Trump Supporters Ramp Up Treason Against the United States

Fox News’ validation of the putsch makes it more likely it will happen again

Congress / Covid

Republican insurrectionists invaded the Capitol building with the intent on capturing and murdering politicians who refused to hand the presidency to Donald Trump for another four years. 

 

They did after being incited by Trump himself, and after months of being lied to by right-wing media, led by Fox News itself.

This attack was years in the making. Platforms enabled far-right extremists to mobilize, and let QAnon grow even though it was clear years ago that the conspiracy theories were enabling violence. 

Mainstream media too often treated Trump and Trumpism with kid gloves, giving him and his supporters a pass for violent threats. But no one has done more to lead to this moment than Fox News. The network validated the conspiracy theories and aimed its content to right-wing extremists. It didn’t just relentlessly push deranged conspiracy theories about the election, it also defended QAnon conspiracy theorists and right-wing vigilantism.

This attack was the culmination of Fox News’ Trumpism. And lest you think even for a minute that anyone has learned anything, Fox has spent the days since the attack finding ways to play the victim.

Here is what has been happening on Fox News this week since Wednesday:

  • Sean HannityTucker Carlson, and Laura Ingraham on Wednesday night all blamed left-wing anti-fascists for the violence. This was a total lie, but Fox hosts kept repeating it.
  • While also blaming anti-fascists, Fox personalities also tried to justify the violence, arguing that Republicans “feel” the vote was unfair — totally and completely overlooking the months that Fox News spent pushing that lie.
  • As the attack was happening, Fox so-called “straight news” repeatedly downplayed it. Fox’s chief political anchor Bret Baier likened Trump’s incitement to Democrats bringing up Russia.
  • Lou Dobbs accused members of Congress of being “melodramatic” in their response to the attack. He also said the attack wasn’t that bad because people were “walking between the rope lines.” The next day, Dobbs complained that Republicans were not militaristic enough, calling them “milquetoast pacifists.”
  • One Fox host explicitly defended the putsch, saying they “love freedom” and were there to “support the President of the United States and defend our Republic.”
  • Fox host Mark Levin denied that Trump had anything to do with it.
  • A Fox VP questioned why there was a need to remove Trump from office, telling a Republican who was calling for Trump’s removal, “Why not wait it out?”
  • Carlson declared that this was not domestic terrorism but just “a political protest that got out of hand.” Because Carlson is a liar, he didn’t explain why people would call for executions or bring zip ties or construct a gallows at a political protest.
  • Fox News somehow found a way to say that Black Lives Matter protesters who stormed the Capitol building would have been treated better by the police. There is evidence that one of the terrorists took a selfie with the police at the event some of the people who participated flashed police badges.
  • Fox hosts accused Democrats of being “out for blood.”
  • Hannity compared Trump inciting an insurrection that sacked the Capitol building to Kathy Griffin’s comments about Trump.
  • Fox contributor Dan Bongino told viewers that “This fight’s coming to your door folks. Get ready. You can’t avoid it.”
  • Ingraham reserved her harshest comments for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
  • Fox News personalities used the putsch as a reason to make voting harder — that is, to implement the preferred policies of the mob.

After Trump was permanently banned from Twitter on Friday evening, Fox personalities complained, and Carlson himself said that it would cause more extremism . Fox has spend the weekend focused not on the putsch or why it happened, but rather complaining about Trump’s removal from various platforms. The network is also complaining about actions taken against far-right social media platform Parler after Apple, Google, and Amazon all found that it was encouraging violence and crime.

One reason why this will happen again is because of how Fox News validated it all.

Right-wing media cheered the putsch, then tried to blame antifa, and finally said the reaction was a bigger problem than the attack

In the days leading up to January 6, right-wing media figures pushed the completely false argument that Vice President Mike Pence could unilaterally overturn the election results.

As a angry Republicans took over the Capitol building and threatened Pence and other lawmakers for not doing that (while President Donald Trump tweeted condemnations of Pence), a number of right-wing media figures publicly expressed support for the insurrection.

Here are a few examples:

  • Former Trump adviser and right-wing radio host Sebastian Gorka referred to the insurrectionists as “patriots.”
  • Rush Limbaugh’s producer James Golden, who also goes by the radio name “Bo Snerdley,” described the event as a “peaceful protest” and called the election “fraudulent.” He also suggested that anti-fascist elements had “infiltrated this” in order to spark violence.
  • A Newsmax guest called the insurrectionists “absolutely correct.”
  • Fox Business host Charles Payne retweeted a message asking: “How long do you expect people to be SILENT?”
  • The person runs the right-wing site National File, openly called for the overthrow of the civil government and claimed if the “Patriots seize the control of Congress, … they have the right to assemble their own Congress.”
Several right-wing media figures also claimed that the Capitol Hill rioters were actually “antifa.” In addition to the Fox figures listed about, a number of others pushed the line as well. We have compiled numerous examples, here are just a few:
  • The Washington Times published a thinly sourced article claiming that facial recognition technology company XRVision had identified “antifa” members among the insurrection; the firm has since called the article “completely false,” but the lie quickly spread among right-wing media figures and even Republican members of Congress before being debunked. It was even mentioned by Laura Ingraham.
  • The Daily Wire’s Candace Owens: “Call it a hunch, but my guess is there are still ANTIFA thugs in the mix.”
  • Rush Limbaugh’s guest host, Todd Hermanclaimed he could tell through “learned experience” that “antifa agitators” were present. Other radio hosts claimed the same.
  • Newsmax on multiple occasions suggested that anti-fascists may be to blame. MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell went on Newsmax and accused “undercover” anti-fascists of committing the violence.
  • Ann Coulter: No one can mistake the guy with that tattoo. This group, especially the short one, looks like antifa.

After the immediate danger passed, right-wing media sought to blame anyone but Republicans.

  • Newsmax hosts blamed Trump critics. A Newsmax guest suggested that left-wing financier George Soros was behind everything. On Friday night, a Newsmax panel likened Trump’s ban from Twitter to Nazi Germany and a host called the events an “American revolution.” Another host told viewers to be afraid of liberals.
  • Newsmax also hosted a QAnon conspiracy theorist who blamed law enforcement for the violence at the Capitol.
  • Meanwhile, OAN said that the putsch was the perfect justification for Pence to overturn the election.
  • Rudy Giuliani, who earlier in the day had called for “trial by combat” at the rally, told OAN that it was really no big deal what happened.
  • Right-wing media rushed to compare the attack to various examples of violence over the summer of 2020, which they blamed on anti-fascist activists or Black Lives Matter demonstrators. Perhaps the biggest problem with this ignorant comparison is that Wednesday’s attack on the federal legislature — which forced Congress to evacuate from insurrectionists who destroyed federal property and planted bombs near the Capitol — posed a demonstrably graver threat to the integrity of the United States than property damage sustained after protests against police brutality and systemic racism.

Republican Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano, who helped the putsch, pushed violent rhetoric on a QAnon program

Rush Limbaugh

Eric Hananoki reports: Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano of Pennsylvania recently helped incite the January 6 pro-Trump coup attempt at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Mastriano just a few weeks ago appeared on a program dedicated to the QAnon conspiracy theory, where he compared his attempt to overturn the election to fighting against terrorists on Flight 93 or opposing the rise of Hitler. During his appearance on the QAnon program, Mastriano repeatedly pushed false claims that the election was stolen from Trump and said: “I think in the end, assuming truth prevails, that he will have a second term.”

Also: There have been many examples of QAnon-linked violence, but the Capitol building putsch was fueled by QAnon conspiracy theories, and QAnon adherents were prominent among the participants.

Still going: QAnon conspiracy theorists still say that Trump will serve a second term.

How we got here: Trump and pro-Trump figures had been amplifying the election conspiracy theories QAnon grifters Jim Watkins and Ron Watkins in recent weeks.

Rush Limbaugh and other talk radio hosts are downplaying the Capitol building putsch

Alex Walker reports: Right-wing radio hosts have defended and downplayed the putsch. Rush Limbaugh implicitly endorsed political violence and at the same time blamed the attack partly on so-called “antifa” “instigators.” Some of Limbaugh’s fellow conservative talk radio hosts have similarly attempted to downplay the mob’s actions, dismissing calls to condemn the violence and suggesting that the attack was actually a “false flag” operation.

  • Limbaugh, appearing on air for the first time this year on Thursday, disagreed with those “who say that any violence or aggression at all is unacceptable.” Limbaugh then invoked the Revolutionary War, arguing, “I am glad Sam Adams, Thomas Paine, the actual Tea Party guys, the men at Lexington and Concord didn’t feel that way.” Limbaugh also compared the riot to protests that took place during Trump’s impeachment, complaining, “All of the sudden protesting Congress is being called the end of the world.”
  • Vicki McKenna, a local host in Wisconsin, also mocked the calls to condemn political violence. McKenna opened her show by stating, “I suppose I should open up with the obligatory, vacuous, nonsensical, silly and meaningless statement that I condemn all violence. Maybe I should do that like everybody else has.”
  • Garret Lewis, a host based in Arizona, attempted to explain the motivations of the rioters on Thursday, arguing, “The straw that broke the camel’s back was we saw all of the fraud going on and judges refused to hear the cases. … What the hell did these idiots think was going to happen when it got down to the end? What did they think was going to happen? Did they think we weren’t going to fight? Did they think we weren’t going to be pissed?”
  • Pennsylvania host Ken Matthews alluded to a larger conspiracy and “false flag violence.”

How tech companies fueled the attack on the Capitol building

NBC News reported that a digital flyer circulating on Instagram and Facebook in the days before the attack called for “Operation Occupy the Capitol” on January 6. In private groups on Facebook, users encouraged each other to bring guns to Washington D.C. in order to put people on trial “for TREASON.”  Facebook and Twitter were used to hype the event beforehand, and The New York Times reported about how specific plans for taking the building circulated on far-right boards like Parler and Gab. Calls for violence also circulated on message boards like 8kun and The Donald.

In the days since, all of these calls for violence have led to a reckoning. Reddit has banned another Trump message board (and taken other actions). Twitter finally purged many QAnon accounts. Amazon, Apple, and Google removed support for Parler after the app allowed violent threats. And, in what has gotten more attention than any of the above, President Donald Trump‘s ability to use many platforms, from Twitter to Facebook and more, has been severely limited or removed entirely.

As Angelo Carusone notes, Twitter’s permanent ban of Trump is entirely appropriate — but also far too late.

YouTube terminated Steve Bannon’s account. He had blood on his hands after months of calling for revolution and violence.

One of former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s mantras is “action, action, action” — a call to his followers to be engaged and ready for political fights. On January 8, YouTube finally acted, removing Bannon’s War Room account, after months of Bannon calling for revolution and violence.

Bannon had this coming. In the lead-up to the attack, Bannon used his YouTube channel to repeatedly call for violence and revolution around the 2020 election while spreading false claims that it was being stolen from President Donald Trump. During the insurrection itself, one of the insurrectionists directly echoed Bannon, calling for “heads on pikes” — the same phrase Bannon had used in regards to NIAID Director Anthony Fauci and FBI Director Christopher Wray.

Madeline Peltz has compiled numerous examples of Bannon violating YouTube’s terms and conditions. And while YouTube has removed the podcast, to date Google Play is still hosting it.

Fox News played itself in Georgia

Right-wing conspiracy theories about the election, before causing a violent mob to swarm the Capitol building, contributed to Republicans losing both Senate seats in the Georgia runoff. Fox News complained about that — after spending weeks pushing that very same lie.

Also: The last ditch attempt of James O’Keefe and Project Veritas to swing the Georgia elections by attacking the homeless failed. O’Keefe was later overheard by a Bloomberg reporter discussing strategy and lamenting Project Veritas’ ineffectiveness.

Admitting the lie: Fox & Friends co-host Ainsley Earhardt defended a 2011 sermon from Senator-elect Rev. Raphael Warnock (D-GA), in which he had said that “nobody can serve God and the military.” Responding to her co-host Brian Kilmeade ’s claim that “I didn’t like what he said in his sermons” — a likely reference to that one old sermon which dominated right-wing media leading up to the elections — Earhardt said that “if you’re a churchgoer, you knew what he meant by that, which was you can’t serve two masters, as the Bible says.” This admission from the proudly Christian Earhardt — which came only after Warnock won the election — is an enormous contrast to the weeks of these misleading attacks she silently allowed on her show.

Conspiracy theories: Before the putsch on Wednesday, Fox News figures pushed election conspiracy theories about the results in Georgia.

Far-right take: Far-right accounts accused Italians of manipulating the election. Yes, Italy. No, it doesn’t make a lick of sense.

Featured Media

  • WatchTucker Carlson: Black Lives Matter activists are “thugs,” insurrectionists are merely protecting their rights.
  • Watch: Fox News lost in its feelings over Trump’s defeat. For years right-wing media said that facts don’t care about your feelings. Now they say that feelings that the election was stolen should be paramount.

This Week In Dumb

  • YouTube is making money from violence-linked militia group recruitment videos.
  • President Donald Trump‘s threaten to Georgia’s secretary of state in an attempt to overturn the election, and right-wing media figures repeatedly defended himBen Shapiro said it did not amount to a threat. Newsmax called it a perfect phone call . A Fox anchor even said that releasing the audio put the country at risk.
  • Charlie Kirk told his audience to disregard coronavirus public health protocols.
  • How a Sinclair host has pushed coronavirus conspiracy theories.
  • Sidney Powell repeatedly pushed conspiracy theories about Dominion Voting Systems, and now Dominion has sued her. Powell and Michael Flynn also had their Twitter accounts removed in the QAnon purge.
  • Government regulators demanded that pro-Trump grifter Steven Hotze stop marketing his products as coronavirus preventatives.
  • The producer of Sean Hannity‘s radio show tried to overturn the results of Georgia’s election.
  • The Daily Beast obtained a document from inside Fox News that promoted Maria Bartiromo‘s conspiracy theory-laden program as “hard-hitting journalism.” The document also tried to assure advertisers that they could support Fox without backlash. Not if we have anything to say about it.