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  • The sinister pro-Trump propaganda of Lou Dobbs

    Tune in to Lou Dobbs Tonight for creepy adulation of Donald Trump and routine calls to imprison the president’s opponents

    Blog ››› ››› SIMON MALOY


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    At his New Year’s Eve celebration at Mar-a-Lago, President Donald Trump grabbed a microphone and gave thanks to the guests who paid him several hundred dollars each for the privilege of attending. As he spoke, the president singled out one attendee for some especially fulsome praise: Fox Business Network host Lou Dobbs. “The great Lou Dobbs is here, by the way,” Trump said. “Boy, I tell you, I’ve loved him for years, but now I really love him. And you know what? It’s not about me. It’s about -- he is saying what he believes.” To applause and cheers, the president heaped his admiration on the cable news personality: “I just want to tell you, you are fantastic, and we appreciate it. Everybody in this room appreciates it.”

    If you know anything about Donald Trump then you can probably guess why he loves and appreciates Lou Dobbs so much: Dobbs is a committed and shameless sycophant to the president. Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson and the other pro-Trump mercenaries who turn Fox News into de facto state television get the lion’s share of attention and criticism, but Dobbs’ Fox Business show is a bluntly propagandistic farce that treats Trump less as a president than a cult leader.

    The running theme of Lou Dobbs Tonight is easy to suss out: Trump is single-handedly restoring American glory despite the subversive opposition of his many internal enemies. The president’s adversaries include Hillary Clinton, Democrats, Republican congressional leaders, the “deep state,” the left-wing media, and countless other supposed malefactors. For Dobbs, one critical word aimed at the president is enough to make you a “subversive” and an enemy of the American people.

    There are a wealth of examples one could choose from to illustrate this dynamic, but Dobbs’ reaction to Trump’s reported denigration of Haiti and “shithole” African nations offers an apt data point. Dobbs kicked off his January 12 show with a defense of the president’s “colorful language” and a swipe at “duplicitous Dems” who were “claiming offense.” Without actually describing what the president is supposed to have said, Dobbs explained Trump’s “fundamental point” in insulting poorer nations and their citizens: something about the misuse of international aid.

    “What has happened to all of the aid that the U.S. government has sent to Haiti over the past quarter century?” Dobbs demanded. “Why should any president, but particularly this one, have to put up with the self-serving ignorance of the Dems and the left who call Mr. Trump a racist because he questioned why all that aid hasn't been enough to diminish if not eliminate horribly persistent poverty?”

    No reporting anywhere has linked Trump’s remarks to international aid or poverty alleviation. Not even the White House has tried floating that defense. Dobbs just conjured it up on his own and presented it as an obvious truth that the president, in his serene majesty, stated plainly only to be viciously and unjustly attacked. “President Trump shouldn’t put up with that disrespect, that ignorance, in my opinion,” Dobbs added.

    It was insane, counterfactual propaganda delivered with maximum outrage and designed to portray Donald Trump as a near-infallible demigod.

    Every episode of Lou Dobbs Tonight is pretty much exactly like this.

    Loved by Lou

    By Lou Dobbs’ reckoning, Trump is owed undiluted respect and deference at all times, and even the slightest hint of insolence should not be tolerated.

    This goes for everyone, including people who praise Trump but don’t do it quite hard enough to satisfy Dobbs. On December 19, Matt Schlapp of the American Conservative Union lauded the president for his “good gut” in negotiating the tax cut package. For Dobbs, celebrating Trump’s “gut” was almost an insult. “You said ‘a good gut.’ I understand the praise of intuitive success,” Dobbs said, “but I think it’s time for people to start talking about the man’s intellect, about his judgment, and suggesting he’s intuiting all of this, I think, is a disservice to him.”

    Dobbs also expects Trump’s judicial nominees to maintain unfailing respect for the president or face harsh consequences. Back in February, then-Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch told Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) that Trump’s relentless attacks on the judiciary were “disheartening” and “demoralizing.” For this mild rebuke of the president, Dobbs demanded Gorsuch withdraw his own nomination immediately. “Gorsuch has really demonstrated a lack of honor,” Dobbs said on February 9, 2017, “and if he has honor, he should withdraw his name out of just the pure disrespect he’s shown our president, his lack of grace.”

    It’s all about “respect,” and Dobbs throws as much as he can at the president regardless of what Trump says or does. Since the first days of the Trump administration, he’s demonstrated a talent for lyrical suck-uppery, using florid language to describe everything Trump does as a history-making success.

    On January 25, 2017, while speaking to White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, Dobbs marveled at “a presidency that is moving at breakneck speed. … I don't think anyone's has seen the like of this certainly in modern history.” At that point, the Trump administration had burned two days -- roughly half its existence -- fighting with reporters about the size of the president’s inaugural crowd and his loss of the popular vote. But Dobbs was incredulous that anyone could see anything but success. “Those who find darkness in this explosion of light in Washington, D.C., have to be in a far corner of the left, I think, to be making that -- coming to that conclusion.”

    On May 22, 2017, as he was providing live coverage of a suicide bomb attack on an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, Dobbs offered his gratitude to Trump for running for office. “I have to tell you, I am so thrilled that this man decided to run for president,” he said. “He could have done lots of other things with his time that would have taken far less of his stomach lining and his patience ... no matter how strong -- and he is plenty strong.”

    Then Dobbs offered his theory for why the Manchester attack happened: Terrorists worldwide were cowering in fear of Trump following his brief trip through the Middle East. “I really believe that it is an expression tonight that we’re watching, that they -- the Islamic State and radical Islamists at large -- so fear this president with what he’s achieved,” Dobbs ventured. “I think they’re so afraid of him that they don’t know what to do and this was the best that they could do to take attention away from what has been an immensely successful period of negotiation and success on the part of this president in so many ways, in such short order.”

    Dobbs has reaped rewards from his cringe-inducing obsequiousness in the form of White House access. Top-level White House staffers are regular guests on his program, where they are given free license to spout the administration line, often with the host’s encouragement and participation. Dobbs also managed to snag an interview with Trump himself in October 2017 and was savagely mocked for his sycophantic questioning. The president rhetorically wandered throughout the interview and was unable to coherently answer even the softest of questions, but Dobbs was there to either supply the answer for him or redirect the interview to another topic.

    Since then, Dobbs’ adulation of Trump has only grown more fervent. “This president and his family have sacrificed so much to serve this nation, and for their trouble they are attacked from all sides,” Dobbs said on January 3, his first show since Trump’s Mar-a-Lago shout-out. The attacks on Trump are “unprecedented, utterly unfair, and wrong according to every American value and standard,” he said, because “this president has worked wonders, and he’s worked hard, tirelessly, and more than anyone else in Washington.”

    Enemies of the state

    Over-the-top hosannas to the massively unpopular president aren’t enough to fill an entire hour of programming. Nor do they adequately stimulate the overdeveloped rage centers of your average cable news viewer’s brain. So, to complement his fawning adoration of the president, Dobbs sprays hot venom at anyone and everyone who he believes has committed the figurative -- or, as we’ll see in a moment, literal -- crime of showing insufficient deference to Donald Trump.

    There are a lot of people Dobbs wants to see sanctioned by law enforcement and/or thrown in prison, and the most prominent among them is former President Barack Obama. Last November, Obama went on an overseas trip and, while in Paris, obliquely criticized Trump for backing out of the international climate accord that bears that city’s name. Dobbs, as you might imagine, was not happy about this.

    “This is just bad manners. It's boorish, it's absurd. He doesn't realize how foolish he looks,” Dobbs observed on December 1, 2017. “I think the U.S. Marshals should follow [Obama],” he added. “He should be brought back by the Marshals. Isn’t there some law that says presidents shouldn’t be attacking sitting presidents?”

    There is no law preventing former presidents from being rude, even when they’re in France. Nor is there a law against presidents making foreign policy decisions that cable news hosts disagree with, but Dobbs thinks there should be. “I think we’ve got some pretty clear criminal acts, or at least apparent criminal acts,” Dobbs opined on December 1, referring to “an administration, in this instance, that waits until it has less than a month left in office before President Obama decides to retaliate against the Russians for their intervention in our elections.” Obama did “absolutely nothing about Crimea -- what would you call that?” Dobbs angrily asked, adding: “Shouldn’t there be a statute that covers that kind of wrong-headedness and absolutely absurd actions in the foreign policy?”

    A few days prior to that, Dobbs tore into Richard Cordray, former director of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, for designating Deputy Director Leandra English as acting head of the agency prior to his resignation. Shortly after Cordray elevated English, the Trump administration moved to install White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney as director, and English took the matter to court in an attempt to block Mulvaney’s appointment. A federal judge ruled in the White House’s favor, but Dobbs felt more stringent measures were warranted for “lowlifes” Cordray and English. “Why didn’t that judge throw them both in jail for being frivolous and actually subversive,” Dobbs wondered on November 28.

    As special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump campaign activities started producing more indictments and guilty pleas, Dobbs became more adamant that pretty much everyone involved with the investigation be criminally prosecuted and imprisoned. “A call for the firing of Robert Mueller no longer really truly satisfies any call for accountability,” Dobbs said on December 4, arguing that Mueller, FBI agent Peter Strzok, and former FBI Director James Comey “should be the subjects of criminal investigations and held fully accountable for crimes against the sitting president and the voters who supported them.”

    On December 13, Dobbs called for a grand jury to investigate Strzok’s text messages, saying he was “really very tired of political accountability” and “I much prefer to see jail sentences for violating the trust of the American people, and working against the constitution and yes, the president of the United States.” On December 14, Dobbs said the Russia investigation showed that the Justice Department is “rancid” and the FBI is “riddled with corruption” that “has to be rooted out, people have to go to jail.” On December 15, while discussing the Russia investigation with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Dobbs said “I think it’s time to think about who should be put in jail for dishonoring their oath of office, for violating our constitution and subverting this president and subverting this government.”

    On January 22, Dobbs once again called for the U.S. Marshals to spring into action and “take into custody the top people” at the Justice Department and the FBI over some missing text messages between Stzrok and attorney Lisa Page. The following day, Dobbs allowed himself a little more hyperbolic flourish, declaring that “it may be time to declare war outright against the deep state, and clear out the rot in the upper levels of the FBI and the Justice Department.”

    All these arrests and jail sentences would be for “crimes” that either don’t actually exist or which Dobbs can’t demonstrate proof of beyond asserting that they happened. The only consistent theme in all this is that each person Dobbs wants to have prosecuted and locked up is, in his mind, a political enemy of President Trump’s.

    Creepy propaganda

    There’s no complicated secret to understanding why Dobbs is such a Trump devotee. He’s been a hardline anti-immigration agitator for years: In the mid-2000s, he started injecting anti-immigrant commentary into his CNN program, and he famously (and wrongly) blamed a non-existent spike in leprosy on undocumented immigrants. His televised persona evolved from well-heeled, stentorian headline reader to self-made populist hero and perpetually aggrieved scourge of “elites” -- a conversion that, coupled with his increasingly inflammatory and inaccurate opinion segments, precipitated his departure from CNN in 2009. Dobbs pegged the market for Trumpism long before Trumpism had Trump.

    It’s easy to laugh at a perpetually overwrought fanatic like Dobbs as he loses himself nightly to the imagined glory of a widely disliked demagogue. But it’s important to remember that Dobbs represents a broader corruption of conservative media in the age of Trump. Much of Fox News’ programming is similarly devoted to glorifying the president and whipping up as much anger as possible at his opponents. What sets Lou Dobbs Tonight apart from the rest is how intensely and creepily propagandistic the show is.

    This propaganda gets frequent endorsements from the president, who regularly tweets his gratitude for Dobbs’ histrionic coverage of his administration. This feedback loop creates an impenetrable sphere of disinformation -- a bizarre unreality in which the beneficent and virtuous president does not fail but is consistently frustrated by criminals and subversives in his self-sacrificial quest to save the country. It’s all scummy and bizarre and dangerous, and it happens every evening on Lou Dobbs Tonight.

    Update:

    Following the publication of this piece, Dobbs blocked me on Twitter. 

    Videos by John Kerr. 

  • More than a dozen Fox personalities have been headlining GOP fundraisers during Trump era

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    More than a dozen Fox hosts and contributors have been raising funds for Republican Party organizations around the country since Donald Trump was elected president, according to a Media Matters review.

    Fox hosts and contributors have been some of President Trump’s loudest supporters, using the network to push his agenda and attack his critics. Trump, in turn, has rewarded the network with regular interviews and praise.

    While Fox personalities’ on-air support for Trump and his party is open and well-documented, many of those same hosts and contributors have also been working off-air to raise critical funds for state and local GOP organizations. In addition to aligning themselves with Trump, those organizations provide backing and resources to Republican candidates when they run for office.

    The Fox personalities include hosts Lou Dobbs (​Fox Business' Lou Dobbs Tonight), Greg Gutfeld (Fox News' The Five and The Greg Gutfeld Show), Pete Hegseth (Fox News' Fox & Friends Weekend), and Jeanine Pirro (Justice with Judge Jeanine), and Fox News contributors John Bolton, David Bossie, Rachel Campos-DuffyJason Chaffetz, Sebastian Gorka, Mike Huckabee, Alveda King, Ed Rollins, Karl Rove, and Allen West.

    Fox News host Laura Ingraham also headlined an October fundraiser for Arizona U.S. Senate candidate Kelli Ward. The New York Times reported at the time that “Fox News hosts are not usually allowed to stump for candidates, but Ms. Ingraham was granted an exception because her show had not yet begun” (Ingraham was a Fox News contributor and frequent guest host prior to starting The Ingraham Angle). But Fox's reported prohibition against hosts stumping for candidates is meaningless given that they're allowed to raise funds for political parties that help those very same candidates. 

    Keynoting fundraisers can be potentially lucrative for media personalities, according to available campaign finance data. The Larimer County Republican Party in Colorado paid Premiere Speakers Bureau, which represents Pete Hegseth, a total of $5,000 in speaking fees around the time of the event Hegseth was headlining. Jeanine Pirro has received fees ranging from roughly $5,000 to $15,000 from state and local branches of the GOP. The Manatee County GOP paid a $25,000 “fee” to Washington Speakers Bureau, which exclusively represents Dobbs, a few months before its event with the pro-Trump host. It also paid roughly $2,300 for travel expenses to the bureau shortly after the event.

    A common theme among the Republican fundraisers is the use of Fox News’ branding and notoriety to sell tickets.

    Here is how the Washington State Republican Party promoted its event with Greg Gutfeld:

    Here are two flyers for events featuring Pete Hegseth:

    And here are two event pages for fundraisers with Jeanine Pirro:

    Fox considers these personalities as part of the network’s opinion side as opposed to its “news” side -- a largely meaningless distinction given how often the two sides blur together on the network. Trump himself treats Fox & Friends as a leading source of information. And Fox's opinion-side personalities have gotten numerous interviews with the president. For instance, both Hegseth and Pirro have interviewed Trump on their Fox News programs. Lou Dobbs also conducted a softball interview with the president. (Huckabee interviewed Trump though their talk aired on the former Republican governor's Trinity Broadcasting Network program.)  

    Media Matters has documented over the years how Fox News hosts and commentators actively help Republican-aligned groups grow their coffers at partisan events. In 2010, for instance, Sean Hannity keynoted a National Republican Congressional Committee dinner that “raised over $7 million.”

    The following is a non-comprehensive list of Fox News personalities who have headlined or have been scheduled to headline 2017-2018 fundraisers for Republican Party organizations.

    John Bolton

    Flagler County Republican Party (FL); San Francisco Republican Party (CA);​ Smith County Republican Club (TX).  

    David Bossie

    Republican Central Committee of Harford County (MD); St. Mary's County Republican Central Committee (MD); Washington County Republican Central Committee (MD); Wicomico County Republican Central Committee and the Salisbury University College Republicans (MD).

    Rachel Campos Duffy 

    Republican Party of Wood County (WI).

    Jason Chaffetz

    Gallatin and Madison County Republican Central Committees (MT).

    Lou Dobbs

    Manatee County Republican Executive Committee (FL). 

    Sebastian Gorka

    St. Lucie County Republican Club (FL).  

    Greg Gutfeld

    Washington State Republican Party.

    Pete Hegseth

    Larimer County Republican Party (CO);​ Powhatan County Republican Committee (VA);  Republican Party of Brazos County (TX); Snohomish County Republican Party (WA).

    Mike Huckabee

    Hawaii Republican PartyOkaloosa County Republican Party (FL).  

    Alveda King

    Cape Girardeau County Republican Women’s Club (MO).

    Jeanine Pirro

    See here.

    Ed Rollins

    New Canaan Republican Town Committee (CT).

    Karl Rove

    Allen County Republican Party (OH); Williamson County Republican Party (TX).

    Allen West

    Broward Republican Executive Committee (FL); Montgomery County Republican Party (TX); Republican Party of Coryell County (TX).

  • 2017's worst anti-trans lies and smears 

    Media Matters looks back at some of the worst smears, lies, and liars attacking the transgender community in 2017

    Blog ››› ››› REBECCA DAMANTE


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Right-wing media figures and anti-LGBTQ hate group representatives have a long history of spreading anti-trans hatred and lies, and 2017 was no different. From hate groups attacks on trans children and students to Alex Jones’ anti-LGBTQ extremism, Media Matters rounded up some of 2017’s most transphobic misinformers and their lies.

    Alex Jones cemented his place as an anti-trans extremist

    Hate groups and right-wing media figures attacked transgender children and students

    Hate groups and right-wing media continued to weaponize the thoroughly debunked “bathroom predator” myth

    Conservative media figures misinformed about the transgender military ban and told lies about trans service members

    Right-wing media figures used anti-trans language and slurs when talking about transgender people

    Alex Jones cemented his place as an anti-trans extremist

    Right-wing conspiracy theorist and ally to President Donald Trump Alex Jones has cemented his place as an anti-trans extremist this year as he repeatedly used the slur “tranny,” dehumanized trans people's existence, and spread vile rhetoric about them. Though Jones has repeatedly said he is “not against gay people,” Media Matters has documented a pattern of extreme anti-LGBTQ rhetoric that proves otherwise. 

    In one segment on his show, for example, Jones said that transgender women may be gay men who want “to go pick up more guys” by getting “breast implants” and trying to “doll [their] hair up.” On another episode, Jones compared a transgender man who had a baby to Jones deciding that he is a “50-foot, red, purple, striped giraffe” that “give[s] birth to leprechauns.” In other segments, Jones has said that accepting transgender people is a slippery slope to “brain chips” and suggested that former first lady Michelle Obama has a penis and may have killed late comedian Joan Rivers, saying that he was “not putting trannies down” with the comments.

    Jones accused transgender women of being gay men who want “to go pick up more guys” by getting breast implants and dolling up their hair.

    [Genesis Communications Network, The Alex Jones Show, 7/10/17]

    Jones compared a pregnant transgender man to a “50-foot, red, purple, striped giraffe” that gives “birth to leprechauns.”

    [Genesis Communications Network, The Alex Jones Show, 8/3/17]

    Jones said that accepting transgender people is a slippery slope to “brain chips.”

    [Genesis Communications Network, The Alex Jones Show, 8/7/17

    Hate groups and right-wing media figures attacked transgender children and students

    In 2017, hate group leaders and right-wing media personalities continued their fight against LGBTQ equality in schools, attacking transgender students and children, their parents, and teachers who teach trans-inclusive lessons. These attacks are also happening on a policy level, with hate group Alliance Defending Freedom spending much of the year trying to block transgender student equality by inserting itself in debates at local school districts and in state legislatures about transgender students’ access to restroom facilities that align with their gender identity.

    In July, anti-LGBTQ hate group American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds) President Dr. Michelle Cretella asserted that parents accepting their transgender children's’ gender identity is “child abuse” and spread myths and junk science about transgender people during an episode of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight. ACPeds is a small, deceptively named hate group with only a few hundred members that is meant to be confused with the 60,000-member American Academy of Pediatrics. In another example, right-wing media figures attacked a California elementary school teacher for reading two children’s books about gender identity to her kindergarten classroom after a transgender student brought one in to share. Right-wing website PJ Media suggested that parents “move out of [their] community” if they feel it is necessary to protect their children from being turned into “mind-numbed robots who nod affirmatively in the face of lies,” and anti-LGBTQ FoxNews.com contributor Todd Starnes called the events “an example of how schools have been indoctrination grounds for the LGBT agenda” and “activist bullies.”

    Anti-LGBTQ hate group ACPeds’ Cretella called accepting transgender children “child abuse.”

    [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 7/24/17]

    Hate groups and right-wing media continued to weaponize the thoroughly debunked “bathroom predator” myth

    Right-wing figures and anti-LGBTQ hate groups continued to reinforce the debunked “bathroom predator” myth, which asserts that policies allowing trans people to use restrooms that align with their gender identity will create an opening for sexual predators to assault women. That myth has been long debunked by experts and government officials in more than a dozen states, school administrators, and sexual assault and domestic violence prevention experts, but pundits and anti-LGBTQ figures continued to push the lie in 2017.

    On February 15, Tony Perkins, the president of anti-LGBTQ hate group Family Research Council (FRC), dubiously claimed that Target’s trans-inclusive bathroom policy gives people a “good chance” of seeing a “live rendition of CSI … because increasingly you’ve had crime scenes in their restrooms and in their changing rooms.” Similarly, on an episode of a special panel show on Houston’s Fox 26, president of the anti-LGBTQ hate group Conservative Republicans of Texas (CRTx) Jared Woodfill said that “registered sex offenders who somehow believe that they’re a woman” would be “allowed to go into the restroom where our wives, our daughters, and our mothers are going to be.” In yet another example, Charmaine Yoest, a right-wing political commentator who is now in a top communications post at the Department of Health and Human Services, asserted that “the real issue” with trans-inclusive policies “is the opening that it provides for sexual predators … who might be using this as a way to get access to young girls and women.

    FRC’s Perkins claimed that Target’s trans-inclusive restroom policy gives people a “good chance” of seeing a “live rendition of CSI … because increasingly you’ve had crime scenes in their restrooms and in their changing rooms”

    [Fox Business, Varney & Co., 2/15/17]

    CRTx’s Woodfill claimed that “registered sex offenders who somehow believe that they’re a woman” would be “allowed to go into the restroom where our wives, our daughters, and our mothers are going to be” with trans-inclusive restroom policies.

    [Fox 26, What’s Your Point, 5/22/17]

    Former right-wing pundit Yoest said that “the real issue” with trans-inclusive policies “is the opening that it provides for sexual predators … who might be using this as a way to get access to young girls and women.”

    [CNN, CNN Newsroom, 2/23/17]

    Conservative media figures misinformed about the transgender military ban and told lies about trans service members

    When Trump announced he would ban transgender people from the military, right-wing media and hate groups pushed misinformation about transgender service members and called them “mentally ill.” (The ban has so far been paused by the courts.) Other right-wing lies about the ban included the claim that the cost of medically necessary health care for transgender service members would be in the billions, that allowing transgender members to serve would interfere with military readiness and cohesion, and that a majority of transgender people are unable to be deployed due to their health care needs. Analysts have found minimal additional costs involved in providing health care to transgender service members and no negative impacts on military cohesion or readiness.

    Right-wing pundit Ben Shapiro responded to the ban by saying that “the military should not accept mentally ill soldiers.” Shapiro tweeted that “no one has the ‘right’ to serve in the military,” and again implied that transgender people have a “mental illness.” Retired Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, who is the vice president of anti-LGBTQ hate group FRC, similarly pushed the myth that transgender people have some “kind of physical or mental illness” and claimed that their inclusion in the military was part of “a test bed for nothing but social experiments.” According to the American Psychological Association, “Identifying as transgender does not constitute a mental disorder.” Other leading medical organizations agree.

    FRC’s Boykin pushed the lie that transgender people are mentally ill, saying, "We shouldn't recruit people with any kind of physical or mental illness."

    [Fox News, The Story with Martha MacCallum, 8/24/17]

    Shapiro claimed that “no one has the ‘right’ to serve in the military. People are 4F [unfit to serve] for a variety of reasons. Mental illness can be such a reason.”

    [Twitter, 7/26/17]

    Shapiro said that “The military should not accept mentally ill soldiers,” but Trump’s announcement “should not have been done by tweet.”

    [Twitter, 7/26/17]

    Right-wing media figures used anti-trans language and slurs when talking about transgender people

    Over the past year, right-wing media figures attacked transgender people with offensive language, anti-trans slurs, and even the denial of trans existence. In addition to the steadfast slandering of transgender people by Alex Jones, other right-wing media figures employed transphobic rhetoric that can have severe consequences on transgender people and youth. Calls from transgender youth to the Trevor Project’s suicide hotline increased this year, and the project cited “anti-transgender rhetoric” coming from elected officials and others as “putting lives at risk.”

    In a November rant lamenting the surge of LGBTQ victories in 2017 elections, right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh used the anti-trans slur “tranny” and insisted that LGBTQ people be referred to only as “homosexual,” saying, “the word is homosexual.” On Fox, Carlson hosted a transgender guest and insulted her by accusing transgender people of “faking” and repeatedly pushing the myth that people can just “decide” to be transgender on a whim. This kind of rhetoric places doubt on transgender existence.

    After trans candidates won 2017 elections, Limbaugh insisted that all LGBTQ people be referred to as “homosexual” and used the anti-trans slur “tranny.”

    [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 11/9/17]

    Carlson insulted a transgender guest and accused transgender people of "faking."

    [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 2/24/17]      

  • Former Sen. George Allen regularly appears in the media to defend manufacturers on taxes and regulations without disclosure that he works for them

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Former Sen. George Allen (R-VA) regularly appears in the media to push the interests of the manufacturing industry on issues ranging from the environment to taxes. What’s frequently left unsaid is that the Republican works for a leading manufacturing trade association.

    Allen is a former Republican Senator and governor who now heads George Allen Strategies LLC, which works for clients “on a range of issues including energy, technology, domestic, and international business development.”

    He most recently penned a December 12 Washington Times op-ed claiming that American manufacturers are facing “a formidable new threat: a cabal of activists, cunning lawyers, ambitious politicians and a network of well-heeled benefactors,” which includes philanthropist (and former Media Matters donor) George Soros and environmental activist and philanthropist Tom Steyer.

    Allen also wrote a May 24 Washington Times op-ed in which he encouraged lawmakers to reduce the corporate tax rate. In the piece, he cited a “recent National Association of Manufacturers study [which] indicated that smaller-sized manufacturers (under 50 employees) pay $34,671 per employee each year to comply with regulations. The regulatory burden, coupled with the high rates of our outdated tax code, are not the recipe for unlocking positive entrepreneurial growth in Virginia or anywhere in the United States.”

    Neither of those pieces disclosed that Allen works for the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). NAM is a trade association that had revenues of roughly $60 million in 2015, according to its IRS 990 form. The group, which describes itself as “the largest manufacturing association in the United States,” frequently works to oppose regulations against the industry and is now working to pass the GOP’s wildly unpopular tax bill. It is headed by Jay Timmons, a veteran Republican operative who worked as Allen’s chief of staff when he was in office.

    In October 2013, the group appointed Allen as the co-chair of its “Manufacturing Competitiveness Initiative.” He has done events this year in which business groups have identified him as working for NAM. His corporate biography states that he still works for NAM and he said in a June 2017 interview that he’s “working with the National Association of Manufacturers on their competitiveness initiative.”

    NAM’s Manufacturers’ Accountability Project, which is part of NAM’s Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action, tweeted out Allen’s op-ed twice on December 13. Allen’s piece closely resembles the stated purpose of the NAM project, which claims to “set the record straight and highlight the concerted, coordinated campaign being waged by trial lawyers, public officials, deep-pocketed foundations and other activists who have sought to undermine and weaken manufacturers in the United States.”

    The Washington Times, George Allen Strategies, and NAM did not respond to requests for comment.

    Allen has written other op-eds about the government's involvement with the manufacturing industry in which his ties to NAM were not disclosed.

    • He wrote a September 2016 piece for The Hill headlined “Support US manufacturing jobs.” The piece urged Congress "to reform our business tax code to make U.S. manufacturers more competitive internationally."
    • He wrote a July 2017 Daily Caller piece headlined “For American Jobs And Competitiveness, We Need A Better QB At The Ex-Im Bank.” The Caller piece cited the National Association of Manufacturers but still did not disclose his ties. NAM tweeted out the piece from its account.
    • He wrote a July 2017 Richmond Times-Dispatch piece in which he pushed for corporate tax cuts and wrote: “According to analysis by the National Association of Manufacturers, a tax reform package that includes these important elements would create 6.5 million jobs in the USA over the next 10 years.”

    He has also appeared on television and mentioned the manufacturing industry without noting his ties. For instance, during the June 11 edition of CNN’s New Day Sunday, Allen claimed that President Donald Trump “has done a great job on a lot of regulatory reform issues” and “I think that you see a lot of optimism, for example, amongst manufacturers that this president is going to deliver. Now, the members of Congress need to act too.” He also appeared on Fox Business in March where he mentioned NAM when discussing taxes but didn’t say he worked for the organization; NAM subsequently promoted his appearance and posted video of it. 

    By contrast, a November 22 op-ed for the Washington Examiner disclosed that Allen works for NAM.

  • Why the anti-Mueller sentiment on Fox keeps getting worse

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Fox News’ coverage of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation is growing ever-darker, as my colleague Simon Maloy noted last week, with the network’s Trump-loving commentators offering up increasingly hysterical warnings that Mueller needs to be fired before he destroys the rule of law and the republic.

    Eight nights ago, for example, Sean Hannity declared Mueller a “direct threat to you, the American people and our American republic.” Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett chimed in, claiming that “Mueller has been using the FBI as a political weapon,” turning the bureau into “America's secret police” just like “the old KGB.”

    This discussion was irresponsible and dangerous. But it also set a new bar for fearmongering about the Mueller investigation. And so the president’s lackeys, who are eager to kill Mueller’s probe before its completion, have spent the last week going on Fox and trying to clear it.

    They are on an invective escalator. Every new development in the Russia probe requires ever-more-inflammatory rhetoric -- for Jarrett and Hannity, the false KGB comparison was just the logical next step from comparing the Mueller team to the Mob. The tenor of the criticism only becomes more hysterical. A new, baseless “conflict of interest” for a member of Mueller’s team raises the bar. But so does a former Trump aide copping a plea in exchange for working with the special counsel’s office -- it gets presented not as evidence Mueller’s probe is on the level, but evidence that it is not.

    Meanwhile, their audience -- which at times includes the president -- receives increasingly dire warnings that a professional probe run by a Republican who was appointed FBI director by a president of each party is actually a corrupt effort at a deep state coup.

    But how do you top comparing the FBI to the KGB?

    Jeanine Pirro calls for a “cleansing” of the FBI and DOJ

    Here’s how Fox News host Jeanine Pirro opened her show on Saturday night:

    Over a seven-plus-minute monologue, she specifically called for “handcuffs” for FBI agent Peter Strzok and Deputy Director of the FBI Andrew McCabe, and piled on criticism for Mueller, James Comey, senior DOJ official Bruce Ohr, and current FBI Director Christopher Wray. “The stench coming out of the Justice Department and the FBI is like that of a Third World country, where money and bullies and clubs decide elections. It all started when ‘Cardinal’ Comey destroyed our FBI with political hacks to set events in motion to destroy the republic because they didn’t like the man we chose to be our president. Well, it’s time to take them out, in cuffs,” she concluded.

    Pirro is a friend and sometime adviser to the president, who regularly tunes in to her program. She reportedly took her conspiracy theories to the White House last month, denouncing Comey and Mueller in an Oval Office meeting with the president and his top aides. Pirro may be angling to join the administration so she can carry out this purge of the law enforcement apparatus; she reportedly interviewed to be deputy attorney general during the transition

    Tom Fitton asks if the FBI needs to be shut down because it is now a “KGB-type operation”

    For Tom Fitton, head of the conservative advocacy group Judicial Watch, those who are simply calling for Mueller’s firing haven’t gone far enough:

    Fitton’s comments last night are an obvious one-up on last week’s KGB comparison -- the situation may now be so dire that it requires destroying the entire bureau in order to save it.

    Lou Dobbs: Trump should be exonerated because he won the election

    On December 11, Lou Dobbs said on his Fox Business show that Sessions’ recusal from the Russia investigation may be because he’s been blackmailed by the “deep state.” After Fox contributor Jason Chaffetz criticized Sessions, calling for congressional action but clarifying that he’s “not saying it has to go the Republicans' way,” Dobbs replied, “Why the hell shouldn't it go the Republicans' way? We elected a Republican president.” Dobbs added that the congressional Republican leadership should be “standing shoulder to shoulder with Trump” and “bring this thing to a conclusion.”

    And there it is, a direct call for ending the Mueller investigation purely because it targets the Republican administration. It’s hard to top that. But they’ll find a way.