President Trump’s insurrectionist speech preceding the Capitol riot was only the coda to a weeks-long campaign of violent rhetoric on Fox News and Capitol Hill, exhorting “the big lie.”
Trump fueled the fiery commentary with preposterous claims the election had been stolen through massive fraud involving dozens of elected officials in six swing states. He lost them all, costing him a second term.
But it was a big lie. Hitler coined the term himself in his fascist screed “Mein Kampf.” It became a standard Nazi propaganda technique.
Hitler wrote if the lie was “colossal,” no one would believe that someone “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.”
Once Trump lied about election fraud, the right-wing media machine and a score of hard-right lawmakers became a huge echo chamber.
The big lie was in play. They made election fraud an insurrectionist cause célèbre.
Fox News talking heads like Tucker Carlson, Jeanine Pirro, Lou Dobbs, Steve Hilton, Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin all made fiery, violent exhortations to “take back” the country.
Pirro even went so far as to compare the Trump mob to George Washington crossing the Delaware during the Revolutionary War.
“It was their moment to stand up and fight for freedom. To many, January 6th is such a moment,” she said.
Trump launched a massive legal assault on vote tallies in the six states. Some 60 state and federal judges across the country, many of them Trump appointees, rejected lawsuit after lawsuit for lack of evidence.
When fraud claims failed in court, Trump and his lawyers shifted focus. They started claiming states had violated their own election laws and the Constitution by allowing such things as mail-in ballots.
Those legal challenges, even going all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, failed as well.
With legal challenges exhausted, Trump turned to coercion and threats against state election officials, while the Jan. 6 certification of Electoral College votes in Congress became ground zero.
The certification has traditionally been ceremonial, but the Electoral Count Act of 1887 gives members of Congress the right to object to statewide election results or specific electoral votes.
Trump seized on that to make a last stand to overturn the election.
His family members, White House officials, Fox News talking heads and congressional Republicans engaged in an unprecedent campaign of violent, divisive rhetoric to promote the baseless election fraud claims.
A constant theme throughout the commentary and speeches was fight, fight, fight.
Carlson blatantly lied to his viewers. “They rigged the election in front of all of us and nobody did anything about it,” he charged.
Fox Business News host Dobbs described the Jan. 6 meeting in cataclysmic terms. “The battle for the White House is now a full-fledged struggle for the survival of this Constitutional republic,” he warned.
Like Pirro, Fox commentator Steve Hilton and others also made allusions to the American Revolution.
“We need to fight back,” he urged. “We need to strike at the heart of their power. We need to show that the next revolution is just getting started.”
“Will we stand up for freedom like Samuel Adams and his fellow patriots?” ask Ingraham in a Dec. 16 segment on her show.
Levin a right-wing ideologue was even more blunt. “If we don’t stand and fight on Jan. 6 on the floor of the Senate and the House … we’re done.”
But the real attack on our Constitutional republic was actually coming from 147 Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate.
The set out to overturn the election–the heart of our democracy– and install Trump as an effective dictator at the Jan. 6 meeting.
Leading up to the meeting administration officials and Trump allies in Congress used the same inflammatory rhetoric in media appearances and speeches.
“We need to fight back,” Trump sycophant Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) urged viewers in one segment.
“We’re not timid folk. We’re people who understand when there is a challenge in front of us we rise to the challenge. We fight, finish, keep,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) in a Dec. 12 speech.
“It is time to stand and fight,” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla) exhorted in a Dec. 19 speech. “The swamp isn’t truly drained until we nail the hides of the alligators to the wall.”
House minority leader Keven McCarthy (R-CA) also blatantly lied. In a Nov. 5 commentary, he insisted Trump won the election.
“Do not be quiet, we can not allow this to happen before our very eyes.”
Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) urges conservatives to “lightly threaten” lawmakers.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany called on Republicans to “grow a backbone and fight.”
“This is our 1776 moment,” said Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga).
Explosive speeches by Trump, his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and family members on the day of the rally just capped the inflammatory campaign.
Just before the riot, Trump’s sons Eric and Donald Jr. whiped up the angry crowd; Giuliani urged “trial by combat.”
Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Josh Hawley (R-Mo), Rep. Mo Brooks (R-SC) and Trump himself all contributed to destabilize and fire up the mob.
Was it any wonder Trump’s backers, a mixture of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, anti-Semites, militant right-wingers and others, were easily whipped into a frenzy?
As the marched on the Capitol, they could be heard repeating the same violent rhetoric espoused on Fox News in the weeks before the riot. Many shouted that Trump had invited them to go to the Capitol.
The violent and divisive rhetoric ahead of the Capitol riot is highlighted in a chilling supercut video released by “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” on Wednesday. Check it out.