Media Matters weekly newsletter, January 12

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

  • Pro-Trump media are targeting Nikki Haley with racist attacks.
  • A recent North Korean-style interview with Donald Trump shows what he wants from the press.
  • After asylum-seekers sheltered in a public high school during a heavy storm, right-wing media had a collective meltdown.

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An image of former UN ambassador Nikki Haley


Molly Butler / Media Matters

As former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley’s poll numbers approach disgraced former President Donald Trump’s in New Hampshire, pro-Trump media are escalating a racist campaign against her.

Several articles in pro-Trump media outlets have cast doubt on Haley’s eligibility for the presidency, citing the fact that her parents weren’t U.S. citizens at the time of her birth. Trump shared a Gateway Pundit post on X (formerly Twitter) amplifying this false claim. This argument is simply not true, but truth is irrelevant to those spreading this falsehood. Having been a leader in the racist birther campaign against former President Barack Obama, Trump is once again returning to the well for his new political rival.

Another prong in this racist campaign against Haley is consistent use of her first name, Nimarata, as opposed to the middle name that she goes by. Turning Point USA co-founder Charlie Kirk once quipped, “Yeah, that’s right. Her real name is Nimarata.” (Nikki, her middle name, is also her real name.) Other pro-Trump media articles have followed the same pattern.

Like the racist attacks on her eligibility, the use of Haley’s first name is also reminiscent of a similar line of attack right-wing media employed during the Obama administration. At the time, right-wing media figures often used the president’s full name, Barack Hussein Obama, in a racist attempt to otherize him. Now, pro-Trump figures are returning to this tired tactic in order to attack Haley.

Three years ago, Lou Dobbs’ Fox Business show was canceled just a day after Smartmatic filed its $2.7 billion lawsuit against Fox. During his time at Fox, Dobbs distinguished himself as a uniquely cringy Donald Trump sycophant, including one instance in which he credited Trump with weekends. Even Fox News President Jay Wallace said “the North Koreans do a more nuanced show.” Well, Dobbs is now back with a new show supported by uber-election denier and pillow magnate Mike Lindell.

Dobbs kicked off his first episode with some of old hits, including complaining about “rigged election” and praising Trump’s poll numbers. He then moved on to a taped 40-minute Mar-a-Lago segment with the Dear Leader. This sit-down (“interview” is too generous a term here) consisted mainly of fawning praise for Trump and denunciations of anyone standing in his way, then inviting Trump to respond.

Fox has a lot of Trump sycophants on the payroll, but the current lineup can’t match Dobbs for sheer shamelessness. As Media Matters' Matt Gertz says:

“And that’s why the emergence of Fox diaspora players like Dobbs is a problem for the network. Trump wants every reporter and pundit giving him Dobbs-level treatment, and he’s willing to savage Fox and tell his supporters to seek their news elsewhere whenever he feels it isn’t meeting that standard. That pressure will inevitably bring the network ever-closer to him over the course of this presidential election year — even at the risk of more calamitous lawsuits.”

Newsmax: "SECDEF Lloyd Austin Missing in Action"

This week in stupid

  • Trump ally Laura Loomer claimed Nikki Haley and the deep state might be using “weather manipulation” to “rig the Iowa Caucus.”
  • Fox’s Jesse Watters suggested Taylor Swift is a Pentagon asset.
  • Turning Point USA co-founder Charlie Kirk: “You know that most diaper brands support abortion? It’s unbelievable.”
  • The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh dismissed data confirming that 2023 was the hottest year on record as “superstition,” saying, “If you want to know how they really get these numbers, is that they pull them out of their asses.”

This week in scary

  • Charlie Kirk: “The southern border is, of course, the great replacement. They’re trying to replace us demographically. They're trying to make the country less white.”
  • Donald Trump Jr. called immigration “the great replacement reality.”

Excuse me?

  • A Fox News host told young women to sell pictures of their feet to “old people” to solve financial problems.
  • Fox’s Greg Gutfeld said rooting out white supremacy in the military hurts national defense.
  • Jesse Watters said if Trump’s immunity appeal is denied, President Joe Biden could be arrested for “child trafficking.”

Meltdown of the week

During Tuesday’s storms, a group of asylum-seekers were temporarily moved to shelter overnight in a New York City public school. The school held remote classes on Wednesday after the migrants left as the building was being cleaned. While keeping asylum-seekers safe during a flood watch and heavy winds may seem like basic humanitarianism, right-wing media had a collective meltdown.

  • Steve Bannon called the migrant students “invader children” and compared the situation to “the housing of British troops” during the American Revolution.
  • Charlie Kirk said, “Joe Biden is turning America into a third world hell hole.”
  • On Fox, National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd said the story “clearly shows that illegal immigrants are more valuable than United States citizens, including our children.”

In case you missed it

  • Though Donald Trump is claiming he has presidential immunity from prosecution, a number of Republican and MAGA-connected figures have disagreed with the notion of complete presidential immunity from prosecution.
  • Sunday shows ignored a report that Donald Trump received money from foreign countries while president.
  • Corporate broadcast and major cable news networks dedicated almost zero coverage to the recent finding that 2023 is officially the hottest year on record.
  • After conservative media demanded Joe Biden be removed from ballots, the Missouri secretary of state is now threatening to do it.
  • Right-wing media are calling for Republicans to reject a budget deal between Democrats and House Speaker Mike Johnson amid a government shutdown threat.
  • Anti-abortion media are cheerleading deceptive and undemocratic measures restricting reproductive rights, as voters across the country overwhelmingly vote to protect access to abortion.
  • After he vetoed a ban on trans athletes and gender-affirming care for youth last month, right-wing media turned on Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine.
  • Meta profited from ads featuring Alex Jones despite banning Infowars content from its platforms.
  • Content promoting violence against women is proliferating across TikTok.
  • Rumble listed a video promoting the conspiracy theory that Taylor Swift is a “psyop” and a “fed” as one of its “editor picks.”