On Thursday night, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) managed to insert a far-right dog whistle into his interview with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham over the continued investigation into Russian collusion.
Nunes was talking with Ingraham over Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D-CA) decision to expand the investigation to examine wider accusations of financial impropriety by Trump’s businesses, a move which Nunes strenuously objected.
“For the first time, we show up to our business meeting just to organize and there must’ve been 15 cameras down there and 30 press people, and I’m thinking what in the world are these people doing here,” Nunes said. “Well, we found out because [Schiff] announced at the business meeting he was reopening the Russia investigation. I don’t know what these people are going to do, this cottage industry of press people, they’re going to have to go learn code or something.”
The learn to code meme began in late January, when HuffPost, Buzzfeed News, and several other media companies all announced layoffs that would eventually affect more than a thousand journalists nationwide. This, naturally, delighted the far-right, who regularly disparage the press as “enemies of the people” (and much worse) and had previously launched coordinated harassment campaigns against individual journalists, like HuffPost’s Luke O’Brien after he exposed a far-right Twitter troll.
The idea behind was to mock journalists with the same elitist attitude they had supposedly directed towards other American workers who had been laid off, and how they could simply “retrain” for an alternate career path. The meme, however, went beyond mocking and began to serve as a de-facto harassment campaign to kick journalists when they were already down.
“I think it was brilliant, in a way,” HuffPost reporter Lauren Bassett previously told ThinkProgress. “… On its face, this ‘learn to code’ thing looks innocuous and makes journalists look soft. But something much scarier is bubbling underneath.”
This is hardly the first time that the far-right and Fox News have merged together. Tucker Carlson, for example, is beloved by the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer and was featured in 265 articles written on the site from 2016 to 2018, according to an independent analysis from BuzzFeed News. At an Arkansas rally last November, neo-Nazis specifically told ThinkProgress they were happy Tucker Carlson had brought up the issue of “white genocide” in South Africa.
Ingraham has not been shy of pandering to the far-right’s overt racism either. “In some parts of the country, it does seem like the America we know and love doesn’t exist anymore,” she said in August. “Massive demographic changes have been foisted upon the American people, and they’re changes that none of us ever voted for, and most of us don’t like.”
Nunes, for his part, has also repeatedly fluttered his eyelashes at the far-right. Last September, he was photographed along with several members of the far-right Proud Boys gang. He has also directed his ire at the press in the form of his local paper, the Fresno Bee, calling the paper “fake news” and accusing it of “working closely with radical left-wing groups.”