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  • “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.”

  • Right-wing media figures goad Trump into vetoing any spending bill that doesn’t include border wall funding

    Blog ››› ››› COURTNEY HAGLE


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    After criticism from right-wing figures who usually push pro-Trump propaganda, President Donald Trump has backed away from previous plans and instead set up a potential government shutdown by demanding money for a border wall be included in any stopgap government funding bill.

    Fox News spent last week pushing for a government shutdown, cheering on Trump when he firmly declared that he would be “proud to shut down the government.” But after the White House signaled earlier this week that it would back off its $5 billion demand to fund a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border in a resolution to keep the federal government funded until next year, right-wing media figures began criticizing Trump and goading him into shutting down the government.  Many of his most ardent supporters began to perceive his decision to sign the bill as weak, calling on the president to change his mind and refuse to sign any proposed spending bill that does not include funding for the wall.

    Responding to these criticisms, Trump sent a flurry of tweets adamantly defending his position just one day after CNN reported that the president “has become increasingly sensitive to criticism” from his base over the border wall. Trump then renewed his call for funding, telling lawmakers that he will not sign any bill that does not include funding for the border wall in an apparent nod to his supporters.

    Here is a timeline of some of that recent criticism:

    December 19

    Fox Nation host Tomi Lahren, who has previously made it clear where she stands on the border wall, said on Fox & Friends that “if we need a government shutdown” to build a wall, “then a shutdown is exactly what we need.”

    Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy declare that “effectively, the Democrats win because they didn’t want any money for wall. And the swamp wins because runaway spending, which is in the current budget, continues.”

    Doocy later in the show said that Trump will “look like a loser” to his supporters who “drew that line in the sand and said, ‘This is worth shutting down.’”

    Fox & Friends guest Michelle Malkin said that she’s “not going to sugarcoat it” and “not going to spin it” if Trump backs down, describing his decision as “a cave” and “a blink.”

    On Fox’s Outnumbered, Fox Business host David Asman emphasized the importance of the wall to Trump’s supporters, saying that “if [Trump] is viewed by his base as caving on the issue, no matter how they try to spin at the White House, already some of the base is beginning to fray a little bit.” Referring to the White House’s pledge to find funding for the wall elsewhere, Fox host Lisa Kennedy Montgomery claimed that “if this were the Obama administration … we would all be up in arms.”

    Rush Limbaugh attacked the Senate-passed resolution, saying, “Trump’s gonna get less than nothing because this compromise strips out the $1.6 billion for the wall that the Senate Appropriations Committee had already approved weeks ago.” He added, “You can’t say for four years, 'Well, I gotta do this and this and this and this and this before I can accomplish this ... He doesn’t have limitless time to do this."

    Ann Coulter unloaded on Trump in a podcast with The Daily Caller, accusing him of being “a joke presidency who scammed the American people.” Coulter said that she will not vote for Trump in 2020 without a border wall, adding, “nor will, I think, most of his supporters.” (Coulter had also vowed earlier in the week to not support Trump in 2020 if the wall was not built.) Within hours of these comments, the president unfollowed Coulter on Twitter.

    Fox regular and former NRATV host Dan Bongino filled in as guest host for Sean Hannity’s prime-time Fox News show on Wednesday, discussing the spending bill and the border wall, which he described as “essentially the Trump-MAGA agenda.” Matt Schlapp, chair of the American Conservative Union, claimed that “the fact is is this: The president should veto this bill. This breaks the promise with his supporters.” Though Schlapp admitted that a shutdown “doesn’t mean you get all you want, but you send a message to the liberals” and “that’s why it’s critical for the president to not sign a bill which is a white flag.”

    Erick Erickson criticized the negotiating skills of Trump and Republicans:

    On her Fox News show, Laura Ingraham chastised Trump for not getting the funding, declaring that “not funding the wall is going to go down as one of the worst, worst things to have happened to this administration. … It’s a scandal that it hasn’t been built.” Fox regular and Trump legal adviser Joe diGenova agreed with Ingraham, saying: “I hope that when this thing runs out in February, the president says, ‘That’s it, no more. A wall or I’m shutting it down.’”

    Breitbart's Joel Pollak said that he would prefer a shutdown:

    December 20

    Fox News contributor Mike Huckabee said on Fox & Friends that Trump “has got to look in the mirror and remind himself he ran … on the idea of we’re going to secure the border.” Huckabee also downplayed the impact of a shutdown, saying that “the things that really matter to most Americans day-by-day will be funded.” Guest co-host Jedediah Bila responded by saying that “this is his signature issue, this is what arguably he won on,” claiming that she doesn’t “understand how he survives this personally, for his own legacy.”

    Fox host Pete Hegseth, who is known to speak directly to Trump, called for Trump to shut down the government.

    On Fox & Friends, NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch called on Trump to shut down both the government and the border until he receives funding, saying that she “would love to see the president … just go ahead and shut down the border, and then shut down the government.”

    On Fox’s America’s Newsroom, James Freeman of The Wall Street Journal downplayed the significance of a government shutdown, claiming that “if you look at recent history, shutdowns don’t actually do that much political damage.”

    On Fox’s America’s Newsroom, Fox contributor and former acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Thomas Homan said that Trump “needs to veto any sort of continuing resolution” so that “he can stand up and say, ‘I have done everything I can to protect our border.’”

    Ben Shapiro said Trump should veto "any funding that doesn't include the wall."

    Shortly after it was announced that Trump would refuse to sign the bill to keep the government open, Limbaugh said that "the president has gotten word to me that he is either getting funding to the border or he’s shutting the whole thing down." Earlier in the show, Limbaugh had told him to do exactly that in order to be "a hero" to the far right.

  • No crime but a witch hunt: Pro-Trump media’s off-the-wall reactions to Manafort's conviction and Cohen's guilty plea

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    After former Trump campaign Chairman Paul Manafort and former Trump attorney Michael Cohen were found guilty and pleaded guilty, respectively, each on eight criminal counts, right-wing media immediately rose to President Donald Trump’s defense. Multiple media figures claimed that none of the charges had anything to do with Trump and that Trump’s former associates pleaded guilty to crimes that “don’t exist.”

  • As hundreds of newspapers plan editorials to denounce Trump’s war on the press, Fox hosts attack the newspapers

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Fox News and Fox Business hosts are slamming hundreds of newspapers as “anti-Trump” and “fake news” for coordinating to publish editorials on August 16 denouncing President Donald Trump’s war on the press.

    Trump and his administration publicly attacked news organizations and specific journalists hundreds of times in just his first year in office. Though he routinely attacked news organizations during his presidential campaign and the transition period between his election and inauguration, Trump’s anti-press rhetoric reached a new low in February 2017, when he began calling news organizations “the enemy of the American people”:

    Trump repeated his comments multiple times, though he eventually added the disclaimer that only “fake news” is “the enemy of the people” -- a bogus claim because he’s spent years labeling a broad range of mainstream news outlets and journalists as “fake news.”

    Many newspapers have decided that they’ve had enough and are pushing back. Led by The Boston Globe, more than 100 newspaper editorial boards around the country are reportedly planning to publish editorials on August 16 “on the dangers of the administration’s assault on the press.” Each newspaper will be writing its own editorial in this coordinated effort.

    Fox, which has both served as a platform for Trump’s attacks on the press and promoted his attacks on its own, is now criticizing the newspapers participating in this effort as anti-Trump and “fake news.” On August 13, five Fox News and Fox Business hosts took offense to the coordinated editorial release protesting Trump’s anti-press rhetoric. Fox & Friends First co-host Rob Schmitt said these newspapers are releasing editorials “attacking the president” and that “there is just kind of a mainstream, somewhat leftist bias coming from a lot of our media companies.” Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy commented that The Boston Globe “said essentially they’re going after the president.” Varney & Co. guest host Ashley Webster and Wall Street Journal editorial board member James Freeman both defended Trump’s rhetoric that the media are “the enemy of the people,” pushing Trump’s ridiculous claim that his critique applies only to “fake news.” Fox Business host Lou Dobbs referred to the planned editorials as “anti-Trump screeds” by “coordinated national left-wing fake news.” And Fox host Laura Ingraham, while criticizing media coverage of antifa actions against reporters, mocked the newspapers’ coordinated effort as “not collusion or anything.”

  • Fox, WSJ's Freeman Ignore Economists To Dispute Economic Benefits Of Unemployment Insurance

    Blog ››› ››› CONNOR LAND

    A Fox host and Wall Street Journal assistant editor disputed the existence of a multiplier effect with unemployment benefits -- which generates more dollars worth of economic activity than the dollars invested in the program by boosting consumption -- though the effect is well supported by economic research.

    Unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed expired at the end of 2013, abruptly cutting off benefits for 1.3 million Americans. Department of Labor estimates show it would cost approximately $25 billion to extend the unemployment insurance for another year, a step President Obama urged Congress to take during a January 7 speech in which he argued that such an extension would not only help people but help the economy and create jobs.

    Wall Street Journal assistant editor James Freeman and Fox host Steve Doocy took issue with the idea that unemployment insurance benefits have a net-positive effect on the economy during the January 9 edition of Fox and Friends:

    DOOCY: We heard this from the president the other day. Unemployment creates jobs. And?

    FREEMAN: Yeah. It's hard to explain that one. The administration argument is that there's something called a multiplier, where when you put $1 of unemployment benefits into the economy it creates $1.80 in economic activity. So if this is true, this would suggest we should all stay home and the country will become wealthier by giving us unemployment benefits.

    During the segment, Fox aired an on-screen graphic mocked the notion as "fuzzy math":

    But economists agree that the economic benefits of unemployment benefits outweigh the cost. In what's known as the multiplier-effect -- which Freeman dismissed -- recipients of unemployment benefits reliably spend that money. In fact, Moody's chief economist Mark Zandi estimated that each dollar spent on unemployment benefits generates about $1.55 in economic activity. To put it another way, spending $25 billion on unemployment benefits would increase consumer spending and raise by $37.8 billion, according to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

    What's more, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explained that benefits for "unemployed workers in hard-pressed communities helps prevent the spread of layoffs and job losses in those communities." EPI emphasized (emphasis original):

    We find that continuing the extensions through 2014 would generate spending that would support 310,000 jobs. If this program is discontinued, the economy will lose these jobs.

    Beyond dismissing the facts, right-wing media have treated the expiration of unemployment benefits with a lack of compassion, smearing recipients and other government programs.

  • Elisabeth Hasselbeck's First Week On Fox News Features Misleading Attacks On Health Care Law

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    Elisabeth Hasselbeck

    During her first week as a Fox News host, Elisabeth Hasselbeck ran daily "Eyes On Obamacare" segments that pushed falsehoods and myths about the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

    Monday

    On September 16, Hasselbeck hosted FoxBusiness.com reporter Kate Rogers to spread fear about some insurers dropping out of some states' individual health care markets, alleging that the law would increase the cost of health insurance.

    But a report released by the Kaiser Family Foundation early in September found that the cost of obtaining health insurance will be lower than expected:

    This report -based on 17 states and the District of Columbia that have made data publicly available -provides a preview of how premiums will vary across the country, and how much consumers in different circumstances will actually pay after taking into account the tax credits available under the ACA.

    While premiums will vary significantly across the country, they are generally lower than expected. For example, we estimate that the latest projections from the Congressional Budget Office imply that the premium for a 40-year-old in the second lowest cost silver plan would average $320 per month nationally. Fifteen of the eighteen rating areas we examined have premiums below this level, suggesting that the cost of coverage for consumers and the federal budgetary cost for tax credits will be lower than anticipated.

    The Department of Health and Human Services also released a report on September 16 that shows 56 percent of uninsured Americans could obtain health insurance for less than $100 per month. From the report's press release:

    A new report released today by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) shows that 56 percent, or nearly six in ten of the people who don't have health insurance today may be able to get coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace for less than $100 per month.

    [...]

    Of the 41.3 million individuals who are uninsured and eligible for coverage, 23.2 million (56 percent) may qualify for Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program, or tax credits to purchase coverage for $100 or less per month.  The amount an individual will save on premiums depends on their family income and size.  Today's report uses data about family income and size from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey to estimate the number of uninsured individuals who will qualify for lower costs on monthly premiums.

    Today's report also shows that if all 50 states took advantage of new options to expand Medicaid coverage, nearly 8 out of every 10 people (78 percent) who currently do not have insurance could be paying less than $100 a month for coverage under the Affordable Care Act.  While some states are expanding their Medicaid programs in 2014, other states are not doing so.

  • Quick Fact: WSJ's Freeman claims "there hasn't been any warming since 1998"; climate experts disagree

    ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Wall Street Journal assistant editorial page editor James Freeman claimed that efforts to pass cap and trade legislation will fail because there is "no premise" for such legislation since "there hasn't been any warming since 1998," later adding that "there's no proof that this is happening as a result of man's activities, in fact, lately, it's not even happening anymore."