Rep. Liz Cheney offered a master class in how to deal with a contentious Fox News interview, including calling on the network to denounce the Big Lie about the 2020 election more forcefully. Sadly, Bret Baier erased the role he played in legitimizing the Big Lie and he “forgot” the network is still promoting the lie. Democrat Harold Ford, Jr. went along with the cover-up.
Cheney is no heroine to me. But I applaud anyone who does the right thing when it’s not convenient. I also appreciated how she refused to allow Baier to derail her message.
Here’s the relevant excerpt. It came after Baier just happened to have a graphic ready showing that Donald Trump got more votes in her state than Cheney did:
BAIER: Why should Wyoming voters say re-elect you when you’re spending so much energy opposing [Trump], so little opposing Biden?
CHENEY: We cannot [defeat the Biden policies] if we enable a lie. …
We all have an obligation — and I would say Fox News, especially - especially Fox News has a particular obligation to make sure people know the election wasn't stolen.
BAIER: And we’ve said that numerous times.
CHENEY: Fox News — Fox News — Bret, I'm going to answer your question. Fox News needs to make sure that the American people —
BAIER: No, but if you're mentioning Fox News, you have to know that this show has said that numerous times.
CHENEY: — Bret, you’re doing the interview, I’m answering the questions.
CHENEY: We need to make sure that the American people recognize and understand that the election wasn't stolen, that we shouldn't perpetuate the Big Lie, and that there is real danger.
FACT CHECK: While Baier’s “show” may have said “numerous times” that the election wasn’t stolen, Baier played a not insignificant part in suggesting that it was. He also has to be fully aware that plenty of other Fox shows more blatantly pushed the big lie. It’s why the network is being sued for more than $4 billion in two separate defamation lawsuits, e.g. Just last weekend, Fox contributor Newt Gingrich announced on the air, without any challenge from host Maria Bartiromo, that the states Biden won narrowly were “in effect, stolen.”
Even worse, following the interview, Baier hosted Big Lie Pusher (and perpetual smirker) Mollie Hemingway. Media Matters explains:
After interviewing Cheney, Baier proceeded to host a panel discussion that included Fox News contributor Mollie Hemingway, who had just appeared the night before with Fox prime-time host Tucker Carlson to promote her upcoming book Rigged: How the Media, Big Tech, and the Democrats Seized Our Elections. During the panel discussion, Hemingway directly criticized Cheney for her efforts to counter Trump’s lies about the election.
“It's also not good that she is taking part in this sort of systematic effort to shut down any conversation,” Hemingway said. “You can and should say that Joe Biden is the president of the United States and also have problems with how that election was conducted. I don't think she is really making that conversation better. She is kind of making it more difficult for us to come to peace on that.”
Baier did not give Hemingway any follow-up questions, but instead simply moved on to the next panelist and then soon to the next topic.
Even more disturbing to me were the comments of former Democratic Congressman Harold Ford, Jr., a Fox contributor. He said nothing in response to – and thus enabled – Baier’s lie about the network’s role in pushing the Big Lie. Ford also acted as though Republican embrace of Trump over truth was not much of an issue.
FORD: I agree with just about everything that's been said, including Trey's point. It's a tough venue to come and take the straightforward questions. But she deserves credit for doing it.
Her grievances, though, seem to be with President Trump, and it seems like she is going to have some consternation with the powers had that be in the party that Mollie's comments represent even going forward. It's going to interesting to watch if when she loses this, she is no longer in the leadership, how after this week if she continues to get airtime to make her case.
I did find it very interesting, Bret, when you pointed out how big of a supporter she was of President Trump's versus the person that looks like may get the post and seemed to support the president a little less.
Look, I understand the desire not to bite the hand that feeds you. But when the hand feeding you is promoting extremism and actively working against democracy, courage and conviction are called for. Silence equals complicity. I’m sorry to say, Cheney showed more integrity and grit than Ford in this situation.
Interestingly, Fox posted the transcript of the panel discussion about Cheney, but not the transcript of the Cheney interview.
You can watch the full Cheney interview below, from the May 13, 2021 Special Report. Underneath is the excerpt from the ensuing panel discussion, via Media Matters.