After the revelation that a group of right-wing militia members was allegedly planning to kidnap Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, she responded by saying that hate groups and domestic terrorists have interpreted President Donald Trump’s unwillingness to condemn their extremism as a message of support. In reaction, Fox News personalities quickly criticized Whitmer, saying she’s ungrateful that the plot was stopped before it was carried out and attacking her for mentioning Trump’s refusal to condemn extremist violence by people like those who targeted her.
Since at least April, Fox News has attacked the governor’s COVID-19 response in her state. Fox personalities have repeatedly referred to Whitmer’s lockdown guidelines as authoritarian, have called her a “petty,” “pathetic,” and “out-of-control tyrant.” Some of this rhetoric is similar to that of one of the suspects in the kidnapping case, who referred to the governor as “a tyrant bitch” in a video.
Much of the most outlandish attacks on Whitmer were made by Tucker Carlson, the network’s white supremacist-in-chief, who singled her out among other blue-state governors implementing lockdowns at the time. Carlson accused Whitmer of “impos[ing] the most authoritarian restrictions on daily life in the history of this country,” said Whitmer was threatening to arrest anyone who wouldn’t be “quiet and subservient,” referred to her as someone who “loves fascism,” and said she is “abolishing the Constitution in her state.”
Fox’s coverage of Whitmer before the alleged kidnapping plot
- On Tucker Carlson Tonight, Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano called Whitmer one of the “petty tyrants” who “will use their powers again and again until some courageous federal court or an outraged public stops them.”
- Prime-time host Sean Hannity called Whitmer an “out-of-control tyrant.”
- Fox host Jeanine Pirro called Whitmer “a pathetic tyrant.”
- Carlson said Whitmer wants citizens to be “quiet and subservient” and if they don’t “shut up,” she’s saying “we are going to arrest them.”
- Carlson hosted an organizer of anti-distancing protests in Michigan and said Whitmer has “imposed what might be the most authoritarian restrictions on daily life in the history of this country.”
- Carlson also said “the new standard in Michigan” set by the governor is that “when you disagree with Gretchen Whitmer, you endanger the public.”
- Carlson called Whitmer “a ghoul” and “a dangerous ideologue who knows nothing about science and doesn't care to learn.”
- Carlson called Whitmer “power drunk and mediocre.”
- Referring to Whitmer, Carlson claimed, “It’s always the most mediocre people who love fascism the most.”
- Carlson said Whitmer is “abolishing the Constitution in her state.”
Fox’s coverage of Whitmer after the alleged kidnapping plot
- The same day the story about the alleged plot broke, Trump attacked Whitmer on Hannity, boasting that “it was our Justice Department that arrested the people she was complaining about” and she’s “doing … a horrible thing to the people” by putting mitigation guidelines into place.
- On The Five, co-host Greg Gutfeld claimed that “Democrats have lost the right to complain about any violence” and “if you think 93% mostly peaceful [protests against police brutality] is OK, you shouldn't have a problem with this crazy little band of kidnappers.”
- On Bill Hemmer Reports, senior adviser to the Trump campaign Jason Miller attacked Whitmer, saying her critique of Trump is“shameful” and that she “is a complete phony.”
- Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade credited Trump for stopping the plot to kidnap Whitmer and said she is “not grateful” that she was not kidnapped by a right-wing militia and was “focused on the president.”
- Fox News @ Night anchor Shannon Bream downplayed Trump’s attacks on Whitmersaying violence “ “happens on both sides of the aisle.”
- Prime-time host Laura Ingraham said the militia that planned to kidnap Whitmer looks “like they're anarchists and not right-wingers” without citing evidence.
- Fox’s Dagen McDowell claimed Whitmer is using “the threat on her life -- very serious -- as a political baton.” Fox News contributor Charlie Hurt responded by saying Democrats “want to turn [this plot against Whitmer] into a weapon to beat up their political rivals. And it is absolutely insane.”