Michael Reagan | Media Matters for America

Michael Reagan

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  • New right-wing media talking point: It's no big deal if Trump colluded with the Russians

    Legal experts and Trump’s attorney general agree it would be “improper and illegal”

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Conservative media figures have repeatedly downplayed possible collusion between associates of President Donald Trump and the Russian government, suggesting that “it’s not a crime” to collude with a foreign government to influence U.S. elections. Legal experts and Trump’s own attorney general, however, agree that such collusion would be “improper and illegal.”

  • Collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia probably would have been illegal, contrary to conservative claims

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    PolitiFact rated Fox anchor Gregg Jarrett’s claim that collusion with a foreign government in an election isn’t a crime “false,” citing three election law experts who named four statutes that could have been violated. Amid an FBI probe into whether members of President Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election, various conservative media figures have piled on to make similar claims that such actions -- if they occurred -- are not illegal.

    On May 10, Fox News correspondent Geraldo Rivera was among the first to say that collusion with the Russian government in an election wouldn’t be a crime. Fox host Sean Hannity said on his radio show on May 22, “Let’s say they did [collude], they said to Vladimir Putin, ‘Hey Vladimir, release everything you got.’ And Vladimir released it to Julian Assange. You know, is that a crime?” On May 30, Fox’s Jarrett asserted on air that “collusion is not a crime. … You can collude all you want with a foreign government in an election. There is no such statute.” Jarrett made a similar argument in a FoxNews.com op-ed. And on May 31, conservative author Michael Reagan claimed on CNN, “Collusion is not breaking the law,” and repeatedly asked “what law” collusion breaks.

    In a June 1 fact check, PolitiFact, responding to Jarrett, wrote, “We ran Jarrett’s argument by three election law professors, and they all said that while the word ‘collusion’ might not appear in key statutes (they couldn’t say for sure that it was totally absent), working with the Russians could violate criminal laws”:

    Nathaniel Persily at Stanford University Law School said one relevant statute is the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002.

    "A foreign national spending money to influence a federal election can be a crime," Persily said. "And if a U.S. citizen coordinates, conspires or assists in that spending, then it could be a crime."

    Persily pointed to a 2011 U.S. District Court ruling based on the 2002 law. The judges said that the law bans foreign nationals "from making expenditures to expressly advocate the election or defeat of a political candidate."

    Another election law specialist, John Coates at Harvard University Law School, said if Russians aimed to shape the outcome of the presidential election, that would meet the definition of an expenditure.

    "The related funds could also be viewed as an illegal contribution to any candidate who coordinates (colludes) with the foreign speaker," Coates said.

    To be sure, no one is saying that coordination took place. What’s in doubt is whether the word "collusion" is as pivotal as Jarrett makes it out to be.

    Coates said discussions between a campaign and a foreigner could violate the law against fraud.

    "Under that statute, it is a federal crime to conspire with anyone, including a foreign government, to ‘deprive another of the intangible right of honest services,’ " Coates said. "That would include fixing a fraudulent election, in my view, within the plain meaning of the statute."

    Josh Douglas at the University of Kentucky Law School offered two other possible relevant statutes.

    "Collusion in a federal election with a foreign entity could potentially fall under other crimes, such as against public corruption," Douglas said. "There's also a general anti-coercion federal election law."

  • 10 Times Media Figures Demanded The Recusal Of An Attorney General

    Meanwhile, Calls Grow For Attorney General Jeff Sessions To Recuse Himself From An Investigation of Trump's Ties To Russia

    ››› ››› JARED HOLT

    On March 1, the news broke that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had spoken to Russia’s ambassador to the United States during Trump’s campaign, for which he was an official surrogate, despite his assurance to Congress during his confirmation hearing that he “did not have communications with the Russians.” Sessions is currently overseeing investigations into Russian connections with Trump’s campaign. During the 2016 campaign, media figures were quick to call for then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s recusal from the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server after Lynch met with former President Bill Clinton on an airport tarmac. 

  • INFOGRAPHIC: The Conservative Civil War Over Donald Trump

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Conservative pundits are bickering over Donald Trump's campaign, especially after National Review's "Against Trump" issue and the backlash it engendered. On one side are pundits who want to stop Trump's candidacy in its tracks. On the other are conservatives who are lauding Trump's candidacy, even if they have not officially endorsed him. Media Matters breaks down exactly who is on which side (click for the full-sized image):

    Civil War over Donald Trump

    Graphic by Sarah Wasko, Research by Eric Hananoki
  • Michael Reagan Attacks Donald Trump While Taking His Advertising Money

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Conservative pundit Michael Reagan has been bashing Donald Trump's presidential campaign while flooding his readers with sponsored emails for Trump donations and merchandise.

    Reagan, the son of President Reagan and actress Jane Wyman, is a conservative political commentator and businessman who is frequently interviewed about all things Reagan. Since Trump's presidential announcement, and ahead of the Republican debate at the Reagan Library, he has been making the rounds criticizing the Republican candidate and minimizing the purported similarities between Trump and his father.

    Reagan told Politico in a recent interview that unlike Trump, "Ronald Reagan would never take 11 million people or three million people or a million people and throw them out of the United States of America." Reagan told CNN that Trump is the candidate least like his father because "Trump will 'throw people off the bus' rather than building coalitions that can help the GOP win national elections." Reagan said on Newsmax TV in August that Trump is "using my father on one side, and on the other side trashing everything my father, in fact, believed in."

    Michael Reagan's newsletter, Reagan Reports, has inundated email subscribers with sponsored messages touting Trump campaign solicitations and merchandise.

    Reagan has sent readers an "Urgent Message from Donald J. Trump" to give the billionaire's campaign "a contribution of $25, $50, $100, $250." Reagan sent the emails on August 1, 6, and 11. An accompanying note for the August 11 email said the Trump campaign email was "a special message from our sponsor, Donald Trump. Sponsorships like this allow us to continue our work to educate the American people on the important issues affecting our country. We appreciate your support."

    Reagan has also embedded Trump campaign advertising images and text links, such as this one on August 4. The links on the advertisements take readers to a Newsmax.com advertising page which features a solicitation for campaign contributions.

    Reagan Reports also sent sponsored emails promoting Trump merchandise. On August 15, Reagan sent an email for readers to get their "very own 'Make America Great Again' cap (a $25 value) FREE with this offer, just pay shipping & handling." Reagan repeatedly sent emails offering readers the chance to get "Get Your FREE Copy of Donald Trump's 'Time to Get Tough'!" through Newsmax.

    Michael Reagan's email list, which claims to have 565,000 subscribers, is managed by Newsmax, a conservative website that makes tens of millions of dollars through "a smorgasbord of political, health, and financial information, self-help books, and even vitamin supplements constantly pushed through the website and e-mail lists." The Washington Post reported on August 11 that Newsmax has been partnering with email lists owners "to help raise money for Trump  -- all while allowing them to keep 30 percent of what's contributed to the candidate." Other conservatives such as the Daily CallerDick MorrisPJ Media, and Herman Cain have also sent sponsored emails for Trump's campaign.

    Reagan's conflicting promotions of Trump is just another example of how conservative media dupe their followers for cash. 

  • Right-Wing Media: Donate To Donald Trump (And We'll Take A Cut)

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Conservative media outlets are trying to cash in on Donald Trump's presidential run through paid email solicitations.

    The Washington Post reported, "Newsmax Media has reached out to owners of conservative e-mail lists with a request to help raise money for Trump  -- all while allowing them to keep 30 percent of what's contributed to the candidate."

    The Post wrote that Newsmax sent an email stating the "Trump team is willing to pay 3rd party email list owners like yourself 30 percent of gross donations made to your email list" and "we think this will be highly profitable." Newsmax said they could provide sample Trump banners, links, and emails, and added that "these are considered paid ads, and don't imply an endorsement on the part of Newsmax or by any third party affiliate like yourself for the Trump campaign."

    The Daily Caller, Dick Morris, Michael Reagan, PJ Media, and Herman Cain have sent paid email fundraising solicitations on behalf of the Trump campaign to their newsletter subscribers, according to a Media Matters search of its newsletter archive. Morris and Reagan state their emails came via Newsmax. The Caller, Cain and PJ Media emails do not mention Newsmax (the Post, which noted Cain's email, said Newsmax wouldn't confirm if Cain sent the Trump email through them). The emails sent by the outlets appear to work off the same "Urgent Letter from Donald Trump" template referenced in the Newsmax solicitation highlighted by the Post. 

    An August 10 email sent by Dick Morris, for instance, asked after the Fox News debate: "Trump or Megyn? Show Your Support for Donald."  A notice at the bottom notes that Morris "is represented exclusively by Newsmax Media."

    Newsmax is also peddling Trump's "Make America Great Again" hat as a bonus for signing up for a trial subscription to its magazine. 

    Newsmax is a natural partner for Trump, as it has been a frequent promoter of his political ambitions. 

    Breitbart has been accused of accepting financial backing from Trump in exchange for positive coverage, a charge the outlet denies. 

    It's not clear why the campaign of a billionaire who has said he's rich enough to self-fund and doesn't "need anybody's money" has to solicit donations. Media Matters has frequently documented how much of the conservative media is trying to cash-in on their followers. 

  • Michael Reagan Fails To Read Footnote, Gets It All Wrong

    Blog ››› ››› ALBERT KLEINE


    Conservative author Michael Reagan displayed a complete ignorance of government statistics and inflation, falsely claiming that median income during the Reagan administration was twice the current rate. He did so by using an inflation-adjusted figure -- and adjusting for inflation again.

    In a September 18 Newsmax.com post titled "Obama's Median Income Half of Reagan's," Reagan discussed the latest Census report on income, poverty, and health insurance coverage, which showed median income for 2012 was $51,017. Reagan used this figure to criticize President Obama's economic policy, claiming that this number represented half the median income in 1989 after adjusting for inflation:

    But that figure understates the magnitude of the Obama administration's economic failure. When we account for inflation during those 23 years the disparity is shocking. Using the handy calculator at westegg.com, we find that simply allowing for inflation, with no economic growth, the median household income would have to be $94,234 to equal what Americans were earning under my father, the man [MSNBC host Ed] Schultz slanders as "Mr. Trickle-Down Economics."

    But if Reagan had taken the time to examine the first footnote in the Census report, he would have realized that the figures for median income have already been adjusted for inflation:

    All income values are adjusted to reflect 2012 dollars. The adjustment is based on  percentage changes in prices between 2012 and  earlier years and is computed by dividing the annual average Consumer Price Index Research Series (CPI-U-RS) for 2012 by the annual average for earlier years.

    While real median income in 2012 is in fact slightly below the 1989 value, Reagan completely ignored the effects of the recent catastrophic recession and the fact that after years of decline, the figure is finally reversing that trend. 

  • Fox Pushes "Are You Better Off" Question Again, Doesn't Mention That We Are

    Blog ››› ››› TERRY KREPEL

    Fox News continues to push the idea that Americans aren't "better off" than they were four years ago, ignoring that the U.S. economic situation has improved from the economic free-fall occurring at this time in 2008.

    On the October 22 edition of Fox & Friends, a segment featuring Michael Reagan was prefaced by a clip of his father, President Ronald Reagan, asking in a 1980 debate, "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" Michael Reagan argued that Mitt Romney should point out that "the only people really better off today than they were four years ago is Barack Hussein Obama and, of course, the vice president of the United States, Joe Biden."

    Fox News has a history of asking the "better off" question regarding this year's presidential election -- 26 times in August alone. And more often than not, Fox fails to provide the background needed to answer that question.

    Indeed, neither Reagan nor the Fox & Friends hosts mentioned that the economy was rapidly contracting at this time four years ago. Gross domestic product declined by an annualized rate of 8.9 percent during the fourth quarter of 2008, and more than 3.2 million jobs were lost from September 2008 to January 2009. Today, the economy is on the rise, supported by steady job growth.

  • Michael Reagan Compares Immigration Policy Shift To Penn State Child Sex Abuse Scandal

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    In a June 21 column, conservative radio host and frequent Fox News guest Michael Reagan compared the Obama administration's recent decision to allow some young undocumented immigrants to stay and work in America to the scandal at Penn State involving allegations of sexual abuse against children by former football coach Jerry Sandusky. From Reagan's column:

    Emperor Obama obviously could not care less about helping the Latino population. When Democrats had control of both houses of Congress he did absolutely nothing for them.

    Now he's doing to Latinos what Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky allegedly did to the children of Pennsylvania -- using and abusing them. With his short-sighted politicking, Emperor Obama has hurt the Latino cause in the long run.

  • Fox News Decides: Ronald Reagan Loved America, Unlike That Guy In The White House

    Blog ››› ››› DAVID SHERE

    "Fair and balanced" Fox News informed its viewers that Ronald Reagan loved America, and Barack Obama doesn't.

    In a segment Tuesday during one of its "news" shows, America Live, Megyn Kelly hosted pollster Scott Rasmussen and President Reagan's son Michael Reagan to discuss comments from Rick Santorum that Obama "doesn't believe America is a source for good." The segment featured a Rasmussen poll purporting to show that Americans agree with Santorum's assessment. The segment went on to falsely claim that Ronald Reagan never apologized for America, and insinuated that President Obama doesn't love the country that elected him.

    The segment began with a clip of Rick Santorum speaking in Ronald Reagan's hometown of Dixon, Illinois, in which he declared: "We have a president who doesn't believe that America is a source for good. Ronald Reagan quoting John Winthrop's shining city on a hill. To President Obama, we are a source of policy that required this president to go around the world and repeatedly apologize for America and what they did -- we've done in this world. Ronald Reagan would never apologize for the greatest country in the history of the world." Then Kelly spoke:

    KELLY: Santorum's enjoying that husky voice thing, isn't he? That was former Senator Rick Santorum speaking yesterday in Dixon, Illinois, Ronald Reagan's hometown, in front of a statue of Ronald Reagan on a horse. And a new poll suggests that a majority of Americans agree that this country is fair and decent, that shining city on a hill. In a new Rasmussen Reports poll, 64 percent of Americans say they think we live in a fair and decent society, 26 percent disagree. But take a look at this. The majority of Americans, when asked, believe thatPresident Obama sees this country as unfair and discriminatory.

    Kelly then asked, "So what's up with the discrepancy?"

    If Kelly wanted to know where Americans might have acquired such a notion, she should watch her own network. Fox News has repeatedly promoted claims that Obama is "selling out America," that he "has contempt for the history of America or America or Western civilization," that all he likes about America is that we elected him, that he has "malevolence" toward America, and that he has an "un-American, almost anti-American mentality."