Media Matters weekly newsletter, August 4

Welcome back to Media Matters' weekly email. As a senior researcher with Media Matters, I monitor and analyze right-wing content across a wide variety of platforms, trying to understand what makes the ecosystem tick. Each Friday I'll go through all the main narratives, craziest clips, and dumbest moments from conservative media over the past week. If you want this delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe here.

A federal grand jury indicted disgraced former President Donald Trump on charges related to the January 6, 2021 insurrection. This is the second federal indictment for Trump, and his third indictment overall, with a potential fourth indictment coming from the state of Georgia. Despite his legal woes, conservative media went into a tailspin defending the thrice indicted, twice impeached mobster former president.

Conservative pundits lashed out at the prosecutors:

  • Fox’s Mark Levin called Special Counsel Jack Smith a “rogue Stalinist prosecutor.” Levin also said Smith has started “a war against the country.”
  • On Newsmax, Peter Navarro said Trump must order a future attorney general to prosecute Smith for “seditious conspiracy.”
  • A Fox legal analyst said Smith “should be indicted for stupidity.”
  • On Newsmax, Devin Nunes said “several current and former DOJ and and FBI officials” should be indicted.
  • Newsmax’s Greg Kelly said “I think it’s against the law” for Smith to be special counsel.
  • Fox’s Laura Ingraham threatened future retaliatory prosecution of Smith, Merrick Garland, and Joe Biden by a Republican controlled Department of Justice.

Conservative pundits argued this Trump indictment is an effort to conceal alleged crimes committed by President Joe Biden:

  • Fox’s Laura Ingraham said Trump was indicted to protect Biden and “the entire D.C. establishment.”
  • On Fox, Monica Crowley said, “They are basically indicting Donald Trump for Joe Biden’s crimes.”

Conservative pundits promised retribution, calling on Trump to seek revenge if he’s reelected:

  • Fox’s Jesse Watters promised that Trump will “unleash hell on all his political enemies.”
  • Watters later promised a Trump “revenge tour” where he’s “out for blood.”
  • Newsmax host Rob Finnerty said Trump will be on a “four year revenge tour” if he’s reelected as president.

And then there were just some run-of-the-mill temper tantrums:

  • Dan Bongino said, “It’s clear now we’re living in the police state” and “The republic is now officially dead.”
  • In an unhinged rant, Fox’s Jesse Watters said, “These are political war crimes.”
  • BlazeTV's Steve Deace reacted to the indictment by saying “This is an assassination. They stole the last election retroactively. They're gonna steal this one preemptively.”
  • Fox’s Sean Hannity said the Trump indictments signal “the shredding of our Constitution.”
  • Newsmax contributor Dick Morris said voting against Trump is to “endorse a dictatorship.”
  • Fox host Rachel Campos-Duffy said the indictment “is really the most dangerous moment I’ve ever seen … in my lifetime.”
  • The Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles said that “they want to kill him” with this new indictment.
  • Fox’s Laura Ingraham said Trump was indicted for “not wanting to leave politics.”
  • Fox’s Mark Levin said the indictments are a “passive revolution.”
  • Fox’s Greg Gutfeld said the indictments are “payback” for being an “outsider.”
  • “Stop the Steal” organizer Ali Alexander said Trump's indictment is “worse than the Civil War.”

Unlike the classified documents or business fraud case, right-wing media has a vested interest in defending Trump against the January 6 indictment. Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election relied on the complicity of Fox News and other right-wing media outlets to disseminate his lies to their audience. Fox’s complicity was so extreme, the network is essentially an unindicted co-conspirator in Trump’s alleged crimes. Fox played an important role in promoting the Trump campaign’s fake elector conspiracy — now, Trump has now been indicted with conspiracy to defraud the United States as a result of this scheme.

There are six unnamed and unindicted co-conspirators in Trump’s indictment. Rudy Giuliani is reported to be one of them. After the indictment was unsealed, Giuliani claimed, “If I’m a conspirator, I was a conspirator in performing legal acts.” He also attacked the Judge Tanya Chutkan, the presiding judge for Trump’s new indictment, and compared the indictment to “principles that are used in communist and Nazi countries.”

Media Matters’ John Knefel reports that two other likely co-conspirators, John Eastman and Jeffrey Clark, are still working to staff the next Republican administration. For his part, Eastman continues to double down on the legal theory behind Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election. If Trump is elected president in 2024, we can expect these two conspirators to help determine how he quashes the case against him.

Greg Kelly says Trump judge has red flags

This week in stupid

  • Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk said “When you send that kid off to college, you may never see them again. You have been warned.”

This week in scary

  • On Rumble, Nick Fuentes fantasized about teaming up with Adolf Hitler to kill a Black man he claims was littering.
  • Fox’s Laura Ingraham claimed Democrats are using immigration to “usher in a new America.”
  • A Fox News guest said immigrants should “go back to where they came from because they serve no purpose here.”

Excuse me?

  • Charlie Kirk said, “Men know the game is rigged against them — especially young white men.”
  • Fox’s Greg Gutfeld admitted that Republican investigations into Hunter Biden are “payback” for Trump investigations.
  • The Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles said, “The GOP needs to focus on driving the white vote.”
  • Fox's Mark Levin asked “So what” if Donald Trump knew he was lying about the 2020 election, “what does that prove?”

In case you missed it

  • Donald Trump’s chief spokesperson said the Murdochs and Fox News are trying to destroy Trump.
  • BlazeTV contributor mocked Trump’s townhall with Fox host Sean Hannity, saying, “Nobody cares about Fox News anymore.”
  • Fox’s Jesse Watters claimed Republican investigations could force President Joe Biden to drop out of the 2024 presidential race.
  • Fox contributor Kim Strassel said Trump cannot win the presidency again because he alienates too many people.
  • Charlie Kirk complained about the Republican primary, saying, “Our money is getting flushed largely down the toilet while Democrats are building the real plumbing of elections.”
  • Newsmax’s Sebastian Gorka said any Republican who opposes impeaching Biden must be primaried.

Read more

  • Right-wing media is falsely claiming Trump’s most recent indictment is an attack on free speech. It’s not.
  • Conservative media hyped the appearance of Hunter Biden’s former business partner, Devon Archer, in front of the Republican-controlled House Oversight Committee. New reporting, however, shows the testimony fell short of their predictions.
  • After new charges were filed against Donald Trump in the federal documents case, Fox News spent over twice as much time discussing a day-old Hunter Biden story as it spent covering the new Trump charges.
  • Right-wing media figures are lecturing a number of Black Republican elected officials who have criticized part of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ new history curriculum on slavery.
  • Fox News has a long history of stooping to toxic levels in its rhetoric on the Holocaust, often invoking Nazism, the Gestapo, and swastikas in wildly inappropriate ways.
  • While ostensibly running for the Democratic presidential nomination, anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. has been on a right-wing media tour.
  • Rumble is an extreme right-wing video-sharing that is rife with racist, antisemitic, and racist rhetoric. Media Matters’ Natalie Mathes compiled this fantastic survey.
  • Major newspapers uncritically amplified Twitter-owner Elon Musk’s claims to champion free speech, despite his long history of silencing journalists and critics.
  • Donald Trump has repeatedly amplified content from QAnon’s central figure on Truth Social.
  • The Wall Street Journal's editorial board called concern about climate change a “real mental disorder,” despite the newspaper’s reporting on the threat of climate change.
  • Multiple female right-wing media influencers have expressed their fondness for the Barbie movie, despite moralizing from some of their peers.