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  • 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:

  • 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.

  • Four ways that Fox is misinforming people about Trump and the Senate GOP's proposal to end the shutdown

    Blog ››› ››› COURTNEY HAGLE


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    As the longest government shutdown in history continues, Fox News and Fox Business are doing their part to push a proposal from President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans. But in the proposal, which Trump's media allies insist is a great deal for Democrats, the GOP is offering only temporary fixes to problems Trump created and adding new restrictions for asylum seekers, while ignoring Democrats' primary point -- that Trump is holding the government hostage.

    The Trump administration has billed the proposal as a generous compromise for Democrats. Officials claim that it would expand existing protections for about 700,000 immigrants currently protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, started under President Barack Obama; expand protections for immigrants who currently have temporary protected status (TPS); and provide $800 billion in aid to improve care for children and families at the border.

    In exchange, Trump is demanding $5.7 billion to fund a wall on the U.S. southern border and asking for “millions more” funding for law enforcement. This includes “2,750 more border agents and other law enforcement officials, millions of dollars in screening technology to detect drugs at ports of entry, and the hiring of 75 new immigration judges to address the immigration court backlog, which is currently the biggest barrier to deporting people quickly.” The proposal would increase the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) budget by more than $1 billion. The proposed bill also includes changes to asylum rules for Central American children and teenagers that would allow them “to apply for asylum in their home countries — a modification of an Obama administration program Trump ended in 2017.” In return, the Trump administration wants to change the current immigration law to eliminate automatic court hearings and make it easier to deport children and teenagers who come to the U.S.

    Despite the administration's attempt to paint this as a good faith offer, there are many reasons why the Democratic leadership is calling his proposal a “non-starter.” First, the proposed bill does nothing to address the Democratic leadership’s main concern that Congress should not be debating border security while the government is shut down. Second, the concessions that Trump’s administration is eager to offer Democrats would likely have little impact. Trump's attempts to end DACA and TPS are being fought in court, and the Supreme Court has not yet agreed to take up either case, meaning it is unlikely that a three-year, one-time extension will protect DACA and TPS recipients any longer than waiting for an eventual Supreme Court decision would. The time period for immigrants to apply for DACA has ended, and only current DACA recipients are allowed to re-apply every two years. Democrats understand that if “they don’t make a deal, current DACA recipients will remain protected from deportation and able to work for several more months at least.”

    The TPS and DACA concessions that Trump's administration is eager to paint as wins for Democrats would actually weaken the programs. Trump’s TPS proposal would eliminate temporary protections for refugees from six of the 10 countries currently covered by the program. The proposal also affects DACA recipients and asylum seekers by imposing stricter penalties for providing incorrect information during the application process, which could result in an application being denied due to minor mistakes. The proposal also determines new requirements for approving an asylum claim, and adds that an application can be rejected for not being “consistent with the national interest.” Lorella Praeli, the ACLU’s deputy national political director, warned ABC News in a statement: "This sham ‘compromise’ would weaken the asylum system, strip vulnerable children of critical safeguards ... and hollow out protections for individuals from countries ravaged by natural disasters or war."

    The Democrats have no reason to trust Trump when it comes to immigration because he has flip-flopped on such policy proposals in the past. Trump also did not negotiate this proposed bill with the Democrats, but instead consulted with Vice President Mike Pence, top aide Jared Kushner, and congressional Republicans such as Sen. Lindsey Graham. Finally, the Democrats see the demand of $5.7 billion for a border wall as Trump simply trying to fulfill a racist campaign promise to his base.

    Despite this, Trump’s supporters at Fox are trying to boost this bill by pushing it as a great deal for the Democrats, claiming that the proposal offers greater protection for DACA recipients, arguing that the changes to asylum rules are actually positive, and floating the idea that rejecting this proposal would mean Democrats don’t really care about DACA recipients.

    Declaring that the proposed bill is a great deal for the Democrats

    Fox & Friends’ host Steve Doocy characterized the proposed bill as “a win-win for both sides.” From the January 22 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

    STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): If those moderate Democrats who we’ve heard on television over the last month or so don't come to the table and put forth a good-faith effort to negotiate an end to this and simply vote in lock step with Chuck Schumer, you got to wonder why -- other than to not allow Donald Trump a win. Because when you look at the deal that the president proposed on Saturday, he gets some wall money, although just about a quarter of what he asked for initially. And the Democrats wind up with DACA protections, humanitarian money close to a billion dollars. It's a win-win for both sides. If they say no, I'm sure people all across America, as Ali just said, are going to blame the Democrats. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 1/22/19]

    Fox Business’ Stuart Varney said that “for the life of me,” he doesn’t understand how Democrats can “keep going with their blanket resistance.” From the January 22 edition of Fox Business' Varney & Co:

    STUART VARNEY (HOST): Really, I mean, it’s such an obvious deal, isn't it? You take care of the Dreamers, and I think most Americans would like in some way to take care of the Dreamers. But you also build a wall. You stop the problem in the future. And -- for the life of me, I don't see how [Rep.] Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Schumer can keep going with their blanket resistance to anything that Mr. Trump proposes. [Fox Business, Varney & Co., 1/22/19]

    On Fox’s Special Report with Bret Baier, guest Mollie Hemingway characterized Trump’s offer as “a ridiculously generous proposal.” From the January 22 edition of Fox News’ Special Report with Bret Baier:

    MOLLIE HEMINGWAY (THE FEDERALIST): He is now taking matters into his own hands, working with the vice president, bringing forth this other proposal. It is actually kind of a ridiculously generous proposal, a lot of what the president and [Sen.] McConnell have been suggesting in a way that might even risk losing some of the support that they have from the conservative base. I mean all of this generosity with DACA and the temporary status, and the Central American asylum status-seekers. All of these things, they’re very generous offers -- $5 billion for a wall is really very little money. The idea that you’re not going to see any movement from the other side -- the reason why it might be a problem for Nancy Pelosi is her only talking point is we want to reopen the government. Well, you have to act like -- as Greg said -- you have to act like you’re serious about that, if you really want to do it. If you are not offering anything, not putting anything on the table, not putting forth any realistic compromise and not accepting these really generous offers, it kind of hurts your own talking point. [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 1/22/19]

    Fox & Friends Weekend co-host Pete Hegseth called the proposal a “gift to Democrats,” while Jedediah Bila described the proposal as “a genuine effort on [Trump’s] part to compromise.” From the January 20 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends Weekend:

    PETE HEGSETH (CO-HOST): And the sort of gift to Democrats was the three years of legal relief, basically a three-year extension of DACA protection for DACA recipients and then a three-year extension of protection for immigrants under a temporary protected status. He held firm on the $5.7 billion, a lot of people looking to see whether he would move on that. And then basically said, “Hey, if you want to reopen the government, I will give you DACA, I will give you other aspects of temporary protected status, only temporarily for three years.” And then I think that gives him room to say, “Well, if you want a full DACA fix, I want even more wall money.” I'm not saying that's where it will go. But -- he didn’t cave on the bigger number, which is what people were looking at.

    JEDEDIAH BILA (CO-HOST): I think this was a genuine effort on his part to compromise. [Fox News, Fox & Friends Weekend, 1/20/19]

    Later on in the show, co-host Ed Henry gushed that Trump is “talking about compromise” and “common sense,” while Bila said that she is “infuriated by the Democrats’ reaction.” From the January 20 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends Weekend:

    ED HENRY (CO-HOST): The Democrats always want to say he's harsh, he wants to divide. Instead he's talking about compromise, he’s talking about common sense, he's talking about compassion. So what were the outlines, what were the specific of that deal -- $800 million in urgent humanitarian aid. So he’s not just talking about cracking down. He's talking about helping people on the border. He also, though, has $805 million for drug detection technology at ports of entry saying, I'm going to be tough on the border. Over 2,700 additional border patrol agents, law enforcement officials. Again, to highlight the crackdown as well, 75 new immigration judge teams to reduce that backlog we hear about, months and months of cases built up, which is why a lot of people end up getting dumped out on the streets of America. And sticking -- holding firm on that number, $5.7 billion in border -- in actual wall funding. But then here's what he's reaching out to Democrats about. Three years of legislative relief for 700,000 DACA recipients. So there’s not a path to citizenship that Democrats want. They don't get to stay here forever but a three-year pause, which seems like a reasonable compromise. And a three-year extension of TPS, which is essentially Temporary Protection Status for about 300,000 immigrants who are here right now from El Salvador and other countries in Central America.

    JEDEDIAH BILA (CO-HOST): I'm actually infuriated by the Democrats' reaction. I really am, because this is all stuff that they've supported in the past. And they’re complaining -- They have complained in the past. You saw Barack Obama even talking about the humanitarian crisis. Well, this addresses that. They have asked for this, for DACA to be addressed, this addresses that. They have in the past supported border security. This addresses that. So he really came to the table with something that should have been palatable to everyone, and for them to just immediately respond the way they did, I mean let's take a look, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, right away saying, “We reject it, we’re not interested.” And Pelosi saying it's unacceptable and a non-starter. Schumer, “more hostage-taking.” How do you have that reaction? [Fox News, Fox & Friends Weekend, 1/20/19]

    On America’s News Headquarters, Fox guest Patrice Onwuka characterized Trump’s proposals as “concessions.” From the January 19 edition of Fox News’ America’s News Headquarters:

    PATRICE ONWUKA (INDEPENDENT WOMEN’S FORUM): You know, I’d like to believe that, I’d like to hope so. Those are two pretty big concessions on the part of the administration in saying “Listen, we actually want Democrats to come to the table and not be on vacation or sorry, traveling, outside of the country, going on junkets or whatever the case may be.” I mean, I think at this point it would be good to see progressives actually put forward a hand and say “Hey, we’re actually willing to make some concessions as well and meet the president and Congress and Republicans halfway here.” Unfortunately, it doesn't sound like that's going to happen. [Fox News, America’s News Headquarters, 1/19/19]

    Claiming that the proposal is a good deal for DACA recipients and offers greater protection

    Fox & Friends guest Ali Noorani claimed that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has “an incredible opportunity” to allow immigrants to “retain their legal status.” From the January 22 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

    ALI NOORANI (NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM): The Senate majority leader has an incredible opportunity in front of him to put 800,000 people back into solvency. They’re going to be missing their second paycheck at the end of the week. Sen. McConnell can not only strike a deal that gets their paychecks with you, but also get President Trump the border resources that he’s looking for and permanent protections for recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival and Temporary Protected Status. You put those two numbers together, we are talking about 1.8 million people who are getting a paycheck or being able to retain their legal status. Sen. McConnell has got an incredible opportunity to bring Schumer and Pelosi to the table to strike a compromise. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 1/22/19]

    Fox & Friends guest Linda Vega falsely claimed that currently “applicants are not able to re-apply for benefits” and that Trump’s proposed bill would give recipients the chance to “permanent residency … or to actually work and pay taxes.” From the January 22 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

    LINDA VEGA (IMMIGRATION LAWYER): Well the rush is currently -- applicants are not able to re-apply or apply for any benefits. They're at a standstill. If they're in court proceedings they're being deported. This plan, this three-year offer by the president would offer them the opportunity to adjust their status to permanent residency, or to continue studying in the country, or to actually work and pay taxes. It's a great offer for a starting point. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 1/22/19]

    Arguing that the changing asylum rules to limit asylum is actually good

    On Fox News’ The Five, co-host Jesse Watters listed “changes to the asylum” procedures as “logical arguments” that Democrats “just can’t argue with.” From the January 21 edition of Fox News’ The Five:

    JESSE WATTERS (CO-HOST): These logical arguments, they just can't argue with. All they say is, “Oh, it's mean.” So if you look at what he's offering, he's offering humanitarian assistance. He's offering changes to the asylum. He says only 280 additional walls to be needed and to be built. And what are they saying? No? And millions of people are still not getting paid. I don't think that's very compassionate. [Fox News, The Five, 1/22/19]

    When listing Trump’s proposals on Fox News’ Justice with Judge Jeanine, host Jeanine Pirro characterized the changes to asylum rules by saying, “Now young people can seek asylum in their country.” From the January 20 edition of Fox News’ Justice with Judge Jeanine:

    JEANINE PIRRO (HOST): The president described in clear and direct language the human crises ranging from 300 of our children dying every week from heroin -- 90 percent of which comes through those porous Mexican borders. Now young people can seek asylum in their country without traveling with those dangerous human traffickers and coyotes. [Fox News, Justice with Judge Jeanine, 1/20/19]

    Accusing Democrats of not caring about DACA recipients if they do not accept the proposed bill

    Fox News’ host Sean Hannity accused Democrats of scoring “cheap political points” instead of caring about DACA recipients, while Trump is making “honest efforts. From the January 22 edition of Fox News’ Hannity:

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): So the president is trying to do his job. Honest efforts, reaching out to the Democratic Party in every possible way. An invitation a day, they won't meet him. They are too busy traveling on paid junkets and using taxpayer money. Once again, they want to score cheap political points. I thought they cared about the furloughed workers. Apparently not. I guess they cared about the DACA kids, apparently not, and the Dreamers, apparently not

    While Democrats dig in and obstruct, even some in the hate-Trump media are beginning to admit that the president is making Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats look pretty stupid. [Fox News, Hannity, 1/22/19]

    On Fox News’ Outnumbered, co-host Katie Pavlich claimed that “people are starting to notice” that Pelosi cares “more about politically scoring points than she is about scoring points for the people she claims to want to protect.” From the January 22 edition of Fox News’ Outnumbered:

    KATIE PAVLICH (co-host): At the same time that Nancy Pelosi continues to play games, and the president gives them things that they voted for in the past, whether it's barriers on the border or protections for DACA recipients, Dreamers, their parents. They continued to say no. He's put many, many things on the table. I think that Nancy Pelosi takes for granted her voting base and the base of the left. Because, as Harris -- you always brings up, she's been protested before for not protecting DACA recipients in a way that she has promised to do. I think that people are starting to notice that when push comes to shove and it's put on the table, she is more about politically scoring points than she is about scoring points for the people she claims to want to protect. [Fox News, Outnumbered, 1/22/19]

    Fox & Friends Weekend co-host Ed Henry claimed that “DACA recipients and others [are] saying that they are getting frustrated with Nancy Pelosi and the democratic leaders. From the January 20 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends Weekend:

    ED HENRY (CO-HOST): Democrats love to talk about about, “Oh, the president’s under pressure from his right flank. And Ann Coulter’s not happy with a deal like this, and she pressured him into a government shutdown.” What they don't like to talk about is how there are some on the left now, DACA recipients and others, saying that they are getting frustrated with Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic leaders. That they promised the DACA recipients the moon and they are not delivering. [Fox News, Fox & Friends Weekend, 1/20/19]

  • Some Democrats went to Puerto Rico to spotlight the island's recovery, and Fox News is furious

    Democrats went to Puerto Rico to discuss, fundraise for, and spread awareness about hurricane recovery, but Fox News says they were "partying in Puerto Rico" instead of "doing something in Washington"

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    On the morning of January 14, Fox News focused heavily on a group of over 30 Democrats, most of them members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, who spent the weekend in Puerto Rico as part of an annual retreat. Fox spun this trip as the Democrats partying "on the beaches" instead of working to end the government shutdown.

    Democrats were actually in Puerto Rico for a retreat organized by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ Bold PAC. According to The Hill, Bold PAC chair Tony Cárdenas said “he chose Puerto Rico for this year's convention to showcase the island's needs as it slowly recovers from 2017's Hurricane Maria.” NBC News reported that members of Congress sought to aid the island’s recovery from Hurricane Maria by bringing medical supplies and discussing the neglected recovery with Puerto Rican political leaders, including Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, and several top legislators. 

    Democrats also attended a performance of Hamilton, part of a special limited-time run in which creator and original star Lin-Manuel Miranda reprised his role to help raise funds for hurricane recovery. According to The Hill, Miranda said, “We brought Hamilton here to bring a spotlight to Puerto Rico” and its recovery. All Democrats who attended bought their tickets with their own money. 

    NBC News also reported that “The Bold PAC conference was scheduled for Puerto Rico months before the shutdown” and that the group would be monitoring the shutdown and its developments. The report also noted that the congressional members would “be able to get a bird's-eye view of how the shutdown is affecting the island that is trying to pull itself out of a financial crisis while recovering with the devastation of Category 4 Hurricane Maria."

    While Fox News did mention that it was “a work-play trip,” most of its 19 mentions or segments about the story between 6 a.m. and noon on January 14 were intended to create an image of Democrats ducking their responsibility to help end the government shutdown (which Fox News helped start) and instead vacationing in paradise while real Americans suffer. 

    Fox & Friends co-host Ainsley Earhardt said that “the optics are not good” for the Democrats when “there are 800,000 [federal] workers that aren’t getting paid,” but members of Congress who are “supposed to be doing something in Washington” are instead “on the beaches with their families.” Fellow co-host Brian Kilmeade also falsely claimed that CBS and NBC didn’t cover the story, when both networks covered the story online before Monday.

    Fox & Friends opened its 8 a.m. hour with the line “President Trump says it’s time for Democrats to get off the beach and come back to work while the shutdown enters day 24.” 

    Kilmeade said that the Democrats were “even enjoying a Broadway show" in Puerto Rico. Fox & Friends First co-host Rob Schmitt, who is covering the story in Puerto Rico, reported, “There have been some meetings and there has been some work done. But there’s also been plenty of leisure time.” He also complimented Sen. Bob Menendez’s (D-NJ) “great Instagram photo,” saying he’s “got the nice tan going.” 

    Kilmeade also asked counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway about the White House’s reaction to “the Democrats partying in Puerto Rico rather than staying” in Washington, D.C.

    Fox correspondent Doug McKelway compared the Democrats’ Puerto Rico trip to Trump’s normally frequent golfing excursions, commenting that Trump “has been picking his travels very, very carefully” with the government shutdown, and during these times “playing golf, not such a good thing, visits to Puerto Rico, not such a good thing.” 

    Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer criticized the “30 Democratic members” for going “down on some PAC event where they’re soliciting money from lobbyists in Puerto Rico and hanging out on the beach.”

    Fox re-aired Trump’s highly misleading comment that “the Democrats were in Puerto Rico celebrating” the government shutdown.

    Miranda addressed the controversy at the summit in Puerto Rico as he thanked the Democrats and other officials assembled for being “here to work, despite what anyone might claim.” 

  • Republican lawmakers have guest-hosted Fox News’ Outnumbered at least 18 times in 17 months

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) co-hosted Fox News' Outnumbered today, marking at least the 18th time that a Republican member of Congress has guest-hosted the show since August 2017.

    Every day on Outnumbered, the hosting panel is comprised of four women and one man (aka “#OneLuckyGuy”). While a few of the women panelists appear most days, there is some rotation for the other spots. And while Gaetz’s turn as the #OneLuckyGuy guest host is getting some attention from the media world today, his is actually at least the 18th guest-hosting appearance by a sitting Republican House or Senate member in 17 months.

    After Gaetz tweeted and released a press release stating he would “be hosting” Outnumbered today, Fox News attempted damage control by arguing semantics. According to The Daily Dot, Fox’s “Alan Komissaroff, VP of News, called Gaetz’s tweet ‘factually inaccurate’ and said he was not hosting but rather appearing as a guest.”

    Here are the 17 other elected GOP lawmakers who have taken a turn as part of Outnumbered’s panel:

    Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) co-hosted at least three times in 2018, on January 25, April 9, and June 12.

    Then-Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) co-hosted at least three times, on October 10, 2017, January 8, 2018, and February 12, 2018.

    Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) co-hosted at least three times, on September 29, 2017, March 9, 2018, and November 21, 2018.

    Rep. Scott Taylor (R-VA) co-hosted at least twice, on August 31, 2017, and April 3, 2018.

    Then-Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) co-hosted at least once on October 19, 2017.

    Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) co-hosted at least once on November 13, 2018.

    Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) co-hosted at least once on November 26, 2018.

    Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) co-hosted at least once on December 10, 2018.

    Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) co-hosted at least once on October 16, 2018.

    And Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) co-hosted at least once on April 30, 2018.

  • Hugh Hewitt and Sen. Tom Cotton go to the fever swamps in Kavanaugh nomination postmortem

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Conservative pundit Hugh Hewitt and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) are pushing a conspiracy theory that professor Christine Blasey Ford’s decision to speak out about then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was actually orchestrated by Democratic leaders in the Senate. The version of events proposed by Hewitt and Cotton is at odds with reports on how Ford decided to come forward, and it serves to undercut Ford’s bravery.

    Cotton was a guest on the October 9 broadcast of Hewitt’s radio show, The Hugh Hewitt Show. Hewitt prompted the conspiracy theory by asking Cotton if he thought “that this was planned long before it was unveiled? And by that, I mean the leak of Dr. Ford’s letter. I don’t know who did it, but I believe it was part of a campaign that was set up to occur exactly when it did. Do you agree with me?”

    Cotton did agree, and he wove an evidence-free conspiracy theory that as early as July, “the Schumer political operation” -- a reference to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) -- and possibly former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara were involved in a plan to leak the contents of a letter Ford had sent to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). In the letter, Ford gave an account of Kavanaugh sexually assaulting her when they were both in high school.
     

    This conspiratorial timeline is at odds with reality. Ford sent a letter dated July 30 to Feinstein and asked that the California senator keep its contents confidential. The Intercept was the first to report on the letter, writing on September 12 that it “describes an incident involving Kavanaugh and a woman while they were in high school” and that Feinstein was refusing to share its contents with other senators, which “created tension on the committee.” According to Politico, “The reporter behind that [Intercept] story later stated that Feinstein’s staff did not leak the letter.”

    Ford came forward publicly in a September 16 Washington Post article. She said later during her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee that the presence of reporters at her home and workplace made her realize her identity would be revealed in any case, so she decided to speak on the record with a reporter at the Post who she said had gained her trust.

    Hewitt has a history of being dishonest while discussing federal judicial nominations, but political talk shows still treat him as a mainstream conservative commentator when they bring him on to talk about the topic. While previously his falsehoods served to provide cover for the GOP to radically change norms around the nomination process, he has now sunk to pushing a conspiracy theory.

    Cotton, for his part, has his own history of underhanded behavior on executive branch nominations. In 2014, Cotton placed a hold on President Barack Obama’s nomination of Cassandra Butts to serve as ambassador to the Bahamas. More than two years after her nomination was announced, Butts, who Cotton acknowledged was not a controversial nominee, died of leukemia at age 50, with Cotton’s hold still in place. Before she died, Butts told The New York Times that she had visited Cotton to ask about the hold and he said he knew she was friends with Obama and the hold was a way to inflict personal pain on the president.

  • This American Life falls for Jeff Flake’s gimmick

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Among U.S. senators, perhaps no one bears more responsibility for Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court than Arizona’s Jeff Flake. The retiring Republican senator has made a cottage industry in recent months out of his willingness to break away from Republican Party orthodoxy surrounding President Donald Trump. But he does so in entirely symbolic gestures, nearly always supporting the president's agenda whenever it comes to a vote.

    Flake deployed a variation of this tired schtick on September 28, when he inserted himself into Kavanaugh’s confirmation process by saying he would oppose the vote on the Senate floor unless the FBI was given one week to reopen its background investigation into Kavanaugh.

    While Flake received some plaudits for attaching this caveat to his vote, there is little evidence that he deserved the praise. Of course the FBI’s process was controlled by the Senate’s GOP leadership and the White House -- not Flake -- and their investigation predictably ended up being a sham, extremely limited in both scope and time. What’s worse: The farce of an investigation provided a pretext for senators who were receiving the strongest pressure to vote no -- most notably Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Flake himself -- to push Kavanaugh over the finish line instead.

    This American Life, a weekly public radio program and podcast with an estimated audience of nearly 5 million listeners, published an October 5 episode in which producer Zoe Chace followed and interviewed Flake throughout the confirmation process. Unfortunately, the typically illuminating program fell short in this instance by casting Flake in the softest and most credulous light possible.

    The episode glorified the moment when Flake set in motion the sham FBI investigation, with Chace narrating that Flake’s move preserved “the integrity of the process on the Senate Judiciary Committee.” It also celebrated Flake’s all talk, no action approach as something admirable and sorely needed in today’s politics -- even as Flake himself acknowledged to Chace that in his view “he could never have done something like this if he were still running for office”:

    ZOE CHACE: Preserving the integrity of the process on the Senate Judiciary Committee is a much less romantic story than the one about two survivors of sexual assault changing a senator's mind at the last second. That's what happened, though.

    And finally, that day, the world sees Jeff Flake find a third way. It's something he's been looking for for a long time on a lot of issues -- a way to vote with his Republican colleagues, but stand for certain principles with the Democrats. It's the weirdest niche. But he's a weirdo right now -- a ghost Republican. He doesn't really have a constituency he's speaking for, being anti-Trump but pro- his policies.

    He's retiring from the Senate in a few months. As he says, he could never have done something like this if he were still running for office. There's no value to reaching across the aisle, he says. There's no currency for that anymore. If you do that, you'll lose. So there is not much crossing over to the other side ever, by anybody -- which is maybe why, when you do cross over, this is what happens.

    Chace also adopted Flake’s claim about Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony, saying the senator “found Ford credible and convincing, but he came back, over and over, to the fact that there was nothing corroborating her testimony. No one else could put him in the room that night.”

    Setting aside the credulous repetition of the bizarre GOP talking point that Ford is credible and convincing yet also totally mistaken about who attacked her, the claim about corroboration is misleading at best. Ford’s account of being sexually assaulted by Kavanaugh when they were both in high school was corroborated by conversations Ford had in therapy, with her husband, and with friends and other family members prior to his Supreme Court nomination. And the GOP-controlled FBI investigation ensured that no contemporaneous corroboration would be uncovered, despite compelling evidence -- such as an entry on Kavanaugh’s calendar showing that he was drinking with the same people Ford said were at the party during the time frame in which she said the assault occurred. The FBI investigation was also not permitted to independently verify employment records for key witness Mark Judge, an action Ford herself suggested to the Senate Judiciary Committee would help to narrow the time frame of the alleged assault for a more thorough investigation.

    More broadly, it would be an understatement to characterize the collegial exchanges between Flake and Chace throughout the segment as a softball interview. In one scene, the two met up in New York City, where Flake was speaking at an event the day after he made his FBI investigation gambit. Chace noted that presumably liberal New Yorkers approached the senator and asked him to pose for pictures, which she took for them. Later the reporter and the senator laughed as she asked, “Do you think they know that you're going to vote for Kavanaugh?”

    Chace’s interviews with Flake focused on the optics and political horse race aspects of the Kavanaugh nomination while ignoring real-world impacts. For example, the program didn’t force Flake to explain to women what it means to have yet another justice confirmed to the Supreme Court despite multiple credible allegations of sexual misconduct. Or what it means to have a new Supreme Court justice who is fresh off of delivering a highly unusual and partisan rant before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Or what it means to confirm a nominee who clearly lied under oath numerous times in testimony, something that Flake had told 60 Minutes would be a deal breaker. (Clearly when it was time for him to vote, it wasn’t.)

    Instead, the program focused primarily on what it's like to be the senior senator from Arizona, right now. “Jeff Flake's had a rough few years,” Chace reflected after he called for the FBI investigation but before he announced he was voting to confirm Kavanaugh. “They hate him on the right, and he keeps disappointing the left. It feels good, for once, to be popular.”

    The segment closed with one last interview after Flake had done what most expected and voted for Kavanaugh. Chace asked, “Do you feel better now? You're kind of back among your people. You had kind of a week with the Democrats celebrating you, but you're back among your people.”

    “Do I have people?” Flake responded. “I guess so. I am a man, temporarily, without a party,” he said, laughing.