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  • Conservatives are lying about the migrant caravan to scare people into voting for Republicans

    Blog ››› ››› LEANNE NARAMORE

    Just two weeks ahead of the midterm elections, right-wing media figures and President Donald Trump are spreading lies about the migrant caravan, falsely claiming that the caravan has been infiltrated by radical terrorists and is on its way to invade and destroy the U.S. These lies are designed purely to scare people into voting for Republicans in the midterms; any honest reporting on this situation must be framed around that fact. Here are some good examples so far, via CNN, MSNBC, and Shepard Smith on Fox News:

  • Alex Jones: Phone call with threat to shoot CNN’s Brian Stelter and Don Lemon is a false flag

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones called a death threat against CNN’s Brian Stelter and Don Lemon that was phoned into C-SPAN a “false flag” during a video posted on August 5 to Jones’ YouTube channel. The video was one of the last posts uploaded to Jones' channel before YouTube terminated his account on August 6.

    On August 3, a person identified as “Don from State College, PA,” called into C-SPAN to falsely claim that Stelter and Lemon had called all Trump supporters racist. The man ended his call by saying, “They started the war. If I see ’em, I’m going to shoot ’em. Bye.” Stelter covered the threat on his show Reliable Sources on August 5.

    Jones reacted to Stelter’s coverage by calling the death threat a “false flag” and “phony as a three-dollar bill.” According to Jones, the call “sound[ed] completely fake” and was part of a plot to “hype everything up and get it ready for civil war.” Jones also called Stelter a “little monster hunchback” and “ugly twisted lying filth”:

    Jones has used his YouTube channel to heap abuse upon Stelter in recent months, including posting videos (since removed when his account was terminated) with the titles “Brian Stelter And Michael Wolff Are The True Faces Of Evil,” “Alex Jones Challenges CNN's Brian Stelter To Fight For $1,000,000!,” and “Internet on Fire Comparing Subway Spokesmen Jared Fogle With Brian Stelter.” (Fogle is serving a 15-year prison sentence for possessing child pornography and having sex with minors.) During a January broadcast of The Alex Jones Show, Jones went on a bizarre rant where he claimed Stelter “runs your kids, he runs the schools, he runs the banks” and drinks children's blood. During the rant, Jones addressed Stelter: “You will pay. Yeah, you don’t think I see your face, scum? You don’t think I don’t see you, Stelter? I see you, you understand me?”

    On the evening of August 5, it was reported that Apple had banned Jones from its iTunes platform for violations of its content policies. Facebook followed suit on August 6, removing the four primary pages where Jones shared content. Last month, YouTube deleted four videos Jones posted and banned him from livestreaming for three months because of content violations. On August 6, YouTube removed Jones' channel from its platform.

  • Right-wing media are filling a void of abortion-related coverage with misinformation

    Fox News is dominating the conversation about abortion on evening cable news -- and the network is doing it all wrong

    ››› ››› SHARON KANN & JULIE TULBERT

    A 12-month-long Media Matters study of evening cable news programs found that Fox News dominated discussions of abortion and reproductive rights and that the network was wrong about four common abortion-related topics 77 percent of the time.

  • Right-wing CNN contributor accidentally debunks right-wing myth about Planned Parenthood funding

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE TULBERT

    CNN contributor and right-wing radio host Ben Ferguson gave up the game on one of right-wing media’s favorite inaccurate talking points about Planned Parenthood, admitting that the organization does not use taxpayer funding to cover abortion services.

    The comment came during a discussion on the March 27 edition of CNN Tonight with Don Lemon about the National Rifle Association (NRA) saying that it accepts foreign donations. Ferguson was attempting to defend the NRA’s assertion that its foreign donations are separate from election contributions. He stated that the NRA is “separating the funds” in “the same way that Planned Parenthood, for example, is not allowed to use funds that come from the American taxpayers for abortions. They separate it.” Later in the segment, Ferguson again said that there are “certain guidelines” about where Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer funding goes and “that money cannot be used directly for abortion services.”

    After host Don Lemon called out Ferguson’s double standard, saying that “the criticism from those on the right” is that Planned Parenthood doesn’t separate taxpayer funding from its abortion funding, Ferguson claimed conservatives were actually mad that Planned Parenthood receives taxpayer funding at all. However, the myth that Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer funding supports its abortion services is a frequent right-wing talking point, often framed around the idea that “money is fungible.” In reality, as Ferguson alluded to, the Hyde Amendment prohibits any federal funding from going to abortions. Planned Parenthood merely receives reimbursement for services covered under Medicaid. From the March 27 edition of CNN Tonight with Don Lemon:

    DON LEMON (HOST): Do you think that that practice will invite the misuse of funds, Ben? I mean, if they don't take foreign money, they don't have to worry about the funds being used illegally.

    BEN FERGUSON: I don't. And I think the NRA is pretty smart about this, separating the funds. The same way that Planned Parenthood, for example, is not allowed to use funds that come from the American taxpayers for abortions. They separate it, so that there is a very clear separation line here when you know you're going to be under scrutiny from people that don't like you. It's not illegal for the NRA to take foreign funds. Many nonprofits and many groups that have activism or ideas like this and others on the conservative/liberal side for decades have been taking foreign funds from people that support what they're about and what they're backing. I don't think there is going to be an issue here. I think certainly people want to play politics with this. But I think the NRA knows that they're under a microscope and have been for years. And they've never had problems with this in the past.

    LEMON: So, but the critics on the right say the money always can't be separate when it comes to Planned Parenthood and abortions. That's really the criticism from those on the right. But you're saying now --

    FERGUSON: Well, the criticism --

    LEMON: -- that the NRA can separate.

    FERGUSON: Not really. It’s not -- it's not the criticism.

    ANGELA RYE: Yeah, it is.

    FERGUSON: The criticism is that you're taking my taxpayer's dollars and you're giving them to an organization that is the number one abortion provider in the U.S. They give more abortions than anybody else with my tax dollars.

    LEMON: Ben, you're saying the money can be separated.

    FERGUSON: No one is giving money --

    LEMON: You just said in one breath, though --

    FERGUSON: Right, here’s the point --

    LEMON: -- that the money can be separated when it comes to the NRA, no matter where it comes from, foreign entities or whatever.

    FERGUSON: Again --

    LEMON: So, if people are paying tax money, and they’re saying your tax dollars will not go towards abortions, so --

    FERGUSON: There is a fundamental difference between Planned Parenthood and the NRA. The NRA does not receive taxpayers’ dollars. If they did, many people like Angela would be very upset with that. That is why I'm upset --

    RYE: First of all --

    FERGUSON: -- with Planned Parenthood receiving funds. My point was again this: There are certain guidelines that go in that make it very clear that you cannot have taxpayers’ dollars when it goes -- and hundreds of millions of dollars a year go to Planned Parenthood. That money cannot be used directly for abortion services.

  • CNN commentator Ed Martin attacks woman who reported that Roy Moore molested her as a child

    Martin: “What is this woman? She’s got multiple bankruptcies"

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    CNN aired a segment featuring political commentator Ed Martin in which he attacked the woman who reported that Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore molested her as a child, saying, “What is this woman? She’s got multiple bankruptcies, it’s reported.”

    The Washington Post reported that Leigh Corfman said Moore molested her when she was 14 and he was 32. Three other women told the Post that “Moore pursued them when they were between the ages of 16 and 18 and he was in his early 30s.”

    Martin, who endorsed Moore in September, did not respond to a request for comment from Media Matters this week about whether he still supports Moore in light of the Post investigation. But during an appearance on the November 10 edition of CNN Tonight, he made clear that he does. Martin told CNN viewers that the story is a “political hit” and said that he believes Moore in part because the woman has had “multiple bankruptcies.”

    DON LEMON (HOST): Do you believe Roy Moore, or do you believe the women?

    ED MARTIN (CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR): I believe Roy Moore because why? Because after 40 years and 40 days before the election, you get a political hit? Don, if you’re remotely serious, you have to first say: What is this woman? She’s got multiple bankruptcies, it’s reported. She’s got multiple false accusations, it’s reported. Is any of that being covered? When [Sen. Mitch] McConnell comes out and says with a straight face before any of those facts are got, he says, “Oh boy if it’s true, he has to get out of the race.” That’s called a political hit. And Don, we the people, the American people, we’re sick of both parties, Democrats and Republicans.

    LEMON: I’ve got to get Evan [McMullin] in but I have to say, I don’t know, I don't -- it is not CNN’s reporting about any false allegations, we will certainly check into that.

    MARTIN: OK, good.

    LEMON: But she admitted in The Washington Post article that she has a past and that she was afraid that people would use it against her.

    Martin joined CNN in September despite having previously called the network “fake news” and “state-run media.” He joins a stable of at least a dozen other pro-Trump CNN commentators who often provide theatrics instead of informative segments on the cable network.

    He previously co-authored a book suggesting that only immigrants from European countries could have American “values” and arguing that accepting immigrants “from Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East” helps tear “apart our nation’s heritage and social fabric.”

    Martin is not the only CNN talking head who has been trying to help get Moore elected. Network contributor Ken Cuccinelli and his Senate Conservatives Fund group endorsed the Alabama Republican in September. A message sent to that group by Media Matters about the endorsement was not returned.