MSNBC's Hayes Traces "Trajectory" Of Voter Fraud Conspiracy Theory "From Some Random Guy's Twitter Feed" To Trump
Video ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF
Loading the player reg...
Loading the player reg...
As millions evacuate the east coast of Florida in preparation for Hurricane Matthew, which has already been responsible for more than 113 deaths across the Caribbean, the curator of the most widely read conservative website, Matt Drudge, irresponsibly peddled a conspiracy theory that federal officials have exaggerated the danger posed by Hurricane Matthew “to make exaggerated point on climate.”
On October 6, Drudge claimed “the deplorables” were wondering if the government was lying about the intensity of the deadly hurricane and also questioned the legitimacy of the National Hurricane Center’s data:
Drudge also used his website, one of the most widely read sites on the internet, DrudgeReport.com to put Florida residents in danger and push the conspiracy theory with a banner titled “STORM FIZZLE? MATTHEW LOOKS RAGGED!,” alongside links titled “IT’S A 4?” and “RESIDENTS NOT TAKING SERIOUSLY...”.
In direct contrast to Drudge, Republican Florida Governor Rick Scott warned those in the hurricane’s path that “this storm will kill you,” while Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) described the storm as “dangerous.” Fox News host Shepard Smith warned Floridians that if they did not evacuate “you and everyone you know is dead,” and that “you can’t survive it,” while The National Weather Service for Melbourne, Florida warned residents that the storm was “LIFE-THREATENING,” and “more impacting than Hurricane David and 2004 hurricanes!”:
— NWS Melbourne (@NWSMelbourne) October 6, 2016
Drudge joined Rush Limbaugh in peddling irresponsible conspiracy theories about the hurricane, placing their audience in danger. Earlier, Limbaugh downplayed the storm by ranting about “politics in the forecasting of hurricanes because there are votes,” and previously claimed the National Hurricane Center is "playing games" with "hurricane forecasting" to convince viewers of climate change.
UPDATE: Conspiracy theorist and Trump ally Alex Jones retweeted Matt Drudge, expressing support and agreement with his dangerous hurricane conspiracy while adding the white supremacist “altright” hashtag:
Media figures are inaccurately equating Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of a common tax deduction on her 2015 tax return to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s $916 million declared loss in 1995, which, The New York Times reported, he could have used to virtually wipe out his federal income tax obligations over the past two decades. Several media outlets have falsely claimed Clinton “did the same thing” as Trump when, in fact, Clinton’s 2015 tax return shows that she could take only a $3,000 deduction for her reported $700,000 loss, and her campaign reports that she has paid between a 25 and 38 percent income tax rate since 2001.
In prepared remarks, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump pushed the debunked claim that Google is “suppressing” negative information about Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in its search results. The claim, which has been debunked by mainstream outlets and experts as “utter nonsense,” originated in right-wing media and was also pushed by a Russian pro-Kremlin news site and the website of Trump’s campaign CEO.
Media across the spectrum are claiming that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s diagnosis of pneumonia “vindicated” conservative conspiracy theorists who have long made baseless assertions about Clinton’s health. These claims have recently been mainstreamed by non-partisan outlets despite having been debunked time and time again.
Radio host Rush Limbaugh cited an “informal internet survey” by a fringe right-wing medical group to baselessly claim that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s “health problems” mean she is unqualified to be president.
The American Association of Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) released a press release on September 8 after conducting an “informal internet survey” of 250 physicians about Clinton’s medical fitness. Seventy-one percent of respondents claimed Clinton’s health concerns “could be disqualifying for the position of the president of the U.S.,” while 20 percent responded that the concerns are “likely overblown, but should be addressed as by full release of medical records.” Almost all respondents said there has not been “enough emphasis” on Clinton’s “health concerns” by the media.
The results of this “informal internet survey” were reported in notoriously right-wing fringe websites including WorldNetDaily, Infowars, Drudge Report, Zero Hedge and Western Journalism, which linked the results to Clinton’s overly hyped “coughing fit” on September 5. Limbaugh also picked up the survey, claiming it provided a “scientific consensus” that Clinton “is not qualified” to be president.
From the September 9 edition of Premiere Radio Networks’ The Rush Limbaugh Show:
RUSH LIMBAUGH (HOST): Have you heard about these doctors? These concerned doctors, these, I guess they’re neurologists, who think that Hillary has serious health concerns? Did you see this? I’ll read you an upshot of this, and it’s a press release but it has been reported as news. Concerns about Hillary Clinton’s health as serious. And they could be disqualifying for the position of president. Saying nearly 71 percent of 250 physicians responding to an informal internet survey by the Americans Association of Physicians and Surgeons, otherwise known as the AAPS. So what happened here? The AAPS sent out an informal survey to their membership. Two hundred fifty doctors. Seventy-one percent percent of them responded that Hillary Clinton’s health concerns could be disqualifying for president of the United States. Twenty percent said that the concerns for her health are likely overblown but they should be addressed by a full release of her medical records. Only 2.7 percent responded that they were just a political attack. Now, folks, it seems to me here that we have a scientific consensus here. Just as we have in climate change and global warming, we have a consensus of scientists here. These happen to be doctors. But they wear white coats and they work in labs, which makes them scientists. And 71 percent of them think that Hillary’s health concerns are so bad that she may not be qualified to hold office and an even greater number think that it's so bad that she needs to release her health records. So it's settled. A consensus of scientists have suggested Hillary’s not qualified. That settles it. She is not qualified.
The American Association of Physicians and Surgeons is a far-right medical group with a history of espousing fringe views. It has advised doctors to quit participating in Medicare, advocated against vaccines for children, and defended doctors who provided massive amounts of painkillers to patients who then abused them. The group also promulgated conspiracy theories about the death of former Clinton deputy counsel Vincent Foster, calling for the release of “ten photographs of Foster’s fully clothed body” in an effort to cast doubt over the death, which has been widely ruled a suicide. In 2005, the AAPS' Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons attacked illegal immigrants, claiming that leprosy "was so rare in America that in 40 years only 900 people were afflicted. Suddenly, in the past three years [2002-2005], America has more than 7,000 cases of leprosy." In fact, there had been just 431 reported cases of Hansen's disease, or leprosy, over the "past three years" in question.
NBC News helped mainstream conservative media conspiracy theories about Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s health by devoting an entire article to a "coughing fit" she had. The report -- while widely criticized by members of the media -- was pushed by right-wing media figures who for years have led the charge in spreading debunked conspiracy theories about Clinton’s health.
On September 5, NBC News reported that Clinton suffered from a "coughing fit" on the campaign trail in an article titled, “Hillary Clinton Fights Back Coughing Attack,” writing:
Hillary Clinton struggled to fight back a coughing fit while campaigning in Cleveland, Ohio, on Monday.
The former secretary of state has suffered from coughing fits at times throughout the Democratic presidential primary.
However the frog in Clinton's throat on Monday was one of the most aggressive she's had during her 2016 run and left her almost unable to finish her remarks.
Clinton’s coughing was also brought up on broadcast morning shows on September 6, including NBC’s Today, ABC’s Good Morning America, and CBS This Morning, where CBS correspondent Nancy Cordes claimed Clinton’s coughing from seasonal allergies “got the better of her.”
The NBC News report was embraced by right-wing media figures, who have spent years pushing conspiracy theories about Clinton’s health. The Drudge Report linked to the NBC News story on its banner, blaring the headline: “GETTING WORSE: CLINTON COUGH VIOLENTLY RETURNS,” adding Clinton’s “HEALTH STATUS UP IN THE AIR.” The story was also tweeted out by conservative media figures, with Fox Business host Lou Dobbs writing that “it’s time for answers” about Clinton’s health:
2 major coughing fits in 1 day: one at a rally, one with reporters. RT "Hillary Clinton Fights Back Coughing Attack" https://t.co/E0jVchN91e
— Monica Crowley (@MonicaCrowley) September 5, 2016
— Lou Dobbs (@LouDobbs) September 6, 2016
The piece, however, was widely derided by mainstream media figures declaring “this ain’t news” and asking if NBC “seriously ran this story?”:
— Kai Ryssdal (@kairyssdal) September 6, 2016
They seriously ran this story? https://t.co/9UtBg7LV6W
— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) September 6, 2016
— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) September 6, 2016
— Jonathan Alter (@jonathanalter) September 6, 2016
As James Poniewozik, The New York Times’ TV critic, points out, the fact Clinton coughed is “news only [because] of a context of rumor, which NBC is indulging.” The NBC News report sent a dog-whistle to right-wing conspiracy theorists and gave legitimacy to their ridiculous claims that Clinton is suffering from serious health problems. For years, right-wing media have obsessed over Clinton’s bodily functions, including coughing fits and using the restroom.
More dangerously, mainstream media have also hyped these conspiracies, even when their own outlets have debunked them. Even NBC Nightly News previously dispelled the “conspiracy theories” surrounding Clinton’s health.
Media figures have recently criticized the right-wing figures promoting these myths. CNN’s Brian Stelter said it “does a disservice” to the audience “by peddling these conspiracy theories.” Michael Smerconish argued “it’s unhealthy for us as a society and electorate to all play armchair physician and go on and make some diagnoses,” especially since these claims have been debunked numerous times.
Loading the player reg...
Echoing a myth peddled by right-wing media, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump claimed that there was a link between the execution of Shahram Amiri, a nuclear scientist in Iran, and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s private email server, which contained a couple emails that appear to discuss Amiri’s case. But there is no evidence either that Clinton’s server was hacked, which would have been necessary for Iran to see the emails, or that the email discussion of Amiri had any connection to his eventual death.
Conservative media are circulating two pictures from February showing Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton slipping on stairs to claim that her “health could be taking a nose-dive.” The fake controversy fits into right-wing media’s long history of baselessly questioning Clinton’s physical health.
The fringe right-wing blog American Mirror published the pictures, which show aides helping Clinton up the stairs, in an August 7 blog post, claiming they’re the “latest evidence” that the “questionable health condition of Hillary Clinton should be a major issue of the 2016 campaign.” The post concluded, “At what point is the mainstream media going to question Clinton’s health status?”
Mainstream media quickly dismissed the charge that the pictures are evidence of a health issue as a “conspiracy theory,” with CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter tweeting, “The photo is from February 24. She slipped,” and writing on CNN.com that the reports show “how easily photos can be distorted to take on a new and more sinister meaning.” He added that the “blog post failed to note that the photos were six months old, or that the Getty caption indicated that Clinton simply slipped while walking up the stairs.” The Daily Mail explained that the photo “is falsely being presented as some form of proof” that Clinton “is in poor health.”
The photo quickly made its way from American Mirror to other right-wing blogs, includings Drudge Report, WorldNetDaily, and Breitbart News. According to Breitbart News, the photos show Clinton “struggling to make it up the stairs, either as a result of her fragile body or perhaps because her well-documented brain injuries make it harder for her to transport herself through daily life activities.” The website RT also claimed that the “worrying photographs” have people “speculating” that “Clinton’s health could be taking a nose-dive.”
The invented controversy fits into right-wing media’s never-ending freakout over Clinton’s health and bodily functions. Conservative outlets and pundits have claimed that an instance of Clinton coughing raised “further questions about her health and stamina,” and they have repeatedly mocked her for looking “sick” and “unenergetic.”
Loading the player reg...
Right-wing media figures reacted to the July 7 shooting attack of 12 Dallas police officers with unhinged conspiracy theories and racially charged rhetoric.
Right-wing media are credulously reporting claims from the extradited Romanian hacker known as “Guccifer,” who is currently in prison in Virginia, that he “breached” Hillary Clinton’s email server. The hacker has provided no documentation to prove his claims, and the FBI’s security review of Clinton’s emails has reportedly found no evidence of hacking.
Flashback: Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, And Richard Nixon Have All Been Photographed In Front Of Communist Leaders
Right-wing media rushed to attack President Obama over a photograph from his trip to Cuba in which he appears in Havana's Plaza de la Revolución, with a mural of Che Guevara visible in the background -- apparently forgetting that Republican Presidents Nixon, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush have all been photographed in front of images of communist leaders while on trips abroad.
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.