A Republican senator is speaking against “cancel culture” – not on the left, this time, but within her own party.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, Sen. Jodi Ernst accused some in the GOP of seeking to purge dissent, with party members on the verge of removing Rep. Liz Cheney from her leadership in the position in the House.
Cheney, a Wyoming Republican and otherwise staunch conservative, has repeatedly condemned former President Donald Trump’s incitement of a riot on January 6 and acknowledged the legitimacy of President Joe Biden’s election. That has angered Republicans, a majority of whom believe false claims of voter fraud, according to a recent poll.
On Monday, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy announced his caucus would vote this week on whether to eject Cheney from her position as GOP conference chair.
Ernst, an Iowa Republican, said that sends a bad message about the party’s openness to dissenting views. “Cancel culture is cancel culture, no matter how you look at it,” she said. “And, unfortunately, I think there are those that are trying to silence others in the party.”
Still, Ernst clarified that while she agrees with Cheney when it comes to the last election’s results, she remains loyal to the man who lost. “I support President Trump and his policies, so I have a slightly different view on that,” she said.
“But I still think we shouldn’t be trying to cancel voices,” Ernst said.
A Fox News guest credited Benjamin Franklin with battling cancel culture in the 18th Century during a “Fox & Friends” appearance on Wednesday.
“He was this lifelong free speech advocate, but he gave us those standards that we’ve lived by for centuries now,” Jane Hampton Cook said, echoing a recent op-ed published on the Fox News website looking at a dustup when Franklin ran an ad mocking clergy members in his newspaper.
“So he understood that you had to preserve the liberty as free speech,” Cook later said. “And that’s why cancel culture wasn’t as big a problem in the decades after Franklin, because he laid those standards.”
Cook has written several books involving the founding fathers, but she does not have a history degree of any sort, according to her LinkedIn page. She lists a bachelor’s degree in music from Baylor University in 1992 and a master’s in education, communications, and public relations from Texas A&M University in 1995.
Fox News did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment on why she was depicted as a presidential historian on-air.
As Insider’s Rachel Greenspan reported, the term “cancel culture” is a relatively new phenomenon largely tied to social media and private companies taking actions against offensive speech or responding to backlash from various constituencies, and only got an Urban Dictionary entry in 2018.
Other Fox personalities have made similar historical analogies, such as when daytime anchor Bill Hemmer warned that cancel culture could “come after Bible characters next” because a Chicago committee was examining whether to relocate or remove statues and other public monuments.
With the segment falling in the last block of the “Fox & Friends” three hour time slot, co-host Brian Kilmeade did not have any followups and took Cook’s analysis at face value before moving on with the show.
“But it’s almost reassuring to know he had to deal with the same thing,” Kilmeade said. “And there’s always a pushback when it comes to free speech, where the line is. The line is: let’s hear everything.”
In a lawsuit seeking $1.6 billion in damages, MyPillow claims Dominion Voting Systems is trying to stifle unproven allegations of voter manipulation by “using today’s cancel culture” to sue people pushing conspiracy theories about its technology.
“Dominion’s purpose is to silence debate; to eliminate any challenge to the 2020 presidential election; and to cancel and destroy anyone who speaks out against Dominion’s work on behalf of the government in administering the election,” the lawsuit against the election technology company says.
Dominion’s lawsuit alleged Lindell used those false theories to juice his company’s profits by integrating his pillow advertising into the right-wing media ecosystem.
Lindell told Insider at the time that MyPillow in fact lost $65 million in deals with retailers, which he held up as evidence that he truly believes his own theories about the election.
“Those stores combined did $65 million in business last year,” Lindell said. “And now I won’t have them this year, or any year. They’re done.”
MyPillow says Dominion is trying to cancel its critics
Dominion – along with rival election technology company Smartmatic, which was named in false conspiracy theories about the 2020 election as well – has sued the likes of Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani, and Fox News. Dominion also sent more than 100 additional letters threatening litigation to people who pushed false theories about the company.
MyPillow’s lawsuit brings up Dominion’s litigation against Powell and Giuliani as examples of the company using “lawfare” to “cancel” and “intimidate” others. The lawsuit gives the example of an actuary who was “forced to self-censor” after Dominion mailed him a box “full of legal papers, which included lawsuits filed against other citizens along with a threatening demand letter.” A photograph of the pile of documents Clare Locke, the law firm representing Dominion, apparently sent to the anonymous actuary is included.
The MyPillow lawsuit compared Dominion’s “scorched earth campaign” to the McCarthy era, where people associated with communism were expelled from public life in the US and lost their livelihoods.
“So too today, those who, like MyPillow are merely associated with a critic of Dominion and the integrity of the 2020 election, face expulsion from public life in large parts of America,” the lawsuit says. “Dominion is using today’s cancel culture to eliminate dissent and to cover up the election issues that compromised the 2020 result.”
The definition of “cancel culture” can be contentious, but it generally refers to withdrawing support for those who espouse objectionable views.
As examples of cancelation, the lawsuit points to the fact that numerous retailers have stopped selling MyPillow products – a boycott that began after a pro-Trump mob overran the US Capitol over the election conspiracy theories – and because one radio station ended its advertising relationship with the company. The lawsuit also says that individual MyPillow employees have experienced harassment.
The former CNN host and Daily Mail columnist was interviewed virtually by Tucker Carlson for his new streaming show “Tucker Carlson Today,” which is behind a paywall on the Fox Nation streaming app.
Embracing American culture wars, Morgan decried how his freedom of speech was impinged upon after he criticized Meghan Markle for telling Oprah she experienced racism while in the British Royal Family.
“Now, is she deliberately lying? Is she completely delusional? I don’t know, but frankly, I don’t care,” Morgan said of Markle at the outset of the interview, which lasted for more than an hour.
Morgan decried “the appalling smearing of the Queen,” repeatedly blaming Markle for what he described as a direct implication that Queen Elizabeth is racist.
Markle never leveled that accusation at the Queen in her Oprah interview, though she would not name who exactly among the royal family told her husband Harry that their baby would not get security protection and that there were concerns over the baby’s skin color.
Later in the interview, Morgan said he should not have walked off the set of “Good Morning Britain” after co-host Alex Beresford told Morgan that he was taking Markle’s comments too personally because she ghosted him after they went out for a drink several years ago.
“Now I walked off for a few minutes, then I realized, this is stupid. I shouldn’t have walked off,” Morgan said. “You know, you should always be able to have a debate. I was angry in the moment that he was trying to personalize this, make it some personal vendetta I have with Meghan Markle, which I don’t.”
Carlson repeatedly praised Morgan, telling his British counterpart that he “checked every box on the journalism checklist” before his storming off the set. Carlson described that day’s “Good Morning Britain” show as “great television,” and congratulated Morgan for bringing the show ahead of the BBC’s morning program in ratings on that day.
“Well, I’ll tell you, it’s very interesting, because if you believe Twitter,” Morgan said, “I got my comeuppance rightly and deservedly. You know, the woke mob, their court had met. I’d been convicted summarily. Meghan Markle had complained to my boss, complained to the government regulator, and I was gone for not apologizing for disbelieving her.”
Much of the interview followed a similar framework exhibited when Carlson interviews other “canceled” guests.
“So if most people in Britain – and I think you speak for America, too – see what’s going on here, they see that it’s a scam, they see that wokeness is really an effort by the people who are already in charge to gain more power and wealth for themselves – it so clearly is that – why is everyone putting up with it?” Carlson said.
“Why in the nation that gave the rest of the world the freedom of speech – which is Great Britain, that’s where that right came from, they were the first to enshrine it – why is a small percentage of the population able to impose this un-English, un-Western idea on everybody else?” Carlson continued before Morgan could answer. “Like how is this working if no one is for it?”
Morgan said it is “terrifying” that “people feel so cowed by the fear of the woke mob that they can’t express an honestly held opinion without being immediately branded a racist,” before reiterating his grievances with Markle.
“The only reason we are having this conversation is because the Murdoch family, which controls Fox, is standing up in the face of the mob, and they haven’t bowed,” Carlson said. “I mean that’s literally the only reason that I still have my job, and we’re having this conversation.”
Before ending the interview at the one-hour 16-minute mark, Carlson asked Morgan what he’ll do next now that he is unemployed.
“Well, I’ve had some very interesting offers. My normal strategy when something like this happens is to take a few months off, to get a bit fit,” Morgan said. “Breakfast TV is pretty punishing on the torso … I’m gonna scheme and plot my next stage of global domination.”
As the notion of “cancel culture” has become a staple of GOP messaging, a majority of Americans do not agree on where it’s happening, according to a new Insider poll.
The survey was done in conjunction with SurveyMonkey among 1,129 respondents, with a 3% margin of error.
Republicans and conservative media figures often refer to cancel culture in vague terms, generally associating it with Democrats and college students.
Some critics of the phenomenon – defined by Merriam-Webster as a demand for “greater accountability from public figures” – make slippery arguments on how it could lead to government censorship or attacks on unrelated entities, such as Bible characters.
Respondents were asked “When you hear the term “cancel culture,” which of the following do you most associate it with? Please select all that apply.”
48% listed social media.
34% identified entertainment or Hollywood, the second most.
31% picked the news media.
20% listed colleges and universities.
16% said they don’t know what cancel culture means.
25% associated the term with the Democrats.
18% picked Republicans
Just 11% of respondents said they associate cancel culture with private companies, where most of the actual terminations and tangible consequences for current or past remarks tend to take place.
10% picked local communities.
10% listed the federal government, which is under far more constitutional constraints when it comes to free speech than private companies.
Partisan splits were more pronounced. Close to half of Republicans said they associate the term with Democrats, social media, and Hollywood.
Democratic primary voters, on the other hand, only came to a relative consensus on social media at 49%, while no other category got higher than 28%, which the group pegged to Republicans.
Only 7% of Republicans said they don’t know what cancel culture means, while Democrats matched the general sample at 16%.
For now, the polling indicates that cancel culture lacks the associations among the general public that are more prevalent in conservative media silos, and that partisan attitudes toward the term are substantial.
SurveyMonkey Audience polls from a national sample balanced by census data of age and gender. Respondents are incentivized to complete surveys through charitable contributions. Generally speaking, digital polling tends to skew toward people with access to the internet. SurveyMonkey Audience doesn’t try to weight its sample based on race or income. Polling data collected 1,129 respondents March 27-28, 2021 with a 3 percentage point margin of error.
Fox Business Network host Maria Bartiromo on Tuesday struggled to get a guest to agree with her that the cartoon character Pepé Le Pew was the latest example of cancel culture gone awry.
The salacious “Looney Tunes” skunk has been scrapped from the line-up for the upcoming “Space Jam” sequel, and Bartiromo suggested this was an instance of cancel culture going “overboard.”
“Cancel culture takes on cartoons,” Bartiromo declared at the top of the segment, which was first pointed out by Mediaite. “Bugs Bunny better watch out – they’re coming for him.”
Wall Street Journal writer Jon Hilsenrath, who joined Bartiromo to discuss the skunk’s fate, was not on the same page.
“Maria, I’m watching those videos that you have of this – I always used to think that cartoon was funny – but he is kind of grabbing and groping in ways that are just totally unacceptable today,” Hilsenrath said. “I kind of think norms change over time. And maybe it’s time for Pepé Le Pew to beat it.”
Pushing back, Bartiromo said, “But I mean are we going overboard here? Dr. Seuss, Mr. Potato Head. Come on, Jon.”
“I mean, I think we can go overboard. But watch that video! He’s grabbing that poor little cat in ways that you could never get away with right now,” Hilsenrath said in response, referring to Pepé Le Pew.
It’s not entirely clear why the skunk will not be in the upcoming film, per reporting from NBC News, but there’s speculation it’s linked to criticism of the character’s tendency to make unwanted advances.
More recently, a New York Times opinion piece by Charles Blow, which was cited by Bartiromo in Tuesday’s segment, asserted that Pepé Le Pew normalizes “rape culture.”
Fox has focused heavily on cancel culture in recent coverage, with hosts like Tucker Carlson bashing a recent move to stop the publication of six Dr. Seuss books that contained racist imagery. Republicans in Congress like Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio have echoed these sentiments, prompting criticism from Democrats who say the GOP has warped priorities.
“House Democrats are the party of crushing the coronavirus and providing relief to everyday Americans,” Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York said Tuesday. “House Republicans are the party of fake outrage as it relates to Dr. Seuss.”
“Texan Gina Carano broke barriers in the Star Wars universe: not a princess, not a victim, not some emotionally tortured Jedi,” Cruz tweeted. “She played a woman who kicked ass & who girls looked up to. She was instrumental in making Star Wars fun again. Of course Disney canceled her.”
Republicans have increasingly inserted themselves into cultural debates over so-called cancel culture, defending those who have been sacked or otherwise faced consequences for their speech on social media.
In Carano’s case, she was dropped by both Lucasfilm and her agency UTA after she made an Instagram post comparing the oppression and mass murder of Jews in Nazi Germany to modern-day conservatives in the US.
“Jews were beaten in the streets, not by Nazi soldiers but by their neighbors…even by children,” Carano wrote in a since deleted Instagram caption.
“Because history is edited, most people today don’t realize that to get to the point where Nazi soldiers could easily round up thousands of Jews, the government first made their own neighbors hate them simply for being Jews,” she continued. “How is that any different from hating someone for their political views?”
Carano has been the subject of criticism for other incidents on social media, such as in September 2020 when she listed her gender pronouns in her Twitter bio as “boop/bop/beep,” mimicking the practice of identifying one’s gender identity to avoid misgendering.
Fans decried the gesture as “transphobic,” and Carano did not apologize.
“Beep/bop/boop has zero to do with mocking trans people & [everything] to do with exposing the bullying mentality of the mob that has taken over the voices of many genuine causes,” Carano tweeted in her defense at the time.