Right-wing media have lambasted President Joe Biden after calling the philosophy of “extreme” pro-Trump Republicans “semi-fascism,” with criticism ranging from defining Biden’s comment as his “basket of deplorables” moment from the 2016 election accusing the president of being a fascist himself.
On August 25, 2022, at a Democratic fundraising event in Maryland, Biden characterized the increasingly radical ethos of many Trump-aligned Republicans, saying, “It’s not just Trump, it’s the whole philosophy behind the – I’m going to say something, is like semi-fascism. Biden later added“MAGA Republicans not only threaten our personal rights and economic security, they are a threat to our very democracy. They refuse to accept the will of the people. They embrace political violence. They don’t believe in democracy.
Following the fundraising event, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre further clarified these remarks, saying at a press conference on August 26: “You look at the definition of fascism and you think about what they’re doing attacking our democracy, what they’re doing and taking away our freedoms, wanting to take away our rights, our voting rights – I mean, that’s what it is. It’s very clear. And contrary to what some conservatives have claimed, Biden hasn’t portrayed the entire Republican Party that way; it specifically described “extreme MAGA philosophy”.
Although there is an open debate among scholars and experts on how the term “facism” might apply to the American political landscape, Ishaan Tharoor of The Washington Post explained that comparative political scientists have already documented “how the Modern Republican Party has drifted towards the extremes of western politics.” (Media Matters has previously demonstrated how Republican-aligned media have joined and even encouraged this extremist embrace.) Additionally, some scholars say Trump’s political ideology should be understood as “a brand of extreme pseudo-authoritarianism. straight for the moment”. Tharoor also referenced Jonathan Katz’s recent essay, which quoted an expert on fascism, writing, “This all scans the rhetoric and mood of modern republicanism pretty well.
Right-wing media responses to Biden’s comments have been varied and defensive. Fox News host Mark Levin said on his radio show that Biden was “a low life” and a “dumb, obsessive, narcissistic liar” in response to his comments. Some on Fox called Biden’s “basket of deplorables” comments of the moment, referencing Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign (even though those comments were true at the time, and turned out to be true later). Other right-wing media figures went much further, accusing Biden of stoking violence against his political opponents and being the true embodiment of fascism:
- Fox contributor Mollie Hemingway: Biden’s comments about GOP ‘semi-fascism’ were ‘more heinous than the worst thing Donald Trump has ever said’.
- The Sinclair Broadcast Group’s chief political correspondent, Scott Thuman, described the remarks as a breach of the president’s vow to unify the country and “contribute to the rhetoric” of political division.
- Fox contributor Leo Terrell said Biden’s comments had already “led to violence from left-wing extremists.”
- Fox host and former Trump White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Biden is “doubled down on a consistent hate message.”
- National Review apparently blamed Biden’s comments for the vandalism of a local Florida GOP office window.
- Fox host Jeanine Pirro claimed that “this is hate” and that “this kind of rhetoric leads to violence”.
- On Fox, former Trump adviser and white nationalist Stephen Miller called Biden’s comments “projection” and said, “If you want to know what a fascist party is, it’s Joe Biden’s Democratic Party. “.
- Rudy Giuliani said Democrats are “the ones who act like fascists”, while Steve Bannon replied, “No, Rudy, whoa, whoa, whoa, they don’t act like fascists, they’re fascists.”
- Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk said on Fox, “If they’re going to step up the language, then keep going. … If you’re going to call us a bunch of fascists, we’re not going to put up with it anymore. You are the fascist, Joe Biden, and there are other words we could use as well.
- Gateway Pundit has endorsed a right-wing Australian TV commentator claiming Biden is a fascist.
- Fox host Tucker Carlson said Biden’s comments were “essentially a declaration of war on half the country.”