On the one-year anniversary of the January 6 insurrection, some of the most powerful forces in right-wing media continued to mislead or just brazenly lie to their audiences about the attack on the US Capitol, while others downplayed the events and mocked the news media for its coverage.
The coverage from the right underscores how the toxic media environment that contributed to the violent attack by undermining confidence in the electoral system still exists and continues to work as a destructive force — one that is poisoning the information well that millions of Americans draw from for news.
In fact, polls indicate that that media apparatus has been largely successful convincing Republicans of the lie that President Joe Biden was not duly elected. It has warped American politics to such an extent that Biden referenced the harmful media environment in his Thursday speech when he condemned “lies told for power and profit.”
Fox, the most influential organ of the right-wing media universe which was one of the top promoters of the big lie about the 2020 election, has taken two distinct approaches in its coverage of the January 6 attack.
Fox’s conservative, but more restrained, morning programs on Thursday minimized coverage of the attacks, choosing to emphasize other stories and attack Biden on different subjects. Notably, the word “insurrection” was not uttered once on the channel’s air all morning. And when Fox did cover the attack on the US Capitol, much of the discussion focused on criticizing Biden.
Meanwhile, Fox’s radical and most popular personalities prepared for the anniversary by serving up extremist rhetoric to the right-wing channel’s audience. Tucker Carlson, the network’s highest-rated host who has enjoyed limitless support from the Murdoch family which controls Fox, mocked those commemorating the insurrection on his prime time program Wednesday night.
In a nine-minute rant delivered adjacent to a graphic that read “‘Insurrection’ Day” and a chyron that at one point sarcastically said “EXPECT TO HEAR A LOT MORE ABOUT FEELINGS,” Carlson scorned members of the press for openly discussing the trauma associated with covering the violence that occurred on that day.
Carlson, who previously produced a special that promoted the lie that January 6 was a false flag operation, even attacked Sen. Ted Cruz, one of the people who’d actually tried to overturn the election from the Senate, for describing the events as a “violent terrorist attack.”
“Of all the things that January 6 was, it was definitely not a violent terrorist attack. It wasn’t an insurrection,” Carlson said. “Was it a riot? Sure. It was not a violent terrorist attack! Sorry!”
Elsewhere in right-wing media, similar coverage abounded.
Steven Bannon, the prominent right-wing media personality who once served as a top aide to former President Donald Trump, also assailed Cruz for his comments in a podcast uploaded Wednesday. Bannon said he could not believe Cruz would make such comments, and urged him to “learn” the Constitution.
Bannon hosted Marjorie Taylor Greene, the far-right Republican congresswoman who has made a career in Republican politics by pushing conspiracy theories, to attack Cruz.”To see what our institution is being turned into, perverting the Constitution and turning Congress, which is a lawmaking body, into prosecuting Americans, trying to lead investigations that they should not be doing, and we’re not supposed to do as members of Congress is greatly concerning,” she told Bannon.
Greene added that she finds it “really upsetting” what is happening to some January 6 defendants.
Over on Breitbart, the right-wing website once headed by Bannon and which has been largely allied with Trump, declared in a banner headline on its homepage that the one-year anniversary of January 6 is the “DEMOCRAT DAY OF HYSTERIA.”
And the far-right website The Gateway Pundit, a popular destination in right-wing media and a prominent peddler of misinformation about the election, among other topics, marked January 6 with a series of articles promoting various conspiracy theories that aimed to absolve Trump and his supporters for their actions.