Interrogation | Media Matters for America

Interrogation

Issues ››› Interrogation
  • Fox & Friends spread false information about London attack, hosted anti-Muslim hate group leader

    Fox & Friends also hosted architect of CIA's illegal Bush-era torture program

    Blog ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    Fox & Friends’ coverage of an apparent terror attack in London demonstrated Fox News’ playbook for exploiting acts of terrorism at home and abroad by spreading misinformation about the incident and turning to discredited Islamophobes for insight into the nature of terror threats.

    According to reporting from the BBC and other news outlets, an “improvised explosive device” was detonated in a London Underground passenger car as it waited at the Parsons Green station during Friday morning rush hour traffic. According to The New York Times, more than 20 people were hospitalized for injuries as a result of the explosion, which is being treated as a terrorist attack, and an investigation is underway to find those responsible. As the story unfolded, little was known of the device, the person or people involved, or the extent of damage sustained in the explosion. But the lack of evidence did not stop Fox News from exploiting the event to promote its own agenda.

    The September 15 edition of Fox & Friends -- President Donald Trump’s preferred news source -- offered nearly wall-to-wall coverage on the events in London during the program’s opening hour. The coverage began with co-host Brian Kilmeade interjecting with unsubstantiated claims that police were actively trying to defuse “another bomb in the same station” during a report from Fox correspondent Amy Kellogg in London. Kilmeade repeated the unsubstantiated report of a second bomb -- seemingly sourced from British tabloids -- several times during the course of the program. Reports of a second explosive device, as well as of a knife-wielding assailant evading police, which Fox also reported, were soon debunked.

    In addition to spreading false information, Fox & Friends’ response to the incident followed a rubric established during previous terror attacks: promoting the supposed national security expertise of notorious Islamophobe Jim Hanson and discredited torture architect James Mitchell:

    Hanson is a frequent Fox guest and a vice president at the Center for Security Policy, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated an anti-Muslim “hate group.” During his first September 15 appearance, Hanson surmised without evidence that the individual responsible for the London bombing was a Muslim and likely “known to police.” He used a later appearance to endorse Trump’s attempts to ban certain Muslim travelers from entering the United States. He also hyped the supposed threat of “second generation” Muslim immigrants, whom he claimed make up “a lot of the bombers … and the knifers and the truck drivers” who attack civilians. (Terror plots and attacks in the U.S. overwhelmingly emanate from largely white, right-wing extremist groups, not Muslim communities.)

    Mitchell, another frequent Fox guest regularly called upon to comment on terror attacks, was the architect of the CIA’s illegal Bush-era torture program, for which Fox News called him a "patriot.” The September 15 segment quickly glossed over his involvement in what co-host Steve Doocy referred to as “interrogating terrorists” before Mitchell was given free rein to slam the United Kingdom’s “immigration policies,” which he believes “deliberately or inadvertently … allowed these hotbeds of radical Islamic ideologies to be created.” (Mitchell's "hotbeds" rhetoric seems to mimic Fox News’ obsession with so-called “no-go zones” in the U.K., which it claims are a breeding ground for Islamic extremism -- a stance that has proved to be an embarrassment to the network in the past.)

  • Joe Scarborough Shut Down By Sen. McCain After Claiming Sleep Deprivation Isn’t Torture

    Scarborough: “I See Absolutely No Problem About Doing A Study On 'Enhanced Interrogation' Techniques"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    On the January 25 edition of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough complained that “suddenly” so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” became “abhorrent” after public outcry over abuses during the George W. Bush administration. After it was reported that President Trump may sign an executive order that would “order a review of the Army Field Manual to determine whether to use certain enhanced interrogation techniques” again, Scarborough said that he “see[s] absolutely no problem about doing a study on enhanced interrogation techniques.” He added later in the segment that “there has been such a broad brush put across this entire topic of, quote, ‘torture.’ Suddenly sleep deprivation is torture.”

    In the final hour of his show, Scarborough, who previously told a former naval intelligence official that he was wrong in saying that waterboarding doesn’t work, asked Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), a former prisoner of war in Vietnam who experienced torture, to “define torture,” inquiring whether “sleep deprivation and other techniques like that” in fact “fit” McCain’s personal “definition of torture.” McCain shut Scarborough down, stating unequivocally that “extreme sleep deprivation is certainly not allowed and, again, it is very clear and laid out” in both the Geneva Conventions and the Army Field Manual:

    SCAROROUGH: Can you define torture? Because -- I was saying this morning, we had this discussion at 6 o'clock -- there has been a broad brush, and everything from waterboarding all the way back to sleep deprivation, basically anything outside the Army Field Manual. And certainly the definition of torture became very expansive post-2005, 2006. What's your definition of torture, and does sleep deprivation fit -- and other techniques like that -- does that fit in your definition of torture?

    SEN. JOHN MCCAIN: Yeah, obviously some of it depends on the extent of it, but I can tell you it's the Geneva Conventions for the Treatment of Prisoners of War. Joe, after World War II, we tried and convicted and hung Japanese who had -- and one of the charges against them was waterboarding. And soo look, there is no doubt, just look at the Geneva Conventions, which we are signatories to, for treatment of prisoners, and you will see that it's very well laid out there, and waterboarding is one of those that is prohibited. And I'm entertained, and sometimes frustrated, when I have members of the Senate say, oh, well, I don't think waterboarding is that bad. It's one thing to do it in practice in one of our escape innovation schools. It's something else when it's real.

    SCARBOROUGH: I understand, that's why I'm asking you -- we understand waterboarding -- General Mattis and I think Mike Pompeo, others, said they would not follow through with orders on that. I'm asking on the other side of the spectrum, though, pushing back towards the Army Field Manual for things like sleep deprivation.

    MCCAIN: Well, again, it's laid out in the Army Field Manual, which is guided by the Geneva Conventions. Extreme sleep deprivation is certainly not allowed and, again, it is very clear and laid out, and I'd be glad to send it to you. There's a bright line.

    SCARBOROUGH: That would be awfully kind of you. I'd be sure to read it, or I'll just look at it on the internet.

  • Possible Trump Press Secretary Kimberly Guilfoyle Wanted Putin To Be President

    Guilfoyle Has Also Repeatedly Attacked Black Lives Matter, Refugees, And Immigrants

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    Kimberly Guilfoyle, one of the co-hosts of Fox News’ The Five, reportedly had multiple meetings with President Donald Trump’s transition team about possibly serving as his press secretary. In May, The New York Times reported that Trump has floated Guilfoyle as a possible replacement for press secretary Sean Spicer. Like Trump, Guilfoyle has expressed admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin and even called for him to run America for a short time. She has also demonized the Black Lives Matter movement, calling it a hate group that thinks it’s “OK" to "kill cops,” and defended Trump’s attacks on the press. And she has made incendiary comments about terror suspects, refugees and immigrants, including denying that Muslims have faced discrimination in America.

    Guilfoyle’s Positive Comments About Putin Included Request That He Run America To Defeat ISIS

    Guilfoyle Requested We Get “Putin In For 48 Hours” To Be President And Defeat ISIS.

    Guilfoyle Defended Trump’s Praise Of Putin As A Great Leader, Noting That It's "More Of A Strength Model To Say That Putin Will Do What It Takes To Defend His Country.”

    Guilfoyle Has Denigrated Blacks Lives Matter And Criticized Speaking Out Against Police Brutality

    Guilfoyle On Ferguson Black Lives Matter Protests: “It’s Like Savagery. It’s Barbaric.”

    Guilfoyle: Black Lives Matter Is “A Hate Group Against Police Officers.”

    Guilfoyle: Black Lives Matter’s Agenda Is “It’s OK To Go Ahead And Kill Cops.”

    Guilfoyle: Quentin Tarantino Speech At Police Brutality Protest Could “Engender More Violence Towards Police Officers.”

    Guilfoyle Called For Murdering Guantanamo Detainees And Reinstating Torture

    Guilfoyle: “Just Kill Them All And Close Gitmo.”

    Guilfoyle Claimed Waterboarding Was Legal And Said, “We Are Entitled To Do … Enhanced Interrogation Techniques.”

    Guilfoyle Blamed Obama For Suicide Bombing By Guantanamo Detainee Released By Bush.

    Guilfoyle Fearmongered About Refugees And Immigrants

    Guilfoyle: Refugee Resettlement In America Is “Forced Infiltration.”

    Guilfoyle Falsely Claimed Syrian Refugees Entering America Are Overwhelmingly “Adult Males Of Fighting Age.”

    Guilfoyle Compared Immigration To “A Tumor Or A Disease.”

    Guilfoyle: Sanctuary Cities Mean U.S. Is “Importing Criminals Instead Of Exporting Them.”

    Guilfoyle Denied That Muslims Face Discrimination

    Guilfoyle: “Who’s Vilifying Any Of The Muslims? Who’s Doing That?”

    Guilfoyle Joined Co-Hosts In Questioning Prevalence Of Hate Crimes Against Muslims.

    Guilfoyle Defended Trump’s Overturned Muslim Ban Executive Order As “Common Sense,” Denied It Was Discriminatory.

    Guilfoyle: Portraying Muslims As Terrorists In Pop Culture “Reflects Reality.”

    Guilfoyle Defended Trump’s “Wildly Entertaining” Media-Bashing Press Conference

    Kimberly Guilfoyle On Trump’s Press-Bashing News Conference: “I Thought It Was Good.”

    This piece has been updated to include new information and additional examples.

  • Architect Of CIA's Waterboarding Program And Fox & Friends Host Mislead About Torture

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Fox host Brian Kilmeade praised waterboarding, claiming it “yield[ed] tremendous results,” during an error-filled interview with psychologist James Mitchell, the man who created the CIA’s so-called “enhanced interrogation” program. Mitchell and Kilmeade promoted numerous misleading arguments about the supposed effectiveness of torture as a form of interrogation while promoting Mitchell's upcoming memoir. Fox figures have previously spoken out in support of reinstating waterboarding as an interrogation technique, even though experts have condemned the practice, saying that it constitutes torture, is illegal under American and international law, and “yielded no intelligence.” 

  • Trump's Anti-Muslim National Security Adviser Michael Flynn -- A Fox Favorite -- Is Rife With Conflicts Of Interest 

    ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    President-elect Donald Trump has reportedly named retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as his national security adviser. Flynn, a Fox News favorite with conflicts of interest in Russia and Turkey, has frequently appeared on the network to push his anti-Islam views, has lauded Russian President Vladimir Putin, and has made repeated appearances on Russian state television. 

  • Right-Wing Media Abandon Facts To Support Trump’s Call For Waterboarding

    ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    Several right-wing media figures defended presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s reiterated call for waterboarding and “much worse” techniques to combat terror after terrorists carried out an attack on Istanbul’s largest airport. Journalists and others well-versed in national security, terrorism, and interrogation tactics have called waterboarding ineffective and chided Trump for proposing we “stoop to [terrorists’] level” of using brutal tactics.

  • John McCain Speaks Out Against Torture As Fox News Praises Trump For Waterboarding Comments

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    Senator John McCain (R-AZ), former POW and survivor of torture, denounced the use of torture as ineffective and counterproductive after Donald Trump advocated waterboarding and “much worse” to fight terrorism. Fox News figures praised Trump’s advocacy of illegal interrogation and pushed for President Obama to adopt similar strategies.

    During a June 28 campaign rally at Ohio University Eastern Campus, Trump called for the United States to “fight so viciously and violently” against terrorists and “fight fire with fire.” Trump also advocated for the use of waterboarding and “much worse” against enemy combatants.

    Trump had previously advocated for techniques “tougher than waterboarding” as well as proposing the killing of innocent family members of enemy combatants. In May, Trump attempted to walk back those comments by acknowledging “that the United States is bound by laws and treaties,” but has since returned to proposing policy that he once recognized would force a “military officer to disobey the law.”  

    Fox News hosts largely supported Trump’s plans for the illegal techniques. Fox’s Peter Hegseth argued that the United States “can maintain our values while still ruthlessly going after ISIS,” and Fox host Eric Bolling downplayed torture, saying “God forbid we pour water on terrorists’ faces.”

    But on June 29, Senator McCain joined Fox’s On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, where host Greta Van Susteren asked McCain about Trump’s advocacy for torture. McCain pointed out that numerous military leaders have said “that it not only doesn’t work, but it is counter-productive because you get bad information.” Furthermore, McCain argued that “it’s about us, not about them,” making the point that torturing enemy combatants is a contradiction of American values:

     

     

    On October 26, 1967, McCain, then a Navy pilot, was shot down over Vietnam, and captured by the North Vietnamese. McCain was subjected to torture by his captors, explaining that, he “was beaten every two or three hours by different guards,” and after four days agreed to write a confession.