The thing to understand about bullies is that they never expect people to push back.
Most people are conflict-averse, so usually, the bullies are free to take their shots and the people they punch down on cower, or give them what they want, or talk themselves into believing that they should just stay quiet. That’s why bullies do what they do: It’s learned behavior. It works.
Today, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger are doing something very few people on the right have ever dared: Punch back at the bullies from Fox News.
Case in point: Last night Tucker Carlson took to the airwaves and called Cheney a “coward” because she did not comply with a request to appear on his show. At issue is a “documentary” Carlson produced, in true InfoWars spirit, that suggests the attack on the Capitol on January 6 was a “false flag” operation. In promotional materials for the three-part series, Carlson said, “We believe that it answers a lot of the remaining questions from that day,” and that he thinks the government has “launched a new war” against its citizens.
Cheney and Kinzinger, the only Republican members of the January 6 Select Committee, objected to Carlson’s piece. Cheney called out Fox News executives for allowing Carlson to air it.
It appears that @FoxNews is giving @TuckerCarlson a platform to spread the same type of lies that provoked violence on January 6. As @FoxNews knows, the election wasn’t stolen and January 6 was not a “false flag” operation. @rupertmurdoch @jayawallace @Suzannescott @SpeakerRyan https://t.co/ODKZFVUFBa
— Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney) October 28, 2021
— Adam Kinzinger (@AdamKinzinger) October 28, 2021
For some reason, Carlson looked at the criticism and thought Cheney was somehow obligated to come on his show and have a conversation about it. As if he were so powerful and important that anyone summoned to his program must be at his beck and call. And so, Carlson did what a lot of men do when turned down by a woman: He insulted her.
Tucker calls Liz Cheney a coward for not appearing on his show pic.twitter.com/rCSyXC0hVR
— Acyn (@Acyn) October 29, 2021
He said, “So we called Liz Cheney’s office this morning to invite her on the show, but she emphatically refused to come. It turns out that Liz Cheney is not simply a liar, she is also a coward.”
A liar? A coward? An instance of projection, perhaps. Cheney spokesman Jeremy Adler replied:
Tucker's staff didn't call. They emailed.
He completely omitted the rational reason why Liz Cheney won't participate in his dangerous efforts.
— Jeremy Adler (@JeremyAdler) October 29, 2021
Kinzinger has similarly weighed in on Carlson’s approach:
If someone comes on your show they will be forced to listen to the infamous “Tucker cackle.” But you spew lies, I’d love to see the conservatives in Gitmo you trailer references. @FoxNews is committed to…. $$$ over truth https://t.co/oTQ2F9ALNI
— Adam Kinzinger (@AdamKinzinger) October 29, 2021
Tucker shouldn’t feel that special though. Cheney handles a lot of people at Fox this way.
Like when Steve Scalise appeared on Fox News Sunday to spread similar lies.
Millions of Americans have been sold a fraud that the election was stolen. Republicans have a duty to tell the American people that this is not true. Perpetuating the Big Lie is an attack on the core of our constitutional republic. https://t.co/I0bgEIdJrU
— Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney) October 10, 2021
Or, Bret Baier:
Cheney: 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: We’ve said that numerous times.
Cheney: Bret, I’m going to answer your question. Fox News needs to make sure —
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.
As the Washington Post noted at the time, Baier saying “this show” was a tacit admission that the same was not true for Baier’s network in general.
No doubt Tucker and other voices at Fox will continue to insult Cheney and Kinzinger. The beautiful thing is, it doesn’t matter to them. They remain focused on the work of investigating January 6 and shining a bright light on the Trump propagandists who perpetuate the lies that led to the violent attack that day.
It’s worth remembering that while the pro-Trump rioters mobbed the Capitol, Trump-enthusiast Jim Jordan attempted to move “the ladies” away from harm. He reportedly extended a hand to Cheney and said, “Let me help you.” She “smacked his hand away and told him, ‘Get away from me. You f—ing did this.’”
Which is exactly how all the bullies ought to be treated.