Although it’s not a new trend, 2023 thus far has undoubtedly been a prolific one for GOP fear mongering fake controversies into existence.
As my colleague David Kurtz described the latest episode of this “the government is coming after your [fill in the blank]!!” saga in Morning Memo last week: it’s all a bunch of low-rent propaganda and a reflection of the powerful role manufactured outrage plays in conservative circles. But we revel in it nonetheless.
Here is a list of my favorite things MAGA culture warriors claimed the government is coming after in the last year:
All hell broke loose in January when a member of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, Richard Trumka Jr., suggested that his agency should consider regulating or even banning gas stoves after a new study at the time found that 12.7% of “current childhood asthma in the US is attributable to gas stove use.”
Trumka actually withdrew the short-lived proposal to regulate gas stoves after it failed to gain support from his four fellow commissioners – but it was too late.
The gas-stove hysteria took over the Republican party like a wildfire (no pun intended), leading to over-the-top declarations by several members of Congress that they’re ready to die for their stoves.
“You’ll have to pry it from my COLD DEAD HANDS!,” House Freedom Caucus member Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) tweeted, posting a video of his dirty stovetop.
And the best one yet:
“God. Guns. Gas stoves,” fellow far-right Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) proclaimed earlier this year.
This outrage cycle began when the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) proposed rules that would impose energy efficiency standards on ceiling fans as well as some other household appliances.
The new rule — which was proposed in June — would make fans more energy efficient, saving consumers money in the process by cutting fan-related electricity costs by about 40%, according to the agency.
But it seems all that Republicans got out of this proposal was that the government was coming for your ceiling fans now too.
Republicans on the House Small Business Committee pressed Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm for answers last month, accusing the department of creating rules that are burdensome to smaller manufacturers.
In response to the uproar, some House Republicans, once again, took to their favorite platform to complain. This is somehow not satire:
“First, they went after your car. Then, they targeted your gas stoves. Now, they are coming for your ceiling fans,” Rep. Ben Cline (R-VA) tweeted in August. “America will continue to reject the Biden Climate Police’s authoritarianism.”
Possibly the most ridiculous one on the list, the faux outrage over beers started after National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) Director Dr. George Koob hinted in an interview that the U.S. guidelines for alcohol consumption could soon match Canada’s: down to two drinks a week.
The current guideline, which won’t be updated until 2025, recommends limiting consumption to two alcoholic drinks or less in a day for men and one drink or less a day for women. But, of course, these are — just like the two drinks a week guideline would be — recommended numbers.
Showcased by Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) cringey performative outburst, it seems the “recommended” part went over some Republicans’ head. But, for these guys, ignoring facts is the point.
“These idiots have come out and said, drink two beers a week. That’s their guideline,” Cruz said last week in a bizarre, SNL-esque TV interview. “Well, I gotta tell you if they want us to drink two beers a week, frankly, they can kiss my ass.”
The bit is mechanical and unnatural, made that much worse by the anchor pulling out a bottle himself while on air.
And finally, an oldie but a goldie.
The imaginary hamburger outrage is actually from two years ago, but I would be remiss not to include this one in the list.
As my colleague Kate Riga detailed in her April 2021 piece, the hysteria around meat started after a speech by President Joe Biden. As he delivered remarks during the “Virtual Leaders Summit on Climate,” Biden laid out his plan to cut its greenhouse emissions in half by 2030.
Biden’s plan, short on specifics, prompted a British tabloid to fill in the blanks for him, spreading all kinds of outlandish disinformation.
“How Biden’s climate plan could limit you to eat just one burger a MONTH, cost $3.5K a year per person in taxes, force you to spend $55K on an electric car and ‘crush’ American jobs,” the Daily Mail pithy headline read.
It all went downhill from there.
Fox News and conservative radio shows launched a loop of segments on how the government is coming after viewers’ hamburgers and red meat.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) dubbed President Biden the “Hamburglar.”
And Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) declared the President needs to stay out of her kitchen.