Ed Martin | Media Matters for America

Ed Martin

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  • CNN finally fires pro-Trump commentator Ed Martin

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    CNN has finally fired political commentator Ed Martin, who repeatedly embarrassed the network with his asinine paid commentary and attempts to delegitimize the network.

    The Hollywood Reporter’s Jeremy Barr reported today that “a network spokesperson confirmed” that Martin “is out as a CNN contributor.”

    Media Matters noted earlier today that Martin, once a regular commentator on the network, had completely disappeared from CNN since December 14. Martin’s last appearance was also the same day that Media Matters posted audio of him complaining about appearing on a panel with CNN commentators “who were just rabid feminists, actually racial, racists -- two of the women were racists, they just were racists, black racists.” He also said that when he was “on the set in the CNN studios,” he entered “into the swamp … the beast.”

    CNN’s hiring of Martin in September 2017 was clearly a mistake from the beginning. In 2016, he told a tea party rally: "You're not racist if you don't like Mexicans. They're from a nation. If you don't think Muslims are vetted enough, because they blow things up, that's not racist." Prior to his hiring by the network, Martin had also attacked CNN as “fake news” that hasn’t “been credible for a long time.” And he encouraged people to “move away from” the network because it was “obviously not telling the truth.”

    Martin co-authored a 2016 book suggesting that only immigrants from European countries could have American “values” and argued that accepting immigrants “from Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East” helps tear “apart our nation’s heritage and social fabric.”

    The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which has covered Martin for years, editorialized in November after his hiring by CNN that Martin is a “disgraced chief of staff to Gov. Matt Blunt and frequent unsuccessful Republican candidate for numerous offices” who will “say almost anything, and provocatively, making him catnip for cable news shows looking for glib bodies to fill their endless panels of ‘experts.’”

    His commentary on CNN has been equally embarrassing. Martin attacked Leigh Corfman, the woman who reported that former Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore molested her as a child; defended Moore’s dismissive comments about slavery by claiming that "when the Jews were in bondage for years, they still loved each other”; and praised President Donald Trump’s “Pocahontas” slur against Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

    Martin has also endorsed dishonest attacks against CNN after being hired by the network. He recently announced that his organization, the Phyllis Schlafly Eagles, would give an award for “uncovering the truth” to James O’Keefe, who has targeted CNN with deceitful stings. And he praised President Trump for ordering CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta out of the Oval Office, stating: “It’s really funny, I mean, it’s amazing to see.”

    Media Matters president Angelo Carusone noted in a statement, “Hopefully now CNN will finally recognize that they’ll better serve their audience by hiring an inclusive group of honest brokers representing a wide range of perspectives rather than someone dedicated to defending one person, Donald Trump, no matter what.”

  • Statement by Angelo Carusone after CNN parts ways with Ed Martin

    Jeffrey Lord's replacement Ed Martin reportedly fired by CNN

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Media Matters President Angelo Carusone released the following statement after The Hollywood Reporter confirmed that Ed Martin is out as a CNN contributor:

    When CNN fired Jeffrey Lord after he tweeted a Nazi victory salute at me last summer, we strongly encouraged CNN to do away with hiring dedicated pro-Trump surrogates. They didn’t though and replaced Lord with Ed Martin.

    Martin followed the same pattern of previous pro-Trump surrogates: dishonesty and disruptions during on-air discussions. Glad to see him go. Hopefully now CNN will finally recognize that they’ll better serve their audience by hiring an inclusive group of honest brokers representing a wide range of perspectives rather than someone dedicated to defending one person, Donald Trump, no matter what.

    Earlier in the day, Media Matters noted that Martin had not appeared on CNN programming since December, 14, when Martin attacked fellow CNN commentators as "black racists." Media Matters was first to expose and has been cataloguing Martin’s track record:

    • Before being hired by CNN, Martin called CNN “fake news” and called for people to stop watching the network. Martin’s appearances on CNN before getting hired included Martin saying that Trump cannot be racist because Martin saw Trump “hugging and speaking with and kissing a baby, and they happen to be black.” Martin had also praised conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for doing “valuable” work in fighting the “globalists.”(Media Matters, 9/27/17)

    • Martin co-authored The Conservative Case For Trump. The book argued that non-European immigrants cannot have American values. Specifically, the book argued that immigrants from “Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East” were tearing apart “our nation’s heritage and social fabric.” (Media Matters, 10/27/17)

    • Martin called for a total end to immigration on air, saying “Stop all immigration right now.” (Media Matters, 11/2/17)

    • Martin said that Roy Moore accuser Leigh Corfman should not be be believed, saying “What is this woman? She’s got multiple bankruptcies." (11/11/17) Martin endorsed and tried to get Moore elected even as CNN was doing great reporting on him. (Media Matters, 11/7/17)

    • Martin said that Trump’s racist remarks about LaVar Ball could not be a “racial thing” because Trump also attacked Sen. Jeff Flake. (Media Matters, 11/20/17)

    • Martin defended Trump’s racist “Pocohontas” comment to World War II navajo code talkers as “100 percent” appropriate. (Media Matters, 11/27/17)

    • Martin contended that Trump’s racist anti-Muslim tweets were actually helpful because they were “starting a conversation.” (Media Matters, 11/30/17)

    • Martin defended Roy Moore’s nostalgia for the days of slavery by pointing out that Jewish slaves had families. (Media Matters, 12/11/17)

    • Martin called fellow CNN employees and co-panelists “black racists.” (Media Matters, 12/14/17)

    • Martin praised Donald Trump for ordering CNN’s chief White House correspondent out of the oval office, saying it was “amazing to see” and “really funny.” (Media Matters, 1/18/2018)

    • Martin was scheduled to give an award to disgraced conservative operate James O’Keefe, who numerous occasions run deceitful stings against CNN. O’Keefe once attempted to lure then-CNN correspondent Abbie Boudreau onto a boat full of sex paraphernalia. (Media Matters, 1/17/18)

  • CNN’s Ed Martin praises Trump for ordering CNN’s Jim Acosta out of the Oval Office: “It’s really funny" and "amazing to see”

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    CNN political commentator Ed Martin praised President Donald Trump for ordering CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta out of the Oval Office. Both before and after being hired by CNN, Martin has repeatedly sought to delegitimize the network.

    Following controversy over Trump reportedly lamenting why our country accepts people from “shithole countries” and not places like Norway, Acosta pressed Trump on January 16 about whether he wanted immigrants from “just Caucasian or white countries” or “people to come in from other parts of the world … people of color?” Trump then pointed to Acosta and said, “out.”

    During his radio show that day, Martin praised Trump, stating: “It’s not like the president didn’t let him in, didn’t let him cover it, didn’t -- even I think he allowed him to ask a question. And then he kept yelping and chirping and whatever, so -- and then he [said], ‘out.’ It’s really funny, I mean, it’s amazing to see.

    Acosta later said that “it is our right, it is our duty, it is our role to ask the president of the United States if he’s a racist” and that it’s a “badge of honor” to be thrown out. Separately, while speaking with Acosta, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer noted the Trump incident and said: “Reporters always follow up with questions. That's our job.”  

    Martin is one of numerous conservative pundits that CNN has hired to defend President Donald Trump. That decision has backfired, with Martin not only providing embarrassing commentary on CNN, but also recently attacking the network. He recently criticized a CNN segment because he appeared on a panel with CNN commentators “who were just rabid feminists, actually racial, racists -- two of the women were racists, they just were racists, black racists.” He also said that when he was “on the set in the CNN studios” he entered “into the swamp … the beast.” Martin recently announced that he will be giving an award for “truth” to serial misinformer James O’Keefe, who has targeted CNN with deceitful stings.

    Even before starting work at CNN, Martin called the network “fake news” and “state-run media” and encouraged people to “move away from” the network because it is “obviously not telling the truth.”

    While Martin was once a regular on CNN, his airtime has severely diminished in recent weeks. He has not appeared on the network since December 14 -- when Media Matters posted his remarks from the prior day attacking CNN commentators as “black racists” and “rabid feminists” -- according to a search of Nexis and TVEyes.

  • CNN’s Ed Martin is giving an award for “truth” to James O’Keefe, who ran deceitful stings against CNN

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI



    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    CNN political commentator Ed Martin is giving an award for “uncovering the truth” to James O’Keefe, who has targeted CNN with deceitful stings. Martin has repeatedly sought to delegitimize CNN both before and after being hired by the network.

    Martin is a pro-Trump pundit who joined CNN in September 2017 despite previously calling the network “fake news” and “state-run media.”

    He also heads the conservative group Phyllis Schlafly Eagles, which announced yesterday that it will give O’Keefe its “inaugural Kitty Werthmann Award for uncovering the truth.” Martin said in a press release that “we are thrilled that its first recipient will be a man who has fought so hard to expose the dirty playbook of the radical liberal agenda. James O'Keefe has stood fearless in the face of the progressive political machine. … He has an unquenchable thirst for the truth and the ferocious dedication to seeing the work done."

    O’Keefe is a serial liar who has repeatedly targeted Martin’s employer CNN with dishonest tactics and stings with the goal of discrediting the network.

    In September 2010, CNN reported that O’Keefe attempted “to embarrass” then-CNN correspondent Abbie Boudreau by planning to get her “onto a boat filled with sexually explicit props and then record the session. The plan apparently was thwarted after Boudreau was warned minutes before it was supposed to happen.” An internal script for the project stated that O’Keefe was to record a video stating, in part, that Boudreau “has been trying to seduce me to use me, in order to spin a lie about me. So, I'm going to seduce her, on camera, to use her for a video. This bubble-headed-bleach-blonde who comes on at five will get a taste of her own medicine, she'll get seduced on camera and you'll get to see the awkwardness and the aftermath.”

    In February 2017, O’Keefe launched a “CNN Leaks” project, releasing over a hundred hours of audio recordings from within CNN. While O’Keefe claimed the recordings revealed “profound liberal bias” at the network, the project was a dud and nothing of any remote value came out of it.

    Several months later, O’Keefe released a video titled “American Pravda: CNN Producer Says Russia Narrative ‘bullsh*t.’” As Media Matters noted at the time, the video was another dud -- the CNN producer in question worked on medical stories, not politics.

    As part of his “America Pravda” series, O’Keefe also staked out Jeff Zucker’s apartment residence. (During the video, O’Keefe announced Zucker’s building address.)  

    Martin had previously praised O’Keefe’s disinformation campaign (prior to becoming a CNN commentator) and encouraged people to “move away from” the network because it is “obviously not telling the truth.”

    Martin’s paid appearances on CNN have repeatedly embarrassed the network. He attacked Leigh Corfman, the woman who reported that former Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore molested her as a child; defended Moore’s dismissive comments about slavery by claiming that "when the Jews were in bondage for years, they still loved each other”; and praised President Donald Trump’s “Pocahontas” slur against Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

    While Martin was once a regular presence on CNN, he has not appeared on the network since December 14, according to a search of the Nexis and TVEyes databases. December 14 was also when Media Matters posted Martin's remarks from the prior day on his St. Louis-based radio program in which he attacked his fellow CNN commentators as “black racists” and “rabid feminists.” He also said that when he was “on the set in the CNN studios” he entered “into the swamp … the beast.”

    CNN did not respond to requests for comment. Martin declined to comment on the record. 

  • Thanks to Trump, white supremacists had a big year in 2017

    ››› ››› MADELINE PELTZ

    White supremacist, white nationalist, and “alt-right” figures successfully infected the scope of acceptable discourse in 2017 by regularly inserting racist right-wing extremism into the media conversation. From Confederate statues to the defense of the “It’s OK to be white” propaganda campaign on Fox News prime-time, the media normalized white supremacy during the first year of the Trump administration.

  • CNN contributor Ed Martin on fellow CNN employees and co-panelists: They're "black racists" and "rabid feminists"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    During his December 13 radio show, CNN pro-Trump contributor Ed Martin attacked his fellow CNN employees calling them "rabid feminists" and "black racists" while calling the network "the swamp" and "the beast." 

    During coverage of the December 12 Alabama special election, Martin shilled for Trump and for defeated Alabama senatorial candidate Roy Moore while aggressively confronting fellow contributor and panel member Ana Navarro. Others on the panel included Symone Sanders and journalist April Ryan. The following day, while hosting his radio show The Ed Martin Movement, Martin attacked his co-panelists, calling them "rabid feminists" and "black racists." Martin, who has previously called CNN "fake news," also went after the network, referring to it as "the swamp."

    ED MARTIN: What happens when you're trying to drain the swamp, is the swamp fights back. And so when I was in Washington, D.C., last night, and you might have seen it if you saw it, it was a hot night, a hot topic. It was a wild panel, we had two or three people on there that were just rabid feminists, actually racial -- racists, two of the women were racists, they were just racists, black racists. Everything that you say is going to be called racist. I mean, it was outrageous, but anyway. 

    [...]

    Roy Moore's problem was not only the accusations that were, I think, unfairly leveled against him  -- and they were you know, attacks on whether 40 years ago he had abused someone, or misused someone or mistreated someone. But then they were down the stretch they were he had said things about various positions including slavery and homosexuality and things, and they were all characterized in a way. None of that matters when I tell you the following fact, as I sat on the stage, on the set in the CNN studios. I mean, I go into the swamp, I enter the beast so you don't have to, so I can report back on what I found and here's what I found. What you need to know, what you need to know, what you must know, what you hear after I tell you, what you will now know, and what you can't forget, it has to inform what you do. As I sat on the stage next to this woman that's just racist, who went crazy, and everything is about race, she confessed -- that's the word I'd use -- but she confessed that her groups had 'mobilized,' that's the term they used, 'mobilized' voters in Alabama spending up to $3 million dollars to mobilize black voters in the cities.

    While Martin has only been a CNN contributor for a few months, he has already raised eyebrows. Earlier this week, Martin defended Moore's dismissive comments about slavery by stating, "when the Jews were in bondage for years, they still loved each other." Previously, he attacked a woman who reported that Roy Moore molested her as a child, asking, "what is this woman? She's got multiple bankruptcies." He also defended President Donald Trump's ethnically-based insults against Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) calling them "fun and effective," and "100 percent" appropriate.

    (h/t Right Wing Watch's Miranda Blue)

  • CNN's "both sides" problem infects coverage of Trump's anti-Muslim retweets

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    President Donald Trump’s latest anti-Muslim retweet spree was racist, misleading, and, above all, indefensible.

    Somehow CNN didn’t get the memo.

    Trump on November 29 retweeted three anti-Muslim videos that were posted by Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of the far-right, ultranationalist Britain First political organization, who has previously been "charged with causing religiously aggravated harassment.”

    Beyond being incredibly racist, these tweets were also highly misleading. Several media outlets fact-checked the claims in these videos, determining one of them to be “false” and all three “overlaid with a message meant to be a blunt hammer blow for a cause.” Additionally, civil rights groups pointed out that Trump’s tweets “further inflame” violence and hate aimed at Muslims in a climate when “hate crimes motivated by anti-Muslim bias are at an all-time high.”

    Trump's retweets were widely condemned by American and British officials, including Prime Minister Theresa May. However, CNN covered these tweets, as it covers many other issues, through a series of panel discussions comprising talking heads who move the conversation absolutely nowhere. Many of these panels were stacked with a Trump supporter who attempted to defend the president’s atrocious social media posts.

    On CNN Newsroom with John Berman and Poppy Harlow, CNN contributor Ben Ferguson stated, “If I would have seen these videos … I would have probably tweeted that out and said to myself, ‘This is something the world needs to see.’”

    On CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin, CNN political commentator Andre Bauer claimed the U.S. has gotten “numb to the continual victimization of American people by people that come over to this country to cause us harm” and praised Trump for “continu[ing] to remind us about it.”

    On The Lead with Jake Tapper, CNN political commentator and former Trump campaign strategist David Urban dismissed “the notion that somehow we’re radicalizing folks in the rest of the world” through the spread of anti-Muslim propaganda.

    On Anderson Cooper 360, panelist James Schultz, who served as White House ethics lawyer under Trump, attempted to defend the president by asserting that “radical Islamic terrorists do bad things.” Schultz claimed, “It’s not the best choice of videos. Without a doubt, they are fake videos. But for you to say [Trump’s] characterizing all Muslims that way, it’s just flat out wrong.”

    And on CNN Tonight with Don Lemon, CNN political commentator Ed Martin said the series of tweets was “not a very good move,” but that critics of the tweets were “missing the forest for the trees. No one that looks with a serious eye at Europe doesn’t recognize that there is a problem with Muslim and Islamic fanatics.” Martin contended that Trump’s tweets were helping the problem by “starting a conversation.”

    CNN’s “both sides” panel structure assumes that every issue has two valid sides, and that often those sides are best defined along partisan lines. In the case of Trump’s tweets, that is patently false. These tweets are bigoted and misleading, and anyone who says otherwise is not being intellectually or morally honest.

    By introducing two sides to this debate, CNN is muddying the truth about these videos. Given that we now live in an age where the president often takes his cues from what he sees on cable news, CNN’s “both sides” strategy is irresponsible and potentially dangerous.

  • How pro-Trump media are attacking Moore's accusers: claiming a forged yearbook signature, suggesting bribery, and quibbling over a phone's location

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore has come under fire following accusations that he attempted to rape a teenager and engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct with other teens, including a then-14-year-old minor. In order to defend Moore, right-wing and far-right media that have also been staunch supporters of President Donald Trump have resorted to pushing conspiracy theories -- some based on discredited Twitter accounts -- including suggesting that Moore’s signature on the yearbook of one of the accusers is forged and questioning the location of a phone another accuser said she used to speak to Moore. Moore’s wife has also pushed some of the conspiratorial claims on Facebook.

    Pushing conspiracy theories

    When Beverly Young Nelson, the woman who said Moore tried to rape her in 1977, showed the media a message signed “Roy Moore, D.A.” in her yearbook from that year, a conspiracy theory began making the rounds. The far-right and consistently unreliable blog Gateway Pundit claimed that the signature was forged in a piece headlined “IT’S A FAKE.” The website cited Twitter account Thomas Wictor as its source, claiming Wictor is “known for his insightful take on politics.” On the contrary, Wictor has a history of pushing false claims, including helping spread a made-up Puerto Rican trucker strike after Hurricane Maria and sharing a fake Facebook post of fallen soldier La David Johnson’s wife criticizing Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL). Despite Wictor’s poor track record, Gateway Pundit’s highly dubious claim has spread among other pro-Trump media and message boards that have previously helped push conspiracy theories. Roy Moore’s wife, Kayla Moore, also posted the article on her Facebook page.

    Before that, shortly after the The Washington Post published its initial report about Moore, Twitter account @umpire43 dubiously claimed that a “family friend” told his wife that “a WAPO reporter named Beth offered her 1000$ to accuse Roy Moore.” The Gateway Pundit and the conspiracy theory outlet Infowars both picked up the tweet, and from there, numerous fake news websites promoted it, as did the far-right-friendly One America News Network. Kayla Moore also posted a link on Facebook to one of the fake news websites pushing the claim. But the Twitter account that launched the rumor has previously made a similar allegation about two other news outlets, has lied about its own background, and has since deleted many of its tweets.

    Pushing irrelevant or inconsequential stories to try to discredit the accusers

    Many pro-Trump media outlets have also jumped on the tangential point that one of the accusers, Deborah Wesson Gibson, was an interpreter for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign and worked with former Vice President Joe Biden at some events. Breitbart, The Gateway Pundit, Infowars, and many fake news websites all jumped on this allegation, and more traditional right-wing media outlets such as Fox News and The Daily Caller hyped it as well.

    Pro-Trump media have also supported a separate effort by Breitbart to discredit the accusers. One Breitbart report claimed that the mother of Leigh Corfman, who was 14 at the time of her encounter with Moore, said that her daughter did not have a phone in her bedroom, though the Post reported that Corfman had spoken with Moore on such a phone. Kayla Moore, The Gateway Pundit and multiple fake news websites promoted Breitbart’s report, which dubiously suggested that Corfman was lying. Another Breitbart report hyped a comment from Corfman’s mother that the Post “worked to convince her daughter to give an interview,” even though the Post had acknowledged that fact in its original report. Gateway Pundit called it “one heck of a revelation,” and fake news website TruthFeed called it a “bombshell.”

    Victim shaming

    Pro-Trump media commentators have also smeared the accusers in other ways. Some have suggested that struggles Corfman faced later in her life meant her accusation was not credible (in fact the Post reported that Corfman hesitated to share her story earlier precisely because she feared her struggles would be used against her). CNN’s Ed Martin suggested that Corfman should not be believed because she had “multiple bankruptcies.” Fox News host Sean Hannity on his radio show said that the accusers could be violating one of the Ten Commandments: “thou shalt not bear false witness.” On the same show, a guest, Daily Mail columnist Katie Hopkins, said that Corfman “disgust[ed]” her because she “spent 38 years thinking about this before [she] said anything” and was “making women poison to work for.” Additionally, radio host Rush Limbaugh called Corfman a “wacky,” “self-admitted mess of a woman,” and frequent Fox News guest David Wohl called Corfman “basically incorrigible” because she “was suffering from drug addiction, alcohol abuse.” As Post columnist Margaret Sullivan noted, these kinds of smears are exactly why so many women are hesitant to report abuse.

  • 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.

  • CNN has done great reporting on Roy Moore’s extremism, but two network contributors are trying to get him elected

    CNN's right-wing commentators keep undermining the network's journalists

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI



    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    CNN employees have done solid reporting in recent months on the background of Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, who has claimed that “homosexual conduct” should be illegal and that Muslims shouldn’t be allowed to serve in Congress and in the military. During the same time, two CNN commentators have endorsed Moore’s campaign and told followers the country needs him in the U.S. Senate.

    Moore is a twice-removed Alabama Supreme Court judge and conservative pundit who is running against Democrat Doug Jones in the state’s December special election. Moore has a problematic history on LGBTQ rights, religion, and environmentalism, among other issues.  

    Moore’s campaign website lists numerous endorsements from politicians, far-right extremists, and members of the media, including Fox’s Sean Hannity, radio host Mark Levin, and Breitbart’s Steve Bannon. CNN legal commentator Ken Cuccinelli and CNN political contributor Ed Martin have also endorsed Moore’s campaign.

    Both Republican commentators have anti-gay histories. Cuccinelli supported anti-LGBTQ policies as Virginia’s attorney general and said, “When you look at the homosexual agenda, I cannot support something that I believe brings nothing but self-destruction, not only physically but of their soul.” Martin heads the organizations Eagle Forum Education & Legal Defense Fund and the Phyllis Schlafly Eagles, which have fought against rights for LGBTQ people.

    Cuccinelli also heads the Senate Conservatives Fund, a political action committee that is backing Moore. Cuccinelli stated in early September that he and his group “are proud to support him and we look forward to working with the grassroots to help him win this important race.” Martin endorsed Moore in early September -- prior to joining CNN -- stating, “I believe in him and in his fighting spirit. We need him in the U.S. Senate.”

    CNN journalists, especially the network’s KFile investigation team, have doggedly reported on Moore’s extremism. CNN has reported, among other things, that:

    • Moore said “in a 2005 interview that he believes ‘homosexual conduct’ should be illegal.”
    • His Facebook “page shared inflammatory memes” and an “article praising Russia's anti-gay laws.”
    • Moore suggested this year while speaking at a church “that the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks might have happened because the US had distanced itself from God. ... Later in the same speech, Moore suggested God was upset at the United States because ‘we legitimize sodomy’ and ‘legitimize abortion.’”
    • Moore “repeatedly” appeared on the radio with a “pastor who preaches [that the] penalty for homosexuality is death.”
    • Moore said of Islam in 2009: “Only thing I know that the Islamic faith has done in this country is 9/11.” He additionally claimed, as CNN wrote, that “Keith Ellison, a Minnesota Democrat and the first Muslim ever elected to Congress, shouldn't be allowed to take office. He has also warned that Muslims shouldn't serve in the military.”
    • In 2009 and 2010, pro-Confederate activists held a “Secession Day” event at Moore’s foundation.

      Media Matters has documented President Donald Trump and his Republican allies’ constant attempts to undermine the legitimacy of CNN by, among other things, calling it “fake news.” (Ed Martin himself has called CNN “fake news.”) At the same time, CNN employs at least a dozen pro-Trump commentators.

      Media observers, including Media Matters, have noted that CNN’s use of these explicitly partisan commentators has undercut the work of its journalists and turned the network into a sideshow. As Vox correspondent and former Media Matters research fellow Carlos Maza noted, “CNN’s Trump supporters derail segments critical of the president, misrepresent Trump’s positions to avoid tough questions, and peddle false and misleading information on national TV while being paid by the network. In many cases, CNN’s Trump supporters repeat the same lies and talking points that CNN’s serious journalists spend all day trying to debunk.” That sideshow is now in Alabama with the contributors' endorsements of one of the most extreme and anti-gay politicians in the country.

    • CNN contributor Ed Martin co-authored book suggesting non-European immigrants can’t have American values

      Martin’s book suggested immigration from “Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East” “tears apart our nation’s heritage and social fabric”

      Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


      Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

      CNN contributor Ed Martin, who has been appearing on the network to argue against “amnesty for illegals,” 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 joined CNN in September despite having previously called the network “fake news” and “state-run media” and claimed that it hasn’t “been credible for a long time.” 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.

      Martin has used his new on-air position to defend Trump (as expected) but also to attack undocumented immigrants with the derogatory term “illegals” and urge the Republican Party to stand against “illegal immigration amnesty.”

      He appeared on the October 25 edition of Anderson Cooper 360 and praised the Republican Party for “no longer [being] for illegal immigration amnesty. That's what [Sen. Jeff] Flake [(R-AZ)] wants. That's what he said in his speech. He said, ‘I hope we get back to a party that gives amnesty to illegals and has trade deals.’ That's not the Republican Party.” During that segment he also said it would be “great” if Arizona elected Joe Arpaio to be its next senator; Arpaio is a racist former sheriff who was pardoned by President Trump after he used his office to target and discriminate against Hispanics.

      During another segment on Cooper’s program that night, Martin said: “The Republican Party is now Trump's party. It's not for international trade deals where we get cheated. It's not for illegal immigration amnesty. It's changed.”

      Martin also appeared on Cooper’s program on October 17 and said of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ): “I mean requisite comment, war hero and sorry he's sick. But then McCain is why the Republican Party is -- was fading until Trump. His brand of the interventionist, grow the amnesty for illegals, trade deals, everything.”

      Martin co-authored the 2016 book The Conservative Case for Trump, which aimed to persuade “well-meaning conservatives” that the then-Republican candidate “is worthy of every conservative’s vote.” The book was also written by anti-gay and anti-feminist writer Phyllis Schlafly, who passed away the day before its release, and conservative writer Brett Decker.

      The book’s first chapter, “Immigration Invasion,” suggests that the United States should accept immigrants only from European countries. The authors wrote that the “effort to transform America started with Ted Kennedy whose 1965 Immigration Act shifted immigration away from European countries in favor of immigrants from Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. In doing so, he helped move immigration away from countries that shared -- actually created -- America’s Western values. Taking their place were immigrants who would help make a more ‘multicultural’ America that liberals could play to their advantage.”

      “Immigration that is in America’s national interest is one thing. Immigration that floods our welfare rolls and prisons, and that tears apart our nation’s heritage and social fabric is something else,” they added.

      The authors also claimed that the current immigrants to the country are ungrateful and pawns of the Democratic Party:

      In the past, immigrants came to America and were grateful for the opportunities they found here, and they accepted American history as a great, inspiring story of patriots and heroes. Now, thanks to the Left, they often view American history as a racist story of “white privilege” and oppression that only big government can undo, where they are entitled to “free” government programs, and in which lawlessness can be justified against allegedly “racist” Republicans. The rioters at Trump rallies who burn American flags, wave foreign ones, and beat up Trump supporters is a vision of what America could become, all with the blessing of the Democratic Party that sees immigration, and the political correctness that prohibits us from talking honestly about immigration, as a way to transform America in the leftist direction that it wants. For decades, the American people have wanted our government to address the crisis of illegal immigration; and yet our government hasn’t, except to make matters worse by not enforcing our existing immigration laws, winking at “sanctuary” cities, expanding illegal immigrants’ access to social services, and floating proposals for “amnesty” that would grant illegal immigrants citizenship.

      They wrote additionally about the country’s demographics: “Shouldn’t we have some say over our demographic future, of what America is and will become? Shouldn’t we have an immigration policy that serves America’s national interests? In Europe we have seen the danger of large unassimilated Islamic communities making historic changes in countries and their future; yet we seem blind to similar changes happening here.”

      The book also cited the white nationalist website VDare in its section about “Anchor babies on welfare." The authors wrote that “a federal case in Texas could provide a means to stop the practice of extending automatic U.S. citizenship to children born to illegal aliens. The Texas case includes a sworn affidavit from Mexico’s consul general for Texas that openly admits that Mexico’s official policy is to encourage its poor people to migrate here illegally in order to gain access to our generous welfare system.” The citation for that paragraph is “Allan Wall, ‘Mexico Files Amicus Brief in Texas Anchor Baby Case,’ VDARE, August 27, 2015.” CNN has itself correctly noted that VDare is a “white nationalist site.”  

      Martin did not respond to a request for comment about his book and whether he stood by his citation of VDare.

      Martin has also previously pushed smears against minorities. He spoke at a 2016 rally and said: "You're not racist if you don't like Mexicans. They're from a nation. If you don't think Muslims are vetted enough, because they blow things up, that's not racist."

      While serving as then-Gov. Matt Blunt’s (R-MO) scandal-plagued chief of staff in 2008, Martin reportedly said that “every frigging developer can figure out who is legal, and when he says there's a bunch of Mexicans out there, I guess some of them are probably not legal."