Here are 5 'key right-wing media takeaways' from Kevin McCarthy’s House speaker battle: report

Here are 5 'key right-wing media takeaways' from Kevin McCarthy’s House speaker battle: report

The new GOP-controlled U.S. House of Representatives got off to a chaotic start when Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California was rejected as House speaker in no less than 14 roll-call votes before he finally closed the deal with the 15th vote on Friday night, January 6. It was an uphill battle, but McCarthy now has the House speaker position he has spent years hoping for.

Media Matters’ Matt Gertz, in a listicle published by Media Matters on January 10, offers five “key takeaways” on the role that right-wing media played when McCarthy was struggling to get the far-right “Never Kevin” holdouts to support him as House speaker.

“After a historic week of messy party infighting,” Gertz observes, “the Republican-led House of Representatives has finally selected a speaker, passed a rules package, and gotten to work on its agenda of making the country safer for wealthy tax cheats. There are important lessons to learn from the chaos given the likelihood of future interparty rifts over the next two years — and the centrality of the right-wing media to the GOP.”

READ MORE:'Absolutely furious': How the 'Never Kevin' chaos created bitter infighting at Fox News

The “takeaways” that Gertz offers in his listicle are: (1) “The GOP’s leaders are fueled by right-wing media,” (2) “Fox (News) is now the GOP establishment,” (3) The narratives of the right-wing press will form the core of the GOP agenda,” (4) “Fox’s competitors will use party fights to gun for the network’s market share,” and (5) “Tucker Carlson is the most influential right-wing media figure.”

“Gaining prominence in the modern Republican Party virtually requires a willingness to rub elbows with the right-wing press,” Gertz explains. “New House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) spent the last several years cozying up to Fox hosts…. He also benefited from the backing of Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), the congresswoman from QAnon and an ally of Steve Bannon, and Jim Jordan (R-OH), whose regular Fox appearances helped him ascend from back-bencher to incoming House Judiciary chair.”

Gertz adds, “Meanwhile, McCarthy’s most prominent opponents included Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who has gained prominence entirely on the basis of his courting of the right-wing media and reportedly sought jobs at Fox and its competitors, and Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), another favorite of the fringe-right press. The right-wing media will be the key battleground for future fights between those sides.”

Gertz points out that “almost all of” Fox News’ “prominent personalities lined up behind McCarthy’s bid and sought to stifle the revolt against him.”

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But while much of Fox News was rooting for McCarthy, some of the hosts at Newsmax TV expressed sympathy for the “Never Kevin” holdouts. Newsmax is the cable news outlet that prides itself on being to the right of Fox News and Fox Business and on being even more pro-Donald Trump.

“As Fox rallied behind McCarthy, its rivals in TV and digital media saw an opening,” Gertz observes. “They became the propaganda support for the anti-McCarthy campaign, savaging the would-be speaker and championing his critics. They also went after Fox, denouncing the network and its top hosts for purportedly selling out in an offensive more extensive than any from the right since late 2020, when Fox declared Joe Biden the president-elect and Trump urged his supporters to switch to its competitors. Expect more of this in the future as right-wing outlets try to use internal GOP fights to build their audiences at Fox’s expense.”

Carlson’s show “Tucker Carlson Tonight” debuted on Fox News in 2016, and he has since become the right-wing cable news channel’s top-rated host. And Carlson’s prominence at Fox News, according to Gertz, was obvious during McCarthy’s struggle to become House speaker.

“Carlson’s show is a festival of white nationalism, far-right conspiracy theories, and violent rhetoric that seeks to work his viewers into a frenzy,” Gertz writes. “It is also a guiding force in the modern GOP. While his colleagues were foursquare behind McCarthy, Carlson was playing all sides of the debate, criticizing the would-be speaker one moment, praising him the next, and, above all else, seeking specific concessions. It worked — Carlson got the House inquiry into the purported ‘weaponization’ of federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies that he’s been building up to for years. Now, he’ll be able to spend the next two years cheering on the Republican efforts to spread his conspiracy theories about the January 6 insurrection and whatever else the panel tries to push.”

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