Author Page | Media Matters for America

Leanne Naramore

Author ››› Leanne Naramore
  • Fox personalities repeatedly pushed conspiracy theories about George Soros funding migrant caravans. Will the network do anything about them?

    Blog ››› ››› LEANNE NARAMORE

    Fox is facing widespread criticism for an episode of Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs Tonight, in which Judicial Watch’s Chris Farrell suggested the “Soros-occupied State Department,” in reference to billionaire philanthropist George Soros, was helping fund a group of migrants traveling to the United States. In response, Fox has said in a statement that that Farrell “will no longer be appearing as a guest on Fox Business Network or Fox News Channel,” and an executive from the network said, “We condemn the rhetoric by the guest on Lou Dobbs Tonight. This episode was a repeat which has now been pulled from all future airings.”

    These are quite the statements given that many Fox personalities and frequent guests have repeatedly pushed similar claims with no repercussions that George Soros is funding migrant caravans. Here are a handful of examples from 2018:

  • Conservatives are lying about the migrant caravan to scare people into voting for Republicans

    Blog ››› ››› LEANNE NARAMORE

    Just two weeks ahead of the midterm elections, right-wing media figures and President Donald Trump are spreading lies about the migrant caravan, falsely claiming that the caravan has been infiltrated by radical terrorists and is on its way to invade and destroy the U.S. These lies are designed purely to scare people into voting for Republicans in the midterms; any honest reporting on this situation must be framed around that fact. Here are some good examples so far, via CNN, MSNBC, and Shepard Smith on Fox News:

  • Brett Kavanaugh lied repeatedly. News reports and personal accounts prove it.

    Blog ››› ››› MILES LE, LEANNE NARAMORE & TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is a petulant liar -- about matters large and small -- and he often tells his lies under oath. During his confirmation hearings with Senate Judiciary Committee, Kavanaugh’s falsehoods have run the gauntlet from repeatedly lying that Christine Blasey Ford’s account of being sexually assaulted by him has been “refuted” by witnesses, to lying about his behavior in high school and college, to repeatedly lying about the policies he worked on in the Bush administration. Kavanaugh is such a brazen liar that many of his false claims have been entirely refuted by reporting:

    Here are some of Kavanaugh’s lies:

    Kavanaugh repeatedly claimed Ford’s accusation has been “refuted” by others who she said attended the party -- even though the other attendees have said no such thing. Kavanaugh seized on the word “refuted” when responding to Ford’s report, claiming in five instances that the three people who Ford says were at the party when Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her had “refuted” her account. That’s an obvious misrepresentation of what those people have said. They have actually all said that they don’t recall the party in question -- a major difference from saying something didn’t happen. And Ford’s friend Leland Keyser has said that although she doesn’t remember the party in question, she believes Ford is telling the truth.

    Kavanaugh said he “did not travel in the same social circles” as Ford, but he did. During prepared remarks, Kavanaugh said that Ford “and I did not travel in the same social circles. It is possible that we met at some point at some events, although I do not recall that.” But Ford testified that she went out with one of Kavanaugh’s friends, whose name appears 13 times in Kavanaugh’s calendar.

    Kavanaugh attempted to fabricate an alibi by suggesting he did not drink on weekdays and was out of town almost every weekend night of the summer of 1982. Kavanaugh claimed that the incident Ford described “presumably happened on a weekend” and suggested that he and his friends didn’t drink during the week because of their jobs while adding he was “out of town almost every weekend night before football training camp started in late August.” In doing so, Kavanaugh attempted to falsely imply that he did not attend the type of get-together that Ford described. Kavanaugh’s lie is readily apparent in the calendars he provided the committee and a contradictory statement he made acknowledging “the calendars show a few weekday gatherings at friends’ houses after a workout or just to meet up and have some beers.” In particular, great attention has focused on his July 1 calendar entry -- a Thursday -- that showed he was having “[brew]skis” with some of the people Ford said were at the party.

    Kavanaugh said he had no connection to Yale University prior to attending undergrad and law school there, but he was a legacy admittee. While denying that he was a heavy drinker in college who drank to the point of blacking out, Kavanagh said, “I got into Yale Law School -- that’s the number one law school in the country. I had no connections there; I got in there by busting my tail at college.” In fact, Kavanaugh’s grandfather Everett Edward Kavanaugh attended Yale, making Kavanaugh a legacy student.

    Kavanaugh denied every blacking out from drinking and downplayed his alcohol consumption as a young man, but numerous Yale classmates say he was a belligerent drunk. Kavanaugh became angered under questioning from Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) after she asked him if he ever blacked out from excessive drinking. In response, Kavanaugh pressed Klobuchar if she had ever blacked out and claimed that he doesn’t have a drinking problem. The New York Times reported that “nearly a dozen” of Kavanaugh’s classmates “said they recalled his indulging in heavy drinking, with some characterizing it as outside the norms of college life.” His freshman roommate James Roche said Kavanaugh was “frequently unusually drunk” and would become “belligerent and mean,” while classmate Charles “Chad” Ludington said Kavanaugh was “a frequent drinker, and a heavy drinker.” Classmate Elizabeth Swisher called Kavanaugh’s claim he never blacked out “a lie” based on her observation of his behavior at the time. Classmate Lynne Brookes told CNN that she and her former classmates were texting each other during the hearing that Kavanaugh was lying about his college drinking habits.

    Kavanaugh cited Maryland’s drinking age in explaining his behavior, even though he was too young to legally drink in any case. Twice during his testimony, Kavanaugh cited what he said had been Maryland’s drinking age, saying that “the drinking age was 18 in Maryland for most of my time in high school” and “the drinking age, as I noted, was 18 so the seniors were legal.” But Maryland raised the drinking age from 18 to 21 when Kavanaugh was 17, meaning his implication that he was a legal drinker was a lie.

    Kavanaugh said he didn’t live close to Columbia Country Club, but he did. Ford testified that the assault occurred at a house close to Columbia Country Club, where both her family and Kavanaugh’s family were members. During his opening statement, Kavanaugh said, “In her letter to Sen. Feinstein (D-CA), she said that there were four other people at the house, but none of those people, nor I, lived near Columbia Country Club.” But Kavanaugh did live close to the club, according to a map used during the hearing. His house was approximately 3.5 miles from the club. In general, all of the individuals in question lived in the suburban Maryland area surrounding the club.

    Kavanaugh lied about him and his friends’ juvenile yearbook joke targeting female acquaintance. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) questioned Kavanaugh about the text he included on his yearbook page that read “Renate Alumnius,” which refers to Renate Dolphin, an attendee of a local all-girls school. Other references to Dolphin in Kavanaugh’s yearbook make it clear that she was the target of a joke that implied she had had sexual relations with Kavanaugh and his friends. Under questioning, Kavanaugh played off the reference as merely an attempt at “affection” among he and his friends, and blamed the media “circus” for the term being interpreted as relating to sex, which it clearly was. Dolphin, who had signed a letter of support for Kavanaugh, became aware of the yearbook references and told The New York Times, “I can't begin to comprehend what goes through the minds of 17-year-old boys who write such things, but the insinuation is horrible, hurtful and simply untrue. I pray their daughters are never treated this way.”

    Kavanaugh said the “devil’s triangle” reference in his yearbook refers to a drinking game (that no one has ever heard of). Kavanaugh told Whitehouse that “devil’s triangle” was a drinking game played with three glasses and quarters. But the term is commonly used to refer to a sex act involving two men and a woman. Pete Davis, who attended high school in Washington, D.C., told Current Affairs, “Every guy who went to my D.C.-area high school knows what ‘devil’s triangle’ means. I’m sure Brett Kavanaugh knows what it means, too.”

    Kavanaugh said “boofing” yearbook reference was about flatulence. Both Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge, who Ford said was in the room when Kavanaugh assaulted her, made references to boofing in the yearbook. Kavanaugh said during the hearing, “That refers to flatulence, we were 16.” Boofing is actually a term for anal sex. New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman noted on Twitter, “Urban Dictionary has the definition of ‘boof’ that I recall from high school in the 1980s and it wasn't flatulence.”

    Kavanaugh attempted to explain that his membership and title in the “Beach Week Ralph Club, Biggest Contributor” was related to his aversion to spicy food. Asked by Whitehouse about “ralphing,” Kavanaugh said it could be a reference to alcohol-related vomiting, but then went on a long explanation of his famously “weak stomach,” saying, “The last time I was here, you asked me about having ketchup on spaghetti. … I got a weak stomach, whether it’s with beer or spicy food or anything.” Whitehouse asked a follow-up question, “So the vomiting that you reference in the Ralph Club reference related to the consumption of alcohol?” Kavanaugh didn’t answer -- instead he listed his academic achievements in high school.

    Kavanaugh mischaracterized a memoir about teenage alcoholism written by Judge. Judge wrote a memoir documenting his alcoholism and antisocial behavior as a young man. In the book, Judge mentions a character named “Bart O’Kavanaugh” who passes out in a car from drinking. Kavanaugh told Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) during the hearing that Judge’s book is “fictionalized.” The title page of the book says, “This book is based on actual experiences.” During the questioning, Kavanaugh refused to say whether he was the “Bart O’Kavanaugh” mentioned in Judge’s book, saying, “You’d have to ask him.” On October 2, The New York Times reported that Kavanaugh wrote a letter in 1983 that characterized he and his friends as “loud, obnoxious drunks” that he signed with the name “Bart,” which The Times explained was Kavanaugh’s nickname at Georgetown Prep.

    Kavanaugh denied under oath that he had watched Ford’s testimony, but The Wall Street Journal reported that he did just that. Ford spoke before Kavanaugh at the hearing. When Kavanaugh was asked whether he watched Ford’s testimony, he said, “I did not. I planned to, but I did not, as I was preparing mine.” But a judiciary committee aide told The Wall Street Journal that Kavanaugh was watching “from a monitor in another room in the Dirksen Senate Building.” WSJ uncritically repeated Kavanaugh’s statement from the hearing in an update to its initial report.

    Kavanaugh said that he first became aware of Deborah Ramirez’s report that he exposed himself to her in college when it was published in the press, but that isn’t true. While being questioned by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Kavanaugh said that he first learned that Ramirez said he exposed his penis to her when they both attended Yale “in the last -- in the period since then, in the New Yorker story.” But according to NBC News, “In the days leading up to a public allegation that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh exposed himself to a college classmate, the judge and his team were communicating behind the scenes with friends to refute the claim, according to text messages obtained by NBC News.”

    Kavanaugh either lied about being a virgin for “many years” after high school to Fox News, or lied to a Yale classmate that he was not a virgin. Kavanaugh raised eyebrows with his claim during a Fox News interview when he said, “I did not have sexual intercourse or anything close to sexual intercourse in high school or for many years thereafter.” Beyond the fact that Kavanaugh has been reported for sexual misconduct and assault, not rape, a former Yale classmate disputed Kavanaugh’s claim on the basis of things Kavanaugh himself said when they were in college.

    Kavanaugh acted like he never heard of the law firm Kasowitz Benson Torres where his good friend works as a partner. During the first round of confirmation hearings, Kavanaugh was caught off guard when Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) asked if he had discussed special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation with anyone at Kasowitz Benson Torres, which was founded by Trump’s personal lawyer. Kavanaugh reacted to the question with befuddlement. But Kasowitz Benson Torres employs Ed McNally, a close friend who worked at the Bush White House with Kavanaugh, and who was also part of a testimonial put out by the Republican National Committee in favor of Kavanaugh’s nomination.

    Kavanaugh said documents stolen from Democrats that he received from a GOP operative didn’t raise any red flags with him, even though they were marked for internal use. Kavanaugh’s receipt of emails stolen from Democratic offices during a time when he worked on judicial confirmations for the Bush administration has plagued him for years. Kavanaugh has always denied that he had any reason to believe the emails he received were stolen, but Leahy called out his claim during the initial confirmation hearings. Leahy presented Kavanaugh with emails clearly marked for internal use, including one with the subject line “spying.” Kavanaugh repeated his denial, leading Leahy to say, “Judge, I was born at night, but not last night.”

    Kavanaugh previously testified he didn’t work on the confirmation of controversial judge William Pryor, but he did. During his 2004 confirmation hearing for a federal judgeship, Kavanaugh was adamant that he had not worked on Pryor’s nomination besides participating in a “moot court argument.” During his 2018 confirmation hearings, Leahy confronted Kavanaugh with emails indicating otherwise.

    Kavanaugh said he grew up in “a city plagued by gun violence,” but he actually grew up in Bethesda, MD, which was not plagued by gun violence. Kavanaugh seemed to reference Washington, D.C., during his initial hearing, claiming, “I am a native of this area, I’m the native of an urban-suburban area, I grew up in a city plagued by gun violence, and gang violence, and drug violence.” In fact, he grew up in wealthy and low-crime Bethesda, MD.

    Kavanaugh denied knowing that disgraced Judge Alex Kozinski oversaw a work environment hostile to women, leaving other people who clerked for Kozinski scratching their heads. Kavanaugh clerked for Kozinski, who abruptly resigned in 2017 when facing multiple reports of sexual misconduct. Kozinski had previously been criticized in 2008 for operating “a publicly accessible website featuring sexually explicit photos and videos,” and for running a sexually explicit email list. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) questioned Kavanaugh about his relationship to the disgraced judge, and he denied knowing about any impropriety Kozinski was involved in, including denying knowledge of Kozinski’s widely known email list even though its existence has been public for 10 years. Former Kozinski clerk Heidi Bond wrote for Slate: “Having clerked in his chambers, I do not know how it would be possible to forget something as pervasive as Kozinski's famously sexual sense of humor or his gag list.”

  • Sandy Hook families are suing Alex Jones. This is what he said about the shooting.

    Blog ››› ››› LEANNE NARAMORE

    Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is being sued for defamation by the parents of two children who were killed in the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, that left 20 students and six educators dead.

    Over the past five-and-a-half years, Jones has repeatedly pushed conspiracy theories about the tragedy, including casting doubt about whether it even happened or claiming that the shooting was staged by nefarious groups using actors.

    Jones has said the shooting has “inside job written all over it,” called it “synthetic, completely fake, with actors, in my view, manufactured,” claimed “the whole thing was fake,” said it was “staged,” called it a “giant hoax,” suggested that some victims’ parents lied about seeing their dead children, and pushed other toxic conspiracy theories:

  • Video: Why you should worry about the Trump / Fox News feedback loop

    Blog ››› ››› LEANNE NARAMORE & MATT GERTZ

    President Donald Trump spends hours of his days tweeting at the television. The president is pulling much of his information directly from Fox News, specifically from his favorite show Fox & Friends. When the man with unparalleled access to the most advanced intelligence operation in the world prefers to get his information from people who once tried to roast marshmallows first with their hands and then with a plastic spoon, we're all in serious trouble. Watch:

    Video by Miles Le and Leanne Naramore

  • Morning Joe Still Loves Donald Trump

    Blog ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ & LEANNE NARAMORE

    MSNBC host Joe Scarborough and his Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski have been criticized repeatedly for their “softball” coverage of President-elect Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign and into the transition, and they’ve lashed out in response. And yet, since the beginning of 2017, their Trump reporting has been nothing less than fawning.

    After a New York Times article noted that Scarborough and Brzezinski were present at a New Year’s Eve party at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort and a reporter suggested Scarborough may have “partied” with the president-elect, Scarborough resorted to smearing the reporter instead of setting the record straight. The MSNBC host “blew up,” “accused [the reporter] of lying” and “pushing fake news,” and “sought to undermine [his] credibility." This “over-the-top response,” according to The Washington Post’s Callum Borchers, was in line with Scarborough’s sensitivity “to any suggestion that he is too cozy with” Trump.

    And yet, while Scarborough has insisted that he and Brzezinski have “treated” Trump “tough” throughout the campaign, he has chosen to spend the first two weeks of 2017 bragging about how he and Brzezinski have “known and have been friends with Donald Trump for a decade,” praising him as “the master of many things,” and attacking journalists who apparently “aren’t doing their jobs” while covering Trump. Watch: 

  • VIDEO: Jesse Watters: The Worst Of The Worst

    Blog ››› ››› LEANNE NARAMORE & JOHN KERR

    Fox News is under fire after The O'Reilly Factor on October 3 aired a blatantly racist edition of Jesse Watters' segment "Watters' World." Watters interviewed people in New York City's Chinatown neighborhood, asking questions such as “Am I supposed to bow to say hello?" “Tell me what’s not made in China?” and “Do you know karate?” This segment is just the latest addition to Watters' long history of making racist and sexist remarks, shaming the poor, and mocking ordinary people during his "Watters' World" feature on O'Reilly's program. Here are some of the worst examples:

    Several groups representing Asian-Americans have issued statements condemning the racist segment, and numerous journalists have rebuked the piece.

  • VIDEO: The Media's Years Of Sexist Attacks On Hillary Clinton

    Blog ››› ››› LEANNE NARAMORE

    The media has spent years hurling sexist attacks at presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. From attacks on her appearance, her cleavage, her sexuality, her "PMS," the tone and volume of her voice, her laugh, her emotions, her age, being a grandmother, being called a "bitch,""castrating" and a "vaginal American," the claim that she's only successful because of her husband and more, it's hard to overstate the barrage of sexism Clinton has faced during her time as first lady, senator, secretary of state, and presidential candidate.

    Now that Clinton is set to become first female presidential candidate for a major party in U.S. history, the media should avoid falling into this inexcusable cycle of rampant sexism and misogyny in their general election coverage.

  • VIDEO: This Conservative Legal Group Wants To Make Gay Sex Illegal Again

    Blog ››› ››› CARLOS MAZA, COLEMAN LOWNDES & LEANNE NARAMORE

    News networks frequently invite Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) -- one of the most powerful right-wing legal groups in the country -- to defend laws like North Carolina’s anti-LGBT bathroom legislation. But media outlets typically identify ADF as merely a “Christian legal organization,” failing to mention the group’s record of defending laws that would put people in prison for being gay.

    ADF is a right-wing legal powerhouse that’s been linked to nearly every recent attack on LGBT equality and women’s reproductive health care. The group has testified against Planned Parenthood and was a major player in the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby case. Legislation like North Carolina’s bathroom law and Indiana’s “religious freedom” law are the products of ADF’s behind-the-scenes legal work. The group shops extreme model legislation to state lawmakers across the country, testifies in favor of those laws, and then defends them in local and national media.

    But news networks that host ADF often identify them as a “Christian” or “conservative” legal organization, failing to mention the group’s history of smearing the LGBT community and working to criminalize homosexuality. ADF has helped defend laws in Belize and Jamaica that would put people in prison for engaging in gay sex. The group opposes anti-bullying efforts, which it believes will indoctrinate “impressionable” children into homosexuality. Alan Sears, the group’s current president, co-wrote a book which claims that homosexuality and pedophilia are “intrinsically linked.” At a recent conference, one ADF attorney claimed that the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard had been falsely depicted as an anti-gay hate crime in order to advance the “homosexual legal agenda.”

    News networks that choose to give ADF airtime to defend rolling back LGBT and abortion rights should be honest with their audiences about who ADF is, rather than letting them get away with posing as a reasonable conservative legal group.