Media Matters weekly newsletter, May 17

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

  • Trump’s MAGA media propagandists are preparing to undermine the 2024 election results.
  • National TV news largely failed to cover Trump’s apparent corrupt offer to Big Oil executives.
  • Fox News attacks Michael Cohen as a “convicted liar,” but leaves out the part where his lies protected Trump.

If you want this delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe here.

This week in stupid

  • Fox host Brian Kilmeade responded to Vice President Kamala Harris cursing by saying, “Now she has gone over the top” and is “starting to act like one of the guys.”
  • War Room podcast guest: “Minnesota has been conquered. It is now Islamist.”

This week in scary

  • Fox’s Greg Gutfeld questioned whether Democrats are “cooking up” ways to illegally steal the presidential election.
  • The Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles suggested transgender parents should “face legal consequences” for “scandalizing” their children.

Excuse me?

  • Fox’s Sean Hannity said: “I don’t even know if he [Donald Trump] can get a fair trial in any part of the country at this point.”
  • The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh defended using the n-word “in a friendly way.”
  • Fox’s Ainsley Earhardt said she wouldn’t trust migrants to watch her children at the swimming pool.
  • Fox’s Jeanine Pirro claimed unhoused people “want to be homeless, that’s the style of life that they choose.”
trump fox flag

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

With the presidential election less than half a year away, evidence is everywhere that the right is planning to end the American experiment in representative government if it fails to legitimately return the twice impeached, four-times indicted former President Donald Trump to the White House.

Fox News and MAGA media institutionalized the lie that Trump won the 2020 presidential election. Now, the disinformation ecosystem which revolves around Fox is telegraphing a plan to reject the results of the 2024 election if Trump loses. They do this by priming their audience to disbelieve the election results and to take action in response.

Their formula: keep viewers in a state of terror that President Joe Biden is a dictator; valorize the January 6 insurrectionists; flood the right-wing information ecosystem with lies and conspiracy theories about Democrats tainting past election results; and then perpetually warning that the 2024 election will be rife with fraud.

Less than four years after he attempted a coup to remain in office, Trump will once again be the Republican presidential nominee. Trump has made it clear that he won’t accept the election results if he loses and MAGA propagandists have a playbook they created and then carefully honed over years of work to delegitimize the election results in that situation.

Media Matters’ Matt Gertz offers this dire warning:

“That is the central reality of the 2024 presidential election, one that should be foregrounded to the readers and viewers on news outlets at every opportunity but often fades from the discourse. The former president’s media allies are foreshadowing their eagerness to take every possible opportunity to participate in his scheme. And the leader of the nation’s most powerful mainstream press organ gives no indication that he has considered those implications in any but the shallowest way. We are all in a lot of trouble.”

On May 9, The Washington Post published an exclusive story on a dinner at Mar-A-Lago in which Donald Trump promised to reverse President Joe Biden’s actions on climate change as he asked oil executives to raise $1 billion for his presidential campaign, assuring them that they’d be getting a “deal” due to the “taxation and regulation they would avoid thanks to him.” During a four-day period following that bombshell report, TV news broadcasts and cable networks — with the exception of MSNBC — did not cover Trump’s proposition to oil executives.

Big Oil and industry allies have already poured millions of dollars into Trump’s joint fundraising committee to help cover his legal fees, all the while also drafting their wish list for his day one agenda. Now, with this new revelation from The Washington Post, it appears the price has been set for getting the oil industry’s wish list, clarifying what’s at stake for the climate in the the 2024 election.

Fox News screengrab

Fox News propagandists are trying to undermine testimony from Michael Cohen at Donald Trump’s New York hush-money trial by telling viewers that Trump’s former legal “fixer” is a “convicted liar.” While it’s true that Cohen pleaded guilty to perjury, Fox left out that he did so to protect Trump.

Cohen perjured himself to the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2017 and pleaded guilty to that offense the following year. His perjury concealed Trump’s involvement in “the Moscow project,” an effort to build a Trump-branded building in the Russian capital that Cohen was trying to negotiate while Trump was on the campaign trail in 2016. The perjury charges against Cohen were filed as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

It’s pretty rich that Fox propagandists like Sean Hannity are now trying to discredit Cohen’s testimony against Trump based on lies he told for Trump years earlier. And speaking of Hannity — the Fox host also didn’t mention in his recent segment attacks Cohen that he was once a legal client of Trump’s former fixer, a fact the host had concealed from his audience when he repeatedly hosted Cohen for friendly interviews and defended him from legal repercussions from 2015 to 2018.

In case you missed it

  • As livestock in several states have tested positive for a strain of bird flu, right-wing media figures have begun wildly theorizing that the virus is actually a “plandemic” meant to influence the 2024 election.
  • Right-wing media and Donald Trump are twisting the details of a new court filing from special counsel Jack Smith to baselessly claim that the DOJ “manipulated” evidence and to call for the case against the former president to be dropped.
  • Podcaster Patrick Bet-David provides a platform for far-right figures to promote conspiracy theories and bigotry, potentially to millions of people. Read this great piece by Media Matters’ Reed McCmaster.
  • The Daily Signal, a media outlet supported by the Heritage Foundation, recently published two blogs fearmongering about the future of Social Security. The pieces pushed for reductions in benefits for future retirees, argued against raising taxes on the wealthy to cover the program’s long-term financial requirements, and advocated for a privatized retirement system through “personal ownership” of Society Security benefits or so-called “personal retirement” accounts.
  • A Fox News producer who went on a social media rant about a parking enforcement officer “who barely spoke a lick of English” also appears to have a history of posting extreme anti-abortion comments.
  • Several Republican elected officials recently offered alarmingly noncommittal responses to questions about whether they would accept the 2024 election results. Podcaster and former Trump adviser Steve Bannon used those comments to bolster his own discussion of election denial.
  • Angela Stanton King, a far-right commentator working as a director for Rober F. Kennedy Jr.’s presidential campaign said on a conspiratorial podcast last month that she loves Trump and that Kennedy is “another option” because her “fear is that they’re going to stop at nothing to keep Trump from winning.”