A version of this article first appeared in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.
After weeks of declining to do so, Mitch McConnell finally acknowledged reality on Tuesday, congratulating Joe Biden on his victory over Donald Trump. It was not an act of courage — McConnell had been silent for weeks as Trump and his allies undermined the integrity of the US electoral system. The truth of the matter was that McConnell had little real choice. The Electoral College had affirmed Biden’s win and Trump had failed to prove his deranged claims of voter conspiracy in court.
But immediately upon doing so, McConnell became the target of some in MAGA Media. Charlie Kirk raged on his podcast, “You typically don’t use the term ‘congratulations’ when someone just stole a bank — stole money from a bank.” The Gateway Pundit accused him of “supporting election fraud” and questioned his wife’s dealings with China. An OANN host said he would “regret revealing his own corruption in less than 30 days.” Sebastian Gorka said he had “cave[d] to the mob.” Mark Levin bashed him and said it’s “time for some fresh thinking and new blood.”
On and on it went. McConnell, who had been celebrated throughout the Trump years for putting conservatives on the Supreme Court and helping acquit Trump during impeachment, was suddenly the target of blistering attacks from some of the very right-wing media figures who had celebrated him when he did their bidding. And for what? As Anderson Cooper put it Tuesday, for acknowledging Biden’s win “after six weeks, dozens of court cases, two Supreme Court rejections, one fascist rally, four stabbings, countless threats against officials who are just doing their jobs, and more than $200 million in deceptive Trump fundraising.”
The whole episode underscored — yet again — the true nature of the MAGA Media diehards. These pro-Trump personalities claim to be against groupthink and cancel culture, but are ready to cancel anyone who steps out of line, regardless of who they are. Don’t just look at the attacks McConnell has faced. Look at the wrath folks like Attorney General William Barr and Tucker Carlson faced in recent weeks for rejecting wild election conspiracy theories. And, more broadly, look at how former GOP heroes like Jeff Sessions and John Bolton were treated by right-wing media when they had the nerve to diverge from Trump.
There is a small sliver of conservative media that remains which is genuinely interested in advancing conservative philosophy and debating on the merits. But that small sliver is nothing compared to the rest of the right-wing apparatus that has pledged undying support to Trump. Dissent from Trump and they will aim to destroy. The ironic feature of right-wing media is that at its core it often acts as an agent of the cancel culture that it professes to hate. The question now becomes: What do they do when Trump is gone?
Propagandists continue to supply fantasy
Brian Stelter writes: “Some right-wing sites and shows don’t know what to do now. Biden’s victory has been affirmed, once again, but there’s widespread demand for an alternative story, so some propagandists are willing to supply it. Even though Newsmax is officially identifying Biden as prez-elect now, the channel’s top host, Greg Kelly, is in denial: On Tuesday night he said Biden only ‘purportedly’ clinched the electoral college, and then he said “I do believe there is a significant chance that Donald Trump could be inaugurated’ for a second time in January. Some guests on Newsmax also talked up the fantasy of a second Trump term on Tuesday. Segments on One America News pushed voter fraud storylines. And lesser-known brands like Right Side Broadcasting tried to attract viewers with live streams of ‘Stop the Steal’ events. Here’s my report from Tuesday’s ‘Erin Burnett OutFront’ on CNN…”
Bartiromo’s “intel source”
Brian Stelter writes: “This is a classic example of Fox failing to maintain any editorial standards. Maria Bartiromo went on her Fox Business show and said ‘an intel source’ is ‘telling me that President Trump did in fact win the election. He says that it is up to the Supreme Court to hear suits from other cases across the country to stop the clock.’ This was a pre-planned segment, complete with a banner on screen. So was this ‘source’ vetted by Fox’s newsroom? Approved by management? That’s how it works at other networks, but not at Fox. I inquired about this on Tuesday, and a Fox News spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment…”