Laura Ingraham
Laura Ingraham speaking with attendees at the 2019 Student Action Summit hosted by Turning Point USA at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo: Gage Skidmore, reproduced under a Creative Commons license)

The announce­ment that Geor­gia’s U.S. Sen­a­tor Raphael Warnock had won reelec­tion came just as FNC host Lau­ra Ingra­ham was rais­ing the specter of trans­gen­der teenagers assault­ing young girls in high school bathrooms.

Any­thing to take view­ers’ atten­tion away from the Repub­li­can dis­as­ter unfold­ing in Georgia.

When the Asso­ci­at­ed Press called the race, Ingra­ham did not receive the news well, hav­ing spent more than a whole sea­son pre­dict­ing a “red tsuna­mi” would sweep the Sen­ate. “I’m pissed tonight, frankly,” said the host who spent autumn pre­dict­ing the elec­tion would yield a red tsunami.

A moment lat­er, Ingra­ham asked: “Why is it that Demo­c­rat [sic] dis­tricts always come in last?” It’s where the votes are. Atlanta-area coun­ties had flipped vote totals and put Warnock ahead by a fig­ure that ulti­mate­ly sur­passed 50,000 votes.

Ingra­ham imme­di­ate­ly tried to foist blame on Sen­ate Repub­li­can Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen­ate Repub­li­cans for non-sup­port of Her­schel Walker.

“To me, it nev­er felt like the Sen­ate Repub­li­cans want­ed this guy (Her­schel Walk­er) in office,” said she. “He was a Trump pick and they didn’t like that. There wasn’t the inten­si­ty on the part of the Repub­li­cans as there was on the part of the Democ­rats. I felt it, you felt it.”

“Where was ‘All hands on deck’?” Ingra­ham added.

“Why weren’t they down there?”

For­mer Trump com­mu­ni­ca­tions aide Kellyanne Con­way com­plained about Repub­li­can Par­ty con­sul­tants enrich­ing them­selves – her occu­pa­tion in recent years – while Fed­er­al­ist edi­tor Mol­lie Hem­ing­way dissed McConnell.

McConnell was depict­ed as a col­lab­o­ra­tor who’d rather work with Sen­ate Democ­rats than the new Repub­li­can major­i­ty in the House.

What a cyn­i­cal game this trio were playing.

The Repub­li­cans’ loss in Geor­gia was twist­ed to fit the Fox par­ty line. Cast doubt on hon­esty of the elec­tion. Blame oth­ers, includ­ing con­ve­nient demons. Fan the sus­pi­cions and resent­ment of an audi­ence that doesn’t know any better.

It was, in a sense, a planned, chore­o­graphed pander.

So con­di­tioned are Fox view­ers that any hint of truth caus­es rat­ings to fall. Fox infu­ri­at­ed its audi­ence, and sent then-Pres­i­dent Trump into a rage, with its accu­rate 2020 dec­la­ra­tion that Joe Biden would car­ry Ari­zona. The elec­tion expert respon­si­ble was soon sent pack­ing, and semi-hon­est jour­nal­ists (e.g. Chris Wal­lace) have since bailed out. The truth sets you free – from employ­ment at FNC.

Her­schel Walk­er was a fix­ture on Fox dur­ing the runoff cam­paign. The mala­prop prone, scan­dal-plagued can­di­date was shield­ed from press ques­tions on the cam­paign trail. Instead, he would appear with on “Han­ni­ty” with Lind­sey Gra­ham or Ted Cruz, mouth a few plat­i­tudes and let han­dlers argue his case.

The cold, cru­el, sar­cas­tic Lau­ra Ingra­ham focused on Sen­ate races dur­ing the fall cam­paign. She gave ample air­time to such Repub­li­can can­di­dates as Tiffany Smi­ley in this state, ban­nered polls show­ing right wing can­di­dates catch­ing and pass­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic incum­bents. She pil­lo­ried Sen­ate Repub­li­can lead­ers for giv­ing insuf­fi­cient sup­port to such unpop­u­lar chal­lengers as Blake Mas­ters in Arizona.

Remem­ber, in advance of the 2021 Geor­gia runoff, Ingra­ham took out after Warnock and his fel­low Sen­ate nom­i­nee Jon Ossoff, say­ing “Warnock and Ossoff will be the Sen­ate ver­sion, when you think about it, of The Squad,” using a pop­u­lar nick­name for young, female, left-lean­ing mem­bers of the House of Representatives.

The real­i­ty is, Her­schel Walk­er lost because he didn’t get enough votes.

He trailed Repub­li­can Gov­er­nor Bri­an Kemp by more than 200,000 votes in the Novem­ber elec­tion, and last night ran 5–7 points behind Kemp’s reelec­tion per­cent­ages in suburban/exurban coun­ties around Atlanta.

When not talk­ing about vam­pires or were­wolves, Walk­er on the stump par­rot­ed Fox themes. Denun­ci­a­tions of “woke” edu­ca­tors were accom­pa­nied by warn­ings about trans­gen­der ath­letes dom­i­nat­ing women’s ath­let­ic competition.

CNN man­aged a few words with the can­di­date, who seemed under the impres­sion he was run­ning for the House. Nonethe­less, Kellyanne Con­way last night described Her­schel Walk­er as “one of the most improved can­di­dates” in this cycle.

Walk­er had been liv­ing – and breed­ing – in Texas. He once played for a pro foot­ball team owned by Trump, who foist­ed the 1980 Heis­man Tro­phy win­ner on Geor­gia Repub­li­cans. The ploy to win African Amer­i­can votes fell flat, and the loan of Gov­er­nor Kemp’s vote tar­get­ing appa­ra­tus failed to res­cue him in the runoff. Walk­er was par­o­died on Sat­ur­day Night Live.

In its unend­ing game of blame, Fox is very sub­tly lift­ing the halo off Trump’s head. The job must be done dis­creet­ly giv­en his following.

Con­way pro­vid­ed an open­ing last night by men­tion­ing Georgia’s enor­mous (1.8 mil­lion) advance vote, which heav­i­ly favored Warnock. Trump has stren­u­ous­ly opposed mail-in vot­ing and wants us all to line up on Elec­tion Day.

“If we don’t ban votes ear­ly, we’re going to keep los­ing,” said Conway.

“Why didn’t we?” asked Ingraham.

“We didn’t,” said Conway.

“We didn’t do it in 2020, because every­one said don’t vote ear­ly because that’s cor­rupt,” Ingra­ham retorted.

By “every­one” and a sub­se­quent ref­er­ence to “peo­ple at the very top of the Repub­li­can Par­ty,” she was clear­ly refer­ring to Trump.

The ques­tion on this viewer’s mind: Do dull, drilled, con­di­tioned view­ers of Fox  have any under­stand­ing of how they are being manip­u­lat­ed? The air­brush­ing of Repub­li­cans’ dis­as­ter in Geor­gia car­ries cyn­i­cism to a new depth.

About the author

Joel Connelly is a Northwest Progressive Institute contributor who has reported on multiple presidential campaigns and from many national political conventions. During his career at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, he interviewed Presidents Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and George H.W. Bush. He has covered Canada from Trudeau to Trudeau, written about the fiscal meltdown of the nuclear energy obsessed WPPSS consortium (pronounced "Whoops") and public lands battles dating back to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

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