Port: Thank you, Sen. Cramer, for calling a lie a lie

"We shouldn't have to applaud someone for telling the truth. Telling the truth should be expected. But given the political realities we're living with, telling the truth has become an act of bravery."

Kevin Cramer
North Dakota Congressman Kevin Cramer speaks to a group of Microsoft employees during a town hall meeting held at the company's Fargo campus in this undated file photo.
Dave Olson / The Forum

MINOT, N.D. — I wouldn't normally feel obliged to offer up thanks to anyone, up to and including an elected official, for calling a lie what it is.

But here we are.

Fox News promotes lies. The cable news network sold its viewers a heaping helping of malarkey about the 2020 election, even as its top hosts and executives privately acknowledged that what they were promoting was untrue. Now, with an assist from House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who gave Fox host Tucker Carlson exclusive access to tens of thousands of hours of video footage from the Jan. 6, 2021, riot, the network is once again telling bald-faced lies.

Using selected excerpts from more than 44,000 hours of footage that nobody else in the news media has access to, Carlson has told his audience that the violent conflagration we all saw at the U.S. Capitol in January 2021 was actually a largely peaceful demonstration. Then he repeated some of the stolen election lies, for good measure.

And the deeply troubling thing is that the Fox News audience is buying it.


It's an audacious bit of gaslighting. There are hours and hours of publicly available footage showing violent conflicts between law enforcement and Trump supporters at the Capitol that day. But much as Fox News isn't bothering to report on its opinion hosts and executives chastising their own reporters for telling the truth, they aren't showing their audience the Jan. 6 footage that shows a riot.

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This brings us to Sen. Kevin Cramer. He was among the first members of Congress to endorse Donald Trump's presidential campaign in 2016. His base of political support overlaps heavily with the Fox News audience that's been slurping up the network's lies. And yet, he had the courage to use the L-word when describing Carlson's coverage of Jan. 6 riot.

Cramer told NBC News that he reject's Carlson's depiction of “some rowdy peaceful protest of Boy Scouts.”

“I think that breaking through glass windows and doors to get into the United States Capitol against the borders of police is a crime. I think particularly when you come into the chambers, when you start opening the members' desks, when you stand up in their balcony — to somehow put that in the same category as, you know, permitted peaceful protest is just a lie,” Cramer said.

To repeat, "a lie."

But not just one lie, we should note. Many lies. Lie after lie, told by Fox News hosts like Carlson, of course, but also disgraced former President Donald Trump who, let's face it, is the target audience for Carlson's lying.

We know, from the disclosures in the Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit against Fox that the network's hosts and executives are afraid to report the truth to Trump's base . They're terrified that if they report that Trump lost the 2020 election, or that Jan. 6 really was a violent political assault on the election process, Trump's base will leave Fox behind and go to other sources willing to tell them the lies they want to hear.

Which is why it's notable that Cramer is speaking up. Much of his base is Trump's base too. Calling this lie a lie is not without political risk.


So thank you, Sen. Cramer, for speaking out. I hope you continue to call out these lies. I hope your colleagues, Sen. John Hoeven, and Congressman Kelly Armstrong, join you in speaking out.

Because what's at stake is something more than politics. This isn't about ideology. This is about whether we're willing, as Americans, to confront inconvenient truths, or bury our heads in the sand and pretend as though they don't exist.

Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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