Fox News' validation of the insurrectionist mob makes it more likely it will strike again

Fox News logo over the January 6 mob at the Capitol

Citation Molly Butler/Media Matters

“If you don’t bother to pause and learn a single thing from it, from your citizens storming your Capitol building, then you’re a fool,” Fox News prime-time star Tucker Carlson said Wednesday night

While his comments were a typical bad-faith jab at elites, he’s absolutely right. But there’s been no soul-searching on his network after violent insurrectionists tried to prevent the U.S. Congress from confirming President-Elect Joe Biden’s victory over President Donald Trump, no on-air consideration of the role Carlson and his colleagues played in inciting that mob.

The pro-Trump insurrectionists, egged on by the president, invaded the Capitol because they had been lied to. Trump, his congressional allies, and his propagandists at Fox and elsewhere had all spent weeks whipping them up with conspiracy theories about massive election fraud that had “rigged” the election in favor of Biden and stolen it from Trump. They bear responsibility for the horrific, lethal results.

Instead, Fox’s most prominent personalities spent Wednesday night and Thursday morning validating the supposed concerns of the Trumpist mob. They largely condemned the violence -- but they also stressed that they understand where the insurrectionists are coming from and encouraged others to empathize with them. And they’ve been repeating the same lies about supposedly widespread election fraud that riled up the mob in the first place.

“If people begin to believe that their democracy is fraudulent, if they conclude that voting is a charade, the system is rigged and it is run in secret by a small group of powerful, dishonest people who are acting in their own interests, then God knows what could happen,” said Carlson.

“Now, does anybody in the media, anybody in the left, do they want to understand how hundreds of thousands of Americans, what motivated them to leave their homes and their towns and their cities and often fly or come long distances to be at the massive rally today?” asked Sean Hannity, before reeling off a series of election fraud falsehoods.

“What is true is that the Trump administration will be out of power in two weeks, and millions of Republicans believe the election was unfair and even stolen,” offered Laura Ingraham. “It's also true that many claims remain unadjudicated, many questions unanswered, and most will never be resolved.”

Even as they offered justifications for the violence, the hosts or their guests on all three programs baselessly suggested that it had actually been stoked by antifa activists who had somehow infiltrated the crowd.

On Fox & Friends Thursday morning, viewers heard defenses of the rioters trying “to voice their concerns,” calls for people to “listen to” and “learn” from the insurrectionists, and criticism of the supposedly unfair election. They also experienced Fox host Pete Hegseth’s fascistic defense of the mob attack:

But the show’s longest-tenured hosts did offer some rare criticism for the president. Steve Doocy blamed Trump for “40% of the country” believing the election was stolen from Trump, while Brian Kilmeade acknowledged that “the things the president said, the way he said it, was the problem.”

Left unmentioned: the role their show played in turning Donald Trump from a reality TV show star to a Republican political force, and their network’s fervent defense of virtually every aspect of his presidency. The president is an authoritarian menace who incited a mob attack against American democracy. Fox is part of the reason he was in the position to do it.

None of them have learned a thing. And that makes it more likely that this will happen again.