It’s been almost half a year since the deadly Capitol insurrection incited by then-President Donald Trump proved beyond a shadow of a doubt just how dangerous the Big Lie that Trump actually won the election can be.
While many Republicans condemned his involvement in the days following the siege, they’ve since given up the charade that they have anything even resembling a collective backbone and have gradually coalesced around the consensus that January 6th shouldn’t be investigated and the country should just “move on.”
At the same time, many Republicans continue to peddle the Big Lie because they know it helps them score points with the MAGA base. Even reports that Donald Trump is sinking into a delusion that he will be “reinstated” as president in August aren’t enough to dissuade them from their cynical lie-mongering and at this rate the possibility of a second, perhaps even worse, insurrection can’t be ruled out.
The obvious question then arises: what’s to be done about it? CNN’s Jake Tapper has made his position clear. Republicans who want to continue lying and conspiracy theorizing about the election being stolen will not be invited to appear on his popular show.
“It’s not a policy, but it’s a philosophy where I just don’t want to deal with it,” Tapper said to Kara Swisher of The New York Times last week.
Curious how other journalists are tackling the problem, Politico’s Playbook spoke to Fox News’s Chris Wallace. He took the opposite position of Tapper and believes it’s not his place to ban politicians for election lies.
“I don’t think moral posturing goes well with news gathering,” said Wallace. “There are plenty of people I would like to have on Fox News Sunday that voted to challenge the election — House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy for one. And I don’t have any rule about what the first question has to be. I have asked plenty of guests about voting to challenge the election and about Trump’s role in the January 6th insurrection. But I cover the news, wherever that takes me.”
Playbook asked Tapper for comment on Wallaces’ remarks. He responded with a statement in which he took a not-so-subtle dig at “organizations” who platform the Big Lie, an obvious reference to Fox.
“This isn’t a policy, it’s a discussion I think everyone in the news media should be having,” wrote Tapper. “Should those who shared the election lie that incited the deadly attack on the Capitol and that continues to erode confidence in our democracy be invited onto our airwaves to continue to spread the Big Lie? Can our viewers count on these politicians to tell the truth about other topics? This isn’t an easy conversation for some folks — especially for journalists who work for organizations where the Big Lie was platformed — but that’s all the more reason to have this conversation.”
Wallace’s approach is perhaps understandable, but it also hails from a time of more traditional journalism, a time when our politics were saner and politicians weren’t inciting mobs to literally overthrow the federal government. This is strange, dangerous new territory and while it’s not clear that Tapper’s solution will have any effect, it seems possible Wallace’s totally neutral tack could have deleterious effects on our democracy. Better to err on the side of caution until our Republic stabilizes — whenever that might be.
Wallace calls it “moral posturing” to avoid booking Big Lie promoters on Sunday shows. Tapper fires back, “This isn’t an easy conversation for some folks — especially for journalists who work for organizations where the Big Lie was platformed…” (via @playbookdc) pic.twitter.com/npyBAs8t62
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) June 4, 2021
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This is a staff report from former Occupy Democrats Editor in Chief Colin Taylor or contributor Rob Haffney.