Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) seems to have rediscovered the benefits of a free and independent media. She wrote an op-ed for The Post calling out the “big lie” that the election was stolen and denouncing her party’s descent into a MAGA cult. She has sat for extensive interviews with CNN’s Jake Tapper, ABC’s Jonathan Karl and NBC’s Savannah Guthrie. And she went on Fox News for an interview with Bret Baier in which she called out Fox News’s role in spreading the “big lie.” (Disclosure: I am an MSNBC contributor.)

In a separate Fox News interview on Sunday, Chris Wallace, a lonely journalist in the network’s sea of propaganda, asked Cheney about House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), who replaced her as House Republican Conference chair. “Are they being complicit in what you consider the Trump lies?” he inquired. Cheney replied simply: “They are. And I’m not willing to do that.”

In other words, Cheney knows which outlets offer straightforward, “real” news (despite whatever liberal bias she perceives) and that Fox News’s programs, with few exceptions, are purveyors of disinformation. (You don’t see her on “Fox & Friends” or on the evening shows hosted by MAGA mouthpieces.) One can only hope that her newfound respect for legitimate news outlets leads to a decline in the blame-the-media excuses that plague the right and offers audiences some hint of skepticism about their diet of junk news from Fox and other right-wing propagandists.

However, Cheney also seems to have had a welcome effect on the media. Consider the feisty exchange between NBC’s Chuck Todd and Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Tex.):

Without Cheney’s megaphone denouncing her party, would such aggressive questioning take place? Before Cheney’s excommunication, a Sunday host might not demand recognition of the “big lie” and denounce a guest for “lazy” attacks on the media. But because Cheney is saying something indisputably true about her party, so, too, can the media as they question her foes.

The media should have been taking this approach consistently with every Republican since Jan. 6 — challenging them to denounce the “big lie,” pressing them to admit that their party’s assault on the election was dangerous and anti-democratic, and identifying the lawmakers who signed onto a ludicrous brief seeking to disenfranchise states that voted for President Biden. But by and large, they moved on. They did not preface quotes or appearances of MAGA Republicans with appropriate context. (“Senator X participated in the effort to overthrow the 2020 election.”)

In an odd way, Cheney is pushing the mainstream media to be more aggressive and more honest about the nature of the GOP. It would be a disservice to voters if the media’s renewed recognition that the GOP is not a normal party and does not deserve the assumption that it is acting in good faith turns out to be fleeting. The reaffirmation that the party’s leaders are anti-democratic, determined to obstruct the legitimate president and pose an ongoing threat to democracy should permeate all coverage — whether it is explaining Republicans’ support for voter suppression laws based on the “big lie” or dissecting their meaningless accusations of “wokeness.” In essence, they should feature Republicans with a disclaimer: This person has lied about the election in an attempt to overthrow the will of the voters.

One can only hope that we are finally seeing an end to the media’s false equivalence between, on one hand, a legitimate political party seeking to advance policies and, on the other, an anti-democratic cult. Perhaps Cheney can keep them on the straight and narrow.

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