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  • Trump Supporters Are Using Fox’s Contrived New Black Panther Scandal From 2010 To Defend His “Rigged Election” Claim

    Blog ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

    Conservative media and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s presidential campaign are revisiting the debunked right-wing media pseudo-scandal of voter intimidation by the New Black Panther Party to defend Trump’s assertion that “large scale voter fraud” will affect the election.

    After the 2008 election of President Barack Obama, a video went viral of two members of the New Black Panther Party standing outside a Philadelphia polling station on Election Day. One was a registered Democratic poll watcher; the other held a nightstick. Under President George W. Bush, the Department of Justice (DOJ) opened an investigation into the incident after Republican poll watchers complained (no voters ever alleged that they were intimidated by the men). Later, under Obama’s administration, the DOJ obtained a default judgment against the member carrying the nightstick and dropped the case against the poll watcher, the organization, and its leader.

    Bush’s U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, which at the time was packed with conservative activists, responded to the conclusion of the case by opening an investigation, even though the Republican vice chairwoman of the commission called the case “very small potatoes” and criticized the “overheated rhetoric filled with insinuations and unsubstantiated charges.” Nevertheless, J. Christian Adams, an activist Republican member of the commission, went on a lengthy crusade against Obama’s Justice Department for dropping the charges, resigning and claiming the decision showed unprecedented, racially charged corruption.

    Adams found a friendly and eager platform for his position in Fox News, particularly with host Megyn Kelly. In 2010, Fox News devoted at least 95 segments and more than eight hours of airtime in two weeks to the phony scandal, including more than 3.5 hours on Kelly’s America Live. Adams admitted that he had no first-hand knowledge of the conversations leading to the decision.

    One year later, an internal investigation at the Justice Department found that “politics played no role in the handling” of the case and that “department attorneys did not commit professional misconduct or exercise poor judgment.” Fox News spent only 88 seconds covering the debunking of a phony scandal of its own creation. Kelly spent only 20 seconds of her show covering the report.

    But the damage was already done, and the obsessive coverage of the non-event has bubbled back up in the 2016 presidential election.

    On October 17, Trump tweeted, “Of course there is large scale voter fraud happening on and before election day.” As they tried to play defense for their candidate, right-wing media figures invoked the faux New Black Panther scandal. CNN’s paid Trump surrogates Kayleigh McEnany and Scottie Nell Hughes got in on the action, with McEnany claiming that Trump “doesn’t want a scenario where there's New Black Panthers outside with guns, essentially like intimidating people from coming into the polls” and Hughes saying that “voter suppression happened when the Black Panthers stood outside the election room.” (CNN’s Kristen Powers retorted, “There was not a single complaint from a single voter.”)

    Conservative radio hosts joined in, with Mike Gallagher asserting that “in Philadelphia we know all about the New Black Panther movement and what they did in Philadelphia at the polling places,” and Howie Carr accusing the Obama administration of “refus[ing] to prosecute” them for “roaming outside polling places, precincts in Philadelphia with baseball bats and threatening white people.”

    Key figures in creating the scandal have also resurfaced to defend Trump’s voter fraud narrative. Fox & Friends hosted J. Christian Adams to push the myth that “dead people are voting … and it’s going to affect the election” (in reality, claims of dead voter fraud are “plagued by recurring methodological errors” and actual instances of this kind of fraud are exceedingly uncommon). The Trump campaign also hired Mike Roman as head of a “nationwide election protection operation.” Roman is a Republican political consultant who shopped the 2008 video to Fox News, worked with Adams to push the scandal, and offered to contact every Republican voter in the Philadelphia precinct to determine if any were intimidated at the polling location.

    The New Black Panther Party pseudo-scandal’s resurgence is only the latest example of how obsessive right-wing coverage of a comprehensively debunked myth, followed by scant coverage of news that does not fit the narrative, can allow a myth to pass as truth for years. Fox’s infatuation with Benghazi still continues to this day and, like the New Black Panther Party issue and other myths, it is frequently revived to attack Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton or bolster ridiculous assertions by Trump. By bringing the overblown and debunked New Black Panther story back into the mainstream, Trump backers in the media are grasping at straws to defend his rigged election nonsense.

  • A Comprehensive Guide To Benghazi Myths And Facts


    After nearly four years of right-wing myths about the September 2012 attack on an American diplomatic compound and CIA compound in Benghazi, Libya, and as Republicans and Democrats on the House Select Committee on the attacks release their reports, Media Matters has compiled a list of more than 50 myths and facts regarding the origin of the attack, the security surrounding the compounds, the Obama administration’s handling of the attack during and after its occurrence, attacks on then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and other lies and misinformation regarding the Benghazi attack.

  • The Supreme Court Just Exposed Right-Wing Lies In A Landmark Abortion Access Case

    ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    On June 27, the Supreme Court ruled 5-3 in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt that Texas’ anti-choice law HB 2 placed an “undue burden on abortion access.” Supporters of the unconstitutional law argued that HB 2’s restrictions were necessary to protect women’s health and prevent another “Kermit Gosnell scandal” -- talking points pushed by right-wing media. Writing the majority opinion of the court, Justice Stephen Breyer rebuked these anti-choice myths, saying there was unequivocal  evidence that HB 2 lacked medical benefits and posed extreme harm to Texas women.

  • From Right-Wing Media Myth To Oral Arguments In A Landmark Abortion Case

    Right-Wing Media’s Favorite Myths About Abortion Made It To The Supreme Court In Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt

    ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    In June 2016, the Supreme Court will release its decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, a controversial case that will determine the constitutionality of a Texas anti-choice law (HB 2) that severely limits access to abortion and medical care. Right-wing media have alleged that HB 2 is necessary to protect women’s health and prevent another “Kermit Gosnell scandal” -- talking points that made their way into Texas Solicitor General Scott Keller’s defense of HB 2 during oral arguments before the Supreme Court.

  • A Comprehensive Guide To Megyn Kelly’s History Of Right-Wing Media Misinformation

    ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

    Megyn Kelly, the host of Fox’s The Kelly File, is often billed as a “straight news” anchor known for occasionally "bucking ... the conservative party line" on Fox. Here’s a look back at some of her most egregious misinformation campaigns and out-of-touch comments regarding race, LGBT issues, gender, reproductive rights, Islam, immigration, climate change, and Hillary Clinton.

  • Media Highlight New Research Confirming HB 2 Imposes An "Undue Burden" On Abortion Access

    ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    In oral arguments for Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, pro-choice groups called on the Supreme Court to strike down Texas' extreme anti-choice law, HB 2. Right-wing media and conservative lawmakers have long argued the bill's restrictions are aimed at protecting women's health and will not force clinic closures. In response, media in Texas have highlighted new research from the Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP) confirming HB 2 is dangerous, forces clinic closures, and places an "undue burden" on abortion access.

  • Myths And Facts On The Nomination Of Judge Merrick Garland To The Supreme Court


    Since the lead-up to President Obama's March 16 nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, the judge has faced misleading and false attacks, as well as a concerted push for continued obstruction of any Supreme Court nominee chosen by Obama. Here are the facts about the nominee, previous lines of right-wing attack, and information on the nomination and confirmation processes going forward.

  • Myths And Facts About HB 2, The Anti-Choice Law That Could Overturn Abortion Rights

    ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    On March 2, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, a controversial case that will determine the constitutionality of a Texas anti-choice law (HB 2) that severely limits women's access to abortion and medical care. In covering the case, some media outlets have relied on right-wing media talking points about the purported medical necessity of restricting women's access to abortion, as well as the false claim that HB 2 would prevent another "Kermit Gosnell scandal," in which illegal operations led to multiple deaths at a Philadelphia clinic. Here are the facts.

  • How Right-Wing Media's Misleading Claims About Women's Health Made Their Way To The Supreme Court

    ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    The Supreme Court will hear arguments March 2 in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, which challenges Texas anti-choice law HB 2. A ruling against abortion provider Whole Woman's Health would close at least 75 percent of Texas' clinics and likely enable anti-choice legislation across the country. Texas' brief to the Supreme Court utilized arguments that mirror talking points from right-wing media, including the claim that HB 2 would prevent another "Kermit Gosnell scandal," in which illegal operations led to multiple deaths at a Philadelphia clinic.

  • Media Laud Megyn Kelly's Debate Questions, Ignore Her Record Of Misinformation And Fearmongering

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Prominent media figures are cheering Megyn Kelly's performance as a moderator in the January 28 Fox News Republican presidential debate as "brilliant," while lauding her for asking "the toughest questions" and"throwing fastballs." Such praise ignores the conservative myth-filled questions Kelly has a history of asking guests on her show the rest of the year when she's not in the presidential debate spotlight.

  • Fox News Has Spent 5 Years Warning That The U.S. Could Become Greece


    Since 2010, Fox News' hosts and analysts have kept up a steady drumbeat of dire warnings that the United States is on a road to financial and economic ruin and could meet the same fate as Greece if it doesn't implement draconian cuts to social safety net programs as a way to cut the debt and deficit. But Greece, which pursued such cuts, accelerated its economic deterioration, while the United States has rejected extreme austerity measures and enjoyed six years of continuous economic recovery.

  • GOP Justifies Weakening Social Security Disability Program Using Right-Wing Media's Smears

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVIA MARSHALL

    Congressional Republicans are borrowing from years of right-wing media attacks on federal disability benefits to justify their recent attempt to snarl funding for Social Security programs.

    On January 6, Republicans in the House of Representatives passed a change to legislative rules that restricts the historically routine transfer of tax money from the Social Security retirement fund to the Social Security disability program. Such transfers have helped keep both Social Security programs solvent. In practice, the rule change makes these reallocations nearly impossible by requiring that they be "accompanied by 'benefit cuts or tax increases that improve the solvency of both funds.' " As the Los Angeles Times' Michael Hiltzik explained, because the disability fund is on track to "run dry as early as next year," this could mean "disability benefits for 11 million beneficiaries would have to be cut 20%."

    In a January 6 statement justifying the rule change, Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX) called the disability program  "fraud-plagued." And during a January 14 event in New Hampshire on the long-term future of safety-net programs, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) claimed many who receive disability benefits are "gaming the system" and downplayed disabilities, saying, "over half of the people on disability are either anxious or their back hurts. Join the club." 

  • Myths and Facts About EPA's Carbon Pollution Standards

    ››› ››› DENISE ROBBINS

    The Environmental Protection Agency's forthcoming regulations on greenhouse gas emissions will provide legally required protection for the health and welfare of Americans at a cheap cost, while allowing states flexibility -- contrary to media fearmongering about the landmark standards.

  • Top 6 Reasons Women Should Be Thankful Conservative Media Aren't Their Doctor


    2013 was an epic year of right-wing media misinforming the public on the health care debate, particularly on women's health issues. Ignoring women's health experts, conservative media spent this year stoking fears about everything from birth control to maternity care, ignoring science, distorting state and federal regulations, and demonizing women's health care options in the process. These are the top six scare tactics from 2013.