It really does scan like an Infowars production, right down to the reference to a “false flag” near the end.
This is airing next week on Fox Nation, the web platform, not on Fox News television. I’m curious as to why. Did Tucker want this on the air only to have Fox management say “uh, no, too crazy” after screening it?
Or did they screen it and think, “Demand for this will be so hot among our audience that we should paywall it”?
I think it’s great that the most-watched cable news host in America is trying to rewrite the history of a half-assed putsch attempt that was itself inspired by months of disinformation aimed at overturning a democratic election.
November 1 pic.twitter.com/5yCRlkZlzM
— Tucker Carlson (@TuckerCarlson) October 28, 2021
Looks to be a three-hour exercise in DARVO. Deny that the perpetrators did anything wrong (“patriots”); attack by accusing others of wrongdoing (“false flag”); reverse victim and offender, treating apologists for January 6 as a persecuted class. The most noteworthy bit is the glimpse from an interview with rally organizer Ali Alexander, a man who’s kept a low profile this year but is now facing a subpoena from the January 6 committee. Here’s one of his last appearances on camera:
The trailer for the new Tucker Carlson special suggesting January 6 was a “false flag” attack features Ali Alexander https://t.co/S5UvUacIwQ
— John McCormack (@McCormackJohn) October 28, 2021
Disgust at “Patriot Purge” came from many sides today. Some were expected:
It appears that @FoxNews is giving @TuckerCarlson a platform to spread the same type of lies that provoked violence on January 6. As @FoxNews knows, the election wasn’t stolen and January 6 was not a “false flag” operation. @rupertmurdoch @jayawallace @Suzannescott @SpeakerRyan https://t.co/ODKZFVUFBa
— Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney) October 28, 2021
Anyone working for @FoxNews must speak out. This is disgusting. It appears @foxnews isn’t even pretending anymore https://t.co/54Dfj3CS9X
— Adam Kinzinger (@AdamKinzinger) October 28, 2021
Some were more surprising:
“False flags!?” Bullshit https://t.co/FBi03zAvoc
— Geraldo Rivera (@GeraldoRivera) October 28, 2021
Geraldo’s a man of the left but it’s unlike Fox hosts to go after each other publicly. To his credit, he didn’t back down when reporters came calling for comment:
“Tucker’s wonderful, he’s provocative, he’s original, but — man oh man,” Mr. Rivera said in a phone interview. “There are some things that you say that are more inflammatory and outrageous and uncorroborated. And I worry that — and I’m probably going to get in trouble for this — but I’m wondering how much is done to provoke, rather than illuminate.”
“Messing around with Jan. 6 stuff … ” Mr. Rivera added, pausing briefly. “The record to me is pretty damn clear, that there was a riot that was incited and encouraged and unleashed by Donald Trump.”
Colby Hall of Mediaite has also been hearing from sources at Fox and is sensing consternation:
A number of individuals who work at the network reached out to me to express disgust over the series, including a producer, a mid-level executive, and an on-air talent. So far.
One person said simply, via text: “this is too far. WAY too far.”
Another Fox News personality asked, “how does this get approved?”
A long-time cable news executive said to me flatly, “Roger Ailes would never have let this happen under his watch,” which is correct. Ailes knew when to take his foot off the gas, and when not to take things too far, even if it meant a short-term hit to the bottom line.
“All of which raises the fundamental question: who is responsible for this?” Hall asks. My guess is that it was a labor of love for Carlson, the network’s biggest star and a man to whom management would be reluctant to say no. He already has a presence on the Fox Nation platform in the form of “Tucker Carlson Originals,” an obvious play by News Corp to try to further monetize his audience by getting them to sign up for a subscription streaming service. When he came to them with the idea for what looks to be insurrectionist agitprop, they probably saw dollar signs.
And to the extent they might have been wavering on posting it, the flak they’ve recently taken from the right might have made up their minds. Trump complained over the weekend about attack ads against him being run on the network. (“What good is it if FOX News speaks well of me when they continually allow horrible and untruthful anti-Trump commercials to be run — and plenty of them. In the good old days, that would never have happened and today it happens all of the time.”) Then Newsmax hosts seized on several recent deviations by Fox hosts from righty orthodoxy to argue that the network’s gone wobbly, from Chris Wallace praising Jen Psaki to Neil Cavuto encouraging vaccination to the new Fox weather channel tackling climate change. Fox ends up in a feedback loop in which its populist hosts drive the audience to demand more ardently populist content and then Fox has to scratch that itch with stuff like “Patriot Purge” lest some junior competitors like Newsmax swoop in and scratch it for them. A buck’s a buck.