Media Matters weekly newsletter, December 15

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Citation Molly Butler / Media Matters | Photo credit: Gage Skidmore

Disgraced former President Donald Trump is increasingly making revenge a cornerstone of his 2024 reelection campaign. Many of his allies are following his lead, promising to help Trump “take out” and “go after” rivals if he wins a second term.

Trump has promised political and legal retribution against his political opponents, even leaning into the idea of being “dictator for one day.” Steve Bannon, host of the War Room podcast and former Trump advisor, backed up Trump’s pledge of presidential retribution, saying that “this is not just rhetoric.”

Many other allies of Trump have also expressed support for Trump’s fascist agenda:

  • On The Benny Show, right-wing judicial activist Mike Davis threatened to unleash a “three-week reign of terror” on Trump’s behalf if he was designated as acting attorney general. He has also expressed enthusiasm at the prospect of sending MSNBC journalist Mehdi Hasan to a “gulag.”
  • Daily Wire host Matt Walsh stated that “my problem with Trump’s ‘dictator’ comment is that he’s only promising to do it on day one.”
  • Former Trump Defense Department official Kash Patel stated that if Trump gets a second term, “we’re going to come after the people in the media who lied about American citizens, who helped Joe Biden rig presidential elections.”

During the 2016 presidential election and Trump administration, we heard the familiar refrain that the press took Trump “literally, but not seriously” while his supporters took him “seriously, but not literally.” With scholars on authoritarianism ringing the alarm bells about the republic’s future under another Trump presidential term, perhaps it’s time that we all take him both seriously and literally.


Citation Molly Butler / Media Matters | Trump photo via Gage Skidmore / Creative Commons

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted 221-212 along party lines authorizing a formal impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden. The lack of evidence of wrongdoing by the president is irrelevant to House Republicans — this is a bogus impeachment process fueled by the fever dreams of conservative media.

Fox News and other right-wing media outlets have long demanded a Biden impeachment as both retaliation and political cover for Donald Trump’s impeachments and criminal indictments. And Fox commentators wield more power within the GOP than elected leaders do, making an impeachment inquiry inevitable. It’s as simple as that.

Before Biden was even elected president, Fox stars began calling for his impeachment. In 2019, for example, right after the House Judiciary Committee approved articles of impeachment against then-President Trump, Mark Levin bellowed “The next Democrat president of the United States must be impeached!” After Biden’s inauguration, things only spiraled. Fox hosts ginned up conspiracy theories involving a Ukrainian prosecutor, waited with bated breath for fruitless congressional investigations, and kept pushing baseless smears involving the president’s son, Hunter Biden.

Last week we told you about the latest slop to come out of Rep. James Comer’s (R-KY) House Oversight Committee involving monthly payments on a car loan. Though the claim was widely debunked by major press outlets, Fox played its dutiful role of pushing this fake narrative on its viewers.

Let’s be clear: The House impeachment inquiry is based on nothing. Trump has promised retaliation against his political opponents, and House Republicans — along with conservative media — are fulfilling his desires.

Fox News: "Mahomes is Hunter Biden with pads"

This week in stupid

  • OutKick host Clay Travis suggested that Taylor Swift is to blame for the Kansas City Chiefs underperforming this season.

This week in scary

  • The Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles: “I support Christian nationalism.”
  • Fox News’ Jesse Watters excused Donald Trump’s declaration that he would be a dictator for a day, saying, “He’s tweaking the press who lacks brain, imagination, and a sense of humor.”

Excuse me?

  • On Sean Hannity’s radio show, Marc Morano called climate action “the intentional collapse of energy, food, transportation.”
  • Fox News’ Dana Perino said migrants are ushering major cities “into a death spiral.”

In case you missed it

  • Far-right figures are spreading a conspiracy theory claiming that the e-commerce site Etsy is hosting a child trafficking market.
  • During a Rumble interview, Donald Trump Jr. told a white nationalist he “may be my favorite Twitter account of all time.”
  • Fox’s Greg Gutfeld called for “impeachment-palooza” of President Joe Biden.
  • The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh said Bud Light must “grovel at our feet in humiliating fashion and disavow gender ideology entirely.”
  • BlazeTV host Steve Deace made lewd remarks about Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC), saying she is “five minutes from a wet T-shirt contest with the ample bosoms.”
  • Tucker Carlson is helping Alex Jones evade his TikTok ban.
  • Right-wing media figures are equating the Palestinian flag with Nazism and support for Hamas.

Read more

  • Fox News’ diaspora of former hosts and contributors is threatening the network’s business model. Read this great piece by Media Matters’ Matt Gertz to find out more.
  • Media Matters found at least 24 instances of Donald Trump using right-wing media (including Fox) to push claims that elections in 2018, 2016, 2012, and even 2008 were “rigged” or had been impacted by a “scam” or “voter fraud.”
  • Anti-abortion media attacked Kate Cox, a Texas woman pregnant woman whose fetus was given a lethal diagnosis, after she sought an emergency abortion. Their attacks included likening the procedure to eugenics. Meanwhile, Fox News buried this story.
  • Conservative pundits and right-wing Christian media figures have been claiming that God controls the weather and attributing natural disasters to “demonic attack,” biblical prophecy, or the End Times.
  • Right-wing media have been spinning conflicting conspiracy theories in reaction to the recent Hunter Biden tax evasion charges.
  • Right-wing media coverage of this year’s COP28 global climate summit included mocking, downplaying, and denying the reality that the climate crisis is increasingly claiming lives through extreme weather and climate-fueled disease.
  • Fox News and Fox Business hosts and guests are defending burning coal, making an array of false and misleading statements about the hazards it poses to public health and ignoring its continued decline in the U.S.
  • Manosphere” personalities including Andrew Tate, Sneako, and Jon Zherka are promoting abuse and extreme violence against women online.