Right-wing media in disarray as House repeatedly fails to choose a leader
Update 1/5/23: This piece has been updated with new commentary.
As Republicans battle to decide the future of GOP House leadership, right-wing media are in a similar state of disarray. While far-right outlets like OAN and Infowars attack speaker candidate Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as a “China-owned CCP RINO” and a “hollow man,” Fox personalities called the congressman's opponents — who have now blocked his nomination six times — “selfish” and “shortsighted.”
For the first time in exactly a century, there is no speaker of the House after the first round of voting on speaker candidates. The chamber’s slim GOP majority gives the leading nominee McCarthy a difficult task of appealing to a small minority of Republicans that are holding up the vote, who have now blocked his nomination during six rounds of voting.
This group of defectors is questioning McCarthy’s conservative credentials, arguing that the California congressman is an “establishment” Republican and an ineffective leader, pointing to the GOP’s lackluster performance in the 2022 midterms. The disagreement over McCarthy’s ascension to the role of speaker has been brewing in right-wing media since at least November, when a host on the far-right outlet OAN called him a RINO, saying that for both McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the “time has come.” Meanwhile, Fox News was giving McCarthy and his allies a platform to campaign for the gavel.
This week, House Republicans have debuted their majority with infighting and gridlock, bringing to the spotlight long-standing disagreements about the direction of the party. While Fox personalities may now decry those rejecting McCarthy’s bid, they have helped to shape the GOP’s mutinous ecosystem by hosting Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) — another Speaker candidate — and his supporters over 1,000 times since 2017.
Right-wing media call GOP infighting a “crisis” and a “clown show”
- Fox News correspondent Aishah Hasnie noted, “Some are calling this now the biggest crisis in the GOP for some decades.”
- Fox News host Emily Compagno bemoaned the lack of “cohesiveness,” saying there are “warning signals” from the far right that the focus is “not advancing the goals of the party by trying to sabotage” McCarthy.
- Fox News contributor Josh Kraushaar remarked on Fox’s America Reports that the GOP’s inability to secure a speaker has sent the message that McCarthy is “weak” and reveals the “depth” of “dissatisfaction,” to such a degree that “it’s going to be hard to put humpty dumpty back together,.”
- Fox News anchor Dana Perino stressed that the “drama” around Republicans and their inability to coalesce around one candidate must be a “major disappointment” to volunteers who worked to create a GOP House majority.
- Former Speaker of the House and Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich asserted that Republicans voting against McCarthy are “actually putting their reelection at risk right now because people are going to look up and say, how can you hold the entire party hostage? How can you hold the House hostage?”
- Daily Wire founder Ben Shapiro tweeted about how the chaotic process is damaging the GOP’s image, asking, “What is the actual policy advanced by stalling him here, other than to hand Dems a PR win by depicting the House GOP as a clown show?”
Fox personalities support McCarthy for speaker of the House
- Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade said: “If you don't like Kevin McCarthy you’re not going to like Steve Scalise and vice versa. This is a waste of our time.”
- Fox contributor Karl Rove agreed with Gingrich that those voting against McCarthy are being “selfish” and “shortsighted.”
- Fox host Sean Hannity justified his support for McCarthy’s candidacy’s candidacy, saying, “Sometimes you have to think through politics. Now, McCarthy has publicly laid out his Commitment to America plan. That is exactly the America First, MAGA agenda that so many of you I know like.”
- Fox host Laura Ingraham questioned the intentions of Republicans who are blocking McCarthy’s nomination: “Blocking McCarthy — again, no one’s as conservative as I want them to be, but blocking McCarthy, how does that get you to a place where you block the pro-war coalition or the pro-China coalition or the pro-free trade or pro-open borders? I’m not sure how that gets you there.”
Far-right media express opposition to McCarthy as speaker
- Fox News host Tucker Carlson launched an attack on “McCarthy's team,” saying, “They’re using threats and fear to force people to support the candidate.”
- OAN host Pearson Sharp suggested former President Donald Trump for speaker of the House, offering him as “a name that would unite the people and put America first, no matter what.”
- Right-wing extremist Laura Loomer tweeted, “McCarthy will need 218 votes. He can only afford to lose 4 votes in his quest to be Speaker. There are 15 Republicans ready to vote NO on McCarthy today. I hope today Kevin realizes how much we all HATE him, & I hope he resigns from Congress after he fails to get the votes.”
- OAN host Kara McKinney promoted Rep. Matt Gaetz’s (R-FL) opposition to McCarthy in an interview, recalling “lowlights” when McCarthy pushed for policies that former secretary of state Hillary Clinton also supported, such as a no-fly zone over Syria.
- OAN host Addison Smith asserted that the House majority is “in disarray already” and called McCarthy a “China-owned CCP RINO,” an “enemy of America First,” and an “enemy of conservatism.”
- Smith also tweeted, “Reminder: Kevin McCarthy is a China-owned RINO who blamed Trump for J6 & plotted with Liz Cheney to get him to resign. He's an enemy of the America First movement. If Republicans actually want to ‘drain the swap’ as they always say, McCarthy should be the first to go.”
- Infowars host Owen Shroyer said it’s “political genius” for Gaetz to “sabotage” McCarthy, asserting that “it makes no difference whether it’s McCarthy or Pelosi [as speaker] to me; it’s the uniparty.”
- The Absolute Truth host Emerald Robinson tweeted, “Since Mitch McConnell and GOP Senate have already called Kevin McCarthy’s bluff on the omnibus bill, why would anyone still vote for Kevin McCarthy?”
- Former Fox Business host Lou Dobbs tweeted, “End RINO Rule: Ryan-trained RINO McCarthy boosted by Marxist Dems and Donors, standbys are RINOs Upton and Scalise-- GOP Base Wants Jordan drafted for Speaker, and end of RINO rule #TheGreatAmericaShow #Speaker race headed toward dramatic floor election.”