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Oliver Willis

Author ››› Oliver Willis
  • White Nationalist Group Headed By "Peaceful Ethnic Cleansing" Leader Holding Pro-Trump Conference In D.C.

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    The National Policy Institute, a white nationalist "think tank," is holding an event focused on Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C. on March 5.

    In a report about the event from WUSA 9 (Washington, D.C.'s CBS affiliate), National Policy Institute president Richard Spencer said Trump is a figure "energizing" the white nationalist movement, noting, "He's fighting for us. He's saying we're going to be great again. We're going to win again. And there's this implicit identity to this. There's this implicit nationalism." He added, "I think he's evoking a lot of feelings amongst people, and I think implicit in what Donald Trump is doing is a conception of America as a European country."

    Trump's campaign has faced criticism for the candidate's failure to condemn the Ku Klux Klan in an interview with CNN after former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke endorsed Trump, as well as its decision to give press credentials to a pro-Confederate white nationalist radio show. Trump's candidacy has energized the white nationalist movement and put their ideas "firmly in the mainstream."

    Spencer told WUSA of Trump's handling of Duke: "He never said 'I condemn this.' He never said any of that. He said I disavow. And I think that's what he should say. The fact is Donald Trump is Donald Trump. He does not need to answer for David Duke."

    According to the National Policy Institute's (NPI) website, the event will consist of three addresses: "Trump and 'Generation Alt Right'," "The Trump Phenomenon and the Implicit White Revolt," and "Breaking Through To The Other Side."

    The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) identifies Spencer as "one of the country's most successful young white nationalist leaders --a suit-and-tie version of the white supremacists of old, a kind of professional racist in khakis."

    Spencer has called for "peaceful ethnic cleansing" and described Martin Luther King Jr. as "a fraud and degenerate in his life" who "has become the symbol and cynosure of White Dispossession and the deconstruction of Occidental civilization." He also described immigration as "a kind a proxy war -- and maybe a last stand -- for White Americans, who are undergoing a painful recognition that, unless dramatic action is taken, their grandchildren will live in a country that is alien and hostile."

    The SPLC wrote that NPI was established with the mission "to elevate the consciousness of whites, ensure our biological and cultural continuity, and protect our civil rights." The group has opposed affirmative action and advocated "mass deportation" as a "viable solution to America's illegal immigration crisis."

    The event will also feature Ramzpaul (Paul Ray Ramsey), who the SPLC describes as a white nationalist who "has emerged as the hottest right-wing video blogger this side of former Klansman David Duke"; and Kevin MacDonald, who is considered the "neo-Nazi movement's favorite academic" and "published a trilogy that supposedly 'proves' that Jews are genetically driven to destroy Western societies."

  • Conspiracy Author With Bizarre Sexual Writings Elected GOP County Chair

    New County Chair Robert Morrow Co-Authored Book Last Year With Trump Ally Roger Stone

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI & OLIVER WILLIS

    Morrow

    Robert Morrow, who co-authored an anti-Clinton conspiracy book with Republican dirty trickster Roger Stone, has been elected chairman of the Republican Party in Travis County, Texas. Morrow is a fringe conspiracy theorist with a long trail of crude, racist, anti-LGBT, and misogynistic social media posts.

    Travis County includes Austin, the capital of Texas. Morrow was elected with 54 percent of the vote but party officials have already issued condemnations of his election.

    Vice chair Matt Mackowiak told the Texas Tribune, "We will explore every single option that exists, whether it be persuading him to resign, trying to force him to resign, constraining his power, removing his ability to spend money or resisting any attempt for him to access data or our social media account," adding, "I'm treating this as a coup and as a hostile takeover."

    The Austin American-Statesman reported that the current chairman, James Dickey, who lost to Stone, "believes most people who voted for Morrow did not know who either candidate was."

    Stone and Morrow co-authored The Clintons' War on Women, which claims to show "how Bill and Hillary Clinton systematically abused women and others -- sexually, physically, and psychologically -- in their scramble for power and wealth." The book is dedicated to -- and cites research from -- a Holocaust denier who blames a "Jewish plot" for the 9/11 attacks.

    In a tweet after Morrow's victory, Stone wrote, "I have inserted my man @RobMorroLiberty as Travis Co GOP Chairman."

    On his Twitter account, Morrow has pledged to "put my tongue up Barbara Bush's ass on national TV" if Clinton wins the presidency; called Clinton, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and CNN political commentator Ana Navarro a "cunt"; repeatedly wrote about "Hillary Clinton's pussy" and said she is "Cum Repellent Fullproof"; tweeted that "If Hillary AND Bill Clinton died of heart attacks, it would be a good day for the people of the world"; and wrote that Chelsea Clinton is a "whore."

    Media Matters documented in September that Morrow has wished death on Hillary Clinton and been visited by the Secret Service; posted bizarre sexual writings about the former secretary of state; called Chelsea Clinton a "slut" and imagined how she would "have sex one day" with Bill Clinton; posted about "niggers" and "pro-faggot JUDICIAL ACTIVISM"; and claimed the Bush and Clinton families were involved in murders and drug-running.

    Morrow also attacked Fox News host Megyn Kelly, writing on Facebook: "Megyn Kelly objectifying women with her titties about to pop out of her dress." After Stone was a no-show for a scheduled Fox News appearance, Morrow wondered if there are "little liberal pussies working at FOX."

    Stone is a notorious "dirty trickster" who previously worked for Trump's presidential campaign last year and is now organizing against Clinton's campaign again.

    CNN banned Stone as a guest after he wrote a series of crude tweets targeting CNN personalities. Stone's tweets about media figures include such descriptions as: "muff-diver," "elitist c*nt," "professional negro," "arrogant know-it-all negro," "stupid negro," "fat negro," "Mandingo," and "quota hires" (among many others).

    Here is a sampling of Morrow's tweets:

  • Roger Stone Sells Himself As Trump's Inside Man To Gathering Of Conspiracy Theorists

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    At a book signing in Austin, Texas, political "dirty trickster" Roger Stone sold himself to a group of conspiracy theorists as a conduit to the campaign of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

    On February 27, a packed house came to see Stone talk about his official and unofficial involvement with Trump's campaign and promote his books Jeb! and the Bush Crime Family and The Clintons' War On Women (which is dedicated to an anti-Semitic Holocaust denier).

    The event was held at Brave New Books, a conspiracy-friendly bookstore that peddles -- alongside several of Stone's books and Flouride Filtration Systems -- books with titles like 9/11 Synthetic Terror: Made in USA and Alien Agenda: Investigating The Extraterrestrial Presence Among Us. Brave New Books also hosts a weekly "Conspiracy Comedy Open Mic" and has promoted multiple 9-11 conspiracy books with in-store events.

    Also in attendance was Stone's co-author Robert Morrow, who has published bizarre sexual writings about the Clinton family and has wished death on Secretary Clinton.

    The night kicked off with an introduction by radio host Alex Jones, arguably the leading conspiracy theorist in America (Infowars.com, his website, called him "one of the very first founding fathers of the 9-11 Truth Movement"), who was recently praised by Trump for his "amazing" reputation. Stone, who is a frequent presence on Jones' show, appeared late last week for an extended interview on Jones' program.

    During his speech, Jones praised Trump for opposing the "globalist agenda" -- reiterating a previous claim that Trump's call to audit the Federal Reserve was evidence of his support of the conspiracy theory movement -- and described Stone as "the true Trump insider" working to expose the "great mighty Oz."

    In his presentation, Stone promoted an array of conspiracy theories, rehashing the unsupported claims in his books that the Clintons have covered up sexual crimes, sometimes with the aid of the Bush family. Stone also claimed that President George H.W. Bush had a role in the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan in 1981, and that Lyndon Johnson was involved in the Kennedy assassination.

    Stone also discussed the recent controversy between him and CNN. The network recently released a statement saying Stone would "no longer appear" on the network in response to a series of incendiary tweets he had sent about current and former network personalities. Stone called political commentator Ana Navarro an "entitled diva bitch" and "pompous shithead," while also describing former CNN analyst Roland Martin as a "stupid negro" and "fat negro." Stone has also made similar comments about other media personalities.

    In his speech, Stone was unapologetic. He claimed he had appeared on CNN only "three" times in the past 18 months, a falsehood he has repeated several times since being banned by the network. In reality, Stone appeared on the network 22 times between August of 2015 and last week, according to Nexis. 

    Stone also said of Media Matters founder David Brock, "Wherever you are tonight, kiss my ass."

    Stone floated the theory that Republican insiders like Mitt Romney might mount an effort at the Republican Convention to deny Trump the nomination, and that he has assembled a team of political operatives in order to combat them. He then promoted the website StopTheSteal.org, which sends readers to a donation page for Stone's pro-Trump super PAC.

    The question and answer session was largely focused on the Trump campaign, with the audience probing Stone for hints as to what Trump truly believes and what he would do on issues of importance to conspiracy theorists if elected president.

    One audience member asked Stone why Trump had not yet fully embraced the 9-11 attacks conspiracies, failing to use his prominent position in national media to raise the affiliated issues. The questioner also noted that as someone whose organization has constructed buildings, Trump "knows that [World Trade Center Building 7] was wired for demolition." (Conspiracy theorists have for years clung to the conspiracy that World Trade 7 was felled by explosives, in light of copious evidence to the contrary.)

    The audience member added, "But at a debate he says, 'well Jeb's a nice guy he's just got low energy.' No, he's a criminal and he needs to be prosecuted for treason, and why isn't Donald Trump saying that now before they kill him?"

    In response, Stone declared it "an excellent question," and said Trump "would have gone to the next level with Jeb," but Bush left the race.

    A second questioner chimed in and gave a rambling response agreeing with the 9-11 conspiracies, lamenting that a "particular nation has a tremendous stranglehold over our system of government, our monetary system, and our media," and raising concerns about how Ron Paul's 2012 presidential campaign was managed.

    Stone responded by explaining that as a political strategist, he thinks Trump raising major questions like those brought up by the audience "might make us feel good, it might ultimately get us justice, it would not help him get elected. I would rather see him raise those questions after he has the power."

  • Roger Stone Floats Theory GOP Establishment Will "Steal" Nomination From Trump, Launches Fundraising Campaign

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    Appearing on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones' radio show, dirty trickster Roger Stone announced the creation of a fund to back supporters of Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention.

    Stone is the discredited co-author of The Clintons' War on Women. The book is dedicated to a Holocaust denier who blames a "Jewish plot" for the 9/11 attacks. Stone, a former Nixon operative, created an anti-Hillary Clinton group named "C.U.N.T." during the 2008 election and worked as an advisor for the Trump presidential campaign last year.

    During a discussion on Jones' February 26 show, Jones and Stone warned that the Republican Party "establishment" might attempt to deny Trump the nomination at the convention.

    Stone told Jones he would "reach out to some of my old associates" in order to "pull together some of the best convention operatives in America today."

    "We have set up a fund to pay for their travel, to pay for their hotel rooms, to bring them to Cleveland to avoid the steal." He then promoted the website "StopTheSteal.com" "if you want to make a contribution."

    The actual website is StopTheSteal.org, which redirects to a donation page for the Committee to Restore America's Greatness, the super PAC Stone created to defend Trump and attack his competitors. The donation page states: "YES, I want to help stop the Republican establishment from stealing the Presidential nomination from Donald Trump!"

    CNN recently announced that Stone had been banned from appearing on its air after a series of racist and sexist tweets of his attacking other media figures were uncovered. Stone also claimed that he had been banned from MSNBC.

  • 8 Things Trump And Morning Joe Hosts Discussed When Cameras Were Off

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    Several minutes of what seemed to be a chummy off-camera exchange between Morning Joe co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump were released today by comedian and radio host Harry Shearer.

    The audio from a "hot mic" was released on Shearer's radio program Le Show and is purportedly from a conversation between the three in Charleston, SC, on February 17 during commercial breaks from MSNBC's town hall event with Trump.

    The hosts have recently been criticized for boosting Trump on their program, and for their performance moderating the town hall in question, which was labeled a "journalistic shortfall" and "disgraceful" by media observers. The non-confrontational tone of the town hall event apparently extended seamlessly into the commercial breaks, where Scarborough, Brzezinski, and Trump engaged in friendly banter:   

    1. After Scarborough told Trump that "all the polls out today look great in South Carolina," Trump asked Scarborough if he thinks super PAC ads against him are catching on, noting, "they're spending $75 million in negative ads on me over the last two weeks." Scarborough replied, "No."
    2. Brzezinski pointed out what she described as a "wow moment" on the campaign trail when Trump brought two supporters up on stage. Scarborough told Trump, "We played it several times this morning." Trump responded by telling the pair that he watched the show that day and observed, "You had me almost as a legendary figure." Indeed, Gawker highlighted video of the hosts airing the video of the supporters that day on Morning Joe, which concludes with Scarborough calling the moment "quite powerful":
    3. Scarborough told Trump "we were completely wrong" in thinking he did poorly in the February 13 Republican debate. He later told the candidate that "the people who mattered" thought he did well.
    4. After Brzezinski thanked Trump for participating in the town hall event, Trump said, "I'm doing this because you get great ratings and a raise -- me, I get nothing."
    5. Brzezinski can be heard asking, reportedly to a producer, "You don't want me to do the ones with deportation?" which is followed by Trump saying, "That's right, nothing too hard, Mika."
    6. Trump asked Scarborough, "So what are the chances that something bad can happen on Saturday for me?" -- an apparent reference to the South Carolina primary. Scarborough reassured Trump by pointing out that polls in the election so far have done a good job of predicting primary results.
    7. Trump and Scarborough discuss Trump's golf game.
    8. Scarborough told Trump that National Journal columnist Ron Fournier "understands" Trump's campaign now after visiting Michigan, where he "got an earful" from Trump's supporters. (Trump said Fournier "has been brutal.") Scarborough added that The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza "has completely changed," and Trump responded, "Cillizza's been fantastic."

    Reporting on the release of the audio, The Washington Post's Callum Borchers noted that the clip feeds "the buddy-buddy narrative" surrounding Morning Joe's relationship with Trump. CNN's Dylan Byers wrote that the audio "offered the latest evidence that the 'Morning Joe' co-hosts are too friendly toward Trump, which has become a source of discomfort at NBC."

  • Ed Klein "Fan Fiction" Reappears In New Hampshire Primary As Marco Rubio Campaign Material

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    A quote sourced to disgraced writer Ed Klein's book Unlikeable has appeared on a campaign flyer for presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). Klein's work has been widely criticized for including distorted quotes and implausible situations and conveying an overall lack of credibility.

    In Unlikeable, Klein quotes an anonymous source -- a staple of his purported "reporting" -- who claims that while speaking about Rubio, former President Bill Clinton said, "We've got to destroy him before he gets off the ground."

    According to a photo circulated by CNN executive producer Katie Hinman, the quote appears on a flyer from Rubio's presidential campaign circulating in New Hampshire ahead of its presidential primary. The quote is being used to validate the campaign's contention that a matchup in the general election between Rubio and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would be advantageous to Republicans.

    Rubio's campaign has gotten considerable mileage out of Klein's material. In an October 2015 fundraising email, Rubio's communications director referred to the quote as a "bombshell report in a new book about the Democrats' secret plan to take out Marco." The campaign even created a Photoshopped image of President Clinton watching Rubio on television alongside the quote.

    The fundraising page with the image also included video of Klein on Fox & Friends pushing the book. The website included text telling supporters to "donate $7 today and show Bill Clinton that he can't destroy Marco Rubio."

    Ed Klein's work has been thoroughly discredited. Over the years he has produced a series of books and reports (published primarily in right-wing outlets) about major politicians like President Obama and Secretary Clinton that have been debunked and criticized by reporters, including many conservatives. Klein's writing has been described as "smut," "junk journalism," "fan fiction," and "devoid" of "basic journalistic standards."

    The allegations made in his books are often outrageous and outlandish, including his claim that Chelsea Clinton was conceived when Bill Clinton raped Hillary Clinton. A prior Klein book was reportedly dropped by publisher HarperCollins because it "did not pass a vetting by in-house lawyers." It was later put out by the conservative publisher Regnery, which also published Unlikeable.

    When not using unverifiable claims from allegedly anonymous sources, Klein has also used completely distorted quotes in his work, or utilized quotes that sound, as one reporter described them, like "dialogue that no human has likely said or will probably ever say until you read it aloud to friends and family."

    Despite his journalistic failures and deception, Klein continues to be a fixture in some quarters of the conservative media, particularly the Fox News and New York Post outposts in Rupert Murdoch's media empire. As a result, he has unfortunately become a part of the presidential election.

  • Donald Trump & Fox News: Timeline Of A Relationship

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    While Fox News and Donald Trump are engaged in the latest episode of their ongoing war of words over Trump's refusal to attend last Thursday's primary debate, they have a symbiotic relationship dating back years. Despite their current feud, the network has continued to lavish the Republican front-runner with far more interview airtime than any other presidential contender this cycle, and Fox has been promoting Trump's political ambitions since before the 2012 election.

    Media Matters looks at some of the highlights of the past five years of Trump and Fox News' up-and-down relationship:

    March 2011

    • During one of Trump's frequent appearances on Fox & Friends, the network started teasing the idea of Trump in the Oval Office. While asking him for his opinions on Libya policy, on-screen text asked, "What Would President Trump Do?"

    • Multiple Fox hosts promoted Trump's conspiracy theory about President Obama's place of birth and his call for the president to "show his birth certificate."

    April 2011

    • The network continued to go all-out in promoting Trump's birther crusade well into April of 2011 (when Obama released the "long-form" version of his birth certificate). According to a Media Matters study, Fox News devoted more than 50 segments and over two hours of airtime to the issue.
    • Tied up with Trump's birther crusade were his supposed presidential ambitions, which Fox happily helped him promote. Hannity featured "Trump 2012" in on-screen text in a segment about the Republican real estate mogul:

    August 2011

    • Sean Hannity admitted that he was advising Donald Trump about getting involved in the 2012 election, warning him off running an independent presidential campaign since he would split the Republican vote. "I'm wearing my Donald Trump tie, he gave me a gift," he noted.
    • After then-Fox News host (and current Republican presidential candidate) Mike Huckabee floated the idea that Trump should be appointed Treasury secretary, several other Fox News hosts joined the call, saying Trump would be preferable to then-secretary Timothy Geithner particularly because of his business experience.

    October 2012

    • When Trump issued a challenge to President Obama to release his college transcripts and his passport in order to prove his citizenship, offering $5 million to "charity," Fox & Friends gave him a platform to hype the birther stunt. Trump noted that it was a "possibility" that the records would show Obama wasn't born in the U.S., which would make his presidency a "sham."
    • After Obama won re-election in November 2012, Trump called for "a revolution in this country." Between that moment and the declaration of his presidential campaign, Trump made frequent appearances on Fox News, often within the context of discussing a possible presidential run. In one appearance on Hannity, the host told Trump, "You might run for president and you could be elected. Nice independent guy with common sense." Between January 2013 and April 2015, Trump appeared on Fox News' evening and primetime programming and Fox News Sunday 48 times*, most often on Greta Van Susteren's On the Record.

    June 2015

    • As Trump declared his official candidacy for president, Fox News figures hailed his entry into the campaign. Kimberly Guilfoyle said his speech "got me excited," while Andrea Tantaros said, "I found myself going, 'yeah.'"
    • After Trump described Mexican immigrants as criminals and "rapists" in that announcement speech, he was widely criticized and NBC cut its ties with him. Fox, of course, began rallying to his defense. Bill O'Reilly said Trump was "highlighting a problem ... that is harming the nation."
    • Trump began a run in which he was the of being the most-interviewed GOP presidential candidate on Fox, appearing for a total of 1 hour and 48 minutes of airtime over the month of June.

    July 2015

    • Trump began citing Fox's defense of his incendiary remarks while being interviewed by other media outlets. He told NBC News, "On Fox they say that I did a great service because I'm the one that brought up the whole discussion on immigration." Even with a request from the RNC chairman for Trump to tone down his rhetoric, many Fox figures continued to praise his immigration remarks, and even lashed out at the party chairman.
    • On the stump, Trump praised the hosts of Fox & Friends -- the show which had hosted him the most often as a political pundit -- as "great people," and they in turn thanked him on air the next day.
    • Trump extended his lead over the GOP field as the candidate with the most interview airtime on the network, appearing in July for another 4 hours and 45 minutes.

    August 2015

    • The first of several Trump vs. Fox feuds ignited in August after Fox anchor Megyn Kelly challenged Trump about his history of sexism during the network's August debate. Trump responded by repeatedly publicly criticizing Kelly, including telling CNN that Kelly had "blood coming out of her eyes" and "her wherever." To defuse the situation, Fox chairman Roger Ailes reportedly called Trump's office and negotiated a temporary peace. Soon after Trump appeared on Fox & Friends and co-host Steve Doocy told him he was "glad we're friends again."
    • Later that month, Trump complained that Fox "treats me terribly," and he promoted a tweet calling Kelly a "bimbo." That resulted in more backlash from hosts and anchors at Fox. Ailes again reportedly intervened directly with Trump to keep the two parties in sync.
    • Despite the conflict with Fox, Trump still got the most airtime of all the candidates on the network in August. That month, Trump interviews aired for a staggering 4 hours and 48 minutes, more than three times as much as any other contender.

    September 2015

    • When Trump made disparaging remarks about the physical appearance of candidate Carly Fiorina, Fox & Friends defended him and asked, "Is it another Rolling Stone hit job?"
    • Later that month, things turned sour and Trump again announced that he would boycott Fox "for the foreseeable future" for treating him "very unfairly." That second boycott lasted less than a week, and Trump smoothed things over during an appearance on The O'Reilly Factor.
    • Even with his "boycott," Trump was still ahead of the pack in interview airtime, appearing for 2 hours and 42 minutes, roughly 30 minutes more than any other candidate.

    October 2015

    • After Trump got CNBC to cut the amount of time it planned to conduct its presidential debate, Fox News figures applauded Trump as a "great negotiator."
    • As candidates like Carly Fiorina began to fade back into the pack, Trump kept steadily dominating the network's airtime.

    November 2015

    • Fox figures continued to defend Trump's policy proposals. Eric Bolling said Trump's idea of a "deportation force" to forcibly remove undocumented immigrants was "good for Latinos," while Steve Doocy said Trump "hit it out of the park" when he endorsed waterboarding suspected terrorists.
    • Despite a surge by Senator Marco Rubio, Trump still led the pack with 3 hours and 18 minutes of airtime during the month.

    December 2015

    • With Trump under fire for his debunked claim that "thousands" of American Muslims were seen celebrating 9/11, Fox News responded by giving him nearly 30 minutes of its prime-time air on one night to defend himself, with interviews on both The O'Reilly Factor and Hannity. (Other network personalities sought to defend his comments, as well.)
    • For the year, data showed that despite their up-and-down relationship, Trump far outpaced other candidates in interview airtime on the network. An analysis of the data showed that Fox's interview airtime was worth $30 million in free exposure.

    January 2016

    • Trump announced that he would skip the presidential debate hosted by Fox unless the network removed Megyn Kelly from the moderator panel. The network refused and issued a statement that said, "We learned from a secret back channel that the Ayatollah and Putin both intend to treat Donald Trump unfairly when they meet with him if he becomes president." Trump responded: "I didn't like the fact that they sent out press releases toying, talking about Putin, and playing games. I don't know what games Roger Ailes is playing, what's wrong over there?"
    • According to MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, Ailes tried to speak to Trump as he had done in the past, even calling Trump's daughter and wife, but Trump said he would only speak to Ailes' boss Rupert Murdoch.
    • While Fox did attack Trump for refusing to attend the debate he nonetheless appeared on The O'Reilly Factor, where O'Reilly begged him to reconsider.
    • Trump made good on his threat and did not appear at the debate. The day after, both camps attempted to declare ratings victories. Trump tweeted, "They say that if I participated in last night's Fox debate, they would have had 12 million more & would have broken the all time record." Fox News sent out a press release noting that the debate audience "beat CNN and MSNBC combined in both total viewers and key demo" while those networks were airing a Trump rally as counter-programming.

    *language updated for clarity 

  • The History Of Sarah Palin And Donald Trump's Mutual Admiration Society

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    UPDATE: As expected, Palin officially endorsed Trump. Touting the endorsement, Trump said in a statement, "I am greatly honored to receive Sarah's endorsement," adding, "She is a friend, and a high-quality person whom I have great respect for. I am proud to have her support."

    ORIGINAL POST: Numerous media outlets have speculated that Sarah Palin will endorse Donald Trump for president at an Iowa rally tonight. Over the years, Palin and Trump have cultivated a mutual admiration society, complimenting and supporting each other.

    The day after the 2008 election, Trump told Fox News' Greta Van Susteren that despite her failure to be elected vice president, Palin was a "fine woman" who "made things interesting."

    The two crossed paths in 2011 when Trump was again promoting the birther conspiracy theory about President Obama's place of birth. Palin defended Trump, telling Greta Van Susteren that "I respect what he's doing in putting his money where his mouth is. He's actually investigating his speculation there on Obama's birth certificate and Obama's college records and all those things that Obama, though he promises to be a transparent official, he certainly isn't because he could certainly reveal many of these documents and put many of these issues to rest." In another Fox interview Palin praised the birther push, saying "more power to him."

    Trump later expressed his appreciation for Palin's support in a Wall Street Journal interview, noting she was "so gracious to me on the birther issue." (Think Progress has explained how the pair have "bonded over birtherism.")

    Later that year when Palin went on a multi-city bus tour as speculation built that she might announce a presidential run in 2012, one of her most-covered stops was in New York City where she had pizza with Trump.

    At the time there were questions about whether Palin might choose Trump as her running mate. Trump said, "She didn't ask me, but I'll tell you, she's a terrific woman."

    After Trump officially announced his presidential run in 2015, Palin has been a reliable source of support for him.

    On Breitbart.com, Palin wrote an op-ed praising Trump, writing that "The elites are shocked by Trump's dominance, but everyday Americans aren't."

    Palin guest hosted an episode of the conservative One America News Network's program On Point and interviewed Trump. She sympathized with him over "personal 'gotcha' questions" which were "really trying to get you, us, anybody running for office off game."

    Responding to Trump's statement that he'd "love" for Palin to serve in a Trump administration, she floated her name for secretary of energy. She told CNN's Jake Tapper, "I think a lot about the Department of Energy, because energy is my baby: oil and gas and minerals, those things that God has dumped on this part of the Earth for mankind's use instead of us relying on unfriendly foreign nations."

    When Trump was criticized after he disparaged the military service of former Palin running mate Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Palin called both McCain and Trump heroes and said, "Trump is the candidate giving voice to untold millions of fed-up Americans witnessing a purposeful destruction of our economy and the equal opportunity for success that made America exceptional."

    Trump called in to a pro-Palin internet radio show, "The Palin Update," on Mama Grizzly Radio and told listeners that voters have been asking him when he would get her support, "I still have people saying, 'Get Sarah's support! Get Sarah's support!' No matter where I go."

    Palin also had Trump's back after he fumbled over a series of foreign policy questions with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. She said, "I think I'd rather have a president who is tough and puts America first than can win a game of Trivial Pursuit."

    In another sign of their philosophical alignment, Trump recently hired the former chief of staff of Palin's PAC to be the national political director for his campaign.

  • How Right-Wing Media Championed An Idea That Supreme Court Justices Call Dangerous

    Marco Rubio Recently Endorsed A "Constitutional Convention Of The States"

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    Presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) recently announced his support for a "convention of the states," an idea heavily promoted by conservative media figures, particularly conservative radio host and author Mark Levin. Constitutional scholars and Supreme Court Justices have said that if enacted, the idea dangerously opens up the U.S. Constitution to outside influences.

    Rubio announced his support for the initiative during December campaign stops in Iowa, saying, "One of the things I'm going to do on my first day is office is I will put the prestige and power of the presidency behind a constitutional convention of the states." He described it as "the only way that we are ever going to get term limits on members of Congress or the judiciary and that is the only way we are ever going to get a balanced-budget amendment."

    His official campaign website followed up with a post saying, "Marco supports establishing a Convention of the States with the sole purpose of passing amendments to limit the power of the federal government: like implementing term limits, requiring a balanced budget, and sending power out of Washington, back to the states." The campaign promised, "On the campaign trail, Marco's going to keep talking up the Convention of the States." The site also embedded a post from Levin highlighting Rubio's endorsement of his idea.

    The idea of a constitutional convention has gotten attention from other Republican politicians as well. Governor Greg Abbott (R-TX) recently endorsed the convention of the states, describing it as "the Texas Plan to restore the Rule of Law and return the Constitution to its intended purpose." He appeared on Levin's radio show and on The Kelly File on Fox News to discuss his decision.

    The convention of the states proposal is based on Article V of the U.S. Constitution, which states that Congress can call a convention for proposing amendments if two-thirds of state legislatures formally make a proposal. This is a departure from how the 27 previous amendments to the Constitution have passed, where Congress has passed the amendments and then sent them down to the states to be ratified.

    While the idea has been at the fringes of the conservative movement for decades, Levin gave a huge boost to the proposal in his 2013 book The Liberty Amendments. In an interview with the conservative news site CNSNews, Levin said his proposal "is the only way out" because "The federal government, Congress, the Supreme Court, the president, the bureaucracy, they are not going to reform themselves, they are not going to limit their activities. Only we can--through our state representatives from the bottom up."

    Conservative media outlets promoted Levin and the book's ideas. Sean Hannity turned over an entire episode of his Fox News show (with a studio audience) to interviewing Levin about The Liberty Amendments.

    Rush Limbaugh urged his listeners to buy the "wonderful book," and said "something" like a convention of the states "is going to be necessary, because the Constitution is broken."

    On his radio show, Glenn Beck said Levin had "made that case" for a convention. In a story published on Breitbart.com and FrontPageMag.com, Spyridon Mitsotakis wrote that Levin "has now shown us a way that we the people can save ourselves." Michelle Malkin called the book "a bold, provocative manual for restoring the American republic and righting the balance of powers." Hugh Hewitt told his listeners to go into bookstores and "If you can't find it, demand that they put it up front." On Fox's Your World, host Neil Cavuto interviewed Levin and recommended reading the book "to get some historical perspective of what the hell is going on." On The Five, co-host Eric Bolling called the book "fantastic."

    Before he had declared his candidacy, Donald Trump called it "a truly great & important book."

    Coinciding with the release of Levin's book, a campaign called Convention of the States, which is a project of another group called Citizens for Self-Governance , was formed in order to organize and promote the concept at the state level. In a blog post, Citizens for Self-Governance said the Convention of the States is "a grassroots plan to implement the important ideas Mark Levin has begun to publicly advocate." The post also promoted Levin's Hannity appearance: "Tune in to watch Levin on Hannity Friday, then go visit our website at www.ConventionOfStates.com and see how you can get involved and play a part in history."

    Those two groups are led by Michael Farris and Mark Meckler. Meckler was the co-founder of the group Tea Party Patriots. Meckler recently described Rubio's endorsement as a "game-changer" for his campaign and hailed him for pushing the idea into "the mainstream of presidential politics."

    Levin told Conservative Review "I have wholeheartedly endorsed the Convention of the States project" and "I serve on its Legal Board of Reference because they propose a solution as big as the problem. And they are promoting state applications for a convention for the purpose of limiting the scope, power and jurisdiction of the federal government. And that's what needs to be done."

    The Convention of the States website also features testimonials from conservative media figures like Hannity, Beck, Allen West, and Sarah Palin.

    In an April 2015 report on the movement to call a new convention with the aim of passing a balanced budget amendment, the Washington Post reported on the possible pitfalls of this amendment process. They note, "the founding document is silent on how such a convention would operate," and add, "There's no indication that a convention could be limited to just one topic. Hypothetically, delegates could take up any issue they wanted, from reinstating Prohibition to eliminating the direct election of senators. More extreme scenarios envision delegates revisiting the 13th Amendment, which banned slavery, or inserting corporate giveaways into the Constitution."

    Figures on both the left and right have pointed out that such a convention would be dangerous.

    Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe said the process would be "putting the whole Constitution up for grabs."

    Even conservative Justice Antonin Scalia has described the idea as dangerous, noting, "I certainly would not want a constitutional convention. Whoa! Who knows what would come out of it?"

    The late Justice Arthur Goldberg also criticized the idea, saying, "There is no enforceable mechanism to prevent a convention from reporting out wholesale changes to our Constitution and Bill of Rights." In 1983 Chief Justice Warren Burger wrote, a "Constitutional Convention today would be a free-for-all for special interest groups."

    Slate's Jamelle Bouie writes, "It's worth noting that this renewed push" for a constitutional convention "comes at a time the United States is becoming younger, browner, and more liberal. For a movement whose electoral health is tied to an aging population of white conservatives, it's increasingly now or never for right-wing ideologues, or at least, moves that block liberals from achieving their goals."

  • Maureen Dowd Starts 2016 With Return To Anti-Clinton Crusade

    Dowd's Last 17 Clinton Columns Have Been Negative

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    Dowd

    With her first column of 2016, The New York Times' Maureen Dowd returned to her decades-long crusade attacking Hillary Clinton. Dowd has increased her vitriol towards Hillary Clinton in her New York Times columns since Media Matters first analyzed her body of work over a year-and-a-half ago.

    As we reported, 72 percent of the 195 columns Dowd wrote from November 1993 to June 2014 with significant mentions of Clinton were negative. All 17 columns with significant mentions of Clinton that have been published since the first report were negative.

    Dowd's first column of 2016 compares Hillary Clinton to Leonardo DiCaprio's character from the movie The Revenant, which is about a revenge-minded trapper making his way through the wilderness. In a now-famous scene, DiCaprio's character is mauled by a bear.

    And finally, of course, there's the politician most like Glass in her willingness to crawl through glass, flip her positions and persona, and even bear up under a mauling by a merciless, manic bear to reach that goal most yearned for. In Hillary Clinton's grimly relentless trudge toward the White House, the part of the bear is played by Donald Trump.

    Dowd continues the column by accusing Clinton of being a hypocritical feminist scheming for power.

    This latest column follows Dowd's script for Hillary Clinton, which she's been using for decades. In eleven of the newer columns added to this study, Dowd characterized Clinton as being power-hungry, while in fourteen of them she argued that Clinton is a phony (accusing her, for instance, of "acting like a masculine woman" in the 2008 election). Dowd also returned to presenting herself as an expert on the Clinton marriage in two of her recent columns, with claims like "[Clinton] has spent a lifetime cleaning up messes sparked by her overweening desire for control and her often out-of-control mate."

    Including the past eighteen months of data, dating back to November 1993, Dowd has made significant mention of Hillary Clinton in 212 columns:

    • 159 columns (75%) were negative
    • 53 columns (25%) were neutral or positive
    • 61 columns (29%) have accused Clinton of being power hungry
    • 37 columns (17%) accused Clinton of betraying feminism
    • 15 columns (7%) said Clinton was not likeable
    • 47 columns (22%) characterized Clinton as a phony
    • 44 columns (21%) performed psychoanalysis of the Clinton marriage

    Dowd's Clinton bashing is so repetitive that she appears to occasionally recycle column headlines. In July of 2002, Dowd's column was headlined "Hooray for Hillarywood!" and then thirteen years later the exact same phrase was back, this time asking "Hooray for Hillarywood?"

    The same themes are being recycled as well. Dowd has leaned on movies to an almost absurd rate in order to prop up attacks on Clinton. In the past, she called Clinton "the senator from Stepford," for example, and quoted an anonymous aide calling her "The Terminator."

    In May of 2015, Dowd was back at the movie well:

    Hillary Clinton's campaign has echoes of various classic movies: "Single White Female," with Hillary creepily co-opting the identity of the more trendy Elizabeth Warren; "My Fair Lady," with Hillary sitting meekly and being schooled on how to behave by tyrannical Pygmalions (Iowa voters); "The Usual Suspects," with Hillary's hoodlums, Sidney Blumenthal and David Brock, vying to be Keyser Söze; and, of course, "How to Steal a Million," a caper about a heist plotted by a couple that doesn't need the money.

    In the past 18 months, Dowd has also compared Clinton to an "annoyed queen," and asked Clinton if she could campaign as "something between Macho Man and Humble Granny."

    Dowd even wrote a piece comparing the former secretary of state to New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Brady was embroiled in the "deflategate" controversy where it was alleged he had a role in tampering with footballs used during a playoff game.

    In her column, Dowd found a way to connect the athlete with the former secretary of state:

    Two controlling superstars with mutable hair and militant fans, married to two magnetic superstars who can make a gazillion an hour for flashing their faces and who have been known to stir up trouble.

    A pair of team captains craving a championship doing something surreptitious that they never needed to do to win.

    It turns out Tom Brady and Hillary Clinton have more in common than you would think.

    The comparison doesn't make a lot of sense, but it fits right in with Dowd's bizarre rhetoric over the last two decades when it comes to Clinton.

    Methodology

    Media Matters used the Nexis database to search The New York Times archives for "hillary and clinton and BYLINE(Maureen Dowd) and Editorial Desk." We also used the Times website to identify Dowd pieces that mentioned Clinton from the Week In Review and Magazine sections prior to Dowd's 1995 move to the editorial desk. We reviewed those columns, coding ones that included any substantive discussion of Hillary Clinton for whether Dowd invoked any of 16 negative tropes in five categories.

    Those variables were:

    Plotting For Power

    o Hillary is inflexible/uncompromising

    o Hillary has a bunker mentality, will not listen to detractors

    o Hillary acts tough

    o Hillary is always scheming for more power

    Betrayed Feminism And Played The Victim

    o Hillary is bad for feminism

    o Hillary traded on slights from men to get ahead

    o Hillary fakes her feminism

    People Don't Like Her, She's Not A Nice Person

    o Hillary is mean

    o Hillary is not likeable

    o Hillary is cold and unemotional

    She's A Phony

    o Hillary doesn't know who she is

    o Hillary has no 'real' identity

    o Hillary doesn't believe what she says

    o Hillary is scripted and prepackaged and poll-driven

    Targeting The Clintons As A Couple

    o The Clintons won't go away, even though everyone wants them to

    o Their marriage is a sham, a trade of power for more power