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  • Trump ally Michael Savage cites white nationalist website, warns college students will be shot

    Savage: “Just think of the Kent State massacre. That’s how this is going to end.”

    Blog ››› ››› MADELINE PELTZ

    In the wake of the shooting at a GOP congressional baseball team practice, right-wing radio host and Trump ally Michael Savage cited the white nationalist website American Renaissance and invoked the Kent State shootings of 1970 as a warning for anti-Trump protesters.

    On June 14, James Hodgkinson gunman opened fire on a congressional baseball practice and shot five, including Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA). The attacker was shot by U.S. Capitol Police and later died from his injuries. 

    Savage responded to the shooting by citing the white nationalist website “American Renaissance” referring to “an interactive map” they published that identifies “two hundred acts of violence and hatred against Donald Trump supporters that have taken place since he declared his candidacy.”

    American Renaissance is a online magazine, published by white nationalist Jared Taylor. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Taylor “believes black people are genetically predisposed to lower IQs” than white peoples and that black peoples “are sexually promiscuous because of hyperactive sex drives.”

    Later in the show Savage warned, “acting out children who just think that they can shoot congressmen,” by saying “it’s not going to end well” for them. In his warning to anti-Trump protesters, Savage invoked the Kent State shootings, warning “I’ve lived through this before and I know how it ends. Just think of the Kent State massacre. That’s how this is going to end.” On May 4, 1970, 4 college students were killed by the Ohio National Guard during a campus protest against the Vietnam War.

  • Conservatives need to cut the bullshit and stop exploiting a tragedy to blame the left

    Right-wing media show no self-awareness of their role in influencing violent incidents

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.

    James T. Hodgkinson, a man with a record of domestic violence, a legally purchased assault rifle, and a valid concealed carry permit, on June 14 opened fire on Republican congressmen and staffers practicing for the congressional baseball game.

    The FBI is still investigating the incident, but one thing is already clear about this latest example of unhinged gun violence. The overwhelming evidence of conservative media's influence on a significant number of deadly incidents makes their attempt to deflect attention from their role in creating a toxic political culture both cynical and exploitative.

    According to reports, the gunman had shared anti-Republican sentiments publicly online and had been critical of the president. Reports of the shooter’s political background immediately prompted unscrupulous right-wing hacks to pounce on the tragedy, looking to exploit the terrifying gun violence incident as a way to score cheap political points by blaming the left. In a new display of audacious defiance of reality, conservative voices have put the blame of the shooting not only on the left, but also on the press and various celebrities as well. But, blaming the left or the media for Hodgkinson’s actions is equivalent to blaming Jodie Foster for the attempted assassination of former President Ronald Reagan.

    The gimmick, however, is deplorable not just for its cynical exploitation of fear, pain and human tragedy; it’s also a hollow attempt to distract from the conservative right’s own responsibility in creating a political culture that inspires violence by fanning the flames of hatred. It’s a red herring aimed at avoiding the obvious, and very concrete, policy-centered conversation that needs to happen around gun violence.

    Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, two of the loudest conservative voices, immediately blamed the shooting on “the left” and “left-wing news media.”

    Additionally, the NRA, an organization that customarily deflects conversations about gun violence by blaming fatal shooting incidents on video games, political correctness, and strict gun laws, skirted its own precedent to also blame the left at large for the shooting.

    Right-wing figures’ opportunistic attempt to draw direct correlation from out-of-context phrases from progressive politicians to the actions of a violent man with easy access to assault weapons also points to a critical lack of self-awareness when it comes to their own role in influencing violent incidents.

    Take Byron Williams and his failed plot to shoot people at the Tides Foundation and the ACLU. Williams explicitly pointed to Glenn Beck’s now-defunct TV show and Alex Jones’ websites as the information sources that prompted his violent actions on the Tides Foundation, a relatively unknown organization that Beck repeatedly vilified on his program. Or the assassination of abortion provider Dr. George Tiller, which followed continuous vitriol from former right-wing star Bill O’Reilly, who told his “audience of millions over and over again” that Tiller was “an executioner.” Or the murder of three people at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, CO, at the hands of Robert Dear, a man whose “paranoid delusions, misogynist beliefs, and violent fantasies” matched “perfectly” the usual narratives that come out of “Rush Limbaugh and Alex Jones and Bill O’Reilly and countless far-right web sites.”

    Or the racially motivated massacre that ended nine black lives in Charleston, SC, perpetrated by a habitual commenter at the Trump-supporting, neo-Nazi outlet The Daily Stormer. After a man opened fire at a Washington, D.C., family pizzeria, it was hard to forget Alex Jones asking his audience to investigate the conspiracy theory that alleged the restaurant was hiding a child sex-trafficking ring. In the same way, Jones also exhorted Trump to use force against his opponents and threatened violence against supporters of “parasitical maggot” Bernie Sanders.

    So no, right-wingers don’t get to exploit this tragedy. They should not be able to get away with using pain and fear to avoid important policy conversations about gun access in American society. Not when the evidence of their role in promoting violence over politics is so overwhelming.

  • The NRA's "inappropriate" response to the congressional baseball shooting

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    The National Rifle Association hypocritically used its news outlet to repeatedly assign collective blame to the "left" for a shooting that left Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) critically wounded. When former Democratic Rep. Gabby Giffords was shot in the head in 2011, the NRA was largely silent, claiming, “At this time, anything other than prayers for the victims and their families would be inappropriate.”

    On June 14, a 66-year-old gunman opened fire on a congressional baseball practice and shot five, including Scalise. The attacker, later identified as James Hodgkinson, was shot at the scene by U.S. Capitol Police and later died from his injuries. A Capitol Hill staffer, a man who helps organize the baseball practice, and two police officers were also shot.

    Based on his Facebook profile, Hodgkinson was an avid Bernie Sanders supporter with a hatred of conservatives and President Donald Trump. His numerous posts included one on March 22 in which he called Trump a “traitor” who had “Destroyed our Democracy,” adding, “It’s Time to Destroy Trump & Co.,” according to CNN. In a February post, he called Republicans “the Taliban of the USA.”

    Sanders condemned the shooting, saying, “I am sickened by this despicable act. Let me be as clear as I can be — violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society, and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms.”

    Just hours after the shooting, during the 10 a.m. edition NRATV’s program Stinchfield, which provides live news updates at the top of the hour from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. EST, host Grant Stinchfield said, “There is an atmosphere of violence being pushed across America by the left” that “motivates unstable people.” During the 1 p.m. update, Stinchfield said the “violent rhetoric being pushed by the left-wing elitists amounts to political terrorism” and claimed that this “motivates unstable people to do … unspeakable things.”

    The next day, Stinchfield jumped at the chance, during the 9 a.m. edition of the program, to partially blame “those on the left” and the “violent atmosphere” they have created “against conservatives” for the shooting. While he conceded that “the shooter has accountability in this,” Stinchfield claimed, “There is culpability on those on the left that push this violent atmosphere against conservatives”:

    GRANT STINCHFIELD (HOST): Look, I want everyone to know that certainly the shooter has accountability in this. He gets the ultimate responsibility for his actions. But when you are unstable, when you are deranged, it only takes a little bit to provoke you to do something. There is culpability for those on the left that push this violent atmosphere against conservatives, against people that don’t believe in what they do. And that’s what’s got to stop.

    On June 15, Breitbart columnist AWR Hawkins wrote a piece for NRA’s magazine, America’s 1st Freedom, outlining how “the left incites violence.” Hawkins wrote that Democrats “push protests past the limit of decency” and that their “goal is to divide the country,” noting that “such division … grows into hatred that can erupt into the kind of violence” that took place in Alexandria:

    Trump haters push protests past the limit of decency, with media fanning the hateful flames. People like Kathy Griffin and those who produce New York Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park series, whose goal is to divide the country, then use the division to their political benefit. Such division births animosity, which grows into hatred that can erupt into the kind of violence we saw when 66-year-old James T. Hodgkinson opened fire on the GOP lawmakers.

    [...]

    The left has created a climate in which violence is imminent; the divisions they foster and maintain to be elected to office—or to preserve their Hollywood and media fiefdoms—are coming back to haunt us in real time. Shame on them for exploiting the very violence their ideology births; for seeking to spin a heinous crime into another gun control law.

  • CNN’s chief is criticizing the president's war on the media. Last year, he hired Trump’s top press abuser.

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    CNN President Jeff Zucker criticized President Donald Trump’s administration for its strategy of trying to delegitimize the press for political purposes, warning that his network’s reporters now regularly receive threats. But CNN itself has played a key role in that effort, rewarding key figures in the Trump team’s anti-press campaign with jobs at the network.

    Zucker told HuffPo that the “shameful” effort “does disservice to this country and its position in the world and ... allows for a heightened sense of rhetoric against journalists and media organizations. And it is unconscionable and dangerous and they should know better.”

    CNN's chief is absolutely right. The attacks on the free press from the Trump administration and its media allies are unprecedented in their vitriol. Reporters covering Trump rallies often feared for their physical safety as Trump would whip his crowds into an anti-press frenzy. A Republican congressman’s assault last month on a reporter who sought to ask him a question represented a frightening new turn, with anti-press rhetoric turning swiftly to violence.

    But Zucker’s concern for the journalists he employs and their colleagues around the country would be more compelling if he had not previously decided that former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who oversaw many of the campaign’s most despicable attacks on journalists, was a great fit for the network.

    Lewandowski earned notoriety for his open hostility toward -- and physical altercations with -- journalists trying to cover the campaign. He reportedly pushed a CNN reporter who was trying to ask a question and threatened to pull the credentials of another. He was said to have propositioned female journalists who sought to cover Trump. And most infamously, he was charged with misdemeanor battery after he forcibly grabbed reporter Michelle Fields for the crime of trying to ask Trump a question (the state declined to prosecute).

    After all that -- and in spite of a nondisclosure agreement that likely prevented him from criticizing Trump -- Zucker’s CNN hired Lewandowski in June 2016 to represent his former boss on the network. Journalists inside CNN and out promptly savaged the network for its “inexcusable” action.

    But Zucker repeatedly defended Lewandowski’s hiring on the grounds that the network needed to have a supporter of the Republican nominee on the payroll. This argument did not meet the smell test: The network already employed several Trump supporters and had no trouble finding others to appear on their airwaves, none of whom had records of physical altercations with journalists.

    The reality is that time and time again during the presidential campaign, Zucker was willing to do what it took to curry favor with the Trump campaign, providing the Republican front-runner with an ocean of coverage because he thought Trump gave the network great ratings. Now that Trump is president, he’s stuck in the unenviable position of having to deal with the result: A president willing to publicly declare his network “fake news.”

    Meanwhile, the pro-Trump pundits Zucker’s network employs play a key role in the administration’s effort to delegitimize the press by defending that strategy on the network’s own airwaves. CNN’s Jeffrey Lord laughed off Trump’s unhinged February press conference, during which the president launched dozens of attacks on reporters and media outlets, as the “launch of a new reality television show called ‘Beat the Press.’” In October, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Trump campaign aide Jason Miller if he was comfortable with the way Trump lashed out at the press and threatened to sue journalists. Miller responded by blaming the “biased” media. In March, CNN hired him as a political commentator.

    It’s great that Zucker now wants to stick up for his reporters when the president’s supporters chant “CNN sucks” at Trump rallies. But the administration's attacks on journalists did not come out of nowhere; they were completely predictable. Instead of punishing the Trump campaign for its actions “against something that is guaranteed in the Constitution of the United States” when it could have made a real difference, Zucker rewarded its anti-press lackeys.

  • Trump’s media allies use attack on GOP baseball practice to delegitimize the press

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    President Donald Trump’s most loyal conservative and “alt-right” media allies are blaming the mainstream press's Trump coverage for Wednesday’s attack on a Republican congressional baseball practice, with one close ally to the president even calling for banning some critical journalists from the airwaves in response. This cynical campaign is the next step in their ongoing effort to delegitimize any source of unfavorable information about the president.

    The shooter has been identified as James T. Hodgkinson, a home inspector and critic of the president with a history of domestic violence.

    Paul Joseph Watson, an editor at Alex Jones’ Infowars site, was among the first to blame media coverage for the gunman’s attack, writing on Twitter just minutes after news broke that the culprit was “Trump derangement syndrome, radicalised by mainstream media hysterics.” He later added of journalists and the left, “The blood is on their hands.”

    This cynical effort to curtail critical journalism spread from the “alt-right” fringe, through the right-wing press, to Trump’s chief propagandist at Fox News. Several of the theory’s proponents specifically pointed to the media’s coverage of the investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.

    “The fake news media finally got what it wanted,” Mike Cernovich said on Periscope. “They’re getting their mass murderers. They’re getting the mass shooters. This is what they’ve attempted to incite for the past 18 months.” Cernovich, an “alt-right” provocateur and noted misogynist, spent the 2016 election cycle promoting “Pizzagate” smears, and now he has close ties to Trump’s White House and family.

    “I have foreseen this coming,” Rush Limbaugh told his millions-strong radio audience soon after the shooting. “You can’t continue to enrage people the way the left and predominantly the mainstream media has been doing.”

    Michael Savage, a right-wing radio host with a close relationship with Trump who regularly hosts the administration’s top officials, not only blamed the media for the shooting but also suggested that in response, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow and other critical journalists should be removed from the airwaves by the federal government due to their “constant drumbeat of their hatred against Trump and Republicans.” Maddow’s program is notable for its intense focus on the Trump-Russia story.

    At Fox, Sean Hannity declared that “the biggest issue we need to address as a country is what is a record level of vicious left-wing hate that is being spewed day after day, hour after hour, by a left-wing news media that wants to destroy the president.”

    Notably, the critique these pro-Trump media figures are pushing is largely bereft of concrete examples of journalists using extreme or inciting rhetoric about the president. After making his broad indictment against the press, for example, Hannity highlighted the actions of artists and celebrities, not reporters. In other instances, the claims are simply fabricated, as with Alex Jones’ declaration that a host of newspapers have called for Trump’s death.

    Instead, the president’s allies are claiming that negative coverage in general -- and negative coverage about the Russia investigation in particular -- led to violence. This is a patently cynical ploy aimed at bolstering a political strategy that the pro-Trump media have pushed for months.

    Trump has been castigating the press and seeking to delegitimize journalists since the presidential campaign. He’s declared the media the “enemy of the American people.” His allies have been bolstering that effort every step of the way.

    And now they’re using an attack on U.S. members of Congress as a new way to promote that argument.

  • Trump ally Michael Savage calls for government takeover of the media following shooting at GOP baseball practice

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Right-wing radio host Michael Savage called for a government takeover of media following a shooting at a baseball practice of Republican members of Congress.

    Five people, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), were wounded during baseball practice in Alexandria, VA. The assailant, “identified by multiple law enforcement officials as James T. Hodgkinson II,” was killed by police after they exchanged gunfire.

    Responding to the shooting, Savage questioned whether Trump should “take control of Twitter” and asked, “Is it time for the government to take control of the out-of-control pirates on social media ... who do not monitor left-wing haters?” He also advocated for removing Rachel Maddow and others from the airwaves by the federal government, citing “their constant drumbeat of their hatred against Trump and Republicans, calling for, among other things, resistance with their sneers every night.”

    Savage later argued that CNN and MSNBC were “practicing a silent form of jihad against America” and demanded that Republicans “call a hearing a make the heads of CNN and MSNBC answer to them as to what they are doing to curtail the sneering hatred of Rachel Madcow (sic) in particular.”

    Savage concluded his tirade by warning that the violence created by the media’s “jihad” “is only the beginning,” arguing that the shooter was inspired to violence by “the hatred for Republicans and Trump” of the media.

  • An “alt-right”-affiliated candidate nearly won Virginia's GOP gubernatorial primary

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    A Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate who was backed by, and affiliated with, segments of the “alt-right” media nearly won the state’s June 13 gubernatorial primary.

    Corey Stewart, chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, narrowly lost to front-runner Ed Gillespie, former chairman of Republican National Committee (RNC), by only slightly more than a percentage point.

    Stewart, who was Virginia state co-chairman of President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, heavily courted the “alt-right” during his campaign, which he announced in April 2016. While he was the co-chair, Stewart wrote multiple pieces for “alt-right”-promoting website Breitbart. Shortly after he was fired from his position in October for taking part in a protest against the RNC, Stewart gave an interview to Mike Cernovich, an “alt-right”-affiliated troll who has a history of promoting conspiracy theories. During the interview, Cernovich said that “he calls establishment Republicans ‘cucks’ because “they like to see Trump get screwed over by the media, that's what they get off on.” Stewart replied, “Yeah, I would agree.” The term “cuck,” short for “cuckservative,” is widely used within “alt-right” circles.

    In March, Stewart did a question-and-answer session on the Reddit forum “r/The_Donald,” an “alt-right”-affiliated forum that has, in tandem with other “alt-right” figures and fake news purveyors, helped spread conspiracy theories and misinformation. Stewart wrote on the forum that he is “opposing the establishment's handpicked candidate, former Bush guy, RNC chairman, and cuckservative, Ed Gillespie.” The Virginia GOP state chairman criticized Stewart, noting that the term was “used by white nationalists.” The forum “r/The_Donald” would go on to promote Stewart’s primary campaign, as did 4chan /pol/, another “alt-right”-affiliated forum.

    During his campaign, Stewart also criticized the city of Charlottesville’s plan to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, going to rallies to protest the city’s action. He also responded to his critics by tweeting, “Nothing is worse than a Yankee telling a Southerner that his monuments don't matter.” Richard Spencer, a white nationalist who originally created the term “alt-right,” subsequently led a group of “torch-wielding protesters” in the city to protest removal of the statue. Stewart was the only candidate to not directly condemn Spencer’s protest. Stewart’s stand earned him praise from “alt-right” outlets and figures: The neo-Nazi and “alt-right”-affiliated blog The Daily Stormer wrote that Stewart’s actions showed “how you win the game” and “how we go mainstream,” while Occasional Dissent, a blog run by anti-Semitic writer Hunter Wallace, claimed that Stewart was taking a “stand for Dixie.”

    After the close primary election, “alt-right” figures cheered Stewart’s near-upset. Cernovich tweeted that the result showed “GOP globalists” that they're “all going to have primary challengers.” He also said that Stewart “showed them what one man can do with his populist revolution.” Another “alt-right”-affiliated troll, Jack Posobiec, tweeted, “Gillespie outspent Stewart 5-to-1 and barely won the race. Take note, Establishment.” VDare, another “alt-right”-connected outlet which frequently publishes articles written by white nationalists, claimed Stewart’s “heroic effort” against “useless consultantcuck Ed Gillespie” showed “nationalism lives.”

  • Seven ways pro-Trump media and fake news purveyors have smeared James Comey and Robert Mueller

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Over the past month, fake news purveyors and “alt-right”-affiliated figures and outlets have been smearing former FBI Director James Comey and special counsel for the Russia probe, Robert Mueller. The two men have been smeared by this media ecosystem, which has essentially been a propaganda machine for President Donald Trump and which perceives the two investigators as a potential threat to the president. Following Comey’s firing by Trump in May, Mueller’s appointment as special counsel, and Comey’s statement that Trump fired him over the Russia probe, this ecosystem has worked to discredit both and to assist Trump. These are five smears they have pushed.

    Fake news purveyors pushed dubious “alt-right” claim that Comey was imperiled by supposed probe into Susan Rice

    “Alt-right” troll Jack Posobiec claimed Comey dropped a probe of Susan Rice (there’s no evidence any such probe existed) to avoid implicating himself. Shortly after former FBI Director James Comey was fired, Jack Posobiec, an “alt-right” troll with a history of pushing conspiracy theories and misinformation, claimed that an “FBI source” told him that “Comey dropped the Susan Rice unmasking investigation [because] it would have implicated himself.” The tweet was in reference to the dubious claim that former national security adviser Susan Rice violated the law by unmasking Trump aides caught up in surveillance of foreign officials. There has been no corroboration outside of the right-wing fringe that Rice was ever under FBI investigation.

    Fake news purveyors ran with Posobiec’s claim. Fake news purveyors ran with Posobiec’s dubious claim, with TruthFeed claiming it “does logically make sense.” Angry Patriot wrote that it “will only affirm Trump’s decision in giving [Comey] the boot,” and Conservative Daily Post and The Washington Feed published the same article claiming that it showed Comey “was an extremely corrupt individual.” The TruthFeed, Angry Patriot, and Conservative Daily Post articles received at least 1,700, 9,300, and 6,800 Facebook engagements, respectively, according to BuzzSumo, a social media analytics site.

    Fake news purveyors and “alt-right” outlets used Judicial Watch report to claim Mueller “conspired with radical Islamic groups” and should be concerning to Americans

    Judicial Watch claimed Mueller, as FBI director, “caved” to “Islamist groups.” Following Mueller’s appointment as special counsel, right-wing group Judicial Watch published a report claiming that “as FBI director, Mueller bent over backwards to please radical Islamist groups and caved into their demands.” Judicial Watch alleged that the FBI under Mueller “eliminated the valuable anti-terrorism training material and curricula after Mueller met with various Islamist organizations, including those with documented ties too (sic) terrorism.” According to Wired, the FBI had removed those materials because “they were inaccurate or over-broad” or “because they were offensive.”

    “Alt-right” outlet and fake news purveyors used Judicial Watch report to attack Mueller. “Alt-right”-affiliated outlet The Gateway Pundit used the Judicial Watch report to claim Mueller “conspired with radical Islamic groups.” Fake news purveyors joined in; Conservative Fighters and Angry Patriot wrote that it showed “the media’s glowing portrayal of Mueller” was “not true,” The Washington Feed claimed that it showed “the real picture” of Mueller, and Tell Me Now wrote that Mueller “thought it was more offensive than jihadists killing Americans” and that the report “will likely have some Americans concerned” about him being special counsel. The Gateway Pundit, Conservative Fighters, Angry Patriot, and Tell Me Now articles received at least 1,200, 9,500, 13,800, and 231 Facebook engagements, respectively, according to BuzzSumo.

    “Alt-right” outlets and fake news purveyors suggested Comey was biased against Trump because his brother worked at a law firm used by the Clinton Foundation

    Fringe blog Big League Politics suggested Comey was “protecting [Hillary] Clinton” because his brother worked at law firm connected to the Clinton Foundation. After Comey’s firing, fringe blog Big League Politics revived a claim, originating from “alt-right”-promoting outlet Breitbart, that Comey “was clearly protecting [Hillary] Clinton from … espionage and corruption charges” because his brother worked for a law firm that “does the Clinton Foundation’s taxes.”

    “Alt-right” outlet and fake news purveyors ran with charge to discredit Comey. The Gateway Pundit claimed Big League Politics showed Comey’s “ties to the Clinton Foundation and the conflicts of interest that lie there are too close to not raise red flags.” From there it was revived by fake news purveyors, with Angry Patriot writing that it showed “Comey was compromised, so it is a good thing that Donald Trump removed him from office.” TruthFeed wrote that it showed Comey’s “crooked Clinton ties” meant Trump “was 100% correct to remove this shill,” USA Politics Today wondered how “Comey [was] not removed from the Hillary Clinton email investigation,” and Conservative Patriot wrote that it showed Comey was “involved in shady activities with [the] Clinton Foundation.” The Gateway Pundit, Angry Patriot, TruthFeed, USA Politics Today, and Conservative Patriot articles received at least 24,400, 5,800, 2,100, 2,700, and 4,800 Facebook engagements, respectively, according to BuzzSumo.

    “Alt-right” and fake news-purveying outlets used 2009 Wikileaks cable to mislead about Mueller working with Russia

    The Gateway Pundit, via Wikileaks, revived a 2009 cable showing Mueller, with authorization, transported uranium to Russia. After Mueller was named special counsel, The Gateway Pundit pointed to a 2009 cable published by Wikileaks revealing that Mueller delivered a sample of highly enriched uranium -- seized from the nation of Georgia and held in U.S. custody -- to Russia, with authorization from the Georgian government, for forensic analysis. The uranium was referred to by both Wikileaks and The Gateway Pundit as “stolen,” and The Gateway Pundit used the story to suggest that Democrats should be “up in arms over Mueller’s visit to Russia” because “according to the deranged Democrats, any contact with the Russians creates a cloud of suspicion and must lead to an investigation.”

    “Alt-right” outlet and fake news purveyors claimed Mueller “has [a] connection to Russia.” Infowars, a conspiracy theorist website, wrote that the cable showed Mueller “has [a] past connection with [the] Kremlin.” Fake news purveyor USA Politics Today wrote that Mueller “is not … innocent” because he “oversaw the transfer of stolen highly enriched uranium” to Russia. And The Federalist Tribune asked, “Since Obama was president than (sic), does this mean he was acting in a treasonous manner in trying to stop the flow of stolen nuclear materials by cooperating with Russia?” The Gateway Pundit, Infowars, USA Politics Today, and The Federalist Tribune articles received at least 2,300, 206, 832, and 569 Facebook engagements, respectively, according to BuzzSumo.

    “Alt-right” and fake news purveyors used 2015 AP article to falsely claim Comey covered up for Chattanooga shooting

    Gateway Pundit spun a 2015 article on the shootings in Chattanooga, TN, to claim that “Comey colluded with Obama on radical Islamic murder of US marines.” The Gateway Pundit claimed that in 2015, “the FBI under Comey was completely baffled” about the motivation of a man who killed U.S. marines at a military recruiting center and at a naval base in Chattanooga, TN, in July of that year. The fringe website claimed, “No doubt this was the conclusion Obama wanted” and spun a November 2015 Associated Press article that quoted Comey saying, “We’re still trying to make sure we understand Abdulazeez, his motivations and associations, in a really good way.” Later, in December 2015, Comey told reporters that the shooter “was inspired by a foreign terrorist organization's propaganda.”

    Fake news purveyors run with Gateway Pundit’s claim. Fake news purveyors ran with The Gateway Pundit’s claim, with some additionally lying that the report was new. The Washington Feed called it “Comey’s sickest secret,” while USA News Flash said it was “sickening” because “the public record will never be revealed.” Freedom Daily claimed Comey did a “sickening thing” to “cover up the murder.” Red Rock Daily News claimed it showed “Comey and Obama are criminals.” The Gateway Pundit, USA News Flash, and Freedom Daily articles received at least 1,900, 12,400, and 16,800 Facebook engagements, respectively, according to BuzzSumo.

    “Alt-right”-affiliated outlet and fake news purveyors falsely claim Mueller intentionally lied about spying on antiwar groups

    “Alt-right”-affiliated outlet GotNews alleged Mueller misled Congress about spying on antiwar groups. GotNews, an “alt-right”-affiliated outlet, claimed in May that a Justice Department inspector general report showed Mueller “misled Congress in 2006 about FBI surveillance of peaceful anti-Iraq War groups.” However, as the inspector general report noted, Mueller did not know at the time the information was incorrect.

    Fake news purveyors used report to falsely claim Mueller is “a liar.” Fake news purveyors used the GotNews report to falsely claim Mueller lied to Congress. Angry Patriot and Conservative Fighters both wrongly wrote that Mueller “falsified testimony about the bureau’s surveillance on an anti-war protest in 2002” and that he is “a liar who illegally spied on Americans.” The GotNews, Angry Patriot, and Conservative Fighters articles received at least 637, 6,200, and 4,700 Facebook engagements, respectively, according to BuzzSumo.

    “Alt-right”-affiliated outlets and fake news purveyors claim Mueller is connected to Democratic organization Civis Analytics

    GotNews reported Mueller worked with law firm representing a “big Democrat group.” GotNews in June alleged that Mueller was “partnered” with a law firm, WilmerHale, that represented the “leftist analytics firm Civis Analytics,” which it also described as a “big Democrat group.” The GotNews report ignored the fact that WilmerHale also represents three Trump affiliates: former campaign manager Paul Manafort, daughter Ivanka Trump, and son-in-law Jared Kushner.

    The Gateway Pundit and fake news purveyors ran with the report to question Mueller's "impartiality." The Gateway Pundit wrote that GotNews showed Mueller had “ties to a particularly dangerous DNC megadonor.” Fake news purveyors also ran with the report, with Angry Patriot and Conservative Fighters writing that “Mueller’s bipartisanship seems doubtful given that his law firm worked with the Left-wing Civis Analytics,” and a Before It's News contributor wrote that the report was “raising questions about Mueller’s impartiality in his so-called ‘Russia probe’ into President Donald J. Trump’s campaign.” The GotNews, Gateway Pundit,  Angry Patriot, and Conservative Fighters articles received at least 55, 3,200, 6,200, and 4,700 Facebook engagements, respectively, according to BuzzSumo.

    This piece has been updated.

  • PBS is airing right-wing-sponsored school privatization propaganda

    Blog ››› ››› BRETT ROBERTSON


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and her department have pushed for an expansion of privatized school choice programs in the proposed budget for fiscal year 2018, particularly in the form of private school vouchers. Now a propagandistic three-part documentary series called School Inc. will help DeVos in her efforts to gain public support for expanded private school choice options. The series has already aired on PBS stations in some markets and will be shown on more this month.

    A majority of people across the partisan spectrum oppose private school vouchers, programs that redirect public education money to pay for private school tuition. Vouchers are problematic for many reasons, including their history of allowing for discrimination against LGBTQ, disabled, and special education students, their impact on reducing public education funding, and their ineffectiveness in boosting academic achievement.

    Despite these problems, private school vouchers are a long-standing priority of the corporations and right-wing funders backing the education privatization movement. The late Andrew Coulson, long-time head of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom, was the driving force behind School Inc. The Cato Institute is a right-wing, libertarian think-tank that calls for the elimination of public schools in support of greater “educational freedom” to choose from a free market of privately run schools.

    In addition to School Inc.’s roots in the radical, libertarian Cato Institute, education historian and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch found that the film was funded by a number of arch-conservative foundations with ties to the “dark money ATM” DonorsTrust and the Ayn Rand Institute. Ravitch has prescreened School Inc. and provided this scathing review to The Washington Post:

    This program is paid propaganda. It does not search for the truth. It does not present opposing points of view. It is an advertisement for the demolition of public education and for an unregulated free market in education. PBS might have aired a program that debates these issues, but “School Inc.” does not.

    Why would a public broadcast channel air a documentary that is produced by a right-wing think tank and funded by ultra-conservative donors, and that presents a single point of view without meaningful critique, all the while denigrating public education? PBS responded in part with a statement to the Post, saying, "PBS and local member stations aim to offer programs that reflect diverse viewpoints and promote civic dialogue on important topics affecting local communities."

    However, as Ravitch notes, when a documentary fails to objectively present information about a topic that may not be well understood by the general public, the result is unlikely to “promote civic dialogue.” And when major media outlets uncritically provide a platform to right-wing ideologues, they further misinform and polarize the debate around important issues such as public education.

  • Mika Brzezinski calls out the sexist double standard in the Senate: It's "pathetic" Sen. Kamala Harris was shut down by "a lot of rude, white, older men"  

    Morning Shows on CNN and MSNBC call out the sexism Sen. Harris faced "on the national stage" during Russia hearings

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    From the June 14 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:

    JOE SCARBOROUGH (CO-HOST): Mika, another interesting thing that happened, and I have a feeling that you may want to talk about this because you talked about it before, but the junior senator from California, Senator [Kamala] Harris (D-CA), once again called out by men on the committee because they thought that she was too assertive. Last night on a network she was called hysterical when, of course, [Sen.] Ron Wyden (D-OR) was very aggressive. Nobody called him hysterical or condemned him.

    MIKA BRZEZINSKI (CO-HOST): Jeff Sessions was quite colorful.

    SCARBOROUGH: Yeah. Jeff Sessions was colorful and indignant. And, "How dare you, sir? Beauregard does not answer questions like that." And nobody called him hysterical? But they called Kamala Harris hysterical for the second week in a row. 

    BRZEZINSKI: This is a secondary story given the seriousness of the nature of the questions being asked, but it's an important story. The differences between what is expected and what is allowed between men and women, even on the national stage when the cameras are on them and there should be at least an attempt at equality, is pathetic. And Kamala Harris will be our guest this morning, and I can't wait to talk to her about that, and also about the questions that she's trying to ask in the middle of being told that she's rude by a lot of rude, white older men.