Fox News anchor Bret Baier interviewed Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) on Thursday, following her removal the day before from her leadership position as House Republican Conference Chair due to her public denunciations of former President Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 election and his role in the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of his supporters seeking to overturn the result.
A key takeaway from the interview is that Fox News still refuses to take responsibility for its role in fomenting the insurrection — and that includes Baier himself.
Baier insisted he’s told the truth about the election — then hosted yet another conspiracy theorist trying to undermine the result
Throughout the interview, Baier asked Cheney a series of questions about whether she could be effective in a leadership role in the House Republican caucus — or even as an elected representative for the state of Wyoming — given the widespread support among Republicans for Trump. Baier often couched the questions in such terms as “that's what your colleagues are asking.”
But throughout the questioning, he gave little consideration to the fundamental matter that Trump’s claims about the election are lies, while Cheney’s conflict with her colleagues and potential disagreement with her constituents had to do with telling the truth. At a certain point, the conversation became rather heated when Cheney said that Fox News had a “particular obligation” to tell its viewers that the election wasn’t stolen, which Baier interrupted to insist that he had done so.
But the fact is that Baier has long played a role in Fox’s efforts to fearmonger to its viewers about supposedly widespread voter fraud, and he has recently glossed over the network’s role in efforts to undermine the 2020 election. And even during this same broadcast, he continued to coddle such conspiracy theorists.
After interviewing Cheney, Baier proceeded to host a panel discussion that included Fox News contributor Mollie Hemingway, who had just appeared the night before with Fox prime-time host Tucker Carlson to promote her upcoming book Rigged: How the Media, Big Tech, and the Democrats Seized Our Elections. During the panel discussion, Hemingway directly criticized Cheney for her efforts to counter Trump’s lies about the election.
“It's also not good that she is taking part in this sort of systematic effort to shut down any conversation,” Hemingway said. “You can and should say that Joe Biden is the president of the United States and also have problems with how that election was conducted. I don't think she is really making that conversation better. She is kind of making it more difficult for us to come to peace on that.”
Baier did not give Hemingway any follow-up questions, but instead simply moved on to the next panelist and then soon to the next topic.
How Baier and Fox’s “straight news” side helped spread lies about the election
A Media Matters study in November found that in the two-week period after numerous media outlets, including Fox News, had called the election for Joe Biden, the network continued to question the results of the election or spread conspiracy theories at least 774 times, in programming spread across both numerous “straight news” anchors as well as its opinion hosts.
And despite Baier’s protests to Cheney, he was not personally innocent of the network’s pattern of carrying water for the defeated president as he sought to subvert and overturn the election results.
In the days following the 2020 election, Baier repeated Trump’s baseless allegations of mass election theft in the ongoing vote counts, without explaining to viewers that the claims were already known to be false: “Stealing an election, corruption, leveling a lot of charges, the president of the United States, who we haven't heard from really since the early morning hours after the election, and now this battle continues with his campaign fighting in numerous states.”
And all the way into early December, Trump released a video spreading conspiracy theories about voting machines being used to change the results. After showing the clip, Baier opened a panel discussion by covering Trump’s tinfoil-hat allegations like a sporting event, rather than explaining that the accusations were demonstrably false.
“First of all, the president, if you thought he was ready to throw in the towel here, 46 minutes tells you he's not,” Baier said, later commenting, “This is a president that is still fighting to the end.” (The voting systems vendor that Trump singled out in the video is now suing Fox News over its coverage of the story.)
During an appearance on the January 5 discussion of Outnumbered, Baier at once stated that Trump’s efforts to overturn the election would not work, and that Joe Biden would be sworn in as president — but then asserted a false equivalency by claiming that Democrats had tried “to overturn an election” by having impeached Trump a year before over his efforts to pressure a foreign government into investigating Biden.
And on the day of January 6 itself, as Trump’s supporters had begun to storm the U.S. Capitol and Congress had already gone into lockdown, Baier reported that a shelter-in-place directive had been put in place in the Capitol — but he still claimed that the situation “does not appear violent” and added that it was “not like it's a siege, it doesn’t seem. It seems like they are protesting, but they are clearly pushing by some of the barricades.”
More recently, Baier has aired a misleading comparison of the voting laws in different states, as part of the right-wing effort to justify the new wave of voter suppression laws in Republican-controlled states such as Georgia and elsewhere in response to Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was “stolen.”