Elections | Media Matters for America

Elections

Issues ››› Elections
  • Fake news sites are pushing voter fraud conspiracy theories on Facebook about the Ohio election

    Blog ››› ››› NATALIE MARTINEZ


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    As the vote count for the special election in Ohio 12th Congressional District still rolls in, fake news sites have taken to Facebook to spread conspiracy theories about Democrats rigging the election results. Some of these sites are using this fake narrative to advocate for voter ID laws, a voter suppression tactic that disproportionately affects minorities. This push comes as the Supreme Court recently upheld Ohio’s voter-purge law which Justice Sonia Sotomayor noted particularly impacts neighborhoods with low-income and minority populations.

    These voter fraud conspiracy theories are largely based on two narratives. The first is a recent report that 588 votes in Franklin County were misplaced but later found. Fake news sites and social media accounts pushed baseless allegations that the recovered votes are part of an attempt by Democrats to rig the election. I Love My Freedom’s Facebook page posted an article on the discovery with the status: “The Democrats are trying to pull a fast one on us!!!” The Political Insider posted a video from its regular contributor and radio personality Wayne Dupree in which he speculated over the timing of the votes’ recovery, wondering, “Why didn’t they find the box of ballots the same night? Why is it now?” Dupree also said that the person who “found the ballots need (sic) to go to jail.” Conservative Tribune claimed that Democrats have a “history of fixing elections and opposing accountability for election integrity” in a Facebook post that linked to an article titled “Officials Magically Find Hundreds of New Votes That Boost Dem in Toss-up Ohio Election.” And an article from BizPac Review floated the idea that voter fraud was at play with the “newly-discovered votes that are favoring the Democratic candidate.” Young Conservatives, which is part of a Republican clickbait farm, posted an article about the recovered votes that c also specifically mentioned the voting rights of felons and made baseless accusations of illegal voting by undocumented immigrants. (These two groups are frequently featured in voter suppression narratives.)

    The second source for these voter fraud conspiracy theories came from an unverified claim, originating from the far-right Mercer-funded group the Government Accountability Institute, that 170 registered voters in Ohio’s 12th district are 116-years-old. When the fake news sites picked up the claim, they added allegations of voter fraud and election rigging by Democrats to the mix. Constitution.com wrote that Democrats “tend to benefit from voter fraud at a rate that far surpasses the assistance given to conservatives through the use of the same tactics.” Truthfeed claimed, “The Left hasn’t given up trying to create conditions favorable for voter fraud in Ohio.” And a Young Conservatives article which stated that “Democrats have been known to steal close elections” was shared by former Sarah Palin’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, and by conservative commentators CJ Pearson and Stacey Dash on Facebook.

    The Western Journal and Conservative Tribune posted an article that claimed this news was part of an attempt from the Democratic Party to “get their ‘blue wave’ to happen.” The Western Journal and Conservative Tribune also advocated for voter ID laws, writing, “If voter ID laws are passed and implemented … those 170 impossibly old voters would no longer be able to cast ballots — and that is something the fraudulent Democrats of the state desperately want to avoid.” The article has earned over 81,000 interactions on Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter, and was shared by Fox News host Shannon Bream and frequent Fox News guest Larry Elder. Western Journal and Conservative Tribune’s Facebook network also pushed the claim with most of the pages posting the exact same status alleging that Democrats attempted to rig the election.

  • Right-wing media pastor and GOP-backed congressional nominee favorably remembered when “homosexuality was once criminalized”

    Mark Harris: “We have watched in one generation where homosexuality was once criminalized to now we see the criminalization of Christianity”

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Mark Harris is a pastor and GOP-backed congressional nominee who has regularly appeared in right-wing media outlets and worked with a notorious anti-LGBTQ group. In previously unreported comments, Harris said in 2015 that the country had descended into “moral decay” and cited as one of several examples that “we have watched in one generation where homosexuality was once criminalized to now we see the criminalization of Christianity.”

    Harris won the Republican nomination in North Carolina’s 9th District by defeating sitting Rep. Robert Pittenger in the state’s May GOP primary.

    Harris, who has been heavily involved in fighting against LGBTQ equality in North Carolina, was previously the pastor of First Baptist Charlotte. His sermons were streamed online and distributed through podcasts. He has been a regular presence in anti-LGBTQ media, making appearances on outlets such as Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network and anti-LGBTQ group American Family Association’s American Family Radio.

    Harris has also been a go-to pastor for the Family Research Council (FRC), an extreme anti-LGBTQ organization that produces its own media content and policy papers. He has been a member of FRC’s ministry arm Watchmen on the Wall. He has also spoken at numerous FRC-affiliated events, including several that have been broadcasted nationwide by the group. FRC is one of the most influential anti-LGBTQ groups in the country and its official position is that “homosexual conduct is harmful to the persons who engage in it and to society at large” and “is by definition unnatural.”

    FRC Action, the political arm of FRC, endorsed Harris in April. FRC President Tony Perkins wrote in May that Harris is “one of FRC's Watchmen pastors who was critical in FRC Action’s highly successful effort in the 2016 general election.”

    Harris and FRC are a perfect fit when it comes to anti-LGBTQ activity.

    In a 2015, Harris spoke at an event in Jomeokee, NC, and complained that the nation is “floundering in moral decay,” explaining in part that “we have watched in one generation where homosexuality was once criminalized to now we see the criminalization of Christianity.” From his speech:

    MARK HARRIS: We are a nation that is so out of balance in our economy, in our foreign policy, in our treatment of the Constitution. But I want to leave you this afternoon as I wrap up with truly the most detrimental imbalance which many will argue is the root to all the others and that is, ladies and gentlemen, I've come here today to declare to you that we are a nation which is spiritually out of balance in every way.

    In one generation you and I have witnessed this country sliding from a nation who once shared a moral vision based on Judeo-Christian ethic to a nation floundering in moral decay. In one generation we have watched our nation who once believed in lifelong marriages to the same spouse to a divorce rate now well over 50 percent. We have watched in one generation where homosexuality was once criminalized to now we see the criminalization of Christianity. And I could go on and on with the entertainment, with the education, with the life issue.

    In 2013, as then-Right Wing Watch writer Brian Tashman documented, Harris said: “I’ve yet to buy in, as there is not the medical evidence, that an individual that chooses the homosexual lifestyle is born that way. That is a choice.” In a recent interview with Roll Call, Harris stood by those remarks. 

    Roll Call also reported that Harris said that women should submit to their husbands. The Washington, D.C.-based publication added that Harris said in an interview “that a wife submitting to her husband does not mean that they are not equal. He said he regularly mentions that in counseling sessions and when he presides at weddings.”

  • Republican Party officials in Illinois withdraw support for GOP congressional nominee after Media Matters' reporting

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Republican Party officials in Illinois have withdrawn their support for congressional candidate and conspiracy theorist Bill Fawell.

    Fawell is a real estate broker and writer who is challenging incumbent Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos. He won the Republican primary in March after running unopposed.

    Media Matters has documented in recent days that Fawell has frequently pushed toxic conspiracy theories:

    • Fawell promoted material claiming that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a false flag. He also smeared late Sandy Hook Elementary Principal Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, who died trying to protect students during the shooting.
    • Fawell has pushed conspiracy theories about mass shootings in Orlando, FL; San Bernardino, CA; and Aurora, CO.
    • Fawell has promoted the Pizzagate conspiracy theory, which falsely holds that prominent politicians have trafficked children through the Washington, D.C., restaurant Comet Ping Pong.
    • Fawell has written that “9/11's masterminds” were “our CIA and Israel's Mossad”; 9/11 was an “obvious false flag attack whose work was farmed out to Israel’s Mossad by elements high up in our government"; and if “there is another” 9/11-type attack, “you can bet … they’ll [the CIA and Mossad] have made it too.”
    • Fawell has claimed that late Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was assassinated for “giving 44,000 DNC emails to Wikileaks” and that former Hillary Clinton presidential campaign chair John Podesta “ordered the hit.”

    CNN’s Nathan McDermott and Andrew Kaczynski reported on May 25 that Fawell “pushed a conspiracy theory that 7 World Trade Center collapsed as part of a controlled demolition and the attacks were a plot to destroy documents” and “singer Beyonce Knowles has ties to the Illuminati.”

    The Dispatch/The Rock Island Argus reported last night that “Republican party officials are withdrawing support for 17th Congressional District candidate Bill Fawell after reviewing alleged conspiracy theories posted by Fawell on social media.”

    State Republican party chairman Tim Schneider, Rock Island County Republican party central committee chair Drue Mielke, and Republican state central committeeman for the 17th Congressional District, Jan Weber, removed their support of Fawell on Tuesday.

    ...

    “Bill Fawell has a problem with the truth and his statements have done a disservice to the individuals who lost their lives from terrible acts of violence,” Schneider said. “As chairman of the Illinois Republican party, I disagree with his misguided views and cannot support his candidacy for Congress in the 17th Congressional District.”

    Mielke voiced his support for Fawell to the Dispatch-Argus in July, but said he changed his mind after viewing some of the social media posts.

    Doug House, president of the Illinois Democratic County Chairs’ Association and chair of the Rock Island County Democrats, had also recently criticized Republican leaders for supporting a "bizarre conspiracy theorist."

    In July, the National Republican Congressional Committee withdrew its support for New Jersey congressional candidate Seth Grossman shortly after Media Matters documented that he promoted white nationalist propaganda.

  • Writer and GOP congressional nominee Bill Fawell: Israel helped carry out 9/11

    Fawell said 9/11 was an “obvious false flag attack whose work was farmed out to Israel’s Mossad by elements high up in our government”

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Right-wing writer Bill Fawell, a congressional nominee in Illinois who has received support from several Republican groups, has repeatedly claimed that Israel helped carry out 9/11.

    Fawell is a real estate broker and author who has frequently posted right-wing commentaries online. He ran unopposed in the March 20 Illinois GOP primary to represent District 17 in the U.S. House of Representatives and is now challenging incumbent Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos.

    Media Matters previously examined Fawell’s main Facebook page and found that he pushed conspiracy theories about mass shootings in Newtown, CT; Orlando, FL; San Bernardino, CA; and Aurora, CO. He also claimed that there’s “nothing fake about Pizzagate” and said late Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was assassinated for “giving 44,000 DNC emails to Wikileaks.”

    Several local Republican Party organizations have suggested people vote for Fawell. The Rock Island County Republican Party, for instance, has repeatedly pushed his candidacy on Facebook and chair Drue Mielke told The Dispatch/The Rock Island Argus in July, “We support Fawell.”

    CNN's Nathan McDermott and Andrew Kaczynski reported in May that Fawell previously “pushed a conspiracy theory that 7 World Trade Center collapsed as part of a controlled demolition and the attacks were a plot to destroy documents.” CNN also wrote that Fawell "said Beyonce had ties to the Illuminati." CNN asked the state party at the time for comment but did not receive a response.

    Media Matters found in a new review of Fawell's writings that he claimed “9/11's masterminds” were “our CIA and Israel's Mossad”; 9/11 was an “obvious false flag attack whose work was farmed out to Israel’s Mossad by elements high up in our government"; and if “there is another” 9/11-type attack, “you can bet … they’ll [the CIA and Mossad] have made it too.”

    The Israel-9/11 claim has been a popular conspiracy theory among anti-Semitic media figures. Anti-semite John Fitzgerald, a Republican congressional nominee in California, has also claimed that Israel was involved in the 9/11 attacks.

    A Media Matters request for comment to the Illinois Republican Party and its chair, Tim Schneider, was not returned. (Update: Republican Party officials in Illinois have withdrawn their support for Fawell.) 

    Here are four posts from Fawell in which he connected Israel to the 9/11 attacks.

    [8/22/17]

    [1/30/17]

    [4/26/16]

    [4/21/16]

  • GOP congressional nominee in Illinois is a Sandy Hook and Pizzagate conspiracy theorist

    Bill Fawell is backed by several county parties and is participating in numerous GOP events

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Right-wing writer Bill Fawell, a Republican-backed congressional nominee in Illinois, has pushed conspiracy theories about tragedies such as the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and claimed that there’s “nothing fake about Pizzagate.”

    Fawell is a real estate broker and author who ran unopposed in Illinois’ March 20 Republican primary to represent District 17 in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is now facing incumbent Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos.

    Several Republican committees in that district have suggested people vote for Fawell, including organizations in Jo Daviess, Peoria, Rock Island, Tazewell, and Whiteside counties. He has also been participating in numerous Republican events and is scheduled to appear at two GOP fundraisers in September, according to his website.

    Rock Island County GOP chair Drue Mielke told The Dispatch/The Rock Island Argus last month, “We support Fawell. ... I know he’s a Constitutionalist. In talking to him, I’ve heard him focusing on the issues of our district. There are a lot of things Bill Fawell could do for our district Cheri Bustos is choosing not to.” (Update: Republican Party officials in Illinois have withdrawn their support for Fawell.) 

    CNN’s Nathan McDermott and Andrew Kaczynski reported on May 25 that they examined Fawell’s blog posts and 2012 book New American Revolution and found that he “said the September 11 terrorist attacks were an inside job and that singer Beyonce Knowles has ties to the Illuminati.”

    CNN added that the “Illinois Republican Party did not respond to a request for comment. Another Illinois Republican nominee for a House seat, neo-Nazi Arthur Jones, has been rejected by national Republicans and the state party for denying the Holocaust.”

    Media Matters reviewed Fawell's main Facebook page and found that he also pushed conspiracy theories about mass shootings in Newtown, CT; Orlando, FL; San Bernardino, CA; and Aurora, CO. He has also promoted the Pizzagate conspiracy theory and claimed late Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was assassinated "for giving 44,000 DNC emails to Wikileaks."

    The mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT

    Fawell has repeatedly pushed conspiracy theories about the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. Fawell has promoted material that claimed the shooting was a false flag and smeared late Sandy Hook Elementary Principal Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, who died trying to protect students during the shooting.

    (The person pictured above is Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung.) [4/17/13]

    [3/7/17]

    (The page that Fawell linked to, which is no longer available, cited Sandy Hook conspiracy theorist Wolfgang Halbig to claim that the Sandy Hook shooting is “another false flag.”) [1/6/16]

    Mass shootings in Orlando, San Bernardino, and Aurora

    Fawell has pushed conspiracy theories about tragedies including the June 2016 shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, FL; the December 2015 shooting in San Bernardino, CA; and the 2012 shooting in Aurora, CO.

    [6/12/16]

    [6/12/16]

    [6/21/16]

    Pizzagate

    Fawell has repeatedly pushed the Pizzagate conspiracy theory, which falsely holds that prominent politicians have trafficked children through the Washington, D.C., restaurant Comet Ping Pong. In December 2016, Edgar Maddison Welch went to the restaurant and fired a shot inside; he was later sentenced to four years in prison.

    Fawell has said that there’s “nothing fake about Pizzagate” and the shooting at Comet was an “inside false flag job on a real live (sic) story the MSM is trying to cover up.”

    [11/24/16]

    [12/9/16]

    [12/10/16]

    [12/11/16]

    Seth Rich

    Fawell has claimed that late Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was assassinated for “giving 44,000 DNC emails to Wikileaks” and that former Hillary Clinton presidential campaign chair John Podesta “ordered the hit.” (Those claims, of course, are false.)

    [8/10/16]

    [5/17/17]

    [7/12/17]

  • Alex Jones: "If it wasn't for Julian Assange, you can say, clearly, that the president wouldn't have been elected"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Jones, while launching a petition for Trump to pardon Assange, said that Trump would not have won without Assange's election activities.

    From the July 31 edition of Genesis Communications Network's The Alex Jones Show:

    ALEX JONES (HOST): He engaged in regular journalistic activity and did a wonderful job, being advised by top journalism professors around the world, and that he was very, very fair about what he did, and that you need to send a message that he's a hero. Now, I know they claim that he's a Russian agent with no evidence, and all the rest of that garbage, even though they release stuff on Russia and Israel as well. And China. But it doesn't matter, it's the right thing to do. 

    ...

    We need the president to pardon Julian Assange. We've got another Change.org petition that's got a lot of signatures, dealing with shadow banning. And all of this just draws attention, all of this just chips away at what they're doing. 

    But, if it wasn't for Julian Assange, you can say, clearly, that the president wouldn't have been elected. And you said in a speech, I don't care who got her illegal server, it's illegal, it's about what she did that's wrong, don't change the subject. Go back to that instinct, sir. But you told Assange release it, you said release more stuff, and he's in the crosshairs, and he needs to be pardoned if he's brought back to the United States. 

    If you signal you're going to pardon him -- there's no real charges in England, there's only this bail jumping thing -- he will be released. The fake sex charges that two women connected to the CIA he picked up at a bar who went back to his hotel room and had sex with Assange, and then later they decided maybe that one of them didn't give them permission? Oldest trick in the book, folks. That's all been dropped. He wouldn't be the first man let his you-know-what get him in trouble.

    I'm in the same boat as Assange and Trump and others that are willing to tell the truth,  so we need the president to do this, but I need you first to go sign the petition at Infowars.com.

    Previously:

    Joe Arpaio thanks conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for getting his story to Donald Trump, who is reportedly poised to pardon the former sheriff

    ​Alex Jones: "I personally pushed [Roger] Stone" to bring up a pardon for Dinesh D'Souza to President Trump

    The staggering corruption of Dinesh D’Souza’s pardon

  • UPDATED: Rick Scott’s Senate campaign rented Roger Stone’s email list

    Stone previously criticized Scott for being personally responsible for fraud

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Update: A spokesperson for Scott's campaign claimed that the Stone email "was a vendor mistake - they are not advertising with Stone or paying him to send out emails on their behalf," according to Associated Press reporter Gary Fineout. Regardless of the campaign's explanation, as Media Matters documented below, Stone's website sent a sponsored message that contained a fundraising pitch for Scott; Stone's website identified "Rick Scott For Senate" as "one of our sponsoring advertisers"; and Scott's message contained the text: "Paid for by Rick Scott for Florida."

    Gov. Rick Scott’s (R-FL) U.S. Senate campaign rented Roger Stone’s email list for a fundraising pitch.

    Stone is a vicious racist, misogynist, liar, and conspiracy theorist. He is caught up in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe; was disinvited from a Florida GOP event because he called former first lady Barbara Bush a “nasty drunk” after she died; and tried to recruit wrestler Hulk Hogan to challenge Scott because of “his personal responsibility for $1 billion in Medicaid fraud" (Scott's company previously paid a $1.7 billion fine for Medicare fraud). 

    Stone is a right-wing operative and commentator who describes himself as “a 40-year friend and advisor of Donald Trump.” Mueller is examining the activities of Stone and his associates with regard to Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Stone has repeatedly lied or contradicted himself on issues related to Mueller’s probe.

    Stone has also frequently targeted Republicans and conservatives with typical Stone-level rhetoric. For instance:

    • Stone called former Rep. Allen West (R-FL) an "arrogant know-it-all negro"; commentator Herman Cain “mandingo”; and Education Secretary Ben Carson an “Uncle Tom.”
    • Stone mocked the late Charles Krauthammer for being paralyzed, tweeting: “Hey Krauthammer--stand the fuck up!”
    • Stone called CNN commentator and former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) aide Ana Navarro a media “quota hire” and tweeted that “black beans and rice didn't miss her.” He has stood by his remarks, saying that he “fat-shamed her.”
    • Stone has claimed that Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) father is connected to the assassination of former President John F. Kennedy and that the "Bush Crime Family" had “tried to kill” President Ronald Reagan and was involved in murders and drug-running with the Clintons.
    • Stone said that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) will “die in disgrace as his antics are exposed for the American people. He’s not a hero, he’s a traitor. It’s very sad.”
    • Stone called former first lady Barbara Bush a “nasty drunk” after she died, and added that she “drank so much booze, if they cremated her ... her body would burn for three days.”

    Stone’s remarks about Barbara Bush caused the Okaloosa Republican Executive Committee in Florida to uninvite Stone from headlining its annual fundraising dinner. (Stone had used similar rhetoric about Bush prior to her death.) 

    Stone’s website Stone Cold Truth forwarded its followers a July 26 message from Scott’s campaign with the statement: “We are excited to share with you a special message from one of our sponsoring advertisers, Rick Scott For Senate. It is also sponsors like them that help fund Stone Cold Truth. Please note that the following message reflects the opinions and representations of our sponsor alone, and not necessarily the opinion of Roger Stone.”

    Scott’s email asked for donations and ended with a picture of Scott with President Donald Trump.

    The Scott campaign’s decision to pay Stone is even more odd given that Stone has publicly rebuked him. In January, Stone said that he was “focused on persuading Hulk Hogan” to challenge Scott in the Republican primary, adding that at “a minimum, I hope to convince Hogan to body-slam Scott in every debate. If the governor is under the impression that his personal responsibility for $1 billion in Medicaid fraud is no longer an issue, he’s wrong."

    Other campaigns have rented Stone’s email list, including House candidate Omar Navarro in California; unsuccessful House candidate Richard Mack in Arizona; and Senate candidate Geoff Diehl in Massachusetts.

    Shortly after Diehl’s campaign rented his list, Stone endorsed Diehl’s campaign. In response to Media Matters’ article about the endorsement, Stone stated that his “company did rent some lists to Mr. Diehl” and “during that process I examined his campaign and his credentials and frankly I became very impressed.”

  • A senior Sinclair executive donated to the campaign of disgraced racist Joe Arpaio

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI



    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Frederick Smith, a senior executive at Sinclair Broadcast Group, recently donated $1,000 to Arizona Republican Joe Arpaio’s Senate campaign.

    Sinclair is a massive right-wing media corporation that owns or operates nearly 200 local television stations across the country. It’s known for injecting right-wing spin and propaganda into broadcasts, including through its infamous “must-run” segments. The Federal Communications Commission recently decided the company's proposed acquisition of Tribune Media needs greater legal scrutiny, citing potential "misrepresentation" by Sinclair due to its reliance on legal maneuvers to skirt station ownership limits.

    Smith is a vice president and member of the board of directors at Sinclair. His father, the late Julian Sinclair Smith, founded the company.

    Arpaio was previously the sheriff of Maricopa County, AZ, before losing re-election in 2016. The ACLU documented that he oversaw "discriminatory conduct, including his office’s cruel and inhumane treatment of detainees and its practice of illegally detaining people based on their perceived immigration status and discriminating against Latinos in traffic stops." 

    In 2017, as The Washington Post wrote, Arpaio was convicted of "criminal contempt of court for ignoring a judge’s order to stop detaining people because he merely suspected them of being undocumented immigrants. U.S. District Judge Susan R. Bolton wrote that Arpaio had shown a 'flagrant disregard' for the court’s command and that his attempt to pin the conduct on those who worked for him rang hollow." President Donald Trump pardoned Arpaio shortly afterward.

    Arpaio is now running as a Republican for Arizona’s open U.S. Senate seat. In January, as Media Matters documented, Arpaio gave an interview to the anti-Semitic publication American Free Press to promote his candidacy. Arpaio had also given interviews to the outlet in prior years.

    Smith donated $1,000 to Arpaio’s Senate campaign on May 23, according to Arpaio’s most recent Federal Election Commission filing. Like Sinclair’s political action committee, Smith has largely donated to Republicans this election cycle. As Politico reported, Smith also donated $1,000 last year to “Rep. Greg Gianforte's campaign the day after the Montana Republican was charged with assaulting a reporter.” The Guardian reported in April that Robert E. Smith, who is Frederick Smith’s brother and a member of Sinclair’s board of directors, donated the maximum amount of $5,400 to Gianforte's campaign.

    Sinclair did not respond to a request for comment.

  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gets great PR from … Fox News

    Conservative media try to discredit a rising Democratic star by advertising her platform

    Blog ››› ››› SIMON MALOY


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Back when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez scored her upset win over House Democratic Caucus chair Joe Crowley in the NY-14 Democratic primary, conservative media had to scramble to find ways to attack her. Ocasio-Cortez came rocketing from relative obscurity to national prominence in the space of a few hours, leaving her newfound enemies at Fox News and elsewhere with little to go on. So, they made do with what they had: her policy platform.

    Sean Hannity memorably put Ocasio-Cortez’s entire platform up on screen and broadcast to the world the fact that she ran on universal health care and a federal jobs guarantee, and also endorses “solidarity with Puerto Rico,” “support[s] seniors,” and backs “women’s rights.” Hannity’s intention was ostensibly to allow what he considered to be the manifest extremism of her platform to speak for itself. He achieved the complete opposite: He made Ocasio-Cortez’s platform look great, and the candidate herself endorsed his failed attack.

    You could perhaps chalk up Hannity’s faceplant to the fact that Ocasio-Cortez was not a known quantity at the time and the angry right just didn’t know what else to do with her. But it keeps happening. Fox News and conservative media seem to have convinced themselves that the way to attack Ocasio-Cortez is to just quote her and point at her policy platform on the assumption that everyone will recoil in horror at the awful socialism.

    Just yesterday, Fox Business threw up a video of Ocasio-Cortez speaking at a rally in Kansas, followed by sneering mimicry from host Stuart Varney.

    Once again, a conservative media figure saw something self-evidently shocking and disqualifying in a Democratic candidate arguing for “a living wage to lead a dignified life.” And, once again, Ocasio-Cortez seized on the earned media to restate her policy.

    The Daily Caller got into the game by sending one of its conservative writers to a Missouri rally where Ocasio-Cortez spoke in support of Democratic congressional candidate Cori Bush. The ensuing write-up read like a parody of cloistered conservatism:

    But then Ocasio-Cortez spoke, followed by Bush, and I saw something truly terrifying. I saw just how easy it would be, were I less involved and less certain of our nation’s founding and its history, to fall for the populist lines they were shouting from that stage.

    • I saw how easy it would be, as a parent, to accept the idea that my children deserve healthcare and education.
    • I saw how easy it would be, as someone who has struggled to make ends meet, to accept the idea that a "living wage" was a human right.
    • Above all, I saw how easy it would be to accept the notion that it was the government's job to make sure that those things were provided.

    The abject terror of … health care and education for children. The Daily Caller writer appeared on Fox & Friends this morning, where she talked about the supposed insidiousness of Ocasio-Cortez talking “about things that everybody wants, especially, like, if you're a parent.”

    It’s a bizarre dynamic because the people attacking Ocasio-Cortez recognize that her platform does have political appeal (the supposedly “radical” planks, like Medicare-for-all and a federal jobs guarantee, actually poll decently well). But they keep on posting clips of her saying popular things, and then they just call her a “socialist” or grimly wonder who will pay for these plans to educate children and keep them healthy.

    This is a product of the suffocating ideological bubble conservative media exist in and help to maintain. People like Stuart Varney and the editorial staff at the Daily Caller are communicating with an audience that, they assume, will understand implicitly that a video clip of Ocasio-Cortez preaching for a living wage and the dignity of everyday life is a damaging, scandalous indictment of her politics. It’s “socialism,” that catch-all epithet that conservative media have spent decades applying to everyone to the left of Mitt Romney, and it merits only mockery and casual dismissal. Sure, they say, what she’s arguing for sounds nice, but it’s ridiculous and disqualifying because … uh … roll that tape again.