Jenna Ellis, the Salem Media host who served as one of Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign attorneys, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to a felony charge of aiding and abetting false statements in the Georgia election subversion case. Her plea deal, the third in the last week, followed those from notorious election conspiracy theorist Sidney Powell and fake electors artist Kenneth Chesebro.
The rapid succession of guilty pleas not only marks a big blow to Trump, but also to the right-wing media apparatus that championed and disseminated his election lies to the masses. In the aftermath of the 2020 election, both Ellis and Powell toured across MAGA Media, becoming heroes to Trump’s fans as they sowed doubt about the legitimacy of the election.
Now they’re confessing to the public that they were wrong all along. In a tearful statement read aloud in court on Tuesday, Ellis admitted that she failed to actually understand the facts of the 2020 election and said she looked back on her actions contesting the results “with deep remorse.”
“If I knew then what I know now, I would have declined to represent Donald Trump in these post-election challenges,” Ellis said, shedding tears.
If only such a damning admission received more coverage in the media spaces in which she had spread her corrosive lies. Matt Gertz of the progressive watchdog Media Matters pointed out that Ellis’ plea deal received a mere three minutes of coverage on Fox News through 3pm ET Tuesday. Fox News, which repeatedly hosted Ellis in the wake of the 2020 election, suddenly became disinterested in the former Trump lawyer.
The result is that a good portion of the channel’s audience, made up of legions of viewers who willfully seclude themselves in right-wing media safe spaces, will likely miss the consequential news. They will instead only remember the lies that she helped push into the GOP’s collective consciousness. That’s a shame.
Nevertheless, Trump’s allies are learning that the fact-free alternate universe of right-wing media where they shot to stardom stands in stark contrast to the facts-only world of the legal system.
Fox News paid a historic $787 million settlement to Dominion Voting Systems earlier this year for airing and repeating some of the same corrosive lies that are now prompting guilty pleas in a Fulton County courtroom. Despite talking a big game about their legal prospects out of court, Fox’s attorneys struggled to make their case before a judge and Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch ultimately moved to settle the blockbuster defamation lawsuit at the eleventh hour to avoid an embarrassing — and potentially even more costly — trial.
As it settled the case, the right-wing network said in a public statement that it “acknowledge[s] the Court’s rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false,” effectively admitting that it broadcast blatantly untrue assertions about the election.
Alas, in the post-fact world where lies and outlandish conspiracy theories are tossed around in media echo chambers, the courts have become the one final institution where misleading claims finally meet the truth. On Tuesday, Ellis ran straight into that wall, marking yet another Trump ally who has succumbed to the rigid nature of the law.
The question is, how long can Trump himself outrun the truth?