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Eric Hananoki

Author ››› Eric Hananoki
  • Right-wing media pastor and GOP-backed congressional nominee favorably remembered when “homosexuality was once criminalized”

    Mark Harris: “We have watched in one generation where homosexuality was once criminalized to now we see the criminalization of Christianity”

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Mark Harris is a pastor and GOP-backed congressional nominee who has regularly appeared in right-wing media outlets and worked with a notorious anti-LGBTQ group. In previously unreported comments, Harris said in 2015 that the country had descended into “moral decay” and cited as one of several examples that “we have watched in one generation where homosexuality was once criminalized to now we see the criminalization of Christianity.”

    Harris won the Republican nomination in North Carolina’s 9th District by defeating sitting Rep. Robert Pittenger in the state’s May GOP primary.

    Harris, who has been heavily involved in fighting against LGBTQ equality in North Carolina, was previously the pastor of First Baptist Charlotte. His sermons were streamed online and distributed through podcasts. He has been a regular presence in anti-LGBTQ media, making appearances on outlets such as Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network and anti-LGBTQ group American Family Association’s American Family Radio.

    Harris has also been a go-to pastor for the Family Research Council (FRC), an extreme anti-LGBTQ organization that produces its own media content and policy papers. He has been a member of FRC’s ministry arm Watchmen on the Wall. He has also spoken at numerous FRC-affiliated events, including several that have been broadcasted nationwide by the group. FRC is one of the most influential anti-LGBTQ groups in the country and its official position is that “homosexual conduct is harmful to the persons who engage in it and to society at large” and “is by definition unnatural.”

    FRC Action, the political arm of FRC, endorsed Harris in April. FRC President Tony Perkins wrote in May that Harris is “one of FRC's Watchmen pastors who was critical in FRC Action’s highly successful effort in the 2016 general election.”

    Harris and FRC are a perfect fit when it comes to anti-LGBTQ activity.

    In a 2015, Harris spoke at an event in Jomeokee, NC, and complained that the nation is “floundering in moral decay,” explaining in part that “we have watched in one generation where homosexuality was once criminalized to now we see the criminalization of Christianity.” From his speech:

    MARK HARRIS: We are a nation that is so out of balance in our economy, in our foreign policy, in our treatment of the Constitution. But I want to leave you this afternoon as I wrap up with truly the most detrimental imbalance which many will argue is the root to all the others and that is, ladies and gentlemen, I've come here today to declare to you that we are a nation which is spiritually out of balance in every way.

    In one generation you and I have witnessed this country sliding from a nation who once shared a moral vision based on Judeo-Christian ethic to a nation floundering in moral decay. In one generation we have watched our nation who once believed in lifelong marriages to the same spouse to a divorce rate now well over 50 percent. We have watched in one generation where homosexuality was once criminalized to now we see the criminalization of Christianity. And I could go on and on with the entertainment, with the education, with the life issue.

    In 2013, as then-Right Wing Watch writer Brian Tashman documented, Harris said: “I’ve yet to buy in, as there is not the medical evidence, that an individual that chooses the homosexual lifestyle is born that way. That is a choice.” In a recent interview with Roll Call, Harris stood by those remarks. 

    Roll Call also reported that Harris said that women should submit to their husbands. The Washington, D.C.-based publication added that Harris said in an interview “that a wife submitting to her husband does not mean that they are not equal. He said he regularly mentions that in counseling sessions and when he presides at weddings.”

  • Republican Party officials in Illinois withdraw support for GOP congressional nominee after Media Matters' reporting

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Republican Party officials in Illinois have withdrawn their support for congressional candidate and conspiracy theorist Bill Fawell.

    Fawell is a real estate broker and writer who is challenging incumbent Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos. He won the Republican primary in March after running unopposed.

    Media Matters has documented in recent days that Fawell has frequently pushed toxic conspiracy theories:

    • Fawell promoted material claiming that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a false flag. He also smeared late Sandy Hook Elementary Principal Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, who died trying to protect students during the shooting.
    • Fawell has pushed conspiracy theories about mass shootings in Orlando, FL; San Bernardino, CA; and Aurora, CO.
    • Fawell has promoted the Pizzagate conspiracy theory, which falsely holds that prominent politicians have trafficked children through the Washington, D.C., restaurant Comet Ping Pong.
    • Fawell has written that “9/11's masterminds” were “our CIA and Israel's Mossad”; 9/11 was an “obvious false flag attack whose work was farmed out to Israel’s Mossad by elements high up in our government"; and if “there is another” 9/11-type attack, “you can bet … they’ll [the CIA and Mossad] have made it too.”
    • Fawell has claimed that late Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was assassinated for “giving 44,000 DNC emails to Wikileaks” and that former Hillary Clinton presidential campaign chair John Podesta “ordered the hit.”

    CNN’s Nathan McDermott and Andrew Kaczynski reported on May 25 that Fawell “pushed a conspiracy theory that 7 World Trade Center collapsed as part of a controlled demolition and the attacks were a plot to destroy documents” and “singer Beyonce Knowles has ties to the Illuminati.”

    The Dispatch/The Rock Island Argus reported last night that “Republican party officials are withdrawing support for 17th Congressional District candidate Bill Fawell after reviewing alleged conspiracy theories posted by Fawell on social media.”

    State Republican party chairman Tim Schneider, Rock Island County Republican party central committee chair Drue Mielke, and Republican state central committeeman for the 17th Congressional District, Jan Weber, removed their support of Fawell on Tuesday.

    ...

    “Bill Fawell has a problem with the truth and his statements have done a disservice to the individuals who lost their lives from terrible acts of violence,” Schneider said. “As chairman of the Illinois Republican party, I disagree with his misguided views and cannot support his candidacy for Congress in the 17th Congressional District.”

    Mielke voiced his support for Fawell to the Dispatch-Argus in July, but said he changed his mind after viewing some of the social media posts.

    Doug House, president of the Illinois Democratic County Chairs’ Association and chair of the Rock Island County Democrats, had also recently criticized Republican leaders for supporting a "bizarre conspiracy theorist."

    In July, the National Republican Congressional Committee withdrew its support for New Jersey congressional candidate Seth Grossman shortly after Media Matters documented that he promoted white nationalist propaganda.

  • Writer and GOP congressional nominee Bill Fawell: Israel helped carry out 9/11

    Fawell said 9/11 was an “obvious false flag attack whose work was farmed out to Israel’s Mossad by elements high up in our government”

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Right-wing writer Bill Fawell, a congressional nominee in Illinois who has received support from several Republican groups, has repeatedly claimed that Israel helped carry out 9/11.

    Fawell is a real estate broker and author who has frequently posted right-wing commentaries online. He ran unopposed in the March 20 Illinois GOP primary to represent District 17 in the U.S. House of Representatives and is now challenging incumbent Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos.

    Media Matters previously examined Fawell’s main Facebook page and found that he pushed conspiracy theories about mass shootings in Newtown, CT; Orlando, FL; San Bernardino, CA; and Aurora, CO. He also claimed that there’s “nothing fake about Pizzagate” and said late Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was assassinated for “giving 44,000 DNC emails to Wikileaks.”

    Several local Republican Party organizations have suggested people vote for Fawell. The Rock Island County Republican Party, for instance, has repeatedly pushed his candidacy on Facebook and chair Drue Mielke told The Dispatch/The Rock Island Argus in July, “We support Fawell.”

    CNN's Nathan McDermott and Andrew Kaczynski reported in May that Fawell previously “pushed a conspiracy theory that 7 World Trade Center collapsed as part of a controlled demolition and the attacks were a plot to destroy documents.” CNN also wrote that Fawell "said Beyonce had ties to the Illuminati." CNN asked the state party at the time for comment but did not receive a response.

    Media Matters found in a new review of Fawell's writings that he claimed “9/11's masterminds” were “our CIA and Israel's Mossad”; 9/11 was an “obvious false flag attack whose work was farmed out to Israel’s Mossad by elements high up in our government"; and if “there is another” 9/11-type attack, “you can bet … they’ll [the CIA and Mossad] have made it too.”

    The Israel-9/11 claim has been a popular conspiracy theory among anti-Semitic media figures. Anti-semite John Fitzgerald, a Republican congressional nominee in California, has also claimed that Israel was involved in the 9/11 attacks.

    A Media Matters request for comment to the Illinois Republican Party and its chair, Tim Schneider, was not returned. (Update: Republican Party officials in Illinois have withdrawn their support for Fawell.) 

    Here are four posts from Fawell in which he connected Israel to the 9/11 attacks.

    [8/22/17]

    [1/30/17]

    [4/26/16]

    [4/21/16]

  • GOP congressional nominee in Illinois is a Sandy Hook and Pizzagate conspiracy theorist

    Bill Fawell is backed by several county parties and is participating in numerous GOP events

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Right-wing writer Bill Fawell, a Republican-backed congressional nominee in Illinois, has pushed conspiracy theories about tragedies such as the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and claimed that there’s “nothing fake about Pizzagate.”

    Fawell is a real estate broker and author who ran unopposed in Illinois’ March 20 Republican primary to represent District 17 in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is now facing incumbent Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos.

    Several Republican committees in that district have suggested people vote for Fawell, including organizations in Jo Daviess, Peoria, Rock Island, Tazewell, and Whiteside counties. He has also been participating in numerous Republican events and is scheduled to appear at two GOP fundraisers in September, according to his website.

    Rock Island County GOP chair Drue Mielke told The Dispatch/The Rock Island Argus last month, “We support Fawell. ... I know he’s a Constitutionalist. In talking to him, I’ve heard him focusing on the issues of our district. There are a lot of things Bill Fawell could do for our district Cheri Bustos is choosing not to.” (Update: Republican Party officials in Illinois have withdrawn their support for Fawell.) 

    CNN’s Nathan McDermott and Andrew Kaczynski reported on May 25 that they examined Fawell’s blog posts and 2012 book New American Revolution and found that he “said the September 11 terrorist attacks were an inside job and that singer Beyonce Knowles has ties to the Illuminati.”

    CNN added that the “Illinois Republican Party did not respond to a request for comment. Another Illinois Republican nominee for a House seat, neo-Nazi Arthur Jones, has been rejected by national Republicans and the state party for denying the Holocaust.”

    Media Matters reviewed Fawell's main Facebook page and found that he also pushed conspiracy theories about mass shootings in Newtown, CT; Orlando, FL; San Bernardino, CA; and Aurora, CO. He has also promoted the Pizzagate conspiracy theory and claimed late Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was assassinated "for giving 44,000 DNC emails to Wikileaks."

    The mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT

    Fawell has repeatedly pushed conspiracy theories about the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. Fawell has promoted material that claimed the shooting was a false flag and smeared late Sandy Hook Elementary Principal Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, who died trying to protect students during the shooting.

    (The person pictured above is Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung.) [4/17/13]

    [3/7/17]

    (The page that Fawell linked to, which is no longer available, cited Sandy Hook conspiracy theorist Wolfgang Halbig to claim that the Sandy Hook shooting is “another false flag.”) [1/6/16]

    Mass shootings in Orlando, San Bernardino, and Aurora

    Fawell has pushed conspiracy theories about tragedies including the June 2016 shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, FL; the December 2015 shooting in San Bernardino, CA; and the 2012 shooting in Aurora, CO.

    [6/12/16]

    [6/12/16]

    [6/21/16]

    Pizzagate

    Fawell has repeatedly pushed the Pizzagate conspiracy theory, which falsely holds that prominent politicians have trafficked children through the Washington, D.C., restaurant Comet Ping Pong. In December 2016, Edgar Maddison Welch went to the restaurant and fired a shot inside; he was later sentenced to four years in prison.

    Fawell has said that there’s “nothing fake about Pizzagate” and the shooting at Comet was an “inside false flag job on a real live (sic) story the MSM is trying to cover up.”

    [11/24/16]

    [12/9/16]

    [12/10/16]

    [12/11/16]

    Seth Rich

    Fawell has claimed that late Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was assassinated for “giving 44,000 DNC emails to Wikileaks” and that former Hillary Clinton presidential campaign chair John Podesta “ordered the hit.” (Those claims, of course, are false.)

    [8/10/16]

    [5/17/17]

    [7/12/17]

  • Right-wing conspiracy theorist Ximena Barreto finally leaves HHS after outlets document her toxic rhetoric

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters
     

    Ximena Barreto, a right-wing commentator with a history of pushing conspiracy theories and bigoted rhetoric, has finally resigned from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

    Barreto joined HHS in December 2017 as a deputy communications director. Media Matters first reported on April 9 that Barreto (who also goes by the surname Barreto-Rice) frequently made toxic remarks as a conservative pundit. She promoted the Pizzagate conspiracy theory, claimed that “African-Americans are way more racist than white people,” and labeled Islam “a fucking cult” that has “no place” in the United States, among other remarks.

    Here is a video from Media Matters’ John Kerr of some of her worst remarks:

    Hours after Media Matters’ report, HHS issued a statement saying Barreto “has been placed on administrative leave while the matter is reviewed.”

    Media Matters originally found out about Barreto’s federal employment because ProPublica added her name to Trump Town, its database of Trump administration political appointees.

    CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski, Chris Massie, and Nathan McDermott reported on April 13 that Barreto “shared an image in 2017 that said ‘our forefathers would have hung’ Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for treason,” “repeatedly used the hashtag #BanIslam and twice shared conspiracy theories about the death of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich,” among other conspiracy theories.

    The Trump administration decided to allow Barreto back to work in early May but said she would “not to return to the public affairs department and will serve in a different role where she will work to complete several projects.”

    On June 21, Mediaite’s Caleb Ecarma reported that Barreto attacked CNN for purportedly conducting a “smear campaign” against her (CNN did not smear Barreto). Mediaite also “conducted an extensive review of her social media posts and found that the HHS appointee pushed the baseless Pizzagate conspiracy theory even more than previously reported,” finding that she tweeted variations of the conspiracy theory “at least 17 times.”

    On June 22, CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski reported that a copy of Barreto’s resume -- which was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request -- showed that “she listed her previous conspiratorial work on her resume as a qualification for the communication position.”

    Politico’s Dan Diamond reported on July 27 that she “was escorted from Health and Human Services Department headquarters Friday, according to an individual with knowledge of the situation. Barreto resigned, the individual said.”

    There are numerous other people who have served in the Trump administration and have pushed toxic conspiracy theories and/or bigoted rhetoric.

  • UPDATED: Rick Scott’s Senate campaign rented Roger Stone’s email list

    Stone previously criticized Scott for being personally responsible for fraud

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Update: A spokesperson for Scott's campaign claimed that the Stone email "was a vendor mistake - they are not advertising with Stone or paying him to send out emails on their behalf," according to Associated Press reporter Gary Fineout. Regardless of the campaign's explanation, as Media Matters documented below, Stone's website sent a sponsored message that contained a fundraising pitch for Scott; Stone's website identified "Rick Scott For Senate" as "one of our sponsoring advertisers"; and Scott's message contained the text: "Paid for by Rick Scott for Florida."

    Gov. Rick Scott’s (R-FL) U.S. Senate campaign rented Roger Stone’s email list for a fundraising pitch.

    Stone is a vicious racist, misogynist, liar, and conspiracy theorist. He is caught up in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe; was disinvited from a Florida GOP event because he called former first lady Barbara Bush a “nasty drunk” after she died; and tried to recruit wrestler Hulk Hogan to challenge Scott because of “his personal responsibility for $1 billion in Medicaid fraud" (Scott's company previously paid a $1.7 billion fine for Medicare fraud). 

    Stone is a right-wing operative and commentator who describes himself as “a 40-year friend and advisor of Donald Trump.” Mueller is examining the activities of Stone and his associates with regard to Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Stone has repeatedly lied or contradicted himself on issues related to Mueller’s probe.

    Stone has also frequently targeted Republicans and conservatives with typical Stone-level rhetoric. For instance:

    • Stone called former Rep. Allen West (R-FL) an "arrogant know-it-all negro"; commentator Herman Cain “mandingo”; and Education Secretary Ben Carson an “Uncle Tom.”
    • Stone mocked the late Charles Krauthammer for being paralyzed, tweeting: “Hey Krauthammer--stand the fuck up!”
    • Stone called CNN commentator and former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) aide Ana Navarro a media “quota hire” and tweeted that “black beans and rice didn't miss her.” He has stood by his remarks, saying that he “fat-shamed her.”
    • Stone has claimed that Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) father is connected to the assassination of former President John F. Kennedy and that the "Bush Crime Family" had “tried to kill” President Ronald Reagan and was involved in murders and drug-running with the Clintons.
    • Stone said that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) will “die in disgrace as his antics are exposed for the American people. He’s not a hero, he’s a traitor. It’s very sad.”
    • Stone called former first lady Barbara Bush a “nasty drunk” after she died, and added that she “drank so much booze, if they cremated her ... her body would burn for three days.”

    Stone’s remarks about Barbara Bush caused the Okaloosa Republican Executive Committee in Florida to uninvite Stone from headlining its annual fundraising dinner. (Stone had used similar rhetoric about Bush prior to her death.) 

    Stone’s website Stone Cold Truth forwarded its followers a July 26 message from Scott’s campaign with the statement: “We are excited to share with you a special message from one of our sponsoring advertisers, Rick Scott For Senate. It is also sponsors like them that help fund Stone Cold Truth. Please note that the following message reflects the opinions and representations of our sponsor alone, and not necessarily the opinion of Roger Stone.”

    Scott’s email asked for donations and ended with a picture of Scott with President Donald Trump.

    The Scott campaign’s decision to pay Stone is even more odd given that Stone has publicly rebuked him. In January, Stone said that he was “focused on persuading Hulk Hogan” to challenge Scott in the Republican primary, adding that at “a minimum, I hope to convince Hogan to body-slam Scott in every debate. If the governor is under the impression that his personal responsibility for $1 billion in Medicaid fraud is no longer an issue, he’s wrong."

    Other campaigns have rented Stone’s email list, including House candidate Omar Navarro in California; unsuccessful House candidate Richard Mack in Arizona; and Senate candidate Geoff Diehl in Massachusetts.

    Shortly after Diehl’s campaign rented his list, Stone endorsed Diehl’s campaign. In response to Media Matters’ article about the endorsement, Stone stated that his “company did rent some lists to Mr. Diehl” and “during that process I examined his campaign and his credentials and frankly I became very impressed.”

  • A senior Sinclair executive donated to the campaign of disgraced racist Joe Arpaio

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI



    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Frederick Smith, a senior executive at Sinclair Broadcast Group, recently donated $1,000 to Arizona Republican Joe Arpaio’s Senate campaign.

    Sinclair is a massive right-wing media corporation that owns or operates nearly 200 local television stations across the country. It’s known for injecting right-wing spin and propaganda into broadcasts, including through its infamous “must-run” segments. The Federal Communications Commission recently decided the company's proposed acquisition of Tribune Media needs greater legal scrutiny, citing potential "misrepresentation" by Sinclair due to its reliance on legal maneuvers to skirt station ownership limits.

    Smith is a vice president and member of the board of directors at Sinclair. His father, the late Julian Sinclair Smith, founded the company.

    Arpaio was previously the sheriff of Maricopa County, AZ, before losing re-election in 2016. The ACLU documented that he oversaw "discriminatory conduct, including his office’s cruel and inhumane treatment of detainees and its practice of illegally detaining people based on their perceived immigration status and discriminating against Latinos in traffic stops." 

    In 2017, as The Washington Post wrote, Arpaio was convicted of "criminal contempt of court for ignoring a judge’s order to stop detaining people because he merely suspected them of being undocumented immigrants. U.S. District Judge Susan R. Bolton wrote that Arpaio had shown a 'flagrant disregard' for the court’s command and that his attempt to pin the conduct on those who worked for him rang hollow." President Donald Trump pardoned Arpaio shortly afterward.

    Arpaio is now running as a Republican for Arizona’s open U.S. Senate seat. In January, as Media Matters documented, Arpaio gave an interview to the anti-Semitic publication American Free Press to promote his candidacy. Arpaio had also given interviews to the outlet in prior years.

    Smith donated $1,000 to Arpaio’s Senate campaign on May 23, according to Arpaio’s most recent Federal Election Commission filing. Like Sinclair’s political action committee, Smith has largely donated to Republicans this election cycle. As Politico reported, Smith also donated $1,000 last year to “Rep. Greg Gianforte's campaign the day after the Montana Republican was charged with assaulting a reporter.” The Guardian reported in April that Robert E. Smith, who is Frederick Smith’s brother and a member of Sinclair’s board of directors, donated the maximum amount of $5,400 to Gianforte's campaign.

    Sinclair did not respond to a request for comment.

  • Roger Stone has lied or contradicted himself regarding Russia probe matters on countless occasions

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Roger Stone, a longtime adviser to President Donald Trump, has repeatedly lied or contradicted himself on numerous issues related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

    Stone is a vicious racist, misogynist, liar, and conspiracy theorist who describes himself as “a 40-year friend and advisor of Donald Trump.” He worked as a paid consultant to Trump’s campaign for part of 2015 and has since advised him in an unofficial capacity.

    He was banned from CNN, MSNBC, and even Fox News in 2016 because of his vitriolic rhetoric. However, all three networks have since welcomed him back as a guest. Stone also writes commentaries online and works for conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ Infowars network.

    Nothing Stone says should be taken at face value. Even staunch right-wingers don’t trust Stone, calling him “a sleazeball” (Fox News host Mark Levin); “a little rat” (pro-Trump super PAC head Ed Rollins); and “one of the worst people in the world” (radio host Glenn Beck).

    Stone’s career as a dirty trickster has come back to haunt him in the form of Mueller’s investigation.

    Sources told CNBC that Stone “is apparently one of the top subjects of the Mueller investigation into potential collusion between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign.” ABC News recently reported that “at least seven people associated with” Stone have been contacted by “Mueller, according to interviews with witnesses and others who say they've been contacted.” Stone was also likely one of the unnamed people whose activities were mentioned in Mueller’s July 13 indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers for election interference.

    As he has on so many other topics, Stone has lied and contradicted himself regarding numerous matters related to Mueller’s Russia investigation. For instance:

    • Stone claimed that he "never had any contacts with any Russians in any way," then admitted he had a meeting with a Russian national about the campaign. (He also communicated with the Russian intelligence account Guccifer 2.0.)
    • Stone claimed that he "communicated with" WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange," then said he "never communicated with Assange."
    • Stone claimed that he "never communicated with WikiLeaks," but messages show he directly communicated with the organization.  
    • Stone claimed this month that he wasn't in "regular contact" with the Trump campaign in 2016, but he had previously bragged about his 2016 discussions with the campaign.
    • Stone claimed that a subpoenaed associate “has not worked for" him "for three years,” but that associate worked for Stone at least in 2016 and 2017.
    • Stone started a legal defense fund for himself but "has contradicted himself on what he's paying for and how much he's projected to pay” in legal costs.

    Stone repeatedly and falsely claimed that he never had any contact with Russians

    Stone had contacts with Russians during the 2016 campaign. As Stone acknowledged, he met with “Henry Greenberg,” a Russian national who claimed to have damaging information about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, in May 2016. Stone also communicated online with Guccifer 2.0, “the digital persona alleged to have been set up by Russian military intelligence,” as The New York Times wrote.

    Stone told ABC News that he only publicly disclosed the meeting with Greenberg last month because he "just didn't remember. 2016 was a pretty busy year." He also claimed that the Greenberg meeting was “a failed Obama FBI sting operation” and has denied that Guccifer 2.0 is Russian.

    Stone repeatedly claimed he didn’t have any contact with Russians. Here are 10 examples of his claims:

    • “I have no Russian contacts, I have no Russian money. I have no Russian influences. I do like Russian vodka. This thing is a canard.” [Time magazine, 2/3/17]
    • “I have no connection with the Russians.” [The Guardian, 2/15/17]
    • “I’ve never been in touch with anyone in Russia.” [NBC, Today, 2/16/17]
    • “Sure they’ll get my grocery lists, they may get the emails between my wife and I, but here’s what they won’t get -- any contact with the Russians.” [CBS News, 3/3/17]
    • “I am not in touch with any Russians. don't have a Russian girlfriend, don't like Russian dressing and have stopped drinking Russian Vodka." [Business Insider, 3/10/17]
    • “Therefore my previous statements to CBS that I had contact with NO Russians is accurate with the possible exception of an innocent exchange [with Guccifer 2.0] ... before I was aware of these allegations that he may be a Russian asset.” [CBS News, 3/13/17]  
    • “I reiterate again, I have had no contacts or collusions with the Russians. And my exchange with Guccifer 2, based on the content and the timing, most certainly does not constitute collusion. My brief exchange with him is six weeks after the hacking of the and publication of the DNC documents, which I'm accused of colluding with him on. In other words, I would need a time machine in order to collude.” [ABC, This Week, 3/26/17]
    • “To be clear, I have never represented any Russian clients, have never been to Russia, and never had any communication with any Russians or individuals fronting for Russians, in connection with the 2016 presidential election.” [House Intelligence Committee written testimony, 9/26/17]
    • “I will repeat what I have stated verbally and in print, repeatedly, over and over and over, including under oath before your soul-sister [Rep. Adam] Schiff [D-CA] and the entire House Intelligence Committee: I have NEVER had any contacts with any Russians in any way whatsoever having anything to do with my work for the Trump Campaign or any campaign or any business or professional or even personal undertaking, EVER.” [StoneColdTruth.com, 2/26/18]
    • “I never had any contact with any Russians.” [MSNBC, Meet the Press Daily, 3/6/18]

    Stone contradicted himself on whether he “communicated with Assange”

    Media Matters first documented that Stone said during the 2016 campaign that he “communicated with [Julian] Assange.” He said on August 8, 2016, regarding what an “October surprise” in the election could be: “Well, it could be any number of things. I actually have communicated with Assange. I believe the next tranche of his documents pertain to the Clinton Foundation but there's no telling what the October surprise may be.”

    On August 12, he repeated that he “was in communication with Julian Assange.”

    Stone has repeatedly contradicted himself about Assange, now claiming he “never communicated with Assange.” Here are just a few examples of his contradictory statements:

    • “I have not spoken to Mr. Assange. I have not met with Mr. Assange. And I never said I had. I said we communicated through an intermediary, somebody who is a mutual friend.” [CSPAN, 8/18/16]
    • “I do have a back-channel communication with Assange, because we have a good mutual friend.” [WFOR, 10/12/16]
    • “I have never said or written that I had any direct communication with Julian Assange and have always clarified in numerous interviews and speeches that my communication with WikiLeaks was through the aforementioned journalist.” [House Intelligence Committee written testimony, 9/26/17]
    • “When I spoke of a back channel to WikiLeaks in a rousing Tea Party rally in 2016, I was probably over dramatizing the role of progressive talk show host, comic, impressionist, and activist Randy Credico. … It was Randy Credico who first brought to my attention in mid-July 2016, the public claim of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange that he had significant material on the Democrats and Hillary Clinton and would publish those documents. Up until this time, I had not been paying much attention to WikiLeaks and was not following the WikiLeaks or Assange feeds on Twitter.” [StoneColdTruth.com, 3/9/18]
    • “The allegation that I met with Assange, or asked for a meeting or communicated with Assange, is provably false.” [The Washington Post, 3/13/18]
    • “What I actually said in my testimony was that I had never communicated with Assange. That is correct.” [CNN, Anderson Cooper 360, 4/6/18]

    Stone claimed “he had communicated with WikiLeaks via an ‘intermediary,’” but private messages show they “communicated directly”

    The Atlantic reported on February 27 that Stone has contradicted himself on whether he communicated directly with WikiLeaks. Reporter Natasha Bertrand wrote:

    On March 17, 2017, WikiLeaks tweeted that it had never communicated with Roger Stone, a longtime confidante and informal adviser to President Donald Trump. In his interview with the House Intelligence Committee last September, Stone, who testified under oath, told lawmakers that he had communicated with WikiLeaks via an “intermediary,” whom he identified only as a “journalist.” He declined to reveal that person’s identity to the committee, he told reporters later.

    Private Twitter messages obtained by The Atlantic show that Stone and WikiLeaks, a radical-transparency group, communicated directly on October 13, 2016—and that WikiLeaks sought to keep its channel to Stone open after Trump won the election. The existence of the secret correspondence marks yet another strange twist in the White House’s rapidly swelling Russia scandal. Stone and Trump have been friends for decades, which raises key questions about what the president knew about Stone’s interactions with Wikileaks during the campaign. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. [The Atlantic, 2/27/18]

    Stone has claimed, both before and after The Atlantic piece was published, that he “never” communicated with WikiLeaks.

    He told CNN's Andrew Kaczynski on March 27, 2017: "Since I never communicated with WikiLeaks, I guess I must be innocent of charges I knew about the hacking of Podesta's email (speculation and conjecture) and the timing or scope of their subsequent disclosures. So I am clairvoyant or just a good guesser because the limited things I did predict (Oct disclosures) all came true."

    In late May, Stone responded to a Wall Street Journal story by telling Politico: “The emails referenced [in that story] fell outside the precisely worded scope of the House Intelligence Committee request -- I had no obligation to turn them over and the content of them merely confirms my claim that I was utilizing a back channel and never communicated directly with WikiLeaks or Assange.” 

    Stone contradicted himself by claiming he “wasn’t in regular contact with members of the Trump campaign”

    Reacting to the July 13 federal indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officials, Stone’s initial instinct was to claim that he couldn’t be one of the unnamed people referenced in Mueller’s indictment because he “wasn’t in regular contact with members of the Trump campaign.”

    Stone told CNN by phone, "I don't think it is me because I wasn't in regular contact with members of the Trump campaign," although he was in contact with Donald Trump himself.

    Referring to remarks from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Friday, Stone said, “Look, Rosenstein said in his comments that they knew of no crime by US citizens. They included my exchange with Guccifer which is now public, in the indictment. And it’s benign. So I don’t know that it refers to me.”

    He added, "Based on timing, content and context, they're benign. They certainly don't provide any evidence of collaboration or collusion."

    Stone went on to closely parse the language of the indictment, arguing, "My contact with the campaign in 2016 was Donald Trump. I was not in regular contact with campaign officials."

    Stone later told CNN’s Chris Cuomo “that he ‘misunderstood the reference.’ ‘I never denied that it was me, I just didn't understand the earlier reference.’”

    Regardless of whether he’s mentioned in the indictment, Stone is contradicting himself about his contact with the Trump campaign in 2016.

    For instance, on a July 10, 2016, appearance on a radio program, Stone said: “I spoke yesterday to Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, an incredibly able fellow, an old friend of mine, former business partner of mine, in fact.” He appeared on a radio program on August 17, 2016, and said he “spoke to” Manafort about the hiring of former Breitbart.com head Steve Bannon.

    Stone also said he communicated with Trump campaign communications official Michael Caputo during the campaign, who helped arrange a meeting with Russian national "Henry Greenberg" in 2016. 

    Stone lied that subpoenaed associate “has not worked for me for three years” 

    In June, Mueller subpoenaed Stone associate Andrew Miller regarding the Russia investigation. Stone criticized the subpoena by claiming that Miller “has not worked for me for three years” and “did not work for me during the 2016 campaign, although he did fly in for the Republican National Convention to work on my scheduling." 

    Stone also said during a June 28 appearance on Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle: “Andrew Miller, who hasn't worked for me since 2013, three years ago, did come and help me at the Republican National Convention for a week. … But if he didn't work for me other than at the convention, it reinforces my view that this is some kind of effort to frame me for some extraneous offense to silence me, or to get me to testify against the president.” He added: "When he worked for me, and it was three years ago, he did scheduling. He traveled with me as a wing man. He did some I.T. work. But, again, he remains a good friend of mine."

    Stone’s response is a lie. 

    In 2016 and 2017, Miller’s contact information was on press releases for Stone. On January 31, 2017, Miller appeared on a podcast and said he was “on Stone’s insurance plan.” When the host Tim Preuss asked if he’s still Stone’s “employee technically,” Miller replied: “Yeah, technically, I guess.” 

    Stone’s political organization, Committee To Restore America's Greatness, paid $9,000 to Miller’s research firm over three months (May, June, and August) in 2016 for “expense reimbursement” and “consulting,” according to Federal Election Commission records. 

    Another Stone group, Stop The Steal, also paid Miller’s firm $5,000 in “consulting fees” on October 13, 2016 -- months after the July Republican National Convention -- according to IRS records.

    “Stone has contradicted himself” on his “legal defense fund”

    In recent months, Stone has been attempting to raise money for his “legal defense fund.” But CNBC reported on May 2 that “Stone has contradicted himself on what he's paying for and how much he's projected to pay” in legal costs.

    A website for Stone’s fund claims that it’s “becoming clear that Special Counsel Robert Mueller intends to frame Roger Stone for some bogus ‘offense’ unrelated to Russian collusion, Wikileaks, or perhaps even the 2016 election.” A notice on the page states: “Contributions are not deductible for federal income tax purposes. Under the Internal Revenue Code, all contributions to the Roger Stone Legal Defense Fund are considered gifts to Roger Stone.”

  • “Hungry and cranky”: GOP candidate Seth Grossman’s bizarre defenses for why he shared white nationalist propaganda

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    According to GOP congressional candidate Seth Grossman, he shared a racist commentary piece because he got “duped by a clever racist piece"; was following the lead of "Allen West, a retired Black Army Commander"; didn’t actually click the link he shared; was upset at Black Lives Matter; wanted to “defend police”; and “was hungry and cranky” (among other reasons).  

    Grossman is a right-wing commentator and lawyer who is the Republican nominee for New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District. He also has a long history of making bigoted remarks.

    As Media Matters recently documented on July 9, Grossman promoted white nationalist propaganda, including a piece on a white nationalist website which claimed that Black people “are a threat to all who cross their paths, black and non-black alike.” On December 30, 2014, Grossman linked to the piece on one of his Facebook accounts and commented:

    Oy vay! What so many people, black, white and Hispanic, whisper to me privately but never dare say out loud publicly. Back in the Old Country, people were very careful about what they said for fear of retaliation. At one time, America was a free country and people were not afraid to express their true thoughts. Am just posting this as an individual and not on behalf of any organization.

    He also shared the piece on his personal Facebook page with an abbreviated version of the above commentary. Following Media Matters' report, the National Republican Congressional Committee subsequently withdrew its support for him.

    Grossman has been attempting to do damage control ever since. In his initial comments to Media Matters, he attempted to distance himself from the comments, claiming that he “never visited” the site that posted the openly racist piece about Black people (despite linking to and commenting on that piece) and doesn’t endorse its claims. He also said he got “the post from Alan (sic) West” (Allen West, a right-wing pundit and former Republican congressman, praised the piece on December 29, 2014).

    Grossman’s excuses since then have only gone further downhill. Here is a summary. 

    Grossman again blamed Allen West, writing that he was just "sharing a post from Allen West, a retired Black Army Commander” (Grossman's original Facebook posts did not mention West). 

    "These silly attacks are simply bizarre to both friend and foe who have known me for decades here in Atlantic County," Grossman said. "I've been an outspoken opponent of racism and anti-Semitism for decades -- everyone knows that. But what is just crazy is how the National Republican Party is freaking out over sharing a post from Allen West, a retired Black Army Commander,” declared Seth. [Grossman for Congress, 7/10/18]

    After claiming that Media Matters is “falsely attacking” him, Grossman smeared Media Matters by saying it caused the deaths of police officers. (Grossman provided no actual evidence to back his false claims.)

    “In 2014, the same Media Matters falsely attacking me, led the call to protest our police officers, leading to many of their deaths,” Grossman said. “Republican leaders in Washington, and career politicians like Jeff Van Drew, should apply the same standards to those whose false and hateful generalizations helped cause the deaths of 126 police officers in 2016.” [Grossman for Congress, 7/10/18]

    Grossman said he shared the white nationalist piece “to defend police.”

    [Facebook, 7/11/18]

    Grossman blamed Black Lives Matter.

    Grossman said that he posted the story because at the time the Black Lives Matter movement had created a climate of hostility toward police, portraying officers as “getting up every day looking for an unarmed teenaged black kid to murder.”

    Grossman said that climate of hostility led to an increase in shootings of police.

    “So the purpose of sharing that article was to show that there’s another side of the story,” Grossman said. “That many of the black teenagers, though unarmed, were very, very violent, and very, very dangerous, and that the police out in the street had to deal with some ugly situations.”

    The piece from American Renaissance doesn’t refer to Black Lives Matter protests or police shootings. [WHYY, 7/10/18]

    Grossman said he got “duped by a clever racist piece.”

    On Wednesday, Grossman reiterated that he was tricked into posting the article, because it was also shared by former Republican Rep. Allen West, who is black. "I got duped by a clever racist piece," he said. [The Star-Ledger, 7/12/18]

    Grossman “told an editorial writer that he was hungry and cranky.”

    He also told an editorial writer that he was hungry and cranky, the same excuse he used after an earlier video surfaced of him calling diversity "crap." [The Star-Ledger, 7/12/18]

    Grossman: "I want to make minorities more prosperous and independent, and you can't fix a problem without talking about it."

    He defended his record as a longtime attorney serving minority communities in Atlantic City and Pleasantville.

    "I want to make minorities more prosperous and independent, and you can't fix a problem without talking about it," he said. [WCAU, 7/12/18]

    Grossman: “If you look at each post and the news I was reacting to, it’s just reasonable commonsense comments."

    He said his path to victory is through Trump supporters and winning over the very minority voters disparaged in social media posts he has shared.

    "When you take two dozens posts out of maybe 6,000 posts or shares over a 10-year period, it looks inflammatory, which is why they do it," Grossman said. "But if you look at each post and the news I was reacting to, it’s just reasonable commonsense comments." [WCAU, 7/12/18]

    Update (7/16): During an appearance on NJTV, Grossman claimed of the piece: "It was a cleverly written, racist piece, like most clever propaganda. At the top it was saying all reasonable stuff, and then at the bottom, the part hardly anybody ever read, it had these racist generalizations." But the beginning of the piece was also extremely bigoted and contained numerous "racist generalizations."

  • Rep. Scott Taylor’s book is blurbed by a leading anti-Muslim writer

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    When Rep. Scott Taylor (R-VA) published his 2015 book, he included an endorsement from a writer who has built a career on anti-Muslim bigotry and was even banned from the United Kingdom for his toxic rhetoric.

    Taylor is a Republican congressman who began representing Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District in 2017. He previously authored the book Trust Betrayed: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and the Selling Out of America's National Security. The book contains a page of “praise” that includes a quote from Robert Spencer, who is identified as the “author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad.”

    Spencer states, in part, that "Taylor analyzes the contemporary situation with the keen eye of a man who has seen the disastrous effects of Obama’s policies up close, and provides a reasonable and realistic path back to national sanity. Not only should all candidates for national office be required to read this book -- they should be required to report on it, and explain how they intend to implement its recommendations.”

    Descriptions for both of those Spencer books (via Amazon) make clear that they are anti-Muslim. The promotional text for The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) claims that it “tackles Islam’s institutionalized mistreatment of non-Muslims, the stifling effect Islam has on science and free inquiry, the ghastly lure of Islam’s X-rated Paradise for suicide bombers and jihad terrorists, the brutal Islamic conquests of the Christian lands of the Middle East and North Africa, and more.”

    Likewise, The Truth About Muhammad’s extended title calls Islam “the World's Most Intolerant Religion,” and the book’s description states: “Recognizing the true nature of Islam, Spencer argues, is essential for judging the prospects for largescale Islamic reform, the effective prosecution of the War on Terror, the democracy project in Afghanistan and Iraq, and immigration and border control to protect the United States from terrorism.”

    Numerous media outlets such as CNNThe New York TimesThe Washington Post, and The Guardian have accurately noted that Spencer is "anti-Muslim."

    Spencer has a long history of using anti-Muslim rhetoric. He has claimed that:

    • “Islam is not a religion of peace. The Quran exhorts Muslims to wage war against and subjugate unbelievers. #ConfessYourUnpopularOpinion.” (8/6/17)
    • “As [anti-Muslim politician Geert] Wilders said yesterday, we also have to end immigration from Muslim countries into the United States. This is a simple matter of national security. It will of course be condemned as racism, but the harsh reality is that you cannot tell peaceful Muslims from Jihadis in any discernible manner. And so it is simply ridiculous and suicidal to continue to import whole communities of Muslims from hot Jihad areas like Somalia and Syria and Pakistan into the United States and drop them down into American communities. The strife has already begun in those communities and it's going to get worse.” (11/16/14)
    • “Of course, as I have pointed out many times, traditional Islam itself is not moderate or peaceful. It is the only major world religion with a developed doctrine and tradition of warfare against unbelievers.” (1/14/06)

    In June 2013, the British government banned Spencer and ally and fellow anti-Muslim writer Pamela Geller from entering the United Kingdom. A government spokesperson said at the time that their presence "is not conducive to the public good." James Brokenshire, a member of the British Conservative Party who served as the U.K.’s security minister, said in September 2013 that the government barred Spencer from entering the country because of his potential to “stir up hatred and provoke violence.”