Following the FBI’s search of former President Donald Trump's estate at Mar-a-Lago on Monday night, right-wing media had a meltdown over the supposed weaponization of government agencies that they claimed are at a supposed “war with the American people.” Right-wing media figures and their guests have been using the same narrative in response to the increase in IRS funding from the Inflation Reduction Act.
On August 6, the Senate passed the Inflation Reduction Act along party lines, after Democrats spent over a year in deliberations. The bill will “authorize the biggest burst of spending in U.S. history to tackle” climate change, reduce Medicare prescription drug costs, raise taxes on some large corporations, and add about $80 billion in additional funding to the IRS. The IRS funding will allow the agency — which is currently hampered by reduced workforce and underfunding — to pursue billionaires and large companies for tax compliance.
Two days later, on August 8, the FBI executed a search warrant at the former president’s Florida residence reportedly in connection to his handling of classified documents that may have been brought to Mar-a-Lago, according to CNN.
Almost immediately after the news broke, conservative media — particularly Fox News — started fearmongering that the FBI’s search proved no average American is safe from politically motivated persecution, and arguing that the real target of the Biden administration is the middle class or “anyone who dares to call out” the establishment.
Right-wing media claim all Americans are now vulnerable to politicized attacks by federal agencies
- The Federalist’s Jordan Boyd claimed that the search was evidence of “a crumbling nation that is governed by people who target their political enemies and funnel billions of dollars to siccing federal agents on average Americans.” Boyd also wrote that the search proved that “the elites who control the federal government are not on the side of the American people.” [The Federalist, 8/9/22]
- Fox host Laura Ingraham claimed that the target of the FBI’s investigation isn’t Trump but “you or anyone who dares to call out and take on the rank corruption of the D.C. establishment.” During the Monday edition of her Fox program, the network ran a chyron that read “From the IRS to the FBI: They are coming for you.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 8/8/22, 8/8/22]
- On The Charlie Kirk Show, Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich asserted that the DOJ and FBI are “at war with the American people.” Gingrich said, “If the FBI can send 30 agents to the home of a former president, they can do it to you, to me, to everybody listening to us today.” He also likened the FBI to former East Germany’s secret police, calling the agency “the American Stasi.” [Real America’s Voice, The Charlie Kirk Show, 8/9/22]
- Fox contributor Lara Trump appeared on the Monday edition of Tucker Carlson Tonight to baselessly fearmonger about federal agencies targeting average citizens. During her rant, Trump’s daughter-in-law stated, “If this is what they're able to do to the former president of the United States, think about what they could do to you, to anybody in America.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 8/8/22]
- Similarly, podcast host Liz Wheeler tweeted, “If they can do this to the former POTUS, think about what they can do to you.” Wheeler further attempted to scare her conservative base, adding “The difference is when they do it to you, no one will know.” [Twitter, 8/8/22]
- One America News Network host Addison Smith repeated the same framing on Twitter. He wrote, “Think about what they can do to you.” [Twitter, 8/8/22]
- Conservative radio host Ben Ferguson wrote on Twitter “YOUR DAILY REMINDER THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY IS AT WAR WITH YOU & OUR FREEDOM! THIS IS WAR!” [Twitter, 8/9/22]
Right-wing media claim the IRS is staffing up to target the middle class
- Fox News contributor Raymond Arroyo suggested that the IRS will “literally” aim its firepower at middle-class people. Arroyo cited reports documenting the IRS’ stock of ammunition, asking, “My question is simply, why?” Fox anchor Harris Faulkner exclaimed, “That's an army.” [Fox News, The Faulkner Focus, 8/9/22]
- Fox Business host Stuart Varney claimed that new IRS agents “will go after middle America, specifically small business.” Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy later replied, “You got to wonder what 87,000 people are going to be doing if not that.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/9/22]
- During her prime-time Fox program, Laura Ingraham stated the IRS will act as an “economic, financial militia against regular people.” Ingraham ended the segment sarcastically saying, “Don’t worry, be happy that we have a new squadron of IRS agents.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 8/8/22]
- On Fox’s Hannity, Fox contributor Newt Gingrich claimed that Democrats are adding new IRS agents because “they want to control you.” He went on to compare the number of total IRS agents across the country to the number of Border Patrol agents at the southern border. [Fox News, Hannity, 8/8/22]
- Fox guest Stephen Miller said funding the IRS is “a violent attack on the economic welfare of our middle class.” On Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight, guest host Will Cain asked former Trump adviser Stephen Miller how the Inflation Reduction Act will affect the public’s attitude toward government institutions. Miller responded that there is a “double justice system, one for people that support the regime, and one that are opposed to it.” He called funding the IRS “a violent attack on the economic welfare of our middle class.” He went on to claim that because the IRS can designate certain organizations as nonprofits, funding the government agency is also a way to police free speech. Cain agreed, saying, “This is about more than a former president, this is about the American people.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 8/8/22]
- Conservative radio host Dana Loesch: You should absolutely fear a doubled IRS -- especially with its history of political targeting. In an August 8 Substack post, Loesch encouraged her readers to have a “have a healthy fear of an already-bloated and questionably Constitutional government agency” like the IRS. She went on to claim that the newly added IRS agents “won’t be going after the March Zuckerbergs, the Jeff Bezos types, or the Elon Musks, they’ll be going after you.” [Substack, 8/8/22]
- OAN’s Chanel Rion tweeted after the FBI Mar-a-Lago search, “After tonight the American public are supposed to believe 86,000 new IRS agents won’t be politicized either. This is the mainstreaming of Institutional mistrust.” [Twitter, 8/8/22]