We’ve reached the point in the story where the Trump administration seeks to actively discredit the Mueller investigation, which has in recent weeks been picking up speed thanks to more visible actions like charges being filed against Michael Flynn. Over the weekend, the campaign to discredit Mueller ramped up, with a Republican senator calling for an investigation into Mueller’s team’s political leanings, Trump’s lawyers accusing Mueller of improperly acquiring administration emails, and a characteristically ineloquent series of marble-mouthed missives from the president himself (sample: “Not looking good, it’s not looking good”).

And yet any true watcher of this administration knows to look for bellwethers not from the president himself or the Republican apparatus that enables him, but, rather, Fox News, which may as well be his actual cabinet at this point. Host Jesse Watters ripped off a scorcher of partisan fear-mongering this weekend, in which he laid out his own poorly structured case that the Mueller investigation is no investigation, but a coup! Here, in America!

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Afterward, he brought on the official mascot of factual authority in 2017, Kellyanne Conway, whose particular brand of bloviation really makes for better TV on oppositional turf, but managed to bloviate all the same above a caption reading “A COUP IN AMERICA?”:

And look: A “coup” is a word that has a specific meaning, which is to say a sudden and violent overthrow of power, and a methodical, government-sanctioned investigation ain’t it. This word choice blew up on politics Twitter.

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Anyway, it’s all one more tiny provocation in the rhetorical war the right is waging on the notion of objective reality, but worth commemorating with despair all the same. It all points toward a strategy, not necessarily coordinated but certainly focused, of first discrediting the Mueller investigation so that it can then be ignored entirely or perhaps shuttered as some sort of partisan vestige of the previous administration. (You will recall that was Jeff Sessions who appointed Mueller in the first place, but never mind that.) The misinformation will be bought entirely by Fox’s audience, a group that you may previously recall had to be told not to smash their Keurigs as an act of protest. 2018 is going to be great.

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