Anthony Scaramucci | Media Matters for America

Anthony Scaramucci

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  • A comprehensive list of former Fox employees who have joined the Trump administration

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Over a three-day period in early April, the State Department announced Morgan Ortagus as its new spokesperson, a role previously occupied by Heather Nauert; President Donald Trump said he wanted Herman Cain to fill a seat on the Federal Reserve Board, with Stephen Moore already nominated for a second vacancy; and Politico reported that Treasury Department spokesperson Tony Sayegh is resigning next month and could be replaced by Monica Crowley.

    Ortagus, Nauert, Cain, Moore, Sayegh, and Crowley have something in common: Each has worked for Fox News, the right-wing cable network that has merged with Trump’s White House and now serves as a Trump propaganda outlet.

    Trump has stocked his administration with former Fox employees. Cabinet secretaries overseeing federal departments, senior White House aides advising the president on crucial issues, and U.S. ambassadors representing the country abroad, among others, all worked for the network before joining Trump’s administration.

    Ten current Trump administration officials previously worked at Fox, while six more officials worked at Fox before joining the administration but have since left, and the appointments of two other former Foxers are pending, according to a Media Matters review. (This post was updated May 2 to remove Moore and Cain, who both withdrew from consideration after their nominations received widespread criticism.)

    Current Trump administration officials who used to work at Fox

    Former Trump administration officials who used to work at Fox

    Those are just the ones who actually made the jump to the Trump administration -- several other Fox employees have been connected to various Trump administration jobs but have not received them, while Crowley had been announced for a White House position but withdrew following a plagiarism scandal.

    And the door opens both ways. After leaving her post as White House communications director, Hope Hicks became executive vice president and chief communications officer for Fox’s parent company. Abigail Slater similarly left her White House position advising Trump on technology to become senior vice president for policy and strategy at Fox Corp. Fox also hired former Trump deputy campaign manager David Bossie and former acting ICE Director Tom Homan for on-air roles, each of whom has since been floated for senior administration roles.

    This hiring pattern speaks in part to Fox’s longtime role as a comfortable landing spot for Republicans looking to get paid and build their brand with the network’s conservative audience while keeping their options open to return to politics or government.

    But the trend is also part Trump’s unprecedented relationship with Fox. The president’s worldview is shaped by the hours of Fox programming he watches each day, with both his public statements and his major decisions often coming in response to what he sees. And so throughout his tenure in the White House, the president has treated Fox employment as an important credential and offered jobs to network employees whose commentary he likes.

    Outside the administration, Trump hired Jay Sekulow to join his legal team because the president liked the way Sekulow defended him on Fox, and he nearly added the similarly credentialed Joseph diGenova and Victoria Toensing to the group as well. Then there’s Kimberly Guilfoyle, who left her job co-hosting a Fox show and became the vice chairwoman of a pro-Trump super PAC the next week (she is also dating Donald Trump Jr.).

    In addition to the former Fox employees that have moved to the administration or Trumpworld payrolls, Trump also consults with a “Fox News Cabinet” of current network employees. He reportedly speaks frequently with Fox founder Rupert Murdoch, whose media empire has benefited greatly from the network’s fusion with the Trump administration. And Fox hosts including Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs, Jeanine Pirro, and Pete Hegseth all reportedly influence Trump not only through their programs, but advise him privately as well.

    This post will be updated as additional former Fox employees join or leave the Trump administration or are nominated for or withdraw from nomination for such positions.

    Current Trump administration officials who used to work at Fox

    • Ben Carson, secretary of housing and urban development. Carson, formerly a prominent neurosurgeon, became a right-wing media sensation after using a February 2013 speech in front of President Barack Obama to trumpet conservative economics and health care arguments. He joined Fox News as a contributor in October 2013 and left just over a year later to run for president. After Trump’s election, Carson joined his administration as the secretary of housing and urban development. His tenure has been dogged by scandals involving lavish spending for office furniture and other ethics issues, as well as a general failure to carry out his department’s mission.
    • Elaine Chao, secretary of transportation. After a career in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors capped by serving as labor secretary in President George W. Bush’s Cabinet, Chao became a Fox News contributor. She left the network in 2012 and took a seat on the board of directors of News Corp., at the time Fox’s parent company. In 2016, she stepped down from the board after Trump nominated her as secretary of transportation. Chao is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY); former Fox News contributor Erick Erickson has alleged that he was taken off the air because of his criticism of McConnell at Chao’s behest.
    • John Bolton, national security adviser. Long recognized as one of the most hawkish members of the foreign policy community, Bolton served in the Bush State Department and as ambassador to the United Nations. He joined Fox as a contributor in 2006 and became the network’s go-to voice for national security stories for the next decade, using the platform to push for military options in North Korea and Iran. Those appearances caught the attention of Trump, who said during a 2015 interview, “I watch the shows” for military advice, and that he liked Bolton because “he’s a tough cookie, knows what he’s talking about.” In March 2018, Trump named Bolton as his national security adviser.
    • Mercedes Schlapp, White House director of strategic communications. Before joining the White House in September 2017, Schlapp was a Republican political consultant and a Fox News contributor.
    • Scott Brown, ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa. Glowing Fox News coverage helped power Brown to victory in his 2010 run for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts. After losing his reelection bid two years later, he joined the network as a contributor, using it as a platform to burnish his profile over the next year while exploring a run for Senate in New Hampshire. He left the network, lost that 2014 race despite the network’s efforts to promote him, and was rehired two weeks later. After Brown endorsed Trump in February 2016, Fox hosts began promoting him for the vice president slot. In August 2016, former Fox host Andrea Tantaros named him in the sexual harassment lawsuit she filed against Fox and several network executives. Trump nonetheless nominated Brown to be ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa in April 2017, and he was confirmed that June. He subsequently faced a State Department inquiry after making inappropriate comments to a female server at an official event.
    • Georgette Mosbacher, ambassador to Poland. Mosbacher, a Republican businesswoman and donor, longtime Trump friend, and a Fox News contributor, was nominated to be ambassador to Poland in February 2018 and confirmed by the Senate that July.
    • Richard Grenell, ambassador to Germany. Grenell, a Republican communications professional who spent seven years as spokesperson for the U.S. delegation to the U.N., joined Fox News as a contributor in 2009 and was still in the network’s employ when he was nominated to be ambassador to Germany in September 2017. He was confirmed in April 2018 “despite objections from Democrats that his past epithets about prominent female politicians made him unfit for the job.”
    • Tony Sayegh, Treasury Department assistant secretary for public affairs. Sayegh, a former Republican communications consultant and Fox contributor, has served as the top spokesperson for the Treasury Department since April 2017.
    • Morgan Ortagus, State Department spokesperson. After working in the Bush and Obama administrations, Ortagus became a Fox contributor, then was named State Department spokesperson in April.
    • Lea Gabrielle, State Department special envoy. In February, the State Department named Gabrielle, a former Fox News reporter, as special envoy and coordinator of the State Department’s Global Engagement Center, an agency that counters foreign propaganda and disinformation.

    Former Trump administration officials who used to work at Fox

    • Bill Shine, White House communications director. Shine, a close friend of Hannity’s who once produced his show, rose through the executive ranks at Fox News, eventually becoming network founder Roger Ailes’ right-hand man and then Fox co-president. Shine resigned from Fox in May 2017 after his reported role helping to cover up the network’s culture of sexual harassment became too embarrassing, but he landed a plum White House job as assistant to the president and deputy chief of staff for communications. Shine left the White House for a role on Trump’s reelection campaign in March 2019. His exit reportedly came in part because Trump “feels he was sold a bill of goods by Hannity,” who had urged the president to hire Shine to improve his press coverage.
    • Heather Nauert, acting undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs. Nauert worked at Fox from 1998-2005 and 2007-2017 in a variety of roles. In April 2017, she left her position reading headlines as a news anchor on Fox & Friends, the morning program the president watches religiously, to become spokesperson for the State Department. In March 2018, she was named acting undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs, replacing an official close to Rex Tillerson, who had just been ousted as secretary of state. She was nominated as U.S. ambassador to the U.N. in December 2018, triggering stories about her lack of qualifications for the role outside of her Fox News connection. She withdrew from consideration for the post and left the administration in February, reportedly because her nomination was complicated by the fact she had “employed a nanny who was in the United States legally but was not legally allowed to work.”
    • Anthony Scaramucci, White House communications director. Scaramucci, a hedge fund mogul and a former Fox Business contributor and host, spent 10 days as White House communications director before his proclivity for giving expletive-laced interviews and publicly feuding with other White House staffers triggered his removal.
    • K.T. McFarland, deputy national security adviser. After serving in the Nixon, Ford, and Reagan administrations and losing a race against then-Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), McFarland became a Fox national security analyst. She used that position to push for war with Iran, defend the use of torture, and push for the profiling of Muslim Americans. In November 2016, Trump picked her to be deputy national security adviser under Michael Flynn. She served only briefly in that position. Flynn was replaced by H.R. McMaster in February 2017 following the revelation that Flynn had lied to the FBI and Vice President Mike Pence about whether he had discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador during the presidential transition. McFarland was subsequently offered other opportunities in the administration and nominated to be U.S. ambassador to Singapore, but the nomination stalled over her connection to the Russia investigations -- she had reportedly been in contact with Flynn during his conversations with the Russian ambassador -- and she withdrew in February 2018.
    • Sebastian Gorka, deputy assistant to the president. A bombastic, self-proclaimed national security “expert” with dubious credentials, a proclivity for anti-Muslim conspiracy theories, and ties to foreign extremist groups, Gorka made frequent appearances on Fox News during the 2016 presidential campaign and was briefly hired by the network before decamping for the Trump White House. His job was ill-defined, and he apparently did little other than go on television to support the president before he was canned in August 2017. He then returned to Fox News as a full-fledged contributor, albeit one who was reportedly banned from appearing on the network’s “hard news” programming. In March, he left Fox for Sinclair Broadcast Group, whose stations now broadcast his bigotry around the country.
    • John McEntee, personal aide to the president. Fox hired McEntee as a production assistant in 2015. He later served as Trump’s personal aide both during the presidential campaign and in the White House. When McEntee was fired in March 2018, CNN reported that it was “because he is currently under investigation by the Department of Homeland Security for serious financial crimes.”
  • Are conservative media egging on potential presidential candidate Howard Schultz just to help Trump? Possibly.

    It says a lot that Schultz’s biggest fans this early on are people on the right.

    Blog ››› ››› PARKER MOLLOY


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Over the past week or so, former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has become nearly as ubiquitous as the coffee chain itself. As part of the press blitz for his new book, “From the Ground Up: A Journey to Reimagine the Promise of America,” the 65-year-old billionaire and self-described “lifelong Democrat” has been toying with the idea of running for president in 2020 as a “centrist independent.” Many progressives -- and even a number of anti-Trump moderates and conservatives -- worry that Schultz would play the role of spoiler by peeling off enough Democratic votes to re-elect Trump. He’s also been using these press stops to bash proposals like “Medicare-for-all” and free public college, earning him a reception as ice-cold as a Frappuccino from the political left.

    Thankfully for Schultz, there’s one group in media shamelessly encouraging him to take the presidential plunge: the far right.

    It’s hard to say what Schultz supports, as he hasn’t actually come out in favor of a single detailed policy. That hasn’t stopped conservative media from giving him a whole bunch of attention.

    Fox News, in particular, has been a major hub for Schultz fans. He’s been described as “realistic,” as the type of candidate who can get Wall Street’s backing, as someone who is “very cognizant” of what Americans want in terms of health care reform, and as a champion for “people who don’t want to play fantastical economics anymore.” The network has also repeatedly stood up against criticism of his background and billionaire status.

    On his new podcast, former Trump administration communications director Anthony Scaramucci said Schultz and fellow billionaire businessman-turned-politico Michael Bloomberg would both make “phenomenal presidents,” listing them as “the two people who could possibly beat Trump.” Steve Schmidt, a former adviser to John McCain’s 2008 presidential bid, took a job with Schultz last year. And in an op-ed for the Washington Examiner, Tiana Lowe brushed off Democratic criticism that a third-party challenge would aid Trump’s re-election, writing, “If Democrats want to kneecap Schultz's run, they need to offer better than whatever dregs of desperation they're currently putting on the table.”

    Schultz himself has directly boosted right-wing media figures who are encouraging him to run against Democrats. On January 30, Schultz tweeted (and later deleted) a link to a PJ Media editorial by Roger L. Simon. Schultz thanked Simon for what he called “a thoughtful analysis of what's possible.” A quick glance at the article, however, reveals a number of cringeworthy lines attacking Democratic candidates, including referring to Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) as a “shrill … quasi-socialist promising pie in the sky” and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) as “Fauxcahontas.”

    Schultz later tweeted a link from the notoriously conservative Wall Street Journal editorial board, which described Democrats’ response to a possible Schultz candidacy as “shrieking like teenagers at a horror movie.” The editorial went on to play up the virtues of having a serious adult in the room to encourage a policy debate, contrasting the 65-year-old billionaire with young progressives such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), “whose claim to fame is winning one election, looking cool on Instagram, and proposing ways to spend other people’s money.”

    It’s extremely unlikely that any of these outspoken conservatives actually want Schultz to win -- and if we’re all being completely honest with ourselves, few likely think he can win.

    You may be asking yourself why people on the far right would promote Schultz’s candidacy if what they really want is Trump’s re-election. Maybe I’m being overly cynical, but I’m pretty sure the answer is already right there in the question: because they want Trump to win re-election. Right-wing commentators are trying to downplay this possibility in their effusive praise of Schultz.

    To get one thing out of the way: There’s virtually no chance of Howard Schultz actually winning in 2020 -- though it would be interesting to see if critics would give him a pass on a “latte salute” or two. National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar bemoaned the “failure of imagination” of pundits saying that Schultz doesn’t have a viable path to 270 electoral votes. The truth is that the Electoral College makes it extraordinarily hard for a candidate outside of the two main parties to win any electoral votes, let alone a majority of them. In 1992, Ross Perot received 19.7 million votes (18.9 percent of the total), but ended up with zero electoral votes as he didn’t carry a single state. In fact, the last time a third-party candidate won any electoral votes was in 1968, when George Wallace took 46.

    It’s not a “lack of imagination” that says Schultz has an espresso bean’s chance in a grinder to win; it’s just reality. Come January 20, 2021, it will almost certainly be Donald Trump being sworn into a second term in office or whomever the Democrats nominate taking over. Sorry, Schultz superfans of the world -- if you exist.

    Democratic megadonor Haim Saban thinks a Schultz campaign “guarantees Trump a second term.” Jim Kessler, executive vice president for policy at centrist think tank Third Way -- the exact type of person a Schultz campaign would appeal to, if anyone at all -- told NPR that a centrist independent entry into the race could “splinter” opposition to Trump, leading to his re-election. Even Trump thinks Schultz running would help his own chances, per one report.

    The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake recently dissected a Washington Post-ABC poll showing that 56 percent of registered voters will “definitely” not vote for Trump in 2020, lending some credence to the idea that Trump’s re-election odds might hinge on a wild card:

    Trump may not need those 56 percent of voters. He won the presidency, after all, with just 46 percent of the popular vote — about two points higher than the 44 percent who are at least open to supporting his reelection. He could win with even less of the vote if a third-party/independent candidate, like former Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz, splits the vote three ways.

    There’s also the possibility that Schultz himself doesn’t even think he can win, but just wants to incentivize the Democrats to avoid nominating the likes of Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, or some other candidates with tax hikes for the rich in exchange for an expanded social safety net.

    In an interview with Andrew Ross Sorkin, Schultz explained, “I respect the Democratic Party. I no longer feel affiliated because I don’t know their views represent the majority of Americans. I don’t think we want a 70 percent income tax in America.” (He was referencing Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal for a top marginal tax rate of 70 percent on income more than $10 million per year.)

    He later added, “If I decide to run for president as an independent, I will believe and have the conviction and the courage to believe I can win. I can’t answer that question today. But I certainly am not going to do anything to put Donald Trump back in the Oval Office.”

    If conservative journalists truly believe that a Schultz campaign will throw the 2020 election to Trump, it’s in their best interests to convince him to run. By his own words, the only way to do that is to tell him that he has a legitimate shot. Schultz has been citing the stat that “about 42 percent of the electorate affiliate themselves as an independent.” That figure has been key in Schultz’s argument that he has a real chance at winning. Unfortunately, this confidence seems to be based on a misreading of what that data actually says.

    In an article for FiveThirtyEight, Geoffrey Skelley breaks down just how misleading that figure is:

    Gallup shows that roughly 39 percent of Americans say they’re independents — it also signals a fundamental misunderstanding of how the electorate really feels. And that’s because once you subtract independents who lean more toward one party, the number of true independents shrinks to around 10 percent. Using this metric, Gallup finds that roughly 88 percent of Americans identify with one of the two major parties, and Pew Research puts that figure even higher, at 92 percent.

    It’s also worth noting that “independent” is not synonymous with “centrist” or “moderate.” Some self-described independents may be further to the left than the Democratic Party, or further to the right than the Republican Party. It would seem that Schultz’s calculation in all of this is totally wrong, or maybe, as my cynicism-poisoned mind might suggest to me: This is all just a game of chicken between him and the Democratic Party to try to shift its economic priorities to the right.

    Whether or not Schultz runs for president, and no matter what his intentions actually are in making that run, it’s good to take partisan media figures contemplating his potential candidacy with a grain of salt.

  • The Supreme Court could overturn Roe v. Wade. Don’t buy these right-wing excuses that it’s not a big deal.

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN & JULIE TULBERT


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Following the announcement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement, media have been speculating about the possibility of a nominee selected by President Donald Trump casting the deciding vote overturning Roe v. Wade.

    While some mainstream outlets have rightly warned about the likelihood and negative impacts of overturning, or even further hollowing out, Roe’s protections, many conservative outlets and figures deployed a variety of excuses either to suggest that Roe is not at risk or to downplay any potential negative effects such a move would have. But make no mistake -- the Trump administration and its anti-abortion allies haven’t been shy about their goal: making abortion inaccessible or even illegal in the United States, no matter what the consequences.

    In 2016, then-candidate Trump said in response to a debate question about whether he would overturn Roe: “Well, if we put another two or perhaps three justice on, that’s really what’s going to be — that will happen. And that’ll happen automatically, in my opinion, because I am putting pro-life justices on the court.” Previously, in July 2016, then-vice presidential nominee Mike Pence said that he believed that electing Trump would lead to the overturning of Roe and that he wanted to see the decision “consigned to the ash heap of history where it belongs.” In return, anti-abortion groups have also supported the administration -- a fact underscored by Trump’s keynote address at the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List’s (SBA List) gala in May.

    Despite the administration’s promise, conservative media and figures are deploying a number of inaccurate excuses to either deny or downplay the severity of the threat to abortion rights with another Trump-appointed justice on the court:

    1. Claiming that abortion rights are safe because Roe is precedent, and none of the current justices will vote to overturn it.

    In the aftermath of Kennedy’s announcement, some conservative media argued that abortion rights are not threatened because the sitting justices -- including Chief Justice John Roberts and Trump’s previous nominee Justice Neil Gorsuch -- would be reticent to overturn precedent.

    For example, an editorial in The Wall Street Journal argued that because “the Court has upheld [Roe’s] core right so many times, ... the Chief Justice and perhaps even the other conservatives aren’t likely to overrule stare decisis on a 5-4 vote.” Similarly, during a June 27 appearance on Fox Business Network’s Lou Dobbs Tonight, conservative lawyer Alan Dershowitz claimed that Roe is safe because “true conservatives also follow precedent,” and therefore any conservative appointee would not vote to overturn it. Short-serving former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci said it is unlikely that Roe would be overturned because “the court recognizes that there are certain fundamental principles that are in place and certain presidential precedent-setting principles in place." He concluded, “I know there are conservatives out there that want it to be overturned but I just don't see it happening."

    It appears highly unlikely that the new Supreme Court would keep Roe intact. Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern wrote that Kennedy’s retirement “ensured” that Roe will be overturned -- even if it ultimately will “die with a whimper” as the Supreme Court would allow anti-choice lawmakers to foist “extreme regulations on clinics, outlawing abortion after a certain number of weeks, or barring a woman from terminating a pregnancy on the basis of the fetus’ disability or identity.” As Stern concluded, “the constitutional right to abortion access in America is living on borrowed time.” This argument was also echoed by The Daily Beast’s Erin Gloria Ryan who contended that one more Supreme Court vote against abortion would mean that “the conservative minority in this country will have the power to uphold laws designed to force pregnant women into motherhood.” During the June 27 edition of MSNBC’s Deadline: White House, host Nicole Wallace explained that the impact of Kennedy’s retirement means “actually talking about a future generation growing up with abortion being illegal again” and “young women and men taking the kinds of risks that a generation now hasn't had to consider.”

    2. Arguing that Roe is “bad” law, and therefore a Trump nominee would only be correcting judicial overreach.

    In other instances, conservative media have argued that Roe is "bad" law because the constitution doesn't include a right to abortion. By this logic, they contend, a reversal of precedent is inconsequential because the new nominee would merely be helping correct previous judicial overreach.

    In an opinion piece for The Sacramento Bee, The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro argued that Roe v. Wade is a decision that was rendered “without even the most peremptory respect for the text and history of the Constitution,” but that “pleased the Left.” An improved Supreme Court, according to Shapiro, “would leave room for legislatures – Democrats or Republicans – to make laws that don’t conflict with the Constitution.”

    In National Review, Rich Lowry similarly said that Roe “is, in short, a travesty that a constitutionalist Supreme Court should excise from its body of work with all due haste.” Lowry concluded that Roe “has no sound constitutional basis” and implied that it should be overturned because it is an embarrassment for the court.

    The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway claimed on Fox News’ Special Report with Bret Baier, “Even people who are pro-choice recognize that it was a poorly argued judicial decision.” She also said that Trump does not need to ask the judicial candidates about Roe v. Wade as “so many people regard it as such a poorly reasoned decision.” Fox News contributor Robert Jeffress also said on Fox News’ Hannity that Trump doesn’t need to ask about Roe because “there is no right to abortion.” Jeffress continued that though abortion is “nowhere in the Constitution” there is, however, a constitutionally protected “right to life that has been erased for 50 million children butchered in the womb since 1973.”

    But, as legal analyst Bridgette Dunlap wrote for Rewire.News, these claims that Roe is bad law are part of a conservative tactic to invalidate abortion rights more broadly. She explained: “In order to portray abortion rights as illegitimate, conservatives like to argue—inaccurately—that the Court legalized abortion in Roe v. Wade by inventing a right to privacy that is not grounded in the Constitution’s actual text.” Instead, she noted, Roe is based on the idea that “using the force of law to compel a person to use her body against her will to bring a pregnancy to term is a violation of her physical autonomy and decisional freedom—which the Constitution does not allow.”

    In addition, Roe is not just an important acknowledgement of the right to legally access abortion care -- even if states have already chipped away at the accessibility of that care. As Lourdes Rivera of the Center for Reproductive Rights explained in the National Law Journal, overturning Roe would impact the right to privacy and mean “uprooting a half-century of judicial decision-making, with profound consequences for our most cherished rights and essential freedoms.” Lawyer Jill Filipovic similarly wrote for Time magazine that “if Roe is done away with under the theory that privacy rights don’t exist, this could mean that there is no constitutional right to birth control, either.” In addition, she said, “cases that came after Roe, including Lawrence v. Texas, which invalidated a Texas law that criminalized sex between two men, were decided on similar premises — and could be similarly imperiled.”

    3. Claiming that abortion would not be completely outlawed because regulatory power would merely be “returned to the states.”

    A common argument by conservative media -- and in some cases, Trump himself -- is that an overturning of Roe would merely return abortion regulations to the states and not completely outlaw the practice.

    For instance, according to Fox News guest and constitutional attorney Mark W. Smith, even if Roe were overturned, it wouldn’t “outlaw abortion” in the United States, it would just allow “states and voters [to] decide what to do about abortion.” Fox News commentator Andrew Napolitano also made this claim, saying the “worst case scenario” is that if Roe “were to be repealed or reversed, the effect would be the 50 states would decide” their own abortion regulations. This inaccurate claim was also made during segments on CNN and MSNBC. During a June 27 appearance on CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin, CNN legal commentator and former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli argued that “all overturning Roe v. Wade does is” give the regulation power “to the states.” The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol made a similar claim on MSNBC Live with Velshi and Ruhle, when he argued that overturning Roe would merely “kick [abortion regulation] back to the states.”

    In reality, sending abortion regulation “back to the states” would functionally outlaw abortion access across large parts of the country. As Reva Siegel, a professor at Yale Law School wrote for The New York Times, returning the issue to the states would be disastrous because already, “27 major cities are 100 miles or more from the nearest abortion provider, and we can expect these ‘abortion deserts’ in the South and the Midwest to spread rapidly” if states are given free reign. New York magazine’s Lisa Ryan similarly reported that currently “there are only 19 states in which the right to abortion would be secure” if Roe is overturned.

    This landscape could easily worsen with anti-abortion groups turning their attention more directly to legislation on the state level rather than the federal level. As HuffPost’s Laura Bassett noted, a number of “abortion cases are already worming their way through the lower courts” that could further entrench abortion restrictions in a number of states. In 2016, ThinkProgress explained what a world before Roe looked like: “Wealthy women were able to access safe, though illegal, abortions, but everyone else had to risk their safety and sometimes their lives, and doctors had to risk going to jail.”

    4. Casting blame on abortion rights supporters for “overreacting” or trying to “attack” any Trump nominee on principle.

    Another common reaction among conservative media has been to cast blame back on abortion rights supporters. In this case, right-wing media have attacked supporters of Roe for “overreacting” to the potential loss of abortion rights, and accused others of opposing Trump’s nominee not on facts, but on principle.

    For example, during the June 27 edition of Fox Business’ Making Money with Charles Payne, guest and attorney Gayle Trotter argued that abortion rights supporters were just “trying to scare people” in order to “defeat the president’s nominee.” Federalist Society Executive Vice President Leonard Leo also echoed this argument during a June 27 appearance on Fox News’ Special Report with Bret Baier. According to Leo, “The left has been using the Roe v. Wade scare tactic since 1982, when Sandra O’Connor was nominated. And over 30 years later, nothing has happened to Roe v. Wade.”

    Similarly, on June 29, Trump supporters and YouTube personalities Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson, popularly known as Diamond and Silk, appeared on Fox News’ Fox and Friends to discuss potential replacements for Kennedy. During the segment, Diamond asked why Democrats were “fearmongering” and “going into a frenzy” before knowing the nominee or their position on abortion. After interviewing Trump on Fox Business about his thought process for nominating Kennedy’s replacement, Maria Bartiromo said on the Saturday edition of Fox & Friends Weekend she believed that “all of this hysteria” about a potential overturn of Roe was being "a little overdone” by the left.

    Pro-choice advocates are not “overreacting” to potential attacks on the protections afforded by Roe. As journalist Irin Carmon explained on MSNBC Live with Craig Melvin, Kennedy’s retirement “is the point that the conservative movement, that the anti-abortion movement, has been preparing for for 40 years” by “taking over state legislatures and passing laws that are engineered to chip away at the abortion right.” Carmon said that even with Kennedy on the bench, “access to abortion, and in many cases contraception, was a reality [only] on paper already.” Now, “it is disportionately Black and brown women who are going to suffer with the regime that is going to come forward.” Attorney Maya Wiley similarly argued on MSNBC’s The Beat that overturning of Roe would mean “essentially barring a huge percentage of women from huge swaths of the country from access” to abortion.

    5. Claiming that there’s no public support for Roe or abortion access.

    Polling shows a large majority of Americans support the outcome of Roe. But some right-wing media personalities have said that such findings ignore other polling about Americans’ supposed support for restrictions on later abortion.

    For example, The Weekly Standard’s John McCormack argued on Fox News’ Outnumbered Overtime that the claims of support for abortion access are inaccurate because there is a “great misunderstanding about Roe v. Wade” and the impact it has on abortion restrictions and that “there is actually pretty popular support for second trimester regulations.” This talking point has been used elsewhere, such as by the Washington Examiner and anti-abortion outlet Life News, in an attempt to discredit perceived support for Roe.

    The argument deployed by McCormack has also frequently been used by right-wing outlets in the past -- despite the disregard such an argument shows for the complexities involved in abortion polling. As Tresa Undem, co-founder and partner at the public-opinion research firm PerryUndem, wrote for Vox, most “standard measures” that are used “to report the public’s views on abortion ... don’t capture how people really think” about the issue. In contrast to right-wing media and anti-abortion claims, polling done by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Hart Research Associates shows that support for later abortions goes up when people realize that abortions in later stages of pregnancy are often undertaken out of medical necessity or for particular personal circumstances.

    As Trump prepares to announce his selection for the Supreme Court on Monday, July 7, right-wing and conservative media will only offer more of these excuses to downplay that Roe v. Wade is firmly in the crosshairs.

  • Media have found their latest Trump pivot: General Kelly

    ››› ››› MADELINE PELTZ & SANAM MALIK

    Media figures promoted the idea that President Donald Trump’s administration is heading towards a reset, this time following the firing of White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci along with the swearing in of former Marine General John F. Kelly as the new White House chief of staff. Kelly’s move to chief of staff is just the latest example of the media’s obsession with the fantasy of a Trump “reset” that will never happen.

  • Sinclair’s Boris Epshteyn celebrates Anthony Scaramucci’s “new approach” and “fresh perspective” for Trump’s White House

    Scaramucci, one day earlier: “I’m not Steve Bannon, I’m not trying to suck my own cock”

    Blog ››› ››› PAM VOGEL

    Update: Just days after Sinclair Broadcast Group's chief political analyst Boris Epshteyn released a commentary segment lauding Anthony Scaramucci's new approach as White House communications director, The New York Times reported that President Donald Trump had removed Scaramucci from the role. 


    Former Trump aide Boris Epshteyn’s latest “must-run” commentary segment for Sinclair Broadcast Group proves that President Donald Trump’s clumsy damage control will be televised on local TV news stations nationwide -- whether viewers like it or not.

    On July 27, The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza published a profanity-laced, on-the-record interview with Anthony Scaramucci, the new White House communications director, in which the latter savaged his new White House colleagues. The following day, without mentioning the firestorm Scaramucci’s viral interview had caused, Epshteyn posted a new video commentary celebrating Scaramucci’s “fresh perspective” and pushing generic propagandistic talking points about the predicted success of the new White House communications strategy.

    Here is the entire transcript of the 86-second clip, via Sinclair-owned Washington, D.C. station WJLA:

    Changes are afoot in the White House communications department.

    It may be hard to keep track of who’s in, who’s out – and more importantly, what this means for the American people.

    Let’s break it down.

    The president wanted to bring in a fresh perspective to help manage and communicate the White House's message.

    The reins over communications are now totally in the hands of Anthony Scaramucci, the new communications director. He is going to report directly to the president. Sarah Huckabee Sanders has been promoted to press secretary after having been the principal deputy.

    I know Anthony personally; he is a good friend. He is unquestionably passionate and direct -- that’s been pretty obvious. He also has a high level of respect for media, having been a part of it himself.

    The reason his appointment matters is that there is going to be a new approach to dealing with the media from the White House.

    Anthony has already made two key promises:

    First, cameras are on for the daily press briefing. Get ready to see more of those pointed exchanges between the White House and the press.

    Second, the White House comms shop will enable the president to speak directly to you, through all mediums, even more than in the past. This will allow for the president’s words to cut through any spin or interpretation and go right to the people.

    The bottom line is this: There is not always agreement between the White House and those covering them; that is impossible. What these changes do signal, however, is there will now be a better working relationship between the White House and the press. This will hopefully result in us getting more thorough, and real, information on the issues that actually matter to our daily lives – such as jobs, health care and taxes.

    If you can’t choose just one sentence from this blatant pro-Trump propaganda to label as the worst, don’t worry -- the actual worst part about any of Epshteyn’s videos is what’s happening off-camera.

    Sinclair’s openly pro-Trump corporate offices mandate that every “Bottom Line with Boris” segment run on all of its 173 television news stations in 33 states and the District of Columbia. Anchors at individual local news stations owned by Sinclair are seemingly not required to introduce the segments in any particular way before running them -- employees at at least one station have said they try to run the segments along with commercials “so they blend in with paid spots.” This means that, unlike the online transcript at WJLA’s website, the segments themselves have no built-in disclosure that Epshteyn was until recently employed by the same White House he now regularly lavishes with on-air praise.

    Epshteyn has been producing 60- to 90-second commentary segments several times a week since he joined Sinclair as its chief political analyst in April. Earlier in July, Sinclair announced it would be upping Epshteyn’s segments from airing three times per week to nine times per week.