Angelo Carusone | Media Matters for America

Angelo Carusone

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  • On HLN's Across America with Carol Costello, Angelo Carusone notes that Trump isn't just tweeting about Fox News, he's also making decisions based on it

    Carusone: "We're talking about his tweets, but it goes beyond that too, it goes directly into policy and actions and directives"

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  • Angelo Carusone: Advertisers see "aligning their brand with Hannity as actually the functional equivalent of giving a political donation to Trump"

    Media Matters President Angelo Carusone explains why Sean Hannity is toxic for advertisers

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    From the January 4 edition of SiriusXM The Dean Obeidallah Show:

    DEAN OBEIDALLAH (HOST): You are an expert on Sean Hannity so maybe you can give some insight on do you think it’s true. There was a part of the book, it’s actually in “The Hollywood Reporter” article today that Michael Wolff wrote but it’s an excerpt from the book and it said that they wanted to give a big interview, Trump wanted to give a big interview and it said, I’m reading, “The interview went to Fox News’ Sean Hannity who White House insiders happily explained was willing to supply the questions beforehand.” What do you think? And Sean Hannity of course has denied this. What do you think?

    ANGELO CARUSONE: I would not be the least bit surprised by this. Nobody has interviewed Donald Trump more than Sean Hannity has and even if it’s not the written questions, if it’s the idea that he’s just going to give him a little bit of a heads up about it of what the big bucket of things that he’s going to talk about it, it just wouldn’t surprise me. They speak regularly. And here’s the other thing that doesn’t surprise me and Sean Spicer confirmed this much at least that back in April when they were worried about, late March, or back in late March, early April when they were starting to think about the potential for the Comey stuff to blow up they were beginning to strategize alternative stories that they could promote that would serve as both a distraction and to deflect from the attention and it’s not a coincidence that the same time that the Comey letters dropped was when Sean Hannity started pushing the Seth Rich conspiracy theory.


    Let’s not forget that Sean Hannity is continuing to lose advertisers all the time, every day and the thing that I would point out there is when I talk to them as much as they are concerned about distancing their brands from his extremism or some of the nasty stuff he has said, one of the other factors that’s in play is that the tighter his relationship with Donald Trump and the more people see that in terms of the corporate decision maker side they actual begin to see supporting Hannity or aligning their brand with Hannity as actually the functional equivalent of giving a political donation to Trump.


    Hannity denies that he gave Trump questions in advance. Here are the questions he asked.

    Jake Tapper: "It's remarkable" Trump is trying to block the publication of a book because it "hurt his feelings"

    The long, public humiliation of Steve Bannon

  • Angelo Carusone explains why Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is the 2017 Misinformer of the Year

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    Today, Media Matters for America named Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as its 2017 Misinformer of the Year. The designation is presented annually to the media figure, news outlet, or organization that is the most influential or prolific purveyor of misinformation.

    Media Matters President Angelo Carusone explained why Mark Zuckerberg is the Misinformer of the Year:

    “We selected Mark Zuckerberg as the Misinformer of the Year because Facebook's actions in 2017 have been more of a public relations campaign than a deeper systemic approach to address the underlying causes of the proliferation of fake news and disinformation.

    I know that Facebook has the talent and knows how to implement some meaningful countermeasures. Instead of utilizing that talent, Zuckerberg has spent too much time downplaying the crisis and repeating his mistakes from 2016, like continually caving to right-wing pressure. There are some very basic things that Facebook can do to make meaningful dents in this problem -- and my hope for 2018 is that Mark Zuckerberg lets his team take those steps and more.”

    Here’s more about why Mark Zuckerberg earned the Misinformer of the Year designation:

    • Not only did Mark Zuckerberg allow Facebook to be used to mislead, misinform and suppress voters during the 2016 election, but he took active steps in an attempt to assuage right-wing critics that actually made the problem worse. He subsequently downplayed concerns about Facebook’s clear impact on the 2016 election. Instead of learning from those past mistakes, Zuckerberg has repeated them, continuing to act in a way designed to inoculate against or mollify right-wing critics, despite evidence that 126 million Facebook users saw election-related propaganda in 2016.

    • Mark Zuckerberg’s inaction and half-measures illustrate either his lack of recognition of the scope and scale of the crisis or his refusal to accept responsibility. After intense public pressure made Facebook’s misinformation problem impossible to ignore, Zuckerberg announced a series of toothless policy changes that are more public relations ploys than real meaningful solutions. Notably, little effort has been made to improve its news feed algorithm so that Facebook is not turbocharging disreputable or extreme content simply because it has high engagement, or to grapple with the scores of Facebook-verified disinformation and fake news pages masquerading as news sites.

    • Facebook’s third-party fact-checking system doesn't stop fake news from going viral. Fact-checkers who have partnered with Facebook have voiced their concerns about the company’s transparency and effectiveness of their efforts as Zuckerberg has largely refused to release Facebook’s data for independent review.  

    • In yet another attempt to mollify right-wing critics, Zuckerberg’s Facebook partnered with disreputable right-wing media outlet The Weekly Standard, thus allowing an outlet that baselessly criticizes fact-checkers and undermines confidence in journalism into its fact-checking program.

    Media Matters is the nation’s premier media watchdog. Following the 2016 presidential election, Media Matters acknowledged that in order to fully carry out its mission, its scope of work must incorporate an analysis of the way digital platforms influenced the larger problem of misinformation and disinformation in the media landscape.

    Media Matters’ selection of Mark Zuckerberg as Misinformer of the Year reflects Zuckerberg’s failure to take seriously Facebook’s role as a major source of news and information, and his failure to address Facebook’s role in spreading fake news, yet repeating past mistakes that are actually making the problem worse.

    Previous Misinformers of the Year include Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Rupert Murdoch and News Corp,  and Glenn Beck.

  • CNN report highlights Media Matters President Angelo Carusone’s testimony against 21st Century Fox’s Sky bid

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    A CNN report discussed Media Matters President Angelo Carusone’s recent testimony to the U.K.’s chief competitions watchdog, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), against 21st Century Fox’s bid to take over satellite broadcasting company Sky plc, which oversees Sky News. The CMA invited Carusone along with Media Matters’ U.K. partners to testify last week as part of its investigation into 21st Century Fox’s bid, citing Media Matters as “a relevant third party.” On October 24, Media Matters had submitted a report to the CMA illustrating the havoc 21st Century Fox would wreak on the British media landscape if its bid is approved.

    At the October 27 hearing, Carusone testified alongside media experts and advocates from Avaaz, Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom, the Media Reform Coalition, Hacked Off, and 38 Degrees. As CNN reported, Carusone detailed the widespread culture of pushing politically and financially-motivated misinformation and intimidating critics at Fox News and other Murdoch-owned outlets:

    Carusone told CNN that he hammered 21st Century Fox on several fronts during the hearing. He cited examples of Fox News publishing inaccurate information as a problem. He also said he told the regulators it's troubling that Fox has commentators who have a direct interest in the matter they speak about, but do not acknowledge the conflict of interest, and said he brought up what he says are Fox's blurred lines between what is news and what is commentary on air.

    Carusone said he also testified about issues of corporate governance at Fox and 21st Century Fox, and brought up an instance in which he said Fox News tried to obtain the phone records of one of their staffers who was reporting on the network. The incident, Carusone said, is reminiscent of another Murdoch company's phone hacking scandal in which News of the World staffers were accused of hacking the phones of celebrities, including those in the Royal Family. Fox News has denied it sought the phone records of the Media Matters staffer.

    "[The company] can be influential in terms of going after and attacking and they also can be retaliatory," Carusone said.

    Media Matters has actively opposed 21st Century Fox’s proposed takeover of Sky plc since it was first announced. On March 30, Media Matters submitted, in partnership with Avaaz, a report to Ofcom that detailed the risks the Murdochs' desired takeover of Sky poses to British broadcasting standards. Media Matters and Avaaz had previously submitted a report to Karen Bradley, U.K.’s secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, demonstrating that the risk of “Foxification” of Britain’s public debate is too great for Bradley to simply rubber-stamp a Murdoch takeover of Sky.

    Rupert Murdoch abandoned a previous bid for full ownership of the company in light of an investigation into a mass phone hacking scandal at his U.K.-based newspapers. Following an investigation, a parliamentary report found that Murdoch was “not a fit person” to run a major corporation and that his son James had showed “wilful ignorance” of the industrial-scale hacking. 

  • Amidst calamitous Harvey flooding, Pence speaks to a racist, a hurricane conspiracy theorist, and other right-wing radio hosts


    In the ongoing efforts to mitigate the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, Vice President Mike Pence appeared on several right-wing radio programs in Texas to give updates on the recovery and rescue efforts. According to the transcripts posted on the White House website, the vice president appeared to limit his radio outreach mostly to conservative shows, including Rush Limbaugh and Michael Berry, who is notorious for mocking black victims of gun violence in Chicago and other racist programming.

    Limbaugh has a history of using hurricanes to attack Democrats and further his fringe conspiracy theories. During Hurricane Matthew in October 2016, Limbaugh stated that “it's in the interest of the left to have destructive hurricanes because then they can blame it on climate change” and that the National Hurricane Center is “playing games” to convince people of climate change. Limbaugh also told his listeners that “there is politics in hurricanes” because “there are votes.”

    During Tropical Storm Isaac, Limbaugh questioned the National Hurricane Center’s forecasting, pointing out “the degree of coincidence” that the storm was headed for Tampa, the location of the National Republican Convention. Limbaugh implied, according to The Atlantic, that “the weather service was collaborating with the liberal media to invent narratives that are unpleasant for the GOP.”

    In 2016, Limbaugh attacked Hurricane Katrina victims as “liberals” on welfare who lacked “self-reliance.” He also compared the Katrina disaster to “a reality show.” In 2008 following significant flooding in the Midwest, Limbaugh minimized the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina relative to the floods and accused Katrina victims of “waving guns at helicopters,” “shooting cops,” and “raping people on the street.”

    As evidenced by the White House's posted list of transcripts of the vice president’s radio appearances, Pence appeared almost exclusively on conservative radio shows, including KTRH during a joint interview with Michael Berry and Shara Fryer. Berry has been known for making sexist, homophobic, anti-Muslim, and anti-African-American comments on his radio show.

    Berry has posted several racist videos to his show's YouTube channel that criticize African-Americans and has referred to African-Americans as “jungle animals,” “pack animals,” and used blackface comedian “Shirley Q. Liquor” on his show to tell jokes based on racial and religious stereotypes. Media Matters President Angelo Carusone pointed out to TheWrap that “the idea that the vice president would dignify that kind of a program with his office should be alarming.” Carusone said the fact that the White House has sent out transcripts of Pence’s interview with Berry shows that “they’re proud” of his appearance and “they’re not even hiding it.” When asked to explain the vice president’s choice, a White House official told TheWrap that Pence’s team was unaware Berry would be conducting the interview.

    Pence also granted an interview to Trey Ware, host of The Trey Ware Morning Show on KTSA. As reported by Right Wing Watch, Ware said America is suffering through riots, terrorist attacks, and same-sex marriages because it has left God. Pence also spoke to Chris Salcedo on The Chris Salcedo Show on KSEV. Salcedo is a conservative radio host in Houston who believes liberalism makes America "less successful" and that President Obama is “sympathetic to radical Islam.” And in a tweet about North Korea directed at far-right troll Jack Posobiec who has appeared on Salcedo's show, Salcedo claimed “This is the danger of uninformed libs. They’d sacrifice the lives of Americans just to prop up brutal dictators who starve their own people.”

  • CNN's Jeffrey Lord just issued a Nazi victory salute. Really.

    Update: CNN fired Lord, calling his comments "indefensible"

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    CNN contributor Jeffrey Lord tweeted the Nazi victory salute.

    On August 10, the American Spectator published an attack piece by Jeffrey Lord against Media Matters. The screed lashed out at what Lord describes as “Media Matters Fascists.” Lord then tweeted the article to Media Matters President Angelo Carusone. When Carusone pointed out that his name was misspelled in the headline of the piece, Lord responded with the Nazi salute “Sieg Heil!”

    After receiving initial blowback on Twitter, Lord explained his confusing issuance of the Nazi victory salute by implying that it was a joke or that it was meant to further highlight Carusone and Media Matters’ "fascist" agenda.

    Lord is a shill for President Donald Trump who has supported the president’s sexist and dangerous behavior. Lord has a history of making bigoted and ridiculous commentary and has pushed false claims to defend Trump.

    UPDATE: Carusone further elaborated on CNN's lack of standards for Lord:

    UPDATE 2: Lord has been fired by CNN. A network spokesperson told Brian Stelter, "Nazi salutes are indefensible."