One Fox News Sunday clip illustrates the fundamental divide between the parties
Acknowledging reality is too much to ask of Republicans.
It’s impossible to have constructive, bipartisan public policy debates when one of our two major parties rejects basic facts underpinning the entire US system of government. Unfortunately, as a clip from the most recent Fox News Sunday encapsulates, the Republican Party has been completely infected with Trump’s big lie.
There was a lot going on in the latest round of Sunday news shows. Joe Manchin appeared on every single one of them and made a really important point on Fox News, which we’ll get to a bit later. But I want to begin with a clip of a relatively obscure Republican Michigan governor candidate that, as David Corn put it, shows how “the main divide between the parties is no longer over ideology. It is whether you recognize reality or you don’t.”
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That relatively obscure Republican is Tudor Dixon, a former conservative media personality who’s polling slightly ahead of four other candidates in the final days before Tuesday’s primary. Dixon was recently the subject of an article in the New York Times about how “GOP feuding and chaos endanger the party’s chances in Michigan,” even though she’s actually a unity candidate of sorts. That’s because she’s been endorsed both by Trump and Betsy DeVos, the former education secretary who as the Times writes was “last seen trying to remove [Trump] from office using the 25th Amendment after the Capitol riot.” But the price of securing Trump’s 11th hour endorsement — an endorsement viewed as a betrayal by hardcore MAGAs who think Tudor is too close to the establishment — was made clear by Dixon’s Fox News Sunday appearance.
Host Bret Baier asked Dixon a question that should’ve been an easy no — “do you think the 2020 election was stolen?” But instead of recognizing reality, Dixon dissembled about how Trump’s election lies are “certainly a concern to a lot of folks here in Michigan.” Even after Baier pointed out that Biden prevailed in Michigan by more than 150,000 votes, Dixon wouldn’t acknowledge that Trump actually lost.
There has been lots of talk lately about Trump’s star fading within the GOP and whether that means he’s actually beatable in the 2024 Republican primary. But for this midterm cycle, paying lip service to the big lie is a prerequisite for aspiring Republicans like Dixon. If you recognize the truth, you risk Trump putting you on blast and turning the base against you. But going down the easier and more cowardly path — the one Tudor has opted for — outs you as an opponent of democracy itself.
Candidates for office embracing authoritarianism is one way democracies die. But instead of pressing that point, Baier let Tudor get away with never providing a straight answer to his question, and he quickly pivoted to other topics by asking her fluffy questions about her family. That’s one way Fox News continues to sanitize the big lie and the authoritarian tendencies it embodies, even as the network (at least some of it) slowly distances itself from Trump.
Manchin actually did a good job on Fox
As mentioned earlier, Manchin did the Sunday show rounds days after the surprising news broke last Wednesday that he and Chuck Schumer agreed on a $369 billion climate, energy, and health care package — a development that caused much wailing and gnashing of teeth among Republicans who felt betrayed by Manchin’s belated willingness to advance his party’s policy goals. (More on that later.)
Unsurprisingly, Baier on Fox News Sunday sounded skeptical about the Manchin-Schumer deal, which is funded in part by a proposed 15 percent “domestic tax on companies' ‘book income’ of at least $1 billion,” as Reuters writes. As Manchin describes it, the bill funds energy and climate investments by closing tax loopholes benefitting huge corporations that haven’t been paying their fair share. That’s a powerful talking point, as polling indicates Americans broadly support raising corporate taxes to fund major pieces of legislation.
So on Fox News Sunday, Manchin made the case for the bill in a way many Fox viewers were likely to find reasonable after Baier pressed him on the wisdom of any sort of tax increase.
"All we're doing is basically saying the largest corporations in America, that have $1 billion in value or greater, have to pay a minimum of 15 percent to help this great country,” Manchin said. “That's all."
Along similar lines, during his interview on CBS, Manchin listed aspects of the agreement that Republicans who say they care about energy and debt should in theory support.
But Republicans do not support the Manchin-Schumer deal. (More crucially, since 50 votes are all that’s needed to pass it via reconciliation, it’s still unclear if Krysten Sinema does.) Unsurprisingly, their reasons have little to do with principle and everything to do with being unwilling to hand Democrats a political win. And in an expression of frustration, 25 Senate Republicans last week tanked a bill many of them voted for earlier in the summer that would expand health care coverage for veterans exposed to toxic burn pits. That flip-flop resulted in some awkward moments on Sunday.
Republicans struggle to explain why they flipped veterans the bird
That vote against the PACT Act has become a big problem for Republicans as Jon Stewart has done the media rounds — including on Sunday — putting them on blast for hypocritically saying they support the vets but not walking the walk.