In her debut interview as a Fox News contributor, McEnany issued a lament about the criticisms that had come her way. “It was very personal and that’s why when people want to malign your character and say that you’ve lied and these horrible things … charges they make against people behind the podium — me — they made these charges. We were painstaking and footnoting our sources, talking about what’s important, what message do we want to share today,” she told Faulkner in the interview.
For someone who bristles at being called a liar, perhaps McEnany should have thought twice before promoting the Big Lie.
As noted previously in this space, McEnany appeared on Fox News flagship “Hannity” at least 23 times after the Nov. 3 presidential election, supercharging then-President Donald Trump’s campaign to overturn the results of the election that he lost fair and square. “Right here, Sean, 234 pages of sworn affidavits,” declared McEnany on the Nov. 10 edition of Sean Hannity’s program. “These are real and anyone who cares about transparency and the integrity of the system should want this to pursue to the discovery phase,” she said.
Over the next month or so, McEnany continued hyping specious claims of voter fraud and irregularities in her inimitable rapid-fire delivery. In a Dec. 9 discussion of the Texas lawsuit that sought to invalidate the electoral college results in four battleground states, she claimed, “This is significant, which is why you have 18 states signing onto this very well-done lawsuit by the state of Texas.” The hype took place off Fox airwaves as well: “This election is not over — far from it,” said McEnany at a Nov. 9 news conference with Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel. “We have only begun the process of obtaining an accurate, honest vote count.”
As if all that weren’t enough to keep her busy, McEnany was also negotiating with Fox News for a contributor position, as a document that surfaced in late January made clear. A Fox News source told this blog that there were discussions following the election but that the network “paused on them” for unspecified reasons. We’ve asked Fox News to outline those reasons. Until it does, the Erik Wemple Blog will note that the network waited just long enough for the events of Jan. 6 to recede a bit before rolling out the McEnany hire. After all: The very brand of disinformation coming from McEnany — and Hannity, as well as other Fox hosts — served as the motivational premise for the Capitol riots.
There’s no more worthy cause in media right now than preventing the world from “moving on” after Jan. 6 — demanding that people remember the aiders and abettors of the riots. Matt Negrin, a senior producer at “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” has used his Twitter account to do just that, citing the tendency of big-name news outlets to engage with Big Lie proponents on new issues, as if all is now forgiven.
With its McEnany move, Fox News not only is overlooking McEnany’s Big Lie participation; it is also rewarding her with a job. The move is in keeping with other changes at the network to compete with extreme networks such as One America News and Newsmax. Toward that end, it has converted two evening time slots from so-called straight news to opinion content.
In her interview with McEnany, Faulkner asked whether she thought Trump was responsible for the Capitol riots. “No, I don’t,” responded McEnany, who said the rioters did the “exact opposite” of what Trump had advised them to do. There was no pushback from Faulkner. Nor was there a question about how McEnany had inspired the rioters with all the disinformation she’d presented on Fox News’s very own air.
Perhaps in search of some insiderish material, Faulkner asked McEnany about her last day at the White House. McEnany responded that she wanted to do a briefing highlighting the president’s “great achievements” but the riots made such a presentation “not tenable.” “The last days were sad, we were packing boxes, we were sad that this was one of the last events that happened on the way out the door,” said McEnany. Fox News viewers might have passed unaware that McEnany actually cleared her stuff out of the White House several days before Trump’s departure and worked from Tampa for the final days of the administration. But that’s what you get with McEnany: small dishonesties punctuated by the occasional Big Lie.
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