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  • Fox News has become a platform for Republicans to lie about their stances on pre-existing conditions

    Blog ››› ››› GRACE BENNETT


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    As the midterm elections creep closer, Fox News has hosted a series of Republican candidates and party spokespeople eager to mislead viewers about their stances on health care coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. In the past eight days, Fox hosted four Republicans seeking office in November to brag about their alleged support for pre-existing condition coverage -- even though each of these candidates previously supported legislation that would make it more difficult for people with pre-existing conditions to access care. In none of those interviews did the host challenge the candidate’s claims, allowing the false information to go unchecked.

    On the October 10 edition of Fox’s flagship morning show, Fox & Friends, Arizona congresswoman and Republican Senate candidate Martha McSally told the hosts that she has “voted and [is] passionate about making sure we protect people with pre-existing conditions.” However, HuffPost pointed out that McSally “voted for her party’s bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, including regulations that block insurers from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions.” In fact, her fervor for the bill was so strong that she reportedly “stood up in GOP conference meeting and said let's get this ‘fucking thing’ done.”

    Less than a week later, Rep. Lou Barletta, the Republican nominee for Senate in Pennsylvania, claimed on the October 16 edition of Fox & Friends that he “would not support anything that would deny anybody [with] pre-existing conditions” coverage. But Barletta supported Republican legislation to overturn the ACA last year, even though experts note that the bill “could have driven up premiums for people with pre-existing conditions who lose their insurance” and that it “lacked any guarantee that people with pre-existing conditions would get access to affordable coverage.”

    Later that day, Indiana Republican Senate candidate Mike Braun said on Fox News’ Special Report with Bret Baier that he wanted to be “crystal clear” about his stance and that he would “never be for any replacement [for the ACA] that didn't cover pre-existing conditions.” However, PolitiFact noted that Braun has repeatedly backed legislation and lawsuits that would have threatened pre-existing condition coverage. Braun supported the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017, which would have made coverage for pre-existing conditions “more expensive and less accessible,” according to Urban Institute health policy analyst Linda Blumberg. Braun also endorsed a lawsuit that would “effectively end mandatory coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.”

    And on the October 17 edition of America’s Newsroom, Montana’s Republican Senate nominee, Matt Rosendale, told Fox anchor Bill Hemmer that he has “really worked very hard to make sure pre-existing conditions and chronic conditions are covered.” In reality, as Montana’s state insurance commissioner, Rosendale allowed “the sale of insurance-like products that ‘do not guarantee coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.’” In fact, a program Rosendale re-authorized after it was banned in Montana due to allegations of fraud, Medi-Share, “explicitly excludes coverage for pre-existing conditions.”

    In addition to these candidates, Fox has also hosted Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel and President Donald Trump, who each falsely painted Republicans as champions of protecting coverage for pre-existing conditions. McDaniel said, “Of course we’re going to protect pre-existing conditions,” and Trump said, “We are 100 percent for pre-existing -- and covering people with pre-existing conditions.” But again, neither of these claims were challenged. In reality, the Trump Department of Justice has argued that protections for people with pre-existing conditions should be abandoned, and a recent Republican bill that was pitched as a way to protect coverage for pre-existing conditions was quickly revealed to be “a fraud.”

    Faced with overwhelming public support for the ACA’s pre-existing conditions coverage, Republicans have been forced to lie about their party’s very recent history of favoring restricted access for those with pre-existing conditions. Fox News has served as a willing partner to spread these falsehoods.

  • Fox News interview hides that Montana Republican Senate candidate would allow insurance companies not to cover pre-existing conditions

    Fox News did not mention that Matt Rosendale reauthorized a program, previously banned for fraud, that excluded coverage for pre-existing conditions

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    Montana’s Republican Senate nominee and state insurance Commissioner Matt Rosendale told Fox anchor Bill Hemmer that he has “really worked very hard to make sure pre-existing conditions and chronic conditions are covered.”

    But as Montana newspapers have detailed, Rosendale supports repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which guarantees coverage for pre-existing conditions. Furthermore, in his role as insurance Commissioner Rosendale even authorized the sale of insurance-like products that “do not guarantee coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.”

    Instead of giving his viewers these facts, Hemmer offered only a weak rebuttal, citing a brief quote from Rosendale’s opponent, Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT): “He’s arguing that you’re putting pre-existing conditions at risk.”

    From the October 17 edition of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom:

    BILL HEMMER (HOST): Matt Rosendale is my guest now in Montana. ... I did a lot of reading trying to figure out what the issues are. Health care keeps coming up time and again. Is that what decides this race in Montana?

    MATT ROSENDALE (MONTANA GOP SENATE CANDIDATE): Health care is one of the real big factors here, Bill. Jon Tester is the fella who brought us Obamacare, and my work in the auditor's office has shown that I have really worked very hard to make sure pre-existing conditions and chronic conditions are covered, and make sure people of Montana have a broad range of health care options to accommodate --

    HEMMER: Because he is arguing that you are putting pre-existing conditions at risk. This is the one thing you guys agree on, is that you both believe health care costs are going higher and there has to be a solution to it, but you differ on what the solution is.

    ROSENDALE: Absolutely. The problem is he brought us Obamacare, which is what is driving the costs up, Bill.

    HEMMER: Based on his vote for the ACA.

    ROSENDALE: I've been working for quite some time now to make sure that the people of Montana have a broad range of options to make sure they can accommodate their health care needs in a way that recognizes their budget, their personal needs, and their personal choices as well.

    Montana news coverage shows how misleading and insufficient this Fox segment is. Rosendale has introduced and supported insurance-like schemes that do not cover pre-existing conditions. Specifically, Rosendale re-authorized Medi-Share, a program that was banned for “fraudulent practices” for refusing to pay for the health care of a Montana man who had cancer. In another instance, Medi-Share refused to pay for the treatment of a Montana pastor until a court ordered otherwise.

    Here is an article from the Helena, MT-based Independent Record (emphasis added):

    In his role as state Auditor, which oversees the insurance industry in Montana, Rosendale has brought in primary care agreements that allow people to enter into direct contracts with primary care providers outside of the health insurance framework.

    He’s also advocated for the short-term plans, the ones Tester calls “junk plans,” and allowed a religious health care sharing ministry to return to operating in the state after it was banned in 2007.

    “People have a multitude of options to take care of their needs in a way that recognizes their budget, their specific health care needs and their personal choices,” Rosendale said.

    The primary care agreements were twice vetoed by Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, who said they did not provide value to consumers and often charged for treatments already covered by insurance.

    Medi-Share, the health ministry that is operating in Montana, was banned in 2007 because of fraudulent practices after it did not pay a claim for a Montana man who had cancer. Both products are not regulated by the auditor's office because they are not traditional insurance.

    Medi-Share and the short-term insurance plans do not guarantee coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, one of the landmark protections in the Affordable Care Act.

    Medi-Share explicitly excludes coverage for pre-existing conditions. In 2017, Montana Cowgirl Blog described what Medi-Share does offer:

    Here’s how this works: To join the pyramid you must must pledge your devout Christian faith (and even get a reference from a minister). You must not drink, take drugs or have sex outside of a “traditional” marriage. Pre-existing conditions make you ineligible to participate at all, although one does get the benefit of a “prayer chain.”

    The coverage doesn’t include products of “un-Biblical lifestyles,” such as contraception or substance use rehabilitation–or preventive care like PAP tests, colonoscopies and mammograms.

    Usually, bill-sharing plan members contribute a predetermined amount each month. When they have a medical bill, they receive monetary help from fellow members. All of the programs are careful to bury in the fine print that they not promising to pay bills, only “facilitating a voluntary sharing.” Some of these schemes even publish your medical problems in a newsletter to “share” your bill with the community in case anyone wants to chip in–so much for medical privacy.

    The pro-ACA advocacy organization Protect Our Care provided additional details about how Rosendale’s policies could leave Montana residents without coverage for pre-existing conditions.

  • Trump’s lie-filled Medicare for All op-ed

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    For some misguided reason, USA Today published an op-ed -- supposedly written by President Donald Trump -- attacking a proposed “Medicare for All” plan cosponsored by a number of Senate Democrats. The piece is a collection of baldfaced lies and distorted facts which do not hold up to even the slightest scrutiny.

  • Media portray these tales of perseverance as uplifting and inspirational. They're actually horror stories.

    In areas like health care and sick leave, systems are failing Americans -- and the obsession with uplifting stories optimized for social media is obscuring it.

    Blog ››› ››› PARKER MOLLOY


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    If you spend any amount of time on social media, you’re probably familiar with mega-viral uplifting stories like “A teacher battling cancer ran out of sick days. School employees showered him with theirs,” “Birmingham college student walked 20 miles to 1st day of work so his boss gave him his car,” “Vietnam vet named 'Smiley' gets new teeth after living toothless for 40 years,” and “Little girl desperate to save mom’s life after cancer diagnosis opens lemonade stand.”

    These four examples all come from just the past five months, but there are countless additional articles and segments that share the same lessons about never giving up, going the extra mile, and taking care of others. The articles are framed to make you feel good, to illustrate the kindness of others, to show you that things can work out when tragedy hits, and yes, to “restore your faith in humanity.” These are excellent messages that we could probably all benefit from having in our lives, but there’s one thing that gets left out on an all-too-regular basis: the underlying causes.

    If the United States followed the lead of other well-off countries, paid sick leave would eliminate the need for co-workers to donate their sick days; if workers were paid a living wage and we invested in public transportation, no one would have to walk 20 miles to work; if we fulfilled the promises made to our veterans, none of them would go 40 years without teeth; if we treated health care as a right, no child would feel a responsibility to sell enough lemonade to keep their mother alive. Each story could be just as easily framed in a way meant to disgust us with the state of the social safety net and inspire us to enact policies that prevent such situations from happening. Instead, the authors tend to isolate each situation from its larger context.

    In 2017, writer Adam Johnson coined the term “perseverance porn” to refer to uplifting stories centered around people overcoming long odds and societal roadblocks on the path to happy endings. It makes for an apt name considering how these stories fetishize bootstrapping one's way out of trouble.

    Part of what makes perseverance porn so effective, at least when it comes to getting our attention, is that it tends to follow a storytelling structure sometimes known as the “dramatic arc” -- consisting of, in the Florida teacher’s story, an introduction (meet this teacher), a rising action (he was diagnosed with cancer), the climax (he realized he doesn’t have enough sick days), a falling action (he posted a selfie calling for help), and a resolution (within four days other teachers had donated enough days to cover his needs). In these dramatic-arc pieces, we see the happy ending, or are at least left with the impression that there will be one. This is the same time-tested technique, sometimes also referred to as the “hero’s journey,” used in fiction from The Odyssey to Star Wars. (In this case, CNN did publish a follow-up story making similar arguments about the original piece as are being made here, but it was an opinion piece and not the straight-reported version originally published.)

    The problem with these stories is that they routinely gloss over harsh realities in order to fit this structure. They lead us to believe that these situations have a way of working themselves out. In fact, many (if not most) people facing these challenges — whether it’s the majority of people whose medical crowdfunding campaigns don’t reach the goal, or it’s someone who dies because they can’t afford their cancer treatment or their insulin —  don’t get the the help they need, and things do not magically work themselves out. But these stories buoy the conservative argument that aspects of the social safety net should be trimmed back or abolished altogether in favor of private charity.

    During his run for the 2012 Republican nomination for president, Ron Paul famously responded to a question about what responsibility the government should have for an uninsured person facing a long-term medical emergency such as a coma by saying that such a person should “assume responsibility for himself.” When pressed, he suggested that churches, neighbors, or friends would take care of it. In practice, we can see that this just isn’t the case.

    Last year, artist Shane Patrick Boyle lost his health benefits after moving from Texas to Arkansas to care for his dying mother. A Type I diabetic, he simply didn’t have the $750 he needed to buy a month’s supply of insulin, so he did what more than 250,000 people do each year: He launched a GoFundMe campaign. Unlike the stories the news media tends to highlight, his doesn’t have a happy ending. He came up $50 short, and less than a month later, he was dead.

    Boyle’s story is one of a failed system and the limits of relying on charity to fund health expenses, but it wasn’t until eight months after his death, when The Nation mentioned him in a story and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) shared the article on Facebook, that it gained much traction in the national press. It could be that stories like Boyle’s just don’t generate as much traffic or attention as the ones about a neighborhood coming together to help raise money for someone’s cancer treatment. But in my view, writers shy away from reporting these stories partially out of fear of being labeled political.

    Consider the time Jimmy Kimmel used his late-night platform to talk about his newborn son’s health woes. The story contained all the elements of the dramatic arc -- his wife gave birth, his son was diagnosed with a rare heart condition, he had surgery to fix one of the defects, and the family lives happily ever after. It also took aim at an underlying issue: Kimmel acknowledged that people who aren’t millionaire talk show hosts might not have been able to afford the care his son needed. He discussed why protections banning insurance companies from denying coverage on the basis of a pre-existing condition are so important to so many, and he made an argument against passing legislation that would gut those rights.

    Several right-leaning media outlets slammed Kimmel’s segment. The Washington TimesCharles Hurt told Kimmel to “shut your fat trap about partisan politics and go care for your kid, who just nearly died, you elitist creep.” Conservative host Michelle Malkin dismissed Kimmel’s plea, writing, “I feel your pain. But please use your brain.” The Daily Caller polled its readers as to whether it was appropriate for Kimmel to use “emotional coercion for political purposes.”

    Yes, Kimmel’s monologue was political, but so is perseverance porn. When journalists leave out details about why people find themselves in desperate situations, or how many people in those positions don’t end up getting the help they need, they’re reinforcing a long-running conservative narrative in support of privatizing the social safety net. More detailed versions of these stories complete with uncomfortable facts about human suffering in the U.S. might not click as well or share as reliably on social media as the current crop of content does, but they would be a lot more honest.

    The world needs positivity, and the people involved in these stories deserve all the praise they can get. But positivity without honesty can blind us to the reality of everyday life and build up a distorted understanding of the country’s problems.

    Parker Molloy is a Chicago-based writer with an interest in media, technology, politics, and culture. Her work has appeared in outlets including The New York Times, The Guardian, Rolling Stone, and Upworthy.
  • Politico published an article saying a man’s death from AIDS was the result of a "decadent homosexual lifestyle"

    The language has since been removed after being "deemed insensitive"

    Blog ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    In a piece about disgraced late U.S. Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-WI), Politico senior staff writer Michael Kruse made a since-removed anti-gay remark about McCarthy-ally Roy Cohn, saying that Cohn’s death from AIDS was “the result of the decadent homosexual lifestyle he denied to the end.” The piece has since been edited to remove that language, saying it was "deemed insensitive."

    Kruse wrote his report in response to a August 19 tweet by President Donald Trump, which read, in part, “Study the late Joseph McCarthy.” The piece detailed the rise and fall of McCarthy, who “earned lasting disgrace for his public shaming of supposed Communists,” as well as the impact his adviser Cohn had on the senator. The report also noted that Cohn represented “Trump and his father when the Department of Justice sued them in 1973 for racial bias in the rentals of their outer-borough apartments.” Remarking on Cohn’s death, however, Kruse included an unnecessary and homophobic comment, writing, “He died from AIDS, the result of the decadent homosexual lifestyle he denied to the end”:

    The piece has since been edited to read that Cohn “died from AIDS as a man who denied to the end that he was gay,” and an editor's note has been added indicating that "an earlier version of this story contained language about Roy Cohn that was deemed insensitive and has been removed." Initially after receiving criticism on Twitter, Kruse did not apologize but said that he “should have thought harder about these echoes and connotations” and suggested that “a simple ‘promiscuity’ probably would’ve sufficed.” But suggesting that HIV/AIDS is a consequence of being gay, or even promiscuous, is disparaging and damaging to the LGBTQ community. For years, extreme anti-LGBTQ groups like Alliance Defending Freedom and Liberty Counsel have employed similar messaging, and the Public Religion Research Institute found that in 2013, “14 percent of Americans believed AIDS might be punishment from God” for “immoral sexual behavior.”

    In fact, much of the Reagan administration’s chilling lack of response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic can be attributed to its designation as a “gay plague,” something senior Reagan staff and members of the media laughed about in 1982 after “nearly 1,000 people had died from AIDS,” according to Vox’s German Lopez. The Washington Post’s Caitlin Gibson noted similar responses in subsequent years:

    At subsequent press conferences in 1983 and 1984, [Reagan administration press secretary Larry] Speakes — and the White House press corps — continue to respond to [reporter Lester] Kinsolving’s increasingly urgent questions about AIDS with a mix of laughter, homophobic jokes and general indifference.

    Gibson wrote that the first time Reagan “addressed the epidemic in earnest” was in 1987, after “nearly 23,000 people had died of the disease,” and even as his administration began to confront the crisis, he continued to suggest “that its spread might be slowed by ethical behavior.”

    The LGBTQ community, and in particular queer and trans black communities, are disproportionately impacted by HIV, which is treatable and preventable (though many barriers remain to access and patient retention). To glibly suggest that a man’s death from AIDS in 1986 was his fault, or the result of a “decadent homosexual lifestyle,” is to demean the lost lives of hundreds of thousands of LGBTQ people. And as we saw in the Reagan administration’s response to the epidemic, that sentiment quite literally killed people. Comments such as Kruse’s necessitate more than just an edit; they demand an apology.

    Click here to find free HIV testing near you.

  • As advocates work to protect LGBTQ people from conversion therapy, media often fail to explain its many harms

    Blog ››› ››› SARAH WASKO


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    The conversion therapy industry seeks to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of LGBTQ people, and its practitioners are profiting off of the harm and sometimes eventual death of the queer and trans individuals subjected to this torture. Despite its being a total failure and there being zero evidence to support its efficacy, it is still legal in many states, and advocates are working to protect the LGBTQ community from the gruesome practice. Many folks have no idea how common conversion therapy remains, and the media has a responsibility to report the facts about its harms.

    Medical experts are in agreement -- conversion therapy can lead to depression, anxiety, self-destructive behavior, and suicidal ideation. Conversion therapists have deeply held prejudices against queer and trans people that can wrongfully affirm self-hatred often already experienced by the patient.

    Media, however, tend to present conversion therapy as a two-sided issue by hosting conversion therapists or so-called “ex-gay” people on their programs. We spoke with The Trevor Project’s Sam Brinton, a genderfluid activist, nuclear engineer, and survivor of conversion therapy. In their words, “You do not need to have a person who believes the world is flat on your program.”

    Instead, Brinton says, the “press can report on an innovate and exciting way that the LGBTQ community is stepping up for itself and saying, ‘You will not erase us anymore.’” The LGBTQ community is doing just that, thanks in large part to The Trevor Project’s 50 Bills 50 States campaign. They are working to ensure that every state introduces legislation that protects LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy, and five states have enacted such measures in 2018 alone.

    Media outlets can do their part by reporting the facts about the dangers of conversion therapy without giving airtime to proponents of a harmful practice that can leave lasting scars on people in the LGBTQ community. “When the media is reporting about a recall for a product,” Brinton says, “they are trying to warn the public that this product could hurt them. That’s exactly what they should be doing with conversion therapy. We’re recalling it.”

    If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, you can contact The Trevor Project's TrevorLifeline at 1-866-488-7386 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. 

    Video filmed and edited by Miles Le
    Research contributed by Brennan Suen and Brianna January

  • Right-wing conspiracy theorist Ximena Barreto finally leaves HHS after outlets document her toxic rhetoric

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters
     

    Ximena Barreto, a right-wing commentator with a history of pushing conspiracy theories and bigoted rhetoric, has finally resigned from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

    Barreto joined HHS in December 2017 as a deputy communications director. Media Matters first reported on April 9 that Barreto (who also goes by the surname Barreto-Rice) frequently made toxic remarks as a conservative pundit. She promoted the Pizzagate conspiracy theory, claimed that “African-Americans are way more racist than white people,” and labeled Islam “a fucking cult” that has “no place” in the United States, among other remarks.

    Here is a video from Media Matters’ John Kerr of some of her worst remarks:

    Hours after Media Matters’ report, HHS issued a statement saying Barreto “has been placed on administrative leave while the matter is reviewed.”

    Media Matters originally found out about Barreto’s federal employment because ProPublica added her name to Trump Town, its database of Trump administration political appointees.

    CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski, Chris Massie, and Nathan McDermott reported on April 13 that Barreto “shared an image in 2017 that said ‘our forefathers would have hung’ Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for treason,” “repeatedly used the hashtag #BanIslam and twice shared conspiracy theories about the death of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich,” among other conspiracy theories.

    The Trump administration decided to allow Barreto back to work in early May but said she would “not to return to the public affairs department and will serve in a different role where she will work to complete several projects.”

    On June 21, Mediaite’s Caleb Ecarma reported that Barreto attacked CNN for purportedly conducting a “smear campaign” against her (CNN did not smear Barreto). Mediaite also “conducted an extensive review of her social media posts and found that the HHS appointee pushed the baseless Pizzagate conspiracy theory even more than previously reported,” finding that she tweeted variations of the conspiracy theory “at least 17 times.”

    On June 22, CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski reported that a copy of Barreto’s resume -- which was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request -- showed that “she listed her previous conspiratorial work on her resume as a qualification for the communication position.”

    Politico’s Dan Diamond reported on July 27 that she “was escorted from Health and Human Services Department headquarters Friday, according to an individual with knowledge of the situation. Barreto resigned, the individual said.”

    There are numerous other people who have served in the Trump administration and have pushed toxic conspiracy theories and/or bigoted rhetoric.

  • After apologizing for toxic remarks, HHS official now claims she was the target of a “smear campaign”

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) official Ximena Barreto issued a statement last month saying she “deeply” apologizes for making “generalized comments regarding race relations and radical Islam.” Barreto is now backtracking by claiming that she is the victim of a “smear campaign.”

    Barreto is a former right-wing pundit who joined HHS in December 2017 as a deputy communications director. Media Matters reported on April 9 that Barreto (who also goes by the surname Barreto-Rice) has a history of making toxic remarks. She claimed that “African-Americans are way more racist than white people,” labeled Islam “a fucking cult” that has “no place” in the United States, pushed the false Pizzagate conspiracy theory, and attacked the “retarded” 2017 Women’s March. Here is a video from Media Matters’ John Kerr of some of her worst remarks: 

    Media Matters originally found out about Barreto’s federal employment because she was added to ProPublica’s Trump Town, a database of Trump administration political appointees.

    Following the publication of Media Matters’ report, HHS issued a statement saying Barreto “has been placed on administrative leave while the matter is reviewed.”

    CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski, Chris Massie, and Nathan McDermott additionally reported on April 13 that Barreto “shared an image in 2017 that said ‘our forefathers would have hung’ Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for treason.” CNN also “found that Barreto also repeatedly used the hashtag #BanIslam” and pushed other conspiracy theories, including about murdered Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich.

    In May, HHS announced that it would not fire Barreto and reassigned her to the department’s Administration for Children and Families. HHS also provided an apology from Barreto for her remarks, which stated, in part: “Comments I made as I private citizen before I was hired at HHS were brought to light by concerned members of the press. In the heated and hyper-passionate political campaign environment, I made generalized comments regarding race relations and radical Islam. I fully understand that these emotionally-charged comments were hurtful, and I deeply apologize to members of both communities.”

    That apology appears to be a sham -- at least, according to a recent tweet from Barreto herself. Mediaite's Caleb Ecarma reported today that Barreto recently attacked CNN for purportedly conducting a “smear campaign” against her (CNN did not smear Barreto). She tweeted on June 14: “Locked my account after CNNs (sic) smear campaign, received too many threats and packages delivered to my home.” After Ecarma asked her for comment, Barreto reportedly deleted the CNN tweet and shut down her private Twitter account. 

    Mediaite also “conducted an extensive review of her social media posts and found that the HHS appointee pushed the baseless Pizzagate conspiracy theory even more than previously reported. … In total, Mediaite found that Barreto tweeted about variations of the Pizzagate conspiracy at least 17 times.”

    A Media Matters request for comment to HHS was not immediately returned as of posting.