Media Matters weekly newsletter, November 3

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.

Trump coverage graph

Media outlets have obsessed over President Joe Biden’s age since he announced his campaign for reelection. This same level of attention, however, has not been given to his likely challenger, disgraced former President Donald Trump, even though they’re nearly the same age. The dichotomy in coverage was clearly evident recently as Trump made several absurd and incoherent statements which were barely covered in major broadcast and cable news outlets.

Over the past few weeks, Trump mixed up the authoritarian leaders of Hungary and Turkey; confused his former Republican opponent Jeb Bush with former President George W. Bush; mixed up a number of his Democratic opponents with former President Barack Obama; and made a garbled statement accusing Biden of leading the country into “World War II.”

A Media Matters study found that TV broadcast news gave no coverage to these false and incoherent statements, and cable news barely covered them. Overall, MSNBC covered the four recent Trump gaffes the most, with just 35 minutes of coverage. CNN, infamous for its empty podium footage from the 2016 presidential election, covered the gaffes for a mere 9 minutes.

Major media outlets are woefully failing their viewers by not covering Trump’s garbled and sometimes dangerous rhetoric – something they should've learned to do in 2016.

Stew Peters and Rumble

Rumble host and X influencer Stew Peters called for the murder of Catholic Charities workers, stating that the best option to stop undocumented immigration is “shooting everyone involved” with the nonprofit. X (formerly known as Twitter) has been monetizing Peters’ account and placed an ad for the Philadelphia Eagles on Peters’ post featuring video of him calling for violence.

Peters is a white nationalist antisemite who often calls for the murder of his perceived enemies. He has more than 500,000 followers on Rumble and has hosted numerous Republican officials on his streaming show. He also has a verified account on X with more than 448,000 followers and uses that account to endorse the killings of politicians and LGBTQ advocates.

We told you in a past edition of this newsletter that Rumble is profiting from creators who spread antisemitism. Peters is just one example of the pundits who spew hatred on that platform. And while that’s bad, another insidious angle in this story is that the Republican National Committee is partnering with Rumble for the third debate, as it did for the first two, of the presidential primary, with the platform exclusively providing the livestream of the event.

Media Matters’ Kayla Gogarty explained in a recent interview how the Republican National Committee’s partnership with Rumble acts as a “bridge to extremism.”

Jesse Waters interviews a vampire

This week in stupid

  • Newsmax host Chris Plante said “a lot of people thought” Jill Biden’s Halloween makeup “looked like a Hitler mustache.”
  • Fox’s Jesse Watters said the CIA rigged the 2020 election because Donald Trump threatened the agency’s drug trafficking ring.

This week in scary

  • On YouTube, disgraced bully Steven Crowder said that “all of Islam is a doomsday cult.”
  • War Room host Steve Bannon referred to migrants as “locusts” who are “going to destroy everything in their path.”

Excuse me?

  • Fox’s Jesse Watters made a ghoulish attack on dads who leave work early to spend time with their children on Halloween.
  • Fox’s Emily Compagno called the United Nations “the greatest antisemitic organization … outside of the terror organizations.”
  • Fox’s Mark Levin claimed Israel is fighting “the same people from the same part of the world who killed 3,000 of our citizens on 9/11.”
  • The Daily Wire's Michael Knowles said “Prejudice, broadly, is a very good thing.”

In case you missed it

  • On October 30, former Vice President Mike Pence suspended his 2024 presidential campaign. Media Matters’ Bobby Lewis wrote this fantastic piece explaining that his campaign was doomed from the start in conservative media.
  • Raj Shah, a former Fox Corp. executive who was exposed in the Dominion Voting Systems’ defamation lawsuit against the company, has been chosen to lead the communications efforts of House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA).
  • After the unexpected death of actor Matthew Perry, blue-check subscribers to X Premium (formerly Twitter Blue) baselessly suggested that his death was related to the COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Fox's Mark Levin called CNN's Jake Tapper and Wolf Blitzer “self-hating Jews” over their Gaza coverage and falsely claimed Blitzer's parents “weren't victims” of the Holocaust (they actually survived Nazi concentration camps). 
  • Three weightloss telehealth companies are spending heavily to target Meta users with predatory ads selling prescriptions for bogus “generic” alternative to popular weight loss drugs despite the fact that generics of those medications do not currently exist. 
  • On Wednesday, Fox's Sean Hannity hosted an hourlong propaganda fest for House Republicans, interviewing Speaker Mike Johnson and members of his leadership team before a cheering crowd of caucus members live from Capitol Hill. Naturally, such a cringe-inducing display of sycophancy would be ethically unacceptable at any other news network but Fox. 
  • Fox’s Laura Ingraham said aid to Ukraine is funding “a losing cause.”
  • Mark Levin said Donald Trump “can call the prosecutor a bastard if he wants. He can call a witness a bastard if he wants. He can call the judge whatever he wants to call the judge.”
  • Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk attacked Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, saying, “He is letting you down.”
  • Fox’s OutKick host Clay Travis accused Pfizer and Moderna of creating “worthless” COVID-19 vaccines.

Read more

  • Cable companies may force their customers to pay for not just Fox News, but also the failing and bigoted streaming platform Fox Nation. Read this great piece by Media Matters’ Madeline Peltz to learn more. Follow this link for more information on Media Matters’ initiative to prevent Fox from raising your cable bill.
  • After House Republicans released their bill to provide aid to Israel and make cuts to enhanced funding for the Internal Revenue Service, major national outlets have been adopting the Republican spin. Ultimately, this legislation is meant to protect tax cheats and will actually result in an increase in the deficit, but some major news outlets did not provide that information to their readers.
  • Right-wing media pundits are attacking Colorado Judge Sarah Wallace and D.C. Judge Tanya Chutkan as they preside over legal cases involving Donald Trump and his alleged efforts to subvert the 2020 election.
  • Despite Meta’s continued policies against QAnon content and X’s repeated promises to advertisers about “brand safety,” they continue to make money from this conspiracy theory.
  • Many conservative media personalities have been cheering on Sen. Tommy Tuberville's (R-AL) blockade of hundreds of military promotions.