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  • The effort to impeach Rod Rosenstein, brought to you by Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro, and Lou Dobbs

    Meadows and Nunes laid the groundwork to impeach Rosenstein on Fox months ago, and Hannity, Pirro, and Dobbs have driven the message ever since

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    A group of House Republicans introduced articles of impeachment in an attempt to remove Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is responsible for overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The impeachment proceedings come after Reps. Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Devin Nunes (R-CA) and attorney Joe DiGenova, whom President Donald Trump almost hired, introduced the idea on Fox News in late March and early April. Since then, Fox hosts Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro, and Lou Dobbs have consistently pushed for Rosenstein’s removal, regularly hosting members of Congress and pundits to sound off and advocate for impeachment proceedings to begin.

  • Fox is deceptively hyping GOP’s next tax bill that just benefits the ultra rich

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Back in December, when President Donald Trump signed into law changes in U.S. tax policy, Fox News helped Republicans spin the discussion surrounding the legislation by hyping anecdotal reports of bonuses, wage hikes, and investments. Now that Republicans are aiming to make the individual tax cuts permanent, Fox is at it again -- despite analyses showing how staggeringly disproportionate the benefits are for the wealthy and large businesses, that they barely lower tax burdens for some middle class and lower income families, and that they have had no noticeable positive effect on the economy.

    The law, officially titled the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), passed in December, and Fox hosts celebrated the legislation’s passage after contributing their own dishonest coverage. Fox News shows repeatedly focused on announcements of bonuses -- such as some AT&T workers receiving a $1,000 bonus their union already negotiated -- and small wage increases from some companies to portray the tax cuts as beneficial for ordinary working Americans.

    Others, including Fox’s Sean Hannity, claimed that the tax legislation would lead to increased investment by corporations, in some cases pointing to anecdotal examples of businesses announcing investments and saying they were possible because of the policy change. Two days after the legislation’s passage, Fox & Friends invited White House special adviser Ivanka Trump on to hype an increase to the Child Tax Credit in the legislation. (According to tax experts, “the expanded child credit will actually provide little relief for some of the lowest-income families.”)

    Republicans are now attempting to pass another tax bill, in part to make permanent the individual tax policy changes in the original law, which expire within 10 years. The White House is portraying a report that House Republicans are planning to advance a bill as “a big win for the middle class.” And Fox News is again helping Republicans with their spin. On July 18, Fox & Friends hosted Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee -- the committee the bill would originate from -- who said lawmakers should make permanent “those cuts for middle-class families.” Later on the show, Fox Business host Stuart Varney said: “I think Republicans are setting a tax trap for the Democrats. … Are the Democrats going to vote against something which really supports America's middle class?”

    But as reporting from NPR and experts from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) have explained, Trump’s tax cuts provide only minor benefits to the middle class, are geared toward the wealthiest Americans, and are having no noticeable positive effect on the economy.

    Trump tax cuts disproportionately benefit the wealthy

    NPR: Tax cut benefits to middle class are meager compared to those affecting the wealthy. NPR cited a December report from the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center which showed that middle-class households are receiving meager tax benefits from the Trump tax cuts compared to the wealthiest households and that when those benefits expire, middle-class households will earn slightly less income than they did before the tax cuts were passed:

    [NPR, 12/19/17]

    EPI: Republican spin of tax cuts as primarily middle-class benefits “is false.” A blog post by EPI budget analyst Hunter Blair showed that Republican lawmakers’ attempted spin of the Trump tax cuts as targeted to the middle class “is false.” The post showed that the bottom 80 percent of taxpayers earn a disproportionately small benefit from the policy change, with the top 5 percent earning a larger share of the benefits relative to their income:

    [Economic Policy Institute, 4/13/18]

    CBPP: Trump tax cuts deliver largest benefits to the wealthiest while boosting income inequality. The CBPP explained in an April report that Trump’s tax plan “will increase income inequality since it delivers far larger tax cuts to households at the top, measured as a share of income, than to households at the bottom or middle of the income distribution”:

    [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 4/9/18]

    CBPP: Increase in Child Tax Credit skews toward the wealthy. The CBPP report explained that “10 million children under age 17 in low-income working families will receive no CTC increase or a token increase of $75 or less.” Further, the law increased the upper limit for the Child Tax Credit from $110,000 in income annually to $400,000, with the wealthiest getting an increase worth several times more than the increase middle-class families will receive:

    [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 4/9/18]

    Data so far show Trump tax cuts having no positive effect on the economy

    EPI: “There is no evidence that wage growth has materially picked up since the TCJA’s passage.” In June 1 testimony submitted to the House’s Tax Policy Subcommittee, EPI explained that “there is no evidence that wage growth has materially picked up since the TCJA’s passage.”

    [Economic Policy Institute, 6/1/18]

    Bloomberg’s Noah Smith: Federal Reserve data and PayScale index show wages fell after Trump tax cuts took effect. In a July 18 Bloomberg column, Noah Smith pointed to Federal Reserve and private sector data to show that wages actually declined since the Trump tax cuts were passed:

    [Bloomberg, 7/18/18]

    EPI: Bonuses were overhyped, and they are less likely to occur in future years. EPI’s testimony explained that “nearly 40 percent of American workers get bonuses every year,” and that there was a financial incentive to give bonuses after the law’s passage at the end of 2017 when such bumps could be less expensively written off on corporate tax filings. As EPI explained: “What this means is that even if some increase in bonuses occurred in 2017 because of the TCJA (this remains a big ‘if’), there is no reason to think such bonuses will recur in the future.” [Economic Policy Institute, 6/1/18]

    EPI: “There is no serious evidence that the TCJA spurred a notable pickup in business investment.” EPI’s testimony showed that business investment has grown less than it did in either 2011 or 2014. “In short, we do not yet have economy-wide data showing a rapid upsurge of investment due to the TCJA.”

    [Economic Policy Institute, 6/1/18]

  • Study: Analysis of top Facebook pages covering American political news

    Study of 463 leading Facebook pages shows that partisan pages have roughly equal engagement, but right-wing pages drastically outnumber left-wing pages

    ››› ››› NATALIE MARTINEZ

    A Media Matters study of engagement, measured by interactions over a six-month period, on Facebook pages that regularly post content about American political news found that right-leaning Facebook pages had virtually identical engagement to left-leaning pages and received more engagement than other political pages.

  • Republicans run to Fox News to gloat about the Peter Strzok hearing that actually backfired on them

    Republicans and Fox News are outraged over some personal texts, but the hearing on supposed FBI bias failed to produce any evidence that Strzok acted on his beliefs

    Blog ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Months of breathless hype and absurd conspiracy theories in conservative media about supposed anti-Trump bias in the FBI culminated yesterday in a charade of a congressional hearing featuring FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok. Strzok answered questions for nine hours about his handling of the 2016 investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server and the ongoing investigations into President Donald Trump and his campaign’s potential links to the Russian government. Afterward, Republican officials flocked to Fox News to declare victory, but neither could present any evidence that Strzok acted on the political beliefs expressed in his now-infamous text messages.

    Strzok has been at the center of a firestorm largely manufactured by Fox News after text messages he sent to a colleague, with whom he was romantically involved, were publicly released by Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz. The texts expressed animus toward then-candidate Trump and concern for American national security should Trump win the presidency. Fox News and congressional Republicans have since selectively and deceptively hyped the texts, alternately leveling absurd and unfounded personal attacks against Strzok, the FBI, and the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Sean Hannity was especially outraged by Strzok’s characterization of Trump supporters in southern Virginia, saying Strzok referred to them as “smelly hillbillies that like Walmart” (the comments in question actually read, “Just went to a southern Virginia Walmart. I could SMELL the Trump support,” and “Loudon is being gentrified, but it's still largely ignorant hillbillys (sic)”).

    According to a Media Matters review, Fox News helped congressional Republicans in advancing their baseless claims of bias by hosting seven Republican congressmen in the prime-time hours after the nearly 11-hour circus of a hearing. But even as Republicans and Fox News spiked the football, saying there was “evidence of a clear bias against Trump and for Hillary Clinton,” they failed to produce any concrete evidence that Strzok acted on his political beliefs. Moreover, Inspector General Horowitz has already issued a report noting, according to CBS News, that he “still did not think the Clinton probe was swayed for political reasons, as Strzok was not the sole decision-maker.” And the fact remains that in 2016, the FBI confirmed only one of its investigations into a presidential candidate in 2016 -- Hillary Clinton -- and that the only leaks that came out of the bureau in the run-up to the election about those investigations were about her, arguably hurting her and helping Trump win the election.

    Even though Fox News is trying to pull out all the stops to assist Republicans in advancing a narrative around another charade investigation -- all in an attempt to curb the Russia investigation -- the special counsel’s investigation into potential collusion continues. The federal trial on “bank fraud and other financial charges” levied at Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, begins on July 25, and prosecutors have asserted that the charges include a link to the Trump campaign.

  • Rep. Steve King’s anti-immigrant page cites a white nationalist website

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Rep. Steve King (R-IA) hosts a page on his congressional website about “illegal immigrant stories” that cites the white nationalist publication VDare.

    King is a racist congressman who has a history of pushing bigotry. He recently promoted British neo-Nazi Mark Collett on Twitter (the congressman has since claimed ignorance of Collett’s views).

    King’s house.gov website features a page titled “Illegal Immigration Stories” that contains information about “illegal aliens” allegedly committing crimes. King has frequently smeared immigrants as prone to criminality; in reality, studies show that immigration does not increase the rate of crime.

    One of King’s citations on that “Illegal Immigration Stories” page is an April 2016 VDare piece headlined “Drunk Driving Illegal Alien Kills Woman, Is Granted Bail and Disappears.” The VDare piece, by anti-immigrant writer Brenda Walker, begins by stating: “Funny how after all these years of Americans being run down by drunk driving illegal aliens, the crime of inebriated vehicle operation by unlawful foreigners is still not taken seriously by authorities.”

    The Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that VDare “regularly publishes articles by prominent white nationalists, race scientists and anti-Semites.” The Anti-Defamation League wrote that VDare is a racist site that “posts, promotes, and archives the work of racists, anti-immigrant figures, and anti-Semites.”

    Media Matters has documented past VDare headlines including: “One Problem With These Hispanic Immigrants Is Their Disgusting Behavior,” “Indians Aren`t That Intelligent (On Average),” “Diversity Is Strength! It’s Also…Hispanic Immigrants Taking Over FBI’s Ten Most Wanted,” “America Does Not Need ANY Immigrants From Africa,” and “Roll Over, JIHAD—There’s Also HIJRA, Muslim Conquest By Immigration.”

    King praised Peter Brimelow, the white nationalist founder and editor of VDare, while appearing with him during a 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) panel. Then-BuzzFeed reporter Rosie Gray wrote of King in February 2012:

    Iowa congressman Steve King is unconcerned about the implications of his appearance during a CPAC panel on "The Failure of Multiculturalism" featuring a white nationalist author, Peter Brimelow.

    "I don't know anything about that," King, who came to the event to talk about his English Language Unity Act, told BuzzFeed -- though he'd earlier told Brimelow that "I've read all your books!".

    VDare and Brimelow are also fans of King and Brimelow wrote a pro-King op-ed for The Daily Caller last year.

    While King’s “Illegal Immigration Stories” page also cites news outlets including The Associated Press and The Boston Globe, it additionally uses sources such as the anti-immigrant hate group Federation for American Immigration Reform and Breitbart.com. Six of the Breitbart.com pieces cited by the page are by Katie McHugh, who was fired from the site for tweeting racist remarks last year (no small feat given the site’s open bigotry).