On Wednesday afternoon, Congress met to participate in what has heretofore been a ceremonial acceptance of the electoral votes of every state.

Many Republicans planned to disrupt the proceedings by challenging the outcomes of swing states, not because they believed there was any real chance of overturning the result of the presidential election, but to score points with Donald Trump’s base.

Notably, Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri brazenly paraded their presidential ambitions for 2024. These disruptors were themselves disrupted by the sounds of yells, blows and shots fired.

All major news outlets showed images of armed, violent Trump supporters invading the halls of Congress. In the aftermath of the riot, as TV cameras surveyed the damage, congressmen and senators were visibly shaken by the violence.

Unsurprisingly, few Republicans clearly blamed Trump for inciting the riot; only Sen. Mitt Romney was brave enough to say Trump deliberately misinformed his followers, stoked their outrage and provoked “an unprecedented attack against our democracy.”

To prevent Trump from making any more calls for public disorder, Facebook and Twitter have shut down the president’s accounts. But on Fox News, the president’s apologists have busily begun establishing an alternate version of reality. Laura Ingraham launched the schoolyard taunt of “You’re worse” by citing the violence associated with a “summer” of Black Lives Matter protests. She conveniently overlooks the real distinction between protest and insurrection.

At no point has BLM or a Democrat interfered with the workings of government, let alone advocated the overthrow of democracy. But Fox News flacks are just getting warmed up in their defense of the indefensible. On his Wednesday night show, Tucker Carlson claimed the protesters were “frustrated” because the Democrats refused to “listen” to their complaints of fraud. Vehemently, Carlson said he backed their refusal to “obey!” How conveniently, he ignores the 60-plus court cases lost by Giuliani and Co.; even Trump-appointed judges wanted something called proof. Moreover, the obedience required is to the rule of law.

As Romney explained to the slow-witted, Trump lost and Biden won. “The best way we can respect the voters who were upset,” Romney declared, “is by telling them the truth.”

Beyond Trump, who has repeatedly lied about the election results, beyond the cowardly Republicans who have silently stood by and tolerated corruption and self-dealing, beyond the Ted Cruzes and Josh Hawleys who have put personal ambition before duty to country, the ultimate cause of this threat to democracy has been the single-minded Fox attack dogs who have misinformed their viewers. Flacks like Ingraham and Carlson have treated the business of government like a pair of sportscasters at a cockfight. But who benefits from this bellicosity?

Ultimately, it is Rupert Murdoch who is in the business of selling red meat. Apparently, so long as sales are good and his business is profitable, Murdoch doesn’t care whether his product is noxious and bad for the health of the nation.

According to the Pew Research Center, 24 percent of Americans rely on Fox News for their information. They don’t know about Trump’s self-dealing and corruption; what they know is a creation of Fox propaganda. The reality show Trump Presidency has made for exciting television and a plump bottom line. But a billionaire’s love of the buck should not count more than the health of our democracy. We need a day of reckoning. Murdoch and his associates are a clear and present danger to democracy and must be held to account for their lies.

Dorothy Klopf of Santa Fe has a bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree from Cornell University and has taught in the English departments at Princeton University and the University of California, Los Angeles.

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