Former Fox News anchor and NBC “Today” show host Megyn Kelly said CNN and other news outlets were partly to blame for the Capitol riot in a Jan. 19 interview on “BBC Newsnight” with BBC’s Emily Maitlis.
“They hated [Trump] so much, they checked their objectivity,” Kelly stated. “It wasn’t just CNN, all of them did. They just couldn’t check their own personal feelings about him.”
Kelly attributed this to some journalists’ commitment to cover Trump differently by explicitly labeling him as racist, sexist and misogynistic. She further explained this bias led to distrust in the media, which in turn enabled the attack on the Capitol.
“Part of the reason we saw what happened at the Capitol here two weeks ago was because there has been a complete lack of trust, a destruction of trust in the media, and people don’t know where to turn for true information,” Kelly said.
While Kelly’s assumptions about the growing distrust in the media are correct, they are not to blame for the insurrection. What fueled the Capitol riot were the continuous lies spread by former President Trump and other members of the GOP, claiming the election had been stolen.
In addition, the lack of trust in the media is not simply a consequence of journalists calling the former president a few names. It is nothing new, and Trump himself fanned the flames of this growing trend throughout his four years in office, calling the media “absolute scum” and “[an] enemy of the American people,” accusing reporters of disseminating “fake news.” Trump’s constant vilification of various news outlets has influenced much more than the media’s portrayal of him as a racist, misogynist and sexist. However, if we are to focus on that, let’s question if these descriptions are really just the media’s “personal feelings.”
Other than saying he can “grab [women] by the [vulgarity],” Trump also has a long history of degrading women and other groups. He called Mexican immigrants criminals and rapists and has demonstrated his racism and bigotry time and time again. So is the media really wrong in calling his behavior what it is?
In addition to his ongoing attack on the media, Trump’s gaslighting techniques throughout his presidency and the spreading of false narratives such as his claims about the 2020 presidential election, which got him banned from Twitter, further aided in the growing distrust of the media.
The cherry on top is even after weeks of false election fraud claims — further fueled and supported by many GOP members — Trump still refused to concede, instead holding a rally right before the Capitol insurrection. At the rally, he told his supporters they had to “fight much harder” and that “very different rules applied [when you catch somebody in a fraud].” After telling his supporters they needed to “stop the steal” and that if they did not, they would have “an illegitimate president,” Trump urged them to march down to the Capitol, falsely telling them he would accompany them as well.
To make matters worse, it took him about three hours to denounce the violence, and in the same one-minute video where Trump told the rioters to go home, he also stated, “We love you, you’re very special.”
The media did not do this. They are not partly to blame, and even if they were, it is not because of their lack of objectivity towards the former president. Spreading information like this detracts from the events that actually led to the attack. To further prove this, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security released a bulletin due to the “heightened threat environment across the United States … fueled by false narratives” on Jan. 27. Trump is the one who told his followers the election was stolen and then directed them to the Capitol; he incited the riot.
Jacqueline Nguyen is an Opinion Apprentice for the winter 2020 quarter. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.