OK, so I was one of those people who saw Pete Buttigieg’s performance on Fox News last weekend as somewhat of a win for the forces of good in the world — and on that channel, no less.
Well, we all celebrated a bit too soon. Guess what happened after Buttigieg’s initial appearance?
Buttigieg’s appearance, taken at face value, seems like a win for the Democratic operatives and liberal commentators who have argued that the party’s representatives should go on the network and try to reach its audience. But to truly assess that claim, it’s worth looking at what’s happened on Fox after the social media conversation had moved on.
On Monday, Fox propagandists used Buttigieg’s statement to claim that he supports political violence and alleged that he supports “domestic terrorism” and is in league with “the mob.” Those commentators have much more credibility with the audience than any Democrat, and they were speaking in some cases on programs with much higher ratings than the one on which Buttigieg appeared. Their framing, and not the Buttigieg clip — which in some cases they did not even air — is likely to leave more of an impression on viewers.
Buttigieg stressed during his Fox News Sunday interview that “any public figure should always, always be free from violence, intimidation, and harassment.” The takeaway Fox prime-time host Laura Ingraham served up to her viewers on Monday, however, was: “Mayor Pete: Political Violence Is Actually Good.”
Ingraham concluded that Democrats like Buttigieg are part of a “real church of hate”; want to dismantle U.S. history, institutions, and democracy; and support “an agenda that relentlessly pushes pot, porn, trans rights, and abortions,” which she termed a “new pagan order.” She later added that Buttigieg is “a radical” who is “encouraging the threats against Supreme Court justices” and “wants to change the face of this country, and for the worse.”
Fox host Sean Hannity, meanwhile, falsely suggested on Monday that Buttigieg had said that Kavanaugh “should expect” assassination attempts, while Fox contributor Lara Trump suggested he supports “domestic terrorism.” Notably, Hannity did not air Buttigieg’s comments at all — he simply provided a dishonest gloss on them for his viewers.
It was nice while it lasted.