As I write this, the U.S. Capitol has been breached by a riotous mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters who are bent on preventing the peaceful transition of power to President-elect Joe Biden. The House of Representatives and the Senate, whose members had convened in their separate chambers after some Republicans objected to the counting of Arizona’s electoral votes, are locked down, while Vice President Mike Pence, who was presiding, has left the area. Insurrectionists continue to stream into the building. It’s unclear when or how the legislators will be able to proceed with their constitutional duty.
A coup attempt is underway in the United States of America, which prides itself on being a beacon of democracy.
It was not an accident. It did not just happen. Democracy in this country has enemies.
The American people spoke, and Trump lost the election by a sizable margin. But rather than accept that reality, he claimed that the election had been rigged, stolen away from him by fiendish Democratic operatives in a number of states. These were wild conspiracy theories, the dregs of the internet fever swamps.
Fox News and others in the Trumpist media could have explained this to their audiences. Instead, they chose to lie. They laid the groundwork in the months leading up to the election for Trump to cry fraud, and once he did, they cheered on his cynical effort to subvert the vote and usher in the end of American democracy.
When protesters descended on Washington, D.C., this morning for rallies the president had supported, they celebrated that too. Then Trump gave a rally speech before the assembled crowd, told them that the election had been stolen and “we’re not going to let it happen,” and the mob listened.
Like the senior Republican official who questioned what “the downside” was for “humoring [Trump] for this little bit of time,” many at Fox likely assumed they could continue to stoke the fury of their viewers without consequences.
But now the bill has come due. They cheered on a coup, now it’s here, and no one can say what will happen next. And no one should ever let Fox forget its role in causing it.