Author Page | Media Matters for America

Katie Sullivan

Author ››› Katie Sullivan
  • The Supreme Court just made it easier for states to kick people off of voter rolls. Media should let voters know.

    Blog ››› ››› KATIE SULLIVAN

    On June 11, the Supreme Court handed down its decision on an Ohio voting rights case that will make it easier for the state to purge infrequent voters from its voter roll, a process that tends to disproportionately hurt young people, people with low incomes, and people of color. This is a victory for Republicans, who for years have waged a war on voting rights in an effort to suppress voting by populations that tend to pick Democrats. Media should be reporting on this case and on voter suppression measures more broadly, both as a policy issue and to inform people of what they need to do in order to vote.

    The Supreme Court’s decision in the Ohio case, which allows the state to purge voters who haven’t voted in recent elections and who haven’t responded to a mailed notice to confirm their residency, “could be a major victory for Republicans ... and a stinging loss for Democrats,” because “minorities, young people and those with lower incomes are most likely to be disenfranchised by the state's policy,” according to USA Today. Mother Jones’ Ari Berman reported that “Ohio purged more than 2 million registered voters between 2011 and 2016, more than any other state. Black voters in the state’s largest counties were twice as likely as white voters to be removed from the rolls.” NBC News reported, “At least a dozen other politically conservative states said they would adopt a similar practice if Ohio prevailed.” An election law expert added, “‘You’ll see more red states making it easier to drop people from the voter registration rolls.’” And in her dissent, Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor noted that the decision ignores the history of voter suppression in the United States:

    In light of this decision and the years-long assault on voting rights Republicans have waged (including on Fox News), media need to report on voting rules, both in order to inform their audiences of what hurdles they might need to clear to carry out their constitutional right to vote and to give them policy information on which they might base their votes.

    In the past, media have often failed in their voting rights reporting. Much of the coverage of voting issues appears in conservative media, which have a history of misinforming -- or outright lying -- about the prevalence of voter fraud. In the runup to the 2014 midterms, nightly newscasts largely ignored the issue of voting rights. In about half of its articles on voter fraud from September 2012 to September 2014, The New York Times failed to clearly state that in-person voter fraud is virtually nonexistent, even as it included claims from Republicans suggesting that such fraud exists. Later analyses found that voter suppression measures may have materially impacted the 2014 elections.

    From July 2016 through June 2017, Media Matters analyzed broadcast network morning and evening shows and evening cable news shows and found:

    • Fox News far outpaced other networks in spreading falsehoods on voting.
    • Republican politicians made 88 false statements about voting, while Democratic politicians made no such false statements.
    • Only five segments mentioned gerrymandering.
    • Less than 9 percent of segments acknowledged the impact voting restrictions had on the 2016 election.
    • Fewer than 30 percent of segments mentioned state-based efforts to suppress votes.
    • Over 70 percent of segments on voting featured Donald Trump’s debunked voter fraud accusations.

    And after 2017 elections in which Democrats overperformed and exceeded expectations, right-wing media once again turned to a series of voting myths and talking points parroted by Republicans, including misinformation about voter fraud, voter IDs, and felon voting.

    There is particular need for good local media coverage. Voting is a local issue, and people tend to trust their local news coverage more than national news. But Sinclair Broadcast Group, a conservative local TV news giant that has been injecting local newscasts with right-wing spin for years, is moving to acquire more local news stations. Sinclair has already shown a willingness to subject its viewers to misinformation about voting and last year it produced a must-run segment that suggested voter fraud might be far more common than it actually is.

    If media are not explaining to Americans what voters need to do in order to cast their ballots, the odds of people showing up to vote and being turned away undoubtedly grows. The fact of the matter is that Election Day is too late for this coverage. Retrospectives after the fact will not change long lines, refused ballots, or outright disenfranchisement. While political pundits are obsessed with making every problem a “both sides” story, only one political party is trying to limit the ability of its opponents to vote. That’s the real story, and there’s no way to sugar coat it.

  • Study finds 5,000 people may have died from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Cable news focused on Roseanne instead.

    Cable news covered Roseanne for over 10 hours. They covered Hurricane Maria's death toll in Puerto Rico for just over 30 minutes.

    Blog ››› ››› KATIE SULLIVAN & LIS POWER


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    On Tuesday, Harvard researchers published a study estimating that approximately 5,000 deaths can be linked to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. The same day, ABC canceled Roseanne Barr’s eponymous show Roseanne after Barr sent a racist tweet about Valerie Jarrett, an adviser to former President Barack Obama. Cable news covered Barr’s tweet and her show’s cancellation 16 times as much as the deaths of U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico.

    While the official death toll remains at just 64, the Harvard study, written up in The Washington Post, “indicated that the mortality rate was 14.3 deaths per 1,000 residents from Sept. 20 through Dec. 31, 2017, a 62 percent increase in the mortality rate compared with 2016, or 4,645 ‘excess deaths.’” BuzzFeed News, which also reported on the study, further explained that the researchers adjusted their estimate up to 5,740 hurricane-related deaths to account for “people who lived alone and died as a result of the storm” and were thus not reported in the study’s survey.

    Cable news barely covered the report. The May 29 broadcasts of MSNBC combined with the network's flagship morning show the next day spent 21 minutes discussing the findings. CNN followed with just under 10 minutes of coverage, and Fox covered the report for just 48 seconds. 

    By contrast, cable news spent over 8 and a half hours discussing a tweet from Barr describing Jarrett, a Black woman, as the offspring of the Muslim Brotherhood and Planet of the Apes and the subsequent cancellation of her show.


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Media coverage of the crisis in Puerto Rico has been dismal since the hurricane hit; even when outlets reported on major scandals about the mismanaged recovery, the coverage was negligible and faded quickly.

    Many in the media have been quick to label Barr’s obviously racist tweet as racist. But they've failed in their coverage of the mismanaged recovery in Puerto Rico, which is also explained -- at least in part -- by racism. The Root explained why “Puerto Rico’s crisis is not generally seen as a racial matter. But it should be.” Vox explained “the ways the island and its people have been othered through racial and ethnic bias” and noted that “both online and broadcast media gave Puerto Rico much less coverage, at least initially, than the hurricanes that recently hit Texas and Florida.” A Politico investigation found that “the Trump administration — and the president himself — responded far more aggressively to Texas than to Puerto Rico” in the wake of the hurricanes that devastated both. Trump tweeted just days after Hurricane Maria hit that Puerto Ricans “want everything to be done for them.” Only half of Americans are aware that Puerto Ricans are in fact U.S. citizens. And MSNBC contributor Eddie Glaude, chair of the Center for African-American Studies at Princeton University, pointed out, “When you think about 4,600 people dying -- of color -- dying in Puerto Rico, it reflects how their lives were valued, or less valued.”

    Dina Radtke contributed research to this piece.

  • Study finds that Hurricane Maria killed thousands more than the government claims. Media need to do better for Puerto Rico.

    Harvard study finds actual death toll is at least 72 times higher than the official count

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS & KATIE SULLIVAN

    On May 29, The Washington Post reported on a new Harvard study concluding that “at least 4,645 people died as a result of Hurricane Maria and its devastation across Puerto Rico last year,” which is approximately 72 times higher than the government’s official death toll of 64. 

    According to the Post article, the Harvard study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, concluded that “health-care disruption for the elderly and the loss of basic utility services for the chronically ill had significant impacts” across the island, including “some communities [that] were entirely cut off for weeks amid road closures and communications failures.” A BuzzFeed write-up of the same study explained that, while at least “4,645 more people died in the final months of 2017” than in previous years, researchers adjusted their estimate up to 5,740 hurricane-related deaths to account for “people who lived alone and died as a result of the storm” and were thus not reported in the study’s survey. 

    If Harvard’s death toll estimate is accurate, Hurricane Maria was the second deadliest hurricane in U.S. history and the deadliest in 117 years.

    And yet, even as U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico continued to die in 2017, media quickly dropped their focus on the crisis. The first Sunday after the storm, the five major political talk shows cumulatively dedicated less than one minute to coverage. And the overall coverage of the crisis sharply declined after President Donald Trump visited the U.S. territory on October 3; a Media Matters study found that prime-time cable news coverage of Puerto Rico’s recovery plummeted after that date. 

    As the mismanaged recovery continued, media largely talked about the ongoing crisis only when a major scandal was reported, and even then the coverage was negligible and quickly faded. 

    Media should publicize the results of the Harvard study and the woefully inaccurate official death toll, demanding an explanation for how the government hid the magnitude of the casualties. And as the next hurricane season approaches, we need to pay attention to the people who live in Puerto Rico and demand accountability from the government.

  • MSNBC helps Roger Stone sell books after previously banning him for his abusive behavior

    Blog ››› ››› KATIE SULLIVAN

    Roger Stone appeared on MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports to promote his new book, even though MSNBC previously announced that Stone would be no longer welcome on the network. Stone had been banned for making abusive comments about MSNBC personalities.

    Stone, a confidant of President Donald Trump and a long-time conspiracy theorist who is now an Infowars correspondent, was banned from all three major cable news networks because of his sexist, racist, and threatening rhetoric. He was also locked out of his Twitter account in April 2017 after he threatened a Media Matters employee, and he was permanently suspended from the platform in October following attacks on several CNN employees.

    MSNBC previously confirmed that Stone -- who twice offered a cash reward to anyone who "punches out" network host Chris Matthews and who called host Al Sharpton a "professional negro" who ate fried chicken, and MSNBC host Rachel Maddow "Rachel the muff-diver" -- would not be welcome on the network.

    But MSNBC and CNN have both recently decided to give Stone a platform to promote his new book, Stone’s Rules. In Stone’s May 8 appearance on Andrea Mitchell Reports, Mitchell asked him to comment on Trump’s new attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and pressed him about his connections to WikiLeaks, but she also plugged the book.

    The decisions to reverse bans on hosting Stone might be defensible if he were in the news or there were some other newsworthy reason. In this case, they’re just helping him sell books.

  • Congressional Republicans regularly guest host a show on Fox News

    Republican members of Congress regularly appear as panelists on Fox's Outnumbered, where they have an hour-long platform to push opinions without any real challenge

    Blog ››› ››› KATIE SULLIVAN

    Today, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) guest hosted Fox News’ Outnumbered, where he repeatedly praised President Donald Trump, made incorrect statements on a range of topics, and offered nuanced takes on foreign policy like, on Iran, “Don't underrate killing them all. That gets everybody's attention." And this was not an isolated thing; Republican elected members of Congress regularly appear as guest hosts on this program.

    Every day on Outnumbered, the panel is comprised of four women and one man (aka “#OneLuckyGuy”). While a few of the panelists appear most days, there is some rotation for the other spots. And in just the last eight months, seven Republican members of Congress have rotated in for a total of 12 appearances: Rep. Ron DeSantis of Florida (three appearances); Rep. Scott Taylor of Virginia, Rep. Sean Duffy of Wisconsin, and Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York (two appearances each); and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, and Graham (one appearance each).

    Based on Graham’s appearance today, it’s not hard to see why a Republican member of Congress would want such a cushy gig. Graham spoke longer than any other panelist, expressed political positions that were all generously praised by the other hosts, and faced no serious pushback or challenging follow-up questions to anything he said. He was asked for his opinion on a range of topics, including North Korea, Iran, immigration, the FBI and its alleged misconduct in the 2016 election, Trump's failed nominee for VA secretary, and the 2018 Senate race in West Virginia. Here are some of the highlights (or lowlights) of what he said:

    On Iran: “Don't underrate killing them all. That gets everybody's attention.”

    Made hawkish threats to North Korea: If North Korea tries to play Trump, “we're going to have a war and North Korea’s going to lose it. A lot of people are going to die. It would be terrible to have a war with North Korea but Donald Trump’s not going to be played, and I’ll tell you right now, North Korea’s playing with fire.”

    Under-stated the federal military budget and over-stated the budget of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Graham claimed that “Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid make up almost 75 percent of the debt. You could eliminate the Department of Defense and not even move the debt needle.” Graham not only conflated the federal budget with the debt, he misstated the numbers. In fiscal year 2016, Social Security and the government’s four main health insurance programs -- Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace subsidies -- together totaled 50 percent of the federal budget. Defense and security-related international activities accounted for 16 percent of the budget

    Bashed his colleague Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) for being transparent with the public about serious allegations against Trump’s nominee for secretary of Veterans Affairs.

    Called for a second special counsel to be appointed to investigate alleged anti-Trump bias in the Department of Justice and FBI, and made multiple incorrect statements about the FBI’s Trump and Clinton investigations. Among other things, Graham claimed:

    • That Hillary Clinton’s interview with the FBI was suspect because she was not under oath. In fact, it is a crime to lie to the FBI, whether or not you are under oath.
    • That the Steele dossier is “bogus” and shouldn’t have been used to obtain a FISA warrant against former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, in part because the application didn’t state who specifically funded it. A memo released by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee stated that the FISA application made clear that the dossier was funded by Trump’s opponents, that the FBI did not rely solely on the dossier for the warrant, and that the FBI actually verified parts of the dossier.
    • That the “head investigator” in the Clinton email probe was “talking about creating an insurance policy to make sure Trump didn't win.” This claim is a mischaracterization of a text message sent by an FBI agent involved in the Trump and Clinton investigations (not the “head investigator”) and, according to The Wall Street Journal, the “insurance policy” text message the agent sent was not a suggestion that the FBI sabotage Trump’s candidacy, but rather a caution that the FBI should continue the investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia more aggressively than a colleague recommended out of a belief that it was possible Trump could win the election and be compromised while president.
    • That the FBI officials “had their thumb on the scale for” Clinton. Claims along these lines ignore the reality that the FBI confirmed an investigation into Clinton, sent a letter to Congress days before the election that it was reopening the investigation into her emails, and denied the existence of an investigation into Trump even though one was active.

    Repeatedly praised Trump. Graham gushed over Trump’s handling of North Korea, his take on immigration, and his vision of a revised Iran nuclear deal. He also painted Trump as a victim of the Department of Justice and the FBI. The only thing Graham said about Trump that approached criticism was that Trump “is not helping himself” by threatening Tester.

    Outnumbered is billed as one of Fox News’ opinion shows, not as a straight news show. Nevertheless, the fact that Republican (and only Republican) elected officials are given the platform to push their talking points -- which are also part of Fox’s standard fare -- without being challenged is one more data point showing how the network acts as little more than a media wing of the Republican Party.

  • For once, Andrew Napolitano admitted his baseless speculation about Trump was wrong

    According to Napolitano, Trump is usually the victim of others’ misconduct

    Blog ››› ››› KATIE SULLIVAN

    Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano did a rare thing today: He apologized for a claim he made on air. Napolitano had previously suggested that former FBI Director James Comey had committed a crime by sharing memos detailing his meetings with President Donald Trump with a friend. Fox has now confirmed that the friend had the necessary clearance to view the materials, which prompted Napolitano to apologize. But Napolitano’s (wrong) accusation follows a pattern; much of his recent “legal analysis” has involved baselessly speculating about misconduct by various current and former government officials, most of which ultimately somehow victimizes Trump.

    On April 24, Fox News reported that Daniel Richman, the recipient of Comey’s memos who then shared some of their contents with the media, confirmed to its reporters that he was a special government employee (SGE) and that he had clearance to view classified materials. The next day on Fox’s Outnumbered, Napolitano apologized for previous speculation that Comey had committed a crime:

    ANDREW NAPOLITANO: It appeared when the memos were released, these are the seven memos that Jim Comey wrote about his interactions with the president, some of which had blacked out, that turns out that they had classified materials in them and I owe Jim Comey an apology because I said if this stuff had classified materials in it and he gave it to the professor, that is a crime, to fail to secure state secrets if they were properly classified. Now it turns out that the professor had a security clearance. So there was no crime, Mr. Comey, and I apologize. I was wrong.

    But for at least a year, Napolitano’s specialty has been to cherry-pick facts or take advantage of partially reported stories with incomplete information to argue that Trump is actually the victim of misconduct from other current and former government officials. While law enforcement and government officials certainly are not infallible, the baseless -- and often demonstrably incorrect -- way that Napolitano tosses out his accusations has been, for lack of a better word, absurd.

    • In March 2017, Napolitano stated that former President Barack Obama “went outside the chain of command” and asked Government Communications Headquarters, Britain's spy agency, for surveillance of Trump. His claims were later repeated by then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer and ultimately resulted in an international incident between the U.S. and Britain. Media Matters found that the source of this claim was a discredited former CIA analyst who had floated the conspiracy theory on the Russian state-sponsored news network RT. Napolitano’s claim was later debunked by Comey, numerous other British and American government officials, and even Trump ally Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA). Napolitano was kept off of Fox News for a period of time following this incident.
    • In May 2017, Napolitano said "it appears that the president of the United States, Barack Obama, was aware" that information about former national security adviser Michael Flynn was given to The Washington Post "in an attempt to destabilize a validly elected administration, Donald Trump.
    • In June, Napolitano suggested former Attorney General Loretta Lynch had “made law enforcement decisions for political purposes.” According to the story that claim was based on, Comey showed Lynch a “highly sensitive piece of evidence … that suggested Lynch had agreed to put the kibosh on any prosecution of Clinton.” The evidence cited was a Russian intelligence document “viewed within the FBI as unreliable and possibly a fake,” according to The Washington Post.
    • In August, Napolitano speculated that a rule change by Lynch "probably triggered the unmasking of then-President Elect Trump and General Flynn" and that “the unmasking goes back deep into the Obama administration in an effort to embarrass President Trump and his allies in Congress.” In the segment, he noted that unmasking for national security reasons is lawful, but “if it's done for a political purpose, it's a felony.” Napolitano offered no evidence that Trump was in fact unmasked or that any unmasking would have been politically motivated.
    • In December, Napolitano claimed that the General Services Administration (GSA) acted unlawfully by not informing Trump transition team of special counsel Robert Mueller's request for its emails. BuzzFeed News reported that the GSA in fact had informed the Trump transition team that "materials ‘would not be held back in any law enforcement’ actions.”
    • In February, Napolitano speculated that Trump-appointed FBI Director Christopher Wray could have been involved with the missing text messages between FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI attorney Lisa Page, saying that he doesn’t know if Wray’s “hands are clean on this.” The text messages were ultimately recovered.
    • Also in February, Napolitano questioned the timing of an email that Obama national security adviser Susan Rice wrote to herself on January 20, 2017, about a January 5 meeting with senior administration officials. He argued the memo was an an attempt to "rewrite history" and "make it look as if something happened that didn't happen." The memo reportedly documented Obama's concern that "intelligence officials be cautious about sharing information about the Russia investigation with the Trump transition team, 'particularly' incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn." Rice's attorney later explained that she wrote the email on January 20 on the advice of the White House counsel's office.

    Of course, even as Napolitano levies charges at anyone in sight, he’s excused any potential evidence suggesting wrongdoing on Trump’s part. Just in the last few months, he’s dismissed reports that Trump may have improperly influenced then-acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe by asking how he voted in the 2016 presidential election and reports that Trump may be tampering with witnesses in the investigation of his campaign by asking them about their testimony.

  • Revelations from Bill O'Reilly's settlements underscore how Fox News enables its sexual harassers

    Blog ››› ››› KATIE SULLIVAN


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    On April 3, a federal judge denied a motion by former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly to seal settlement agreements made with women who say he sexually harassed them. According to CNN, the attorneys representing the plaintiffs said the terms of the agreements include requiring one of the women to lie -- even under oath -- and levying what CNN called “onerous” penalties to enforce the agreement. The agreements are yet more evidence of the toxic, enabling culture at Fox News, which reportedly helped O’Reilly sweep these accusations under the rug.

    O’Reilly’s reported sexual harassment and abuse are now well-documented. The former Fox star was fired from the network after advertisers fled his show following a New York Times report that he had paid out at least $13 million to five women. It was later revealed that O’Reilly paid another woman $32 million to halt a sexual harassment lawsuit.

    But O’Reilly did not act alone; he was enabled by Fox News, which has a long history of protecting sexual harassers and abusers and which has a culture described by one former employee as a “sex-fueled, Playboy mansion-like cult steeped in intimidation, indecency, and misogyny.” And, according to the Times, when one of O’Reilly’s accusers filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against him, “Fox News and Mr. O’Reilly adopted an aggressive strategy that served as a stark warning of what could happen to women if they came forward with complaints. … Before [former Fox producer Andrea] Mackris even filed suit, Fox News and Mr. O’Reilly surprised her with a pre-emptive suit of their own.”

    Here are details about some of the terms of that settlement Fox allegedly helped O’Reilly secure, as reported by CNN:

    The judge's ruling means that certain terms of the settlements are coming to light for the first time. A motion filed Wednesday by Neil Mullin and Nancy Erika Smith, the attorneys representing the three plaintiffs, claims that the settlement reached with Andrea Mackris, a former Fox News producer who filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against O'Reilly in 2004, required her to "lie -- even in legal proceedings or under oath -- if any evidence becomes public, by calling evidence 'counterfeit' or 'forgeries.'"

    The potential penalties etched in the settlements were particularly onerous. If Mackris goes public about the details of the settlement, the agreement stated that she "shall return all sums paid under this Agreement, forfeit any future payments due under this Agreement, disgorge to O'Reilly the value of any benefit earned or received as a result of such disclosure, and pay to O'Reilly all reasonable attorney's fees and costs incurred by O'Reilly in attempting to enforce this Agreement."

    The filing asserts that Mackris' attorney, Benedict Morelli, switched sides and agreed to become O'Reilly's lawyer while negotiating the agreement.

    "This profoundly unethical conflict left Ms. Mackris virtually without legal counsel," the filing said.

    Morelli disputed those assertions in a statement.

    "We worked extremely hard to secure a significant financial settlement for her (Mackris)," he said. "The claim that I did not vigorously represent her, or that I represented O'Reilly during or after the settlement process, is absolutely false."

    This post has been updated with Morelli's statement.

  • Fox's Chris Wallace asks if GOP hurt its credibility by hyping "secret society" text, ignoring that Fox News hyped it too

    Fox News aired the phrase “secret society” over 100 times over two days, then went silent after reports showed the text was a joke

    Blog ››› ››› KATIE SULLIVAN

    On Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace displayed a shocking lack of self-awareness when he asked his guest, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), if “Republicans hurt their credibility on real issues of bias when they make such a big deal about secret societies and palace coups?” referring to the GOP hyping a text message between two FBI employees referencing a "secret society." Wallace ignored Fox News’ role in hyping the texts, airing the term "secret society" over 100 times on Fox News over the course of two days, before stopping abruptly after it was reported the “secret society” reference was likely a joke.

    On January 22, Gowdy appeared on Fox News' The Story with Martha MacCallum along with Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX), where he announced that a text message between FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page contained the line, “Perhaps this is the first meeting of the secret society.” According to a Media Matters analysis, Fox proceeded to air the phrase "secret society" over 100 times over the next two days. Then, on January 24, ABC News noted that the message "may have been made in jest," reporting that the full text message read: "Are you even going to give out your calendars? Seems kind of depressing. Maybe it should just be the first meeting of the secret society." The next day, Fox hosts, anchors, and guests stopped mentioning the phrase "secret society" almost entirely, with only a few quick mentions on some of the evening shows.

    From the January 28 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday:

    CHRIS WALLACE (HOST): WALLACE: I want to ask you one last question, we're running out of time here. There's clearly some troubling evidence and clearly the Strzok-Page memos [texts] are deeply troubling, and, you know, go to it in investigating that. There also have been some issues of potential hype by Republicans, and I want to give you an example. This week Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) brought up the issue of a secret society inside the Justice Department. Here he is. 

    [...]

    WALLACE: Don't Republicans hurt their credibility on real issues of bias when they make such a big deal about secret societies and palace coups? 

    REP. TREY GOWDY (R-SC): Yes. Republicans are the best I've ever seen at taking good facts and overstating them and therefore changing the narrative. I don't know what they meant by secret society. I didn't use the phrase. It is fair to ask them. But if it were a joke, Chris, then was it also a joke to mention the insurance policy? Was also a joke to talk about impeachment the morning after President Trump won? Was it also a joke to say I have no interest in participating in an investigation if he is going to be cleared. There's a pattern, and Republicans are better served by letting the texts speak for themselves. I have no idea what they meant by that. I don't know if it was a joke or not. It's not my job to figure it out. These two witnesses need to come in and tell us what they meant by it and everything they else said over the course of 18 months, Republicans would be well served, let the texts speak for themselves. Let the jury make up their mind and quit engaging in hyperbole, which we seem to do a lot. 

  • On Breitbart radio, Kris Kobach repeats debunked claims about New Hampshire voter fraud

    Kobach is a leader of Trump's voter suppression commission and a paid Breitbart columnist

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT & KATIE SULLIVAN

    On Breitbart News Daily, Kris Kobach, the vice chairman of the Trump administration’s commission investigating baseless claims of rampant voter fraud, estimated that “4,000 people who are from out of state and never actually moved to New Hampshire … voted there” in the 2016 election using out-of-state driver’s licenses. In fact, New Hampshire’s voter ID law permits out-of-state driver’s licenses to be used as proof of identity when registering to vote, an option that college students often exercise. And after President Donald Trump and other conservatives raised earlier claims of voter fraud in New Hampshire over the use of out-of-state licenses to vote, New Hampshire Public Radio matched many of the out-of-state license users to college towns.

    Kobach, who has a history of extremism, ties to white supremacists, and promotion of misinformation on immigration and voting issues, has previously made bizarre claims about voter fraud, voter intimidation, and undocumented immigrants voting. In one instance, he claimed that a dead man had voted in 2006 who was later found to in fact be alive, and he said in another interview that “We may never know” whether Hillary Clinton actually won the popular vote in 2016.

    From the December 8 edition of SiriusXM Patriot's Breitbart News Daily:

    STEPHEN BANNON (HOST): Just real briefly, on your voter integrity commission, you had a stunning revelation up in New Hampshire. Can you just get people up to speed on where you stand right now, and maybe speak a minute or two about New Hampshire?

    KRIS KOBACH: Yeah, sure. So New Hampshire is one of those states that has same-day voter registration, which is something I think is a disaster because if you allow people to walk in on the day of election and say here I am, here's my name, take my word for it, and I'm not -- and also take my word for the fact that I just moved to your state. It leads to all kinds of problems. New Hampshire found on Election Day this past November that 5,300 people -- well actually, over 6,000 people, six and a half thousand -- used an out-of-state driver's license as their ID on that day. Then they went back and checked almost a year later in September, this past September, and found that 5,300 of those people still have not established New Hampshire residence. They had not gone ahead and gotten a New Hampshire license, they had registered any vehicle in New Hampshire. And it appeared that these individuals are probably not residing in New Hampshire. That's a really -- now it's theoretically possible that some of them might be out-of-state students who do not own a vehicle, and through some of the vagaries of New Hampshire law, it might qualify as a domicile in New Hampshire eligible to vote. But even if you say, let's knock off another 1,000. Let's say it's only 4,000 people who are from out of state and never actually moved to New Hampshire, yet voted there, that's extraordinary because in the Electoral College contest, New Hampshire went to Clinton by a 2,700 vote margin. The New Hampshire U.S. senator, [Maggie] Hassan, beat the Republican, [Kelly] Ayotte, by just over 1,000 votes. And so you're talking about the margin of victory being lower, less than the number of likely individuals who never actually moved to New Hampshire, but voted on Election Day using an out-of-state driver's license.

  • Morning news shows ignored report that Trump’s FCC plans to roll back net neutrality

    Only CBS This Morning reported on the FCC commissioner's plan to overturn Obama-era net neutrality protections

    Blog ››› ››› KATIE SULLIVAN


    Dayanita Ramesh / Media Matters

    Cable and broadcast morning shows virtually ignored reports that the Republican-appointed chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Ajit Pai, is expected to reveal his plan to gut net neutrality regulations this week.

    According to the internet advocacy organization Free Press, net neutrality is "the basic principle that prohibits internet service providers like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon from speeding up, slowing down or blocking any content, applications or websites you want to use." In 2015, the FCC enacted regulations protecting net neutrality, "reclassif[ying] high-speed Internet as a telecommunications service rather than an information one, subjecting providers to regulation under Title II of the Communications Act."

    But as Politico reported on November 20, FCC Chairman Pai, an appointee of President Donald Trump, plans to share a scheme with his fellow commissioners today to dismantle the regulations. The commission is expected to vote in December on the plan, which reportedly "would jettison rules that prohibit internet service providers from blocking or slowing web traffic or creating so-called paid internet fast lanes."

    On November 21, morning news shows failed to inform their audiences about the threat to a free and open internet. CBS This Morning was the only show to feature a report on the development. One guest on MSNBC's Morning Joe briefly mentioned the expected rule change, but the hosts didn't engage with the comment and never brought up the story themselves. There was no mention at all of net neutrality from CNN's New Day, Fox News' Fox & Friends, ABC's Good Morning America, or NBC's Today.

    From CBS This Morning:

    GAYLE KING (HOST): The New York Times says the FCC is planning a repeal of net neutrality rules created during the Obama era. The proposal is expected to be unveiled later today. Internet service providers would no longer be required to give equal access to all content. It would permit them to slow web traffic or charge more to view certain content. FCC commissioners are expected to back the proposal in December. The FCC declined to comment on this.

    The move from the FCC was not unforeseeable; in April, Pai announced plans to undo open-internet rules. And, as Wired detailed, "Pai has narrowed the scope of the rules since taking over as chair in January":

    In February, for example, he ended an investigation into whether AT&T and Verizon used data limits for anticompetitive purposes, effectively ruling that the two companies could exempt their own video services from customers' data caps but still charge for data used by their competitors’ services.

    Methodology

    Media Matters searched SnapStream for mentions of “neutrality” on the November 21 editions of ABC’s Good Morning America, CBS’ CBS This Morning, NBC’s Today, CNN’s New Day, Fox News’ Fox & Friends, and MSNBC’s Morning Joe.