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Brian Powell

Author ››› Brian Powell
  • Endorsing Obama's Assassination Isn't Enough To Keep This Voice Off Of Fox News

    Blog ››› ››› BRIAN POWELL

    Fox News and Fox Business have continued to host former CIA officer and CBS News analyst Michael Scheuer after he endorsed the assassination of President Obama. Scheuer's latest appearance on the August 1 edition of Fox & Friends suggests his profile on the networks may have escalated in recent months.

    Scheuer has a long history of extreme rhetoric and arguably reached his most fevered pitch when he gave his stamp of approval to the idea that Obama, as well as British Prime Minister David Cameron, should be assassinated. Scheuer concluded a December 2013 column with advice for the constituents of Cameron and Obama (emphasis added):

    As they head further down the road of losing wars and wrecking Anglo-American liberties, Messrs Obama and Cameron and their supporters in all parties would do well to read the words of the great 17th century English republican Algernon Sidney, a man who was revered on both sides of the Atlantic, who greatly influenced America's founders, and who was executed by the British Crown for what it described as sedition. "There must therefore be a right," Sidney wrote,

    "of proceeding judicially or extra-judicially against all persons who transgress the laws; or else those laws, and the societies that should subsist by them, cannot stand; and the ends for which governments are constituted, together with the governments themselves, must be overthrown. ... If he [a political leader] be justly accounted an enemy of all, who injures all; he above all must be the publick enemy of a nation, who by usurping power over them, does the greatest and most publick injury that a people can suffer. For which reason, by an established law among the most virtuous nations, every man might kill a tyrant; and no names are recorded in history with more honor, than of those who did it."

    Just 10 days after the column was published, Scheuer appeared on Fox Business' Lou Dobbs Tonight to accuse Hillary Clinton of "effectively murdering" the Americans who died during the 2012 attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya. According to a Media Matters search, Scheuer has appeared on Fox Business at least twice since, on Lou Dobbs Tonight June 9 and on Money July 18.

    Fox News Channel -- which hosted Scheuer dozens of times before his validation of attempts to assassinate the president -- has continued to invite Scheuer on in recent months. Fox & Friends Sunday invited the former CIA officer on in June, and after having appeared on the weekday edition of Fox & Friends in February, the show invited him back August 1.

  • Fox Host Claims Conservatives Aren't Talking About Impeachment 12 Days After One Called For Impeachment On His Show

    Blog ››› ››› BRIAN POWELL

    Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy displayed a striking disregard for reality, claiming that conservatives are "not talking about" impeaching President Obama while failing to note that just days ago, Fox's Andrew Napolitano called for impeachment on the same show.

    On the July 29 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade suggested Obama is trying to "bait" Congress into impeaching him by overreaching on the implementation of immigration policies. Doocy replied, "Brian, to your point about impeachment, only Democrats are talking about it. Republicans, conservatives, not talking about it. Only Democrats. It's to gin up the base before November."

    But just days ago, on July 17, Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano appeared on Fox & Friends and counseled the GOP to impeach the president, which Napolitano claimed would "focus his attention immediately."

  • CNBC Contributor: Time Warner Board Justified In Fighting Hostile Takeover By Murdoch Family

    Blog ››› ››› BRIAN POWELL

    CNBC panelist Jeffrey Sonnenfeld suggested that 21st Century Fox's effort to acquire Time Warner is driven by a nepotistic desire to provide Rupert Murdoch's "poor performing" sons with pieces of the family business and highlighted News Corp.'s phone hacking scandal as an example of the Murdoch family's questionable management record.

    Time Warner's board of directors took measures to prevent a hostile takeover by Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox by "eliminating a provision in its bylaws that let shareholders call special meetings" -- a move that would prevent shareholders from forcing a vote on the takeover until June 2015.

    Panelists on the July 22 edition of Squawk Box suggested Fox's offer undervalues Time Warner. Sonnenfeld, also a dean at the Yale School of Management, went on to say the takeover effort was part of the Murdoch family's plan to "deal with potential succession" by acquiring large businesses to hand over to Murdoch's sons, James Murdoch and Lachlan Murdoch. But Sonnenfeld described the sons as "poor performing" managers, saying in particular that James Murdoch had been tainted by the phone hacking scandal at News Corp.

    SONNENFELD: This is basically a deal for Rupert to eventually -- an 83-year-old guy who's run the company for 62 years -- to try to deal with these perpetual succession questions by giving, you know, Lachlan, one son one piece of the business -- one, you know, poor-performing son -- the other poor-performing son, James, another piece of the business in the News Corp.-21st Century Fox split here. But all this [unintelligible] --

    ANDREW ROSS SORKIN (host): So you are not a fan of the Murdoch family, it sounds like.

    SONNENFELD: Well, they've not distinguished themselves as leaders. You know, Lachlan had a temper tantrum and left a couple years ago and just came back in this spring with this deal for News Corp. liberation of sorts. And then the 21st Century Fox, we have James, who certainly has soiled himself in the whole scandal -- the phone hacking and all the rest in the U.K. And at minimum, a failure of management oversight is awful. Even Fox's shareholders were pretty upset with him.

  • From Bundy To Border Fences: Right-Wing Hypocrisy Over Eminent Domain

    Blog ››› ››› BRIAN POWELL

    Mere weeks after right-wing media loudly defended racist Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy with erroneous allegations of a "federal land grab" of his property, the same conservative outlets are now advocating for a border fence that would require an immense seizure of private lands.

    In the first half of 2014, thousands of children fled across the U.S.-Mexico border to escape rising violence plaguing their home countries in Central America. Anti-immigrant figures in the right-wing media have responded by stoking nativist insecurities, erroneously suggesting the children pose public health and safety concerns and that they will be allowed to stay in the United States indefinitely.

    Many of these figures have also returned to calls for a fence to be constructed on the U.S.-Mexico border.

    Conservative radio host and ABC News contributor Laura Ingraham made the completion of a border fence part of her personal plan to address holes in the nation's immigration policy in a manifesto titled, "The Government Vs. The People: Rebuilding Trust In The Midst Of The Illegal Alien Tsunami".

    On Fox News July 9, America's Newsroom co-host Martha MacCallum floated the idea of prioritizing appropriations to construct a border fence over money for humanitarian care and administrative personnel to facilitate customs hearings. On July 8, Fox guest Pat Buchanan said in an appearance on Hannity, "Why cannot the government say 'Look, let's get together, we do need a secure fence, a double- or triple-link fence, all along the border of the United States with Mexico'?"

    About a week earlier, contributor Charles Krauthammer advocated for a border fence, saying, "If fences don't work, why is there one around the White House?"

    Calls for a fence often lack context or details -- and in MacCallum's case, drastically misinform on the cost of such an endeavor. In particular, conservative media tend to ignore the fact that, in order to complete a border fence, the federal government will have to seize, through eminent domain, the private property of American landowners from Texas to California.

  • Why Is The Media Taking These ISIS World Domination Maps So Seriously?

    Blog ››› ››› BRIAN POWELL

    In a rush to sensationalize growing violence in Iraq at the hands of religious extremists, media have circulated dubiously sourced maps which purport to illustrate plans for a future Islamic caliphate that extends from Spain to the southern and easternmost reaches of India.

    A Sunni Islamist militant group calling itself the Islamic State of Iraq (ISIS) has torn through Iraq in recent weeks, violently capturing several cities and straining the Iraqi government's ability to respond. On June 29, according to the Wall Street Journal, ISIS "announced itself as a new Islamist 'caliphate' ... unilaterally declaring statehood and demanding allegiance from other Islamist groups."

    In the wake of this news, media outlets from Fox News to ABC have issued reports on the militant group's future plans based on maps culled from Twitter to declare that ISIS is strategizing to take over swath of territory larger than the Roman Empire within the next five years -- a goal that would include, among other feats, conquering Spain, Portugal, Greece, and most or all of India. The maps resemble the geographic dominance of the historic caliphates that ended with the demise of the Ottoman Empire. 

    Map #1

    On June 3 ABC News published a map -- also cited by -- which was "purportedly published" by ISIS and "widely shared on Twitter." According to ABC, the "terrifying" map was "published at the same time that ISIS announced the creation of a caliphate."

    But ABC News didn't actually trace the image to ISIS, and instead relied on a tweet of the image from American Third Position (A3P). ABC didn't disclose that A3P is a white nationalist political party in the United States.

    As iO9 pointed out, "This is one of those 'garbage in, garbage out' stories, since ABC News' source was Twitter." The outlet cited to analysis from Aaron Zelin, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, who explained, "It's an old image put out by fans of the group ... There is nothing official about it nor is there some alleged 5-year plan."

    Map #2

    Fox News reported the same day that a "chilling new map reveals the ISIS plan for world domination," displaying an expanded, translated map the network claimed was "released by ISIS" to lay out "its five-year plan." Several days ago the Daily Mail similarly highlighted the map as a "chilling five-year plan," as did The Blaze, the website of notorious caliphate fear monger Glenn Beck.

    While Fox attributed the map to ISIS, the Daily Mail described it as having been "widely shared by ISIS supporters on social networks."

    Despite the serious tone of their reports, neither the Daily Mail nor Fox News cited any experts to discuss how realistic it would be for ISIS to conquer a swath of land that envelops half of Africa and India and includes territory protected by NATO (Spain, Portugal).

  • The Free Beacon's Clinton Conspiracy Falls Apart

    Blog ››› ››› BRIAN POWELL

    Newly published documents have poked holes in the Washington Free Beacon's claim that it has been victimized by a pro-Hillary Clinton conspiracy aiming to restrict the site's access to information about the former secretary of state. In fact, the site's access has been restricted because it violated the University of Arkansas' rules regarding the use of intellectual property from its archives.

    On June 15, the Free Beacon published an article on Clinton using recordings of unpublished interviews conducted in the 1980s. Tapes of the interviews were archived at the University of Arkansas (UA).

    UA subsequently revoked the Free Beacon's research privileges, asserting that publication of the interviews required authorization from the university library and, having failed to obtain such permission, the Free Beacon violated UA's intellectual property rights.

    The Free Beacon claimed that it obtained the materials in question "without having to fill out any forms and without being provided a copy of any university 'policy.'" It also suggested that the decision to revoke its access was a pro-Clinton conspiracy, noting, "A Hillary Clinton donor who serves as dean of the University of Arkansas libraries has banned the Washington Free Beacon from the school's special collections archives, after the news outlet published revealing stories about Hillary Clinton based on documents available at the university library."

    Business Insider, however, obtained documents from UA that contradict the Beacon's claims, writing that "documents provided to Business Insider ... indicate there were several conditions surrounding the release of tapes from the library to the Free Beacon" (emphasis added):

    On June 20, Business Insider requested documentation relating to the Free Beacon's acquisition of the tapes used for the story about Clinton and the rape case from the University of Arkansas. Associate Vice Chancellor for University Relations Laura Jacobs subsequently provided us with several documents including a request to copy the Clinton tapes made by a man named Shawn Reinschmiedt on March 10. That request was made on a form that included a "WARNING CONCERNING COPYRIGHT RESTRICTIONS" noting the library provided materials from its archives "under certain conditions." The warning specifically mentioned those conditions did not allow materials to be used "for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research." The warning also said library patrons could be found "liable for copyright infringement" if they request or use materials from the archives "in excess of 'fair use.'" Reinschmiedt's signature appeared under this form under a note indicating he read the copyright warning.

    In an email, Free Beacon founder Michael Goldfarb said Reinschmiedt "runs a firm that has been working with the Beacon since we launched."

  • Laura Ingraham Uses Taco Bell Ad To Mock Immigrant Children's Detention Plight

    Blog ››› ››› BRIAN POWELL

    Conservative radio host Laura Ingraham, a contributor for Fox and ABC News, used a sound bite from a Taco Bell commercial to mock the plight of hundreds of migrant children fleeing violence in Central America who are being held in a makeshift shelter in southern Arizona.

    The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that nearly 60,000 unaccompanied children who will make the dangerous trip from Central America over the next year fleeing violence will require care. In Nogales, Arizona, the Department of Homeland Security made available a warehouse to house thousands of children, but according to local media outlets, it has not been without problems. CBS Houston reported that some of the children have complained to the consul of Honduras that the food provided by the shelter is making them sick.

    On the June 10 edition of her radio show, Ingraham responded to this news by dismissing the children's plight, saying, "I bet there are a lot of American kids who would like free food before they go to bed at night." She followed her comments with a sound clip from a Taco Bell advertising campaign of the 1990s, in which a chihuahua says repeatedly, "Yo quiero Taco Bell."

    Ingraham is no stranger to controversial sound effects. On the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have A Dream Speech", the radio host used the sound of a gunshot to cut off a sound bite of civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) -- a man whose skull was infamously fractured by a state trooper on "Bloody Sunday" in Selma, AL, in 1965.

    She also repeatedly engages in smearing and denigrating immigrants.

  • Watch: Shep Smith Rebuts Fox News' Rush To Judge Bowe Bergdahl


    Many Fox News hosts and pundits rushed to brand recently released Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl as a deserter and a traitor, but Shepard Smith took a different line by saying he was "disgusted" by the rush to judgment, cautioning that Bergdahl is innocent until proven guilty.

    On May 31, the White House announced it had secured the release of Bergdahl from the hands of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Right-wing critics of President Obama began reporting as fact that Bergdahl had been a deserter and collaborated with the enemy, despite the fact that an investigation into the matter has not yet taken place.

    On the June 3 edition of Shepard Smith Reporting, host Smith took umbrage at the reporting, saying, "If you desert or commit treason, you have to be proved to have done so. We can't just decide because some people come on television and yakety yak, and we've got a report of this and a report of that and that's what happened. As the Army said, as the Pentagon said, you bring them home. You bring them home first, and then you investigate."

  • Did Fox Just Compare Immigrants To Garbage?

    Blog ››› ››› BRIAN POWELL

    Fox News broadcast a story on immigration with on-screen text that read "Illegal Dumping," evoking a connection between immigrants and garbage.

    On the June 4 edition of Fox & Friends, host Steve Doocy teased an upcoming segment about undocumented immigrants, apprehended in Texas and awaiting deportation proceedings, being dropped off at a Phoenix bus station by the Department of Homeland Security. Images of children disembarking from buses were displayed on screen with text that read "Illegal Dumping," a phrase commonly used to describe the unlawful disposal of garbage or other unwanted items.

    Fox has a history blanketing its immigration reporting with controversial terms and text. Last year, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists condemned the network for smearing the children of undocumented immigrants as "Children of the Corn." And Fox frequently draws connections between undocumented immigrants and violent criminals.

  • Fox Uses Sgt. Bergdahl's Release To Resurrect Benghazi Smears

    Blog ››› ››› BRIAN POWELL

    Fox News wasted no time tying the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, an American captive held by the Taliban, to the 2012 Benghazi attacks.

    Bergdahl, an American captive held by the Taliban since 2009, was released on May 31, pursuant to an agreement between the White House, the government of Qatar (acting as an intermediary), and the Taliban. Right-wing media responded to the exchange of five Guantanamo detainees for Bergdahl with attacks and misinformation.

    Fox News quickly linked the prisoner exchange to the 2012 attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi. Appearing on Fox host Sean Hannity's radio program, Fox correspondent Catherine Herridge speculated on the timing of Bergdahl's release, suggesting it was "interesting" because the deal was struck just as excerpts from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's forthcoming memoir appeared in the news.

    HERRIDGE: What I do find significant, and I don't know if you would agree with me or not, is how the talking point coming out of the White House is clearly that they are determined not to leave our service men and women behind. I don't know if this is a coincidence, or whether I'm in effect reading too much into it, but I find it interesting or noteworthy that that is the message out of the White House at the same time that the whole Benghazi controversy is going to be resurrected with Hillary Clinton's book and one of the main allegations is that the administration left our people behind to fend for themselves in Benghazi. 

    The hosts of Fox's The Five made a more explicit connection. Co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle set up a segment on the purported Bergdahl-Benghazi connection by noting that the Obama administration "says it's committed to leaving no man behind. That's why it's spent so much time trying to rescue former POW Bowe Bergdahl. But what about the four Americans killed in Benghazi?" Co-host Eric Bolling followed up by saying that, in contrast to the Bergdahl release, the Obama administration expressed no "sense of alarm" at the fact that Americans died in Benghazi. 

    Both hosts repeated the tired smear that the Obama administration didn't do everything it could to rescue the Americans under attack. The absurd and baseless implication that President Obama negotiated the release of an American captive in order to secure some kind of political gain demonstrates the lengths to which Fox News and right-wing media will go to politicize the tragedy. From missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 to the Chris Christie bridge scandal, Yom Kippur, and Monday Night Football, right-wing media and Fox News appear to see everything that happens through a Benghazi lens.

    For more on the right-wing media's misinformation campaign on Benghazi, click here