On Wednesday, Jan. 6, Donald Trump told the group gathered at the #stopthesteal rally, “We’re going to walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women, and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them, because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.” Trump urged his supporters to storm the capital because of his big lie that the 2020 election had been stolen from him, when in fact he actually lost by seven millions votes.
It was a Big Lie but not an unexpected one. After all, Trump is our first post-truth president. Historian Timothy Snyder wrote in The New York Times, “When we give up on truth, we concede power to those with the wealth and charisma to create spectacle in its place.” We did that. America did concede its power to a wealthy(ish) and charismatic(ish) reality television host. Trump, in turn, has effectively conceded that power to Fox News opinion hosts.
Those same Fox hosts have now decided that Trump should not be held accountable for the armed insurrection at the Capitol because it might upset his followers. Brian Kilmeade, one of Trump’s favorite morning sycophants, made this argument: “This country is ready to explode. You saw what happened. You see the anger that the 74 million people feel.” Therefore, Kilmeade reasoned, “good leadership would bring down the temperature a little, look to turn the page, be inclusive…”