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  • Media Should Not Fall Back To The Elusive “Trump Pivot” Narrative At Trump’s GOP Convention Speech

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Media figures have been predicting Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s imminent "pivot" towards acting "presidential" for months, and they're at risk of making the same mistake again after Trump’s July 21 nomination acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention. The proclamation has consistently backfired and it whitewashes Trump’s racist, slanderous, and conspiratorial rhetoric.

    Throughout Trump’s presidential campaign, media outlets and figures have obsessively looked for the Trump “pivot.” Each time the candidate has momentarily abandoned his usual vitriolic rhetoric for a teleprompter-driven speech, media figures rushed to claim that Trump was “pivoting” toward the general election and acting more “presidential,” whitewashing all of the racist, sexist, slanderous, and conspiratorial attacks he regularly doles out.

    With three disastrous days so far at the convention -- and given Trump’s past speeches leaning toward the dangerous and extreme -- media must avoid the trap of setting a low bar for Trump’s acceptance speech and refrain from allowing a seemingly tame speech from being praised by the media as a pivot.

    Following Trump’s April victory in the New York primary, Fox’s Megyn Kelly and ABC’s Tom Llamas said Trump was becoming “more presidential” and “trying out a more presidential style” because he did not call his opponent Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) “Lyin’ Ted.” Trump returned to using the phrase immediately the next day. In June, after Republican leaders beseeched Trump to “get on message” following his multiday racist crusade against the federal judge presiding over lawsuits against Trump University, Trump delivered a teleprompter speech devoid of any attacks. Media figures immediately proclaimed it looked like a “new, more presidential Donald Trump” and that Trump had “acted presidential,” but less than a week later, the candidate suggested President Obama was sympathetic to terrorists.

    This pattern has whitewashed many of Trump’s past actions and comments, such as doubling down on his proposed Muslim ban, accusing Cruz’s father of being involved in the John F. Kennedy assassination, and questioning the faith of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. In the past month Trump has praised former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, claimed without any proof that moments of silence were called for the murderer of police officers in Dallas, and speculated Obama was giving subliminal support to the shootings of police officers though his “body language.”

    The tendency to praise Trump after he shows restraint in his speeches, as CNN analyst David Gregory noted, gives Trump “credit for kind of campaign 101.”

    Some media figures have called on their colleagues to stop grading Trump on a curve. CNN political commentator Marc Lamont Hill noted the whitewashing means “we’re not talking about something controversial” and instead, “We're talking about Trump changing the direction of his campaign.” NBC’s Nicolle Wallace pointed out that any Trump “pivot” comes right before his tendency of “trotting out conspiracy theories.” And former Jeb Bush communications director Tim Miller pointedly said on MSNBC, “How stupid can we possibly be to keep getting fooled by this guy? And every day I get a call from a reporter who says now is he going to pivot? Now is he going to pivot? No, this is Trump.”

    Media have another chance with Trump’s speech to learn from their mistakes. Regardless of what Trump says in his likely teleprompter-guided speech, they must not fall back on this tired and false narrative. As Tony Schwartz, the ghostwriter of Trump’s book The Art of the Deal, aptly explained to The New Yorker, “‘There is no private Trump’” that “he is keeping in reserve for after the campaign.”

    It’s time media finally accept that. 

  • VIDEO: Inside The RNC Conspiracy Theorist Rally That Explains The Trump Campaign

    Blog ››› ››› CARLOS MAZA & COLEMAN LOWNDES

    Two of Donald Trump’s favorite right-wing conspiracy theorists headlined a “Unity Rally” just outside of the Republican National Convention this week. The event further highlighted how Trump’s candidacy has helped bring fringe extremists  into mainstream Republican politics.

    On July 18, just blocks away from the site of the Republican National Convention, Trump supporters attended the “America First Unity Rally,” an event hosted by Citizens for Trump and longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone.

    The rally -- which was not an official Trump campaign event -- was billed as “a massive victory rally & parade celebration of Mr. Trump’s nomination.” In reality, the few hundred attendees were treated to an afternoon of conspiracy theories about the Clintons, 9/11, and the threat posed by anti-American “globalists.”

    Jones, Stone Represent Trump’s Fringe Supporters

    The event’s central headliners were Stone and Infowars.com founder Alex Jones -- two prominent Trump supporters with long histories of peddling bizarre conspiracy theories.

    Stone has claimed the Clintons and Bushes have secretly murdered dozens; the collapse of World Trade Center Building 7 is “suspicious”; President Lyndon Johnson killed President John F. Kennedy; President George H.W. Bush tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan; and the Clintons killed John F. Kennedy Jr.

    Jones is a radio host well-known known for his own brand of conspiracy theories -- he claims the government was behind 9/11, the Oklahoma City bombing, mass shootings in Aurora, CO, and Newtown, CT, among other events. Jones claims these “false flag” operations are part of a broader plot by “globalists” in both parties to take away Americans’ guns and take over the country.

    Stone and Jones brought their unique brand of lunacy to the rally. Stone repeated the long-debunked claim that the Clinton’s were involved in a cover-up surrounding the death of White House aide Vince Foster, while Jones celebrated that American voters were finally waking up to the globalist agenda in American politics.

    Trump Is Helping Mainstream Conspiracy Theorists

    It’s tempting to dismiss events like the America First Unity Rally as merely a fringe element of Republican politics, but the Trump campaign has shown a real interest in relying on conspiracy theorists like Stone and Jones to appeal to far-right voters. Stone states he is still in frequent contact with the GOP nominee -- even claiming he was late to the rally because he was meeting with members of Trump’s staff. Trump has appeared on Jones’ show and praised his reputation, promising not to let him or his listeners down. Jones has returned the favor -- many of the attendees at the rally stated that Jones’ praise convinced them to support Trump as the GOP nominee.

    Trump’s willingness to mingle with the most extreme and unhinged factions of the far right helps normalize them, pulling them into the Republican mainstream. Stone has become a regular fixture in mainstream election coverage. The day after appearing at the rally, Stone appeared at a discussion hosted by Politico at the convention.

    It also impacts the way Trump views the world -- as The New York Times’ Jonathan Martin explained in May, Trump’s “whole frame of reference” revolves around the fringe conspiracies peddled by outlets like Jones’ Infowars. Trump has already shown a willingness to make anti-Clinton conspiracy theories -- including the Vince Foster allegations -- a part of his general election strategy.

    This closeness between the GOP nominee and the right’s most extreme conspiracy theorists deserves special attention over the next few months.

    Stone and Jones may have held their rally outside of the Republican National Convention, but Trump’s campaign is helping bring them closer and closer to the Republican mainstream.

  • “NATO RIP”: Journalists Horrified By Trump Waffling On Security Guarantees

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    Media figures across the political spectrum reacted with dismay and disbelief after The New York Times reported that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump “called into question whether, as president, he would automatically extend the security guarantees” to members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) if they were attacked by Russia.

    In a July 20 interview with the Times, Trump “said that he would press the theme of ‘America First,’ his rallying cry for the past four months, and that he was prepared to scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada if he could not negotiate radically better terms.” Trump also suggested that he would not honor America’s treaty obligations to defend members of NATO from attack:

    He even called into question whether, as president, he would automatically extend the security guarantees that give the 28 members of NATO the assurance that the full force of the United States military has their back.

    For example, asked about Russia’s threatening activities that have unnerved the small Baltic States that are the most recent entrants into NATO, Mr. Trump said that if Russia attacked them, he would decide whether to come to their aid only after reviewing whether those nations “have fulfilled their obligations to us.”

    Several journalists have documented the close ties and apparent affinity between Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin.

    On Twitter, liberal, nonideological, and conservative media figures alike reacted with horror and disbelief at Trump’s comments:

  • CNN Reports Hillary Clinton Mentioned More At Republican National Convention Than Donald Trump

    Pamela Brown: Hillary Clinton Is “The Unifying Force In A Party So Very Much Divided Over Donald Trump”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Tuesday Night's RNC Speeches

    CNN correspondent Pamela Brown reported that speakers at the Republican National Convention have mentioned Hillary Clinton more times than they have referenced Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

    Brown reported that during the first two days of the convention “Donald Trump’s name was mentioned 61 times, versus 79 times for Hillary Clinton.” Brown echoed sentiments highlighted by media outlets pointing out that Clinton is “the unifying force in a party so very much divided over Donald Trump”:

    ERIN BURNETT (HOST): One thing that has stood out in the speeches that we have seen so far here in Cleveland is that Donald Trump has not gotten as many mentions as Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton, in fact, has been bashed by speaker, after speaker, her name mentioned much more often than that of Donald Trump.

    [...]

    So, what will happen tonight? Will we hear a lot of pro-Donald Trump, or more anger against Hillary Clinton? Pamela Brown is on the floor here out front, as this convention comes to order. Pamela, that's the big question tonight.

    PAMELA BROWN: Well, you can expect it, Erin. In years past, we know that the opponent usually is hammered away one night, but it seems though Hillary Clinton is the target every night here at the Republican Convention. She's really the unifying force, in a party so very much divided over Donald Trump.

    We know that Governor Mike Pence is expected to come out and call her "Secretary of Status Quo," you can expect Ted Cruz, who has not formally endorsed Donald Trump yet, to also hit on Hillary Clinton.

    In fact, we counted just the past couple of nights, Donald Trump's name was mentioned 61 times, versus 79 times for Hillary Clinton. And you heard the crowd here last night really got galvanized whenever her name was mentioned, and they kept chanting "Lock her up, lock her up."

    Now Hillary Clinton, for her part, says some of these people coming out against her such as Rudy Giuliani have praised her in the past, and they're only saying these things because we're right in the middle of an election year.

  • 9/11 Conspiracy Theorist Alex Jones Reportedly Received “Special Guest” Credential At RNC

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist radio host and 9/11 Truth leader who has been courted by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, has reportedly been awarded with a “special guest” credential at the Republican National Convention.

    Mother Jones’ David Corn spotted Jones entering the arena:

    Jones helped launch the conspiracy that the 9/11 attacks were an “inside job” by the U.S. government and has also claimed that the government was involved in the Oklahoma City bombing, and the mass shootings in Aurora, CO, and Sandy Hook Elementary School, among other tragedies.

    Trump has courted Jones and his audience, appearing on Jones’ show in December and praising his “amazing” reputation. Key Trump ally Roger Stone regularly appears on Jones’ program. In turn, Jones has heavily promoted Trump’s campaign; most recently, Jones spoke at Stone’s July 18 ““America First Unity Rally,” which was attended by Jones fans who noted the radio host’s key role in bringing them to support the GOP nominee.

  • Politico Finds Problem With Trump’s “Make America Work” Convention Theme: “It's Already Working”

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Politico Magazine reported that while the Republican National Convention is pushing the narrative that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump will “make America work again,” the U.S. economy has actually done well since 2009, with millions of jobs created and a reduction by half of the unemployment rate.

    Make America Work Again” was the theme on July 19, the second night of the Republican National Convention, but Politico pointed out that “one of Trump’s many challenges will be convincing non-Republicans that America isn’t working even though nearly 15 million more Americans are.” Politico interviewed Republican convention delegates about their thoughts on the economy and found “they all seem to agree the Obama economy is a ghastly mess. Except for the economy wherever they happen to live.”

    The publication noted that, rather than giving credit to President Obama, convention delegates and Trump credited Republican mayors and governors for local “economic progress.” That includes Trump’s running mate, Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana, whom the nominee praised for job gains in that state even though “Indiana’s unemployment almost perfectly mirrors the national trend.” From Politico Magazine (emphasis added):

    Just as most Americans say they hate Congress but routinely vote for their local congressmen, most Republicans seem to detect a national economic malaise while — with some exceptions in places like coal country and the oil patch — touting the economic progress in their local communities. They square that circle in a variety of ways — crediting their Republican mayors and governors, accusing Obama of manipulating data, or citing legitimate weaknesses in the recovery from the Great Recession. But with unemployment down from 10 percent to less than 5 percent since late 2009, one of Trump’s many challenges will be convincing non-Republicans that America isn’t working even though nearly 15 million more Americans are.

    Trump illustrated this problem last week when he introduced his running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence. He said the “primary reason” for his choice was that Indiana’s unemployment had dropped by 3.4 percentage points in four years under Pence, and that its labor force had grown, which he said was “very unusual” for a U.S. state.

    “It’s always bad, down, down, down,” Trump said. “Down 40 percent, 50 percent, 60 percent in some cases.” In fact, the drop in Indiana’s unemployment almost perfectly mirrors the national trend. And the labor force has grown in all but nine states with the worst drop only 3 percentage points in oil-dependent North Dakota. In February 2009, Obama highlighted the free-falling economy he inherited by visiting Elkhart, Indiana, where unemployment was nearly 20 percent; he recently returned to Elkhart to highlight America’s recovery, and unemployment was 4 percent.

    Talking points bashing President Obama and the American economy have been central to the Republican convention. On the first night, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) claimed America is “an economic disaster” because middle-class incomes are down since 1999. Yet Sessions was rebuffed by CNN’s Christine Romans, who noted that middle-class income “began declining actually under George W. Bush” and “more recently, it has started to climb again.” Sessions’ misleading talking point seemed to be taken directly from Fox News, which regularly blames Obama for income stagnation witnessed during the Bush administration and promoted the exact same fallacy just last month.

    The Republican National Convention has come under intense scrutiny from the media for its antics and lack of coherence or coordination. The second night of the convention -- with the theme “Make America Work Again” -- drew ridicule from journalists for not actually talking about the economy, and media denounced the night’s “mock trial” against Hillary Clinton, which featured delegates shouting “lock her up,” as a “mob” and a “festival of hating Hillary.” The first night of the convention saw even more intense pushback, with media calling the evening “disastrous” for its lack of message and saying the plagiarized speech by Trump’s wife, Melania, turned the “night into a catastrophe.” 

  • Fox Business' GOP Convention Coverage Promotes 5 Big Coal Myths In 7 Minutes

    Blog ››› ››› DENISE ROBBINS & ANDREW SEIFTER

    During Fox Business’ July 20 coverage of the Republican National Convention, host Maria Bartiromo and coal industry executive Robert Murray peddled industry-friendly myths while attacking clean energy with falsehoods. Murray also said he is thus far “elated” with the GOP convention, which is aligned with a radical anti-environmental platform, and he repeatedly declared that the energy policies of the Obama administration and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton are “evil.”

    Here are five Big Coal myths that Bartiromo and Murray espoused during the segment:

    Myth #1: Obama regulations are to blame for the coal industry’s decline. Bartiromo aired a clip of Clinton that has repeatedly been distorted by conservative media to claim she wants to harm coal miners, and then Bartiromo claimed that “the policies in place have already put [coal industry employees] out of work.” Murray declared that “there’s hundreds of thousands of people” at the Environmental Protection Agency and other government agencies “writing rules against we who are trying to maintain jobs,” and added: “The coal industry is virtually destroyed … we had 200,000 miners before Obama. We now have 60,000.” But industry experts say market forces, including technological advances and competition from natural gas and renewables, are the primary cause of the coal industry’s decline -- not policies from the Obama administration.

    Myth #2: Murray “cares” about coal miners. As he was attacking environmental protections, Murray stated: “I’ve been forced to lay off 3,300 coal miners this year. It just kills me because I am a coal miner. I care about these people.” Bartiromo might have pointed out in response that Murray has pressured employees to support his favored political candidates, allegedly fired employees to influence the 2012 presidential election, and has repeatedly fought against health benefits, safety protections, and labor rights for coal miners.

    Myth #3: Coal energy is cheaper than wind energy. During the segment, Murray claimed that wind energy is highly subsidized and far more expensive than coal, which he said provides “low-cost reliable electricity.” However, according to both the U.S. Energy Information Agency and the investment banking firm Lazard, the unsubsidized cost of wind energy is substantially lower than that of coal.

    Myth #4: It’s not possible to retrain coal miners for jobs in the clean energy economy. Bartiromo baselessly dismissed the concept of retraining coal miners for clean energy industry jobs, declaring: “The other thing is the skill sets and the training. What does a coal miner know about windmills? How do they know about solar panels? There’s no training." However, according to a recent study by researchers at Oregon State University and Michigan Technological University, “a relatively minor investment in retraining would allow the vast majority of coal workers to switch to [solar photovoltaic]-related positions even in the event of the elimination of the coal industry.”

    Myth #5: There is a “war on coal.” The “war on coal” is a favorite talking point of the coal industry and the Republican party, most recently adopted in the GOP’s 2016 energy platform. Fox Business endorsed it with on-screen text:

    The “war on coal” was manufactured by the GOP and the coal industry to attack Democrats during the 2012 election -- as Greenpeace has pointed out, then-presidential candidate Mitt Romney released an ad claiming President Obama was “ruining” the coal industry around the same time that House Republicans pushed a “Stop the War on Coal Act.” Associated Press reporter Vicki Smith succinctly explained the misleading nature of the phrase at the time:

    The war on coal is a sound bite and a headline, perpetuated by pundits, power companies and public relations consultants who have crafted a neat label for a complex set of realities, one that compels people to choose sides.

    It's easier to call the geologic, market and environmental forces reshaping coal — cheap natural gas, harder-to-mine coal seams, slowing economies — some kind of political or cultural "war" than to acknowledge the world is changing, and leaving some people behind.

    The full video, from the July 20 edition of Fox Business’ Mornings with Maria:

  • CNN’s Lewandowski Disaster Continues: Analyst Is Reportedly “Pitching Donors On His Own Pro-Trump Super PAC”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    BuzzFeed is reporting that CNN political analyst and former Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski “has been pitching his own super PAC to donors after trashing other groups working on behalf of the GOP presidential nominee, six sources with knowledge of those conversations told BuzzFeed News.”

    Lewandowski responded to BuzzFeed by claiming, “‘I have nothing to do with any Superpacs.’ He also denied talking to donors about a potential group.”

    The publication added that “Donors have so far been mostly skeptical of his pitch, the sources said, especially since he suggested on CNN that Manafort should resign following Melania Trump’s plagiarized convention speech. There are also concerns about what his contract with CNN would allow him to do -- issues those involved with competing super PACs are stressing as they respond to donors who have been approached.”

    CNN has received widespread criticism over its hiring of Lewandowski, who joined the network’s staff days after leaving the Trump campaign. Observers have raised questions over whether Lewandowski signed a non-disparagement agreement with the Trump campaign, and called out the network for hiring someone with a well-reported history of hostile and inappropriate behavior toward reporters.

    Earlier this month, CNN disclosed that Lewandowski was still receiving severance payments from the Trump campaign while serving as a CNN analyst, which prompted another round of criticism.

  • Ailes, Trump, And The Republican Reckoning

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Who could have scripted a doomsday scenario for the Republican Party that would feature Fox News' Roger Ailes reportedly being ousted as chief of Rupert Murdoch’s right-wing outlet amidst mounting allegations of sexual harassment, the same week political novice Donald Trump secures the GOP’s nomination?

    Last summer, both seismic conservative events were seen as impossibilities by many observers. Yet they’re now unfolding in plain view and both threatening to do grave and lasting damage to the GOP.

    Ailes and Trump are inexorably linked, and together they’ve become like a two-man wrecking crew, wreaking havoc on the GOP.

    Trump’s been denounced as a "vicious demagogue," a "con man," a "glib egomaniac," and "the very epitome of vulgarity" this year. And that’s been from conservative pundits. The Trump nomination has split the GOP like no election in the last half-century. And Republicans owe it, in part, to Ailes. Fox News for years laid the groundwork for Trump’s radical and improbable run.

    Indeed, without Fox News' exaggerated support over the years, and without Fox providing endless free airtime in the form of promotional blitzes to tout Trump as White House material, it's unlikely Trump today would be perched atop the Republican Party. (Trump rival Sen. Ted Cruz lamented as the primary campaign came to a close that Ailes and Rupert Murdoch had “turned Fox News into the Donald Trump network, 24/7.”)

    The hate and paranoia that has permeated Fox programming, especially during the Barack Obama years, reflects Ailes’ bigoted view of America and its supposed pending doom under Democratic leadership. Like his longtime friend Rush Limbaugh, Ailes has been a cancer on American politics for decades. He’s built a career that thrives on fabrications and falsehoods and character assassination.

    Ailes’ brand of hatred and paranoia, once a small, ugly part of the GOP appeal, is now synonymous with the Republican Party, thanks to its nomination of Trump, who rose to birther fame among conservatives via Ailes’ open door policy in 2011.

    As I’ve argued before, Trump is the Fox News id. The ugly, unvarnished, and unapologetic id of an aging white America that’s determined to “take its country back.” Trump’s a bigoted nativist who markets xenophobia and thrives on dividing Americans.

    Sound familiar?

    Last summer it seemed clear that Trump personified the vulgar brand of divisive rhetoric that Ailes helped hallmark and stood ready to unleash deep damage to the Republican Party.

    That damage has been on display all week at the GOP’s Trump convention in Cleveland. How did the Republicans arrive at such a bankrupt place, and who helped lead them down the obvious dead end? Roger Ailes, who years ago began wearing two hats, that of Fox News programming chief, and acting shadow chairman of the RNC. (Ailes reportedly told executives in 2010 that he wanted “to elect the next president.”) And for years, Republican bosses cheered the arrangement, happily abdicating party leadership to an increasingly unhinged group of Fox News talkers and the free airtime they delivered.

    Four years ago, during the Republican primary season, in a column headlined “How Fox News Is Destroying the Republican Party,” I noted:

    For Ailes and company, that slash-and-burn formula works wonders in terms of super-serving its hardcore, hard-right audience of three million viewers. But in terms of supporting a serious, national campaign and a serious, national conversation? It’s not working. At all … It’s what happens when a mainstream political movement embraces a radical media strategy like the one being promoted by Fox News; the movement marches itself off a cliff.

    And that’s exactly what has unfolded this year.

    Since its inception 20 years ago, Ailes has ruled the Fox News fiefdom within Murdoch's sprawling 21st Century Fox media empire and built it into a hugely influential moneymaker. The Ailes fingerprint has been omnipresent. He also instituted a unique culture that thrived on loyalty and secrecy.

    As a former Fox News producer explained it to Media Matters in 2011:

    "There may be internal squabbles. But what [Ailes] continually preaches is never piss outside the tent," says the source. "When he gets really crazy is when stuff leaks out the door. He goes mental on that. He can't stand that. He says in a dynamic enterprise like a network newsroom there's going to be in fighting and ego, but he says keep it in the house."

    There’s been a lot of reporting over the years -- much of it from intrepid Ailes biographer Gabriel Sherman, who has driven a lot of the news on Ailes' pending departure the past couple weeks -- about Ailes’ history of harassment and sexism as an executive. A nagging feeling was that if that behavior ever got fully excavated, Ailes’ Fox News house could crumble.

    And now it is.

    News this week that Megyn Kelly reportedly told outside attorneys hired by 21st Century who were investigating Ailes that he had sexually harassed her years ago meant that Ailes could not survive. He couldn’t survive because for years we’ve known he hasn’t had the support of Rupert Murdoch’s sons, James and Lachlan, who have been apparently eager for a way to oust Ailes.

    As media columnist Michael Wolff once noted, “There are, practically speaking, now two factions inside of News Corp., Ailes and Fox News, and the Murdoch children—with Rupert caught between them.”

    Last year, in a blow to Ailes’ ego and power base, the Murdoch sons made it known that the Fox News boss now answered to them, instead of directly to their father. Still, Ailes’ Fox News printed piles of money that reached so high, and Ailes had built such an impenetrable fiefdom, that he remained untouchable. Just last year Ailes inked a multi-year contract extending his reported $20 million annual salary.

    But the mounting claims of sexual harassment provided a new opening for the Murdoch family to move in and finally root Ailes out of his corner office. As Republicans watch Trump unfold his bizarre and disjointed fall campaign, the one built by Ailes and Fox News, many must be wondering if it’s not too late to stage their own coup.  

  • Newt Gingrich’s Media Career Has Been Full Of Ethical Violations, Outrageous Comments, And Email Scams

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI & BEN DIMIERO

    Political commentator Newt Gingrich is scheduled to speak at the Republican National Convention on July 20. 

    Gingrich, who served as House speaker during the 90s -- the “first speaker of the House to be punished by the House for ethics violations” -- turned to consulting and media commentary after leaving office.

    Gingrich was hired by Fox News in October 1999 and left the network in spring 2011 to unsuccessfully run for president. He became a host for the short-lived Crossfire revival on CNN in September 2013; the show was cancelled in October 2014. He returned to Fox News in October 2015 and had his contract suspended last week amid speculation he would be chosen as Donald Trump's running mate. (He was not.)

    Gingrich's media career has been marked by egregious ethical violations and outrageous commentary (to say nothing of his frequent trafficking in favorite conservative falsehoods like “death panels”). He has also repeatedly scammed subscribers to his email list with warnings about the Illuminati and promises of miracle cancer “cures.”

    Here are some of the lowlights from Gingrich’s career as a political pundit from Media Matters’ archives.

    Gingrich: Bilingual Education Perpetuates "The Language Of Living In A Ghetto"

    The Associated Press reported in 2007:

    "The government should quit mandating that various documents be printed in any one of 700 languages depending on who randomly shows up" to vote, Gingrich said. The former Georgia congressman, who is considering seeking the GOP presidential nomination in 2008, made the comments in a speech to the National Federation of Republican Women.

    "The American people believe English should be the official language of the government. . . . We should replace bilingual education with immersion in English so people learn the common language of the country and they learn the language of prosperity, not the language of living in a ghetto," Gingrich said, drawing cheers from the crowd of more than 100.

    "Citizenship requires passing a test on American history in English. If that's true, then we do not have to create ballots in any language except English," he said.

    [...]

    In the past, Gingrich has supported making English the nation's official language. He has also said that all U.S. children should learn English and that other languages should be secondary in schools.

    In 1995, he said that bilingualism poses "long-term dangers to the fabric of our nation" and that "allowing bilingualism to continue to grow is very dangerous."

    Gingrich said days later that "my word choice was poor." 

    Gingrich: “Test” Americans “Of A Muslim Background” And Deport Them If They “Believe In Sharia”

    Gingrich called on everyone in America “who is of a Muslim background” to have their faith tested to see “if they believe in Sharia,” and for any who do to be deported. From the July 14 edition of Fox News’ Hannity:

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): I don't want to really tie this into politics, but every issue America is now dealing with, every issue that we have discussed in recent months and years about the Islamization of Europe, about refugees, about immigration, about open borders -- it seems to come together, and also political correctness and not recognizing radical Islamic terrorism as the enemy and evil in our time. From your perspective, what does this tragedy, this evil attack tonight, mean for that conflict and debate?

    NEWT GINGRICH: Well, first of all, Sean, as you know, I was in Paris just last weekend talking with people who are deeply involved in trying to deal with the Iranian government and other sources of terrorism. And let me also say Daniel Silva has a remarkable new novel called Black Widow, and the entire opening section is on the systematic Islamic attack on Jews in France, which is the worst it's been since the Nazis. So let me start with where I'm coming from, and let me be as blunt and as direct as I can be.

    Western civilization is in a war. We should frankly test every person here who is of a Muslim background, and if they believe in Sharia, they should be deported. Sharia is incompatible with Western civilization. Modern Muslims who have given up Sharia, glad to have them as citizens. Perfectly happy to have them next door. But we need to be fairly relentless about defining who our enemies are. Anybody who goes on a website favoring ISIS, or Al Qaeda, or other terrorist groups, that should be a felony, and they should go to jail. Any organization which hosts such a website should be engaged in a felony. It should be closed down immediately.

    Our forces should be used to systematically destroy every internet-based source. And frankly if we can't destroy them through the internet, we should destroy them with kinetic power, using various weapons starting with Predators, and frankly just killing them. I am sick and tired of being told that the wealthiest, most powerful civilization in history, all of Western civilization, is helpless in the face of a group of medieval barbarians who, for example, recently burned 20 young women to death -- burned them to death because they wouldn't have sex with them. A group which beheaded recently in the Philippines two Canadian businessmen.

    And we're told to be reasonable, to be passive, to not judge. Well I just want to tell you tonight, everybody who watches this video, this is the fault of Western elites who lack the guts to do what is right, to do what is necessary, and to tell us the truth, and that starts with Barack Obama. [Fox News, Hannity7/14/16]

    Gingrich Claimed That Obama Is Engaged In “Kenyan, Anti-Colonial Behavior”

    Gingrich claimed in 2010 that President Obama tries “very hard at being a person who is normal” but he actually engages in “Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior”:

    Citing a recent Forbes article by Dinesh D’Souza, former House speaker Newt Gingrich tells National Review Online that President Obama may follow a “Kenyan, anti-colonial” worldview.

    Gingrich says that D’Souza has made a “stunning insight” into Obama’s behavior — the “most profound insight I have read in the last six years about Barack Obama.”

    “What if [Obama] is so outside our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior, can you begin to piece together [his actions]?” Gingrich asks.

    “That is the most accurate, predictive model for his behavior.” “This is a person who is fundamentally out of touch with how the world works, who happened to have played a wonderful con, as a result of which he is now president,” Gingrich tells us.

    “I think he worked very hard at being a person who is normal, reasonable, moderate, bipartisan, transparent, accommodating — none of which was true,” Gingrich continues. “In the Alinksy tradition, he was being the person he needed to be in order to achieve the position he needed to achieve . . . He was authentically dishonest.” 

    Gingrich Called Then-Supreme Court Nominee Sonia Sotomayor "Racist" 

    [Twitter.com, 5/27/09]

    Gingrich later said that he didn't know whether Sotomayor herself was a racist, but her quote about being a wise Latina was "clearly racist."

    Gingrich: "There Is A Gay And Secular Fascism In This Country That Wants To Impose Its Will On The Rest Of Us"

    While appearing on Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor to discuss Proposition 8 in November 2008, Gingrich claimed: “I think there is a gay and secular fascism in this country that wants to impose its will on the rest of us, is prepared to use violence, to use harassment”:

    GINGRICH: Look, I think there is a gay and secular fascism in this country that wants to impose its will on the rest of us, is prepared to use violence, to use harassment. I think it is prepared to use the government if it can get control of it. I think that it is a very dangerous threat to anybody who believes in traditional religion. And I think if you believe in historic Christianity, you have to confront the fact. And, frank -- for that matter, if you believe in the historic version of Islam or the historic version of Judaism, you have to confront the reality that these secular extremists are determined to impose on you acceptance of a series of values that are antithetical, they're the opposite, of what you're taught in Sunday school. 

    Gingrich: Obama, Dems Threatening America As Much As "Nazi Germany Or The Soviet Union Once Did"

    From Fox News Sunday:

    CHRIS WALLACE (host): You also write this, and let's put it up on the screen. "The secular-socialist machine represents as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union once did." Mr. Speaker, respectfully. Isn't that wildly over the top?

    GINGRICH: No. Not if by America you mean the historic contract we've had which says your rights come from your creator. They're unalienable. You're allowed to pursue happiness. Just listen to President Obama's language. He gets to decide who earns how much. He gets to decide what is too much.

    WALLACE: But in fairness, we're talking not just about any company, we're talking about companies that the government has put billions of dollars in with his pay czar.

    GINGRICH: No, but he has said publicly, generically you know, some Americans earn too much. So he's now going to decide that?

    WALLACE: No, he -- well he's not. He has said that, I agree, that some Americans earn too much.

    GINGRICH: So, so you want a politician to become the arbiter of your dreams? A politician gets to say, "We're gonna raise -- we're gonna have a tax" -- and they proposed this at one point -- "we're going to have a punitive tax on those we don't like. We're going to decide that you have too much money, so we're going to take it from you."

    WALLACE: So -- but you compare that to the Nazis and the communists?

    GINGRICH: I compare that as a threat. Not in terms of the moral -- look, there is no comparison to Nazi Germany as a moral force. Or, by the way, to Mao's China or the Soviet Union, all three of which were evil. But as a threat to our way of life, the degree to which the secular-socialist left represents a fundamental replacement of America, a very different worldview, a very different outcome, I think this is a very serious threat to our way of life. [Fox Broadcasting Co., Fox News Sunday, 5/16/10

    Gingrich Claimed President Obama Is "The First Anti-American President"

    From a March 23 appearance on Fox News’ Hannity:

    NEWT GINGRICH: I don't want to cry, and laughter is the second best choice. I mean, you warned in 2008, you were the one person who consistently talked about Bill Ayers, you talked about what was happening with radicalism in Chicago, you raised the issues of who Obama was really was, and you are probably the only person I know who's a major figure who absolutely got it right.

    So, Obama is a radical left, in many ways the first anti-American president -- I mean, you go out and you watch him and you think, you know, how can you stand in front of a mural of Che Guevara, who was a murdering thug, who was viciously anti-American? How can you be seen at a ball game with a dictator who, by the way, was arresting people while Obama was arriving? I mean, the dictatorship in Cuba has done nothing to accommodate the United States. Just as the North Koreans do nothing, just as the Iranians do nothing, all of them treat Obama with contempt, and it's because he earns it. He behaves in ways that are weak, and he allows them to take advantage of him, and I think that's just a fact. Now the question is, do we follow Obama with somebody who's equally susceptible to weakness and confusion? Hillary Clinton, who last night after the Brussels bombing, said we shouldn't really be afraid. I mean, is she just out of touch? I know she had Secret Service since 1992, but the fact is the rest of us don't have Secret Service, and we have every reason to be afraid. [Fox News, Hannity, 3/23/16]

    Media Matters put together a reel of lowlights from Gingrich’s career as a pundit when he was hired by CNN in 2013:

    For more of Gingrich’s outrageous commentary, see here and here.

    Gingrich Called For A New Version Of The House Un-American Activities Committee In Response To Orlando Shooting

    From a Gingrich appearance on Fox News after the mass shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, FL:

    NEWT GINGRICH: Let me go a step further, because remember, San Bernardino, Fort Hood, and Orlando involve American citizens. We're going to ultimately declare a war on Islamic supremacists and we're going to say, if you pledge allegiance to ISIS, you are a traitor and you have lost your citizenship. And we're going take much tougher positions. In the late 1930s, President Franklin Roosevelt was faced with Nazi penetration in the United States. We originally created the House Un-American Activities Committee to go after Nazis. We passed several laws in 1938 and 1939 to go after Nazis and we made it illegal to help the Nazis. We're going to presently have to go take the similar steps here. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 6/13/16]

    Scamming Email Subscribers With Promises Of Cancer Cures, Warnings About The Illuminati

    From a Media Matters report earlier this July:

    Gingrich has spammed his email list subscribers with sponsored emails claiming that “cancer was cured back in 1925” and the “actual cure” can be found through a subscription newsletter.

    The Republican has attempted to cash in on his post-politics life by becoming a consultant and media personality. He has also made money by renting out his Gingrich Productions email list to shady entities. Gingrich list subscribers over the years have received supposed insider information about "Obama's 'Secret Mistress,'" a "weird" Social Security "trick," the Illuminati, and Fort Knox being "empty."

    Among the shadiest sponsored emails from Gingrich are a series of missives touting claims that “cancer was cured back in 1925” and “the actual cure” for cancer can be found by ultimately subscribing to a newsletter for $74. The emails are from Health Revelations and Health Sciences Institute (HSI), which are both owned by NewMarket Health, LLC, a subsidiary of Agora, Inc.

    The people behind the Gingrich-sent emails have been criticized as pulling off “an unbelievable, immoral con job,” skirting “the line between spammy and scammy,” and using people’s “faith as a way to sell them bullshit ‘miracle’ cancer cures and nutritional supplements.”

    Read the full post here: Trump VP Contender Newt Gingrich Profited From Sending Cancer “Cure” Emails.

    Read Media Matters’ 2014 post: The Illuminati, "Obama's 'Secret Mistress,'" And Cancer "Cures": CNN's Gingrich Has A Bizarre Email List

    Gingrich’s Ethical Quagmire

    In 1997, the House ethics committee voted 7 to 1 recommending that Gingrich “face an unprecedented reprimand from his colleagues and pay $300,000 in additional sanctions after concluding that his use of tax-deductible money for political purposes and inaccurate information supplied to investigators represented ‘intentional or . . . reckless’ disregard of House rules.” The full House later voted (by an overwhelming 395 to 28 margin) that Gingrich should pay the fine and be officially reprimanded.

    The Washington Post reported at the time, “The ethics case and its resolution leave Gingrich with little leeway for future personal controversies, House Republicans said.” Gingrich eventually resigned after the 1998 midterm elections, but his ethical problems didn’t end when he left office.

    Gingrich repeatedly used his Fox News contributor job to criticize cap and trade regulations and carbon pricing in 2010. However, Gingrich political organization received $350,000 in donations from major fossil fuel companies during the same period.

    Gingrich also used his Fox News position to boost the work and profile of the Center for Health Transformation, his for-profit organization. In one instance, Fox News hosted Gingrich and the CEO of a health care company which paid CHT to be a member. However, Fox News did not disclose the financial connection.

    During his hosting Crossfire stint, Gingrich violated the standards CNN had set out for him by discussing candidates that had received money from his political action committee without disclosing that fact. After criticism from Media Matters, CNN responded by loosening its standards. The move drew widespread criticism, including from CNN media reporter Brian Stelter.

    More recently, Gingrich wrote a column for the Wall Street Journal that attacked the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and promoted a poll from the U.S. Consumer Coalition without disclosing that the anti-CFPB group was paying him as an adviser. The Journal eventually updated the column noting Gingrich’s ties.

    He was later called out for his shady financial ties to groups opposing the CFPB while testifying during a House hearing.