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Eric Hananoki

Author ››› Eric Hananoki
  • “He comes from a very good place”: Fox News anchor Shannon Bream praises bigot Robert Jeffress, will appear at his church

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Shannon Bream, a Fox News anchor who is part of the network’s “news” division, will appear at the church of Fox News contributor Robert Jeffress, whom she has praised as “such a warm person” and someone who “comes from a very good place.”

    Jeffress has said that LGBTQ people engage in “filthy behavior” that “represents a degradation of a person's mind”; attacked Mormonism, Islam, Judaism, and Hinduism for supposedly leading “people to an eternity of separation from God in hell”; called Mormonism a “cult” and Catholicism a tool of Satan; and said 9/11 was God's punishment for the “sin” of abortion.

    Bream, who hosts Fox News @ Night, is scheduled to appear at First Baptist Church Dallas on June 9, where she’ll be interviewed by Jeffress and sign her new book. Media Matters has previously documented that Bream has frequently helped push misinformation and used dehumanizing language about LGBTQ people and spread inaccurate information about abortion and related issues on Fox. Last year, she spoke at an event for the conservative Steamboat Institute and praised the GOP tax bill and said that Trump has been “rolling back regulations that we've heard from businesses, from the IRS to the EPA, have made it tougher for them to survive and be profitable in America.”

    Bream was a guest on the Fort Worth, TX, radio station WBAP on June 5 to promote her appearance with Jeffress, and she praised him as “such a warm person,” saying, “I think that he comes from a very good place in trying to, you know, explain to the president certain issues that are important to the evangelical community, and I think that he’s been a sounding board for the president.”

    SHANNON BREAM: He has been a frequent guest on our show. And he’s been very involved in a lot of things at the White House and being one of the president’s, sort of, religious advisers. So I’ve gotten to know him through work. And, you know, he’s just such a warm person. And I think that he comes from a very good place in trying to, you know, explain to the president certain issues that are important to the evangelical community, and I think that he’s been a sounding board for the president. And so we’ve had him on many times as a guest to talk about their relationship and to talk about, you know, the heat that many in the evangelical community take because people will say, you know, “How can you support this guy?” You know, he’s not perfect. The good thing is none of us are, but we’re saved by grace if we accept it. And so, you know, Pastor Jeffress has been a good person to have in those conversations.

    Jeffress has a long history of anti-LGBTQ bigotry. He has claimed that gay people lead a “miserable lifestyle,” said that “homosexuality is perverse, it represents a degradation of a person's mind,” and claimed, “What they do is filthy. It is so degrading that it is beyond description. And it is their filthy behavior that explains why they are so much more prone to disease.”

    He has also attacked other people’s faith. He’s claimed that Jewish people “can’t be saved,” and “religions like Mormonism, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism -- not only do they lead people away from from God, they lead people to an eternity of separation from God in hell.” He’s also stated that “Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Mormonism are all false religions,” called Mormonism a “cult,” and said that Catholicism is a “cult-like, pagan religion” and a tool of Satan.

    Jeffress has also pushed toxic and inaccurate rhetoric about abortion. He responded to Disney’s threat to reconsider filming in Georgia if the state carries out its recently passed anti-abortion law by claiming that “they want to murder” and “are blinded by evil.” He also tied 9/11 to abortion, stating, “God will not allow sin to go unpunished and he certainly won’t allow the sacrifice of children to go unpunished.”

    Jeffress was once considered so toxic that people like former Republican Gov. Rick Perry, Fox News contributor Karl Rove, and athlete Tim Tebow distanced themselves from him. Still, Fox News has given him a commentator job and the president -- a fan of cable news pundits -- consults with Jeffress, has said he loves him, and had him deliver a prayer at the opening ceremony of the American embassy in Jerusalem despite his statements against Judaism.

  • Fox Nation hosts have been campaigning for Republicans in violation of the network's supposed standards

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    In recent months, Fox Nation hosts have participated in multiple campaign activities for Republican groups, including starring in campaign videos and headlining party fundraisers. Fox News has previously claimed that Fox “talent” are prohibited from participating in campaign events.

    Diamond and Silk, Gregg Jarrett, Todd Starnes, and David Webb have all recently done Republican campaign activities while hosting shows for Fox Nation, Fox’s online streaming network. Rachel Campos-Duffy, a Fox News contributor and host of the Fox Nation show Moms, is also scheduled to keynote a June 27 fundraising event for the Desoto County Republican Party in Mississippi.

    In May, Media Matters released a report documenting that Fox figures have taken more than $500,000 from Republican Party groups to speak at events; have interviewed Republicans officials shortly after co-headlining events with them; and have financially helped President Donald Trump by keynoting speeches on Trump properties. That report included Webb’s then-scheduled speech to a New Hampshire Republican group but not other recent campaigning by Fox Nation hosts.

    In November, after Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Jeanine Pirro appeared at a campaign rally with Trump, the network told the media that it “does not condone any talent participating in campaign events.” That statement was a lie then, and the Fox Nation personalities’ work for Republicans is only further confirmation of the network’s duplicity to reporters.

    The following is a summary of Republican campaign activities by Fox Nation hosts in recent months.

    Diamond and Silk are the hosts of their own eponymous program. The two have repeatedly appeared in videos for Trump’s reelection campaign, most recently on June 2. Fox News did not respond to a Hollywood Reporter request for comment about that video. In March, following a separate Trump campaign video by Diamond and Silk, Fox News distanced itself from the two, telling the publication that “they are not Fox News contributors or employees” -- despite the network previously identifying them as “Fox News Channel contributors,” “Fox Nation contributors,” and “Fox Nation hosts.”

    The two were also the special guests at a March 30 fundraising dinner for the Bush Legacy Republican Women of Weatherford in Texas. They are scheduled to appear at an August 10 event for the Watauga and Ashe County Republican Parties in North Carolina; and a September 23 event for Republican Women Federation clubs in San Diego County, CA.

    Gregg Jarrett is the host of Gregg Jarrett's: The Russia Hoax. He also works as a Fox News legal analyst and frequently appears on Hannity’s program to defend the president and attack special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. He headlined an April 18 fundraising dinner for the Columbiana County Republican Party in Ohio. During the event, Jarrett reportedly criticized Mueller and his investigation.


    Photo from the Columbiana County Republican Party’s Facebook page.

    Todd Starnes is the host of Starnes Country. He also hosts a Fox News Radio program and has frequently misinformed viewers about LGBTQ issues. He keynoted a Reagan-Trump Dinner fundraiser for the Wilson County Republican Party in Tennessee on May 14. During that speech, Starnes reportedly said: “I don’t make any apologizes anymore for my support of President Trump, because he’s done something that hasn’t been done since Ronald Reagan was in office – he’s delivered on his campaign promises.” He also falsely claimed that “Democrats literally want to kill newborn babies.”

    David Webb is the host of Reality Check and a Fox News contributor. He emceed a May 31 fundraising event for the Belknap County Republican Committee that was themed “Make New Hampshire Red Again.”

  • Potential DHS immigration director Ken Cuccinelli praised diatribe from anti-Muslim leader Brigitte Gabriel

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Ken Cuccinelli, whom President Donald Trump is set to appoint to a senior position with the Department of Homeland Security, previously praised and promoted an “important and powerful” diatribe against Muslims from Brigitte Gabriel, one of the most prominent anti-Muslim leaders in the country.

    Cuccinelli is a right-wing commentator and former Virginia attorney general who will reportedly be appointed as the new director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which is part of DHS. Cuccinelli has a history of anti-LGBTQ and anti-immigrant rhetoric and positions.

    Gabriel is the head of the anti-Muslim group ACT for America. Media outlets have called her “the most influential leader in America’s increasingly influential anti-Islam lobby” and “America's most prominent anti-Muslim activist.” Gabriel has a long history of anti-Muslim statements, including claiming that “a practicing Muslim … cannot be a loyal citizen to the United States,” and saying that Muslims in Europe “started multiplying” after World War II and did not assimilate and that Europe is now “paying the price” because it “ignored the cancer growing within its body when it was at Stage Two.”

    The Heritage Foundation hosted a June 16, 2014, panel event about the 2012 Benghazi attacks featuring Gabriel and fellow anti-Muslim commentators Frank Gaffney and Clare Lopez. During that event, Gabriel attacked a Muslim questioner for noting that there are many peaceful Muslims, stating that while the “majority of them are peaceful people,” the “peaceful majority” is irrelevant because “radicals are estimated to be between 15 to 25%” and “it is the radicals that kill. ... When you look throughout history, when you look at all the lessons of history, most Germans were peaceful. Yet the Nazis drove the agenda and as a result, 60 million people died.” From the event:   

    BRIGITTE GABRIEL: There are 1.2 billion Muslims in the world today. Of course, not all of them are radicals. The majority of them are peaceful people. The radicals are estimated to be between 15 to 25% according to all intelligence services around the world. That leaves 75% of them peaceful people. But when you look at 15 to 25% of the world Muslim population, you’re looking at 180 million to 300 million people dedicated to the destruction of Western civilization. That is as big of the United States.

    So why should we worry about the radical 15 to 25%? Because it is the radicals that kill. Because it is the radicals that behead and massacre. When you look throughout history, when you look at all the lessons of history, most Germans were peaceful. Yet the Nazis drove the agenda and as a result, 60 million people died. Almost 14 million in concentration camps. Six million were Jews. The peaceful majority were irrelevant. When you look at Russia, most Russians were peaceful as well. Yet, the Russians were able to kill 20 million people. The peaceful majority were irrelevant. When you look at China, for example, most Chinese were peaceful as well. Yet the Chinese were able to kill 70 million people. The peaceful majority were irrelevant. When you look at Japan prior to World War II, most Japanese were peaceful as well. Yet Japan was able to butcher its way across Southeast Asia, killing 12 million people, mostly killed with bayonets and shovels. The peaceful majority were irrelevant. On September 11 in the United States, we had 2.3 million Arab Muslims living in the United States. It took 19 hijackers, 19 radicals, to bring America down to its knees, destroy the World Trade Center, attack the Pentagon, and kill almost 3,000 Americans that day. The peaceful majority were irrelevant. So for all our powers of reasons and us talking about moderate and peaceful Muslims, I’m glad you’re here. But where are the others speaking out?

    In July 2014 Facebook post, Cuccinelli responded to video of Gabriel’s diatribe by writing that “this panelist's point about irrelevance of the peaceful - BUT UNENGAGED - majority is extremely important and powerful. I.e., if the ‘agenda’ is driven by the radical minority, then the peaceful majority doesn't affect the course of history.”

    Right-wing media figures have frequently demanded that Muslims speak out against or atone for terrorist attacks -- a rigged and disingenuous game that ignores that Muslim groups and leaders do roundly condemn them.  

    Cuccinelli has also associated with Gabriel in other settings. He has signed letters with her and numerous other right-wing leaders supporting funding for the southern border wall, expressing concern about the supposed social media censorship of conservatives, and opposing the House Democrats’ bill “to expand Americans' access to the ballot box, reduce the influence of big money in politics, and strengthen ethics rules for public servants, and for other purposes.” He also attended an August 2018 Media Research Center cruise with Gabriel, according to promotional information.

    The Trump administration is filled with appointees with anti-Muslim histories, and Trump himself has pushed anti-Muslim bigotry from the White House. 

  • Ken Cuccinelli called Mitch McConnell a backstabber, liar, and “the head alligator." Cuccinelli may need his help for a DHS job.

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Ken Cuccinelli has spent years attacking Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in the media, calling him a backstabber, a liar, a “surrenderer,” and “the head alligator” of the Washington, D.C., swamp. Cuccinelli may now need McConnell’s help if the Trump administration moves forward in trying to place him in a senior position in the Department of Homeland Security.

    Cuccinelli is a former CNN commentator and Virginia attorney general who has a history of pushing anti-LGBTQ and anti-immigrant positions. Media Matters also noted that he told Breitbart.com last year that states could invoke “war powers” against migrants crossing the U.S. southern border because “it’s an invasion.” He added that doing so would mean “there’s no due process” and states could “point them back across the river and let them swim for it.”  

    Both The Washington Post and The New York Times have reported that Trump plans to install Cuccinelli as head of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. L. Francis Cissna, the current head of that agency, was confirmed by the Senate in 2017 to that position and was reportedly forced to step down, effective June 1.

    The Post reported that “McConnell has vowed to block Cuccinelli from getting confirmed for any position.” Vox’s Dara Lind wrote: “Without a formal Senate confirmation process, the Trump administration would have to find some way to install someone completely outside DHS as the acting head of an agency — something that even the Trump administration, which has often made decisions that push the boundaries of federal vacancies laws, hasn’t yet tried to do.”

    Cuccinelli has long used his political and media perch to attack McConnell for purportedly not being sufficiently conservative. (McConnell largely votes in line with President Donald Trump’s positions and has enabled his agenda.)

    Cuccinelli previously led the Senate Conservatives Fund, which he said during an interview was formed by former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) after “he got completely fed up with Mitch McConnell and the powers that be doing the same old thing year in, year out, including lying to voters about what they were actually going to do and what they actually believed as reflected in what they do.” In 2017, Cuccinelli and the group launched an unsuccessful campaign to replace McConnell as Senate majority leader. 

    Cuccinelli has also frequently attacked McConnell in the media. He has claimed that McConnell has been “stabbing the conservative movement in the back" and “views conservatives as his enemies." He's also called McConnell "the head alligator” of the Washington, D.C., swamp, and said he “wants big government.” And he's said that “for the sake of America,” McConnell should “step aside” though he's “too selfish to do that.”

    Here are numerous examples of Cuccinelli attacking McConnell over the years.

    Cuccinelli: McConnell is “Senator Surrender.”

    [Newsmax TV, The Steve Malzberg Show, 5/26/15]

    Cuccinelli: “Mitch McConnell is not part of the solution. He is a big part of the problem.” He added that McConnell “and his whole leadership team, [Republican Sens.] John Cornyn, [Roy] Blunt, [John] Barrasso, and [John] Thune, they’re all part of the problem. And it’s really time for someone else to step up in that caucus and really do good work for America.”

    [TheBlaze, The Morning Blaze with Doc Thompson, 10/16/17]

    Cuccinelli: “Mitch McConnell himself is now an albatross around the neck of Republicans in the caucus. … Well, Mitch, for the sake of the team, you need to step aside. And for the sake of America, he needs to step aside. But I think Mitch McConnell is too selfish to do that.”

    [TheBlaze, The Morning Blaze with Doc Thompson, 10/16/17]

    Cuccinelli: “Mitch is the head alligator” and he “lies to us.”    

    [The Washington Times, Mack on Politics, 9/11/17]

    Cuccinelli: McConnell “views conservatives as his enemies and he views retaining his own power, not achieving Republican campaign promises, as his goal. And that -- that alone is worth ousting him for and it’s long overdue.”

    [WMAL, Mornings on the Mall, 10/18/17]  

    Cuccinelli: McConnell has been “stabbing the conservative movement in the back.”

    [WMAL, Mornings on the Mall, 1/5/18]

    Cuccinelli: McConnell “wants big government. … You’ve never seen Mitch McConnell fight a Democrat as hard as he’s fought conservatives.”

    [The Federalist Radio Hour, 3/19/18]

    Cuccinelli: McConnell leads a “surrendership” and is a “natural surrenderer.”

    [American Family Radio, Sandy Rios in the Morning, 11/7/18]

  • Potential DHS senior official Ken Cuccinelli suggested that states invoke “war powers” to turn back migrant “invasion”

    Cuccinelli: “Because [states would be] acting under war powers, there’s no due process. … You just point them back across the river and let them swim for it.”

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Ken Cuccinelli, President Donald Trump’s likely pick for a senior position at the Department of Homeland Security, previously told Breitbart.com that states could invoke “war powers” against migrants crossing the U.S. southern border because “it’s an invasion.” He added that doing so would mean “there’s no due process” and states could “point them back across the river and let them swim for it.”  

    Trump is reportedly set to hire Cuccinelli, a former CNN commentator and Virginia attorney general, to a senior position at DHS, where he would coordinate immigration policy. Media Matters recently documented Cuccinelli’s long anti-LGBTQ record. Cuccinelli also has a history of pushing anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric, including comparing undocumented immigrants to rats and opposing birthright citizenship.

    One of his most extreme anti-immigrant positions came out on the October 23, 2018, edition of Breitbart News Daily, the radio show of the right-wing website that has pushed white nationalist propaganda. (Breitbart.com documented the appearance at the time, but Cuccinelli’s comments have largely gone unnoticed.) Cuccinelli discussed the migrant caravan that was approaching the U.S. southern border. Right-wing media and Republicans frequently fearmongered about the supposed threat of the caravan in the run-up to the 2018 election as a way to drum up votes.

    During that appearance, Cuccinelli suggested that states could constitutionally enter into war with the migrant caravan because “we’ve been being invaded for a long time and so the border states clearly qualify here to utilize this power themselves.”

    If they did so, “because they’re acting under war powers, there’s no due process,” Cuccinelli said. “They can literally just line their National Guard up with, presumably with riot gear like they would if they had a civil disturbance and turn people back at the border.”

    “You just point them back across the river and let them swim for it,” he later added.

    Cuccinelli also expanded on his argument for why the migrant caravan is supposedly an invading force, stating: “When someone comes across your border without your permission, it’s an invasion. Their purpose here is to violate the border, to violate our sovereignty, for their own purposes. That’s an invasion.” He later agreed with host Matt Boyle’s suggestion that the migrant caravan is acting like an "army” and suggested the caravan could be infiltrated by terrorists (in reality, there’s no evidence there were terrorists in the caravan).

    The Washington Post recently reported that "in a sign of sensitivity to criticisms from immigration hard-liners," the president's "advisers are looking at measures behind the scenes such as the Insurrection Act, an arcane law that allows the president to employ the military to combat lawlessness or rebellion, to remove illegal immigrants." 

    From Cuccinelli's appearance:

    KEN CUCCINELLI: Article 1, Section 10 of the Constitution, the third paragraph, lists some things that the states can do and under certain circumstances. And it says that no state shall enter into war without the permission of Congress unless they are actually invaded. Well, here it comes. And there are several interesting aspects of that.

    First of all, we’ve been being invaded for a long time and so the border states clearly qualify here to utilize this power themselves. And what’s interesting is they don’t need anyone’s permission. They can do it themselves. And because they’re acting under war powers, there’s no due process. They can literally just line their National Guard up with, presumably with riot gear like they would if they had a civil disturbance and turn people back at the border. Literally, you don’t have to keep them, no catch and release, no nothing. You just point them back across the river and let them swim for it. Maybe you have a little courtesy shuttle and drive them over and leave them there. And the states can do that, interestingly enough, and the federal government can’t. But it really becomes a question of do they want to utilize this power or not.

    Look, we use things called authorizations for the use of military force in Congress instead of declarations of war. There’s still, as a constitutional matter, it’s a declaration of war, but they’re against non-countries. The Taliban isn’t a country. ISIS isn’t a country. Al Qaeda isn’t a country. Yet we have effectively been declaring war on these amorphous groups that are not countries. And these are not people who are invading.

    When someone comes across your border without your permission, it’s an invasion. Their purpose here is to violate the border, to violate our sovereignty, for their own purposes. That’s an invasion. And here, I don’t think with the caravan it’s even debatable because you’ve got an entire group that’s organized itself to come into the country.

  • Right-wing pundit Ken Cuccinelli is an anti-LGBTQ bigot, and Trump is set to appoint him to a senior DHS position

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Ken Cuccinelli, a former CNN commentator and Virginia attorney general, will reportedly be named to a senior position at the Department of Homeland Security, where he will coordinate immigration policies. Cuccinelli has a long history of anti-LGBTQ bigotry, including claiming that the “homosexual agenda ... brings nothing but self-destruction, not only physically but of their soul."

    The New York Times reported today that President Donald Trump is expected to name Cuccinelli “as his choice to coordinate the administration’s immigration policies” and that he “is expected to be based in the Department of Homeland Security.”

    Cuccinelli worked for CNN as a legal and political commentator but was cut after the Times report. Cuccinelli also heads the political action committee Senate Conservatives Fund and its affiliated group Senate Conservatives Action.

    If he works in a senior position in the federal government, Cuccinelli could potentially affect the lives of numerous LGBTQ individuals. The Human Rights Campaign, for example, has documented "the precarious position of transgender immigrants and asylum seekers" and how "the crisis at the border is an LGBTQ issue."

    Here is a history of some of his worst remarks and actions regarding LGBTQ issues.

    Cuccinelli criticized the Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage in the U.S., saying it would lead to more “applied tyranny using this case.” During an NPR interview in 2015, Cuccinelli said the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges “isn't good for our country” and added: “The clear implication is that when you leave the parking lot of that church, it's no holds barred by the government against you. … You will see that sort of applied tyranny using this case.”

    Cuccinelli issued anti-LGBTQ opinions during his final days as attorney general. As The Virginian-Pilot noted, in his final days as Virginia’s attorney general, Cuccinelli “released a pair of nonbinding opinions that can be read as legal arguments against Gov. Terry McAuliffe's campaign pledges to fight for gay rights and undo abortion restrictions”:

    In one, Cuccinelli, who lost to McAuliffe in the 2013 governor's race, says a governor can't order state officials to permit legally married gay couples to file joint Virginia tax returns because the state bans same-sex marriage and formal recognition of it.

    The other asserts that a governor lacks authority to "issue a policy directive to suspend a regulation that was properly adopted pursuant to a statutory mandate." It appears to target intended protections for gay state employees and efforts to invalidate strict licensing rules for abortion clinics.

    Cuccinelli has campaigned for the criminalization of sodomy. In 2003, the Supreme Court struck down sodomy laws prohibiting gay sex as unconstitutional in Lawrence v. Texas. In 2013, Cuccinelli prioritized restoring Virginia's anti-sodomy law and campaigned on the issue during his gubernatorial run (he failed on both counts).

    Cuccinelli fought against policies that banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in public colleges and universities. The Washington Post reported in 2010 that Cuccinelli “urged the state's public colleges and universities to rescind policies that ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, arguing in a letter sent to each school that their boards of visitors had no legal authority to adopt such statements. In his most aggressive initiative on conservative social issues since taking office in January, Cuccinelli (R) wrote in the letter sent Thursday that only the General Assembly can extend legal protections to gay state employees, students and others -- a move the legislature has repeatedly declined to take as recently as this week.”

    Cuccinelli has said that “homosexual acts” are “intrinsically wrong” and “not healthy to society.” Cuccinelli said in 2009: "My view is that homosexual acts, not homosexuality, but homosexual acts are wrong. They're intrinsically wrong. And I think in a natural law based country it's appropriate to have policies that reflect that. ... They don't comport with natural law. I happen to think that it represents (to put it politely; I need my thesaurus to be polite) behavior that is not healthy to an individual and in aggregate is not healthy to society." In 2013, he was asked by PBS journalist Judy Woodruff during a debate if he still believed same-sex acts are “against nature and harmful to society.” He responded: "My personal beliefs about the personal challenge of homosexuality haven't changed."

    Cuccinelli said the “homosexual agenda … brings nothing but self-destruction, not only physically but of their soul.” The Washington Post reported in 2008 that Cuccinelli said: "When you look at the homosexual agenda, I cannot support something that I believe brings nothing but self-destruction, not only physically but of their soul."

    Cuccinelli said, “You can’t have safe homosexual sex.” In 2005, after a pro-choice student group at George Mason University organized a sexuality and health fair event that included information about sexual orientation, Cuccinelli said: “You can’t have safe homosexual sex. There is no such thing and yet one of the sponsoring groups is the homosexual group on campus.”

    Cuccinelli said, “The militant homosexual agenda generally threatens the stability of our families and our society.” In 2004, as the Virginia-based Connection Newspapers reported, Cuccinelli pushed for an amendment "guaranteeing that marriage is between one man and one woman. … If his bill became law, he said, gays' ‘sex-based relationships wouldn't be forced on the rest of society as if those relationships were normal. It's time that somebody started standing up for families. The militant homosexual agenda generally threatens the stability of our families and our society. I want a resolution to say we want to keep things the way they are in Virginia.’”

  • GOP payments, Trump venues, conflicts of interest: Fox figures’ speeches have been an ethical disaster

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Click here to access a PDF version of this report.

    For years, Fox employees have spoken at events for conservative groups and Republican Party organizations, using their cable news celebrity to help those organizations raise money and gain publicity.

    According to a new Media Matters analysis, Fox figures have taken more than $500,000 from Republican Party groups to speak at events. They have interviewed Republicans officials shortly after co-headlining events with them. And they have financially helped President Donald Trump by keynoting speeches on Trump properties.

    Here are five takeaways from an examination of speeches by Fox figures over the years:

    • Fox hosts Tucker Carlson, Lou Dobbs, Greg Gutfeld, Sean Hannity, Pete Hegseth, Laura Ingraham, and Jeanine Pirro have received over $500,000 combined in speaking fees from Republican groups while working at the network.
    • Members of Fox's purported "news" division, such as anchor Shannon Bream and Fox News Senior Vice President of business news Neil Cavuto, have also headlined conservative events, including alongside Republican officials. In one instance, Bream spoke at a conference that also featured then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke (whom she later interviewed on her program).
    • Fox News employees have spoken at events that have financially benefited President Donald Trump. For instance, Chris Stirewalt -- a member of Fox’s “news” division -- spoke at an event for the petroleum industry at Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C. And Jeanine Pirro has done events in which the proceeds went to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida.
    • Republican groups paying Fox News hosts has unsurprisingly created numerous conflicts of interest. For instance, Pete Hegseth repeatedly interviewed then-Senate candidate John James after headling a fundraiser with the Michigan Republican; and Pirro interviewed Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) the day after appearing with him at a fundraiser.
    • Three Fox News hosts -- Brian Kilmeade, Pete Hegseth, and Shannon Bream -- have cancelled speeches at conservative events this year following Media Matters reporting.

    (Media Matters obtained speaking fees through searches of various government campaign finance databases. The fees were either paid to the Fox figures or to their speaking bureaus.) 

    Here are more than 50 notable examples of Fox News speeches since 2007: 

    2007-2016

    November 1, 2007. Sean Hannity speaks at a fundraising event for the Alachua County Republican Party in Florida, reportedly receiving $75,000. The GOP group’s website stated at the time that Hannity would “broadcast the Sean Hannity half of Hannity and Colmes via satellite from the Ronald Reagan Black Tie and Blue Jeans BBQ. We had lobbied the powers that be that control such thing because it will greatly de-compress the day and the event. They informed us a few days ago that we got our wish. After the reception and during the main event, the reception hall at Canterbury Equestrian Showplace will get turned in to a mini TV studio. The[re] will be no audience in the reception hall, during Hannity and Colmes. … We will be broadcasting Hannity and Colmes on our big screens in the arena.”

    August 2, 2008. Fox News Washington Managing Editor Bill Sammon says in a speech aboard a cruise for Hillsdale College that he lied repeatedly during the closing days of the 2008 presidential campaign when he speculated on-air "about whether Barack Obama really advocated socialism." The remarks were unearthed by Media Matters three years later and caused major embarrassment for the network.

    April 15, 2009. Fox News hosts Neil Cavuto, Greta Van Susteren, Glenn Beck, and Sean Hannity attend tea party rallies across the country, with the network labeling them “FNC Tax Day Tea Parties.” Beck and Van Susteren are no longer with the network, but Cavuto, in addition to hosting programs on Fox News and Fox Business, “oversees business news content for both networks” as its senior vice president and managing editor of business news.  

    March 23, 2010. Hannity keynotes a fundraising dinner for the National Republican Congressional Committee. The GOP group stated that it “raised over $7 million” for the annual event.

    April 15, 2010. Hannity plans to broadcast his Fox News program from a Tea Party rally in Cincinnati but Fox News executives force him to abandon his plans. The Cincinnati Enquirer first reported on the event, and Media Matters added additional reporting and criticism before Hannity’s appearance was cancelled. Though Fox News executives were reportedly angry with Hannity, the Times later reported, “While there have been post-mortem discussions about the incident, it does not appear that they have resulted in any serious disciplinary measures taken against any staffers involved.”

    September 25, 2010. Tucker Carlson -- then a Fox News contributor -- reportedly speaks at an event hosted by the Moore County Republican Party in North Carolina, receiving $10,000.

    March 29, 2011. Carlson speaks at a fundraising event for the Lane County Republican Party in Oregon, receiving $23,500.

    May 25, 2011. Then-Fox News contributor Dick Morris speaks a fundraising event for the Oakland County Republican Party in Michigan. He would later treat GOP donors to a tour of Fox News and tapings of Lou Dobbs Tonight and Hannity.

    March 9, 2012. Morris speaks at a fundraising event for the Republican Party of Lake County in Florida and auctions off a personal guided tour of Fox News' New York studios for GOP donors. Fox News “reprimanded” Morris following Media Matters’ report.

    February 7, 2013. Ingraham speaks at a fundraising event for the Republican Party of Palm Beach County at Mar-A-Lago, FL, receiving $12,500. Trump introduced Ingraham.

    July 1, 2014. Media Matters releases a report documenting 15 Fox News hosts and contributors who have campaigned in the past few years with two political organizations created and heavily funded by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch. The Fox employees include current Fox hosts Tucker Carlson, Greg Gutfeld, Laura Ingraham, Charles Payne, and Dana Perino.

    February 21, 2015. Jeanine Pirro speaks at a fundraising event for the Manatee County Republican Executive Committee, receiving $20,000.

    May 4, 2015. Ingraham speaks at an event for then-Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). Blackburn became a senator in 2019.

    February 11, 2016. Ingraham speaks at a fundraising event for the Sangamon County Republican Central Committee in Illinois, receiving $12,500.

    March 20, 2016. Ingraham speaks at a fundraising event for the Republican Party of Palm Beach County at Mar-A-Lago. Trump, who was the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination then, also spoke at the event.

    May 5, 2016. Brian Kilmeade speaks at an event for the Queens Village Republican Club in New York.

    May 13, 2016. Carlson -- then a co-host on Fox & Friends Weekend -- speaks at an event for the Republican Party of Arkansas, receiving $23,500.


    Photo from the Republican Party of Arkansas' Facebook page

    2017

    January, February, and March: Jeanine Pirro receives a “speaker’s fee” payment of $5,000 each month, for a total of $15,000, from the New Jersey Republican State Committee for an unspecified event.

    January 26. Pete Hegseth speaks at a fundraising event for the Republican Party of Brazos County in Texas, receiving $5,000.

    February 18. Pirro speaks at a fundraising event for the Kent County Republican Committee in Delaware, receiving $12,000.

    March 4. Lou Dobbs speaks at a fundraising event for the Manatee County Republican Executive Committee in Florida, receiving $25,000.

    March 9. Pirro speaks at a fundraising event for the Erie County Republican Committee in New York, receiving $7,579.34.

    March 13. Pirro speaks at a fundraising event for the Georgia Republican Party, receiving $15,000.

    March 20. Pirro speaks at a fundraising event for the Republican Committee of Lower Merion and Narberth in Pennsylvania, receiving $5,284.

    March 31. Pirro speaks at a fundraising event for the Bonneville County GOP in Idaho, receiving $14,000.

    April 21. Hegseth speaks at a fundraising event for the Snohomish County Republican Central Committee in Washington, receiving $5,547.60.  

    July 28. Pirro speaks at a fundraising event for the Republican Party of Arkansas, receiving $15,000.

    July 29. Hegseth speaks at a fundraising event for the Larimer County Republican Party in Colorado, receiving $5,000  

    September 21. Host Greg Gutfeld speaks at a fundraising event for the Washington State Republican Party, receiving $36,609.41.

    October 8. Pirro speaks at a fundraising event for the Volusia County Republican Party in Florida, receiving $20,000.

    October 13. Cavuto speaks at an event for the conservative and Koch-funded Washington Policy Center alongside Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

    October 17. Ingraham speaks at a “campaign kickoff event” for then-Senate candidate Kelli Ward (R) in Arizona. The New York Times reported, “Fox News hosts are not usually allowed to stump for candidates, but Ms. Ingraham was granted an exception because her show had not yet begun.”

    October 21. Pirro speaks at a fundraising event for the California Republican Party, receiving $20,000.

    November 2. Hegseth speaks at a fundraising event for the Montgomery County Republican Women's PAC in Texas, receiving $6,500.

    November 9. Pirro speaks at a fundraising event for the Alachua County Republican Party in Florida, receiving $15,000.

    December 6. Hannity speaks and accepts an award at a United in Purpose luncheon hosted by Ginni Thomas at Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.

    2018

    January 18. Pirro speaks at an event for the Trumpettes USA club at Mar-a-Lago. The Washington Post reported that “the event followed the format of a Palm Beach charity ball — without the charity. [Trumpettes co-founder Toni Holt] Kramer was clear that the money would all go to the president's club.”

    February 8. Pirro speaks at a fundraising event for the Sangamon County Republican Central Committee in Illinois, receiving $13,250.

    February 17. Gutfeld speaks at an event for the Morris County Republican Committee Fundraiser at Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey, reportedly receiving $30,000.

    February 23. Hegseth speaks at a fundraising event for the Alabama Republican Executive Committee, receiving $10,600.

    March 5. Chris Stirewalt, Fox News’ politics editor who “helps coordinate political coverage across Fox platforms,” gives a keynote speech at Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., for the Independent Petroleum Association of America. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) spoke at the gathering the following day.  

    March 16. Pirro speaks at a fundraising event for the Kern County Republican Central Committee in California that also features then-House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). Pirro, who received $25,000 for speaking at the event, would interview McCarthy the following the day on her Fox News program without disclosing the payment.

    May 17. Hegseth speaks at a fundraising event for the Benton County Republican Central Committee in Washington, receiving $8,500.

    May 24. Hegseth speaks at a fundraising event for the Livingston County Republican Party in Michigan with then-Republican Senate candidate John James. Hegseth, who received $10,239.55 for the engagement, would later interview James on Fox & Friends Weekend on July 28, September 9, October 14, and October 28, without disclosing his financial conflict of interest.

    June 28. Hannity speaks at a Manhattan Republican Party event honoring him.

    June 30. Fox News Radio host Todd Starnes speaks alongside Republican officials at a fundraising event for the Fayette County Republican Party in Tennessee. Starnes has also worked as an anchor and reporter for Fox News Radio.

    July 2. Hannity participates in campaign rallies for two Florida Republicans: gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis and congressional candidate Rep. Matt Gaetz.

    August 11. Shannon Bream speaks at the conservative Steamboat Institute’s 10th Annual Freedom Conference & Festival and praised the recently passed GOP tax bill and said that Trump has been “rolling back regulations that we've heard from businesses, from the IRS to the EPA, have made it tougher for them to survive and be profitable in America.” Bream made the remarks despite stating that she’s “in the news division” and doesn’t “have an opinion publicly.” Then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke also appeared at the conference; Bream interviewed Zinke on her show in November.

    October 10. Pirro speaks at an event for Scott Wagner for Governor (R) in Pennsylvania, receiving $35,000.

    November 5. Hannity and Pirro both appear and speak at a campaign rally with Trump ahead of the midterm elections. The network responded by falsely claiming it “does not condone any talent participating in campaign events.”

    2019

    January 17. The Williamson County Republican Party in Tennessee announces that “Brian Kilmeade will not be speaking at” its February 16 “Reagan Day due to scheduling conflicts.” Media Matters had earlier that month criticized the Fox & Friends host for agreeing to participate in the partisan fundraiser.

    January 24. The Bridgeport Republican Town Committee in Connecticut announces that Pete Hegseth will no longer be speaking at its April 25 fundraiser “due to circumstances beyond our control.” The cancellation came a day after Media Matters reported on the event.

    February 23. Pirro again headlines a Trumpettes USA party at Mar-a-Lago that benefits Trump’s club, as The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple reported.

    March 22: The James Madison Institute announces that Shannon Bream has cancelled her speech at its April 3 fundraiser. Media Matters had previously reported on the event, noting that Bream belongs to Fox’s “news” division yet was scheduled to speak at the fundraiser for the Koch-linked group alongside Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

    May 31. Fox Nation host and Fox News contributor David Webb is scheduled to emcee a fundraising event for the Belknap County Republican Committee in New Hampshire. Webb has also emceed the committee’s events in previous years.

  • One America News Network hires Seth Rich conspiracy theorist Chanel Rion as a “political correspondent”

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    The newest “political correspondent” for the pro-Trump network One America News Network is Chanel Rion, a right-wing editorial cartoonist who has drawn illustrations that have promoted anti-Muslim bigotry; Seth Rich conspiracy theories; the book of a virulent anti-Semite; and a call for “armed citizens” to defend the country against purported coups and assassination attempts by the “violent left.”

    RealClearPolitics’ Philip Wegmann noted Rion’s hiring and background on Twitter. Rion recently filed a report for OAN defending President Donald Trump over The New York Timesreporting on his tax returns; during that segment she was identified as an "OAN political correspondent.”

    One America News Network is an openly pro-Trump network that pushes conspiracy theories, including about the murder of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich. The Washington Post reported in a 2017 profile of the network that its owner “Robert Herring Sr., a millionaire who made his money printing circuit boards, has directed his channel to push Trump’s candidacy, scuttle stories about police shootings, encourage antiabortion stories, minimize coverage of Russian aggression, and steer away from the new president’s troubles, according to more than a dozen current and former producers, writers and anchors, as well as internal emails from Herring and his top news executives.” Jack Posobiec, a Pizzagate and Seth Rich conspiracy theorist who has previously advocated for the “alt-right,” also works for the network.

    President Donald Trump recently tweeted his appreciation of the network, writing: “Also, congratulations to @OANN on the great job you are doing and the big ratings jump (‘thank you President Trump’)!”

    Rion’s biography states that she produced a “‘Mystery by Design’ series for girls” that purportedly “stands apart from the gender-hostile, Hollywood ‘rip and hate’ spirit of radical feminism that has brought so much coldness, pain, failure and disappointment to so many young women whose lives radical feminism has twisted and irreparably ruined with its toxic and confused mental stew of pointless competition, manophobia, hatred, gender-confusion and blame that radical feminism is and has always been about.”

    Rion is engaged to former Missouri Republican Senate candidate Courtland Sykes who, as The Washington Post wrote, gained “national attention in January when he posted a transcript on Facebook about his views on the proper role of women, including his fiancee, Chanel Rion. ‘I want to come home to a home-cooked dinner at 6 every night, one that she fixes and one that I expect one day to have daughters learn to fix after they become traditional homemakers and family wives,’ Sykes said.”

    During a 2017 interview with conspiracy theory outlet TruNews, Rion said that she started cartooning “when all these sleazy women started coming out attacking Trump saying that they touched him [sic] or did what this or that under flimsy grounds and I thought that the media really dropped the ball on that.”

    Rion’s illustrations have pushed anti-Muslim themes and conspiracy theories. She drew a cartoon wondering if entities such as the "deep state," DNC, or "Clinton crime family" killed Seth Rich and if the Clintons killed author Victor Thorn, a Clinton critic and virulent anti-Semite who wrote the book The Holo­caust Hoax Exposed: Debunk­ing the 20th Century's Biggest Lie. She also produced an illustration that said we need "armed citizens to defend America from [the] violent left" because the left is supposedly plotting an "assassination coup to kill [the] right," and the Democrats are plotting "to inspire killers."

    Here are examples of her cartoons, which were posted on her website.  

    (Philanthropist George Soros previously donated to Media Matters in 2010.)

  • Stephen Moore previously attacked the GOP senators he now needs for his Fed bid

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI



    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Stephen Moore, President Donald Trump’s pick for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board, spent years attacking Republicans for purportedly being insufficiently Republican. Moore now needs the support of some of those same Republicans in the Senate if his bid is going to succeed.

    Moore is a longtime Republican commentator and Trump economic adviser with problematic views on women and economics. Moore's bid is reportedly in trouble because of a host of issues, including his past commentary. 

    He has also worked with several right-wing organizations, including co-founding the Club for Growth in 1999. The group was started to “help elect candidates who support the Reagan vision of limited government and lower taxes” and oppose Republicans who “vote like Democrats.” Club for Growth booted Moore in late 2004, and it eventually paid the Federal Election Commission a $350,000 penalty “for its failures to register as a political committee during each of the national elections during Mr. Moore’s tenure as president,” as The Wall Street Journal noted.

    During his career as a pundit, Moore has frequently attacked Republicans for supposedly being insufficiently loyal to the party. He said Utah’s Mitt Romney is a “traitor” who has “no voice left in the Republican Party” because of his past criticism of Trump. He attacked Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski for purportedly supporting “anti-growth” policies as a politician. He labeled Maine’s Susan Collins a “dinosaur” who was waging a “last stand at the Alamo” over a tax bill. He called West Virginia’s Shelley Moore Capito a “Republican In Name Only” for her vote on a Department of Labor bill that wasn’t supported by then-President George W. Bush. And he declined to support “career politician” Johnny Isakson in a Republican primary in Georgia because of his “worse-than-average” voting record.  

    Mitt Romney (Utah)

    During a December 6, 2016, appearance on the conservative radio program Rose Unplugged, Moore criticized Romney, who at the time was in consideration for secretary of state:

    STEPHEN MOORE: I’m a “never Romney” guy. Never Romney. Never, never, never Romney. Mitt Romney cannot be the secretary of state, his behavior was despicable throughout this campaign. And look, if he had an ounce of dignity, if he really believes the things that he said about Donald Trump. This man has no dignity. Why would he even entertain the offer of -- you know, come on -- you know, you’re bigger than that. You bet on the wrong horse and you go -- you ride off in the sunshine because nobody really cares about you anymore. You have no constituency; you have no voice left in the Republican Party. Good riddance. I feel strongly about this. I really do. I think it would be a betrayal of people like you and me if he picked somebody like -- turncoat like Mitt Romney.

    Moore himself was a Trump critic before joining his campaign.

    During a November 28, 2016, interview with WLS-AM’s Big John and Ramblin' Ray, Moore said: “I cannot stand the idea of Mitt Romney being in this Cabinet.” He added that Romney was a “traitor.”

    Susan Collins (Maine)

    CBS News reported in a June 2004 article that Moore referred to Susan Collins, among others, as a “dinosaur” while talking about the political debate over Bush’s tax plan:

    The Republican Party has changed. It was once dominated by a strict adherence to cutting revenues only if spending was decreased proportionally. Since President Ronald Reagan, however, it has become a party that believes tax cuts benefit the economy even at the cost of a ballooning deficit.

    President Bush's dedication to cutting taxes is so fervent, that even with the drastic spending increases of wartime he refused to compromise in the slightest on tax cuts.

    "These four Republicans are the last dying gasp of dinosaur northeastern Republicans," Moore says. "This is their last stand at the Alamo."

    Besides Chafee, the other three Republican senators opposed to the Bush tax cuts are Maine's Susan Collins and Olympia J. Snowe, and John McCain of Arizona.

    Lisa Murkowski (Alaska)

    A June 11, 2004, article in the Anchorage Daily News reported that Moore said he liked then-Republican Senate primary candidate Mike Miller better than Murkowski because she voted for “a bill that expanded the Medicare program, which he thinks is too expensive, and believes she supported ‘anti-growth" policies when she was in the Alaska Legislature.” (Miller lost the primary to Murkowski.)

    Stephen Moore, president of Club for Growth, said he likes Miller's politics but can't invest in him if his campaign is "hopeless."

    "We basically agreed that he's certainly better than Lisa Murkowski," Moore said. Moore doesn't like her vote for a bill that expanded the Medicare program, which he thinks is too expensive, and believes she supported "anti-growth" policies when she was in the Alaska Legislature.

    "Our reservation is whether or not (Miller) has any chance of beating her, the viability issue," Moore said. "We said we'd wait until we saw some polling."

    So far, Alaska public-opinion surveys show Murkowski has an enormous lead over Miller.

    Shelley Moore Capito (West Virginia)

    Moore’s Club for Growth put then-West Virginia Rep. Capito’s name in its “Republicans In Name Only” list after she and other Republicans voted on a measure regarding Department of Labor rules on overtime pay in 2003. The group wrote that the now-West Virginia senator was one of “the Republicans In Name Only who voted against the efforts to modernize these complicated regulations.”

    Johnny Isakson (Georgia)

    Politico reported on April 17 that Moore backed Herman Cain over then-Rep. Johnny Isakson in a 2003 Republican Senate primary, calling Isakson's voting record “worse-than-average” and labeling him a “career politician”:

    “The Democrats don’t have any blacks in the Senate. We, as Republicans, could. A black, free-market senator from the South would be rich with irony,” Moore told the National Review, referring to Cain, in 2003. After endorsing Cain, he dinged Isakson for losing out: “Cain beat out Congressmen Johnny Isakson and Mac Collins for this very significant endorsement.”

    Moore also tore into Isakson in a 2004 statement backing Cain, calling Isakson’s voting record “worse-than-average,” dubbing him a “career politician” and vowing to support Collins or Cain over him, according to a Club press release posted on a conservative website.

    Republicans said Isakson was cool to Cain’s nomination, though Isakson personally declined to criticize Cain in an interview last week. His office on Wednesday declined to comment on Moore’s support of Cain in the 2004 primary.

  • Fox News reporter Doug McKelway advocates for right-wing ideas and smears Democrats on Twitter

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) is a “freak show.” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) sounds like a “school marm scold” and is “best watched with the volume turned off.” The Democratic Party is defined by “racial identity politics hucksters.” There “are other viewpoints” on climate change science and it doesn’t matter anyway because the “earth will die when the sun does.”

    Those comments aren’t by a random right-wing Twitter account but by Fox News reporter Doug McKelway, who is part of the network’s bureau in Washington, D.C.. Fox’s “news division” frequently dispatches McKelway to report on presidential politics and significant stories like the white supremacist rally Charlottesville, VA. He regularly appears on Fox’s “news”-side programming and occasionally guest-anchors Special Report with Bret Baier.

    Fox News has recently touted its “news” division as separate from its “opinion” side, especially to advertisers and Democratic politicians. That distinction has long been a farce, but McKelway’s prominent presence in the “news” division only further illustrates that lie.

    The Daily Beast’s Maxwell Tani and Andrew Kirell reported last week that in an email recently sent to some staff members, McKelway tried to defend President Donald Trump’s infamous comment that there were “very fine people on both sides” following the August 2017 neo-Nazi Unite the Right rally and resulting counter-protests. After Digital Senior Editor Cody Derespina agreed with McKelway, Fox News Radio White House correspondent Jon Decker responded by writing that they both sounded “like a White Supremacist chat room.”

    In addition to attacking Democratic politicians, McKelway frequently uses his Twitter account to push right-wing views. He has claimed that "a good parent" would explain to their children that there are “viewpoints" other than the scientific consensus on climate change; the Green New Deal would impose "financial hardship on the US" and "won’t make a dent" on carbon reduction; special counsel Robert "Mueller's people  - or someone with apparent knowledge of the raid - tipped off Mueller ally @CNN" to the raid of Roger Stone's house (they didn't); "entitlements" programs are "looming like a giant ponzi scheme"; and social justice curriculums are "wasting your kids brain."

    Here are some of McKelway’s tweets: