Brandon Straka is at least the second January 6 insurrectionist to have received a warm welcome on Fox News. Funny how yesterday’s Fox patriots are today’s terrorists! Oh, and there’s a Russia connection, too!
Straka’s name caught my eye today when I was reading a Daily Beast article:
According to The Daily Beast’s review of records from the Project On Government Oversight’s Covid Tracker, Straka is one of at least nine individuals facing charges stemming from the Capitol riots who received special coronavirus funds through small business loan programs over the last year. And Straka is far from the only notable insurrectionists among the group.
Straka, the founder of the #WalkAway movement that encourages Democrats to vote Republican, has more than half a million Twitter followers and claims to have been a devoted Democrat before Donald Trump’s election. But a 2019 review by Gay City News found that Straka—who is gay—never once donated to a Democrat and only once voted in a Democratic primary since 2004.
Straka is charged with impeding a law-enforcement officer during civil disorder, knowingly entering restricted grounds, and disorderly conduct with intent to disturb a hearing before Congress.
Straka was a Fox darling even after he took part in the January 6th insurrection
Straka’s alleged behavior during the insurrection is a lot more disturbing than the charges might suggest. Media Matters explains:
The criminal complaint against Straka lays out evidence of his alleged crimes from his social media posts as well as a video posted to YouTube showing him attempting to enter the Capitol. In addition to showing that Straka got within feet of the Capitol, the video also shows Straka telling the crowd to take a police officer’s protective shield away from him. The complaint states, “As several people in the crowd grabbed the officer’s shield, Straka yelled, ‘Take it! Take it!’ The crowd successfully pulled the shield away from the officer.”
As Media Matters also notes, Straka went on OAN and lied about his involvement:
On January 8 and 11, Straka appeared on One America News. During the interview on January 8, Straka stated that he did not “witness” anyone being violent at the Capitol, which is the opposite of what the complaint and the video that was allegedly filmed by Straka shows -- him calling on the crowd to take a police officer’s shield.
On January 8, Straka also had a friendly chat with Laura Ingraham on The Ingraham Angle where he was presented as a victim of leftist censorship after his group was booted from Facebook. When host Ingraham sneeringly asked why his page had been deemed threatening, Straka replied, “I guess they found us to be threatening to the success of the Democrat party.” He claimed his page only had testimonials from people leaving the radical (as he described it) Democratic party and that “there would never be an opportunity for anyone to glorify breaking into the Capitol building.”
Ingraham’s only concern was where his group might go next, given that Apple was about to ban Parler. After he told her the name of the platform he was moving to, she asked him to spell the name of the site, presumably so that her viewers would be sure to find him.
Fox's embrace of Straka was disturbing before January 6
Either Fox never did any digging into Straka or the network hid his astroturfing from its viewers.
In October, 2018, after Straka got a friendly platform on Fox & Friends, Media Matters reported what Fox didn't:
Straka’s “movement” is really an astroturfed social media campaign that has been amplified by both Infowars and Russian bots. Since early July, when the hashtag began to trend on Twitter, Straka himself has appeared on multiple Infowars shows to promote his so-called movement, and an analysis of the hashtag on Twitter found it to be a “psychological operation” aimed at shaping conversations in cable news segments, such as his appearance on Fox & Friends. According to multiple analyses, the hashtag's spread was largely driven by non-human activity, and accounts that tweeted in support of the “movement” had used pro-Trump hashtags such as #maga, #fakenews, and #qanon before they “walked away” from the Democratic Party.
Moreover, according to Snopes, the campaign’s supporters have promoted the hashtag with misleading stock photos of people who had supposedly “walked away” from the Democratic Party, though Straka claims the photos were not actually created by the campaign itself.
Fox’s welcome mat was rolled out for Straka plenty of other times without revealing the astroturfing, too:
When he visited the Life, Liberty & Levin show, in March, 2019, host Mark levin called Straka “a very important guest and a very important interview.” At the close of the interview, Levin said it had been “a great pleasure” speaking with Straka and wished him “all luck in the world.”
In July, 2018, Straka made the now-ironic comment, “I think we're on the brink of almost violent rhetoric that's coming from the left” during a friendly chat with host Jeanine Pirro. He was welcomed back on Pirro’s Justice with Judge Jeanine show on August 4, 2018.
On November 9, 2020, FoxNews.com published a fawning article about Straka's refusal to accept the results of the presidential election.
Not surprisingly, Fox reported Straka's arrest via an AP report that did not note the network’s long alliance with him. A Google search suggests Straka has not appeared on Fox since his January 25th arrest.
Straka the second arrested January 6th insurrectionist to have been a Fox fave that we know of. NewsHounds’ Priscilla reminded us that before Couy Griffin was arrested after promising “blood will run out of the [Capitol] building,” Fox & Friends gushed over the “Cowboys for Trump” head, in 2019.
Priscilla is the one who originally said, “Funny how yesterday’s Fox patriots are today’s terrorists!!!” in her post about Griffin. I couldn’t think of a better way to put it.
I would not be surprised if more Fox friends turn up in the list of January 6 indictments.
You can watch Ingraham treat Straka as a conservative victim of liberals, two days after he took part in the MAGA violence at the Capitol, below, via Media Matters.