Since he was confirmed as Attorney General, William Barr was somewhat of a hero in the right-wing media universe. They have foiled Russia’s investigation. He has spoken of a big game to crack down on Antifa. He has sharply criticized the media. On and on it goes.
Barr’s statement, which merely recited a simple fact, cut against not only what Trump is saying, but also Trump’s campaigners and allies in the right-wing media are feeding his audience. For weeks, these media celebrities have taken their viewers along, suggesting that serious evidence of fraud was just around the corner. Which is why Barr’s comment is so bad.
The comment effectively forced these right-wing stars to choose between accepting reality and continuing Trump’s imagination. Trump’s most dedicated campaigners chose the latter. And so he started throwing Barr under the bus, as he has done with every other conservative who has dared to protest against the president. (Think about when former conservative stars such as Jeff Sessions, Justin Amash, Paul Ryan, and others were treated when they did not blindly see Trump’s demands.)
“A liar or a fool or both”
Fox Business host Lou Dobbs, whose conspiratorial program is the president’s favorite, attacked Barr in brutal terms on his show. “For the United States Attorney General to make that statement – he is either a liar or a fool or both,” Dobbs said. Dobbs went further after this, with Barr suggesting “perhaps a compromise was reached.” He described Barr’s characterization as “radical Dames and engaging with deep state and resistance.”
Dobbs was not the only one. Newsmax host Greg Kelly, who has gained fame in right-wing media circles over the past few weeks for suggesting Trump emerged as the winner of the election, went after his show on haters. “Some of us are wondering if he is a warrior with the Constitution or if he is just a bureaucrat,” Kelly said. Kelly said he “can’t believe” if Barr looked for voter fraud he would find none. And Mark Levine said he “regrets it.”[ted] To say “that Barr’s comment” was misleading.
Far-flung blogs were also harsh. Gateway Pandit, a fringe website Trump has repeatedly promoted, published a post stating that Barr found himself “completely deaf, dumb and blind.” The post stated that Barr’s “opposing the criminality of the Deep State” was exposed as a “polymorphic lie” and was a “fraud”. It concluded, “You either fix the damn corrupt system or we will leave you … our days of enduring betrayal are over.”
Some caught fire
While Barr faced severe criticism from some notable names in the right-wing media, others avoided attacking him on Tuesday night. Notably, heavyweight Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity did not skew the AG. It will be interesting over the next 24 hours if this anti-Barr narrative catches up more in Trump-friendly media, or if it dissolves.