Michael Flynn

Tags ››› Michael Flynn
  • The Right-Wing Media’s Government Takeover, Via Donald Trump

    Trump Has Picked -- Or Considered -- Over A Dozen Right-Wing Media Veterans For His Administration

    ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    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.

  • Here Are 5 People Close To Trump Who Have Propagated Fake News

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ & CHRISTOPHER LEWIS

    Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign and continuing into the transition period, President-elect Donald Trump has surrounded himself with people who have helped propagate fake news, which got more attention than real news did on Facebook toward the end of the election cycle. That list includes two of his sons, his former campaign manager, his pick for national security adviser, and the adviser’s son, who was involved in the transition until recently. The fake news stories they pushed included a piece claiming Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton paid people to protest Trump’s election and a fake claim that Clinton and her campaign were involved in a child trafficking ring.

  • Nightly News Shows Combat Fake News About Pizzeria With Real Reporting

    ABC, NBC, CBS Show “How A Fake News Story Can Lead To A Real Life-Threatening Situation"

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Nightly news programs on NBC, CBS, and ABC examined “how a fake news story can lead to real world consequences” in their reports on a shooting incident at Comet Ping Pong, a Washington, DC, pizzeria.

    Accused shooter Edgar Welch entered the pizzeria on December 4 with an AR-15 assault rifle, fired at least one round into the floor, and told authorities he was there to “self-investigate” the conspiracy theory that dozens of prominent liberals are complicit in an international child sex trafficking ring, because emails stolen from Clinton campaign manager John Podesta referenced “pizza.”

    While conservative media outlets have typically downplayed fake news stories calling them “silly” and “nonsense,” broadcast nightly news programs on NBC, CBS, and ABC reported how fake news can have dangerous consequences.

    NBC correspondent Tom Costello reported on NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt that “the Pizzagate conspiracy began with the Clinton WikiLeaks and an email stolen from campaign chief John Podesta about a fundraiser involving the restaurant.” Costello noted that 4chan users “suggested without any proof whatsoever that the word ‘pizza’ was code for ‘child sex trafficking’ at the restaurant,” and from there the malicious rumor spread “to Reddit and YouTube, feeding fake online news stories, then jumping to Facebook and Twitter.” Even though “both DC police and federal agents say the story is false,” Costello added that “discredited rumors about sex trafficking” targeting Democrats are “even shared by President-Elect Trump’s choice for national security adviser, General Michael T. Flynn.”:

    On CBS’ Evening News with Scott Pelley, Chip Reid took apart the “fictitious online conspiracy theory” started by “right-wing sites that make up fake news” alleging Clinton and her associates were involved in a pedophile ring. Host Scott Pelley noted that the shooter gave up when he “found no evidence that underage children were being harbored in the restaurant,” as the lies on the internet baselessly alleged:

    ABC senior justice correspondent Pierre Thomas highlighted the “egregious and deliberate lie” that is the Pizzagate conspiracy on ABC World News Tonight with Scott Pelley. Thomas reported that the suspect “aimed a rifle at an employee and fired a round into the floor” because he decided to “self-investigate” the “utterly false story about child abuse” at Comet Ping Pong. Thomas further reported that “employees have been besieged by death threats” since the right-wing lie gained traction online, “shows how a fake news story can lead to a real life-threatening situation”:

  • How Mainstream Headlines Have Been Normalizing Donald Trump

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    President-elect Donald Trump is not a normal politician, which is evidenced by his actions, statements, and tendency to make and promote outright lies. But Trump’s break from the norm would not be clear to readers who only glance at headlines, as most do. For months, media have helped normalize Trump with headlines that sanitize his ties to extremists, uncritically echo his lies, and whitewash his incendiary comments. As media prepare to cover a Trump administration, they must work harder to craft headlines that portray Trump’s actions and statements accurately.

    Headlines about the appointments Trump has made to his cabinet and White House staff have helped sanitize his nominees, despite their bigoted rhetoric. After Trump appointed Stephen Bannon, the former head of Breitbart.com, to serve as his chief strategist, newspapers labeled Bannon as a “Conservative flame-thrower,” a “conservative firebrand,” and a “tormenter of establishment GOP.” These descriptions downplay the fact that Bannon ran an unabashedly white nationalist and anti-Semitic website, as well as Bannon’s own history of alleged anti-Semitism. Even when The New York Times reported that Bannon “occasionally talked about the genetic superiority of some people and once mused about the desirability of limiting the vote to property owners,” the headline referred to him as “Combative, Populist Steve Bannon,” ignoring completely his remarks. When Trump appointed Ret. Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn to serve as his national security adviser, headlines downplayed his Islamophobia and his conflicts of interest and branded him as someone who “brings experience and controversy” and is “not afraid to ruffle feathers.” While the headlines may be accurate, they do not give readers the essential information they need to know about the people who will have Trump's ear.

    Headlines have also left out important context about Trump’s lies. After Trump falsely claimed that he “worked hard” to keep a Ford plant “in Kentucky,” media promoted Trump’s spin in headlines, leaving out the fact that the plant in question was never going to close. After Trump lied in a tweet claiming that he would have “won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally,” mainstream media uncritically echoed him in their headlines and on social media. Trump is an unprecedented liar, and by simply echoing Trump’s statements, the headlines might as well have come from a Trump press release.

    This problem persisted before the election as well. When Trump addressed his history with the birther movement, headlines failed to mention that Trump had not apologized for his years-long crusade to delegitimize President Obama and that he lied by asserting Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton had started the rumors that President Obama was born in Kenya.

    In the run-up to the election, headlines also helped normalize Trump’s behavior, which would be unacceptable for anyone else, let alone a candidate for president. Following the release of a 2005 Access Hollywood video where Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women, media headlines characterized the conversation as “lewd.” Lewd is correct, but it misses the point. Trump was talking about imposing himself physically on women without consent. That is sexual assault. Media shouldn’t hide behind creative adjectives to normalize this behavior.

    Headlines are indisputably the most important part of an article. As The Washington Post reported, “roughly six in 10 people acknowledge that they have done nothing more than read news headlines in the past week,” and “that number is almost certainly higher than that, since plenty of people won't want to admit to just being headline-gazers but, in fact, are.” By continually refusing to use headlines to call out Trump’s ties to extremists, incessant lying, and his atrocious behavior, media are normalizing his actions. There have been pleas from many in media to stop normalizing Trump. Headlines would be a good place to start.

  • Fox News Media Critic Has The Worst Take On Trump Being Normalized

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    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.

  • ABC’s Martha Raddatz Falls Into The Trap Of Normalizing Trump’s Anti-Muslim National Security Adviser Pick

    Raddatz Briefly Mentions Michael Flynn’s Anti-Islam Views At The Beginning Of This Week, But By The End Ignores Them Entirely

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    ABC chief global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz demonstrated how easily journalists can normalize bigotry while hosting ABC’s This Week. Raddatz noted the anti-Muslim views of retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn at the beginning of This Week, but in subsequent discussions of Flynn she refrained from mentioning them at all.

    President-elect Donald Trump has named Flynn, the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, as his pick for national security adviser on Friday. In addition to holding international conflicts of interest, Flynn is also explicitly anti-Muslim. Flynn has said that “fear of Muslims is rational,” is a board member of the anti-Muslim hate group ACT! For America, defended Trump’s proposed Muslim ban during the presidential campaign, compared Islam to cancer, and denied that Islam is a religion.

    During her guest hosting of the November 20 edition of This Week, Raddatz briefly referenced some of Flynn’s anti-Islam comments while reviewing who Trump has selected to serve in his administration so far. When highlighting at the top of her show the criticism that some of Trump’s picks have drawn, Raddatz noted that Flynn “is under fire for calling Islam a cancer and his tweet that ‘fear of Muslims is rational.’”

    Next, when interviewing Trump’s incoming chief of staff Reince Priebus, Raddatz said Flynn “has a history of controversial views about Islam,” noting that Flynn has said that “Islam is not a real religion, but a political ideology masked behind a religion.” When asked if Trump shares that view, Priebus answered, “I think so,” but “phrasing can always be done differently.”

    Later, when leading into an interview with former National Security Agency director Michael Hayden, Raddatz merely said Flynn is known “for his controversial views on Islam.”

    During her interview with Hayden, Raddatz said Flynn was “praised for his intelligence gathering” and asked about his qualifications as national security adviser -- but made no mention of Flynn’s anti-Muslim bigotry.

    And during a panel discussion near the end of the show, Raddatz lumped Flynn in with other retired military personnel, framing him as just someone with military experience, and made no mention of his anti-Muslim bigotry.

    The media’s coverage of Trump -- including his policies, rhetoric, and hires -- will set the tone for the national political dialogue about his presidency. 60 Minutes showed what not to do in Trump’s first sit-down interview after the election, allowing him to reintroduce his most criticized positions as reasonable while glossing over the most dangerous features and promises of his campaign. There has also been a concerted effort in conservative media to rehabilitate Stephen Bannon, Trump’s chief adviser who until recently ran Breitbart News, the “platform of the alt-right.”

    One pitfall media has run into is describing the bigoted rhetoric and draconian positions of Trump -- and the people he surrounds himself with -- as “controversial.” Media use neutral-sounding words like controversial to avoid making what they consider editorial judgments about Trump’s rhetoric and policies, but doing so ultimately treats bigotry as a valid political belief.

    Over the course of one show, Raddatz described Flynn as “controversial” and painted him as highly respected, while essentially disappearing his anti-Muslim bigotry. In doing so, Raddatz helped normalize Trump and the bigots he is choosing to staff his incoming administration with.

  • Laura Ingraham Shows How She Would Fight Back Against Journalists As Trump's Press Secretary

    Blog ››› ››› JARED HOLT

    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. 

  • Trump's Anti-Muslim National Security Adviser Michael Flynn -- A Fox Favorite -- Is Rife With Conflicts Of Interest 

    ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    President-elect Donald Trump has reportedly named retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as his national security adviser. Flynn, a Fox News favorite with conflicts of interest in Russia and Turkey, has frequently appeared on the network to push his anti-Islam views, has lauded Russian President Vladimir Putin, and has made repeated appearances on Russian state television. 

  • Anti-Muslim Breitbart Editor Spotted With NSA Pick Michael Flynn In Trump Tower

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Photo credit: The Associated Press

    Days before he was selected to serve as national security advisor for the incoming Trump administration, retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn appeared to walk into Trump Tower alongside Breitbart News national security editor Sebastian Gorka. Both Gorka and Flynn have made virulent and offensive anti-Muslim comments and blamed “political correctness” for terror attacks.

    An Associated Press photographer captured Gorka walking by Flynn ahead of a November 14 meeting at President-elect Donald Trump’s transition headquarters in New York. On November 17, news reports indicated Flynn had been offered the position of national security advisor.

    According to his biography, Gorka “is a frequent guest lecturer at institutions such as the FBI, the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School (Fort Bragg), is lead instructor for US Special Operations Command's Combating Terrorism course, and recently briefed the National Intelligence Council (ODNI) and the CIA.” It says he is also a regular commentator at Fox News and other networks. During the presidential election season, Federal Election Commission filings indicated that Gorka was paid by the Trump campaign for “policy consulting.”

    During his media appearances, Gorka has repeatedly pushed the inflammatory conspiracy theory that President Obama is sympathetic to Islamic terrorists.

    In August, Gorka appeared on Fox News to defend Trump’s claim that Obama was the “founder” of ISIS, asserting that ISIS did not exist until Obama took office in 2009 -- even though the group is a rebranded version of 12-year-old predecessor Al Qaeda in Iraq. Gorka called Trump’s false statement “absolutely right,” before claiming that actions taken during the Obama administration “were put in place … to help this former Al Qaeda franchise become a trans-regional insurgency with more than 80,000 fighters today.”

    In June, after a gunman who swore allegiance to ISIS killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, FL, Gorka appeared on Fox News to claim the massacre “in part was facilitated by the policies of this administration, President Obama and Secretary Clinton, that have allowed political correctness into the threat assessment.”

    In an April column at Breitbart News, Gorka blamed Obama for veteran suicides, writing that following World War II, veterans “didn’t eat the barrel of a 1911 [handgun]” because “their President, their commander, told them, ‘This is a war against evil, and what you are going to see may be nasty, but it’s okay, guys, you’re on the side of Right.’ We don’t say that any more.”

    Gorka has also engaged in conspiratorial anti-Muslim smears, including speaking at a conference whose organizers asserted that “Islamists have been brought into the innermost circles of America’s national security institutions.” After the Washington National Cathedral hosted an event with two Muslim groups in 2014, Gorka wrote an article at Breitbart News with the headline “Muslim Brotherhood Overruns National Cathedral In DC." The piece asserted that “if a place of worship is used by Muslims for their prayers, that territory subsequently becomes part of Dar al Islam, sacred muslim (sic) land. Forever.”

    Flynn, who was forced out of his position at the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014 after he clashed with senior officials, is similarly fixated on the supposed link between “political correctness” and anti-terror efforts. According to The Daily Beast, “Flynn has said ‘political correctness’ has prevented the United States from confronting violent extremism, which he sees as a ‘cancerous idea that exists inside of the Islamic religion,’” and Flynn “authored a book that argued the U.S. government ‘has concealed the actions of terrorists like [Osama] bin Laden and groups like ISIS, and the role of Iran in the rise of radical Islam….'” Like Gorka, Flynn has also made public anti-Islam statements, including writing on social media, “Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL.”

  • Former Klan Leader David Duke Hails Trump’s “Great” Selection Of Jeff Sessions For Attorney General

    Duke: “Senate Must Demand That Sessions As AG Stop The Massive Institutional Race Discrimination Against Whites!”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    David Duke -- a white nationalist radio host, noted anti-Semite, failed 2016 Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, and former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard -- praised reports that Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) will be nominated by President-elect Donald Trump to serve as attorney general. Duke also lauded Trump for naming Stephen Bannon to a senior White House role and picking Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn to be National Security Advisor.

    Duke wrote on Twitter, “Bannon, Flynn, Sessions -- Great! Senate must demand that Sessions as AG stop the massive institutional race discrimination against whites!”

    In 1986, Sessions was nominated to the federal bench, but rejected by the Senate Judiciary Committee due to multiple allegations of racism. As attorney general, Sessions would be in charge of enforcing federal civil rights laws.

    Bannon, Trump’s selection for chief strategist, was executive chairman of Breitbart News, an “alt right” outlet that promotes white nationalist views. Flynn has tweeted anti-Semitic material (he later apologized) and has promoted the work of white nationalist “alt right” writer Mike Cernovich on social media. Duke also tweeted that Flynn was a “great pick!”

    Trump's entrance into politics has energized and emboldened the white nationalist movement and he has been the subject of frequent praise by Duke.

  • Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn Promoted Anti-Semitic Tweet And “Diversity Is ... White Genocide” Writer

    David Duke On Flynn: “Great Pick!”

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who is reportedly President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to be national security adviser, promoted a tweet that read “Not anymore, Jews” and endorsed a racist author who claims “diversity is code for white genocide.” Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke has declared Flynn to be a “great pick!”

    Trump’s presidential transition period has been marred by ties to white nationalism. He appointed Stephen Bannon, who has a history of pushing anti-Semitism and white nationalist “alt-right” views, to a senior White House position. Trump's entrance into politics has energized and emboldened the white nationalist movement.

    Media outlets are reporting that Flynn “has been asked by Trump to serve as his national security adviser.” He is the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency and recently became a media commentator, author, and frequent media surrogate for Trump during the 2016 campaign.

    In July 2016, Flynn shared a tweet that read, “Not anymore, Jews. Not anymore.” Flynn linked to the message to claim that the “corrupt Democratic machine will do and say anything to get #NeverHillary into power.” He later apologized, deleted the tweet, and claimed it was “a mistake.”

    In February, Flynn tweeted: “Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL.”

    Flynn frequently tweets at and has endorsed the work of Mike Cernovich, who is part of the white nationalist “alt-right” movement. On October 8, Flynn tweeted, “Follow Mike @Cernovich He has a terrific book, Gorilla Mindset. Well worth the read.” Cernovich is well-known within the “alt-right” movement for being a sexual assault apologist and denying the existence of date rape. 

    Cernovich frequently pushes white nationalist themes on his Twitter account. He’s claimed that “diversity is code for white genocide,” “Blacks use guns for murder. Whites use guns to kill themselves,” and “Diversity is bad for national security.

    David Duke endorsed Flynn for the job on Twitter. CNN's KFile reported that Flynn's son, who serves as his chief of staff, "regularly shares conspiracy theories, expletive-filled posts, and racially insensitive sentiments on Twitter and Facebook."

    Here is a sampling of Cernovich’s tweets about white genocide:

    Cernovich also reportedly tweeted -- then deleted -- that “Not being a slut is the only proven way to avoid AIDS. If you love black women, slut shame them.”

    Here is a sampling of Cernovich’s tweets about African-Americans:

    He also repeatedly warns against diversity: