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Bobby Lewis

Author ››› Bobby Lewis
  • Some Democrats went to Puerto Rico to spotlight the island's recovery, and Fox News is furious

    Democrats went to Puerto Rico to discuss, fundraise for, and spread awareness about hurricane recovery, but Fox News says they were "partying in Puerto Rico" instead of "doing something in Washington"

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    On the morning of January 14, Fox News focused heavily on a group of over 30 Democrats, most of them members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, who spent the weekend in Puerto Rico as part of an annual retreat. Fox spun this trip as the Democrats partying "on the beaches" instead of working to end the government shutdown.

    Democrats were actually in Puerto Rico for a retreat organized by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ Bold PAC. According to The Hill, Bold PAC chair Tony Cárdenas said “he chose Puerto Rico for this year's convention to showcase the island's needs as it slowly recovers from 2017's Hurricane Maria.” NBC News reported that members of Congress sought to aid the island’s recovery from Hurricane Maria by bringing medical supplies and discussing the neglected recovery with Puerto Rican political leaders, including Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, and several top legislators. 

    Democrats also attended a performance of Hamilton, part of a special limited-time run in which creator and original star Lin-Manuel Miranda reprised his role to help raise funds for hurricane recovery. According to The Hill, Miranda said, “We brought Hamilton here to bring a spotlight to Puerto Rico” and its recovery. All Democrats who attended bought their tickets with their own money. 

    NBC News also reported that “The Bold PAC conference was scheduled for Puerto Rico months before the shutdown” and that the group would be monitoring the shutdown and its developments. The report also noted that the congressional members would “be able to get a bird's-eye view of how the shutdown is affecting the island that is trying to pull itself out of a financial crisis while recovering with the devastation of Category 4 Hurricane Maria."

    While Fox News did mention that it was “a work-play trip,” most of its 19 mentions or segments about the story between 6 a.m. and noon on January 14 were intended to create an image of Democrats ducking their responsibility to help end the government shutdown (which Fox News helped start) and instead vacationing in paradise while real Americans suffer. 

    Fox & Friends co-host Ainsley Earhardt said that “the optics are not good” for the Democrats when “there are 800,000 [federal] workers that aren’t getting paid,” but members of Congress who are “supposed to be doing something in Washington” are instead “on the beaches with their families.” Fellow co-host Brian Kilmeade also falsely claimed that CBS and NBC didn’t cover the story, when both networks covered the story online before Monday.

    Fox & Friends opened its 8 a.m. hour with the line “President Trump says it’s time for Democrats to get off the beach and come back to work while the shutdown enters day 24.” 

    Kilmeade said that the Democrats were “even enjoying a Broadway show" in Puerto Rico. Fox & Friends First co-host Rob Schmitt, who is covering the story in Puerto Rico, reported, “There have been some meetings and there has been some work done. But there’s also been plenty of leisure time.” He also complimented Sen. Bob Menendez’s (D-NJ) “great Instagram photo,” saying he’s “got the nice tan going.” 

    Kilmeade also asked counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway about the White House’s reaction to “the Democrats partying in Puerto Rico rather than staying” in Washington, D.C.

    Fox correspondent Doug McKelway compared the Democrats’ Puerto Rico trip to Trump’s normally frequent golfing excursions, commenting that Trump “has been picking his travels very, very carefully” with the government shutdown, and during these times “playing golf, not such a good thing, visits to Puerto Rico, not such a good thing.” 

    Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer criticized the “30 Democratic members” for going “down on some PAC event where they’re soliciting money from lobbyists in Puerto Rico and hanging out on the beach.”

    Fox re-aired Trump’s highly misleading comment that “the Democrats were in Puerto Rico celebrating” the government shutdown.

    Miranda addressed the controversy at the summit in Puerto Rico as he thanked the Democrats and other officials assembled for being “here to work, despite what anyone might claim.” 

  • Fox & Friends airs images that paint a picture of border chaos to help Trump build wall support 

    Co-host says Trump wants Americans to see such images

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    In the third week of President Donald Trump’s government shutdown over his insistence that a border wall be funded, Fox News’ Fox & Friends is filling the airwaves with seemingly chaotic images of migrant caravans to build support for the wall, which, according to co-host Steve Doocy, is just what the president wants. 

    On January 9, Doocy claimed that Trump is “trying to get the people in the middle, the independents, who have not taken a side yet, to look at images like that and think, ‘OK, is that a bad thing for the country?’” 

    Accordingly, the January 10 edition of Fox & Friends aired a lot of b-roll footage of what appear to be migrant caravans. The clips showed migrants: 

    Clashing with law enforcement:

    Climbing or attacking fences and walls:

    Gathering in large groups:

    Walking:

    Fox & Friends has apparently influenced immigration policy with its b-roll choices before: On October 26, Doocy said that “images of the caravan breaking through the gate and the fence in Guatemala into Mexico” -- images that aired heavily on the show and elsewhere on the network -- “so alarmed the White House that they're trying to figure out some way to do something about the caravan in spite of the law.” Three days later, the Defense Department announced that it was sending 5,200 troops to the border to stop the caravan.

  • Trump administration flocks to Fox to recycle discredited statistic about terrorists crossing the southern border

    The Trump administration drew media criticism in February for a misleading claim that 10 terrorists were intercepted crossing the U.S.-Mexico border each day in 2017. The claim has now resurfaced as “almost 4,000 terrorists” throughout 2018. It is still misleading.

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders appeared on the January 4 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends to defend President Donald Trump’s stance on the ongoing government shutdown. She told the hosts that a border wall is needed because “last year alone, there were nearly 4,000 known or suspected terrorists” arrested along the U.S.-Mexico border.

    About an hour later, White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley made the same claim on another Fox show, America’s Newsroom. Gidley said that there were “almost 4,000 terrorists, known or suspected, coming across the border” last year. 

    The White House’s claim of 4,000 terrorists invading through the southern border appears to be a rudimentary reframing of Vice President Mike Pence’s October statement that, in the 2017 fiscal year, “we apprehended more than 10 terrorists or suspected terrorists per day” trying to cross the southern border. (Eight months prior, Pence had said it was seven per day.) It seems Sanders and Gidley multiplied 10 terrorists by 365 days, then rounded the figure up to an even 4,000 for 2018. In recent days, congressional Republicans and prime-time host Sean Hannity have made similar claims on Fox. 

    Pence’s assertion was roundly debunked as a false claim last year. PolitiFact rated his initial claim “pants on fire” because the figure he referenced appeared to be for all points of entry to the country, not just the southern border. Similarly, The Washington Post said Pence’s later claim “quickly falls apart upon further inspection.” A Pence spokesperson also “tacitly” acknowledged to the Post that the vice president misstated the statistic. 

    On MSNBC Live with Stephanie Ruhle, national security reporter Julia Ainsley also noted that the White House “is likely rounding from this figure that we’ve heard from the administration before. ... What they’re taking that from is the number of all people who are stopped at all ports, especially airports.” Ainsley said that Sanders “seems to be rounding [the figure] and especially playing it off the border to make it seem as if these are people crossing the border to make the case for the president’s wall. When, in fact, we’re talking about airports where a wall wouldn’t do anything.” 

    Update (1/7/19): On January 6, Sanders appeared on Fox News Sunday to again push the myth that 4,000 suspected terrorists were attempting to cross the southern border. Sanders brought up the statistic after host Chris Wallace quoted the State Department’s statement that there is “no credible evidence of any terrorist coming across the border from Mexico.” When Sanders tried to bring up the statistic, Wallace said, "I know the statistic -- I didn’t know if you were gonna use it, but I studied up on this," and pointed out that “they're not coming across the southern border, Sarah; they’re coming and they are being stopped at airports.” Sanders ignored the factual basis of this claim, saying that terrorists “come by air, by land, and by sea.” In reality, zero immigrants have been arrested on terrorism charges while attempting to cross the southern border in recent years.

  • The year in Fox News non-troversies

    ››› ››› JASON CAMPBELL, BOBBY LEWIS & REBECCA MARTIN

    In 2018, conservatives controlled all levers of the federal government, Fox News once again led in ratings, and conservative websites dominated the national narrative on the internet. But Fox News, hell-bent on portraying conservatives as victims, nevertheless found random events to be outraged about throughout the year. Below are some top Fox News non-troversies as documented by the Media Matters staff.

  • Fox News hasn’t mentioned possible election fraud in North Carolina for days. Here's what it covered instead.

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    In North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, Republican Mark Harris seemingly defeated Democrat Dan McCready by less than 1,000 votes. However, the state has delayed certifying the results pending an investigation of serious “claims of irregularities and fraudulent activities,” including “illegally cast or destroyed” ballots. Despite harping on baseless “voter fraud” myths for years, Fox News has virtually ignored this apparent case of actual election fraud. Since the state election board announced its review on Friday, the network has chosen to cover other news such as:

    Toy bananas “reveal surprises inside” 

    Actor Chris Pratt said “Merry Christmas” at Disneyland

    A teacher told children that Santa Claus isn’t real

    A Cleveland radio station is no longer playing “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”

    HuffPost is taking on Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

    PETA called for vegan-friendly alternatives to common phrases

    “‘Meat-heavy’ menu slammed at climate talks”

    Rock band Hootie and the Blowfish is going on tour again

    Oregon is attempting to legalize psychedelic mushrooms 

    An all-male Princeton a cappella group has stopped singing a song from The Little Mermaid

    The Boston Red Sox are going to the White House

    Netflix has decided to keep Friends available for streaming

    Bill and Hillary Clinton are on a speaking tour

    A veteran panicked when he mistook a National Lampoon’s Vacation decoration for someone stranded on a roof

    The New York Police Department found a couple’s lost engagement ring and searched for them via social media to return it 

    Delta Airlines has increased the cost of in-flight alcohol

    A court has rejected a man’s request to subtract 20 years from his age 

  • After the U.S. used tear gas on migrant children at the border, Fox & Friends wants Trump to panic

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    On November 25, “hundreds of migrants” traveling in a caravan approached the U.S.-Mexico border near the San Ysidro Port of Entry, “prompting federal authorities to launch tear gas in an apparent attempt to get the group to disperse,” The San Diego Union-Tribune reported. The crowd that was tear-gassed included children. According to the Union-Tribune, “Federal authorities said the migrants tried to breach the border at multiple locations, leading to a number of assaults on Customs and Border Protection personnel and dozens of arrests.”

    On Monday, Fox & Friends, which spent the days leading up to the midterm elections fearmongering about the migrants in the caravan, portrayed the migrants as violent invaders “storming our border.”

    The show began with the hosts talking about the “hundreds of people, many from that migrant caravan,” who approached the border and saying that Border Patrol agents fired tear gas on the crowd. They did not mention that tear gas is a non-lethal chemical weapon banned from being used in war and that children were among those CBP attacked with the gas.

    Guest co-host Pete Hegseth quipped that tear-gassing unruly migrants is simply “part of the way the world works.”

    The show hosted Ron Colburn, president of the nonprofit Border Patrol Foundation, to discuss what co-host Steve Doocy said were “hundreds of migrants” who attacked Border Patrol agents. (Doocy gave conflicting numbers, earlier saying “50 people” approached the border and “some” in that group “threw rocks at agents.”) Colburn said that the caravan “has a core of violence to it that basically communicates a sense of entitlement.”

    Colburn disputed reports that tear gas was used, claiming that the agent was actually using pepper spray, which he defended because “it’s natural. You could actually put it on your nachos and eat it.”

    Thirty-eight minutes into the show, Fox & Friends finally mentioned that children were among those attacked with chemical weapons, but the hosts and their guest, NRATV’s Dan Bongino, blamed the parents for putting them in the situation to begin with.

    Co-host Ainsley Earhardt compared tear-gassing children to writing a speeding ticket, telling the parents, “If you don’t want a speeding ticket, don’t speed.”

    Fox & Friends repeatedly framed the migrants as an “invasion” throughout the midterm elections. Even though the elections are over, and after a brief lull in coverage of the matter on Fox, the invasion fearmongering remains -- Bongino said today that he didn’t “mean to be hyperbolic about it, but clearly what happened yesterday were people trying to invade our border.”

    Fox contributor Newt Gingrich also argued that the migrant caravan is part of a “psychological war” waged against the U.S. government that is “very often guided, by the way, by American leftists who are activists and American left-wing organizations.”

    Gingrich, the former speaker of the House of Representatives, claimed that the left’s “goal is to find some way to embarrass the U.S. government so we can't even control our own border.” He told viewers that “we have to be prepared to stand up to that and to do whatever is necessary” or “you are not going to have a country.” He concluded, “I bet you that the elite media spends a lot more time today on what's happening on the border than they're going to spend on the death of a young American who was killed by an illegal immigrant.”

    The Fox & Friends hosts continued their laser-like focus on what the New York Post called “border chaos” throughout the third hour. They picked up where Gingrich left off and attempted to shame “the mainstream media elite” for covering Border Patrol’s tear-gassing of children and other migrants instead of the murder of Amanda Ferguson, a Texan teacher killed in a hit-and-run accident by an undocumented immigrant.

    The tone of Fox & Friends’ caravan coverage this morning was clear. As Media Matters’ Matt Gertz noted, “It is impossible to overstate how much Fox & Friends wants its audience (which includes President Trump) to be panicked about the situation at the border this morning.” Considering that it was Fox & Friends coverage that spurred Trump into sending the military to the border in the first place, and that was far from the first time he has directly responded to the show, the cruel inhumanity could be about to get a lot worse.