Ingraham Suggests Story About Flynn’s Conversation With Russian Ambassador Was A "Setup” By “Neo-Conservatives”
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Conservative media figures praised President Donald Trump’s firing of acting Attorney General Sally Yates and called on him to further purge the federal government of “Obama appointees” and “lifelong leftists.” Trump has also frozen federal hiring and is reportedly considering a “reduction in force.” His press secretary also suggested State Department employees should “get with the program or … go.”
In 2016, right-wing media’s use of racially charged and bigoted statements hit new lows, featuring widely condemned segments reliant on racial caricatures, bigoted attempts to blame progressives for the actions of white nationalists, and slurs directed against other media figures. Here are the most bigoted stories and statements from right-wing media figures over the last year:
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Some right-wing media figures and outlets are attempting to twist and confuse the term “fake news” -- a specific phenomenon in which information is clearly and demonstrably fabricated, then packaged and distributed to appear as a legitimate source of news -- to attack outlets they disagree with. By redefining fake news in their own terms and claiming that reporting by outlets such as The New York Times and CNN constitute fake news, right-wing media figures are bolstering President-elect Donald Trump’s continued efforts to delegitimize mainstream news sources and their reporting, and muddling real concerns about fake news used as a weapon of active disinformation.
As public discussions about fake news reach critical mass, right-wing media figures and outlets have attempted to redefine “fake news” completely, downplaying the problem it poses. Rush Limbaugh claimed that fake news is largely “satire and parody that liberals don’t understand because they don’t have a sense of humor.” The Washington Free Beacon’s Bill McMorris described fake news as “whatever people living in the liberal bubble determine to be believed by the right.”
Other conservatives are even using fake news to describe reporting from credible news outlets with which they disagree. Fringe right-wing conspiracy site Infowars.com declared that “The mainstream media is the primary source of the most harmful, most inaccurate news ever,” and included outlets such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, ABC News, CBS News, and Politico (and Media Matters, for good measure) on their “full list of fake news outlets.” Fox contributor Newt Gingrich lamented the Times’ reporting on the fake news phenomenon, arguing,“The idea of The New York Times being worried about fake news is really weird. The New York Times is fake news.” Conservative radio host Laura Ingraham -- a contender for Trump’s press secretary -- lashed out at CNN while appearing on Fox News’ Hannity, stating “the folks over at CNN” and “the kind of little games they’re playing are so transparent … they’re the fake news organizations.”
While there isn’t an official, universally accepted definition of fake news, a variety of outlets and experts across the ideological spectrum have identified common themes. BuzzFeed’s Craig Silverman, one of the first to report frequently and extensively on the fake news phenomenon, defines fake news as “false … stories from hoax sites and hyperpartisan blogs.” The New York Times’ Sabrina Tavernese wrote that, “Narrowly defined, ‘fake news’ means a made-up story with an intention to deceive, often geared toward getting clicks." David Mikkelson, the founder of the fact-checking website Snopes.com, describes fake news as “completely fabricated information that has little or no intersection with real-world events.” Mikkelson goes on to explain, “not all bad news reporting is ‘fake,’ and that distinction should be kept clear.” Slate senior technology writer Will Oremus argues fake news is “fabricated,” “sensational stories” that imitate “the style and appearance of real news articles.” Fox media analyst Howard Kurtz defines fake news as “made-up-stuff being merchandized for clicks and profits,” clarifying that he doesn’t “mean the major media stories that some ... find unfair or exaggerated.” And CNN and Conservative Review’s Amanda Carpenter wrote that “fake news is malicious, false information that somehow becomes credible” often “printed on what appears to be a professional looking website.” Carpenter also distinguished fake news from “commentary that never purported to be straight news in the first place” or “political speech someone doesn’t happen to agree with.”
None of these definitions are even remotely similar to how right-wing media figures are trying to redefine fake news.
Right-wing media’s attempt to conflate fake news with reporting from legitimate journalistic institutions feeds into a larger conservative effort, led by President-elect Trump, to delegitimize mainstream media outlets. Trump, who has long waged a war on the press, has consistently expressed his contempt for journalists and news organizations and violated the norms of any president or president-elect when it comes to his relations with the media. During the month of November, Trump repeatedly attacked media outlets, calling The New York Times “dishonest,” decrying the “the crooked media” for investigating his unprecedented business conflicts of interest, and suggesting that CNN has gotten “worse” since the election. In a December 7 interview on NBC’s Today, Trump admitted he uses Twitter to bypass the media and “dishonest reporters.”
Some experts have suggested Trump’s attacks on the media are part of a concerted effort to discredit journalists and outlets and thereby “inoculate” himself from reporting that could be damaging. On CNN’s Reliable Sources, former Time Inc. Editor-in-Chief John Huey argued that Trump used “demagogic techniques” that “smack of authoritarianism” during the campaign because “the media poses a real threat to him.”
Attacking mainstream outlets as “fake” is the latest step in a conservative-media-fueled campaign to delegitimize credible news sources -- a dangerous path in a media landscape where people are already too willing to accept actual fake news, but are hard-pressed to believe real reporting.
Trump Has Picked -- Or Considered -- Over A Dozen Right-Wing Media Veterans For His Administration
President-elect Donald Trump has picked -- or considered -- nearly a dozen people who have worked in right-wing media, including talk radio, right-wing news sites, Fox News, and conservative newspapers, to fill his administration. And Trump himself made weekly guest appearances on Fox for a number of years while his vice president used to host a conservative talk radio show.
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Fox News media critic Howard Kurtz lambasted the media for failing to “normalize” President-elect Donald Trump, but nothing about Trump’s campaign or his transition is normal -- nor should the media consider it as such.
Kurtz’s November 20 column on FoxNews.com criticized “many in the media, mostly on the liberal side,” who say Trump “should not be normalized,” which Kurtz incorrectly interpreted as a denial of the validity of the presidential election results. To back up this assertion, Kurtz wildly claimed that the media's valid questions about many of Trump’s actions are akin to the racist attacks that began about President Obama's faith and birthplace after he was elected, many on Kurtz’s own network. Kurtz’s strawman argument ignores the conduct that demands Trump not be normalized: his campaign of bigotry and division and his cabinet appointees rumored and actual who despise the press, have long histories of hatred, and, in one case, support white nationalist ideology.
Trump’s policies and behavior are not normal and should not be treated as such, and it is media’s role to hold elected officials accountable. Trump’s team has already soft-pitched internment camps as “precedent” for a Muslim registry, and Kurtz’s Fox News colleagues are already defending the fundamentally anti-American idea. Not only that, but Trump’s transition has raised eyebrows about “mind-boggling” conflicts of interest with the Trump Organization, potential self-enrichment by Trump’s children, and Trump’s extremely disturbing habit of ditching the press as president-elect to maneuver in secrecy, which Kurtz already said is not a problem. This is not normal.
Trump’s cabinet is similarly filling up with people who espouse horrific beliefs. His appointees so far includes a national security adviser who shares fake news and tells people “fear of Muslims is rational,” a chief strategist who is described as a “white nationalist” by opponents and supporters alike, and an attorney general who was once denied a federal judgeship for being too racist, a fact that Kurtz’s Fox colleagues repeatedly dismissed. Other potential appointees include a bigoted press secretary who hates the press, a commerce secretary who wants to know “what’s with all the hoods in the hizzy,” and a homeland security secretary who calls civil rights activists “primitive,” “unmanageable misfits.” This is not normal.
When media outlets resist “normalizing” Trump, they are resisting the normalization of racism, Islamophobia, sexism, homophobia, and other types of division and discrimination present in his growing administration. Many outlets, however, are already failing this test. When Trump’s hostilities toward women and minorities are paired with his regular threats against the free press, the media’s role in naming bigotry wherever it is found -- even in the White House -- is more important than ever.
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On Fox News Sunday, radio host and Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham -- who is under consideration for White House press secretary -- was confronted with concerns over President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. Ingraham deflected, claiming that “these types of lines against true patriots” are “the kind of stuff that has turned people against Washington, D.C.” By ignoring Flynn’s conflicts of interest and concerns about him raised by members of the intelligence community, Ingraham previewed the opaque and adversarial way she would handle criticism of the Trump administration as press secretary.
Last week, Trump offered Flynn the position of national security adviser in his administration. Flynn, who gained prominence in the Republican Party with frequent appearances on Fox News, has conflicts of interest with Russia and Turkey and has a long history of anti-Muslim statements, including that “fear of Muslims is rational.”
On November 20, Fox News’ Juan Williams highlighted concerns from members of the intelligence community that Flynn is “unhinged” and shares “facts that don't comport with what others in the intelligence community believe to be true.” Williams also pointed out that “Americans … are concerned” by Flynn’s “ties to Russia” and “ties to Turkey.” Specifically, Flynn recently had dinner with Russian president Vladimir Putin at Russian state news site Russia Today’s gala and has a lobbying firm that has accepted money from an ally of the Turkish president. Ingraham sidestepped Williams’ arguments, instead questioning his intentions and telling him that comments like his are “the kind of stuff that's turned people against Washington.” From the November 20 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday:
JUAN WILLIAMS: I think the question really is about the appointments and the appointment process. So you have people who I would say don't fit into exactly a team of rivals, but to many people a team of radicals -- a team of radicals in terms of what are these people representing? Flynn, Mike Flynn, I don't think he could be confirmed, so he's getting the national security adviser job. I think his past in national security and a number of people --
CHRIS WALLACE (HOST): Defense Intelligence Agency.
WILLIAMS: Yes, specifically as head of Defense Intelligence, and the way that he left there and questions about his management style and about sharing information and what some in the intelligence community call “Flynn facts,” which is facts that don't comport with what others in the intelligence community believe to be true. Colin Powell writing in the WikiLeaks leak that he thought he was unhinged. I think this tells you it would be very difficult.
I think when you think about someone like Flynn, Americans, Lisa, are concerned when you look at his ties to Russia, his ties to Vladimir Putin. When they think about his ties to Turkey --
LAURA INGRAHAM: What are they, Juan? What are you talking about? You’re just throwing out these --
WALLACE: He did go to a dinner.
WILLIAMS: Thank you. He not only go to a dinner, he went to a dinner for Russia Today and was with Putin, and he was taking money from the Turkish government. These are facts, Laura.
INGRAHAM: Here’s what I think --
WALLACE: We’re almost out of time, so a quick answer.
INGRAHAM: Well, OK, there was a lot said by Juan, but you said “team of radicals.” This is the kind of stuff that has turned people against Washington, D.C., and these types of lines against true patriots who sacrificed for their country, who are beloved among the men and women in the military, who actually do the heavy lifting for all of us. [James] Mattis, General Mattis, is one of the most beloved Marines of the last 50 years. General Flynn is considered one of the pre-eminent intelligence experts of our age. So to throw out these lines, “a team of radicals,” that serves nobody's interest. If you have a substantive disagreement with their approach to fighting terror or their approach to intelligence, that's fine. But these blithe comments, I think, have poisoned political discussion in this country, and I think it's exactly why people despise this city.
Ingraham, who is reportedly under “serious consideration” to be White House press secretary in President-elect Donald Trump’s incoming administration, has repeatedly expressed disgust of members of the media who report things she deems negative about Trump. Ingraham’s media appearances have also included numerous attacks on Latinos, civil rights groups, LGBTQ people, and others.
Conservative radio host Laura Ingraham is reportedly under “serious consideration” to be White House press secretary in the upcoming Donald Trump White House.
In an appearance on Fox News, where she is also a contributor, Ingraham said she is “honored” to be among the contenders for the position. She added, “I'm at the point where, if my country needs me, and if I can do something to actually, you know, advance the Trump agenda, which is stuff I have written about now for 15 years, with trade, immigration and just renewing America, then I obviously have to seriously consider that.”
Throughout her career in conservative media, Ingraham has repeatedly used her platform to attack ethnic minorities (especially Latinos), civil rights organizations, and progressive leaders in a crude and often racist fashion. Here are 17 of her worst moments:
Ingraham: Minority Voters Picked Obama “Because He Was … Half-Black.” Ingraham said, “There are a lot of minorities who just voted for him because he was, you know, half-black, and that was a historical milestone.”
Ingraham: Mexicans “Have Come Here To Murder And Rape Our People.” Discussing Mexican immigrants, Ingraham said, “They have come here to murder and rape our people. We know that. That doesn't mean everybody has, doesn't mean everyone who comes across the border is a nasty, horrible person, but they have violated our laws.”
Ingraham Suggested Deported Immigrants Attempting To Re-Enter The Country Should Be Shot. Discussing undocumented immigrants potentially being deported after being released from prison, Ingraham said, “[Governor Jerry] Brown is releasing all these criminals, because they're spending too much money in the jails. By the way, the jails are what, 27 percent illegal immigrants? Why don't we ship them back home and say you come again, and you'll be shot crossing the border? Why don't we ship them out of this country, why are we paying for these horrific individuals? They do their time, get out of the country, never coming back. Never coming back. You come back, you'll be shot. I'm sorry, this is now -- so now you have a ten day waiting period? Well, you better hope nothing happens in ten days, I guess. That's a long wait, I thought four minutes was long, now you have ten days to wait.”
Ingraham Played Audio Of A Gunshot While Discussing The March On Washington And Civil Rights Leaders. While discussing the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and remarks from civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), Ingraham played audio of a gunshot.
Ingraham: NAACP Is “A Push Organization For Racist Sentiments.” Ingraham said the NAACP, one of the oldest civil rights organizations in America, “has become a push organization for racist sentiments in many ways.”
Ingraham Compared Same-Sex Marriage To Incest And Polygamy. Ingraham compared the legal right to same-sex marriage to state-sanctioned incest and polygamy.
Ingraham Said People Should Wear Diapers Instead Of Sharing Bathrooms With Transgender People. Discussing how people will react to transgender people being allowed to use bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity, Ingraham said, “I think a lot of people are going to be walking around with just Depends on from now on. They're just not going to use the bathroom. Adult diapers, diapers for everybody. No one's going to be going to the bathroom. You have little kids, there's going to be no bathrooms. We're just going to all wear Depends. Everyone will just be happy. Then you'll be in your own bathroom. Everyone's bathroom is just their own clothes, OK? So this is what we're going to go to.”
Ingraham Played “Yo Quiero Taco Bell” Sound Clip To Mock Migrant Children Fleeing Violence. While discussing the plight of migrant children fleeing violence in Central America, Ingraham played a sound clip from a Taco Bell commercial and said, “I bet there are a lot of American kids who would like free food before they go to bed at night.”
Ingraham: U.S. Should Accept Only Those Refugees Who “We Can Verifiably Say Are Christians,” And Muslims Should “Stay In The Middle East.” Discussing the Syrian refugee crisis, Ingraham said, “The Christians who we can verifiably say are Christians, who are in the threat of being slaughtered, I'm happy to bring in some of them. I think most people would. But all these other people, they've got to stay in the Middle East. We cannot be the warehouse of all these, you know, Muslim people coming from these far-flung lands.”
Ingraham: “I Don’t Think Of Jewish People As Minorities Because They’re So Successful.” Ingraham said that she didn’t view Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) as a minority because he is Jewish.
Ingraham Mocked Latino TV Anchor For Translating For A Guest. Ingraham attacked MSNBC anchor Jose Diaz-Balart for translating for a guest speaking in Spanish.
Ingraham: Registering Voters Is “The Politics Of Division.” Ingraham described efforts to register voters in Ferguson, MO, as “the politics of division.”
Ingraham Mocked A Protester For Speaking Accented English. Ingraham complained that she couldn’t understand a protester’s accent, noting, “Wait, what did she say at the end? I can't -- I need a translator. I speak Spanish too. I'd rather have her just speak Spanish, at least I'd understand that.” Ingraham then went on to mock her accent.
Ingraham: “A Very Compelling Case Could Be Made That [The Women’s Movement] Has Set Women Back.” Ingraham argued, “I think a very compelling case could be made that this has set women back. The most powerful thing a woman can do is give birth, that is it. That is your power, really your power. And you can do a lot of things in your life, but that's what makes you unique, and now it becomes just kind of commodified in today's society.“
Ingraham Called Spanish-Language Media Outlets “Toxic,” Said They “Revile The American Experience.” Ingraham described Spanish-language media outlets Univision and Telemundo as “toxic.” She also said, “These are Hispanic-centric networks that I think in many ways, and we've talked about this before, revile the American experience, and I think even encourage the understanding that we're living on stolen land.”
Ingraham Said Multilingualism In Schools Makes “You Think You’re In A Foreign Country.” Discussing dual immersion classes, Ingraham said, “The money this all costs is staggering. And, hence, I think that a lot of people are noticing this, have noticed it. People speaking broken language who work at various retail establishments. Language is terrible. They can't understand you, and you can't understand them. Sometimes you think you're in a foreign country.”
Ingraham Called Planned Parenthood Employees “Heinous, Hitlerian Freaks.” Ingraham was one of many in the conservative media to attack Planned Parenthood after a series of deceptively edited videos were released targeting the organization.
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