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Tudor Dixon’s Fox interview shows how Trump’s effort to overturn 2020 is being sanitized


“Real America’s Voice” is one of many streaming services that aims to gobble up Fox News’ audience from the right. That there was untapped demand for media that was closer to the fringe than Fox typically traveled was made abundantly clear in the years leading up to 2016, with organizations such as Breitbart News building substantial audiences in this space. That was Donald Trump’s campaign strategy that year, in fact: to present himself as the voice of this far-right space, a strategy that worked well for him.

The area is now quite populated. There are more fringe outlets competing with Fox on cable itself, including Newsmax and (for now) One America News. On the Internet, even more bespoke “channels” have been created to carve out a slice of the market: FrankSpeech, CEO of MyPillow, Mike Lindell, for example, or Real America’s Voice, a “network” focused on being home of Stephen K. Bannon. Conspiratorial daily radio show.

Real America’s Voice also employed a presenter named Tudor Dixon. And just as Real America’s Voice and networks like Newsmax use cable news aesthetics and tactics to mask or blur the extent of their political activism, Dixon over the weekend demonstrated how Trump’s efforts to quash the 2020 election results are sanitized for a wider audience. consumption.

This is helpful for Dixon as she seeks to be elected governor of Michigan.

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Shortly after receiving Trump’s endorsement in that race, she appeared for an interview with anchor Bret Baier on “Fox News Sunday.” Baier — increasingly the network’s most vocal critic of Trump’s post-2020 behavior — asked Dixon if she thought the election was stolen.

“Well, that’s certainly a concern for a lot of people here in Michigan because of the way the election was handled by our Secretary of State,” Dixon replied. “She did things that were deemed illegal by a judge. We must ensure that our elections are secure and that what happened in 2020 will not happen again.

There are three things going on here worth exploring.

The first is the suggestion that “a lot of people” are concerned about the election, which serves as justification for suggesting that there was something to be concerned about. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) helped kick off this bit of self-fulfilling rhetoric when he announced his intention to oppose the election results before Jan. 6, 2021. It’s infinitely helpful: stoking the fears and then cite the fears as a reason to nurture them further. That’s detached from the reality that Trump lost Michigan by a massive margin (as Baier would soon notice).

The second is the claim that the incumbent (Democrat) Secretary of State has done things “considered illegal”. The implication for the casual viewer is that the election results were suspect due to sketchy partisan activity. The reality is that the Secretary of State issued guidelines to election administrators aimed at reducing the number of mail-in ballots rejected for mismatched signatures, guidelines that a judge determined she was offering without going through the necessary process. . (Signature matching is a notoriously difficult exercise.) The guidelines will now not be enforced in future elections. This, according to Dixon, is why people are concerned about the election, which of course is not true.

A little later, she elaborated on what Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson did.

“This Secretary of State made these changes,” Dixon said, “mailing everyone in the state away with ballot requests, bringing in Zuckerbucks, cutting the signing match.” For the uninitiated, “Zuckerbucks” is a popular right-wing pejorative targeting grants given to cities and counties to facilitate election processes. The fact that the grants came from an organization that received funding from Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg – a longtime target of right-wing opposition – helped cast the whole undertaking as nefarious. (Here’s a list of recipients, which includes a slew of Republican polling places.) An attempt to challenge campaign financing as illegal was rejected by the court.

Then, thirdly, Dixon brings that back into the theme: making sure “what happened in 2020” doesn’t happen again. But what? Trying to get more people to vote and have their ballots count?

“There were certainly things in the 2020 election that left us worried about how it went,” Dixon said, suggesting that questions about elections are fundamentally procedural and arise from questions about decisions. of Benson. But none of these things are true, as Baier (who asked if the election was “stolen”) and Dixon know. The gubernatorial candidate was simply offering the scrubbed version of Trump’s fraud allegations that the GOP establishment had settled on as a way to appeal to its voter base without alienating Trump.

Later in the interview, Baier questioned former Trump cabinet member Betsy DeVos’ endorsement of Dixon. Following the Capitol riot, DeVos resigned, criticizing Trump’s role in stoking the day’s violence.

“Do you agree with Secretary DeVos on the President’s culpability or responsibility in any way for January 6?” Bayer asked.

“The secretary knows that she and I disagree on this,” Dixon replied. “I want to make sure that political speech is always protected because it could open a Pandora’s box for anyone on both sides of the party.”

Here it is again: whitewashed rationalization. Trump allies have long argued that his riot morning speech centered on a peaceful call to action that protects free speech. This, of course, ignores both that Trump’s speech was full of incitement, including the call to march on Capitol Hill, and that the riot was not a function of a one-day speech but months of dishonest claims that the election was stolen.

Part of the difference between DeVos and Dixon hinges on when each responds to the riot. DeVos was reacting in the moment, to the crisp, not blurry reality of the day’s events. Dixon responds after 18 months of evolution, a year and a half of attempts to defend Trump that have been polished in the rhetorical tumbler of the right. A swing-state Republican now has a nice little toolbox of rebuttals to questions about Trump’s efforts to void the election, as Dixon ably demonstrated.

As one would expect, given that this experience in making right-wing arguments seems like normal cable news conversation.


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