The Mike Gallagher Show

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  • Trump Supporters Are Using Fox’s Contrived New Black Panther Scandal From 2010 To Defend His “Rigged Election” Claim

    Blog ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

    Conservative media and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s presidential campaign are revisiting the debunked right-wing media pseudo-scandal of voter intimidation by the New Black Panther Party to defend Trump’s assertion that “large scale voter fraud” will affect the election.

    After the 2008 election of President Barack Obama, a video went viral of two members of the New Black Panther Party standing outside a Philadelphia polling station on Election Day. One was a registered Democratic poll watcher; the other held a nightstick. Under President George W. Bush, the Department of Justice (DOJ) opened an investigation into the incident after Republican poll watchers complained (no voters ever alleged that they were intimidated by the men). Later, under Obama’s administration, the DOJ obtained a default judgment against the member carrying the nightstick and dropped the case against the poll watcher, the organization, and its leader.

    Bush’s U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, which at the time was packed with conservative activists, responded to the conclusion of the case by opening an investigation, even though the Republican vice chairwoman of the commission called the case “very small potatoes” and criticized the “overheated rhetoric filled with insinuations and unsubstantiated charges.” Nevertheless, J. Christian Adams, an activist Republican member of the commission, went on a lengthy crusade against Obama’s Justice Department for dropping the charges, resigning and claiming the decision showed unprecedented, racially charged corruption.

    Adams found a friendly and eager platform for his position in Fox News, particularly with host Megyn Kelly. In 2010, Fox News devoted at least 95 segments and more than eight hours of airtime in two weeks to the phony scandal, including more than 3.5 hours on Kelly’s America Live. Adams admitted that he had no first-hand knowledge of the conversations leading to the decision.

    One year later, an internal investigation at the Justice Department found that “politics played no role in the handling” of the case and that “department attorneys did not commit professional misconduct or exercise poor judgment.” Fox News spent only 88 seconds covering the debunking of a phony scandal of its own creation. Kelly spent only 20 seconds of her show covering the report.

    But the damage was already done, and the obsessive coverage of the non-event has bubbled back up in the 2016 presidential election.

    On October 17, Trump tweeted, “Of course there is large scale voter fraud happening on and before election day.” As they tried to play defense for their candidate, right-wing media figures invoked the faux New Black Panther scandal. CNN’s paid Trump surrogates Kayleigh McEnany and Scottie Nell Hughes got in on the action, with McEnany claiming that Trump “doesn’t want a scenario where there's New Black Panthers outside with guns, essentially like intimidating people from coming into the polls” and Hughes saying that “voter suppression happened when the Black Panthers stood outside the election room.” (CNN’s Kristen Powers retorted, “There was not a single complaint from a single voter.”)

    Conservative radio hosts joined in, with Mike Gallagher asserting that “in Philadelphia we know all about the New Black Panther movement and what they did in Philadelphia at the polling places,” and Howie Carr accusing the Obama administration of “refus[ing] to prosecute” them for “roaming outside polling places, precincts in Philadelphia with baseball bats and threatening white people.”

    Key figures in creating the scandal have also resurfaced to defend Trump’s voter fraud narrative. Fox & Friends hosted J. Christian Adams to push the myth that “dead people are voting … and it’s going to affect the election” (in reality, claims of dead voter fraud are “plagued by recurring methodological errors” and actual instances of this kind of fraud are exceedingly uncommon). The Trump campaign also hired Mike Roman as head of a “nationwide election protection operation.” Roman is a Republican political consultant who shopped the 2008 video to Fox News, worked with Adams to push the scandal, and offered to contact every Republican voter in the Philadelphia precinct to determine if any were intimidated at the polling location.

    The New Black Panther Party pseudo-scandal’s resurgence is only the latest example of how obsessive right-wing coverage of a comprehensively debunked myth, followed by scant coverage of news that does not fit the narrative, can allow a myth to pass as truth for years. Fox’s infatuation with Benghazi still continues to this day and, like the New Black Panther Party issue and other myths, it is frequently revived to attack Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton or bolster ridiculous assertions by Trump. By bringing the overblown and debunked New Black Panther story back into the mainstream, Trump backers in the media are grasping at straws to defend his rigged election nonsense.

  • Chris Wallace’s History Of Sexist Remarks Poses Another Challenge For His Role As Debate Moderator

    Blog ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

    Final presidential debate moderator Chris Wallace faces the challenge of asking Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump about the numerous allegations that he sexually assaulted several women, but Wallace’s ability to confront Trump’s treatment of women is no doubt tainted by his own history of sexist and sexually charged rhetoric about women.

    Wallace, anchor of Fox News Sunday, has made numerous sexually charged remarks about women, such as calling the National Transportation Safety Board chair a “babe” and remarking that “you would not expect a government bureaucrat to be an attractive woman” and making creepy comments about former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin for years. Appearing on conservative radio host Mike Gallagher’s show in 2009, Wallace asked if Gallagher could “put in a good word” for him with Palin. Just a few months later, on Imus in the Morning, Wallace replied, “one can only hope” when asked if Palin would be “sitting on [his] lap” during an interview. Even the hosts of Fox & Friends, who are no strangers to sexism, confronted him over those comments. Wallace also explained in 2011 that one of the reasons he was “dazzled” by Palin is that she’s “very attractive.”

    In 2015, Wallace again stirred controversy when he remarked that singer Kelly Clarkson, who had already been fighting an onslaught of body shaming in the media, “could stay off the deep dish pizza.” The comment brings to mind Trump’s statements about former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, whom he called “Miss Piggy” and described as an “eating machine.” Wallace did eventually apologize, calling his comment “offensive.”

    Making fun of Clarkson’s weight, however, was not the first time Wallace ridiculed a woman’s appearance. In 2013, Wallace approved of a New York Post cover photograph of a supposedly angry Hillary Clinton labeled “No Wonder Bill’s Afraid,” which was heavily criticized as “blatantly sexist” and “offensive sexist garbage.” Wallace called the cover “funny” and asserted that “nice can be overrated sometimes.” With a history of comments like this, how will Wallace approach Trump’s dismissal of People reporter Natasha Stoynoff as too ugly for him to assault?

    Wallace’s history of making sexist comments taint his ability to confront Trump over the vulgar video of the candidate boasting about sexually assaulting women and the increasing number of women accusing him of inappropriate sexual conduct. Although Trump denied that he had sexually assaulted women, the mounting accusations allege that his words were in line with the sexually predatory behavior he bragged about in the 2005 tapes.

    Wallace’s role as debate moderator poses other challenges as well. Wallace changed his stance on fact-checking in debates (he says it’s not his role, even though he corrected Trump during a primary debate), and he has been wildly inconsistent in how he talks about immigration. Additionally, a Fox News host is hardly the most appropriate moderator for this debate given that Trump has retreated to the station as a safe space -- and avoided other press -- while his campaign implodes under the allegations of sexual harassment and assault.

  • The Right-Wing Media Figures Pushing Scalia Murder Conspiracies

    ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Right-wing media personalities have been pushing conspiracy theories about the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. They've called the circumstances of his death "peculiar," "suspicious," and "fishy," and claimed President Obama or his allies may have "killed" Scalia because of his opinions on environmental regulations, gun laws, immigration, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and unions. Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump has been aiding the conspiracy theories, calling the circumstances surrounding Scalia's death "pretty unusual" and "big stuff."

  • "Wow ... That's Interesting": Trump Entertained Scalia Conspiracy On A Second Radio Show

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump appeared on Fox News contributor Mike Gallagher's radio program and entertained Gallagher's conspiracy theory about the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Trump has been receiving criticism for appearing on Michael Savage's program and claiming that one of the reported details of Scalia's death was "pretty unusual." 

    Trump guested on the February 15 broadcast of Salem Radio Network's The Mike Gallagher Show. Gallagher claimed to not be "a conspiracy theorist, I don't think you are either, but boy it seems peculiar that there doesn't seem to be an autopsy planned." Trump replied, "Wow ... I had just heard this from you, Mike, that's interesting." Trump didn't refute Gallagher's conspiracy mongering -- instead, he declared the supposedly suspicious circumstances surrounding Scalia's death to be "big stuff." 

    GALLAGHER: I have to say, and my audience, the phone lines are burning up and people are questioning the circumstances behind Justice Scalia's death and you know, this is a beloved man -- a husband, father, grandfather, found lying in bed with a pillow over his head. It's all over the Drudge Report. I'm not a conspiracy theorist, I don't think you are either, but boy it seems peculiar that there doesn't seem to be an autopsy planned --

    TRUMP: Wow.

    GALLAGHER: -- for the death of such an important person. I mean -- this is, like, pretty shocking stuff, don't you think? 

    TRUMP: Well I had just heard this from you, Mike, that's interesting. This is the new theory that came out as of this morning.

    GALLAGHER: Well it is and the owner of the ranch, he was quoted as having found Justice Scalia in bed. There were no marshals, he had no protection, and he was found according to the owner of the ranch with a pillow over his head, looking like peaceful repose. He was declared dead over the phone by a justice of the peace who was not even there in person. There's just -- it just seems to me that if there was a liberal Supreme Court justice who passed away and we would have this debate on the other side, there would be cries for an investigation --

    TRUMP: Wow.

    GALLAGHER: -- an autopsy. I mean no autopsy being planned?

    TRUMP: That's big stuff. Especially since it's really the turn of the court. You know, you're really talking about the balance of the court, that's big stuff. Wow.

    GALLAGHER: This is history, this is history, it's huge.

    TRUMP: That'll be a new topic. That'll be a new topic --

    GALLAGHER: Well, yeah, I hope you have a chance to look into it. 

    TRUMP: -- to increase your ratings even further.

    GALLAGHER: Yeah, and maybe spend some time on it as you delve into that.  

    Trump concluded the interview by thanking Gallagher for being "so supportive and so nice" to him.

    Trump also appeared on the February 15 broadcast of The Savage Nation, during which Savage told Trump that Scalia might have been "murdered." When Savage asked Trump if he would support "the equivalent of a Warren Commission" to investigate Scalia's death, he replied that he "just heard" that "they found a pillow on his face, which is a pretty unusual place to find a pillow. I can't tell you what -- I can't give you an answer."  

  • "Hollywood Asshole": The Celebrities Conservative Media Went After In 2015

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ & CYDNEY HARGIS

    Right-wing media spent much of 2015 lashing out at celebrities. From seething over celebrities who spoke out against sexism and pay inequality in Hollywood and supported the Black Lives Matter movement, to objectifying female bodies, bashing the Pope, and telling an actress to "deport herself," Media Matters looks back at some of conservative media's most outrageous temper tantrums of 2015:

  • Fox News Host Wallace: Conservatives Jumped On Bundy "Bandwagon Way Too Quickly"

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace criticized conservatives for lionizing Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, whose outlaw campaign against the federal government further collapsed when he was caught in a racist tirade against blacks.  

    Wallace told radio host and Fox News contributor Mike Gallagher, "some of your colleagues on the conservative side jumped on this bandwagon way too quickly, way too -- and, you know, I've never quite understood why this guy was a hero."

    Wallace added that he agreed with Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer, who similarly criticized conservatives for championing Bundy. Krauthammer remarked yesterday on Fox News: "Do I have the right to go in to graze sheep in Central Park? I think not. You have to have some respect for the federal government, some respect for our system. And to say you don't and you don't recognize it and that makes you a conservative hero, to me, is completely contradictory, and rather appalling."

    While Wallace did not single out specific conservatives, many of Bundy's biggest champions work for Fox News. Fox News' senior judicial analyst, Andrew Napolitano, called Bundy a "patriotic, heroic American." Fox News correspondent Todd Starnes defended Bundy by claiming "they used to string folks up" for what the government did to Bundy.

    And Fox News host Sean Hannity spent weeks pushing Bundy's cause and hosted him multiple times. His fervent support for Bundy drew criticism and mockery, causing Hannity to respond that "we're not ashamed of our coverage. We're actually proud of our coverage." When the racist tirade surfaced, however, Hannity was forced to renounce Bundy's comments, while claiming government overreach is still the real issue.