Some media outlets refused to believe that something was wrong with the president or the rioters, while others interpreted it as an incentive for Pence to reverse the election.
The pro-Trump protests in Washington on Wednesday took several organizations to a point of crisis. The conservative media was one of them.
If the connection between Donald Trump and his supporters was a general, paranoid animosity towards the governing institutions as well as the media and the left, for decades, the mentality was fostered and nurtured by the conservative media.
Conservative media were often frequently pleased to defend abuse as long as Trump was riding high.
But can his former media supporters justify the insurgent mob that trashed the Capitol in the president’s name with Trump on his way out, apparently cut loose by Republican insiders and his own staff?
There have been many answers to this dilemma in the past 24 hours – few truthful, much less honorable.
Some outlets clearly refused to admit that, even at the risk of self-contradiction, Trump or the rioters did something wrong.
Cassandra Fairbanks originally described the Capitol Hill rioters as “patriots.” in Gateway Pundit, one of the more flowery advocates of ride-or-die Trumpism. When the optics took a turn for the worse, and even Trump himself urged compliance with the law, her writer Christine Lalla pivoted to a conspiracy theory evoking a trustworthy right-wing folk devil: Antifa busloads.
Christina Bobb, an anchor on OANN’s pro-Trump cable news channel, described the riot on Twitter as an opportunity for the vice president, Mike Pence, to reverse the election. In promoting the false notion that Pence, as President of the Senate, would selectively reject votes from the Electoral College, OANN and other outlets followed Trump’s lead. Despite the fact that the role of Pence is only ceremonial, in the illusion that Pence has failed in his duty and is in fact a traitor, Cassandra Fairbanks again joined Bobb and others.
For those who are not content to go down with the Trumpist vessel and who have to battle the changing political winds, things are more complicated. Without Trump, but still a large and lucrative part of the conservative media audience with his followers, several outlets relied on pandering to Trump’s supporters even as they turned away from Trump himself slowly and cautiously.
Tucker Carlson began his Wednesday evening show on Fox News with a monologue in which he empathized with the rioters, even though he blamed others for their acts.
In general, Carlson denounced political violence and spoke out against balkanizing the nation into like-minded societies on the basis of nothing.
But then he attributed the actions of the mob to those who would not listen to their theories of conspiracy about election fraud.
Without mentioning the central role of the conservative media in spreading post-election conspiracy theories, Carlson pointed to the risks that might emerge “if people come to believe that their democracy is fraudulent.” He argued that “millions of Americans sincerely believe that the last election was rigged. You can dismiss them as insane. You can call them conspiracy theorists. You can kick them or you can kick them.”
But that’s not going to change their minds.’
In the press, some attempted the same trick. Filing from the scene, Emily Jashinsky of the Federalist acknowledged that the fracas was a “disgraceful sight” and rejected the conspiracy-minded notion that the provocateurs of Antifa were responsible.
“He told them a ‘landslide’ victory was stolen. This would be a crisis. They acted as such. What did he expect?”He told them that they had stolen a ‘landlide’ victory. This would be a crisis. They acted as such. What was he expecting?
But then she went on to coddle his alliance, claiming that the upheaval “will hurt the people who have already been hurt the most,” naming “decent” Americans who “have been lied to for years by the media … maligned as racists by elites and peers alike.”
There was no mention that political scientists have consistently shown – either in her essay or in any of the other larmoy invocations of the forgotten people of Trump – that racial grievance and aggressive misogyny are the strongest reasons to help Trump.
There has been an effort to paint Ashli Babbitt, a woman who di di di di, in the far-right media.