Members of the Oath Keepers allegedly participated in the January 6 insurrectionist attack at the Capitol. Numerous right-wing media figures promoted and praised the violent militia group prior to the deadly event, saying they are “protect[ing] people," are defenders of the Constitution, and are “the good guys."
Stewart Rhodes founded The Oath Keepers in 2009. The Southern Poverty Law Center states that “the Oath Keepers, which claims tens of thousands of present and former law enforcement officials and military veterans as members, is one of the largest radical antigovernment groups in the U.S. today. While it claims only to be defending the Constitution, the entire organization is based on a set of baseless conspiracy theories about the federal government working to destroy the liberties of Americans.”
Members of the Oath Keepers, including Rhodes, have been threatening violence for years. Federal prosecutors have charged at least nine members of the group with crimes related to the deadly attack at the Capitol.
In the years since its founding, the Oath Keepers have received support and praise from members of the right-wing media. Here are 10 examples from 2009 to 2021:
- Fox & Friends
- Alex Jones
- Roger Stone
- Emerald Robinson
- The Federalist
- Glenn Beck
- Fox Business and Andrew Napolitano
- Fox Business and Eric Bolling
- Wayne Dupree
- Pat Buchanan
Fox & Friends on the Oath Keepers: “Patrol & Protect”
The Fox News morning program Fox & Friends promoted and praised the Oath Keepers in a December 2, 2014, segment featuring member John Karriman. The segment was about the Oath Keepers’ involvement in Ferguson, Missouri, after the death of Michael Brown. Fox & Friends ran the chyron: “Patrol & Protect: Group Aimed to Shield Ferguson Businesses.”
During the segment, Doocy stated: “I read a statistic that every building that you guys protected is still standing today. So that’s a salute to the fact that the Oath Keepers were on the roofs keeping an eye on things.”
Alex Jones has repeatedly hosted Stewart Rhodes, who has used the show to call for violence
Infowars’ Alex Jones is a violent conspiracy theorist who helped incite the January 6 insurrection. Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes has made numerous appearances on The Alex Jones Show over the years. In the months leading up to the January 6 attack, Rhodes used his platform on the show to state that his group is ready to engage in pro-Trump violence and kill Democrats.
Roger Stone got Oath Keepers to provide security for him on January 6
Roger Stone is a conspiracy theorist who received a pardon from former President Donald Trump. The New York Times reported in a February 14 article headlined “First They Guarded Roger Stone. Then They Joined the Capitol Attack”:
At least six people who had provided security for Roger Stone entered the Capitol during the Jan. 6 attack, according to a New York Times investigation.
Videos show the group guarding Mr. Stone, a longtime friend of former President Donald J. Trump, on the day of the attack or the day before. All six of them are associated with the Oath Keepers, a far-right anti-government militia that is known to provide security for right-wing personalities and protesters at public events.
The Federalist posted a piece praising the Oath Keepers as “armed Americans who would not side with a tyrannical regime”
The Federalist posted an April 4, 2018, piece by Dylan Moore with the headline “How Gun Ownership Protects Citizens From An Abusive Government.” Moore praised the Oath Keepers by claiming that it’s protecting the constitutional rights of people in the United States:
Domestic organizations like the Oath Keepers, a group of past and present military, police, and first responders who swear allegiance to the Constitution rather than current politicians, are a current example of armed Americans who would not side with a tyrannical regime. The first three orders the Oath Keepers swear never to obey are demands from the government to disarm American citizens, demands to conduct searches on Americans without a warrant, and demands to treat Americans as “unlawful enemy combatants.”
The organization has come under fire for some alarmist views, and it is by no means a perfect (or particularly tasteful) group. Several of its members have expressed opinions that international terror attacks and illegal immigration are somehow orchestrated to destabilize America and revoke freedoms. Its overarching goal, however, is to keep the federal government from seriously infringing upon the constitutional rights of all Americans.
Glenn Beck defended the Oath Keepers from criticism
Radio host and conspiracy theorist Glenn Beck defended the Oath Keepers during the October 19, 2009, edition of his radio show. He stated in response to criticism of the organization from the SPLC: “All [the Oath Keepers] want to do is make sure you keep your oath to the Constitution of the United States.”
Fox Business and Andrew Napolitano ran segment promoting Oath Keepers
During his now-defunct Fox Business program Freedom Watch, Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano hosted Oath Keepers board member Richard Mack. Napolitano introduced Mack by describing him as an “Oath Keeper and constitutional defender.”
Eric Bolling praised Oath Keepers as “a big, big, big-time hit”
During the October 19, 2009, edition of the now-defunct show Happy Hour, the co-hosts of the program praised the Oath Keepers in a segment called “Hit or Miss.” Eric Bolling stated: “This is a big, big, big-time hit because at the end the Constitution is the document, it's the living -- the document that -- it's the document that needs to be protected at any cost.” From a transcript of the program posted in Nexis:
ERIC BOLLING: A group made of up active duty cops and military guys calls itself the “Oath Keepers". “Oath Keepers" say they're not preaching violence or government overthrow, instead they're asking police and the military to lay down their arms in response to unconstitutional orders like seizing people's weapons. They call themselves the “Oath Keepers" because they took an oath to uphold the Constitution.
“Hit or Miss" on the "Oath Keepers." This is a big, big, big-time hit because at the end the Constitution is the document, it's the living -- the document that -- it's the document that needs to be protected at any cost.
CODY WILLARD: Do you guys not feel ridiculous? I feel like I'm totally ostracized and called a whacko every time I fight for the Constitution. Every time I'm angry at Republicans and Democrats for destroying the Constitution. I love the “Oath Keepers" for trying to bring that as a mainstream thing. Please people, get back to the Constitution. Don't vote Republican-Democrat.
REBECCA DIAMOND: Yeah, I say it was a hit too, because it's one of those things that where maybe they can be a legitimate third party. And you know people are saying well hey this is a militia, white supremacist, whatever and this group is saying no, that it's not -- so you know I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt that they're not as well, so yeah, right on. Except for they're not going to take arms away from all Americans, yet you need to take it away from gang members and drug dealers.
Wayne Dupree: “The good guys are coming whether Antifa likes it or not...Oathkeepers are not joking around.”
Wayne Dupree praised the Oath Keepers in a June 2020 tweet:
Formed in March, they are ex-military and police who repledge themselves to defend the Constitution, even if it means disobeying orders. If the U.S. government ordered law enforcement agencies to violate Second Amendment rights by disarming the people, Oath Keepers will not obey.
As with Jimmy Carter's long range psychoanalysis of Joe Wilson, the reflexive reaction of the mainstream media will likely be that these are militia types, driven to irrationality because America has a black president.
Yet, the establishment's reaction seems more problematic for the republic than anything the Oath Keepers are up to. For our political and media elite seem to have lost touch with the nation and to be wedded to a vision of America divorced from reality.