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Grace Bennett

Author ››› Grace Bennett
  • Cable and broadcast news ignored a huge story about FEMA malpractice in Puerto Rico

    This is just the latest in the media’s neglectful coverage of Puerto Rico’s recovery

    Blog ››› ››› GRACE BENNETT


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    A New York Times report on February 6 revealed that a FEMA contract that called for 30 million meals to be sent to Puerto Rico resulted in only 50,000 meals actually delivered. The contract was awarded to a company with no history in large-scale disaster relief, the latest in a string of poor contracting decisions in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria’s devastation. Despite this, cable and broadcast news networks almost completely ignored the story, with only MSNBC and CBS even mentioning it, albeit briefly.

    According to the Timesreport, FEMA awarded an $156 million contract to a company called Tribute Contracting to provide 30 million meals to Puerto Ricans in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Tiffany Brown, the owner and only employee of the company, had “no experience in large-scale disaster relief,” and had “at least five canceled government contracts in her past.” The Times notes that “by the time 18.5 million meals were due, Tribute had delivered only 50,000,” and the ones that were delivered were packaged incorrectly. FEMA eventually terminated the contract with Tribute.

    Months after Hurricane Maria made landfall in September, Puerto Rico remains in desperate need of assistance. Hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans still lacked electricity as of January 29, 20 percent of the island is still without running water, and there are countless infrastructural problems that have yet to be fixed. Puerto Rico’s recovery has been hampered by governmental incompetence, as well as several contracts with ill-equipped companies, one of which was also made by FEMA.

    Cable and broadcast news shows failed to adequately cover the latest setback for Puerto Rico. According to a Media Matters analysis, only MSNBC’s Morning Joe and CBS This Morning mentioned FEMA’s botched meals contract. CBS This Morning spent less than 30 seconds on the story, simply doing a quick headline read about the Times’ article. Morning Joe mentioned the story three times during its February 7 edition, devoting 3 minutes and 14 seconds to the topic. There was no coverage of the story on CNN, ABC, NBC, or Fox News.


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    News networks’ failure to highlight FEMA’s ill-informed contract and the resulting loss in supplies for Puerto Ricans is unfortunately part of a larger pattern of networks ignoring the devastation and neglect of Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria made landfall.

    Methodology: Media Matters searched SnapStream for mentions of “Puerto Rico” on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, NBC, ABC, and CBS from February 6, when the Times story was published, until 1 p.m. on February 7.

  • Right-wing media figures have led Trump's purge of Department of Justice officials they perceive as threatening

    Here’s who they have left

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS & GRACE BENNETT

    Right-wing media have consistently lined up behind Donald Trump to defend him against any and all allegations regarding Russian interference in the presidential election. Led primarily by Fox News and primetime host Sean Hannity, right-wing media figures have denounced, undermined, or maligned Department of Justice and FBI officials involved in the broader Russia investigation since it began. 

  • Fox neglected to cover the FBI’s "grave concerns" about the Nunes memo for nearly two hours

    When Fox finally covered the story, it questioned whether the FBI’s actual concern was that “it paints the FBI in an unflattering light”

    Blog ››› ››› GRACE BENNETT

    Fox News waited nearly two hours to report on a statement from the FBI citing “grave concerns” about the accuracy of a classified memo that the House intelligence committee has voted to release. When it did cover the story, Fox’s Chris Wallace suggested that the statement may have been because “they think it paints the FBI in an unflattering light.” Fox’s attempt to minimize the FBI’s statement is part of the network’s ongoing push to undermine special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible ties with the Russians.

    On January 29, the House intelligence committee voted to release a memo that some Republicans claim shows the Justice Department and the FBI “misus[ed] their authority to obtain a secret surveillance order on a former Trump campaign associate.” Despite the Justice Department’s warnings that “it was ‘extraordinarily reckless’ for Republicans to push to release” the memo, President Donald Trump has expressed support for its release multiple times. Two days after the House intelligence committee vote, the FBI released a statement that claimed the memo had “material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy,” echoing congressional Democrats’ criticism of the memo and the Justice Department’s stated concerns.

    Within 20 minutes of the FBI statement’s release, MSNBC featured its correspondent Pete Williams who noted it was “unusual” and guest Benjamin Wittes of the Brookings Institute who said the statement showed the memo was essentially “a lie about the FBI.” CNN also quickly featured a panel that noted the statement showed there were “concerns broadly in the intelligence community about the risking of sources and methods that underlie the intelligence of this report.” By contrast, Fox did not cover the FBI’s statement until The Daily Briefing with Dana Perino, almost two hours later.  During that segment, Fox News’ Chris Wallace attempted to misconstrue the FBI’s concerns, saying to host Dana Perino, “You have to wonder” whether the FBI has concerns that the memo could “expose some national security sources,” or whether they were worried that the memo “paints the FBI in an unflattering light."

    DANA PERINO (HOST): We now bring in Chris Wallace, anchor of Fox News Sunday. Thank you for being with us this morning. We were just together last night and already this morning, there was so much breaking news. Let me get to the first one with you. In my experience, a dispute between the FBI and the White House is actually very unusual. What are your thoughts?

    CHRIS WALLACE: Absolutely. And generally speaking, in that kind of a situation, the White House would bow to the FBI. But Gen. Kelly and President Trump, who was on a hot mic yesterday saying 100 percent we're going to release the memo soon, seem to be pushing back on the FBI. Now look, when they talk about grave concerns about accuracy, you have to wonder are there grave concerns that this could expose some national security sources and methods, that kind of thing? Or are there grave concerns because they think it paints the FBI in an unflattering light? We don't know that. But you sure hope as those national security lawyers, that Gen. Kelly was talking about, inspect this that they do everything they can to protect national security and don't necessarily protect the political security or image of the FBI.

    It is hardly surprising that Fox would minimize the importance of FBI’s statement by first ignoring it and then having its host raise questions about FBI officials’ motives. The network has heavily hyped the memo and has led a growing campaign to undermine the Mueller investigation.

  • Local Arizona TV news failed to inform viewers about Joe Arpaio's extremist history

    The disgraced former sheriff recently announced he is running for Senate

    Blog ››› ››› GRACE BENNETT


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    On January 9, former Maricopa County, AZ, Sheriff Joe Arpaio announced a run for Senate, seeking to replace Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, who is not running for re-election. Arpaio’s candidacy will undoubtedly be accompanied by controversy, given his long track record of incredible cruelty, racism, and extremism, as well as his clear failings as a sheriff and his criminal conviction for violating a court order regarding his racial profiling of suspected immigrants. But following Arpaio’s announcement, Arizona news programs failed to inform the voters of just how unfit Arpaio is to hold high office.

    Media Matters reviewed the local 10 p.m. newscasts of nine stations in Yuma, Phoenix, and Tucson between January 9, when Arpaio announced his candidacy, and January 12. The results of the study reveal that the stations largely failed to report on Arpaio’s history of bigotry and abuse, with some not noting his connections to extremists and birtherism. Media Matters found:

    • One Tucson station failed to inform its viewers that Arpaio has been convicted of criminal contempt of court;
    • Three Phoenix stations, one Tucson station, and one Yuma station noted Arpaio’s conviction, but failed to link it to racial profiling;
    • No 10 p.m. local newscast in Phoenix, Tucson, or Yuma reported on Arpaio’s history of inmate abuse, his failure to investigate sex crimes, or his connections to extremists; and
    • Only two stations, ABC15 Arizona’s  and NBC’s 12 News explained Arpaio’s connections to birtherism in their 10 p.m. newscasts.

    Arpaio’s record as a sheriff is littered with ineptitude and lawlessness. He has a long history of treating prisoners in a “humiliating and inhumane” way, especially at his outdoor Tent City jail, which “stood within a larger jail compound” near Phoenix and has been repeatedly referred to as a “concentration camp.” Inmates at the jail were forced to live in searing temperatures of up to 141 degrees and fed rotten food, and female inmates were “denied basic sanitary items.” Arpaio used webcams to broadcast scenes from the jail including a feed “that showed female inmates using a toilet,” and singled out inmates of color for some of the most brutal abuse.

    Outside of Tent City, Arpaio showed incredible disdain for victims of abuse and flouted the law himself. During his tenure as sheriff of Maricopa County, Arpaio’s department failed to properly investigate hundreds of sex crimes between 2005 and 2007, many of which involved children. In one city, El Mirage, Arpaio, who has described himself as “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” neglected to follow through on at least 32 reported child molestations, “with victims as young as two,” even when “suspects were known in all but six cases.” In 2017, Arpaio himself was convicted of criminal contempt of court for deliberately violating a court order to stop his department’s racial profiling. President Donald Trump later pardoned him.

    Arpaio’s commitment to systemic discrimination should come as no surprise to anyone with knowledge of his long history of racism and bigotry. Arpaio was an early pusher of birtherism, the baseless conspiracy theory which Trump also pushed, that former President Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States.

    Arpaio has also developed close ties to extremists and conspiracy theorists. Shortly before Trump pardoned him, Arpaio thanked conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for getting his story to the president. (Jones has claimed that the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School was an “inside job.”) And after he received the pardon, Arpaio gave an interview to a publication that denies the Holocaust and is edited by a 9/11 truther.

    But Media Matters' review of the local 10 p.m. newscasts in Yuma, Phoenix, and Tucson found that the local TV news coverage largely failed to report on these past misdeeds.

    One station, NBC’s News 4 Tucson, failed to note Arpaio’s criminal conviction in its coverage of his announcement:
    Newscasts of several other stations noted Arpaio’s conviction, or Trump’s pardon, in their coverage of his announcement, but failed to connect his conviction to racial profiling:

    Phoenix’s ABC15 News at 10

    Phoenix’s CBS 5 News at 10:
    Phoenix’s FOX 10 News at 10pm:
    Tucson’s ABC KGUN 9 noted that Arpaio’s conviction was related to an “immigration case,” but did not mention the connection to racial profiling:
    Yuma’s NBC affiliate KYMA noted in its nightly news that Arpaio is known for targeting “suspected undocumented immigrants,” and connected his conviction to “immigration related arrests,” but still failed to note that Arpaio conducted racial profiling:

    The 10 p.m. newscasts of Yuma’s KSWT CBS 13, Tucson’s CBS affiliate KOLD and NBC’s 12 News in Phoenix did note that Arpaio’s conviction was related to racial profiling or mentioned his history of profiling, but none of these stations reported on his history of inmate abuse, his failure to investigate sex crimes, or his connections to extremists. Two stations, Phoenix’s ABC15 News and Phoenix’s NBC 12 News, did discuss Arpaio’s promotion of birtherism, but they noted Arpaio’s connection to the racist conspiracy theory only after he appeared on CNN on January 10 and reasserted his belief in it.

  • Here are the right-wing media figures defending Trump’s racist “shithole” comment

    ››› ››› GRACE BENNETT

    During a meeting on immigration policy in the Oval Office, President Donald Trump reportedly questioned the United States’ policy of accepting immigrants from, what he said, were “shithole countries,” such as Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations. In the aftermath of the president’s racist remarks, many in right-wing media rallied around him to defend his comments.

  • Roy Moore may have lost, but Breitbart’s Steve Bannon has a field of awful candidates ready for 2018 

    Blog ››› ››› GRACE BENNETT


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    In the December special election for Alabama’s open Senate seat, Democrat Doug Jones defeated Republican Roy Moore. Moore was singularly unfit for office and perhaps the only Republican capable of losing a Senate race in such a deep-red state, a privilege he earned not only due to allegations of child molestation, but also as a result of his long history of unfettered bigotry. Moore built a career on odious opinions, often taking racist, anti-LGBTQ, anti-Muslim, and misogynistic stances, sometimes doing so while flouting the law. And yet, despite Moore’s obvious and profound flaws as a candidate, he drew loyal and ferocious support from the toxic right-wing website Breitbart.com and its executive chairman, Steve Bannon.

    Bannon was an early and enthusiastic supporter of Moore’s campaign, starting with the Republican primary in which Moore faced then-Sen. Luther Strange. Strange had the backing of the Republican establishment and the endorsement of President Donald Trump, but Bannon continued to stand by Moore, campaigning for him as Breitbart worked to paint Strange as the choice of the swampy Republican establishment.

    On November 9, just over a month before the general election, Breitbart warned its readers that The Washington Post planned on “targeting” Moore by accusing him of “inappropriate conduct with four teenage girls 34 years ago” in an article descriptively titled “After Endorsing Democrat in Alabama, Bezos’s Washington Post Plans to Hit Roy Moore with Allegations of Inappropriate Relations with Teenagers; Judge Claims Smear Campaign.” The outlet functioned essentially as Moore's outsourced public relations partner, enthusiastically defending Moore up until election day, and Bannon even journeyed to Alabama to campaign for him. It was to no avail, of course. Bannon and Breitbart went to the mat for Moore, but they lost.

    In the aftermath of the Alabama election, many conservatives blamed Bannon for the embarrassing loss. Yet Bannon’s attempts, however bumbling, to shake up American politics and wage a “bloody civil war” against the Republican “establishment” didn’t end with Moore. Here are some of the other racist, conspiratorial, and misinforming candidates Bannon has thrown his weight behind.

    Kelli Ward -- candidate for Senate in Arizona

    Michael Grimm -- candidate for the House in New York

    Tom Tancredo -- candidate for governor of Colorado 

    Scott Wagner -- candidate for governor of Pennsylvania

    Corey Stewart -- candidate for Senate in Virginia

    Bannon also supported Paul Nehlen, a Wisconsin House candidate with a record of white nationalism and anti-Semitism, until recently

    Kelli Ward -- candidate for Senate in Arizona

    Former state senator and right-wing favorite Kelli Ward is running for the Senate seat in Arizona currently held by Sen. Jeff Flake, who announced his retirement in October. Ward challenged Sen. John McCain for his seat in 2016 but lost the Republican primary.

    Ward has a long history of cozying up to far-right extremists, conspiracy theorists, and serial misinformers. In March 2016, she appeared on Alex Jones’ extremist show Infowars, where Jones often makes conspiratorial and revolting claims, including that the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School was an “inside job.” Ward promised to return to Infowars after her election as a U.S. senator. Several months later, Ward, as a guest on on Trunews, a radio show hosted by Rick Wiles, claimed that Americans living along the U.S. southern border were being “terrorized” by immigrants. Wiles is a conspiracy theorist who, according to Right Wing Watch, argued that the Ebola epidemic could “be a good thing if it ends up giving an ‘attitude adjustment’ to all the gays and atheists, along with people who use pornography or have had an abortion.” Wiles also attempted to cast former President Barack Obama as the “antichrist” and a “stealth jihadist.”

    In July 2016, Ward appeared at the pro-Trump “America First Unity Rally” in Cleveland, OH. The rally featured speakers and hosts who, as Media Matters noted at the time, had previously made racist and sexist attacks against opponents, called for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders’ executions, openly discriminated against minorities, led the movement that claims the 9/11 attacks were an "inside job," and alleged that Obama and Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) were not American citizens.

    Beyond her associations, Ward has a history of supporting extremist policies and making inflammatory statements. While serving in the Arizona state legislature, Ward tried to prohibit enforcement of federal gun laws in the state and asked then-Gov. Jan Brewer to send the Arizona National Guard to the state’s borders to “prevent busloads full of illegal aliens from entering Arizona.” In 2015, Ward compared the Affordable Care Act to slavery.

    In the aftermath of a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, VA, during which a neo-Nazi allegedly murdered a young woman named Heather Heyer, Ward called for “both sides” to stop the hate, violence, & rhetoric.” Ward’s failure to appropriately condemn white nationalist violence is particularly poignant given that William Johnson, a white nationalist political party leader, claimed that Ward called him during her 2016 campaign to ask for his support.

    In October, Bannon endorsed Ward’s current run for Senate, and has appeared alongside her on the campaign trail. Ward also often appears on Breitbart’s bigoted and misogynistic morning radio show, Breitbart News Daily.

    Michael Grimm -- candidate for the House in New York

    Former Rep. Michael Grimm is running to regain his old House seat in New York after he resigned in 2014 following tax evasion charges.

    In April 2014, Grimm was charged with tax evasion in relation to a Manhattan restaurant he had owned. He initially pled not guilty and refused to resign, even getting re-elected that November. A month after his re-election, however, Grimm  pled guilty to tax evasion and resigned from Congress. He served seven months in prison. Grimm has painted a conspiratorial picture of his indictment. In 2017, he suggested to New York magazine’s Olivia Nuzzi that former Attorney General Loretta Lynch was offered that job in exchange for his prosecution. “Anyone who thinks it’s an accident or a coincidence that two months into my indictment, she’s the attorney general, is not realistic,” he told Nuzzi, who noted that Grimm first aired this theory on a Breitbart radio show. Before his indictment, in 2012, according to The New Yorker, Grimm also “publicly insinuated that political forces arrayed against him had broken into his office to gain access to computer files,” when the break-in was actually the doing of a teenager who did not touch the computers.

    Despite his high-profile resignation, Grimm might be better known for a different controversy. In January 2014, following Obama’s State of the Union address, Grimm was caught on camera threatening to throw a reporter off the “fucking balcony,” saying, “You're not man enough. I'll break you in half. Like a boy.” Grimm later apologized to the reporter for “overreact[ing].” The New Yorker reported that years earlier, during his time as an FBI agent, Grimm had been accused of improperly flashing his weapon in a nightclub, and urging all “white people” to leave as things escalated.

    Despite Grimm’s problematic history, Bannon endorsed him in October.

    Tom Tancredo -- candidate for governor of Colorado 

    Former Rep. Tom Tancredo is running for governor of Colorado in 2018. Tancredo has close ties to white supremacists and has a long history of racist and bigoted behavior.

    This will be Tancredo’s third bid for Colorado’s highest office. During Tancredo’s time in the House, he repeatedly proved himself to be a racist, anti-immigrant bigot. Tancredo once said that undocumented immigrants are “coming here to kill you and to kill me and our families” and proposed legislation that would have temporarily barred all legal immigration. In 2007, Tancredo suggested that the United States declare that if there was another terrorist attack in the country, the U.S. would bomb “the holy sites in Mecca and Medina” in Saudi Arabia. And during his laughable presidential campaign, he aired campaign ads that claimed “open borders” were responsible for “vicious central American gangs” and “jihadists who froth with hate” roaming freely in the United States.

    Since leaving office in 2009, Tancredo has embedded himself into right-wing media circles. He is a columnist at Breitbart, and, according to Bannon, is “one of the top immigration experts in this country” whose columns “for Breitbart are just amazing.” The columns Bannon praised regularly demonize immigrants as dangerous and disloyal invaders, with headlines such as “Mexico Is Sending Us Colonists, Not Immigrants,” “European Colonization, Not Refugee Resettlement,” and “Illegal Alien? Congratulations! You Get a Get Out of Jail Free Card!”

    In addition to his work at Breitbart, Tancredo has also written extensively for right-wing conspiracy site WND (WorldNetDaily), and has been published at VDare, an anti-immigrant site that multiple news outlets and the Southern Poverty Law Center have identified as “white nationalist.” Tancredo had also been scheduled to appear at two VDare conferences, but both events were canceled when the venues learned more about the organization. After the Cheyenne Mountain Resort in Colorado pulled out of an agreement to host VDare’s 2018 conference, Tancredo blasted the state's Republican Party for failing to speak out in defense of VDare’s right to “free speech.” Tancredo told the website Colorado Politics that he was “so mad” at Republicans for failing to speak out that he was mulling a run for governor, claiming that it wouldn’t “take much to push” him into the race.

    While Bannon has not yet formally endorsed Tancredo, he did meet with him to discuss a run before Tancredo announced his candidacy. Breitbart noted the meeting in an article about Tancredo’s decision to run, referring to the former congressman and Breitbart columnist as a “strong advocate against illegal immigration.”

    Scott Wagner -- candidate for governor of Pennsylvania

    Republican Scott Wagner is running for governor of Pennsylvania in 2018 after spending his tenure in the state legislature attacking the media and spreading misinformation.

    In May 2017, police were called after Wagner forcibly took the video equipment of a tracker (a person paid by opposition forces to shadow opposing candidates, a routine practice during campaigns) during a campaign event. After Wagner grabbed the camera, the tracker approached the candidate while filming on his phone. Wagner attempted to stop the man from filming him and the tracker accused Wagner of assault and claimed that the state senator had bloodied his finger. The police were called after the incident, but no charges have been filed. After receiving criticism for his actions, Wagner condemned the “fake news media” for “attacking” him and attempted to use the incident to grow his email listserv.

    Wagner is also a climate change denialist. According to Wagner, climate change may be the result of the Earth “moving closer to the sun,” as well as, “heat coming off” human bodies. (PolitiFact has rated Wagner’s claims as false.) In 2014, the state senator also compared unions to Adolf Hitler and Russian President Vladimir Putin, later apologizing for the “unfortunate analogy." Wagner has also drawn ire for referring to Democratic donor George Soros as a "Hungarian Jew" with a "hatred of America.” Despite being called out for the anti-Semitic remark, Wagner refused to apologize, claiming he meant no offense and that “everyone's getting their knickers around their ankles.”

    Bannon has openly supported Wagner’s run; he told a crowd in September that “we’re going to start taking” back the country “in November when Scott Wagner runs.”

    Corey Stewart -- candidate for Senate in Virginia

    Corey Stewart is running for Senate in Virginia after losing the 2017 Republican gubernatorial primary.

    Stewart, who was Virginia state co-chairman of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, has heavily courted the “alt-right.” Shortly after he was fired from his position in October 2016 for taking part in a protest against the Republican National Committee, Stewart gave an interview to Mike Cernovich, a far-right troll who has a history of promoting conspiracy theories. During the interview, Cernovich said that “he calls establishment Republicans ‘cucks’ because ‘they like to see Trump get screwed over by the media, that's what they get off on.’” Stewart replied, “Yeah, I would agree.” The term “cuck,” short for “cuckservative,” is widely used within “alt-right” circles. Stewart additionally did a question-and-answer session on the subreddit “r/The_Donald,” a far-right forum. In February 2017, Stewart attended an event put on by “Unity & Security for America,” a group run by white supremacist Jason Kessler who would, months later, organize the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, VA.

    Stewart himself drew condemnation for his response to the rally in Charlottesville. According to The Washington Post, Stewart “said white nationalists had been unfairly singled out for their role in the weekend chaos,” and “blamed ‘half the violence’ on counterprotesters.” Stewart also slammed fellow Republicans who he claimed “couldn’t apologize fast enough” after the rally. Stewart’s comments, which inspired local NAACP leaders to call for his resignation from the Prince William County Board of County Supervisors, are particularly noteworthy in light of his stalwart defense of the confederate flag and other confederate symbols. During his campaign for governor, he brought a confederate flag into a shot while recording a Facebook live segment, and declared, “Folks, this is a symbol of heritage. It is not a symbol of racism. It is not a symbol of slavery.” Stewart later claimed “ISIS has won” after a confederate monument was taken down in New Orleans.

    Bannon has praised Stewart extensively. In November, Bannon claimed that “Stewart is the reason” Ed Gillespie, who defeated Stewart in the Republican gubernatorial primary before losing the general election, “is going to win” because “it was the Trump-Stewart talking points that got Gillespie close and even maybe to victory. It was embracing Trump’s agenda as personified by Corey’s platform.” Bannon also said, “The only way to beat [Virginia Sen. Tim] Kaine next year is with a full-on Trump agenda, and by nationalizing the race with a candidate like Corey Stewart.”

    Bannon also supported Paul Nehlen, a Wisconsin House candidate with a record of white nationalism and anti-Semitism, until recently

    One soldier in Bannon's war on the establishment, Wisconsin congressional candidate Paul Nehlen, recently lost Breitbart and Bannon's public support after a series of explicitly bigoted tweets. Nehlen is running for Congress in 2018, the second time he has tried to unseat Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. Breitbart and Bannon enthusiastically supported Nehlen, who has a long and well-established record of unapologetic bigotry and extremism, during his 2016 run against Ryan. In the run-up to that election, Breitbart published close to 30 pieces of content shilling for Nehlen, and Bannon referred to him as the “David to Paul Ryan’s Goliath.” In the aftermath of Nehlen’s overwhelming loss, Bannon hosted him on his radio show, treating him “like a hero” and literally professing his love for him. Breitbart’s love for Nehlen apparently ended, however, after Nehlen fired off a series of anti-Semitic tweets, drawing the condemnation of pro-Trump conservatives. Rebel TV host John Cardillo claimed he’d “spoken to Team Bannon” and said they "were shocked and disgusted.”

    Despite the reported shock of his loyal supporter, Nehlen’s anti-Semitism was anything but sudden. His ties to white nationalism and the “alt-right” have long been clear, as reported by HuffPost and Salon. Nehlen has a habit of aggressively responding to his critics with arguments such as “eat a bullet” or “self deport,” and his bigotry can also be seen in his approach to national security policies. Nehlen even campaigned with Bannon for Moore in Alabama on the night before Moore's defeat.

  • Fox & Friends lets Ivanka Trump shill for the GOP tax bill without asking her about the provisions she'll directly benefit from

    Blog ››› ››› GRACE BENNETT

    Fox & Friends hosted Ivanka Trump to shill for the Republican Party’s tax bill without once asking her about any of the provisions that will directly benefit her. If the bill is passed, the Trump family, including Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, stands to benefit enormously from changes to business taxation and to the estate tax.

    On the December 18 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, the hosts interviewed Ivanka Trump about her role in the GOP’s tax efforts, as well as some of the specifics of the current form of the bill. Co-host Brian Kilmeade spoke appreciatively of Trump for “getting her hands dirty through this entire process.” Co-host Steve Doocy exclaimed that there are “so many people this benefits.” But at no point did the hosts ask Trump about how the bill directly benefits her business, her eventual estate inheritance, her husband Jared Kushner's business, and his personal estate.

    In addition to benefiting from the corporate tax cut, which will likely lower taxes for Ivanka’s clothing company, Trump and Kushner will benefit from a provision that particularly impacts those working in commercial real estate, where both President Donald Trump and Kushner have built their careers. The Republican bill lowers taxes on “pass-through income,” or money earned through partnerships or groups that is then passed on to the owner and taxed at the individual tax rate. As The New York Times reported, Kushner stands to benefit dramatically from this cut because he owns properties through “limited liability companies [LLCs] and other similar vehicles.” Over the weekend, as lawmakers clambered to gain necessary support for the bill, a last minute provision was added that could further benefit Kushner and Trump by allowing companies with no employees to deduct a percentage of their pass-through income (both Kushner and Trump have LLCs that could qualify).

    In addition to likely increases in Ivanka’s and Kushner’s business earnings, both stand to gain from changes to the estate tax, which is a tax on the transfer of wealth from a deceased person. Members of extremely rich families, like Ivanka and Kushner, stand to benefit from the bill’s doubling of the amount of money that super-rich families can pass along tax-free.

    Despite the clear financial advantages of the GOP’s tax bill for Ivanka and her family, the hosts of Fox & Friends failed to question whether her support for the bill is impacted by the benefits she stands to gain. From the December 18 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

    BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): Ivanka Trump has been actually getting her hands dirty through this entire process, talking to lawmakers about the deal, and making sure it comes out. Ivanka Trump welcome back to the couch.

    IVANKA TRUMP: Thank you. I love being here.

    KILMEADE: Is this about -- do you feel as though you're across the finish line?

    TRUMP: So in business until it's done, it's not done. But we feel very, very confident. So the momentum is there. We're very excited. When the vote is done, we'll be done. But we're going to deliver historic tax reforms, and it's going to happen before Christmas. It’s going to be the fulfillment of an enormous campaign promise, and something that's just tremendously important for the American people. We feel it. This is something the people of this country want. They want simplification. They want a tax code that they can understand. They want lower corporate taxes and understand the benefit if the companies they work for can invest in their workforces, invest in new equipment, and ultimately lead to wage growth. And I think what we've done on the individual side by doubling the standard deduction, by doubling the child tax credit and increasing refundability to $2,000 a child. By creating a dependent care tax credit for those in -- for those many Americans who take care of adult dependents who aren't children, who are above the age of 18, but who are still dependent on them.

    STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): There are so many people this benefits. You would think that there would be some Democrats who would say you know what? I'm for tax cuts for the middle class. I'm for helping small businesses. Why aren't there any Democrats?

    TRUMP: One would think that and there are a lot of Democrats and they're all across this country. So the voters --

    DOOCY: But what about the ones in the Senate?

    TRUMP: Well, we've had a lot of very productive conversations with Democrats who I believe are intellectually there. Their hearts are there but the party is not there and the leadership's not there.

    KILMEADE: Leadership's not letting them.

    TRUMP: And that is unfortunate. But I'm hopeful with this really enormous and historic win for the American people, we come into 2018 with such tremendous momentum that we galvanize support and cohesion -- not only within the party because I think one of the amazing things is how the party has come together, worked together to accomplish with what they know the American people want.

    AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): Ivanka, we keep hearing [Senate Minority Leader] Chuck Schumer [(D-NY)] and [House Minority Leader] Nancy Pelosi [(D-CA)], we had some guests on this morning, they keep saying it's going to hurt the middle class. But when you look at the tax brackets, everyone's numbers go down. Where are they getting that? Is that just a sound bite, a narrative that they want you to believe? Or is it actually true?

    TRUMP: Well, keep in mind that the vast majority of Congress in advance -- of Democrats -- signed a letter in advance of knowing what was in the tax bill saying that they wouldn't be for tax reform.

    EARHARDT: Before they read it.

    TRUMP: Before they read it and before any of the details, even the principles, had been released. So I think we are in a very partisan climate, in that regard. But the core principles of tax reform, the president and all of Congress has been very, very articulate of since day one. The president said that he wanted to deliver middle income tax relief. Targeted middle income tax relief, and he also wanted to cut corporate rates to enable our businesses to be competitive and to thrive in a global economy. And this bill does exactly those things.

    KILMEADE: I mean, [President Ronald] Reagan went from 50 to 28 [percent], that was substantial. You go down 2 [percent], and they are saying this is tax cuts for the rich. But possibly the thing that's going to be the most outstanding about this and it's permanent is the corporate tax rate. So it goes from 35 to 21 [percent]. Now, if these CEOs and these corporations decide to invest in their own dividends and buy their own stock, that would not make it an effective corporate tax cut. It will make make all those naysayers say I told you so. Have you reached out to any of these CEOs and said what do you plan on doing with the tax break? And even though you can't make them do anything, do you let them know what is at stake if they don't?

    TRUMP: One hundred percent. And we've been working very, very closely with the whole business community. Businesses large and small. So from day one, their voices have been represented at the table. If you think about it, small businesses will have the lowest taxes since 1931. So think about how that gives them the latitude to be able to invest in growth. So, when you look at the developed world, the reality is that over the decades that have passed since the last major comprehensive tax reform under Reagan, the rest of the world realized that cutting taxes enabled them to be competitive and their rates dropped dramatically below ours. So this puts us on par or below. It's going to enable us to be competitive, and then it's going to enable these big companies and small companies to grow. And when you grow, you create jobs, you create wage growth, and we're seeing that. And that combined with the administration's aggressive deregulatory actions is really fueling tremendous growth.

    DOOCY: The one-two punch.

  • Study: Hannity's crusade against Robert Mueller and the Russia probe, by the numbers

    Hannity and now the rest of Fox evening programming are on a mission to discredit the Russia probe. Here’s how they’re doing it.

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN, GRACE BENNETT, NICK FERNANDEZ & DINA RADTKE

    Fox News’ Sean Hannity, and now the rest of Fox’s evening lineup, are actively working to discredit special counsel Robert Mueller and his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. A Media Matters analysis found:

    Hannity and his guests have questioned Mueller's legitimacy or called for Mueller to remove himself or be fired 79 times since the special counsel was appointed

    Hannity and his guests have made over 364 statements suggesting Mueller and/or his team have a “conflict of interest” since the special counsel was appointed

    Hannity and his guests have used several other canards to attack Mueller and the investigation since the special counsel was appointed

    Fox’s other evening shows have followed Hannity’s lead in the first week of December, attacking Mueller and the probe

    Trump's lawyer and Hannity regular calls for special counsel to investigate Justice Department

    Trump's lawyer and frequent guest on Hannity's shows calls for special counsel to investigate DOJ official connected to Russia probe. After Fox News reported on December 11 that "A senior Justice Department official demoted last week for concealing his meetings with the men behind the anti-Trump 'dossier' had even closer ties to Fusion GPS," President Donald Trump's lawyer, Jay Sekulow, told Axios that the Department of Justice and FBI "cannot ignore the multiple problems that have been created by these obvious conflicts of interests." Sekulow added, "These new revelations require the appointment of a Special Counsel to investigate." [FoxNews.com, 12/11/17; Axios, 12/12/17; Media Matters, 9/13/17; Twitter, 12/12/17]

    Hannity and his guests have questioned Mueller's legitimacy or called for Mueller to remove himself or be fired 79 times since the special counsel was appointed

    Sean Hannity and his guests have called for Mueller’s firing, resignation or recusal, or attacked his legitimacy 79 times. Since the investigation began on May 17, Hannity and his guests have questioned Mueller's appointment or called for Mueller to remove himself or for his firing 79 times. Hannity has questioned Mueller's legitimacy or demanded Mueller’s firing, resignation, or recusal 44 times. Guests of his Fox show, Hannity, who have attacked Mueller in a similar fashion include former Secret Service agent and conspiracy theorist Dan Bongino and Fox legal analyst and ardent defender of President Donald Trump Gregg Jarrett.

    Hannity and his guests have made over 364 statements suggesting Mueller and/or his team have a “conflict of interest” since the special counsel was appointed

    Hannity and his guests brought up alleged “conflicts of interest” 364 times. Since May 17, Hannity and his guests have made 364 statements alleging that Mueller and/or his team have a “conflict of interest” that would prevent him from fairly conducting the probe. Of those statements, Hannity himself made 294.

    Two of Hannity’s most frequently cited “conflicts of interest” are not really conflicts. Of the 294 statements that Hannity made about the alleged “conflicts of interest,” two of the most popular so-called conflicts, cited a combined 173 times, are not actually conflicts at all:

    • On 115 occasions, Hannity claimed that Mueller’s team was compromised or had conflicts of interest because it included several investigators who had previously donated to Democrats. As a group of political science professors wrote in an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times, “According to the Justice Department’s own rules, campaign donations do not create a conflict of interest.”

    • On 58 occasions, Hannity suggested that Mueller has a conflict of interest because of his relationship with former FBI Director James Comey. But, as The Associated Press (AP) pointed out, Mueller and Comey are “not known to be especially close friends.” Additionally, “legal experts say whatever connection they do have doesn't come close to meriting Mueller's removal as special counsel.”

    Hannity and his guests have used several other canards to attack Mueller and the investigation

    Hannity and his guests used a variety of other talking points and canards to discredit the investigation and Mueller:

    • On 43 occasions, Hannity and his guests referred to the investigation as a “witch hunt.” Of those statements, Hannity made 41. Trump has been reportedly obsessed with this characterization since June.

    • On 32 occasions, Hannity and his guests suggested that the investigation was a political attack on Trump, his administration, and potentially even the Trump family. Hannity himself claimed that Mueller’s investigation was an attack on Trump 17 times.

    • On 89 occasions, Hannity and his guests attempted to discredit Mueller by hyping his connections to the repeatedly debunked Uranium One “scandal.” Hannity touted these connections 75 times.

    • Just since November 4, Hannity and his guests claimed on 51 occasions that Mueller and his investigators harbored anti-Trump sentiments. Hannity himself made 35 of these statements. (This variable was only coded for between December 4 and December 8).


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Fox’s other evening shows in the first week of December followed Hannity’s lead, attacking Mueller and the probe

    In the first week of December, hosts and guests on other Fox evening programs followed Hannity and attacked Mueller's legitimacy, or called on Mueller to remove himself or be fired 27 times. From December 4 to December 8, Fox News hosts and guests on evening shows joined Hannity and commented that Mueller should never have been appointed, should now resign, recuse himself, or be fired 27 times. Most of these statements occurred on Hannity, but also appeared on other shows as well:

    • One such statement occurred on The Five;
    • One other statement occurred on The Story with Martha MacCallum;
    • and three of these statements occurred on The Ingraham Angle.

    In that same time frame, Mueller and/or his team’s alleged “conflicts of interest” were brought up 151 times. Fox hosts and guests made 151 statements during the first week of December asserting that Mueller and/or his team have “conflicts of interest.” On 63 occasions, Fox guests and hosts claimed the “conflicts of interest” existed because of campaign donations. On nine occasions, Fox guests and hosts claimed “conflicts of interest” because of Mueller's relationship with Comey. Other instances vaguely charged Mueller of having conflicts without specifics or evidence.

    • Mueller's "conflicts" were mentioned seven times on The Five, with five statements about the campaign donations of Mueller's investigators and one statement about Mueller's relationship with Comey.
    • Mueller's "conflicts" were mentioned once on Special Report, with one statement about the campaign donations of Mueller's investigators.
    • Mueller's "conflicts" were mentioned five times on The Story, with two statements about the campaign donations of Mueller's investigators and two statements about Mueller's relationship with Comey.
    • Mueller's "conflicts" were mentioned four times on Tucker Carlson Tonight, with three statements about the campaign donations of Mueller's investigators.
    • Mueller's "conflicts" were mentioned 18 times on The Ingraham Angle, with six statements about the campaign donations of Mueller's investigators.

    On 158 occasions, Mueller and/or his team was accused of being “anti-Trump.” Hosts and guests on Fox evening programs accused Mueller and/or members of his team of being “anti-Trump” 158 times.

    • 12 statements accusing Mueller and/or his team of being "anti-Trump" occurred on The Five;
    • 13 statements occurred on Special Report;
    • 20 appeared on The Story;
    • 19 appeared on Tucker Carlson Tonight;
    • and 41 appeared on The Ingraham Angle.

    On 22 occasions, Fox evening hosts and guests called the investigation an attack on Trump, his presidency, and his family. Hosts and guests claimed 22 times that Mueller’s investigative team was out to get Trump, at one point referring to the investigation as a “scam.”

    • Two of these statements occurred on The Five;
    • One occurred on Tucker Calrson Tonight;
    • and four appeared on The Ingraham Angle.

    On 23 occasions, Mueller’s investigation was called a “witch hunt.” Fox hosts and guests referred to Mueller’s investigation as a “witch hunt” 23 times throughout the first week of December. While most occurred on Hannity, two statements also occurred on Tucker Carlson Tonight.


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    In the first week of December, Hannity far outpaced other Fox evening shows in attempting to discredit Mueller and the investigation. While other evening programs on Fox worked to discredit the Mueller investigation and the special counsel himself, Hannity was far and away the most aggressive about it during the week-long time period.

    • 22 statements urging Mueller to be removed from the investigation occurred on Hannity;
    • 116 statements discussing Mueller and/or his team's "conflicts" occurred on Hannity;
    • 46 statements invoking the political donations made by Mueller's investigatiors to assert the investigation is conflicted were made on Hannity;
    • Six statements hyping Mueller's relationship with Comey were made on Hannity;
    • 15 statements insisting the investigation was nothing more than an attack on Trump, his administration, and his family were made on Hannity;
    • 21 statements referring to the investigation as a "witch hunt" were made on Hannity;
    • Four statements attempting to link Mueller to the Uranium One conspiracy theory were made on Hannity;
    • and 53 statements asserting the investigation and the investigators were inherently anti-Trump were made on Hannity.

    Methodology

    Media Matters searched Nexis for transcripts of Fox News’ Hannity between May 17 and December 8 mentioning the words “Mueller” or “special counsel.” Transcripts were then coded for statements -- which in this study we defined as a sentence -- which included the following:

    • calls for Mueller to resign or recuse himself or calls that he be fired, or suggestions that he never should have been appointed as special counsel;

    • suggestions that Mueller and/or his team have a conflict of interest with the investigation;

    • mentions of Mueller’s investigators who had previously donated to Democratic lawmakers;

    • mentions of Mueller’s alleged friendship and relationship with Comey;

    • claims that the investigation is a political attack on Trump, his administration, or his family;

    • suggestions that the investigation is a “witch hunt”;

    • attempts to link Mueller to Uranium One deal; and

    • claims that Mueller and/or his team is inherently partisan against the president.

    Media Matters also searched Nexis for mentions of “Mueller” or “special counsel” from December 4 to 8 on Fox News between 5 and 11 p.m., including the following programs: The Five, Special Report with Bret Baier, The Story with Martha MacCallum, Tucker Carlson Tonight, and The Ingraham Angle. Transcripts were coded for the same variables.

    Transcripts were reviewed by two independent coders and differences were then reconciled.

    This study includes data from a previous study published on November 21.

    CORRECTION: This study previously referred to the official referenced by Sekulow as an FBI official. In fact, he was a senior DOJ official and part of the Criminal Division. 

  • Fox's Chris Wallace ignores Ben Shapiro's history of bigotry and misinformation

    Blog ››› ››› GRACE BENNETT

    In his weekly “power player of the week” segment, Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace presented a glowing profile of former Breitbart writer Ben Shapiro without acknowledging Shapiro’s history of bigotry, extremism, and misinformation.  

    On the December 10 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace lauded Shapiro’s “special brand of combative conservatism,” and noted that his “militant conservative views” sometimes “spur protests.” What Wallace failed to tell his viewers is that Shapiro has a long track record of promoting racism, sexism, and extremism. In addition to Shapiro’s bigotry, he also has a penchant for misinformation,.

    Shapiro frequently expresses anti-Muslim and racist views, once tweeting that “Arabs like to bomb crap and live in open sewage.” He is quick to downplay police brutality, arguing that, “if you don’t commit a crime, you’re not going to be arrested for it,” and has claimed that income inequality between races in the United States “has nothing to do with race and everything to do with culture.”

    It is not the first time that Wallace has ignored the obvious failings of his weekly “power players,” nor is it the first time that media outlets have failed to hold Shapiro accountable for his hateful and dangerous views. Just last month, The New York Times published a flattering portrait of Shapiro, referring to him as “the cool kid’s philosopher.” From the December 10 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday:

    CHRIS WALLACE (HOST): If you've ever wondered who will eventually succeed Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity as the voice of conservative opinion, it may just be Ben Shapiro. Who's that? Here's our power player of the week.

    BEN SHAPIRO: In a free country, it is up to you to succeed or fail on your own merits. So, get off your ass and do it.

    WALLACE:  Yes, Ben Shapiro talks fast. But then for most of his 33 years, he’s been a man in a hurry.

    [BEGIN VIDEO]

    SHAPIRO: I’m Ben Shapiro. This is The Ben Shapiro Show.

    [END VIDEO]

    WALLACE: He’s the host of the most listened to conservative podcast in the country.

    [BEGIN VIDEO]

    SHAPIRO: I do like that that Trump does have a rotating series of about 10 insults that just keeps going around and around.

    [END VIDEO]

    WALLACE: He’s the editor of The Daily Wire, which gets 100 million pageviews a month. And he’s a big presence on college campuses, where his militant conservative views spur protests.

    [BEGIN VIDEO]

    SHAPIRO: You’re not a man if you think you’re a man.

    WALLACE: This exchange with a 22-year-old college student over transgender identity has attracted 47 million views on Facebook.

    SHAPIRO: Why can’t you identify as 60? What is the problem with you identifying as 60?

    [INAUDIBLE]

    SHAPIRO: You’re right. Age is significantly less important than gender. You can’t magically change your gender. You can’t magically change your sex. You can’t magically change your age.

    [END VIDEO]

    WALLACE: At the University of Utah, he listed what he calls the hierarchy of victimhood in America.

    [BEGIN VIDEO]

    SHAPIRO: So, there’s LGBTQ, and then black folks. Then there’s Hispanic folks. And then women. And then Jews. And then Asians. And then way down at the bottom, white, straight males. Right? Those are the people who are at the very bottom. And then their opinions do not matter at all.

    [END VIDEO]

    WALLACE: Shapiro has been called the voice of conservative millennials. How are conservative millennials different from conservative baby boomers?

    SHAPIRO: By the time a lot of conservatives hit baby boomer age, there's a mentality that’s set in that they're always losing and that every choice, every political choice particularly, is a lesser of two evils choice. If you’re conservative millennial, I think that you tend to be a little bit more idealistic, just as younger people are generally.

    WALLACE: While he applauds some of President Trump’s policies, he says the tweets are needlessly divisive and turn off his generation.

    SHAPIRO: Young people in the United States dramatically dislike this administration and they dramatically dislike the Republican Party. And it is President Trump’s responsibility, for conservatives anyway, to fix that. And sitting there on Twitter and retweeting Britain First is not going to do that.

    WALLACE: Shapiro worked for Breitbart in the campaign, but quit when he said it was turning into a Trump propaganda arm. As for Steve Bannon:

    SHAPIRO: I think that Steve is very interested in being perceived as powerful, as being perceived as a mover and shaker. But I don’t think he’s nearly as much of a mover and shaker as he wants to be seen as.

    WALLACE: As we said, Shapiro has always moved fast. At age five, he dressed for Halloween as John Adams. By age 17, he wrote a nationally syndicated political column.

    SHAPIRO: I skipped a couple of grades. I was a virtuosic violinist. I actually, when I went to college, thought that I was going to double major in genetic science and music. So, I was always pretty driven.

    [BEGIN VIDEO]

    SHAPIRO: Things that I hate.

    [END VIDEO]

    WALLACE: And his only plan now is to keep pushing his special brand of combative conservatism.

    SHAPIRO: Sometimes the best way to get a message across is to just speak bluntly. And so, I'm not going there to deliberately offend people. I'm saying things that I think are true with precisely the amount of verve I think necessary to convey the message.

  • Geraldo Rivera, accused of sexual assault, has a history of downplaying sexual misconduct

    ››› ››› DINA RADTKE & GRACE BENNETT

    A recently resurfaced 1991 interview between Barbara Walters and actress Bette Midler included Midler's revelation that Fox News correspondent Geraldo Rivera reportedly sexually assaulted her at one point in the 1970s. This episode, for which Midler says Rivera has never apologized, typifies the disgraceful way the long-time Fox star has dealt with sexual harassment and assault throughout his career.