MSNBC host Chris Hayes and Media Matters’ Angelo Carusone had an important, albeit disturbing, discussion about Fox News’ refusal to acknowledge their baseless conspiracy theories were debunked by the release of video of the attack on Paul Pelosi.
On Friday, the day the Pelosi video was released, one of Fox’s “news” shows hosted a conspiracy theorist to discuss it. Yes, the anchors fact checked his suggestion that Pelosi was friends with the attacker (suggesting they were gay lovers was one of the conspiracy theories) by pointing out that the video clearly showed the attacker breaking into the house. But the guest just moved along to a fact-free suggestion that something was being covered up by the DOJ and likened it to “the Hunter Biden thing.”
The guest, an attorney named Brian Claypool, had no knowledge to shed light on the matter, he had not even seen the video. So, clearly, Fox’s only purpose in hosting him was a sop to Fox’s conspiracy-theorist base. In my post for Crooks and Liars about this, I wrote, “It’s Fox News 101: Outsource the crazy to a guest who refuses to acknowledge that his Paul Pelosi conspiracy theory is demolished by video and give him undeserved credibility anyway.”
Hayes expanded on this Fox game. He played clips of several Fox pundits, including Lachlan Murdoch-pet, Tucker Carlson, pushing the same line:
CARLSON: Just produce the police bodycam. Why is that so hard? We`re not the crazy people, you`re the liars. There`s nothing wrong with asking questions, period. Paul Pelosi walked away from the police and toward [attacker] David DePape? What could possibly explain behavior like that? And what were the two doing for the 30 minutes before police arrived? The police for some reason have refused to release that body cam footage. We get body cam footage every day in the news business but they won`t release this. What is going on here? Why are they hiding this? Is there a good reason? We don`t know.
HAYES: “I don't know. I'm just asking questions here.” Well, what happened? They did release a video. You just saw it. It shows that the attack was exactly what we always knew it was, what every credible report indicated it would be, what Occam's razor would suggest it was. So, what happened? Big mea culpas, big apologies, we got that wrong? No, of course not. There's no fact in the world that's going to course correct here, that didn't deter Fox from pushing its same smears. They're still doing it with the video in fact, because the facts, reality itself don't actually matter. That's just ancillary.
I mean, of course, they knew it all was all nonsense from the beginning. Well, I don't know. I think most of them. Some of them are not that bright. But they just don't care. And that wasn't even the only right-wing lie about the attack that was debunked this weekend. There's another popular bit of disinformation on the right, again, circulating widely which says that Pelosi's apparent attacker, who had a blog you could yourself read, full of hundreds of pages of obvious right-wing conspiracy screeds, who seems to be a supporter of QAnon, the far-right cult that worships Donald Trump as a messianic figure, was actually some kind of political lefty and not a conservative at all.
Later, Hayes brought on Carusone. He cited three factors as to why the obviously-ludicrous Pelosi conspiracy theory took hold so quickly and pervasively on the right. It was chilling:
CARUSONE: [T]here is a bloodlust in the larger right-wing echo chamber now. It's not just, you know, a lust for lower taxes and you know, another sort of like, sort of far-right Republican policies, there's a bloodlust. And that is reflected increasingly after these big violent instances. But then, also, it's worth keeping in mind that this was right before the election. This was 11 days before the midterms. So, there was another component to this which is it was sort of like kindling which is that we have a chance here to inject some kinetic energy into the space to make sure that this doesn't turn into something that gets the Democrats sympathies which is what you throw doubt into it.
CARUSONE: And that's the other factor, right? And then the third thing, and this is the part that's scary, there's an increasing perception among the right and including amongst prominent right-wing figures and right-wing and Republican elected officials that they deserve it, that they did a whole bunch of bad stuff, that Democrats are doing bad things, that members of the media doing things that are so bad that this vigilante justice, well, at least it's some kind of justice.
Sadly, I think Carusone is right on the money here. And it's not just about Pelosi. On Friday, I wrote for Crooks and Liars (it was published on Saturday) about the baseless smearing of a Korean-American woman as a Chinese agent because it helps advance the right-wing fever dream of destroying the Bidens. It’s a fairly complicated story but the point is that Fox host Maria Bartiromo teamed up with Rep. James Comer, the new Republican chair of the House Oversight Committee, to validate and amplify evidence-free suggestions she’s a Chinese agent involved in some big Biden-family spy plot.
Clearly, the woman is “collateral damage” in the Republican frenzy over Hunter Biden. But it’s also worse than that. I wrote, “To Republicans, she’s fair game anyway. She is Asian, she’s a Democrat and she has a friendly relationship with Hunter Biden. So she deserves whatever they smear her with and whatever consequences ensue, they obviously think.”
Watch Hayes and Carusone below, from the January 30, 2023 All In with Chris Hayes.
If I understand correctly, Hayes wants to see the police video of what happened before the police actually arrived. I wonder if he ever listens to himself?