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  • Fox’s Steve Doocy cites out-of-date study to argue against federal minimum wage increase

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy cited an out-of-date study to attack the idea of an increase to the federal minimum wage. In a segment about potential presidential contender Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) tweeting in support of a federal minimum wage increase, Doocy said that when “Seattle experimented” with increasing the local minimum wage to $15 per hour, “a study came out that showed that people wound up with less money in their pockets because employers cut employees’ hours because the wage was so high.”

    The 2017 study that Doocy appears to be referencing “estimates [that] the average low-wage worker in the city lost $125 a month because of the hike in the minimum" wage. As The Washington Post reported, "The paper's conclusions contradict years of research on the minimum wage." Sure enough, within months, other papers were published that “underscored the limitations of the Seattle study.” More significantly, Doocy failed to mention that the authors of that 2017 study actually published new research a year later that "found that the increase added about $10 per week on average to the earnings of low-income workers through 2016, even while reducing weekly hours slightly." According to CNN, the findings also showed that “employee turnover decreased, which the authors believe suggests that employers tried harder to retain their most productive staff members as wages went up.” While there have been critics of the study, it did overall find more positive results than its predecessor, which Doocy ignored.

    From the January 16 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

    STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): I remember Seattle experimented with this and they jacked up the federal -- the local minimum wage, and, I believe, a study came out that showed that people wound up with less money in their pockets because employers cut employees' hours because the wage was so high.

  • Fox News and Trump are trying to manufacture another caravan crisis to argue for a border wall

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Fox News is cynically seizing on a caravan of migrants moving through Central America toward the U.S. southern border to bolster President Donald Trump’s political position after he partially shut down the government to obtain funding to build a border wall. The effort comes just months after Fox aired dozens of hours of fearmongering coverage about another caravan in a failed attempt to help the Republican Party win the 2018 midterm elections.

    Fox & Friends hosts Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade made the network’s strategy explicit during Wednesday’s broadcast. “The big question is would this group, this caravan, this latest caravan, be heading toward the United States if there were a wall?” Doocy asked before criticizing Democrats for not negotiating with the president to end the shutdown.

    Later in the show, Kilmeade asked White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders whether the caravan helps Trump “sell his side of the story.” Sanders replied, “This is just another example of why the president's message has been right all along.”

    On Monday night, a caravan of migrants bound for the United States began departing from a rally point in Honduras. Honduran officials estimate that between 800 and 2,000 people were in the caravan. The first members of the group crossed the Guatemalan border on Tuesday.

    Fox has been covering the caravan since last Thursday, when correspondent Griff Jenkins first reported on Fox & Friends about an advertisement urging would-be migrants to assemble in Honduras. The network’s coverage has steadily increased ever since. On Tuesday, discussion of the caravan came up during 12 of the network’s 19 hours of live programming.

    The network’s caravan fixation comes amid devastating new polls that show widespread opposition to Trump’s shutdown and wall. Fox’s right-wing hosts have been trying to use the caravan to rescue the president, repeatedly citing it as evidence that Trump was correct to partially shut down the government.

    As early as last Friday, Sean Hannity argued that the then-nascent caravan would make the “humanitarian side of this crisis ... even more urgent” and called for the president to “address this crisis at our southern border” by declaring a national emergency to obtain funding for the wall, if necessary.

    The next night -- several days before the caravan departed -- Jeanine Pirro argued that “you’re out-and-out crazy” if you disagree that the new caravan poses a national emergency. She described it as  “another caravan of thousands moving in a highly organized fashion similar to military convoys” and said its members have allegedly “exhibited violence” and include people “from Africa, Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and more.”

    By Tuesday, Lou Dobbs’ show was running alternating graphics stating “New caravan forms” and “Build the wall,” while Hannity was slamming Democrats for refusing to negotiate with Trump even “as a new migrant caravan is on the move now tonight.”

    Fox’s all-consuming coverage has caught the eye of the president, who regularly watches hours of the network’s programming each day and uses it to inform his messaging.

    When Trump called in to Pirro’s show for an interview minutes after her Saturday night monologue on the caravan, she asked about an “emergency at the southern border” and he listed the caravan among his evidence of a “crisis.”

    And on Tuesday morning, Trump live-tweeted Fox & Friends’ caravan coverage, using it as the network had apparently intended -- as a weapon in his battle for a border wall.

    Fox’s heavy caravan coverage, the unsubtle way in which its commentators use the issue to promote the president, and Trump’s own role in running with the network’s angle, all mimic what happened in the run-up to the midterm elections last October. As the migrant caravan traveled through Central America, Fox began flooding the zone with fearmongering coverage that stressed the supposed danger the migrants posed to Americans. The network’s commentators urged Republicans to make the caravan their central election issue, and a watching Trump began feverishly highlighting it in his public statements. The president’s remarks in turn turned the story into major news, and it consumed the other cable news networks as well as major newspapers in the final days of the campaign.

    The strategy failed. Fox and Trump were able to focus attention on the issue of immigration, which may have energized some conservative voters. But Trump’s vicious immigration rhetoric “alienated everyone else.” Republicans were swamped at the polls and Democrats won back the House of Representatives.

    But a few months later, they’ve taken up the strategy all over again.

  • In patently unethical move, CNN hires John Kasich even as he considers presidential bid

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    CNN has hired former Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich as a contributor even though he is considering running for president in 2020. Kasich’s hire is the latest example of a cable news outlet unethically allowing potential office seekers to use its national platform to boost their future election chances while simultaneously drawing a paycheck. Kasich will undoubtedly use his CNN platform to draw a contrast between himself and President Donald Trump, as he did during the 2016 GOP primary. But his “carefully cultivated appearance” as a moderate is anything but accurate.

    On January 15, CNBC reported that Kasich will work at CNN as a senior political contributor. Kasich’s chief political strategist, John Weaver, told CNBC that CNN “is a strong platform for the governor to continue to offer his positive vision to the country and engage on the vital issues facing America.” As CNBC’s report notes, the hire also comes as Kasich “is planning to go on a West Coast swing this week to meet with donors and business leaders, including traveling to Los Angeles and parts of Silicon Valley.” He is reportedly considering running for president as either an independent or a Republican.

    Kasich previously parlayed a cable news gig into political office. After leaving Congress in 2001, he worked at Fox News between 2001 and 2009 as a host and contributor (while also working for Lehman Brothers from 2001-2008). He then successfully ran for governor of Ohio in 2010, with Fox News acting as one of his biggest cheerleaders. The phenomenon repeated itself when Fox News gave Kasich friendly coverage leading up to his announcement of a 2016 presidential run. 

    When Kasich announced his candidacy on July 21, 2015, he immediately received a return on his investment with Fox; during that day’s broadcast of The Five, then-host Kimberly Guilfoyle said that Kasich “does have a tremendous amount of experience and private sector in government and as governor,” while mentioning his previous employment with Fox. Fox’s Dana Perino added that “I said for a while that I think the folks are going to like him because they have for a long time,” while Geraldo Rivera proclaimed, “Kasich could do it.”

    In August 2015, then-Fox News host Bill O’Reilly acknowledged that he was advising Kasich. (Kasich was previously a frequent guest host on The O’Reilly Factor, which was cancelled in 2017 following public reports about O’Reilly subjecting some of his staff members and guests to years of sexual harassment. Kasich has denied knowing about sexual harassment at Fox while he was an employee.)

    Kasich has spoken candidly about the value of a cable news job in aiding political aspirations. In the lead-up to his 2016 presidential run, Kasich reportedly "endeared himself to the conservatives by mentioning his past TV work," telling a group of conservatives: "I used to be at Fox News. I was a big star at one time." In 2015, David Kushma of Toledo, OH, paper The Blade noted that Kasich's "tenure at Fox News, where he honed his heartland persona, helped make him media-savvy.” And a 2002 Columbus Dispatch profile noted that Kasich "wants to be in the White House," but in the meantime was "concerned about doing a good job with Fox, developing as 'a media person' and connecting with viewers."

    Kasich’s hire by CNN is reminiscent of the revolving door between political candidacy and cable news punditry most often associated with Fox News. Media reporter Howard Kurtz noted on CNN.com in 2013 that “Fox News is the model” for the practice, citing the hire of “potential 2012 contenders like Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, with the latter two jumping from Rupert Murdoch's team into the presidential primaries,” and noting, “There is no question that the high-profile platform gave them a boost.” (Kurtz left CNN and joined Fox News as a media critic later that year.)

    During the 2016 primaries -- in which, in addition to Kasich, Huckabee, Santorum, and Ben Carson also ended up running for president -- CNN’s Reliable Sources show discussed the phenomenon of the “Fox News primary” in which GOP candidates courted network executives and made appearances on the network central features of their campaigns. (Although he was never a paid employee, Trump infamously boosted his profile through years of regular appearances on Fox News.)

    As he considers running for president, Kasich will now have a national platform to workshop his potential appeal to voters and distinguish himself from the current Republican president. Yet Kasich has a number of ultra-conservative positions and views, such as his extreme anti-choice positions, deep-seated animus toward labor unions, opposition to same-sex marriage, and refusal to take climate change seriously.

    While Kasich used media appearances during the 2016 campaign to present himself as reasonable and friendly, that hasn’t always been the case. During a 2009 guest-hosting appearance on Fox, Kasich sounded indistinguishable from Trump, ranting about “illegals” and heaping praise on then-Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was later convicted of a crime for refusing to stop violating the civil rights of Latinos.

  • Trump’s Fox advisers keep telling him that he’s winning the shutdown, which is why it won't end any time soon

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    President Donald Trump’s partial government shutdown now stands at 25 days. There is no end to the shutdown in sight, in large part because the president is reportedly indifferent to finding a solution even as the consequences become increasingly dire. “President Trump’s dismissals of his own party’s calls for compromise and his seeming indifference to shuttered federal agencies left the snowbound capital paralyzed Monday,” The Washington Post reported last night, “with lawmakers in both parties scrambling to jump-start talks but increasingly uncertain about Trump’s interest in ending the longest government shutdown in history.”

    Trump’s Twitter activity Tuesday morning gives a hint to why he has been so blasé about the crisis of his own making: Fox’s propagandistic coverage has convinced him that he’s been winning the argument about shutting down the government to obtain funds to build a wall on the southern border.

    Trump was live-tweeting a Fox & Friends segment in which the right-wing network’s morning show hosts fixated on a Quinnipiac University poll finding that 54 percent of American voters say there is a “security crisis” on the Mexican border. According to co-host Steve Doocy, the poll “essentially supports what the president has been saying all along for about the last month.”

    In reality, the poll’s other findings are devastating to the president: Respondents oppose shutting down the government to force funding for the wall by nearly 2-to-1, and solid majorities blame Trump for the shutdown and oppose building the wall altogether. Those findings are not outliers -- five other recent polls show that most Americans think the shutdown is Trump’s fault, and the border wall is deeply unpopular outside of the president’s base.

    Fox & Friends could level with its audiences -- which includes the president -- and let them know that he’s lost the argument. Instead, the hosts are still telling them that Trump has the upper hand, implying Speaker Nancy Pelosi will inevitably need to submit to his demand for the wall.

    It’s not unusual for Fox to mislead its viewers by telling them exactly what they want to hear. What’s changed is that the president of the United States is a member of that audience and spends hours each day marinating in its misinformation.

    The shutdown fight shows the perils of this feedback loop between the conservative network and the president who adores it. In December, as Trump was considering shutting down the government if he didn’t get wall funding, Republican congressional leaders warned Trump that the strategy was politically perilous and would not succeed. But the president’s right-wing media supporters at Fox and elsewhere warned Trump that he would lose his base if he didn’t go through with a shutdown, and in the end he listened to them. Ever since, the president’s Fox News cabinet has been urging him to “stay strong.” Trump, in turn, has been privately seeking advice from the likes of Sean Hannity and Lou Dobbs and publicly performing for their audiences.

    Those hosts and their guests are doing everything they can to buck up the president and keep him from backing down, spinning out new strategies that they assure the president will succeed.

    On Hannity’s show last night, Fox contributor Newt Gingrich said Trump should maintain the shutdown indefinitely, arguing that Trump could peel off “40 or 50 Democrats, combine them with the Republicans and get things passed in a bipartisan basis.”

    Dobbs, meanwhile, urged the president to declare a national emergency, and denounced Republicans like Fox contributor Jason Chaffetz who warn against the precedent that might set.

    “It's about time you Republicans get over yourselves and understand that this president is not a politician,” Dobbs bellowed. “He is a statesman, a leader of a nation, the free world, and he delivers what he promises. And why the hell should you worry about a precedent? We're dealing with a reality. It is a national emergency. There's not time for a little tea and a crumpet at 4 o’clock here to have a discussion about. Get it done and move it.”

    “We both love this country,” he added later in the segment, “and there's only one way to save it and that's exactly what this president has said he will do and that is to get that barrier up and to secure these borders straight away.”

    Declaring a national emergency to obtain wall funding is a terrible idea that will almost surely result in a legal morass. But because it would have the support of Trump's Fox News cabinet, it may be the only realistic way out of this stalemate.
  • Fox & Friends discussed a razor ad 24 times more than it discussed Steve King this morning

    The show’s transcript has the word “King” 10 times; 7 of those referred to Burger King

    Blog ››› ››› LIS POWER

    The day after Rep. Steve King (R-IA) was stripped of his committee assignments due to comments in which he embraced white supremacy, Fox & Friends spent just 30 seconds on the story. In comparison, the show found over 12 minutes to devote to discussing (and criticizing) a new Gillette advertisement.

    A search of Fox & Friends’ transcript showed 10 hits for the word “King.” But seven of those mentions were references to Burger King. (Trump served fast food, including Burger King, to the Clemson football team during the players’ visit to the White House yesterday. The show repeatedly aired clips of Trump talking about the fast food chain, and the hosts also enjoyed some fast food themselves.)

    When it came to coverage of Steve King, the show aired only one 30-second headline read.

    In comparison, Fox & Friends found over 12 minutes to discuss a new Gillette commercial. Co-host Brian Kilmeade complained that the ad was like "showing a man breaking into a house, knocking over the furniture, stealing the money out of the safe, and saying, 'Let's stop this bad behavior; buy my razor.’ So let’s point out all the bad things that you might say about men, put them into an ad, make men feel horrible, and then say, ‘Overpay for a razor.’” During a panel discussion about the ad, Fox Business host Charles Payne argued it was a “form of corporate virtue signaling.” Later in the show, the hosts asked New Orleans Saints player Benjamin Watson what he thought about the ad.

    Meanwhile, Gillette's parent company, Proctor & Gamble, has been under fire for being one of the last remaining major sponsors of Tucker Carlson's show.

  • With Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the right-wing media playbook doesn't work

    Right-wing media are obsessed with insulting Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and she's playing them like a fiddle

    Blog ››› ››› PARKER MOLLOY


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    When Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defeated House Democratic Caucus Chair and 10-term Rep. Joseph Crowley in a June 2018 primary, The Associated Press didn’t even bother to include her name in its tweet calling the race in her favor, referring to her as just “young challenger.”

    The Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan pointed to the lack of Ocasio-Cortez coverage during the primary race as proof that “Big Media” hasn’t kept pace with American politics. Her win shocked political journalists and left publications such as The New York Times scrambling to cobble together explainer articles asking, “Who is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?

    It would be a massive understatement to say that newly sworn-in Rep. Ocasio-Cortez no longer suffers from a dearth of media attention -- and, in a sense, she has conservative media to thank for that.

    Within days of her primary win, right-wing news organizations and commentators latched on to Ocasio-Cortez as a target. As an unabashed democratic socialist who ran on the type of ambitious platform representative of virtually everything that conservatives oppose -- such as Medicare for All, housing as a human right, gun safety, a federal jobs guarantee, the abolition of private prisons, free public college education, and climate change action -- Ocasio-Cortez was fodder for Fox News segments declaring her the future of the Democratic Party.

    On July 3, Fox & Friends co-host Ainsley Earhardt warned viewers that “socialism is surging in America,” and insisted that this was “the new battle cry of the left.” Her evidence: Ocasio-Cortez’s primary victory. That same day on Fox Business Network’s Varney & Co., guest Peter Morici called Ocasio-Cortez “the modern-day Saul Alinsky,” a favorite bogeyman for conservatives.

    Later that month, The Daily Caller published associate editor Virginia Kruta’s account of seeing Ocasio-Cortez speak at a campaign rally. In the piece, Kruta describes the experience as “truly terrifying. I saw just how easy it would be, were I less involved and less certain of our nation’s founding and its history, to fall for the populist lines they were shouting from that stage.” What kind of populist lines? Kruta continues: “I saw how easy it would be, as a parent, to accept the idea that my children deserve healthcare and education. I saw how easy it would be, as someone who has struggled to make ends meet, to accept the idea that a ‘living wage’ was a human right.” Everybody being paid enough to live, to not starve, to be able to go to the doctor without worrying that it will bankrupt your family? Oh, the absolute horror! Naturally, Fox interviewed the author soon after.

    Fox News was taking a chance in elevating Ocasio-Cortez’s visibility, banking on its viewers to grimace at the merest mention of socialism like a child being forced to eat broccoli. However, the outsized coverage relative to her actual level of influence within the Democratic Party -- remember, at this point she hadn’t even been elected to Congress -- had the effect of actually increasing her power and popularity.

    On June 25, Ocasio-Cortez had roughly 48,800 Twitter followers. By the end of July, after a month of laser-focused conservative media attention, she had more than 770,000. Today, that number sits at more than 2 million.

    Right-wing criticisms of Ocasio-Cortez can be divided into a few categories with some overlap between them. Let’s explore those for a moment.

    A huge chunk of the conservative criticisms being made against Ocasio-Cortez can be summed up in two words: “She’s stupid.” From claiming that she “represents the need for an intelligence test before somebody is ever allowed to run and hold public office” to simply calling her “Dumb-dumb,” taking jabs at her intelligence has become something of a favorite pastime for a number of conservative journalists and commentators. Here are a few examples:

    • Washington Times Opinion Editor Charles Hurt: “[Ocasio-Cortez] went to school, apparently, went to college, but didn’t learn anything, didn’t learn five seconds of history about anything. They have no concept of the dangers of socialism.” [Varney & Co., 7/18/18]

    • CRTV’s Curt Schilling: “You are being scrutinized and treated with suspicion because every time you speak you say something more stupid than the last time you spoke. You are a college graduate and likely the most unintelligent person, man or woman, in our government.” [Twitter, 12/11/18]

    • Fox Business host Lisa Kennedy Montgomery: “Her brain is as empty as the promises of unfettered statism.” [Kennedy, 12/6/18]

    • The Daily Wire’s Andrew Klavan: “This woman is a dangerous ignoramus.” [The Andrew Klavan Show, 1/3/19]

    • Fox Business senior correspondent Charles Gasparino: “This is a freshman rep that barely knows where the Capitol building is. … She has no idea about economics. Just go back and listen to her musings, which are idiotic.” [Cavuto Coast to Coast, 1/4/19]

    • Former Weekly Standard Executive Editor Fred Barnes: “[Ocasio-Cortez] is not exactly the brightest star in the sky. That’s for sure.” [Varney & Co., 7/20/18]

    There are also the conspiracy theories that she’s secretly rich or that she somehow “lied” about being from the Bronx. Additionally, the fact that she used to go by the nickname “Sandy” (a common nickname for people named Alexandria) is a scandal of epic proportions for some reason. Oh, and she once borrowed expensive clothes for a photoshoot -- emphasis on borrowed.

    A June 27 New York Times profile explains her upbringing:

    Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s mother was born in Puerto Rico. Her late father, Sergio Ocasio, an architect, was born in the Bronx. The family lived in Parkchester, a planned community of mid-rise buildings, in the same apartment where Ms. Ocasio-Cortez now lives, until Alexandria was about 5, when they moved an hour north to a modest two-bedroom house on a quiet street in Yorktown Heights, a suburb in Westchester County, in search of better schools.

    How modest was that two-bedroom house in Yorktown Heights? Newsmax host John Cardillo decided to post a picture of it, seemingly to write her off as a rich elitist or something of the sort.

    Following her November election, Ocasio-Cortez gave an interview to The New York Times which discussed some of the steps she had to take to prepare for her transition to Congress:

    Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said the transition period will be “very unusual, because I can’t really take a salary. I have three months without a salary before I’m a member of Congress. So, how do I get an apartment? Those little things are very real.” She said she saved money before leaving her job at the restaurant, and planned accordingly with her partner. “We’re kind of just dealing with the logistics of it day by day, but I’ve really been just kind of squirreling away and then hoping that gets me to January.”

    This led to yet another right-wing media freakout and a lot of misleading headlines. “Ocasio-Cortez claims she can't afford DC apartment, but records show she has at least $15,000 in savings,” read the headline of a post at FoxNews.com, noting that “records show she has more than enough to plunk down on an apartment in the U.S. capital.” At no point did she say she couldn’t afford an apartment; she did suggest that it would be hard to pay for one with a three-month gap in salary. She noted that she and her partner had saved, but her comments highlighted the broader point that it can be a major challenge for anyone other than the affluent to run for office. In any case, CNBC did a follow-up and found that Ocasio-Cortez actually had less than half of that in her account.

    True or not, a narrative had been created and now she was going to be slimed for it.

    • Sean Hannity: “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez actually said she can't afford an apartment in D.C. There's one little itsy bitsy problem: She actually can. She apparently has $15,000 in the bank.” [The Sean Hannity Show, 11/13/18]

    • Ed Henry of Fox News: “It turns out when you read deeper, she had a lot more formative years in Westchester County, New York, which is a little ritzier than the Bronx. … Her resume doesn’t always match up, and some of those [photo] shoots during the campaign, she had these multithousand-dollar outfits that could pay a month’s rent in Washington, D.C.” [America’s Newsroom, 11/9/18]

    • Michael Knowles of The Daily Caller: “She is a liar; she lied about her upbringing. She pretended to be from a poor part of the Bronx and grow up there. In reality, she grew up in a ritzy part of one of the ritziest counties in the country.” [Fox & Friends, 7/17/18]

    • Charlie Kirk of Turning Point USA: “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who pretends to be a champion of the people & believes the unemployment went down because [people] were taking two jobs, just posed in a photoshoot with a $3,500 outfit, $625 shoes all while saying the rich have too much power and that socialism hasn’t been tried.” [Twitter, 9/13/18]

    • Jim Hoft of The Gateway Pundit: “Yorktown Elitist and Bronx Hoaxer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Went by ‘Sandy’ Well into College at Boston U” [Twitter, 1/6/19]

    And did you know that Ocasio-Cortez wants to turn America into Venezuela?! She doesn’t, actually, but that hasn’t stopped conservative media from invoking the troubled South American country to slam socialism in the same way they name-drop Chicago to dismiss gun safety measures. Pointing to Venezuela to explain why socialism doesn’t work is much like pointing to the 2008 global financial collapse to explain why capitalism is ineffective; while both examples can certainly be used as part of an argument, invoking them as the entire argument is a faulty generalization.

    In truth, the policies Ocasio-Cortez supports tend to either be things that the U.S. has successfully used in the past (such as a higher marginal tax rate), or they’re policies that other countries have widely implemented (single-payer health care is used around the world). But to hear some of her loudest critics, she aspires to be an American incarnation of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. On the plus side, this critique is actually related to her policy positions, so that’s a nice change of pace!

    • Republican National Committee (RNC): “Meet Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: The Mini-Maduro Foreboding The Future Of Democrats.” [email, 8/16/18]

    • RNC Committeewoman Harmeet Dhillon: “You have the lunatic left, the Ocasio-Cortez wing, that are going full Venezuela on politics.” [Lou Dobbs Tonight, 7/25/18]

    • Fox News guest Morgan Ortagus (now a Fox contributor): “Just to the south of us, we have a picture of what this woman running for Congress wants to see happen, in Venezuela, versus in Colombia. It’s the most stark picture we could draw for our audience, and it is quite scary what is happening in Venezuela.“ [America’s Newsroom, 7/24/18]

    • Ryan Saavedra of The Daily Wire: “If Ocasio-Cortez and her ilk are elected to office then the U.S. will turn into Venezuela, where people are literally hungry and are fighting for food.” [Twitter, 10/16/18]

    • The Reagan Battalion: “Dear [Ocasio-Cortez], your dancing is absolutely superb and it is fantastic that you are bringing youthful energy to the halls of Congress. But let’s not forget the plight of the young women in Venezuela who would love to have the ability to dance, but are way too hungry & weak to do that.” [Twitter, 1/4/19]

    Of course, to the great shock of absolutely no one, there’s also a fair amount of garden-variety sexism thrown into a lot of the criticism for good measure.​

    • Fox Business’ Dagen McDowell: “I would argue that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gets all of the support that she does because she's a woman.” [Mornings with Maria Bartiromo, 10/30/18]

    • Fox News guest Ed Rollins called Ocasio-Cortez “the little girl.” [Lou Dobbs Tonight, 1/4/19]

    • Rush Limbaugh called Ocasio-Cortez “some young uppity.” [The Rush Limbaugh Show, 1/8/19]

    • Bill Mitchell: “This Ocasio-Cortez woman has perhaps the most annoying, squeaky voice since Mini (sic) Mouse.” [Twitter, 11/18/18]

    • Candace Owens of Turning Point USA: “Similar to Christine Blasey Ford, [Ocasio-Cortez] constantly infantilizes her voice to sound like a toddler so that journalists don’t critique her dangerous ideas. This is creepy. She is a 30 yr old adult woman trying to pass as a naive, threatened little girl.” [Twitter, 1/6/19]

    • Jesse Kelly of The Federalist: “She’s kind of cute, though. … There is nothing wrong with a little bit of crazy, man. A little bit of crazy can be fun. I’m not talking about marrying her; I'm just talking about a date or two. She looks kind of cute.” [Stinchfield, 1/4/19]

    • After Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that House Democrats would soon have subpoena power in response to a meme attacking her that was shared by Donald Trump Jr., Michael Moates of The DC Chronicle tweeted: “There is a new standard in Congress. Bitches will subpoena you if you troll them.” [Twitter, 12/7/18]

    • Eddie Scarry of the Washington Examiner tweeted a candid photo of Ocasio-Cortez designed to both promote the idea that she’s secretly rich and function as a bit of a sexist jab. Its caption read: “Hill staffer sent me this pic of Ocasio-Cortez they took just now. I’ll tell you something: that jacket and coat don’t look like a girl who struggles.” [Twitter, 11/15/18]

    • The Daily Caller published a previously debunked photo with the headline: “Here’s The Photo Some People Described As A Nude Selfie Of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.” [Twitter, 1/9/19] (Newsworthiness of the story aside, the photo had had already been determined not to be her, and that information absolutely should have been noted in the tweet and headline.)

    • Conservative writer D.C. McAllister tweeted: “AOC. The latest THOT.” (Twitter, 1/4/19) (“THOT” is a slang for “That ho over there,” usually used in a disparaging way.)

    It’s hard to explain exactly why right-wing media are so obsessed with her, but there are a few plausible theories.

    Before even taking office, Ocasio-Cortez was being scrutinized and held to a standard more fit for a presidential candidate than a freshman member of Congress. Like all politicians, she will occasionally misspeak, misstate a fact or a figure from memory, or inartfully articulate her message. For instance, Ocasio-Cortez once accidentally referred to the presidency and the two chambers of Congress as the “three chambers of government” during a video chat. Conservative news organizations pounced on the error, treating it as somehow newsworthy and running headlines like “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Flubs Basic Government 101 Facts” (The Daily Caller), “Ocasio-Cortez Has No Idea What The 3 Branches Of Government Are” (The Daily Wire), and “Ocasio-Cortez Fails to Name Three Branches of Government” (Breitbart).

    Rhetorical slip-ups are common and politicians certainly understand that anything they say or do can and will be used against them in the court of public opinion. What’s unusual is how focused the spotlight seems to be on Ocasio-Cortez so early in her career. When it comes to politicians who scare them -- that is to say, politicians who exude charisma and can cut through the news cycle’s noise to argue in favor of policies that may resonate with large swaths of the country -- right-wing media will obsess over these gaffes for years to come. A great example occurred in 2008, when then-candidate Barack Obama slipped up and said that he had visited “57 states” instead of 47. While we all know that he knew how many states there were, this was instantly treated as a giant story by right-wing media. A conservative blog mocked him by selling 57-star lapel pins, and it was widely covered at the time (and still gets mentioned every so often).

    So are right-wing media scared of Ocasio-Cortez and what she represents? Ryan Grim, the Washington bureau chief at The Intercept and one of the small number of journalists who covered the Ocasio-Cortez campaign well before her primary win, thinks there’s a simpler explanation.

    “I’ve noticed the alt-right has some admiration for her, which I think is sympathy for her anti-establishment bent,” Grim wrote in an email before offering an explanation for why journalists not explicitly part of the “alt-right” (such as The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro or The Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft) are so focused on her. “I also think she’s great for traffic, which explains some of the right wing fixation.”

    “They’re entertainers and nothing more,” he continued. “Understood through that lens, their approach makes financial sense for them. They’re exploiting her for clicks and contributions from right wing readers the same way some grifters on the left have done with Trump.”

    Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan has her own thoughts about why we’re seeing so much Ocasio-Cortez press so early in her career.

    “Some media and political figures apparently are deeply uncomfortable with her and what she represents: youth, diversity, grassroots authenticity, social-media savvy and a willingness to break with the pack,” Sullivan writes in an email. “So the outsize attention is partly a sort of panicked, semi-aware effort to grapple with all that, and maybe put her in what some see as her place. Some of the media attention, too, simply arises from her being of significant interest to readers and viewers because of the qualities I mention, not from antipathy.”

    A handful of conservatives are starting to realize what’s happening after early attempts to target her have only given her views more sway over American politics.

    If you hold a microphone up to a speaker, the unpleasant noise you hear is a result of feedback. The longer you leave the microphone in place, the more that noise will be amplified. In running those early segments following Ocasio-Cortez’s primary win, right-wing media placed the proverbial microphone in front of the speaker with the goal of creating a loud distraction ahead of 2018’s midterm elections -- but now they don’t know how to make it stop.

    Conservative radio host Wayne Dupree asked his followers whether they thought Ocasio-Cortez would be the rising star she is without the relentless right-wing attacks, correctly noting that the Democratic establishment was actually not very pleased with her primary victory.

    Right-wing writer Matt Walsh wrote that Ocasio-Cortez “is a star today in part because of the Right’s weird fixation on her.”

    We have seen this scenario play out before in the way  liberals elevate conservative figures they disagree with and mock. Tomi Lahren, for instance, was hosting a web show at TheBlaze just a couple short years ago. Sure, her videos had a wide reach, but she was hardly a household name until The Daily Show began making jokes about her show and eventually invited her on for the interview that set the rest of her career in motion. Soon after, she appeared on The View and made controversial comments about abortion that ended her career at TheBlaze, at which point she appeared on ABC’s World News Tonight to complain that she was being “silenced.” Lahren was quickly picked up by Fox News and is now one of the network’s stars.

    There’s little doubt that the attacks against Ocasio-Cortez will continue, and there’s even less worry that she won’t be up for the task for fighting back. But she almost certainly wouldn’t be sitting down for a widely watched interview on 60 Minutes had she not been intentionally elevated early on by conservative media. Instead, a socialist star was born, leaving right-wing news outlets with a tough decision to make about how they cover her going forward -- one they may soon regret.

  • Media should avoid these traps in covering this year's March for Life

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN & MADELYN WEBB


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    The annual anti-abortion March for Life will take place on January 18 this year

    Every year in January, anti-abortion groups and individuals gather in Washington, D.C., to participate in the March for Life -- a series of events protesting the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade to legalize abortion in the United States. This year, the January 18 march will celebrate the theme “Unique from Day One: Pro-Life is Pro-Science.” That theme echoes a common argument from anti-abortion groups that “medical and technological advancements continue to reaffirm the science behind the pro-life cause” including “that life begins at fertilization, or day one.”

    Last year, media coverage of the March for Life demonstrated that some outlets were unable to handle the necessary fact-checking or provide the needed context about the extreme history of many anti-abortion groups, the deceptive science behind many of their claims, and the alleged popularity of anti-abortion policies. This year, media can learn from these mistakes before the annual protest kicks off.

    Three lessons media should learn from the coverage of the 2018 March for Life

    #1 Avoid whitewashing the extremism of anti-abortion groups and spokespeople

    During the 2018 March for Life, there were several examples of outlets whitewashing anti-abortion groups and spokespeople by downplaying these organization’s long histories of extreme rhetoric and activism.

    For example, leading up to the 2018 event, NPR highlighted two anti-abortion leaders -- Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life of America, and Abby Johnson of And Then There Were None. In both reports, NPR failed to provide critical context about these anti-choice activists and the efforts of their organizations to oppose abortion access. In one piece, NPR asked Hawkins to comment on the status of various anti-choice movement priorities but failed to mention her long history of extreme comments about abortion, contraceptives, and more. These comments include her statement that certain forms of birth control should be illegal or are “carcinogenic” or “abortion-inducing,” as well as her claim that being an "abortion abolitionist" is "just like the slavery abolitionists." Similarly, NPR’s profile of Johnson and her organization focused on the group’s effort to “persuade as many [abortion clinic] workers as possible to leave the field.” Although NPR did note that the circumstances of Johnson’s departure from her own job at a clinic have been disputed by Planned Parenthood, the outlet did not substantively explain the details, which suggest there’s more to Johnson’s “conversion” story than meets the eye. NPR also didn’t explore the full spectrum of misinformation that Johnson regularly spreads about her former employer -- including the inaccurate claim that Planned Parenthood performs abortions on people who aren’t pregnant.

    Johnson is scheduled to speak during this year’s March for Life rally -- giving outlets ample opportunity to fact-check her inaccurate claims. In addition to Johnson, outlets must also avoid downplaying the extremism of other right-wing media and anti-abortion figures scheduled to speak during the event. These figures include Fox News commentator Alveda King and The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro, who will be recording an episode of his podcast before speaking at the rally on January 18.

    #2 Prevent anti-abortion groups from promoting junk science and unqualified “experts” to support anti-abortion policies

    During last year’s March for Life, outlets legitimized the false narrative of scientific support for anti-abortion policies by repeating unsubstantiated claims and manipulative terminology and by promoting so-called “scientific experts” without disclosing their ties to anti-choice organizations. For example, The Atlantic published an article the day before the 2018 March for Life quoting several representatives of the Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI) without noting that the group was founded by the anti-abortion organization Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List) specifically to produce research supporting the anti-choice movement. Perhaps more concerning than CLI’s origins, the group is still operated as part of SBA List -- filing federal 990 tax forms as “The Susan B. Anthony List Education Fund.” The Atlantic’s failure to identify CLI’s ties to the wider anti-abortion movement earned the outlet a place in Rewire.News’ 2018 “Hall of Shame” for inaccurate or deceptive reporting on reproductive rights. Other outlets such as CNN and The Birmingham News have also made the mistake of either downplaying or omitting CLI’s affiliations when citing the anti-abortion group in reporting.

    Beyond failing to identify CLI’s anti-abortion affiliations in reporting, outlets have also continued to reiterate anti-abortion talking points and signal-boost partisan science. In March, The Associated Press published an article that repeated the discredited claim that there is a pathological link between having an abortion and developing “depression, anxiety and sleeping disorders.” In April, The Washington Post reported on a study that purported to show the effectiveness of a junk science anti-abortion procedure referred to as “abortion pill reversal,” but the journal that published the study was later forced to withdraw it after widely reported methodological concerns.

    The consequences of allowing anti-abortion junk science to go unchecked can already be seen in several states’ anti-choice laws. The unscientific concept of fetal pain was influential in passing an anti-abortion bill in Missouri, even though many medical experts have disputed the validity of the studies and claims used to support such laws. In other states like Ohio and Iowa, anti-abortion lawmakers are promoting bans on abortion as early as six weeks (before many people know they’re pregnant), on the grounds that abortion should be illegal if a doctor can detect a fetal heartbeat. Already in 2019, Kentucky lawmakers have proposed a similar ban -- despite previous arguments from doctors that such policies actually do more harm than good.

    Given the theme of this year’s march, media have a responsibility to accurately report on reproductive science and not to elevate pseudoscientific talking points from anti-abortion organizations without providing necessary context and pushback. In particular, media should:

    • Avoid using, or letting guests use, the phrase “partial-birth abortion,” which is not a medical term. Anti-abortion groups, in fact, invented the term to inspire shame and stigma. In reality, the term and the nonexistent medical practices to which it refers are a favorite right-wing and anti-choice media talking point when attacking access to later abortions.
    • Be skeptical of claims about so-called “post-abortion syndrome.” Although right-wing media and anti-abortion groups have long claimed that people experience regret or develop depression after having an abortion, the supposed evidence supporting such claims has been consistently refuted.
    • Provide ample context about the lack of evidence supporting so-called “abortion pill reversal,” an anti-choice medical procedure which supposedly allows a patient to reverse an abortion induced via pill. This procedure has been largely discredited as junk science, with one of the major studies supporting it having been pulled from a medical journal after ethical concerns were raised.
    • Identify and disclose the affiliations of Charlotte Lozier Institute’s “associate scholars” and staff. Given the theme of this year’s march, CLI will likely play a prominent role in promoting anti-abortion talking points and misinformation. Media have a responsibility to identify these so-called experts’ affiliation with an organization that has an explicit mission statement to eliminate “the scourges of abortion.” 

    #3 Avoid signal-boosting misinformation about the alleged popularity of anti-abortion policies and positions

    During the 2018 March for Life, several outlets spread misinformation about the American public’s alleged support for anti-abortion policies by sharing polling data without proper context or analysis. For example, in an article about the anti-abortion policies promoted by President Donald Trump’s administration, Politico shared a poll commissioned by the Catholic organization Knights of Columbus to support the anti-choice argument that Americans want greater restrictions on abortion access. However, as MSNBC’s Irin Carmon has previous explained of the Knights of Columbus poll, a simple shift in phrasing or question style could substantially alter the findings:

    You could ask Americans if they want Roe v. Wade overturned, as the Pew Research Center did in 2013, and learn that 63 percent want to see it stand. Or you could ask Americans to choose between two vague statements, like the recent poll the Marist Institute for Public Opinion conducted for the Knights of Columbus, a group that opposes abortion. Asked to pick between “it is possible to have laws which protect both the health and well-being of a woman and the life of the unborn; or two, it is necessary for laws to choose to protect one and not the other,” 77 percent said it was possible to do everything. The policy implications of the first statement are unclear.

    Further examining this phenomenon, Vox’s Sarah Kliff explained that “the public has diverse views on abortion” that cannot neatly be categorized or assessed. In another piece for Vox, Tresa Undem, co-founder and partner at a public-opinion research firm, thoroughly explored how much of “the current polling fails at accurately measuring opinion on this complex issue.” For example, Undem wrote, even those “who said abortion should only be legal in rare cases” when polled about the legality of abortion expressed a higher level of support for abortion access when questioned about their “‘real life’ views on the issue”:

    Among people who said abortion should only be legal in rare cases, 71 percent said they would give support to a close friend or family member who had an abortion, 69 percent said they want the experience of having an abortion to be nonjudgmental, 66 percent said they want the experience to be supportive, 64 percent want the experience to be affordable, and 59 percent want the experience to be without added burdens.

    Additional polling by Undem’s firm, PerryUndem, has also found that most people believe that the decision to have an abortion should be made by a patient and their doctor (and, to a lesser extent, the larger medical community) -- and not by politicians.

    There will be no shortage of claims during this year’s March for Life about the supposed popularity of anti-abortion positions. Given the theme of this year’s march, media should be prepared to provide audiences with the necessary context about polls, organizations, and anti-abortion media personalities included in their reporting about the march. Media must avoid oversimplifying public opinion polling or repeating inaccurate talking points in ways that uplift anti-choice misinformation.

  • Some Democrats went to Puerto Rico to spotlight the island's recovery, and Fox News is furious

    Democrats went to Puerto Rico to discuss, fundraise for, and spread awareness about hurricane recovery, but Fox News says they were "partying in Puerto Rico" instead of "doing something in Washington"

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    On the morning of January 14, Fox News focused heavily on a group of over 30 Democrats, most of them members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, who spent the weekend in Puerto Rico as part of an annual retreat. Fox spun this trip as the Democrats partying "on the beaches" instead of working to end the government shutdown.

    Democrats were actually in Puerto Rico for a retreat organized by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ Bold PAC. According to The Hill, Bold PAC chair Tony Cárdenas said “he chose Puerto Rico for this year's convention to showcase the island's needs as it slowly recovers from 2017's Hurricane Maria.” NBC News reported that members of Congress sought to aid the island’s recovery from Hurricane Maria by bringing medical supplies and discussing the neglected recovery with Puerto Rican political leaders, including Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, and several top legislators. 

    Democrats also attended a performance of Hamilton, part of a special limited-time run in which creator and original star Lin-Manuel Miranda reprised his role to help raise funds for hurricane recovery. According to The Hill, Miranda said, “We brought Hamilton here to bring a spotlight to Puerto Rico” and its recovery. All Democrats who attended bought their tickets with their own money. 

    NBC News also reported that “The Bold PAC conference was scheduled for Puerto Rico months before the shutdown” and that the group would be monitoring the shutdown and its developments. The report also noted that the congressional members would “be able to get a bird's-eye view of how the shutdown is affecting the island that is trying to pull itself out of a financial crisis while recovering with the devastation of Category 4 Hurricane Maria."

    While Fox News did mention that it was “a work-play trip,” most of its 19 mentions or segments about the story between 6 a.m. and noon on January 14 were intended to create an image of Democrats ducking their responsibility to help end the government shutdown (which Fox News helped start) and instead vacationing in paradise while real Americans suffer. 

    Fox & Friends co-host Ainsley Earhardt said that “the optics are not good” for the Democrats when “there are 800,000 [federal] workers that aren’t getting paid,” but members of Congress who are “supposed to be doing something in Washington” are instead “on the beaches with their families.” Fellow co-host Brian Kilmeade also falsely claimed that CBS and NBC didn’t cover the story, when both networks covered the story online before Monday.

    Fox & Friends opened its 8 a.m. hour with the line “President Trump says it’s time for Democrats to get off the beach and come back to work while the shutdown enters day 24.” 

    Kilmeade said that the Democrats were “even enjoying a Broadway show" in Puerto Rico. Fox & Friends First co-host Rob Schmitt, who is covering the story in Puerto Rico, reported, “There have been some meetings and there has been some work done. But there’s also been plenty of leisure time.” He also complimented Sen. Bob Menendez’s (D-NJ) “great Instagram photo,” saying he’s “got the nice tan going.” 

    Kilmeade also asked counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway about the White House’s reaction to “the Democrats partying in Puerto Rico rather than staying” in Washington, D.C.

    Fox correspondent Doug McKelway compared the Democrats’ Puerto Rico trip to Trump’s normally frequent golfing excursions, commenting that Trump “has been picking his travels very, very carefully” with the government shutdown, and during these times “playing golf, not such a good thing, visits to Puerto Rico, not such a good thing.” 

    Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer criticized the “30 Democratic members” for going “down on some PAC event where they’re soliciting money from lobbyists in Puerto Rico and hanging out on the beach.”

    Fox re-aired Trump’s highly misleading comment that “the Democrats were in Puerto Rico celebrating” the government shutdown.

    Miranda addressed the controversy at the summit in Puerto Rico as he thanked the Democrats and other officials assembled for being “here to work, despite what anyone might claim.” 

  • Social Security official criticized immigration "diversity agenda" and praised police officers who beat Rodney King

    Robert W. Patterson: "The entire video reveals the officers putting themselves in harm’s way to restrain King when they could have just shot him"

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Social Security Administration official Robert W. Patterson wrote a 2014 Breitbart News piece that lauded the police officers who beat Rodney King, claiming that "the entire video reveals the officers putting themselves in harm’s way to restrain King when they could have just shot him. For that restraint, the cops were subject to relentless prosecution." 

    In commentary pieces elsewhere, he attacked the “diversity agenda” of U.S. immigration law that, he said, has led to “millions of foreigners from the Muslim Middle East and dysfunctional Third World countries” coming into the United States. Patterson also claimed that “hordes of Central American migrants” are threatening public health.

    Patterson is the acting associate commissioner at the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Office of Strategic and Digital Communications. SSA touted his experience when he was hired, calling attention to his background as an “op-ed contributor” and alleged "policy expert." 

    Media Matters previously reported that Patterson argued against contraceptives because “condom use robs” women of the “remarkable chemicals” in semen; said married women in the workplace have undermined society; and suggested that homosexuality is a mental disorder and sexual orientation can be forcibly changed. 

    The SSA did not respond to a request for comment.

    In reviewing more of Patterson's writing, Media Matters found other problematic commentary, this time related to police brutality against Rodney King and racist tropes related to migration and immigration. Here are those remarks. 

    Patterson defended police officers who beat Rodney King: “The entire video reveals the officers putting themselves in harm’s way to restrain King when they could have just shot him.” Patterson wrote an August 2014 piece for Breitbart in which he decried protests in Ferguson, MO, after the police shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. Patterson linked the protests to the 1991 Rodney King beating, writing:

    Indeed, media kingpins, who handle Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson with kid gloves, are on a constant witch-hunt for another Rodney King video. That nine-minute tape, too, is instructive: The only clip the media played in 1991 – over and over – was 20 seconds that framed the cops as the bad guys. Yet the entire video reveals the officers putting themselves in harm’s way to restrain King when they could have just shot him. For that restraint, the cops were subject to relentless prosecution, once for assault in state court (for which they were acquitted), and once again for violating King’s civil rights in federal court (for which they were found guilty).

    As NPR noted, police officers "kicked him repeatedly and beat him with batons for a reported 15 minutes" and “King's injuries resulted in skull fractures, broken bones and teeth, and permanent brain damage.”

    Patterson complained about the “diversity agenda” of U.S. immigration law because it has helped bring intens of millions of foreigners from the Muslim Middle East and dysfunctional Third World countries.” In an August 2014 op-ed for The Washington Times, Patterson criticized “the wildly misnamed Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986” for having kept “the doors wide open for tens of millions of foreigners from the Muslim Middle East and dysfunctional Third World countries” and having “extended the diversity agenda of the Immigration Act of 1965, an overlooked component of LBJ's Great Society.”

    Congress had appointed the commission to correct the abject failure of the wildly misnamed Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. Regarded by Ronald Reagan as the worst mistake of his presidency, the legislation conferred citizenship on 3 million illegals in exchange for phantom enforcement. In keeping the doors wide open for tens of millions of foreigners from the Muslim Middle East and dysfunctional Third World countries, the measure extended the diversity agenda of the Immigration Act of 1965, an overlooked component of LBJ’s Great Society.

    As the Migration Policy Institute noted, “The historic significance of the 1965 law was to repeal national-origins quotas, in place since the 1920s, which had ensured that immigration to the United States was primarily reserved for European immigrants.”

    Patterson: “Hordes of Central American migrants overburden public-school districts and escalate public health and safety risks.” In a September 2014 op-ed for The Washington Times, Patterson claimed that there’s a “flood of illegals” coming into the United States and as a result, “hordes of Central American migrants overburden public-school districts and escalate public health and safety risks.”

    All Republicans would promise to counter the president's open-borders craziness with legislation that would elevate the imperative of national security, step up border enforcement, and fully reverse the flood of illegals into America. With the Islamic State eager to fly its ominous flag over the White House — and as hordes of Central American migrants overburden public-school districts and escalate public health and safety risks — such defensive measures would resonate with anxious voters of both parties. The measure might also impose an emergency moratorium on all guest-worker permits while showing the door to all noncitizens whose visas and green cards have expired.

    His claim about migrants and "public health" is a xenophobic trope. It is also false; CNN recently reported that conservative rhetoric "might lead some to believe that migrants are a threat to American health, a strain on the health care system and damaging to the economy. But a new series of papers presented at a UN Intergovernmental Conference this week and published Wednesday in the journal Lancet says that, based on evidence, that's not true. Most migrants have a mortality advantage, or greater life expectancy, than people in their host countries, according to the new research. This was true for the majority of diseases."

    Patterson’s lack of knowledge about such issues became apparent when he was running for Congress in 2016 as a Republican. The Courier Post in South New Jersey reported on October 26 of that year: “On the question of Syrian refugees, Patterson called for additional vetting, but when told there was already a two-year process in place, he admitted, ‘You’re teaching me something there.’” (The claim that the United States doesn’t screen Syrian refugees is a common right-wing media lie.)

  • Tomi Lahren pushed a 4chan lie about Elizabeth Warren, and Fox News hasn't done a thing about it

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.

    Fox Nation host Tomi Lahren slandered a sitting senator and a 2020 presidential hopeful by accusing her of racism and amplified a hoax that originated from anonymous message boards. In the days since, Fox News has done nothing to hold Lahren accountable.

    Four days after Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) announced that she was launching an exploratory committee to run for president in 2020, Lahren shared with her 1.2 million followers on Twitter the slanderous accusation that Warren had a racist ornament in her kitchen:

    The screenshot of Warren’s kitchen is from a live Instagram Q&A session she did on New Year’s Eve. Lahren was amplifying and spreading a hoax that previously was spread in the anonymous message board 4chan and “r/The_Donald” subreddit on Reddit, in which a vase was misconstrued to be a racist figurine of a Black child eating a watermelon. As documented by Right Wing Watch, Lahren deleted her tweet but did not apologize or provide clarification to her massive audience. Fox News not only failed to acknowledge the slander, but Lahren’s Fox Nation shows, First Thoughts and Final Thoughts, continued to stream as scheduled on Fox’s online platform. The network also continued to book Lahren on its cable morning program, Fox & Friends.

    Lahren’s Twitter feed is a constant stream of inaccuracies, falsehoods, and vitriol. She once apparently echoed the idiotic conspiracy theory that white supremacist Jason Kessler (who organized the 2017 racist “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, VA) was a tool of the left. She tweeted that watching immigrants getting tear-gassed at the border was the highlight of her Thanksgiving weekend. And just this week, Lahren baselessly claimed that the remittances that undocumented immigrants send to their home countries are used to fund “cartel and criminal organizations.” Fox News kept her on air and even gave her a hosting gig on Fox Nation.

    The network ignoring its host amplifying a easily-debunked hoax from 4chan shows the garbage that the network finds acceptable. The network also recently gave a pass to Rep. Steve King (R-IA), after King embraced white supremacy in an interview with The New York Times. Fox covered the story for a mere 42 seconds, framing its coverage as King “fighting back against a New York Times article” (a reference to King’s statement in response to the Times article).

    What Fox does find unacceptable, however, is cursing. The day after Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) said “impeach the motherfucker” in reference to President Donald Trump, the network gave 52 minutes of coverage to her comment -- 74 times more than it gave to King’s white supremacy.