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Grace Bennett

Author ››› Grace Bennett
  • After Trump’s disastrous press conference with Putin, three news anchors report Republicans won’t appear on their shows

    Blog ››› ››› GRACE BENNETT


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Republican elected officials are refusing to appear on cable news programs to discuss President Donald Trump’s disastrous July 16 press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin. During the press conference, Trump insulted “obstructionist” Democrats while standing next to a foreign adversary, condemned Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election meddling, blamed “both countries” for deteriorating relations, called the United States “foolish,” and refused to endorse conclusion of the entire intelligence community and the Senate intelligence committee that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. Trump’s performance has drawn wide rebuke, and according to three cable news anchors, many Republicans are refusing to speak about it on the air. MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle and CNN’s Kate Bolduan reported that they had asked Republicans to join them on the air and all had declined. CNN’s Jim Sciutto noted that out of the "dozens of Republican lawmakers" he invited to appear on his show, only one accepted the invitation: Rep. Ryan Costello (R-PA), who is not running for reelection.

    MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle: “I invited a myriad of elected officials, Republican elected officials, to join me on-air today to discuss the president's summit with Vladimir Putin, and across the board they said no thank you.”

    CNN’s Kate Bolduan: “I should note, we invited on all of the Republicans on the Senate intelligence committee today to talk about all of this. Those Republican members have all declined.”

    CNN’s Jim Sciutto to Rep. Ryan Costello (R-PA): “So our viewers know, we reached out to dozens of Republican lawmakers today to speak, to react to the president's comments. And I want to thank you for being the only one who said yes.” Costello is not running for reelection.

  • Fox reporter thanks Trump after the president refuses to answer questions from CNN and calls on him instead

    Trump: "I don’t take questions from CNN. CNN is fake news. ... John Roberts of Fox -- let’s go to a real network."

    Blog ››› ››› GRACE BENNETT


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    UPDATE: Roberts issued a statement regarding the incident, calling it “unfair” for the president to issue a “blanket condemnation of [CNN] as ‘fake news’.”

    During a July 13 press conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May, President Donald Trump refused to answer a question from CNN’s Jim Acosta, dismissing the network as “fake news.” He instead called on Fox’s John Roberts, claiming he prefered to answer a question from a “real network.” Instead of defending Acosta or pushing back on the president’s attack on freedom of the press, Roberts thanked Trump and continued with a question.  

    Earlier in the press conference, Trump had criticized NBC for “dishonest reporting” and claimed the network was “possibly worse than CNN.” Trump’s attacks on news outlets come as no surprise given his yearslong war on the press. The president’s particular vitriol for CNN is also nothing new.

    Roberts’ willingness to accept Trump’s dismissal of a rival network as “fake news” and his failure to stand up for a fellow reporter demonstrate Fox’s apathy toward the president’s aggressive, anti-free press rhetoric and the network’s desire to remain his favorite news outlet.

    JIM ACOSTA: Mr. President, since you attacked CNN, can I ask you a question?

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: John Roberts -- go ahead, John.

    ACOSTA: Can I ask you a question, please?

    TRUMP: No, no. John Roberts, go ahead. CNN is fake news. I don’t take questions from --

    ACOSTA: Well, sir --

    TRUMP: I don’t take questions from CNN. CNN is fake news. I don’t take questions from CNN. John Roberts of Fox -- let’s go to a real network. John, let’s go.

    ACOSTA: Well, we’re a real network too, sir.

    JOHN ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. President.   

  • Right-wing media are defending Rep. Jim Jordan against accusations that he knew about -- and ignored -- sexual abuse at Ohio State University

    Blog ››› ››› GRACE BENNETT


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) has been accused of knowing about, and failing to act on, sexual abuse by the team doctor during his tenure as assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University. Multiple former athletes have accused Dr. Richard Strauss of sexual misconduct and have claimed that Jordan knew or must have known about the abuse yet failed to act.

    Jordan, who is also the co-founder of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus, has denied the accusations, claiming he was unaware of any abuse. During a July 6 appearance on Fox News’ Special Report, he was quick to attack multiple accusers, criticized CNN for hosting a former wrestler to discuss the claims, and stoked conspiracy theories by claiming that “the timing” of the accusations “is suspect” because he’s about to launch a campaign for speaker of the House. Allies of the conservative congressman have been equally resolute in their defense, with both President Donald Trump and outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) backing Jordan, and the entire Freedom Caucus voting to officially support him.

    Unsurprisingly, right-wing media have also jumped to Jordan’s defense, suggesting that the accusations are no more than a politically motivated smear. Here are some of right-wing media’s defenses:

    • Fox Business host Lou Dobbs criticized Ryan for failing to immediately defend Jordan from “suspiciously timed smear campaigns.” He also called the accusations “a smear campaign of the vilest sort” and said Jordan has been “dishonorably attacked by the left."

    • The Daily Caller ran an article attacking some of the accusers, arguing that their “sketchy history” raises questions about their “authenticity.”

    • Fox News contributor David Bossie tweeted that Jordan is “an honest man of unparalleled integrity” and “the scurrilous allegations against him are absurd - perpetrated by the fake news media and liberals with an agenda to stop Congressman Jordan.”

    • Radio host Wayne Dupree claimed the accusations were a “hit job” and argued that the story “seems like an inside job from our side that doesn't want a conservative becoming Speaker of the House.” He also called the accusations a “sex smear” and said that they have solidified his “unequivocal support” for Jordan.

    • Townhall’s Kurt Schlichter called the accusations “sudden” and “convenient,” claimed multiple times that the story was “bullshit,” blamed the victims, and suggested there was a “coordinated” liberal response to the wrestlers’ claims.

    • Media Research Center’s Brent Bozell said the accusations reek of “dirty tricks” and implied that they were made to derail Jordan’s campaign to join Republican House leadership.

    • During Rush Limbaugh’s July 6 radio show -- titled “With Paul Manafort in Solitary, Deep State Targets Jim Jordan” -- the radio host argued that the accusations against Jordan are just the result of “opposition research” and claimed they emerged “because he’s had a successful interrogation period with [Deputy Attorney General] Rod Rosenstein and is being mentioned for possible speaker.” Limbaugh also attacked the victims’ histories and stoked conspiracy claims by noting that the “the leading Democrat law firm in all of fascist Democrat America,” Perkins Coie, is investigating the wrestlers’ accusations. Gateway Pundit made similar accusations, blaming the deep state, and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) also told Dobbs that the deep state was to blame.

    • The Daily Wire ran an article that called the “timing of these allegations… suspect,” because they have come out only when “Jordan was considering a run to replace Paul Ryan (R-WI) as speaker of the House.”

    • Infowars’ Owen Shroyer claimed “intimidation tactics” were being used against Jordan, argued there are “a bunch of holes in this” story, and said, “It seems to me like this is just another case of the Clinton crime machine trying to intimidate Americans who are standing up to them.”

    • Infowars’ Roger Stone rejected the accusations as a “smear tactic” and “a hit piece” and argued that Jordan is being targeted for his criticism of Rosenstein.

  • Right-wing media are criticizing Maxine Waters over civility. Here’s what they’ve said about her in the past. 

    Blog ››› ››› GRACE BENNETT


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Right-wing media are criticizing Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) after she encouraged people to publicly protest Trump administration officials who are complicit in the atrocious family separation policy at the U.S border. But the “civility” these outlets are touting has been absent in their many vicious past attacks on Waters.  

    For more than a month, the Trump administration separated immigrant children from their asylum-seeking parents and detained them in child prisons, apparently with no plan in place to reunite the families. The administration took infants as young as 3 months old from their guardians, kept children in cages, and deported some parents without their kids -- while officials continuously lied about their own policy. President Donald Trump has since signed an executive order ending the policy of family separation, but the order’s future might be in jeopardy given that it calls for the inhumane and likely illegal policy of indefinite detention of migrant children (with their parents). And for those families already separated, some parents may never see their children again, and the administration has offered other parents -- many of whom sought asylum after fleeing violence or persecution -- an impossible choice: They can continue seeking asylum and risk not seeing their kids for the duration of the case, or they can be reunited and deported.

    In the face of this atrocity -- and the administration’s many others-- people have begun to stage peaceful protests against the architects and defenders of family separation. On June 23, Waters joined those cheering on the protesters’ efforts, encouraging people to continue putting pressure on Trump officials. Speaking at a rally, she said, “Let’s make sure we show up wherever we have to show up. And if you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. And you push back on them. And you tell them they're not welcome anymore, anywhere.” Waters has since been attacked by people who are fretting over the “incivility” of her remarks. But right-wing critics have flung racist, sexist, and all-around vile comments at Waters for years.

    • After watching a clip of Waters speaking in Congress, former Fox host Bill O’Reilly lobbed a racist attack at the congresswoman, claiming he couldn’t hear “a word” Waters said because of her “James Brown wig.”

    • In an homage to O’Reilly’s racist remark, conservative “media analyst” and YouTube personality Mark Dice tweeted a picture of James Brown, writing, “Congresswoman Maxine Waters dropped by the #MTVAwards as a presenter tonight!”(The tweet has since been deleted.)

    • Fox's Newt Gingrich fantasized about Trump beating Waters in a boxing match.

    • Infowars host Alex Jones likened Waters to a rabid dog.

    • Jones also called her a “dumb witch,” and he once said, “I think she’s hot. I’m into necrophilia.”

    • Jones also once killed a small bug on air after labeling it “Maxine Waters.”  

    • Infowars ran an article titled “Maxine Waters is a globalist race pimp embarrassment.”

    • Trump ally and radio host Michael Savage called Waters “one of the most despicable people in the history” of Congress.

    • Savage also argued that Waters should be charged with “sedition,” saying, “I don’t know if [she] can even spell it.”

    • He also said that Waters was “working for the Muslims who want to kill us.”

    • Radio host Rush Limbaugh called Waters a “lunatic.”

    • The New York Post’s John Podhoretz, who is also a contributing editor for The Weekly Standard, accused her of “worship[ing] at the feet of totalitarian monsters.”

    • Syndicated right-wing columnist Ann Coulter said that without affirmative action, Waters couldn't get a job "that didn't involve wearing a paper hat."

    • Former Fox host Eric Bolling told Waters to “step away from the crack pipe.”

    • Fox’s Laura Ingraham said she would prefer “Madea doing political commentary” over Waters.  

    • After the president recently called Waters a “low IQ person,” Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk tweeted: “If Maxine Waters was really so smart, why does she refuse to take an IQ test?”

  • Fox ignores a report that the Trump administration is incarcerating babies in “tender age” shelters

    Blog ››› ››› GRACE BENNETT


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters 

    On June 19, the Associated Press reported that the Trump administration has so far sent hundreds of immigrant babies and toddlers who were forcibly separated from their parents to “tender age” facilities in Texas. Many of these parents torn from their children are coming to the U.S. seeking asylum. According to the article, doctors and lawyers who have seen the shelters “described play rooms of crying preschool-age children in crisis.” Fox News has completely ignored the report.

    This reporting on the administration’s child prisons is just the latest in a series of horrendous stories that have emerged since the adoption of a “zero tolerance” policy for those who cross the border “illegally.” Under the new policy, at least 2,000 children have been taken from their parents since April 19. There have been reports of a breastfeeding baby who was ripped from her mother, a Honduran father separated from his family who took his own life, parents deported while their children remained in U.S. government custody, and children who are held in cages alongside strangers.

    Fox News has neglected to report on the administration’s latest inhumanity. A Media Matters review found that between the story’s publication around 10 p.m. on June 19 through the end of its flagship morning show Fox & Friends at 9 a.m. on June 20, the network completely failed to acknowledge the “tender age” shelters. Fox News’ apathy towards the story was in stark contrast to its treatment on rival station MSNBC, where host Rachel Maddow broke down while reporting on the shelters. CNN has also covered the story.

    This isn’t the first time that Fox has failed to cover heart wrenching reporting on the realities of the administration’s policy of forcible family separation. Just this week, the network ignored the publication of an audio recording of sobbing children who had been separated from their parents. Fox’s neglect of these stories is not remotely surprising given how many of the network’s hosts and contributors have defended the barbaric separation policy.

    Methodology

    Media Matters searched SnapStream for mentions of “tender age,” “baby,” and “babies” on Fox News between 10 p.m. on June 19 and 9:00 a.m. on June 20. All mentions relevant to the story were included.  

  • Right-wing media are rallying to defend the Trump administration’s inhumane separation of families at the border 

    Blog ››› ››› GRACE BENNETT & NATALIE MARTINEZ


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    The Trump administration is separating immigrant children from their parents or legal guardians after they cross the border, with at least 2,000 children taken from their parents since April 19. The administration’s merciless and inhumane policy has spurred numerous heartbreaking stories, including reports of a breastfeeding baby who was ripped from her mother, a Honduran father separated from his family who took his own life, and children who are held in cages alongside strangers. Yet right-wing media figures have been quick to defend the policy and dismiss its inherent cruelty:

    • Breitbart editor-at-large Joel Pollak justified separating families at the border, saying the Border Patrol facilities are "better than what they had." Pollak also claimed that ICE taking children from their parents and putting them in detention facilities is “just about caring for the kids.”

    • Right-wing troll Dinesh D’Souza, who recently received a pardon from President Donald Trump, questioned whether immigrant parents are “the ones choosing to separate their families.”

    • Fox's Pete Hegseth defended the separations because the children get food and "soccer and video games." Hegseth also called images of detained children “quite compassionate,” and said the policy was “defensible.”

    • Fox News’ Trish Regan argued that Trump is showing asylum-seeking families "tough love" by taking children away from their parents.

    • Fox contributor Tammy Bruce called for White House press briefings to end after reporters confronted White House press secretary Sarah Sanders about the separation of families.

    • Fox's Jesse Watters argued that the White House should "start ripping press passes away" from reporters who ask about families getting separated at the border. Watters also said that “some would say” that separation is “a more humane policy” than detaining the families together.

    • In a series of tweets, Twitter troll Bill Mitchell aggressively defended the policy, accusing the media of focusing on “#FakeNews ‘concentration camps,’” complaining about the money spent to keep the children captive, suggested that many of the children are “not with their families at all - they are with smugglers” (only a very small percentage of cases involve smuggling and often a bona fide relationship between the child and adult is clear), and claiming, “President Trump is PROTECTING these children.”

    • Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade downplayed “the so-called separation of kids and parents” at the border, arguing that the Democrats are using it to distract from the Justice Department inspector general’s report on the handling of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email server and the Singapore Summit between Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

    • Fox’s Ainsley Earhardt said that families are “choosing to be separated” by showing up at the border. She also argued that “you can't even really blame an administration” for the separation policy.

    • Her fellow Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy said that “the part that is troubling” is not children being ripped from their parents, but the parents choosing to come to the United States in the first place. Doocy also argued that the cages some children are being housed in shouldn’t be called “cages” because rather they are “walls [built] out of chain link fences," and he defended family separation by suggesting the U.S. government spends a lot of money to “make sure that those kids wind up with all that stuff” that detention facilities offer.

    • Fox & Friends repeated or referenced Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s lies about family separation throughout the June 18 broadcast. Nielsen initially claimed that separation wasn’t happening -- it is.

    • Right-wing troll Mike Cernovich said that Trump was “keeping [children] safe in dorms,” and he accused former President Barack Obama of giving children “to human traffickers.”

    • Fox host and Trump lackey Sean Hannity claimed that the policy of separation “took place in previous administrations” (neither the Obama nor the Bush administration separated families as a matter of policy). Hannity also accused the media of having an “obsession” with the “so-called policy of separating illegal immigrant families.”    

    • Fox’s Laura Ingraham called the “outrage” over the separation policy “hilarious,” complained about watching “our country try to contort itself into other peoples' cultures,” and excused the separations because the children have “entertainment, sports, tutoring, medical, dental, four meals a day, and clean, decent housing” even though their “parents irresponsibly tried to bring them across the border illegally.” On her Fox show, Ingraham called the administration’s child detention centers “essentially summer camps” and compared them to “boarding schools.”

    • Sinclair's Boris Epshteyn choose not to editorialize on the cruelty of family separation itself, instead attacking the "discourse" around separation policy and claiming it is what's wrong with Democrats and media.

    • Right-wing columnist Ann Coulter warned the president not to fall for “these child actors weeping and crying on” cable news.

    • Radio host Rush Limbaugh called the outrage over family separation “an entirely manufactured crisis” and claimed “it happened during the Obama administration” too (it didn’t).  

    • One America News Network correspondent and internet troll Jack Posobiec defended the policy by fearmongering that children crossing the border could be with traffickers as opposed to family members. There is clear evidence of the relationship between many of the children in detention and the adult that accompanied them.

    • American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp, a frequent cable news guest, contended that “Obama and Trump have same child protection policy” (they do not).

    • Fox’s David Bossie attempted to shift the blame onto the parents, arguing that “if they don't become criminals, they're not separated.” He also claimed that Trump is just “following the law,” ignoring the reality that separation is a Trump administration policy, not the law.

    • Fox host Tucker Carlson warned his viewers that people speaking up against America detaining children in cages just want to "change your country forever."

    • Chris Bedford, editor-in-chief of the Daily Caller News Foundation, criticized the "hyperbole" over family separation and child detention.

    • Drudge Report’s Matt Drudge attempted to paint Latin American children as violent by publishing a photo of children in Azaz, Syria.

    • Turning Point USA spokesperson Candace Owens claimed that “these policies were in place” during the Obama administration (they were not).

    • Townhall’s Kurt Schlichter aggressively defended the policy, suggesting that the U.S. ought to “separate the children and then send them all away” and “in prison (sic) the parents until they serve their sentence then throw them out.”

    • Infowars frontman and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones claimed that separation has been the “standard procedure for decades” when you “pick up a group of a hundred people and you have no idea who the hell they are.” Infowars also claimed that Trump had exposed “the hoax that the US is mistreating migrant children.”

    • The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro fallaciously argued that Trump is simply “enforcing the law on the books.”

    • Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk posted a series of tweets fearmongering about “illegal immigration” and claimed that “all of this happened for 8 years under Obama” (nope).

    • NRATV host Dan Bongino claimed that reporting on the “immigration/children story” is “propaganda, nothing more” and argued that anyone who believed it is “delirious, and should seek professional help.”

    • Radio talk show host Ben Ferguson shared an image on Facebook claiming that policies of separating children from “illegal parents” had been in effect since 2009 and that Democrats just started talking about the issue because “they only care about making Trump look ‘bad.’” The post has been shared over 100,000 times.

    • Conservative commentator Dick Morris claimed that families seeking asylum at the borders were part of a “scam” in which adult immigrants were “abusers” who are using their children as a “battering ram to force their way into the country.” He also said the solution to this problem is to deny asylum to all immigrants who come to the border with a child.

    • Fox New contributor and Townhall Editor Katie Pavlich posted a series of tweets comparing the separation of asylum-seeking families to the separation of children and arrested parents and supporting Sarah Sanders’ claims in which she portrayed “illegal aliens” as criminals who are responsible for separating U.S. families permanently by “committing murder or killing through drunk driving.”

    • Conservative Review TV’s Jon Miller claimed that media are trying to push controversy around separation policies in order to “distract from the disastrous IG report and anything else this president has done that will cause people to vote for him.”

    • Fox News’ Tomi Lahren tweeted that “we owe ILLEGAL immigrants NOTHING,” and suggested that family separation is just one of the “consequences” parents have to accept when they “drag [their] kids over here ILLEGALLY.”

  • Local Virginia media failed to report that the newly elected GOP Senate nominee is a neo-Confederate with connections to white supremacists  

    Evening news programs virtually ignored Corey Stewart’s extremism. Virginia newspapers did only slightly better.

    Blog ››› ››› GRACE BENNETT


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters 

    On June 12, neo-Confederate Corey Stewart was elected to be the Republican nominee to challenge Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA). Stewart is an ardent defender of Confederate symbols and a staunch opponent of immigrants’ rights, and he has been affiliated with white supremacists. Unfortunately for Virginians, local TV news in the state largely failed to mention Stewart’s extremism while reporting on his victory. While some Virginia newspapers did a better job in giving the context of Stewart’s background to audiences, others largely failed to mention his bigotry.

    Stewart, who is currently a member of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, was the Virginia state co-chairman of President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, has been described as a “mini-Trump,” and heavily courted the “alt-right” and figures who have self-identified with the movement. Shortly after he was fired from his position with the campaign 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 “cuckold,” is widely used within “alt-right” and pro-Trump circles.

    In January 2017, Stewart spoke out in support of Paul Nehlen, a white nationalist congressional candidate who holds and espouses deeply racist views, calling him one of his “personal heros.” According to CNN, Stewart later paid almost $800 to the "pro-White" Nehlen as a “fundraising commission.” And in February 2017, Stewart attended an event put on by “Unity & Security for America,” a group run by Jason Kessler, the white nationalist who would months later organize the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, VA. According to The Washington Post, Stewart himself claimed that white nationalists were “unfairly singled out” for their role in the rally. Stewart has since disavowed both men, but as The New York Times reports, Nehlen at least already had a history of making anti-Muslim slurs when Stewart initially praised him.

    Stewart is also a stalwart defender of Confederate symbols and has helped spearhead the movement against immigration and immigrants’ rights in Virginia. During his 2017 campaign for Virginia governor, he displayed a Confederate flag while recording a Facebook live segment, declaring, “Folks, this is a symbol of heritage. It is not a symbol of racism. It is not a symbol of slavery.” Stewart later claimed that “ISIS has won” after a Confederate monument was taken down in New Orleans, LA. During his time as a member of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, Stewart has supported aggressively anti-immigrant policies. He helped pass legislation to bar undocumented immigrants from receiving county services and often fearmongers about immigrants in Virginia, warning residents about the “scourge of illegal aliens who are preying on law-abiding United States citizens here in Fairfax County,” incorrectly stating that the city of Fairfax has “declared itself a ‘sanctuary city.’”

    Local TV news dropped the ball on acknowledging Stewart’s extremism

    Eight major TV news stations in two of Virginia’s largest media markets largely failed to inform viewers that the Republican nominee for Senate is an anti-immigrant, neo-Confederate extremist with ties to white supremacists. Media Matters reviewed local TV coverage of Stewart’s win during nighttime (11 p.m.; 10 p.m. for Fox affiliates) and evening (6 p.m. or 7 p.m.) news programing from 9 p.m. on June 12 (when Stewart was declared the winner) through June 14. Of the four stations carrying local news in the Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News media market, not one mentioned Stewart’s extremist past. Coverage in the Roanoke-Lynchburg media market wasn’t much better; two stations mentioned Stewart’s position on immigration and his advocacy for Confederate monuments, but none highlighted his relationships with white nationalists.

    • In the Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News media market, WVEC (ABC 13), WTKR (CBS 3), WAVY (NBC 10)and WVBT (Fox 43) all failed to mention Stewart’s advocacy for Confederate symbols, his extremism on immigration, and his previous association with white supremacists.  

    • In the Roanoke-Lynchburg, WDBJ (CBS 7) and WFXR (Fox 27) both mentioned Stewart’s defense of Confederate monuments and referenced his stance on immigration, though neither highlighted his extremism on the topic; instead they noted, respectively, his interest in “cracking down on illegal immigration” and his “focus” on “illegal immigration.” Neither station acknowledged his history of associating with white nationalists.

    • WSET (ABC 13, a station owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group) and WSLS (NBC 10) failed to mention any aspect of Stewart’s extremist past.

    Some Virginia newspapers did better than TV news, but others missed the mark

    The Richmond-Times Dispatch did an admirable job detailing Stewart’s bigotry, The Roanoke Times failed to mention certain aspects of Stewart’s extremism, and The Virginian Pilot almost entirely dropped the ball. Media Matters reviewed three major Virginia newspapers’ coverage of Stewart’s victory from June 12 until June 15.

    • The Richmond Times-Dispatch ran five stories mentioning Stewart’s win. Three of those articles mentioned Stewart’s defense of Confederate symbols, or else branded him “pro-Confederate.” Two noted his focus on “illegal” immigration, and four discussed his connections with white supremacists and anti-Semites.  

    • The Roanoke Times ran only one story, an article it re-ran from The Richmond Times-Dispatch, announcing Stewart’s victory, and while it mentioned his association with both Kessler and Nehlen, it failed to identify his support for Confederate symbols or his anti-immigration stances. The Times did, however, run an editorial that accused Stewart of playing “footsie with white nationalists,” and mentioned his backing of Confederate symbols. 

    • The Virginian Pilot ran two articles, one partially re-published from The Washington Post, that mentioned Stewart’s victory. The Post article actually did mention Stewart’s support for Confederate monuments, his immigration stance, and his extreme associations, but this section of the article was taken out when it ran in the Pilot. The other article neglected to definitively acknowledge any aspect of Stewart’s extremism, instead noting that Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) has accused him of “cozying up to purveyors of dangerous white supremacy or anti-Semitic views."

    Methodology

    Using iQ media, Media Matters analyzed Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News and Roanoke-Lynchburg, two of the largest local news markets in Virginia, for “Corey Stewart,” “Stewart,” or “Republican primary” from 9 p.m. on June 12 through June 14. Relevant segments were reviewed during the stations' nighttime news program (11 p.m.; 10 p.m. for WVBT and WFXR) and during the 6 p.m. (7 p.m. for WVBT, which doesn't air 6 p.m. news) block of their evening news coverage (WFXR does not air evening news coverage).  

    Using Nexis, Media Matters searched three widely circulated Virginia-based print newspapers, The Richmond Times-Dispatch, The Virginian Pilot, and The Roanoke Times, from 9 p.m. June 12 to June 15 and reviewed relevant print articles that included the terms “Stewart” or “Republican primary.”

  • TPUSA invited a slate of sexists to speak at its Young Women’s Leadership Summit 

    Blog ››› ››› GRACE BENNETT


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Turning Point USA, the student-aimed conservative organization that raises its money by stoking fear among rich conservative donors about the alleged liberalization of college campuses, will host its fourth annual Young Women’s Leadership Summit June 14 through 17. Slated to address the young women attending is a roster packed full of misogynists.

    While Turning Point USA (TPUSA) is perhaps most famous for a laughable 2017 stunt in which its members donned adult diapers and sat in oversized playpens to express their outrage over safe spaces, its stated mission is to “identify, educate, train, and organize students to promote the principles of freedom, free markets, and limited government.” Despite TPUSA’s lofty goals, the organization’s events are often little more than sophomoric spectacles designed to fearmonger -- often via Fox News airtime -- about the supposedly leftist leanings of U.S. colleges. But the group also has a more sinister history that includes hosting serial harassers and defending racists. Overall, TPUSA is focused on combating “political correctness,” and conferences like the Young Women’s Leadership Summit are one vehicle used to accomplish this goal.

    TPUSA’s website invites “young, conservative women” to apply to attend the summit, and it promises to deliver “professional development and leadership training,” as well as opportunities to network with fellow young conservatives. While at first glance, the event seems to be about women's empowerment, the slate of speakers scheduled to present says otherwise. The roster includes people who publicly support misogynistic policies, routinely dismiss the importance of issues that advance gender equality, and use dangerously sexist rhetoric. Here is a breakdown of 10 of those speakers and their histories of anti-women messaging:

    Charlie Kirk

    Jeanine Pirro 

    Dana Loesch 

    Kimberly Guilfoyle

    Katie Pavlich

    Kayleigh McEnany

    Tomi Lahren

    Ben Shapiro

    Candace Owens

    Jordan Peterson

    Charlie Kirk

    The founder, chief fundraiser, and public face of TPUSA, “boy wonder” Charlie Kirk has a long history of attacking feminism and a tendency to dismiss and mischaracterize the problems women face. He is also ever-ready to complain about girls intruding on sacred male spaces like the Boy Scouts.

    Jeanine Pirro

    At first glance, Fox’s Jeanine Pirro seems an obvious choice for the summit. As the first woman elected to serve as the district attorney in New York’s Westchester County, Pirro spent years working on behalf of abuse survivors, often women and children. Since her years as DA, however, Pirro has seemingly turned her back on abuse victims, using her Fox show, Justice with Judge Jeanine, to downplay sexual misconduct allegations.

    • When Pirro’s former Fox colleague Gretchen Carlson reported then-Fox CEO Roger Ailes’ many instances of severe sexual misconduct, Pirro aggressively defended Ailes, dismissing Carlson’s lawsuit as “absurd” and describing Ailes as a “no-nonsense guy.”

    • In October 2016, Pirro was quick to defend then-candidate Donald Trump after the release of an Access Hollywood video, which caught him bragging about sexually assaulting women. Two days after the video was released, Pirro dismissed Trump’s violent remarks as “locker room talk" and "frat house language." She also proudly announced that the video did nothing to change her vote, and that Trump was still an undoubtedly better choice than “double-talking woman” Hillary Clinton.

    • Days later, when multiple women reported that Trump had touched them inappropriately, Pirro rejected their reports as “a little too convenient” and criticized their timing.

    Dana Loesch

    NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch is a remarkably bad choice to speak at a women’s conference, considering her numerous glib comments about rape, her mischaracterization of issues that advance gender equality, and her cruel attacks against transgender women. Additionally, Loesch has openly ridiculed college-aged women, the demographic TPUSA’s summit is aiming to capture, for wanting access to contraceptives.

    • After conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh aimed misogynistic insults at Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown Law student who testified in front of Congress about access to contraceptives, Loesch launched a barrage of heinous attacks against her. She denounced Fluke as unable “to control her sexual urges” and claimed that Fluke had testified that she “simply cannot stop getting it on.”

    • Loesch then extended her attacks to seemingly include all college-aged women who want access to contraceptives, ridiculing them for acting “like they’re nymphos” and dismissing young women's call for contraceptives coverage as "insulting to the original spirit and intent of the suffrage movement."

    • Loesch has a history of making flippant remarks and ill-advised jokes about rape, including comparing the penalization of gun owners for improperly storing firearms to “shaming a rape survivor.”

    • Loesch has been quick to fearmonger about false reports of sexual assault (which researchers say make up only an estimated 2 to 8 percent of allegations), and she came immediately to the defense of former Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) after he claimed that it’s “really rare" for women subjected to "legitimate rape" to become pregnant.

    • In addition to her trivializing rhetoric on rape, Loesch has made careless and insensitive comments about gender, including claiming that some women “wouldn’t know what masculinity was if it hit them in the face."

    • According to Loesch, the gender wage gap is “an absolute myth.” And after actress Jennifer Lawrence wrote an essay describing her own experience with pay inequality, Loesch denied that “sexism” played a role in Lawrence’s experience, instead accusing Lawrence of having a “self esteem issue.”

    • Loesch has additionally aimed cruel and dangerous attacks at transgender women, going out of her way to misgender former soldier and whistleblower Chelsea Manning.

    • Loesch also claimed that Manning was given “preferential treatment” and an “unnecessary surgery” when she received hormone therapy while in prison. In reality, hormone therapy is medically necessary, and to say otherwise simply serves to dismiss the health needs of transgender women.

    Kimberly Guilfoyle

    Former Assistant District Attorney Kimberly Guilfoyle has repeatedly used her platform as a Fox News host to make misogynistic and demeaning remarks, and she has spoken out in support of street harassment.

    • In a bizarre 2014 endorsement of catcalling, Guilfoyle defended street harassment by arguing that society should “let men be men” and insisting that “men are going to be that way.”

    • Later in the same year, during a discussion about women voting, Guilfoyle asserted that “young women on juries are not a good idea” because “they don’t get it.” She went on to contend that they’d be better of going “back on Tinder or Match.com.”

    • Guilfoyle has also derided women who have abortions in the third trimester as “selfish and disgusting,” even though women who receive abortions that late in their pregnancies do so because of serious concern for the fetus or their own health and are thus often forced to make heartbreaking and terrifying medical decisions.

    Katie Pavlich

    Katie Pavlich is an editor at the conservative outlet Townhall as well as a Fox News contributor. Pavlich has a history of using insensitive rhetoric and spreading misinformation about sexual assault as well as a tendency to espouse sexist tropes. In 2015, Pavlich gave a disastrous speech on sexual assault at Iowa State University, during which she insulted sexual abuse survivors and spread misinformation about the realities of sexual assault on campuses.

    • During the Iowa event, Pavlich argued that the incidence of sexual assaults on college campuses had been exaggerated and advanced the evidence-free notion that allowing students to carry concealed guns on college campuses could reduce sexual assault (the NRA is a sponsor of TPUSA’s Young Women’s Leadership Summit). She also made the wildly insulting claim that "lots of the time" women "make a decision about whether you are going to stop a sexual assault or not" before it happens and sarcastically apologized while disagreeing with a woman who shared that she was sexually assaulted as a child. 

    • In 2016, Pavlich “guarantee[d]” that Russian President Vladimir Putin and “the Saudis” would find then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s voice “grating.”

    Kayleigh McEnany

    Many of the speakers invited to TPUSA’s summit have served as Trump apologists, but perhaps none have done so as consistently as Republican National Committee spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany. In her constant defense of Trump’s sexist and violent rhetoric, McEnany has demonstrated her own indifference toward the sexism and abuse that women often face at the hands of powerful men.

    • McEnany defended Trump in the aftermath of the release of the Access Hollywood video, which contains Trump’s claims that when he sees a “beautiful woman” he will “just kiss” them and not “even wait” to speak to them first. The video also features Trump saying that “when you’re a star… you can do anything,” including grabbing women “by the pussy.” McEnany claimed that she didn’t “think [Trump] was condoning sexual assault.”

    • Days later, after multiple women said that Trump had sexually assaulted them, McEnany argued that “Donald Trump's claim is stronger” than that of one of the accusers.

    • McEnany also excused Trump’s tone-deaf assertion that if his daughter was sexually harassed at work, she ought to find a new job. She claimed that was “the same advice I would give to my sister.”

    • Her sycophancy continued in 2017, when she contended that Trump crossed no boundaries when he made a sexist remark to an Irish reporter.  

    Tomi Lahren

    Fox’s Tomi Lahren has built a career out of making unapologetically cruel and anti-feminist rants. She has a long history of attacking women and empowerment movements, including during a speech at the 2016 TPUSA summit.

    • During her 2016 YWLS speech, Lahren attacked various groups of women and derided modern day feminism. About liberal women, she told the crowd, “You notice the difference between a conservative women’s conference and a liberal women’s conference, because y’all dress like women.” In reference to Hillary Clinton, she proclaimed, “Don’t tell Hillary, but you can wear a dress and still be a woman,” and then she called both Clinton and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) “men” based on the clothes they wear. She accused actress Lena Dunham of making false rape accusations, and she commented that Dunham was “somewhere getting undressed on HBO” and “no one wants to see that.” She described feminists as “barely women,” and she described the modern-day feminist movement as “all about “gimme -- it’s gimme this, gimme this.”

    • On another occasion, during a particularly vicious tirade, she described modern-day feminism as “the dumbest load of hypocritical crap ever masqueraded as an equality movement.”

    • In an interview with Playboy, in which she described feminism as “bad,” she implied that feminism attempts to simplify women into “wanting free abortions or free birth control, and by using a false statistic like the 77 cents on the dollar bullshit.”

    • In another instance, she slightly tweaked her previous definition of the feminist movement, arguing that feminism is in fact “about man-bashing & free birth control.”

    • Lahren once claimed female activists attending a planned “Day Without Women” protest were not “real women.” According to Lahren, “Real women don’t have to remind the world every single day that history once slighted us. Real women don’t wake up and skip work to march for abortions or paid contraceptives.” She added that she wasn’t sure about “a day without women, but I could use a day without this nasty feminist BS masqueraded as women’s rights.”

    • Lahren condemned the 2017 Women’s March as a “vulgar display of hate and bitterness” and “a giant temper tantrum clogging our streets and hurting our ears and eyes.” She condemned the protesters themselves as “actual mean girls” and opined, “If only these marchers put this much time/effort into their families & life choices. Perhaps then they wouldn't have to glorify abortion.”

    • She complained about girls being allowed into the Boy Scouts.

    • She (wrongly) denied that there is a gender-based wage gap.

    Ben Shapiro

    The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro frequently misinforms his audiences about the obstacles women face, demeans and attacks transgender women, and serves as a reliable source of misogynistic commentary on multiple issues.

    • Shapiro has repeatedly denied the existence of a gender wage gap (once again, it's real). When actor Jennifer Lawrence discussed her experience with pay inequality, Shapiro claimed she was just “whining about a bad contract.”

    • He has dismissed the impact that having children has on women’s earnings potential. 

    • Shapiro is against women serving in combat positions, tweeting: “Women SHOULD NOT register for the draft. National service is one thing. Combat? Come the hell on.”

    • He has claimed that “fewer women are interested in getting into tech because of all of the demands of work-life balance.”

    • He has repeatedly attacked and misgendered transgender women, tweeting that transgender people have “mental illness[es]” and claiming that Chelsea Manning only “think[s]” she’s a woman.

    • In response to the 2015 edition of MTV’s Video Music Awards, Shapiro tweeted: “Feminism is apparently the proposition that women are empowered by showing their breasts, but men are sexists for looking at them. #VMAs”

    • He accused “leftist women” of “redefin[ing]” rape and cautioned his followers not to believe “the lies” about “rape culture.”

    • He mocked Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke for her activism on contraceptive access and labeled her a “fascist” for wanting contraception to be more accessible to workers.

    • Shapiro has launched numerous attacks against planned Parenthood, claimed that women who seek abortions are “kill[ing] their own children,” and denied that medical care received by pregnant women is part of “women’s health.” 

    Candace Owens

    TPUSA’s communications director, Candace Owens, is a vicious critic of the #MeToo movement. She has attacked its leaders and maliciously defamed and insulted victims of abuse. Owens has also maligned feminism and she often promotes sexist and demeaning tropes.

    • Owens has been a vocal critic of the #MeToo movement, which has helped elevate the voices of people who have experienced abuse and has led to the rightful downfall of numerous abusive men. Owens, however, has accused the movement of turning “sexual assault into a trend,” contended that its premise is that “women are stupid, weak & inconsequential,” and claimed the movement is at fault for men who won’t hire women. Owens’ attacks on #MeToo were so tone deaf and clueless that even conservative women condemned them, causing at least one conservative organization to pull out of the conference, and leading TPUSA’s Kirk to beseech attendees not to attack Owens publicly.  

    • Owens also wrote that the “entire #metoo” movement was evidence of how “vicious and cunning women can be when they feel scorned.”

    • She argued that the leaders of the movement “were at one time willing to trade sex for career advancements” and accused them of leading a “political witch hunt.”

    • Owen’s has promised that her 2018 TPUSA speech will center on why she “hate[s] the #metoo movement.”

    • Owens has claimed that women “are being systematically taught to equate ‘regret’ with ‘rape,’” an old and incorrect assertion that is sometimes used to minimize the reality of sexual assault.

    • She has accused “modern feminism” of “singlehandedly (sic) deteriorating relationships and eventual motherhood” and argued that feminists “hate men” and are “miserable.” She also claimed that “if you believe in equality between men and women, you cannot be a feminist today.”

    • Owens has perpetuated sexist tropes with such statements as “Women are naturally jealous creatures. It’s not a trait they grow out of, they just get better at hiding it.”

    • She once relayed the “interesting theory” that “something bio-chemically happens to women who don’t marry and/or have children” to her Twitter followers. She offered comedians Chelsea Handler, Kathy Griffin, and Sarah Silverman as “evidentiary support.” In a similar vein, she noted that “the most vicious perpetuators of modern feminism almost never have any children.”

    Jordan Peterson

    Right-wing YouTube star and Canadian professor Jordan Peterson advances a philosophy that demonizes and demeans women, refuses to respect the needs of transgender women, and shares videos that have been described as a gateway into the “alt-right” for men suffering from depression.

    • Peterson has argued for a hierarchical system built around gender and has condescendingly claimed that those who view our culture as an “oppressive patriarchy” simply don’t want to “admit” that the “current hierarchy might be predicated on competence.”

    • During a discussion about the “incel” (short for involuntarily celibate) who murdered 10 people in Toronto, Canada, at least in part because of his antipathy toward women, Peterson suggested that the “cure” for violent men is “enforced monogamy” to ensure that lower-status men get to have sex with women.

    • Peterson has argued that “conscientious and agreeable women” are more likely to prioritize their families over their work.

    • He has questioned whether “feminists avoid criticizing Islam because they unconsciously long for masculine dominance?” and asked, “Is it possible that young women are so outraged because they are craving infant contact in a society that makes that very difficult?”

    • He warned against women trying to “usurp” men.

    • He has called Nazi sympathizer and unapologetic anti-feminist Milo Yiannopoulos “unstoppable” and “an amazing person.”

    • Peterson ardently rejects the right of transgender people to be called by their prefered pronouns and insists that calling people by the pronouns they prefer won’t “do [them] any good in the long run.” In reality, misgendering is a cruel and dangerous act.  

  • Fox News politics editor fears if Trump comments on Roseanne he'll be associating himself with conspiracy theories

    Fact check: Trump is a conspiracy theorist

    Blog ››› ››› GRACE BENNETT

    Several hours after conspiracy theorist and pro-Trump comedian Roseanne Barr tweeted a racist attack on former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, ABC announced its decision to cancel Barr’s TV show, Roseanne. The show has received an outpouring of support from conservatives since its March premiere, and, despite Barr’s documented history of extremism, President Donald Trump has reportedly praised her.

    During an appearance on Fox’s The Daily Briefing, Fox politics editor Chris Stirewalt argued that Trump should resist defending Roseanne after this latest scandal. Stirewalt noted that Roseanne “occupies the murkiest part of the fever swamps of online conspiracy theorists” and “trafficked in the same sort of kookism and grossness” as people like Michael Flynn Jr., the son of Michael Flynn, Trump's former national security adviser. Both Flynn Jr. and Roseanne helped spread the pizzagate conspiracy theory.

    Similar to these two high-profile supporters, the president also has a long history of promoting conspiracy theories. His son, Donald Trump Jr., has also demonstrated a willingness to embrace false and extreme theories, as evidenced by his retweet of another Barr message, which claimed that philanthropist George Soros was a Nazi collaborator (a right-wing conspiracy theory that has been roundly debunked).

    After noting the similarity between Barr’s actions and those of Flynn Jr., Stirewalt suggested that if Trump does come to Barr’s defense, then “he is implicating himself in the rest of that rottenness.” From the May 29 edition of Fox News’ The Daily Briefing with Dana Perino:

    CHRIS STIREWALT (FOX NEWS POLITICS EDITOR): The amount of stupidity that is coursing through our body politic these days is pretty astonishing. But it was hard to miss with Roseanne. Here is a person who has made her career out of being awful, right? The famous national anthem, with the spitting during the national anthem. She is a comedic version of a shock jock. Her whole employ here was about saying and doing outrageous things to get attention. When I saw conservatives and I saw Republicans gravitating to her because she was saying things that they liked about Donald Trump and they could claim her as one of their own, I thought what a bad risk. This is a person who -- this is like the animals in the wild. If certain stripe patterns let you know that this is a venomous snake, stay away. And the fact that the president couldn't stay away and the fact that a lot of his followers couldn't stay away tells you the intensity of tribalism.

    I would say it would be smart for [Trump] to ignore her completely. This is an "L" for his tribe. But the danger here, if you defend her, then you go right into -- because remember, Roseanne occupies the murkiest part of the fever swamps of online conspiracy theorists, about pizzagate and the slain --

    DANA PERINO (HOST): That’s how this whole thing started. It was a right-wing, sort of alt-right whatever conspiracy theorist website, which -- I don't even know what those look like. I don't visit them.

    STIREWALT: It's gross.

    PERINO: But it got her into a huge amount of trouble, Chris.

    STIREWALT: Right. And they trafficked -- she trafficked in the same sort of kookism and grossness that people like the son of the former NSA -- you know who I mean. But his son and others.

    PERINO: Jr. Flynn Jr.

    STIREWALT: Right. Flynn Jr. and others trafficked in this terrible, terrible stuff that they put out there. That’s where she hung out. If the president moves to defend her against this action by ABC, then he is implicating himself in the rest of that rottenness.