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John Kerr

Author ››› John Kerr
  • Trump's tweets directly repeated Hannity's talking points

    Blog ››› ››› JOHN KERR & NICK FERNANDEZ

    Since taking office, President Donald Trump’s relationship with chief Fox News propagandist Sean Hannity has been extensively documented, but it is becoming increasingly clear that the president is receiving inspiration for his daily rage tweets about the special counsel’s ongoing investigation from Hannity’s programming. Hannity, who has taken on the role as the face of the crusade against the special counsel, has desperately and almost comically spearheaded the public relations campaign to undermine the public’s trust in the investigation. And now, as the indictments of Trump associates and details of their crimes and possible cooperation agreements with the government begin to pile up and attract media coverage, the president is lashing out on Twitter, oftentimes employing language that can be traced back, nearly verbatim, to one person:

  • Fox News desperately insists Michael Cohen’s (other) guilty plea means “absolutely nothing”

    Blog ››› ››› JOHN KERR & NICK FERNANDEZ

    After President Donald Trump’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to “lying to Congress about the timing and extent of his negotiations,” on behalf of the Trump Organization, to build a Trump Tower in Moscow -- his second guilty plea to a federal crime in three months -- Trump’s sycophants and defenders in the media are proclaiming that Cohen’s guilty plea means “absolutely nothing.” By furiously attempting to spin the potentially devastating news as “a nothingburger,” right-wing media are simply picking up where they left off in August after Cohen pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance laws on Trump’s behalf. And even though Trump’s stooges in the media have openly worried about what may come next for some time now as the special counsel investigation continues, they continue to wage their public relations campaign with laughable spin:

  • Fox's obsession with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

    Blog ››› ››› JOHN KERR

    Since New York Democratic Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ primary win in June, Fox personalities have spent a remarkable amount of time and energy focusing on her. The network has complained about her platform (Medicare for everyone, green jobs, housing as a human right, women’s rights, etc.), claimed Democrats support her only “because she’s a woman,” and generally devoted breathless coverage to the newly elected congresswoman from Queens and the Bronx. Here’s a sampling:

  • The far-right false flag narrative over the attempted bombings of Democrats was all over talk radio

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN & JOHN KERR


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    The far-right conspiracy theory that the several explosive devices sent to Democratic Party figures and progressives who have criticized President Donald Trump spread widely on talk radio shows around the country. Far-right figures started pushing the claim soon after the news broke, and it spread widely on social media. A suspect has since been arrested whose social media presence is filled with far-right conspiracy theories and memes.

    A review of radio shows and stations around the country found numerous hosts suggesting that the incidents were a “false flag” operation and some kind of liberal plot to frame conservatives:

    • Radio host Brian Kilmeade: “A lot of people said” it was a false flag “right away” and “people are like don’t trust anything they see right now. Things aren’t as they appear.”

    • Radio host Rush Limbaugh: “Republicans just don't do this kind of thing.”

    • Radio host Michael Savage: “It's a high probability that the whole thing is set up as a false flag to gain sympathy for the Democrats number one, and number two, to get our minds off the hordes of illegal aliens approaching our southern border. Yes, that is what I'm saying.”

    • Radio host Lars Larson: “It may be just a false flag.”

    • SiriusXM’s The Wilkow Majority with Andrew Wilkow: “I am still in the camp that this is a false flag until proven otherwise.”

    • Texas syndicated radio host Chris Salcedo: It is “very plausible” that it is a false flag.

    • Syndicated The Kate Dalley Show, which is part of TheBlaze Radio Network: “It’s the most wonderful time of the year. It’s the false flaggy time of the year.”

    • Baltimore, Maryland talk station WCBM-AM’s The Bruce Elliott Show: “Is this some loon or is this simply a false flag operation? We’ll find out, I would hope. Something tells me we may not find out until after the election, but we will find out.”

    • Fairbanks, Alaska talk station KFAR-AM’s The Michael Dukes Show: “Is it a false flag? I don’t know. … From a propaganda viewpoint, it would make sense that if it was a false flag … Is it to discredit some right-wing [group]?”

    • Atlanta, Georgia talk station WYAY-FM’s The Mike Brooks Show: “Could it be a false flag? … Could it be possibly a Democrat who’s sending these to them?”

    • Lexington, Kentucky talk station WVLK-AM’s Larry Glover Live: “I wouldn’t be entirely stunned if this were a false flag.”

    • Cincinnati, Ohio talk station WLW-AM’s Mike McConnell: “Yes it does -- it does bear all the resemblance of a false flag.”

    • Houston, Texas talk station KNTH-AM’s Sam Malone Show: “Talking about the alleged bombs or whatever they were sent to Democrats. Was it an act of violence? Was it a false flag? A lot of suspicions, a lot of eyebrows raised in this situation.”

    • Greenville, South Carolina talk station WYRD-AM’s The Tara Show: “That will be interesting, won’t it,” if it was “an inside false flag job.”

    • Greenville, South Carolina talk station WYRD-AM’s Bob McClain Show: “I don’t totally discount the fact that” these incidents could be a “false flag operation” because “everything else the left has tried has failed. … So is it possible this is part of an October surprise from the left? I don’t discount anything at this point.”

    • Richmond, Virginia talk station WRVA-AM’s John Reid: “I don’t want to be a conspiracy theorist, but I mean this could be a false flag situation possibly.”

    • Detroit, Michigan talk station WJR-AM’s The Frank Beckmann Show: It’s “interesting” that “there’s always something it seems that keeps” the headlines of Trump’s achievements “off the front page.”

    • Anderson, South Carolina talk station WAIM-AM’s Rick Driver Show: “These bombs” are “nothing more than false flag,” and “folks on the left are extremely desperate -- anything to disrupt the ship. Anything to get rid of the president. Anything.”

    • Quincy, Massachusetts talk station WMEX-AM’s Renegade Radio: “It absolutely is” a false flag.

    • Aurora, Colorado talk station KNUS-AM’s Peter Boyles Show: “My personal belief at this time: This is a false flag, this is a Reichstag fire.”

    • Denver, Colorado talk station KHOW-AM’s The Ross Kaminsky Show: “I’m not inclined to believe that this is a false flag, but the reaction of the left shows why you can’t rule it out. They’ll say and maybe do anything.”

    • Nashville, Tennessee talk station WWTN-FM’s Nashville’s Morning News: “Do I think that this is a false flag operation? I don’t know. … It seems that some of this stuff is a little too cute, if you get my drift.”

    • Wilmington, North Carolina talk station WAAV-AM’s The Tyler Cralle Show: “I don’t know” if it’s a false flag, but there’s “just as much evidence that it’s a Democrat trying to frame Republicans as there is there’s a Trump supporter trying to hurt critics of Donald Trump.”

    • Idaho Falls, Idaho talk station KID-AM’s Neal Larson: “My immediate reaction” to the news “was this feels like a false flag, possibly.”

    • Mount Pleasant, South Carolina talk station WSCC-FM’s Mornings with Kelly Golden: “People aren’t really buying” the news and it “smells like rotten eggs.”

    • Colorado Springs, Colorado talk station KVOR-AM’s The Richard Randall Show: “I think the more likely avenue is that this is a false flag. This is self-inflicted. This is -- we do this to ourselves to make ourselves look like the victims. ”

    • Charlotte, North Carolina station WBT-AM’s The Vince Coakley Show: “My betting would still be that it is a false flag.”

    • Jefferson City, Missouri talk station KWOS-AM’s The Gary Nolan Show: “It is, as they are describing it, a false flag.”

    • New York City talk station WOR-AM’s Mark Simone Show: “If I had to guess, just instinctively, it just looks like a left-wing operation, a total false flag. … Everything about it is suspicious.”

    • Milwaukee, Wisconsin talk station WISN-AM’s The Jay Weber Show: “Given the history of these things and the extreme amount of venom poisoning the left, I do believe a false flag scenario is more likely.”

    • West Palm Beach, Florida talk station WFTL-AM’s The South Florida Morning Show: “This is all too obvious” and “it wouldn’t surprise me at all if it turned out to be” a false flag.

    • Knoxville, Tennessee talk station WETR-AM’s Steve Gill: The misspelled names on the packages could mean it is a “false flag” and “maybe the whole thing is intended as a distraction.”

    • Rehoboth Beach, Delaware talk station WGMD-FM’s Radio Free Delmarva: “Most people seem to think that what’s happening today is a false flag attack” that “the left” can use against Republicans.

    • Greenville, South Carolina talk station WGTK-FM’s Upstate Live: It’s “not too far fetched” that the bombs were a “false flag” from “someone on the left hoping the Republicans would get blamed for it.”

    • Montgomery, Alabama talk station WACV-FM’s Happy Hour with Greg Budell: It’s “my suspicion” that it is a “false flag.”

    • Santa Cruz, California talk station KSCO-AM’s The Charles Freedman Show: “I think this is a false flag operation. That’s what I think. I do not really believe that it was some crazed right-winger.”

  • Right-wing media's history of smearing coverage for pre-existing conditions as "a luxury," "welfare"

    Blog ››› ››› JOHN KERR

    In the lead up to the 2018 midterm elections, as polls show strong support among Democratic and Republican voters for the Affordable Care Act provision that prohibits insurance companies from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions, right-wing media seem to have muted their rhetoric about the provision. Conservative media, especially Fox News, are now helping Republicans whitewash the Republican Party's sordid record of attacks against the provision. But they have their own history of smearing the pre-existing condition provision of the law, including calling it a “luxury” and “welfare.”

  • Video: Conservatives dismiss Christine Blasey Ford's report that Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her

    Blog ››› ››› JOHN KERR

    When California professor Christine Blasey Ford came forward to say President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her when they were high school students, right-wing media smeared her as an “opportunist,” questioned the timing of her allegations, complained this is "an attempted political assassination of a character,” argued Ford needs to be pressed about her "political bias," and more:

  • Video: Fox News' Tucker Carlson echoes white nationalists, white supremacists, and neo-Nazis

    Blog ››› ››› JOHN KERR

    Tucker Carlson's 8 p.m. show on Fox News is the third most popular cable news show in the country, and he's quickly made use of his rising popularity to turn white nationalist narratives into prime-time stories. Carlson's brand has drawn a following of notable white supremacists, anti-Semites, and misogynists, making him a media figurehead among the “alt-right.”

    His show has also grabbed the attention of the president. In August, President Donald Trump responded to a fearmongering Carlson segment on “white oppression” in South Africa, stating that he had ordered Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to investigate the issue.

    Here is Carlson using language that echoes notable far-right figures:

    The figures in this video:

    Lana Lokteff: Lokteff runs the white supremacist internet media company Red Ice TV with her husband, Henrik Palmgren. Red Ice TV has hosted extremist Richard Spencer and featured Holocaust denier Kevin MacDonald discussing the “JQ” (Jewish Question). Lokteff and Palmgren took part in the 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, VA. The Daily Beast recently reported that “Red Ice regularly promotes hate against immigrants and Jews, riling up its listeners with claims that white people are ... facing extinction at hands of minority groups.”

    Jared Taylor: Taylor is the head of the white nationalist American Renaissance group. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Taylor “believes black people are genetically predisposed to lower IQs” than white people and that Black people “are sexually promiscuous because of hyperactive sex drives.” Taylor has appeared on talk shows to attack the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

    Richard Spencer: Spencer coined the term “alt-right” and has described the movement as “an ideology around identity, European identity.” The Anti-Defamation League described Spencer as “a symbol of a new generation of intellectual white supremacists” who “runs a variety of ventures that promote racist ideology.” Spencer was one of the leading forces behind the violent white supremacist and neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, VA, in 2017.

    Christopher Cantwell: Cantwell is known as the “Crying Nazi” because of his appearance in a Vice documentary about the Charlottesville rally. The self-described white nationalist used pepper spray on counterprotestors during the event and has since been barred from entering Virginia for five years.

    David Duke: Duke is a former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard. The Anti-Defamation League describes Duke as “perhaps America's most well-known racist and anti-Semite.” It says he “promotes anti-Semitic and white supremacist views as the leader of the white supremacist European American Unity and Rights Organization, as a writer of anti-Semitic tracts, and, in recent years, as an international figure who has promoted his anti-Jewish ideology in Europe and the Middle East, devoting particular attention to Russia and the Ukraine.”

    Brian Culpepper: Culpepper is a longtime member of the neo-Nazi group National Socialist Movement, acting as the group's public relations officer for a number of years. He was one of the speakers at a 2017 “White Lives Matter” rally in Tennessee.

    Mike Enoch: Enoch’s real name is Mike Peinovich. He is the founder of the racist and anti-Semitic website The Right Stuff. He hosts an anti-Semitic podcast called The Daily Shoah. He has said that the core principle of the “alt-right” is “ethno-nationalism, meaning that nations should be as ethnically and racially homogeneous as possible.” He is pictured here giving a Nazi salute.

  • Mike Cernovich's far-right conspiracy theories, bigotry, and association with white supremacists

    An abundance of tweets, blog posts, and on-air appearances -- many of which he has now deleted -- reveal the conspiracy theories, rape denial, and “alt-right” shilling that brought Cernovich fame

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G. , BRENDAN KARET & JOHN KERR


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Far-right grifter and “Pizzagate” conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich is putting his star power behind Republican Kelli Ward by joining her on a bus tour before the Arizona primary on August 28. Ward, who is competing for the GOP nomination to represent Arizona in the U.S. Senate, described Cernovich in her announcement of the bus tour as “a social media personality and the author of several books examining political and social trends,” forgivingly glossing over Cernovich’s record of peddling disgusting conspiracy theories, shilling for the “alt-right,” dismissing date rape, and endorsing misogyny.

    Questioned about the decision, Ward hilariously claimed to not know what Cernovich’s views are. Ward, along with her husband, is an administrator of a Facebook group that traffics in some of the same conspiracy theories that Cernovich pushes. Ward has also been an ally of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, and Cernovich has done frequent work with Jones’ Infowars in recent years.

    Despite running with Cernovich’s crowd for years, Ward can try to get away with claiming to not know who he is perhaps because of his attempts to scrub a lot of his caustic record from his online portfolio. However, an abundance of deleted tweets, blog posts, and videos reveal him for the unhinged conspiracy theorist, rape denier, and “alt-right” shill that he became famous for being.

    Cernovich repeatedly pushed the “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory

    Cernovich has pushed conspiracy theories about pedophilia, Satanism, “spirit cooking,” and more

    Cernovich pushed forged documents and propaganda

    Cernovich spread a conspiracy theory about murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich

    Cernovich falsely claimed a Roy Moore accuser forged his signature in a yearbook

    Cernovich pushed conspiracy theories about mass shootings

    Cernovich has made journalists a target of many attacks

    Cernovich has repeatedly pushed bigotry, and shilled for white supremacists and the “alt-right”

    Cernovich repeatedly pushed rape denial and misogyny

    Cernovich repeatedly pushed the “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory

    During the 2016 presidential election, some supporters of President Donald Trump baselessly claimed Democrats and powerful celebrities were tied to a pedophilia ring hiding in a Washington, D.C., pizzeria. As a consequence, a man went to the restaurant to “self-investigate” and opened fire inside.

    Cernovich said, “Pizzagate is real. There are pedophiles at the highest level of media, Hollywood, and in government.”

    Cernovich has attempted to scrub his wide-ranging “Pizzagate” record to obscure his role in propagating it. But since-deleted tweets show evidence of his responsibility.

    In one video, Cernovich said, “If you want to have the real power, they force you to rape children and they record it. And that does two things. One is you are now blackmailed forever. ... And then two is only someone depraved enough to rape a child is going to be allowed in the shadow government.”

    Cernovich has pushed conspiracy theories about pedophilia, Satanism, “spirit cooking,” and more

    In a video that can still be found on far-right misogynist Stefan Molyneux’s YouTube channel, Cernovich claimed John Podesta, chairman of the campaign of former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, was involved in “spirit cooking” rituals, during which he claimed participants mixed “semen with breast milk” to drink.

    Besides pushing the baseless claims on his website, Cernovich also suggested that then-candidate Donald Trump should have addressed the conspiracy theory during one of his rallies and accused the Clinton family of “100 percent” being connected to pedophile rings. On another occasion, he also suggested a visit to Haiti was evidence that the Clintons were trafficking children.

    Cernovich also accused former President Barack Obama of giving children to human traffickers.

    Cernovich also claimed to have heard that Obama’s children are not actually his children.

    In another video, Cernovich said, “We have to purge the satanists from the FBI,” noting that he thought former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe was a satanist, while he was unsure about former FBI special agent Peter Strzok.

    As reported by The New Yorker, Cernovich was “among the first” to falsely claim that Hillary Clinton “had a grave neurological condition.”

    Cernovich has also tried to smear all of his protesters and critics as pedophiles. And while he has avoided to outright endorse it, he is one of the far-right figures who amplified the QAnon conspiracy theory on their social media platforms.

    Cernovich pushed forged documents and propaganda

    Cernovich promoted a forged document that accused Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) of sexually harassing a former staffer, then quickly walked back the claim when the document was reported to police as a forgery.

    He also promoted forged documents about Emanuel Macron before he was elected president of France.

    Cernovich has also reportedly help spread pro-Assad propaganda. Cernovich declared that he was “not buying” that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad carried out chemical attacks against Syrians.

    Cernovich spread a conspiracy theory about murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich

    Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was murdered in Washington, D.C., on July 10, 2016. On August 9, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange brought up Rich unprompted on a Dutch TV program, implying (but refusing to confirm) that Rich was his source for the DNC emails Wikileaks made public before the presidential election. Cernovich promoted the interview while questioning point-blank if Rich was Assange’s source.

    Following Cernovich’s tweet, Fox’s Sean Hannity picked up the baseless story.

    Cernovich falsely claimed a Roy Moore accuser forged his signature in a yearbook

    Cernovich falsely claimed that Beverly Young Nelson, who has reported that former Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore sexually assaulted her when she was 16, admitted that she forged Moore’s signature in her high school yearbook. Nelson actually said she added some notes next to the signature but that it was Moore’s signature. In fact, Cernovich cast doubt on all of the reports made against Moore.

    Cernovich pushed conspiracy theories about mass shootings

    In a since-deleted blog post, Cernovich claimed that “there was more than one shooter at Pulse in Orlando,” referring to the 2016 mass shotting at Pulse nightclub in Florida. Cernovich wrote, “As you follow the story, look for” certain “evidence.” He added, “If we don’t see all of this, then there was a second shooter.”

    He also attempted to blame a mass shooting in New Mexico on anti-fascist protesters and made similar comments following a series of bombings in Austin, TX.

    After a suicide bomber killed 22 people, including children, who were leaving an Ariana Grande concert in England, Cernovich attacked the pop star for liberal and “anti-American” statements that she made while reacting to a tray of donuts years prior.

    Cernovich has made journalists a target of many attacks

    Cernovich lashed out at a HuffPost journalist for reporting on a notorious anti-Muslim social media account. He also once planned a website to harass journalists and since then has set out to get some journalists fired by weaponizing fake outrage over past tweets taken out of context, unleashing his followers on harassment campaigns against targeted journalists on the way. He has said, “Most people in journalism are pedophiles.”

    After Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte assaulted Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs, Cernovich told Alex Jones that it was “a total set up.”

    He also implied on Twitter that Jacobs may have had the assault coming.

    Cernovich has repeatedly pushed bigotry, and shilled for white supremacists and the “alt-right”

    Before rebranding away from the term when it became unpopular, Cernovich was among the main online proponents of the “alt-right,” rallying against diversity and going on the record to represent the movement’s views while declaring himself to be “alt-right friendly.” He also used to promote some of its figures, including “Baked Alaska” (who is white supremacist and serial-self owner Tim Gionet), Nazi sympathizer Milo Yiannopoulos (whose handle was @Nero before he got permanently banned from Twitter), and white supremacist Ricky Vaughn.

    One of his tweets supportive of the “alt-right” even gave credence to the idea of “white genocide,” a common white supremacist trope.

    In one video, Cernovich trivially used the n-word:

    He also complained about “thugs” attacking “me and my kind,” and he admitted that he was “happy” that a white supporter of Black Lives Matter was stabbed to death, saying he wouldn’t be stabbed because “I’m a … man.”

    During one of his broadcasts to his followers, Cernovich repeatedly used a homophobic slur.

    He has said, “Anywhere Muslims go, they’re blowing things up.” He also said that Muslims in America may want to “kill all women.” In another video, Cernovich warned transgender Americans that if refugees in Germany “find out about you, they’ll rape you and kill you.”

    Cernovich called the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) “anti-America” and said that it is “extorting Jews.” He also replied “exactly” when Alex Jones said ADL has “always been the group that feeds on the Jews working with the Nazis.”

    Cernovich repeatedly pushed rape denial and misogyny

    Cernovich has tried to hide his misogynistic musings, which the self-declared former “total hottie” used to post on his site Danger and Play. That site was a blog “about how to pick up women” and featured posts like “Misogyny Gets You Laid.”

    One of his posts featured statements that minimized rape, including, “If you believe in rape culture, I understand a lot about you: you’re a gullible fool who believes feminists.” In a now-archived post, Cernovich denied the existence of date rape:

    Additionally, in a post offering advice on “how to choke a woman” he claimed, “Women only want to have consensual sex with men they know could rape them,” and confessed to having “choked women unconscious” on occasion. He also advocated for choking women “when standing around,” saying to do it when she “acts up.” He’s on the record offering similar advice:

    Cernovich once presented consent as a burden, saying, “If you as a man read a signal wrong, you’re a rapist.” In one video, Cernovich complained, “If your son, or you, … has sex with your girlfriend while she is sleeping … that’s technically rape.”

    He has also said that “there is probably 10 men enslaved to every one woman enslaved.”

    Similarly, in a now-deleted article titled “When In Doubt, Whip It Out,” Cernovich wrote about exposing himself to a date who refused his sexual advances, saying she “wasn’t freaked out” by him masturbating in the backseat of her car and suggesting his readers to not “settle for the make out. If possible, at least pull out your dick. If you can get her to touch it, even better.”

    A 2016 Mediaite report rounded up a sample of Cernovich’s misogynistic tweets, which included “Have you guys ever tried ‘raping’ a girl without using force? Try it. It’s basically impossible. Date rape does not exist,” as well as “Not being a slut is the only proven way to avoid AIDS. If you love black women, slut shame them.” Mediaite additionally noted Cernovich had tweeted and deleted: “A whore will let her friend ruin your life with a false rape case. So why should I care when women are raped?”