Media Matters weekly newsletter, April 19

Welcome back to Media Matters’ weekly newsletter. This week:

  • Debunking right-wing lies and misinformation about Trump's Manhattan criminal trial.
  • Lara Trump says the RNC is partnering with a QAnon conspiracy theorist’s organization.
  • Fox News falsely claims Trump’s tax cuts for the wealthy were directed to the middle class.

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This week in stupid

  • Fox’s Jesse Watters promoted Duane “Dog the Bounty Hunter” Chapman for Donald Trump’s “deportation czar.”

  • Sean Hannity’s radio producer called Donald Trump “the human version of Israel.”

This week in scary

  • Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk: The Civil Rights Act “created a beast, and that beast has now turned into an anti-white weapon.”

  • BlazeTV’s Steve Deace: “Islam would gut Christian and Jew alike if it could, and has.”

  • Jesse Watters attacked new jurors in Donald Trump’s hush money trial. On the same day, Sean Hannity defended giving out identifying information on the jurors.

Excuse me?

  • Newsmax guest Ted Nugent: “Anybody that’s against Donald Trump, really is against America.”

  • Infowars host Harrison Smith claimed that the Holocaust is a “religion” that “you can’t question.”

  • Charlie Kirk called for retaliation over prosecutions against Trump: “It’s time for us to start to use handcuffs and leg irons too.”

  • CBS interviewed an abortion opponent in Arizona and didn't disclose her close ties to Kari Lake.


Citation Molly Butler/Media Matters

On April 15, the twice impeached, four-times indicted former President Donald Trump walked into a Manhattan courtroom for the first day of his trial for charges of falsifying business records in order to conceal hush money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. Trump and his right-wing media propaganda apparatus swiftly began spreading misinformation about the trial.

Media Matters has compiled this guide for debunking the common myths conservatives have been spreading. Here are a few:

  • Trump’s gag order is not, in fact, a violation of his freedom of speech. Experts agree that this gag order is consistent with New York law and court precedent.

  • Conservatives have been spreading the false claim that Judge Juan Merchan is blocking Trump from attending his son Barron’s high school graduation. The reality is that Merchan has not yet made a decision regarding Barron’s graduation.

  • Another common myth is that Trump should have been charged with misdemeanors, and the charges were filed outside the statute of limitations. The truth is that Trump was charged with felonies because he allegedly concealed an underlying crime and the statute of limitations was extended.

  • Of course, few right-wing conspiracy theories are complete without some reference to Hillary Clinton. In this case, conservatives allege that Trump should not be prosecuted because Clinton only paid a fine for the Steele dossier misreporting. The simple fact of the matter is that Trump’s hush money payment case allegedly involved the falsification of business records to conceal a crime, rather than mischaracterizing campaign expenditures.

I invite you to read the entire myths and facts guide here where we provide more details about all the above.

Lara Trump, disgraced former President Donald Trump’s daughter-in-law, was voted co-chair of the Republican National Committee in March. Since then, she has been flip-flopping on the RNC’s relationship with Scott Presler, a QAnon conspiracy theorist. On March 14, she said that she wanted to hire Presler for a job in “our legal ballot harvesting division.” Days later, NBC News reported that Presler would not be hired. Then on her podcast on March 20, she said she would ask Presler to be “part of the team” to help with “the largest legal ballot harvesting operation in the entire country.”

During the April 14 broadcast of Sebastian Gorka’s Newsmax show, Trump clarified her position, declaring, “We are legally partnering with” Presler’s organization “in every possible way.”

In addition to being a QAnon conspiracy theorist, Presler was on the U.S. Capitol grounds during the January 6, 2021, attack. He also worked for Act for America, an organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center has described as an “anti-Muslim hate group.” Furthermore, he was previously linked to lewd photos posted to Craigslist allegedly taken in an RNC office in 2016.

On Tuesday morning’s edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade proudly proclaimed that Donald Trump’s tax cuts, passed in 2017, were a “middle-class tax cut predominantly.” In fact, the individual and corporate tax cuts overwhelmingly benefited the rich. This assertion is neither a fact nor an opinion — it’s just false.

In reality, Trump’s tax cuts skewed heavily to the very wealthy. At the time they were passed, an analysis by Moody’s Investors Service projected that more than three-quarters of the $1.1 trillion individual tax cuts would go to people earning more than $200,000 annually, and that economic benefits would fail to trickle down.

Future developments have only confirmed this prediction. The benefits of Trump’s tax cut did not filter through to productivity or wage gains for workers. In fact, 40% of the benefit from individual tax cuts and 53% of the corporate tax cuts went to the top 5% of income groups, while also failing to boost worker earnings compared to high-paid executives.

While Republicans and their propaganda arm try to paint themselves as champions of the working class, the biggest legislative accomplishment of the Trump administration was nothing more than a boondoggle for the wealthiest class of Americans.

In case you missed it

  • ABC and NBC nightly news programs ignored a report that Donald Trump appeared to fall asleep during his trial.

  • Mainstream media outlets gushed over “vocal Trump critic” New Jersey Gov. Chris Sununu, who has now endorsed Trump’s presidential candidacy.

  • In 2023, corporate broadcast news mentioned climate solutions in only 22% of climate segments, a decline from the previous three years.

  • Pete Hoekstra, the chair of the Michigan Republican Party, has been working for the anti-Muslim Gatestone Institute, which has posted commentaries suggesting that Muslims are incompatible in the West and claiming Europe may be facing “Great White Death” because of Muslim immigrants.

  • Right-wing pastor and podcast host Drenda Keesee, who is running uncontested in November for a Knox County, Ohio, commissioner seat, has spread unhinged conspiracy theories about climate change, abortion, “satanic hordes” causing people to identify as LGBTQ, and global elites working to bring about a “New World Order.”

  • Google is allowing right-wing propaganda organization PragerU to run climate-denying ads on its search engine even though the tech giant previously committed to prohibiting ads that feature claims that contradict the “well-established scientific consensus” about climate change.

  • Charlie Kirk called for House Speaker Mike Johnson to resign, and said, “I think that Newt Gingrich should be a temporary speaker until the end of the year.”

  • Fox’s Sean Hannity is frantically covering for Republicans after Arizona reinstated a 19th-century abortion ban.

  • Fox News peddled a misleading report on costs associated with immigration from a nativist hate group.