Judicial Watch | Media Matters for America

Judicial Watch

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  • Lou Dobbs Tonight and Fox’s standards for anti-Semitic and bigoted commentary

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    During a Thursday night appearance on Fox Business, Judicial Watch’s Chris Farrell falsely accused the billionaire philanthropist George Soros of masterminding a caravan of migrants headed toward the U.S. border from Central America. Farrell’s remarks about Soros, whose donations to progressive organizations (including Media Matters) have long drawn the ire of right-wing news outlets, drew no controversy at the time. But on Sunday, Fox condemned Farrell’s “rhetoric” in a short statement and said he would no longer be hosted on Fox Business or its sister network, Fox News.

    Why did Fox suddenly decide that Farrell’s comments were beyond the pale? Thursday’s episode of Lou Dobbs Tonight was rebroadcast on Saturday night, hours after a gunman murdered 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue. In that context, Farrell’s description of the caravan as funded by the “Soros-occupied State Department” caught the eye of Josh Marshall, editor and publisher of TPM, whose tweets generated a firestorm on Twitter when he noted its similarities to the “Zionist-occupied government” rhetoric common to neo-Nazi literature. Soros, a Hungarian-born Jewish financier, is the frequent target of conspiracy theories with anti-Semitic overtones.

    That Fox waited until reporters contacted the network over the weekend rather than taking action after the segment ran on Thursday night -- or when Farrell made similar comments in May -- suggests that the network doesn’t have proactive standards for unacceptable rhetoric, but it merely reacts to limit the damage when bigoted commentary creates a PR crisis.

    Fox’s statement is a brief and blanket condemnation of Farrell’s “rhetoric” that does not indicate how specifically he erred. This is likely not an accident. For the past 15 years, ever since Soros announced that he would donate to an advertising campaign opposing then-President George W. Bush’s re-election, Fox commentators and others in right-wing media have regularly attacked him. It is difficult to disaggregate Farrell’s comments from the broader pattern of Soros commentary that permeates the network’s programming.

    Fox and others on the right have also long attacked progressive causes by linking them to Soros “in an attempt to argue that any organic protest or outcry on the left is really the work of one sinister, shadowy (foreign) billionaire,” as Vox.com’s Jane Coaston has noted. Then-Fox host Bill O’Reilly sought to undermine Media Matters’ criticism of the network by falsely tying us to Soros in this manner. Half a decade ago, the Soros conspiracy theories were regularly promoted on then-Fox host Glenn Beck’s program. His smears of Soros, whom he termed “the puppet master,” drew condemnation from the Anti-Defamation League in 2010.

    But the Soros smears have taken on a new urgency and an international character in recent years. “For the far right, from Russia to central Europe and increasingly, America, Soros is the latest Jewish manipulator whose extreme wealth finances puppet groups and publications to drain the prosperity of the Herrenvolk,” The Daily Beast’s Spencer Ackerman reported after Trump lashed out at the progressive donor earlier this month. “The attack on Soros follows classic anti-Semitic templates, grimly recurrent throughout western history.”

    If Fox explained what it found unacceptable about Farrell’s comment, the network would likely also have to explain why it wasn’t taking action against other Fox guests and its on-air talent who had made similar remarks.

    Take Dobbs himself. Fox is now condemning Farrell’s remark, but Dobbs, Fox Business’ highest-rated host, did not push back on it at the time and hasn’t mentioned the incident on-air since. And why would he? As CNN’s Oliver Darcy noted, Dobbs has referred to Soros as an "evil SOB" and "insidious" on Twitter and “has also peddled various conspiracy theories” about him.

    This year alone, on his Fox Business program, Dobbs has said that Soros is “spending tens of millions of dollars to pursue an election system that would be the envy of the KGB”; accused the “left wing globalist and billionaire” of “trying to subvert democracy in Europe to advance their open border agenda”; and said that Soros has been running a “global left-wing conspiracy on the taxpayer dime” with former President Barack Obama.

    A host of other Fox personalities and guests have also floated the falsehood that Soros is behind the caravan, including Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo, Fox News hosts Laura Ingraham and Jeanine Pirro, Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano, and Republican congressmen Matt Gaetz of Florida and Louie Gohmert of Texas.

    Will Fox take action against Dobbs in the wake of the network banning Farrell? Will it take action against its other personnel for pushing these conspiracy theories? Are Gaetz and Gohmert still welcome on its airwaves?

    Farrell’s remarks were not an anomaly, but part of a campaign by the conservative organization Judicial Watch to “expose” Soros and his “schemes.” The federal government is currently investigating how one of its state-funded broadcasters used Judicial Watch research and aired a report attacking Soros as an insidious “multimillionaire Jew” who uses “his lethal influence to destroy democracies,” according to a Daily Beast report. “Deep State aligned with Soros & uses State Dept to push its radical agenda,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton, who regularly appears on Fox programs, wrote on Twitter earlier this month. “And your tax dollars for Soros abroad help free up resources for his activities here in the United States.”

    The distance between Fitton’s statement and Farrell’s reference to the “Soros-occupied State Department” is vanishingly small. Will Fox extend its ban on Farrell to Fitton?

    The answer to all of these questions is almost assuredly, “No.” Fox only acts when its hand is forced. The network has no real standards other than to limit bad publicity as much as possible to keep the money rolling in.

  • Trump runs with absurd right-wing media lie about terrorists infiltrating the migrant caravan

    How the baseless claim moved from fringe right websites to the president

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    The conspiracy theory that ISIS terrorists had infiltrated a caravan of migrants moving through Central America toward the U.S.-Mexican border has spread from fringe right-wing media outlets to Fox News to President Donald Trump, who tweeted this morning that “unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in” to the group. This is a case of the Trump-Fox feedback loop in action, with the president following the conservative network’s lead in fearmongering with lie-filled rants about the caravan in hopes of bolstering Republican electoral chances in the midterms.

    The conspiracy theory has its origins in remarks President Jimmy Morales of Guatemala made before the caravan even formed in Honduras. During October 11 comments at the Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America, Morales said that over an unspecified period of time, “We have arrested almost 100 people highly linked to terrorist groups, specifically ISIS. We have not only detained them in our territory, they have also been deported to their countries of origin.” His statement received little attention at the time, but it was reported in the Guatemalan newspaper Prensa Libre.

    But the next week, as the caravan of migrants entered Guatemala and Trump followed Fox in trying to turn it into an election issue, Judicial Watch, a conservative organization that produces investigations geared to benefit the president, seized on the Prensa Libre article. “In a startling revelation, Guatemala’s president announced in the country’s largest newspaper that nearly 100 ISIS terrorists have been apprehended in the impoverished Central American nation,” the group reported on October 18. “Why should Americans care about this? A caravan of Central American migrants is making its way north.” Their report came as conservatives were fixating on the caravan -- that morning Trump had tweeted that the caravan was a “Democrat Party led … assault on our country” that would allow “CRIMINALS” to enter the U.S.

    Judicial Watch had similarly stoked fears of ISIS terrorists entering the U.S. leading up to the 2014 midterms, when the group originated the myth that ISIS fighters had been caught crossing the Mexican border into Texas -- a conspiracy theory that was promoted at the time by Fox and Trump.

    Conservative media outlets -- particularly fringy pro-Trump ones like Infowars, WND, and Gateway Pundit -- picked up the Judicial Watch report about Morales’ remarks late last week and adopted the group’s framing, highlighting the potential danger to Americans if ISIS had infiltrated the caravan.

    Then on Monday morning, the story jumped from fringe websites to Fox & Friends, the morning broadcast on the nation’s most-watched cable news network, as the program's commentators repeatedly stoked fears about ISIS potentially infiltrating the caravan. Co-host Pete Hegseth, who had been considered for a cabinet slot in the Trump administration, embellished the story by falsely claiming that Morales had said the ISIS members had been arrested while trying to join the caravan.

    “You got the president of Guatemala saying to a local newspaper down there just last week, they caught over a hundred ISIS fighters in Guatemala trying to use this caravan or other processes,” he said. At that point, co-host Steve Doocy interrupted, asking, “Are we sure that’s true?” Hegseth replied, “He talked to their local newspaper, we don't know it, it hasn't been verified. But even one poison pill is too many in a caravan.”

    Virtually the only true thing Hegseth said was that Fox hadn’t verified the story. Morales' comments had nothing to do with the caravan, which did not form until the next day. He did not even talk to a local newspaper, as Hegseth claimed, but rather made the comments in a public speech on which the newspaper reported.

    But the president of the United States regularly watches Fox & Friends, and a few hours later, he chimed in, going even further than Hegseth’s falsehood in claiming that “unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in” to the caravan and falsely blaming Democrats for the migrants:

    The president’s casual lie that terrorists have infiltrated the caravan will likely become a regular talking point as Trump attempts to weaponize racist fears of migrants in order to get his voters to the polls. Fox and the president are teaming up, terrorizing his voters in an effort to prevent a historic wipeout in the midterms and preserve the Republican congressional majorities.

  • Bogus Daily Mail Story Spearheads Latest Right-Wing Assault On Climate Change Science


    A story by David Rose of the British tabloid Daily Mail falsely alleged that researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) “manipulated global warming data” in order to “dupe” world leaders into agreeing to provisions of the 2015 Paris climate agreement. In reality, the NOAA report’s finding that there was no slowdown in the rate of global warming has since been independently verified by other experts, and it’s the Daily Mail story -- and the GOP politicians and right-wing media outlets like Breitbart News championing it -- that are  distorting climate science to score political points.

  • O’Reilly Uses Old, Repeatedly Debunked Right-Wing Myths To Call For “Independent Prosecutor” Of “Corrupt” DOJ

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Fox News host Bill O’Reilly used debunked right-wing myths to claim there is “enough evidence of corruption in the Justice Department” to warrant appointing an “independent prosecutor” for the FBI and the DOJ, citing the closed investigation relating to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of private email as secretary of state, and the long-debunked IRS targeting pseudo-scandal. The allegation of corruption from O’Reilly comes despite his previous praise of FBI Director James Comey during the investigation relating to Clinton’s email use.

    During the October 6 edition of The O’Reilly Factor, O’Reilly asked if “a major scandal” will “erupt in the Department of Justice,” claiming “[m]any Americans, including this one, now believe the fix was in regarding investigations into the IRS hammering some right-wing groups, and the Clinton email fiasco.” He then claimed “there is now enough evidence of corruption in the Justice Department that an independent prosecutor should be appointed,” though he didn’t specify what should be investigated. 

    To back up his claim of corruption, O’Reilly played clips from Congressional hearings about immunity deals that Clinton aides received in connection with the FBI investigation. But the immunity deals were limited and were necessary to resolve interagency disputes on what information contained in the Clinton email server should be retroactively classified, and Director Comey explained during the hearing that it “is a fairly normal tool in investigations.”

    O’Reilly also alleged there was corruption regarding the investigation into the IRS allegedly targeting right-wing organizations, complaining that then-IRS head Lois Lerner "was never really held legally accountable." But a congressional investigation revealed that progressive groups were also subjected to the same kind of scrutiny as conservative groups, evidence which Fox News itself ignored when it first came to light. And months before that, in June 2013, the congressional investigation found the culprit behind the increased scrutiny of organizations applying for tax-exempt status: not Lois Lerner, but a Cincinnati-based IRS manager who told investigators that he “instructed his team of screeners” to look for cases of political-sounding groups applying for tax-exempt status, and that “he took this action on his own.”

    O’Reilly brought on American Center for Law and Justice’s Jay Sekulow and the Clinton-obsessed Judicial Watch’s Chris Fedeli to bolster his claims of corruption. After he made the introduction, O’Reilly admitted that he “supported Director Comey” at the beginning of the email investigation and “thought he would do an honest investigation,” but “now, I do not believe the investigation was honest.” But Sekulow also praised Comey as “a man of principle” and “a serious guy.” O’Reilly previously described Comey as “an honest man” and said he “trusts” Comey.

  • Clinton-Obsessed Judicial Watch Hosts Discredited Conspiracy Theorists To Push New Misinformation

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Conservative anti-Clinton group Judicial Watch announced a “special panel presentation” promising a “scandal update” on the Clinton Foundation and the emails of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Judicial Watch, itself a hub for baseless smears against the Clintons, invited to the panel two discredited Clinton conspiracy theorists known for making claims based on “bogus” data.

  • Here’s The Real “Question” Raised By The NY Times' Latest Clinton Foundation Flop

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    The New York Times is reporting that the latest emails released by a right-wing anti-Clinton organization “raise new questions” about “whether people tied to the Clinton Foundation received special access at” Hillary Clinton’s State Department. But the information revealed in the article completely debunks that interpretation of events, showing that the people seeking “special access” were actually involved in Bill Clinton’s successful 2009 mission to North Korea that resulted in the freeing of two captive U.S. reporters, and their request for a special passport was never granted.

    The Times is credulously reporting on “510 pages of new State Department documents” released by Judicial Watch, a conservative activist group with a history of engaging in dishonest activism, promoting conspiracy theories, and pushing false or misleading narratives that have driven the media narrative on Hillary Clinton’s emails. According to the story’s headline, the “Emails Raise New Questions About Clinton Foundation Ties to State Dept.”

    Here’s what the article actually shows:

    1. Douglas J. Band, an adviser to Bill Clinton who also played a role with the Clinton Foundation, reached out to top State Department aide Huma Abedin on July 27, 2009, seeking diplomatic passports for himself and two other people.

    2. The State Department did not issue the passports.

    3. Band sought the passports because he was about to accompany Bill Clinton on a secret trip to North Korea which resulted in the successful release of two U.S. journalists.

    4. At about the same time, Abedin told Hillary Clinton’s scheduler that Bill Clinton wanted her to meet with Andrew Liveris, the chief executive of Dow Chemical, at an event the next night. Judicial Watch suggested that this was because Dow Chemical was a major Clinton Foundation donor.

    5. Liveris was the head of the US-China Business Council and was about to let Bill Clinton use his private plane for the secret trip to North Korea.

    So, a top aide to Bill Clinton sought but did not receive diplomatic passports for aides accompanying Clinton on a trip to save American journalists from captivity in a brutal dictatorship, and a corporate executive who was providing the plane for the mission got a few minutes of facetime with the secretary of state.

    As The Boston Globe’s Michael Cohen noted, “This is literally a story about how those at the Clinton Foundation DID NOT RECEIVE SPECIAL ACCESS.” It’s hard to see how this is a story about the Clinton Foundation at all. But to the Times, this raises “new questions.”

    This is an excellent example of what Vox’s Matt Yglesias has termed the media’s tendency to depict Hillary Clinton as “a uniquely corrupt specimen” due to “editorial decisions by the managers of major news organizations to dedicate resources to running down every possible Clinton email lead” and presenting them as evidence of corruption regardless of context.

    By contrast, The Washington Post also reported on the emails, but presented them as a case of clear overreach by Judicial Watch.

    If the Times report raises any question, it is Cohen’s: “Is there some kind of a deal with Judicial Watch where respected news outlets must print their partisan spin in return for [Clinton Foundation] emails?”

  • Read These Tweets To Understand How The Media Are Screwing Up Their Clinton Foundation Coverage

    Blog ››› ››› NINA MAST

    Journalist and Yale political science lecturer John Stoehr criticized the media for picking up the latest accusations of pay-to-play behavior at the Clinton Foundation when there is “no evidence to suggest” that such a scheme was established.

    After the conservative activist group Judicial Watch published emails showing supposed pay-to-play behavior by then-Secretary of State and current Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation, media outlets quickly repeated the story despite a lack of evidence that anything improprietous happened. Judicial Watch has a history of conning media into covering bogus Clinton-related stories, leading outlets to ignore new evidence and even undermine their own reporting in the process.

    In a series of tweets, Stoehr criticized the media coverage of Judicial Watch’s allegations, saying it proves the thesis of a 1996 Atlantic piece called “Why Americans Hate the Media.” Midway into his argument, he addressed the idea that Clinton’s actions constitute pay-to-play misbehavior, saying “This is not pay-to play. There’s no evidence to suggest it, no matter how much the right-wing group Judicial Watch urges to the contrary":

  • Media Continue To Fall For Clinton Foundation Pseudo-Scandals Promoted By Judicial Watch

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Media are once again rushing to scandalize newly released State Department emails pushed by the conservative group Judicial Watch that allegedly show a conflict of interest created by “Clinton Foundation donors receiving special access” to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. But the emails actually show the heir to a head of state arranged a meeting with Clinton through “official channels,” as he had with Clinton’s previous Republican predecessors.

    Judicial Watch’s press release framed the emails as showing “Hillary Clinton State Department Gave Special Access to Top Clinton Foundation Donors,” and focused on exchanges between Bill Clinton aide Doug Band and Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin regarding a meeting Crown Prince Salman of Bahrain requested with Clinton. Judicial Watch suggested that the crown prince’s relationship with the Clinton Foundation was crucial to him meeting with Clinton:

    Included among the Abedin-Band emails is an exchange revealing that when Crown Prince Salman of Bahrain requested a meeting with Secretary of State Clinton, he was forced to go through the Clinton Foundation for an appointment. Abedin advised Band that when she went through “normal channels” at State, Clinton declined to meet. After Band intervened, however, the meeting was set up within forty-eight hours. According to the Clinton Foundation website, in 2005, Salman committed to establishing the Crown Prince’s International Scholarship Program (CPISP) for the Clinton Global Initiative. And by 2010, it had contributed $32 million to CGI. The Kingdom of Bahrain reportedly gave between $50,000 and $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation. And Bahrain Petroleum also gave an additional $25,000 to $50,000.

    From: Doug Band

    To: Huma Abedin

    Sent: Tue Jun 23 1:29:42 2009


    Cp of Bahrain in tomorrow to Friday

    Asking to see her

    Good friend of ours

    From: Huma Abedin

    To: Doug Band

    Sent: Tue Jun 23 4:12:46 2009

    Subject: Re:

    He asked to see hrc thurs and fri thru normal channels. I asked and she said she doesn’t want to commit to anything for thurs or fri until she knows how she will feel. Also she says that she may want to go to ny and doesn’t want to be committed to stuff in ny…

    From: Huma Abedin [Huma@clintonemail.com]

    Sent: Thursday, June 25, 2009 10:35:15 AM

    To: Doug Band


    Offering Bahrain cp 10 tomorrow for meeting woith [sic] hrc

    If u see him, let him know

    We have reached out thru official channels

    But the emails show that the meeting was proposed and arranged through “normal” and “official channels,” not through “special access” as Judicial Watch characterized it. Crown Prince Salman of Bahrain “asked to see [Clinton] thurs and fri thru normal channels,” according to the emails, and Clinton didn’t “want to commit to anything” until she confirmed her schedule and how she was feeling. Later that week, Abedin confirmed that Clinton and her staff “reached out [to Crown Prince Salman of Bahrain] thru official channels” to set up the meeting.

    According to a write-up from Agence France-Presse, obtained via Nexis search, the meeting was about the “tense post-election climate in Iran and the Middle East peace process” -- exactly the sorts of topics one would expect the secretary of state to discuss with a Middle Eastern leader.

    Given that past secretaries of state and US presidents have met with Crown Prince Salman -- including Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, and President George W. Bush -- it’s not unusual that the crown prince sought a meeting with Clinton during her tenure as secretary of state, and there is no evidence he got the meeting due to his affiliation with the Clinton Foundation.

    But that hasn't prevented the press from trying to turn the meeting into a scandal.

    Media outlets immediately ran with the story, suggesting that “the new revelations,” as Politico put it, “add to the controversy that has swirled around the Clinton Foundation, with Donald Trump and other critics accusing Hillary Clinton of using her position at the State Department to reward major donors through access to other power players.”

    The Wall Street Journal scandalized the emails, saying they “could fuel criticism that the Clinton family’s charitable foundation, in fundraising with wealthy donors, corporations and foreign nations, created a conflict of interest for Mrs. Clinton during her work as the nation’s top diplomat.”

    A Fox News article wrote that “Such emails have fueled accusations from Republicans of a ‘pay-to-play’ operation.”

    CNN’s John Berman said, "It doesn't literally have to be provable pay to play to have an appearance problem."

    These accounts adopt Judicial Watch’s frame that the meeting between Bahrain’s crown prince and Clinton was granted only because of “special, expedited access” and “preferential treatment” because of his relationship with the Clinton Foundation, and that at the least, the emails and meeting reflect bad optics.

    Judicial Watch is a right-wing organization with a history of duping the press on Clinton email stories. 

  • News Outlets Hyping New Clinton Judicial Watch Email Story Ignore New Development Undermining It


    Several news shows and outlets covering a new email dump by conservative group Judicial Watch have ignored developments undermining the group’s claims that emails show the State Department rewarded Clinton Foundation donors with access at the foundation’s request. Judicial Watch baselessly suggested that Doug Band, an aide to Bill Clinton, worked as an agent of the Clinton Foundation to facilitate a donor’s meeting with a U.S. ambassador. Numerous media outlets have reported on the story without noting that the ambassador has since explained that he never met with the donor.

  • Running With Judicial Watch’s Storyline, Media Manufacture Another False Clinton Email Scandal

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Media are rushing to promote a new email dump from the conservative group Judicial Watch that they suggest, in the words of The New York Times, shows that the Clinton Foundation “worked to reward its donors with access and influence at the State Department” under Hillary Clinton. But a closer look at the Judicial Watch emails suggests there is far less to the story than it appears and brings into question the conclusions the Times and other outlets have inferred from the newly released emails. Indeed, the very details that undermine those conclusions are frequently included in the reports themselves.

    Judicial Watch’s press release framed the emails as showing “Clinton Foundation Donor Demands on State Department,” and focused on two email exchanges in particular:

    The new documents reveal that in April 2009 controversial Clinton Foundation official Doug Band pushed for a job for an associate. In the email Band tells Hillary Clinton’s former aides at the State Department Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin that it is “important to take care of [Redacted]. Band is reassured by Abedin that “Personnel has been sending him options.” Band was co-founder of Teneo Strategy with Bill Clinton and a top official of the Clinton Foundation, including its Clinton Global Initiative.

    Included in the new document production is a 2009 email in which Band, directs Abedin and Mills to put Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire and Clinton Foundation donor Gilbert Chagoury in touch with the State Department’s “substance person” on Lebanon. Band notes that Chagoury is “key guy there [Lebanon] and to us,” and insists that Abedin call Amb. Jeffrey Feltman to connect him to Chagoury.

    Media outlets across the spectrum immediately ran with the story, speculating the emails may, as the Times put it, raise “questions about whether [the Clinton Foundation] worked to reward its donors with access and influence at the State Department.” The Wall Street Journal ran the headline “Newly Released Emails Highlight Clinton Foundation’s Ties to State Department.” A CNN.com article stated, “Newly released Clinton emails shed light on relationship between State Dept. and Clinton Foundation.”

    On New Day, CNN’s Brianna Keilar called the Times’ allegations “unseemly at best,” suggesting the emails may have been inappropriate. Co-host Chris Cuomo said the Times’ report “show[s] pretty clear overlapping between what was going on at the Clinton Global Initiative and what was going on with Secretary Clinton.”

    Joe Scarborough, co-host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, called the emails “fairly significant” and said they show at least “one example of the Clinton Foundation getting probably millions of dollars … and then having the foundation pick up the phone and say ‘help our donor over here.’”

    Co-host of Fox News’ Fox & Friends Steve Doocy said, “when you look at these particular email that you have released, it's pretty clear, if you want access to the State Department officials, big top government people, or even jobs, just give the Clinton family foundation a lot of money.”

    These accounts adopt Judicial Watch’s frame that Band, acting as an agent of the Clinton Foundation on behalf of Clinton Foundation donors, was wielding influence in the State Department. But Band was also a personal aide to President Clinton during this time period, and, as the Times noted, the Clinton campaign says he was acting in that capacity in these emails, which they say do not “involve the secretary or relate to the foundation’s work.” A fact sheet distributed to surrogates by the Clinton campaign and obtained by Media Matters states that Band sent the emails “on behalf of President Clinton from his presidentclinton.org email, not on behalf of the Foundation.”

    Moreover, neither the emails nor the news reports provide any evidence that Clinton Foundation donors impacted decisions Clinton made at the State Department. According to the Times, Band attempted to “connect” Chagoury with someone at the State Department to discuss “his interests in Lebanon.” But the actual email exchange provides no support for this claim -- Band gives no explanation for why Chagoury wants to speak to a “substance person re Lebanon.” The Clinton surrogates fact sheet states that Chagoury, who is of Lebanese descent, “was simply seeking to share his insights on the upcoming Lebanese election with the right person at the Department of State for whom this information might be helpful. In seeking to provide information, he was not seeking action by the Department.”

    Nor does the Times explain what Chagoury’s “interests in Lebanon” are -- while the language suggests he has business interests in the country, the paper provides no evidence that is the case. Chagoury has engaged in philanthropic ventures in Lebanon. In 2008, Chagoury made a $10 million donation “to fund the medical school” at the Lebanese American University and has been involved with a charity called In Defense Of Christians, which, according to its mission statement, seeks “to ensure the protection and preservation of Christianity and Christian culture in the Middle East.”

    Likewise, the Times report and other similar accounts also allege that “the foundation” attempted to influence Clinton aides to “help find a job for a foundation associate,” based on a Band email highlighted by Judicial Watch. But the email exchange these reports are pointing to clearly shows the “foundation associate” the Times refers to was never employed by the Clinton Foundation, according to the Clinton campaign, and the email exchanges themselves indicate that the State Department aides were already intending to offer the candidate a position. In comments to ABC News, State Department spokesman Elizabeth Trudeau also noted that the State Department “hires political appointees through a ‘variety of avenues’ and suggested there was nothing unusual about this exchange,” adding “State Department officials are regularly in touch with a range of outside individuals and organizations including non-profits, NGOs, think tanks, and others.”

    Judicial Watch is a right-wing organization with a history of duping the press on Clinton email stories. The media should not be so quick to adopt their framing as the truth.