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How to Push Back on Fox

Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger aren’t giving them a free pass.
October 29, 2021
(Photos: GettyImages / Shutterstock / Design: Hannah Yoest)

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.

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.

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:

Kinzinger has similarly weighed in on Carlson’s approach:

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.

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.

Amanda Carpenter

Bulwark political columnist Amanda Carpenter is a CNN contributor, author, and former communications director to Sen. Ted Cruz and speechwriter to Sen. Jim DeMint.