ALICIA MENENDEZ (HOST): There was an incredible event today -- this a U-turn by Kevin McCarthy, but that comes after weeks of brinkmanship from the House GOP, focusing on things like the border, focusing on refusing to offer additional aid to Ukraine. How is all of that then playing out in the right-wing media bubble?
ANGELO CARUSONE (PRESIDENT & CEO, MEDIA MATTERS FOR AMERICA): I think a big part of this is that as they attack our democratic institutions, they start to advance an agenda and a narrative and a politics that is actually much more nationalistic. I think that’s the thing to keep in mind as you see these attacks on our democratic institutions, which feel very abstract, and hear these warnings about authoritarianism, as you’ve laid out that list. But the thing to consider is they’re actually beginning to flesh out a policy -- if you could describe it that way -- but a policy and a politics and a culture that is also reflected of authoritarian movements that we’ve seen in history. And so, that’s the part that is concerning about this -- that it’s not just a couple of people popping off on the fringes. We’ve always had that -- that exists in societies. It’s that their organizing power on the fringes, and now that has become so central to what is essentially standard Republican politics. So when the president says that centrist Republicans are complicit in that -- that’s true, and that’s what we’re seeing play out. They are allowing and enabling the dismantling of these very basic aspects of governance in place of implementing these more extremist policies. It’s fuel, essentially, for building power on what used to be considered the fringes. That’s the big takeaway here. It’s that they are building power on what used to be the fringes.
MENENDEZ: I actually watched the footage of the hearing on the impeachment inquiry. So I feel it I lived in an alternate reality from what was likely played in the right-wing echo chamber.
CARUSONE: Right, totally, without a doubt. In fact, for me, when I look at all that, and I can point to all the segments and places where those ideas and nonsense they were saying -- I can show you where each of those claims germinated. And that’s part of what happens in this atomized landscape. These right-wing political figures are pulling things out from different pockets of the right-wing media apparatus and giving airtime, oxygen, credence, and legitimacy to it. Which then the media figures can go back and say, “There we go. We’re on the ascent. We have to keep digging.” So in a way, this is not just how they build power, but it also then allows the media to go back and point to these instances and say, “We’re on to something finally.” Now, they’re mad. They don’t think the Republicans have gone far enough. And that, to me, is the big takeaway -- is that the right media, and sort of the rest of the right-wing base is much further than what we saw during that hearing. They already would have Joe Biden removed from office and put in jail. So they’re mad at their elected leaders right now because they don’t think they’ve gone far enough, and I think you’re going to see them really try to speed up in response to the demands that they’re getting from their media-fueled base.