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  • What you need to know about One America News’ reported upcoming interview with the president

    Blog ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    According to One America News Network (OANN) CEO Robert Herring, President Donald Trump will sit down for an interview with the sycophanticnews” outlet’s White House correspondent, Emerald Robinson. A closer look at Robison’s background reveals the “correspondent” to be an unabashed stooge for the Trump administration who traffics in conservative misinformation originating from the right-wing Twitter fever swamps -- a perfect fit for the propagandistic and serially insane OANN, which has apparently been granted exclusive access to the president of the United States for an interview.

    On October 18, Herring tweeted that the network’s White House “correspondent” would sit down for an interview with the president:

    Robinson is a former infomercial actress and former host of a “science news show” called the Daily Orbit. She also hosted a video series called Hotnomics produced by right-wing lobbying group the Center for Freedom and Prosperity, in which she railed against “big government” and taxation. Robinson has written a series of columns for the conservative outlet The American Spectator that include crude mockery of her colleagues in the media, unabashed Trump sycophancy, and attacks on NFL players protesting police brutality in which she called them “Rococo Marxists and millionaire Black Panther athletes.” In a long screed attacking the “low-testosterone, dilettantish strain” of “intellectual” conservatives, Robinson complained of an apparent “disconnect” among factions within the conservative movement, writing that the "Never Trump intellectual crowd" are "Jewish and agnostic,” whereas “the Republican Party is overwhelmingly Caucasian and Christian.”

    In May, OANN brought Robinson on as its chief White House “correspondent” (in practice, she is a pundit), where she has had the opportunity to continue the network’s tradition of providing relief to Trump and press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders with softball questions during otherwise contentious interactions with the White House press corps. In August 2017, Trump gave a shout out to OANN reporter Trey Yingst during a press briefing, saying, “I want to congratulate you on the network, it’s a great network,” which the outlet then proudly highlighted.

    As has been repeatedly documented, OANN is a fawning pro-Trump outlet that has pushed disgraceful and shameful conspiracy theories and whitewashed overt racism. A July 5, 2017, report in The Washington Post paints a picture of the network as a propaganda outlet with a CEO who “has directed his channel to push Trump’s candidacy, scuttle stories about police shootings, encourage antiabortion stories, minimize coverage of Russian aggression, and steer away from the new president’s troubles, according to more than a dozen current and former producers, writers and anchors, as well as internal emails from Herring and his top news executives.”

  • CNN's conservative pundits are helping the GOP fearmonger over “scary” liberal protesters 

    Blog ››› ››› GRACE BENNETT


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    In the run-up to the 2018 midterm elections, right-wing media and Republican officials have found a new favorite scare tactic: hyping nonsensical claims of radical Democrats and an “angry mob” of “scary,” violent, liberal protesters trying to disrupt American values and take over the country. This transparent effort at turning out Republicans to the polls has been parotted by a number of  right-wing pundits paid by CNN for their political analysis.

    Right-wing media, especially the Trump-aligned Fox News Channel, responded to the confirmation battle of now Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh by accusing Democrats, protesters (many of whom were sexual assault survivors)  and the left broadly of violent radicalism. Republican politicians, including the president, have been quick to echo these claims. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) argued that Democrats “encouraged mob rule” during the Kavanaugh hearings, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) commended Republicans for standing “up to the mob.” During an October 9 rally in Iowa, President Donald Trump -- who regularly called for actual violence during the 2016 campaign and who said last year that there were “very fine people” at a white supremacist rally that resulted in one person dying -- condemned Democrats as an “angry left-wing mob” that is “too dangerous to govern.” The president insisted that the party cannot be trusted with power because “you don't hand matches to an arsonist.”

    Conservative denouncements of left-wing violence are obviously absurd, and markedly hypocritical, but that hasn’t stopped right-wing CNN pundits from fearmongering about the supposed “mob behavior” of the left. On CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, commentator Steve Cortes called it “scary” that the left has been using “mob tactics” and “violence” to a “dramatic degree.” During the October 9 edition of CNN Tonight with Don Lemon, political commentator Alice Stewart claimed that Republicans were correct in calling protesters a “mob” because they were “banging on the doors of the Supreme Court and chasing senators out of public restaurants and yelling at senators in an elevator.”

    During the same segment, CNN’s Matt Lewis equated protesters to the alt-right and specifically white supremacist Richard Spencer before host Don Lemon interrupted him. He then accused the protesters of “mob behavior,” and got into a heated exchange with Lemon about whether activists disrupting people who are complicit in the administration’s inhumane policies constitutes mob action.  And on The Lead with Jake Tapper, network contributor Scott Jennings argued that the Kavanaugh hearings showed conservatives “what life would be like if you let the angry mob take over,” and claimed that if he were running a campaign he would use “video of this angry mob.”

    There is, of course, tremendous irony here; CNN hired Corey Lewandowski as a political commentator after Lewandowski was forced out of the Trump campaign for assaulting a reporter. CNN was also duped by conservatives earlier this year into fretting over “civility” as it conflated examples of liberals being rude with conservatives being racist.

    CNN’s model of false balance and “both sides” punditry and its obsession with employing and hosting a roster of right-wing ideologues is nothing new, but it does continue to lead to the espousal of extremist opinions on the network.

  • 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.

  • On Fox & Friends, the former ICE director praises Trump for “pushing for the rule of law”

    Blog ››› ››› GRACE BENNETT

    On October 9, Fox & Friends hosted former acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Thomas Homan to brag about President Donald Trump “pushing for the rule of law” and working to “enforce the laws on the book.” His assertion that Trump stands for law and order falls even flatter than usual given a recent New York Times investigation that revealed the Trump family’s fraudulent tax schemes.

    While Homan was touting Trump’s alleged support for the rule of law, both he and the hosts failed to mention the Times report, which detailed intricate and fraudulent tax-dodging schemes used by the Trump family to pass along undertaxed inheritance. The paper reported, “President Trump participated in dubious tax schemes during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud, that greatly increased the fortune he received from his parents.” Since the story broke, New York state and city tax authorities have opened investigations into the apparent tax evasion.

    Fox & Friends originally responded to the Times story by complaining that the paper was “bashing” Fred Trump, the president’s father. Less than a week later, the show seems to have moved on by ignoring the story altogether, instead sticking to the script that has Trump playing the law-and-order president. From the October 9 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

  • Why is the White House briefing the president of extreme anti-LGBTQ group Alliance Defending Freedom about the Kavanaugh investigation?

    ADF President Michael Farris deleted a post about the White House calling him with “information about the Kavanaugh-FBI investigation”

    Blog ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    In a since-deleted Facebook post, Michael Farris, president of the influential and extreme anti-LGBTQ group Alliance Defending Freedom, wrote today that the White House had called him “with information about the Kavanaugh-FBI investigation” not long after U.S. senators received the FBI’s report on the matter. Farris and his organization argued twice before the Supreme Court over the last session, and ADF has played a role in more than 50 other cases at the high court.

    The FBI investigated Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh after professor Christine Blasey Ford testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that he sexually assaulted her and after two other women reported incidents of sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh. It is not clear who at the White House contacted Farris or why they would be giving such information to him, particularly as he and his group are likely to argue in the future before the Supreme Court, which could include a Justice Kavanaugh.

    One reason for alarm about Farris receiving private information from the White House about the Supreme Court confirmation process is that he and his group have argued before the high court several times before and are very likely to do so again, meaning they will be particularly affected by the nomination decision. ADF says it has played “a role in 54 victories” at the Supreme Court, and it won both cases that it argued there in the most recent session. In one case, Farris argued on behalf of ADF’s client in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of ADF’s client, NIFLA, a network of fake health clinics. The court also ruled in favor of another ADF client during the past session in the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case, determining that the commission had shown “hostility” to a Christian baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple. The ruling was considered narrow and did not indicate how the court should rule on other cases regarding religious discrimination. The Department of Justice issued an unusual brief in favor of ADF’s client.

    ADF will likely be before the Supreme Court again, potentially even this year. It is spearheading at least a half-dozen other cases regarding religious exemptions through the courts, and the group -- along with attorneys general from 16 states -- have asked the Supreme Court to take up its R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission case. The case involves a transgender woman, Aimee Stephens, who was fired after she came out as trans to her employer, a funeral home. According to CNN.com, “If the court takes up the case, it could have broader implications for the definition of sex-based discrimination” and “could impact case law that precludes firing anyone -- gay, straight or cisgender -- for not adhering to sex-based stereotypes.” With ADF’s record, it is extremely likely that Harris or one of its dozens of other cases will eventually be decided by the Supreme Court.

    The Trump White House has long been cozy with ADF and other extreme anti-LGBTQ groups, and ADF has directly impacted anti-LGBTQ administration policies, actions, and guidelines including at the Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Education, and the Bureau of Prisons. Trump has also nominated several attorneys with ties to ADF for federal judgeships.

    ADF has not publicly endorsed Kavanaugh and claims publicly that it does not “take a position on the merits of supreme court nominees,” but several anti-LGBTQ groups that it works closely with have vehemently advocated for him to be confirmed. These groups have claimed he “will be strong on [their] issues” and that he is “the right kind of judge.” They have even launched attacks on Ford and her story to defend their man. Other extreme anti-LGBTQ groups, including Liberty Counsel, are trying to push discriminatory policies through the courts, such as cases attempting to overturn protections for LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy. They have been encouraged by the court’s decisions in NIFLA and Masterpiece Cakeshop and by the potential of a Justice Kavanaugh.

    While it is not surprising that Farris and ADF are in contact with the White House about sensitive matters, it raises ethical questions for the White House to contact them with private information that will directly affect ADF’s work as the group continues to push for discriminatory policies through the courts. Farris’ deletion of the post only adds to those questions.

    Research support provided by Carrie Resnick, part of the NARAL research team.

    To learn more about the anti-LGBTQ positions of ADF, check out Media Matters’ interactive research book, “The extremism of anti-LGBTQ powerhouse Alliance Defending Freedom.”