Elections | Media Matters for America

Elections

Issues ››› Elections
  • A Fox News anchor lied about immigrants during the town hall with Julian Castro

    Martha MacCallum echoed the false claim made by Trump 'border czar' pick and Fox contributor Tom Homan

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    During Fox News’ town hall with 2020 Democratic candidate Julian Castro, co-moderator Martha MacCallum falsely claimed that 90% of immigrants who are detained and then released “do not ever show up for their court date.” MacCallum’s comment echoed a stat also used by Fox opinion contributor Tom Homan, whom President Donald Trump recently named as his border czar.

    On the May 10 edition of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom, Homan referenced congressional testimony that acting Executive Associate ICE Director Nathalie Asher gave two days earlier to comment that “almost nine out of 10” undocumented or asylum-seeking families “aren’t making it to court” for their hearings. However, the figure was only related to a Trump administration pilot program launched in late 2018 to expedite asylum cases; in contrast, per Asher’s testimony, the traditional program for these families “is effective in ensuring that its vetted participants show up to specified hearings” -- with just 27.4% of families failing to appear for their court dates. Multiple studies have also shown that over 90% of asylum-seekers in several categories actually do appear for their court hearings.

    Until Homan rejoins the Trump administration -- as the president announced during a June 14 Fox & Friends interview -- he is a Fox News contributor, a part of the “opinion” division that executives claim is separate from the “news” division. However, MacCallum, a Fox “news”-side anchor, repeated the same false claim during the town hall, noting that 90% of the people detained at the border “do not ever show up for their court date once they’ve been apprehended and released.” Castro said he wanted to “dispute” the figure and mentioned the Obama-era Family Case Management Program, which he said saw a “more than a 98% return rate” for immigrants going to court. MacCallum’s responded, “It doesn’t sound like there’s anyone that you wouldn’t let in. I mean, is there anyone you wouldn’t let in?”

    As with earlier Fox News Democratic town halls, Fox & Friends quickly used Castro’s appearance to attack him as a radical leftist, this time on immigration. Co-host Brian Kilmeade denounced Castro’s plan for what he called “wide-open borders” and mocked him for “going back in time to 1929” for mentioning that the U.S. traditionally didn’t criminalize people for crossing the border illegally but treated such acts as civil violations. And the clip reel the show assembled consistently cut Castro off mid-sentence, denying the audience his policy explanations and allowing the hosts to tear down a leftist caricature.

    Fox has been using its Democratic town halls to both attack liberals and keep the network financially sound amid controversy about its prime-time lineup pushing dangerous conspiracy theories and unabashed white supremacy. A Democratic town hall featuring a false anti-immigrant talking point from Fox News’ go-to immigration misinformer -- who is also a former and possibly returning Trump border official -- should be a red flag for any non-conservative considering appearing on the network.

  • Numerous TV affiliates across the country are promoting a campaign gimmick for Trump’s reelection campaign

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign recently launched a digital birthday card for the president’s June 14 birthday, a common gimmick that’s actually aimed at harvesting the contact information of potential voters. Numerous local television stations across the country helped Trump’s reelection effort by uncritically promoting the effort on their newscasts.

    The Daily Beast’s Lachlan Markay reported on June 14 that “ABC’s digital news operation posted a number of stories that effectively assisted the Trump re-election campaign in building its email list. Some of the network’s largest affiliates posted an identical piece of content on their websites promoting a ‘birthday card’ for President Donald Trump. The card is actually a petition website created by the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee to harvest email addresses that can be used during the 2020 campaign.” ABC has since taken down the stories. 

    Markay wrote that those stories “amounted to explicit promotions of a political candidate’s list-building efforts, just as the 2020 campaign kicks into high gear.” He added that “at least one non-ABC local news network also promoted the Trump campaign’s birthday card list-building page. The Gray Television owned Cleveland 19 News, a CBS affiliate, put the link to the Trump campaign page directly in a tweet.”

    Following the publication of The Daily Beast’s story, Media Matters searched TVEyes.com and found that numerous television stations across the country uncritically promoted the Trump campaign’s list-building birthday card efforts with similar copy. Those stations included ABC affiliates and also affiliates for CBS, NBC, and Fox. Here are seven examples:

    Late night host Conan O’Brien has done comedy segments about local news anchors reading identical copy during newscasts. As The Washington Post’s Paul Farhi wrote, the reason for the news practice is that many stations get “one-size-fits-all copy” from syndication services. He added: “The canned TV packages are somewhat like the news service stories that many newspapers and Web sites publish, but with a key difference: Unlike news service material, which usually is labeled as such, TV stations typically run affiliate material without identifying its source.” 

    Update (6/17/19): According to a search of TVEyes.com, the following stations also promoted the Trump birthday card:

    KXII, a CBS, Fox, and MyNetworkTV affiliate in Sherman, TX. Gray Television owns the station.

    WJXT, an independent station in Jacksonville, FL. Graham Media Group owns the station.

    WTVT, a Fox-owned and operated station in Tampa, FL.

    WOGX, a Fox-owned and operated station in Ocala, FL.

  • News organizations parrot Trump's false justifications for accepting foreign help in 2020 election

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Several national-level news organizations, including The New York Times, CBS News, Roll Call, and The Washington Post, repeated Trump’s false justifications for his widely criticized comment in an ABC News interview on June 12 that he would accept information from a foreign government about a 2020 Democratic rival. In the interview, he also falsely claimed that accepting information from foreign governments is identical to political opposition research and it is a routine practice: They all do it, they always have, and that’s the way it is. It’s called oppo research.”

    After Trump started getting criticized for his comments, he tweeted on June 13 several defenses of his remarks, equating accepting information as a candidate that a foreign government dug up to acting in his official capacity in routine meetings and discussions with foreign dignitaries. As Politico explained in an article about Trump's defenses: "Every president regularly communicates with other heads of state. Accepting negative information from a foreign agent about a campaign opponent is a different matter, however. It is a crime for a campaign to solicit or accept something of value from a foreign entity, which some lawyers say could apply to information." But several major news organizations repeated Trump’s false justifications through their Twitter accounts, misinforming their audiences about the grave nature of Trump’s admission.

    In contrast, NPR's and Politico's Twitter feeds made clear that Trump's claims in the interview were false:

  • How right-wing media defended Trump after Mueller's press conference

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS & ZACHARY PLEAT

    Special counsel Robert Mueller read a statement at a May 29 press conference in which he explained that his investigation did not attempt to determine whether President Donald Trump had committed any crimes because it would be against Department of Justice policy to charge a president who is in office. Mueller also announced that he was formally closing the special counsel's office and resigning from the DOJ to return to private life. Conservative media figures responded by criticizing Mueller for not exonerating Trump, claiming his statement is a “huge win” for the president, complaining that Mueller helped make Democrats’ case for impeaching Trump, misrepresenting what he said about his findings, and suggesting he might be lying in his statement.

    Claiming Mueller didn’t do his job properly by failing to recommend whether Trump should be charged

    Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro: “‘If we had confidence that the president did not commit a crime, we would have said so.’ That is not the standard of a prosecutor. Prosecutors exist to determine whether someone committed a chargeable offense, not whether they are exonerated of charges.”

    National Review Online Editor Charles C. W. Cooke: “Is this how it works? Isn't it the other way around? You look for evidence that a crime was committed, and if you don't find it you say ‘we didn't find any.’ You don't look for evidence that it wasn't and then say, ‘we couldn't find evidence of innocence.’”

    The Federalist co-founder Sean Davis: “Also, Mueller's view of a prosecutor's role -- to prove and declare a target's innocence, rather than to charge criminality -- is a despicable affront to the rule of law and the Constitution. Cops and lawyers don't grant innocence. It is our default legal state absent conviction.”

    Fox News Radio host Guy Benson: “If he had the evidence, Mueller could have identified criminal conduct & *recommended* charges, then let DOJ decide whether OLC guidance would or would not permit those charges being filed against a sitting POTUS. Instead, he decided not to recommend anything.”

    Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich: “Muller tried today to have [it both] ways. If he thought President [Trump] was guilty of something he should have said he was guilty of something. Ken Starr used the word guilty 11 times on 11 different counts in his report on President Clinton. If not guilty Trump is innocent.”

    Claiming Mueller’s statement represents a victory for Trump

    Breitbart.com White House correspondent Charlie Spiering: “Huge win for Trump: Mueller steps down, refuses to testify, states that president cannot be charged with a crime, urges Americans to secure future elections.”

    Far-right blog The Gateway Pundit: “Mueller Dunks on Pelosi and Dems – Praises Attorney General Bill Barr For Releasing Entire Report in Good Faith.”

    Gingrich: “In the absence of proof in America, you are innocent. Therefore, by definition, President Trump is innocent.”

    Claiming Mueller is inviting chaos and impeachment of Trump

    Commentary Associate Editor Noah Rothman: “The impeachment case just got a lot easier to make.”

    Fox Nation and Fox News Radio host Todd Starnes: “Mueller just poured gasoline on the Democrats' Impeachment fire.”

    Radio host Rush Limbaugh: “He begged [Congress] to impeach. He gave them the green light. He said that’s what you people have to do.”

    Fox News contributor and Townhall Editor Katie Pavlich: “Impeachment is coming.”

    Former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly: “After Robert Mueller’s deflection to Congress on the obstruction issue, we can expect democrats to begin impeachment proceedings. That will harm the country economically and lead no where as the Senate will not convict.”

    Fox’s Martha MacCallum and Brian Kilmeade agreed Mueller “threw some kerosene on the fire.” Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade said on his radio show Mueller “closed his office, he called it quits, but before he did it, he actually threw some kerosene on the fire and then threw the match.” Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum agreed, saying: “Absolutely, no doubt.” Kilmeade then added: “So my sense was he saw the chaos that happened after he released the report that was supposed to put a fine point on a 22-month investigation, and he made it worse.”

    Fox's Lisa Boothe: “Robert Mueller is a hack. And we know that he’s a hack because he gave Democrats exactly what they wanted ... more fuel to the fire of impeachment.”

    Claiming Mueller said things he didn’t say

    Fox host Pete Hegseth falsely claimed that Trump will “rightfully” say there was “no obstruction” and that he's “exonerated.” Mueller actually explained that he was prevented from considering charging Trump with a crime because of Department of Justice policy.

    Wash. Examiner’s Philip Klein: “Impeachment or bust: Robert Mueller just made clear he won't give Democrats a second crack at his report through testimony.” The text of Klein’s article was more accurate than its headline, correctly noting that Mueller said the report covers everything he has to say about the investigation.

    Claiming that Mueller may have been lying

    The Federalist Senior Editor Mollie Hemingway: “Multiple people at DOJ say Mueller stated that [Office of Legal Counsel] opinion had nothing to do with his decision not to charge obstruction, and report itself doesn’t make determination on obstruction, as it did on collusion. Remarks today curiously at odds with both.” While responding to a reply pointing that Mueller had set the record straight with his statement, Hemingway added that Mueller “wasn’t speaking under oath while someone who said otherwise was, so…..”

    Claiming Mueller did it to appease his “social circles”

    Fox contributor Jason Chaffetz: “It’s purely a guess, but from where I sit I think it was to cover his butt within his own political, social circles. … Barr was actually out there telling the truth, and it scared Mueller and his reputation. He was supposed to be the guy to get Trump, and he didn't, and he feels bad about that.”

    Gingrich: “My guess is that in his social circles, people felt that he had failed to serve the worthy cause of destroying Donald Trump, and he was trying to sort of cleverly toss it to the Congress."

    Claiming Mueller was fairer to the indicted Russians than to Trump

    Boothe: “Robert Mueller gave more deference to the Russians yesterday than he did to President Trump.”

    Hegseth: Mueller “went out of his way when talking about the Russians that had been indicted to say that they are innocent until proven guilty. The Russians. Which he never went out of his way to say about a sitting president.” 

    Gingrich: Mueller “says of the Russians they’re innocent until proven guilty, and in the next paragraph he says he can’t prove the president’s innocence. So, his standard for the American president is dramatically lower than his standard for Russians. You couldn’t have made that up.”