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Eric Hananoki

Author ››› Eric Hananoki
  • Right-wing media have profited for years from AR-15 giveaways and instructions on how to build the weapon “off the books”

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Numerous right-wing media outlets have for years sent their followers sponsored messages touting giveaways of AR-15s and instructions on how to make the rifle “completely ‘off the books.'” The AR-15 has been used in numerous mass shootings, including Wednesday’s deadly school shooting in Parkland, FL.

    Police say that a 19-year-old using an AR-15-style rifle killed at least 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, on February 14. Law enforcement officials reportedly said that the suspect “legally purchased the assault weapon used in the attack.”

    Los Angeles Times national reporter Matt Pearce explained that “the latest, most serious shootings all seem to have one new thing in common: the AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle. … in all of the latest incidents -- Newtown, Conn., in 2012; San Bernardino, Calif., in 2015; Orlando, Fla., in 2016; Las Vegas, 2017; Sutherland Springs, Texas, 2017 -- the attackers primarily used AR-15 semiautomatic rifles.”

    Right-wing media outlets over the years have taken money to help glamorize AR-15 rifles with free giveaways and instructions on how to make the deadly weapon “off the books.”

    In summer 2017, the Media Research CenterNewsmaxRedStateTheBlaze, and Townhall sent sponsored emails from The Concealed Network touting giveaways of “3 Saint 5.56 AR-15’s.” The email stated that the AR-15 is “a lethal firing machine” that “fires ammunition at lightning pace, and it’s pinpoint accurate.”

    The Media Research CenterNewsmax, RedState, and​ Townhall also ran ads from the National Association for Gun Rights in 2013-2014 “giving away the top quality Colt 6920 AR-15 rifle.”

    HermanCain.com, NewsmaxTheBlaze, and WND also sent emails in 2014 and 2015 touting how to build AR-15s “completely ‘off the books.’”

    The advertisement takes readers to a page for the “Underground Assault Rifle System,” which claims to “reveal an amazing secret to free you from the tyrannical gun grabbers in Washington! You'll discover a legal (yet almost completely unkown [sic]) way for any American Citizen to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights by owning an AR-15 that's not registered or recorded anywhere — it's completely ‘off the books’!” Purchasing the system gets buyers access to, among other things, "step-by-step instructions" on how to make the AR-15. 

    Mother Jones’ Bryan Schatz reported in 2015 that it is “perfectly legal to build your own unregistered and untraceable semi-automatic firearm” but such weapons have been “turning up at crime scenes.”

    The Daily Caller has frequently given away gunsincluding the Colt AR15A4 in 2014 through its Guns and Gear section.

    Republican politicians have given away AR-15s over the years as part of their fundraising and publicity efforts.

    The New York Times’ Jeremy Peters wrote in April 2014 of the NRA’s own gun giveaway efforts:

    The National Rifle Association, which has been doing Publishers Clearinghouse-style gun sweepstakes since the 1980s, figured out the allure of free guns years ago. Back then, it used direct mail. Now, it employs a range of online campaigns, including Facebook-based contests that provide the organization not just with people’s names, but also with their information-rich public profiles and lists of their friends. Millions of people have entered these contests, the group said.

  • GOP Senate candidate Joe Arpaio praises anti-Semitic publication

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Arizona U.S. Senate candidate Joe Arpaio, who has repeatedly given interviews to the anti-Semitic publication American Free Press, is defending the outlet and refusing to criticize its content.

    Media Matters has documented that Arpaio, who was pardoned by President Donald Trump last year for his criminal contempt conviction, gave an interview to American Free Press in January to promote his Republican Senate bid. That outlet has published blatantly false and anti-Semitic claims over the years, including that the Holocaust is a “hoax” and 9/11 was a “Jewish” plot.

    The Arizona Republic’s Dan Nowicki reported that “Arpaio declined to criticize it or other anti-Semitic content associated with the publication.” Arpaio instead praised the publication, stating that his interviewer -- "roving editor" Mark Anderson, who has a promoted conspiracy theories and anti-Semitic material -- has “written some good stories, especially on my situation. … I think he wrote one a little while back that was very honest. I can't say that for other publications."

    Arpaio -- an extremist who has repeatedly violated people’s rights, especially of those in the Latino community -- also suggested that he doesn’t want to criticize an outlet like American Free Press because he believes in the First Amendment:

    "I'm not going to criticize the news media like you," Arpaio told The Arizona Republic. "I can't believe another news outlet is criticizing a newspaper."

    [...]

    Arpaio said he has never read a print version of the "American Free Press" and doesn't have a computer to read it online. But the First Amendment allows outlets to publish controversial opinions, he said.

    "If I turned down everybody that writes stories I didn't agree with, I probably wouldn't be talking to anybody," Arpaio said. "I can't believe this, how one journalist's organization would criticize another one when we have free speech in this country."

    But that defense is bogus given Arpaio’s background: He’s been an enemy of press freedom and launched his campaign by attacking the purported “fake news media.”

    The Phoenix New Times doggedly reported on Arpaio’s numerous abuses of power when he was the Maricopa County sheriff and noted that he “responded to New Times’ incessant attention by banning its reporters from his press conferences, putting off or ignoring the paper’s requests for county records, and threatening its reporters with arrest.”

    In 2007, Arpaio actually orchestrated the arrest of New Times co-founders Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin on bogus charges. The county attorney later declined to prosecute the case and Lacey and Larkin won a $3.75 million settlement. The settlement money was used to launch "the Frontera Fund, a unique initiative intended largely to benefit the Hispanic community that has borne the brunt of the racial animus and civil rights abuses in Arizona.”

    UPDATE: Arpaio tweeted: “It was brought to my attention I gave interview to publication that supports antisemitism; I was unaware and don't support that view point.”

    But the media has previously informed Arpaio about the publication’s anti-Semitism. In 2014, Stephen Lemons reported in the Phoenix New Times that Arpaio granted an interview to the late anti-Semitic writer Victor Thorn for American Free Press. He also “inquired about the interview with” the Arpaio’s office, which didn’t appear to care:

    I inquired about the interview with the MCSO [Maricopa County Sheriff's Office]. Sheriff's Office spokesman Joaquin Enriquez got back to me with the following statement:

    "The Sheriff does hundreds of interviews with different people and doesn't do background checks on them before he does them. The topic of this interview was immigration, I'm sure you have it.

    "The Sheriff wanted me to point out that Victor Thorn also spoke to Jessica Vaughan a former U.S. State Department Official. The Sheriff has an open door policy and speaks to everyone, except you. So to answer your question yes, he did do the interview."

    Calling Vaughan "a former U.S. State Department Official" may be technically correct (the MCSO apparently is quoting Thorn in doing so), but her bio with the nativist Center for Immigration Studies, for which she works, is more precise.

  • Joe Arpaio promoted his GOP Senate candidacy with a publication that denies the Holocaust

    Arpaio has repeatedly given interviews to the anti-Semitic American Free Press

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Racist and disgraced former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is now running for the U.S. Senate as a Republican, recently gave an interview to a publication that’s pushed claims that the Holocaust is a “hoax” and 9/11 was a “Jewish” plot.

    The American Free Press wrote in its January 29 & February 5 issue that Arpaio “spoke to AFP Jan. 21 in an exclusive interview about his recently announced bid” for Arizona’s Senate seat. During the interview with "roving editor" Mark Anderson, Arpaio promoted the viability of his candidacy and defended President Donald Trump’s agenda.

    Civil rights groups have heavily criticized American Free Press over the years. The Anti-Defamation League described American Free Press as "an anti-Semitic conspiracy-oriented publication." The Southern Poverty Law Center stated that the outlet is "racist and anti-Semitic."

    The late Willis Carto, an infamous anti-Semite and Holocaust denier, helped found the newspaper.

    Media Matters has documented that American Free Press has repeatedly published blatantly false claims that the Holocaust is a “hoax” and other anti-Semitic content (the site scrubbed some of its posts about the Holocaust following Media Matters criticism). Headlines on the site have included:

    The site’s bookstore has sold The Holocaust Never Happened & The CIA Killed JFK, a book that claims to “destroy the hoax of the 6 million Jewish victims of Nazi Germany,” and another book that claims, "The official narrative of the Holocaust cannot be sustained.”

    Arpaio has repeatedly given interviews to American Free Press, including when Trump pardoned him last year after Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt of court for deliberately violating a judge's order regarding his racial profiling of the Latino community.

    CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski and Chris Massie reported last week that Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA), who is also running for Senate, gave an interview to American Free Press in 2006. Mark Anderson conducted that interview as well.

    Jon Feere, a senior advisor at Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also gave an interview to American Free Press when he was a legal policy analyst for the Center for Immigration Studies.

    In addition to courting Holocaust-denying publications, the anti-immigrant Arpaio has a long history of racist and corrupt actions.

  • A “pivotal player” at Trump's health department previously promoted harmful "ex-gay" conversion therapy

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Shannon Royce, who has reportedly emerged “as a pivotal player” at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), previously suggested that so-called conversion therapy was an antidote to marriage equality and worked for anti-LGBTQ hate groups that have promoted the dangerous and widely discredited practice.

    Politico reported on January 22 that Royce, the director of HHS’ Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, has become "a pivotal player” at the department and has been part of a group that's “spent months quietly planning how to weaken federal protections for abortion and transgender care.” The publication added that she has also helped spearhead “a vast outreach initiative to religious groups.”

    During a November appearance on a right-wing radio program, Royce suggested that she wanted to increase partnerships with groups that were "considered hateful” under President Barack Obama’s administration, including organizations that are against same-sex couples getting married and adopting children.

    Royce has a history of promoting anti-LGBTQ groups and causes, including the harmful and discredited practice of conversion therapy. The Human Rights Campaign has written that conversion therapy, sometimes known as reparative therapy, is “a range of dangerous and discredited practices that falsely claim to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. Such practices have been rejected by every mainstream medical and mental health organization for decades, but due to continuing discrimination and societal bias against LGBTQ people, some practitioners continue to conduct conversion therapy.” The American Psychiatric Association has found that the potential risks of the so-called therapy “include depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior.”

    Royce talked to The New York Times Magazine in 2005 about same-sex marriage and told reporter Russell Shorto that “the ex-gay movement is a very important part of the story”:

    The solution to the problem of the gay lifestyle in this view is, of course, Christ. The reparative therapy or "ex-gay" movement has been repudiated by major health and mental health organizations for its assumption that homosexuality is a defect to be repaired -- indeed, in May members of the American Psychiatric Association recommended that the organization support gay marriage in the interest of promoting mental health. But for both the national leaders on the anti-gay-marriage front and Christian community activists, "ex-gay" and "gay marriage" are closely connected, the first being the antidote to the second. Shannon Royce, the executive director of the Marriage Amendment Project, advised me explicitly: "The ex-gay movement is a very important part of the story." [Pastor Brian] Racer spelled it out clearly as well. "I've had quite a few opportunities to counsel people who were in a homosexual lifestyle," he said. "They have generally found themselves in a desperate place. They know that Christ promises an abundant life, but that promise was made with some restrictions. These people have tried to find fulfillment in ways that are against God's principles. So you don't want to further the error by allowing gay marriage. Most of these folks have had an abusive situation that goes back to childhood. You want to heal that. You want to hold back the tide and not let such a high impact issue harm the whole society."

    Royce has also held senior roles in organizations that promoted conversion therapy. 

    She worked as the chief of staff for the anti-LGBTQ hate group Family Research Council before landing her federal job. FRC’s official position states that it “believes that homosexual conduct is harmful to the persons who engage in it and to society at large, and can never be affirmed. It is by definition unnatural, and as such is associated with negative physical and psychological health effects." 

    The FRC explicitly supports conversion therapy as a practice. The Human Rights Campaign notes that FRC promotes the "idea that people can and should try to change their sexual orientation, and that even if you can’t stop 'involuntary attraction,' you can just not act on it." FRC has also fought against efforts to ban the practice in states.

    Royce was also the executive director of the Marriage Amendment Project, which first organized against same-sex marriage in 2004 and believed "marriage is the union of one man and one woman" (the group and its website are now defunct). The project's participants included numerous organizations that have supported conversion therapy, including the American Family Association, Exodus InternationalFocus on the Family, and FRC.

    Its “resources” page also included a link to advertisements from Exodus International touting the supposed effectiveness of the dangerous practice.

    Exodus International was explicitly dedicated to promoting conversion therapy. The group’s website in 2004 stated that it is “a worldwide interdenominational, Christian organization called to encourage, strengthen, unify and equip Christians to minister the transforming power of the Lord Jesus Christ to those affected by homosexuality.” The New York Times reported in 2012 that Alan Chambers, the president of Exodus International, “declared that there was no cure for homosexuality and that ‘reparative therapy’ offered false hopes to gays and could even be harmful.” The following year, the group issued an apology for its efforts and shut down its operations.  

    Royce was also the executive director of The Arlington Group, a coalition of numerous Christian conservatives that included Exodus International's Alan Chambers.

    The Marriage Amendment Project’s FAQ page also pushed anti-LGBTQ myths. The project claimed that “the most important reason to protect traditional marriage is for the well-being of children. Marriage still provides the most stable and nurturing environment for the raising and education of children. Numerous studies have indicated that family stability has more of an effect on children than the ‘happiness’ of the parents involved. … Children, no matter the age, innately desire a relationship with their mother and father. Same-sex marriage cannot provide that inherent need children carry with them throughout their lives.” An ACLU fact sheet states that “all of the research to date has reached the same unequivocal conclusion about gay parenting: the children of lesbian and gay parents grow up as successfully as the children of heterosexual parents.”

    Royce also brings anti-choice views to the department. Right Wing Watch reported that she attended a recent Evangelicals for Life conference and said that “we have such an amazing team at HHS, that is absolutely a pro-life team across the spectrum, and that is playing out in many ways.”

    FRC's "Washington Update" recently noted Royce's tenure at the department, among other things, and wrote: "For Trump voters, few things are as rewarding as the turnaround at HHS." 

    A request for comment to the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships was not returned.

  • DHS senior adviser who has worked on travel ban claimed that “true” Muslims can’t peacefully “coexist” or “mingle with other faiths”

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Right-wing pundit Frank Wuco, a senior Department of Homeland Security (DHS) adviser who has worked on President Donald Trump’s travel ban, repeatedly warned audiences during his media appearances that Muslims are dangerous because their core faith purportedly instructs them that they can’t “coexist peacefully with other religions.”

    “[There’s] a critical misunderstanding of the true nature of Islam, which was never intended to coexist, to complement, to mingle with other faiths,” he told one radio program in 2010. “It is clearly stated in the law, in the traditions, in the Quran, that Islam is here to abrogate all faiths that came before, was sent to abrogate and cleanse the corruption of the Jews and the Christians that are found in the previous scriptures.”

    “So many have bought in hook, line, and sinker into the Muslim propaganda, particularly generated by the Muslim Brotherhood, that this is a -- yeah, it’s a religion that seeks cohabitation and tolerance and peace with non-Muslim faith groups and nationalities and it just simply is not true,” Wuco said in 2012 while discussing events surrounding the Muslim Brotherhood.  

    He added: “To say that Islam is willing to coexist peacefully with other religions and other sort of nationalities, if you can have such a thing in Islam, is really antithetical to what the Quran and what Sharia law teaches.”

    Wuco entered the administration in January 2017 as a senior White House adviser at DHS. He has also served as the executive director of DHS’ Executive Order Task Force, which was organized to implement Trump’s orders to the agency, which include his ban on travelers from some Muslim-majority countries. DHS did not reply to a request for comment about Wuco. 

    Earlier this month, Politico obtained DHS records through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit which contained emails about the agency deploying a “‘crisis action team’ to enforce first Trump travel ban” and indicated Wuco's involvement in the department. As Kristin G. Şekerci‏, a research fellow at Georgetown’s Bridge Initiative noted, Wuco was “CCed on many of the DHS emails released through FOIA."

    Wuco has a long history of other anti-Muslims remarks, which is summarized below. He suggested in 2014 that banning visas from “Muslim nations” is “one of these sort of great ideas that can never happen”; warned that Muslims “by-and-large” will “subjugate and humiliate non-Muslim members” and enact Sharia law; and praised the surveillance of mosques as a key tool to finding "out what's going on" in the Muslim community.

    As HuffPost’s Christopher Mathias reported in March 2017, when Wuco was a right-wing pundit, he delivered presentations “as a fictional character he created named Fuad Wasul,” who had a “heavy Arabic accent” and was a “committed jihadist.”

    Wuco has also made numerous anti-LGBTQ remarks as a pundit. He said in 2016 that “societies and nations for millennia have suffered greatly” for LGBTQ acceptance because those places have no "cultural" and "moral center." He smeared transgender people as sick individuals who suffer from a “malady” and lead a “horrible existence," and claimed it would be “great” to pretend to be transgender to “go into the women’s shower” at the gym. Wuco made those remarks during radio appearances with Charles Butler, a virulently anti-LGBTQ host who twice used the anti-gay slur “faggots” during one of Wuco’s segments (Wuco did not directly respond to Butler's use of the slurs but appeared again on the show later that year).

    CNN’s KFile also reported that Wuco repeatedly promoted fringe conspiracy theories about former President Barack Obama and officials in his administration and pushed false claims “that Obama was not born in the US,” made other disparaging comments about the LGBTQ community, and lamented what he called the "Zimbabwe-fication of America."

    Here is a summary of the anti-Muslim remarks Wuco has made over the years.

    Wuco praised the surveillance of mosques as key to finding "out what's going on" in the Muslim community. During a November 2015 Fox News appearance, Wuco said that a "mosque surveillance" program is key to finding "out what's going on behind the walls" of "mosques and Islamic reading centers." He added that after the cancellation of a mosque surveillance program in New York City, he "can only hope that some of these programs continue with other agencies." [Fox News, Fox & Friends Weekend, 11/14/15, via Media Matters]

    Wuco: Muslims “by-and-large” will “subjugate and humiliate non-Muslim members” and enact Sharia law. Wuco warned on his now-defunct radio show website that “Muslim populations by-and-large will become enclave societies that, first, resist assimilation and then, will make every effort to establish independent rule for their enclaves under Shari’ah law.” [Need To Know, 2/27/10, via Internet Archive and Media Matters]

    Wuco: “If you're a Muslim, you believe” that “violence and warfare against unbelievers” is “prescribed by God.” Following the June 2016 mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, FL, Wuco told Breitbart.com of shooter Omar Mateen: “There's nothing radical about him at all. He is a Muslim who is following the strictures of Islam and its guidance and prescriptions for violence and warfare against unbelievers. … If you're a Muslim, you believe it's being prescribed by God and it’s being ordained by the wisdom of Muhammad.” [Politico, 2/7/17; YouTube, 6/13/16, via Media Matters]

    Wuco: “Right-thinking" Muslims “engage in jihad” because of their religion. Wuco said of Islam during an interview on an internet radio program: “If you’re a right-thinking Muslim, the inspiration, the motivation, to engage in jihad doesn’t come from Al Qaeda, or doesn’t come from Inspire magazine. It comes from God himself.” [The Liberty NewsCast with Willie Lawson, 4/30/13, via Media Matters]

    Wuco: “The assertiveness of Muslim communities in western nations is becoming so pronounced. … You don’t even need ISIS in Sweden.” While speaking on a radio program, Wuco warned that Muslims are infiltrating communities in Western nations: “The assertiveness of Muslim communities in Western nations is becoming so pronounced. … You don’t even need ISIS in Sweden, you’ve got every day run-of-the-mill Muslims in massive communities protesting and becoming violent with the Swedish government, saying that they’re going to take over the country. This isn’t even ISIS. These are just peace-loving Muslims who have been allowed to immigrate into these countries.” [The Dougherty Report1/18/16, via Media Matters]

    Wuco in 2014: Halting visas from “Muslim nations” is one of “these sort of great ideas that can never happen.” During an August 2014 Fox News program, Wuco responded to comments from Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) about a ban on visas from the Middle East, saying that the proposed policy is “one of these sort of great ideas that can never happen. ... You're just not going to stop the visa application process into this country from Muslim nations in a blanket type of policy.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/28/14, via Media Matters]

    Wuco frequently delivered presentations “as a fictional character he created named Fuad Wasul,” who had a “heavy Arabic accent.” HuffPost’s Christopher Mathias wrote in March 2017:

    Wuco’s dim portrayal of Muslims has also veered into the bizarre.

    During his work as a security consultant and radio host, Wuco often gave presentations as a fictional character he created named Fuad Wasul ― a “committed jihadist” escaped from an American military prison to help westerners understand what motivates Muslim fighters.

    Wuco, who is from Florida, would role-play as Wasul, delivering the presentations with a “heavy Arabic accent,” according to a 2008 Florida news report.

    “If you think you’re winning this war, if you think that you’re defeating jihad, you’re wrong, dead wrong,” Wasul (Wuco) once told a room full of civilian analysts working for military intelligence at MacDill Air Force Base. [HuffPost, 3/16/17]

    Mother Jones: Wuco has suggested that “terrorism would be consistent with Islamic scripture.” Mother Jones’ Noah Lanard wrote in November 2017: “In the battle with the West, Wuco suggested, terrorism would be consistent with Islamic scripture. After a plot to kill the Pope was foiled in 2010, his website cited two suras, or chapters, from the Koran to explain the plotters’ motivation.” [Mother Jones, 11/1/17]

    Wuco said “the true nature of Islam … never intended to coexist, to complement, to mingle with other faiths.”

    FRANK WUCO: I’m afraid that President Obama is horribly mistaken in his tendency to believe, take at face value everything he learned from his Muslim friends in Chicago, largely an incredible group of apologists and vehement anti-Israelis, anti-Jewish, segment of the population. Whatever he learned when he was in Indonesia, which may not have been much, because he was a fairly young fellow when he was there at the time.

    But I believe it’s culminated in a critical misunderstanding of the true nature of Islam, which was never intended to coexist, to complement, to mingle with other faiths. It is clearly stated in the law, in the traditions, in the Quran, that Islam is here to abrogate all faiths that came before, was sent to abrogate and cleanse the corruption of the Jews and the Christians that are found in the previous scriptures. So Islam abrogates all prior scriptures. Islam abrogates all prior faiths. And the goal of jihad, the goal is to bring as much of the living world, of the material world into the Islamic system as possible before the final day of judgement. So, for us to assume that the reason that the jihadists do what they do is only because they’re emotionally angry with us is really an insult to the commitment to jihad, if i’m the jihadist. [Blog Talk Radio, The Willie Lawson Show, 8/10/10]

    Wuco: It’s “Muslim propaganda” that Islam is “a religion that seeks cohabitation and tolerance and peace with non-Muslim faith groups and nationalities.”

    ERSKINE: So, that’s why we’re having problems with a lot of the Christians being persecuted again in Egypt, and a lot of the situations that are going on right now in the Middle East. So this was nothing that we should have been cheering about as so many in the news service were doing.  

    FRANK WUCO: Well, part of the reason is that so many have bought in hook, line, and sinker into the Muslim propaganda, particularly generated by the Muslim Brotherhood, that this is a -- yeah, it’s a religion that seeks cohabitation and tolerance and peace with non-Muslim faith groups and nationalities and it just simply is not true. To say that Islam is willing to coexist peacefully with other religions and other sort of nationalities, if you can have such a thing in Islam, is really antithetical to what the Quran and what Sharia law teaches. [Erskine Overnight, 7/21/12

  • CNN finally fires pro-Trump commentator Ed Martin

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    CNN has finally fired political commentator Ed Martin, who repeatedly embarrassed the network with his asinine paid commentary and attempts to delegitimize the network.

    The Hollywood Reporter’s Jeremy Barr reported today that “a network spokesperson confirmed” that Martin “is out as a CNN contributor.”

    Media Matters noted earlier today that Martin, once a regular commentator on the network, had completely disappeared from CNN since December 14. Martin’s last appearance was also the same day that Media Matters posted audio of him complaining about appearing on a panel with CNN commentators “who were just rabid feminists, actually racial, racists -- two of the women were racists, they just were racists, black racists.” He also said that when he was “on the set in the CNN studios,” he entered “into the swamp … the beast.”

    CNN’s hiring of Martin in September 2017 was clearly a mistake from the beginning. In 2016, he told a tea party rally: "You're not racist if you don't like Mexicans. They're from a nation. If you don't think Muslims are vetted enough, because they blow things up, that's not racist." Prior to his hiring by the network, Martin had also attacked CNN as “fake news” that hasn’t “been credible for a long time.” And he encouraged people to “move away from” the network because it was “obviously not telling the truth.”

    Martin co-authored a 2016 book suggesting that only immigrants from European countries could have American “values” and argued that accepting immigrants “from Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East” helps tear “apart our nation’s heritage and social fabric.”

    The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which has covered Martin for years, editorialized in November after his hiring by CNN that Martin is a “disgraced chief of staff to Gov. Matt Blunt and frequent unsuccessful Republican candidate for numerous offices” who will “say almost anything, and provocatively, making him catnip for cable news shows looking for glib bodies to fill their endless panels of ‘experts.’”

    His commentary on CNN has been equally embarrassing. Martin attacked Leigh Corfman, the woman who reported that former Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore molested her as a child; defended Moore’s dismissive comments about slavery by claiming that "when the Jews were in bondage for years, they still loved each other”; and praised President Donald Trump’s “Pocahontas” slur against Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

    Martin has also endorsed dishonest attacks against CNN after being hired by the network. He recently announced that his organization, the Phyllis Schlafly Eagles, would give an award for “uncovering the truth” to James O’Keefe, who has targeted CNN with deceitful stings. And he praised President Trump for ordering CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta out of the Oval Office, stating: “It’s really funny, I mean, it’s amazing to see.”

    Media Matters president Angelo Carusone noted in a statement, “Hopefully now CNN will finally recognize that they’ll better serve their audience by hiring an inclusive group of honest brokers representing a wide range of perspectives rather than someone dedicated to defending one person, Donald Trump, no matter what.”

  • CNN’s Ed Martin praises Trump for ordering CNN’s Jim Acosta out of the Oval Office: “It’s really funny" and "amazing to see”

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    CNN political commentator Ed Martin praised President Donald Trump for ordering CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta out of the Oval Office. Both before and after being hired by CNN, Martin has repeatedly sought to delegitimize the network.

    Following controversy over Trump reportedly lamenting why our country accepts people from “shithole countries” and not places like Norway, Acosta pressed Trump on January 16 about whether he wanted immigrants from “just Caucasian or white countries” or “people to come in from other parts of the world … people of color?” Trump then pointed to Acosta and said, “out.”

    During his radio show that day, Martin praised Trump, stating: “It’s not like the president didn’t let him in, didn’t let him cover it, didn’t -- even I think he allowed him to ask a question. And then he kept yelping and chirping and whatever, so -- and then he [said], ‘out.’ It’s really funny, I mean, it’s amazing to see.

    Acosta later said that “it is our right, it is our duty, it is our role to ask the president of the United States if he’s a racist” and that it’s a “badge of honor” to be thrown out. Separately, while speaking with Acosta, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer noted the Trump incident and said: “Reporters always follow up with questions. That's our job.”  

    Martin is one of numerous conservative pundits that CNN has hired to defend President Donald Trump. That decision has backfired, with Martin not only providing embarrassing commentary on CNN, but also recently attacking the network. He recently criticized a CNN segment because he appeared on a panel with CNN commentators “who were just rabid feminists, actually racial, racists -- two of the women were racists, they just were racists, black racists.” He also said that when he was “on the set in the CNN studios” he entered “into the swamp … the beast.” Martin recently announced that he will be giving an award for “truth” to serial misinformer James O’Keefe, who has targeted CNN with deceitful stings.

    Even before starting work at CNN, Martin called the network “fake news” and “state-run media” and encouraged people to “move away from” the network because it is “obviously not telling the truth.”

    While Martin was once a regular on CNN, his airtime has severely diminished in recent weeks. He has not appeared on the network since December 14 -- when Media Matters posted his remarks from the prior day attacking CNN commentators as “black racists” and “rabid feminists” -- according to a search of Nexis and TVEyes.

  • Pundit and GOP candidate Tom Tancredo shared Seth Rich / Clinton murder conspiracy theories and racist images on Facebook

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Conservative pundit and former Rep. Tom Tancredo, who is now running for Colorado governor, has used his Facebook account to share racist images as well as conspiracy theories suggesting that former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton killed her purported political enemies.

    Tancredo has a long history of racist and anti-immigrant rhetoric. He suggested that the United States bomb “the holy sites in Mecca and Medina” in Saudi Arabia; said that Miami, FL, had “become a Third World country” because of its Spanish-speaking population; and claimed that undocumented immigrants are “coming here to kill you and to kill me and our families.”

    He regularly wrote columns for the similarly toxic Breitbart.com, but stopped following his late October announcement that he’s running for Colorado governor. (This is Tancredo’s third bid for governor.) Former Breitbart head Steve Bannon is a fan of Tancredo and reportedly talked with the former congressman in September about another run for office.

    Tancredo was also a board member of the white nationalist group VDare until he recently stepped down to focus on his political career. He was scheduled to speak at VDare conferences in 2017 until the hosting venues cancelled them when they learned about the group’s white nationalist ideology. After Tancredo announced his candidacy, The Denver Post noted that he had begun “to explore a run after being outraged that Republicans didn’t speak out against the cancellation” of the VDARE conference.

    Tancredo has repeatedly defended VDare. He recently claimed, “It is not a white supremacist group. Go on their website, they talk about who they are. They believe in stopping illegal immigration, they believe in preserving the culture, it's got nothing to do with race."

    Headlines on VDare include: “America Does Not Need ANY Immigrants From Africa,” “Indians Aren`t That Intelligent (On Average),” “Diversity Is Strength! It’s Also…Hispanic Immigrants Taking Over FBI’s Ten Most Wanted,” “'Time To Rethink Martin Luther King Day'–The 2017 Edition,” “Barack Obama, Trayvon Martin and the Four Dirty Little Secrets of Black America,” “Do We Need More Hispanics?” and “Color Of Crime, Sound Of (Big Media) Silence.”

    Tancredo’s toxic rhetoric has extended to his social media. During his time as a pundit, he shared conspiratorial and racist viral images on his Facebook page. He shared images suggesting that Hillary Clinton killed former Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich, United Nations official John Ashe, anti-Semitic writer Victor Thorn, and process server Shawn Lucas.  

    There is absolutely no truth to those claims.

    Tancredo has also repeatedly shared racist images on his Facebook page. Those images claimed that Democrats keep black voters as slaves on their “plantation,” responded to Black Lives Matter with "White Lives Matter," said that “celebrating diversity” only leads to massacres, and suggested that non-European immigrants just come to the United States to “bitch, collect welfare, wage jihad, and replace the American constitution with Sharia law.”

  • Senior DHS adviser Frank Wuco claimed "societies and nations for millennia have suffered greatly" for LGBTQ acceptance

    Wuco also said transgender people lead a "horrible existence" and remarked that it would be “great” to pretend to be transgender to “go into the women’s shower” at the gym

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Frank Wuco, a senior White House adviser to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), previously made repeated appearances on an anti-LGBTQ radio program and said that “societies and nations for millennia have suffered greatly” for LGBTQ acceptance because those places have no "cultural" and "moral center." He also smeared transgender people as sick individuals who lead a “horrible existence” and claimed it would be “great” to pretend to be transgender to “go into the women’s shower” at the gym.

    Wuco’s remarks came during appearances with Charles Butler, a virulently anti-LGBTQ host who twice used the anti-gay slur “faggots” during one of Wuco’s segments.

    Wuco is a retired naval intelligence officer who worked as a conservative pundit and radio host before joining President Donald Trump’s administration in 2017. He has also headed the DHS’ Executive Order Task Force, which was organized to implement Trump’s orders to the agency, including his ban on travelers from some Muslim countries.

    Wuco has a long history of making anti-Muslim remarks, including claiming that Muslims “by-and-large” will “subjugate and humiliate non-Muslim members” and enact Sharia law. He also suggested in 2014 that banning visas from “Muslim nations” is “one of these sort of great ideas that can never happen” more than a year before Trump proposed banning Muslims from entering the United States.

    CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski, Chris Massie and Nathan McDermott reviewed “more than 40 hours” of Wuco’s conservative talk radio show and other media appearances and found that Wuco had “mocked the LGBT community,” “criticized gay-straight alliances in high schools,” and said “that gay people hijacked the word ‘gay’ from happy people and that he was going to reclaim the word.”

    Media Matters recently found other instances of Wuco pushing anti-LGBTQ bigotry, particularly against transgender people, during his appearances on the right-wing radio program The Reality Check in 2016. The show is hosted by Charles Butler, who frequently smears LGBTQ individuals. According to its website, the show has been syndicated through outlets such as Genesis Communication Network (Alex Jones’ radio syndicator), Red State Talk Radio, and Talk Stream Live.

    Wuco’s anti-LGBTQ stance aligns seamlessly with that of the Trump administration, which spent its first year relentlessly attacking LGBTQ equality and fighting against transgender Americans.

    In February 2016, Butler recounted a story on his show in which he told a woman at his club: "I feel transgender today. I think I’ll come in the ladies’ restroom. ... I’m just kidding. I’m just kidding." 

    Wuco, who was a guest on the show, replied to Butler's story: “What a great thing this can be if transgender can just be, rename it just whimsical transgender and one day on a whimsy, you’re at the Y, or you’re at the gym, and you just, 'I feel like, I feel like being a woman today, I’m going to go into the women’s shower.’”

    While speaking with Wuco in May 2016, Butler linked then-President Barack Obama’s decision to allow transgender individuals to serve in the military -- which Trump has attempted to rescind -- to “paganism, hedonism, bestiality, Sodom and Gomorrah.” Wuco replied by claiming that the “patterns are clear. Societies and nations for millennia have suffered greatly ... not from just from a biblical, spiritual standpoint, but just from a human engineering standpoint in their ability to sustain a order and a society with no cultural center and no moral center. So this is a pattern that will repeat itself.”

    In response to Butler’s comment that “transgenders are sick people,” Wuco said: “How often do you hear or see or encounter somebody who suffers from this malady -- and I have deep sympathy for people like this. I wouldn’t want to spend five minutes inside their heads,” adding that they lead a “horrible existence. How many of them made this transformation and all of a sudden they’re happy?”

    Before concluding the segment, Butler twice used an anti-gay slur, calling two people whom he allegedly encountered at a hotel “faggots.”

    Wuco did not directly respond to the slurs. After Butler said that Wuco had to go, Wuco stated before signing off: "Charles, you take it easy, my man." He appeared again on the show after Trump’s election in November, which was shortly before he got his senior job at DHS.

    DHS did not respond to a request for comment. 

    From the February 1, 2016, edition of The Reality Check:

    CHARLES BUTLER (HOST): I said to this woman in my club the other day. I said, I was coming out of the bathroom, she was going into the ladies’ restroom. I said, “I feel transgender today. I think I’ll come in the ladies’ restroom.” And she said, “Ah, ah, ah, ah, uh, ah!” I said, “I’m just kidding. I’m just kidding.”

    CALLER: That’s a good one, I’ll remember that!

    BUTLER: I was sitting in the restaurant, she walked up to me and she said, “Sir, I was all for this transgender thing, and I thought, ‘Oh my god, why shouldn’t they have an opportunity if they feel like a woman,’” she said, “until you hit me in the face with it I’d really never -- I was just taken aback.” I said, “Well, get ready because I’m coming.” And she just cracked up. She cracked up. She said, “Oh, you are so funny.”  

    FRANK WUCO: Yeah, it’s -- what a great thing this can be if transgender can just be, rename it just whimsical transgender and one day on a whimsy, you’re at the Y, or you’re at the gym, and you just, “I feel like, I feel like being a woman today, I’m going to go into the women’s shower.”  

    BUTLER: That’s how I feel, baby. That’s how I feel, baby.

    WUCO: -- when you depart the plane of common sense insanity.

    From the May 10, 2016, edition of The Reality Check:      

    CHARLES BUTLER (HOST): Paganism, hedonism, bestiality, Sodom and Gomorrah. This is not new. This is nothing new. This is history, this is the Bible. We are allowing this immoral bastard sitting in the White House to destroy this country and it’s unconscionable that people won’t rise up and say something.

    FRANK WUCO: Well, Charles, [unintelligible] the patterns are clear. Societies and nations for millennia have suffered greatly if this -- not from just from a biblical, spiritual standpoint, but just from a human engineering standpoint in their ability to sustain a order and a society with no cultural center and no moral center. So this is a pattern that will repeat itself.

    But here’s the thing. You and I grew up in a time where some of the list of things that you mentioned, and I’ll add to that list, things like socialism and communism, were considered dangerous, were considered damaging. These days one of the great challenges we face is that the overwhelming majority of young people in this country, and which comprise a large, large number of our population, when we say the word communism, or we say the word socialism, it’s not a red flag anymore. It’s a badge of honor. It’s considered a good thing to them. It’s considered a cool thing that their parents just didn’t understand, that failed in places like the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe only because it wasn’t executed properly. And many of these people are intent on seeing a socialist society prevail and evolution towards communism, only they’re going to be different from generations before that failed in its execution. It’s a very frightening thing. It’s no longer seen as a bad thing.

    BUTLER: Mhm, it’s true. That’s true. But this man is saying exactly what -- this doctor -- I’m repeating what this -- I said before I read this article, I said time and time again, yesterday I said that these transgenders need to see a doctor or psychiatrist instead of trying to cater to their B.S. These people are sick. I said that. Now, this is what a doctor said back in last year, in July last year. I missed this article. I didn’t see get this but just common sense tells me that transgenders are sick people.

    WUCO: Well listen, Charles, how often do you hear or see or encounter somebody who suffers from this malady -- and I have deep sympathy for people like this. I wouldn’t want to spend five minutes inside their heads, it’s got [unintelligible] horrible existence. How many of them made this transformation and all of a sudden they’re happy?

    BUTLER: They’re never happy.

    WUCO: Why does the military have to --

    BUTLER: I’ve never seen a homosexual that was happy. I’ve never seen a transsexual that was happy. I’ve never seen -- these are some angry, sad, devious, deceitful people. I’ll never forget going in a hotel, the Mondrian Hotel, and I was in -- my girlfriend and I were in an elevator with these faggots. And when I got out of the elevator, walked to my room, they held the elevator to see what room I was in, and then they brought some poop and put it in front of our room. These disgusting faggots. Anyway, hey man, I know you gotta go so I’m going to keep rolling here.

    WUCO: Charles, you take it easy, my man.

  • CNN’s Ed Martin is giving an award for “truth” to James O’Keefe, who ran deceitful stings against CNN

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI



    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    CNN political commentator Ed Martin is giving an award for “uncovering the truth” to James O’Keefe, who has targeted CNN with deceitful stings. Martin has repeatedly sought to delegitimize CNN both before and after being hired by the network.

    Martin is a pro-Trump pundit who joined CNN in September 2017 despite previously calling the network “fake news” and “state-run media.”

    He also heads the conservative group Phyllis Schlafly Eagles, which announced yesterday that it will give O’Keefe its “inaugural Kitty Werthmann Award for uncovering the truth.” Martin said in a press release that “we are thrilled that its first recipient will be a man who has fought so hard to expose the dirty playbook of the radical liberal agenda. James O'Keefe has stood fearless in the face of the progressive political machine. … He has an unquenchable thirst for the truth and the ferocious dedication to seeing the work done."

    O’Keefe is a serial liar who has repeatedly targeted Martin’s employer CNN with dishonest tactics and stings with the goal of discrediting the network.

    In September 2010, CNN reported that O’Keefe attempted “to embarrass” then-CNN correspondent Abbie Boudreau by planning to get her “onto a boat filled with sexually explicit props and then record the session. The plan apparently was thwarted after Boudreau was warned minutes before it was supposed to happen.” An internal script for the project stated that O’Keefe was to record a video stating, in part, that Boudreau “has been trying to seduce me to use me, in order to spin a lie about me. So, I'm going to seduce her, on camera, to use her for a video. This bubble-headed-bleach-blonde who comes on at five will get a taste of her own medicine, she'll get seduced on camera and you'll get to see the awkwardness and the aftermath.”

    In February 2017, O’Keefe launched a “CNN Leaks” project, releasing over a hundred hours of audio recordings from within CNN. While O’Keefe claimed the recordings revealed “profound liberal bias” at the network, the project was a dud and nothing of any remote value came out of it.

    Several months later, O’Keefe released a video titled “American Pravda: CNN Producer Says Russia Narrative ‘bullsh*t.’” As Media Matters noted at the time, the video was another dud -- the CNN producer in question worked on medical stories, not politics.

    As part of his “America Pravda” series, O’Keefe also staked out Jeff Zucker’s apartment residence. (During the video, O’Keefe announced Zucker’s building address.)  

    Martin had previously praised O’Keefe’s disinformation campaign (prior to becoming a CNN commentator) and encouraged people to “move away from” the network because it is “obviously not telling the truth.”

    Martin’s paid appearances on CNN have repeatedly embarrassed the network. He attacked Leigh Corfman, the woman who reported that former Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore molested her as a child; defended Moore’s dismissive comments about slavery by claiming that "when the Jews were in bondage for years, they still loved each other”; and praised President Donald Trump’s “Pocahontas” slur against Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

    While Martin was once a regular presence on CNN, he has not appeared on the network since December 14, according to a search of the Nexis and TVEyes databases. December 14 was also when Media Matters posted Martin's remarks from the prior day on his St. Louis-based radio program in which he attacked his fellow CNN commentators as “black racists” and “rabid feminists.” He also said that when he was “on the set in the CNN studios” he entered “into the swamp … the beast.”

    CNN did not respond to requests for comment. Martin declined to comment on the record.