Calling out Fox News on Tuesday for falsely smearing Rep. Angie Craig (D-MN) after she was violently attacked, CNN anchor Jake Tapper accused the conservative cable giant of peddling a “blatant lie” that inspired deranged viewers to bombard the congresswoman with abusive calls.
After Craig was assaulted in the elevator of her D.C. apartment building earlier this month by a violent repeat offender, the Minnesota lawmaker called for a crackdown on crime and recidivism. Fox News then followed up by framing the representative as a hypocrite because of her supposed ties to the so-called “Defund the Police” movement, noting a former staffer’s support for the racial justice protests after George Floyd’s 2020 murder.
After the network’s most-watched show The Five ran a segment last week criticizing Craig for her supposedly anti-police stance, the congresswoman’s office released excerpts of profane phone messages she’d received saying she “deserved” her attack. Some of the calls specifically referenced The Five’s coverage of Craig.
“I’m listening to your story on The Five. So, you got attacked, huh? In Minnesota? Well, that’s what you get for turning that what, five or six-time felon, crack-smoking, fentanyl-eating, counterfeit money-passing, armed robber holding guns on fetuses, n****r [George] Floyd as a public hero,” one racist caller shouted. The same caller also said they hoped to soon see Craig violently sexually assaulted.
Interviewing Craig on Tuesday, Tapper aired a montage of the abhorrent calls the congresswoman had received alongside The Five segment that appeared to encourage the campaign.
“If you want to defund the police, we’ll notify 9-1-1,” Fox News host Jeanine Pirro said in the Feb. 15 broadcast. “Whenever you call them, you don’t get the police… That’s what they want; that’s what they should get. But now that the congresswoman has been victimized, now she feels your pain? Nonsense. And for those who say ‘at least now she’s on our side,’ baloney! You’ve done your damage, stick with it!”
Craig, whose office has flagged her support for law enforcement and police funding, told Tapper that both Fox and the National Republican Congressional Committee have “accelerated the number of attacks we’re getting directly and specifically.” (The NRCC called Craig a “hypocrite” for “backtracking” in her “previous support for defunding the police” on the same day Fox News took aim at the congresswoman.)
“The lies are dangerous, and what I want the GOP to do is I want them to stop lying about my record and about the record of Democrats in general across the country,” Craig added. “You know, I have a strong relationship and track record of supporting law enforcement in the second district of Minnesota. In fact, I was literally endorsed by the police in my last election.”
Pointing out that Craig has “never called for defunding the police,” Tapper explained that Fox News’ claims about her largely center on a one-time staffer’s comments while noting that it does appear “fueled” by the NRCC’s statement last week.
“It’s spurious stuff. I never found any evidence you called for defunding the police,” Tapper continued, prompting Craig to confirm that the GOP published the statement nearly a week after she was assaulted.
“This is just really an illustration of how gutter politics and outright lies and absurdities have infiltrated our politics and, frankly, Fox News and many of the commentators who work there,” she exclaimed. “And it’s dangerous. It’s dangerous to elected officials like myself. It’s dangerous to our democracy when you can’t tell the truth to your viewers.” Tapper, meanwhile, observed that her views on policing shouldn’t even really matter in the first place.
“I mean to be clear, even if you had called for defunding the police, that doesn’t mean that anybody should be making light of you being punched in the face,” the anchor declared. “I mean, it doesn’t matter your political position. That said, they’re also just lying. It’s just a blatant lie.”
Asked by Tapper what she would say to the people “who are lying about your record” or feel that it is okay to threaten her, Craig replied that it’s “super dangerous,” “out of control” and they “need to stop lying about our records.”
The NRCC, for its part, has remained unapologetic over its false claims about Craig and her political positions.
“No one condones violence against elected officials,” NRCC National Press Secretary Will Reinert said in a statement on Friday. “But Angie Craig cannot dispute she is closely associated with defund the police extremists and voted with Ilhan Omar 93 percent of the time.”