Amid damning revelations, Madison Cawthorn still has right-wing cable news in his corner

Madison Cawthorn

Citation Molly Butler / Media Matters

A devastating Saturday report in The Washington Post revealed that the rise of freshman Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), a right-wing media star, has been fueled by his willingness to distort aspects of his life story and his ability to dodge reports of sexual misconduct. But that story has received scant attention on right-wing cable news networks, which have continued to host and toast him without mentioning it.

The Post reported that a key biographical claim the 25-year-old congressman used in his campaign -- that a car wreck that left him partially paralyzed had prevented him from attending the Naval Academy -- was false; Cawthorn had actually been rejected before the collision. It also debunked his past assertions that he had been “declared dead” at the scene and that the friend who had been driving the car at the time had abandoned him. 

The article also detailed repeated reports of “alleged sexual misconduct” Cawthorn has faced since his 2020 campaign. “Three women told The Post in on-the-record interviews that they objected to Cawthorn’s behavior, with one saying he tried forcibly to kiss her after she rejected his advance,” the paper reported. BuzzFeed News and CNN have also reported on such statements from Cawthorn’s former classmates over the last week. 

But that reporting has not quelled the support Cawthorn has garnered on right-wing cable news networks. Indeed, since its publication, Newsmax TV, One America News Network, and Fox News have all praised him, hosted him for softball interviews without bringing up the article, or done both.

During a Monday night discussion of “the future of the GOP,” Newsmax TV’s Rob Schmitt aired a clip of Cawthorn musing about how former President Donald Trump’s voters are the real face of the Republican Party. “The younger guys get it; they do,” responded Schmitt. “They understand something.”

Also that night, OAN’s Real America with Dan Ball featured a taped, fawning interview with Cawthorn, whom the host described as a “young rising star” with “a big future trailblazing the way for young conservatives within the GOP.”

And on Tuesday morning, Fox & Friends First hosted the congressman. The interview featured softball questions to Cawthorn about immigration, voting rights legislation, and Fox’s big story of the day, the purported “cancellation” of the pseudonymous children’s author Dr. Seuss. Cawthorn’s sordid personal history somehow never came up.

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Citation From the March 2, 2021, edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends First.