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Courtney Hagle

Author ››› Courtney Hagle
  • Fox figures push a government shutdown over funding a border wall

    Blog ››› ››› COURTNEY HAGLE


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    The threat of a partial government shutdown looms over Capitol Hill as the deadline to pass a spending bill by December 21 approaches. President Donald Trump has demanded that $5 billion be included in the final spending package for the southern border wall, which Democrats refuse to accept. Feeling the pressure of a Democratic-controlled House in January, Trump is threatening to shut down the government if he does not receive the funding -- and some at Fox are encouraging him.

    Tomi Lahren, host of Fox Nation’s First Thoughts, expressed strong support for a government shutdown, telling Trump to “shut it down” because “the promise of a big, beautiful border wall” was at the “top of [her] list” when voting for Trump. She doubled down on her support by saying, “A good old-fashioned government shutdown spanking might be exactly what our politicians need.”

    Lisa Boothe, a panelist on Fox News’ Outnumbered, claimed that she is “perfectly fine with shutting the government down” because “it’s a partial shutdown” and “people will forget about this by 2020,” so it will not “impact Republicans politically.” Some of her fellow panelists also suggested that a government shutdown would be a good idea.

    Fox host Laura Ingraham expressed support for Trump's proposed government shutdown on her radio show, saying that if he doesn’t “get this wall built," then "we’ve lost the country anyway.”

    On Fox Business' Lou Dobbs Tonight, Republican strategist Ed Rollins justified a government shutdown on Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs Tonight, saying, “The bottom line is you’re not shutting the whole government down. You’re only shutting a part of it down.” He also said that Trump needs to show that he means “serious business” and that he “needs this to hold his base.”

    Fox News contributor Mike Huckabee said on Fox & Friends that Trump should shut the government down, justifying it by saying, “The terrible thing is to let the Democrats bully this president who was elected by the people of this nation.”

    Fox News contributor Jason Chaffetz argued that in a shutdown fight, “the president is on the winning side.”

    On America's Newsroom, Republican political consultant and Fox News regular Brad Blakeman said that he supported Trump’s rhetoric on shutting down the government, arguing, “The president’s got to use leverage.”

    Ned Ryun, founder and CEO of American Majority, argued on Fox & Friends that Trump “should shut down government because then we can have a conversation about what size government do we really want.”

    On his daily radio show, Fox host Sean Hannity downplayed the impact of a government shutdown, saying that “essential services all continue” and characterizing a shutdown as a “free vacation” for bureaucrats.

    Fox host Lou Dobbs asked his guest “who’s going to notice” a government shutdown, before falsely claiming that “the principal beneficiaries [of government programs] seem to be the estimated 22 to 30 million illegal immigrants in this country.”

    On her Fox show, The Ingraham Angle, Ingraham also championed Trump’s decision to potentially shut down the government, claiming that a shutdown would “absolutely” yield positive results for Trump. Ingraham also claimed that the 2013 government shutdown “didn’t hurt the Republicans at all” and that Trump has “got to get that wall built.”

    Update (12/12/18): This piece has been updated with additional examples.

  • Three ways Fox News reacted -- or didn’t -- to news of election fraud in North Carolina

    Blog ››› ››› COURTNEY HAGLE


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Over a month after the 2018 midterm election, the North Carolina Board of Elections has still refused to certify Republican Mark Harris' initial apparent victory in the 9th Congressional District after questions were raised over alleged election fraud by members of his campaign. The allegations “suggest some kind of scheme” by “people supporting the GOP campaign” to influence the results of a close race. Sworn statements from voters in Bladen and Robeson counties “described people coming to their doors and urging them to hand over their absentee ballots, sometimes without filling them out.” Two women have come forward reporting that they were paid by Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr., a contractor who worked for Harris’ campaign specifically on absentee work, to collect ballots in their district. Both women claim that they didn’t know that what they were doing was illegal, but election law in North Carolina “allows only a family member or legal guardian to drop off absentee ballots for a voter.” Investigators are also looking into “unusually high numbers of absentee ballots cast in Bladen County” and other voters’ statements claim that they received absentee ballots without requesting them.

    As these allegations surfaced, the election board announced that it will “hold a public evidentiary hearing into claims of irregularities and fraudulent activities” in the 9th Congressional District race. Media figures at Fox News, who have spent years fearmongering about the nonexistent threat of “voter fraud,” have largely remained silent or deflected when faced with these actual allegations of election fraud backed-up by substantial evidence. Here are three ways that Fox has chosen to cover election fraud in North Carolina:

    Drawing false parallels  

    Fox News’ Shannon Bream covered the apparent plot to steal a North Carolina congressional seat by comparing it to legitimate collection of ballots in California elections.  Bream claimed that the North Carolina news is “sparking questions about how Democrats swept areas like Orange County, CA,” even though California elections results have not been called into question by any credible source. (While it is legal for California voters who are unable to return their mail-in ballot to designate another person to deliver it for them, it is obviously illegal to collect and then fill out or destroy another person’s ballot.)  

    Ignoring that the alleged election fraud possibly benefited the Republican candidate 

    Fox has also failed to tell its viewers that the benefactor of the alleged election fraud is a Republican candidate, even though at least six sworn affidavits make clear that “the Republican nominee was the one who stood to gain from it.” Fox & Friends First reported on the story for less than 30 seconds, claiming that “ballots may have been illegally collected” without making it clear which party’s candidate is facing allegations. The hosts then pivoted to yet another story on incoming freshman congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

    In another late night segment lasting less than 30 seconds, Shannon Bream focused on the “Democratic candidate trailing in the race … withdrawing his concession,” before quickly moving on to a segment about scandals surrounding potential Democratic candidates for 2020 presidential election.

    Dana Perino, host of The Daily Briefing, hosted a segment which explained the allegations, but again did not say which party likely benefited from the alleged election fraud. Additionally, the segment pointed out that Harris was still technically in the lead by 905 votes, but did not specifically mention that the alleged election fraud very well could have impacted this outcome.

    Ignoring the story altogether

    But for the most part, many shows on Fox News did not report on the story at all, which is unsurprising given the network’s close relationship with the GOP. None of Fox’s prime-time or morning shows this week covered the serious allegations, but they found time to cover stories that could hardly be called newsworthy. Any shows that did cover the story had segments that lasted around 30 seconds or less with little discussion or analysis. It appears Fox sees fraud as an issue only when there are made-up allegations of voter fraud against Democrats with no evidence to back them up.

  • Fox continues to praise Trump’s tax cuts and trade policies despite General Motors layoffs

    Blog ››› ››› COURTNEY HAGLE

    General Motors announced plans earlier this week to close five plants in North America, including ones in Maryland, Michigan, and Ohio, and to lay off an estimated 14,000 workers. Fox News personalities reacted to the announcement with surprise and anger, but doubled down on their defenses of President Donald Trump’s tariffs and tax policies despite economists warning that these policies would hurt the workers and the economy.

    Fox hosts were briefly baffled at the news that GM will be closing five of its plants, but hurried to spin the news to absolve Trump of any blame. Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade complained that GM “got a huge corporate tax cut” because “the thought was that the American industry would start bringing industry home.” Fox Business host Charles Payne quickly glossed over the impact of Trump’s tariffs before arguing that the layoffs are “not a bad thing” because “this is about demand.” Fox News host Neil Cavuto offered no pushback to Rep. Steve Scalise’s (R-LA) claim that “dramatic tax cuts … are now bringing jobs back to this country.” And Fox Business panelist Lindsey Bell offered the weirdly optimistic justification that GM employees are “being laid off into this robust job market” with “7 million job openings,” making it “a better environment to be laid off in.”

    GM’s plant closures can be attributed to many factors, but it is clear that GOP tax cuts and Trump’s reckless trade wars have played a significant role. Though Trump relentlessly campaigned on saving American jobs, economists warned that the GOP tax plan “encourages even more shifting of operations and jobs overseas”; other experts predicted that Trump's trade policies would also cost American jobs. In June, GM said that Trump’s trade war with China could lead to “less investment, fewer jobs, and lower wages for our employees.” Now, according to NBC News, “GM has estimated those tariffs have cost the company hundreds of millions of dollars,” while “Ford - which announced last month it would be making an unspecified number of cuts as part of a ‘redesign’ of the company — says the tariffs have cost the company $1 billion so far.”

    But Fox hosts and guests still used GM’s announcement as an opportunity to double down on their support of Trump’s economic policies. A Fox Business panel pushed for even more tax cuts to passed in the lame duck session before Democrats take control of the House in January. Fox guest Peter Morici claimed that the Trump tariffs “had very little effect on General Motors” and argued that “Mr. Trump has to get a lot tougher on China.” Fox’s Laura Ingraham argued that “until China starts behaving like a global trading partner in a truly free and open market, we shouldn’t be doing any business with China” and asserted, “We should treat them as we treated the Soviet Union.” Ingraham went on to praise Trump’s policies, saying that he is doing “exactly what he should be doing.” On her prime-time show, Fox Business host Trish Regan claimed that Trump “is making the right move” because “he has taken on the Chinese and their tariff system in a way that previous presidents never did.”

    When Trump’s tax cut and tariffs were first announced, Fox personalities praised the tax cuts and downplayed the president’s decision to start a trade war with China, despite numerous expert warnings of the detrimental impact of these policies.

    As the tax cuts debate continued in 2017, Kilmeade speculated in August that Democrats were opposed to the cuts because they were afraid that “the economy will grow at such a rate it will be impossible for them to win an election.” In September 2017, Fox host Sean Hannity cheered the tax cut on his radio show, saying that it would lead to wealthy people “spending money and buying boats” which “keeps people working” and “stimulate the economy and build the factories in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.” (Two of the GM factories being closed are in Michigan and Ohio.) In October 2017, Fox & Friends co-host Ainsley Earhardt denied that the GOP tax cuts would mostly benefit the wealthy, arguing that “if you read the tax plan, that’s not at all what it says.” (According to experts, the tax cut “would deliver 80 percent of its benefits to the top 1 percent” by 2027.)

    Similarly, on the issue of Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on various imports, many Fox hosts and contributors speculated if they would ever be implemented and downplayed their negative effects. In April, Fox Business host Stuart Varney brushed off concerns over tariffs as “an emotional response to the words ‘trade war.’” Fox & Friends’ Steve Doocy also minimized the effects of Trump’s trade war, claiming “there are no tariffs” and that “it’s all a suggestion, it’s all a negotiation.” Fox contributor Tammy Bruce asserted that Trump’s trade war with China “will, in the end because of his ability to negotiate, work out well.” Hannity confidently claimed that he didn’t “think there’s ever going to be a trade war,” while Outnumbered host Dagen McDowell said that we don’t know if these “tariffs will ever be put in place.” Fox’s Geraldo Rivera likened China’s retaliatory tariffs to “chump change” and expressed confusion about why the market responded “so emotionally.”

    These callous remarks about Trump’s trade war came despite experts’ conclusion that the U.S. “consumers would bear the brunt of the immediate damage,” while “the impact on Chinese consumers, by contrast, would be modest.” A more recent study concluded that due to Trump’s trade policies, “in 2019, each US household would lose the equivalent of $2,357.” But it is clear that Fox cares more about cheering on Trump's irresponsible economic policies than covering their disastrous effects on American workers.

  • After the midterms, Fox previews its strategy for covering economic downturns: Blame Democrats

    Blog ››› ››› COURTNEY HAGLE


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Fox News is blaming Democrats for the decline in the stock market, claiming it’s in part because their “tone” is creating a “real negative wave for the market” and that banks are worried they will be needlessly investigated. In reality, experts are pointing to poor performance by retail giant Target and tech companies and to larger factors like President Donald Trump’s trade war with China, Trump’s tax cuts, and rising interest rates. 

    Following months of strong gains, the stock market plunged this week, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropping more than 400 points on Monday and more than 600 points on Tuesday. As CNBC reported, “The major U.S. stock indexes fell sharply on Tuesday and turned negative for the year as a decline in Target shares pressured retailers, while the most popular tech shares dropped again.” The report noted stocks also fell “sharply last month amid heightened concerns about rising interest rates, slowing economic growth and global trade tensions.” According to CNN, “Analysts expect a deceleration in 2019 driven by tariffs, the fading impact of the tax cuts and higher borrowing costs caused by the Federal Reserve.” In a report released Monday, Goldman Sachs said that U.S. economic growth could be reduced by half by the end of next year as the effect of the tax cuts wears off. And 35 percent of chief financial officers surveyed “cited trade as their biggest current concern.”

    Fox News, however, has started blaming the sinking stock market on the Democrats winning back the majority in the House of Representatives in the 2018 midterm elections. This trend likely previews how Fox and other right-wing media outlets will cover any negative economic turn for at least the next two years.

    On Fox Business, correspondent Susan Li expressed concern over the “message being signaled to bank executives” if bank CEOs are brought in front of Congress and asked questions about “some of their questionable business practices.” In response, Ron Meyer of MediaDC (the publisher of conservative outlets The Weekly Standard and Washington Examiner) suggested that if incoming House Financial Services Committee chair Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) chooses to investigate bank executives’ financial practices, she will hurt the stock markets.

    Stuart Varney, host of Fox Business’ Varney & Co., claimed that Trump was right when he tweeted before the midterms that “if you want your Stocks to go down, I strongly suggest voting Democrat.” Varney went on to say that with Democrats in charge of the House, the economy will not “get any new stimulus.”

    And on Fox News’ America’s Newsroom, co-host Sandra Smith asked Fox Business host Charles Payne if the declining stock market is because of “Democrats winning control of the House.” Payne responded by blaming “the tone of Democrats” for creating a “real negative wave for the market.”

  • Mainstream media parrots Trump’s baseless claims regarding Florida recounts

    Blog ››› ››› COURTNEY HAGLE


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Following news that Florida Senate and gubernatorial races would be heading to recounts, many mainstream media outlets reported on President Donald Trump’s claims of voter fraud in the Florida election, but failed to note in their tweets and headlines that the accusations were baseless.

    A state judge presiding over a lawsuit regarding the Florida recount has noted that there is zero evidence of voter fraud, election tampering, or misconduct by election officials or workers. Miami Herald previously reported that state election observers have seen no evidence of criminal activity or election tampering in Broward County, where the controversial election supervisor has drawn criticism for alleged incompetence during the midterm elections.

    Despite a lack of evidence, Trump took to Twitter to push conspiracy theories about the Florida elections, calling ballots “massively infected,” accusing Democrats of trying to “steal two big elections in Florida,” and baselessly claiming that “many ballots are missing or forged.”

    Covering a president who frequently repeats lies has proven to be a challenge for the media since the beginning of Trump’s presidency, with many outlets publishing headlines and tweets that report his statements but fail to note their inaccuracies. Repeating the president’s claims in headlines without giving proper context only spreads Trump’s lies and causes confusion, which is particularly detrimental during coverage of elections and undermines faith in the country’s democratic institutions. It also sets media outlets up as easy targets for Trump to manipulate, allowing him to more easily spread his dishonesty and lies.

    ABC News

    "NEW: Pres. Trump calls Florida ballots "massively infected," demands end to recounts."

    While the article headline emphasized the lack of evidence in Trump’s claims, the tweet did not. Though ABC later issued a follow-up tweet including the phrase “without evidence,” the original tweet received a lot more retweets.

    NBC News

    "Trump on Florida: 'Many ballots are missing or forged.' Gillum: 'You sound nervous'"

    While the subheadline noted there was not evidence of fraud, the headline, which is viewed by more people, did not correct Trump's claim.

    Associated Press

    "Trump calls on Florida Democrat to concede, implies fraud"

    Bloomberg

    "Trump Claims ‘Honest Vote Count’ No Longer Possible in Florida"

    NY Post

    "Trump says honest recount in Florida ‘no longer possible’"

    USA Today 

    "President Trump calls for end to Florida recount, tweeted ballots 'massively infected'"

    While the actual article headline emphasized Trump’s lack of evidence, the phrase “without evidence” was removed from the Twitter headline.

    The Daily Beast

    "Trump: Stop Counting Florida Votes, Republicans Already Won"

  • Fox News attacks CNN’s Jim Acosta, praising the White House for revoking his press pass

    Blog ››› ››› COURTNEY HAGLE


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Fox News is going all in on attacking CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta after a heated exchange between Acosta and President Donald Trump. The incident ended with a White House intern unsuccessfully reaching to seize Acosta’s microphone as he spoke, a moment that led the White House to accuse Acosta of acting aggressively toward the intern. A few hours after the event, the White House announced that it was revoking Acosta’s White House access -- his "hard pass" -- claiming that he put “his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job.”

    CNN responded by accusing the White House of basing its decision on “fraudulent accusations,” arguing that the real reason Acosta had his press privileges revoked was “retaliation for his challenging questions at today’s press conference.” The White House Correspondents’ Association also condemned the White House’s decision as “unacceptable,” saying that the association “strongly objects to the Trump administration’s decision” to use press credentials “as a tool to punish a reporter with whom it has a difficult relationship.” There have been additional accusations that a video put out by White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was doctored to intentionally make Acosta appear more aggressive.

    Since the incident, Fox News has responded by applauding the White House response and celebrating Trump’s  “smackdown” of Jim Acosta.

    On his nightly Fox show, Hannity, Sean Hannity referred to the incident as “the president’s smackdown of CNN’s Jim Acosta” and argued that Acosta’s press credentials have been “rightfully revoked.”

    Laura Ingraham invited a panel of guests onto The Ingraham Angle to berate Acosta for the incident. Ingraham called the press conference a “disgraceful performance.” Panelist and NRATV host Dan Bongino said, “I don’t know what’s more embarrassing, Acosta and the press corps’ behavior or Jim Acosta singlehandedly changing the conversation from the Democrats’ House takeover to a conversation about Jim Acosta.” And Matt Schlapp, a Fox News regular and the husband of White House Director of Strategic Communications Mercedes Schlapp, called the revocation of Acosta’s hard pass “the right decision.”

    On Lou Dobbs Tonight, conservative personalities Diamond and Silk called Acosta “the enemy of the people,” calling “for his press credentials to be removed” before the White House announced it had stripped his hard pass.

    Fox contributor David Bossie declared on Trish Regan Primetime that Acosta is “an embarrassment to his so-called profession” and “despicable.” Bossie also said that he was “so happy that the White House has revoked [Acosta’s] press credential.” Trish Regan added that it was “completely inappropriate” for Acosta to “hang on to [the microphone] and keep asking questions” because “he’s bigger and stronger” than the intern.

    Fox News’ Stuart Varney chided Acosta’s actions as “an awful display” and “shameful,” describing the media as “rude and unruly.”

    Fox radio host Todd Starnes tweeted that Acosta “bullied a female White House press staffer. His press credentials should be revoked and he should be thrown out of the building.”

    Fox news contributor Monica Crowley criticized CNN and the media, referring to the incident as a “presidential bitch-slap” of CNN and Acosta and applauding Trump and the White House for putting “the dishonest, hostile, biased, rude fake news in its place.”

    Fox host Mark Levin called on media to denounce Acosta, saying that “if the media have an ounce of integrity left they will condemn Acosta.”

    Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich accused Acosta of “grandstanding,” condemning him for taking up “far more time than he should, to focus on himself” and calling it “disrespectful to his peers.” In a separate tweet, Pavlich alleged that Acosta was “slamming down the arm of a woman doing her job.”

  • Fox figures constantly parrot Trump in attacking the media

    Blog ››› ››› GRACE BENNETT, COURTNEY HAGLE & ZACHARY PLEAT

    Fox News and some of its high-profile hosts are attempting to distance themselves from President Donald Trump’s constant attacks on the media, which he has famously smeared as the “enemy of the people.” Martha MacCallum, host of Fox’s The Story, told Politico that she finds Trump’s rhetoric “wrong” and “disturbing.” Brian Kilmeade, a co-host of Fox & Friends, told viewers that he wished the president would “lose” the term “enemy of the people.” Pointing to Kilmeade’s comment, a Fox spokesperson argued to Forbes that “many of the FNC and FBN programs regularly push back on the Trump narrative.”

    These halfhearted deflections are undoubtedly an effort to avoid any blame for recent attempted violence amid calls for a boycott of the network’s advertisers. But in reality, Fox hosts, contributors, and guests have directly contributed to hostility against journalists and the media by regularly launching Trumpian attacks at outlets and reporters. They dismiss media outlets as “fake news,” label the media “the enemy of the people,” vilify individual journalists, and call for the Trump administration to crack down on the free press.

    Video by Miles Le

    Attacks on the media are frequent and vicious on Fox

    Fox’s Pete Hegseth has smeared the media as “the opposition party, the left-stream media, the legacy media, whatever you want to call them,” and argued that journalists “ continue to expose themselves because they can't hold back on their dedication to tearing down any single member of the Trump administration.”

    Fox’s Sean Hannity complained that “the propaganda media” is “out to destroy Trump. That is their main purpose. They want to advance the interests of liberal Democrats and the left. Now -- they're not journalists. They’re not reporters. They’re rigid, radical left-wing ideologues.”

    Hannity also said: “The alt-left propaganda media is getting worse every single day. They’re now at war with you, the American people.”

    Fox guest and Daily Caller writer Stephanie Hamill said: “Some of these journalists have an agenda, and they’re pushing a globalist agenda. And so when Trump calls the media the fake news media, the enemy of the people. They are the enemy of the people when they’re not being honest.”  

    Frequent Fox guests Diamond and Silk: “Not only are [the media] the enemy of the people, they are the enemy of the truth. Because they spread lies, and that’s why we call them the fake news.”

    Fox Business host Lou Dobbs referred to planned editorials criticizing Trump’s rhetoric about the media as “anti-Trump screeds” and “coordinated national left-wing fake news.”

    Dobbs argued that “the left-wing media” was aiding the Democratic Party in carrying out “a coup d'etat against President Trump.”

    Fox host Laura Ingraham accused the media of “actively concealing the heinous actions” of groups like antifa “because they serve their ends.”

    Fox’s Jesse Watters said the press, along with leakers, comprise “the official Democratic Party opposition.”

    In response to newspapers’ condemnation of Trump’s rhetoric, Fox Business guest host Ashley Webster and Wall Street Journal editorial board member James Freeman defended Trump’s rhetoric that the media are “the enemy of the people,” pushing Trump’s ridiculous claim that his critique applies only to “fake news.”

    Frequent Fox guest Michelle Malkin: “The media is the opposition party. I gotta get that on a bumper sticker.”

    Fox host Steve Doocy: The media want “to destroy [Trump] for the most part, because they didn’t like him. Look, nobody in the mainstream media for the most part predicted or wanted Donald Trump to win. He won, ha ha, he would go, and now, look, it’s the state of journalism today.”

    Fox’s Tucker Carlson: Media coverage “enrages” the president, “and I understand why. And I think he’s probably right to be mad.”

    Hannity criticized the media for being "filled with all opinion" and "kissing [Obama's] ass,” instead of holding government accountable.

    Hannity dismissed claims that he was  “inciting violence” by criticizing the “fake news media” for “reporting fake news almost every night”:

    Fox hosts regularly insult the media’s coverage of stories that reflect negatively on Trump or Republicans  

    Lou Dobbs slammed the “national left-wing media” for covering Florida gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis’ racist comment about his opponent, Andrew Gillum.

    Sean Hannity smeared media coverage of the package bomber targeting high-profile Democrats and CNN, calling it “so over the top, so outrageous, so disgustingly partisan.”

    Hannity complained that media “betrayed the American people” in their coverage of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russian investigation.

    Hannity also slammed the media for covering his disastrous interview with Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, calling reporters “lazy, … abusively biased echo chamber people in the fake news overpaid media.”

    Fox’s Jeanine Pirro whined that coverage of Trump and Russia is “like propaganda.”

    Fox routinely celebrates Trump’s hostility toward the media

    In response to a particularly vicious press conference in which Trump “launched an extraordinary denunciation” of the media, according to CNN, former Fox host Eric Bolling claimed that the room “looked like a WWE arena, with the mainstream media having fits about being called out for their unfair reporting.”

    Fox’s Kimberly Guilfoyle called the same press conference “wildly entertaining.”

    While interviewing the president, Fox’s Pete Hegseth asked him which  is his biggest opponent -- the Democrats, the “deep state,” or the “fake news media.”

    Fox & Friends celebrated Trump’s made-up "awards" attacking media: “Excitement for President Trump's fake news awards is so off the charts.”

    Fox figures often target specific outlets and individual journalists

    When the White House banned CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins from an open press event, Lou Dobbs celebrated the move: "It's about time there were consequences for disrespectful behavior."

    Dobbs smeared CNN’s Jim Acosta as “triggered” and “delicate” after Trump supporters harassed him at a rally.

    Fox contributor Tammy Bruce: Acosta's conduct makes him "an enemy to the American people."

    Hannity argued that the president shouldn’t “do any more interviews with Lester Holt, which then is sent over their cable channel and CNN so they can rip it apart.”

    Hannity also claimed that “corporate jihad” is “being waged by NBC News against President Trump,” and he went on to attack the “alt-left propaganda, destroy-Trump-at-all-costs media.”

    Fox contributor Michael Goodwin attacked The New Yorker's Jane Mayer for her reporting on sexual assaults: "She's been on this rampage for 25 years.”

    Fox & Friends defended Trump after he launched a sexist attack on MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski, saying the media had a “melt down” over the comment and arguing that Brzezinski “make[s] a living insulting” Trump.

    After Trump tweeted a photoshopped GIF of him “body slamming” CNN, Fox & Friends Sunday praised and joked about the GIF.

    Brian Kilmeade claimed CNN “went unhinged” after Trump posted the GIF, and Fox’s Geraldo Rivera argued that the network has “this unremitting hostility to Donald Trump.”

    Fox personalities have called for a crackdown on the free press

    Fox’s Newt Gingrich urged the administration to “close down the press room, send the reporters off. They can sit over at the Hay-Adams. They can go to Starbucks across the street. I don't care where they go.” Sean Hannity rejoiced at the idea: “The media will implode! They would not know how to deal with this.”

    Gingrich argued that the White House should “suspend” CNN’s Jim Acosta “for 60 days… as a signal, frankly, to all the other reporters that there are going to be real limits” on how they’re allowed to behave.

    Gingrich claimed that if he were the president, he “would kick some of the [news] organizations out. I would flood the White House press corps with lots of people,” adding that Trump should recognize “this is a real war.”

    Hannity: “As long as they keep reporting fake news, bizarre conspiracy theories, and show this bizarre fascination and paranoia about Russia, how about no more press conferences for the Hillary Clinton-colluding media?”

    Hannity claimed that the president shouldn’t “do interviews with the network so they can spend hours and hours and hours tearing up every word this president says, something they'd never do to Obama. End it. He doesn't need the press.”

  • Fox News gives Arizona Republican Senate candidate Martha McSally the opportunity to lie about her record on protecting pre-existing conditions

    McSally describes herself as “passionate” about protecting people with pre-existing conditions, despite her very recent voting record

    Blog ››› ››› COURTNEY HAGLE

    Fox anchor Bill Hemmer invited Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ), who is running for Senate, on America’s Newsroom and allowed her to lie about her stance on insurance coverage for people with pre-existing conditions without pushing back on her claims. McSally told Hemmer that accusations by her opponent Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) that she is lying about her record on health care are simply “fear tactics” and “flat-out lie[s],” arguing that she is “passionate to protect people with pre-existing conditions” and that she voted in favor of these protections.

    However, McSally’s voting record tells a different story. In 2015, she voted for a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s landmark legislation that forces insurers to cover pre-existing conditions. In 2017, she also voted for her party’s repeal and replace bill which would have “allowed states to eliminate other regulations [of ACA] ― including the all-important rule prohibiting insurers from charging higher premiums to people with pre-existing conditions.” McSally reportedly stood up in a GOP conference meeting and declared, “Let’s get this fucking thing done.”

    This isn’t the first time Fox News has acted as a mouthpiece for the GOP and its candidates. In the weeks leading up to the midterm elections, Fox has given a platform for numerous Republicans to lie about their stances on pre-existing conditions.

    From the October 31 edition of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom:

    BILL HEMMER (CO-ANCHOR): [Sinema] is hitting you on health care. This is part of what she’s saying: “Martha McSally continues to lie on her record of health care. Here’s the truth: I voted to protect coverage for the 2.8 million Arizonans with pre-existing conditions. Martha voted to take it away.” That's from your opponent. Moments ago, the president tweeted this: “Republicans,” he says, “will protect people with pre-existing conditions far better than the Dems.” Go ahead and take on your challenger -- what’s she talking about?

    MCSALLY: Well, she’s using fear tactics like we are seeing all over the country. It's a flat-out lie. I am passionate to protect people with pre-existing conditions and I voted to protect people with pre-existing conditions. The reality is right now under Obamacare, there are people in Arizona, I meet them every single day, who don't have health insurance with pre-existing conditions because Obamacare has failed. The costs are too high, there’s only one choice in 14 or 15 counties, deductibles and premiums, the networks are too small. So, it’s not working. We need to go to a different approach, where there’s more options, there’s more flexibility at the state level that broadens coverage, brings down costs so people get the insurance that they need while protecting people with pre-existing conditions. These are just -- they have nothing else to run on, so they’re using fear.

  • Claim that 80 percent of migrants in caravan are "military-aged" men can be traced back to a Fox News contributor

    Fox News contributor Sara Carter’s claim that the majority of migrants are men has spread among right-wing media, who are now calling the men “military-aged”

    Blog ››› ››› COURTNEY HAGLE


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Misinformation and false claims surrounding the migrant caravan headed toward the United States have been making rounds on right-wing media outlets. Now, Fox News has introduced the idea that "80 percent" of the migrants -- many of whom appear to be refugees -- traveling within the caravan are men, an unverified claim that has made its way to other right-wing media outlets, with some now calling them "military-aged."

    The migrant caravan first began to gain attention in mid-October, when its size had increased from roughly 160 to over 7,000 people, according to CNBC. It has since been reported that this figure dropped to 4,000 people. The group is currently in southern Mexico and isn’t expected to reach the U.S. border for weeks, if at all. Nonetheless, Fox News seized on the caravan as this year’s pre-election story -- just as it did on the Ebola story before 2014 midterm elections -- to stoke fear among the Republican base. The network also brought it to the attention of President Donald Trump, who has since successfully manipulated other media outlets into excessively covering the caravan. Fox News has now introduced the claim that a majority of the migrants are young men.

    • Fox News contributor Sara Carter initially tweeted that it was "mostly men now crossing the #Guatamalen (sic) border.
    • Carter then claimed on Hannity that while on the ground in Guatemala, she saw “very few women and children, and an enormous amount of men.”
    • Carter repeated this claim on Hannity the following evening, saying, “The majority of people that were in the caravan … were men. There were a few hundred women.”
    • Jesse Watters claimed on Fox News’ The Five that “80 percent of those people in the migrant caravan are males under the age of 35.”
    • Watters repeated the statistic again the following day on Fox News’ The Story with Martha McCallum, claiming that while Democrats were saying it comprised all women and children, the caravan is “actually 80 percent men.”
    • Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade said Carter told him “almost everybody she saw were males.” He also said Carter told him that “she didn’t see any babies. She saw one baby carriage. She walked up real quick and it was somebody’s luggage in a baby carriage.”
    • Judicial Watch’s Chris Farrell claimed on Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs Tonight that, while on the ground in Guatemala, he observed that “it’s an overwhelmingly male caravan. … The women and children are super minority.”
    • Former Trump aide Sebastian Gorka claimed on Fox & Friends that “80 percent of the caravan are military-aged males,” citing Carter and Farrell.
    • By Monday, Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade had raised the percentage, asserting that “85 percent evidently are men” when asking a guest about the threat that the migrants pose.

    Other right-wing media outlets have adopted this talking point, citing Fox as the source. Alex Jones’ Infowars quoted Fox News as saying, “‘About 80 percent’ of migrant caravan ‘are men under the age of 35.’” The Daily Wire wrote, “Fox News also noted this week that approximately ‘80 percent’ of the people traveling in the caravan ‘are men under the age of 35.’” Gateway Pundit wrote that the caravan "Includes Military-Aged Male Migrants From Bangladesh, Haiti and Congo" in a post that embedded Carter's original tweet. The unverified statistic made its way to various other right-wing media outlets as well.

    Other media outlets have not confirmed this claim, and other reports contradict Fox’s accounts of the caravan’s members. Vox has reported that half of the migrants within the caravan are women and girls. Univision noted during a field visit that there were a large number of families, single mothers, and children, as well as older adults and people with disabilities in the caravan. And UNICEF reported in a press release that "an estimated 2,300 children traveling with [the] migrant caravan in Mexico need protection and essential services."

  • Right-wing media are celebrating the election of far-right extremist Jair Bolsonaro as president of Brazil and comparing him to Trump

    Blog ››› ››› GRACE BENNETT & COURTNEY HAGLE


    Media Matters / Melissa Joskow

    On October 28, far-right Brazilian Congress member Jair Bolsonaro was elected president of Brazil. Bolsonaro has repeatedly embraced authoritarianism, and he has a history of espousing misogynistic, racist, anti-LGBTQ, and other extremist rhetoric. Right-wing media are celebrating his victory and high poll numbers by cheering on his proposed policies and highlighting the similarities between Bolsonaro and President Donald Trump:

    • Fox’s Laura Ingraham said Brazilians are “looking at Bolsonaro as someone who’s more like Trump, who’s going to get back to the basics on the economy. And I bet Bolsonaro and Trump form a very productive relationship trade-wise -- watch the trade deal that’s going to come out of this Bolsonaro-Trump relationship.”
    • During the October 29 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade said Brazilians “wanted to bring in someone from the outside who spent very little of his own money in order to win.” Fox’s Rob Schmitt added that Brazilians wanted “change,” and “got it,” with “the Trump of the tropics.”
    • Fox’s national security and foreign affairs expert Walid Phares celebrated Bolsonaro on Fox Business Network, claiming, “He’s going to go anti-terrorism, anti-smuggling, he's going to reform the economy, and he made a statement that he is going to be a partner with the United States against those extremists and also helping us with the issues of the migrants.”
    • Sinclair’s Boris Epshteyn boasted in his morning newsletter that “President Trump’s country - first policies are becoming more popular around the globe” and expressed his hope that “the positions shared by these two leaders will result in a strong and mutually beneficial relationship between the U.S. and Brazil.”
    • Hugh Hewitt shared an article about Bolsonaro’s win and tweeted: “Brazil deregulated will work with Columbia Mexico U.S. for a booming hemisphere”
    • In The Gateway Pundit, Jim Hoft wrote that “Anti-Communist ‘Trump of the Tropics’” Bolsonaro won the election and complained that Reuters “calls Bolsonaro ‘far right’ because he openly opposes communism.”
    • Pamela Geller wrote that Bolsonaro’s ascent to power is “similar to what the United States experienced with President Trump. Bolsonaro has been called ‘Brazil’s Trump’ due to his nationalistic policies and his tough stance on crime.” Geller also criticized the media’s coverage of Bolsonaro as a “far-right politician,” drawing comparisons between the media’s treatment of him and Trump.
    • The Daily Caller’s Jason Hopkins praised “Trump of the Tropics” Bolsonaro’s tough stance on crime and free-market economic reforms, arguing that his support comes not from “establishment figures and those in the American left-wing media,” but from “Brazilian citizens who wanted change.”
    • Far-right troll Mike Cernovich complained that “many Brazilian friends have told me Bolsonaro is being lied about in the media,” repeatedly claimed Bolsonaro is not “far right,” and argued, “The far left is being rejected worldwide. … The Brazilian people voted for change.”
    • Far-right agitator Katie Hopkins noted Bolsonaro’s victory alongside an anti-Islam image, and she added that she is “bloody loving the rise of the right.”

    Bolsonaro’s rise followed years of anti-democratic statements from him that can only be read as fascist. An October 28 article in The New York Times compiled some of the Brazilian president-elect’s most extreme comments. When asked in a 1999 interview whether he would shut down Brazil’s Congress, Bolsonaro replied:

    There is no doubt. I would perform a coup on the same day. [Congress] doesn’t work. And I am sure that at least 90 percent of the population would celebrate and applaud because it doesn’t work. The Congress today is useless … lets do the coup already. Let’s go straight to the dictatorship.

    He also appeared to advocate for a violent “civil war” to “do the job that the military regime didn’t do: killing 30,000.” Bolsonaro has repeatedly advocated for torture and threatened earlier this month to jail his political opponents after taking office.

    The Times also reported that Bolsarano once told a fellow lawmaker that he “would not rape [her] because you [she is] not worthy of it.” He has stated that he would not hire women equally, and he referred to having a daughter as a “weakness.” In 2011, he claimed he would “rather his son die in a car accident than be gay,” and two years later he claimed that he would “rather have a son who is an addict than a son who is gay.” Just last year, Bolsonaro implied that Afro-Brazilians are lazy, claiming, “They don’t do anything. They are not even good for procreation.” Bolsonaro has promised to roll back policies meant to protect the environment, and, according to the Times, he claimed the “Amazon is like a child with chickenpox, every dot you see is an indigenous reservation.”