'Absolutely furious': How the 'Never Kevin' chaos created bitter infighting at Fox News
From January 3-5, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California failed to secure the House speaker nomination in no less than 11 roll-call votes. On Friday, January 6, he hoped that he would finally win over enough “Never Kevin” holdouts to close the deal. And when a 12th roll-call vote was held that Friday afternoon, McCarthy made some progress but still didn’t have enough votes.
Fox News has been full of heated emotions during January 2023’s House speaker debacle, which marks the first time since 1923 — 100 years ago — that a new Congress has failed to choose a House speaker promptly. Some at Fox News have expressed their sympathy for the Never Kevin Republicans, while others at the right-wing cable news outlet have angrily railed against them.
The Daily Beast’s Justin Baragona describes the tensions at Fox News in an article published on January 6.
“Throughout this ordeal,” Baragona explains, “the majority of Fox News hosts and commentators have clearly thrown in with the establishment wing of the GOP — and former President Donald Trump — and urged the far-right contingent to do what’s best for the party and stand down. Yet, at the same time, the conservative cable giant’s loudest and most influential voice has increasingly backed the anti-McCarthy crowd while taking swings at his own colleagues.”
The “loud” voice that Baragona is referring to is far-right MAGA firebrand Tucker Carlson, who has become Fox News’ top-rated host.
“With each round of speaker votes that McCarthy has lost since Tuesday, primetime star Tucker Carlson has grown increasingly more outspoken in his support for the rebel group of lawmakers opposing the California lawmaker,” Baragona observes. “For example, after McCarthy fell short in his first three votes, Carlson called the inter-party struggle ‘refreshing’ and a sign of true ‘democracy’ while simultaneously praising McCarthy — whom he has long criticized…. By the time Wednesday arrived, Carlson made it clear that he was fully siding with the ‘Never Kevin’ crowd, all while most of his Fox cohorts were begging the group to fold and end the standoff.”
In contrast to Carlson’s defense of the Never Kevin Republicans, long-time Fox News host Sean Hannity was furious with Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado.
“Carlson’s primetime compadre Sean Hannity locked horns with Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), one of the leaders of the ‘Never Kevin” contingent. Repeatedly urging the pro-Trump congresswoman to ‘pack it in’ and take the loss, Hannity grew increasingly agitated as Boebert dismissed his pleas,” Baragona notes. “Hannity’s shouting match with Boebert, meanwhile, prompted Fox’s smaller far-right media rivals to pounce and call out the conservative network for casting in with the ‘uniparty swamp rats.’ Newsmax host and serial plagiarist Benny Johnson, for instance, called Hannity ‘the Praetorian Guard of the establishment’ while decrying his ‘embarrassing’ interview with Boebert.”
Baragona adds, “If Hannity’s face-off with Boebert made the far-right mad, ‘Fox & Friends’ host Brian Kilmeade’s description of the holdout group made them absolutely furious. Grousing on Thursday morning about the continued stalemate, Kilmeade fumed that ‘this is how insincere the insurrectionists are.’ Realizing almost immediately how loaded that term is, especially on the right, Kilmeade tried to take it back.”
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