Fox & Friends Is "Amazed" At Negativity After Trump Makes Anti-Semite, White Nationalist Steve Bannon His Chief Strategist
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Stephen Bannon, Head Of White Nationalist “Alt-Right” Website Breitbart News, Becomes Trump’s Senior Counselor
President-elect Donald Trump’s first White House hire tells you everything you need to know about his commitment to his campaign’s bigoted message. Stephen Bannon, an anti-Semite who ran the white nationalist “alt-right” website Breitbart News before taking a leave of absence to become the Trump campaign CEO, will be Trump’s chief strategist and senior counselor.
On November 13, Trump released a statement announcing Bannon’s hiring. The same statement noted that Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus would become Trump’s chief of staff. While White House chief of staff is typically the most senior position in the White House, the press release named Bannon first and described the two as “equal partners” in the Trump administration.
Bannon has been a key figure in leveraging this bigotry to aid Trump’s rise to power. Bannon bragged during the Republican Convention to nominate Trump that Breitbart News had become home to the “alt-right” -- which is just a racist code word for white nationalists. Under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart News has featured racism, misogyny, anti-Semitism, and anti-LGBT rhetoric. The site recently made a “noticeable shift toward embracing ideas on the extremist fringe of the conservative right. Racist ideas. Anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant ideas -- all key tenets making up an emerging racist ideology known as the ‘Alt-Right’” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Before he died, Andrew Breitbart himself reportedly called Bannon “the Leni Riefenstahl of the tea party movement.”
Bannon’s Breitbart News especially has come under fire for its rampant anti-Semitism. In May, contributor David Horowitz wrote a piece calling The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol a “renegade Jew.” In September, Breitbart News writer Matthew Tyrmand called Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum a “political revisionist” who was “on the warpath against the rising populist forces doing electoral damage to her establishment friends and allies across the world,” adding, “hell hath no fury like a Polish, Jewish, American elitist scorned.” In August, former Breitbart News writer Ben Shapiro accused the website of embracing “a movement shot through with racism and anti-Semitism.” Bannon’s anti-Semitism goes deeper than just Breitbart. As CNN’s Jake Tapper noted on Twitter after today’s announcement, Bannon’s ex-wife swore in court that “he said he doesn’t like Jews” and didn’t want his children to go to school with Jews. Indeed, Esquire politics contributor Charles Pierce even compared Bannon with David Duke
Let us be clear. The hiring of Steve Bannon as a WH policy adviser is exactly the same as hiring David Duke. Please don't normalize this.
— Charles P. Pierce (@ESQPolitics) November 13, 2016
Republican strategist John Weaver agreed, adding:
Just to be clear news media, the next president named a racist, anti-semite as the co-equal of the chief of staff. #NotNormal
— John Weaver (@JWGOP) November 13, 2016
There are also significant issues with how Bannon ran Breitbart News. Breitbart News staffers alleged that Trump -- with the cooperation of Bannon and other top management -- paid the website for favorable news coverage and to turn it into “his own fan website.” Former spokesman Kurt Bardella told Media Matters that Bannon is a ““pathological liar who has a temperament that governs by bullying and intimidation and functions very much like a dictator at Breitbart.”
Recently, Bannon has characterized the rise of Trump as part of a global nationalist movement, telling the radio show Breitbart News Daily on November 2, that “people want more control of their country. … They want sovereignty. It’s not just a thing that’s happening in any one geographic space.” His website has promoted Trump-style far-right political parties across Europe. In the past week, Bannon has reached out to France’s right-wing Nationalist Front movement, and according to The Daily Beast, he is “right now the direct line between the European far-right and Donald J. Trump.”
The hires of Bannon and Priebus together signal that Trump’s White House will combine the traditional Republicanism of Priebus with Bannon’s brand of ethno-nationalism. Prominent Republican figures like Speaker Paul Ryan are signaling that they will allow the normalization of such a figure, openly praising Priebus’ hiring while ignoring Bannon rather than speaking out against him. Just today on CNN, Paul Ryan said he had never met Bannon, had no comment on him serving in Trump’s White House, but declared that he “trusted” Trump. Ryan’s agnosticism about Bannon beggars belief: Breitbart News under Bannon had led a multi-year campaign against Ryan, including declaring Ryan a Clinton supporter who shares her “globalist worldview” just weeks ago.
Less than a week after Trump’s electoral victory, many reporters still seem confused about just what will come from a Trump administration. If they want to know what Trump truly has in mind for the country, they need to look at Bannon and his bigoted website.
President-elect Donald Trump is reportedly seriously considering Fox News contributor and talk radio host Laura Ingraham as his White House press secretary. Ingraham’s selection would cement Trump’s war on the press within his administration, as she has railed against “elite,” “biased,” “post-American” journalists for years, even calling for them to be put “on trial.” During the presidential campaign Ingraham viciously attacked those she deemed overly critical of Trump’s explicit bigotry. Ingraham has a particular contempt for “toxic” Spanish-language outlets, which she claims “revile the American experience.”
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During the presidential campaign, a cross-section of media figures argued that if Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton were to win the election, she should include Republican appointees in her cabinet and other top positions in order to help unify the country. Will the media now push President-elect Donald Trump -- who said during the campaign that he wouldn’t consider offering any top positions to Democrats -- to meet that same standard?
Fox News personalities are echoing Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign, which claimed that the FBI would not have been able to “review 650,000 emails in eight days” to cast doubt on the bureau’s probe into Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. However, experts point out that the FBI is able to do so using technology such as “automated search and filtering tools.”
FBI Director James Comey informed Congress that upon review of emails related to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server, the FBI has “not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July ”that no criminal charges are appropriate. The FBI’s conclusion of the email review comes after the media breathlessly hyped extensive, doomsday-like coverage about the email investigation.
Comey notified Congress on November 6 that the FBI has “reviewed all of the communications that were to or from Hillary Clinton while she was Secretary of State,” and that the review of related emails “obtained in connection with an unrelated criminal investigation” has led to no changes in the FBI’s “conclusions that we expressed in July,” when the FBI found that “no charges are appropriate in this case.” NBC’s Pete Williams reported that “nearly all the documents … were duplicates that the FBI had already seen in its investigation of the Clinton email server or were personal emails that had no bearing on the question of classification.”
When Comey first informed Congress on October 28 that the FBI planned to examine new evidence related to Clinton’s email server, media outlets irresponsibly ran with Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s (R-UT) misleading claim that the FBI had “reopened” its investigation into Clinton’s use of a private server. However, as the facts started to trickle in, outlets scrambled to walk back their headlines to more accurately portray the development. Cable news pundits hyped the news as “damaging” and called it “a dramatic new twist” and “an exclamation point on the end of a horrible week for Clinton and the Democrats.”
Though Comey’s letter received harsh criticism from across the political spectrum, it has generated a flood of coverage over the past nine days. Five of the nation's top national newspapers national newspapers produced 100 news articles that mentioned the Clinton email story in a week, 46 of which were placed on their front pages; the same newspapers published only 49 articles total with “Trump” in the headline that didn’t mention the story over the same period. The Clinton email story dominated cable airwaves for several days following Comey’s initial letter, as pundits churned out mountains of speculative coverage hyping the political implications of an otherwise vague update from the FBI.
The FBI update was followed by a “dangerous” and “unprecedented” flow of leaks from the FBI regarding the investigations related to Clinton, leading to false, anonymously sourced claims of pending indictments and calls for the appointment of a special prosecutor.
With the election only days away, journalists owe it to their readers and viewers to give Comey’s letter again clearing Clinton and her staff as much coverage as they gave his initial letter.
The New York Post published a front page report alleging that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton “routinely asked her maid to print out sensitive government e-mails and documents -- including ones containing classified information,” but ignored the fact the emails in question were classified years after the fact. The report cited only two classified emails, both of which were retroactively classified at the lowest level of classification, a practice which is consistent with past State Department actions. Additionally, in both confidential emails Clinton did not request that her maid print the emails. The author of the report has a history of inaccurate reporting when it comes to Clinton’s emails.
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Fox News anchor Bret Baier made a massive face plant on his now-debunked report of a forthcoming indictment as part of supposed FBI investigations related to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Yet fellow journalists are giving Baier a pass because he is a “solid reporter” and a “real journalist.” To the contrary, Baier is part of the cadre of so-called “hard news” Fox reporters who frequently peddle conservative misinformation under the guise of “straight news,” and his latest “indictment” error is not simply a one-time slip up.
Baier seemingly stunned the political world on November 2 when he cited anonymous sources to claim that FBI agents investigating the Clinton Foundation and Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state found an “avalanche of new information coming in every day” that would lead to “likely an indictment.” The claim quickly made its way to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who said the FBI investigation “is likely to yield an indictment.”
Less than 24 hours after the initial claim, however, Baier partially walked back his “inartful” and flawed report, saying it was wrong for him to “phrase it like I did.” Later that day, ABC News and NBC News poured cold water on Baier’s report, and NBC’s Pete Williams reported that “there really isn’t” an investigation into the Clinton Foundation and that “this idea that there are indictments near … is just not true.”
Yet despite Baier’s botched reporting, some journalists claimed Baier’s inaccurate reporting was a one-off error. CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota held Baier up as “a real journalist,” saying, “He’s not Sean Hannity. … Bret is a real journalist,” suggesting that his latest miscue was out of character for him. Fellow CNN anchor Chris Cuomo also suggested that it was Baier’s sources who were at fault, not he, because Baier is a “solid reporter” who shouldn’t be “assail[ed]” for being misled.
Baier’s bungled report is indeed an example of terrible journalism, but he hardly has an otherwise-clean slate of “solid” and honest reporting.
Throughout his tenure at Fox, Baier has pushed false and misleading claims about numerous issues. He has distorted conversations about reproductive rights by pushing an overwhelming amount of abortion-related misinformation on his show, including referring to common abortion procedures as “dismemberment abortion.” He has also used his show as a vehicle for pushing debunked conspiracy theories and flatout falsehoods regarding the September 11, 2012, terror attacks in Benghazi -- in fact, Baier’s Special Report aired the most Benghazi-related segments of all of Fox’s evening programs in the 20 months following the attacks.
Baier has attacked first lady Michelle Obama’s healthy lunches initiative, pushed falsehoods about Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, and fearmongered over nondiscrimination ordinances. He has falsely suggested that climate change data is “cooked,” peddled false conspiracy theories about Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, and even pushed House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) to threaten a government shutdown. Baier also defended his former boss Roger Ailes after sexual harassment allegations surfaced and attempted to downplay Trump’s widely condemned invitation for the Russian government to hack Clinton by claiming Trump was simply “joking.”
In addition to all of this, Baier has not even fully retracted his false reporting on Clinton and the FBI, doubling down on November 3 despite the debunking from other outlets.
So no, Bret Baier is not a “real journalist.” He is a right-leaning Fox News reporter who exploits the facade of his “straight news” evening show to peddle conservative misinformation, and his latest “indictment” misfire is part of an ongoing trend.
UPDATE: On November 4, Baier apologized on-air for his misleading report and effectively walked back all three of his original and now debunked claims. Journalists praised Baier for correcting his false reporting, ignoring the broader context of flawed body of work.
ABC News and NBC News are both disputing Fox News’ anonymously sourced report that there is an active, “very high priority” FBI investigation into the Clinton Foundation which has collected “a great deal of evidence,” citing their own anonymous sources. Both ABC and NBC report that the investigation in question produced little evidence of wrongdoing and there have been no recent developments in the case.
On November 2, days before the presidential election, Fox News’ Bret Baier cited two anonymous sources “with intimate knowledge of the FBI investigations into the Clinton emails and the Clinton Foundation” to claim that the investigation “into possible pay-for-play interaction between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Foundation” is a “‘very high priority'” and that “agents are actively and aggressively pursuing this case.” Baier said FBI agents “had collected a great deal of evidence” to suggest wrongdoing. The story has been trumpeted on Fox and in the conservative media and was highlighted during a November 3 speech by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
MSNBC anchor Kate Snow noted on November 3 that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump “cited a Fox report” to allege that the FBI investigation “is likely to yield an indictment” and the Justice Department “is trying to protect” Clinton. Snow also reported, however, that “law enforcement officials tell NBC News” that “there have been no developments” in the Clinton Foundation case “for several months,” presumably because there is insufficient evidence for an indictment. From the November 3 edition of MSNBC Live:
KATE SNOW (HOST): Let me ask you about something Donald Trump said just a couple of hours ago in Jacksonville, Florida. He went on kind of went on a rant against Hillary Clinton and the about the FBI. He cited a Fox report that said that Clinton might face indictment related to the Clinton Foundation; I just want to note that law enforcement officials tell NBC News that the FBI did take an initial look at the Clinton Foundation based on allegations that were made in the press, and a book that’s gotten some attention -- excuse me -- but that there have been no developments on that front in the last several months. That said, here’s what Donald Trump said:
DONALD TRUMP: The FBI agents say their investigation is likely to yield an indictment. But just remember, the system is rigged. Just remember that. And reports also show the political leadership at the Department of Justice is trying to protect Hillary Clinton and is trying to interfere with the FBI investigation
ABC News’ sources similarly called the Fox report “inaccurate and without merit.” In a November 3 article, Matt Levine wrote that ABC News’ sources told him that in February, “prosecutors and senior FBI officials agreed there was no clear evidence of wrongdoing, and that a criminal case tied to the Clinton Foundation could not be made.” ABC further reported:
Investigators and higher-ups have continued to discuss the matter, but there has been no change in posture, sources said. Authorities still believe there is no evidence of wrongdoing, and they do not believe there is a sufficient reason to pursue charges, according to the sources.
Media outlets and journalists sharply criticized the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for interfering in the presidential election after Director James Comey violated precedent and policy by sending a letter to Congress saying the agency is reviewing newly discovered emails surrounding Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server as secretary of state. That announcement was followed by a series of additional leaks from the FBI.
Fox News’ Bret Baier walked back his November 2 claim, which was based on two unnamed sources, that FBI investigations relating to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton will “continue to likely an indictment.” On the November 3 edition of Fox’s Happening Now, Baier described his comments as “inartful,” acknowledging that “that’s not the process.” Baier’s uncritical reporting of anonymous, unvetted sources has been parroted by a stream of Fox hosts and correspondents, as well as right-wing blogs.
The Daily Beast has reported on a pipeline between conservative FBI agents (both active and retired) -- angered by FBI Director James Comey’s conclusion in July that there was insufficient evidence to recommend any indictment in the review of Clinton’s use of private email as secretary of state -- and Fox News. According to The Daily Beast, “Trump supporters with strong ties to the agency kept talking about surprises and leaks to come -- and come they did.” From the November 3 edition of Fox News’ Happening Now:
MARTHA MACCALLUM (CO-HOST): The FBI sources that you spoke with suggest that an indictment is likely. That would prove -- go ahead.
BRET BAIER: I want to be clear -- I want to be clear about this, and this was -- came from a Q and A that I did with Brit Hume after my show and after we went through everything. He asked me if, after the election, if Hillary Clinton wins, will this investigation continue, and I said, “yes absolutely.” I pressed the sources again and again what would happen. I got to the end of that and said, “they have a lot of evidence that would, likely lead to an indictment.” But that’s not, that’s inartfully answered. That’s not the process. That’s not how you do it. You have to have a prosecutor. If they don't move forward with a prosecutor with the DOJ, there would be, I'm told, a very public call for an independent prosecutor to move forward. There is confidence in the evidence, but for me to phrase it like I did, of course that got picked up everywhere, but the process is different than that.