Republicans have long faced uphill battles against mainstream media pundits, especially since many are so sympathetic to Democrats.

"The media are enforcers for the Democrats. If Democrats step out of line, they immediately attack them," Dan Gainor told Fox News.

However, every so often there are a few Republicans who appear to actually receive admiration from mainstream journalists, even after years of scorn. That only happens when they oppose someone the media hates or go against their own party. It’s a pattern that has become increasingly clear over the past few years. 

Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois are the latest examples as the media had nothing but love this week for these Republicans when they stood front and center as the only two elephants on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's Democratic-led committee to investigate the Capitol riots on January 6.

Cheney was once the object of constant disdain from journalists not only for her father Dick Cheney’s record but her own politics. 

In 2013, MSNBC host Chris Hayes said the following of Cheney: "[She] boils up a stew of the most repugnant factless fear-mongering propaganda to rile up the darkest forces of the far political fringe."

In 2019, CNN analyst Chris Cillizza referred to her as "nonsensical" for arguing on behalf of President Donald Trump’s decision to pull troops out of Syria. "Cheney’s argument would be funny if she wasn’t serious about it," he wrote.

The Washington Post also featured multiple articles and opinion pieces against Cheney, including "Liz Cheney’s empty words."

However, these opinions changed when Cheney placed herself in direct opposition of Trump and his claims that 2020 presidential election was "stolen."

"The 2020 presidential election was not stolen. Anyone who claims it was is spreading THE BIG LIE, turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning our democratic system," Cheney wrote on Twitter in May.


Republican lawmakers ultimately voted to remove Cheney as House GOP Conference chair. Amid the strife, Hayes came to Cheney's defense, referring to the Republican Party’s treatment of her as "Orwellian."

"The tendency on display here—to turn a simple statement of fact, of reality, of what happened into a political litmus test—is unnerving to say the least," Hayes said.

The Washington Post also allowed Cheney to defend herself in an op-ed on May 5.

Cheney's sudden hero status in the mainstream media was only elevated when she agreed to be part of Pelosi's January 6 committee.

Former foe Cillizza suddenly praised Cheney in his analysis titled "Every Republican should be required to read Liz Cheney's opening statement." 

"Because of Cheney's willingness to risk her career to take a stand on something she believes in deeply, it's worth listening when she talks," he wrote.

The media's portrayal of Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger has followed a similar pattern. Although not a high-ranking Republican, he originally received some backlash from media pundits for defending Trump’s border wall initiative. In an MSNBC interview in 2019, Kinzinger argued in favor of the wall.

 "How is a wall immoral? I have four walls around my house. They keep bad people out and critters out," he said.

The Washington Post later ran a piece with a headline claiming that Kinzinger compared immigrants to "critters." CNN responded in a similar way. "What is the proper context for comparing people to critters?" Kinzinger was asked.

All was forgiven with Kinzinger after the Jan. 6 riots when he emerged as the first Republican to demand Trump's immediate from office and joined Democrats in a call to invoke the 25th Amendment. Trump is the common denominator for Cheney and Kinzinger - the more they opposed him, the more the media loved them. Their decision to go against their party and serve on the January 6 committee only further fueled their newfound popularity in the press. 

CNN analyst John Avlon later complimented both Kinzinger and Cheney for their actions, claiming they were "stepping up." 

"Kinzinger and Cheney are stepping up," Avlon said. "And it's very clear that, you know, this is about patriotism. This is not about party."

Dan Gainor, VP for Free Speech America, Business and Culture for the Media Research Center, said the media's change of heart on Cheney and Kinzinger is standard procedure for a Republican in the public eye.

"The only respectable figure on the right has to say what the media wants. If you do, they boost your career," Gainor told Fox News. "That only escalated during the Trump era. As figures would go out there, the media would skewer them until they stabbed Trump in the back."


Utah Sen. Mitt Romney and late Arizona Sen. John McCain had similar experiences with the media.

McCain, a Vietnam War veteran and former prisoner of war, faced intense scrutiny and disgust during his presidential run in 2008 against Barack Obama. As Larry Elder noted in 2018, the New York Times had described McCain as "running a campaign on partisan division, class warfare and even hints of racism." 

However, after McCain's death in 2018, the Times lauded the Arizona senator, saying he "gave hope for the future. His example still does." This praise came after McCain’s frequent feuds with Trump as well as his vote against repealing the Affordable Care Act.

Romney likewise faced severe attacks from the press during his 2012 presidential run. CNN previously reported three times as many negative stories compared to positive ones. CNN correspondent Jessica Yellin at the time implied Romney was sexist, claiming his comments "made it sound almost like working women are some mail-order product you can order out of colored binders."

However, in 2020, after Romney was the only Republican senator to vote in favor of convicting Trump during his first impeachment trial, CNN correspondents found a newfound respect for the Republican politician. Jim Acosta referred to his vote as a "profile in courage." Avlon agreed, saying, "That was the sound of a man who had wrestled with his conscience, who tried to think bigger than partisan politics, and ultimately kept faith with his oath, his promise to God."

The one lesson learned in the cases of Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger, John McCain and Mitt Romney is this: The mainstream media love rogue Republicans who align with their ideology and further the Democratic Party's goals.

"When people agree with them, they get attention. When people don’t agree with them, they get no attention," Gainor told Fox News.

By contrast, Republicans who criticized the committee or other Democrat initiatives continued to face harsher treatment, such as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. In the meantime, Democrats have faced criticism from media pundits only when diverting against Democratic goals, such as West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and his opposition to ending the filibuster.


"The media use Republicans who want to be popular with them as foils against the right, but they don’t do the same with the left," Gainor explained. "They use liberal people to drag the Democratic party to the left, and they use wild card people within the Republican party to bring their party to the left."

In Cheney and Kinzinger, their addition to Pelosi’s committee gave credence to her claims that the investigation would have "no partisanship." Meanwhile, Kinzinger has emerged as a new national figure as an outspoken Trump critic among his fellow congressmen.

Despite this fame on CNN, MSNBC, and the New York Times, these Republicans continue to face criticism from their fellow Republicans in both Congress and the media. 

"They’re simply jockeying for book deals and future career opportunities, and the media are helping them. As long as the Republican Party will exist, this will be their tactic," Gainor said.