Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley helped lead the effort by congressional Republicans on January 6 to block the certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election over Donald Trump — and is now remembered for an infamous photograph in which he gave a clenched-fist salute to the angry mob of Trump supporters a little over an hour before they stormed the Capitol.
But in Politico’s telling, not only is this just another part of the political horse race in a news item on Hawley’s fundraising from the past quarter — it’s a both-sides debate about whether his attempt to overturn the election was actually a bad thing at all.
The Daily Show senior digital producer Matt Negrin highlighted this excerpt from Politico on Twitter:
By positioning the idea that Hawley’s effort to subvert the election result was damaging to the political system as simply being a claim made by “liberals and some Republicans,” Politico obfuscates not only Hawley’s moral culpability, but also his own direct statements that attempted to undermine confidence in the election result.
For example, Hawley claimed in the lead-up to the Capitol riot that mail-in voting in Pennsylvania constituted “very serious irregularities, on a very large scale, in a presidential election” and alleged that people in his home state of Missouri “have been loud and clear that they do not believe the presidential election was fair.”
To be clear, the various other attempts by Trump and other Republicans to contest the election had already worked their way through the proper venue of the court system — and lost consistently. For example, a month earlier the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously rejected a Republican lawsuit that sought to throw out all mail-in votes in Pennsylvania.
Even after the insurrection, Hawley continued to publicly insist that “many citizens in Missouri have deep concerns about election integrity. … They want Congress to take action to see that our elections at every level are free, fair, and secure.”
Hawley has also been flagrantly dishonest about the fact that he was helping to propagate the fantasy that Trump might somehow have been able to stay in office.
In a Fox News interview on January 4, co-anchor Bret Baier directly asked Hawley: “Are you trying to say that as of January 20, that President Trump will be president?”
Hawley answered: “Well, Bret, that depends on what happens on Wednesday. I mean, this is why we have the debate.”
But in an interview with local TV news in February, he said that overturning the election “was never what I was aiming to do,” adding, “I had no power to change the outcome even if I wanted to, which I didn't.”
By positioning Hawley’s actions as simply a partisan he-said, she-said, Politico is whitewashing his attempt to overturn the 2020 election and enabling him to regain a place in respectable company — all while he continues to luxuriate in the applause from right-wing crowds who celebrate what he did at the Capitol on January 6.