Media Matters weekly newsletter, April 26

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

  • MAGA media praise Trump for nodding off in court.
  • Fox’s Sean Hannity hasn’t mentioned the GOP impeachment probe into President Joe Biden on Fox in over a month.
  • The MAGA attacks on Trump’s jury are part of their anti-democracy push.

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Fox News: "King Kong was feared, but fascinating"

This week in stupid

  • Fox’s Jesse Watters said it’s “cruel and unusual punishment” for Donald Trump’s trials to keep him off the golf course.
  • Fox’s Newt Gingrich said Trump’s hush money trial is “literally like some of the civil rights workers in Mississippi in the 1960s.”
  • Newsmax’s Greg Kelly claimed the Trump fake elector scheme that led to indictments in Arizona “happens every election cycle.”

This week in scary

  • War Room host Steve Bannon and guest Mike Davis laid out ways a Trump White House could prosecute its enemies.
  • Fox host Brian Kilmeade joked about college students finding cheap apartments in Gaza.

Excuse me?

  • Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk on House Speaker Mike Johnson: “Where’s the evidence that this guy’s actually a Christian?”
  • The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh called for arming teachers in schools, saying there is no “magic button” to prevent mass shootings in schools.
  • Trump ally Laura Loomer: “You are an enemy to this country if you do not vote for Donald Trump.”

Citation Molly Butler/Media Matters

Donald Trump, age 77, often mocks President Joe Biden as “Sleepy Joe,” yet reporters in the courtroom for Trump’s New York City hush money trial have repeatedly observed Trump appearing to fall asleep during the trial.

The disgraced former president’s MAGA media propagandists are so in the tank for him that they’ve been praising him for repeatedly falling asleep.

  • Fox’s Sean Hannity said, “By the way, I think I’d fall asleep if I was there.”
  • Charlie Kirk praised Trump’s sleeping, saying, “That’s exactly how all of us would act in, like, the ‘Intro to Gender Studies’ class at the University of Missouri.”
  • Newsmax’s Greg Kelly said, “Did Donald Trump nod off for a moment? Good for him. These things are boring.”
Fox News screengrab

According to a Media Matters review, Sean Hannity hasn’t mentioned the House Republican impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden in more than five weeks on Fox News. It’s a stunning reversal for the man who used his prime-time show to serve as a clearinghouse for bogus smears of Hunter Biden and a promotional vehicle for impeachment efforts.

No one worked harder to turn Biden’s son into a political liability than Hannity. Going back to 2018, Hannity teamed up with Rudy Giuliani and other Trump cronies to kneecap Biden’s presidential bid via a disinformation campaign that led to Donald Trump’s first impeachment. In 2023 alone, his Fox show aired at least 325 segments about the president’s son. But when House Republicans tried to substantiate Hannity’s absurd allegations, they proved only the stupidity of following the Fox host’s lead.

By February, House Republicans began leaking that their probe was unlikely to result in an impeachment vote. Later that month, Hannity promoted dozens of Fox segments to an FBI informant’s claims that a Ukrainian oligarch had paid the Bidens millions of dollars in bribes. But on February 16, the Justice Department announced that the informant had been charged with federal crimes for fabricating that tale. By March, the GOP impeachment effort was clearly in shambles.

Meanwhile, Rep. James Comer (R-KY), the top impeachment investigator who appeared on Hannity’s show dozens of times to talk about Hunter Biden in 2023, has not been on the program since March 12. Comer recently told a colleague he is “ready to be ‘done with’ the impeachment inquiry.”

In terms of Fox News as a whole, Hunter Biden was mentioned on the network at least 13,440 times since January 3, 2023 (when Republicans took control of the House of Representatives). The numbers peaked in July 2023 with 2,356 mentions but have drastically fallen since then, especially this year. So far in April, there have only been 60 references to Hunter Biden on Fox.


Citation Andrea Austria / Media Matters

As Donald Trump’s criminal trial in Manhattan proceeds, we’ve seen MAGA voices on Fox News and elsewhere zero in on jurors, going after them personally and urging pro-Trump people to get on the jury specifically to sink the case.

  • Jesse Watters launched attacks on jurors, saying that any juror who claims to be unbiased in the case is a liar. He also cited Trump’s legal team as having uncovered potential jurors who were “undercover activists.”
  • Steve Bannon cited Watters’ remarks as a reason that Trump’s team should move for an immediate mistrial.
  • Fox Corp. personality Clay Travis publicly urged Trump supporters to “do everything you can” to get on the jury and acquit Trump.

This attack on jurors should be seen as part of the MAGA anti-democracy push. As Media Matters’ John Whitehouse writes: “This coordinated attempt to use chaos to undermine public confidence in Trump’s trial should be understood as part and parcel of Trump and his supporters’ attack on democracy — and their media allies are fully on board.”

In case you missed it

  • Fox News is burying the breaking story of a new indictment against Republican conspirators who created their own slate of fake electoral votes in Arizona. In the 20 hours since the news broke, Fox never mentioned the story.
  • As pro-Palestinian demonstrations continue on college campuses nationwide, right-wing media outlets and personalities have become a geyser of unfounded accusations that the student protesters are engaging in physical violence.
  • A Media Matters analysis of print newspaper articles covering inflation following the February 2024 Consumer Price Index report found almost no mention of the inflationary policies that Donald Trump implemented during his term.
  • Right-wing media are divided over whether the GOP should oust House Speaker Mike Johnson amid passage of the bipartisan Ukraine aid.
  • Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) is on a right-wing media tour promoting her efforts to oust Mike Johnson.
  • Far-right media have received press passes from the Trump campaign while mainstream reporters have been denied access.
  • Over the last several months, Spanish-speaking conservative personalities on radio and social media have joined the cacophony of right-wing media fearmongering about a supposed invasion of immigrants coming to supposedly destabilize the country.
  • Manosphere influencers — some of whom have embraced Nazism and antisemitism over the past year — have thrown their support behind Donald Trump.
  • Board members of Michael Flynn’s organization are allegedly sending “leads” from QAnon conspiracy theorists to law enforcement.
  • Broadcast TV evening news prioritized stock market updates and inflation coverage over all other economic issues in the first quarter of 2024.