Fox News Hosts Demand Unity from Biden While Completely Ignoring Trump’s Boycott of Inauguration
Viewers of Fox News over the past few weeks have heard the same message about President-elect Joe Biden: A “hope,” expressed skeptically, that he will bring a message of unity to heal the currently divided nation.
On the day of Biden’s inauguration— one explicitly themed “America United” — Fox News opinion hosts and pundits have doubled down on this message, which has become more of a demand that Biden must unite the country. But those same hosts have completely failed to note that President Donald Trump has completely boycotted the inauguration of the next White House resident for the first time in modern history.
This should be obvious to nonpartisans: nothing Joe Biden has done is as divisive as Trump refusing to attend his inauguration.
Almost every talking head on cable news has rightfully touted the peaceful transition of power as a defining pillar of American democracy over the past few weeks. A critical part of that tradition is the outgoing president and the first lady inviting the next president and first lady to the White House, joining them in a ride to the Capitol for the inauguration, and attending in support of the new administration.
President Trump has opted not to attend the inauguration after weeks of trying to overturn the results of the last election. Trump has never congratulated President-elect Joe Biden for winning the election, one that he repeatedly claimed was “stolen,” which led to a deadly insurrection on the Capitol led by his supporters.
Trump drew praise from Fox hosts for a “gracious” speech wishing the next administration well on Wednesday morning. A speech in which he refused to even utter Joe Biden’s name.
There is little question that the nation is currently as divided as it has been in recent memory, perhaps as much since the Civil War in the 1860s. And it does not take a bitter partisan perspective to see the divisiveness as a clear symptom of the Trump administration. As president, Trump often touted the need to take care of his supporters and shamelessly blamed blue states for larger national woes.
To be fair, supporters of Trump were elected by supporters who lauded his outsider and disruptor status, and his “bull in the china shop” approach did not curry favor for establishment politicians and members of political media. So, the division results from a complicated calculus, the derivative of which points to Trump.
In that context we consider the remarkably blind spot towards Trump that Fox News has provided as the twice-impeached, one-term president leaves office with record-low approval ratings.
Fox News opinion hosts cannot quite admit that the candidate that they have breathlessly supported for the past four years not only lost but is leaving office as a political pariah, with a cloud of shame hanging over him. Trump has long relied on the “best defense is a good offense,” and pro-Trump pundits on Fox have done the same.
Take, for example, the entirely predictable Katie Pavlich, who dismissed the incoming administration’s uniting efforts.
“We’ll hear a lot of rhetoric today and a lot of rhetoric on the campaign trail about unity and healing,” she noted. “Joe Biden himself in the past two months has not portrayed rhetoric in a way that is pertinent to unifying the country.”
She then cited Biden’s calling out the “big lie” of a stolen election, a reference to the tactic used by Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels: “Just two weeks ago he was comparing certain Republican senators to Nazi spokespeople and so he will talk about that today.”
Pavlich completely ignored the multiple times, however, that Biden has explicitly said he intends to serve as president for all Americans, regardless of party.
Later, Pavlich dismissed Biden’s efforts to unify by citing comments from people who are not Biden:
“Republicans, it will be very difficult for them to celebrate when they are being told by a number of Democrats, whether elected officials or powerful members in the media, that they need to be deprogrammed or somehow convinced that they are part of some kind of cult.”
This is in reference to Katie Couric’s recent comments on Bill Maher and Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson, both of whom clearly were speaking about followers of QAnon, which can fairly be defined as a digital cult and played a significant role in the deadly attacks on the capitol.
Pavlich’s narrow and divisive commentary indicates much of Fox News opinion programming over the past few days. The irony of offering divisive rhetoric by willfully misrepresenting words from political opponents appears to be lost on them.
The coup de grace, however, goes to Fox News contributor and former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleisher. “I may be a lonely voice on this,” he opened. “I think Donald Trump was right not to go today. It would have been so fake of him to go,” defending the actions of the outgoing president because he is “not a politician.”
Fleischer is arguing that Trump’s reputation as a giant baby takes precedent over decades of rites and traditions that make America what it is. There is no better way to describe that take than shameful.
But again, nowhere on Fox News is anyone lamenting the truth of today. President Trump is boycotting today’s inauguration ceremony. This sends a clear message to his almost cult-like followers that he does not accept the election results. And by giving Trump a pass on that? Fox News is, of course, just as guilty of dividing the nation as well.
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.