Media Matters weekly newsletter, February 2

Welcome back to Media Matters’ weekly newsletter. In this week’s newsletter:

  • The bogus and racist “invasion” rhetoric from right-wing media leads to a constitutional crisis.
  • At Mike Johnson’s invitation, a Christian nationalist far-right media figure serves as guest chaplain at the House of Representatives.
  • No, Taylor Swift is not a “psyop.”

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Pat Buchanan, Laura Ingraham, and Tucker Carlson

Citation Molly Butler / Media Matters

Over the past decade, the bogus and racist claim that migrants entering the United States in search of a better life are conducting an “invasion” of the country has moved from the fringes of right-wing media to its core. Conservative media figures, across the entire spectrum of the media ecosphere, warn that faceless brown masses are threatening the personal safety of and national identity of Americans.

This kind of language was once limited to far-right figures like Pat Buchanan, Lou Dobbs, Steve King, and the Minutemen militia. Over time, it was picked up by right-wing stars like Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, and Tucker Carlson. Republican Party leaders, up to and including Donald Trump, have followed in their wake. And along the way, armed white nationalists spouting the same talking point conducted a series of massacres.

This racist and dangerous rhetoric is now the pretext of a looming constitutional crisis. Texas and the U.S. government are in a standoff over whether the state’s government can defy orders from federal officials by constructing and maintaining razor-wire barriers along the border with Mexico. Despite a recent Supreme Court ruling, Texas officials are still preventing federal agents from entering the area.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is contending that his state is suffering an “invasion.” Despite the fact that legal experts have skewered Abbott’s claim, every Republican governor but one and numerous Republican members of Congress are supporting Abbott.

As Media Matters’ Matt Gertz writes:

“It’s impossible to disaggregate the Republican Party’s full-throated adoption of the bogus ‘invasion’ analogy as a constitutional argument from the right-wing media’s use of that rhetoric.”

Jack Hibbs guest chaplain

On January 30, Christian nationalist pastor and far-right media figure Jack Hibbs gave the House of Representatives’ opening prayer as a guest chaplain at the invitation of Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA). Hibbs used the opportunity to pray for God to bring “holy fear” to the representatives in preparation for a “coming day of judgment” in which “all who have been and are now in authority will answer to” God.

Hibbs is a pro-Trump Christian nationalist who has built a right-wing media profile through interviews on Fox News, Newsmax, and Charlie Kirk’s Salem Media program. He has openly supported right-wing candidates, campaigns against LGBTQ inclusion in public schools, warns of an imminent civil war in the U.S., and uses bigoted rhetoric against marginalized communities. He also frequently warns of a coming “Antichrist.” After the January 6 insurrection, he defended the violence at the Capitol as “what you get when you eject God from the courts and from the schools.”

Johnson has extensive ties to the Christian nationalist movement and its leading figures. He sponsored Hibbs’ January 30 prayer at the Capitol.

Jesse Watters: Whitey Bulger: MK-Ultra Made Me "Insane"

This week in stupid

  • Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk: “I don't really watch movies because they're all CIA psychological operation programming.”
  • Fox News’ Trace Gallagher said we should stock the Rio Grande full of alligators to keep migrants from drowning.
  • Newsmax host Rob Schmitt said federal indictments against Democrats are a “psyop.”

This week in scary

  • Donald Trump ally Laura Loomer: “So many rich Jews have a fixation on trying to destroy America.” 
  • Fox’s Laura Ingraham said President Joe Biden’s campaign strategy is to overwhelm America “with millions of demanding, ungrateful, and dangerous immigrants.”
  • Newsmax host Eric Bolling: “We’re on the path to having our country taken over by savages the way Europe has done.”
  • Fox’s Jesse Watters said migrants are “storming the beaches of San Diego like it’s Normandy.”

Excuse me?

  • Fox’s Greg Gutfeld suggested replacing the Statue of Liberty’s torch with pepper spray to deter immigrants.
  • War Room host Steve Bannon called Judge Arthur Engoron a “Nazi.”
  • Fox’s Laura Ingraham claimed the congressional border bill is part of a plot to give “woke people” jobs to increase immigration.
Taylor Swift holding  a sign that says you need to calm down

Citation Andrea Austria / Media Matters

Right-wing media figures are attacking pop star Taylor Swift and spreading conspiracy theories about her after reporting that the Biden campaign is hoping for her endorsement. Swift has been the subject of increasing ire from the right, fielding unhinged attacks and conspiracy theories that she is secretly a Democratic operative, CIA agent, or part of a “psyop.”

  • Serial plagiarist Benny Johnson speculated that the fame of both Swift and Kansas City Chiefs player Travis Kelce has been “concocted” and that the Super Bowl will be “rigged for the chiefs.”
  • Failed 2024 GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswsamy implied that the upcoming Super Bowl will be rigged for Kelce’s team to win, setting up Swift to publicly endorse Biden.
  • Anti-Muslim bigot Laura Loomer posted, “The Democrats’ Taylor Swift election interference psyop is happening in the open.”
  • Fox’s Jesse Watters suggests Swift’s popularity was part of a government “psyop.”
  • Newsmax host Mark Kaye suggested Swift is a Democratic operative because she held voter registration drives at concerts.

The absurdity reached such a fever pitch that some right-wing media figures are urging their fellow conservatives to back off from spreading conspiracy theories about Swift. 

In case you missed it

  • YouTube monetized and helped to raise funds for Patrick Casey, a white nationalist whose group helped organize “Unite the Right.” (The platform removed his account after Media Matters reported on it.)
  • TikTok Shop sold black market vapes to children. (Following publication, it appears that TikTok removed the vape products referenced in this piece.)
  • Right-wing media figures use mistranslation of Ilhan Omar’s speech to push for her deportation and expulsion from Congress.
  • A Tea Party Patriots leader, whose group sponsored a “Stop the Steal” rally on January 6, 2021, brags about training poll watchers for 2024.
  • Fox News hosts decried a Law & Order SVU plotline that never happened.
  • Right-wing media figures are fearmongering about an imminent civil war after the Supreme Court permits razor wire removal along the border.
  • As abortion protections continue to win at the polls, Fox News is directing Republicans to hide their unpopular anti-abortion agenda.
  • Fox News’ Jesse Watters cited a debunked claim to argue that climate scientists fabricated US temperature data.
  • A local right-wing activist who has been featured on Fox News shared the home address of Maine’s secretary of state on social media ahead of a swatting incident.
  • Right-wing media figures are systematically attacking a variety of initiatives intended to increase racial equality and inclusion in America’s education system.
  • Newsweek ran a bogus article about “draft rumors” based on just four social media posts.
  • Fox News has downplayed recent positive economic news under President Joe Biden, laying the groundwork for former President Donald Trump to rewrite history about his economic record on the 2024 campaign trail.
  • After a blockbuster jobs report announced that 353,000 jobs were added in January, Fox & Friends failed to cover it. This is the second month in a row the show has done this.
  • Media Matters has relaunched its original videos. In this one, Abbie Richards explains how Russell Brand went from left-wing comedian to right-wing darling.