Media Matters weekly newsletter, January 19

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

  • Fox’s 2024 election denial push is already underway.
  • Pro-Trump media declare Donald Trump the Republican nominee after his Iowa caucuses victory.
  • Right-wing media attack Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement.

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still of Laura Ingraham; chyron: The left will throw everything they have at Trump; image of DeSantis, Trump, Haley titled 'Advice to the last three'

Citation Fox News

Fox News is already laying the groundwork to delegitimize the results of the 2024 election, resurrecting the cycle of lies that led to the January 6 insurrection.

In the lead up to the 2020 election, Donald Trump and his Fox allies warned that Democrats would employ widespread voter fraud to change the results. Trump falsely claimed he was the victim of a stolen election after he lost, and then Fox promoted this lie — even though its hosts and executives didn’t actually believe it. The network ended up paying hundreds of millions of dollars for this lie.

The same cycle is beginning again. Just 24 hours after Trump won the Iowa caucuses, Fox host Laura Ingraham predicted that Democrats will “game the system or yeah, maybe even cheat” in the 2024 election, signaling that Ingraham will carry water for any efforts by Trump to subvert the results of the next election. Rhetoric such as this is proliferating at an accelerating rate across right-wing media outlets.

The incentives that drove Fox to promote election lies have only strengthened since 2020. Competition within right-wing media is increasingly pushing Fox closer to Trump, and Fox employees saw in 2020 that they are more likely to pay an internal price for debunking Trump’s fraud claims than for supporting them.

As Media Matters’ Matt Gertz writes, “Fox remains a loaded gun pointed at American democracy. And Ingraham’s fearmongering shows that she and her colleagues are willing to pull the trigger again.”

Former president Donald Trump in a red MAGA hat, superimposed over a U.S. flag and a red outline of the state of Iowa. The flag is black and white inside the borders

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

Former President Donald Trump won the Iowa caucuses with 51% of the vote on a night with extremely low voter turnout. As the first 2024 Republican presidential nomination contest, the caucuses failed to show any clear challenger to his nomination. Some right-wing media figures are already declaring the primary over and calling on other candidates to drop out.

  • On his show on X (formerly Twitter), Tucker Carlson claimed, “It’s hard to see how he’s not the Republican nominee.”
  • Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk mocked Ron DeSantis’ and Nikki Haley’s lackluster results and called the primary contest a “charade.”
  • Former White House political director Matt Schlapp declared, “The primary is over.”
  • Fox’s Laura Ingraham told DeSantis and Haley to “suspend their campaigns and unite behind Trump.”
Newsmax: "Kamala's Klownhouse"

Citation Newsmax

This week in stupid

  • Ben Shapiro: “If you want Donald Trump not to screw with the elections anymore and you think he’s really gonna screw with the elections, you ought to vote for Donald Trump.”
  • Candace Owens accused the Munchkins from The Wizard of Oz of performing a “satanic ritual.”

This week in scary

  • After previously dining with Donald Trump, Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes gave a Nazi salute and discussed his willingness to commit violence for Trump.

Excuse me?

  • Fox’s Jesse Watters said, “Migrants are turning their children into little bandits — banditos.”
  • The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh: “We need to normalize, once again, judging people for their private lives.”
  • Fox’s Jeanine Pirro claimed the Statue of Liberty is not meant to be welcoming to immigrants.
MLK with purple background

Citation Andrea Austria / Media Matters

On Monday, Americans celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day — a federal holiday meant to commemorate the civil rights hero and a day to reflect on the sacrifices our forebears made to advance the causes of justice and equality in this nation. Several right-wing media figures spent the day instead smearing King as a “bad guy” who “stands for America’s anti-white mania.”

  • Charlie Kirk said that King “is not worthy of a national holiday. He is not worthy of godlike status. In fact, I think it’s really harmful.”
  • Daily Wire host Matt Walsh attacked King as “a communist, a plagiarist, an adulterer, an abuser, allegedly a rapist, and more.”
  • Neo-Nazi collaborator Jack Posobiec attacked the civil rights movement for turning King into a “saint” and complained that “the real legacy of the 1960s” was “enshrin[ing] racial discrimination and race consciousness into the federal bureaucracy.”

In case you missed it 

  • Alex Jones is profiting from his new Infowars-themed video game on Steam even while he’s refusing to pay the Sandy Hook families he defamed.
  • Donald Trump said that presidents must have “total immunity” from criminal liability. Network news' evening broadcasts didn't mention it.
  • Right-wing media has been using dangerously low temperatures in many regions of the country to push climate change denial.
  • Following the discovery of a secret tunnel under a historic Brooklyn synagogue, far-right media figures have pushed antisemitism and conspiracy theories about the tunnel’s purpose.
  • Right-wing media figures are fearmongering and pushing conspiracy theories about “Disease X,” a hypothetical pathogen.
  • Fox’s Sean Hannity blamed banks for Donald Trump’s fraud.
  • Fox’s Mark Levin said, “You’re gonna have to shut down the government,” adding, “We haven’t lost elections as a result.”
  • Following the Iowa caucuses, Jenna Ellis criticized Trump and “his influencers” for “shameful” attacks on other conservatives and questioned whether the GOP can unify.
  • Steve Bannon said he will lead an effort to remove Speaker Mike Johnson from leadership if he doesn’t give into far-right funding demands.
  • A new Media Matters study found that in 2023 alone, Fox News aired 54 segments falsely linking offshore wind to whale deaths.
  • Right-wing media figures are blaming Federal Aviation Administration guidelines that promote hiring people with intellectual disability for a Boeing jet’s midair equipment failure earlier this month.