On The Takeaway, Media Matters' Matt Gertz discusses how right-wing media influenced the Capitol insurrection

Matt Gertz discusses how right-wing media influenced the Capitol insurrection

Audio file

Citation From the January 14, 2021, edition of WNYC and PRX's The Takeaway

TANZINA VEGA (HOST): Matt, let's talk a little bit about the explosion in conservative and right-wing media. How have the messages coming from those media, and I'm thinking particularly Fox and other outlets that we mentioned at the top, really influenced what we saw last week?

MATT GERTZ (MEDIA MATTERS SENIOR FELLOW): Well, I think the purpose of the right-wing media is to keep the Republican base in sort of a constant state of frothing rage. I mean, it's most powerful and prominent figures are constantly warning their audiences that liberals are trying to destroy them and their way of life. This sort of apocalyptic rhetoric, this unhinged fearmongering is what creates their audiences, it's what keeps them coming back for more. It's what makes the people who practice this sort of rhetoric rich and famous. And so, you know, in the weeks since the election, hosts at Fox News and OAN and Newsmax have been lying to their viewers. They've been telling them the election was rigged and stolen, that Donald Trump was the rightful president, that there had been effectively a coup by the Democrats against him. It's been a real constant drumbeat across all of these networks and across the platforms of their colleagues in right-wing media. And, you know, if you tell enough people that, some of them are going to believe you and they're going to take action. I think that's what we saw last week. You know, according to NBC News, Ashli Babbitt, who is the rioter who was killed while trying to storm the House chamber, was a, quote, “loyal Fox News watcher, according to thousands of tweets to Fox News hosts." And she then sort of descended through the right-wing echo chamber into QAnon conspiracy theorists. This stuff is toxic and dangerous, it's really prevalent across a vast swath of right-wing media, and it does lead to this sort of violent insurrection and terrorism.