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John Kerr

Author ››› John Kerr
  • “Did you hear that, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?”: Fox has another socialism freakout after Trump’s State of the Union address

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS & JOHN KERR

    During his 2019 State of the Union address, President Donald Trump declared, “America will never be a socialist country.” Fox News and Fox Business guests and hosts picked up the narrative, stressing that while we are watching socialism “falling apart” in Venezuela, “the Democrats continue to crawl closer” to the ideology” even though “it leads to ruin, it is immoral, and it is fundamentally wrong.”

    Here are some examples of Fox News and Fox Business figures losing their minds, once again, about socialism.

    Fox’s Sean Hannity: “The president also made it perfectly clear, America will never become -- now think about this, even Nancy [Pelosi] and Chuck [Schumer] had to stand up. Not sure that Congresswoman [Alexandria] Ocasio-Cortez liked it -- we will never become a socialist country.”

    Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy: “One of the most delicious cutaways was of Bernie Sanders” while Trump was talking about Venezuela and saying that “the United States will never be a socialist country. Now that’s something everybody’s got to applaud for, right? No, not really.”

    Doocy: “The Democrats, who would not stand, when we were talking about socialism, the unborn, unemployment, and things like that. You would think these are things we all get together on.”

    Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade claimed that socialism is “falling apart” in Venezuela, adding, “When you talk about the Green Deal, free pre-K, free college, free ‘Medicare-for-all,’ you talk about an unsustainable, untenable series of invoices that America can’t possibly pay.”

    Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer: “The policies that are being advocated by Democrats continue to crawl closer to socialism and embrace an economic scheme that I think has failed throughout the world, and that concerns me.”

    Spicer: “We see the folks in Venezuela really fighting for freedom and independence, ... and yet you have these folks in the Democratic Party that are embracing socialism and proudly -- they are embracing it.”

    Fox Business host Stuart Varney: “Socialists don’t care about growth and prosperity. They don’t care about America’s booming economy. They don’t care about it.”

    Varney: “The Democrat Party, again, my opinion, has been taken over by the socialist left. … Look what you have got here on the left of the Democrat Party. It is socialism! I’m not surprised that the Democrats in the House did not stand up and cheer when the president called out socialism. That’s who they are. That’s who they have become. OK, I’ve got a bee in my bonnet, because I am a refugee from socialism. … It leads to ruin, it is immoral, and it is fundamentally wrong. It is based actually on legalized theft.”

    Varney: “If you watch this program, you’ll know we are dead set against socialism. Personally, I walked away from British socialism in the 1970s. I have often said I am a refugee. Socialism leads to decline and ruin. It stifles individual success. So-called democratic socialism is simply legalized theft.” 

    Varney: “Democrats running for the presidency have embraced … the Green New Deal to kill oil companies and ‘Medicare-for-all’ that kills private health insurance. That is socialism. That is the new face of the Democrat Party. No wonder they sat on their hands when the president said, ‘We were born free, and we will stay free.’ Forgive me, please, for spending so much time on this, but I have seen it in practice. I have lived it. And I'm here to tell you socialism is just plain awful. This is Varney & Co.; we celebrate capitalism.”

    Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo: “How is it possible that they did not stand up when he said we will not become a socialist country?”

    Bartiromo: “That was President Trump last night disavowing socialism in his State of the Union address. … Nobody got up! … Half the room didn’t get up.”

    Fox News contributor Dagen McDowell: “These Democrats are actually anti-capitalism. … They are on the record for being in favor of socialism. We already know that socialism is going mainstream in the Democratic Party.”

    Fox Business host Cheryl Casone: “The president called out socialism last night in his State of the Union, and Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez [is] not happy about it. … The left is reeling this morning.”

    Fox Business’ Trish Regan: “Did you hear that, Bernie Sanders? Did you hear that, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez? Socialism has no place in the United States of America. So it is time, right now, for you to abandon your far-left policies. We’ve seen what they have done to Venezuela.”

    Regan: “The president tonight rejecting Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro's brutal socialist policies and vowing that the United States of America will never head in that direction. Let’s hope not.”

    Regan: “To me, [denouncing socialism] should be something you should stand for. Yes, America’s never going to be a socialist country. … Nancy Pelosi -- you’re right; she did clap, a little bit -- but she wouldn’t stand for that. And to me, you know, our identity is not as socialists. I mean, we really -- we are capitalists that believe in safety nets.”

    Regan: Ocasio-Cortez “tells us we just need to be socialists, and it won't be like Venezuela. It'll be much, much better. This is her theory; this is what she was explaining to her comrades over there watching on MSNBC tonight -- that somehow Americans want this, that Americans want their money to be stolen from them, to be redistributed, and given to the likes of her.”

    Regan: “When they’re talking about things like freedom and Bernie Sanders can’t even applaud for that, we’ve got a problem!”

    Regan: “There used to be a time when that was not a cool thing, to be called a socialist. That was actually, you know, a term that could be used against you. … That’s suddenly en vogue. And do you think that that should be a warning for Americans right now, when you look at a country like Venezuela only three hours from Miami; that’s 20 years of socialism.”

    The Wall Street Journal’s James Freeman: “Some people are talking on Twitter about how isn’t it amazing an American president has to say this, that we’re not going to be socialist. But that is sadly the time we’re living in.”

    Freeman: “It is amazing, given that we’ve been getting this real-time education [from Venezuela] in socialism and its destructive power, that meanwhile it seems to be picking up in the United States.”

    Donald Trump Jr.: Democrats “use Venezuela as their model for socialism, so I love that my father said that ‘America will never be a socialist country,’ because that’s the other side’s platform right now. … Watch their body language last night on things that all Americans should agree on. They don’t even stand or applaud. It’s pretty scary.”

    Trump Jr: Systems like socialism would “shut down” everything that makes America great. “Just look at anywhere else they’ve been implemented.”

    Presidential historian Doug Wead on Trish Regan Primetime: “My socialist friends here in the United States say American socialism will be very different from the Soviet Union, very different from Venezuela, and we'll have freedom of speech, for example. But we already have American socialism. It's practiced at the University of California at Berkeley. On many of our campuses, we're experiencing socialism right now. They don’t allow freedom of speech.”

    Wead on Varney & Co.: “Bernie Sanders got trapped in that socialism comment. I think that will come back to haunt him.”

    Republican National Committee spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany: The speech was great at “exposing the radical left agenda, the infanticide, the ideas of socialism and single-payer and these really radical proposals.”

  • Fox News figures salivate over Trump’s 2019 State of the Union address

    Blog ››› ››› JOHN KERR

    On February 5, President Donald Trump gave his 2019 State of the Union address. It was filled with misinformation and anti-immigrant bigotry, often sounding similar to Sean Hannity’s Fox News show. While mainstream news outlets fact-checked the many lies and misleading claims in the speech, Fox News figures heaped enthusiastic praise on Trump’s address, calling it “one of the best speeches I've ever heard in terms of reaching across the aisle,” gushing that "the president delivered, I think, a message of unity,” claiming "Trump is going to be recognized as one of the greatest presidents of our generation, if not the greatest,” and more:

  • Lou Dobbs and Sean Hannity advised Trump on shutdown strategy. His Oval Office speech reflected it.

    Trump’s address ripped language from their Fox shows

    Blog ››› ››› JOHN KERR


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Shortly after Donald Trump addressed the nation from the Oval Office, The Daily Beast reported that the president has sought advice on the government shutdown from Fox hosts Sean Hannity and Lou Dobbs. The pair reportedly told Trump to “push forward for the wall funding and break the Democrats’ will.”

    Trump’s address, just short of 10 minutes, ripped language from both of their shows.

    During his speech, Trump also said, “They don’t build walls because they hate the people on the outside, but because they love the people on the inside.” The line has been floating around conservative media since at least April and a variation of it was used by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) during the 2016 election. After Trump's speech, right-wing pundits Tomi Lahren and Jack Posobiec scrambled to take credit for it.

    Hannity and Dobbs have long served as close advisers to Trump, and their shows have been rank propaganda for his administration. Bill Shine, the former Fox News co-president and current top Trump adviser, used to be Hannity’s producer and is his close friend.

    Welcome to the Fox News shutdown.

  • Video: Fox urges Trump to declare a national emergency over border wall funding

    Blog ››› ››› JOHN KERR

    After Fox News figures spent much of December urging President Donald Trump to shut down the government unless Congress agreed to fund his $5 billion demand for a border wall, the federal government began a partial shutdown on December 22. Nearly three weeks later -- with the shutdown ongoing and hundreds of thousands of federal workers furloughed or working without pay -- Fox figures are describing the border situation as an urgent crisis and pushing Trump to declare a national emergency to acquire funding for his wall.

  • Fox News spent 2018 giving advice directly to Donald Trump

    Blog ››› ››› JOHN KERR

    Throughout 2018, right-wing personalities on Fox News and Fox Business regularly gave advice directly to President Donald Trump. Fox hosts and guests looked into the camera and advised the president when not to speak out on certain stories, when to take credit, which investigations not to worry about, what to believe about immigration, and especially why he should not speak with special counsel Robert Mueller.

    As The Washington Post’s Philip Bump noted earlier this year, Trump doesn’t necessarily take all the advice of his Fox sycophants. But Fox figures are clearly confident that they have the ear of the president.

  • 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.”