The Fox News propagandists have been fiercely battling the flood of bad news for Donald Trump and the Republican Party. Lately there has been more than the usual onslaught of lies and ignorance. Consequently, they have escalated their use of a hollow tactic that has come to be known as “Whataboutism.” So anytime someone brings up something negative about Trump or the GOP, Fox News responds with “What about this other thing?” It’s a means of avoiding a coherent defense when you obviously don’t have one.
That strategy was in full force Monday morning when Fox News hosted a couple of pundits to discuss violent protests. The premise put forth by Fox was that “leftists” were not being sufficiently condemned for their acts of violence. The main reason for that is that leftists have not been engaging in any organized violent activities. What Fox News tried to pin on Democrats was behavior by the shadowy and leaderless group of anti-fascists known as Antifa. (See video below).
But here’s the problem with that. Antifa is not a Democratic movement. They do not campaign for Democrats. They do not vote for Democrats. None of them run for office as Democrats. And actual Democrats do not appear at their events. On the other hand, the alt-right, white nationalist, KKK crowd are tightly bound to Republicans. They openly campaign for GOP candidates and celebrate their electoral victories. Particularly that of Donald Trump. They feature GOP representatives at their rallies. And they have even run for office as Republicans.
It is entirely appropriate to expect a group of pro-Republican extremists to be renounced by the Republican Party. And when Trump failed to do so after the Charlottesville tragedy, he was effectively welcoming their support. However, Democrats cannot be expected to distance themselves from a group that they are in no way affiliated with. They can renounce violence broadly, and they have done so repeatedly. But they aren’t responsible for a group that isn’t among their supporters.
The efforts by Fox News to falsely tie Antifa to Democrats is reminiscent of their prior attempts to do the same with the ludicrous New Black Panthers. That was a group that may have had no more than four members, but Fox News built them up into a national terrorist enterprise. It was largely Megyn Kelly who focused on this nonsense. But now many hosts, contributors, and guests on Fox are pounding the Antifa drums.
This morning’s segment was a perfect example. Anchor Sandra Smith began by alluding to “Violence breaking out as thousands of left and right protesters descending on Berkeley.” The alt-right protesters were referred to as peaceful, but their motives were exposed simply by where they chose to protest. They knew that Berkeley would not be an especially welcoming locale. They were inviting counter-protests. But Fox’s Republican pundit, Lisa Boothe, immediately went on the attack against Democrats.
Boothe: I think we’re just seeing a lot of violence and a lot of hate in this country, and we have for a number of years recently. We saw it with the violence in Fergusson and Baltimore, where people are getting way out of hand. And I think what we really need to see is people marginalizing some of these hate groups. […] Unfortunately, we’re not seeing that same rebuke of groups like Antifa. I’ve not seen one Democratic leader say that these groups should stop their ways, should stop what we saw in Berkeley. Where is Congresswoman Barbara Lee who represents the thirteenth district of California? Where is former Speaker Nancy Pelosi?
Boothe completely avoided the alt-right’s record of violence and murder to blame Democrats for not denouncing a tiny fringe group that they have nothing to do with. The group would already be marginalized were it not for the publicity they get on Fox News. And contrary to Boothe’s tunnel-blind assessment, Democrats have condemned all violence of the sort that Boothe is addressing. The Democrat on the segment, Christie Setzer, had some trouble getting in her comments.
Setzer: I was just as horrified as most people by what transpired in Charlottesville. And I was equally inspired by what happened in Boston. Which is to say that there was a small number of neo-Nazi, KKK, and other hate groups who were calling themselves a free speech rally, but in fact were organized by a lot of the same people who were in charlottesville. And they were surrounded by 40,000 peace-loving, good Bostonians saying ‘We will not accept hate in our city, in our town, in our country.’
Setzer attempted to continue her remarks to insist that “We don’t want violent protests anywhere.” But Smith interrupted her saying that she “wanted Lisa to have the last word.” Never mind that Boothe had the first word and much longer uninterrupted time. Boothe used her conclusion to say that “We’ve seen the media prop up groups like Antifa.” Then complained again that Democrats had not denounced them, even though Setzer just did.
Boothe’s last comment, however, was true. It is the media that has propped up Antifa. Primarily the conservative media. They need it to deploy their Whataboutism tactic whenever there is violence from the alt-right supporters of the GOP. Some members of Antifa may be well-meaning anti-fascists, and who can argue with that? But the faction within the group that advocates violence is counterproductive to their own goals. That said, they still have no affiliation with the Democratic Party and it is dishonest for Fox News to make that linkage. But being dishonest has never stopped Fox before from disseminating lies in support of the Republican agenda. So we can expect this promotion and hyperbole about Antifa to continue until Fox News finds some even newer fake movement to promote.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.