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Eric Hananoki

Author ››› Eric Hananoki
  • “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.”

  • UPDATED: NewsBusters promoted a white nationalist piece that claimed Black people are “a threat to all” they encounter

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Update (7/11): NewsBusters removed its links to the two pieces of white nationalist propaganda following the publication of this piece. NewsBusters also updated those pieces with the following editor's notes: "A link and a seeming endorsement of the white-nationalist site American Renaissance has been removed. NewsBusters does not associate with known white nationalists"; and "A link to the website VDARE.com, which affiliates with white nationalists, has been removed."

    Update (7/13): Contributing Editor Tom Blumer is no longer with NewsBusters, according to his biography on the site. 

    The conservative outlet NewsBusters promoted a piece on a white nationalist website that claims Black people “are a threat to all who cross their paths.” The white nationalist piece is so racist that it recently prompted the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) to withdraw its endorsement of New Jersey congressional candidate Seth Grossman, who had shared it on social media.

    NewsBusters, a project of The Media Research Center (MRC), claims that it was started “to provide immediate exposure of national media bias, unfairness, inaccuracy, and occasional idiocy.” Politico Chief Political Correspondent Tim Alberta recently profiled MRC and reported that leader Brent Bozell “has monetized fights big and small in a way that raises questions about the sincerity of MRC’s mission of holding the media accountable" and that “several well-known journalists who once dealt often with MRC told me they no longer do because the group operates in bad faith—preferring to leverage allegations of bias rather than discuss them honestly.”  

    NewsBusters also apparently has no problem favorably promoting white nationalist propaganda.

    In a January 4, 2015, post, NewsBusters Contributing Editor Tom Blumer alleged that The New York Times portrayed the “murderer of two NYPD cops as a victim.” After criticizing the Times, Blumer directed his readers to a post on the white nationalist site American Renaissance: “If there's a benefit to what eight people at the Times have produced, it's that it does give some insights into how thoroughly broken many underclass ‘families’ are, and the bitter, dysfunctional violent people they are producing. For more details than readers may be able to stand concerning that, go here for the perspective of a public defender in ‘a large southern metropolitan area.’”

    American Renaissance is headed by white nationalist writer Jared Taylor. The piece that NewsBusters linked to was written by an author who uses a pen name and claims of Black people: “Experience has also taught me that blacks are different by almost any measure to all other people. They cannot reason as well. They cannot communicate as well. They cannot control their impulses as well. They are a threat to all who cross their paths, black and non-black alike.”

    As Media Matters documented, Seth Grossman, a right-wing pundit who is the Republican nominee for New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District, shared a link to that piece in December 2014 (he also shared a link to the white nationalist site VDare). The NRCC announced it was withdrawing its support for Grossman’s candidacy shortly after Media Matters' report. In December 2014, Republican National Committeeman Dave Agema also shared that post; the Republican National Committee censured Agema shortly after that, citing his “history of harmful and offensive rhetoric.”

    Blumer also promoted the white nationalist website VDare in a February 21, 2017, NewsBusters post with the headline “Press Slow to Report Monday Night's Riots in Stockholm, Sweden.” He referred to VDare simply as a “center-right” outlet, writing: “The indefensible reluctance at the AP and the Times to recognize a story which had broken 16 hours earlier, was clearly reportable, based on the six-hour time difference between Sweden and the eastern U.S., and had already been noted at several center-right outlets by mid- to late-evening Monday, likely ensured that they did not get mentioned in any of the Big Three networks' morning news shows.”

    Blumer linked to a piece by VDare writer James Fulford which started: “As [VDare writer] Patrick Cleburne noted, Trump has been extremely right in saying Sweden has horrifying problems with Muslim immigrants. But the MSM seem to think he's imagining things.”

    Both of Blumer’s posts were cross-posted to his website, BizzyBlog.com. A request for comment to Blumer was not returned.

  • NRCC withdraws support for New Jersey congressional candidate and right-wing pundit Seth Grossman over bigoted remarks

    Media Matters and others documented numerous bigoted statements from the Republican

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    The National Republican Campaign Committee (NRCC) today withdrew its support for New Jersey congressional candidate Seth Grossman, a right-wing pundit who has repeatedly made bigoted remarks.

    Grossman is the Republican nominee for New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District. He is a lawyer who has also done stints as a radio host and newspaper columnist. Grossman received the NRCC’s backing on June 6 after he won his Republican primary contest (the Republican organization has since removed a statement about the endorsement from its website).

    As Politico’s Zach Montellaro reported, NRCC Chairman Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) issued a statement today saying, in part: “Bigotry has no place in society -- let alone the U.S. House of Representatives. The NRCC withdraws our support of Seth Grossman and calls on him to reconsider his candidacy."

    The statement was released hours after Media Matters reported that Grossman promoted white nationalist propaganda. In December 2014, he endorsed an openly racist piece on the white nationalist website American Renaissance that claimed Black people “are different by almost any measure to all other people. They cannot reason as well. They cannot communicate as well. They cannot control their impulses as well. They are a threat to all who cross their paths, black and non-black alike.”

    In 2010, Grossman also promoted a piece on the white nationalist website VDare. In comments to Media Matters, Grossman distanced himself from those links and claimed that he hadn’t visited those sites (despite sharing links to and commenting on them).

    On June 11, American Bridge 21st Century PAC released a video of Grossman saying in April, “The whole idea of diversity is a bunch of crap and un-American.” (American Bridge founder David Brock is also the founder of Media Matters.)

    Media Matters also reported on June 12 that Grossman posted other bigoted and racist remarks about Black and Muslim people before running for Congress. Grossman claimed:

    • “Blacks were not enslaved by whites. They were enslaved by other blacks and then sold to whites. … I do know of many Africans who wish their ancestors had been taken to America as slaves.”
    • “Fifty years of welfare programs, public and college ‘education’, and media and Hollywood pop culture run by ‘progressive’ Democrats did far more long term damage to blacks in America than 230 years of slavery.”
    • “Democrats today constantly talk of wrongs done by some whites to some blacks more than a hundred years ago. The purpose is for blacks to blame whites for their problems instead of the liberal officials and policies that are truly responsible.”
    • “Islam has nothing in common with other modern world religions like Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, or Hinduism.”
    • "Islam is a cancer. The fact that it already infected a billion people is even more reason to fight it every way we can.”
    • “Why are we inviting thousands of Muslim immigrants to our towns and neighborhoods when we are in the middle of a war with Islam?” (Grossman similarly shared a graphic that attacked then-President Barack Obama for having “flooded our cities with Muslims.”)

    CNN’s Nathan McDermott, Andrew Kaczynski, and Chris Massie reported on June 22 that Grossman “has said diversity leads to Muslims killing Christians and that Kwanzaa is a fake holiday made by black racists to divide America,” among other remarks.

    As media outlets have reported, numerous Republican candidates for office have had a problematic relationship with white nationalism.

  • GOP-backed House candidate promoted white nationalist propaganda, including piece claiming Black people are “a threat to all” they encounter

    When asked for comment by Media Matters, Grossman attempted to distance himself from that piece

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Update: NRCC withdraws support for New Jersey congressional candidate and right-wing pundit Seth Grossman over bigoted remarks

    Seth Grossman, a right-wing pundit who is now the GOP nominee in New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District, previously touted opinion pieces that were published on two leading white nationalist websites. One of those posts, which Grossman praised, claimed that Black people “are a threat to all who cross their paths.”

    In an email to Media Matters, Grossman attempted to distance himself from his endorsement of the racist "threat to all who cross their paths" piece and said he wants to help "take the Democratic training wheels off the black and Hispanic communities so they can succeed even more."

    Grossman drew headlines last month when American Bridge 21st Century PAC released a video of him saying in April, “The whole idea of diversity is a bunch of crap and un-American.” (American Bridge founder David Brock is also the founder of Media Matters.)

    Grossman’s career as a pundit provides numerous other examples of him publicly spouting bigotry. CNN’s Nathan McDermott, Andrew Kaczynski, and Chris Massie reported that Grossman “has said diversity leads to Muslims killing Christians and that Kwanzaa is a fake holiday made by black racists to divide America,” among other remarks.

    Media Matters previously documented bigoted and racist remarks about Black and Muslim people that Grossman had made in commentary pieces and on social media before he launched his run for Congress. He claimed to know “of many Africans who wish their ancestors had been taken to America as slaves” and said “Islam is a cancer” that has “already infected a billion people.” Grossman also promoted white nationalist propaganda.

    He posted a link on his Facebook accounts to an openly racist piece on the white nationalist website American Renaissance that claimed Black people “are a threat to all who cross their paths.” American Renaissance is run by white nationalist writer Jared Taylor. The piece that Grossman linked to was written by an author who uses a pen name and claims to be “a public defender in a large southern metropolitan area.” The piece concluded of Black people: 

    My experience has taught me that we live in a nation in which a jury is more likely to convict a black defendant who has committed a crime against a white. Even the dullest of blacks know this. There would be a lot more black-on-white crime if this were not the case.

    However, my experience has also taught me that blacks are different by almost any measure to all other people. They cannot reason as well. They cannot communicate as well. They cannot control their impulses as well. They are a threat to all who cross their paths, black and non-black alike.

    Grossman praised the piece on his now-defunct Grossman4NJ page, writing: “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.” Grossman also shared the piece on his personal Facebook page with an abbreviated version of the above commentary:

    National Republicans have previously censored a GOP official for similar behavior. On New Year’s Eve in 2014, Republican National Committeeman Dave Agema posted the same American Renaissance piece on his Facebook account. The Republican National Committee executive committee later censured Agema in light of his sharing of that post and his “history of harmful and offensive rhetoric.” Grossman currently has the backing of the National Republican Congressional Committee (Update: Grossman's backing has been revoked).

    Grossman also promoted the prominent white nationalist website VDare. In a December 2010 post on the website of a conservative nonprofit group he founded, Grossman highlighted a 2003 piece on VDare.com by anti-immigrant writer Allan Wall that complained that United States law enforcement officials allegedly can’t, “in the normal course of their duties, detain illegal aliens.” From Grossman’s post:

    If the U.S. ever gets serious about immigration control, it has to improve cooperation between state and local police and immigration authorities – the way Mexico does.
    And by the way, here in Mexico, local police are not only allowed, but required to enforce Mexican immigration law.
    http://www.vdare.com/awall/cops.htm

    Numerous outlets have correctly noted -- both in recent years and back in 2010 -- that VDare is a racist site.

    VDare pieces published in 2010 (before Grossman’s December 2010 post) had headlines such as: “Diversity Is Strength! It’s Also…Homicide-Prone Minorities In Los Angeles”; “Diversity Is Strength! It’s Also…Arab Stabbing Attacks”; “Come Back, Stonewall Jackson! Hispanic Gangs Invade Shenandoah Valley”; “Grim Sleepers? MSM And Hollywood Shut Eyes To Black Serial Killers”; and “National Data: Haitian Immigrants Pretty Useless -- But Haiti Still Needs Them More Than We Do.”

    Media Matters asked Grossman for comment and clarification about why he shared those links. He distanced himself from the American Renaissance piece, writing: "I shared the post for the reasons I stated on 12/30/2014. ... I did not and do not agree with any of its claims, and never visited the website. I believe I got the post from Alan (sic) West who I thought was pointing out ignorance, hatred, and bigotry in both races, and the need to address them through open discussion." (Allen West, a right-wing pundit and former Republican congressman, praised the piece on December 29, 2014.)

    Grossman stated of VDare: "I have never been to their site. I don't know anything about them. I have no idea who shared that piece with me many years ago." He also sent Media Matters a statement: "For more than 50 years, the Democratic Party set the agenda for black America. Far too many blacks still suffer from crime, poverty, and violence caused by that Democratic Party agenda. I am glad I helped Trump become President so he could change that agenda and get black and Hispanic Americans working again in record numbers. I am running for Congress so I can help Trump do even more to take the Democratic training wheels off the black and Hispanic communities so they can succeed even more."

    In recent months, media outlets have reported on the relationship between numerous Republican candidates for office and white nationalism.

    *This piece was updated for clarity and with Grossman's comment about VDare, which Media Matters received after posting.

  • A GOP congressional candidate in California has been appearing on neo-Nazi podcasts

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    John Fitzgerald, an anti-Semite who is running as a Republican for California’s 11th Congressional District seat, has been appearing on neo-Nazi podcasts and falsely claiming that the Holocaust is a “lie.”

    Fitzgerald came in second with 23 percent of the total vote in the June 5 top-two primary and will face off against incumbent Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) in the November election.

    Fitzgerald writes on his campaign site that the “911 attacks were used as the catalyst by Jewish elements within our Government and Israel’s, to implement the PNAC Doctrine (1999) which called for a 'catastrophic and catalyzing event-- like a new Pearl Harbor' to both galvanize support from the American people and to make regime changes” (italics in original) throughout the world. He also writes: “I hope all of you ask yourselves why JEWS are primarily behind the push of multiculturalism, diversity and inclusiveness throughout the United States, Europe and other once predominantly white nations of the world and WHY many of our politicians allowing them to do so has led to rape and crime epidemics in its aftermath.”

    The California Republican Party and the Republican Jewish Coalition released a statement in May condemning Fitzgerald and rejecting any support for him.

    Since advancing to the general election as a Republican, Fitzgerald has courted anti-Semitic media.

    He appeared on the June 23 edition of The Realist Report with host John Friend. Friend is a neo-Nazi who has said that the “Jews Did 9/11,” Adolf Hitler was “the greatest thing that's happened to Western civilization,” and the “alleged ‘Holocaust’ of 6 million Jews at the hands of Adolf Hitler and National Socialist Germany during WWII is one of the most egregious and outrageous falsehoods ever perpetrated.”

    During the interview, Fitzgerald complained about purported “Jewish control and supremacy” and praised Friend for claiming that Israel was behind the 9/11 attacks. Fitzgerald also said he’s dedicated to “exposing the truth about the Holocaust and how it’s an absolute fabricated lie.”

    Fitzgerald ran for Congress as a Democrat in the 2010 and 2012 primaries but got little traction, gaining just 15 percent and 7 percent of the vote, respectively. He said on Friend's program that though he ran as a Democrat in those elections, “I wasn’t really a Democrat. But I was just trying to get in the system, and so I did so.”

    Fitzgerald also appeared on the June 28 edition of The Andrew Carrington Hitchcock Show. Hitchcock has lionized Hitler and written numerous anti-Semitic screeds.

    During that program, Fitzgerald said, “I’ve really gone on an extreme journey from the standard material that everybody believed to what is considered a very taboo subject, taking on the entire Holocaust narrative and realizing that everything we’ve been told about the Holocaust is a lie. So my entire campaign, for the most part, is about exposing this lie.”

    Media outlets, for their part, have reported on similar candidates who are running for office across the country, including neo-Nazi and Illinois Republican U.S. congressional candidate Arthur Jones; white supremacist and Republican North Carolina General Assembly candidate Russell Walker; neo-Nazi and unsuccessful California Republican U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Little; and anti-Semite and Wisconsin Republican U.S. congressional candidate Paul Nehlen.

    Some media have also documented the racist rhetoric pushed by candidates including Rep. Steve King (R-IA), Prince William Board of County Supervisors at-large Chairman Corey Stewart (R-VA), and Republican commentator Seth Grossman of New Jersey.

  • Sean Hannity will campaign with Reps. Ron DeSantis and Matt Gaetz

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Fox News host Sean Hannity is hitting the campaign trail to support gubernatorial candidate Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who is seeking re-election.

    Hannity is a pro-Trump propagandist who has a long history of pushing smears and conspiracy theories. He reacted to the shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, MD, yesterday by blaming Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), stating: "I've been saying now for days that something horrible was going to happen because of the rhetoric. Really, Maxine?"

    The right-wing host is scheduled to do three campaign events on July 2 with DeSantis and Gaetz, who is a “special guest.” Tickets for the events are free.

    Both DeSantis and Gaetz are frequent guests on Fox News and have integrated the network into their respective campaigns.

    Gaetz posted a June 27 promotional video for one of the stops that featured Hannity praising Gaetz on his Fox News program. The video was paid for by Gaetz’s congressional campaign. In the past, Fox News objected to a political campaign that used network footage in an advertisement. (Update: The Gaetz campaign has removed the video from its Facebook post. Media Matters downloaded the video before this piece went live; the video can be found here.

    DeSantis announced that he was running for governor during a January episode of Fox & Friends. He also mentions in the first paragraph of the biography on his campaign website that he is endorsed by “Fox News’ Sean Hannity, and radio host Mark Levin” (who is also a Fox News host).

    Numerous Fox News hosts and contributors have been doing campaign fundraisers for various Republican candidates and organizations over the years, as Media Matters has documented.

    Among other pro-Republican activities, Hannity starred in a 2016 campaign ad for President Donald Trump’s campaign; a Fox News spokesperson later claimed: “We had no knowledge that Sean Hannity was participating in this and he will not be doing anything along these lines for the remainder of the election.” He also keynoted a 2010 fundraiser for the National Republican Congressional Committee that “raised over $7 million.”

    Last year, Fox News host Laura Ingraham headlined an October fundraiser for Republican Arizona U.S. Senate candidate Kelli Ward. The New York Times reported then that “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” (Ingraham was a Fox News contributor and frequent guest host prior to starting The Ingraham Angle).

    Fox News did not reply to a Media Matters request for comment.

  • Suspended Fox pundit David Bossie has used the network to support Rep. Barbara Comstock

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Right-wing commentator David Bossie, who was recently suspended from Fox News for making a racist remark, has used his Fox News position to support the reelection campaign of longtime friend Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA).

    Bossie is a right-wing operative who has a history of employing dirty tricks and smears. Bossie worked as President Donald Trump’s deputy campaign manager in 2016 and joined Fox News as a contributor in February 2017.

    On June 25, Fox News reportedly suspended Bossie for two weeks after he told Democratic strategist Joel Payne, who is Black: “You’re out of your cotton-picking mind.” Fox News and Bossie later apologized for the remark.

    In recent weeks, Bossie has used his employment at Fox News to push for Comstock on-air and off-air. The Virginia representative is considered one of the most vulnerable elected Republicans in the country and Republicans such as Bossie have been organizing to help her win in the November election.

    Bossie endorsed Comstock on June 5 and touted his Fox News affiliation in the first sentence, writing: “My name is David Bossie and you might know me from Fox News where I routinely discuss my time as the Deputy Campaign Manager for President Trump’s 2016 campaign.”

    Despite his baggage (both before and after his “cotton-picking mind” remark), Comstock publicizes Bossie’s endorsement on her campaign website. She also highlighted the endorsement in a June 6 Facebook post along with a picture of one of Bossie’s appearances on Fox News. (Comstock’s campaign also spent a small amount of money to promote that post on Facebook, according to the social network’s archive of “ads with political content.”) A Media Matters request for comment to the campaign was not returned.

    Bossie promoted Comstock on Fox News just weeks before his suspension, calling her “a dedicated, principled, member of Congress who does an outstanding job.”

    The June 1 edition of Outnumbered covered an ad that compared President Donald Trump to Osama bin Laden from then-potential Comstock opponent Dan Helmer; Helmer later came in fourth in the Democratic primary. Bossie, who was co-hosting that program, used the ad to praise Comstock and attack her then-potential opponents.

    Bossie began by stating that Comstock is the godmother of his oldest daughter and he’s known the Republican for "about 25-plus years." He said of Comstock: “She is a dedicated, principled, member of Congress who does an outstanding job for the 10th District of Virginia and is going to win this November, hands down. She is in a tough race but she's going to win it.” Bossie added that Helmer and “all of the candidates in this primary, everyone on the Democrat side, have Trump Derangement Syndrome. They are all crazier than the next one. They are all hardcore leftists. And I think Barbara is going to beat whoever wins [the nomination].”

    Bossie has also aided Comstock’s campaign through fundraising efforts for the Virginia Republican Party, which helps elect Republicans throughout the state. He was the “special guest” for the party’s 3rd Annual Commonwealth Dinner in April.

  • After apologizing for toxic remarks, HHS official now claims she was the target of a “smear campaign”

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) official Ximena Barreto issued a statement last month saying she “deeply” apologizes for making “generalized comments regarding race relations and radical Islam.” Barreto is now backtracking by claiming that she is the victim of a “smear campaign.”

    Barreto is a former right-wing pundit who joined HHS in December 2017 as a deputy communications director. Media Matters reported on April 9 that Barreto (who also goes by the surname Barreto-Rice) has a history of making toxic remarks. She claimed that “African-Americans are way more racist than white people,” labeled Islam “a fucking cult” that has “no place” in the United States, pushed the false Pizzagate conspiracy theory, and attacked the “retarded” 2017 Women’s March. Here is a video from Media Matters’ John Kerr of some of her worst remarks: 

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

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

    CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski, Chris Massie, and Nathan McDermott additionally 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.” CNN also “found that Barreto also repeatedly used the hashtag #BanIslam” and pushed other conspiracy theories, including about murdered Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich.

    In May, HHS announced that it would not fire Barreto and reassigned her to the department’s Administration for Children and Families. HHS also provided an apology from Barreto for her remarks, which stated, in part: “Comments I made as I private citizen before I was hired at HHS were brought to light by concerned members of the press. In the heated and hyper-passionate political campaign environment, I made generalized comments regarding race relations and radical Islam. I fully understand that these emotionally-charged comments were hurtful, and I deeply apologize to members of both communities.”

    That apology appears to be a sham -- at least, according to a recent tweet from Barreto herself. Mediaite's Caleb Ecarma reported today that Barreto recently attacked CNN for purportedly conducting a “smear campaign” against her (CNN did not smear Barreto). She tweeted on June 14: “Locked my account after CNNs (sic) smear campaign, received too many threats and packages delivered to my home.” After Ecarma asked her for comment, Barreto reportedly deleted the CNN tweet and shut down her private Twitter account. 

    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. … In total, Mediaite found that Barreto tweeted about variations of the Pizzagate conspiracy at least 17 times.”

    A Media Matters request for comment to HHS was not immediately returned as of posting.

  • Rep. Steve King’s anti-immigrant page cites a white nationalist website

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Rep. Steve King (R-IA) hosts a page on his congressional website about “illegal immigrant stories” that cites the white nationalist publication VDare.

    King is a racist congressman who has a history of pushing bigotry. He recently promoted British neo-Nazi Mark Collett on Twitter (the congressman has since claimed ignorance of Collett’s views).

    King’s house.gov website features a page titled “Illegal Immigration Stories” that contains information about “illegal aliens” allegedly committing crimes. King has frequently smeared immigrants as prone to criminality; in reality, studies show that immigration does not increase the rate of crime.

    One of King’s citations on that “Illegal Immigration Stories” page is an April 2016 VDare piece headlined “Drunk Driving Illegal Alien Kills Woman, Is Granted Bail and Disappears.” The VDare piece, by anti-immigrant writer Brenda Walker, begins by stating: “Funny how after all these years of Americans being run down by drunk driving illegal aliens, the crime of inebriated vehicle operation by unlawful foreigners is still not taken seriously by authorities.”

    The Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that VDare “regularly publishes articles by prominent white nationalists, race scientists and anti-Semites.” The Anti-Defamation League wrote that VDare is a racist site that “posts, promotes, and archives the work of racists, anti-immigrant figures, and anti-Semites.”

    Media Matters has documented past VDare headlines including: “One Problem With These Hispanic Immigrants Is Their Disgusting Behavior,” “Indians Aren`t That Intelligent (On Average),” “Diversity Is Strength! It’s Also…Hispanic Immigrants Taking Over FBI’s Ten Most Wanted,” “America Does Not Need ANY Immigrants From Africa,” and “Roll Over, JIHAD—There’s Also HIJRA, Muslim Conquest By Immigration.”

    King praised Peter Brimelow, the white nationalist founder and editor of VDare, while appearing with him during a 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) panel. Then-BuzzFeed reporter Rosie Gray wrote of King in February 2012:

    Iowa congressman Steve King is unconcerned about the implications of his appearance during a CPAC panel on "The Failure of Multiculturalism" featuring a white nationalist author, Peter Brimelow.

    "I don't know anything about that," King, who came to the event to talk about his English Language Unity Act, told BuzzFeed -- though he'd earlier told Brimelow that "I've read all your books!".

    VDare and Brimelow are also fans of King and Brimelow wrote a pro-King op-ed for The Daily Caller last year.

    While King’s “Illegal Immigration Stories” page also cites news outlets including The Associated Press and The Boston Globe, it additionally uses sources such as the anti-immigrant hate group Federation for American Immigration Reform and Breitbart.com. Six of the Breitbart.com pieces cited by the page are by Katie McHugh, who was fired from the site for tweeting racist remarks last year (no small feat given the site’s open bigotry).