Days after Fox News apologized for promoting an embarrassing falsehood about England having "no-go zones" controlled by Muslim extremists, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R) repeated the myth during a speech and on CNN.
Last week, frequent Fox guest Steve Emerson -- part of the network's stable of extremists who lead its conversation about Islam -- provoked international outrage with the false claim that the city of Birmingham is "totally Muslim" and a place "where non-Muslims just simply don't go in." (British Prime Minister David Cameron described Emerson as a "complete idiot," for example.)
As the Emerson controversy raged on, another Fox News guest argued that governments should "put razor wire around" the mythical "no-go zones" and catalogue the residents. On Saturday, Fox News host Jeanine Pirro apologized for Emerson's "incorrect" comments, telling viewers, "We deeply regret these errors and apologize to the people of Birmingham, our viewers and all who have been offended."
Despite Fox's retraction, the myth of no-go zones apparently lives on. During a speech in London, Gov. Jindal reportedly alleged that some immigrants are seeking "to colonize western countries, because setting up your own enclave and demanding recognition of a no-go zone are exactly that."
Appearing in an interview from London, Jindal also told CNN correspondent Max Foster that he's heard "from folks here" that "there are neighborhoods where women don't feel comfortable going in without veils" and "where police are less likely to go."
Foster challenged Jindal's assertion, noting that "I've lived here a long time, I don't know of any no-go zones for non-Muslims." In response, Jindal said "the radical left absolutely wants to pretend like this problem's not here."
Appearing on The Bill Press Show, Media Matters senior fellow Karen Finney discussed how Jindal was still repeating the falsehood.
Jindal's repetition of a Fox-fueled myth is representative of the role the network plays in misinforming conservatives. Falsehoods about death panels in health care reform, weapons of mass destruction, economics, and leaders like President Barack Obama, Secretary John Kerry and Secretary Hillary Clinton have all been grist for the mill on Fox and have become a part of conservative folklore.
After a long period of dishonestly flacking for Mitt Romney, Washington Post conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin appears to have given up on him and is urging him not to run for president a third time.
In two recent blog posts, Rubin reacts negatively to the news that Romney is considering running for president in 2016. She writes that "another Romney run is preposterous" and that Romney donors and advisers pushing for a run "might want to rethink what they are doing."
As New York's Jonathan Chait points out, "Jennifer Rubin, the political commentator most consistently loyal to Romney in the last cycle, has turned against him."
During the 2012 campaign, nobody stuck by Romney like Rubin.
She hailed Romney's convention speech as proof "he can rise to an occasion," said he was "more forthcoming on immigration" than President Obama and described Romney's campaign team as "skilled." She said the presidential debates "recast the race and vaulted Mitt Romney into a position to win the race."
Of course, when the campaign was over and Romney had lost, Rubin wrote a post that revealed she knew how dishonest she had been all along, admitting that the "convention speech was a huge missed opportunity," describing the communications team as "the worst of any presidential campaign I have ever seen" and that Romney needed "more than a good month" on the campaign trail "to be successful."
Rubin appears to be positioning herself to be a booster for former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who announced that he is exploring a presidential run. Rubin said "Bush's experience and inside knowledge of his father's and brother's campaigns may be an unappreciated asset" and described a Spanish-language video on his PAC's website as "quintessential Bush -- upbeat, policy-oriented and, yes, conservative."
Considering her track record with Romney, how can we believe what she's saying now?
Dr. Ben Carson reportedly endorsed and give speeches on behalf of medical supplement maker Mannatech, Inc. while he was employed at Fox News, an apparent violation of the network's stated policy prohibiting "any on-air talent from endorsing products or serving as a product spokesperson."
National Review reports that in March of 2014, while still working at Fox, Carson appeared in a video for Mannatech, promoting its line of "glyconutrient" products. In the video, Carson talks about his 10-year use of the company's products, noting, "The wonderful thing about a company like Mannatech is that they recognize that when God made us, He gave us the right fuel. And that fuel was the right kind of healthy food." Carson also made speeches at Mannatech events in 2011 and 2013.
According to the conservative magazine, "Mannatech has a long, checkered past, stretching back to its founding more than a decade before Carson began touting the company's supplements."
Fox has previously said that it bars its personnel from such activities. In 2009, in response to the controversial relationship between then-Fox News employee Glenn Beck and Goldline, Fox released a statement to the New York Times that said, "Fox News prohibits any on-air talent from endorsing products or serving as a product spokesperson." Former Fox contributor Tobin Smith was fired in 2013 for a violation of this policy (though fellow contributors Charles Payne and Keith Ablow have engaged in similar behavior without repercussions).
When asked by National Review about Carson's relationship to Mannatech, Carson's business manager Armstrong Williams said, "I don't know that he's ever had a compensated relationship with Mannatech" and said that the Washington Speakers Bureau, which had booked "hundreds of speaking engagements for him through the year, booked these engagements."
Mannatech was sued by Texas' attorney general, who accused them of using marketing that has exaggerated the health benefits of their products. The company later paid a $4 million settlement without admitting wrongdoing.
Conservative media outlets promoted an anonymously sourced claim published by U.S. News & World Report that an aide to Hillary Clinton circulated an attack on former Senator Jim Webb. Clinton spokesperson Nick Merrill flatly denied the report, telling Media Matters it was "pure fabrication."
In a story discussing Webb's possible run for the presidency, U.S. News & World Report's David Catanese claimed that "Clinton loyalists are keeping an eye" on Webb as a potential rival for the Democratic nomination. As evidence, Catanese wrote that "the week before Thanksgiving, staffers of Philippe Reines, Clinton's longtime communications guru, pitched talk radio producers on the racy, sexually charged writings in Webb's novels, according to a source."
In a comment to Media Matters, Clinton spokesperson Nick Merrill flatly denied the claim: "There is nothing true about this, it's pure fabrication, and if the reporter who wrote the story would have bothered to ask before printing it, we would have told him that."
Catanese doubled down on his claim in a follow-up report, writing that "of course, the Clinton team is denying Reines' underlings floated the material in the first place" and publishing Merrill's statement that the claim was "an unmitigated lie," before adding, "Our source, granted anonymity, stands by the account."
Several conservative media outlets ran with the anonymous U.S. News report, using it to attack Clinton's character.
The Drudge Report's headline linking to the report said "Team Clinton Already Dishing Oppo on Jim Webb."
New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin called the report evidence that Hillary Clinton was "trying to dirty up Jim Webb," and added, "Mud first, that's Hillary."
National Review's Jim Geraghty asked, "Why on earth would the Hillary team go after Jim Webb this early?" adding, "What is this, some form of mudslinging pregame stretching?"
At HotAir, conservative blogger Ed Morrisey said the story was evidence of "Clintonistas using a kitchen-sink strategy" which "sends a message to other Democrats who might dare to intrude on Coronation II: Hillary's Boogaloo."
American Conservative's James Carden said that "Clinton's team is seemingly alive to the danger a Webb candidacy poses" because of the report that "longtime Clinton henchman Philippe Reines had been pitching talk radio producers unflattering stories about Webb." Carden wrote that the incident "should raise additional questions about the former Secretary's powers of discernment, particularly when it comes to the character of some of her closest advisers."
Media outlets have described Hillary Clinton's wealth and the speaking fees she has earned as a "potentially serious political problem" and a "potential political liability." Will they describe the financial dealings of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush the same way now that he is exploring a presidential run? And will they do in-depth reporting on the controversial business deals Bush has been involved in?
Buzzfeed reported that the emails, released after a hacker group broke in to Sony's computer systems, detailed a series of exchanges between Dowd, Pascal, and Pascal's husband Bernard Weinraub, a former Times reporter, for a March 2014 column Dowd was writing about the declining percentage of women in the film industry.
The emails show Dowd promising Pascal she "would make sure you look great" and Weinraub warning Pascal not to tell anyone that he was "seeing the column before its printed." From Buzzfeed:
But the leaked documents show that when Dowd emailed Pascal on March 3 for the column -- which would run online the next night and in print on March 5 -- Dowd told Pascal "i would make sure you look great and we'd check it all and do it properly."
Before Pascal actually interviewed with Dowd for the column, she talked to Weinraub.
"I said the rap that you jus like to make womens films is unfair amnd sexist," Weinraub said in an email to Pascal on March 4. "You made all these "women's movies ===league of their own, 28 days,,,the nora Ephron films...zero dark.... but you also do spifderman... denzel....Jonah hill.....bad teacher etc etc."
Pascal responded, "IM NOT TALKING TO HER IF SHE IS GONNA SLAM ME. PLEASE FIND OUT."
Weinraub assured her, "you cant tell single person that I'm seeing the column before its printed...its not done...no p.r. people or Lynton or anyone should know."
After the column was published later that night, Pascal emailed Dowd, saying "I THOUGHT THE STORY WAS GREAT I HOPE YOUR HAPPY "
Dowd responded: "I hope you're happy! Thanks for helping. Let's do another." Pascal replied, "Your my favorite person so yes" and Dowd finished the conversation with "you're mine! you're amazing"
Dowd denied that she had given anyone an advance look at her column in a statement released to several reporters, as Politico reported:
In an email though, Dowd says she "never showed Bernie the column in advance or promised to show it."
"Bernie is an old friend and the Times' former Hollywood reporter, and he sometimes gives me ideas for entertainment columns. In January, he suggested a column, inspired by a study cited in the L.A. Times, about the state of women in Hollywood. Amy is a friend and I reassured her before our interview that it wasn't an antagonistic piece. She wasn't the focus of the story, nor was Sony," Dowd said. "I emailed with Bernie and talked to him before I wrote the column in March, getting his perspective on the Hollywood old boys' club and the progress of women. But I didn't send him the column beforehand."
The Senate Intelligence Committee's report on torture reveals that conservative author Ronald Kessler was "blessed" by the CIA, receiving background information from the agency which he used to push false claims about the effectiveness of "enhanced interrogation techniques" and publishing classified information without triggering a leak investigation.
Earlier today the committee released the executive summary of its report, the result of a five-year investigation of the CIA's detention and interrogation program. According to The Washington Post, the document "renders a strikingly bleak verdict of a program launched in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, describing levels of brutality, dishonesty and seemingly arbitrary violence that at times brought even agency employees to moments of anguish."
Kessler was once a reporter for mainstream publications but over the past few decades became a right-wing journalist known for his gossipy style. This past year, he authored The First Family Detail: Secret Service Agents Reveal the Hidden Lives of Presidents, one of a number of right-wing books that sought to smear Bill and Hillary Clinton.
The newly released torture report cites Kessler's willingness to promote false claims about the effectiveness of torture as an example of how the CIA's Office of Public Affairs (OPA) "provided unattributed background information on the program to journalists for books, articles, and broadcasts, including when the existence of the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program was still classified."
Kessler included such classified information in his book The CIA at War, but internal CIA emails cited by the report reveal that an investigation was never made into these leaks of classified information because OPA "provided assistance with the book" and it "contained no first time disclosure." The agency made the decision to pass on an investigation because CIA cooperation with Kessler had been "blessed" by then-Director of Central Intelligence, George Tenet.
The report states that Kessler's book "included inaccurate claims about the effectiveness of CIA interrogations, much of it consistent with the inaccurate information being provided by the CIA to policymakers at that time." According to the report, claims in the book about the effectiveness of CIA interrogations that used torture techniques were false.
For example, the report describes as "incongruent with CIA records" Kessler's claim that the capture of detainee Khallad bin Attash was the "result" of CIA interrogations of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the architect of the September 11, 2001, attacks. In The CIA at War, Kessler claimed as a result of his interrogation, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed "told the CIA about a range of planned attacks - on U.S. convoys in Afghanistan, nightclubs in Dubai, targets in Turkey, and an Israeli embassy in the Middle East." But the torture report says these claims were also "incongruent with CIA records."
Kessler also was used by the CIA to push back on what a CIA officer called "undue credit" given to the FBI for "CIA accomplishments," in a draft of his 2007 book, The Terrorist Watch. Kessler provided the agency with a draft of his book, and met with the CIA Director of Public Affairs Mark Mansfield who said that after the meeting he believed the agency had "made some headway" in making Kessler's book "more balanced than it would have been." After the meeting, the text more closely reflected the CIA's inaccurate claims that several successes in fighting against terrorism could be attributed to "coercive interrogation techniques."
After his meeting with the CIA, Kessler added the statement that members of Congress and the media "have made careers for themselves by belittling and undercutting the efforts of the heroic men and women who are trying to protect us" and "too many Americans are intent on demonizing those who are trying to protect us."
Fox News Sunday ignored a new report from the GOP-led House Intelligence Committee that debunked many of the myths that Fox News has spent the last two years promoting.
On November 21, the Republican-led House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released its report on the September 2012 attacks on two U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya. Similar to the many preceding investigations into the attacks -- including the Accountability Review Board and the bipartisan U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence -- the report found that no stand down order was issued during the attacks, there was no intelligence failure leading up to the attack, and that the talking points the administration used in the days following the attacks were based on the CIA's best assessment at the time.
The November 23 edition of Fox News Sunday did not inform viewers of the report's findings. This stands in stark contrast to Fox's longstanding campaign to promote myths about the attacks.
Fox has been a tireless promoter of nearly every facet of the Benghazi hoax. In the 20 months following the attacks, Fox ran over 1,100 segments on Benghazi and hosted Republicans at a rate of 30:1 over Democrats to discuss the issue. Meanwhile, the network has routinely ignored and downplayed evidence refuting its conspiracy theories.
CNN media critic Brian Stelter noted that other Fox programs only provided cursory coverage of the report on the night of its release and that Fox never mentioned it the following day. According to Stelter (emphasis added):
STELTER: Boy, has Fox News spent a lot of time over the past two years focused on the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, and I mean a lot of time. [...] But when a new Benghazi report came out on Friday, there was hardly a peep, and maybe that's because the report, which was Republican led, it was by the House Intelligence committee, debunks many of the myths that have run rampant on Fox News and in conservative media circles. [...] So I have to wonder: will Fox will stop aggressively pushing its theories about Benghazi? Probably not. With its audience largely in the dark about the latest findings, the myths may, and perhaps will, live on.
On the November 23 edition of Fox News' own MediaBuzz, host Howard Kurtz noted that it only received "brief" coverage on Fox and that the results of the two-year long investigation "deserved more coverage from all news outlets."
Fox News dropped its coverage of President Obama's speech on immigration in Nevada, switching to an interview with Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is suing the administration over the administration's recently announced immigration actions.
Fox, CNN, and MSNBC all carried the beginning of Obama's speech live. But at 4 p.m. ET, Your World with Neil Cavuto began. After describing the contents of the speech while airing the live video feed of President Obama, Cavuto stated, "as he's talking, I want you to meet the sheriff who's suing" and began to interview Arpaio.
Arpaio announced today that he would be suing the administration, telling a local TV station that, "This is going to open the door. Everybody in Mexico, Central America, thinks they will have a free pass when they come into our country because of what the president is issuing." Arpaio is a prominent birther who was found by state law enforcement agencies to have failed to investigate hundreds of sex crimes and is subject to an independent monitor after a federal judge determined that his office racially profiled Latinos.
CNN and MSNBC both carried the speech to its conclusion.
Fox News hosts Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity recently attacked MIT economist Jonathan Gruber for referring to the "stupidity of the American voter," but both have repeatedly derided "low information voters," who they blamed for electing President Obama.