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  • Fox neglected to cover the FBI’s "grave concerns" about the Nunes memo for nearly two hours

    When Fox finally covered the story, it questioned whether the FBI’s actual concern was that “it paints the FBI in an unflattering light”

    Blog ››› ››› GRACE BENNETT

    Fox News waited nearly two hours to report on a statement from the FBI citing “grave concerns” about the accuracy of a classified memo that the House intelligence committee has voted to release. When it did cover the story, Fox’s Chris Wallace suggested that the statement may have been because “they think it paints the FBI in an unflattering light.” Fox’s attempt to minimize the FBI’s statement is part of the network’s ongoing push to undermine special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible ties with the Russians.

    On January 29, the House intelligence committee voted to release a memo that some Republicans claim shows the Justice Department and the FBI “misus[ed] their authority to obtain a secret surveillance order on a former Trump campaign associate.” Despite the Justice Department’s warnings that “it was ‘extraordinarily reckless’ for Republicans to push to release” the memo, President Donald Trump has expressed support for its release multiple times. Two days after the House intelligence committee vote, the FBI released a statement that claimed the memo had “material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy,” echoing congressional Democrats’ criticism of the memo and the Justice Department’s stated concerns.

    Within 20 minutes of the FBI statement’s release, MSNBC featured its correspondent Pete Williams who noted it was “unusual” and guest Benjamin Wittes of the Brookings Institute who said the statement showed the memo was essentially “a lie about the FBI.” CNN also quickly featured a panel that noted the statement showed there were “concerns broadly in the intelligence community about the risking of sources and methods that underlie the intelligence of this report.” By contrast, Fox did not cover the FBI’s statement until The Daily Briefing with Dana Perino, almost two hours later.  During that segment, Fox News’ Chris Wallace attempted to misconstrue the FBI’s concerns, saying to host Dana Perino, “You have to wonder” whether the FBI has concerns that the memo could “expose some national security sources,” or whether they were worried that the memo “paints the FBI in an unflattering light."

    DANA PERINO (HOST): We now bring in Chris Wallace, anchor of Fox News Sunday. Thank you for being with us this morning. We were just together last night and already this morning, there was so much breaking news. Let me get to the first one with you. In my experience, a dispute between the FBI and the White House is actually very unusual. What are your thoughts?

    CHRIS WALLACE: Absolutely. And generally speaking, in that kind of a situation, the White House would bow to the FBI. But Gen. Kelly and President Trump, who was on a hot mic yesterday saying 100 percent we're going to release the memo soon, seem to be pushing back on the FBI. Now look, when they talk about grave concerns about accuracy, you have to wonder are there grave concerns that this could expose some national security sources and methods, that kind of thing? Or are there grave concerns because they think it paints the FBI in an unflattering light? We don't know that. But you sure hope as those national security lawyers, that Gen. Kelly was talking about, inspect this that they do everything they can to protect national security and don't necessarily protect the political security or image of the FBI.

    It is hardly surprising that Fox would minimize the importance of FBI’s statement by first ignoring it and then having its host raise questions about FBI officials’ motives. The network has heavily hyped the memo and has led a growing campaign to undermine the Mueller investigation.

  • Fox News virtually ignored Trump refusal to enact election-related Russia sanctions

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Fox News virtually ignored the Trump administration’s refusal to enact sanctions on Russia for its 2016 election interference; by contrast, CNN and MSNBC each covered the story on nearly every one of their shows.

    In July 2017, Congress passed the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) with bipartisan, veto-proof support. The bill mandated “new measures targeting key Russian officials in retaliation for that country’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election.” Though Trump signed the bill into law, he was vocal in opposing it and called it “seriously flawed.”

    The deadline for the Treasury Department to issue sanctions against entities doing business with Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors was January 29. But the Trump administration announced that it will not be implementing any new sanctions, claiming that “the legislation is, in fact, serving as a deterrent.” But Washington Post senior reporter Aaron Blake noted the problems with that explanation:

    There are a few problems with this.

    The first is that the legislation was meant as a punishment, not a deterrent. The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act explicitly says at the top that it is “to provide congressional review and to counter aggression by the Governments of Iran, the Russian Federation, and North Korea, and for other purposes.” The law says it's about “countering” something, rather than preventing something.

    The second problem is that, mere hours before the State Department issued this statement ahead of the deadline for imposing sanctions, CIA Director Mike Pompeo suggested that what Russia was being punished for is likely to repeat itself in the 2018 midterm elections.

    The Treasury Department did publish a list of senior Russian political figures and wealthy oligarchs, which was also required by CAATSA, but “underlined that those named aren’t being targeted for new sanctions.” After questioning by BuzzFeed News, a Treasury official admitted that the list “was derived from Forbes’ ranking of the ‘200 richest businessmen in Russia 2017.’” According to Bloomberg, Putin reacted to the report by “joking that it was ‘offensive’ that he wasn’t included,” and saying that “Russia will ‘refrain for the moment’ from implementing serious retaliatory measures it has prepared.”

    A Media Matters search of SnapStream found that Fox News only mentioned the story twice between 6:00 am and 5:00 pm on January 30. Fox & Friends, which Trump regularly live tweets and praises, didn’t mention the story at all. By contrast, CNN and MSNBC mentioned the Trump administration’s refusal to enact sanctions on nearly every program throughout the day. Fox’s first mention of the story was near the end of the 11:00 am hour, more than five hours after CNN and MSNBC first mentioned it.

    Fox’s failure to adequately cover the Trump administration’s refusal to hold Russia responsible for its interference in the 2016 election comes amid a growing campaign by Fox News figures to undermine special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether members of the Trump campaign worked with Russia.

  • Fox News happily helps Trump administration in a highly misleading effort to blame immigrants for terrorism

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    On January 16, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a report in concert with the Department of Justice (DOJ) alleging that, among other things, “three out of every four, or 402, individuals convicted of international terrorism-related charges in U.S. federal courts between September 11, 2001, and December 31, 2016 were foreign-born.” Fox News immediately promoted the study over criticism from homeland security experts, and then went silent about the report’s integrity after it was revealed that the administration had sidestepped DHS experts and statistics to produce it.

    Reporting on the study on the day of its release, The New York Times noted that “the 11-page report, parts of which were confusing and in some respects misleading, highlighted cases in which immigrants were linked to terrorism plots.” MSNBC security analyst Matthew Miller was one of the first to point out that the report “includes people who committed terrorist acts overseas, were arrested overseas and brought here to face trial” and explained that “it also doesn’t count incidents of domestic terrorism,” meaning terrorists who are American citizens and who perpetrated attacks on U.S. soil were excluded.

    Essentially, the report focused on international terrorism, but the way it was presented suggested that immigrants were disproportionately responsible for domestic terrorism, particularly because it was published amid immigration policy negotiations. Adding to the confusion, President Donald Trump tweeted a deceptive summary of the report, excluding the word “international”:

    As criticism around the study mounted, Fox reported on its findings by uncritically parroting the Trump administration line. Fox’s Bret Baier commented that the report includes “some amazing statistics, and scary ones.” Sandra Smith also promoted the misleading study without mentioning its many flaws. Peter Doocy pointed to the study as justification for why “the White House is not budging on immigration talks.” Fox host Julie Banderas used the report to fearmonger about “convicted terrorists in this country who have come over as young adults, if not children, and their families brought them over here, and they went ahead and killed Americans,” even though U.S. vetting procedures make the possibility of that happening incredibly rare. Tucker Carlson, who regularly uses his platform for anti-immigrant misinformation, also gladly hyped the details of the report, declaring, “According to federal numbers released today, America's terror threat is clearly, among other things, an immigration issue”:

    But yesterday, the Daily Beast revealed that career experts at DHS told DOJ officials that DHS does “not track or correlate international terrorism data by citizenship or country of origin, and have warned the Trump administration that doing so risks a misleading portrait of both terrorism and immigration.” As explained by Spencer Ackerman, “The result was that the document released last week did not include the contributions of those career DHS officials tasked with providing professional and objective analysis. They were not asked to participate, and so the document did not reflect their input.” In short, on top of the flawed methodology and cherry-picked statistics, the Trump administration willfully sidestepped homeland security experts to produce a report that would vindicate the president’s insistence on linking immigration to crime and terrorism.

    Fox News is ignoring this glaring problem with the report, demonstrating once again that the network prioritizes its anti-immigration agenda over honesty in reporting.

  • Alex Jones defends Trump’s racist “shithole” comment by saying Haitians pledged themselves to Satan

    Jones says that Haiti is the “toilet of the Caribbean”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    From the January 12 edition of Genesis Communications Network’s The Alex Jones Show:

    ALEX JONES (HOST): How do you fix things? You call it a hellhole. A craphole. Haiti is a literal craphole. Haiti doesn't have indoor plumbing in 95 percent of it and tens of thousands die every year of cholera and other waterborne diseases. There are open sewers of feces everywhere. You look at a satellite photo of the island of Hispaniola. The east of it is the Dominican Republic; very nice, green, beautiful. The other side -- pull up satellite photos of Haiti -- almost total deforestation, total collapse, never got free market going, a hellhole. A hellhole where the legend has it that the Haitians pledged themselves to Satan and sacrificed a hog, and they say this in their own history, to free them from French rule. And they never got out from under colonialism of one type or another, and the Clintons preying on them, and all the rest of it. And it is the toilet of the Caribbean. Haiti is the worst place.

    That’s what you call them is -- people say why would you want to go to Calcutta, India, it’s a -- I mean I have Indian friends that say, “Oh, If you want to go to India, go here to the north, or these mountains, or this area’s nice. Do not go here it is a --” Because Indians, the Indians I’ve known, none of them are politically correct. Most people that run up, “Oh, I love Trump, I love you, Alex,” are Indian-Americans. But the point is they go, “Oh, Alex, don’t ever go to India and go to these places, because there’s dead people on the side of the street, there’s crap everywhere, these are S-H-dash-T-holes.” Because they are.

    Previously:

    Tucker Carlson defends Trump's racist "shithole" remarks

    Breitbart editor defends Trump's racist "shithole" comment by comparing him to Shakespeare

    Matt Schlapp defends Trump's "shithole" remarks: "I don't know anybody who spent two weeks on the beach in Haiti"

    Related:

    Pat Robertson's "true story": Haiti "swore a pact to the devil" to get "free from the French" and "ever since, they have been cursed"

  • Sinclair’s Boris Epshteyn praises Trump “nuclear button” tweet as strong, purposeful foreign policy 

    Epshteyn’s praise will be force-fed to local news viewers across the country

    Blog ››› ››› PAM VOGEL

    President Donald Trump’s recent unhinged, decidedly phallic tweet threatening nuclear war with North Korea horrified many -- but not former Trump aide and Sinclair Broadcast Group’s chief political analyst, Boris Epshteyn. Conveniently, Epshteyn has been given an ever-growing platform to share his views about his former boss with unsuspecting audiences nationwide during local news broadcasts.

    In a new Bottom Line with Boris segment posted on January 5, Epshteyn argues that Trump’s tweet comparing the size and power of his “nuclear button” to that of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un was an example of Trump fulfilling his promise of "standing up to international bullies." He concluded, "Strength is the policy that will be effective with these rogue actors."

    Sinclair is known for its history of injecting right-wing spin into local newscasts, most notably with its nationally produced “must-run” commentary segments. The segments, which all Sinclair-owned and operated news stations are required to air, have included blatant (and sometimes embarrassing) pro-Trump propaganda missives from Epshteyn since last spring. In the last six months, Epshteyn has used his Bottom Line With Boris segments to attack members of the press for being too mean to the president, praise seemingly every move Trump makes, and offer jaw-droppingly ill-timed defenses of Trump and his staff members.