Right-wing media figures vow revenge after Trump‘s conviction

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Donald Trump’s media allies are demanding retribution in the wake of his conviction.

Following weeks of attacks targeting the historic hush money case against the former president, prominent right-wing media figures immediately flooded the public discourse Thursday with extreme and disturbing rhetoric after Trump was found guilty on 34 felony counts.

On Fox News and other right-wing outlets, pro-Trump media personalities erupted in anger, blaming everyone from Judge Juan Merchan and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg to President Joe Biden and the entire U.S. justice system for the “disgraceful” conviction.

While not surprising, the furious bluster reverberating across right-wing media still carried its intended effect, burning away public trust in America’s core institutions and leaving a lasting impact on the legitimacy of the rule of law in the United States.

The toxic commentary is also enflaming desires of retribution held by Trump supporters, with popular right-wing media figures openly declaring their hope that the GOP candidate to nakedly seek revenge against his critics, should he emerge victorious in November and return to the Oval Office.

Julian Rigg/CNN

A news board displaying Donald Trump’s conviction is seen at Fox News in New York City on May 30.

Indeed, it is not only that MAGA Media personalities are assailing the guilty verdict returned by a jury of 12 New Yorkers, calling it unfair and rigged. Some of the right’s most popular talking heads are openly calling for the weaponization of government to seek retribution against Trump’s political opponents.

The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh, who commands a following of millions of subscribers on YouTube and social media, said after the verdict that Trump “should make and publish a list of ten high ranking Democrat criminals who he will have arrested when he takes office.” The Federalist chief executive Sean Davis said he wants “to see lists of which Democrat officials are going to be put in prison.” And Fox News’ Jesse Watters declared, “We’re going to vanquish the evil forces that are destroying this republic.”

Suffice to say, that unhinged, reckless, and dangerous rhetoric is not normal. And it even exceeds some of the highly charged rhetoric that played out during Trump’s administration when then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller probed the then-president over his ties to Russia. But as the legal walls actually begin to close in on Trump, the commentary in right-wing media is getting angrier, more menacing, and taking a markedly darker tone.

In the hours after the verdict was handed down Thursday, talk of the United States having transformed into a third-world dictatorship was the norm in pro-Trump media, with the term “banana republic” regularly tossed around. In fact, there was little room for disagreement with the radical and warped viewpoint.

“Import the Third World, become the Third World. That’s what we just saw,” right-wing extremist Tucker Carlson declared on X. “This won’t stop Trump. He’ll win the election if he’s not killed first. But it does mark the end of the fairest justice system in the world. Anyone who defends this verdict is a danger to you and your family.”

As has become the new normal, Fox News also promoted a parade of dishonest right-wing talking points to its sizable audience. Laura Ingraham declared that “the Democrats are showing [the country] what real power is … the type of power we usually see dictators exercise in China and Cuba and North Korea.” Sean Hannity complained that “the foundation of our constitutional republic” is “literally dying before your eyes.”

That rhetoric is, obviously, detached from reality. The United States is not a third world country. Trump got his day in court and was treated by the judge, by all accounts, quite fairly. Biden did not direct so-called deep state forces to engage in “lawfare” against Trump.

But the endless streams of poison flooding into the public discourse comes with consequences. It not only offers a preview of just how ugly the 2024 race will soon become, it sets the stage for Trump, if he manages to make his way back into the White House, to abuse power and deform the federal institutions to serve his purposes.

Perversely, it has primed a swath of Americans into believing that such behavior would not only be warranted, but necessary.

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