Rudy Giuliani and Fox's chief national correspondent mock Democratic presidential hopeful immediately after his interview
Video ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF
Loading the player reg...
Loading the player reg...
On April 3, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) asked the Internal Revenue Service to deliver the last six years of President Donald Trump’s tax returns to the committee. Trump’s personal lawyer William S. Consovoy and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney have both forcefully responded to the committee’s request, claiming Democrats have no right to the documents -- and Fox News seems to agree.
Hosts, contributors, and guests on the network suggested that Democrats’ efforts to view the documents are a politically motivated “fishing expedition” and claimed that congressional Democrats are weaponizing the IRS and abusing their power.
But in reality, there are plenty of good reasons for seeking a president’s tax returns. And while the law Neal is relying on to request them has not previously been used for that purpose, it also hasn’t ever been needed; Trump is the first president in 40 years to forgo releasing his tax returns. Additionally, Republicans used the same law in 2014 to access the returns from several partisan groups and then made the documents public.
Fox figures also argued that the public likely doesn’t care about the returns. But a recent poll found that the majority of Americans -- 56% -- want Trump to release his returns to the public.
Here are some of Fox’s reactions:
After special counsel Robert Mueller delivered his report to the attorney general about Russian interference in the 2016 election, Fox Business host Stuart Varney argued that Democrats are asking for Trump’s returns to “sow doubt in the public mind [and] undermine Mueller’s conclusion” by “implying a coverup” on his tax returns.
Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs hosted frequent Fox guest Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who argued that requesting Trump’s tax returns is an “effort by Democrats to distract us from how corrupt the DNC and Clinton campaign were.”
Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy argued that Democrats have moved on from collusion and “changed the narrative now to the taxes.” Fox contributor Dan Bongino agreed that Democrats “switched the narrative,” saying, “Now that obstruction isn't working, they are going to move on to some kind of financial collusion with the Trump tax returns.”
Kayleigh McEnany, frequent Fox guest and national press secretary for Trump’s 2020 campaign, claimed Democrats are “so upset that the Mueller report turned up no collusion, no obstruction. So they’re returning back to the old tactic of let’s go after the tax returns.”
Fox regular and former White House press secretary Sean Spicer dismissed the request as “a political fishing expedition” and complained that Democrats “are not going after him because of some particular reason. They want to go in a fishing expedition and find something that they can hang over his head.”
Fox contributor Byron York claimed on multiple Fox programs that the IRS request is a “fishing expedition.” On Fox Business, Dobbs told York that he didn’t use the phrase “fishing expedition” himself because he believes “that nomenclature trivializes what is a venal, venomous, ignorant assault against a sitting president.” Dobbs also claimed that the request is “absolutely beyond the proper bounds of the intent of the Constitution or the statutory authority of the United States Congress.”
Fox hosts Sandra Smith and Bill Hemmer hosted White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley and failed to push back when he asserted that if the government “gave the Mueller report to the entire press corps” along with Trump’s tax returns, “they’d come up with something else. It is never good enough.”
Fox contributor Karl Rove claimed that “every American, Republican or Democrat, ought to be concerned about weaponizing the IRS in this manner,” and he said that Democrats are looking for “anything they can find in order to bring [Trump] down.”
Fox guest and Tea Party Patriots founder Mark Meckler argued that Democrats are doing “exactly what the IRS did to the Tea Parties -- they targeted people based on their political affiliation.”
Frequent Fox guest and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said the IRS will “have to resist” the Democrats’ request “because it would be totally illegal.”
On America’s Newsroom, McEnany accused Democrats of “using the IRS as a political weapon.”
After Fox contributor Jessica Tarlov claimed that “people want to know how rich is the president actually,” Outnumbered co-host Harris Faulkner suggested that those people don’t actually exist. She asked Tarlov, “Have you talked to these people?” and, “Are they in the electorate? Where are these people?” Faulkner added that “America voted,” suggesting that Americans must not care about the returns since Trump won an election without releasing them.
Fox & Friends co-host Ainsley Earhardt claimed that "the majority" of "America doesn't care about seeing" Trump's tax returns.
A January 17 BuzzFeed News report revealed bombshell allegations that “President Donald Trump directed his former longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.” Trump’s favorite morning show, Fox & Friends, downplayed the report despite the serious and potentially impeachable nature of these allegations.
Two federal law enforcement officials familiar with the matter told BuzzFeed News that Trump supported a plan for him to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin to negotiate the Moscow tower deal during the 2016 presidential campaign. The sources also said that Cohen has told special counsel Robert Mueller that Trump personally instructed him after the elections to lie about the timeline of the negotiations “in order to obscure Trump’s involvement.” Since 2016, Trump has repeatedly asserted to the public that he had no knowledge of any business dealings with Russia. But, according to BuzzFeed News, “Trump and his children Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. received regular, detailed updates about the real estate development from Cohen, whom they put in charge of the project.” In November, Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the details of the Moscow deal.
Despite these serious allegations, Fox & Friends barely covered the report, dedicating just three headlines, which together totaled 73 seconds, and one interview segment to the report. The brief headline reports were centered on Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s current lawyer, denying the allegations. During the interview segment, Fox contributor Newt Gingrich vehemently pushed back on the allegations, calling the report “an absurdity” and “a hypothetical.” Gingrich also tried to discredit BuzzFeed News, saying that BuzzFeed is “the equivalent of those tabloids you buy at the grocery stores … that introduce you to Martians” and that “to take BuzzFeed seriously is a sign of how desperate we are for news.” Gingrich also said Cohen was “wildly delusional” and that he was “trying to please the investigators [because] he was desperately trying to avoid jail.”
This is not the first time Fox & Friends has ignored or downplayed reports that are negative for Trump. In addition to downplaying the BuzzFeed News report, the show has also almost entirely ignored Giuliani’s bombshell CNN interview on January 16 in which he refused to say whether or not there had been collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani is now trying to move the goalposts
In a January 16 appearance on CNN, President Donald Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani appeared to reverse course from his usual rhetoric on the Trump campaign and Russia, claiming that he has “never said there was no collusion between the campaign, or between people in the campaign,” and Russia. Giuliani insisted that he had only stated previously that Trump himself had not colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential election. The following morning, Giuliani appeared on CNN again to attempt to clarify what he meant, but he instead doubled down on his assertion that "neither [Trump] nor I can possibly know what everyone on the campaign was doing."
Despite numerous indictments and mounting evidence of possible collusion, Giuliani and Trump have long insisted there was “no collusion” between Russia and the campaign. These claims have been amplified by a chorus of Trump’s strongest supporters on Fox News, who have tried making the same argument for the last couple years.
Guy Benson: Regardless of whether or not collusion would be a crime, is it still the position of you and your client that there was no collusion with the Russians whatsoever on behalf of the Trump campaign?
Rudy Giuliani: Correct. [Fox News, Outnumbered, 7/30/18]
Dan Henninger: But if he does issue this report, the two things at the center of it is whether the president's campaign colluded with the Russians at a very high level, and whether President Trump obstructed justice. On both those counts, I think the answer is going to be no. [Fox News, The Journal Editorial Report, 1/6/19]
Byron York: For example, one of the big parts of the dossier has Michael Cohen, very close to President Trump, or candidate Trump at the time, going to Prague in Europe and meeting with Russians and agreeing on a payoff in which the Trump campaign would pay the Russians for all the hacking they were doing, helping the Trump campaign. Michael Cohen said this is patently false. Now, Michael Cohen has since been charged with all sorts of things. Has been investigated.
Laura Ingraham: By not lying about that.
York: Correct. Not only investigated by the special counsel's office and prosecutors in New York, been charged and pleaded guilty and sentenced, and nobody said a word about Prague.
Ingraham: Yeah. No collusion. I mean, and Andy, I mean, unless something really wild happens, no collusion. [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 12/18/18]
Corey Lewandowski: And whatever other people had done, whether it's Michael Cohen or Paul Manafort, it had nothing to do with the campaign, which is what Bob Mueller was supposed to be looking into, which is the collusion, which never existed between Trump's campaign and the Russians. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 12/9/18]
Byron York: But there haven't been any convictions that point to actual collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 campaign. [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 12/3/18]
Kayleigh McEnany: There's no evidence of collusion. Millions of pages of documents have been reviewed, there's no collusion. We were told Papadopoulos is going to show us collusion now that he's cooperating with Mueller. Papadopoulos only showed us that the Trump campaign, after dozens of requests, refused to meet with Russia. We were told Cohen would find collusion. Lo and behold, no collusion there. The Lanny Davis story was a fabrication and a lie. There is no collusion. Millions of pages of documents reviewed. The Trump campaign has done nothing wrong, and this is just the latest attempt by Democrats to find collusion where there is none. [Fox News, Fox News at Night, 9/14/18]
Jeanine Pirro: Well, yeah. [Fox News, Justice with Jeanine Pirro, 6/16/18]
Sara Carter: Absolutely true. [Fox News, Hannity, 3/8/17]
Fox & Friends First read one headline on Giuliani's appearance, saying he was "firing back at CNN"
On January 17, Fox News’ Fox & Friends failed to report on President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani refusing to deny that there was “collusion” between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
The night before, Giuliani told CNN’s Chris Cuomo that he didn’t know if members of the Trump campaign up to and including manager Paul Manafort had colluded with the Russian government. Giuliani said that he “never said there was no collusion between the campaign or between people in the campaign," only that “the president of the United States” did not collude.
Giuliani’s admission that members of the Trump campaign may have colluded with the Russian government to win the 2016 election was treated as a bombshell by CNN and MSNBC, which led both of their morning shows with the story. At 4:24 a.m. EST, Fox & Friends First did feature a brief headline segment about Giuliani “firing back at CNN” in the interview, however the much more influential Fox & Friends did not mention the story once. Instead, the show:
Pressed Trump to keep the government shut down:
Trump adviser and Fox host Pete Hegseth says Trump should “keep [the government] shut down as long as you need it to get the wall built.” pic.twitter.com/fIYgYkKukg
— Bobby Lewis (@revrrlewis) January 17, 2019
Threw free Chick-fil-A sandwiches at the studio audience:
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 17, 2019
And sang “God Bless the U.S.A.” with singer/songwriter Lee Greenwood:
Of course Fox & Friends’ studio audience day ends with everyone singing “God Bless the USA” pic.twitter.com/SPvCrfhic2
— Bobby Lewis (@revrrlewis) January 17, 2019
Fox & Friends is a propaganda mill masquerading as a news show, and the hosts mostly aim to please just one viewer: the president of the United States.
Loading the player reg...
President Donald Trump’s Twitter attack last week on George Soros set off a round of anti-Semitic attacks on the Jewish financier, as well as authoritarian calls from key Trump supporters for the president to use state power to freeze or seize Soros’ assets.
Conservatives have long been obsessed with Soros, a key figure on the left who has supported a raft of progressive organizations, including Media Matters. Right-wing commentators frequently attempt to draw links, however tangential or absurd, between Soros and virtually any protest or action that happens on the left, seeking to delegitimize grassroots energy as the work of a shadowy billionaire. At times, that criticism is steeped in classic anti-Semitic tropes that have been used for generations to justify attacks on Jewish people.
In the latest attempt in this vein, conservatives have tried to blame Soros for the opposition to Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination. On Friday, Trump, apparently responding to something he saw on TV, amplified that criticism. He tweeted that protests against the pending confirmation of Kavanaugh had been “paid for by Soros and others”:
The very rude elevator screamers are paid professionals only looking to make Senators look bad. Don’t fall for it! Also, look at all of the professionally made identical signs. Paid for by Soros and others. These are not signs made in the basement from love! #Troublemakers
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 5, 2018
Not all criticism of Soros is anti-Semitic, any more than is all criticism of Sheldon Adelson, a major conservative donor who is also Jewish. Both are major players in their respective movements, and reporting on people who wield such influence is a vital journalistic endeavor. But such critiques must be made carefully because horrific acts have been justified by the notion that Jewish people control the political system.
It is impossible to imagine Trump -- who has relied on anti-Semitic tropes in speeches, on Twitter, and in a campaign ad, and is beloved by anti-Semites and white supremacists -- treating the issue with the required care. Given the comment and its context, many commentators have suggested his tweet had anti-Semitic overtones. Trump-supporting denizens of far-right fever swamps certainly interpreted it that way -- they praised Trump for having “named the Jew,” a term bigots use for identifying the supposed Jewish masters of the world.
The next day, Trump’s close allies began pushing for him to use the power of the presidency against Soros. Rudy Giuliani, his personal lawyer, retweeted a comment calling Soros “the anti-Christ” and arguing, “Freeze his assets & I bet the protests stop”.
Many commentators have pointed out that those tweets also have anti-Semitic overtones. They also involve the president’s supporters literally asking him to do what dictators do -- use the power of the state to punish his political opponents, explicitly for the apparent crime of opposing him.
That same morning on October 6, Tom Fitton, the head of the conservative foundation Judicial Watch, whose investigations are geared to benefit the president, honed in on Soros’ overseas pro-democracy work. Fitton, a favorite of the president and his Fox News propagandists, argued that the federal government should cut off its support for Soros’ non-governmental organizations. According to Fitton, Soros is aligned with the “Deep State” and the tax dollars funding the work of his NGOs abroad allow him to devote more of his own cash to backing progressive organizations in the U.S.
The explicitly authoritarian stuff opens up space for noxious demands like defunding Soros NGOs for obviously partisan reasons. pic.twitter.com/XC91leGSBe
— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) October 6, 2018
Who benefits from cutting off funding to pro-democracy movements? Authoritarian leaders and nationalist parties across Central and Eastern Europe. The very forces that have spent the last several years demonizing Soros, often with anti-Semitic attacks that have driven rising concerns about the safety of Jews in their countries.
Fitton is effectively arguing to help out Vladimir Putin in order to own the libs. And considering Giuliani's and Mitchell's Twitter activity, it wasn’t close to the most authoritarian suggestion of the weekend.
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.”
Loading the player reg...
Loading the player reg...
Loading the player reg...
Giuliani: "Even conspiracy is not a crime"
Fox News host Sean Hannity allowed Rudy Giuliani and Jay Sekulow to guest host the entire broadcast of Hannity’s radio show on August 10. The duo, who both work as personal lawyers for President Donald Trump, devoted substantial time to lobbing wild attacks on special counsel Robert Mueller’s "hoax" investigation into Trump and his campaign.
Despite the ongoing prolonged back-and-forth between Trump’s legal team and Mueller about whether Trump will allow himself to be interviewed by Mueller’s team -- and the fact that Trump himself has called for Mueller’s investigation to be summarily ended -- Giuliani and Sekulow argued on Hannity’s show that the White House has given “unprecedented cooperation” to Mueller’s investigation.
Giuliani also advanced his false claim that allowing Mueller to question Trump about his decision to fire former FBI director James Comey would be an impermissible “perjury trap.”
As Jonathan Chait explained at New York magazine, a perjury trap “describes when prosecutors lure a witness into giving false testimony, usually for reasons other than covering up a crime, knowing they can prove the claim was false, and then nail them for perjury. … Asking Trump about his attempt to manipulate his FBI director is not a perjury trap. The question is not extraneous to a crime, it is a crime.”
During the show, Giuliani also channeled Trump in denigrating the investigation as “illegitimate,” a “witch hunt,” and a “hoax.”
Perhaps the most absurd moment occurred when Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett joined the show’s third hour. During a discussion where Jarrett, Sekulow, and Giuliani claimed that collusion cannot be a crime as a matter of law (they are wrong), Giuliani said, “Even conspiracy is not a crime. It’s got to be a conspiracy to commit a crime,” to which Jarrett responded, “Right, we conspire every day to have lunch, or breakfast, or whatever, that’s not a crime.”
Sean Hannity announced on Twitter that he will turn over the August 10 edition of his nationally syndicated talk radio show to two of President Donald Trump’s lawyers, Jay Sekulow and Rudy Giuliani.
Hannity has even hired Sekulow as his attorney.
Hannity’s pro-Trump propaganda has made both his shows indistinguishable from the narrative spun by the Trump administration. His shows are widely regarded as state media for the Trump administration. White House staffers even reportedly call Hannity Trump’s “shadow” chief of staff.
Hannity’s singular goal for months has been to protect Trump from the Russia probe led by special counsel Robert Mueller. Now he’s giving his show to Trump’s lawyers to do exactly that.
Loading the player reg...
The report had nothing to do with the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe
Less than 24 hours after the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) inspector general (IG) released a long-awaited report on the department’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, President Donald Trump’s allies in the media are already using the report to call for special counsel Robert Mueller’s removal. The IG report clearly states that its investigation “found no evidence that the conclusions by department prosecutors were affected by bias or other improper considerations”; and yet, the president’s sycophants in right-wing media are spinning the report to claim that “anything that Mueller is doing” in his probe of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia “is tainted” by the IG’s findings.
On June 14, DOJ IG Michael Horowitz released a report on the DOJ’s actions during the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server. According to the report, the IG found, among other things, that former FBI Director James Comey was “insubordinate” in his handling of the case; that he violated department policy by publicly discussing the investigation; and that two FBI officials, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, exchanged disparaging texts about Trump, with one text from Strzok reading, “We’ll stop” Trump from becoming president. While Horowitz severely criticized Comey, Strzok, and Page for their conduct, the inspector general concluded that there was “no evidence that the conclusions by department prosecutors were affected by bias or other improper considerations; rather, [the IG] concluded that they were based on the prosecutors’ assessment of the facts, the law, and past Department practice.”
Even though the IG report focused only on the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email server and had nothing to do with the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia, and even though it found that there was no evidence of bias in the FBI determination, the president’s defenders on Fox News and in conservative media are still twisting themselves into knots to try to use the IG report as a reason to call for Mueller’s removal. On the June 14 edition of Hannity, a panel of four of Trump’s staunchest defenders shouted about how the report “taint[s] the entire Mueller investigation”:
And the following morning on the June 15 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade argued that the Mueller investigation is “contaminated” by the IG’s findings:
The reaction from Trump’s sycophants in conservative media is unsurprising, considering that they preemptively laid the groundwork to discredit the IG’s report. But, even as conservative media continue their convoluted and disingenuous calls for Mueller’s removal, the special counsel’s investigation continues, racking up numerous indictments, one of which resulted in Trump’s former campaign manager having his bail revoked, landing him in federal prison until his trial.