You may remember the big news from last month when the Dominion Voting Systems defamation lawsuit against Fox News revealed all those embarrassing emails and texts and depositions from the Fox News team — from Robert Murdoch to Sean Hannity to Tucker Carlson on down — about how they knew that Donald Trump’s Big Lie was a Gigantic Lie and decided to keep lying about it anyway.
Why did they continue to lie when they knew the truth? What do you think? Apparently because they were afraid of losing election-denial viewers to a rival, uh, news station even deeper into Big Lie nuttery.
Or maybe you don’t remember. It seems like a lot of people don’t.
Like those people who are ignoring all the law professors — those so-called experts — who say lying liars on Fox have a real chance of losing the defamation lawsuit. Just as so many people ignored the judges who threw out all those cases claiming that the 2020 election was rigged. Just as polls continue to show that a majority of Republicans say they still believe Joe Biden wasn’t legitimately elected.
And then there are those who must have been somewhere off the grid when Rupert Murdoch himself, testifying under oath, admitted that his prime-time stars knew the Big Lie was a lie and that he could have stopped them from publicly “endorsing” the lie, but chose not to.
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I bring this up only because there’s no choice.
Not if you watched Carlson’s debut stroll through Big Lie Country Monday night — OK, I admit I just watched the clips the next day — in which he took more than 40,000 hours of security footage, gifted to him exclusively by the U.S. House Speaker-for-now Kevin McCarthy, and made it look as if the violent insurrection was the work of tourists who just happened to kick in doors and windows and chant for Mike Pence’s head.
Via Carlson, there were some who were violent, of course, but most of those in the Capitol “were peaceful, orderly, and meek. They were not insurrectionists. They were sightseers.”
Yes, meek. And orderly.
And even though more than 1,000 have been arrested and many tried and many hundreds sent to prison, Carlson said, “The protesters were angry: They believed that the election they had just voted in had been unfairly conducted. And they were right. In retrospect, it is clear the 2020 election was a grave betrayal of American democracy. Given the facts that have since emerged about that election, no honest person can deny it.”
No honest person can deny the Big Lie except, um, all the Fox News people, like Carlson himself, who said they didn’t actually believe the Big Lie. And Carlson, presumably due to the defamation lawsuit, offered no actual evidence of a Big Lie except for giving his viewers the sight of meek and orderly protesters who had been gravely betrayed.
We can, I guess, give a few Republicans some credit for calling Carlson out, although most were far less likely to call out Trump. Sen. Kevin Cramer told CNN’s Manu Raju that Carlson’s version of events was a “lie.” Sen. Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina, called it “bullshit.” Sen. Mike Rounds, R-South Dakota, said he thought the assault on the Capitol was an “insurrection” on January 6 and still thinks so.
Meanwhile, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, called Carlson’s propaganda film “dangerous and disgusting,” while comparing it to Alex Jones’ lies about the Sandy Hook shooting. Sen. John Kennedy, R-Louisiana, called it an “abomination.” Even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called Fox’s decision to run Carlson’s cherry-picked video a “mistake.”
But if you look at the candidates for Colorado Republican state chair — which will be determined this weekend — you’ll see that all of them, led by the oft-indicted Tina Peters, are election deniers of one stripe or another. In other words, as Peters would say, Republicans don’t keep losing in Colorado because Colorado voters have consistently rejected them, but because they’re being cheated. I’m sure if Peters loses the race for state chair, she’ll claim that that election was rigged, too.
Or if you watched the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last weekend — not that I would have advised it — you saw a Trump-dominated affair, in which the Big Lie was not only a topic of conversation but one guaranteed to get the biggest hand. It was so bad that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, the relentless culture warrior who is expected to run against Trump in the 2024 GOP primary and who has been a popular guest at CPAC, didn’t show, apparently fearing the reaction he would get from the Trumpists. Pence didn’t show, either.
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Trump crushed DeSantis in the CPAC straw poll — winning 62% of the vote to DeSantis’ 20% while Pence didn’t even hit 1% — and in his speech, in which he ripped DeSantis and continued to repeat the Big Lie, Trump also announced the Big Retribution, should he win office again.
“In 2016, I declared, ‘I am your voice,’” a not-so-meek Trump told the not-so-orderly CPAC crowd. “Today, I add: I am your warrior. I am your justice. And for those who have been wronged and betrayed, I am your retribution.”
And, of course, with Kevin McCarthy’s help, Carlson is making the case for Trump’s wronged and betrayed January 6 supporters, even though McCarthy, back in the day, had called the riot an “insurrection.”
Trump was convinced. He said the evidence presented by Carlson was “irrefutable.”
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Lauren Boebert was convinced, tweeting that “now we have truth,” while calling Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney “TRAITORS” and saying that the two “fake Republicans” on the January 6 committee were responsible for “American citizens still imprisoned.”
And Tucker Carlson says now that he has shown selective parts of the security video to the world, all of us should be convinced that we were lied to about the cause of police officer Brian Sicknick’s death, that the QAnon shaman wasn’t all that bad, that Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, didn’t actually flee, and, mostly, that the January 6 assault on the Capitol was neither an “insurrection” nor “deadly.”
Believe it or not.
Mike Littwin has been a columnist for too many years to count. He has covered Dr. J, four presidential inaugurations, six national conventions and countless brain-numbing speeches in the New Hampshire and Iowa snow.
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