Author Page | Media Matters for America

Nick Fernandez

Author ››› Nick Fernandez
  • 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:

  • After Pittsburgh synagogue shooting and mail bomb spree, right-wing media figures defend attacks on George Soros

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Right-wing media figures are continuing to attack philanthropist and liberal political donor George Soros and defending previous attacks against him barely one week after a man sent pipe bombs to Soros and other liberal figures, and another killed 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue in the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in American history. While the two suspects specifically identified Soros as a perceived boogeyman in their social media posts prior to carrying out their terroristic attacks, irresponsible and careless right-wing pundits continue to attack the business mogul and push conspiracy theories about him. 

  • What you need to know about One America News’ reported upcoming interview with the president

    Blog ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    According to One America News Network (OANN) CEO Robert Herring, President Donald Trump will sit down for an interview with the sycophanticnews” outlet’s White House correspondent, Emerald Robinson. A closer look at Robison’s background reveals the “correspondent” to be an unabashed stooge for the Trump administration who traffics in conservative misinformation originating from the right-wing Twitter fever swamps -- a perfect fit for the propagandistic and serially insane OANN, which has apparently been granted exclusive access to the president of the United States for an interview.

    On October 18, Herring tweeted that the network’s White House “correspondent” would sit down for an interview with the president:

    Robinson is a former infomercial actress and former host of a “science news show” called the Daily Orbit. She also hosted a video series called Hotnomics produced by right-wing lobbying group the Center for Freedom and Prosperity, in which she railed against “big government” and taxation. Robinson has written a series of columns for the conservative outlet The American Spectator that include crude mockery of her colleagues in the media, unabashed Trump sycophancy, and attacks on NFL players protesting police brutality in which she called them “Rococo Marxists and millionaire Black Panther athletes.” In a long screed attacking the “low-testosterone, dilettantish strain” of “intellectual” conservatives, Robinson complained of an apparent “disconnect” among factions within the conservative movement, writing that the "Never Trump intellectual crowd" are "Jewish and agnostic,” whereas “the Republican Party is overwhelmingly Caucasian and Christian.”

    In May, OANN brought Robinson on as its chief White House “correspondent” (in practice, she is a pundit), where she has had the opportunity to continue the network’s tradition of providing relief to Trump and press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders with softball questions during otherwise contentious interactions with the White House press corps. In August 2017, Trump gave a shout out to OANN reporter Trey Yingst during a press briefing, saying, “I want to congratulate you on the network, it’s a great network,” which the outlet then proudly highlighted.

    As has been repeatedly documented, OANN is a fawning pro-Trump outlet that has pushed disgraceful and shameful conspiracy theories and whitewashed overt racism. A July 5, 2017, report in The Washington Post paints a picture of the network as a propaganda outlet with a CEO who “has directed his channel to push Trump’s candidacy, scuttle stories about police shootings, encourage antiabortion stories, minimize coverage of Russian aggression, and steer away from the new president’s troubles, according to more than a dozen current and former producers, writers and anchors, as well as internal emails from Herring and his top news executives.”

  • Fox Business segment warns against strong response to alleged Saudi murder of a journalist because it could “jeopardize the containment of Iran”

    Blog ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    On October 16, Fox Business’ Varney & Co. hosted the Heritage Foundation’s James Carafano to discuss the alleged assassination of Washington Post columnist and permanent U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi, purportedly carried out at the direction of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

    Carafano is currently the vice president of the Heritage Foundation and served as a State Department adviser for President Donald Trump’s transition team. In his role at the Heritage Foundation, he has written obsessively about containing Iran, which he considers vital to American national security interests; endorsed Trump’s association with strongmen; advocated for American mercenaries conducting operations in Afghanistan in place of regular U.S. military personnel; referred to Trump’s absurd and ineffective travel ban as “reasonable”; argued that, without the U.S. assisting Saudi Arabia in the brutal war in Yemen, the “region” may fall apart; and fearmongered about a favorite right-wing claim about “terrorists trying to cross from Mexico to the U.S.”

    During the appearance, both host Stuart Varney and Carafano framed the major concern surrounding the alleged attack on Khashoggi as potentially jeopardizing the "containment of Iran," and Carafano insisted that the United States government not act until officials “get the facts” of the alleged murder “right.” Varney even floated the idea that the United States could simply slow-walk an investigation and any action on the matter "so the days spread to a week or so, which delays any response from us. ... if I say, can we get away with that, that sounds pejorative, but do you think that's what's going to happen?"

    According to The Wrap, Fox Business remains “one of only two media organizations” sponsoring a planned Saudi Arabian business conference called the Future Investment Initiative, while the “other sponsor, Al Arabiya, is a Saudi-owned operation.” According to the report, “Over the last week, The New York Times, CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg, Nikkei and the Financial Times all pulled out of the event amid growing questions about the kingdom’s involvement in the” alleged assassination of Khashoggi.

    From the October 16 edition of Fox Business’ Varney & Co.:

    STUART VARNEY (HOST): CNN reports that the Saudis are preparing to admit they killed the columnist Jamal Khashoggi in an interrogation gone wrong. ... James, we've got to get the response to this -- America's got to get the response right because we do not want to jeopardize the containment of Iran. Am I right

    JAMES CARAFANO (HERITAGE FOUNDATION): So, I'm going to say some words on this show you've never heard before. President Trump is the calm, responsible guy here. From the beginning he said, we've got to get the facts right, and he is exactly right. Look, we're going to have a strategic relationship with Saudi Arabia a year from now. We're going to have a strategic relationship with Turkey a year from now. That's not going to change because the world hasn't changed. But we have to go forward operating on what actually happened, because these relationships are too important to just fly off the handle, and we have to deal with the reality of what happened. So, we have to wait for the facts to come in. So, even though we've heard this CNN report, until the government of Saudi Arabia actually come out and says something, I think we have to be very careful. And the president's right. And you are right. The -- what the greatest destabilizing force in the region that's getting people killed, that's spreading misery by the hundreds of thousands is Iran, and that is the big ticket we have to deal with.

    VARNEY: Do you think we'll try to spin this out, demanding the facts, demanding to know what happened, and so the days spread to a week or so, which delays any response from us. Do you think we'll -- if I say, can we get away with that, that sounds pejorative, but do you think that's what's going to happen?

    CARAFANO: Well, I think we have to get the facts right, and then we have to go --

    VARNEY: That'll take time.

    CARAFANO: -- through the legal process that's required to do that. So, this is a U.S. person, so we might have an issue here where we might want to extradite something. We've got joint investigations between the Saudis and the Turks. We have the U.S. offer -- we should have learned something from the Kavanaugh hearing, which is we shouldn't declare guilt and innocence and then just pontificate our politics. We should let the facts decide what the U.S. response is, and it may take time for the real, concrete facts to come out.

  • After Elizabeth Warren published DNA test results, right-wing media move the goal posts

    Blog ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    After years of accusing Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) of misrepresenting her heritage, right-wing media are digging in their heels now that she has publicly released DNA test results that revealed “strong evidence” that she has Native American ancestry. Reporting surrounding the release also noted that Harvard Law School, where she has taught, did not consider her claim of Native American ancestry in deciding to hire her. But the “strong evidence” for her heritage is only causing right-wing media to move the goal posts.

    Since 2012, conservative media have been strangely obsessed with Warren and her family heritage. Originally popularized by Boston talk radio personality/columnist Howie Carr and the Scott Brown for Senate campaign in 2012, the attacks against Warren’s ancestry reached national audiences during the 2016 campaign. Then-candidate Donald Trump picked up the assertion that Warren had misrepresented her heritage, making it a regular theme at his campaign rallies. The fixation on her heritage eventually reached Fox News, with the hosts of Fox & Friends Weekends pushing a challenge for Warren to take a DNA test to “prove, once and for all, her Native American ancestry.”

    On October 15, The Boston Globe reported that Warren had taken a DNA test “that provides ‘strong evidence’ she had a Native American in her family tree dating back 6 to 10 generations.” More importantly, even though Warren marked “Native American” on her Harvard University employment application -- which has been central to the absurd and racist claims about her family that have dogged her since her 2012 Senate campaign -- the Globe noted that there was “clear evidence, in documents and interviews, that her claim to Native American ethnicity was never considered by the Harvard Law faculty, which voted resoundingly to hire her, or by those who hired her to four prior positions at other law schools.”

    But now, the problem for conservative media is not that Warren may have misrepresented her heritage or that it played a role in her hiring, it is that she doesn’t have enough Native American ancestry.

    Now that every angle of their stupid argument has been debunked, right-wing media are simply digging in their heels. The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro ditched any argument about Warren’s employment at Harvard or the veracity of the DNA results and simply referred to those who trust Warren’s word about her family and the Globe’s “exhaustive review” as the “real bitter clingers.” The immensely credible and not-racist Daily Caller tweeted that Warren is “Like between .09 and 3 percent cherokinda.” And CRTV’s Michelle Malkin posted an incomprehensible tweet calling Warren “#Fauxcahontas.”

  • Trump’s lie-filled Medicare for All op-ed

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    For some misguided reason, USA Today published an op-ed -- supposedly written by President Donald Trump -- attacking a proposed “Medicare for All” plan cosponsored by a number of Senate Democrats. The piece is a collection of baldfaced lies and distorted facts which do not hold up to even the slightest scrutiny.

  • Fox & Friends hosts founder of astroturfed #WalkAway “movement” who has appeared on Infowars

    Blog ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Fox & Friends is promoting an astroturfed social media “movement,” the #WalkAway campaign, that has been hyped on The Alex Jones Show and promoted by social media bots.

    On the October 2 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Ainsley Earhardt interviewed Brandon Straka, the supposed founder of the #WalkAway campaign, which encourages voters to “walk away” from the Democratic Party. During the appearance, Straka complained of an apparent “dishonesty” within the “liberal media,” promoting his hashtag, website, and an upcoming “march on Washington” in the process.

    Straka’s “movement” is really an astroturfed social media campaign that has been amplified by both Infowars and Russian bots. Since early July, when the hashtag began to trend on Twitter, Straka himself has appeared on multiple Infowars shows to promote his so-called movement, and an analysis of the hashtag on Twitter found it to be a “psychological operation” aimed at shaping conversations in cable news segments, such as his appearance on Fox & Friends. According to multiple analyses, the hashtag's spread was largely driven by non-human activity, and accounts that tweeted in support of the “movement” had used pro-Trump hashtags such as #maga, #fakenews, and #qanon before they “walked away” from the Democratic Party. Moreover, according to Snopes, the campaign’s supporters have promoted the hashtag with misleading stock photos of people who had supposedly “walked away” from the Democratic Party, though Straka claims the photos were not actually created by the campaign itself.

    From the October 2 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

    AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): We see your t-shirt. How did you become a conservative? You were a liberal and now you are a conservative activist?

    BRANDON STRAKA (FOUNDER, #WALKAWAY CAMPAIGN): Nice. Well, it's a bit of a long story. But, in general, what it was was, I really came to the realization that the liberal media was incredibly dishonest throughout the campaign of Donald Trump, creating a narrative about who he was and who his followers were. And that really opened my eyes to their dishonesty. I actually think he is a really amazing president, and I think that the people in this country who support him are really good people, but they have gotten a really bad shake from the liberal media.

    EARHARDT: Do you think that there are other people that feel the way do you and they’re just being quiet about it? Because we saw in the election, a lot of people were too afraid to say that they were supporting the president.

    STRAKA: Right, well, this is what I say all the time in the campaign is that it is time for the silent majority to become un-silent, and that's really what's happening, I think, with the #WalkAway campaign. It's a testimonial campaign, and people are creating their testimonials, and they're finding the courage to speak their truth for the first time. It's really created a network of support. In fact, we have a #WalkAway march on Washington next month, which is really going to be a massive demonstration of solidarity.

    EARHARDT: So it's walk away from the Democratic Party and support us?

    STRAKA: Absolutely.