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Nick Fernandez

Author ››› Nick Fernandez
  • Fox News is downplaying Trump’s comments absolving Kim of responsibility for death of US citizen

    Blog ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Fox News is downplaying comments from President Donald Trump that he does not hold North Korean despot Kim Jong Un responsible for the death of an American college student who was detained in North Korea for 17 months. Trump’s public absolution of Kim comes after Trump sided with the Russian government in its repeated denials about interfering in American politics. Trump has also demonstrated an unexplained and unshakable loyalty to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman even though the U.S. intelligence community has determined that the crown prince ordered the assassination of Washington Post columnist and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi.

    Following Trump’s second nuclear summit with the North Korean dictator, the president declared that he took Kim “at his word” when North Korea’s leader supposedly told him “he didn’t know” about the mistreatment of Otto Warmbier, an American college student who was imprisoned in North Korea in 2016 after being accused of attempting to steal a political banner from a hotel lobby. Trump added that he does not “believe [Kim] would have allowed” Warmbier to be mistreated, saying, “It just wasn't to his advantage to allow that to happen.” The North Korean government returned Warmbier to the United States in June 2017 in a “persistent vegetative state.” He passed away on June 19, 2017, six days after he was brought to the U.S.

    Trump’s defense of Kim echoes his confounding defenses of two other totalitarian and kleptocratic leaders, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, after U.S. intelligence agencies found that they were involved in actions that ran counter to American interests and values. Ever since the U.S. intelligence community publicly pointed the finger at the Russian government for directing the hacking and dumping of emails during the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump has steadfastly toed Russia’s line in denying its involvement, ultimately saying, “I don’t see any reason” why the Russian government would have hacked Democrats’ emails during the 2016 campaign. Similarly, after Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in a Saudi consulate in Turkey, Trump issued a series of non sequiturs and strange defenses of the crown prince before finally just disregarding the conclusions of his own intelligence community that Salman personally ordered Khashoggi’s murder and saying he will stand by Salman.

    According to a Media Matters review of Fox’s videos and transcripts, the network’s flagship morning show, Fox & Friends, never mentioned Trump absolving North Korea’s leader of responsibility for the mistreatment and apparent torture of a detained American citizen. Moreover, America’s Newsroom discussed the comments only briefly over the entire three-hour program, with Fox anchor Bret Baier suggesting that only “critics” will attack Trump over his defense of a murderous dictator. Outnumbered co-host Katie Pavlich also briefly discussed Trump’s defense of Kim. Later in the show, when Outnumbered co-host Marie Harf brought up Trump’s comments regarding Warmbier’s treatment and “about Kim Jong Un in general,” show co-host Melissa Francis interrupted her to defend Trump’s comments as being just “the way he talks,” and asked, “How do you know that’s what’s going on in his mind -- in the president’s mind?” On Fox's The Daily Briefing, Fox host Dana Perino asked a single question of Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) about Trump’s comments. Fox’s obvious attempt at downplaying Trump’s comments comes after the network echoed Trump in his evolving positions on Khashoggi’s assassination and after Fox made odd defenses of Trump for courting Putin.

  • Fox’s prime-time lineup and flagship morning show ignore report that Trump met with Putin with no note taker or translator present

    Blog ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Fox News is again turning to its well-established playbook in the Trump era of ignoring or downplaying significant reporting regarding the Trump administration’s strange and largely unexplained relationship with Russia.

    After Financial Times reported that President Donald Trump “sat down with Vladimir Putin for several minutes of conversation at the end of an evening event at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires in November, with no translator or note-taker from the US side to record the dialogue,” Fox News’ top three prime-time shows and its flagship morning program, Fox & Friends, all totally ignored the story. Fox’s strategy of ignoring consequential reporting on the unexplained relationship between Trump and Putin has left its viewers in the dark regarding a notable and damaging break from established national security practices.

    On January 29, the Financial Times reported that, on the sidelines of the 2018 G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Trump, accompanied solely by his wife, met with Putin “with no translator or note-taker from the US side to record the dialogue between the leaders.” The report continued:

    According to a Russian government official’s account, the two leaders spoke for about 15 minutes about a number of foreign policy issues, including the Azov Sea incident, and the conflict in Syria. They also discussed when they could have a formal meeting, the official said.

    Mr Trump explained that a full meeting with Mr Putin was impossible at the time, and the Russian leader responded by saying he “was not in a hurry” and remained ready to meet when it suited Mr Trump best, the Russian official said.

    The US state department declined to discuss any details of the meeting, referring questions to the White House. A White House spokesman declined to comment beyond previous acknowledgments that a brief encounter occurred.

    According to a Media Matters review of video and transcripts, on the evening of January 29, Fox’s 8-11 p.m. lineup of Tucker Carlson Tonight, Hannity, and The Ingraham Angle all ignored the new reporting. The following morning, Fox & Friends also failed to mention the report.

    By contrast, MSNBC and CNN both spent significant time discussing the report between 8-11 p.m. and during each of their morning shows.

    Fox’s tried and true response to significant reporting regarding potential foreign influence over Trump or members of his administration is keeping a significant portion of the public uninformed when it comes to the ongoing investigations into potential coordination between the Trump campaign and a foreign power. According to polling shortly after the 2016 election, Trump voters held an increasingly positive view of Putin and Russia, and, more recently, according to Gallup in July 2018, 40 percent of Republicans viewed Russia as “an ally of or friendly toward” the United States. Moreover, Fox’s negligent coverage leaves out the fact that, as noted by Vox’s Alex Ward, the absense of an American diplomatic official being present to record the meeting with Putin means that Trump’s own cabinet, diplomats, and national security apparatus, not to mention the American public, will “never really know what happened during the Trump-Putin chat since only four people were there — Trump, Putin, the first lady, and the translator — and nothing was recorded (that we know of).” As a result, the American public is forced to decide whether to believe “a Russian government official’s account” of the meeting with no official response from the United States.

  • Stone indictment shows coordinated campaign to speculate about Hillary Clinton's health. Here's how right-wing media obliged.


    On January 25, federal authorities arrested Trump confidant Roger Stone, charging him with obstruction of an official proceeding, false statements, and witness tampering. In the indictment, prosecutors revealed that Stone had been in contact with former Infowars colleague and fellow conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi, who discussed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange with Stone and suggested he begin to attack the health of then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton by saying she is “old,” that she has a “bad memory,” and that she has had a “stroke.”

    Shortly after Corsi sent that email to Stone, Trump’s allies in the right-wing fever swamps began pushing conspiracy theories regarding Clinton’s health, suggesting that she suffered from “seizures” or had “brain damage,” among other absurd claims.

    Stone indictment reveals confidant Corsi suggested Stone start attacking Clinton’s health

    Corsi contacted Stone to inform him of "very damaging" information coming about the Clinton campaign, adding that it "would not hurt to start suggesting [Clinton is] old, memory bad, has stroke." According to the indictment against Stone, "Person 1" -- known to be Corsi, according to Corsi’s own legal team -- contacted Stone via email to suggest attacking Clinton's health as a campaign issue, adding that Stone should "start suggesting [Clinton is] old, memory bad, has stroke." From United States of America v. Roger Jason Stone, Jr.:

    [United States of America v. Roger Jason Stone, Jr., accessed 1/25/19; Twitter, 1/25/19]

    Daily Beast: “Jerome Corsi Told Roger Stone WikiLeaks Had Dirt on Hillary’s Health. Then the Attacks Started.” The Daily Beast’s Kelly Weill reported, “Weeks before WikiLeaks released emails in 2016 implying Hillary Clinton’s health was failing, conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi emailed Trump associate Roger Stone about the forthcoming leak.” She also documented how Infowars’ promotion of conspiracy theories about Clinton's health eventually spurred other far-right media figures, including Fox’s Sean Hannity, to do the same. [The Daily Beast, 11/28/18]

    Days after Corsi sent his private advice to Stone, right-wing media boosted claims that Clinton had “brain damage”

    Mike Cernovich claims to offer “Expert Analysis of Hillary Clinton’s Physical and Mental Breakdown.” On August 6, conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich claimed in his now-defunct blog Danger & Play that “Hillary’s health problems are well-known among the Secret Service.” Referring to a video of her speaking, he wrote, “While still FROZEN, Hillary is rescued by a male Secret Service agent, who reassures her, ‘You’ll be OK.’ Notice how Hillary’s lips are pursed? She has completely frozen, and has lost control of her executive functions/pre-frontal cortex.” From his August 6, 2016, blog post:

    Hillary Clinton recently had a breakdown on TV. The media is of course covering this up rather than having an expert medical panel on to discuss her health. Yet what happened to Hillary was obviously a sign of a head injury and stroke.

    When a protester appears, Hillary freezes. In psychology you learn that the flight-or-fight response is a myth. A stressful situation trigger a fight, flight, or freeze response.

    “Freeze” is what we mean by saying someone has a “deer in the head lights look.” A prey animal freezes when it senses danger it cannot overcome and thus does not risk running away from. By freezing the deer hopes to not be seen. [Danger & Play, 8/6/16]

    Gateway Pundit: “Expert Analysis finds Hillary Clinton’s Recent Seizures a Sign of Brain Damage.” On August 6, 2016, The Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft wrote that “THE PRESSURE IS TOO MUCH” and that “recent videos call Hillary Clinton’s physical and mental stability is in question.” He then quoted from Cernovich’s blog post. [The Gateway Pundit, 8/6/16]

    Cernovich: Clinton had a “seizure” and “suffered a brain injury during a fall.” From a August 7, 2016, post on Danger & Play:

    Michael Jackson, Prince, and Elvis would travel with a personal doctor who could administer needed life-saving drugs and attention during a crisis. Remember when you thought famous people like Michael Jackson and Elvis had good medical care? What’s Clinton on?

    Hillary appears to travel with her own Michael Jackson/Elvis style doctor. Who is he?

    We saw this first “doctor” or handler during Hillary’s recent freeze-up. You can see Hillary’s handler, who at first glance would not be considered the alpha male of the group, reassure Hillary, speak to her using hypnotic language, and then move the Secret Service Agents out of the way. This handler is not an ordinary SS agent.

    Hillary tries playing off the seizure by acting as if she had a “brain freeze.” As my medical experts explained to me, patients who suffer seizures become experts at playing it off.

    Hillary has suffered a brain injury during a fall. She either had a stroke, causing her to fall, or the fall caused her stroke. (Doctors were unsure whether the fall was the cause or effect of the stroke.) [Danger & Play, 8/7/16]

    Gateway Pundit: “IT’S WORSE THAN WE THOUGHT=> Photos of Hillary’s Handler Lead to More Questions about her Health – UPDATE: More Pics!” On August 7, 2016, Joe Hoft claimed that Clinton was accompanied by a “handler,” writing, “This man is still unknown although the web has now reported pictures of him at several outings with Hillary – assisting the weak and tired candidate. The fact that the man gets on stage, touches Hillary and then tells her what to do next, is very questionable.” [The Gateway Pundit, 8/7/16]

    Gateway Pundit: “PHOTOS=> Hillary’s Handler Carries DIAZEPAM Pen for Patients Who Experience Recurrent Seizures!” [The Gateway Pundit, 8/7/16]

    Breitbart: “Internet Melts Down over Photos of Hillary Clinton Getting Helped Up the Stairs.” In an August 7 blog post for, Patrick Howley wrote that “Hillary Clinton needed to be physically helped up a moderate flight of stairs by her team of staffers and handlers” and that “Reuters and Getty photographs captured Hillary Clinton, 68, struggling to make it up the stairs, either as a result of her fragile body or perhaps because her well-documented brain injuries make it harder for her to transport herself through daily life activities.” [Breitbart, 8/7/16]

    Hannity hosts doctors to speculate on Clinton’s health, claims, “Some said it's like a mini-seizure. … Is there a possibility she had a mini-stroke, a TIA?” From the August 8, 2016, edition of Fox News’ Hannity:

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): Welcome back to Hannity. So an image of Hillary Clinton recently posted to the website The American Mirror is sparking new controversy for the Clinton campaign. Now, the picture, which shows Hillary Clinton apparently needing assistance to climb a flight of stairs at a campaign stop back in February, was picked up by The Drudge Report, which posted this headline over the weekend detailing Hillary Clinton's history with falls and speculating that the former secretary of state could be experiencing a serious undisclosed medical condition.

    Joining us now with analysis, from the Fox News medical A-team we have Fox News medical correspondent Dr. Marc Siegel, and Dr. David Samadi is with us. All right. By the way, it's in The Daily Mail, "Are Hillary Clinton's health problems more severe than thought?" A new book is coming out that claims that. The Gateway Pundit had today, "Hillary's handler carrying a Diazepam pen for patients who experience recurrent seizures.” When you look at her history, Dr. Siegel, of falling, concussions, the blood clots, et cetera, and then this other video that has emerged, what are your thoughts?

    HANNITY: Just out of fairness, I don't want to show the video, but I've asked both of you to look at the video where she seems to, like -- some have said it's like a mini-seizure. What does it look like to you?

    HANNITY: Is there a possibility she had a mini-stroke, a TIA? [Fox News, Hannity, 8/8/16]

    National Enquirer photo gallery of “Hillary Clinton’s Secret Health Crisis” suggests she had multiple sclerosis and had “endured a series of strokes.” In a series of captioned photos, the National Enquirer claimed that a “political insider” said, “Hillary’s past health problems are down to MS,” and that “other sources claimed that Hillary’s also suffered three secret strokes.” The captions also suggested that Clinton was fatigued, confused, incontinent, had a history of blackouts and memory loss, and that she had a traumatic brain injury. [National Enquirer, 8/8/16]

    Gateway Pundit: “New Questions on Hillary’s Health=> What is She Hiding Under Her Duster Jacket?” In an August 9, 2016, blog post, Jim Hoft wrote, “The Drudge Report highlighted poor Hillary’s health issues this weekend. This all started after Mike Cernovich’s post on Hillary’s delicate condition.” [Gateway Pundit, 8/9/16]

    Hannity: “I’ve talked to more doctors [who tell me that] by all appearances, she has a major, major health issue.” From the August 9, 2016, edition of Premiere Radio Networks’ The Sean Hannity Show:

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): Now, she hasn't had a press conference, maybe because of health issues. I don't know if you watched the Fox medical A-team last night analyzing all these issues involving Clinton's health. I've talked to more doctors that have gotten in contact with me and tell me, you know, by all appearances, she has a major, major health issue. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 8/9/16]

    Hannity: “One doctor friend of mine was really convinced she had a stroke,” and “a mini-stroke or a TIA may not show up the same way on an MRI.” From the August 9, 2016, edition of Premiere Radio Networks’ The Sean Hannity Show:

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): We had our Fox medical A-team on last night and I got to tell you, they're saying we really need to see the real records. We need to see her Wall Street speeches where she got $250 grand from all the big insurance companies, all the big banks, all the people that are buying her influence. Let's see the speeches and let's see the medical records. She keeps talking about Donald Trump's tax returns; let's talk about that.


    You know the one thing that one doctor friend of mine was really convinced she had a stroke. And that some of her reactions are indicative that that’s coming from the part of the brain where some damage happened. Now as I understand it, a mini-stroke or a TIA may not show up the same way on an MRI. I remember my brother-in-law, a radiologist, would literally -- he was at home, and they'd send him pictures -- we'd be at family dinners and he would have to go in and look at pictures, and he'd say, "See this is where the stroke took place, right here." And I'd say, "What does it means for this person?" And with perfect pinpoint accuracy and detail, he would describe what impact it would have on that portion of the brain in terms of the people's function.


    So, I don’t think it’s unfair to ask for her medical records. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 8/9/16]

    Hannity: “Is it possible she had a stroke, or do you really believe it was a head injury, traumatic brain injury?” From the August 9, 2016, edition of Fox News’ Hannity:

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): Should Hillary have to reveal her medical condition as well as give us maybe those Wall Street speeches and big bank speeches? And joining us now with reaction is board-certified neurologist and headache specialist Dr. Daniel Kassicieh and from the Fox News Medical A-team is Dr. Mark Seigel. Dr. Siegel, good to see you again.

    All right, Daniel, let me start with you. Doctor, let me ask you, what do you see in her condition and some of these images where she keeps getting flustered or the coughing fits or you hear about the blood clots. What is your interpretation?

    HANNITY: Is it possible she had a stroke, or do you really believe it was a head injury, traumatic brain injury?

    HANNITY: What about some of the weird pauses she has, the coughing fits she has? There are moments when I'm literally watching her and I'm thinking, OK, the facial expressions are odd. They seem off.

    HANNITY: Could that be impacted by a stroke or a TIA? [Fox News, Hannity, 8/9/16]

    Breitbart: “Physician: Mainstream Media ‘Strangely Silent’ About Hillary Clinton’s Health” On August 10, Breitbart’s Dr. Susan Berry wrote, “The executive director of a physicians’ organization questions how the mainstream media can ignore signs of what could be a traumatic brain injury in the Democrat nominee for president.” She added that Dr. Jane “Orient explains that serious concussions can often cause traumatic brain injury that is not always detected on standard medical tests such as a CT or MRI.” [Breitbart, 8/10/16]

    Hannity: “Hillary had another mental brain fart,” and they are “happening a lot lately.” From the August 10, 2016, edition of Premiere Radio Networks’ The Sean Hannity Show:

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): It’s been the lead most of the day on the Drudge Report, actually fairly interesting story, I don’t think it’s going to impact the election a whole lot, but this whole comment of Julian Assange, actually raising questions about why this DNC staffer died and other things as well. So, we’ll get to all of that.

    Now, before we get to that -- all right, so, Hillary had another mental brain fart, hiccup, whatever you want to call it today. And these seem to be happening with more and more -- I don’t know, just happened more and more frequently. Listen to this one.

    Happening a lot lately, between that and coughing fits. So, I’m just thinking -- now what -- if I were to imagine what was actually going through Hillary’s mind at that moment, this would probably be what we would hear. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 8/10/16]

    Hannity: Clinton’s reaction to a question from a reporter was “seizure-esque.” From the August 10, 2016, edition of Fox News’ Hannity

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): What’s your take?

    FIONA GATA: It's just so hard to speculate based on snippets of the clips that, you know, what is going on without having a full examination and workup.

    HANNITY: Look at this video right here -- watch her reaction. Because it’s -- I'm not -- it almost seems seizure-esque to me. Is that?

    GATA: I mean, there are types of seizures, like focal seizures, that sometimes can cause just one body part, but it would be very rare. I mean, typically seizures will generalize, so I can't say that's a seizure. It could be distress.

    HANNITY: Are there many seizures like that, Dr. Siegel?

    MARC SIEGEL: Well I’m not a neurologist, and I don't think that that necessarily looks like a seizure, but I will say this --

    HANNITY: Let's rerack that. What do you think this is?

    SIEGEL: I’ll tell you what I think it is. I think that we've seen enough there, especially in someone who has a long medical history and who's approaching 70 years old, for me to be able to say here that both of our candidates need to release their medical information. Sean, the whole idea --

    HANNITY: This looks like violent, out-of-control movements on her part.

    SIEGEL: And it could be, and I say could be, related to previous head trauma she had. It's possible. That's why I need to see the records. That's why a neurologist needs to come forward and give a press conference and say this is what is going on with her. She may very well be completely fit, but we want to know. [Fox News, Hannity, 8/10/16]

    Breitbart: “Bizarre Behavior, Seizure Allegations Raise Doubts About Hillary Clinton’s Health.” On August 11, 2016, Breitbart linked to the conspiratorial website Zero Hedge’s claim that “as the presidential campaign enters its final stages, probing questions have emerged about the health condition of Hillary Clinton.” [Breitbart, 8/11/16]

    Breitbart: “Hated Pharma Exec Martin Shkreli: ‘I Believe Hillary Clinton Has Parkinson’s Disease.’” In an August 11, 2016, piece, Breitbart’s Charlie Nash promoted Martin Shkreli’s claim that Hillary Clinton may have “early onset Parkinson’s disease,” and linked to a Periscope livestream video in which Shkreli speculated on the status of Clinton’s physical health. [Breitbart, 8/11/16]

    Hannity: “What’s wrong with her? … Was there a neurological event of some kind?” From the August 11, 2016, edition of Premiere Radio Networks’ The Sean Hannity Show:

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): So, all of these questions are now coming up about Hillary Clinton, what happened when she was having these blood clots, the many times she’s falling. She seemed to go into, like, a mini-seizure the other day, when answering a reporter’s question. We showed you the video last night -- it’s very bizarre.

    And the fact that she continues to have these coughing fits, now ... and it goes on forever. These are not just like -- “OK, I need a second, let me get my breath.” This goes on forever.

    So, the question is -- OK, what’s wrong with her? What -- what actually happened? Was there a neurological event of some kind? What is causing all of this? Do the American people have a right to know her health issues before she were ever to be elected president of the United States?

    What do you think of the issues involving the falls, the blood clot, the many instances where she’s -- appears to be propped up by other people?

    Have you seen the video where she kind of is twitching and twitching and twitching? [Premiere Radio Network, The Sean Hannity Show, 8/11/16]

    Hannity: "What do you make of this twitching thing that she keeps doing? … Is that video we're showing a seizure, maybe?" From the August 11, 2016, edition of Fox News’ Hannity:

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): Dr. Carson, I'll show you the different examples. She's falling, you've got this sort of twitching thing that she does in front of reporters that was really bad. There's been a number of incidents and reports that she fell, and then she had this really long incident where she was out of commission for quite a while, recovering, her husband said. She's on anticoagulants. Number one, do we have a right to know? And, number two, what do you make of this twitching thing that she keeps doing? I'll run it again.

    BEN CARSON: Well, you know --

    HANNITY: Why are you laughing? You're the brain surgeon here. I'm just a humble little host.

    CARSON: It just looks funny. You know, certainly as a person gets older, you know, the number of medical conditions that we have to watch for increases, which is one of the reasons that we strongly suggest, as you get older, that you have at least a annual examination. If you're going into a very important position like this, it's critical.


    HANNITY:  Let me go back to this video, Dr. Siegel, that's on the screen now. We'll put it up again. I mean, it's a violent, violent, repetitive jerking of the head here. Now, you know -- you can see it's uncontrollable, watch the reporter, like, pull back as she -- the reporter got scared, and she keeps doing it. What is that?


    HANNITY: Is that video we're showing a seizure, maybe?

    DR. DAVID SAMADI: Well, it certainly could be --

    HANNITY: Watch it right here. Let's just -- watch it closely here, watch the reporter back, right there -- the -- you see the -- look, and it goes on and on and on. That is, to me, bizarre.

    SAMADI: There is certainly some neurologic issue going on, depending on when this tape was taken.


    HANNITY: Let me show one of the brain freezes so I can --


    HANNITY: I don't think we're getting the Wall Street speeches, the speeches, copies of the speeches that she gave to big investors and insurance companies, and I don't think we're getting this either. I think she's going to keep it undercover, which is probably by design. [Fox News, Hannity, 8/11/16]

  • A Fox host bragged that foreign leaders are following Trump in complaining about "fake news." Despotic regimes are using the term to whitewash atrocities.

    Dagen McDowell: The idea of fake news is "one of the reasons" Trump was elected and now "you see it everywhere, even in other countries"

    Blog ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Fox Business guest host Dagen McDowell gloated about how “other countries” have adopted President Donald Trump’s favorite slur to describe the free press, “fake news.” But McDowell’s praise for Trump and her conclusion that the phrase was “one of the reasons that President Trump was so popular on the campaign trail” gloss over the reality that despotic and repressive regimes have used Trump’s words to dismiss atrocities they have carried out around the world. Autocratic regimes in Cameroon, Libya, Myanmar, Syria, and Turkey, for example, have employed the phrase to reject questions about their human rights abuses, while others have followed Trump’s lead and used the phrase to disparage the independent media in their respective countries.

    From the January 3 edition of Fox Business’ Mornings with Maria Bartiromo:

    DAGEN MCDOWELL (GUEST HOST): It's interesting, even in popular culture, in our vernacular now, the whole idea of fake news. You hear it repeated on scripted television shows, on reality shows, you just see it everywhere, even in other countries. And James, that's, quite frankly, one of the reasons that President Trump was so popular on the campaign trail and that he won, quite frankly, is because he was kind of stating the obvious.

  • Fox & Friends barely covers Michael Flynn’s first sentencing hearing

    Flynn’s admission that he was not entrapped by FBI investigators annihilated a popular right-wing talking point

    Blog ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan tore into President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn in a Washington, D.C., courtroom on December 18 and all but destroyed nearly a week’s worth of right-wing talking points in the process, but viewers wouldn’t know it from watching Fox & Friends. According to a Media Matters review of the December 19 edition of Fox & Friends, Fox News’ flagship morning program only briefly mentioned Flynn’s sentencing hearing to attack the judge in the case during three hours of programming.

    A popular right-wing talking point pushed extensively on Fox News has argued that Flynn was entrapped by the FBI when they questioned him in January 2017, and that the actions for which he was in legal trouble were minor and overblown. But according to a CNN report on the sentencing hearing, “the judge threw a series of questions at him that highlighted how unusual Flynn's case is and how consequential his actions may be.” Later in the hearing, according to ABC News, Sullivan asked “if Flynn believed he had been entrapped by the FBI,” but “his attorneys replied ‘no your honor.’” Though Sullivan eventually decided to postpone the sentencing hearing, he did so only after shredding Flynn’s defense and mulling the prospect of ignoring the prosecution’s sentencing suggestion that Flynn receive no jail time as a result of his cooperation.

    A Media Matters review found Fox & Friends covered Flynn’s devastating first sentencing hearing, which thoroughly debunked their main talking point, for less than five minutes in its three hour program. Aside from a brief mention of the sentencing hearing during an interview with counselor to the president, Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s favorite morning propaganda program only discussed Flynn in one segment with Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich; in each discussion, which lasted a combined 4 minutes and 35 seconds, the hosts and guests used their platform to downplay the severity of Flynn’s guilty pleas and to attack Sullivan -- the same judge that Trump’s propagandists praised just days earlier. Most of the discussion focused on attacking the judge, saying Sullivan went “off the deep end” and accusing him of “winging it.”

    Fox & Friends has dutifully played its public relations role for the Trump White House for nearly two years, and it continues fighting that losing battle even in the face of Flynn’s sentencing hearing -- just like it has with nearly every other damning report about the conduct of the Trump campaign, transition, and administration.

  • Trump's tweets directly repeated Hannity's talking points


    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”


    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.