Author Page | Media Matters for America

Bobby Lewis

Author ››› Bobby Lewis
  • Athletes are calling out Laura Ingraham for telling LeBron James to "shut up and dribble" 

    Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade: “They use to try and hide it.. now the president has given everyone the courage to live their truths”

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Fox News host Laura Ingraham lashed out at the Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James and the Golden State Warriors’ Kevin Durant for discussing President Donald Trump’s racist and divisive politics, saying, “Must they run their mouths like that,” and calling James’ statement “barely intelligible."

    On the February 15 edition of Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle, Ingraham claimed James -- three-time NBA champion with an estimated net worth of $86 million -- is a “cautionary lesson” for kids: “This is what happens when you attempt to leave high school a year early to join the NBA.” Ingraham belittled the athletes for being “paid $100 million a year to bounce a ball,” and told them to “keep the political commentary to yourself, or as someone once said, shut up and dribble.”

    But Ingraham has no apparent problem with celebrities like Scott Baio opining on politics (Baio has an article tag on Ingraham’s LifeZette website). She herself called Clint Eastwood's 2012 Republican National Convention speech delivered to a chair "terrific." Fox News Channel has also repeatedly invited conservative celebrities to push their political narratives, including Baio, actors James Woods, Antonio Sabato Jr., Jon Voight, and Fabio Lanzoni, musician Kid Rock, and Clueless actress/former Fox News contributor Stacey Dash. And prior to getting into politics, Trump used to regularly phone in on Fox & Friends for years -- an arrangement the former host of NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice has credited for winning him the presidency.

    Ingraham’s attacks on James and Durant echo years of racist and racialized commentary on her radio and television programs. After James previously said that people who voted for Trump made a mistake, Ingraham attacked him, saying he was “so ignorant,” and she has called kneeling NFL players “punks,” adding, “that’s the old-fashioned Connecticut Yankee in me.” Ingraham even observed the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom with audio of gunshots and a discussion about black crime rates.

    Following Ingraham’s latest rant, multiple athletes took to Twitter to call her out for her “absurd” rhetoric.

    Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade

    Philadelphia Eagles’ Chris Long

    Baltimore Ravens’ Tony Jefferson

    Professional soccer player Alejandro Bedoya

    Arizona Cardinals’ Josh Bynes

    Jacksonville Jaguars’ Donald Payne

    Atlanta Falcons’ Adrian Clayborn

    Utah Jazz’s Thabo Sefolosha

    Sacramento Kings’ Garrett Temple

    Dallas Cowboys' Jourdan Lewis

    Tennessee Titans’ Joshua Carraway

    Indianapolis Colts’ Quincy Wilson

    Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields

    Former NFL quarterback Sage Rosenfels

    Former NFL player Geoff Schwartz

    Former NFL player Justin Forsett

    Former NFL player Larry Johnson

    Professional rugby player Danny Cipriani

    Texas A&M’s Caleb Chapman

    University of Texas’ Malik Jefferson

    Clemson University’s Amari Rodgers

  • Right-wing media figures have led Trump's purge of Department of Justice officials they perceive as threatening

    Here’s who they have left

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS & GRACE BENNETT

    Right-wing media have consistently lined up behind Donald Trump to defend him against any and all allegations regarding Russian interference in the presidential election. Led primarily by Fox News and primetime host Sean Hannity, right-wing media figures have denounced, undermined, or maligned Department of Justice and FBI officials involved in the broader Russia investigation since it began. 

  • Fox & Friends ignored three bombshells related to the Russia investigation

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Three significant developments related to the Russia investigation broke on the evening of January 31. Fox & Friends, the president’s favorite show, predictably ignored all three stories. 

    On the evening of January 31, CNN reported that FBI agent Peter Strzok co-drafted the letter sent to Congress days before the 2016 election “announcing the bureau was investigating newly discovered Clinton emails.” CNN also reported that President Donald Trump asked Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein if he was “on my team” in December when Rosenstein went to the White House seeking Trump’s support in a dispute over a documents request from Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA). And The New York Times reported that, according to a former spokesperson for Trump’s legal team, White House communications director Hope Hicks told the president on a conference call that Donald Trump, Jr.’s emails about dirt on then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton “‘will never get out’ because only a few people had access to them.” Hicks' statement, according to the report, left the former spokesperson with “concerns that Ms. Hicks could be contemplating obstructing justice,” and he resigned shortly after. 

    While the three stories got airtime on both CNN’s New Day and MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Fox News’ Fox & Friends gave all three stories zero coverage. Fox’s morning show did mention Strzok, but only to use him to attack former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. Notably, Fox & Friends for weeks has attacked Strzok as pro-Clinton and anti-Trump, an accusation that’s increasingly discredited after the CNN story. Fox & Friends is the president’s safe space, showering him in effusive praise and effectively insulating him from reporting that makes him look bad by spinning, downplaying, or simply ignoring it. 

    Fox & Friends did, however, find time to cover some interesting stories, such as:

    A Democratic congressperson playing a game on their phone during the State of the Union:

    White House Chief of Staff John Kelly “sounds off on anti-military teacher”:

    David Bossie’s selfie with Tucker Carlson, Corey Lewandowski, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, and Dan Bongino:

    A brief ride malfunction at an Australian amusement park:

    “[Congressional] Black Caucus members remain seated at SOTU”:

  • Fox News and Russian state media are promoting a conspiracy theorist's California secessionist ploy

    "New California" secessionists are led by a Sandy Hook and Agenda 21 conspiracy theorist

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Fox News is promoting what it calls a bid by “conservatives in California so fed up with liberals running their state” to “break away” from the state and form a “New California.” What Fox didn’t mention is that the secessionist ploy is being led by a conspiracy theorist. 

    “New California” is just the latest iteration of long-running, minor secessionist movements in California that previously materialized in 2016 as the #Calexit hashtag and “Yes California” electoral campaign, but the small group leading the charge is getting some media help from interesting places. A January 17 segment of Fox & Friends discussed the current campaign and a story about it was featured on the front page of FoxNews.com the same day. Far-right troll Jack Posobiec and Russian state media are also pushing the campaign on Twitter. 

    The January 17 segment of Fox & Friends briefly featured comments by Robert Paul Preston, whom the show credited as the “founder” of “New California.” On its website, Fox News identified Preston and his group as “California conservatives.” Both the article and the segment on Fox & Friends failed to note that Preston is a conspiracy theorist and Sandy Hook truther. Preston believes in “Agenda 21,” a conspiracy theory dating to when Glenn Beck hosted a show on Fox News. "Agenda 21" believers like Preston think that the United Nations is executing a “master plan” to “remove you from your land ... take away our Constitutional Rights and depopulate our planet.” Preston also believes the Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax. 

    Along with Fox News, Russia’s state-owned media company RT (formerly Russia Today) is also pushing the “New California” narrative with tweets and an article. Like Fox, the RT write-up also uncritically quotes Paul Preston in support of secession. 

    Russia-linked social media bots have driven previous iterations of American secessionist narratives. On November 4, 2017, the BBC reported that the #Calexit hashtag and narrative around the 2016 election “was artificially driven by automated bots or fake accounts,” many of which were connected to the pro-Kremlin “troll factory” known as the Internet Research Agency. Additionally, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the leader of “Yes California” lived in and ran the campaign from Russia.

  • Sean Hannity wades into message board conspiracy theory "The Storm"

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    On January 9, Fox’s Sean Hannity tweeted from his account that his followers should “watch @wikileaks closely! Tick tock.” The tweet quoted another tweet that claimed that “out of nowhere, Ecuador suddenly offers to mediate a resolution for #JulianAssange,” with the hashtag “#QAnon” added to the post.

    #Qanon refers to a sprawling conspiracy theory that originated on online message boards 4chan and 8chan, alleging that President Donald Trump’s cryptic October 2017 comment about the “calm before the storm” was a hint at a master plan Trump is setting in motion to kneecap members of the “deep state.” According to New York magazine, the conspiracy theory, known as “The Storm,” “features secret cabals” and “a child sex-trafficking ring.” Additionally, those who believe in “The Storm” also believe claims that the Steele dossier is fake and “the Las Vegas massacre was most definitely an inside job connected to the Saudi-Clinton cabal.”

    Tweeting about #Qanon is not Hannity’s first contact with the fever swamps of far-right message boards. In August, Hannity promoted a conspiracy theory that originated on online message boards that the counter-protesters in Charlottesville, VA, were actually paid actors. Furthermore, in 2016, Hannity made himself the face of the Reddit-nurtured conspiracy theory that late DNC staffer Seth Rich was a Wikileaks source, causing Fox News employees to angrily vent that Hannity was embarrassing the network.

  • Laura Ingraham retweeted a British neo-Nazi

    Mark Collett is a far-right British figure whose book has been endorsed by David Duke

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Fox News host Laura Ingraham retweeted a video from a far-right British figure who is connected to David Duke.

    On January 7, Ingraham quoted a tweet alleging to show “what third world immigration does to Europe,” which included a video of trash and people apparently living on a city street. Ingraham added above the tweet, “Can anyone verify if this is really a video of Paris?”

    The person Ingraham retweeted, Mark Collett, is a former chairman of the youth division of the British National Party (BNP,) a far-right political organization in the United Kingdom. Collett was eventually dismissed from the BNP and arrested for death threats against his political rival, who was then the BNP’s leader. Collett has repeatedly collaborated with and received a book endorsement from former KKK leader and radio host David Duke. Collett once said that he admired Adolf Hitler, and has said that he considered AIDS a “friendly disease because blacks, drug users and gays have it.” He has also called asylum seekers “cockroaches” and accused Asian men of “go[ing] straight to the whites 'cos they are trying to destroy us and they are the racists.” Collett also campaigned in support of Brexit with his girlfriend, who has multiple Nazi tattoos.

    Several media figures called out Ingraham for the retweet, with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes asking if Ingraham was going to “share this one next,” quoting another Collett tweet with a video comparing refugees to racoons, and CNN’s Brian Stelter suggesting Ingraham focus on a story of rejoicing fans of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills “destroying everything in sight in Jacksonville.” 

    Ingraham’s retweeting of a neo-Nazi comes about two weeks after her primetime Fox News colleague, Tucker Carlson, approvingly tweeted an article from a white supremacist radio show that called the Holocaust “the biggest hoax of the 20th century.” Carlson “apologize[d]” for the tweet without acknowledging he linked to a white supremacist account. 

  • The bigotry of Sean Hannity's early influencers

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    In a recent profile, Fox host Sean Hannity named three right-wing media figures from the second half of the 20th century -- Bob Grant (1929-2013), Taylor Caldwell (1900-1985), and Barry Farber (1930-present) -- as inspirations for his own political commentary. A Media Matters investigation into content produced by Grant, Caldwell, and Farber revealed a trove of bigotry; Grant “routinely” called black people “savages,” Calwell had a political allegiance with “one of the most virulent anti-Semitic propagandists in the United States,” and Farber is a self-professed "birther" who pushed conspiracy theories about former President Barack Obama.