From the August 27 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:
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From the August 26 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:
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MSNBC Morning Joe host and former Republican member of Congress Joe Scarborough purported to express outrage at the lack of "humane" living conditions for New York City's homeless population, calling it the result of "liberalism at its worst" and attacking New York Mayor Bill de Blasio for "allowing a homeless epidemic to start spreading across New York again." Scarborough's comments were a direct echo of previous attacks by right-wing media on the city's homeless population and blaming of de Blasio, and ignored the fact that the mayor is actually strengthening outreach and prevention strategies left over from the previous administration and discontinuing "dangerous and unhealthy" temporary housing.
Major media outlets are turning to former attorney general Michael Mukasey to launch smears against Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton without disclosing the fact that Mukasey is an adviser on Republican Jeb Bush's presidential campaign.
MSNBC's Joe Scarborough falsely claimed that Hillary Clinton's email server was stored in the bathroom closet of the headquarters of Platte River Networks, the Denver based IT management company Hillary Clinton hired to maintain her private emails. But a spokesperson from Platte River confirmed that the server was stored in a data center in New Jersey and that the company does "not store data in any bathrooms."
Conservatives are using the ongoing examination of Hillary Clinton's State Department emails to once again make a series of over-the-top accusations that compare her behavior to former President Richard Nixon and the Watergate scandal. This is the latest in a pattern of distortions which aim to elevate the email story to the same level as the worst political scandal in American history.
The latest round of faulty Watergate comparisons appears to have been sparked by Washington Post Associate Editor Bob Woodward, who, along with fellow Washington Post journalist Carl Bernstein, famously broke the story of the 1972 Nixon-sanctioned break-in at the Watergate hotel.
Appearing on MSNBC's Morning Joe on August 18, Woodward said the controversy over Clinton's emails, and the latest development involving Clinton handing over her private server to investigators, "reminds me of the Nixon tapes" which "Nixon thought were exclusively his." He went on to claim: "Hillary Clinton initially took that position: 'I'm not turning this over, there's gonna be no cooperation.' Now they're cooperating."
Woodward is perpetuating a falsehood here. As Clinton said in a March 10 press conference: "After I left office, the State Department asked former secretaries of state for our assistance in providing copies of work-related emails from our personal accounts. I responded right away and provided all my emails that could possibly be work-related, which totaled roughly 55,000 printed pages, even though I knew that the State Department already had the vast majority of them." This month, Clinton also gave her private server to the Justice Department, in response to concerns that it might contain information now deemed classified.
In the last few years, Woodward has developed a habit of drawing parallels between modern events and Watergate, even if the facts don't always fit. He has compared the Watergate scandal to the Internal Revenue Service after its questionable scrutiny of non-profits first came to light, and to the Obama administration's response to the terrorist attacks in Benghazi.
In fact, while discussing the bizarrely-scandalized "talking points" the administration used to discuss Benghazi in the press, Woodward launched a nearly identical line of attack to his current argument; he said that editing the Benghazi talking points could be compared to Watergate "when Nixon put out his edited transcripts to the conversations, and he personally went through them and said, 'Oh, let's not tell this, let's not show this.'" In both instances, it is not clear that Woodward was aware of the facts before using his Watergate legacy to draw inappropriate parallels.
In a segment on the August 18 Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy and Fox senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano used Woodward's comments as a springboard into a baseless and factually inaccurate discussion about the emails Clinton has released to the State Department.
Napolitano compared Clinton's personal emails to Nixon's secret recording system that he set up in the White House, with Doocy noting that "with Nixon, they had the 18-minute gap" and "with Hillary Rodham Clinton, you've got what, 30,000 missing emails?"
Neither man told viewers that the supposedly "missing" emails have been described as containing "personal and private" information.
Napolitano also asserted that Clinton's emails contained "satellite photographs of a Middle Eastern country and intercepts of foreign agents," but an Associated Press report already debunked this claim, with sources close to the investigation noting that "nothing in the emails she received makes clear reference to communications intercepts, confidential intelligence methods or any other form of sensitive sourcing."
Doocy also repeated the claim that "perhaps one of her underlings stripped" classified markings from emails Clinton received, but the State Department has already said there was "no indications" of any such behavior.
Finally, Napolitano promoted a fantasy scenario about criminal charges against Clinton, speculating that she could be "indicted for conspiracy to violate the espionage laws of the United States."
He concluded that whether or not "there is enough evidence to bring criminal charges against her," the FBI would "reveal it right around the time of the New Hampshire primary about five or six months from now." He added, "You can't make this stuff up."
But clearly you can.
Later in the day, Fox contributor and former UN Ambassador John Bolton appeared on America's Newsroom and called Woodward's comparison "a very apt analogy." He added that "it may be significant" that when Clinton graduated from Yale Law School, "her first job was on the Democratic staff" investigating Nixon, where the speculation that he should have burned his tapes "may be a lesson she learned back then."
These specious Watergate parallels are part of a pattern of behavior by the conservative media.
Over the years, Media Matters has cataloged at least 16 separate "Watergates" the right has accused the Obama administration of. They include Benghazi, the IRS, Obamacare, the BP oil spill, immigration policy, and Obama's birth certificate, among others.
Watergate involved the president of the United States soliciting a break-in of a political party's headquarters, suggesting payment of up to $1 million in hush money to bribe the burglars, being ordered by the Supreme Court to produce secret recordings of the planning for the cover-up of the burglary, and the resignation of a president for the first time in U.S. history.
Unless the discussion is about events of that magnitude, it isn't Watergate.
From the August 6 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:
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Joe Scarborough defended 2016 Republican contender Jeb Bush's recent statement that he is "not sure we need half a billion dollars for women's health issues," giving Bush a pass despite his terrible record on women's health and reproductive rights.
Joe Scarborough relied on debunked, deceptively edited videos to attack Sen. Elizabeth Warren for defending Planned Parenthood as the Senate voted on a bill seeking to defund the women's health organization, undermining the essential health care services Planned Parenthood provides.
MSNBC's Joe Scarborough falsely claimed that Hillary Clinton violated federal regulations through her use of email as secretary of state. But contrary to Scarborough's claim, Clinton complied with the relevent regulations by retaining and preserving her emails and turning them over to the State Department in 2014.
MSNBC's Joe Scarborough downplayed the recent history of voter suppression following a series of Republican-enacted measures restricting voting access, and claimed that improving voter access is an "absolutely ridiculous" Democratic "fearmongering routine."
Right-wing media figures are criticizing 2016 hopeful Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) for his comments blaming the rise of ISIS on Republican foreign policy positions, lashing out at Paul as an "Obama Republican" and accusing him of "rewriting history."
From the May 27 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:
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Baltimore's WBAL-TV investigative reporter Jayne Miller highlighted serious concerns with a Washington Post report that a prisoner who was in the van with Freddie Gray heard Gray trying to injure himself, pointing to WBAL's reporting from medical experts on Gray's injuries.
On April 29, The Washington Post published a report, based on a police document obtained by the paper, that said a prisoner who was in the police van with Gray heard him "banging against the walls" and thought he "was intentionally trying to injure himself." The paper noted that the prisoner "was separated from Gray by a metal partition and could not see him," and included comment from Gray's family attorney.
But WBAL-TV's Jayne Miller says her reporting undermines this claim. She appeared on the April 30 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, where she explained that "according to our sources familiar with this investigation, at that stop when that prisoner is loaded, Gray is unresponsive -- not able to bang his head against the wall." Miller went on to say that the preliminary autopsy findings indicated no injury to Gray other than to his spine, although the family says his voice box was injured. The Baltimore Sun reported on April 25 that "[p]olice have said that a preliminary report on Gray's autopsy showed he had no injuries except to his spinal cord." Miller also noted that their reporting indicated "the medical evidence does not suggest at all that he was able to injure himself," because "the force of this injury" was "akin to have the force involved in a car accident." This was also reported in the Baltimore Sun.
Miller had previously tweeted on April 23 that the Baltimore police commissioner said the other prisoner reported Gray was "mostly quiet."
The report was also called into question by Dr. Marc Siegel on Fox News' Fox & Friends, who said there was "no way that you could sever your spine by bashing your head against a wall or side of a car," and added there was "no chance" that Gray could have injured himself "to the extent where he would sever his spine."
The Daily Beast's Michael Daly suggested that the "banging" the prisoner says he heard might have been Gray "signaling his need for help." Daly said the "purpose of that banging seems to have been made clear when Gray asked for medical assistance."
The story has been widely reported by other outlets, including CNN, Business Insider, CBS and The Hill. The report was also covered on Fox News. On The Kelly File, host Megyn Kelly described the report as "explosive," and on Hannity, Sean Hannity suggested this report indicated there was a "rush to judgment without any facts by the president and others."
The Post story said that it's "not clear whether any additional evidence backs up the prisoner's version." What is clear is that there is available, credible information that contradicts the other prisoner's account, which the Post could have included before the story was uncritically repeated in other mainstream outlets. And as Salon's Joan Walsh pointed out, this sort of caution is even more necessary in the absence of an official police report on the incident.
Peter Schweizer is backtracking on his false allegation that the decision to exempt the telecommunications industry from Iranian sanctions while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state was connected to Bill Clinton's speaking fees from a Swedish telecommunications company, now admitting that there is no "evidence of a quid pro quo in that case."
Schweizer tried to link Swedish telecommunications company Ericsson's payment to former President Bill Clinton for a speech in November 2011 with the exemption of the telecommunications industry from sanctions against Iran, which does business with Ericsson, during an April 24 Fox News special, The Tangled Clinton Web. Host Bret Baier and Schweizer highlighted allegations from Schweizer's upcoming book, Clinton Cash, that attempts to link donations to the Clinton Foundation and speaking fees earned by Bill Clinton to decisions made by the State Department during Hillary Clinton's tenure in the Obama administration.
The author's speculation is baseless, as the Iran sanctions in question actually took the form of executive actions from President Obama, and not State Department initiatives.
Schweizer is now admitting that there's no evidence of a connection between Clinton's speaking fee and the Iran sanctions decision, walking back his false allegation during an appearance on the April 28 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe. Schweizer claimed that he was "not implying" a link between the decision to exclude the telecommunications industry from sanctions against Iran and Clinton's Ericsson speech and conceded, "Is there evidence of a quid pro quo in that case? No."
Indeed, when Yahoo News reviewed the chapter of Clinton Cash featuring this allegation, they noted that there was "no smoking gun" connecting the speech and the sanctions. Yahoo News further noted that a Clinton aide pointed out that telecommunications manufacturers like Ericsson have not been added to the sanctions since Clinton left the State Department, casting doubt on the suggestion of a connection between the 2011 Bill Clinton speech and U.S. sanctions policy.