Brian Kilmeade | Media Matters for America

Brian Kilmeade

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  • Fox & Friends tries to smear Kamala Harris following an interview she did with The Breakfast Club

    Blog ››› ››› COURTNEY HAGLE

    UPDATE (2/13): The Breakfast Club responded to conservative media’s smear of Harris, explaining that their conversation was misrepresented.

    On February 11, presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) waded into the debate on marijuana legalization during an episode of the radio show The Breakfast Club. While responding to multiple questions, Harris revealed that she supports legalization and smoked in college. Harris also shared, in response to a question, that some of her favorite music artists include rappers Snoop Dogg and Tupac. While she was answering that question, one of the hosts further asked what she listened to when she was “high.”

    Right-wing media figures decided to interpret the sequence as Harris clearly saying she smoked marijuana in college while listening to Snoop Dogg and Tupac, which they note wouldn’t be possible because their music wasn’t released until after Harris graduated from college. They almost immediately started trying to turn the trivial nitpicking of details into a big scandal for Harris, accusing her of maliciously lying about smoking marijuana in college. Wednesday morning, this attempt to scandalize the moment made its way to Fox News’ morning show Fox & Friends. The three co-hosts treated the story as a “gotcha” moment for Harris, saying that “there’s a problem with the timeline.”  

    The wanna-be scandal underscores a larger trend of figures on the right using misinformation to paint Democratic candidates as inauthentic and unrelatable.

    BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): And then Kamala Harris came out and gave a very impressive introductory "look at me -- I want to run for president." However, if you look at some of the things she is saying about giving insurance for everybody, destroying private insurance and giving Medicare-for-all, you wonder where that came from. Then she admits on a morning radio show that she smoked marijuana because she wanted to in college.

    ...

    STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): She was listening to Snoop and Tupac when she was in college. We took a look at the record, and take a look at this. That was the appearance on the so-called world's most dangerous morning show, The Breakfast Club, here in New York. She graduated from college at Howard in 1986. She finished law school in 1989. She was admitted to the state bar of California in 1990 and then in 1991, Tupac's first album came out and in 1993, Snoop Dogg's first album was released. So there's a problem with the timeline.

    AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): So seven years after she graduated from undergrad, Snoop Dogg's debut album was released. And five years after she graduated from undergrad, Tupac's album was released.

    DOOCY: So she doesn't remember what she was listening to when she was smoking.

    KILMEADE: Right. I just don't know why -- she’s a scholar, her career is on a fast trajectory; she should embrace it, go behind it. Whoever you are, you have to be that person or it's not going to work. Did Donald Trump show you anything? For better or for worse, Donald Trump shows you exactly what he's doing every day and who he is.

  • Ahead of Trump’s El Paso rally, Fox & Friends pushes lie that crime went down after border fencing went up

    Blog ››› ››› COURTNEY HAGLE

    As President Donald Trump prepares to hold his first campaign rally of the year in El Paso, TX, on February 11, Trump’s allies on Fox & Friends have already picked up on his lie that violence in El Paso decreased following the construction of border fencing. The morning show hosts are pushing this false narrative as fact even though multiple outlets have already debunked it.

    During his State of the Union address on February 5, Trump falsely claimed, “The border city of El Paso, Texas, used to have extremely high rates of violent crime - one of the highest in the country, and [was] considered one of our nation's most dangerous cities.” State and local officials quickly pushed back on this claim. PolitiFact also debunked it, writing that El Paso’s “violent crime rate has been significantly below the national average compared to cities of similar size” every year between 1985 and 2014. And as NBC News reported, “Violent crime has been dropping in El Paso since its modern-day peak in 1993 and was at historic lows before a fence was authorized by Congress in 2006.” Both outlets also noted that the violent crime rate in the city increased after the fence was put up. In fact, the El Paso Times reported, “From 2006 to 2011 — two years before the fence was built to two years after — the violent crime rate in El Paso increased by 17 percent.” But as criminologist Charis E. Kubrin told PolitiFact, the increases or decreases in the city’s crime rate aren't necessarily linked to the fence.

    Despite the statistical evidence contradicting Trump’s claims, the hosts at Fox & Friends supported the president in lying about crime rates in El Paso. During the February 11 edition of the show, co-host Ainsley Earhardt claimed that Democrats are “upset with [Trump] saying in the State of the Union address that the wall works in El Paso.” Co-host Brian Kilmeade replied, “Right, which it did.”

    From the February 11 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

  • Here are some of the dumbest right-wing media takes on the Green New Deal

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) introduced a Green New Deal resolution on Thursday -- a framework for what they intend to include in detailed legislation down the line. Ocasio-Cortez's office also released a less formal summary and answers to frequently asked questions about the plan.

    Right-wing media figures and outlets -- who've been freaking out over the Green New Deal and Ocasio-Cortez in general over the last couple of months -- swiftly went on the attack, insulting Ocasio-Cortez's intelligence and employing misinformation, mockery, and straight-up climate denial to argue against the plan.

    Many of the attackers appear not to have actually read the 14-page resolution. Instead, they focused on the FAQ document and mischaracterized it, so Ocasio-Cortez's office removed it from her website and said they'll post a better version later, but it's still available in other places online. [Update, 2/11/19: In a February 9 Twitter thread, Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff explained that “an early draft of a FAQ that was clearly unfinished and that doesn’t represent the GND resolution got published to the website by mistake.”]

    Here's a sampling of comments and arguments from right-wing media.

    Right-wing media made unhinged claims that the Green New Deal would destroy civilization

    MSNBC contributor Hugh Hewitt waxed melodramatic while discussing the Green New Deal on his radio program on February 8: "It is not socialism; it is communism, it is fascism, it is despotism."

    Sean Hannity went on an extended rant on his Fox show Hannity on February 7:

    History is riddled with the roadkill and the misery and of many versions of socialism, almost always ending the same way: false promises, broken promises, failure, poverty, misery among the people. This is a real, serious threat to our way of life.

    Ocasio-Cortez and others put forth one of the most dangerous, impractical, misguided, economically guaranteed-to-be-devastating plans ever championed by any American politician.

    All aboard, the poverty express is coming.

    Fox's Laura Ingraham said the Green New Deal would result in a "hellscape." Fox's Tucker Carlson said, "It's literally insane and anti-American." Watch these and other lowlights:

    Right-wing media attacked Ocasio-Cortez's intelligence

    Ocasio-Cortez introduced the legislation jointly with longtime lawmaker Markey, who has served in Congress since 1976 and co-authored major climate legislation that passed the House in 2009. But in attacking the measure, conservative commentators focused almost exclusively on Ocasio-Cortez, calling her "immature" and an "idiot."

    Ben Stein, an actor, political commentator, and climate denier who frequently appears on Fox programs, offered sexist insults about Ocasio-Cortez during Fox Business Network's Cavuto Coast to Coast on February 7:

    The fact that we listen to her is just amazing. The fact that we pay attention to anything she says is just amazing. I mean, she doesn't know her ass from her elbow about investments and the return on investments. Why do we even listen to her? I mean, she’s charming and she’s very good-looking, but why do we even listen to her?

    Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade and climate-denying blogger Marc Morano took turns ratcheting up the insults during a segment on Fox & Friends on February 8:

    BRIAN KILMEADE: Why would you stand behind a deal like this when it is -- looks like something that was put out by a 10th-grader?

    MARC MORANO: Actually, 10th is being very, very generous.

    KILMEADE: Let's go seventh.

    MORANO: I would go as low as third grade.

    Ben Shapiro, editor-in-chief of the right-wing Daily Wire, attacked Ocasio-Cortez in a tweet:

    Shapiro elaborated on this theme in a blog post at The Daily Wire titled "AOC's Green New Deal Proposal Is One Of The Stupidest Documents Ever Written":

    Whoever wrote the proposal is, to put it kindly, dense. Idiotic. Moronic.

    How bad is the Green New Deal paper? Putting aside the fact that, as written, it would receive a C+ in any high school English class, it essentially articulates a magical world in which the skies rain chocolate, the world is powered by unicorn farts, and AOC dances through the gumdrop meadows to Lisztomania.

    My two-year-old son could come up with a better, more realistic proposal than this one.

    David Harsanyi, a climate denier and senior editor at the conservative online magazine The Federalist, played on similar themes during an appearance on Fox's The Ingraham Angle:

    Right-wing media spread misinformation about the Green New Deal

    Conservative media figures propagated a number of falsehoods about the Green New Deal. Here are a few:

    They say the plan would ban cars. It wouldn't: Madison Gesiotto, a columnist for The Hill and a member of the Trump campaign's advisory board, suggested in a tweet that the Green New Deal would require Americans to give up their cars. In fact, the resolution calls for "investment in … zero-emissions vehicle infrastructure and manufacturing," not the banning of vehicles.

    They say the plan would ban airplanes. It wouldn't: Longtime climate denier Rush Limbaugh claimed on his radio show on February 7, "They want to phase out air travel in 10 years." Fox & Friends hosts made the same claim on February 8, including Ainsley Earhardt, who said, "No more airplanes. Airplanes are -- exactly, you have to take a train now." In fact, the resolution makes no mention of airplanes or air travel. The FAQ acknowledges that it's likely not feasible to phase out traditional airplanes within a decade, so it calls for "build[ing] out highspeed rail at a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary." The Green New Deal aims to give people a cleaner option than flying, but it doesn't call for the elimination of flying.

    They say the plan would ban meat. It wouldn't: Morano said during his February 8 appearance on Fox & Friends that the plan calls for "banning meat." In fact, the resolution makes no mention whatsoever of meat. In contrast, it calls for "working collaboratively with farmers and ranchers in the United States to eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector as much as is technologically feasible, including ... by supporting family farming [and] by investing in sustainable farming and land use practices that increase soil health." The FAQ mentions just one potential meat source, "farting cows," but says it doesn't appear feasible to get rid of them within 10 years.

    Right-wing media mocked the Green New Deal

    Many of the conservative critiques were short on substance, long on silliness and scorn.

    Fox personality Laura Ingraham suggested the Green New Deal would send the country back to the time of the Flintstones and the Stone Age:

    Climate-denying blogger Steve Milloy called the plan "bedwetting":

    Breitbart's Joel Pollak disingenuously accuses the plan of being "homophobic and transphobic."

    Note: the legislation fails to mention — even once — the historic oppression of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer communities. This is a homophobic and transphobic document.

    Right-wing media displayed their climate denial while criticizing the Green New Deal

    In many cases, right-wing media figures failed to acknowledge that the Green New Deal is so ambitious because it's trying to address an incredibly serious and deadly threat: climate change. The hosts of Fox & Friends, for example, neglected to mention climate change at all during an extended rant on February 8.

    But in some cases, the conservative commentators put their climate denial on full display, making clear that part of the reason they disdain the Green New Deal is because they don't believe climate change is even happening.

    Limbaugh launched into a climate-denying diatribe during his Green New Deal segment on February 7:

    It is a crime what has been done to these kids. It is literally a crime the way they have been propagandized from the moment they started watching television, from early childhood. They literally believe this planet is under destruction as we sit here today and that human beings in the United States of America are responsible for it, primarily Republicans, and they’re calling for drastic action.

    Breitbart's Pollak explicitly contradicted climate science in his Green New Deal blog post:

    The “Green New Deal” begins by asserting “human activity is the dominant cause of observed climate change over the past century” — far beyond the “consensus” that humans have some significant impact on global temperature.

    It goes on to declare that “a changing climate is causing sea levels to rise and an increase in wildfires, severe storms, droughts, and other extreme weather events that threaten human life” — all speculative claims that even scientists who endorse anthropogenic global warming (AGW) are hesitant to endorse.

    In fact, climate scientists have been very clear that climate change is human-caused, it is exacerbating extreme weather, and we have a small window in which to dramatically overhaul our energy, transportation, and agriculture systems if we want to avoid the worst impacts. But if you deny that climate change is a problem, then of course an ambitious plan to address it is going to be anathema.

  • “Did you hear that, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?”: Fox has another socialism freakout after Trump’s State of the Union address

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS & JOHN KERR

    During his 2019 State of the Union address, President Donald Trump declared, “America will never be a socialist country.” Fox News and Fox Business guests and hosts picked up the narrative, stressing that while we are watching socialism “falling apart” in Venezuela, “the Democrats continue to crawl closer” to the ideology” even though “it leads to ruin, it is immoral, and it is fundamentally wrong.”

    Here are some examples of Fox News and Fox Business figures losing their minds, once again, about socialism.

    Fox’s Sean Hannity: “The president also made it perfectly clear, America will never become -- now think about this, even Nancy [Pelosi] and Chuck [Schumer] had to stand up. Not sure that Congresswoman [Alexandria] Ocasio-Cortez liked it -- we will never become a socialist country.”

    Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy: “One of the most delicious cutaways was of Bernie Sanders” while Trump was talking about Venezuela and saying that “the United States will never be a socialist country. Now that’s something everybody’s got to applaud for, right? No, not really.”

    Doocy: “The Democrats, who would not stand, when we were talking about socialism, the unborn, unemployment, and things like that. You would think these are things we all get together on.”

    Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade claimed that socialism is “falling apart” in Venezuela, adding, “When you talk about the Green Deal, free pre-K, free college, free ‘Medicare-for-all,’ you talk about an unsustainable, untenable series of invoices that America can’t possibly pay.”

    Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer: “The policies that are being advocated by Democrats continue to crawl closer to socialism and embrace an economic scheme that I think has failed throughout the world, and that concerns me.”

    Spicer: “We see the folks in Venezuela really fighting for freedom and independence, ... and yet you have these folks in the Democratic Party that are embracing socialism and proudly -- they are embracing it.”

    Fox Business host Stuart Varney: “Socialists don’t care about growth and prosperity. They don’t care about America’s booming economy. They don’t care about it.”

    Varney: “The Democrat Party, again, my opinion, has been taken over by the socialist left. … Look what you have got here on the left of the Democrat Party. It is socialism! I’m not surprised that the Democrats in the House did not stand up and cheer when the president called out socialism. That’s who they are. That’s who they have become. OK, I’ve got a bee in my bonnet, because I am a refugee from socialism. … It leads to ruin, it is immoral, and it is fundamentally wrong. It is based actually on legalized theft.”

    Varney: “If you watch this program, you’ll know we are dead set against socialism. Personally, I walked away from British socialism in the 1970s. I have often said I am a refugee. Socialism leads to decline and ruin. It stifles individual success. So-called democratic socialism is simply legalized theft.” 

    Varney: “Democrats running for the presidency have embraced … the Green New Deal to kill oil companies and ‘Medicare-for-all’ that kills private health insurance. That is socialism. That is the new face of the Democrat Party. No wonder they sat on their hands when the president said, ‘We were born free, and we will stay free.’ Forgive me, please, for spending so much time on this, but I have seen it in practice. I have lived it. And I'm here to tell you socialism is just plain awful. This is Varney & Co.; we celebrate capitalism.”

    Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo: “How is it possible that they did not stand up when he said we will not become a socialist country?”

    Bartiromo: “That was President Trump last night disavowing socialism in his State of the Union address. … Nobody got up! … Half the room didn’t get up.”

    Fox News contributor Dagen McDowell: “These Democrats are actually anti-capitalism. … They are on the record for being in favor of socialism. We already know that socialism is going mainstream in the Democratic Party.”

    Fox Business host Cheryl Casone: “The president called out socialism last night in his State of the Union, and Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez [is] not happy about it. … The left is reeling this morning.”

    Fox Business’ Trish Regan: “Did you hear that, Bernie Sanders? Did you hear that, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez? Socialism has no place in the United States of America. So it is time, right now, for you to abandon your far-left policies. We’ve seen what they have done to Venezuela.”

    Regan: “The president tonight rejecting Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro's brutal socialist policies and vowing that the United States of America will never head in that direction. Let’s hope not.”

    Regan: “To me, [denouncing socialism] should be something you should stand for. Yes, America’s never going to be a socialist country. … Nancy Pelosi -- you’re right; she did clap, a little bit -- but she wouldn’t stand for that. And to me, you know, our identity is not as socialists. I mean, we really -- we are capitalists that believe in safety nets.”

    Regan: Ocasio-Cortez “tells us we just need to be socialists, and it won't be like Venezuela. It'll be much, much better. This is her theory; this is what she was explaining to her comrades over there watching on MSNBC tonight -- that somehow Americans want this, that Americans want their money to be stolen from them, to be redistributed, and given to the likes of her.”

    Regan: “When they’re talking about things like freedom and Bernie Sanders can’t even applaud for that, we’ve got a problem!”

    Regan: “There used to be a time when that was not a cool thing, to be called a socialist. That was actually, you know, a term that could be used against you. … That’s suddenly en vogue. And do you think that that should be a warning for Americans right now, when you look at a country like Venezuela only three hours from Miami; that’s 20 years of socialism.”

    The Wall Street Journal’s James Freeman: “Some people are talking on Twitter about how isn’t it amazing an American president has to say this, that we’re not going to be socialist. But that is sadly the time we’re living in.”

    Freeman: “It is amazing, given that we’ve been getting this real-time education [from Venezuela] in socialism and its destructive power, that meanwhile it seems to be picking up in the United States.”

    Donald Trump Jr.: Democrats “use Venezuela as their model for socialism, so I love that my father said that ‘America will never be a socialist country,’ because that’s the other side’s platform right now. … Watch their body language last night on things that all Americans should agree on. They don’t even stand or applaud. It’s pretty scary.”

    Trump Jr: Systems like socialism would “shut down” everything that makes America great. “Just look at anywhere else they’ve been implemented.”

    Presidential historian Doug Wead on Trish Regan Primetime: “My socialist friends here in the United States say American socialism will be very different from the Soviet Union, very different from Venezuela, and we'll have freedom of speech, for example. But we already have American socialism. It's practiced at the University of California at Berkeley. On many of our campuses, we're experiencing socialism right now. They don’t allow freedom of speech.”

    Wead on Varney & Co.: “Bernie Sanders got trapped in that socialism comment. I think that will come back to haunt him.”

    Republican National Committee spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany: The speech was great at “exposing the radical left agenda, the infanticide, the ideas of socialism and single-payer and these really radical proposals.”

  • Fox News figures salivate over Trump’s 2019 State of the Union address

    Blog ››› ››› JOHN KERR

    On February 5, President Donald Trump gave his 2019 State of the Union address. It was filled with misinformation and anti-immigrant bigotry, often sounding similar to Sean Hannity’s Fox News show. While mainstream news outlets fact-checked the many lies and misleading claims in the speech, Fox News figures heaped enthusiastic praise on Trump’s address, calling it “one of the best speeches I've ever heard in terms of reaching across the aisle,” gushing that "the president delivered, I think, a message of unity,” claiming "Trump is going to be recognized as one of the greatest presidents of our generation, if not the greatest,” and more: