Media Matters weekly newsletter, September 8

Welcome back to Media Matters' weekly email. As a senior researcher with Media Matters, I monitor and analyze right-wing content across a wide variety of platforms, trying to understand what makes the ecosystem tick. Each Friday I'll go through all the main narratives, craziest clips, and dumbest moments from conservative media over the past week. If you want this delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe here.

A photo of Rudy Giuliani, with a Newsmax logo in a black circle over his right shoulder and a dollar sign over his left shoulder, all against a blue background


Molly Butler / Media Matters

Recently, Newsmax began running on-air fundraising appeals for the legal defense fund of Donald Trump’s former personal attorney Rudy Giuliani. The network’s support for Giuliani, however, runs far deeper than merely urging viewers to give him money. Newsmax also appears to be running his donation website and directly collecting checks on his behalf.

Giuliani is facing multiple criminal charges for his role in Trump’s plot to steal the 2020 presidential election. He was arrested last month in Fulton County, Georgia. Since that time, Newsmax has consistently supported him and his co-conspirators, arguing that the charges against them are “political persecution.”

The on-air fundraising appeals often come alongside interviews with Giuliani and his allies. In a move seemingly intended to deceive its audience, the network has featured pleas on Giuliani’s behalf during its regular news programming. The appeals for money often come alone, sometimes portrayed as just another of the day’s headlines. Additionally, Newsmax also appears to host the domain of Guiliani's fundraising site, which indicates that the network is likely processing the donations it receives from audience members. The fundraising site also affords viewers the option to mail physical checks to a P.O. box that is listed as one of Newsmax's mailing addresses.

Newsmax has an extensive history of using scams to con its viewers. Over the years, this has included health and finance newsletters, sketchy nutritional supplements, and over 70 email lists. As Media Matters’ Bobby Lewis writes, “It’s worth asking what the network is getting out of the Rudy Giuliani Legal Defense Fund other than displaying more embarrassing public support for Trump and his cronies.”

New Biden non-troversy involving a Medal of Honor Ceremony

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden awarded the Medal of Honor to Vietnam veteran 1st Lt. Larry L. Taylor. During the ceremony, Biden praised Taylor’s heroism, placed the medal around his neck, shook his hand, and exchanged salutes with him as the room erupted in a standing ovation. It should have been a completely apolitical event – the president recognizing the bravery of a heroic veteran. Conservative media, however, quickly lashed out at Biden, manufacturing a non-troversy over the timing of his departure from the ceremony.

Conservative media outrage stemmed from the fact that Biden left the ceremony prior to a closing prayer. Right-wing pundits insisted that Biden’s early exit insulted veterans and cited the non-troversy as an example of the president showing his age.

  • Fox News’ Sean Hannity said: “Right on cue, the president today got confused and dazed and, well, he walked out during a Medal of Honor ceremony before the event was even over.”
  • Newsmax’s Rob Schmitt said Biden had a “very odd moment” and “just wandered off, leaving the war hero on stage.”
  • On X (formerly Twitter), Benny Johnson said Biden “JUMPS Off-stage During Medal of Honor Ceremony! INSULTS War Hero.”
  • Megyn Kelly called Biden’s departure “horrifying” and described the president as “completely lost.” “How is he going to run the country when he can’t even run a Medal of Honor ceremony?” She asked. “He can’t do anything. He looked completely lost. All he had to do was stand there.”

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre later explained that Biden had planned to leave during a pause in the ceremony to reduce the audience’s possible exposure to COVID-19 after Jill Biden tested positive. Despite claims that Biden was “confused” during the ceremony, the White House transcript shows that Biden spent most of the ceremony speaking about Taylor’s valor and ended only after presenting the medal.

It’s worth pointing out that during Fox News’ and Newsmax’s live coverage of the ceremony, the networks didn’t comment on Biden’s departure. The fake outrage appears to have been manufactured only after the event.

The episode is reminiscent of an August 2021 incident in which Biden visited Dover Air Force Base for a ceremony to transfer the remains of American troops killed during the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. In that instance, Fox manipulated its own footage of the event to show that Biden had glanced at his watch during the ceremony after right-wing media personalities began criticizing the president for the supposedly disrespectful gesture. Meanwhile, Fox’s live coverage of the event didn’t note that anything had been amiss.

Newsmax warns that Hollywood is assaulting "Jude-Christian values"

This week in stupid 

  • Fox News host Greg Gutfeld said climate change has been beneficial and made environments “more livable for people.”

This week in scary

  • Newsmax host Eric Bolling and guest Megyn Kelly warned that there will be an “insurrection” if Donald Trump is removed from ballots.
  • Mike Huckabee warned that if Trump’s legal problems prevent him from winning the presidency in 2024, it would be “the last American election that will be decided by ballots rather than bullets.”

Excuse me?

  • Alex Jones said: “If you love Hitler, you love the ADL [Anti-Defamation League].”
  • TPUSA founder Charlie Kirk said, “The entire Third World is moving into America, and the Democrats want that.” 
  • Fox News contributor Steve Hilton likened COVID health protocols, like masking, to witchcraft. 

In case you missed it

  • As the impeachment trial of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton began, both Steve Bannon and Turning Point USA’s founder Charlie Kirk rallied to Paxton’s defense.
  • A Sean Hannity guest claimed the vaccine is causing a rise in COVID hospitalizations.
  • After Proud Boys ex-leader Enrique Tarrio received a 22 year prison sentence in his January 6th sedition trial, Newsmax host Greg Kelly defended him and the Proud Boys, saying “They have been so lied about and maligned.”
  • Fox News host Laura Ingraham gave a passionate defense of Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s (R-AL) universally condemned hold on military promotions.
  • Alex Jones claimed Infowars host Owen Shroyer was charged for free speech.
  • Antisemite Nick Fuentes cheered Elon Musk for boosting an anti-ADL campaign, saying, “We have a captive audience of one who just happens to be the richest man in the world.”

Read more

  • Right-wing propaganda outlet PragerU is teaming up with Republican-controlled states to bring flagrantly conservative videos into public school classrooms. Media Matters reviewed every PragerU Kids video on YouTube, through August 14, and documented the most egregious examples of right-wing propaganda embedded in the organization’s educational content.
  • Right-wing media outlets are courting traffic from anti-vaxxers by highlighting heart ailments suffered by celebrities and young athletes under the tag “cardiac arrest.”
  • Fox News minimized the role of climate change in its coverage of the Lahaina, Hawaii wildfires and politicized the Biden administration’s response to the natural disaster.
  • Fox News is returning to debunked claims about Joe Biden’s email use and reviving false smears about the president’s supposed ties to Ukrainian energy company Burisma.
  • The ongoing fight over carriage fees between Charter Communications and Disney could have dire consequences for Fox News.
  • Even though Holocaust-denying white nationalist influencer Nick Fuentes is banned from YouTube, clips of him are all over YouTube Shorts – a vertical video section of the platform that offers short-form content.
  • During a recent livestream, Nick Fuentes celebrated his popularity and viewership numbers on Rumble.
  • Media Matters’ Matt Gertz wrote this great piece arguing that Fox News is dragging House Republicans into an inane impeachment of Joe Biden.