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  • 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:

  • Fox host attacks House Democrats for passing bill to protect Dreamers

    Last year, the same Fox host claimed Democrats didn't really want a DACA deal

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    Fox & Friends co-host Ainsley Earhardt criticized House Democrats for passing the Dream and Promise Act of 2019, a bill which would create paths to citizenship for immigrants who qualify for protections under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and immigrants with temporary protected status. President Donald Trump has attempted to remove deportation protections from both groups.

    Earhardt prefaced an interview with DACA recipient Hilario Yanez by mentioning the passage of the Dream and Promise Act and asking if House Democrats should “focus on finding a common ground on immigration instead” since it is “unlikely to see a vote in the GOP-led Senate.” She framed the Democrats efforts to protect DACA recipients as a futile political exercise geared toward winning the next election, saying, “Are Democrats going to say we passed it, we passed it, we did it, and Republicans killed everything?” 

    AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): So they just want a little sliver of this immigration plan to pass, whereas the president and Republicans want several things to be considered, including the wall. Why do you think that Democrats are trying to pass things or pass legislation that they know is going to fail in the Senate?

    What’s going to happen in 2020? Are Democrats going to say we passed it, we passed it, we did it, and Republicans killed everything?

    In February 2018, Earhardt joined in with her fellow co-hosts in baselessly claiming Democrats don’t really want to obtain deportation protections and a pathway to citizenship for beneficiaries of the DACA program. She said that the Democrats “want to be able to say” that Trump “sent all those folks back home, deported all of them, and that would be a better message for them and allow them to win”:

    AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): So this is the Democrats' chance to get DACA. This is what they wanted, right? Well they won't negotiate on this deal, and I kept thinking why. This is 1.8 [million] illegal immigrants that get to stay in our country. That's 1.8 [million] extra voters for them, because most of them will probably vote for Democrats. I thought, why wouldn’t they sign this, why wouldn’t they want it? And then I started thinking, maybe come November or maybe come 2020, [Democrats] want to be able to say, all right, it ended on March 5, the president sent all those folks back home, deported all of them, and that would be a better message for them and allow them to win.

    STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): Plus, they don't want the message that hey, Donald Trump actually fixed the DACA problem when he was president of the United States.

    EARHARDT: Right.

    DOOCY: They don’t want that message come November.

    If Earhardt wasn’t just pushing Republican propaganda, she would direct her criticism at Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for saying that he won’t even introduce the bill to the floor of his chamber.

  • How Fox News is downplaying the anti-Trump UK protests during his state visit

    Fox claims "a lot of those demonstrations will also include pro-Trump folks"

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Fox News’ morning shows are downplaying anti-Trump protests that are expected to flood the streets of London during President Donald Trump’s state visit to the United Kingdom, claiming that many protesters will actually be there in support of Trump and that those protesting against him are being paid and bused in.

    British news sources are reporting that protest organizers say they’re expecting similar turnout to the July 2018 protests of Trump’s previous visit, which were estimated at 250,000 people in London. Opinion polling shows 67% of Britons hold a negative opinion of Trump and less than half of Britons support his state visit.

    Despite these numbers, which Fox has itself acknowledged, Trump’s favorite propaganda channel spent the morning of June 3 downplaying the expected protests. Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade expressed confusion that so many Britons dislike Trump, while Fox guest Niles Gardiner said he expected “the protests will be somewhat limited in scale” and declared that “these demonstrations are going to be far-left, anti-American demonstrations.”

    Other figures on the network attempted to spread confusion about what the upcoming protests will be about. Fox White House correspondent Kevin Corke said that “a lot of those demonstrations will also include pro-Trump folks.” Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy agreed, saying, “It would be hard to tell who are pro-Trump and who are anti-Trump” among the protesters, adding that “a number of the London newspapers have talked to people who are quite excited to see the commander in chief.” And Fox & Friends First co-host Carley Shimkus misleadingly attempted to make any pro-Trump presence equivalent to the anti-Trump protests: “There are going to be a lot of protests taking place in London, both protests protesting the president and counterprotests in support of him.”

    Others on Fox implied that because people from all over the U.K. want to come to London to protest Trump, somehow the protests aren’t legitimate. Fox anchor Bill Hemmer remarked that many of the protesters will be from London, “but many more are bused in from the outside.” Fox foreign affairs correspondent Benjamin Hall said large crowds of protesters were “expected to descend on London, many of them bused in by left-wing groups here to protest against [Trump].” And Fox contributor Nigel Farage, who is somehow still employed by the network despite also being the head of the U.K.’s Brexit Party, misleadingly suggested Trump is actually popular in the U.K. and dismissed “these organized, paid-for protests.”

  • Five lies from Fox News figures about Robert Mueller’s press conference

    ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    Fox News figures spread multiple falsehoods about special counsel Robert Mueller’s May 29 press conference in which he explained that his team could not consider charging President Donald Trump with any crimes because of Justice Department policy, while also saying that if he had been confident Trump hadn’t broken any laws, he “would have said so” -- but didn’t. These falsehoods about Mueller’s statement from Fox hosts and commentators include claims that Trump was exonerated; that it was the special counsel’s job to determine charges against the president; that Mueller never presented evidence Trump may have obstructed justice; that Trump wasn’t charged with any crimes because of a lack of evidence; and that an “underlying crime” was necessary for Trump to criminally obstruct justice.

  • Fox and Trump claim Democrats have no legislative accomplishments. The House has passed over 150 bills.

    Fox isn't telling viewers that the Republican-controlled Senate is doing nothing

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    In response to congressional investigations into possible irregularities in President Donald Trump’s finances, Fox News and the president are asserting that by pursuing these investigations, House Democrats are ignoring other legislative work. However, the House of Representatives has already passed more than 150 bills since the Democrats took control of it after the 2018 midterm elections.

    This morning, Trump wrote on Twitter, “The Democrats have become known as THE DO NOTHING PARTY.” The co-host of the president’s favorite morning show Fox & Friends had already made a similar assertion earlier.

    Co-host Brian Kilmeade said that House Democrats blew their chance to be “actually getting something done since they took power in 2018 after their election. They’ve gotten nothing done. All they’ve done is investigate and the president’s pushed back on all of that.” He added that Trump offered House Democrats “a choice: You either legislate or investigate. It seems as though they’re choosing investigate.”

    Later in the show, Kilmeade repeated this narrative, saying “[Rep.] Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is in danger of having that House for two years and doing absolutely nothing,” asking, “What are her accomplishments?” On America’s Newsroom, co-anchor Sandra Smith claimed there is “nothing getting done in Congress.” And yesterday morning, Fox Business host Stuart Varney dedicated his show’s monologue to ranting that House Democrats’ investigations of Trump and his administration means “nothing gets done,” complaining that “the politics of destroying the Trump presidency means no legislative action on the pressing issues that face our country.”

    These assertions are false. It was Trump who walked out of a meeting with Democrats on infrastructure legislation, as he did before during a January 9 meeting with Democrats who were there to negotiate an end to Trump’s government shutdown. It was Trump who has withheld his approval of a disaster relief bills passed by House Democrats, and it was the Republican-controlled Senate that rejected them. And it was House Democrats who passed a sweeping voting rights, elections, and ethics bill in March. In fact, since Democrats took control of the House of Representatives on January 3, the House has passed more than 150 bills.