Three Fox News stars on Sunday publicly squabbled over whether former President Donald Trump or Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is to blame for the Republican Party’s midterm elections flop—a preview of the divisions taking hold within the GOP and the cable-news outlet that often acts as its de facto communications arm.
While many Republicans have blamed Trump and his far-right, election-denying candidates for the midterms underperformance, the former president and his allies have taken to blaming McConnell and party leadership for the failure to generate a so-called “red wave” election sweep.
Fox News contributor Marc Thiessen on Sunday morning tore into the notion that McConnell is to blame, tweeting: “Amount McConnell spent bailing out Trump candidates: $241 million. Amount Trump spent backing his own candidates: $14.7 million... But, yeah, let’s get rid of McConnell.”
“Spot on,” wrote fellow Fox News star Brit Hume, a veteran conservative political analyst.
The Fox News pair’s agreement on the matter appeared to irk their colleague Mark Levin, who hosts a bombastic weekend program on the network.
“No, spot off,” the right-wing radio host retorted in a tweet. He blasted McConnell for spending millions on GOP candidate Joe O’Dea’s failed challenge to Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in Colorado while spending “nothing” on the tight Arizona Senate race in which Sen. Mark Kelly ultimately defeated MAGA challenger Blake Masters.
Levin further complained about McConnell having spent “millions” on “trashing” Kelly Trshibaka, the ardently pro-Trump challenger to moderate Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a villain in MAGA circles. That Alaska Senate race will now go to a ranked-choice runoff as neither Republican cleared 50 percent of the vote.
“You guys seem to think if only McConnell could have picked more establishment candidates these Democrat incumbents would’ve been defeated,” Levin wrote to Hume and Thiessen. “You’ve no evidence for that at all. The GOP establishment hates the base. Even before Trump, it hated the Tea Party. Get your facts straight.”
1. No, spot off. How much did McConnell spend in Colorado on his favorite candidate? Millions. He was blown away. How much did he spend on smearing the conservative in Alaska? Millions. How much did he spend on the Arizona Senate race. Nothing. https://t.co/yIgCOkq57n
— Mark R. Levin (@marklevinshow) November 12, 2022
Hume replied by asking Levin, “[H]ow much did Trump spend to support the candidates he endorsed? Practically nothing. McConnell meanwhile spent tens of millions to support Trump-backed candidates, some of whom had criticized McConnell.” The Fox star cited Ohio’s MAGA Senator-elect J.D. Vance as an example.
“But you didn’t answer my examples,” Levin shot back before pivoting to a list of grievances with McConnell that “goes well beyond this election,” including having “no agenda.” He eventually conceded the spending disparities, writing: “As for Trump spending, that’s true, but he made several appearances for numerous candidates. McConnell made none because he’s very unpopular with the base of his own party. Can’t we agree on something so obvious? It’s time for somebody else.”
— Marc Thiessen 🆓🇺🇦 (@marcthiessen) November 12, 2022
After Thiessen replied by citing the exact figures for how much McConnell spent on key races, Levin retorted, “You guys crack me up,” before once again railing against McConnell’s efforts to bolster more “establishment” Republican candidates in several key races.
The conservative host further took issue with his Fox colleagues continually describing some failed nominees as “‘Trump’ candidates,” noting, “That’s who the voters wanted to run in the general. So you’re attacking the voters.”