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  • Fox News is unusually focused on the nationality of the officer who shot Justine Damond (he's Somali-American)

    The network’s coverage mainstreams xenophobic narratives about immigrant crime

    Blog ››› ››› NINA MAST


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    On July 17, developments emerged in two cases of fatal officer-involved shootings, but Fox News rushed to cover only one of them and focused disproportionately on the officer’s nationality in doing so.

    On the day Balch Springs, Texas, police officer Roy Oliver was indicted for the fatal shooting of Jordan Edwards, a black teenager, news broke of the July 15 shooting of an Australian woman by a Minneapolis, MN, police officer who was later identified as Mohamed Noor. Noor is Somali-American. While Fox News aired several segments about Noor, the network made not a single mention of the indictment of Oliver, who is white, continuing its disinterest in the case since Edwards was killed on April 29 in Dallas, TX.

    In the first three days of coverage following the shooting of Justine Ruszczyk (who went by the surname of her fiancé, Don Damond), Fox News covered the story in 11 segments, six of which mentioned that the officer was “Somali-American,” an "immigrant" from Somalia, the first Somali-American to patrol that precinct, or that Minneapolis boasts a “very significant Somali population.” A Fox News article online began both its headline and body with Noor’s Somali background. In the same period, MSNBC and CNN both dedicated seven and 14 segments, respectively, to the story. CNN reporters did mention his Somali-American identity twice when prompted by hosts for more details about his background. MSNBC did not mention that he is Somali-American.

    Fox News’ Tucker Carlson went so far as to claim the mainstream media is engaged in a deliberate cover-up of the officer’s nationality. On the July 18 edition of his show, Carlson said, "Mohamed Noor was an immigrant from Somalia. Is that a relevant fact? We don't know. But it's being treated as one by many news organizations. How do you know that? Because they're not reporting it."

    Carlson was wrong to claim news organizations didn’t mention that the officer is Somali-American. His rival network CNN mentioned it that same day, and while The Washington Post -- which Carlson referenced -- did publish an early article on the story that did not mention his name or nationality (officials had not yet confirmed the identity of the officer), the paper also published a piece the next morning entirely focused on Noor and reactions in the Somali community of Minneapolis, which is bracing for backlash in the wake of the shooting. Moreover, Minnesota state officials did not publicly release the identities of the two officers involved in the shooting until Tuesday night (July 18), meaning three of Fox’s reports on Noor’s Somali identity were seemingly based on early reporting by the Star Tribune that had not yet been confirmed by police.

    Carlson was also misguided in his implication that other outlets’ omission of Noor’s nationality is evidence that it’s relevant. While many questions about the incident remain, and there are legitimate grievances being voiced by Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, Damond’s family, and the Australian government over the police department’s lack of transparency in the case, none of them are focused on Noor’s identity. In fact, Damond’s hometown newspaper in Australia ran a front-page headline reading “AMERICAN NIGHTMARE” in reference to what Australians quoted in the piece see as a country “infested” with guns and a “very risky place in terms of gun violence.” Damond’s family, which just suffered a tragic loss at the hands of police, hasn't focused on Noor’s identity as particularly relevant in reports. Fox News is the exception, not the norm.

    In the cases of police brutality against Jordan Edwards, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, and many others, all of whom were black, Fox News assigned no particular relevance to the nationalities of the officers involved. But the network did, in various cases, invite guests to defend the officers’ actions, criticize the victims of the shooting, or use the incident to promote questionable or problematic policing tactics. The disproportionate attention Fox News paid to Noor’s immigrant background and its resistance to defend him elucidates the limits of its pro-police posture.

    And the network’s coverage, while an outlier for mainstream reporting on the story, is essentially a more sanitized version of stories with headlines like “First Somali-Muslim police officer in Minnesota KILLS blonde yoga instructor in cold blood” and “Unarmed White Woman Murdered In Minnesota, Dems SILENT After Shooter's ID Revealed…”. There are many more. Noor’s religion has not been obsessed upon outside of far-right blogs and Twitter.

    Minnesota’s Somali immigrant community has been a strangely popular target for Fox News and other right-wing media outlets. The network has previously fearmongered about Somali immigrants, called the area “ground zero” for ISIS recruitment, and attacked the Minneapolis mayor for giving her State of the City address in a mosque. Fringe media websites and fake news purveyors recently targeted Minneapolis in response to the city’s announcement that it was launching a hate crimes reporting hotline, claiming the move amounted to “fascism.”

    In its hyperfocus on Noor’s nationality, Fox News served to validate the racism, xenophobia, and debunked associations between immigration and crime espoused by pro-Trump fake news purveyors, conspiracy theorists, white nationalists, and notorious Islamophobes alike. Noor's background is only as relevant as it is in any officer-involved shooting, and if it's being touted as more than that, we should be asking why.

    Methodology:

    Media Matters searched SnapStream between 5 a.m. and midnight on both July 17 and 18 and between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m on July 19 for mentions of “Roy” or “Oliver,” “Edward” or “Jordan,” and “Somali,” "Noor," "Minneapolis," “Minnesota,” "Damond," "Ruszcyzk," and “Australia.” Teaser segments were excluded.

  • Pro-Trump internet personalities throw tantrums after ADL identifies their hateful rhetoric

    Blog ››› ››› JARED HOLT


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Pro-Trump internet trolls claimed that the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) was a "terrorist organization" and compared the group to Nazis after ADL identified some of the biggest online personalities of the “alt-right” and “alt-lite” movements and called them out for spreading hateful rhetoric.

    The ADL recently published a list of “alt-right” and “alt-lite” figures, identifying key players in both the white supremacist “alt-right” and the fringe right-wing media landscape of media trolls and smear merchants it inspired, which the ADL called the “alt-lite.” It included internet troll and Infowars contributor Mike Cernovich; smear merchant Jack Posobiec, who once received a temporary White House press pass; disgraced Breitbart provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos; The Gateway Pundit’s Lucian Wintrich; and Rebel Media’s Gavin McInnes, using the “alt-lite” banner to describe their prior affiliation and promotion of “alt-right” figures and ideologies. In a Periscope live stream, Cernovich responded to the list’s publication by urging his followers to spread the hashtag “#ADLTerror” on Twitter. Cernovich also called ADL “a terrorist organization” that had “targeted” him and his family for “murder and assassination” by including his name in the list.

    Soon after Cernovich launched the hashtag, other alternative media personalities who were also mentioned in the ADL’s list rallied to attack the organization. Posobiec compared ADL’s members to Nazis and claimed the “death list” was being used to target Trump supporters; Wintrich called the ADL a “liberal terrorist organization” whose “only qualifier” to label people a hate group leader was support for Trump; Yiannopoulos accused the ADL of trying to get pro-Trump media figures like himself “hurt or killed by painting targets on our backs”; McInnes threatened to “sue the living shit out of everyone even remotely involved” with the list if he was attacked following its publication.

    Allies and supporters of those on the ADL’s list also joined in on the attack. The Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft accused the ADL of publishing “a murder hit list” and stated that his website would take “further action” against the organization if it did not remove Wintrich’s name. Rebel Media’s Laura Loomer decried the ADL’s decision to publish a “hit list,” asking why the organization is “encouraging violent leftists to attack members of the right.” And “Ali,” a rising star among pro-Trump media personalities, also promoted the hashtag. Fans of these personalities created memes and videos and spread them on social media to show their support.

    While BuzzFeed technology reporter Charlie Warzel pointed out that the ADL didn't necessarily provide full evidence of the actions that earned these trolls a spot on the list, the ADL was right to include them based on their habits of engaging in hateful rhetoric and online harassment. The organization correctly identified them for using their platforms to spread vitriol and honestly documented their efforts to sanitize their movement’s prior affiliation with “alt-right” circles and differentiate itself from white nationalism.

    Warzel also correctly noted that these trolls are "more of a media arm than an ideological group of any kind." These individuals do not spread hate in the traditional way that has been the modus operandi of the “alt-right” figures also included in the ADL’s list. Rather than organizing community events and advocating for any specific policies, these figures have built a potent anti-liberal media apparatus that can be -- and often is -- mobilized to harass and smear any chosen target-of-the-day.

    Over the past several months, these right-wing media personalities and pro-Trump internet trolls have fueled and engaged in harassment and doxing campaigns against a variety of people. They misquoted pop star Ariana Grande after a terrorist attack at her concert in Manchester, smearing her as “anti-American.” CNN reporter Andrew Kaczynski’s family received dozens of threatening phone calls following an article he wrote about the origin of an anti-CNN meme Trump tweeted. And the internet trolls falsely accused popular online satirist Vic Berger of being a part of an online cohort of pedophiles. They were also key proponents of the “Great Meme War” with CNN, during which social media sites were flooded with high volumes of anti-CNN memes and numerous CNN employees were doxed and harassed.

    Though these alternative media figures and internet trolls are now rebranding away from the “alt-right” leaders who once inspired them, they still deserve to be on the ADL list and should remain there until they cease using their platforms to incite harassment and encourage extremist rhetoric.

  • White nationalist website joins other hate groups in smear campaign against SPLC

    Blog ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters
     

    VDARE.com, which the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has described as a “white nationalist” and “anti-immigration hate website,” has joined other hate groups in an official smear campaign against SPLC launched by anti-LGBTQ Family Research Council (FRC).

    FRC and other organizations that SPLC has labeled hate groups launched a campaign on July 17 accusing SPLC of “fueling hate, killing free speech and even encouraging terrorist-style attacks on those it doesn’t agree with,” as the Washington Examiner described it. The campaign included a “planned Monday tweetstorm” and the suggestion that its supporters use the hashtag “#SPLCexposed.”

    FRC and other hate groups have repeatedly pushed the myth that SPLC labels as “hate groups” those organizations that it “simply disagree[s] with.” In fact, SPLC has more extensive criteria for the distinction. It designates anti-LGBTQ hate groups as such when they knowingly spread “demonizing lies about the LGBT community,” engage in “baseless, incendiary name-calling,” or actively work to criminalize LGBTQ people. Regarding anti-immigrant groups, SPLC wrote that though “many groups criticize high levels of immigration and some … typically confront or harass individual immigrants and their supporters, anti-immigrant hate groups generally go further by pushing racist propaganda.” It continued that most anti-immigrant hate groups “subscribe to one of two conspiracy theories that have no basis in fact,” including that Mexico is trying to “‘reconquer’ the American Southwest” and that “Mexico, Canada and the United States are secretly planning to merge into a European Union-like entity.” SPLC also clearly defines its anti-Muslim hate group label, noting that these groups “hold conspiratorial views regarding the inherent danger to America by its Muslim-American community” and view Muslims as “intent on undermining and eventually replacing American democracy and Western civilization with Islamic despotism.”

    White nationalist hate website VDARE joined FRC’s campaign on July 18, tweeting the #SPLCexposed hashtag alongside an accompanying article from the site that called SPLC the “Southern Poverty Lie … Center” and touted the #SPLCexposed Twitter campaign. The article also attempted to cast doubt on the reasoning behind SPLC’s designation of anti-immigrant hate group Center for Immigration Studies (CIS).

    According to SPLC, VDARE, founded in 1999 by English immigrant Peter Brimelow, is an “anti-immigration hate website” with a “white nationalist ideology” that frequently publishes articles advocating for a white America and filled with anti-Semitic tropes. One article asserted that “America was defined — almost explicitly, sometimes very explicitly — as a white nation, for white people.” Another claimed that Jewish people’s “objective has been control of economic resources and political power.” Yet another article lamented that “whites are doing something no other people have ever done in human history” by welcoming “replacement by aliens” and sacrificing “our interests to those of favored minorities.”

    SPLC noted that the website also posts stories by prominent anti-Semite Kevin MacDonald and that even Brimelow acknowledges that VDARE “hosts ‘white nationalists’” but argues that they merely “aim to defend the interests of American whites”:

    While acknowledging that his site hosts "white nationalists" like Taylor, Brimelow argues that they are merely people who "aim to defend the interests of American whites. They are not white supremacists. They do not advocate violence. They are rational and civil. They brush their teeth. But they unashamedly work for their people." Brimelow goes on to say that as dark-skinned immigration from the Third World continues, "this type of interest-group ‘white nationalism’ will inexorably increase." What Brimelow doesn’t mention is that VDARE.com also posts stories by one of the most important anti-Semites in America, Kevin MacDonald, a professor of psychology at the California State University, Long Beach. MacDonald believes Jews are genetically driven to undermine the power of whites by pushing such things as Third World immigration.

    In addition to VDARE, FRC’s campaign was joined by a horde of other SPLC-identified hate groups or their representatives, such as the anti-Muslim ACT for America, the executive director of the anti-immigrant Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), and anti-immigrant groups ProEnglish and Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).

    These groups have historically attempted to distance themselves from white nationalist organizations, often using the issue as a wedge to argue that they should not be given the same “hate group” designation as groups such as the Ku Klux Klan. FRC has frequently fought against its designation, including the resulting association “with neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan.” Mark Krikorian, the executive director of CIS, lamented that SPLC “conflates groups that really do preach hatred, such as the Ku Klux Klan and Nation of Islam, with ones that simply do not share SPLC’s political preferences” in a Washington Post op-ed. By bolstering FRC’s anti-SPLC campaign, VDARE shows that the line between white nationalist and other hate groups is not as clear as the FRC and others would like you to believe.

  • Alex Jones won't start the next American civil war, but he is ready to finish it

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Alex Jones is now frequently claiming that the United States is on the verge of a bloody second civil war and often indicating his willingness to personally take up arms if such a conflict arises.

    Jones, America’s leading conspiracy theorist, is the self-described “founding father” of the 9/11 truth movement claiming that the government perpetrated the terrorist attacks. He has pushed numerous other toxic conspiracy theories, including claiming the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre and other mass shootings and bombings were "false flag" operations or hoaxes.

    He is also a major ally of President Donald Trump. In December 2015, Trump appeared on The Alex Jones Show and praised Jones’ “amazing” reputation. Jones says that he communicates regularly with Trump and has claimed that Trump calls him to see if Jones is “happy” with his performance as president.

    Jones’ strident defenses of Trump increasingly include characterizing dissent against the president as Democrats’ attempt to start a civil war with the goal of executing a coup d’etat against Trump. During the last six months, Jones has posted at least 15 videos on YouTube with a reference to civil war in the title. But in the absence of any real plot to violently overthrow the president or a war divided along party lines, Jones’ rhetoric is only inflaming political tensions.

    Jones has blamed various groups for supposedly inciting a civil war, including “liberals,” “the left,” “the democrats,” “leftists,” and “globalists.” Sometimes Jones does not specify the forces he say are plotting a war, i.e. merely referencing “you people.” He has also been inconsistent on whether civil war has already begun, is imminent, or if we are the in-between state of a “soft civil war.”

    Jones is consistent, however, in stating that any violence carried out by the right would be self-defense in response to the other side starting the war. This is a rhetorical device that allows him to discuss the prospect of violence while denying that he has threatened anyone. In one typical iteration, Jones said during his June 15 show, “I’m not the one that’s calling for violence; you’re going to get wrecked bad. There are a lot of people like Santa Claus been making a list, been checking it twice about who's been naughty and nice. And you kick off Civil War 2, baby, you’ll think Lexington and Concord was a cakewalk.”

    While raising the idea of a second civil war, Jones frequently talks about personally participating in armed conflict and his prowess with firearms. During his June 15 broadcast, in which Jones discussed the prospect of a civil war with “the Democrats,” he said, “I can shoot bull’s-eye at 400 yards.” A month earlier while discussing a “physical war,” Jones had said, “I mean, I could take on 100 trendies and I’m not even warrior class compared to the warrior class.” Beyond talking about participating in fighting if a war was to break out, Jones has volunteered to take part in mass arrests and personally hang convicted traitors.

    Jones’ civil war narrative is coupled with a second disturbing narrative in which he has often urged Trump to arrest his political opponents or even direct the military to take action against his domestic opponents. Jones has called for the arrest or indictment of former President Barack Obama, former Democratic president nominee Hillary Clinton, former FBI Director James Comey, and former national security advisor Susan Rice. He has also urged Trump to have the military physically confront Americans, saying in June, “I'd support the president right now moving against these people physically. Let's be honest. We're in a war. I would support the president making a military move on them right now. The country is that big a crisis. We need to go ahead and move.”

    Below are examples from the last several months of Jones repeatedly fantasizing about civil war, calling on Trump to take authoritarian actions against political opponents, and threatening violence against people and groups.

    Alex Jones often claims civil war is imminent and fantasizes about participating in the ensuing bloodshed

    Alex Jones has called on Trump to arrest his political opponents or use the military against them

    Alex Jones has threatened and encouraged violence

    Alex Jones often claims civil war is imminent and fantasizes about participating in the ensuing bloodshed

    Jones: “I don’t need some coming-of-age deal to kill a bunch of liberals,” but “we have to start getting ready for insurrection and civil war because they’re really pushing it.” While claiming he didn’t want to “kill a bunch of liberals,” Jones nonetheless urged people during his June 23 broadcast to get ready for civil war:

    ALEX JONES (HOST): Did you see the video of President Trump speaking to a crowd and as soon as he says let’s have a moment of silence for [Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA)] and the cops that got shot and others, they start booing and hissing and screaming, and I saw a top Democratic strategist on Fox News defending #HuntRepublicans. I don’t want to have this be violent. We just won, election-wise. We just saw Karen Handel win. We’ve just won four upset special elections despite the biggest Democratic spending ever. We’re winning the old-fashioned American way with ideas. I don’t want a war. I don’t need some coming-of-age deal to kill a bunch of liberals, I just -- but I also feel like I’m in dereliction as a citizen of my duty not saying we have to start getting ready for insurrection and civil war because they’re really pushing it. [Genesis Communications Network, The Alex Jones Show, 6/23/17]

    Jones volunteered to personally hang convicted traitors following a civil war. Talking about a prospect of “the left” starting a civil war, Jones offered to execute convicted traitors because, he said, “I’m not going to sit here and just call for stuff without actually being part of it.” During his June 23 broadcast he also said if a war starts, there is a “big Christmas list” of leftists:

    ALEX JONES (HOST): We’re holding back, we don’t want to be violent, we’re winning. Letting them shoot congressmen and stuff, we tried to stop it but -- they’re clearly, the left is building up for a bigger tantrum, a bigger confrontation. How long do we take this, though, until Trump moves against them? I think the folks over in Bzezinski land on Morning Joe, they’re saying, “Oh, watch out, Trump’s about to become a dictator.” No, he got elected. But if we have to move in a very serious way against people openly wanting to murder everybody, that’s called your duty. I don’t want to have a big shooting war, I don’t want to have to arrest 10,000 of these people and have trials and hang their asses. But if it’s done by a jury, and we need to, I’ll be there and pull the switch. I’m not going to sit here and just call for stuff without actually being part of it. How long can they keep pushing for this?

    [...]

    JONES: If a civil war starts, there is a big Christmas list of these leftists. So I hope every one of them that wants violence and war knows this: I’m not going to talk about what people are planning in defense of this. But you just know this: This is a two way street. [Genesis Communications Network, The Alex Jones Show, 6/23/17]

    Jones: “I’m not the one that’s calling for violence,” but “you kick off Civil War 2, baby, you’ll think Lexington and Concord was a cakewalk.” Jones fantasized about “Civil War 2” on his show after Scalise was shot. During the show, Jones also raised the prospect of someone shooting CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, saying, “What happens, Wolf Blitzer, when somebody pumps rounds into your little pumpkin head and says, ‘It’s just political’?” From the June 15 episode of The Alex Jones Show (emphasis added):

    ALEX JONES (HOST): Wolf Blitzer has a guest on: “So, this man wasn’t a monster, he was just tired of things.” Wolf Blitzer: “OK, thanks for your view. Hmm, very interesting.” What happens, Wolf Blitzer, when somebody pumps rounds into your little pumpkin head and says, “It’s just political”? Ha. You people. You guys better have some helicopter jump jets and be ready to get out of here real quick if the actual civil war kicks off. I mean, I’m not the one that’s calling for violence; you’re going to get wrecked bad. There are a lot of people like Santa Claus, been making a list, been checking it twice about who's been naughty and nice. And you kick off Civil War 2, baby, you’ll think Lexington and Concord was a cakewalk. [Genesis Communications Network, The Alex Jones Show, 6/15/17]

    Jones' warning to “the Democrats” who want civil war: “I can shoot bull’s-eye at 400 yards, dumbass.” Following the Scalise shooting, Jones claimed that “the Democrats” were celebrating the shooting and threatening him, saying, “They all hate guns, they don’t know how to use them. But I can shoot bull's-eye at 400 yards, dumbass. They have no idea who they’re messing with.” Jones also said to those who would start a war: “You understand we are killing machines, you fools.” From the June 14 broadcast of Jones’ show:

    ALEX JONES (HOST): I’m saying, don’t you people get it? You’re trying to start a civil war with people. You’re taking our kindness for weakness. Do you understand the American people will kill all of you? You understand? We are killing machines, you fools.

    [...]

    JONES: The Democrats -- the tweets are all over Infowars.com, they’re tweeting at me going, “We’re going to get you next, you bastard.” I mean, they’re celebrating this. But they all hate guns, they don’t know how to use them. But I can shoot bull’s-eye at 400 yards, dumbass. I mean, they have no idea who they’re messing with. [Genesis Communications Network, The Alex Jones Show, 6/14/17]

    Jones: Leftists want a war, so “cry havoc and let loose the dogs of war.” Jones described “leftists” as “mentally ill people, losers, scum” and, while fantasizing about the prospect of war, claimed they “hope for violence” and they “want total conquering”:

    ALEX JONES (HOST): The leftists are mentally ill people, losers, scum, and sociopathic and psychopathic elites. They want total conquering. They see as as schmucks that want open free societies. They see us as jokes that actually care about free market and actually care about people’s freedoms. They are allied with authoritarianism because they worship at the dark idol of tyranny. This is a historic fact. But they want a war? Cry havoc and let loose the dogs of war. They want to kill our republic? Well the ghost of our king, Jesus, is now ravenously walking the battlefields of the mind and they have sown the wind. They are now reaping the whirlwind politically. They hope for violence because they are intellectually losing the war of ideas with us. [Genesis Communications Network, The Alex Jones Show, 5/31/17]

    Jones to “chicken necks” who “want some physical war”: “I could take on 100 trendies and I’m not even warrior class compared to the warrior class.” Jones raised the prospect of a “physical war” with globalists and others during his May 18 show, saying, “I hope all the chicken necks, and cowards out there that want some physical war, I hope you know how stupid you are trying to start a fight with everybody who knows how to actually fight. You’re idiots. You are morons. I could take on 100 trendies and I’m not even warrior class compared to the warrior class.” From the May 18 edition of The Alex Jones Show (emphasis added):

    ALEX JONES (HOST): Let me just briefly stop here for a moment because I can sit here and put on an act that I’m not angry. But I am angry -- I mean, I’m pissed. These are evil people who really have it out to bankrupt us, make us poor. They attack Christians, they attack families. You just see what the globalists are up to. I wouldn’t be risking my life fighting some Boss Hog corruption. I would be speaking out against it, but I wouldn’t be hair-on-fire, wild-eyed if I didn’t know the people we’re up against run the gambit from devil worshippers, pedophiles, psychopaths. I mean, they’re just the worst people on earth, OK? And I’m done. Everything they say is a lie. Everything they say is a fraud. And we’re so honest we’re up here admitting we’re thinking about dirty tricks. That’s how honest we are. And I’m not going to do it. There’s a lot of people that are desperate at this point. And it’s just -- I hope all the chicken necks and cowards out there that want some physical war, I hope you know how stupid you are trying to start a fight with everybody that knows how to actually fight. I mean, you’re idiots. You are morons. I mean, I could take on 100 trendies and I’m not even warrior class compared to the warrior class. I mean, you guys are so far removed from men, I don’t even know what you call yourselves. Now let’s just stop right there. I need funding to prosecute a war. I -- with your help and the crew -- we have devastated the globalists. And we sell game-changing supplements, game-changing shirts where you meet like-minded people, game-changing, high-quality, non-GMO heirloom seeds, high quality, non-fluoride toothpaste with colloidal silver and iodine. It’s all there. InfowarsLife.com, InfowarsStore.com. [Genesis Communications Network, The Alex Jones Show, 5/18/17]

    Jones: If supporters don’t take the actions he recommends, “we’re going to lose the information war and then we don’t have any recourse but to defend ourselves.” Claiming that Trump is “a dead man,” Jones said that if supporters fail to take nonviolent political actions such as buying billboards spaces and calling C-SPAN, “we’re going to lose the information war and then we don’t have any recourse but to defend ourselves.” Jones went on to rant about what he called “Bolshevik” elements in the United States who he said will rape and murder American families. From Jones’ May 17 broadcast (emphasis added):

    ALEX JONES (HOST): Let me just give you a basic summation here. In the last four or five months, I’ve told you, since he was president-elect, this is a deep state coup d’etat operation to undermine him, to destroy him in the public eye first, and then they’re not going to let Trump go to prison or even step down. They know he won’t. They’re going to kill him. And the best minds agree with me. They’re going to kill him at the peak of the investigation. Donald Trump is a dead man. He’s a dead man. He’s dead. He’s walking dead right now unless with counter this.

    Because I’m not just going to lay out where we’ve been, where we are, where we’re going. We can change where we’re going if we admit how much trouble we are in. And let me say something else to everybody. A lot of you claim you want to fight tyranny. A lot of you claim you wanted free market. A lot of you claim you want to be American. Our forebearers (sic) had to fight bloody wars for what we’ve got. If you won’t fight information war, if you won’t spend money in this fight, if you won’t buy time on local radio, if you won’t call C-SPAN, if you won’t put billboards up, if you won’t go talk to your state House, if you won’t talk to your congress people in D.C. and get them by the hand and tell them you know what’s going on, and if they go along with this takeover of America, they’re going to be held accountable. If you don’t do that, we’re going to lose the information war and then we don’t have any recourse but to defend ourselves.

    Because let me tell you something. These people, these globalists, they want us -- they have said they want to snuff us out once and for all. This is an existential war you are in. The very same Bolsheviks that came out of New York and London and Paris and major German cities like Berlin that took over Russia and exterminated the Christians en masse, that same disease is in America and plans a hot Bolshevik war. David Horowitz was brought up in New York City by parents that came out of this and he’ll warn you all day, they want to kill everybody. And I’m just telling you right now, they mean business. They will line you and your family up, and they’ll shoot you in the head, and they’ll rape your daughters, and they’ll kill your sons, and they’ll make your wife work in a field until she dies. So, you want to understand where we’re at? We’ve got the Bolshevik revolution 2.0 with a crazy Nazi collaborator, George Soros, who you know is making money. [Genesis Communications Network, The Alex Jones Show, 5/17/17]

    Jones said he hopes the “deep state” makes a “bloody” coup attempt against Trump because “it will ensure our victory long term.” Jones fantasized about a violent coup attempt against Trump during his May 17 broadcast and said, “If you want a real war, a 1776 -- I've already done my stuff, telling the truth, I've already set the groundwork and already got the whole infowar ready, I've already go the battle space ready. I've looked at it real careful -- you guys are going to lose 90 percent.” From the May 17 edition of the show (emphasis added):

    ALEX JONES (HOST): I want to tell the criminals in the deep state, because there’s two different deep states, probably three or four, but two big ones. You’ve been identified. Globalism is un-elected, it's unaccountable, it's anti-human, it's anti-God, it's anti-Christ, it's pro-Islam. You're never going to get away with this. And a sick part of me, a Machiavellian part of me, actually hopes they bring down Trump because it's going to be bloody, and it's going to be bad, and it's going to be hard, but it will ensure our victory long term. Because if Trump just kind of stalemates and fixes a few things but he gets stagnated then it will just kind of permeate, and “Oh did patriotism fail, did free market fail?” But if you want a real war, a 1776 -- I've already done my stuff, telling the truth, I've already set the groundwork and already got the whole infowar ready, I've already got the battle space ready. I've looked at it real careful -- you guys are going to lose 90 percent. [Genesis Communications Network, The Alex Jones Show, 5/17/17]

    Jones fantasized about what would happen to Keith Olbermann during a civil war while suggesting Olbermann should be put to death for treason. Jones claimed that Democrats are “organizing a military-attempted coup” during his May 12 broadcast and criticized journalist Keith Olbermann for Olbermann’s statement that foreign intelligence agencies should release information about Trump. Jones claimed that Olbermann’s comments were punishable by death, saying, “Sixty years ago, he would be in front of a firing squad in about a month.” He also said, “Hey jackass, you better pray that there’s not a civil war because I guarantee you, you’re the one calling for all of this, I guarantee you son. Sonny boy. Sonny boy. Sonny boy. Don’t open that door. You have no idea what’s on the other side of that door, you little chicken, you little wimp, you little nelly punk. You open that gate, you have no idea”:

    ALEX JONES (HOST): Keith Olbermann has said we’re at war with Russia, that Russia is scum, that Russia stole our election. Now he has come out, with no proof of course of that, and said foreign governments including Russia, help us overthrow Trump -- you mean overthrow our government. And don’t worry, the Democrats are in major newspapers, major magazines like The New Yorker, saying they’re organizing a military-attempted coup, grabbing Trump, putting him in a paddy wagon. All this craziness because he dare turn our economy back on, put three-and-a-half trillion dollars into the stock market, secure our borders again, kill Obamacare, and everything else. It’s a giant screw job. And then Olbermann now calls on foreign powers to come in and overthrow our president. Do you understand? If he was a crazy on guy on the street corner the cops wouldn’t do anything.

    The FBI, everybody, has to do something. This is clear, clear, absolute organized crime, treason, espionage. Calling on foreign powers for a coup is high treason. It’s punishable by being hung by the neck until dead -- it’s how the army still does it -- or firing squad, I guess he can pick either one. And I’m serious, man. If I was calling for foreign governments to come overthrow our government, I deserve a firing squad. Let me tell you something. Sixty years ago, he would be in front of a firing squad in about a month. I’m serious.

    [...]

    JONES: So they’re trying to sell the idea of a violent overthrow and a civil war. Hey jackass, you better pray that there’s not a civil war because I guarantee you, you’re the one calling for all of this, I guarantee you, son. Sonny boy. Sonny boy. Sonny boy. Don’t open that door. You have no idea what’s on the other side of that door, you little chicken, you little wimp, you little nelly punk. You open that gate, you have no idea. [Genesis Communications Network, The Alex Jones Show, 5/12/17]

    Jones routinely posts videos suggesting civil war is imminent or has already begun. Over the past six months, Jones has posted videos to his YouTube channel with titles including “Get Ready For CIVIL WAR!” “First Shots Fired In Second US Civil War! What Will You Do?” “Trump's Duty Is To Stop Democrat Civil War Plan,” “LEFT Preparing To Plunge America Into 2nd Civil War,” “Is Civil War Imminent In America?” “The Left Wants a Civil War: What Will Happen?” “America On The Brink Of Bloody Civil War,” “MSM Celebrates Congressional Shooting, Prepares Open Civil War To Destroy America,” “Why Is The Left Pushing For Civil War,” “Leftist Suicide Gene Leads Them To Spark Civil War With Conservatives,” “Report: Obama Planning Civil War To Stop Trump!” “Democrats Call For Civil War To Stop Trump,” “Hollywood Anti-American Scum Will Pay For Promoting Civil War,” “Soros Funds Radical Groups In US To Spark Civil War,” and “Will Trump Stop Democrats' Plan For Violent Civil War?” [YouTube, The Alex Jones Channel, accessed 7/13/17]

    Alex Jones has called on Trump to arrest his political opponents or use the military against them

    Jones called for James Comey, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton to be indicted. During his July 12 broadcast, Jones said, “It’s time to indict Comey. He had classified info and lied to Congress. It’s time to indict Obama. It’s time to indict Hillary. Indict. Indict. Indict. Go on the offense with this scum.” [Genesis Communications Network, The Alex Jones Show, 7/12/17]

    Jones called on Trump to move “physically” and make a “military move” against his enemies. Claiming that “outside forces” are attempting to overthrow the Trump presidency, Jones said during his June 12 broadcast, “I'd support the president right now moving against these people physically. I mean, let's be honest. We're in a war. I would support the president making a military move on them right now. The country is in that big a crisis. We need to go ahead and move”:

    ALEX JONES (HOST): What should Trump do? I mean, he needs to get aggressive. Call them out. [Attorney General Jeff] Sessions needs to start indicting some of these people.

    JEROME CORSI: Well, the presidency has enormous power, and Trump better start using it -- better start realizing that in Washington, all these people are his enemies. He's got to fire [White House chief of staff Reince] Priebus. Don't wait until the end of June, as he says he is going to give him more time -- just fire him. Get rid of all the people in the administration who have been there from Clinton and from Obama, get rid of them, and start using the Department of Justice and the FBI to investigate [former FBI director James] Comey, Clinton and the others. Fight back, counterattack.

    JONES: Absolutely. Look, this is such sedition against the country and the attempted overthrow of our republic by clear outside forces. I'd support the president right now moving against these people physically. I mean, let's be honest. We're in a war. I would support the president making a military move on them right now. The country is in that big a crisis. We need to go ahead and move. [Genesis Communications Network, The Alex Jones Show, 6/12/17]

    Jones said Trump should “move quickly” to indict Hillary Clinton. During his May 10 broadcast, Jones said Trump’s “got to move quickly and just come out and say here's the evidence, Hillary, Podesta, communist Chinese, Russia, grand jury, start indicting them”:

    CALLER: Now we have to find out who the leakers are. We have to look at Susan Rice, Sally Yates, Barack Obama -- it's a whack-a-mole. Who is the leaker? Now Trump can sic his attack dogs on them and let it loose. Next year is going to be really fun to watch.

    ALEX JONES (HOST): No, I agree. He's got to move quickly and just come out and say here's the evidence, Hillary, Podesta, communist Chinese, Russia, grand jury, start indicting them. And go, “Oh I'm Nixonian? No, I'm one hundred times worse.” Nixon didn't do anything. Nixon got set up by the deep state to be removed so they could run everything. We've basically had kept presidents ever since. That's all about to end. [Genesis Communications Network, The Alex Jones Show, 5/10/17]

    Jones: “We’re about to have nuclear war, folks; it’s time to arrest Hillary Clinton.” Jones called for Clinton and others to be arrested during his April 5 broadcast, saying, “I’ve never talked like this in 20 years. Folks, these people all must be rounded up. I’m sorry”:

    DOUG HAGMANN: I would expect the next 72 hours to be critical in terms of the information that’ll be coming out. And I’m going to be very interested to see -- and Alex I’m wondering what your thoughts are -- will we see [former National Security Advisor] Susan Rice testify under oath in front of a Senate committee or will it just be --?

    ALEX JONES (HOST): She should be hauled in front of it and she should be indicted immediately. She clearly committed crimes, they lied to the public and said they didn’t do this. I mean, arrest them all.

    HAGMANN: Exactly. What I’m hearing is --

    JONES: We’re about to have nuclear war, folks; it’s time to arrest Hillary Clinton. We’ve got to save the country. The world’s never been in more danger. They’re the ones that made everything radical. Kim Jong-un, Hillary, all these other scumbags, [President of the European Commission Jean-Claude] Juncker, all of them need to be arrested. They’re all calling for war. They’re all involved in criminal activity. Arrest all of them. I’m serious.

    HAGMANN: Yeah, no I -- 100 percent behind you. And I think that while Americans don’t have --

    JONES: We can’t wait. The world is in too much danger. We have to stop these people. And I’ve never talked like this in 20 years. Folks, these people all must be rounded up. I’m sorry. [Genesis Communications Network, The Alex Jones Show, 4/5/17]

    Jones urged Trump to use violence to protect the president’s family. In a video suggesting a coup attempt was underway against Trump, Jones addressed Trump directly to say: “You must go on the offense. This is war. You think George Washington kicked the Redcoats' ass just with information? No.” From the March 5 edition of The Alex Jones Show (emphasis added):

    ALEX JONES: But you need a set time every day that you go live. They try to say as the president, you shouldn't have a Twitter. Hell, next you shouldn't have blood flowing through your veins. I mean, God, everybody knows you can't talk to foreign leaders as president, and God knows you can't breathe oxygen, and God knows you can't have a Twitter. They want to isolate you, they want to lie about you, and they're not going to stop. You put your family, your treasure on the line, they're going to destroy your family if you don't win.

    And let your family know this. I know they're smart. I know your sons are strong. But let the people in your family know there’s no coming back from this. This is total war. They're not going to let your family roll over, even if you're destroyed. Oh, they will let them roll over at first and then destroy them as well. They're going to destroy you, they're going to destroy Barron, they're going to destroy Eric, they're going to destroy Donald Jr., they're going to destroy me, they're going to destroy Matt Drudge, they're going to destroy Ron Paul, they're going to destroy anybody, like [White House senior adviser] Stephen Bannon, that actually stood up for the little people, because that example can't be allowed. Because if you let one ant stand up, they might all stand up, and those little ants outnumber the parasites a thousand  to one. If they want a war, let's let them have it. Now, they're getting their ass kicked in the economy. Your approval ratings are going up. Sir, they don't care. They're going to intimidate and pay off and roll people in your second-level operation to try to burn you. You must go on the offense. This is war. You think George Washington kicked the Redcoats' ass just with information? No. We tried to start this country peacefully; they wouldn't let us. And the rebirth of this country -- and I want peaceful resistance in the info war -- but through your office and through the attorney general they're already trying to broke-back and hamstring. These criminals are all on the Communist Chinese and Russian payroll. They're the ones who sold us out to every foreign interest -- that's what globalism is. [Genesis Communications Network, The Alex Jones Show, 3/5/17]

    Alex Jones has threatened and encouraged violence

    Jones said he was prepared to shoot minorities during a race war. Claiming that “globalists” are fomenting a race war in the United States, Jones said if a “big hoard of people are coming down the street for me and my family shooting guns off in the air and burning buildings, I’m going to light up whoever I’ve got to to defend my family. But it doesn’t mean I’m going to enjoy it”:

    ALEX JONES (HOST): The point is George Soros and the globalists know there is a rebellion against the corrupt government. They know there is a mass awakening. They want to short-circuit it with a bunch of race baiting, race fighting, and everybody killing each other. It’s in the WikiLeaks: They’re trying to start a race war.

    [...]

    JONES: I’ve got security, I’ve got firearms, I live defended, behind a gate, behind walls. If there was a race war in this country, it’s going to be the minorities that share the main brunt of the slaughterhouse. And that’s not a threat -- that’s a fact. But why would I feel good if you got killed? I’m trying to keep you from aborting your children.

    [...]

    JONES: A lot of folks say, “Shut up, Alex. Let Gates do this, let the U.N. do it. Hey I’m not racist, but they’re coming after us. Why are you exposing all of this?” Because I have to tell the truth, and I have to tell you what’s going on. Doesn’t mean Black Lives Matter is going to listen. Doesn’t mean MEChA and La Raza are going to listen. And it doesn’t mean if down the road we fail to stop this race war, big hoard of people are coming down the street for me and my family shooting guns off in the air and burning buildings, I’m going to light up whoever I’ve got to to defend my family. But it doesn’t mean I’m going to enjoy it. I’ll do what has to be done, just like I’ve done in the information war. [Genesis Communications Network, The Alex Jones Show, 7/10/17]

    Jones threatened to “beat” “cocksucker” congressman’s “goddamn ass.” Jones ranted about Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) in a March 30 video posted to his YouTube channel, using several anti-LGBT slurs to attack Schiff including “cocksucker” and “fairy.” Angered by Schiff’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia and Jones’ claim Schiff said he was involved, Jones said, “You want to sit here and say that I’m a goddamn, fucking Russian. You get in my face with that I’ll beat your goddamn ass, you son of a bitch. You piece of shit.” During his rant, Jones said to Schiff, “Fill your hand,” a reference to picking up a gun. From the March 30 edition of Genesis Communications Network’s The Alex Jones Show (emphasis added):

    ALEX JONES: Let me say this right now. Let me tell -- I’m not against gay people. OK. I love them, they’re great folks. But [Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA)] looks like the archetypal cocksucker with those little deer-in-the-headlight eyes and all his stuff. And there’s something about this fairy, hopping around, bossing everybody around, trying to intimidate people like me and you. I want to tell Congressman Schiff and all the rest of them, “Hey listen. asshole, quit saying Roger and I” -- and I’ve never used cussing in 22 years, but the gloves are off -- “listen you son of a bitch, what the fuck’s your problem? You want to sit here and say that I’m a goddamn, fucking Russian. You get in my face with that I’ll beat your goddamn ass, you son of a bitch. You piece of shit. You fucking goddamn fucker. Listen fuckhead, you have fucking crossed a line. Get that through your goddamn fucking head. Stop pushing your shit. You’re the people that have fucked this country over and gang raped the shit out of it and lost an election. So stop shooting your mouth off claiming I’m the enemy. You got that, you goddamn son of a bitch? Fill your hand.” I’m sorry, but I’m done. You start calling me a foreign agent -- those are fucking fighting words. Excuse me.

    STONE: Yeah, I don’t think I have ever been in a campaign in which we disparage the patriotism of our opponents. Now, I’m not going to go there. But I think Adam Schiff has acted irresponsibly and I think he needs to be confronted with his exact words.

    JONES: He’s sucking globalist dick. [YouTube, The Alex Jones Channel, 4/4/17; Time, 5/20/17]

    Jones spoke of his desire to break Alec Baldwin’s neck because Baldwin parodied Trump on Saturday Night Live. Jones accused Baldwin of defaming Trump and challenged him to a “bare knuckle” charity fight, where, Jones said, “I will break your jaw, I will knock your teeth out, I will break your nose, and I will break your neck”:

    ALEX JONES: Alec Baldwin thinks he is a tough guy, I challenge him a million dollars to the charity he wants to get in the ring with me, bare knuckle. I will. I'll do it right now. I'll get in the ring with you and I will break your jaw, I will knock your teeth out, I will break your nose, and I will break your neck. You coward, you think you're tough guy, messing with little cameramen people.

    You want to sit there and defame me and the president? Get in the ring with me. I will break your jaw in seconds. I will smash your nose into a bloody pulp, and I will whack your teeth out. My fists are going to bleeding with your teeth marks all over them. You frickin' bully, you coward. I hate you, my listeners hate you and remember that, scumbag, forever. [Laughter] We're going to defeat this anti-human scum. We're going to wreck their world. When I come back, we’ll look at the coward at Homeland. [Genesis Communications Network, The Alex Jones Show, 3/13/17]

    Jones suggested Bernie Sanders supporters "need to have your jaws broken." Jones addressed supporters of Sanders by stating, "You need to have your jaws broken." He attacked Sanders supporters as "pathetic scum" who think they're "sexy with their hammer and sickle on." Jones added they'll eventually "burn in the camps later wishing [they'd] done something." Following criticism, Jones claimed he was speaking “figuratively.” [Genesis Communications Network, The Alex Jones Show, 2/5/16, via Right Wing Watch; Genesis Communications Network, The Alex Jones Show, 2/10/16]

  • Here is the NRA's latest in a laundry list of attacks against the First Amendment

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    The National Rifle Association’s broadcast platform NRATV has launched its latest attack against freedom of the press, this time targeting The Washington Post, calling the newspaper a “fake news outlet” and claiming it is where “journalism dies.”

    On July 11, the Post published an article calling an NRATV video about political unrest in the U.S. “dark.” The article noted that the video condemned “Democratic politicians, the media and activists as the catalysts for political upheaval” in this country, “with one glaring omission: firearms.” According to the article, the video focused on “political discussions” around public safety during civil unrest, “with less clear connections to Second Amendment rights.”

    On July 17, NRATV released a response video featuring NRATV host Grant Stinchfield, who called out the Post reporter by name and slammed him for “tell[ing] us we can’t have an opinion unless it’s about guns.”

    The video also accused the Post of “spreading lies about those who disagree with their radical agenda” and said the newspaper is pushing “organized anarchy” that is “destroying our country.” Stinchfield went on to claim, “You people do more to damage our country with a keyboard than every NRA member combined has ever done with a firearm.”

    Less than one day after the video’s release, The New York Times’ Max Fisher tweeted that the video is “edging right up to the line of endorsing violence against journalists,” while HuffPost called it “disturbing.”

    Despite the mounting criticism, Stinchfield doubled down on his video during the noon edition of NRATV’s Stinchfield on July 18, claiming the newspaper uses its “keyboards as weapons of destruction”:

    GRANT STINCHFIELD: The Washington Post is out of line. They claim to uphold the standards of journalism when, in fact, they use their keyboards as weapons of destruction as they try to tear apart the Trump administration in an effort not just to destroy him, but to destroy America, and it is wrong.

    This video is just the latest in a growing number of attacks the NRA has launched against both the press and freedom of the press since Donald Trump won the Republican nomination for president and was ultimately elected. During an October 26, 2016, broadcast, Stinchfield characterized dissent against Trump as an “assault against … the Constitution.” A month later, during a November 29 broadcast, Stinchfield called “mainstream” media “dishonest and downright dirty,” suggesting that it is “anti-patriotic” to report critically on Trump and his transition team, and said that the media instead “needs to get on board.”

    After The New York Times ran an advertisement during this year’s Oscar awards about the importance of journalism, the NRA fired back with its own 75-second ad claiming Americans have “stopped looking to The New York Times for the truth.” And in April, the NRA announced a “series of messages” against the newspaper, which the organization claims has “gone on the offensive to take away your liberties.”

  • 21st Century Fox had to settle reports about sexual harassment as early as 1998

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    21st Century Fox paid a woman a “substantial” settlement in 1998 after she reported David Hill, former chairman of Fox Sports, for sexual misconduct. The case is one of the “earliest recorded” settlements by 21st Century Fox for sexual misconduct according to attorney Lisa Bloom.

    Hill was reported by Paula Radin, a vice president for special events at Fox Broadcasting Company, for “sexually aggressive behavior,” leading to a “substantial” settlement. Hill was later promoted to chairman of Fox Sports Media group according to The Wrap.

    Earlier this year, Bill O’Reilly was let go following a long history of sexual harassment reports by multiple women. In 2016, former Fox News chairman and CEO, Roger Ailes was reported for sexual harassment by 25 women and forced to resign. Recently, Fox Business host Charles Payne has been suspended while being investigated following a report of sexual harassment by a former political analyst at the network. And less than two weeks ago, Fox Sports president, Jamie Horowitz was let go under sexual misconduct allegations.

    Lisa Bloom, an attorney who has filed multiple sexual harassment cases against Fox says that Fox’s failure to address these cases in an appropriate manner has allowed this behavior to continue for years. From The Wrap:

    21st Century Fox paid off a woman who accused former top executive David Hill of sexual misconduct while he ran Fox Sports, two individuals with knowledge of the situation told TheWrap.

    The payment happened in 1998, and suggests Fox had issues with sexual harassment long before the investigations that led to the exits of Fox News star Bill O’Reilly and founder Roger Ailes, and the ouster of Fox Sports President Jamie Horowitz last month.

    The payment came when Hill was chairman of Fox Sports. Hill, part of Fox chief Rupert Murdoch’s inner circle, was promoted to chairman of Fox Sports Media Group the following year, and had a 24-year career with the company that ended in 2015.

    “That’s the earliest recorded Fox case I’ve heard about,” attorney Lisa Bloom, who has filed several sexual harassment suits against Fox, said of the 1998 case. “If they’d cleaned house then, or simply monitored their staff to require compliance with the law, so many women could have been spared.

  • Statement of Media Matters president Angelo Carusone on Sinclair Broadcast Group internal memo

    Memo of Sinclair VP is "totally disconnected from the reality of Sinclair’s programming"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Media Matters President Angelo Carusone released the following statement after Politico reported on an internal memo sent from Sinclair Vice President of News Scott Livingston that attempts to defend the network for requiring local stations to broadcast right-wing opinion packages:

    Sinclair’s defensive memo holds about as much weight as its deceptive “must run” segments. The broadcaster is in damage control mode. And with good reason! Even though Sinclair executives are acting like their takeover of Tribune’s stations is a done deal, it actually hasn’t been finalized yet.

    Sinclair knows that the deal could still far apart, especially given that afraid viewers and employees of Tribune stations all across the country have started to stand up for their local news since Sinclair’s agenda and chicanery were exposed.

    The pushback that Sinclair is getting is well-founded too! Sinclair’s right-wing political agenda is a well-established fact. The company advances its politics by exploiting the trust and confidence that the public still has in local news in order to poison the information landscape with bias and pro-Trump propaganda from the bottom up.

    Mr. Livingston’s memo is totally disconnected from the reality of Sinclair’s programming. The company’s intentions are clear, its record is well-established, and no amount of internal memos will correct for its bias and agenda.

    Sinclair Broadcast Group, the country's largest operator of local television stations, has announced that it will buy Tribune Media, which runs news stations located in critical swing state cities including Indianapolis, Des Moines, Philadelphia, Chicago and Miami, among others. Sinclair and its affiliates have a history of airing conservative-leaning reporting and commentary, and its executives have donated to Republicans and Republican causes.

    More Americans trust their local news stations more than national news and cable pundits. Now these local news viewers are increasingly and unsuspectingly faced with state run-style propaganda from Sinclair-owned stations. Precisely because viewers aren’t on their guard when they watch local news,  local news outlets are a powerful delivery mechanism for pernicious misinformation and false narratives -- and Sinclair is taking advantage of that.

    Sinclair’s expanding media footprint -- rife with pro-Trump talking points presented by Trump-tied personalities in “must run” commentaries  -- is dangerous to our national discourse. The company’s ongoing relationship with the Trump administration is just as dangerous as its coverage, including a deal struck during the election for “more access to Trump” in exchange for “straighter coverage.” With the Sinclair-Tribune merger imminent, local news stations around the country -- especially in battleground states -- are about to become more Fox News-like.

    For the millions of Americans who get their news through local programming, vigilance is key. If your local news station is owned by Sinclair, don’t be fooled by the conservative lies the network will try to pass off as “balanced” or run-of-the-mill commentary. It’s propaganda and should be called out as such.

  • Right-wing media are freaking out as anti-LGBTQ hate groups are called out

    Blog ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN & ERIN FITZGERALD


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters
     

    Following Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ controversial speaking engagement at an event hosted by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), right-wing media figures lashed out at ABC and NBC News for accurately reporting that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has designated ADF as an anti-LGBTQ hate group.

    On July 11, Sessions spoke at an event hosted by ADF, the nation’s largest anti-LGBTQ hate group. Many progressive and LGBTQ advocacy organizations objected to Sessions’ decision to attend the event, in part because of ADF’s long-standing history of anti-LGBTQ extremism. Sessions’ office initially refused to release the transcript of his speech, but it was leaked to the conservative and extreme anti-LGBTQ website The Federalist.

    In their reporting on Sessions’ speech, both ABC News and NBC News accurately noted that the SPLC has designated ADF as an “anti-LGBT hate group.” ABC reported that SPLC described ADF as a group that “specializes in supporting the recriminalization of homosexuality abroad, ending same-sex marriage and generally making life as difficult as possible for LGBT communities in the U.S. and internationally,” also adding that ADF objected to its hate group designation as a “lie.” The report also quoted SPLC’s deputy legal director for its LGBT Rights Project, who said ADF had “rightfully earned” the hate group label.

    In multiple reports, NBC News described ADF as “conservative Christian law firm that was designated a ‘hate group’ in 2016 by the Southern Poverty Law Center” and highlighted its role in promoting bathroom bans “aimed at keeping transgender people out of restrooms and other private facilities that correspond to their gender identity and presentation.” NBC noted ADF’s years-long attempts at criminalizing homosexuality and Sessions’ concerning record on LGBTQ issues. The network also included a response from an ADF attorney who attempted to delegitimize SPLC by calling it “increasingly irrelevant” and “extreme.”

    Following these reports, right wing media figures quickly attacked NBC and ABC News. ADF responded as well, issuing a statement demanding a retraction from ABC and claiming that the network had “committed journalistic malpractice,” saying it “cut and paste false charges ... by a radically left-wing, violence-inciting organization.”

    In a July 13 National Review article, senior writer and former ADF senior counsel David French called SPLC a “dangerous joke” that spreads “vicious hate.” French claimed that ADF was labeled a hate group “merely because [its members] advocate for orthodox Christian principles and the liberty to live those principles.” He also suggested that there are only two forms of extremism that SPLC should track -- “racist terrorists and white supremacists” -- and concluded that “media outlets who use the SPLC to assess Christian speech expose only their own bias and incompetence.”

    Mollie Hemingway, senior editor at The Federalist, declared that ABC News reporters “smeared Christians who believe the Bill of Rights secures religious liberty as a ‘hate group’” and argued that ADF “is not a hate group at all, but a civil liberties organization that battles for religious liberty.” Hemingway went on to warn the media against using SPLC’s designations in the future, threatening that they would be turning “journalism into anti-religious propaganda on behalf of a partisan group” and could potentially “be perceived as enemies of average Americans.”

    Katrina Trinko, managing editor of The Daily Signal, wrote that SPLC’s designations put “conservatives’ safety at risk” of persecution and violence by the left, and that “once again, the mainstream media is demonstrating it doesn’t care about the impact of extremist rhetoric on conservatives.” Right-wing outlet The Daily Caller published a post about ADF’s demand that ABC News retract its story, writing that SPLC “frequently smears conservatives as ‘extremists.’” It also published tweets from conservatives who “blasted the media coverage of ADF as an obvious example of media bias.”

    During the July 14 edition of his show, Fox News prime-time host Tucker Carlson called SPLC a “totally discredited but extremely rich left-wing organization” that attempts to “shut down legitimate debate by labeling ideas it disagrees with as ‘hate speech.’” Carlson asserted that NBC News and SPLC “think they’re in charge” of deciding “which ideas are legitimate and which ideas are so dangerous we must suppress them.” Carlson also hosted ADF Vice President Kristen Waggoner, who asserted that ABC and NBC had committed “journalistic malpractice,” and she and Carlson both said SPLC is a “scam.”

    In addition to the numerous right-wing media attacks, a Twitter campaign using the hashtag #SPLCexposed was launched by numerous other SPLC-identified hate groups and right-wing figures, including anti-LGBTQ hate group Family Research Council, anti-immigrant hate group Federation for American Immigration Reform, and anti-Muslim extremist Brigitte Gabriel.

    This reaction is nothing new. Hate groups and far-right commentators have been predictably outraged in the past when mainstream media like The Associated Press and CBS News’ Bob Schieffer properly identified hate group representatives. Just last month, ADF similarly lashed out at Time magazine and columnist Judy Shepard over a piece outlining the extent of ADF’s anti-LGBTQ extremism and its body of work targeting trans students with bathroom bans in schools. In 2014, an ADF attorney asserted that the murder of Shepard’s son Matthew was a hoax to advance the “homosexual agenda.”


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    However, as Media Matters for America has noted, it is a myth that the SPLC bases its hate group designations on conservative or religious beliefs about sexuality and marriage. As SPLC stated in 2010, when it first began listing anti-LGBTQ hate groups, “viewing homosexuality as unbiblical does not qualify organizations for listing as hate groups.” Organizations are labeled anti-LGBTQ hate groups when they knowingly spread “demonizing lies about the LGBT community,” engage in “baseless, incendiary name-calling,” or actively work to criminalize the lives of LGBTQ people.

    SPLC added ADF to its list of anti-LGBTQ hate groups in February 2017 because ADF’s leaders and affiliated lawyers have “regularly demonized LGBT people, falsely linking them to pedophilia, calling them ‘evil’ and a threat to children and society, and blaming them for the ‘persecution of devout Christians’” and have also “supported the criminalization of homosexuality in several countries.”

    As a majority of Americans have grown to support LGBTQ equality, hate groups now cloak anti-LGBTQ extremism under the false pretense of protecting religious freedom or privacy, or protecting women and children from sexual assault. ADF, for instance, has recently made the rounds in the media for representing clients in “religious freedom” and “free speech” cases. But it is also the group behind many of the anti-LGBTQ bills proposed in state legislatures and bathroom bans proposed in school districts, which have been introduced in unprecedented numbers over the last two years.

    In the past, ADF has openly advocated to “recover the robust Christendomic theology of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th centuries.” And in 2012, ADF published a list of suggested and discouraged terminology in its media guide, instructing readers to use the phrase “homosexual agenda” instead of “lesbian and gay civil rights movement,” refer to transgender people as “sexually confused,”and use the term “special privileges” when discussing anti-discrimination laws. In an amicus brief for Lawrence v. Texas, the 2003 Supreme Court decision that declared anti-sodomy laws across the country unconstitutional, ADF argued that “the history of this country reflects a deep conviction that sodomy is criminally punishable conduct and not a constitutionally protected activity” and that “state legislatures have always possessed a broad authority to outlaw private, consensual sex.”

    ADF’s actions speak for themselves. Despite the group’s efforts to maintain its highly cultivated facade of respectability in the media, its history of anti-LGBTQ extremism cannot be undone or erased. When journalists employ SPLC’s hate group designation and contextualize ADF’s current work, they provide accurate, much-needed information to the public.

  • Don’t be fooled: Sinclair is trying to bring the Fox News model to your local news station 

    Blog ››› ››› PAM VOGEL


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    According to Sinclair Broadcasting Group, it's doing a service to its viewers by requiring the many local TV news stations it owns to air unabashedly pro-Trump propaganda on a regular basis.  

    The local TV news giant has been pushing a right-wing slant on local television stations across the country for years. Owned by the Smiths, a family of longtime Republican donors who have all the ambition of News Corp.’s Rupert Murdoch but a much lower profile, Sinclair has mostly flown under the radar. But following the election of President Donald Trump, the network has begun adopting the playbook Roger Ailes used to turn Fox News into a conservative media goliath.

    Over the last few months, Sinclair has been requiring its stations to run more commentaries from pro-Trump personalities and expanding its reach to greater numbers of unassuming viewers in new local media markets. Now it's defending these clear moves to mimic the aspiring state media over at Fox with warped, brainwash-y logic: The conservative propaganda it pushes on its viewers is necessary because the rest of the media is biased.

    Politico’s Hadas Gold obtained a new internal memo from Sinclair executive Scott Livingston declaring that much of the recent reporting about Sinclair’s moves to expand right-wing local news is “false.”

    In the memo, Livingston said the network’s right-wing commentary segments “provide a viewpoint that often gets lost in the typical national broadcast media dialogue.” His memo closed with an attempt to cast recent criticism of Sinclair as illegitimate and perpetrated by "biased" reporters seeking to "destroy our reputation." On and off-screen, it's Sinclair vs. the world:

    "What we find most troubling in the reporting about our company, by major media outlets (like the New York Times and Washington Post), is the omission of key facts in their stories,” Livingston wrote. "Such omissions suggest the existence of either journalistic incompetency or editorial bias. We do not believe these journalists are incompetent, so we are left to conclude that they are biased.

    "We are proud to offer a range of perspectives, both conservative and liberal --- to our consumers -- -on our Sinclair broadcast stations each day. It is unfortunate that so many of our competitors do not provide the same marketplace of ideas,” he continued. "Our commitment is to tracking the truth, providing context and perspective in our reporting and serving our communities with valuable and, at times, life-saving information. We value our viewers and our journalists who work hard each day to serve the communities in which they live -- -all across this great country. It’s concerning and troubling that so many once trusted news organizations continue to push false narratives with an agenda to destroy our reputation and discredit the great journalism across our company.”

    Like Ailes before him, Livingston hopes that he can garner ratings by presenting his network as “fair and balanced” in opposition to the mainstream press. But here are the undeniable, troubling facts about the direction Sinclair is taking:

    • Months after hiring former Trump aide Boris Epshteyn as its chief political analyst, Sinclair announced it would be increasing the number of times per week that Epshteyn’s right-wing commentary segment, “Bottom Line with Boris,” must air on its local stations. Media critic David Zurawik has described these segments as “as close to classic propaganda as I think I have seen” over his 30-year career.
    • “Bottom Line with Boris” is one of three regular Sinclair segments considered to be “must run” content, meaning that all Sinclair stations are required to air them. The other two segments are “Behind the Headlines” with conservative commentator Mark Hyman and a fearmongering “terrorism alert desk.” The practice has raised concerns from experts and employees at local Sinclair stations.
    • Sinclair is currently seeking to acquire Tribune Media for $3.9 billion, a move that would make Sinclair the largest provider of local television news in the country. The potential acquisition, by the way, is possible only because of a Trump administration move to roll back Obama-era consumer regulations.

    It’s clear that Sinclair is attempting to push an increasingly skewed view of the news to an ever-expanding audience in regions across the country. And this isn’t Livingston’s first time lashing out at non-Sinclair outlets. Back in March, Livingston set this tone by narrating a strange “must run” segment warning viewers about “biased and false news” from “members of the national media.”

    The “must run” segments are not just run-of-the-mill conservative “commentary”

    While Livingston is trying to pass off the must-run segments as merely conservative commentary, there’s no doubt that the Epshteyn and Hyman segments are straight-up propaganda. In recent weeks, neither commentator seems to have aired a segment touching on possible collusion between members of the Trump camp and Russia, despite frequent bombshells on the top story. (In June, Hyman's take on Russian meddling in the election was: "We do it. Russians do it. Everyone does it. Meddling in another nation's democratic elections is actually routine behavior.") They’ve also had little to say about the dangerously inept Republican effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, a major news story and a Trump administration priority gone wrong. (Epshteyn’s most recent segment, as of publication, is a confused critique of net neutrality. Hyman’s is about why raising the minimum wage in Seattle is bad.)

    At its very worst, the Sinclair “must run” strategy also attempts to drive a wedge between local audiences and the facts. Both Epshteyn and Hyman have found time to produce several segments each since Trump’s inauguration attacking mainstream media outlets in a direct echo of both their employer’s rhetoric and Trump administration talking points. Epshteyn even cheered Trump’s threat to scale back White House press briefings last month, calling the briefings “a circus and a distraction.”

    And at its very, very worst, Sinclair is sneaking the very lowest in fringe, far-right commentary into the living rooms of unsuspecting Americans who did not sign up for it. The most devastating example is this must-run segment from April, in which Mark Hyman alludes to the heinous far-right conspiracy theory about the death of DNC staffer Seth Rich.

    The Hyman and Epshteyn segments are doing the dirty work of pushing Sinclair’s openly pro-Trump agenda and anti-media propaganda efforts to unknowing local television viewers on the regular.

  • Media can't take their eyes off the ball on health care

    Trump and Secretary Price can (and probably will) work to destabilize the current health care system behind the scenes. Media must hold them accountable.

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN


    Dayanita Ramesh/Media Matters

    After Senate Republicans failed in their latest effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), it is imperative that media stay focused on covering health care. President Donald Trump and Tom Price, his secretary of health and human services, are likely to make unilateral changes that will undermine the ACA and affect those currently covered under it. Media outlets cannot let these policy decisions happen in the dark, as they have in the past.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced on July 17 that the latest “effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful,” after four Republican senators said they would not vote for the bill. McConnell currently intends to vote on a bill to repeal the ACA with no replacement plan in place -- a move Trump supports -- which, The New York Times wrote, “has almost no chance to pass.”

    Media largely failed to cover the debate leading up to this failed legislative attempt, which played out behind closed doors in “almost-unprecedented opacity,” leaving audiences in the dark about the consequences and stakes of the proposed bill. For the time being, it appears as if decisions about health care will continue to be made in the dark.

    Without Congress, Trump and Price can still deal a potentially fatal blow to the health insurance market. On July 18, Trump reacted to the Senate’s failure to pass an ACA replacement, saying, “Let Obamacare fail. ... I’m not going to own it.” And, as Vox explained, “Especially in states with shakier exchanges, the president certainly does have some fairly broad discretionary authority that he and his health and human services secretary can use to deliberately sabotage the program if they want to.” In March, former Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius told New York magazine that Trump and Price would have to decide “whether or not HHS will continue to reimburse insurance companies for cost-sharing expenses.” Sebelius explained that not making those payments, which Trump has threatened to do, “could cause a number of companies now offering plans in the marketplace to not sign up again for 2018.”

    Given the likelihood that Trump and Price will work to destabilize the health care system however they can, media have an obligation to prioritize the issue, especially as Trump is likely to blame Democrats for any negative impacts to health care coverage or to the insurance market in general. The current health care system will undoubtedly continue to inspire debate and attempted sabotage throughout Trump’s time in office. Media better pay attention.