Rush Limbaugh blames Trump/Russia investigation, Hillary Clinton and Democrats for Florida school shooting
Video ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF
Loading the player reg...
Loading the player reg...
The conspiracy theory, which was debunked by WSJ and others, was heavily pushed by Fox News and other right-wing outlets
The latest right-wing media ‘scandal,’ has completely fallen apart after The Wall Street Journal and others debunked several facets of the story. Fox News spent the day pushing Sen. Ron Johnson’s (R-WI) claim that a text message between FBI lawyer Lisa Page and agent Peter Strzok referring to preparing talking points that then-FBI Director James Comey would use to brief then-President Barack Obama, implied an interference by Obama in the FBI’s investigation into Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email server. Right-wing media, heavily led by Fox News, and other mainstream outlets ran with the claim, despite the fact that there was no active investigation into Clinton’s emails at the time the text message in question was sent.
On January 24, BuzzFeed reported that Cecile Richards plans to step down as president of Planned Parenthood. Richards confirmed the news on January 26, saying she is departing the organization some time this year. Immediately, anti-abortion and right-wing media and groups took the opportunity to smear Richards and Planned Parenthood in a number of outlandish ways.
Loading the player reg...
Facebook, YouTube, and Google all helped the story spread
Prominent fake news website YourNewsWire deleted a fabricated story headlined “Keanu Reeves: Hollywood Elites Use ‘Blood Of Babies’ To Get High” after the site was called out for its lie on Twitter -- but not before the post was widely circulated on verified Facebook pages, converted into a monetized YouTube video that became the top result when searching for the actor’s name on YouTube, and posted on other fake news sites that feature ads placed by Google. This is just the latest example of tech platforms aiding in the spread of misinformation from fake news websites.
On November 19, YourNewsWire published a post claiming Reeves said that “Hollywood elites use ‘the blood of babies to get high’” and that “‘these people believe the more innocent the child, and the more it suffered before it died, the better the high.’” The story was blatantly fake, but it quickly spread. It was posted on both of YourNewsWire’s associated Facebook pages, both of which are verified by Facebook. One of those pages is called The People’s Voice; the other, called YourNewsWire after the website, recently lost its verification under unexplained circumstances, but has since gotten it back. The false story about Reeves received more than 26,000 Facebook engagements, according to BuzzSumo. The Facebook posts have since been deleted.
The story was also posted on other fake news websites, some of which are funded by ads from Google AdSense, one of the most widely used advertising services by fake news websites. (YourNewsWire’s article displayed ads via Revcontent, another ad service used frequently by fake news sites.)
Additionally, a video pushing the fake story from the account Kinninigan for a time became the top result for a search of Reeves’ name on YouTube, which is owned by Google and which has struggled to not feature misinformation on its platform. It has been viewed over 114,000 times and is monetized with ads as well; Media Matters found on the video an ad for the movie Lady Bird. In effect, YouTube, Google, and Kinninigan are all potentially making money from this video claiming that Reeves said “Hollywood elites” get high from drinking baby blood. (Kinninigan’s account features a number of videos of YourNewsWire content, as well as conspiracy theory videos and videos about various celebrities such as Sofia Vergara, Angelina Jolie, and Hillary Clinton being reptilian shapeshifters.)
After some people on Twitter promised to flag the article as fake news on Facebook following a tweet from a Media Matters researcher who had called out the fake story, YourNewsWire's owner, Sean Adl-Tabatabai, lashed out. Adl-Tabatabai, who has openly stated that he believes facts are not sacred, tweeted:
Although YourNewsWire took down the fake story after it was called out, the damage had already been done: other websites have now picked up the story and people are still sharing it on Facebook and elsewhere, as noted by Mashable.
The tech companies that contribute to the spread of fake news and profit from these stories are, at least in part, responsible for them. They have also, as noted by BuzzFeed's Charlie Warzel, repeatedly bungled handling the spread of misinformation. By verifying YourNewsWire’s pages, Facebook -- which claims to be committed to fighting fake news on its platform -- is implicitly indicating to its users that the website has some kind of legitimacy, which it clearly does not merit. And YourNewsWire is not alone; although Facebook appears to have removed at least one verified page for a fake news website and blocked its links, plenty of other fake news websites’ Facebook pages remain verified.
All of these companies should be aware that YourNewsWire is a bad actor. The site, which was founded in 2014, has come under fire for repeatedly publishing fake stories like a dying former MI5 agent confessing to killing Princess Diana, former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton helping run a pedophilia ring from the basement of a D.C. family pizzeria (which in fact led to a gunman to open fire in the restaurant), and actor Morgan Freeman wanting Clinton to be jailed. Some of YourNewsWire’s fake stories about Clinton and about former President Barack Obama have even been pushed by Fox News’ Sean Hannity. The website, which American and European experts have called a Russian proxy, has also published fake stories that seem to fit Russia’s anti-democratic, anti-European Union (EU), and anti-George Soros agenda. (The website has also been promoted by what appears to be a revived version of @TEN_GOP, a Russian account that was run by the Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency.) And recently, the website published a fake story that the gunman involved in the massacre in Sutherland Springs, TX, was a member of antifa; the false story went viral and received more than a quarter million Facebook engagements, according to social media analytics website BuzzSumo.
Loading the player reg...
Loading the player reg...
Dozens of Sinclair-owned local news stations are running a package featuring serial misinformer Peter Schweizer, a senior editor-at-large for Breitbart, making debunked allegations about Hillary Clinton’s role in a deal selling U.S. uranium holdings to Russia while she was secretary of state. This package is the latest in Sinclair’s attempt to infect local media with inaccurate right-wing commentary.
Schweizer, whose work has been funded in large part by hedge fund billionaires Robert and Rebekah Mercer, used the segment to hype debunked allegations from his error-riddled book Clinton Cash. He implied that there was “cronyism” or “corruption” surrounding the selling of the Uranium One company to a Russian nuclear company while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state because the company, Rosatom, donated to the Clinton Foundation. Schweizer, who has a long history of pushing misinformation, baselessly claimed, “There was a quid pro quo culture at the Clinton Foundation, that large donors were getting favors in return for those donations.”
From the October 20 edition of WNWO’s NBC 24 News:
PETER SCHWEIZER: People often assume that corruption or cronyism is a victimless crime, that it’s just politicians making money and what’s the big deal? The problem is, in this particular case, there are huge national security implications.
SARA CARTER: Peter Schweizer, the man behind the book Clinton Cash, says the U.S. government should take a closer look at the deal that allowed the Russian nuclear company Rosatom to purchase Uranium One.
SCHWEIZER: Even at the time this deal was approved in 2010, it was massively controversial. You had a dozen members of Congress who ran national security committees, you had U.S. senators who wrote letters to the [Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States] raising questions about the fact that this deal was being looked at.
CARTER: One of the points of contention for people investigating the Clintons’ potential connection to the deal were speech fees Bill Clinton received from a Russian bank while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state and sat on the panel that approved the transaction. Schweizer says a Clinton Foundation review, done at the behest of Chelsea Clinton, shows a lack of transparency in their contributions.
SCHWEIZER: There was a quid pro quo culture at the Clinton Foundation, that large donors were getting favors in return for those donations.
CARTER: When Schweizer helped The New York Times with an article on the Clinton Foundation in 2015, a spokesperson for the Hillary Clinton campaign told them no one has ever produced a shred of evidence supporting the theory that Hillary Clinton ever took action as secretary of state to support the interest of donors to the Clinton Foundation. The Clinton Foundation did not respond to attempts for comment.
However, as numerous fact-checkers have previously pointed out, “The State Department was one of nine agencies on the committee that approved the deal,” and “there is no evidence Clinton herself got involved in the deal personally, and it is highly questionable that this deal even rose to the level of the secretary of state.”
The segment, which was reported by Sinclair Broadcast Group subsidiary Circa, is the latest in Sinclair’s history of pushing right-wing commentary that has been compared to “propaganda.” The broadcasting company also has selectively omitted stories that don’t fit its agenda. Recently, Sinclair has made a series of conservative hires, including discredited former CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson and former Trump White House aide Boris Epshteyn. In July, Sinclair announced it would be tripling the number of segments featuring Epshteyn that are sent to stations as “must-run” packages -- a typical practice for the company. There has also been reporting that Sinclair could partner with Breitbart, as the latter site’s chairman and former White House chief strategist, Steve Bannon, has sought to expand his “platform for the alt-right” to “compete with Fox News from the right.” Both Bannon and Schweizer worked at the Government Accountability Insitute, a venture that was funded by the Mercers.
Sinclair’s dealings with the Trump administration run deep. During the campaign, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner reportedly “struck a deal” with Sinclair to “secure better media coverage” for then-candidate Donald Trump in exchange for “more access to Trump and the campaign.” Additionally, President Donald Trump’s Federal Communications Committee has pursued deregulatory efforts that could make it easier for the Sinclair empire to grow as it seeks to merge with Tribune Media.
Circa, and in particular its correspondent Sara Carter, have become a favorite source for others in right-wing media, especially Fox News’ Sean Hannity.
Fox Business cut away from video before Seth Rich attacks the network was forced to retract
Fox Business host Liz MacDonald invited far-right, Seth Rich conspiracy theorist Laura Loomer on to the network to promote her ambush video attacking Hillary Clinton at a book signing event. MacDonald hosted Loomer, who has pushed the conspiracy theory that Clinton was involved in the murder of a Democratic National Committee (DNC) staffer, even after the network’s sister company, Fox News, was forced to retract a Seth Rich conspiracy story.
MacDonald introduced her September 14 segment with Loomer by highlighting footage from Loomer criticizing Clinton during a book signing where she attacked the former presidential candidate over emails and relief money to Haiti. But the video abruptly stops before the footage shows Loomer asking Hillary Clinton “What happened to Seth Rich?,” referring to the debunked conspiracy theory that Fox was forced to retract. From the September 14 edition of Fox Business’ Risk & Reward with Deirdre Bolton:
LIZ MACDONALD (HOST): Conservative activist Laura Loomer confronted Hillary Clinton about the missing emails at her book signing.
LAURA LOOMER: Hi, it's so great to see you.
HILLARY CLINTON: Well, it's great for you to be here.
LOOMER: Thanks for having me.
CLINTON: Thank you for coming.
LOOMER: Thanks for having me. So, the American people would really like to know what happened to your 33,000 emails? What happened in Benghazi?
CLINTON: Go read the book, you want to find --
LOOMER: What happened to the millions of dollars that was supposed to go to the people in Haiti?
CLINTON: You know what? I'm so sorry you believe things that are untrue.
MACDONALD: Laura Loomer, from Rebel Media. Laura took those -- the footage right there, is with me now. What was it like to confront Hillary Clinton?
LOOMER: You know, it's always a good time. I've done it a couple times in the past before, which is why I was surprised that she hasn't recognized me. But, you know, it's -- it's definitely an adrenaline rush because this is probably the most hated woman in America and, you know, to be asking her questions that so many --
MACDONALD: To some. Not to everybody. She got 55 million people who voted for her.
LOOMER: Yeah, to many, but to ask her questions that one, the mainstream media refused to ask her, and two, that so many Americans want answers about, it was great that I was able to do that.
Fox News heavily promoted the Seth Rich conspiracy theory and even after the network conceded that the story was completely false, personalities like Sean Hannity continued. Hannity promoted the story after Fox retractions and media criticism and even pushed the conspiracy theory after Seth Rich’s family demanded he stop his disgraceful campaign.
Loading the player reg...
Hannity claimed Clinton had a stroke, seizures, and Parkinson’s Disease during 2016 presidential campaign
Fox News host Sean Hannity blasted the media for questioning President Donald Trump’s fitness for office as some outlets are discussing the president’s mental health. During the 2016 presidential campaign, however, Hannity repeatedly pushed conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton's health and attempted to diagnose her with a slew of medical conditions.
Following Trump's August 22 campaign rally in Phoenix, AZ, during which the president went on a 20-minute diatribe attacking the media and attempted to defend his response to white supremacist violence that killed counterprotester Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, VA, some media figures have questioned whether Trump is mentally fit to be president. Hannity criticized the conversations surrounding Trump’s mental health on the August 24 edition of his Fox News show, calling it a “fake news talking point” and arguing that the media “wants to pretend to be psychology experts” without the medical training:
SEAN HANNITY (HOST): The destroy-Trump media, they are continuing their meltdown over President Trump. They are now pushing a new conspiracy theory about our commander in chief. They want you to think he's crazy.
Let's see media, pot, kettle. Now, since the biased press wants to pretend to be psychology experts, well, we’re going to beat them at their own game. We will diagnose all of these overpaid, out-of-touch, lazy leftist ideologues that are suffering from Trump-derangement syndrome.
Plus we'll continue to do the job the media should be doing. And that's telling you the truth about the Trump presidency. You will get this nowhere else on cable. Tonight's opening monologue.
All right, so the conspiracy theorists over at CNN, MSNBC, mainstream media, they’re at it again. Now after failed attempts to smear President Trump with cries of Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia, after claiming the president is about to start a nuclear war with North Korea, and after falsely painting the president, conservatives, Republicans as racist, racist, racist bigots, well, now, the leftist hacks have created a fake news new talking point that they want to spread around in their new echo chamber. Now members of the media elite, they know it all. And media are now pretending to be experts in psychiatry and psychology. And they have found a brand-new way to try to delegitimize and destroy President Donald Trump. They are now claiming he is unhinged. He's unfit to serve.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, however, Hannity was one of the leading voices in right-wing media who regularly pushed unfounded allegations that Hillary Clinton suffered from a number of diseases and ailments that made her unfit for the presidency. Hannity devoted entire segments of his show to pushing the conspiracy theory that Clinton “could be experiencing a serious undiagnosed medical condition.” He also claimed Clinton had suffered a stroke and said she had Parkinson’s disease. At one point, Hannity even invited medical doctors on his prime-time show in hopes they'd agree with his diagnosis that Clinton suffered from seizures. Those medical professionals, however, were unconvinced of his claims.
After President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was issued a search warrant regarding the Russia investigation, pro-Trump media -- including Fox personalities, fringe blogs, neo-Nazi sites, and fake news purveyors -- lashed out, stating that it was “not about Trump,” and insisted that this was a witch hunt and another attempt to undermine the 2016 presidential election. Others claimed the FBI was acting as “someone’s personal Gestapo,” and that the raid was a form of “witness intimidation.”
Media outlets that favor President Donald Trump are claiming that former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were involved with the death of a former Haitian government official. The claim is just the latest in a long-running series of unsupported allegations that the Clintons have murdered people.
On July 12, the Miami Herald reported that Klaus Eberwein, a former director of the Haitian government’s economic development agency, “was found dead Tuesday in a South Dade motel room in what the Miami-Dade medical examiner’s office is ruling a suicide.” According to the Herald, Eberwein “had fallen on hard times” and "faced allegations of fraud and corruption," and he was scheduled to testify before a Haitian anti-corruption commission. While neither the Clintons nor the Clinton Foundation were mentioned anywhere in the article, some fringe outlets and figures and fake news purveyors drew a connection, claiming that Eberwein’s expected testimony would have implicated the foundation. Far-right troll Mike Cernovich tweeted that Eberwein was “Found Dead Before Testifying Against Clinton Foundation” (discredited filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza promoted the claim), and fake news purveyor YourNewsWire claimed Eberwein was going to “testify that the Clinton Foundation misappropriated Haiti earthquake donations from international donors” (which conspiracy theorist Kim Dotcom and pro-Trump radio host Mark Simone promoted).
Those claims were, of course, false. According to Snopes, a quote attributed by YourNewsWire to Eberwein attacking the Clinton Foundation actually came from someone else, and before his death, “no reports said or even hinted that any probe in which [Eberwein] was involved targeted Hillary Clinton or the Clinton Foundation”:
As it turns out, however, the article from YourNewsWire from which the Haiti Sentinel piece was written is suspect, containing a “quote” from Eberwein — the only part of the article that linked him to the Clintons to begin with — that was actually spoken by someone else:
“The Clinton Foundation, they are criminals, they are thieves, they are liars, they are a disgrace,” Eberwein said at a protest outside the Clinton Foundation headquarters in Manhattan last year.
Someone did say that outside Clinton Foundation headquarters in Manhattan in November 2016, but YourNewsWire appears to have, for some reason, confused one person of Haitian descent with another. The actual person who spoke this phrase is a community activist and New York area radio host named Dahdoud André, and this comment originally appeared in a BBC article[.]
Before news of Klaus Eberwein’s suicide was reported on 12 July 2017, no reports said or even hinted that any probe in which he was involved targeted Hillary Clinton or the Clinton Foundation. The claim originated on the frequently disreputable YourNewsWire.com, and was uncritically repeated and amplified by readers and blogs. However, we have found no specific information tying Eberwein to Clinton before his July 2017 death.
Since the Snopes report, not only have outlets and figures not retracted their false reporting, but the claim has spread. Pro-Trump TV network One America News (OANN) claimed Eberwein was “due to appear in court this week to testify in the Haitian senate against the Clinton Foundation for alleged corruption.” OANN went so far as to link Eberwein's death to the suicide of a GOP operative who sought Hillary Clinton's emails from Russian hackers and the murder of a Democratic National Committee (DNC) staffer, saying, "Now with three mysterious deaths all leading back to the Clintons in some way, it's only a matter of time before the authorities connect the dots and see the pattern of a Clinton cover up."
Far-right conspiracy outlets Zero Hedge and Infowars both published the same piece claiming “deaths seem to follow the Clinton’s (sic) around, and this one especially is probably something – considering since the mainstream media is silent about this death.” Conspiracy outlet WorldNetDaily alleged Eberwein “told acquaintances he feared for his life for his fierce criticism of the Clinton Foundation,” and pro-Trump website The Gateway Pundit suggested Eberwein was “another victim of Clinton Arkancide.” Fake news purveyors Right Alerts, American Today, Conservative Fighters, USA Politics Today, Global Politics Now, TruthFeed, and Right Wing News also all suggested or outright alleged a connection between the Clintons and Eberwein’s death. Their pieces have received hundreds to thousands of Facebook engagements apiece, according to social media analytics website BuzzSumo: YourNewsWire (419,200), Infowars (7,800), Zero Hedge (20,400), WorldNetDaily (13,500), Gateway Pundit (11,000), Right Alerts (1,800), American Today (400), Conservative Fighters (10,400), USA Politics Today (1,400), TruthFeed (18,300), and Right Wing News (931).
Conservative media figures have falsely alleged for years that the Clintons have killed several people, including then-White House deputy counsel Vince Foster, despite multiple investigations concluding that his death was a suicide. Recently, some in conservative media, including OANN, have baselessly suggested that the Clintons were connected to the death of the DNC staffer, Seth Rich, even though law enforcement has concluded he was likely the victim of a botched robbery.
Loading the player reg...
Wash. Post report shows why Hannity's defense for Trump Jr. is nonsense
A report from The Washington Post debunked a prominent right-wing media claim that former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign worked with the Ukrainian government during the 2016 election cycle.
In response to reports that Donald Trump Jr. welcomed potential information from the Russian government that would have been harmful to Clinton, right-wing media have suggested that Clinton, her campaign, and the Democratic Party colluded with Ukraine in a similar manner. Besides Trump propagandist Sean Hannity, prominent right-wing media outlets and figures, such as The Daily Caller, The Gateway Pundit, The Daily Wire, Fox’s Eric Bolling, and far-right conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich, pushed the claim. Trump attorney Jay Sekulow and deputy assistant to the president Sebastian Gorka, a former Breitbart editor, also appeared on news outlets and repeated the claim.
In a July 11 report, the Post’s Philip Bump wrote that the claim that Clinton’s campaign colluded with Ukraine, which originates from a Politico article from January, relies specifically on “one person who was researching [former Trump campaign chairman Paul] Manafort with help from inside the Ukrainian Embassy and who, at some undetermined point, provided info to the Clinton campaign.” As Bump wrote, the “Ukrainian plot that’s been revealed” is, in reality, “a weak link to the Ukrainians and a weaker link to the Clinton campaign.” By contrast, “U.S. intelligence agencies believe that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally directed his intelligence agencies to hack into and release private information from the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign.” According to the article, “American intelligence agencies saw signs that people allied with Trump’s campaign may have been aiding the Russians in that effort.” Bump also spoke with a legal expert about the Clinton-Ukraine narrative, who said, “The difference is that there is not clear evidence of the Clinton campaign coordinating with a foreign national or encouraging or accepting their help.” From the article:
It centers on a woman named Alexandra Chalupa, who worked as a consultant for the Democratic Party throughout the 2016 cycle through her firm, Chalupa & Associates. Her role with the party was outreach to ethnic communities, but, a Ukrainian American herself, Chalupa had been researching Paul Manafort’s work in that country even before he was tapped to serve as Donald Trump’s campaign chairman in March of last year. Chalupa, Politico said, “occasionally shared her findings with officials from the DNC and [Hillary] Clinton’s campaign” — though the timing on this sharing isn’t clear.
While the Politico story does detail apparent willingness among embassy staffers to help Chalupa and also more broadly documents ways in which Ukrainian officials appeared to prefer Clinton’s candidacy, what’s missing is evidence of a concerted effort driven by Kiev.
U.S. intelligence agencies believe that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally directed his intelligence agencies to hack into and release private information from the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign. That effort included hackers from two different intelligence agencies which spent months inside the DNC network before releasing thousands of pages of documents to the public.
What’s more, they coordinated a widespread campaign to amplifying unflattering stories about Clinton and promote Trump. Russia also repeatedly probed American election systems, prompting an unusual warning to states from the federal government.
American intelligence agencies saw signs that people allied with Trump’s campaign may have been aiding the Russians in that effort. That’s why this is all being discussed right now, of course, since Trump Jr.’s emails draw the clearest line between the Russians and the campaign we’ve yet seen. The FBI began a counterintelligence investigation into Russia’s meddling a year ago.
By contrast, Politico’s report details the work of one person who was researching Manafort with help from inside the Ukrainian Embassy and who, at some undetermined point, provided info to the Clinton campaign, though she worked for the DNC as a consultant until shortly before the party conventions. That, coupled with the Manafort ledger revelation, is the full scope of the Ukrainian plot that’s been revealed. A weak link to the Ukrainians and a weaker link to the Clinton campaign.
Lawrence Noble, general counsel of the Campaign Legal Center, spoke with The Washington Post on Tuesday about how Trump Jr.’s emails might pose a legal risk to him. Over email, he weighed in on the Politico story as well.
“I think the article raises some troubling questions about Ukraine involvement in our elections,” Noble said. “The difference is that there is not clear evidence of the Clinton campaign coordinating with a foreign national or encouraging or accepting their help.”