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The Truth According to Kari Lake

The MAGA candidate for governor of Arizona believes some strange things.
October 8, 2021
The Truth According to Kari Lake
(Photos: GettyImages / Kari Lake Twitter Screenshot / Shutterstock)

The candidate Donald Trump endorsed to be the next governor of Arizona made a big show of quitting the job she held for decades as the face of Phoenix’s Fox 10 news because, as she tells it, she didn’t want to lie to people anymore.

When she made her break, she filmed a video:

In the past few years, I haven’t felt proud to be a member of the media. I found myself reading news copy that I didn’t believe was fully truthful or only told part of the story and I began to feel that I was contributing to the fear and division in this country by continuing on in this profession. It’s been a serious struggle for me and I no longer want to do this job anymore.

At that time, she hadn’t announced her intent to run for governor yet. But, she told viewers she would keep in touch. “I promise, if you hear it from my lips, it will be truthful,” she vowed.

The truth, you see, is very important to Kari Lake. That said, her version of the truth is an odd thing.

Lake announced her bid for governor in June with a video that touted her honesty. Lake talked about how she “earned the trust” of Arizonians by “bringing the real story into your living room night after night.”

Don’t bother trying to square how Lake could both “earn the trust” of viewers by “bringing the real story” night after night while also having copped to “reading news copy that she didn’t believe was fully truthful or only told part of the story” and “contributing to the fear and division in this country.”

Because squaring these things is not the point.

“As governor, I’ll bring truth, courage, and integrity back to the State Capitol,” Lake says. She testifies to her love of the truth in nearly every interview and stump speech. It’s a central part of her campaign. Her new identity is that of a woman who sacrificed her glitzy career in the corporate media because her soul, filled with such integrity and virtue, couldn’t bear to see the MAGA-loving masses disparaged any longer.

What are these important truths?

“The truth is that basically there’s no risk to kids and people your age from COVID,” she told a young women’s leadership event organized by Turning Point USA. That was one of her many medical truths.

“The truth is that hydroxychloroquine works and other inexpensive treatments work,” she said. “And guess what? Florida is doing fine.” (Fact check: Florida is not doing fine.)

When it comes to Joe Biden, Lake told another audience: “I truly believe he either hates America, or he is owned by China.”

Also: “Paul Gosar is one of the greatest congressmen this country has ever seen.” Which, in fairness, might be true if your measuring stick for greatness is white nationalism and insurrection planning. But maybe those are the truths she considers to be self-evident.

As lovely as the COVID hoaxing and Gosar puffery is, Lake was shrewd enough to recognize one very real truth: That the only way to please Donald Trump is by flattering him publicly. After following him at an event in August she gushed:

Wasn’t it great to hear from President Trump? . . . Do you guys love him as much as I love him? Let me ask you this? Do you miss him as much as I miss him? Ah! Can we just get him back, please? God, I don’t know. I love that president because you know why he loves us. He loves us so much. He loves this country. He fights for us and he always put America first. Every day, he fought for us. He still does. And I am so proud because of President Trump to say that I am a Trump Republican.

She laid it on so thick that even Mike Pence would have blushed.

But while Trump probably loved it, it wasn’t what earned his endorsement.

Trump didn’t endorse Lake until September 28, days after the long-awaited results from the sham Arizona “audit” were revealed.

In the run-up to that release, Lake made all the right stops. She appeared on Seb Gorka’s radio show, for example, to talk about how:

We need to get to the bottom of what happened in 2020, because nobody with any commonsense believes what we were told about this election is true. We’re going to find out very soon in the coming days what the forensic audit reveals. And we may find out that the winner we were told really wasn’t the winner.

“May” find out. That was early September and Lake was still hedging her bets. But even then, she was drawing contrasts to show she was the most MAGA.

“It’s not enough to say you are for ‘Election Integrity’ if you are not for DECERTIFYING the 2020 election is wrongdoing, fraud, or different results are revealed,” she tweeted on September 14. “I am the ONLY candidate for AZ Governor calling for and demanding decertification, if audit shows Trump won.”

She leaned into the Cyber Ninja audit, hard, making appearances where she said things like, “From what I’m hearing, we’re going to find out that the real winner was not called on Election Night. And that we’re gonna find out that President Trump was the real winner of Arizona. That’s what I believe is going to happen.”

This belief, sadly, didn’t turn out to be the truth.

So Lake moved her target. After the report came out, she told OAN’s Christina Bobb, “This is a big moment for Mark Brnovich,” referring to Arizona’s Republican attorney general. “If he doesn’t do the right thing at this moment and bring indictments and file criminal charges against the people who were involved in this, then we will not have a state,” she said. “We will not have a country.”

She talked about jailing members of the media, too. Because she cares so damn much about the truth:

The count was right, but that’s including bad votes, fraudulent votes, dead people voting and all of that. They never put in the important part. They only put the little tiny half-truth that supports their narrative, their propagandas, and they all should be ashamed of themselves. And frankly, if they’re doing this with knowledge that they’re putting out fake news and false news and propaganda, we should look at criminally charging them as well because they are duping the public.

Oh, and about that decertification? She called for it anyway. Even without an audit to support her case. She claimed that had she been governor in 2020, she wouldn’t have certified the election—no matter what the vote counts said. Because she knows the single most important truth in Republican politics: Any election which shows Donald Trump losing is by definition illegitimate.

Lake’s campaign is based on the three-legged MAGA stool: rejecting vaccine mandates, decertifying the 2020 election, and jailing opponents. In her mind, these issues dovetail nicely because:

We wouldn’t be standing here watching our rights be pulled away if the election was fair and if the real winner was announced on November 3rd. The election and our medical freedom go hand-in-hand. They absolutely go hand-in-hand. We are gonna find out today that were lied to on November 3rd. We already know that. And the reason it matters is because if Donald Trump were in office, we would not be here today because we wouldn’t have these bullshit laws pushed on us. Now let me ask you a question. Do you think any of these other candidates running for governor, when we find out there was fraud, and we find out there were criminals involved in our election, do you think they will ever prosecute them? They won’t. Because they are buddies with these criminals over here. As your governor we will prosecute everybody involved in our election fraud.

This little speech took place at a rally before the Cyber Ninjas released their disappointing report.

But it’s hard out there for a MAGA truth-telling ex-local news talking head. At that same medical freedom-slash-election integrity rally, Lake was heckled by members of the Patriot Party of Arizona who wanted her to sign a petition advocating for a raft of voting restrictions and changes—including the complete elimination of all early voting and all electronic voting machines. (Wonder how long it would take to get results on Election Night without machine counts? Don’t ask.)

Lake refused to sign it, telling the audience she wouldn’t cave to “bullies” and that she would carefully read anything before ever signing it. She lectured the petition advocates for their poor manners. It was a made-for-TV moment where she took on the far-right wing of the Republican party. And then, after the speech, away from the crowd, she read the document and signed it.

Again: She understands the truth. To be Full MAGA, you may have no enemies to the right.

And she also understands optics. What do you think her self-styled armed guards are for?

Lake seems undeterred by her failure to predict events correctly because she’s now predicting that the Democratic candidate for governor, Katie Hobbs, will be in jail during the general election. “I think Katie Hobbs is going to have a really tough time campaigning from behind bars, to be honest,” Lake told Steve Bannon on a recent podcast. “That’s where that woman might be in short order.” (The “to be honest” is the best part.)

Even Bannon had to laugh. “You’ve become very Trumpian, very quickly,” he said. “What do you mean, Katie Hobbs is going to be behind bars?”

“Okay, you know what I mean, Steve. She’s basically the mastermind of the 2020 election, here in Arizona. Secretary of state oversees the election,” Lake said.

“To be honest.”

You can laugh about Kari Lake’s strange breed of honesty all you want. But it’s working. Since that appearance, she’s gotten endorsements from Trump influencers. Mike Flynn and Gosar.

Her campaign is going according to plan.

And that’s the truth.

Amanda Carpenter

Amanda Carpenter is an author, a former communications director to Sen. Ted Cruz, and a former speechwriter to Sen. Jim DeMint. She was formerly a Bulwark political columnist.