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  • A Clinton-Obsessed Conspiracy Theorist Is Behind Benghazi Lawsuit Against Hillary Clinton

    Larry Klayman Has Previously Accused Clintons Of “Orchestrating The Murders Of Several Of Their Associates,” Claimed President Obama Was “Our First Muslim President”

    Blog ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET

    Klayman
    Clinton-obsessed conspiracy theorist, Larry Klayman, has filed a lawsuit on behalf of two of the families victimized by the September 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

    The lawsuit, which alleges “that Clinton’s negligence was directly responsible for Smith’s and Woods’ death,” also includes charges of “defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.” Fox News has repeatedly hosted both of the family members mentioned in the lawsuit, Patricia Smith and Charles Woods, to attack Hillary Clinton and Smith was also a featured speaker at the Republican National Convention, where she said “I blame Hillary Clinton personally for the death of my son.”

    Media Matters has previously documented Klayman’s litigious Clinton obsession, which includes a “dubious lawsuit accusing Hillary Clinton of racketeering,” as well as Klayman’s claims that the Clintons “orchestrated the murders of several of their associates in the 1990’s”:

    In the 1990s, Klayman reportedly filed at least 18 lawsuits against the Clinton administration, accusing them of various conspiracies, and has filed "hundreds of lawsuits against federal agencies, White House officials, Cabinet secretaries, judges, journalists, former colleagues, foreign governments, dictators, presidents," his own mother, and The Washington Post.

    The Week explained in 2013 that Klayman, "implied the Clintons orchestrated the murders of several of their associates in the 1990s, a prime reason he has argued Hillary is unfit to be president."

    As reported by The Washington Post, in 2014, Klayman premised a lawsuit on the concept that "The Ebola virus is secretly a biological weapon allowed into the country by the Obama administration to further terrorist interests against Americans of the 'Caucasian race and Jewish-Christian religion.'" Klayman described President Obama in a lawsuit as "not even a naturalized U.S. citizen and thus is in the United States illegally," and described Obama's birth certificate as a "fraud." In order "to maintain the confidence of the American people and for the benefit of the country's democratic system," Klayman subsequently petitioned the government to "initiate removal and deportation proceedings" against the president. Klayman has referred to President Obama as "mullah in chief" and accused "Obama and his Muslim friends" of "literally 'making love' with each other." He called Obama "our first 'Muslim' president" who "has joined with Palestinians to now knock off Israel."

    In a 2013 protest at the White House, Klayman told the audience that President Obama should "put the Quran down," "get up off his knees" and "come out with his hands up."

    A month later, Klayman held the "Second American Revolution" rally in Lafayette Park across from the White House, which sought to force the resignation of President Obama and other top Congressional leaders.

    Klayman was at one point barred from practicing law in New York City, because he suggested that an Asian-American judge was unable to rule impartially in a case due to his race.

    Fox News’ initial report on the lawsuit ignored Klayman’s conspiracy theorist background, and role in this lawsuit.

  • Right-Wing Media Attempt To Hide Trump’s Attacks On Family Of Fallen Soldier With Bogus Benghazi Comparison

    ››› ››› JARED HOLT

    Right-wing media criticized the coverage Khizr Khan’s speech at the Democratic National Convention, comparing it to the lack of coverage  given to Patricia Smith’s speech at the Republican National Convention. But Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump directly attacked Khizr and Ghazala Khan with anti-Muslim and personal attacks, fueling widespread outrage and blacklash.

  • Fox Damage Control: Network Sends Out Three More Female Staffers To Praise Ailes

    Blog ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

    Fox News has continued its campaign to defend the network’s chairman and CEO Roger Ailes from sexual harassment allegations, most recently reaching out to Mediaite to interview three female contributors who denied the allegations made by former host Gretchen Carlson.

    Former Fox News host Carlson filed a lawsuit against Ailes alleging that he fired her “after she rebuffed Mr. Ailes’ sexual advances and also tried to challenge what she felt was unequal treatment of her in the newsroom by some of her male colleagues.” Carlson also alleged that while a host of Fox & Friends, her co-host Steve Doocy “engaged in a pattern of severe and pervasive mistreatment” against Carlson. Incidents of sexism against Carlson have been well documented on live television, and Carlson has been a witness to years of on-air sexism from her male colleagues.

    While several other women have come forward with complaints or contacted Carlson’s law firm, numerous Fox figures have rallied to Ailes’ defense, including primetime hosts Greta Van Susteren and Sean Hannity. The Five host Kimberly Guilfoyle also responded to the allegations, asserting that “nobody believed” Carlson’s allegations.

    According to Mediaite, Fox News reached out to them, offering the outlet interviews with three women who work with Ailes in New York City. Fox’s Ainsley Earhardt, Martha MacCallum, and Harris Faulkner vigorously defended Ailes, calling him a “father figure,” a “terrific boss,” and claiming that Carlson’s lawsuit “brought people together” in support of Ailes:

    Faulkner praised him for his pep talks, his ability to follow up on every promise he makes, and, finally, his willingness to stand behind his employees, which Carlson claimed he never did for her. Faulkner, who is a woman of color, explained where her deep respect for Ailes came from like this:

    “Here’s what I know: My rise and success have been a direct result of the merits and fabulous opportunities from mentors, including Roger Ailes. Without him, my journey would be quite different. He has changed the arc of my career. He believed in me when people who looked like me were not in network news. He put me in primetime and included me in the process of developing Outnumbered. I am profoundly grateful for the opportunities he gave me and not once have I ever been ashamed to say these five words: Roger Ailes believes in me.”

    Earhardt called him a “father figure” not once, but twice. She also revealed that when Carlson’s lawsuit hit the headlines, she called her bosses and told them that if the need arose, she would be happy to speak out in support of Ailes because she simply believes in him that much. One reason for her ardent support of him is simple: Where most working women are afraid to tell their bosses they are pregnant and fear losing their jobs while away on maternity leave, Ailes gave Earhardt a promotion while she was gone on her leave.

    “Roger is such a terrific boss,” mused MacCallum. “I don’t like to see anything that reflects negatively on him. If anything, [Carlson’s lawsuit] sort of bonded us. It’s brought people together.”

    New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman predicted that the “Fox News PR machine” would fight the sexual harassment allegations, noting that Ailes and Fox “will try to discredit Carlson’s claims and any of the other women’s claims who come forward.” Sherman also reported that the charges “could be curtains for Ailes.”

    Fox has also downplayed the story on-air. Fox’s first report on the allegations only included Ailes’ statement denying the allegations and Fox’s MediaBuzz -- a show dedicated to coverage of the media world -- only dedicated a three-minute segment to the scandal and defended Ailes by attacking Carlson’s ratings.

  • A Comprehensive Guide To The Right-Wing Media Conspiracy Theorists That Have Influenced Trump’s Campaign

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump counts among his allies a stable of fringe right-wing conspiracy theorists who’ve made a name for themselves advancing conspiracy theories that include the myth that President Obama is a secret Kenyan Muslim, Lyndon Johnson assassinated John F. Kennedy, and the CIA is paying Beyonce to create mayhem. Trump’s conspiracy theorist allies also regularly wish violence upon political and media figures who they disagree with.

    Warning: This post contains graphic language and sexual content.

  • Conservative Media Run With Misleading Report That Bill Clinton Slammed Obama

    ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    Right-wing media repeatedly cited a misleading Tennessee newspaper report that took former President Bill Clinton out of context to claim that he criticized President Obama during a campaign speech for not doing enough to effect change in the country. In fact, full video of Clinton's remarks reveals that he repeatedly praised Obama's accomplishments and explicitly criticized those who claim that Obama didn't accomplish enough.

  • Hillary Clinton, Comedians, And How Conservatives Turned An Anonymous Phone Call Into A Clinton Conspiracy

    Slate Explains How Conservative Media Can Create Hillary Clinton Smears

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Slate columnist Michelle Goldberg explained how an unfounded accusation spread throughout conservative media, claiming that Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign team tried to force Laugh Factory to take down a video about her.

    According to the right-wing organization Judicial Watch, "Hillary Clinton's campaign is going after five comedians who made fun of the former Secretary of State in standup skits at a popular Hollywood comedy club." Judicial Watch claimed that a Clinton staffer called Jamie Masada, the comedy club's founder, asking for the names of the actors and for the video to be taken down.

    In her November 19 Slate post, Goldberg explained that the threat to Masada came from an anonymous call that was not confirmed to be from Clinton's campaign and detailed how the unfounded accusation spread through right-wing media, despite the fact that Masada could not verify that anyone from Clinton's campaign had actually contacted him:

    In short order, right-leaning sites including NewsBusters, NewsMax, Mediaite, the Daily Caller, and the Daily Mail aggregated the accusation.

    This seemed bizarre. Even if you buy the most grotesque right-wing caricatures about Clinton's humorlessness and authoritarianism, it's hard to believe that the campaign would be so clumsy, especially at a time when it's going out of its way to make the candidate seem fun. Such a demand would only reinforce the worst stereotypes about Clinton while ensuring that the offending video went viral. Besides, there's nothing in the video itself to attract the campaign's notice: It's less than three minutes long and is mostly stale cracks about Hillary's clothes and age, along with familiar insinuations that she's a lesbian. One of those insinuations is even admiring: "I would love if you become president, divorce Bill, and then you marry a bitch," says Tiffany Haddish.

    Yet there was Masada--a man who has won awards from the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP, and has no discernable right-wing agenda--quoted as saying, "They threatened me. I have received complains before but never a call like this, threatening to put me out of business if I don't cut the video."

    Masada doesn't actually know that the call came from the Clinton camp.

    [...]

    How does Masada know that John was actually from the Clinton camp? He doesn't. "I'm glad I'm not in politics or any of that stuff; you might know more than I do," he says. "Maybe it was a prank, I have no idea. Was it real? Not real? I have no idea. He didn't call back, that's all I can say." Nor is Masada sure how Judicial Watch even heard about the call. "The way I understand it, it's because one of the [Laugh Factory] employees told a couple of people," he says.

    [...]

    What we have here is a small-scale demonstration of how the Hillary smear sausage gets made. It starts with a claim that's ambiguous at best, fabricated at worst, and then interpreted in the most invidious possible light. The claim is reported in one outlet and amplified on Twitter. Other outlets then report on the report, repeating the claim over and over again. Talk radio picks it up. Maybe Fox News follows. Eventually the story achieves a sort of ubiquity in the right-wing media ecosystem, which makes it seem like it's been confirmed. Soon it becomes received truth among conservatives, and sometimes it even crosses into the mainstream media. If you watched the way the Clintons were covered in the 1990s, you know the basics of this process. If you didn't, you're going to spend the next year--and maybe the next nine years--learning all about it.

  • Right-Wing Media Push Gowdy's Deceptive Claim About Clinton's Email Subpoena

    ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    Right-wing media outlets are pushing Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy's deceptive claim that Hillary Clinton inaccurately told CNN in an interview that she had never been subpoenaed about the private email system she used as secretary of state. In fact, Clinton refuted a suggestion that she deleted personal emails unrelated to her work while she was under subpoena.

  • Right-Wing Media Seize On Inaccurate New York Times Report To Attack CNN's Begala

    ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Right-wing media are seizing on a New York Times report that misleadingly stated that Paul Begala sought "talking points" from the State Department before a CNN appearance to discuss Hillary Clinton's tenure as secretary of state to attack the CNN contributor as biased. But in the email in question, Begala actually requested a "briefing," not talking points.

  • The Perils Of Protecting Bill O'Reilly

    For Conservatives, It Nullifies Future Media Critiques

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Always viewing conflicts through the prism of partisan warfare, conservative media have been faced with a stark choice as Bill O'Reilly's long list of confirmed fabrications pile up in public view. They can defend the Fox News host no matter what, while lashing out his "far-left" critics for daring to fact-check the host. Or, conservative media outlets can let him fend for himself. (The third, obvious option of openly criticizing O'Reilly for his duplicitous ways doesn't seem to be on the table.)

    Incredibly, as the controversy marches on and neither O'Reilly nor Fox are able to provide simple answers to the questions about his truth-telling as a reporter, some conservative media allies continue to rally by his side.

    On Sunday, Howard Kurtz's MediaBuzz program on Fox came to O'Reilly's aid by doing everything it could to whitewash the allegations against the host.

    Over the weekend at Newsbusters--a far-right clearinghouse for endless, and often empty, attacks on the media--Jeffrey Lord denounced the O'Reilly fact-checking campaign as "wrong" and "dangerous." And Fox News contributor Allen West actually told the Washington Post that all the allegations against O'Reilly had been "debunked." (Lots of attendees at the Conservative Political Action Conference last week shared West's contention.)

    What's the peril for blindly protecting O'Reilly this way? Simple: It completely undercuts the conservative cottage industry of media criticism. Because why would anyone care about media critiques leveled by conservatives who are currently tying to explain away O'Reilly's obvious laundry list of lies.  

    "O'Reilly's story, intended to portray him as an enterprising journalist unfazed by potential danger, is a fiction," noted Gawker. "It is precisely the sort of claim that would otherwise earn Fox's condemnation, and draw sophisticated counter-attacks to undermine the accusers' reputation."

    And how do we know that to be true? Because the entire conservative media apparatus spent last month unleashing sophisticated counter-attacks to undermine NBC News anchor Brian Williams after doubts were raised about his wartime reporting. Today, the same conservative media are either playing dumb about Bill O'Reilly, or actually defending him.

    Obviously, you can't have it both ways. You can't demand Brian Williams be fired and that Bill O'Reilly be left alone. Not if you want anyone to pause for more than three seconds when considering your press critiques.

  • CNN Misquotes Hillary Clinton Saying She's "Not Truly Well Off"

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Hillary Clinton

    CNN anchor Miguel Marquez misquoted Hillary Clinton this morning, claiming she told the Guardian newspaper that she and her husband are "not truly well off." That's inaccurate. What Clinton told the Guardian was that unlike "a lot of people who are truly well off," she and her husband "pay ordinary income tax."

    Here's the full context from The Guardian interview [emphasis added]:

    America's glaring income inequality is certain to be a central bone of contention in the 2016 presidential election. But with her huge personal wealth, how could Clinton possibly hope to be credible on this issue when people see her as part of the problem, not its solution?

    "But they don't see me as part of the problem," she protests, "because we pay ordinary income tax, unlike a lot of people who are truly well off, not to name names; and we've done it through dint of hard work," she says, letting off another burst of laughter. If past form is any guide, she must be finding my question painful.

    CNN's false quote fits with the interpretation that many in the media have made, which is that Clinton was contrasting herself with the "truly well off."

    A headline from The Week:

    Hillary Clinton Explains How She and Bill Aren't 'Truly Well Off'

    And Mediaite:

    Hillary Clinton: We're Not 'Truly Well Off'

    But at least as good an interpretation of the quote is that Clinton included herself and her husband among the "truly well off," but was saying that unlike many of them, they pay ordinary income tax.

    During the 2012 campaign, Mitt and Ann Romney came under scrutiny for taking most of their income as capital gains and dividends, therefore paying a much lower tax rate of 14 percent.

  • Called On To Explain Big Story, Media Botches Obamacare

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    The rocky rollout of Obamacare has prompted commentators to attack the president and his team for having three years to plan for the launch and still not getting it right. That's a legitimate critique as problems persist. But the same can be said for an awful lot of reporters doing a very poor job covering Obamacare. They also had three years to prepare themselves to accurately report the story.

    So what's their excuse?

    The truth is, the Beltway press rarely bothers to explain, let alone cover, public policy any more. With a media model that almost uniformly revolves around the political process of Washington (who's winning, who's losing?), journalists have distanced themselves from the grungy facts of governance, especially in terms of how government programs work and how they effect the citizenry.

    But explaining is the job of journalism. It's one of the crucial roles that newsrooms play in a democracy. And in the recent case of Obamacare, the press has failed badly in its role. Worse, it has actively misinformed about the new health law and routinely highlighted consumers unhappy with Obamacare, while ignoring those who praise it.  

    As Joshua Holland noted at Bill Moyers' website, "lazy stories of "sticker shock" and cancellations by reporters uninterested in the details of public policy only offer the sensational half of a complicated story, and that's providing a big assist to opponents of the law."

    It's part of a troubling trend. Fresh off of blaming both sides for the GOP's wholly-owned, and thoroughly engineered, government shutdown, the press is now botching its Obamacare reporting by omitting key facts and context  -- to the delight of Republicans. It's almost like there's a larger newsroom pattern in play.

    And this week the pattern revolved around trying to scare the hell out of people with deceiving claims about how Obamacare had forced insurance companies to "drop" clients and how millions of Americans had "lost" their coverage.

    Not quite. 

  • Creator Of Fox's Anti-Obama Attack Ad Will Not Be Hired By CNN

    Blog ››› ››› JOE STRUPP

    Any plans that CNN may have had to hire Fox News associate producer Chris White have been scuttled following the firestorm over the controversial four-minute segment attacking President Obama that White reportedly created and which Fox aired twice yesterday.

    Several news outlets had speculated and even reported that White's move to CNN was in the works at the time he produced the video, which many have compared to a political attack ad. But a CNN spokesperson confirmed to Media Matters Thursday that White will not be hired by CNN.

    Bill Shine, executive vice president of programming for Fox News, told Mediaite yesterday that the four-minute segment "was created by an associate producer and was not authorized at the senior executive level of the network. This has been addressed with the show's producers."

    With Fox failing to even acknowledge that airing the video was a mistake White appears to be the only one at the network who has suffered from their repeated airing of the video - with the apparent punishment coming from a different news outlet. This morning the hosts of Fox & Friends - who praised both White and the video at the time they aired it - did not address the controversy.

    Since the piece aired, several news outlets have claimed White was heading to CNN, with some speculation this might have been his way of departing the network.

    The same Mediaite item stated about White: "Mediaite hears that White may be heading to CNN in the near future."

    Hollywood Reporter wrote: " ... the associate producer responsible for it, Chris White, likely has already decided to leave Fox for CNN."

    CNN would not say if White had been under consideration prior to the latest incident, but The New York Times' Jeremy W. Peters reports that White had "his offer revoked."