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Nick Fernandez

Author ››› Nick Fernandez
  • Like clockwork, right-wing media exploit DOJ IG report to call for special counsel Mueller’s removal

    The report had nothing to do with the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe

    Blog ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Less than 24 hours after the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) inspector general (IG) released a long-awaited report on the department’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, President Donald Trump’s allies in the media are already using the report to call for special counsel Robert Mueller’s removal. The IG report clearly states that its investigation “found no evidence that the conclusions by department prosecutors were affected by bias or other improper considerations”; and yet, the president’s sycophants in right-wing media are spinning the report to claim that “anything that Mueller is doing” in his probe of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia “is tainted” by the IG’s findings.

    On June 14, DOJ IG Michael Horowitz released a report on the DOJ’s actions during the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server. According to the report, the IG found, among other things, that former FBI Director James Comey was “insubordinate” in his handling of the case; that he violated department policy by publicly discussing the investigation; and that two FBI officials, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, exchanged disparaging texts about Trump, with one text from Strzok reading, “We’ll stop” Trump from becoming president. While Horowitz severely criticized Comey, Strzok, and Page for their conduct, the inspector general concluded that there was “no evidence that the conclusions by department prosecutors were affected by bias or other improper considerations; rather, [the IG] concluded that they were based on the prosecutors’ assessment of the facts, the law, and past Department practice.”

    Even though the IG report focused only on the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email server and had nothing to do with the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia, and even though it found that there was no evidence of bias in the FBI determination, the president’s defenders on Fox News and in conservative media are still twisting themselves into knots to try to use the IG report as a reason to call for Mueller’s removal. On the June 14 edition of Hannity, a panel of four of Trump’s staunchest defenders shouted about how the report “taint[s] the entire Mueller investigation”:

    And the following morning on the June 15 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade argued that the Mueller investigation is “contaminated” by the IG’s findings:

    The reaction from Trump’s sycophants in conservative media is unsurprising, considering that they preemptively laid the groundwork to discredit the IG’s report. But, even as conservative media continue their convoluted and disingenuous calls for Mueller’s removal, the special counsel’s investigation continues, racking up numerous indictments, one of which resulted in Trump’s former campaign manager having his bail revoked, landing him in federal prison until his trial.

  • Trump’s favorite Fox News propagandists are avoiding reports about Paul Manafort’s legal troubles

    Fox & Friends, Hannity, and Justice with Judge Jeanine have steered clear of reporting on Paul Manafort’s legal exposure, but they spent significant time on a judge’s strong words for the special counsel's team

    Blog ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Update:

    On June 14, a federal judge revoked Manafort's bail for allegedly tampering with witnesses, landing him in federal prison until his trial.


    President Donald Trump’s favorite Fox News shows are all but ignoring the cascade of damning reports regarding former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his legal troubles. Since May 2017, special counsel Robert Mueller has been scrutinizing various relationships between the Trump campaign and Russian nationals closely tied to Russian President Vladimir Putin, appearing to focus closely on Manafort’s business history and associates. As the legal pressure ramps up against Manafort, the president’s propagandists at Fox News have sought to distance Manafort from Trump and, through selective reporting on Manafort’s legal troubles, discredit the probe against Trump’s former campaign manager.

    Since the beginning of 2018, Manafort’s legal exposure has grabbed mainstream media attention, but the topic has not managed to break through on Trump’s favorite Fox News programs. Media Matters reviewed transcripts and video of the first editions of Fox & Friends, Hannity, and Justice with Judge Jeanine after significant reports surfaced about new developments regarding the investigations into Manafort this year. We found little to no coverage of notable turns in the multiple high-profile legal cases against Trump’s former campaign manager. But we did find extensive coverage of the strong words a judge had for the special counsel’s team.

    Fox & Friends, Hannity, and Justice with Judge Jeanine all but ignored major turns in legal cases against Manafort

    Manafort sues Department of Justice, alleging special counsel exceeded mandate

    On January 3, NPR reported that Manafort was suing the Department of Justice, alleging that “Mueller's team has ‘diverged’ from its stated focus on potential collusion with the Russians who attacked the 2016 election and instead zeroed in on Manafort for ‘unrelated, decade-old business dealings’ in Ukraine.” According to a Media Matters review, Fox & Friends, Hannity, and Justice with Judge Jeanine did not cover the development.

    Company tied to former Manafort business associate and Russian oligarch sues Manafort and business partner

    On January 10, according to NBC News, “a company controlled and funded by” Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, a crony of Russian President Vladimir Putin and one-time business associate of Manafort’s, sued Manafort and his business associate Rick Gates for allegedly “bilk[ing] his company by taking $1.1 million in capital and paying it to themselves.” According to a Media Matters review, Fox & Friends, Hannity, and Justice with Judge Jeanine did not cover the lawsuit.

    Special counsel tells judge investigation has revealed “additional criminal conduct” by Manafort

    On February 16, according to Politico, the special counsel’s office submitted a court filing informing a federal judge of “additional criminal conduct that [the office has] learned since the Court’s initial bail determination” on Manafort’s federal case that “includes a series of bank frauds and bank fraud conspiracies.” According to a Media Matters review, Fox & Friends, Hannity, and Justice with Judge Jeanine did not cover the court filing specifically. Though a guest on Fox & Friends, George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, briefly mentioned general “charges” against Paul Manafort, he downplayed them as “unrelated to the campaign.”

    Former Trump aide Richard Gates will “plead guilty” and has agreed to “testify against Manafort”

    On February 18, the Los Angeles Times reported that Gates, who is also a former Trump campaign aide, would “plead guilty to fraud-related charges within days” and that he “made clear to prosecutors that he would testify against Paul Manafort.” While the Times report was unverified by other media outlets at the time, according to a Media Matters review, Hannity and Justice with Judge Jeanine did not cover the report. Fox & Friends briefly mentioned it but added that Catherine Herridge, Fox News’ chief intelligence correspondent, “says, as of now, no deal, and Gates is not cooperating.” Five days later, The New York Times confirmed that Gates would plead guilty “to financial fraud and lying to investigators” and “has agreed to cooperate with the special counsel inquiry.” According to a Media Matters review, Hannity and Justice with Judge Jeanine did not cover the development. Fox & Friends all but ignored the report other than airing a 15-second teaser from co-host Brian Kilmeade (who did not identify how Gates is tied to the Trump campaign) and a softball question from co-host Steve Doocy during an interview with former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus. Priebus also attempted to downplay the significance of the report, claiming Gates’ and Manafort’s conduct was “independent of the Trump campaign.”

    Dutch lawyer tied to Manafort business partner sentenced to 30 days in federal prison for pleading guilty to lying to federal investigators

    On April 3, according to CNN, Alex van der Zwaan, a “Dutch lawyer tied to former Trump deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates,” was “sentenced … to spend 30 days in prison and pay a $20,000 fine after he admitted to lying to” the special counsel regarding his “communications with Gates and a person with Russian intelligence ties.” According to a Media Matters review, Hannity briefly mentioned the sentencing, downplaying it as having “nothing to do with Russia collusion,” and saying, “In reality, it looks like a giant waste of your money.” Justice with Judge Jeanine did not cover the sentencing, which was the first in the special counsel’s investigation. Fox & Friends twice mentioned the development in passing while attempting to downplay its significance, once saying the sentencing is “unrelated” to Trump and Russia.

    Special counsel obtains seven new search warrants against Manafort

    On April 5, CBS News reported that prosecutors on the special counsel’s team “revealed in court filings ... that they had obtained on March 9 seven new search warrants against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort” for “various properties” including “a storage unit, bank accounts, email addresses and devices.” According to a Media Matters review, Fox & Friends, Hannity, and Justice with Judge Jeanine did not cover the report.

    Federal judge rejects attempt to get Manafort case dismissed

    On May 15, according to Politico, a federal judge “rejected an attempt by Paul Manafort … to get an indictment against him dismissed by claiming that special counsel Robert Mueller’s appointment was flawed.” The judge wrote that “given the combination of his prominence within the campaign and his ties to Ukrainian officials supported by and operating out of Russia, as well as to Russian oligarchs, Manafort was an obvious person of interest” for U.S. law enforcement. According to a Media Matters review, Fox & Friends, Hannity, and Justice with Judge Jeanine did not cover the judge’s decision.

    Manafort’s former son-in-law cuts plea deal, will testify against Manafort

    On May 17, Reuters reported that Manafort’s former son-in-law and “business partner” Jeffrey Yohai “cut a plea deal with the Justice Department” requiring him “to cooperate” with the special counsel’s prosecutors. According to a Media Matters review, Fox & Friends, Hannity, and Justice with Judge Jeanine did not cover the report.

    Special counsel accuses Manafort of attempting to tamper with witnesses

    On June 4, according to The New York Times, “federal prosecutors ... accused President Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, of attempting to tamper with witnesses in his federal tax and money laundering case,” with one witness telling the FBI “that Mr. Manafort was trying to ‘suborn perjury.’” Yet again, according to a Media Matters review, Fox & Friends, Hannity, and Justice with Judge Jeanine did not cover the court filing, even though the charges leveled against Trump’s former campaign manager can mean up to 20 years in federal prison if he is found guilty.

    Special counsel unseals additional charges against Manafort, Russian business associate

    On June 8, according to NPR, the special counsel’s office “unsealed more charges” against Manafort, alleging “that a Russian partner of Manafort's, Konstantin Kilimnik, helped him try to persuade witnesses to lie to the jury when Manafort's case comes to trial in Washington, D.C., this autumn.” According to a Media Matters review, Fox & Friends, Hannity, and Justice with Judge Jeanine did not cover the additional round of charges against the president’s former campaign manager.

    But Fox & Friends, Hannity, and Justice with Judge Jeanine all covered a judge’s sharp questioning of the special counsel’s motivations extensively

    On May 4, according to The Washington Post, “a federal judge in Virginia ... sharply questioned the motivations of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s fraud prosecution of President Trump’s former campaign manager.” According to the report, Judge T.S. Ellis III told prosecutors on Mueller’s team, “You don’t really care about Mr. Manafort’s bank fraud. … You really care about getting information Mr. Manafort can give you that would reflect on Mr. Trump and lead to his prosecution or impeachment.” According to a Media Matters review, Fox & Friends, Hannity, and Justice with Judge Jeanine all covered the judge’s rebuke of the Mueller team extensively.

    On the May 4 edition of Hannity, host Sean Hannity spent a total of 14 minutes and 46 seconds discussing Judge Ellis’ comments, calling his remarks the “single biggest beatdown I have ever seen in my life by a judge.” The nearly 15 minutes Hannity devoted to Ellis’ comments were significantly more than the time he spent covering any development in the various cases against Manafort in 2018 combined, which totaled about 1 minute and 57 seconds.

    On the May 5 edition of Justice with Judge Jeanine, host Jeanine Pirro spent a total of 15 minutes and 27 seconds discussing Judge Ellis’ remarks. In contrast, Pirro did not mention any of the other stories regarding Manafort's legal troubles in 2018.

    On the May 7 edition of Fox & Friends, the hosts devoted 11 minutes and 5 seconds to Judge Ellis’ comments over three hours of airtime. Fox & Friends spent a total of 2 minutes and 43 seconds on the other turns in the various cases against Manafort, and during those reports the hosts usually downplayed the events as “unrelated” to Russia or “independent from the Trump campaign.”

    As Fox buries reports on Manafort, majority of Americans are unaware of numerous special counsel indictments

    Given Manafort’s past and the people he has been willing to associate with professionally, it is no wonder Fox News’ chief Trump propagandists have attempted to distance the president from him. According to The Atlantic’s Franklin Foer, Manafort’s career was built on lobbying on behalf of “dictatorial governments in Nigeria, Kenya, Zaire, Equatorial Guinea, Saudi Arabia, and Somalia, among others.” Manafort’s experience representing repressive regimes eventually landed him a job in Ukraine, assisting the “former gangsters,” as Foer wrote, in the Party of Regions in improving their image domestically, eventually guiding pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovych to presidential victory in 2010.

    Fox News’ efforts to bury Manafort’s legal exposure seem to be having an impact. According to a recent survey conducted by Navigator Research, 59 percent of Americans are not aware that the special counsel’s investigation has uncovered any crimes, even though Mueller has amassed five guilty pleas and numerous indictments. Should the special counsel’s investigation turn up evidence that supports allegations of a criminal conspiracy between members of the Trump campaign and foreign actors, Manafort would surely be implicated as a key player.

    Suppressing reports regarding (arguably) the most corrupt member of Trump’s campaign team -- and following Fox’s usual playbook of downplaying and ignoring other consequential reporting on the special counsel’s investigation -- appears to be part of the network’s larger strategy to pre-emptively downplay any possible findings that could implicate the president and his campaign.

  • Fox News and Trump are trying to discredit the DOJ's IG report about the Clinton email investigation

    Blog ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Fox News is laying the groundwork to discredit a Department of Justice (DOJ) inspector general’s report regarding the department’s handling of the 2016 investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server.

    According to a leaked portion of the report, first reported on June 6 by ABC News, the DOJ inspector general “concluded that James Comey defied authority at times during his tenure as FBI director” by “ignoring objections from the Justice Department when he disclosed in a letter to Congress just days before the 2016 presidential election that FBI agents had reopened the Clinton probe.” Political analysts and polls point to Comey’s decision to inform Congress of the reopening of the Clinton email investigation as a critical episode in Trump’s eventual victory.

    Early this week, a number of Fox hosts -- including the Fox & Friends hosts, Sean Hannity, and Lou Dobbs, all of whom also act as unofficial Trump advisers -- suggested that the report, which has yet to be fully released, is beset by corruption. On June 5, the president chimed in, saying that he hoped the report wasn’t being “changed and made weaker.” Since Trump’s tweet, Fox News has continued attempting to discredit the review by baselessly asserting that it’s being “scrubbed” by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (who was appointed by Trump himself), even after having hyped the report for months. In fact, Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano (who is known to spread baseless conspiracy theories) repeated Trump’s sentiment regarding the inspector general report when he took to the president’s favorite morning show on June 7 to push an unsubstantiated claim that the DOJ report “might not be a truthful document.”

    From the June 7 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

    STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): OK, so the leaks were -- because this is circulating, where people can essentially make a rebuttal and try to get them fix it.

    ANDREW NAPOLITANO (FOX NEWS SENIOR JUDICIAL ANALYST): Yes.

    DOOCY: Joe diGenova was on our air in the last 24 hours, and he said that he thinks that Rod Rosenstein, who’s the number two guy at the DOJ, might be actually scrubbing this report to try to get all the bad stuff out of it.

    NAPOLITANO: If Joe is correct -- and I have great respect for him -- if Joe is correct, this is an outrage and it is a neutering of a very highly respected inspector general who was appointed by George W. Bush and by Barack Obama.

    BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): So, judge, here’s the thing: You can do whatever you want to the report. But when you put him, the inspector general, in front of Congress, any committee, he’s going to answer about his conclusions. Not what's been scrubbed, correct?

    NAPOLITANO: Well, I don't know, Brian. If he gives -- that's fascinating. Because, if he gives a different version under oath than he gave in writing, then the scrubbing is going to become the issue. Wait a minute, you found this about Jim Comey? You’re telling us about it now but you didn't put it in the report?

    DOOCY: Why’d you change it?

    NAPOLITANO: Was it in the report and did you take it out? And if you took it out, did somebody tell you to take it out? Now we have another compounded error here.

    KILMEADE: Because [DOJ Inspector General Michael] Horowitz is not compromised -- he’s the inspector general.

    NAPOLITANO: I don’t know where this is going to go. I'm glad we have these leaks -- some leaks are good leaks -- but I’m glad we have these leaks, because the public needs to know that this might not be a truthful document.

  • Fox & Friends ignores report that Trump pressured Sessions multiple times to "reclaim control of the Russia investigation"

    Blog ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    President Donald Trump’s favorite morning cable program, Fox & Friends, is continuing its longstanding model of ignoring important reporting on potential legal troubles for the Trump administration. On June 1, the  show chose not to cover a new report from Axios that the president “pressured Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reclaim control of the Russia investigation on at least four separate occasions.”

    On May 31, Axios’ Jonathan Swan reported that in “multiple conversations” with the attorney general, Trump “pressured” Sessions “to reclaim control of the Russia investigation” into possible coordination between the country and the Trump campaign. According to Swan, “The sustained pressure made several officials uncomfortable, because they viewed it as improper and worry that it could be politically and legally problematic.” The New York Times had reported two days earlier about one of those conversations, and the piece noted that special counsel Robert Mueller regarded Sessions as “a key witness in the investigation into whether Mr. Trump tried to obstruct the inquiry itself.”

    Indeed, multiple political and legal analysts have suggested that such a request would be further evidence of the president attempting to obstruct justice.

    But Trump’s favorite morning cable news program, Fox & Friends, has all but ignored the news. A Media Matters review found that on the morning of June 1, Fox & Friends did not mention Sessions or Trump’s multiple requests that he “unrecuse” himself from the investigation, which follows the show’s transparent and well-documented trend of all but ignoring negative reporting regarding the Trump administration.

  • Fox & Friends is scandalizing the counterintelligence investigations of people Trump chose to hire

    Blog ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Fox News’ flagship morning show, Fox & Friends, is attempting to scandalize recent reports that a confidential informant for the FBI made contact with at least two of President Donald Trump’s campaign advisers as part of an ongoing counterintelligence investigation of Russian links to his 2016 campaign. As Fox & Friends continues to express shock and dismay over the so-called “surveillance of the Trump campaign by the Obama administration” throughout the presidential race, The New York Times noted that the FBI chose to dispatch a confidential informant “to talk to two campaign advisers only after they received evidence that the pair had suspicious contacts linked to Russia during the campaign,” which intelligence experts have deemed to be standard operating procedure for a counterintelligence investigation.

    In an almost breathless attempt to scandalize the U.S. intelligence community’s efforts to thwart a possible Russian infiltration of a major political party’s presidential campaign, Fox & Friends has tried to cast the counterintelligence efforts during the 2016 campaign in a political light, referring to the investigation as “surveillance of the Trump campaign by the Obama administration.” Following in lockstep with other right-wing attempts , Fox News contributor Mollie Hemingway complained while appearing on the show that “the Obama administration behaved in a really reckless fashion” when the FBI dispatched a confidential informant. From the May 23 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

    Hemingway went on to say that such action should be taken only with “really good cause” and that “we’re not seeing any evidence that there was good cause or anything approaching it.” Moreover, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy objected to the FBI’s actions, saying, “If somebody was going to put a spy into a president's campaign, it would be the Russians, right? It would be the Russians putting somebody in, not our own FBI.”

    Except Hemingway and Doocy failed to mention that the FBI did indeed have “good cause” to be concerned about two Trump campaign advisers, George Papadopoulos and Carter Page, and their ongoing “suspicious contacts linked to Russia during the campaign.” As The Washington Post noted, one reason the FBI may have been interested in Page’s position on the Trump campaign in 2016 was because, in 2013, Page “came to the attention of FBI counterintelligence agents, who learned that Russian spy suspects had sought to use Page as a source for information”:

    Three years before Page became an adviser to the Trump campaign, he came to the attention of FBI counterintelligence agents, who learned that Russian spy suspects had sought to use Page as a source for information.

    In that case, one of the Russian suspects, Victor Podobnyy — who was posing as a diplomat and was later charged by federal prosecutors with acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign government — was captured on tape in 2013 discussing an effort to get information and documents from Page. …

    In one secretly recorded conversation, detailed in the complaint, Podobnyy said Page “wrote that he is sorry, he went to Moscow and forgot to check his inbox, but he wants to meet when he gets back. I think he is an idiot and forgot who I am. Plus he writes to me in Russian [to] practice the language. He flies to Moscow more often than I do. He got hooked on Gazprom thinking that if they have a project, he could rise up. Maybe he can. I don’t know, but it’s obvious that he wants to earn lots of money.’’

    Moreover, according to The New York Times, “F.B.I. officials concluded they had the legal authority to open the investigation after receiving information that Mr. Papadopoulos was told that Moscow had compromising information on Mrs. Clinton in the form of ‘thousands of emails,’ months before WikiLeaks released stolen messages from Democratic officials. As part of the operation, code-named Crossfire Hurricane, the F.B.I. also began investigating Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and his future national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn.” As independent national security journalist Marcy Wheeler noted, “At the core of this entire conspiracy theory … is the GOP fantasy that the FBI had no business trying to chase down why Papadopoulos knew of the theft [of emails] before the DNC itself did.” She also tweeted:

    While Fox & Friends attempts to scandalize what appears to be a typical counterintelligence probe into possible infiltration of a presidential campaign by a hostile intelligence service, experts such as John Sipher, a career CIA official with 28 years of experience running the CIA’s Russia operations, explained that Trump “and his allies have presented absolutely no credible evidence to support their theory that the FBI and other entities in the intelligence community did anything wrong in the course of conducting a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign.” In fact, Sipher writes, the president and his enablers in the media are doing lasting damage to how American intelligence agencies do their job:

    These actions will [do] damage to the United States’s ability to collect secret intelligence, protect itself from foreign spies and work with foreign partners—they break the trust necessary for intelligence officers and diplomats to do their work. Who would want to talk to the United States after this? If the leaders of the United States don’t trust their own law enforcement and intelligence agencies, why should anyone else?

    The damage from this way of doing business will be broad, and we should add to that list the serious damage to our intelligence process. We may never know what sources will not confide in U.S. intelligence officers due to this contrived faux-scandal. Foreign policy is about credibility, and the United States is throwing its away.

  • After years of opposition, Fox & Friends admits the Iran nuclear deal is working

    Steve Doocy: “If the deal went away, not only would the United States have to worry about the aggression from Iran in the region over there, but then they’d have to worry about the nuke problem as well”

    Blog ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Fox & Friends hosts Brian Kilmeade and Steve Doocy admitted that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran nuclear deal, has been effective in curbing Iran’s nuclear weapons program. For years, Fox & Friends has railed against the nuclear deal, provided a platform for hardliners to attack the accord, and misinformed viewers about the deal’s terms.

    But, in the lead up to President Trump’s possible withdrawal from the deal, Doocy, co-host of the president’s favorite television program Fox & Friends, said, “If the deal went away, not only would the United States have to worry about the aggression from Iran in the region over there, but then they’d have to worry about the nuke problem as well.” And Kilmeade noted that “at least they’re not spinning centrifuges. There is no proof that they’re building up a nuclear arsenal.” The admissions effectively acknowledge that the inspections regime that is a core part of the deal is in fact working, a position that has been held by proponents of the deal since its inception.

    From the May 8 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

    BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): You have the European allies saying just exactly what Mollie Hemingway is saying, we don’t love the deal either, but my goodness, at least they’re not spinning centrifuges. There is no proof that they’re building up a nuclear arsenal. You want to leave it and try to make it better.

    There is another way forward, and I don't think that it would really anger any of the president's base, and that is, look, the European allies came here, the president wants to show he’s listening. “You guys want 60 days. You know my problems with it, I made it clear to you, go improve this deal in 60 days. If it's not done, if you can't get the Iranians to buy, then, in turn” -- by the way the Iranian's complaint about us is we have not opened up our markets and pushed our banks to invest there and we have also told others not to do that, fine. So, let's say we pull back and allow the investment if, of course, they get rid of the ballistic missiles and they do some type of reduction in terror activities. Give them 60 days. Let’s call their bluff.

    [...]

    STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): If the deal went away, not only would the United States have to worry about the aggression from Iran in the region over there, but then they’d have to worry about the nuke problem as well. Don't be surprised if the president pulls out at two o’clock this afternoon. But, then again, don't be surprised if he does exactly what he did with DACA.

    [...]

    KILMEADE: So you like that idea? Give them 60 days?

    DOOCY: Listen, I think that Donald Trump doesn't want to appear as just a guy who goes out and blows things up.

    KILMEADE: Like the Paris deal.

    DOOCY: He wants to go ahead and he wants to appear to be a negotiator. He will negotiate with Europe. He will negotiate with our Congress, and then he says, “look, I gave them six months, three months, whatever. They didn't do it. We're gone.” That way he could still appeal to his base. I tried to fix it, I gave them a chance. It didn't work out.

  • The right-wing media figures defending Sean Hannity’s relationship with Michael Cohen

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ & BOBBY LEWIS

    Right-wing media figures are jumping to defend Fox News host Sean Hannity after it was revealed that Hannity has been a client of longtime lawyer to President Donald Trump, Michael Cohen. Hannity’s defenders are suggesting that he has “been victimized” by the revelation of his name, claiming that he “wasn’t engaging” Cohen “as a lawyer,” and even arguing that Hannity possibly “did not know he was a client of Michael Cohen."

  • Fox’s Steve Doocy uncritically pushes Russian smear about Syrian first responders

    Other pro-Trump and right-wing media figures have suggested the alleged chemical attack was a “false flag”

    Blog ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    During the coverage of possible American strikes against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy uncritically pushed a Russian-backed smear against an organization of first responders on the ground in Syria called the Syria Civil Defence, also known as the White Helmets. While discussing the potential American response to the April 7 apparent chemical attack outside Damascus, Doocy said, “Some of it could be Russian propaganda, but I was reading this morning in Newsweek … that apparently this group called the White Helmets, … there are stories that they staged bodies to make it look like there was a gas attack.” From the April 12 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

    STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): There are these stories out there, and you've got to figure some of it could be Russian propaganda, but I was reading this morning in Newsweek, online because there is no print edition anymore, that apparently this group called the White Helmets, which used to be the Syrian defense organization, there are stories that they staged bodies to make it look like there was a gas attack. Meanwhile, you've got Russian media saying, "We sent investigators in, our military did, and they could not find any traces of any toxins or gas on any of the bodies."

    Doocy's co-hosts Brian Kilmeade and Ainsley Earhardt pushed back on Doocy’s comment, with Kilmeade saying, “Unbelievable, they really expect us to buy that?” What Doocy inadequately stipulated “could be Russian propaganda,” is, in fact, Russian propaganda. As it has been well-documented, the White Helmets have been “the target of an extraordinary disinformation campaign” that is “propagated online by a network of anti-imperialist activists, conspiracy theorists and trolls with the support of the Russian government (which provides military support to the Syrian regime).” According to Wired, the “smear campaign” against the first responders is “designed to bolster the regime of Syrian president Bashar Assad and undermine its opponents, including the United States.”

    Doocy’s uncritical parroting of a smear against the Syrian first responders comes as numerous pro-Trump and right-wing media figures, such as Tucker Carlson, Alex Jones, Michael Savage, and other conspiracy theorists have suggested the April 7 chemical attack was a “false flag.”

  • Fox & Friends is banging the drum for another special counsel

    Fox’s Jason Chaffetz: “The real investigation should be into the investigators”

    Blog ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    In three separate segments today, Fox & Friends suggested the appointment of a “second special counsel to look into” the Department of Justice’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation and “into the investigators” on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team. Former congressman and current Fox News contributor Jason Chaffetz appeared on Fox & Friends, the president’s favorite cable news program, alongside Fox’s Pete Hegseth to push for an investigation of the Department of Justice employing “a special prosecutor and the IG at the same,” something the president’s legal team has endorsed.

    Chaffetz’s call for a second special counsel followed two other segments in which the hosts hyped the possibility of an appointment of a second special counsel as “a debate being had right now.” Trump’s attorney general has so far resisted similar calls from Republican lawmakers. From the March 29 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

    PETE HEGSETH (CO-HOST): I know you have called and some others have called for the need, potentially, for a second special counsel to look into this FISA abuse. The attorney general is now saying the [Department of Justice] inspector general will be looking into it. Is this a good development, and is it sufficient?

    JASON CHAFFETZ (FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR): Well, it means that they’re following the facts and that -- the inspectors general, they don't just go on fishing trips. He’s completing an investigation, nearly a year long. And what this indicates to me is he’s actually got some real evidence out there and he’s warning a second investigation.

    That should be coupled with a special prosecutor, because there are a number of people that have left the employment of the government and [Department of Justice Inspector General] Michael Horowitz, as good and as talented as he and his staff are, they don't have the jurisdiction to go talk to people who, like Mr. [former Deputy FBI Director Andrew] McCabe, for instance, who’s now left. If you couple a special prosecutor, then they have the investigative tools in place to go interview those people and to prosecute those people if they find anything where people have broken the law.

    HEGSETH: So this inspector general was looking into the email server abuse potentially and the investigation into the Hillary Clinton. It seems the facts have broadened into the reality, the real investigation should be into the investigators themselves and the abuse of the FISA process. But you say they should be coupled together, need a special prosecutor and the IG at the same time?

    CHAFFETZ: This is also critical because [Former FBI Director and Special Counsel Robert] Mueller is evidently not doing his job based on the one-page directive that he was given. Not only was he supposed to look at directly at the Donald Trump and any collusion, even though we don't see any evidence of it, that was the directive that [Deputy Attorney General] Rod Rosenstein put in place, but point number two on that one page was to follow the evidence of anything else that he might’ve seen about meddling in the election. And there is a lot of evidence about the Democrats and the Hillary Clinton campaign coordinating and spending money overseas on this fake dossier. But it does not appear that Mueller is pursuing any of that, that’s why I think the inspector general coupled with a yet-to-be-named appointment of a special prosecutor, is going to have to go do that job.