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Taken from the article's title in Independent:

Fox news cuts away from McEnany press conference: ‘I can’t in good countenance continue showing this’

As I understand it, countenance means facial expression. So in this case, the title's meaning would be, "I can't with a straight-face continue..." or "I can't continue composed..."

Do I have that right, or would the phrase "in good conscience" be more suited here?

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  • It can also mean "support", though I'm thinking there's another word that sounds very close.
    – Hot Licks
    Nov 10, 2020 at 0:38
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    Though, looking at Ngram, the vast majority of uses of "I can't in good" are followed by "conscience"
    – Hot Licks
    Nov 10, 2020 at 0:41

3 Answers 3

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It seems likely that Cavuto blended the idioms "in good conscience" and "cannot countenance".

You couldn't, in good conscience, ask her to pay the whole bill! (without feeling guilty) -Cambridge

Jake would not countenance Janis's marrying while still a student. (do not agree with it and will not allow it to happen.) -Collin's

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    Please show supporting macreferences, linked and attributed, for the usage of the standard idioms. Nov 14, 2020 at 15:55
  • Guesty, I've suggested an edit to your answer, which you are still free to modify, including dictionary pages re: the two idioms that you mentioned.
    – Conrado
    Nov 18, 2020 at 13:21
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'countenance', as a verb, means to admit as acceptable or possible, to tolerate, to permit, to put up with; so Cavuto could have said, "I can't countenance (what she said)", but introduced by "I can't in good...", it needs a noun, not a verb, so "conscience" would be the expected phrasing.

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"Countenance" actually refers to the face itself rather than facial expression, so this attempt to justify Niel Cavuto's mistake is itself incorrect. The idiom is "in good conscience". The other, which you attempt to justify does not exist. Although I applaud Cavuto's decision to cut off Ms. McEnany's litany of falsehoods, his conflation of the two phrases is lamentable.

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