Analysis: Good on McConnell for speaking out against ‘loony lies.’ But where was he during Trump’s presidency?

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell appears to have finally found a backbone. After sitting by idly for years as the GOP became the party defined by its promotion of lies and conspiracy theories, McConnell is saying enough. On Monday evening, as Marjorie Taylor Green’s incendiary remarks continued to dominate headlines, McConnell released a blistering statement. It was aimed not only at Greene, but at resolving the information crisis afflicting the Republican Party and entire country.

“Loony lies and conspiracy theories are cancer for the Republican Party and our country,” McConnell said in a statement. “Somebody who’s suggested that perhaps no airplane hit the Pentagon on 9/11, that horrifying school shootings were pre-staged, and that the Clintons crashed JFK Jr.’s airplane is not living in reality. This has nothing to do with the challenges facing American families or the robust debates on substance that can strengthen our party.”

McConnell is, of course, correct. He’s right to say that deranged conspiracy theories are a cancer on the GOP and the nation. And he’s right to say that such nonsense has nothing to do with policy. The question is: Where was McConnell over the last four years? Make no mistake, the type of “loony lies and conspiracy theories” that Greene traffics in is precisely the same poison that has been coursing through the Republican Party since Donald Trump became its leader and hacked the information economy to amass power.

Once upon a time, before Trump, fringe elements of the conservative movement were relegated to … you guessed it, the fringe. But Trump changed that. He promoted Alex Jones. He promoted The Gateway Pundit. He promoted “Diamond & Silk.” He promoted OAN and Newsmax. On and on it goes. Trump welcomed into the GOP with open arms the conspiratorial voices that were once kept at bay — and through it all, McConnell stood by silent. His speaking out is better late than never. But where was he when it really mattered?

Greene talks to OAN

Under pressure for her approval of conspiracy theories related to the Parkland school shooting, Greene went to the friendliest outlet imaginable to address her previous comments: OAN. “These are not red flag incidents,” Green finally conceded, though she did not directly mention Parkland when making the remark. “They are not fake. It’s terrible the loss that these families go through and their friends as well.” But while Greene very tepidly backtracked from her previous position, the larger theme of her interview was hitting back against the supposed “blood-thirsty media…”

“Bare miniumum”

On “AC 360,” Anderson Cooper spoke with a mother whose daughter was a teacher and died in the Parkland shooting. The mother, Linda Beigel Schulman, had earlier called for Greene to publicly renounce the “false flag” conspiracy theory. She told Cooper that what Greene told OAN was the “bare minimum” and questioned why she had allowed her followers to believe the lie all these years. “If she wanted to stand up and she really wanted to turn down the temperature, she would just make a statement,” Schulman said. “She would make a statement. She would say that the Parkland shooting was not a ‘false flag.’ It was not a staged event. And she would say that so that everybody could hear her.”

Fox ignores McConnell

While news professionals and political observers were focused intently on McConnell’s statement denouncing conspiracy theories, thet conversation failed to happen on Fox. At 11pm ET, I searched rush transcripts for Fox’s prime time shows and could not find any instances in which his statement was discussed. (The network, however, did publish a digital story on his statement.) It will be interesting to see how the network’s biggest stars handle this in the coming days…

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Written by Bourbiza Mohamed

A technology enthusiast and a passionate writer in the field of information technology, cyber security, and blockchain

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