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.
On Thursday, special counsel Jack Smith added several new bombshell charges in the Department of Justice’s prosecution of disgraced former President Donald Trump’s mishandling of classified materials. The new charges include obstruction and the willful retention of national defense material, along with a new defendant, Carlos De Oliveira. The updated indictment alleges that De Oliveira told the director of IT at Mar-a-Lago that “‘the boss’ wanted the server deleted.” The total number of federal charges against Trump now stands at 40.
Trump has already been indicted in New York on 34 counts related to falsifying business records. He is also facing a potential, and increasingly likely, indictment related to efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. The avalanche of indictments tells the story of an authoritarian mob boss, more reminiscent of a character from Martin Scorsese's films than someone running for President of the United States.
Conservative media responded to the new charges with a pathetic defense of their dear leader.
- Fox News host Sean Hannity said the new Trump charges signal the death of “equal justice.”
- Fox host Laura Ingraham said the latest charges are a media “distraction.”
- Former Fox Business host Lou Dobbs tweeted “this is more Jack Smith-leaked bullcrap.”
- Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk tweeted “these people don’t care that they’re tearing the country apart so long as they control the rubble that’s left over.”
- On Fox, Mike Huckabee downplayed the charges, saying “You do a raid on his home over some pieces of paper.”
This week, The Wall Street Journal reported that the right-wing cable network Newsmax is seeking to boost its bottom line by collecting carriage fees from cable and satellite providers. This is happening while the network is experiencing a slight ratings boost following the departure of Tucker Carlson from Fox News.
In January, Newsmax went to war with DirecTV after negotiations broke down over the network’s demand for “significant fees.” Though the two companies later reached a deal, the experience was a telling example of how right-wing media can leverage political power. For example, during this standoff, Newsmax host Rob Finnerty suggested that viewers cancel their DirecTV subscriptions and directed them to contact Congress. Cable providers should take this example to heart.
In addition to the principled stance against Newsmax’s programming, cable providers should refuse to give balloon payoffs to the network out of pure self-interest. As Media Matters’ Madeline Peltz argues: “If they enter into negotiations with Newsmax, they’ll be committing to raising all of their customer's bills for hatred and misinformation that’s already provided to their customers for free. This will only risk accelerating cord-cutting.”
Elon Musk’s Twitter (now the X platform) has placed ads for brands such as Honeywell, Discovery, National Women’s Soccer League, the Pittsburgh Steelers, USA Today, and Manchester City on the verified account of the National Socialist Network. This is a leading neo-Nazi group that engages in violence, has connections to terrorism, and uses Musk’s platform to recruit new members.
Last month, Musk hired Linda Yaccarino as Twitter’s new CEO in an effort to convince advertisers that his platform was safe for them to advertise on. Since Musk took control of Twitter, the company has had a serious problem with plummeting ad revenue.
This most recent revelation is part of a trend on the Musk-controlled Twitter. Media Matters and other outlets have documented how brand advertisements have appeared on accounts featuring Holocaust denial, white nationalism, and other toxic content. A new bombshell study by Media Matters shows a prevalence of anti-LGBTQ tweets last month. Now, many brands are appearing on the account of an organization named after the Nazi Party which stages pro-Hitler rallies, including one in May that ended in violence.
The National Socialist Network joined Twitter in November 2022, shortly after Musk took control of the platform. The group’s account has been verified since July 2023. On November 12, the neo-Nazi organization tweeted: “Elon Musk is a true homie #ElonIsDestroyingTwitter.”
This week in stupid
This week in scary
- Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk said President Joe Biden should be “put in prison and/or given the death penalty for crimes against America.”
- BlazeTV co-hosts fantasized about Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis “holding a rainbow flag burning ceremony on the South Lawn every morning.”
- Fox News’ Greg Gutfeld said white people will “always be the target,” adding “We now have to feel guilty at all times about who our ancestors were.”
- The Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles said it’s a “disgrace” and a “stain on our country” that women serve in combat.
- Donald Trump Jr. compared his father’s indictments to the Japanese internment camps during World War II.
- Fox host Jesse Watters claimed gender-affirming care is akin to “harvesting healthy organs.”
- The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh said, “Feminists themselves seem to understand feminism the least.”
- A guest on the Christian TV network Victory Channel connected record heat waves to the potential impeachment of President Joe Biden, saying “God is giving us a sign in the weather of what he is doing.”
In case you missed it
- After admitting that he made false statements regarding two Georgia election workers, Rudy Giuliani went on WABC and downplayed his admission as just a “legal procedure.”
- This week, Fox host Sean Hannity hosted a town hall with anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. It turns out Kennedy had once called for an advertiser boycott against right-wing media figures, including Hannity, saying they were “lying to the American public.”
- The right-wing advocacy group PragerU said its “PragerU Kids” material was approved by Florida to be used in classrooms throughout the state.
- Fox host Greg Gutfeld claimed Jewish people “had to be useful” in order to survive the Holocaust. His comments were criticized by the Auschwitz Museum, which said his comments do not “represent the complex history of the genocide perpetrated by Nazi Germany.”
- A production assistant for Fox News Digital, Matteo Cina, repeatedly posted antisemitic comments on his TikTok page. One such comment, confirmed by Media Matters, said “it is hard to talk about the Holocaust and rising anti semitism without discussing Jewish presence in banking.”
- Right-wing media continue to tout an alleged “war on appliances” after the Department of Energy proposed an energy efficiency standard for home heaters.
- Fox’s Mark Levin said Donald Trump’s classified documents trial is election interference.
- Newsmax’s Greg Kelly said some people at Fox News “outright hate Trump.”
- As temperatures hit record highs, Glenn Beck railed against “climate hysteria.”
- Fox’s Greg Gutfeld said Republicans should impeach Joe Biden to get revenge for the impeachments of Donald Trump.
- Ben Shapiro defended Gov. Ron DeSantis’ new Florida curriculum on slavery, which has received widespread criticism. Fox contributor Johnny “Joey” Jones also defended the curriculum.
- Kari Lake praised a QAnon show, claiming she got “more response” from appearing on the show than anything she’s ever done.
- Fox & Friends hosted a Christian nationalist-tied podcaster and championed his settlement over an anti-mask arrest as “a big win for religious liberty.”
- Conservative media are attempting to conjure an impeachment of President Joe Biden on remarkably flimsy evidence.
- Former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama’s personal chef, Tafari Campbell, tragically died this week. Far-right figures baselessly alleged the Obamas were responsible.
- Last week, we told you about how Fox News has been aggressively promoting anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s presidential run in a transparent attempt to hurt President Joe Biden. Media Matters’ Matt Gertz argues that Fox’s Kennedy coverage has crowded out coverage of Donald Trump’s primary challengers.
- Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), who has a long history of promoting antisemitic media, recently promoted a fringe website that posted content calling the Holocaust “the Holohoax.”
- Right-wing media have been engaging in a satanic panic after TheBlaze reported Fox News was matching donations to organizations frequently targeted by conservatives.
- Far-right media figures and online personalities championed a Russian bill that bans gender-affirming care for trans people of any age.
- Pro-DeSantis outlet The Florida Standard published an article written by Pedro Gonzalez, who was recently exposed as having sent numerous antisemitic and racist text messages.
- After Jason Aldean's single “Try That in a Small Town” was criticized for racist undertones and pro-lynching imagery, Fox News passionately defended the country singer with anti-Black dog whistles attacking hip-hop music.
- Conservative media is already beginning the 2024 veepstakes, months before the first Republican primaries. Media Matters’ Bobby Lewis compiled a list of the most frequently touted names as potential running mates for Donald Trump.
- Bronny James, the son of LeBron James and an incoming basketball player at the University of Southern California, suffered a cardiac arrest this week. Right-wing conspiracy theorists pounced on the tragic story, baselessly suggesting James’ condition is the result of being vaccinated for COVID-19.
- Right-wing media have been attacking the U.S. women’s national soccer team after some members stayed silent during the playing of the U.S. national anthem before their World Cup match against Vietnam. It’s an ironic twist given that some of these media figures have spent years saying they’re protecting women’s sports.
- Ben Shapiro, a 39-year-old man, had a very public temper tantrum over the new Barbie movie. It was an event indicative of the failed screenwriter’s petty life.
- The crowdfunding platform Ko-fi is hosting and profiting from more than a dozen QAnon figures.
- An internal civil war is ongoing between institutional right-wing media and “tradwife” influencers as both battle for clicks over extreme misogyny and regressive gender politics.
- Anti-LGBTQ fascist Daily Wire host Matt Walsh has a weird obsession with diapers.