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  • The National Rifle Association heads into its annual meeting amid reports of a fractured board and troubling finances

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    The National Rifle Association is holding its annual meeting in Indianapolis, IN, this week on the heels of recent reporting about the group’s lawsuit against its own ad agency, ongoing budget problems, and a divided board of directors.

    The event kicked off with an evening banquet on April 25 at the Indiana Convention Center and will continue with three days of speakers, seminars, and workshops as well as an exhibition showcasing, guns, ammunition, and firearm accessories. The NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, the organization’s lobbying wing, is hosting the flagship event, the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum, beginning at 11 a.m. on Friday, April 26 at the Lucas Oil Stadium. Speakers for the “stacked” event include President Donald Trump, giving the keynote address, Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA). Several NRA officials, including Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, NRA President Oliver North and ILA Executive Director Chris Cox will also be speaking.

    This year’s annual meeting comes amid multiple reports of a troubling financial situation at the NRA and a fractured board of directors. On April 12, the NRA filed a lawsuit against its ad agency of nearly 40 years, Ackerman McQueen, which also produces the group’s media outlet, NRATV. According to The Wall Street Journal, the lawsuit alleges that the company “was obliged to provide access to records underlying its bills” to the NRA, but “rebuffed or baldly ignored” the group’s requests. The lawsuit also highlights a split between what the Journal described as the “pro-Ackerman McQueen faction” of the NRA’s board, which reportedly includes North and which argues that the law firm leading the lawsuit is charging too much, and those who claim it is money “well spent, because it’s for the survival of the NRA,” which reportedly includes LaPierre.

    The Trace, in partnership with The New Yorker, unearthed more than a decade of financial problems at the NRA, as described in a lengthy April 17 article, reporting that “in recent years, it has run annual deficits of as much as forty million dollars” to focus on “messaging” while spending less than 10% of its budget on firearms education, safety, and training. Tax documents mentioned in the article reportedly show “a small group of N.R.A. executives, contractors, and venders” received “hundreds of millions of dollars from the nonprofit’s budget, through gratuitous payments, sweetheart deals, and opaque financial arrangements.” One senior NRA employee went as far as to “describe a workplace distinguished by secrecy, self-dealing, and greed.” Meanwhile, the NRA, “in desperate need of funds, raised its dues for the second time in two years” and cut costs by eliminating “free coffee and water coolers at its headquarters” and freezing employees’ pension plans.

    Both of these articles come less than six months after layoffs hit NRATV, a little over a month after former NRA president and current board member Marion Hammer went on record to The New York Times that she and other board members "have questioned the value" of the network. According to a gun rights blog quoted in The Trace, “Hammer, ‘who hasn’t attended a Board of Directors meeting since hell froze over,’ is traveling to Indy to be there when the board meets during the convention: ‘It’s that bad.’”

    Here are some highlights from the 2019 NRA Annual Meeting:

    Speeches, seminars and other events:

    • Trump will give a speech at the meeting for the fifth year in a row.
    • The meeting will have a Women’s Leadership Forum on April 26, featuring Fox & Friends favorite Dean Cain as the keynote speaker. Previous speakers have included Fox’s Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson.
    • The NRA announced that pro-Trump conservative media pundit Candace Owens will speak at the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum. Owens recently came under fire for saying Adolf Hitler would have been “fine” had he focused only on Germany.    
    • NRA board member Ted Nugent will attend this year’s meeting. Nugent, a notorious misogynist who spoke during the 2018 NRA Women’s Leadership Forum, has previously blamed school shootings on unhealthy diets, said Parkland survivors “have no soul,” and pushed the conspiracy theory that David Hogg was a “crisis actor.”  
    • Discredited pro-gun researcher John Lott will give talks throughout the three-day event, with one offering “an in depth understanding about the debate over concealed handguns” and another supposedly debunking “gun control lies,” including “the facts relating suicides to gun ownership.” His organization, Crime Prevention Research Center, will also have a booth in the exhibition hall.  
    • NRA board member and Fox News contributor Allen West will host the event’s prayer breakfast on April 28. West has a long history of making controversial remarks, such as saying “the Black community was stronger” and “had better education opportunities” during segregation.    
    • The NRA said “firearms and firearm accessories … will be prohibited” in the stadium during the ILA’s Leadership Forum at the request of the Secret Service due to the president’s and vice president’s appearances. The NRA has long claimed that “gun-free zones” are more attractive for mass shooters than places without such a designation and that they make those in them unsafe.    

    The exhibition hall:    

  • WSJ and right-wing outlets hype dubious study criticizing electric vehicles

    Experts have documented numerous problems with the analysis, but conservative media and climate deniers are still promoting it

    Blog ››› ››› TED MACDONALD


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    The Wall Street Journal published an editorial on April 23 that derided electric vehicles in Germany as "dirty," based on a recent study that has been called into question by a number of experts and mainstream German news outlets. The Journal's editorial board, which has a history of climate denial, has attacked both German energy policy and electric vehicles (EVs) before.

    The dubious study has also been hyped by climate deniers and right-wing outlets in the U.S., including Infowars and The Daily Caller.

    Experts point out major flaws in German study on electric vs. diesel cars

    The study was conducted by the Ifo Institute, a Munich-based think tank, and argued that a Tesla Model 3 electric vehicle driven in Germany is responsible for more carbon dioxide pollution than a Mercedes C220d diesel vehicle. The study, which was released in German on April 17 and has not yet been translated into English, finds that the Tesla emits between 156 and 181 grams of CO2 per kilometer driven, compared to 141 grams of CO2 from the diesel Mercedes. The study attributes roughly half of the Tesla's emissions to the vehicle’s production process, including its battery, which the authors assume will only last 10 years or 150,000 kilometers. The other half of the Tesla’s estimated emissions in Germany come from electricity used to charge the car, some of which is generated by burning coal.

    English-language summaries of the study include a press release from the Ifo Institute and a Brussels Times write-up.

    Soon after the study's release, German-language outlets started pushing back on its findings and methodology, including Der Spiegel, the highest-circulation news magazine in Europe, and WirtschaftsWoche, a weekly business news magazine. Articles in both publications highlighted miscalculations and faulty assumptions, and pointed to a number of other studies on EVs that had come to opposite conclusions.

    One English-language debunk of the study came in a Twitter thread from Netherlands-based energy researcher Auke Hoekstra. Hoekstra noted that the study's claims about the diesel Mercedes' emissions are wrong -- the Mercedes emits closer to 220 grams of CO2 per kilometer, rather than 141, he argued. He also highlighted how the authors used an extremely low number for how long an electric vehicle battery lasts. He stated, “even Tesla's from the olden days can drive 600 000 km before the battery reaches 80% capacity.” He summed up his criticisms:

    Hoekstra also argued that the analysis should not be presented as an academic study. Instead, he characterized it as “the opinion of three people, … none of whom have any background” in EVs or batteries. One of the authors, Hans-Werner Sinn, has been criticized for using dubious assumptions in energy studies before: Sinn received strong pushback on a 2018 paper he wrote claiming that energy storage requirements ultimately limit the expansion of renewable energy. Sinn has also argued that criticism of Volkswagen over its role in the Dieselgate scandal has been exaggerated, and placed much of the blame for the scandal on U.S. efforts to regulate diesel engines.

    Another debunk of the Ifo study came from Fred Lambert, chief editor of the electric transportation news site Electrek. He noted:

    One of the biggest mistakes they are making is that they are comparing the full production and lifecycle of an electric vehicle, including the emission from the electricity uses, against the production and lifecycle of a diesel car without accounting for all the energy used to produce the diesel and supply it to the cars.

    Lambert also called out the study’s authors for falsely assuming a battery life of 150,000 kilometers and for failing to note that Germany is planning to rapidly decarbonize its electricity system, which would greatly improve the carbon footprint of EVs in the near future.

    Another criticism of the study has been its focus solely on Germany's energy grid and the authors' failure to take into account the overall mix of the larger European energy market that Germany is a part of. German carmaker Volkswagen, which manufactures both EVs and diesel vehicles, responded to the study by defending EVs. In an English-language article by Deutsche Welle, a German international broadcaster, Volkswagen noted that with Germany's current electricity mix, its Golf EV would have a similar CO2 output as a diesel car of the same type -- 142 grams per kilogram compared to 140. However, “using the European energy mix for calculations, which includes large amounts of nuclear energy from France and water power from Norway, the e-Golf's carbon footprint would be down to 119 g/km” -- far below the CO2 output of a diesel car.

    Other analyses have disproved the claim that EVs are not environmentally friendly. In 2018, the Union of Concerned Scientists found that a U.S.-based EV is equivalent to a conventional gasoline car that gets 80 miles per gallon. Unlike the German study, it looked at all of the emissions from fueling and driving both vehicles. It also found that EVs will get cleaner over time as electric grids get cleaner, noting that its 2018 estimate was an improvement of 7 mpg from 2017. And a 2017 report from the Transport & Environment group, a Brussels-based transportation policy group, found that EVs emit fewer greenhouse gases than diesel cars even when EVs are powered by the most carbon-intensive electricity.

    Right-wing outlets in the U.S. promote Ifo’s study to disparage EVs

    Although the Ifo study is specific to Germany’s electric grid and has been widely criticized, climate deniers and right-wing outlets in the U.S. have picked up on it and are using it to disparage EVs generally. Steve Milloy, a notorious denier and frequent Wall Street Journal contributor, tweeted about the study on April 19. On April 22, extreme right-wing outlet Infowars wrote about the study, and far-right conspiracy theorist Paul Joseph Watson tweeted about the Infowars piece. The right-wing website Zero Hedge wrote about the study too, and a tweet pointing to that post was retweeted by Mandy Gunasekara, a former Trump EPA official and current Fox News contributor.

    After The Wall Street Journal wrote about the study, still more right-wing outlets covered it, including The Daily Caller, which has a long record of inaccurate reporting on climate and energy issues, and The Western Journal, a conservative news outlet with a history of deceptive climate claims.

    The Wall Street Journal has a long track record of misleading on climate and energy issues

    The Wall Street Journal's opinion pages have spread misinformation about climate change for decades. A Media Matters study found that from January 2015 to August 2016, one-third of the paper’s climate-related opinion pieces contained climate denial or other inaccurate statements about climate change. We’ve also found that the paper's opinion section is ExxonMobil’s chief apologist for its climate change lies, and it has defended the fracking industry against accusations that it contaminates drinking water. According to a recent article in Current Affairs, the Journal has shifted in recent years from denying climate change to downplaying it, but still remains an impediment to clean energy and climate action. The Wall Street Journal has always been a pro-polluter, pro-industry paper, so it’s no surprise that it would overlook flaws and publicize questionable research that disparages a direct threat to the fossil-fuel industry.

  • Stephen Moore's hatred of climate science inspired him to attack Ivanka Trump

    Moore: Ivanka Trump “grew up in Manhattan … Think about who all of Ivanka’s friends are: They’re Manhattan liberals”

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Stephen Moore, President Donald Trump’s pick for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board, hates support for climate change science so much that he previously attacked Ivanka Trump as an elitist who’s friends with “Manhattan liberals” for her supposed (but ineffectual) support for action on climate change.

    Moore is a right-wing commentator who has come under fire for his views on women and the economy. He previously worked as a contributor to CNN and Fox News; Moore repeatedly told audiences that Fox News’ motto is “fair, balanced, and blonde” and that he enjoyed working there because he “met a lot of beautiful women.”

    Moore has also frequently made incendiary and inaccurate comments about climate science, including claiming that:

    • Global warming is the greatest scam of the last 100 years; these people are fanatics.”
    • The effort to combat climate change is “one of the greatest propaganda campaigns in world history.”  
    • Scientists are lying about climate change to get “really, really, really rich,” and they “have a vested financial interest in talking about armageddon and these kinds of things.”
    • Environmentalists “are young Stalinists. I can’t go on college campuses today to even question their religion of global warming – and it is a religion, by the way.”
    • Fracking is "like the equivalent in health care of a cure for cancer."

    On June 1, 2017, President Trump announced that the United States would leave the Paris climate accord, which aims to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. Prior to the decision, media outlets reported that Ivanka Trump preferred that the country stay in the agreement. (Regardless of her reported views, she works for the White House as an adviser and the administration has heavily rolled back environmental protections; and she defends the administration and its anti-science policies, including retweeting the White House’s claim that “the Trump Administration has been an active and meaningful driver for science and technology policy in America.”)

    In a June 1, 2017, radio segment shortly before the announcement, radio host Rose Tennent brought up Ivanka Trump’s reported attempt to influence the president’s Paris accord decision and told Moore that while she loves the Trumps, she “didn’t vote for” her and her husband Jared Kushner. Moore responded by stating that he has “nothing but respect for them” and believes they’re “brilliant,” “hard-working,” and “impressive,” but then trashed Ivanka as out-of-touch.

    “Where did they grow up? They grew up in Manhattan,” Moore said. “You know? I mean, they have a different view of the world. Right? I mean, think about who all of Ivanka’s friends are: They’re Manhattan liberals.”

    He added: “They don’t know steel workers, they don’t know coal miners, they don’t know people who are welders and pipefitters.”

    ROSE TENNENT (HOST): One of the things though I was reading yesterday, when some of the people around him -- for example, his daughter who is very influential, she doesn’t want him to leave.

    STEPHEN MOORE: No, she doesn’t.

    TENNENT: And, yeah, and see, this is this one of my concerns. Steve, I’m going to be honest with you, and I love the Trumps. I mean I’ve interviewed every one of them. My favorite is Eric, I think he’s just amazing. You know I love them. But I don’t necessarily -- I didn’t necessarily vote to have Ivanka and her husband in the White House and having that great of an influence over Donald Trump. I love that they can -- that he has somebody to lean on and trust and count on. But I just didn’t want that input because I didn’t vote for them. I would never vote for Kushner. You know what I mean?

    MOORE: Well, I got to know Jared and Ivanka as well on the campaign trail. And, by the way, I have nothing but respect for them.

    TENNENT: Absolutely.

    MOORE: They’re brilliant people and they are so hard-working --

    TENNENT: Lovely.

    MOORE: -- and so impressive in every way. But look. Where did they grow up? They grew up in Manhattan. You know? I mean, they have a different view of the world. Right? I mean, think about who all of Ivanka’s friends are: They’re Manhattan liberals. And, you know, so, I think her attitude about this has been colored by the fact that she’s hanging out with people. They don’t -- the people that, you know, grew up in Manhattan, they don’t know steel workers, they don’t know coal miners, they don’t know people who are welders and pipefitters. And those -- again, I go back to the point that it’s working-class Americans who are going to pay the price for this if we go forward.

    While Moore suggested he’s a champion of “working-class” non-Manhattanites, in 2014, he called Cincinnati and Cleveland some of the "armpits of America."

  • NRA board member Ted Nugent makes bigoted post on Facebook just ahead of the group's annual meeting

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent suggested in an April 24 Facebook post that if we’re going to remove Confederate statues “because of the Civil War,” we should “remove mosques because of 9/11.” Nugent’s comment is a reference to recent efforts and movements in several states to remove Confederate statues from public spaces.

    Nugent posted the comparison just two days before the NRA annual meeting in Indianapolis, IN, which he announced on April 22 that he’d be attending to “stand up loud and proud for the sacred second amendment and the mighty NRA.” Nugent has made inflammatory comments during previous annual meetings: In 2015 he used an analogy that involved him shooting former Democratic Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and in 2012 he called for members to “ride into that battlefield and chop [Democrats’] heads off in November.” The 2018 annual meeting featured a gun line sponsored by Nugent, who branded the product his “American spearchucker series,” a reference to a racial slur used to disparage Africans.   

    Nugent has a long history of making pro-Confederate statements and violent comments and using hateful anti-Muslim rhetoric. He received heavy criticism after he pushed the conspiracy theory that Parkland school shooting survivor David Hogg was a “crisis actor” and called other Parkland survivors “pathetic” and liars with “no soul.”

    Earlier this month, Nugent was reelected to the NRA board of directors through 2022, receiving the second most votes behind NRA President Oliver North.

  • NRATV host attacks Sen. Bernie Sanders over a fake Sanders Twitter account 

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The National Rifle Association’s media operation NRATV aired a tweet sent by an obviously fake Bernie Sanders account, with NRATV host Grant Stinchfield falsely claiming that Sanders asked on Twitter, “Who cares about a few terrorists?”

    The April 25 broadcast of NRATV show Stinchfield had a segment on Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) position that all people in prison should be allowed to vote, regardless of the crime they were convicted for. Stinchfield mentioned that entertainer Cher had criticized Sanders' proposal on Twitter and creduously quoted a fake Sanders account that had responded to Cher's tweet. The account using the name “President Bernie Sanders” and the handle “@Ryan35186771” had written: “Why are you playing into this? Who cares about a few terrorists?”

    Stinchfield represented that Sanders actually sent the tweet, saying, “It may be one of Bernie Sanders’ responses to Cher that is the most offensive. ‘Who cares about a few terrorists,’ he writes.” The NRATV host went on to say: “We care, Bernie Sanders and your supporters. We care about terrorists not voting from behind bars. The 5 1/2 million members of the NRA care because we love this country”:

    GRANT STINCHFIELD (HOST): The fact is it may be one of Bernie Sanders’ responses to Cher that is the most offensive. “Who cares about a few terrorists,” he writes. Who cares about a few terrorists? I would argue the family members of hundreds of victims of the Boston bombings, that’s who, all of us who lived through 9/11, who knew people who died there and felt it first hand, what jihad means and what it is: Death to America. We care, Bernie Sanders and your supporters. We care about terrorists not voting from behind bars. The 5 1/2 million members of the NRA care because we love this country.

    Stinchfield often broadcasts patently false information on his NRATV show. On Election Day 2016, Stinchfield read from and discussed an article in an NRA magazine about the supposed horrors a Hillary Clinton presidency would bring while urging people not to vote for her. The article -- which raised the prospect of Syrian refugees establishing an “Islamic State in the United States” culminating in a nuclear attack on U.S. soil -- was labeled “fiction” by the NRA magazine.

  • Stephen Moore repeatedly said he liked working at Fox News because he met "a lot of beautiful women" there

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Stephen Moore, President Donald Trump’s pick for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board, frequently told audiences that Fox News’ motto is “fair, balanced, and blonde” and that he enjoyed working there because he “met a lot of beautiful women.”

    Moore has come under fire in recent days for his sexist commentary about women. CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski and Paul LeBlanc reported that he “has written that women should be banned from refereeing, announcing or beer vending at men's college basketball games, asking if there was any area in life ‘where men can take vacation from women.’”

    Moore also said during an October 2017 appearance on CNN that he got “very good advice” from a CEO who told him to “never have a meeting with a woman without someone else in the room” because women have reported sexual harassment against people in a “position of power” like Bill O’Reilly and Trump.

    Moore worked as a Fox News contributor from 2013 to early 2017, when he left the right-wing network for CNN (after Trump's Fed announcement, CNN removed him as a commentator). He also frequently appeared on Fox News as a guest before becoming an official commentator. Fox News’ workplace culture has been toxic for years, especially for women.

    One of the staples of his speeches to organizations was touting how he's met “beautiful women” at Fox News, calling it one of his employment’s “fringe benefits” and saying it makes Fox News a “fun” and “great” place to work. Here are five examples:

    • During a May 10, 2012, speech for the Freedom Foundation, Moore said: “It’s great to be working with Fox News. You know their motto, by the way? Fair, balanced, and blonde, right? I’ve met a lot of beautiful women at Fox News, including Megyn Kelly, who I have to confess -- my wife isn’t here -- I’m in love with Megyn Kelly.”
    • During an October 18, 2012, speech at the Kansas Policy Institute, Moore said: “You know the theme of Fox News, right? Fair, balanced, and blonde. I’ve met so many, you know, beautiful women at Fox and it’s a lot of fun to work there.”
    • During a November 15, 2012, speech for the Citizens' Council for Health Freedom, Moore said: “People are always asking me, ‘What’s Greta [Van Susteren] really like?’ And I say, ‘Greta is absolutely perfect for Fox News. She’s fair, balanced, and blonde.’ And that is the philosophy of Fox News. ... One of the great things about working at Fox News: I have met a lot of beautiful women at Fox News. It’s a great place to work.” The Washington Post first reported on that remark.
    • During an August 7, 2013, speech for the American Legislative Exchange Council, Moore said: “My night job is working at Fox. You all know the theme of Fox News? Fair, balanced, and blonde. I’ve met a lot of beautiful women at Fox News.”  
    • During a November 21, 2013, speech at Brown University, Moore said: “By the way, for those of you who do watch Fox News, you all know the motto for Fox News, right, John? It’s Fox News: fair, balanced, and blonde. I’ve met a lot of beautiful women at Fox News and it’s one of the fringe benefits of working there.”
  • Citing far-right outlet OANN, Trump revives conspiracy theory that caused an international incident with the UK in 2017

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    On April 24, President Donald Trump tweeted that former CIA analyst Larry Johnson has accused the United Kingdom's intelligence agencies of “helping Obama Administration Spy on the 2016 Trump Presidential Campaign.” Trump was apparently tweeting in response to a segment he watched on One America News Network, a conservative cable news channel. In doing so, the president has resurfaced a conspiracy theory from a discredited fraud that -- when Fox News promoted it in 2017 -- helped cause an international incident between the United States and the United Kingdom. 

    Larry Johnson is a conservative conspiracy theorist notorious for pushing the racist smear that there was a tape of former first lady Michelle Obama calling people “whitey.” Johnson appeared on Russian television network RT in March 2017 to argue that “there was some collusion overseas” between U.S. intelligence and the U.K. security agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and that British intelligence gathered information about Trump that it passed to Obama-era CIA Director John Brennan. None of Johnson’s allegations are true.

    Several days later, Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano shared the theory (with anonymous attribution) on two Fox shows. It then spread over right-wing media and ultimately reached then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer. On March 16, 2017, Spicer cited Napolitano’s RT-sourced conspiracy theory in a press briefing to suggest that one of the United States’ strongest allies was illegally spying on Trump on behalf of then-President Barack Obama. The British government was displeased, and GCHQ issued a rare statement denouncing Napolitano’s “utterly ridiculous” claim. 

    After The New York Times confirmed Media Matters’ discovery that Johnson was one of Napolitano’s sources for the conspiracy theory, Fox News suspended Napolitano “indefinitely,” which turned out to be approximately two weeks. (Upon his return to Fox, Napolitano doubled down on the claim that got him suspended.) When the controversy blew back on Trump himself during a press conference, the president ducked all responsibility and blamed Fox News

    A few weeks after this incident, CNN reported that European intelligence agencies, including GCHQ, captured Trump campaign communications “during routine surveillance of Russian officials” and passed them on to U.S. intelligence. However, no agencies involved in this incidental collection were “proactively targeting members of the Trump team,” as Johnson, Napolitano, and Spicer had falsely alleged.

    Now, two years later, the president is pushing the same conspiracy theory that previously damaged the U.S.-U.K. alliance and which the British government has denounced as “utterly ridiculous” for the second time -- all because he was watching TV. 

  • With the Mueller investigation over, conservative media declare it’s time to investigate the investigators

    Right-wing media, predominantly Fox News figures, use the end of the Mueller investigation to call yet again for investigations into Hillary Clinton, President Obama, the FBI, and more

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    On Thursday, April 18, the Department of Justice released a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian election interference. Since then, several right-wing media figures, including hosts, anchors, and guests of President Donald Trump’s favorite TV channels Fox News and Fox Business, have declared that now is the time to investigate the investigators. (Republican National Committee spokesperson Elizabeth Harrington has also joined the chorus.)

    • New York Post’s Michael Goodwin: “The whole thing about the Russian dossier, the use of it by the FBI, [former FBI Director] James Comey, [former Director of National Intelligence James] Clapper, [former CIA Director John] Brennan, [former national security adviser] Susan Rice, on and on. All of their actions are subject, we hope, to a true investigation.”

    • The Wall Street Journal’s James Freeman: “How did this begin? How did this use of surveillance tools against the party out of power get started? And that's really what we haven't learned. ... Now I think we'll learn more about how the government came to spy on a political opposition.”

    • Fox Business host Stuart Varney: “I would simply like to know what did President Obama know about an ongoing spying operation into a competitor's political presidential campaign? … Will we find out what Hillary was doing?”

    • Fox contributor John Sununu: “When Lindsey Graham starts his investigation on the Clinton side of the issue, [Democrats] will have a difficult time with dealing that. And the more and more they get into the weeds, the more and more the American public is going to understand how political they are rather than trying to get legislation passed.”

    • Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk on The Story: “I actually believe you cannot allow the people from the internal, high levels of the FBI to get away with what they did here. ... There’s a lot of information, a lot of questions that still needs to be answered because this should never be allowed to happen to any other president again.”

    • Fox News chief political anchor Bret Baier: Baier falsely gave credence to the idea that investigators need to be investigated, saying, “We don't yet know about the origins of the investigation, the [inspector general] may shed some light on this, as other investigations in the early stages.”

    • Fox contributor Katherine Timpf on Outnumbered: “We already have evidence that there were some people who were involved in this investigation who were politically motivated. They wanted to get the president. That's not something we wondering about, it's something we know. So knowing that, why wouldn’t you want to know more?”

    • Outnumbered co-host Lisa Boothe: “I would love to know at what point Mueller knew there was no collusion and why the investigation went past that point. I question the origins of the investigation to begin with. ... I question all of it, and I sincerely think we need to get to the bottom of it.”

    • Fox Business’ David Asman on Fox's Outnumbered: “It’s probably one reason why they are attacking [Attorney General William] Barr now is because they are afraid of what he might dig up as a result of investigating all this.”

    • Fox Business host Lisa Kennedy Montgomery: “If there is a possibility that the deep state exists and it is so politicized, and at the president's disposal, shouldn't all of the people running for president as Democrats want an investigation to make sure what happened in 2016 doesn't happen in 2020?”

    • Breitbart’s Alana Mastrangelo responded to a Trump tweet about the Mueller report with “Now let’s investigate the investigators.”

    • Fox News contributor Tammy Bruce on Varney & Co.: “We aren't fatigued with justice. We want it, and I think that especially in this case we know this investigation was based on something that didn't occur.”

    • Fox News host Laura Ingraham: “Will we ever see these underlying documents? We've got transparency from the Trump team, … and we still don't really know, do we, what happened with Comey and the edits and why he came out into a press conference?”

    • Ingraham: “Every effort should be made to investigate the origins and motivations of this Mueller investigation.”

    • Fox News contributor Trey Gowdy on Fox's The Story: “I would think everybody would want to know was there sufficient factual predicate for the launching -- the initiating of this investigation? … What you will see is Republicans going to investigate the origins.”

    • Fox Business host Lou Dobbs: “Everyone involved, the Dems who funded it, the Christopher Steeles and the law firms, that aided and abetted in this farcical attempt to overthrow a president … should be in orange jumpsuits.”

    • Dobbs: Barr is “the first attorney general I've seen in decades who, I believe, has the capacity and the talent and the integrity to … clean up this mess that is the leadership of the FBI and the Department of Justice.”

    • Lou Dobbs Tonight guest Harmeet Dhillon: “We are going to see more leadership changes [at DOJ] I hope, and that Bill Barr is able to be given all the rope and the ammunition that he needs to go forward.”

    • Fox regular Joe diGenova: “It is now abundantly clear that in order to restore the integrity of DOJ and FBI, there has to be a full-scale federal grand jury of the Obama DOJ and FBI, CIA, and director of national intelligence."

    • The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway on Fox's Special Report: “The country was basically held hostage by a collusion theory -- a theory that the president of the United States was a foreign agent. … It was a very negative thing. There needs to be accountability; we are being given indications that there will be accountability for this.”

    • Hemingway on Fox & Friends: “We should continue to investigate, but what we should investigate is how [the media and Democrats] were able to get away with saying [that there was collusion] for so many years without evidence, and how it was that our own law enforcement and intelligence agencies were taken over by this.”

    • Fox host Jesse Watters: “They used false information to spy on the Trump campaign, so that needs to be investigated. … Why aren't reporters at Chappaqua [NY] right now, waiting for Hillary?”

    • Fox Nation personalities Diamond & Silk: “The government officials that participated, that masterminded, that orchestrated all of this here collusion mess -- they need to be brought to justice. It’s time to investigate the investigators.”

    • Fox guest Francey Hakes: “How did this entire investigation get started, and did the US government actually run an asset at George Papadopoulos to plant information that was then later used as the basis of the entire investigation? … Public corruption must be examined.”

    • A Hannity panel comprising Fox’s Gregg Jarrett, right-wing journalist Sara Carter, and former independent counsel Ken Starr agreed that the investigators need to be investigated. Jarrett: “If I were James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Brennan Clapper, I wouldn't be sleeping very well tonight or many nights to come.”

    • Fox host Sean Hannity: “If any of this started before July 31, the alleged beginning of the FBI's collusion investigation, we need to know when it started. And finally, we need to know this big question: What did he know? What did President Obama know? And when did he know it?”

    • Hannity on his radio show: “Is Robert Mueller going to be reappointed and maybe he’ll hire only Republican donors? … Maybe they'll hire Sean Hannity. ... This is now the beginning of the real investigation into the investigators.”

    • Trump attorney Jay Sekulow on Hannity: “For the country’s sake, we don’t let this happen again -- ever again. When a situation like this -- that’s why you got to find out how you started. I think the attorney general is going to do the right thing.”

  • Fox "straight news" anchor Martha MacCallum allows Rush Limbaugh to spew racism and conspiracy theories with no pushback

    Fox News pushes "straight news" anchors like MacCallum and Bret Baier as somehow distinct from its prime-time opinion programming -- but Rush Limbaugh of all people just proved otherwise

    Blog ››› ››› REBECCA MARTIN

    Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum allowed Rush Limbaugh to make long debunked claims, racist statements, and false accusations which she left unchecked throughout her interview with the right-wing radio host.

    During the interview, Limbaugh claimed fomer Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should be investigated, indicted and put in jail. Limbaugh offered no evidence to back up this claim, and MacCallum did not ask for any. Limbaugh also used a racial slur to attack Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and MacCallum again let the attack slide without mention. Limbaugh then claimed Democratic candidates do not have plans to pay for their policy proposals, another falsehood that MacCallum did not push back on.

    Shortly after the segment ended, President Donald Trump enthusiastically tweeted it:

    A few minutes after Trump's tweet, Sean Hannity also gushed over Limbaugh's remarks on his Fox News "opinion" show.

    While Fox News presents MacCallum as a “straight news” host, labeling her as a contrast to its problematic opinion hosts, she continually pushes right-wing misinformation and allows conservative guests to present falsehoods with minimal pushback. As Media Matters' Matt Gertz recently wrote, "MacCallum is every bit as pure an ideologue as anyone else on the network, using her show to claim that a border wall is 'needed' to stop the immigrant 'invasion' and declare that 'both sides' were at fault during the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, VA, among other misdeeds."

    Fox's chief political anchor Bret Baier, whom Fox touts as being on the “straight news” side, recently interviewed Limbaugh with similar results -- even though it was days after Limbaugh had called the New Zealand shootings a false flag. Baier and MacCallum hosted Fox’s town hall with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

    Fox News is currently in an advertiser crisis and has been pushing "straight news" anchors like MacCallum and Baier as somehow distinct from its prime-time opinion programming. In reality, the two are cogs in the same machine -- as Rush Limbaugh himself just proved.

  • Fox host downplays student debt crisis by dismissing Warren’s plan to cancel debt as “buying votes”

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    Fox Business’ Stuart Varney attacked Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA) proposal to provide debt relief to over 42 million student borrowers and to make public college free, characterizing it as nothing more than a vote buying scheme. But the student debt crisis is a major problem for the U.S. economy, with tens of millions of defaults expected in the next few years.

    During the April 23 edition of Fox & Friends, Varney first correctly explained that Warren’s proposal would provide debt relief for about 42 million Americans, wiping out up to $50,000 of debt for most student borrowers, and would make public colleges tuition-free. But he quickly claimed that the proposal is “buying votes with other people’s money” and complained that the plan would be funded by taxing America’s wealthiest millionaires and billionaires. Varney concluded by mocking Warren and her plan: “It’s buying votes. ‘Vote for me, millennials, and look what I can do for you.’”

    Varney failed to acknowledge the severity of the student debt problem. As CNBC’s report on Warren’s proposal explained, “By 2023, nearly 40% of borrowers are expected to default on their student loans, an event that only increases their debt and devastates their credit.” And student debt disproportionately harms students of historically Black colleges and universities: According to The Wall Street Journal, students of these schools have 32% higher median debt load than students from other public universities.

    Warren wrote that her proposal to forgive student debt and make public college free would “substantially increase wealth for Black and Latinx families and reduce both the Black-White and Latinx-White wealth gaps.” And NPR explained the obvious economic benefits of reducing so much debt: “Federal agencies have calculated in the past that the current $1.5 trillion of outstanding student loans could be impacting consumer spending and demand for mortgages — so canceling many of those loans could indeed goose the economy.”

    Varney, who has said he is among the top 1% of income earners, has a long history of dismissing the struggles of Americans who are not rich. In 2011, he said that many poor people “have things. What they lack is the richness of spirit.”

    Varney has also attacked many Democratic proposals and policies that would provide relief and an even playing field for lower income families. In April 2018, Varney said that now-presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ job guarantee plan was “a vote-buying operation.” In October 2015, Varney said that multiple policy proposals from Democratic presidential candidates, including paid family leave and health care for all children, were just their attempts at “buying votes.” And before that, during the Obama administration, Varney repeatedly characterized the federal government’s efforts to ensure that people who qualified for benefits had access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, as Democratic plots to “buy votes.”