Far-right British extremist Tommy Robinson thanks Tucker Carlson and Republicans for coming to his aide
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When Rep. Scott Taylor (R-VA) published his 2015 book, he included an endorsement from a writer who has built a career on anti-Muslim bigotry and was even banned from the United Kingdom for his toxic rhetoric.
Taylor is a Republican congressman who began representing Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District in 2017. He previously authored the book Trust Betrayed: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and the Selling Out of America's National Security. The book contains a page of “praise” that includes a quote from Robert Spencer, who is identified as the “author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad.”
Spencer states, in part, that "Taylor analyzes the contemporary situation with the keen eye of a man who has seen the disastrous effects of Obama’s policies up close, and provides a reasonable and realistic path back to national sanity. Not only should all candidates for national office be required to read this book -- they should be required to report on it, and explain how they intend to implement its recommendations.”
Descriptions for both of those Spencer books (via Amazon) make clear that they are anti-Muslim. The promotional text for The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) claims that it “tackles Islam’s institutionalized mistreatment of non-Muslims, the stifling effect Islam has on science and free inquiry, the ghastly lure of Islam’s X-rated Paradise for suicide bombers and jihad terrorists, the brutal Islamic conquests of the Christian lands of the Middle East and North Africa, and more.”
Likewise, The Truth About Muhammad’s extended title calls Islam “the World's Most Intolerant Religion,” and the book’s description states: “Recognizing the true nature of Islam, Spencer argues, is essential for judging the prospects for largescale Islamic reform, the effective prosecution of the War on Terror, the democracy project in Afghanistan and Iraq, and immigration and border control to protect the United States from terrorism.”
In June 2013, the British government banned Spencer and ally and fellow anti-Muslim writer Pamela Geller from entering the United Kingdom. A government spokesperson said at the time that their presence "is not conducive to the public good." James Brokenshire, a member of the British Conservative Party who served as the U.K.’s security minister, said in September 2013 that the government barred Spencer from entering the country because of his potential to “stir up hatred and provoke violence.”
John Fitzgerald, an anti-Semite who is running as a Republican for California’s 11th Congressional District seat, has been appearing on neo-Nazi podcasts and falsely claiming that the Holocaust is a “lie.”
Fitzgerald writes on his campaign site that the “911 attacks were used as the catalyst by Jewish elements within our Government and Israel’s, to implement the PNAC Doctrine (1999) which called for a 'catastrophic and catalyzing event-- like a new Pearl Harbor' to both galvanize support from the American people and to make regime changes” (italics in original) throughout the world. He also writes: “I hope all of you ask yourselves why JEWS are primarily behind the push of multiculturalism, diversity and inclusiveness throughout the United States, Europe and other once predominantly white nations of the world and WHY many of our politicians allowing them to do so has led to rape and crime epidemics in its aftermath.”
The California Republican Party and the Republican Jewish Coalition released a statement in May condemning Fitzgerald and rejecting any support for him.
Since advancing to the general election as a Republican, Fitzgerald has courted anti-Semitic media.
He appeared on the June 23 edition of The Realist Report with host John Friend. Friend is a neo-Nazi who has said that the “Jews Did 9/11,” Adolf Hitler was “the greatest thing that's happened to Western civilization,” and the “alleged ‘Holocaust’ of 6 million Jews at the hands of Adolf Hitler and National Socialist Germany during WWII is one of the most egregious and outrageous falsehoods ever perpetrated.”
During the interview, Fitzgerald complained about purported “Jewish control and supremacy” and praised Friend for claiming that Israel was behind the 9/11 attacks. Fitzgerald also said he’s dedicated to “exposing the truth about the Holocaust and how it’s an absolute fabricated lie.”
Fitzgerald ran for Congress as a Democrat in the 2010 and 2012 primaries but got little traction, gaining just 15 percent and 7 percent of the vote, respectively. He said on Friend's program that though he ran as a Democrat in those elections, “I wasn’t really a Democrat. But I was just trying to get in the system, and so I did so.”
During that program, Fitzgerald said, “I’ve really gone on an extreme journey from the standard material that everybody believed to what is considered a very taboo subject, taking on the entire Holocaust narrative and realizing that everything we’ve been told about the Holocaust is a lie. So my entire campaign, for the most part, is about exposing this lie.”
Media outlets, for their part, have reported on similar candidates who are running for office across the country, including neo-Nazi and Illinois Republican U.S. congressional candidate Arthur Jones; white supremacist and Republican North Carolina General Assembly candidate Russell Walker; neo-Nazi and unsuccessful California Republican U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Little; and anti-Semite and Wisconsin Republican U.S. congressional candidate Paul Nehlen.
Some media have also documented the racist rhetoric pushed by candidates including Rep. Steve King (R-IA), Prince William Board of County Supervisors at-large Chairman Corey Stewart (R-VA), and Republican commentator Seth Grossman of New Jersey.
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Seth Grossman, a Republican pundit who is running for Congress, repeatedly posted bigoted commentaries about Black and Muslim people online. Grossman claimed he knew “of many Africans who wish their ancestors had been taken to America as slaves,” promoted an anti-Black piece on a white nationalist website, and called Islam “a cancer" that has "already infected a billion people."
Grossman is a lawyer who has also been a radio host and a newspaper columnist. He heads the nonprofit organization Liberty and Prosperity 1776 Inc. and writes commentaries on its website. Grossman won the Republican nomination for New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District on June 5.
The Republican commentator has been under scrutiny this week because of recently released remarks he made at an April forum in which he said, “The whole idea of diversity is a bunch of crap and un-American.” That remark was captured by American Bridge 21st Century PAC (American Bridge founder David Brock is also the founder of Media Matters).
Before he started running for Congress, Grossman also frequently posted bigoted and racist remarks about Black and Muslim people in commentary pieces and on social media, according to a Media Matters review. Here are numerous examples:
“Blacks were not enslaved by whites. They were enslaved by other blacks and then sold to whites. … I do know of many Africans who wish their ancestors had been taken to America as slaves.” From a March 7, 2017, post on Grossman’s Facebook page:
“Fifty years of welfare programs, public and college ‘education’, and media and Hollywood pop culture run by ‘progressive’ Democrats did far more long term damage to blacks in America than 230 years of slavery.” From a July 17, 2016, post on Grossman’s Facebook page:
“Democrats today constantly talk of wrongs done by some whites to some blacks more than a hundred years ago. The purpose is for blacks to blame whites for their problems instead of the liberal officials and policies that are truly responsible.” From an April 4, 2012, piece by Grossman in the Current and Gazette newspapers of Atlantic and Cape May counties, which was also posted on libertyandprosperity.com:
As I got older, I paid attention to the conversations of the adults at the Passover dinner. My grandmother was always amazed at how much our family enjoyed both holidays, and how lucky we were to live in America.
In bits and pieces I learned how my experiences with these holidays were so different from hers. To my grandmother who lived in Moldavia, a Romanian-speaking province in the old Russian Empire, Passover and Easter were holidays of fear and death.
There was no First Amendment in Russia. The government and the churches were run by a dictator called the Czar. His officials used the churches to get people angry at Jews, rather than the corruption and incompetence of the government.
What they did was like how Democrats today constantly talk of wrongs done by some whites to some blacks more than a hundred years ago. The purpose is for blacks to blame whites for their problems instead of the liberal officials and policies that are truly responsible.
Grossman promoted a piece from a white nationalist site that claimed Black people “are a threat to all who cross their paths, black and non-black alike.” On December 30, 2014, Grossman posted a link to a piece on the white nationalist website American Renaissance. The piece’s author wrote that he is “a public defender in a large southern metropolitan area” and his “experience” has taught him “that blacks are different by almost any measure to all other people. They cannot reason as well. They cannot communicate as well. They cannot control their impulses as well. They are a threat to all who cross their paths, black and non-black alike.”
“Islam has nothing in common with other modern world religions like Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, or Hinduism.” Grossman wrote a July 18, 2016, piece on libertyandprosperity.com that purported to explain why Muslims “attack and kill us” by listing “12 simple facts about Islam.”
Grossman’s list including virulently anti-Muslim claims, including that the religion has “nothing in common with other modern world religions”; “Islam is stuck in the barbaric, cut-throat world of Arabia 1,400 years ago”; and “Good Muslims who believe and support these principles of Islam cannot be good Americans. Only ‘bad’ Muslims who reject their religion can be good Americans.”
"Islam is a cancer. The fact that it already infected a billion people is even more reason to fight it every way we can.” From a March 27, 2016, post on Grossman’s Facebook page:
“Why are we inviting thousands of Muslim immigrants to our towns and neighborhoods when we are in the middle of a war with Islam?” From a February 28, 2015, post on Grossman’s Facebook page:
Grossman shared a graphic that attacked then-President Barack Obama for having “flooded our cities with Muslims.” From a January 10, 2016, post on Grossman’s Facebook page:
Note: Grossman took down his Facebook page Grossman4NJ after the publication of this piece. Media Matters has replaced those links with archived links.
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John Bolton hired Fred Fleitz at the NSC. Here's what you need to know about him.
Fred Fleitz, the new chief of staff for national security advisor John Bolton, comes from an anti-Muslim hate group and has fearmongered about Muslims during his numerous appearances on right-wing media outlets. He also repeatedly questioned the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to support Donald Trump and claimed former President George W. Bush was vindicated in his lie that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction in the lead-up to the Iraq War.
Fleitz worked as Bolton’s chief of staff when Bolton was serving as undersecretary of state during the George W. Bush administration, and he was a CIA analyst prior to that. But more recently, Fleitz was a senior vice president at the right-wing Center for Security Policy, which the Southern Poverty Law Center designated an anti-Muslim hate group in 2015, describing it as “a conspiracy-oriented mouthpiece for the growing anti-Muslim movement in the United States.”
Fleitz is in good company with Bolton, who chaired the Gatestone Institute -- which NBC News described as “a nonprofit that has promoted misleading and false anti-Muslim news” -- from 2013 till March of this year, just before Trump appointed him as national security adviser.
In a December 2015 Fox News appearance, Fleitz echoed a baseless right-wing media narrative that neighbors of the terrorists who shot and killed 14 people and wounded numerous others in San Bernardino, CA, saw suspicious activity by the shooters but didn’t alert law enforcement over fears of “racial profiling,” saying, “If someone had spoken up and said they saw this suspicious activity, … 14 people would be alive today.” During a March 2016 appearance on Fox, Fleitz helped host Neil Cavuto push the debunked right-wing myth of Muslim “no-go zones,” referring to them as “safe havens in Europe.”
And in a June 2017 Breitbart News Daily radio appearance, Fleitz fearmongered about Muslims in the United Kingdom, saying some communities of British Muslims “are deliberately not assimilating, are being taught to hate British society,” and claimed, “We may have generations of radical Islamists in the U.K., until the British government wakes up and stops the situation.” Fleitz also said that “there are enclaves of Muslim communities in Michigan and Minnesota that concern me,” blaming them for a measles outbreak in Minnesota that year. Conspiracy theory website WND (formerly known as WorldNetDaily) had previously pushed this smear, blaming the low rate of immunizations of Somali Muslims in the area on the Quran. But The Independent explained that the Somali Americans in Minnesota used to vaccinate their children more than other Minnesotans” until the mid-2000s, when the rate began dropping because anti-vaccine activists repeatedly visited the area to convince the community of the debunked claim that vaccines can cause autism.
Fleitz’s public anti-Muslim attitude and his senior position in a hate group aren’t the only problems with his appointment to the National Security Council. In several op-eds posted to right-wing media websites, Fleitz repeatedly questioned the intelligence community assessment from early 2017 that Russia meddled in the presidential election to help Trump -- an assessment recently backed up by the Senate intelligence committee -- calling it “rigged” and a “politicized analysis to sabotage an incoming president from a different political party.” Fleitz also said in a December Fox Business appearance that “the collusion thing” between Trump’s team and Russia “is just such nonsense,” citing the Trump administration’s sale of arms to Ukraine as proof.
Fleitz also incorrectly argued in an October 2014 column on the Center for Security Policy’s website that a New York Times report on old chemical weapons found in Iraq proved that Bush was right about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq:
Revelations last week by the New York Times that U.S. troops found chemical weapons in Iraq – about 5,000 CW warheads, shells and aviation bombs – but the size of this find and injuries from these weapons to American soldiers were covered up by the Bush administration has caused experts on both sides of the political spectrum to scramble to answer one question: does this prove President Bush was right that there were undeclared weapons of mass destruction in Iraq prior to the 2003 war?
I believe the answer to this question clearly is yes.
Others in right-wing media also spread this fantasy. But as the Times article noted, “the discoveries of these chemical weapons did not support the government’s invasion rationale,” because they had all been manufactured prior to 1991 and were “filthy, rusty or corroded,” thus not backing up Bush’s claim that Iraq “was hiding an active weapons of mass destruction program.” The Washington Post’s Fact Checker also explained that the Bush administration “staked its WMD claims on an active, on-going program that was restarted after the Kuwait conflict," and stated: “Anyone who claims that the New York Times story vindicates George W. Bush-era claims of Iraq WMD automatically earns Four Pinocchios.”
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Sinclair says such discussions are a “significant public interest benefit” for stations it buys
Last night, Sinclair Broadcast Group station WJLA hosted a “town hall” discussion on "youth & morality" featuring morally bankrupt media personality Armstrong Williams, young conservative talking heads Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens, a campus carry activist, and a Daily Caller reporter (among others) -- and Sinclair wants you to believe it’s for the public good.
The town hall was branded as both an episode of Sinclair-linked commentator Armstrong Williams’ show and a part of Sinclair’s ongoing town hall discussion series. The town hall does not appear to have yet aired on WJLA and it’s not clear if it has aired or will air on the WJLA-operated local Washington, D.C., cable channel News Channel 8, but it’s posted in full on WJLA’s website.
Sinclair touts its “Your Voice, Your Future” local town halls as a public service and an opportunity to “alert, inform, empower and engage our audience.” Here’s a quick clip to give you an idea of how that went:
Though the panel was titled “Youth & Morality,” it was advertised as largely focusing on one study that showed dwindling millennial identification with Christianity, which WJLA characterized as a sign of “unprecedented moral decline.” The panel discussion was filmed at the Museum of the Bible.
Two minutes into the town hall, host Armstrong Williams asked the audience to raise their hands if they believe in God. (Williams also asked for audience members to raise their hands if they were atheist; one person did and panelists grimaced.) Williams’ first question for the panelists followed from there: “Can you be moral and good and not believe in God?” (Most of the panelists agreed that it was possible but not as easy.) Within eight minutes, panelists were equating “objective truth” with a belief in a Christian god and arguing that the inability to identify objective truths was “cultural Marxist.”
At one point during a commercial break, Williams can be heard joking on a live mic, “Don’t fall asleep on me!” The panel returned from that break to listen to Charlie Kirk talk about “the distinction between Christianity and other religions.”
The town hall was hosted by conservative pundit Armstrong Williams, who has significant ties to Sinclair. Williams hosts a weekly show that airs on the Sinclair-owned News Channel 8 in the D.C. area and is syndicated on other Sinclair local TV stations across the country. Williams also owns several local TV stations through his holding company, Howard Stirk Holdings, which in turn sends business back to Sinclair through operations agreements.
Williams is a close confidante of Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Ben Carson, even doing public relations work on behalf of Carson while continuing to also work as a media figure. (He also served as a Carson presidential campaign adviser while maintaining his weekly hosting duties.) Recently, Williams has aligned himself with other members of the Trump administration, joining Sinclair CEO David Smith in meeting with Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai -- who was then a commissioner -- to advocate for pro-industry policies the day before Trump’s inauguration. About two months later, Williams hosted Pai on his show for a friendly interview.
Back in 2005, Williams used an earlier version of his syndicated show to promote Bush administration education policies, failing to note he was paid $240,000 by the administration to do so. The Government Accountability Office subsequently found that the Bush Department of Education had violated federal laws about covert government propaganda by paying Williams for the promotion.
Williams has also settled at least two sexual harassment suits -- one in 1997 involving reports that he “repeatedly kissed and fondled” a former producer for his now-defunct radio show over the course of nearly two years, and another in 2017 alleging that he groped and sought sexual favors from a former employee and later retaliated against the man.
During the panel, Williams talked about his daily prayer routine and decision not to “use profane language” at work because he is the “moral leader” in his office.
The panel featured eight participants in addition to Williams, the majority of whom were young conservative media figures who fall at various points on the spectrum from extreme or blatantly racist to embarrassing or just boring.
TPUSA’s Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens both participated in parts of the town hall. Frequent Fox News guest and conservative “boy wonder” Kirk is the founder of TPUSA, a group best known for a misguided 2017 protest in which its members wore adult diapers to “trigger the libs,” but whose stated mission is to “identify, educate, train, and organize students to promote the principles of freedom, free markets, and limited government.” Kirk, Owens, and TPUSA frequently fearmonger about suppression of conservative speech on college campuses while themselves leading a McCarthyist doxxing effort against liberal professors. Meanwhile, TPUSA has defended at least one professor with ties to a white nationalist group and several of its leading members have been outed for expressing patently racist sentiments, e.g. the group’s former national field director making the statement “I HATE BLACK PEOPLE.”
Owens, TPUSA’s communications director, is another Fox News regular and “a far-right vlogger and conspiracy theorist” who has lately garnered media attention after rapper Kanye West praised “the way Candace Owens thinks.” Owens gained attention from far-right MAGA trolls after she posted a video in the wake of the deadly Charlottesville, VA, “Unite the Right” rally in which she dismissed white supremacy as a narrative pushed by the media, leading to her appearance on conspiracy theory outlet Infowars. Owens has also called for all DREAMers to be deported and has argued that immigrants directly harm the black community.
During the town hall discussion, Owens lamented that conservatives were allowing themselves to be “silenced by liberal outrage” and said that younger conservatives and Christians ought to “punch back.”
The Daily Caller’s Amber Athey also participated in the discussion. The Daily Caller is Tucker Carlson’s sexist and racist brainchild, which frequently dabbles in anti-Semitism, anti-trans rhetoric, far-right conspiracy theories, and celebrity bikini photo slideshows, and makes light of sexual assault. Athey herself has tweeted anti-Semitic jokes, and repeatedly used the slurs “fag” and ”faggot,” and, in one case, “nigga$.” (Athey has since deleted the tweets, but they are available via archive.is.)
During the town hall discussion, Athey complained, “There are a lot of ideas on college campuses that -- if they’re conservative or they’re religious, they’re considered taboo and you’re not allowed to say it. Otherwise you’re considered a bigot.”
Town hall participant Antonia Okafor describes herself as “one of the country’s foremost advocates of concealed carry on campus” and has previously appeared in NRA media. Okafor makes regular media appearances pushing NRA-backed myths about campus carry, arguing that carrying concealed firearms would make young black women safer. In reality, the presence of firearms in domestic violence situations, for example, puts women’s lives -- and especially black women’s lives -- at significantly greater risk. And household gun ownership in general only increases the risk of death due to homicide, suicide, or accident; Okafor’s agenda would put women in greater danger.
Rounding out the participant list are right-wing media figures Jason Russell, an editor at the conservative Washington Examiner, and Shermichael Singleton, an aspiring conservative pundit who briefly worked at Carson’s HUD before he was fired for anti-Trump writings. Preacher and lobbyist Quadricos Driskell and American Legislative Exchange Council-affiliated conservative attorney Shelby Emmett also participated.
Sinclair has used its “Your Voice, Your Future” town halls -- also the platform former Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka used to decry “black African gun crime” last fall -- to argue that Sinclair-owned and -operated local TV stations are providing greater services to the public. In one Federal Communications Commission (FCC) filing, Sinclair pointed to the discussion series as evidence that its planned acquisition of Tribune Media would create a “significant public interest benefit.”
The FCC is currently reviewing the Sinclair-Tribune deal specifically to ensure it would benefit the public and has signaled it will make a decision following a comment period that ends on July 12.
Eric Hananoki contributed research to this post.
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While briefly mentioning these issues a few times, Fox News has never substantively discussed them
Since President Donald Trump announced he would nominate current CIA Director Mike Pompeo to be secretary of state, weekday cable news shows have virtually ignored Pompeo’s anti-Muslim and anti-LGBTQ history. MSNBC and CNN have made occasional note of his anti-Muslim and anti-LGBTQ record, but neither outlet has offered much substantive discussion of Pompeo’s bigoted views. Fox hardly mentioned Pompeo’s bigoted views and largely downplayed Democratic criticism of his record as manufactured outrage designed as an excuse to block his confirmation.
But Pompeo’s record of espousing lies about Islam and denouncing LGBTQ rights has led some lawmakers to question whether he could credibly represent the United States as the country’s top diplomat to other nations.
Pompeo has a cozy relationship with both renowned Islamophobe Frank Gaffney and the anti-Muslim hate group ACT for America, which awarded Pompeo its highest honor in 2016 for being “a steadfast ally.” Pompeo has also spread a number of lies about Muslims, calling them a “threat to America” and claiming that “they abhor Christians.”
On LGBTQ rights, Pompeo has called the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage a “shocking abuse of power,” disparaged same-sex parents, attacked workplace protections and inclusion efforts for the LGBTQ community, and in response to the legalization of same-sex marriage, lamented that “we’d endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle.” Pompeo also has ties to the anti-LGBTQ hate group Family Research Council (FRC), having appeared on the group’s radio show at least six times, and has earned support from a number of other anti-LGBTQ hate groups.
Experts have explained that Pompeo’s views of Islam could hinder his ability to conduct diplomacy with Muslim-majority countries and even galvanize the followers of terrorist organizations. LGBTQ advocates have emphasized the secretary of state’s “crucial role” in advancing LGBTQ rights globally, noting that Pompeo’s confirmation could “result in the United States overlooking, minimizing, or ignoring even the most blatant examples of human rights abuses abroad.”
From March 13 to April 23, Pompeo’s anti-Muslim views came up only three times on Fox News: two passing mentions on Shepard Smith Reporting and one on The Daily Briefing with Dana Perino when a guest chalked up the criticism to Democrats nit-picking in an effort to block Trump’s nomination. Comparatively, MSNBC had just eight mentions and CNN had six, the majority of which did not include details about Pompeo’s views. MSNBC aired one segment in which host Ali Velshi outlined how Pompeo has “chummed around with some very deeply anti-Muslim groups,” offering examples of Pompeo’s alarming history.
As for Pompeo’s anti-LGBTQ record, it came up five times on Fox between March 13 and April 23, with no detailed discussion of the issue. MSNBC mentioned his anti-LGBTQ views briefly six times and discussed it at length just once in a panel. Similarly, CNN mentioned them briefly four times and held just one panel discussion that provided deeper context.
Nearly every mention of Pompeo’s anti-Muslim and anti-LGBTQ views on Fox came with the suggestion that Democrats were raising the issue only to obstruct the confirmation of Trump’s nominee, a talking point that occasionally shined through on CNN as well. But Fox’s silence on Pompeo’s record was particularly jarring, with some Fox contributors using airtime to lobby senators to confirm him.
Media Matters searched SnapStream between March 13 and April 23 for “Pompeo,” “Muslim,” “Islam,” “Frank Gaffney,” “ACT for America,” “Brigitte Gabriel,” “gay,” “LGBT,” “LGBTQ,” “homophobic,” and “same-sex” and counted all mentions of Pompeo’s anti-Muslim and anti-LGBTQ views on Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC from 6 a.m. to midnight on weekdays.
Brianna January contributed research to this report.
April 24, 5:35 pm -- This post has been updated with two additional mentions.
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