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  • On Presidents Day, Sinclair's Boris Epshteyn said the "presidents on Mount Rushmore may have to make room" for Trump

    For the first time, Epshteyn’s segment was paired with a progressive segment from commentator Ameshia Cross -- further highlighting the absurdity of his hot takes 

    Blog ››› ››› PAM VOGEL

    Sinclair Broadcast Group’s Boris Epshteyn celebrated Presidents Day by releasing a new “must-run” segment suggesting President Donald Trump’s face ought to be added on Mount Rushmore.  

    In the segment, Epshteyn argued that “we are lucky” to have Trump as president and that the Trump administration “so far has been … one of the most successful in our nation’s history.” Epshteyn, a former Trump aide who has signed a nondisparagement agreement that may prevent him from criticizing the president, concluded, “In just over two years of the Trump administration, we have seen great progress benefiting Americans. If this keeps up, much to the chagrin of many Democrats, the presidents on Mount Rushmore may have to make room for a new addition.”

    BORIS EPSHTEYN: Presidents Day is an important holiday for us to reflect upon those who we have elected to the highest office in our land. We are lucky to currently have a leader in President Trump, whose term so far has been, I would argue, one of the most successful in our nation’s history.

    The president has achieved tangible, concrete, quality-of-life improvements for the American people no matter the political cost. His disruption of the status quo has stirred many of his detractors. Despite what some liberals and many in the media may say, the Trump administration has taken strides to ensure that our country is thriving for all Americans.

    Since President Trump took office, the female unemployment rate has reached its lowest in approximately 65 years. American worker satisfaction is the highest since 2005. Unemployment among disabled Americans is at an all-time low, and the median income for Hispanic Americans has increased by nearly 4 percent. The president has circumvented partisanship and has tackled, head-on, human issues such as the opioid crisis in our country and criminal justice reform.

    Unfortunately, the spirit of bipartisanship has been largely missing, as many on the left and those in the media have put their love of our great country second to their personal hatred of our president. Despite all of that, President Trump is still getting results.

    Here’s the bottom line: In just over two years of the Trump administration, we have seen great progress benefiting Americans. If this keeps up, much to the chagrin of many Democrats, the presidents on Mount Rushmore may have to make room for a new addition.

    According to a Media Matters search of the iQ media database, the segment has aired on at least 50 stations in at least 28 states since the evening of February 18 -- and for what appears to be the first time, it was paired with a contrasting commentary segment from Sinclair’s new liberal commentator, Ameshia Cross.

    Cross’ segment, called “Cross Point,” aired alongside Epshteyn’s segment on Sinclair stations and covered the same topic. It appears the segments will play off each other and will now run with an on-screen disclaimer from Sinclair telling viewers that the opinions in the commentary segments don’t necessarily represent the views of the broadcasting giant.

    For example, here is how Cross’s segment was framed on a Sinclair-controlled station in Beaumont, TX:

    Epshteyn’s full segment aired later in the same newscast.

    The addition of Cross’ segment to the “must-run” lineup unintentionally underscores the company's blatant journalistic malpractice. For the past two years, the only regular "must-run" commentary Sinclair's local news viewers saw came from Epshteyn -- and it was presented without context or counterpoint. 

  • Indicted Trump confidant Roger Stone alleges the president is the victim of a “globalist” coup attempt

    Stone links his prosecution to an alleged coup attempt against Trump by a "globalist cabal"

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    During an appearance on conspiracy theory outlet Infowars, Roger Stone, a confidant of President Donald Trump, said that the president is the victim of a coup attempt. Stone also tried to delegitimize the Department of Justice (DOJ) and its special counsel office, the federal law enforcement division currently leading a criminal prosecution against Stone.

    During a February 18 appearance on The Alex Jones Show, Stone echoed recent comments made by Trump to allege that the president is the victim of a coup attempt orchestrated by “globalists” (a term historically tied to anti-Semitic sentiment) and the DOJ.

    Stone accused the FBI and DOJ Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein of “open sedition” and “treasonous activity” for a supposed plot to remove Trump from the presidency via the 25th Amendment, claiming the plot was undertaken as revenge for Trump breaking up “the globalist cabal.” (The 25th Amendment establishes a legal mechanism to remove the president from office if a majority of the cabinet secretaries plus the vice president determine he is unfit to serve.)

    Stone also implicated special counsel Robert Mueller’s office -- which is currently overseeing a probe that resulted in Stone’s indictment -- in the supposed coup attempt. Stone claimed that “there was a coup d’etat planned within the highest echelons of the FBI and the Obama Justice Department, and then they actually effectuated it under Donald Trump,” adding, “The Mueller investigation is the outgrowth of that same effort.”

    Stone was arrested on January 25 and charged with seven felonies as part of Mueller’s investigation. According to the charges, Stone lied to Congress about his dealings with WikiLeaks concerning emails hacked by Russia in the 2016 presidential election; obstructed an official proceeding; and intimidated a witness, radio host Randy Credico. Around the same time Stone was alleging on Infowars that there was a coup attempt against Trump, he posted an image to his Instagram account that showed Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is overseeing his criminal case, next to crosshairs. After getting blowback, Stone deleted the post and submitted a formal apology to the court. Stone, who is currently free on a signature bond, may have his conditions of release modified or revoked because of his post, depending on the outcome of a February 21 hearing.

    Throughout his February 18 Infowars appearance, Stone counseled Trump and flattered him in what seems like a possible attempt to angle for a pardon if he is convicted of the charges against him. Stone highlighted his efforts to counter arguments that Trump is incapacitated, saying, “If he’s so incapacitated, why do we have 4.8 million new jobs, for example?” He also backed Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on the southern border, saying, “Trump is a leader” who is “keeping faith with the very people that voted for him.”

    Stone also advised Trump to take several actions relating to the DOJ, saying, “The president needs to immediately declassify all the information regarding the illicit use of FISA warrants to spy on his campaign, which is where this all began. The president needs to order his new attorney general to appoint a special counsel to examine not only the FISA warrants, but now to examine this illegal coup and to empanel a grand jury to grab those who were involved in it and bring them before that grand jury to begin the indictments for sedition. And lastly, the president needs to appoint a special counsel to examine the crimes of Uranium One.”

    He also painted himself as a victim of the same forces that he claims have entangled Trump, claiming, “I am a victim of the same witch hunt, the same effort that is being put forward to take down the president in an illicit coup is the same witch hunt which has indicted me, that is coming after Alex [Jones], that is running the campaign of censorship against Infowars. It’s all the same people. It’s the same globalist cabal.”

  • Fox figures continue to smear Kamala Harris for The Breakfast Club interview after hosts debunk claim

    Blog ››› ››› COURTNEY HAGLE

    On February 13, hosts of the New York radio show The Breakfast Club dismissed overblown conservative outrage attempting to smear presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) over her responses to questions about marijuana and music during their show. Despite the host criticizing and debunking Fox’s version of events, some Fox figures have continued to use the incident to smear Harris’ character.

    On February 11, right-wing media attempted to scandalize an interview Harris did with The Breakfast Club, claiming she lied about smoking marijuana in college to seem relatable to voters. During the interview, Harris had said that she supports marijuana legalization and revealed that she smoked in college before answering one of the hosts’ question about what music she listens to. Right-wing media figures decided to interpret the sequence as Harris claiming she smoked marijuana in college while listening to Snoop Dogg and Tupac, which they noted would be impossible because their music wasn’t released until after Harris graduated from college. This trivial nitpicking of details gave right-wing media figures an opportunity to smear Harris as unrelatable.

    The hosts of The Breakfast Club debunked right-wing coverage of the story two days later on their show. Co-host Charlamagne Tha God criticized conservative outrage while praising HuffPost for accurately reporting what happened, saying, “Finally, someone with no agenda; someone with no bias; someone who is just reporting on the facts and not some alternative version of the facts simply because they don’t like Kamala Harris.” He added that HuffPostreported it exactly how it happened,” saying, “We can’t be reaching like this. All right? This [could be] dangerous.”

    Despite The Breakfast Club’s rebuke of the version of events right-wing outlets originally reported, some Fox News figures have continued to run with the lie.

    The same afternoon, Fox co-host Jesse Watters criticized the 2020 Democratic candidates for trying “to be everything to everybody,” adding, “Kamala, you’re not hip-hop. Trump’s more hip-hop than you are.” As Watters spoke, the chyron at the bottom of the screen read, “The art of the pander. 2020 hopefuls bend over backwards to impress voters.”

    From the February 13 edition of Fox News’ The Five:

    On her Fox Nation show First Thoughts the next day, Tomi Lahren dedicated a segment that lasted over two minutes to talking about the The Breakfast Club interview. She condescendingly berated Harris, calling her “Kam-Kam” multiple times and saying it is “another example of Ms. Harris saying and doing things [that] just don’t quite add up.”

    From the February 14 edition of Fox Nation’s First Thoughts:

    On Fox News’ Fox & Friends, guest Mark Steyn sarcastically said Harris “just lights up and suddenly Tupac is there in the room with her, six years before he’s made his first CD,” adding, “That’s a magical Valentine right there.”

    From the February 15 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

  • Alex Jones is souring on his indicted Infowars employee Roger Stone

    Jones: "Gateway Pundit can hire Roger"

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Conspiracy theorist and Infowars head Alex Jones is frustrated with Trump confidant Roger Stone because he thinks Stone gave a rival right-wing news outlet an “exclusive” about Stone’s criminal case.

    Stone, who is a co-host of the Infowars program War Room, was arrested on January 25 and charged with seven felonies as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. The charges allege Stone lied to Congress about his dealings with WikiLeaks concerning emails hacked by Russia in the 2016 presidential election; obstructed an official proceeding; and intimidated a witness, radio host Randy Credico.  

    Following Stone’s arrest, his first media appearance was on Infowars, and he has since appeared regularly on Infowars programs, including the show, War Room, that he co-hosts, to publicly litigate his criminal proceeding and fight with his critics. Stone has expressed fear at the possibility that he will be subject to a gag order and recently described his Infowars platform as “vital” to his criminal defense strategy.

    Now Stone has another problem, as his boss, Jones, has become angered that Stone shared an “exclusive” with far-right website The Gateway Pundit.

    The dispute centers around a February 13 motion filed by Stone’s legal team requesting a hearing concerning Stone’s allegation that the special counsel’s office improperly released Stone’s indictment before it was unsealed. Gateway Pundit was the first media outlet to publish a story about that filing, posting a piece bylined by Stone associate Jacob Engels.

    Discussing the Gateway Pundit story and the motion (which Jones initially mischaracterized as a “lawsuit against Robert Mueller”), a clearly perturbed Jones said during the February 13 broadcast of his show, “I like Roger as a friend, but he doles out exclusives ... some to Fox News, some to Daily Caller, and he works here. I pay his salary. … So I guess Roger Stone’s going to go to the woodshed here pretty soon.”

    Jones went on to say -- possibly facetiously -- that Stone now works for Gateway Pundit. He said, “This is a global exclusive. In the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, filed today, Roger Stone’s motion requesting a show cause order. So it’s on Gateway Pundit. Well that’s good. Gateway Pundit can hire Roger. … In fact, Roger Stone now works for the Gateway Pundit, which is good.”

    An annoyed Jones added, “People call us to find out what Roger’s up to and I just -- I can’t tell you; I don’t know. So Roger Stone now works for the Gateway Pundit, ladies and gentlemen -- seriously, as of about 10 seconds ago. I’m like, ‘Roger, get a job with the Gateway Pundit.’ Because -- here, let me check my other phone. I don’t want to go off half-cocked. Maybe he called this other phone and gave me the exclusive. Nope, doesn’t look like it.”

    Just the day before, Stone had emphasized how important his Infowars platform was to him. During the February 12 broadcast of War Room, Stone said that “one of the main reasons” he was indicted is that he works at Infowars. He went on to say, “I’ve told you about the vital role that Infowars plays in the strategy for my defense. If I can’t come here, if I can’t come on The Alex Jones Show, if I can’t come on the morning show with David Knight, if I can’t come on the War Room, then there’s no forum where I can really go to tell people the complete story about what’s going on.”

    Stone then said, “I guess the best thing to remind everybody is that please go to the Infowars store” to support the outlet’s operation. Then he transitioned into an extended pitch for a supplement called Brain Force that Infowars sells:
     

    ROGER STONE: One of the main reasons I think I’m targeted, Rob [Dew], is because I’m on Infowars. Because I work with you and Alex Jones and [War Room co-host] Owen Shroyer and [Infowars host] David Knight and so many others to bring people the stone cold truth, the unvarnished truth about what’s going on in the struggle against the globalists. And I’ve told you about the vital role that Infowars plays in the strategy for my defense. If I can’t come here, if I can’t come on The Alex Jones Show, if I can’t come on the morning show with David Knight, if I can’t come on the War Room, then there’s no forum where I can really go to tell people the complete story about what is going on. Everywhere else you appear you’re edited, you're censored, you're limited. But here at Infowars nobody tells us what we can and cannot say, nobody tells us what we can and cannot cover. We just go for where the facts lead us. So I guess the best thing to remind everybody is that please go to the Infowars store. It is vitally important that Infowars continue to thrive.  

    On February 13, after Jones complained about Stone giving away exclusives, Stone did not appear in his regular slot on War Room.

    Jones’ attack on Stone is the latest example of infighting at Infowars over Mueller’s investigation. Previously, Jones and Stone teamed up to feud with former Infowars D.C. bureau chief Jerome Corsi. Corsi, who is also entangled in Mueller’s probe of what happened with WikiLeaks, is referenced throughout Stone’s criminal indictment. Jones and Stone have sought to discredit Corsi’s public statements about the probe and in some cases even appear to have attempted to influence how Corsi testifies under oath to Mueller’s grand jury. For his part, Corsi, who is an obvious witness for Stone’s trial, has suggested Stone is guilty of witness tampering because of Stone’s interactions with him. Most recently, Corsi filed a lawsuit against Stone alleging Stone was attempting to induce him to have a heart attack or stroke by causing “emotional distress.”

  • Right-wing media claim Cory Booker “wants to impose his meat rationing on us” after article quotes him saying the opposite

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    In response to a question about food policy during an interview with vegetarian and vegan news site VegNews, 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) argued that “this planet simply can’t sustain” the “massive increase in consumption of meat” that has been occurring. Conservative media are predictably misrepresenting Booker’s remarks to falsely claim that he’s launching a “war on meat.”

    In the interview, Booker noted the public health, environmental, and animal cruelty impacts of industrial farming and explained that he wanted to empower small farmers legislatively and that “corporate power shouldn’t be snuffing out competition.” He clarified, “This is the United States of America, and I, for one, believe in our freedom to choose. So, I don’t want to preach to anybody about their diets; that’s just not how I live.” Booker also explicitly stated that “this doesn’t mean, in any way, getting rid of animal farming, but in many ways, it means lifting up the voices of small farmers again.”

    Nowhere in his comments did Booker say he is going to seek to ban any American from eating meat. However, truth did not stop conservative media from spinning the interview to claim “soy boy” Booker said he was declaring a “war against meat.”

    Fox News’ The Five claimed Booker “is going to war against meat” and “wants to impose his meat rationing on the rest of us.” Co-host Morgan Ortagus introduced a segment about Booker's comment, saying, “Sen. Cory Booker is going to war against meat.” In the segment, co-host Jesse Watters celebrated the fact that Trump is “the McDonalds president, and he’s running against a vegan.” Watters also said Trump will claim that Booker “wants to take away your hot dog on the Fourth of July.” Later in the segment, Fox Business host Lisa Kennedy Montgomery also falsely claimed that Booker “wants to impose his meat rationing on the rest of us,” which Booker specifically denied in the interview, saying:

    “None of us want our government or elected officials preaching to us and telling us what we can or can’t eat. This is the United States of America, and I, for one, believe in our freedom to choose. So, I don’t want to preach to anybody about their diets; that’s just not how I live.”

    The Daily Caller ran a threatening headline saying, “Vegan Cory Booker says meat eaters’ days are numbered.” The article also misleadingly claimed that Booker’s critique was about the planet’s inability to “keep providing enough beef and pork to satisfy meat cravings” and not about the environmental damage wrought by industrial-scale animal farming.

    Conservative commentator Erick Erickson connected Booker’s comments to the supposed big-government tyranny of Pope Francis. A write-up on Erickson’s website The Resurgent contained the bizarre, and unsourced, claim: “The pope wants to use the power of government to coerce farmers into abandoning animal populations in favor of vegetarian farming. Booker is doubling down on that.”

    National Review misleadingly claimed that “Cory Booker wants only the rich to eat meat.” The article, referencing Booker’s point in the interview that it’s unsustainable to “see the planet earth moving towards what is the Standard American Diet,” misleadingly characterized Booker’s argument as saying “the destitute and poor of the world ... can’t possibly be allowed to attain the benefits of prosperity that the West has achieved.” The article also suggested he’s part of “the brewing war against our meat industries.”

    Trump troll website The Gateway Pundit: “Vegan soy boy Cory Booker is now attacking meat eaters — because that’s a winning strategy when you’re running to be president of a country full of bacon lovers.” The website called Booker’s food tastes “gross” and slammed veganism as “the latest Marxist, new age rubbish the Democrats and Hollywood elites are pushing onto Americans.”

    RedState: Booker “dropped some (non)science recently” in his pro-veganism interview. The RedState post mocked Booker’s interview, calling his comments “really idiotic” and “(non)science,” and bizarrely claimed that the relatively recent invention of industrial-scale animal farming is part of Earth’s “natural system of carnivorism.” The article ended with a reference to Booker’s conduct during Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings, suggesting the senator should now be called “Farticus” for “leading the brigade against those Nazi air biscuits” and for “eating so much fruit.”

    The Federalist: “Booker fuels his life with fake cheese. … Cory Booker is the vegan cheese of politicians.” A Federalist article about Booker’s comments claimed that “perhaps it’s appropriate that a man like Booker fuels his life with fake cheese. He fueled his career with fake friends.” It also suggested that if Booker won the Democratic nomination, he would lose Wisconsin to Trump, “who serves cheeseburgers en masse to champion college athletes.”

  • Fox & Friends tries to smear Kamala Harris following an interview she did with The Breakfast Club

    Blog ››› ››› COURTNEY HAGLE

    UPDATE (2/13): The Breakfast Club responded to conservative media’s smear of Harris, explaining that their conversation was misrepresented.

    On February 11, presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) waded into the debate on marijuana legalization during an episode of the radio show The Breakfast Club. While responding to multiple questions, Harris revealed that she supports legalization and smoked in college. Harris also shared, in response to a question, that some of her favorite music artists include rappers Snoop Dogg and Tupac. While she was answering that question, one of the hosts further asked what she listened to when she was “high.”

    Right-wing media figures decided to interpret the sequence as Harris clearly saying she smoked marijuana in college while listening to Snoop Dogg and Tupac, which they note wouldn’t be possible because their music wasn’t released until after Harris graduated from college. They almost immediately started trying to turn the trivial nitpicking of details into a big scandal for Harris, accusing her of maliciously lying about smoking marijuana in college. Wednesday morning, this attempt to scandalize the moment made its way to Fox News’ morning show Fox & Friends. The three co-hosts treated the story as a “gotcha” moment for Harris, saying that “there’s a problem with the timeline.”  

    The wanna-be scandal underscores a larger trend of figures on the right using misinformation to paint Democratic candidates as inauthentic and unrelatable.

    BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): And then Kamala Harris came out and gave a very impressive introductory "look at me -- I want to run for president." However, if you look at some of the things she is saying about giving insurance for everybody, destroying private insurance and giving Medicare-for-all, you wonder where that came from. Then she admits on a morning radio show that she smoked marijuana because she wanted to in college.

    ...

    STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): She was listening to Snoop and Tupac when she was in college. We took a look at the record, and take a look at this. That was the appearance on the so-called world's most dangerous morning show, The Breakfast Club, here in New York. She graduated from college at Howard in 1986. She finished law school in 1989. She was admitted to the state bar of California in 1990 and then in 1991, Tupac's first album came out and in 1993, Snoop Dogg's first album was released. So there's a problem with the timeline.

    AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): So seven years after she graduated from undergrad, Snoop Dogg's debut album was released. And five years after she graduated from undergrad, Tupac's album was released.

    DOOCY: So she doesn't remember what she was listening to when she was smoking.

    KILMEADE: Right. I just don't know why -- she’s a scholar, her career is on a fast trajectory; she should embrace it, go behind it. Whoever you are, you have to be that person or it's not going to work. Did Donald Trump show you anything? For better or for worse, Donald Trump shows you exactly what he's doing every day and who he is.