This week, House Republicans voted to remove Congresswoman Liz Cheney (R-WY) from her leadership position as Republican Conference Chair.
Cheney's cardinal sin? Refusal to bow to former President Donald Trump.
The Congresswoman was one of only a few House Republicans to openly blame Trump's election lies as the catalyst for the January insurrection, even voting to impeach him as a result. Since then, Cheney has forcefully refuted Trump's ongoing lies that the 2020 election was "stolen" by Democrats and that President Joe Biden is an illegitimate President.
Cheney was officially replaced with pro-Trump Congresswoman Elise Stefanik of New York, who has proven willing to sow further public doubt in the validity of American elections. As Cheney departed from her leadership position, she vowed to lead the fight against Trump's hold on the Republican party.
Sadly, Trump's long-debunked election lies have been embraced by swathes of Republican lawmakers and right-wing media outlets—especially the most famous conservative network of all: Fox News.
Fox repeatedly amplified Trump's election lies, especially during its primetime opinion slots featuring far-right entertainment anchors. Fox host Sean Hannity featured pro-Trump conspiracy theorist lawyer Sidney Powell in the weeks following the election. There, Powell spewed the fantasy that election companies like Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic were working with foreign countries to subvert American elections. These lies went unchallenged by Hannity.
Fox News, along with hosts Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo, and Jeanine Pirro, is now facing billions of dollars in defamation lawsuits from Smartmatic. Dominion has sued Fox News as well.
As recently as this month, one Fox News host wondered "who is right?" about the claims of fraud in the 2020 election, despite the existence of widespread voter fraud being heavily refuted.
That's why Liz Cheney reminded Fox of its duty to assure the American public that the election wasn't stolen.
"We all have an obligation, and I would say Fox News especially, especially Fox News, has a particular obligation to make sure people know the election wasn't stolen."
Fox host Bret Baier interjected, saying Fox News had said "numerous times" that the election wasn't stolen.
After a tense exchange, Cheney continued:
"We need to make sure that the American people recognize and understand that the election wasn't stolen, that we shouldn't perpetuate the Big Lie, and that there is real danger."
Despite Baier's insistence that Fox doesn't at least implicitly endorse or promote election conspiracy theories, he featured Trump supporter Mollie Hemmingway—author of Rigged: How the Media, Big Tech, and the Democrats Seized Our Elections—only minutes later.
The unexpected tension between the devout Republican and a Fox News anchor made waves on social media.
Some saw the interview as Cheney's first step toward leading the fight against Trumpism within the Republican party.
It remains to be seen whether the party will ever be able to disentangle itself from Trumpism anytime soon—or whether it wants to in the first place.