It goes without saying, but a right-wing argument must be factually suspicious when even Fox News won't touch it. And that's what happened on Monday evening when White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany held a press conference to double down on allegations of fraud, illegal voting, and a rigged election. As is her frequented custom, McEnany's statements were entirely without evidence and only bolstered outgoing President Donald Trump's belief that Democrats tried to "steal" the election (that he lost).
Speaking to the media in her “personal capacity,” McEnany made her case at a campaign event at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C. “There is only one party in America trying to keep observers out of the count room, and that party, my friends, is the Democrat Party,” McEnany said. “You don’t oppose an audit of the vote because you want an accurate count...You take these positions because you are welcoming fraud and you are welcoming illegal voting.”
She continued by saying that Republicans want “every legal vote to be counted, and every illegal vote to be discarded.” It was at this point that Fox News host Neil Cavuto cut the broadcast. “Whoa, whoa, whoa – I just think we have to be very clear,” Cavuto interjected. “She’s charging the other side as welcoming fraud and welcoming illegal voting. Unless she has more details to back that up, I can’t in good countenance continue showing you this.” She didn’t.
Fox News cuts away from Kayleigh McEnany news conference after airing it for less than a minute.— JM Rieger (@RiegerReport) November 9, 2020
Neil Cavuto: “I can’t in good countenance continue showing you this…She started saying right at the outset, [Democrats were] welcoming fraud, welcoming illegal voting. Not so fast." pic.twitter.com/1jn5jC2r5E
For a network that has more or less put Trump on a pedestal for four years now, we can only say: It’s. About. Time. A difference of opinion is one thing, but Fox has a history of letting misinformation spread through its channel. Trump’s lies, his administration’s lies, and lies about political opponents have all been reported misleadingly for years — including reports by Fox. But McEnany’s lies alone are far-reaching.
From her first press conference in May 2020, McEnany has been spreading misinformation. “I will never lie to you. You have my word on that,” she said responding to a reporter from the Associated Press before proceeding to lie about the protests that were going on in Michigan at the time, the origins of COVID-19, and the Mueller investigation. And that was just the first briefing.
McEnany continued to test the limits of facts last month when claiming that Trump had denounced white supremacy, essentially taking the Trumpian approach to facts: if you insist enough, it becomes true. In her roughly eight months as press secretary, McEnany effectively reinforced Donald Trump’s Twitter rants by reframing them as worthy of an actual press conference, making herself a GOP mouthpiece in the process. At best, she uses valuable time with the media that could be spent on more important issues like a global pandemic to disparage Democratic leaders like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
According to the Washington Post, the decision to cut away from the press conference came from Cavuto and is just one more example of how Fox News has shifted away from its loyalty to Trump since Biden was declared the next president. There appears to be coordinated messaging, at least among the network’s news anchors, to warn its viewers that Trump has indeed lost the election despite his claims to the contrary. Meanwhile, Fox’s opinion hosts have still been suggesting that the election results are the outcome of foul play, bringing on truth-tellers like Ted Cruz to stoke further suspicions that don't exist.
If this is the dawn of Fox News’ strict fact-checking era, welcome. Better late than never, I guess?