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Eric Hananoki

Author ››› Eric Hananoki
  • An HHS official is a Pizzagate conspiracy theorist who said “African-Americans are way more racist than” whites and Islam is a “fucking cult"

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    UPDATE: Following the publication of this article, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services told Media Matters in an updated statement that Ximena Barreto “has been placed on administrative leave while the matter is reviewed.”

    UPDATE 2: Trump administration declines to fire HHS official Ximena Barreto over bigoted and conspiratorial remarks


    As a fringe right-wing political commentator, Ximena Barreto 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. In December, she became a deputy communications director at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

    Media Matters found out about her federal employment because she was recently added to ProPublica’s Trump Town database, which includes personnel records for thousands of appointees in President Donald Trump’s administration. As the project notes, the administration has often hired people who “have little-to-no government experience.”

    Barreto (who also goes by the surname Barreto-Rice) was a right-wing pundit who used the screen name “RepublicanChick” on her personal website and social media. She regularly posted commentary on Periscope and briefly co-hosted a YouTube show called The Right View by Deplorable Latinas. She also said she helped Trump’s California efforts during the 2016 election.

    A biography of Barreto on her now-defunct website stated: “Growing up in Colombia during the drug wars, which deeply impacted her life at a young age, Ximena witnessed blatant corruption and extreme violence, lost family members, and came to understand the importance of law and order. After moving legally to the United States, Ximena began comparing the social issues between Colombia and the USA, which played a big role in her engagement in political activities as an American.”

    A spokesperson for HHS stated that the department “has no comments on any statements she may have made before joining HHS.” The spokesperson also said that “Mrs. Barreto-Rice provides specialty media support including: Spanish media, outreach, and other general press related responsibilities. ... In addition to her seven years of media experience, Mrs. Barreto-Rice brings a unique background to the position.”

    Media Matters reviewed Barreto’s commentary -- some of which is no longer publicly available but has been cached through content archives -- and found she has made vitriolic and conspiratorial remarks about Pizzagate, black and Muslim Americans, and the media, among others. Here are some of her worst remarks:

    “We’ve got to use all of our efforts into Pizzagate and not let that one die”

    Barreto has repeatedly pushed the false Pizzagate conspiracy theory that claimed prominent political figures were trafficking children through a Washington, D.C., pizza restaurant. She tweeted in November 2016 that efforts by supporters of former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to trigger a recount were “a hoax so we get distracted from #PizzaGate.”

    She appeared in a November 30, 2016, Periscope video in which she also said (starts roughly 1:45 into the video) the presidential recount effort is an attempt to distract people “from Pizzagate.” She later claimed that former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is also tied to Pizzagate. “A lot of people are connected to it,” she remarked.

    Near the end of the video, Barreto told viewers: “Don’t listen to the recount and relax. We’ve got to use all of our efforts into Pizzagate and not let that one die because that’s what the mainstream media is trying to get distracted from. So check all the Pizzagate stuff.”

    “African-Americans are way more racist than white people”

    In her November 30, 2016, Periscope video (starts roughly 8:00 into the video), during a discussion about “fucking reverse racism,” Barreto said: “African-Americans are way more racist than white people.”

    She continued shortly after: “I’ve been attacked by more African-Americans on Twitter than white people, in all honesty. … They’re the most racist people I ever met.” She then said that she’s been insulted and called slurs by African-Americans.

    “Islam has no place” in this country; Islam isn’t a religion but “a fucking cult”

    During her November 30, 2016, Periscope, Barreto said (starts roughly 7:26 into the video) that Islam advocates for “killing other people and abusing women; that’s not a religion, that’s a fucking cult. Like, I’m serious. Like, that’s not religion.” She also said during a June 12 video that Islam is "just a cult. All the practices are cult-like, all that they do.”

    During a December 4, 2016, Periscope video (starts roughly 8:00 into the video), she wondered aloud whether there are members of the Muslim Brotherhood in the U.S. government -- a common conspiracy theory among anti-Muslim right-wing media. After someone asked if there’s a Muslim Brotherhood plan in the United States, she replied: “Well, how many of them are in the government already, you know? Like in Congress?”

    In a May 25 post on the now-defunct website Borderland Alternative Media, she suggested that practicing Islam should not be allowed in the United States:

    The atmosphere created during the Obama administration encouraged criminal behavior, lawlessness, and violence, has badly harmed our country. In addition to his disastrous domestic policies, Obama ended up further destabilizing the Middle East by pulling troops out of Iraq, after being advised not to. Pulling the troops prematurely lead to the creation of ISIS, a group that has claimed numerous terrorists attacks, who are honestly not much different from the guerrillas and the drug lords: they are all thirsty for blood, power and total control. All the while, Obama and other political elites (both Democrat and Republican) flooded our country with Islamic refugees, many of whom have engaged in terrorism and sworn allegiance to ISIS. Now, these terrorists seek to destroy Western civilization and America itself; having been enabled to grow stronger and becoming emboldened under the weak Obama administration.

    How did we go from being enraged after 9/11, the Boston Marathon bombing, San Bernardino, the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando (just to name a few) to liberals caring and worrying about the feelings of terrorists? Recently, one of the reporters at “The View” complained about President Trump calling terrorist losers, saying that “wasn’t presidential.” Yes they are losers, they kill children! If we call them monsters we are actually EMPOWERING them because they know we fear them, we need to start calling them for what they really are COWARDS, and LOSERS. I don’t consider myself an expert on Islam, however many take the Koran by heart- a book that calls for the death of non believers and that threatens our way of life. Now, liberals are wearing hijabs in marches all while turning their backs to real oppression, such as the brutality of Islamic law against children, women and the LGBT community.

    This isn’t about feelings, it’s about common sense and basic survival. We have become too soft, we have allowed radical leftist rhetoric to infiltrate our education system. A few weeks ago, San Diego Unified School District approved “Sharia compliant curriculums” in classrooms. We are appeasing the savages that want us dead, and that we have fought for over 700 years! Islam has NO PLACE in our education system (or country) and it’s shameful to see them involved in writing curriculum while Christianity is banned. It’s a sin. Whatever happened with separation of church and state? Apparently that only applies to Christianity.

    Other vitriolic rhetoric

    Barreto claimed during a September 18, 2017, appearance on The Hagmann Report that the “main goal” of “the media and the Democrats is to cause a civil war because at the end they’re gonna end up profiting from it.” During that program she also said: “We think fake news in English is bad, but Spanish is even worse,” pointing to alleged coverage of President Trump on Univision and Telemundo.

    Barreto has tweeted that "#LiberalismIsCancer" and "#FeminismIsCancer and an excuse for women to disrespect men and act insane"; falsely claimed that President Barack Obama pushed millions of “illegals” to vote in 2016; said Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards has done “the work of the devil”; and complained of the 2017 Women’s March: “It’s retarded that they’re marching in a country where we have rights. Like, what do you think other countries where women don’t have rights are thinking about us right now?”

    Video by John Kerr. 

    (Note: Barreto's Periscope-hosted videos were removed after this piece was published. Media Matters subsequently uploaded the original videos and changed the original links.) 

  • A Sinclair national correspondent frequently interviewed conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for Russian-funded TV

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Before she became a national correspondent for Sinclair Broadcast Group, Kristine Frazao worked for the Kremlin-backed network RT (formerly Russia Today), where she interviewed conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on more than 20 occasions. During those friendly interviews, Frazao allowed Jones to push conspiracy theories about the 9/11 attacks, 2011 Norway shooting, and 2005 London bombings, among other events.

    In an email to Media Matters, Frazao stated that being at RT had given her a “refreshing” opportunity to report “on less covered subjects” but said she's now “very glad” to no longer work there. She also said she had no role in booking Jones as a guest. 

    Sinclair Broadcast Group has drawn heavy criticism recently for mandating that its local news anchors participate in identical segments echoing President Donald Trump’s anti-press attacks. The company has a history of pushing conservative content on its local stations and currently requires them to air "must-run" segments featuring former Trump aide Boris Epshteyn.

    Frazao’s role within Sinclair and prior employment with RT have also come under scrutiny in recent days after she produced a March 21 segment in which “former Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka parroted a Trump talking point regarding the existence of a ‘Deep State’ attempting to undermine the U.S. government,” as wrote. That segment aired on at least 22 stations in 15 states, according to a Media Matters review.

    Before joining Sinclair, Frazao worked as an anchor and correspondent for RT from December 2009 to January 2013. U.S. intelligence agencies and media observers have criticized the Kremlin-backed RT for airing propaganda and conspiracy theories over the years. RT was one of the early enablers of Alex Jones and his conspiratorial rhetoric (Donald Trump and his allies have now embraced the once-fringe host).

    Frazao told Media Matters that when she joined RT, she "found the opportunity to report on less covered subjects to be refreshing and, ultimately, an important catalyst for my growth as a journalist. I become more familiar with different, less US-centered viewpoints." She added that her view on the network has changed, writing: "Time has shown with Russia's invasion of Crimea and the 2016 election that RT has gone in a different and troubling direction- one that does not align with most noble pursuits of our profession. I am very glad that I no longer work there."

    Regarding her on-air segments with Jones, Frazao said she "did not have a role in booking Alex Jones or any other guest. We were told which guests were appearing on the shows and what the topics would be."

    "I can tell you that RT had a keen interest on growing their internet audience and our producers and guest bookers knew that Alex Jones has a large online following," Frazao said. "Our producers seemed to think that because of that, his perspective was relevant."

    As a contrast to her Jones interviews, Frazao pointed to work she did on RT involving civil rights for American Muslims, contaminated water because of fracking, and the suicide rate among Native Americans.

    RT described Jones as one of its “frequent contributors” and regularly hosted him during the Obama administration. Though Jones no longer appears on the network as frequently, he estimated last year that he has appeared on it "200 times." Jones has claimed that he was told years ago that Russian President Vladimir Putin is “a big listener" and was previously informed that the “Russian government listens to" his show and that the Kremlin partially “modeled” RT off of his Infowars network.

    As Media Matters has documented, the right-wing host has used his own program to push toxic and false claims about the 9/11 attacks and the tragedies at Columbine, Oklahoma City, Sandy Hook, Parkland, and the Boston Marathon, among others. He has also spread conspiracy theories about Pizzagate (and was later forced to issue an apology for pushing smears).

    At the time of the Frazao interviews, Jones’ website referred to him as “one of the very first founding fathers of the 9-11 Truth Movement” and he had been gaining notice in the media for pushing fringe conspiracy theories.

    Media Matters reviewed 22 interviews* that Frazao conducted with Jones from 2010-2012. Jones told Frazao and RT viewers that there’s a “criminal, illegitimate, foreign banking cartel that runs America and stages the terror attacks”; the United States government faked Osama bin Laden’s death; the government set up the “underwear bomber”; and 9/11, the 2011 Norway shooting, and the 2005 London bombings were “false flag” attacks.

    During one interview, Frazao told Jones, “It’s a good thing, though, that you’re getting a lot of press out there. As they say, no press is bad press, and certainly your message is getting out there.” In a segment about the U.S. State Department fighting propaganda, Frazao said: “Who better to talk to about this than radio host Alex Jones.”

    While talking about news that year about actor Charlie Sheen, Frazao said to Jones: “First of all, do you think that he said what he said on your show because you're not like the rest, because you give a platform for people to not have to be P.C.? And second, I’m wondering what you think about the fact that you’re being so sought out after now because of it?”

    Commenting on the nature of the Jones interviews, Frazao told Media Matters she tries “to be courteous and respectful to everyone that I interview- no matter their personal opinions or mine.”

    In a May 2011 interview with Frazao, Jones said that the U.S. government helped Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the so-called underwear bomber, get on a plane to attempt to bomb it. He then said that Osama bin Laden wasn’t actually killed in 2011 but died years before and then was frozen so he could be rolled out at a convenient time.

    He later stated that there’s a “criminal, illegitimate, foreign banking cartel that runs America and stages the terror attacks or finds mindless patsies run by their MI6, Mossad, CIA handlers like Anwar al-Awlaki, the CIA lackey, and Adam the American Gadahn.” Frazao ended the segment by stating: “All right, certainly an interesting and unique perspective as always.”  

    In a July 2011 video, Jones said the Norway shooting that month was a “very sophisticated form of false flag attack where whether [the shooter is] a mind-control patsy or whether he believes he's acting as part of this, this Illuminati Knights Templar knighthood, it is invoking a clash of civilizations.” The segment ran with the on-screen text: “Decoding the symbols: Did Masonic psychology inspire Oslo attacks?”

    During a November 2011 segment, Jones suggested that the United States government wants to impose martial law on the country.

    The following month, Jones said that his sources say Osama bin Laden actually “died many years ago of kidney failure.” He then said that the government is “monitoring people that are aware that government and corporations use drills to cover-up real false flag terror attacks or frame-ups that they're going to run and time and time again since we've discovered that 9/11 had drills of the same targets being hit, 7/7 in London had drills of the same targets being hit. They do this drill business over and over and over again to cover real operations. Same thing with a Norway shooter.”

    The Jones segments are posted on YouTube with such dizzying headlines as: “NWO: 'Bilderberg controls the world' -- Alex Jones”; “Alex Jones: Senate wants martial law in America”; “Alex Jones doesn't buy Bin Laden's death”; “Alex Jones: The globalists have kept us from having kids”; and “Alex Jones: 'Anders Behring Breivik was Masons' Patsy.'”

    *Videos from: 3/25/10, 4/15/10, 6/1/10, 10/4/10, 1/6/11; 1/30/11, 3/3/11; 3/17/11, 3/29/11, 5/2/11, 5/26/11, 6/10/11, 7/25/11, 8/18/11, 9/1/11, 9/20/11, 11/16/11, 11/29/11, 12/28/11, 1/19/12, 4/9/12, 4/30/12.

    Pam Vogel contributed research to this post.

  • Trump’s reliance on media personalities for staffing has repeatedly backfired

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    President Donald Trump’s reliance on hiring media personalities for roles in his administration has repeatedly backfired, yet he continues to fill important positions with talking heads.

    The Associated Press recently noted that "Trump’s new national security adviser, John Bolton, is a former U.N. ambassador, a White House veteran -- and perhaps most importantly a Fox News channel talking head. ... Another recent TV-land addition to the Trump White House is veteran CNBC contributor Larry Kudlow as top economic adviser. Other Fox faces on Trump’s team: rising State Department star Heather Nauert, a former Fox News anchor; communications adviser Mercedes Schlapp and Treasury Department spokesman Tony Sayegh. The latter two are both former Fox commentators." 

    Trump’s reliance on media personalities certainly isn’t surprising: The president worked as a television reality star and he’s glued to Fox News, which he uses as a source of intel. Vice President Mike Pence also worked as a conservative commentator before entering political office.

    But Trump’s use of right-wing commentators has helped contribute to chaos within his administration, as evidenced by seemingly never-ending departures and scandals.

    The following are individuals who worked as media commentators before getting involved with the Trump administration and then leaving or withdrawing from consideration under poor circumstances.

    Michael Flynn: After leaving the military, the retired lieutenant general regularly appeared in the media as a military analyst, including on the Russian government-owned RT (the network infamously paid Flynn for appearing at a dinner with Russian President Vladimir Putin). He became Trump’s first national security adviser but resigned "over revelations about his potentially illegal contacts with the Russian ambassador to the United States, and his misleading statements about the matter to senior Trump administration officials," as The Washington Post wrote. He has since pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

    Stephen Bannon: Bannon left to join Trump’s presidential campaign and then followed him to the White House as a senior adviser. He was a constant source of tension within the administration and a lightning rod for criticism. He left the White House in August 2017 and rejoined the right-wing site. When author Michael Wolff quoted him saying numerous unflattering things about Trump and his family in Fire and Fury, Bannon became persona non grata within the pro-Trump orbit. The Mercer family, which financially backs, distanced itself from Bannon and he resigned from the site.

    Sebastian Gorka: Gorka become a deputy assistant to the president after working for and as a Fox News contributor. He reportedly did little of value in his position and left in August. Gorka has since returned to Fox News and joined the Canadian far-right media outlet Rebel media.

    Anthony Scaramucci: Scaramucci was a frequent cable news guest who also hosted Wall Street Week on Fox Business. He later became White House communications director but infamously lasted only 10 turbulent and bizarre days.

    K.T. McFarland: McFarland became the deputy national security adviser after working as a Fox News contributor. She only served in that position for a brief period of time and was subsequently nominated for an ambassadorship to Singapore. She withdrew her nomination in February; Politico wrote at the time: "Concern over McFarland related to the ongoing Russian investigations had stalled her Senate confirmation since last summer."

    Monica Crowley: Crowley, a right-wing writer and frequent presence on Fox News, was set to join the National Security Council as the senior director of strategic communications but withdrew after CNN’s KFile team and Politico found numerous instances of plagiarism in her work.

    William Bradford: Bradford worked as a lawyer and commentator -- and made numerous bigoted, conspiratorial, and violent remarks -- before he became the director of the Department of Energy’s Office of Indian Energy. Bradford resigned shortly after CNN’s KFile documented “inflammatory comments through an account on the online commenting service Disqus.”

    Carl Higbie: Higbie, a former Navy SEAL, joined the Corporation for National and Community Service as its chief of external affairs. CNN’s KFile later uncovered “racist, sexist, anti-Muslim and anti-LGBT comments he made” on his radio program and he resigned from his position. America First Policies, a leading pro-Trump organization, hired Higbie in March and has stuck by him after other toxic remarks resurfaced. 

    Rev. Jamie Johnson: Johnson joined the Department of Homeland Security after working as a radio host and political consultant. He resigned after CNN’s KFile “revealed inflammatory past comments he made about the black community and Islam” while talking on the radio.

    Joseph diGenova and Victoria Toensing. Both diGenova and Toensing, who are married, were set to join Trump's legal team but withdrew due to conflicts of interest related to current clients. The two are frequent guests on Fox News and other media outlets; The Washington Post reported that Trump enjoyed diGenova's "TV appearances and wanted diGenova on his team even though he did not know him, officials say." The Post added that their change of plans was "the latest sign of disarray for Trump’s legal strategy." 

    Another conservative commentator-turned-official who has been a headache for the administration is Ben Carson. The surgeon-turned-Fox News contributor is now the secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. His purchase of an expensive dining set potentially broke federal laws. And, as The Washington Post reported, he allowed “his son to help organize an agency ‘listening tour’ in Baltimore last summer despite warnings from department lawyers that doing so risked violating federal ethics rules.”

  • Director at pro-Trump group boasted of asking airline passengers with "a rag" on their heads if they were terrorists

    America First Policies' Carl Higbie: "You put a rag on your head, it’s my right to be suspicious"

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    A director for the pro-Trump group America First Policies once proudly said that he asks fellow airline passengers whom he deems “Muslim jihad-looking” if they’re terrorists, stating that when “you put a rag on your head, it’s my right to be suspicious.”

    Carl Higbie is a right-wing commentator who recently joined America First Policies as its director of advocacy. The organization is one of the leading allies of President Donald Trump; Vice President Mike Pence has been campaigning with the organization and is scheduled to appear at a March 22 event the group is hosting in New Hampshire.

    Higbie was hired despite his history of bigotry, which resulted in his resignation as chief of external affairs at the Corporation for National and Community Service in January.

    As CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski reported, Higbie said on radio that “‘the black race’ had ‘lax’ morals”; that “black women think ‘breeding is a form of government employment’”; and that he didn’t like Muslims and LGBTQ people. He also stated that members of the military with severe PTSD have "'a weak mind' and said 75% of those afflicted were either lying or milking it for federal money.” In March, CNN also reported that Higbie “shared an N-word laden post written by someone else on Facebook in December 2014.”

    Following Higbie’s hiring by America First Policies, Media Matters reviewed several other media appearances he had made and found even more vitriolic comments, including his claim about harassing airline seatmates.

    During an April 19, 2013, guest appearance on the internet-based network Renegade Talk Radio, Higbie reacted to the Boston Marathon bombing by bragging that he discriminates against airline passengers who he said look Muslim. From the segment:

    CARL HIGBIE: Well, the thing is we need to get over the fact that, you know -- “Oh, you can’t insult the prophet. You can’t insult Islam.” Who the fuck cares how you feel? You’re in my country, all right? We’re not a Muslim country. You put a rag on your head, it’s my right to be suspicious. When I get on an airplane and I’m sitting next to some Muslim jihad-looking dude, I ask him. I say: “Dude, are you a terrorist?” And he gets all bent out of shape. “Oh, what’s that supposed to mean?” Yeah. Because no 90-year-old women have brought down any planes recently. So are you or are you not a terrorist? Answer the fucking question.

    During the exchange, co-host Richie Keppler also repeatedly used the anti-Muslim slur “raghead” when talking about the perpetrators of the Boston bombing. 

    Later during the program, Higbie said: “I say it’s OK to hate Muslims.” He also said during a discussion about morality in the United States: “I just don’t like gay people.” CNN’s KFile also documented that Higbie said in May 2013 on his Sound of Freedom radio program: “I don't like gay people. I just don't." The Greenwich Time reported earlier this week of Higbie's views about LGBTQ people: "'I’ve changed a lot on that topic,' Higbie said, noting, as he had in the past, that he was molested as a child by a man. 'I wish I could take those comments back.'"

    In addition to appearing as a guest, Higbie also hosted programs for Renegade Talk Radio. During a November 9, 2013, show, Higbie said (3:44 minutes into the clip): “I have no problem with Muslims in Ameri -- well. I have no problem with Muslims in America here. As long as they conform to being Americans. If they’re going to run around with a towel on their head, I’m going to act suspicious because they’re identifying themselves as Muslim and they’re distinctly saying, ‘Look at me, I’m Muslim.’”

    During a November 5, 2013, show, Higbie said (15:00 minutes into the clip) that then-President Barack Obama is “like a Muslim-in-chief infiltrating, infiltrating our government.” He later said (18:54 minutes into the clip) he thought the 2013 shooting at Los Angeles International Airport “may have been an attempt to pull the attention off Obamacare. Now, I could be wrong, and like I said, I'm not a conspiracy theorist, because I really don't think the government is organized enough to commit some of these serious conspiracies, but this -- it’s getting deeper and deeper.”

    Media Matters asked America First Polices if it wanted to respond to Higbie's remarks about airplane passengers. Spokesperson Erin Montgomery replied: "I think if you have to go back five whole years to fulfill your mission to expose so-called 'right-wing media lies,' then you may want to be a bit more concerned about the relevance of your nonprofit. As a former U.S. Navy SEAL with two tours of duty in Iraq fighting radical Islam, Carl Higbie risked his life for the better part of a decade to protect the freedoms of all Americans, including those who work at your organization. He's been a warrior on and off the battlefield--a loyal fighter for policies that will help put all Americans first." 

    *This post has been updated with additional information.

  • CNN’s Ben Ferguson regularly posts vitriolic and conspiratorial attacks against his employer on Facebook

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    UPDATE: Ferguson’s Facebook page removed the posts referenced in this piece shortly after publication. Screenshots of his since-deleted posts have been added next to the original links.

    UPDATE 2 (3/20): Ferguson posted an apology on Twitter:

    Followers of CNN political commentator Ben Ferguson on Facebook are probably confused about why he even works for the network.

    On his verified page, Ferguson endorsed and promoted a bogus claim that CNN scripted its town hall debate on gun violence. He celebrated a Roy Moore supporter yelling “fake news” at the network; remarked that a video of President Donald Trump beating up the CNN logo “is kinda funny”; and told followers to check out tweets claiming CNN banned a negative story about former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. He also complained that CNN “can't let conservatives” like himself “express their opinion.”

    He has also promoted articles claiming that CNN anchor Jake Tapper is “an embarrassment,” “CNN’s gun control town hall was a stunt,” and mainstream media outlets “aren’t honest and they don’t care about the truth.”

    CNN has hired a number of pro-Trump commentators, and many of them have proven to be a liability for the network. For example, CNN fired Jeffrey Lord after he tweeted a Nazi salute at Media Matters President Angelo Carusone. The network also fired pro-Trump commentator Ed Martin in January for, according to Martin, “cause.” While the specific reason was not made clear, he had previously attacked the network and its contributors, including calling two commentators “black racists.”

    A Media Matters study found that Ferguson made the second highest number of appearances on the cable network among its employed pro-Trump commentators from July 24, 2017 to October 24, 2017. While Ferguson wrote on Facebook in May 2016 that he’s “proud to be apart (sic) of CNN family,” it certainly hasn’t seemed that way.

    Ferguson recently pushed the claim that CNN scripted its town hall special on guns, including Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student survivor Colton Haab's accusation against the network. In a February 23 post, he wrote: “Wow, it's even worse than we thought” and linked to a story by Young Conservatives editor Andrew Mark Miller claiming:

    It was pretty clear that CNN’s town hall debate on gun control was a sham from the very start. They had no intention of moving the conversation forward. It was about shaming Republicans from the very start.

    In fact, one high school student who was at the scene of the Florida shooting said that CNN tried to script his questions.

    From The Hill:

    A student survivor of last week’s mass shooting at a Parkland, Fla., high school said he was asked by CNN to “write a speech and ask questions” for a town hall but declined to attend the event after “it ended up being all scripted,” a claim the network is pushing back on.

    “CNN had originally asked me to write a speech and questions and it ended up being all scripted,” Colton Haab told WPLG-TV, an ABC affiliate in Miami.

    “I expected to be able to ask my questions and give my opinion on my questions,” said Haab.

    Later that day, Ferguson posted a link to another anti-CNN piece with the caption “Good luck trying to explain this one.” The piece by Andrew Mark Miller said that “CNN’s gun control town hall was a stunt” and called moderator Jake Tapper “an embarrassment” and claimed he did a “terrible moderating job.” It added that “one parent [Andrew Klein] is now coming out and saying that CNN explicitly told him only people who supported the liberal narrative could speak” and also quoted Haab’s accusation that CNN scripted the event.

    CNN has strongly disputed that it tried to script Haab’s remarks. As The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple reported, “CNN strenuously denied that claim on Thursday, both before and after President Trump picked up the story based on a report on the Fox News program 'Tucker Carlson Tonight.'” CNN also released emails showing that Haab’s father, Glenn, “doctored emails” to the media about an exchange with a CNN producer (Glenn Haab acknowledged altering the emails but defended his actions). The network also issued the following statement in February:

    “The Stand Up: The Students of Stoneman Douglas Demand Action Town Hall was intended to be a forum for students, parents and teachers to speak directly to the elected leaders and stakeholders that are at the center of this critical issue. It is unfortunate that an effort to discredit CNN and the town hall with doctored emails has taken any attention away from the purpose of the event. However, when presented with doctored email exchanges, we felt the need to set the record straight.”

    In November, Ferguson cheered on a “fake news” attack against CNN’s reporting on the Roy Moore Senate race in Alabama. He wrote: “This is brutal for CNN. While a reporter was reading from an editorial against Roy Moore published by an Alabama newspaper, he was interrupted by a man shouting two words at CNN. Check out the clip.” Ferguson then linked to a piece by Andrew Mark Miller which embedded a video of a Moore supporter yelling: “Fake news! Fake news! Fake news!” The article added that “we simply can’t trust the mainstream media. They aren’t honest and they don’t care about the truth. Moore is staying in this race and the people of Alabama are the ones who will decide his fate.”

    In July 2017, Ferguson endorsed Trump’s tweet of a video depicting the president physically beating CNN’s logo, writing: “Come on media this is kinda funny. Don't you agree?”

    Shortly after Hillary Clinton lost the presidential election, Ferguson promoted the claim that CNN banned certain stories that were critical of her on Election Night. Ferguson wrote: “Check out these tweets,” and linked to a radio page that included the unproven claims from disgraced right-wing troll Todd Kincannon that an unnamed CNN reporter said Clinton "was in a 'psychotic drunken rage'" on that night and “the CNN reporter didn't fail to report it. His editors will not let him. CNN has banned all ‘Hillary in the bunker’ stories.”

    In October, Ferguson also criticized CNN host Don Lemon, writing: “Liberals just can't let conservatives express their opinion. Here I get cursed at for speaking my mind.”

    Bizarrely, several of Ferguson’s anti-CNN posts were also posted word-for-word on the Facebook accounts of other pundits. For instance:

    • Ferguson’s “Wow, it's even worse than we thought” post also appeared on Stacey Dash’s page.
    • Ferguson’s “Good luck trying to explain this one” post also appeared on the Facebook pages of Dash and Allen West.
    • Ferguson’s “Brutal for CNN” post also appeared on Dash’s page.

    A portion of Ferguson’s post criticizing Don Lemon also appeared on Dash’s account, though the first-person description was changed.

    Ferguson, Dash, and West are all connected to Young Conservatives LLC, a company that oversees clickbait websites, as Media Matters previously documented

    CNN and Ferguson did not return requests for comment.

  • A leading pro-Trump group hired a disgraced former government official who said he disliked black, Muslim, and LGBTQ people

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    UPDATE (3/16): CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski and Nathan McDermott reported that Higbie also “shared an N-word laden post written by someone else on Facebook in December 2014.” From their report:

    In a December 18, 2014 post, Higbie shared a post that he claimed was written by an 83-year-old black man. The post uses the N-word, uncensored 20 times.

    In sharing the post, Higbie wrote, "these are not the words of me, Carl Higbie but that of Williams [sic] G. Lillas." He called the man's thoughts "straight to the point."

    The independent fact-checking website Snopes has said the post, which Higbie attributed to Lillas, a war veteran, had been shared around the Internet in various iterations and is "probably false."


    Higbie shared the post when the death of Michael Brown, the teenager who was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, was in the news. The post refers to Brown by the N-word.

    "So, let us be clear, Michael Brown was a nigger; a sorry assed, criminal, hoodlum, nigger. Nobody wants to say that, but I will," the post said.

    The post later says black people repeatedly riot and again uses the N-word.

    A spokesperson for America First Policies defended Higbie and complained that CNN is purportedly spewing “falsehoods and propaganda.”

    ORIGINAL POST: Carl Higbie resigned in disgrace from his appointed government position a few months ago after he was exposed as a bigot who told radio listeners he disliked black, Muslim, and LGBTQ people, among others. A leading pro-Trump group that works closely with the White House has now hired him as a senior official.

    America First Policies announced today that Higbie is joining the group as its director of advocacy. Veteran Republican consultant and America First Policies president Brian O. Walsh said in a statement that Higbie’s “esteemed military leadership and service to our great nation -- along with his extensive experience in advocacy, communications and campaigning for candidates for federal office -- will make him an invaluable addition to the America First team.”

    Higbie resigned as the chief of external affairs at the Corporation for National and Community Service in January after CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski unearthed vile remarks Higbie made as a radio host “about black Americans, Muslims, women, LGBT people, veterans suffering from PTSD and immigrants.” 

    CNN reported that his remarks included claiming that "'the black race’ had ‘lax’ morals”; that “black women think ‘breeding is a form of government employment’”; and “that he did not like Muslims.” Higbie also stated that members of the military with severe PTSD have "'a weak mind' and said 75% of those afflicted were either lying or milking it for federal money.” He remarked: “I don't like gay people. I just don't.” And he “said American citizens with guns should be allowed to go to the border to shoot undocumented immigrants crossing into the US.”

    Higbie later apologized for his remarks.

    America First Policies was started shortly after President Donald Trump’s inauguration by former top advisers to his campaign. It is affiliated with the super PAC America First Action. Advisers to the group have included former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, former White House deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh, pundit and former Labor Department official Curtis Ellis, and former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke. Rick Gates, who recently pleaded “guilty to federal conspiracy and false statements,” briefly worked with the group “but was pushed out of that job last year,” as The Associated Press noted.

    America First Policies is heavily involved with the Trump White House and his agenda. In recent weeks, Vice President Mike Pence has spoken at the organization's events in KentuckyMichigan, and Ohio, among others.

  • These right-wing pundits keep posting identical Facebook remarks to promote a clickbait website

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    When House Republicans released the results of their investigation claiming to clear President Donald Trump of colluding with Russia during the 2016 election, the Facebook pages of several right-wing pundits posted strikingly similar thoughts at roughly the same time.

    “The news we’ve all been waiting for,” wrote former Fox News personality and current congressional candidate Stacey Dash.

    “The news we’ve all been waiting for,” remarked Sarah Palin.

    “The news we’ve all been waiting for,” CNN political commentator Ben Ferguson and Media Research Center senior fellow Allen West both wrote.

    That same pattern has repeated itself for months: Pundits post identical (or virtually identical) remarks, quips, or paragraph-long commentaries, along with a link to a website owned by Young Conservatives LLC.

    It’s not a coincidence. Commentators such as Dash, Ferguson, Palin, and West all have websites connected to Young Conservatives and they all regularly share the clickbait company's content. Young Conservatives' main news site is currently If you’ve never heard of that site it's likely because it was launched in just the past few months -- and it will likely soon be defunct.

    BuzzFeed’s Craig Silverman explained this month that the company has been using a practice called domain hopping, “an increasingly popular tactic of quickly hopping from one domain name to another in order to blunt the impact of Facebook’s recent News Feed algorithm changes. It’s also used by publishers as a way to stay one step ahead of blacklists used by brands and agencies to keep their ads off controversial or inflammatory websites.” He added that West's own page at has already "used more than a dozen different domains with his name in them" since January 2017.

    The extent of Young Conservatives’ involvement with those right-wing pundits is unclear. The company did not respond to an inquiry from Media Matters and declined an earlier request for comment from BuzzFeed about “Sarah Palin or its other partners.”

    Media Matters sent requests for comment to Dash through emails listed on her campaign documents and to Ferguson, Palin, and West through website contact forms but did not hear back as of posting. (A disclaimer on Palin's Facebook page indicates that she does not personally write many of the remarks on her account, stating that posts “by Sarah Palin” are signed “SP.”)

    Media Matters also sent an inquiry to the group Chicks on the Right, asking about a post on its Facebook page that included identical remarks to those of other pundits and for clarification regarding its relationship with Young Conservatives. Co-founder Miriam Weaver responded in a blog post by criticizing Media Matters and writing that it's "absolutely none of Media Matters’ business (or anyone’s, really)" whom the group works with and what financial relationships it has. She also defended the identifical Facebook post practice, stating, in part, that “we share their story the way it appears on their page, and they share our story the way it appears on our page – hence, the identical language. It’s less work that way, you see.” From Chicks on the Right's post (emphasis in original):

    Here’s the deal. Once a day, usually sometime in the evening hours, we share a post from our friends, the Young Conservatives, on our Facebook page, which we and ONLY WE manage. They, in turn, share one of our posts on their Facebook page. It’s a lovely partnership – one that allows us to cross-promote with our respective audiences. It costs us nothing to share their posts, and it costs them nothing to share ours. It’s a mutual swap, if you will. Once a day. And we share their story the way it appears on their page, and they share our story the way it appears on our page – hence, the identical language. It’s less work that way, you see. It appears, from the OH-SO-SCANDALOUS link that Media Matters included in their email, that the Young Cons have similar relationships with other folks as well. Good for them, I say. I love to see conservatives helping each other out. The more the conservative message gets out to the masses, the better!

    A Media Matters review of the Young Conservatives-connected pundits found numerous posts promoting affiliated content that contained identical or virtually identical remarks.

    One of the most frequent cut-and-pasters is Republican political commentator Stacey Dash. She has continued to post links to Young Conservatives content even though she’s running for Congress in California and her Facebook page is connected to her campaign website.

    The posts push conservative tropes and sometimes veer into vitriol. For instance, Dash, Ferguson, and West have repeatedly criticized and mocked the survivors of the February 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL.

    [Dash, Ferguson, West]

    [Dash, Ferguson, West]

    [Dash, Ferguson, West]

    Here are some of the many examples of identical remarks from Young Conservatives-affiliated pundits.

    Dash, Ferguson, and West had the same reaction to an NFL story:

    Dash, Ferguson, and West had the same “Yeehaw!” reaction to a federal court ruling:

    Chicks on the RightFerguson, and Palin had the same two-sentence reaction to a court decision about California. West, however, opted to use "isn't a good idea" instead of "isn't panning out."

    And here are Dash and Ferguson doing an "insert sarcasm here" joke just one minute apart:

    Even purported first-person posts are cut and pasted across different accounts. Here are Dash and Ferguson making an observation about the Parkland shooting at the same time:

    Here are Dash and Ferguson writing about Enterprise Rent-A-Car at the same time:

    And here they are talking about Trump:

    To be fair, their posts are not always identical. When Dash and Ferguson claimed they may have found themselves a new church, Ferguson opted not to include the word “freaking”:

  • GOP groups are using right-wing troll Dinesh D’Souza for fundraising

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Republican Party groups are continuing to partner with right-wing troll Dinesh D’Souza for fundraising. D'Souza has mocked the survivors of the mass shooting in Parkland, FL, claimed that Rosa Parks was an “overrated Democrat,” and written that slavery wasn’t “a racist institution” and “the American slave was treated like property, which is to say, pretty well."

    D’Souza was the headline speaker for a March 10 fundraising event for the Flathead County Republican Central Committee in Montana. The Daily Inter Lake, which was allowed to attend the event while “reporters with the Missoulian and Montana Public Radio could only speak with attendees outside,” reported that “the evening was a can’t-miss event for many of Northwest Montana’s current and aspiring political leaders”:

    State Reps. Derek Skees, R-Kalispell, and Mark Noland, R-Bigfork, state Sen. Keith Regier, R-Kalispell, Montana House candidate Shawn Guymon, Flathead County Sheriff candidate Calvin Beringer, and U.S. Senate candidates Matt Rosendale, Troy Downing and Al Olszewski were all seen greeting guests in the center’s lobby beforehand. U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, R-Mont., came in just before the event.

    D’Souza is also scheduled to keynote an April 14 fundraising dinner for the Bonneville County Republican Party in Idaho. The group stated that Idaho Republican gubernatorial candidates “Congressman Raul Labrador, Dr. Tommy Ahlquist, and Lt. Governor Brad Little are expected to attend and offer remarks at the second annual event.”

    Bonneville County GOP first vice chair Bryan Smith has defended the group's choice, telling " that his organization has received some pressure to cancel D’Souza’s speaking engagement" but the local party isn't considering changing the speaker:  

    “We’ve had phone calls to two of our phone numbers. They often don’t leave names, or it’s a bogus name with no return number,” Smith tells “Nobody on the executive committee involved in organizing the event thought for a moment to get another speaker. It’s a free country. We believe in free speech. We do not cancel people because we disagree with their views. Let him come and speak, and then we can judge it on the outcome.”

    D’Souza was invited to the Lincoln Day Dinner before the controversy erupted. Smith says one reason is because the author “epitomizes the great American dream.”

    D’Souza headlined a February 16 Republican Party event in Nevada that was attended by Nevada Republican officials including Sen. Dean Heller and state Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt.

    D’Souza should be considered too toxic to have a place in mainstream politics.

    Last month, the right-wing pundit took to Twitter and repeatedly mocked the student survivors of the February 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. While D’Souza eventually apologized, his comments were part of a long pattern of vitriol. As Daily Beast Senior Editor Andrew Kirell wrote:

    Over the past year, D’Souza has: suggested the Charlottesville white-supremacist rally (which led to the murder of an anti-racism protester) was a “staged event” designed to make the right look bad; shared a meme calling former President Barack Obama a “gay Muslim” and suggesting Michelle Obama is a man; started a conspiracy theory that the media covered up Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock’s background as an anti-Trump activist (he wasn’t); used a photo of a grieving military widow—despite her protests—to attack football players kneeling during the national anthem; and defended Adolf Hitler, who sent thousands of gay people to death camps, as being “NOT anti-gay.”

    D’Souza also called civil rights activist Rosa Parks an “OVERRATED DEMOCRAT,” and wrote of slavery: "Was slavery a racist institution? No. Slavery was practiced for thousands of years in virtually all societies. … the American slave was treated like property, which is to say, pretty well." He also called for a repeal of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, explaining he believes that the “law should be changed so that its nondiscrimination provisions apply only to the government.” (Many of D’Souza’s other idiotic remarks can be found here and here.)

    Shortly after D’Souza’s Florida shooting remarks, a business association canceled an event featuring him, citing "circumstances beyond our control."

    D’Souza pleaded guilty to making illegal campaign contributions to a Republican Senate campaign in 2014. He has since claimed that the prosecution was “a political prosecution” and attacked prosecutor Preet Bharara as “a familiar Indian type, one of those gang leaders out of 'Slumdog Millionaire' transplanted to the United States. … Since Preet Bharara doesn't have a strong Indian accent he may be employable as one of those tech guys who helps you fix your computer.”

  • An anti-immigrant hate group lobbying director is now a senior adviser at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Robert Law, a senior policy adviser to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), previously worked as a lobbying director for the anti-immigrant organization Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). While at FAIR, Law denigrated Dreamers, argued that the United States should end birthright citizenship, and recommended that the government reduce the number of refugees and immigrants coming into the country. 

    Law quietly joined the agency, part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in October after serving as FAIR’s director of government relations, according to his LinkedIn profile. Aside from his networking page, Law’s appointment does not appear to have been publicly announced. His name appears in ProPublica's Trump Town database of admistration appointees.

    The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has designated FAIR as a hate group, writing: “One of the group’s main goals is upending the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which ended a decades-long, racist quota system that limited immigration mostly to northern Europeans.” FAIR was founded by John Tanton, who, the civil rights group wrote, “has white nationalist beliefs and has written that to maintain American culture, ‘a European-American majority’ is required.” Tanton remains on the group’s board of advisors. The Anti-Defamation League has also criticized FAIR, describing it as “an extreme anti-immigrant group.”

    FAIR’s staff appears regularly in media outlets despite its hate group designation. Other members of the Trump administration have connections to the group. For example, former FAIR executive director Julie Kirchner is the ombudsman for USCIS after previously working as an adviser for U.S. Customs and Border Protection at DHS.

    In an email to Media Matters, a FAIR spokesperson criticized SPLC and categorically rejected the hate group designation, writing, in part, “There is an ongoing effort by organizations with opposing views on immigration to try to discredit groups like FAIR that seek enforcement of immigration laws and overall limits on U.S. immigration.”

    In a 2016 newsletter, FAIR stated that Law headed its "three-person Federal Government Relations department" and that his “passion for the immigration issue began a decade ago when he learned that Bank of America worked to help illegal immigrants get mortgages. Outraged, he marched down to the local branch and closed his account.”

    USCIS is an agency that, according to its mission statement, “administers the nation’s lawful immigration system, safeguarding its integrity and promise by efficiently and fairly adjudicating requests for immigration benefits while protecting Americans, securing the homeland, and honoring our values.” The agency recently changed its mission statement to remove a passage noting that the United States is “a nation of immigrants.” USCIS did not respond to requests for comment from Media Matters about Law.

    Law co-authored FAIR’s November 2016 “Immigration Priorities for the 2017 Presidential Transition” report, which provided a blueprint of the nativist policies the group pushes. The report began by blaming “Illegal immigration and unchecked legal immigration” for much of the problems in the country:

    Illegal immigration and unchecked legal immigration are detrimental to the quality of life in the United States. The American family is increasingly bearing the costs of urban sprawl, environmental degradation, traffic congestion, increased crime, overburdened health care, overwhelmed public schools and debt-ridden state and municipal governments—all results of uncontrolled immigration. The fiscal costs of immigration, legal and illegal, have always been substantial, but with the recent economic downturn, these costs have become even more burdensome. The social, cultural and political costs are being felt more acutely as we receive immigrants in numbers too large to be successfully incorporated into our way of life and assimilated into our communities.

    The report recommended that the United States stop birthright citizenship, “end free health care for illegal aliens,” revoke the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, “reduce the size of the refugee cohort admitted to the U.S. each year,” and “limit overall immigration,” among other proposals.

    Law frequently served up anti-immigrant rhetoric in the media during his time at FAIR as a opinion contributor for several months to The Hill. He criticized sanctuary citiesattacked so-called “chain migration”; and praised President Donald Trump for his efforts “to reverse the damage done by his predecessor and restore the rule of law” regarding immigration. Those columns also frequently used the anti-immigrant slur “illegal alien” to demean undocumented immigrants.

    Law has also been a harsh critic of DACA, claiming that the program’s creation was “Obama’s decision to unilaterally grant amnesty to a portion of the illegal alien population” and that it was “unconstitutional.”

    He also criticized politicians for employing the “brilliant marketing campaign painting a picture of Dreamers as a sympathetic group” and complained about Dreamers being marketed as “American in every way except on paper”:

    For decades, politicians such as Pelosi, Schumer, and authors of the current DREAM Act, Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) have orchestrated a brilliant marketing campaign painting a picture of Dreamers as a sympathetic group. You are undoubtedly familiar with the deceptive phrases they use ad nauseum: “brought here through no fault of their own;” “American in every way except on paper;” and “we can’t deport these children.” (The average beneficiary of DACA today is 25-years-old).

    What they are demanding, in essence, is immigration anarchy.

    During a FAIR podcast appearance last year, Law said granting “amnesty” to DACA recipients is “rewarding their parents for their lawless behavior. Their parents made a choice to bring them here and defy our immigration laws and just because you have children doesn’t mean that you have a human shield that exempts you from any form of enforcement.”

    Law has also gone after Republicans for purportedly not being sufficiently anti-immigrant, calling House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and John McCain (R-AZ) “pro-amnesty” and claiming that Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) is “eager to sell out the American people.”

    USCIS is headed by immigration lawyer L. Francis Cissna. His nomination was opposed by numerous immigration advocacy groups due to his record on immigration. Law, however, praised his future agency head and criticized Sen. Tillis for putting a hold (later removed) on the nomination.

  • Fox News keeps running columns from the same guy explaining, "I'm a Democrat but [insert agreement with GOP]"

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Bryan Dean Wright, a consultant looking for career opportunities and freelance gigs, has found the perfect publicity gimmick to get in outlets such as Fox News: proclaiming he's "a Democrat but" agreeing with Republican positions.

    Wright is a former CIA officer whose personal website states that he’s available as a consultant to “businesses, philanthropic groups, and governmental bodies,” as well as for speaking engagements and media work.

    Wright’s website highlights his TV and print commentary. But his avenue to getting media attention has frequently been as a Democratic validator for President Donald Trump and his Republican Party.

    According to Wright, since Trump was elected president, Democrats:

    • have to adopt policies that are centrist and accommodating”;
    • must accept that open borders are not fiscally sustainable”;
    • should be wary of joining NFL protests and need to know that “Trump is right to say that sports stars like Kaepernick aren’t helping the nation’s racial divide when they take a knee in protest of America’s cops”;
    • should stop saying Islam is “a religion of peace”;
    • are wrong to dismiss Rep. Devin Nunes’ (R-CA) FBI memo; and
    • should realize that Trump is right on North Korea.

    Unsurprisingly, Fox News -- which has frequently hosted Fox News “Democrats” like Pat Caddell and Doug Schoen -- has been enamored with Wright’s work. Here are some headlines of Wright’s pieces since Trump was elected president:

    Wright has also appeared on Fox News programs. Here’s how some of those appearances were framed:

    Even when Wright professes a disagreement with Trump, he can’t help himself from finding a “positive” for the administration or an avenue to attack progressives. In the piece “I'm a Democrat but there's something great about Trump's travel ban,” Wright claims that he doesn’t support Trump’s executive order, writing, “It was flawed on several levels. Consider this: Saudi Arabia was left off Trump’s ban despite knowing that ISIS uses Saudi textbooks to indoctrinate their children.”

    But Wright states that there's been “at least one positive development from Trump’s edict: Reasonable people are now debating and re-evaluating what it means to be an American.” He also uses his piece to criticize progressives for being “politically correct” about Muslims:

    Polite politics would prefer we not discuss these men and women. Instead, it’s easier and more politically correct to wrap ourselves in posters proclaiming, “We’re All Muslims.” But smart citizens will not shy away from the fact that while most Muslims are peaceful, millions of religious fanatics embrace an ideology that would have the world live under Sharia law – by force or persuasion.

    And so I ask my fellow Americans: Does your embrace of immigrants extend to those who reject your values?

    Let me make this personal. I am a gay man who grew up in rural Oregon. My parents struggled with accepting my sexuality in part because they believed that my life’s journey would be much harder than my straight siblings.

    They were right. I have faced hardships because of bigoted people. But for the grace of God, hard work, and a family tradition of stubbornness, I have thrived despite the obstacles.

    Each day, however, immigration lawyers and State Department officers allow people into this country that don’t want me to exist. The result? I have to deal with more co-workers, landlords, professors, and bosses that have a bigoted commitment to block my already difficult path.

    In 2016, he penned a Los Angeles Times piece headlined “I’m a former CIA officer and a Democrat. Here’s what Obama still doesn’t get about terrorism.” He also, of course, appeared on Fox News and criticized politicians for calling Islam a “religion of peace.”

    Wright responded to criticism of his work in an August tweet, stating: “While I don't write my headlines, I'm honored @FoxNews gives me the mic on occasion. #Democrats need to engage conservatives, & do so fairly.” He also explained on why he hasn’t left the Democratic Party shortly before Trump’s inauguration.