Issues ››› Elections
  • Kelly targets SEIU's "foreign nationals," misses

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Last week, I pointed out that right-wing media had tried to push back against criticism of conservative political groups for funding GOP attack ads with money from undisclosed donors, possibly including foreign donors by baselessly claiming that the AFL-CIO is funded by foreign sources.

    With that charge debunked, they've moved on to their next target: long-time conservative target SEIU.

    Today on Fox News' America Live, Megyn Kelly accused Democrats of "hypocrisy," for not "taking aim" at SEIU, claiming that the union "has acknowledged that not only does it have these donors, but that says it cannot 'be certain that foreign nationals have not contributed to its $44 million political budget to support pro-labor Democrats.'" Watch:

    Kelly's criticism really doesn't add up.

  • Fox & Friends' continued aggressive GOP campaigning

    Blog ››› ››› JUSTIN BERRIER

    Fox & Friends today continued its aggressive campaigning for GOP candidates, hosting Harold Johnson, candidate for North Carolina's 8th district; Chip Cravaack, candidate for Minnesota's 8th district; and Dino Rossi, who's running for Senate in Washington.

    Fox & Friends has relentlessly hosted almost exclusively Republican candidates in the weeks leading up to the election. But the issue with its election coverage is not only that the vast majority of its guests have been Republicans (in nearly every case, Fox & Friends' hosts claim their guests' opponents declined interviews), it's that Fox & Friends consistently provide them a platform to campaign with its cheerleading and softball interviews. Recently, the hosts have added a new tactic to their promotion of GOP candidates, claiming that even those trailing their Democratic counterparts by wide margins are "surging" or portraying the races as much closer than they are.

  • Added bonus of FoxPAC donations: Claiming lack of special interest money

    Blog ››› ››› SHAUNA THEEL

    Fox News' William La Jeunesse touted Sharron Angle for what he portrayed as her relative lack of PAC donations. In doing so, he left out one big special interest donor: FoxPAC.

    In fact, Angle actually bragged about fundraising from "friendly" outlets like Fox News. That very fundraising has allowed her the small donors that La Jeunesse touts. In addition to allowing Angle to fundraise on Fox News, groups supported by Fox News and its contributors have spent over $3 million dollars on the race:

    • Fox News contributor Karl Rove's American Crossroads has been the single highest independent contributor for the Senate Race: $1,135,928, which in addition to the $904,285 that Crossroads GPS donated, totals over $2 million dollars.
    • Fox-backed Tea Party Express also spent over one million dollars on the race, in addition to its donation of $5,000 to Angle.
    • Fox News contributor Dick Morris sent a fundraising appeal to Newsmax.com readers asking them to donate to Americans for New Leadership to help defeat Sen. Harry Reid; Americans for New Leadership has spent $157,890 on the race.


  • The silly season cometh, Pingree edition

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    It's mid-October of an election year, and you know what that means: time for political operatives to empty their cupboards of every attack that could possibly stick to the opposing party, and hope the media is willing to credulously run with it.

    Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) is being subject to one such attack, which appears to revolve around two facts: 1) She is engaged to hedge fund manager Donald Sussman and 2) Donald Sussman is rich.

    Specifically, some in the media are attempting to suggest that she is a hypocrite for flying on her fiancé's private jet, contrasting those flights with out-of-context comments that don't quite show what they are suggesting. Here's Stu Rothenberg in a Roll Call column from last week:

    But Pingree won an open seat with only 55 percent two years ago, and GOP operatives see her as "a polarizer in a state that doesn't like polarizers." And Pingree has made herself the focus of controversy by flying around on a corporate jet owned by her fiancé, a wealthy hedge fund chairman.

    This is the same Pingree who testified before Congress by criticizing legislators who used private airplanes and said flying on corporate jets "contributes to the corrosive public perception that Members of Congress are more like the fat cats of Wall Street than they are like the rest of us."

    And here's the full context of Pingree's April 2006 testimony, back when she was president of Common Cause: Pingree was expressing opposition to a provision of a proposed bill that would ban registered lobbyists from traveling on corporate-chartered flights with members of Congress. The thrust of Pingree's argument is that the provision wouldn't go far enough, as the actual problem wasn't that lobbyists were on those flights, but that members of Congress were being flown around by corporations in the first place. According to Pingree, this was a special gift to lawmakers not available to most Americans, and "even if lobbyists are not on the flight, someone from the company, like the C.E.O., will be on board to discuss the company's legislative agenda in their place."

    Seems somewhat different from the issue of a member of Congress having access to her fiancé's private jet, doesn't it? That's probably why the House ethics panel has cleared Pingree's jet use -- a fact Rothenberg doesn't mention.

    Meanwhile, the Maine media is printing stories about how Pingree "would be in violation of federal campaign finance laws" if she used Sussman's jet for campaign purposes, an allegation for which there is no evidence, and which the Pingree campaign has denied.

    Yes, the silly season is here.

  • "All Aboard": Fox "kicks off" promotion of latest Tea Party Express bus tour

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Today, the Tea Party Express -- a project of a Republican consulting firm designed to raise money for its political action committee - launched its fourth nationwide bus tour in Reno, NV. Who was there to cheer them on? Their friends at Fox, of course. "Campaign" Carl Cameron was on the scene to promote the Express and its chairman, Amy Kremer, in back-to-back hits on Fox Business and Fox News.

    On Fox Business, anchor Dagen McDowell said that "Tea Party voters have a chance to jump on the bandwagon as the Tea Party Express weaves its way across the U.S." Cameron explained the tour's route, while Fox Business helped out by displaying it with an on-screen graphic:


    The on-screen text helpfully pointed out that Fox's own Sarah Palin "helped launch" the Reno rally.

    Minutes later, Cameron appeared on Fox News to promote the Tea Party Express kick-off rally and interview Kremer. Cameron played up her grassroots story (she "started as a volunteer"), somehow neglecting to mention that the Express was formed by a GOP consulting firm.

    According to GOP consultant Joe Wierzbicki, who proposed the Tea Party Express' creation, it was intended to "give a boost to our PAC and position us as a growing force/leading force as the 2010 elections come into focus." Wierzbicki hoped that the effort could get "some mentions and possibly even promotion from" the right-wing media, including "Fox News commentators."

    It looks like Fox is planning to cover Tea Party Express IV the same way it covered Tea Party Express I, II and III.

  • Dionne highlights how Beck fits in GOP's "three-level campaign" strategy

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    In his October 18 Washington Post column, E. J. Dionne discusses the Republican's "three-level campaign this year," which provides GOP candidates with "a wealth of advantages." The "first level" of the campaign strategy, according to Dionne, is "the party's candidate," the second level is "the outside groups that refuse to disclose their donor lists," and the third level consists of "Glenn Beck and his allies" who "cast President Obama as the central figure in a conspiracy against America itself, fueling participation by the most extreme 10 percent or 15 percent of the electorate." From his column:

    The Republican Party is running a three-level campaign this year that gives its candidates a wealth of advantages -- in flexibility, deniability and determination.

    At the first level are the party's candidates, who can be as reasonable or as angry, as moderate or as conservative, as their circumstances require.

    Next come the outside groups that refuse to disclose their donor lists. They are doing the dirty work of pounding their Democratic opponents in commercials for which no one is accountable. The Republican candidates can shrug an innocent "Who, me?" Deniability is a wonderful thing.

    And then, on the far right, Glenn Beck and his allies cast President Obama as the central figure in a conspiracy against America itself, fueling participation by the most extreme 10 percent or 15 percent of the electorate.

    Their crackpot ideas, as the historian Sean Wilentz documented in the New Yorker recently, originated in the 1950s and '60s, in the paranoid theorizing of the John Birch Society. But whereas responsible conservatives such as William F. Buckley Jr. denounced the Birchers and the rest of the lunatic fringe back then, Republicans this time are riding the radical wave. In some cases (think Sharron Angle in Nevada), the extremists are their standard-bearers.