In The Smoldering Wreck Of Fox News, They All Deserve Each Other

INSIDE: Kevin McCarthy ... Jim Jordan ... Mark Finchem
Fox News host Tucker Carlson discusses 'Populism and the Right' during the National Review Institute's Ideas Summit on March 29, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo.

A Calamitous Day At The ‘Fair And Balanced’ Network

I’m not sure longtime Fox News critics and observers could have imagined a day like Tuesday ever coming to pass. The cable news net’s lies, fabrications, bamboozlement, and misinformation all came home to roost in spectacular fashion.

On a day that not so long ago would have seen Fox News preening over its top star’s bogus Monday night segment downplaying the Jan. 6 attack, Rupert Murdoch’s baby was instead lambasted by Republicans and law enforcement and humiliated by more revelations from the titanic defamation case pending against it.

Tuesday marked a collision between the Dominion Voting Systems $1.2 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News over its Big Lie claims during the 2020 election and the network’s latest Big Lie: that Jan. 6 was a hoax, a peaceful saunter of the citizenry through the halls of the Capitol. One Big Lie begat another, both centered on the 2020 election and its aftermath. All in service of Donald Trump, its own ratings, and the warped worldview that sustains a propaganda network for more than quarter of a century.

In the end though, what was most striking about yesterday was Fox News starting to eat its own. No one deserves it more than the personalities, hosts, and would-be journalists who populate the Fox News shows.

Fox v. Fox!

In a remarkable segment Tuesday night, Fox News host Bret Baier and congressional reporter Chad Pergram effectively counter-programmed Tucker Carlson’s Jan. 6 whitewash from the night before.

The segment starts off as you might expect, touting Carlson’s “new” surveillance video containing images that “were hidden from the public for more than two years.” But then you can almost hear the tires screeching and the gears grinding as Baier hits the breaks and reverses course, kicking it to a pre-recorded report from Pergram on the Hill, where pushback was fierce all day.

The segment ends with an amazing and hilarious “to be sure” closing from Baier: “And to be clear, no one here at Fox News condones any of the violences that happened on Jan. 6.”

Gretchen Carlson Was Having None Of It

The fiercest reaction to the Baier segment came from Gretchen Carlson, the former host of the rancid Fox & Friends morning show who left the network in 2016 after she sued longtime Fox News boss Roger Ailes for sexual harassment. Ailes resigned soon after and died less than a year later. Fox settled Gretchen Carlson’s case for $20 million and a public apology. Gone yesterday was Carlson’s ex-pageant queen “Minnesota nice,” replaced with the kind of salty language you’d have expected from Ailes himself:

McConnell Renounces Tucker Carlson Segment

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) went out of his way to address Tucker Carlson’s revisionist narrative for Jan. 6:

“I want to associate myself entirely with the opinion of the chief and the Capitol Police about what happened on Jan. 6,” McConnell said as he held up a copy of the letter. “It was a mistake, in my view, for Fox News to depict this in a way that’s completely at variance with what our chief law enforcement official here at the Capitol thinks.”

Capitol Police Chief Rips Tucker Carlson

In the letter to his force that was referenced by Sen. Mitch McConnell, Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger called out the Carlson segment for its “offensive and misleading conclusions.”

Sen. Tillis On Carlson Segment: ‘I Think It’s Bullshit’

One GOP senator after another shredded the Tucker Carlson segment.

I think that breaking through glass windows and doors to get into the United States Capitol against the borders of police is a crime. I think particularly when you come into the chambers, when you start opening the members’ desks, when you stand up in their balcony — to somehow put that in the same category as, you know, permitted peaceful protest is just a lie.

  • Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) said it’s “really sad to see Tucker Carlson go off the rails like that,” saying he’s “joining a range of shock jocks that are disappointing America and feeding falsehoods.”
  • Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD): “I was there on Jan. 6. I saw what happened. I saw the aftermath. There was violence on Jan. 6.”
  • Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA): “I was here. It was not peaceful. It was an abomination. You’re entitled to believe what you want in America, but you can’t resort to violence to try to convince others of your point of view.”

Even a House Republican piled on. “I don’t really have a problem with making it all public, Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) said in an interview with Politico. “But if your message is then to try and convince people that nothing bad happened, then it’s just gonna make us look silly.”

McCarthy Reaps The Whirlwind

Don’t forget that it was House Speaker Kevin McCarthy who gave Tucker Carlson exclusive access to the Capitol surveillance footage from Jan. 6. McCarthy spoke to reporters yesterday, and it was a train wreck. TPM alum Igor Bobic with a great thread on it:

‘Leave Us The Hell Alone’

I’ll give the last word to the family of deceased Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick:

Tucker Carlson On Trump: ‘I Hate Him Passionately’

As I said, it was an epically bad day for Fox News. Amidst all the fallout from the Tucker Carlson segment whitewashing Jan. 6, Dominion Voting System dropped more juicy inside banter from Fox News in its landmark defamation lawsuit.

Some of the highlights:

  • Two days before Jan. 6, Carlson texted a colleague: “We are very, very close to being able to ignore Trump most nights. I truly can’t wait.”
  • More Carlson on Trump: “I hate him passionately. … What he’s good at is destroying things. He’s the undisputed world champion of that. He could easily destroy us if we play it wrong.”
  • Carlson on the eve of touting the bogus claims about Dominion: “The whole thing seems insane to me. And Sidney Powell won’t release the evidence. Which I hate.”

For its part, Fox News denies Dominion’s claims and maintains it was engaged in normal reporting on a newsworthy topic.

Jim Jordan Is In A Panic And It Shows

With MAGA world disappointed that Rep. Jim Jordan’s bogus ‘weaponization’ subcommittee isn’t chumming the waters enough, the House Judiciary chair is racing to turn up the volume. Great …

This Axios headline captures it perfectly: Jim Jordan scrambles amid claims “weaponization” probe is a dud

A sign of how bad things are for Jordan: He consented to an interview about it all with Semafor.

Jordan is also having to beat back a concerted effort by House Democrats to preempt his nonsense narrative. But it’s notable that it’s the cries from the right for more blood in the water that has Jordan on his heels.

Arizona Big Lie Aficionado Sanctioned By Court

Mark Finchem, the defeated GOP nominee for Arizona secretary of state, has been ordered to pay attorney fees and costs for filing a frivolous lawsuit seeking to overturn his loss in the 2022 election.

Some Good News A Century In The Making

Aerial view of Northwood Shopping Center parking lot, dozens of residential areas and trees surrounding Northwood Shopping Center, Baltimore, Maryland, 1951. (Photo by JHU Sheridan Libraries/Gado/Getty Images).

We may be finally turning the page on a century of bad, car-centric urban planning. This is a very high level view from the NYT, but it is a sign that the obsession with the automobile that ruined so many American cities and revamped the entire map of the country is finally ebbing in favor of saner public planning and livability. I won’t be sorry to see you go, surface parking lot!

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