Trump’s staunchest supporters called the hiring of Breitbart News chairman Steve Bannon as the new chief executive for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign “an inspired choice” and “fantastic news” after the move was reported. Elsewhere, the decision has been called “insanity,” with former Breitbart News employees disparaging the relationship between Trump and Breitbart News as “pathetic and disgusting.”
Conservative media outlets highlighted a section of Khizr Khan’s website that stated he specialized in immigration law to suggest that the real “incentive” for the Gold Star father’s speech criticizing Republicans presidential nominee Donald Trump at the Democratic National Convention was that his livelihood could be threatened under a Trump presidency. Khan subsequently told The New York Times that he had received “hateful messages” in the wake of “insinuations… that he was involved in shady immigration cases,” but that he had no immigration clients.
Media commentators are criticizing presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump for reviving the “absurd” and “kooky” conspiracy theory that the Clintons were involved in the death of former White House aide Vince Foster.
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As President Obama reportedly prepares to announce Judge Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court, media should be prepared to hear from several right-wing groups dedicated to opposing the nominee, no matter who it is. These advocacy groups and right-wing media outlets have a history of pushing misleading information and alarmist rhetoric to launch smear campaigns against Obama's highly qualified Supreme Court nominees, using tactics including, but not limited to, spreading offensive rumors about a nominee's personal life, deploying bogus legal arguments or conspiracy theories, and launching wild distortions of every aspect of a nominee's legal career.
The Intercept Debunks Right-Wing Media Lie: "The Widespread Smearing Of Saadiq Long As Having Joined An ISIS Cell, Is Completely False"
An investigative report by The Intercept explained how national and local media outlets uncritically repeated a false right-wing story that claimed a Muslim American veteran was arrested in Turkey for his connection with the terrorist group ISIS. The story originated from a right-wing blog that used anonymous sources with no knowledge of why the veteran was detained. Saadiq Long was not arrested for or accused of having a connection with a terror cell and currently faces no criminal charges.
In November, PJ Media published a story claiming that Long, an American veteran who received media attention after he was secretly placed on no-fly list, was "arrested in Turkey as part of ISIS cell."
Fox News, RedState, and right-wing anti-Muslim figures like Pam Gellar, Robert Spencer, and Ann Coulter also pushed the story. Local media in Oklahoma, where Long's family resides, also joined the conservative media outlets repeating the false story.
The Intercept's Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hassain debunked the PJ media story in a December 10 Intercept post reporting that "the widespread smearing of Long as having joined an ISIS cell, is completely false" (emphasis added):
A RIGHT-WING BLOG called "Pajamas Media" published an article on November 24 claiming that Saadiq Long, a Muslim American veteran of the U.S. Air Force, was arrested in Turkey for being an ISIS operative. Written by Patrick Poole, a professional anti-Muslim activist and close associate of Frank Gaffney, the article asserted that Long "finds himself and several family members sitting in a Turkish prison -- arrested earlier this month near the Turkey-Syria border as members of an ISIS cell." Its only claimed sources were anonymous: "U.S. and Turkish officials confirmed Long's arrest to PJ Media, saying that he was arrested along with eight others operating along the Turkish-Syrian border. So far, no U.S. media outlet has reported on his arrest."
Long's purported arrest as an ISIS operative was then widely cited across the internet by Fox News as well as right-wing and even non-ideological news sites. Predictably, the story was uncritically hailed by the most virulent anti-Muslim polemicists: Pam Geller, Robert Spencer, Ann Coulter, and Sam Harris. Worst of all, it was blasted as a major news story by network TV affiliates and other local media outlets in Oklahoma, where Long is from and where his family -- including his sister and ailing mother -- still reside.
But the story is entirely false: a fabrication. Neither Long nor his wife or daughter have been arrested on charges that he joined ISIS. He faces no criminal charges of any kind in Turkey.
To begin with, it's irresponsible in the extreme to spread claims that someone has been arrested for joining ISIS without a very substantial basis for believing that's true. That's a claim that will be permanently attached to the person's name. The people who uncritically spread this "report" had nothing approaching a sufficient basis for doing so, and worse, most of them simply repeated the assertion that he was an ISIS operative as though it were verified fact.
Beyond that, the only outlet to have "reported" this claim about Long and his family is Pajamas Media. Does anyone find that to be a credible news source, let alone one credible enough to permanently vilify someone as an ISIS member? The specific author of the report, Poole, swims exclusively in the most toxic, discredited, anti-Muslim far-right swamps -- he's a favorite of Frank Gaffney, last seen as the prime mover of Donald Trump's "ban Muslims" proposal -- and it is nothing short of shameful that so many people vested this anonymous smear with credibility.
But Muslim Hate Crimes On Rise In US And Around The World
Right-wing pundits criticized Attorney General Loretta Lynch for advocating action against anti-Muslim rhetoric that "edges towards violence" at the 10th annual Muslim Advocates dinner. Conservatives called the comments "sedition," but crime data shows anti-Muslim hate crimes on the rise in U.S.
Conservative media are claiming that President Bill Clinton enacted a policy that bans guns at military bases in the wake of the mass shooting at a military facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee. In fact, the policy was enacted in 1992 during the administration of George H.W. Bush and does allow guns to be carried on base under some circumstances.
Fox News pundits repeatedly pushed -- and then walked back -- a false narrative propagated by an anti-Islam blogger that an "ISIS-linked" Twitter account warned of the Tennessee shooting prior to the attack.
UPDATE: Fox Admits It Was Wrong About ISIS Tweet
Fox News reported that an "ISIS-linked" Twitter account warned of today's shooting in Tennessee before it happened, but the tweet in question was sent after the attack had ended. The falsehood was propagated by anti-Islam blogger Pamela Geller before spreading through conservative media
Four Marines were killed when a shooter fired on two military sites in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Fox News reported that the attacks may be connected to ISIS because an ISIS supporter purportedly discussed the shooting on Twitter before it happened. Fox host Sean Hannity repeated the false claim on his radio show.
In fact, the tweet Fox News referenced was posted well after the shooting had already occurred. Mashable editor Brian Ries first pointed out the discrepancy.
On Your World, Fox's chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge reported, "the last investigative thread I would mention at this point is that we're taking a hard look at a Twitter account -- an ISIS-linked Twitter account -- that seemed to have foreknowledge of the shooting in Chattanooga. The tweet went out at 10:34 with the hashtag Chattanooga referring to American dogs and a likely shooting. This of course was about 15 minutes before the shooting took place."
On his radio show, Fox News host Sean Hannity also referenced the inaccurate information.
HANNITY: We have a report from Robert Spencer's Jihad Watch, that he's put together -- a timeline regarding today's, what they are now calling a domestic terrorist act in Chattanooga. We have four Marines that have been killed. By the way, our thoughts, our prayers are with the families and the entire military community there. According to the AP, the shooting started around 10:30, 10:45. The Islamic State tweeted a warning about the attack, posted at 10:34 a.m. The ISIS tweet specifically mentioned Chattanooga, which is an obvious reference to the attack. If it's true that ISIS was taking credit for the shooting at the exact same time, or maybe slightly before the shooting commenced, that would be pretty strong evidence of a connection. And Spencer reminds us the Islamic State has called on Muslims to murder American military personnel here in the U.S.
The source of the claim is conservative blogger Pamela Geller, who has a long history of anti-Muslim activism.
Geller made the claim on Twitter and on her blog, writing, "This morning an ISIS supporter tweeted this at 10:34 am -- the shooting started at 10:45." The report cited by Hannity from Jihad Watch cites Geller as the source. Spencer has often worked with Geller on anti-Muslim projects.
But the tweet was posted at 1:34 p.m. Eastern time, not 10:34 a.m., as Geller asserted. According to news reports, the shooting "unfolded at two sites over 30 minutes" and started "around 10:45 a.m. ET."
The image of the tweet she references on her blog appears to be stamped with the Western time zone -- Twitter time stamps are based on the user's time zone, not the time zone of the person who made the tweet.
Media Matters took this screenshot of the ISIS supporter's Twitter account at 5:13 p.m. ET, and it shows that the post was made 4 hours previously (near the 1 o'clock hour Eastern time).
Conservative blog Weasel Zippers also made the erroneous conclusion about the tweet in a post headlined, "Islamic State Account Tweets Warnings About Chattanooga Moments Before Shooting Began."
UPDATE: After this story was published, Fox News began to pull back on their allegation. From Special Report with Bret Baier:
BRET BAIER: Let me be careful about the tweet to the ISIS-related account. In Garland, Texas we know that it came out before the shooting, before that happened. In this case, the time stamp does say 10:34, but we don't know if that's Pacific time, Mountain time, Eastern time, so we have to be careful about it coming out before the shooting. Point is there are ISIS accounts that are pointing directly to this incident and touting it as one of own.
UPDATE #2: On The O'Reilly Factor, this story was addressed at least three more times.
At the top of the Factor, O'Reilly reported the "sensational" ISIS tweet story, even after admitting it wasn't "exactly clear whether it's accurate."
Midway through the show, Catherine Herridge reappeared and admitted that "there are now some questions about the time stamp on one of the ISIS tweets earlier today." When O'Reilly pressed her on how she learned about the tweet, she said, "I first saw it this afternoon, it was part of the social media that was circulating."
At the end of the Factor, Special Report anchor Bret Baier clarified the timing of the tweet, saying that "all indications now are that it came out after the attack." When O'Reilly asked if that meant the ISIS tweet story was "a bogus situation," Baier replied, "yeah."
Fox host Sean Hannity invited extremist anti-Muslim activist Pamela Geller to debate radical imam Anjem Choudary on his show, disingenuously creating a false dichotomy with two extreme figures in a debate on Islam and free speech.
On the May 6 edition of his Fox News show, Hannity hosted Pamela Geller and Anjem Choudary to discuss Geller's anit-Islam cartoon contest in Garland, TX, the scene of a shooting on May 3. Choudary said he supports the death penalty for those who draw cartoons of the prophet Muhammad and for people who leave Islam. Geller claimed President Obama has "created an environment that raised the stakes" on terror in the United States.
Choudary is a radical Islamic preacher from the United Kingdom, and has links to Britons who have fought in Syria for the Islamic State. The advocacy group Hope Not Hate has described Choudary as "the single biggest gateway to terrorism in recent British history," saying he has "facilitated or encouraged" many Muslims to join the anti-Assad militants in Syria. Muslim groups in the United Kingdom have also denounced Choudary. The Muslim Council of Britain called him "a self-serving publicity seeker," and the Islamic Society of Britain said Choudary "has no legitimacy in the Muslim community."
Despite Choudary's clearly extreme views -- for example, he described ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as "the caliph of all Muslims and the prince of the believers"-- Hannity has repeatedly invited him onto his show. In January, Hannity hosted Choudary to discuss the Charlie Hebdo shootings.
Pamela Geller is an extreme anti-Muslim activist who runs the American Freedom Defense Initiative, an organization designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik cited her work frequently in his "manifesto." She has claimed that President Obama has "sided with" terrorists and warned that teaching Arabic in US schools was the "spearhead of an ideological project that is deeply opposed to the United States of America." In 2010, she campaigned against the so-called "Ground Zero mosque," which she described as a "triumphal mosque" on "conquered lands."
In an email to Media Matters, Heidi Beirich, the director of the SPLC's Intelligence Project, said of the segment:
"We're disappointed, but not entirely surprised, that Sean Hannity would offer a national platform to two well-known haters. Ms. Geller and Mr. Choudary represent nothing more than an extreme political fringe. Their divisive behavior is made even worse by the fact that Ms. Geller is now positioning herself to be a defender of free speech, while Mr. Choudary is purporting to speak on behalf of all Muslims."
Conservative media outlets hyped a misleading Breitbart report on an "Islamic Tribunal using Sharia law" in Texas to fear monger that the tribunals could supersede federal law. But the tribunals are completely voluntary and do not override federal law.
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Right-wing media attacked a decision to shutter the New York Police Department's (NYPD) ineffective Demographics Unit surveillance program that that profiled local Muslims and subjected them to increased police scrutiny.