Last week’s Capitol Hill mob riot left much of the nation in shock. It was a byproduct of months of lies and conspiracies about election fraud which were amplified by Donald Trump and spread by right wing media organizations like Fox News. You might think that following the violence that left five people dead—including two Capitol Hill police officers—conservative media outlets might take time to reflect on their role in advancing the big lie at the center of one of the ugliest days in American history.
Unsurprisingly, though, it only led to whining and calls to move on.
Brian Kilmeade says Trump voters are angry that 'Trump was robbed' even though Trump has been "unable to prove that in 70+ cases," therefore we should all just move on from the Jan 6 insurrection since all those people "are ready to explode." pic.twitter.com/8nd5oBXfmL
— Bobby Lewis (@revrrlewis) January 11, 2021
On Fox and Friends this morning, host Brian Kilmeade said that Trump supporters are angry that the president was “robbed” of the election, feel like their voices and votes have been ignored, and are “ready to explode.” He conveniently fails to mention, however, that the reason Trump supporters feel robbed is because Trump has said for more than a year that the election would be rigged against him and was subsequently stolen. Kilmeade and other conservative media types have done their part to spread those lies, but now virtually all of them are doing damage control, trying to ensure the backlash to the Trump-incited violence isn’t as severe as it should be. To do this, Kilmeade flips the power dynamic—the onus is actually on liberals elected Democrats for not listening to insurrectionist Republicans’ feelings, and if they come down too harshly there might be another riot on their hands. It’s a fascinating if predictable take, and it’s even more monstrous when you consider it’s essentially a threat cloaked in a seemingly benign call for unity.
Kilmeade is hardly the only Fox News host to pull the power switcheroo. On Friday, Jesse Watters provided his own grade school-level whinge, saying that if President-elect Joe Biden is the noble statesman he claims to be, he should simply rise above all the rabble and forget anything ever happened.
TRUMP: *encourages a coup attempt*
JESSE WATTERS: pic.twitter.com/C4fg8vbZc0
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 8, 2021
Watters’ tactic here is clever in a sense—he’s playing off Biden’s central campaign message and desire to heal a divided nation. Like Kilmeade, though, he’s leaving out the unprecedented and seditious nature of last week’s fiasco as well as his own role in spreading it. Empty calls to move on and come together are a last gasp effort to avoid consequences of their own actions. For Fox News, conservative grievance always outweighs accountability. It hardly matters if mob rioters crushed a Capitol Hill police officer to death and literally smeared shit on the walls of Congress—if they’re Trump supporters, they surely did it for good reason, and everyone should acknowledge that, accept it, and put it behind them, okay?
Conservative media and politicians’ bellyaching calls for unity are far from finished. Congressional Republicans will continue to grouse about how a second Trump impeachment will be a waste of time and resources that will further divide the country. Fox News types, meanwhile, will hammer home that conservative voters feel angry and scared and ignored. But as their hollow simpering rings in your ears and begins to infuriate you beyond reason, it’s important to remember they’re only doing this because it might actually work.