Fox News' host Megyn Kelly invited right-wing media personality Glenn Beck without asking him about reports that his "media empire is burning down." In a February 3 The Daily Beast article editor at large Lloyd Grove reported that sources within The Blaze, the conservative media network founded by Beck, have been left "feeling whipsawed and, in many cases, betrayed" due to Beck's "colossal streak of narcissism" which has led to several departures of top executives. "Massive, bloody cuts soon followed," explained Grove and "debt ballooned to at least $5 million and as much as $10 million." On the February 3 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File:
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On January 25, a grand jury assembled by the Harris County District Attorney's office in Texas cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing related to the deceptively edited videos of the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) and instead indicted two CMP members, most notably its founder, David Daleiden. Right-wing media has attempted to distract from Daleiden's indictment by reviving an old -- and since debunked -- claim that a prosecutor in the district attorney's office who had affiliations with Planned Parenthood created a "conflict of interest."
Fox host Megyn Kelly hosted a group of conservative media personalities that have banded together against GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump. Dana Loesch, Katie Pavlich, and Brent Bozell have contributed to a special edition of the National Review, dedicated to questioning Trump's commitment to conservatism. From the January 21 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File:
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Anti-choice extremist Troy Newman was described as a "former board member" of Center for Medical Progress (CMP) by conservative outlet The Blaze in an article discussing a lawsuit recently filed against Newman and CMP.
In July 2015, CMP launched a smear campaign against Planned Parenthood, falsely charging in a series of deceptively-edited videos that the heath care provider illegally sold fetal tissue. Newman, who is also the president of the extremist anti-choice organization Operation Rescue, was identified as a board member for CMP and frequently hyped the organization's campaign.
Yet a recent article in The Blaze leaves his status as a CMP board member in doubt. A January 19 article at Glenn Beck's conservative website The Blaze referred to Newman as a "former board member for the Center for Medical Progress" and also noted that this was a change made after the original publication, appending the article: "This post has been updated to reflect that Troy Newman is a former board member for the Center for Medical Progress."
Newman's bio on Operation Rescue's website, however, refers to him as a board member for CMP. From Operation Rescue (emphasis added):
Troy is the current co-host of Life Talk, a monthly video magazine. He also serves on the board for a number of pro-life groups, including for the Center for Medical Progress, the organization that has made headlines with its hard-hitting videos exposing Planned Parenthood's participation in the illegal trafficking of fetal remains.
No other media outlets appear to have referenced Newman's change in status as board member for CMP. Other anti-choice activists in the past have praised Newman's role in helping CMP by providing "strategic input, guidance, and advice" to the organization.
If the change in status is true, the timing is curious. On January 14, Planned Parenthood named Newman, along with CMP founder David Daleiden and four other individuals, as defendants in a federal lawsuit which alleges CMP and some members of its leadership engaged in a conspiracy against PPFA and broke numerous federal and state laws, "including the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, known as RICO, as well as invasion of privacy and recording laws."
Newman is one of the country's most notorious anti-choice activists and has a long history of incendiary remarks and actions. He has engaged in personal harassment of workers for an abortion provider. According to The Washington Post, Newman has made remarks "apparently praising the killing of abortion doctors and calling women who have abortions 'murderers.'" Most recently, after the November 30 shooting at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood health center that killed three people, Newman said the event was "exactly what" Planned Parenthood had "been hoping for."
Right-wing media are mocking President Obama's decision to honor victims of gun violence during his January 12 State of the Union address by leaving an empty seat in First Lady Michelle Obama's guest box, calling the decision "dangerous" and "empty rhetoric."
From the December 10 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File:
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Right-wing media are repeating the false claim that a Defense Department email sent to Hillary Clinton's deputy chief of staff showing U.S. military forces were ready to "move to Benghazi" the night of the September 11, 2012 attacks contradicts former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's testimony about the attacks. In fact, the congressional testimony that conservatives claim the email contradicts shows that military forces were deployed that night.
We need to talk about how bad the Benghazi lies have gotten.
Media Matters researchers have spent literally hundreds of hours over the last three years painstakingly debunking the various falsehoods and conspiracy theories regarding the 2012 attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya. We have written hundreds of blog posts and research documents, produced massive statistical studies on Benghazi coverage, tarnished the reputation of 60 Minutes, and written an e-book on The Benghazi Hoax that conservatives have perpetrated. We have scrutinized materials on the subject including but not limited to transcripts of the numerous public congressional hearings on the subject, the many reports released by Democratic, Republican, and nonpartisan committees, several books, and uncountable articles about the attacks and their aftermath.
We try to take the conservative media outlets we write about seriously. This has become even more difficult than usual in recent days. Conservative journalists seem increasingly willing to grasp for any potential speck of information about the Benghazi attacks that could be seen as damaging to progressives. We've reached a point where it literally takes us 30 seconds to debunk their bullshit by simply taking the claims that they say are damning and checking them against the sources they are citing.
Their need to cater to the conservative obsession with Benghazi is destroying their claim that they can engage in legitimate reporting. The quality of the lies has dropped precipitously -- it's almost like they aren't trying anymore. The predictable effort to use the deaths of four Americans for political ends has become a farce.
Yesterday afternoon, the right-wing legal organization Judicial Watch produced a Defense Department email from the night of the attacks that they claimed was new information indicating that the Obama administration could have helped the Americans under fire in Benghazi, but deliberately decided not to, and then lied about it. Let's pause and consider just how cartoonishly despicable that behavior would have been, if it had happened -- and thus how skeptical any reporter should treat that claim.
Of course, that didn't happen.
Instead, several conservative journalists, from Washington Free Beacon's Adam Kredo to Daily Caller's Mark Tapscott to TheBlaze's Oliver Darcy to TownHall.com's Katie Pavlich, all effectively rewrote the Judicial Watch press release without any apparent skepticism or indication of independent thought. (In a revealing case of crowdsourced editing, Pavlich subsequently had it pointed out to her on Twitter that the email was not, in fact, news, and has crossed out her initial claims that this proved a contradiction. This would be to her credit if it hadn't been so incredibly easy to get the story right.)
This is a pathetic failure of basic reporting, and everyone involved should be embarrassed. As noted above, Benghazi has an incredibly long paper trail. But the conservative journalists covering the story either couldn't be bothered to consult that record or they are deliberately lying to their audiences to get clicks.
The email in question was sent to State Department leaders at 7:19 pm on the night of the attack by then-Department of Defense chief of staff Jeremy Bash, and stated that Defense had "identified the forces that could move to Benghazi. They are spinning up as we speak." According to Judicial Watch, this "seems to directly contradict" then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta's 2013 congressional testimony that "time, distance, the lack of an adequate warning, events that moved very quickly on the ground prevented a more immediate response."
I cannot emphasize enough how easy it was to determine that this was not, in fact, a contradiction. I literally spent about thirty seconds thinking "huh, that sounds unlikely," then ran the Panetta quote through Nexis and read the transcript of Panetta's testimony. Later in the same opening statement, he details the various forces that were deployed but either didn't arrive in time or did arrive but couldn't stop the attacks -- the forces that had been "spinning up" at the time of the email. If conservative outlets don't have Nexis, a Google search for "Leon Panetta 2013 Benghazi hearing" produces both transcript and video of the event.
Again, I didn't use some sort of fancy-pants research tricks, I just looked up the quote that Judicial Watch was saying was contradicted by the email and checked myself to see if it actually was.
Others who have been paying the bare minimum of attention to the Benghazi story quickly pointed out the email was consistent with the findings the Republican-led House Armed Services Committee released in May of 2013 and confirmed the Defense Department's timeline of events. Again, these are public documents that can be Googled. It is not that hard to find them.
The conservatives who reported on this could have done so. They didn't bother. Either they don't know anything about a topic that has been a major focus of political and media attention for the last several years and aren't interested enough in verifying facts to try, or they were lying in order to feed the ravenous Benghazi conspiracy beast.
The reporters mentioned above all work for outlets that have sought to distinguish themselves as legitimate ones that do real reporting. Even the liberal Mother Jones magazine has described the Washington Free Beacon as a "genuine muckraking success" and noted that its publisher has stressed the importance of reporting "facts." After declaring to a conservative audience that the movement needed to build its own New York Times (and getting booed), Tucker Carlson started the Daily Caller. TheBlaze's Glenn Beck launched a movement around the idea that conservatives needed to be able to "do your own research" rather than listening to the established media. TownHall.com (originally a creation of the Heritage Foundation but now owned by right-wing radio giant Salem Communications) seems to have the fewest pretensions to journalistic convention; yet as of posting time they were the only outlet to attempt to correct their original bogus reporting.
Fox News is going to do what Fox News does: lie to its audience to bolster conservatives and make money.
If conservative reporters want to be more than Rush Limbaugh shouting at his fans, its adherents must actually do the work of journalism. Benghazi Derangement Syndrome remains a blight on those efforts, and there's no sign that they're willing to adjust their standards to match reality.
That's a shame for them if they want to be taken seriously. Then again, it keeps us from having to work too hard.
Right-wing media criticized President Obama for condemning Islamophobia and roundly denied the existence of anti-Muslim discrimination in the United States as "pure myth" and "something that doesn't really exist." These claims gained traction just as GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump released a controversial proposal to ban Muslim entry into the United States.
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.
Following a December 2 mass shooting in San Bernardino, CA, the Los Angeles office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) was attacked by right-wing media figures for holding a press conference condemning the shootings.
After news reports of a mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, right-wing media figures reacted by attacking Muslims, chastising calls for gun safety, and dismissing the prevalence of gun violence in the United States.
Since the release of deceptively-edited videos smearing Planned Parenthood, right-wing media have frequently compared abortion providers to the Nazis, referencing Auschwitz and the notorious experiments performed by Josef Mengele.
Right-wing media have repeatedly exploited the November 13 ISIS-led terror attacks in Paris to stoke fears about Syrian refugees posing a terror threat in the U.S., falsely claiming that the United States lacks a rigorous refugee vetting system, that most Syrian refugees are adult males "of fighting age," and that, like the attacks in Paris, the Boston Marathon bombing and Ft. Hood shooting were perpetrated by refugees.
From the November 5 edition of CNN's CNN Tonight with Don Lemon:
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