura Chavez-Varela

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.

It's Too Late To Erase Barr’s Role In Spreading Election Lies

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

ABC News chief Washington correspondent Jonathan Karl has made waves with his recent piece in The Atlantic, titled "Inside William Barr's Breakup With Trump," recounting the former U.S. attorney general's story of a nasty falling-out with former President Donald Trump in the wake of Barr's public admission in early December that there was no evidence of voter fraud that Trump was alleging had stolen the election from him.

USA Today also gave a deferential treatment to Barr's current telling of the story, with a write-up of Karl's piece entitled "It's just a joke': Former AG William Barr derided Trump's false election claims."

However, none of this fawning coverage did anything to provide accountability for Barr's own prominent role in helping Trump build up a false public narrative of massive fraud in the months before the election.

Indeed, right before the 2020 election, ABC News had tracked some of Barr's "unfounded argument" seeking to sow distrust in the expanded use of mail-in voting during the COVID-19 pandemic. In September, Karl had also reported on a Department of Homeland Security bulletin on Russian disinformation against mail-in voting, which sought to further spread Trump's own false claims. USA Today had also published a guest column in July by cybersecurity experts, debunking many of Barr's claims.

But now, Barr's actual record in this matter is left on the cutting-room floor.

Barr Pushed False Claims Of Voter Fraud

Karl wrote about Barr's informal review of various claims of voter fraud in the weeks following Election Day because he "knew that at some point, Trump was going to confront him about the allegations." As Barr told Karl, "If there was evidence of fraud, I had no motive to suppress it. But my suspicion all the way along was that there was nothing there. It was all bullshit."

However, Trump would have had every reasonable expectation that Barr would help him out — because throughout 2020, Barr mounted his own propaganda operation against the security of the upcoming election. Far from treating it like "bullshit," at this stage, the attorney general pushed multiple false claims that the Trump campaign would use to try and overturn the election from Election Day through January 6 — and which are even still in circulation today.

In the spring of 2020, Barr floated a conspiracy theory in an interview with The New York Times that "there are a number of foreign countries that could easily make counterfeit ballots, put names on them, send them in." He then dug in on this idea again in September, telling CNN that he was "basing it on logic."

Election experts would explain all the ways such fraud was impossible, because real mail-in ballots have individual identifiers such as barcodes and signatures for tracking and processing, and they must be correctly printed on the right kind of paper to be scanned by each local ballot machine. However, Barr's claim still lives on today, with the QAnon-linked ballot "audit" in Arizona looking for such things as rumored bamboo fibers as evidence of fake ballots being flown in or secret watermarks that were placed as part of an elaborate sting operation for false ballots.

In September, Barr also asserted that mail-in voting would destroy the protections of the secret ballot: "There's no more secret vote. … Your name is associated with a particular ballot. The government and the people involved can find out and know how you voted. And it opens up the door to coercion." (This, too, was false, as there are safeguards in place to prevent a specific person's vote from being identified at the counting stage.)

Notably, in one interview with Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass, Barr also sought to discredit the counting of mail-in votes as he painted a picture of the exact scenario that Trump and his allies would later seek to take advantage of — a "red mirage" followed by a "blue shift," in which Trump would appear to be ahead on Election Night before the counting of mail-in votes that were disproportionately cast by Democrats. "Someone will say the president just won Nevada," Barr offered hypothetically. "'Oh, wait a minute! We just discovered 100,000 ballots! Every vote will be counted!' Yeah, but we don't know where these freaking votes came from."

In the same interview, Barr also dismissed the idea that Trump would attempt to subvert the election result. "You know liberals project," Barr said. "All this bulls--- about how the president is going to stay in office and seize power? I've never heard of any of that crap. I mean, I'm the attorney general. I would think I would have heard about it." (Later, in the wake of the January 6 insurrection, Barr said in a statement that Trump's conduct that day was a "betrayal of his office and supporters.")

Nowhere in his Atlantic piece did Karl grapple with any of these statements. Instead, he simply left the reader with the impression that Barr knew after the election that claims of widespread voter fraud were "all bullshit."

Barr Said Claims Of Voter Fraud Would "Continue To Be Pursued"

At the end of his Atlantic piece, Karl gave a sympathetic slant to Barr's resignation as attorney general in late December, when Barr seemingly tried to leave on positive terms while separating himself from the disastrous efforts of Trump's inner circle to reverse the election res

Barr almost immediately began to regret his decision to stay. His statement on election fraud did nothing to deter Trump, who was now listening, almost exclusively, to Giuliani and others outside his administration. They were telling him that he was still going to win the election.
Two weeks later, Barr went down to the White House to tell the president that he planned to resign before the end of the year. It was their first meeting since their confrontation. To defuse the tension, Barr had written an effusive resignation letter, which he handed to the president when he got to the Oval Office. The letter praised Trump's record and played directly into his complaints about how he had been treated by Democrats, saying his efforts "had been met by a partisan onslaught against you in which no tactic, no matter how abusive and deceitful, was out of bounds."

To be exact, those quotes came from the second paragraph of Barr's published resignation letter. However, Karl omitted the very first paragraph of the full letter, in which Barr continued to publicly dignify Trump's efforts to sow mistrust in the election:

I appreciate the opportunity to update you this afternoon on the Department's review of voter fraud allegations in the 2020 election and how these allegations will continue to be pursued. At a time when the country is so deeply divided, it is incumbent on all levels of government, and all agencies acting within their purview, to do all we can to assure the integrity of elections and promote public confidence in their outcome.

Nowhere in that paragraph did Barr acknowledge that these allegations of fraud were all "bullshit," as he now puts it, but instead stated they would "continue to be pursued" as a valid concern for the American public.

Karl could have held Barr accountable for that opening paragraph. Instead, his piece said nothing about it.

While guest anchoring on Sunday's edition of ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Karl touted his own "amazing interview" in which Barr "talked about what he really thought of Donald Trump's claims of election fraud." (Notably, Karl also did not correct former Trump administration official Sarah Isgur's false claim during the subsequent panel discussion that the Mueller Report "for the most part" had exonerated the Trump campaign of collusion with Russia in 2016.)

Trump Urged Justice Department To Probe QAnon's Conspiracy Theories

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

The ongoing release of materials on former President Donald Trump's attempts to subvert the 2020 election has shown the extent to which the White House pushed for the Department of Justice to investigate far-out conspiracy theories linked to the QAnon movement. And the latest example might also show that false stories circulated in far-right media made their way to Trump himself.

The Detroit News reported last week on emails recently released by the House oversight committee showing some of the Trump administration's efforts to overturn the 2020 election. On December 14 — the same day when the members of the Electoral College met across the country to formalize Joe Biden's victory — White House aide Molly Michael sent an email to acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen with the subject "From POTUS."

The email contained a PDF file of a report from a right-wing investigator on an election counting error in the small locale of Antrim County, Michigan, and a set of talking points apparently written by the report's author declaring that "Michigan cannot certify for Biden" due to a "seditious conspiracy to undermine the election process and the will of the American people."

Two minutes after that email was sent to Rosen, another unnamed person in the attorney general's office forwarded the documents to the U.S. attorneys in Michigan, asking them to "see attachments per Rich Donoghue," Trump's newly appointed deputy attorney general.

The QAnon Conspiracy Theory Links

According to The New York Times, the private group that conducted this report, Allied Security Operations Group, is a sponsor and financial backer of the website Everylegalvote.com, which had also "posted content from a source with links to" the QAnon conspiracy theory. The author of the report was also a former Republican candidate for Congress from Texas, having lost in a primary in 2016.

Later in January 2021, Chief of Staff Mark Meadows tried to get the Department of Justice to investigate another QAnon-linked election conspiracy theory that Italian military satellites had been used to change the voting returns.

What Actually Happened In Antrim County

While the claim about election interference from Italy was pure fantasy, the story about Antrim County instead belonged to a particular variety of conspiracy theory, in which a small kernel of fact is then exploited and twisted beyond any plausibility. In this case, an election-night reporting error genuinely did occur at the local level, seemingly flipping a small Republican-leaning county to Joe Biden for a time. But the problem was also quickly spotted and fixed by the local officials. As the Detroit Free Press reported just days after the election, an error in the software setup resulted in the county having what was, in essence, a botched merger of results from across its precincts.

After the error was fixed, Trump's lead in the county was restored — seemingly a very simple event. But it soon became the stuff of legend in right-wing media, promoted by then-Fox Business host Lou Dobbs and The Gateway Pundit.

"From POTUS" — But Where Did Trump Get The Idea?

The "From POTUS" email to Rosen was sent late in the day on December 14. But earlier that same day, the report was promoted online by The Gateway Pundit, Newsmax White House correspondent Emerald Robinson, and One America News White House correspondent Chanel Rion — all outlets that Trump is known to favor.

Also, in the days following these emails, Michigan completed an extra hand count of Antrim County's presidential results, as part of a genuine effort to try assuaging any remaining doubts about the situation there. This resulted in a net gain of only 12 additional votes for Trump, in comparison to the previously corrected spreadsheets from the election.

Not that such reassurances have worked, as the county has been chased with spurious litigation well into this year, incurring substantial legal fees in the process. And in a similar fashion, QAnon conspiracy theorists continue to be affiliated with the "audit" of election results in Arizona, which Republican politicians backing the effort say is meant to address voters' ongoing "questions"about the election.

Fox News Hyped Benghazi Probes— But Now Wants No Jan. 6 Inquiry

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Last week, Senate Republicans filibustered the proposal for a bipartisan commission to study the events of January 6, when a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building in an attempt to block Congress from certifying Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 election.

Fox News' spin during the negotiations for the January 6 commission — condemning the small number of Republicans who supported one, denying that an insurrection had ever taken place, and even bringing back the election conspiracy theories that incited the attack — was further proof of why such a commission was needed.

But on a deeper level, it also provides a further contrast between Fox's overall efforts to sweep the insurrection under the rug on the one hand, and its relentless calls for more investigations of the 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya — when the network played a key role in pushing for a congressional select committee.

At the time, Fox figures even bragged about helping with the creation of the select committee, in the wake of the network's unrelenting coverage of the 2012 attacks. But in the year 2021, network personalities like Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and Tammy Bruce cheer on congressional Republicans for blocking a January 6 commission.

Carlson previously declared that he was "totally for" a Benghazi committee, because he was "always interested in learning more about any mystery, and Benghazi has mysteries at the center of it." But as for a January 6 commission, he now says: "It's a complete farce. It's partisan as hell. It's fake. Don't play along with the fraud," while he also ridicules the notion of an insurrection having occurred at all.

Back in 2014, Ingraham decried how "the left is already branding this as a witch hunt" when it came to the Benghazi Committee — only to turn around seven years later and declare that the House of Representatives had just "greenlit another witch hunt, this one into the January 6 riots."

In 2013, Fox News host Sean Hannity asked rhetorically, "Why not [have] a special investigative committee" into the Benghazi attacks, with the power to call "witnesses under oath?" Then in May 2021, Hannity declared that Congress was "rehashing the events of January 6," and that it was "obvious they cannot be trusted in any way, shape, manner, or form to conduct any fair hearing whatsoever."

Hannity's guest in 2013, Rudy Giuliani, who later became former President Donald Trump's attorney, said that the public needed answers on Benghazi "in order to prevent something like this from happening in the future." In 2021, Giuliani's own lawyers now say that his speech on January 6 calling for "trial by combat" before the Capitol attack was "clearly hyperbolic." (It should also be noted that Giuliani attempted to call a Senate Republican on January 6, while the chamber was in lockdown, but left a voicemail with a wrong number in which he hoped to further slow down the certification of the presidential election.)

Back in 2014, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) implored that "all we ask for is truth and justice, and we just want to understand what really happened" in Benghazi, which was "the constitutional responsibility of Congress." But in 2021, the now-Fox News contributor said that he would not have voted for a January 6 commission if he were still in Congress.

The network has also frequently hosted House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), helping to promote his stances on special investigations — both for and against. Back in 2015, when McCarthy was seeking to become speaker of the House, he infamously touted to Hannity how the Benghazi special committee was set up in order to drag down Hillary Clinton's poll ratings. Hannity gave McCarthy "credit" for accomplishing those politically -motivated investigations.

When McCarthy appeared on Ingraham's Fox prime-time show in the year 2021, however, the host dismissively stated that "the Democrats are claiming that you are covering up for insurrectionists by opposing this commission." In response to the friendly question, McCarthy protested that he was instead opposing a Democratic effort to "put a political commission" in place.

Fox's refrain years ago was that a "cover-up" was going on, what Hannity called a "lie," and a congressional investigation was the only way to find the truth. But in the wake of the network's own role in spreading a big lie and even attempting to subvert a national election result in the lead-up to a violent attack on the Capitol, covering things up is now the order of the day.