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Sarah Palin

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  • These right-wing pundits keep posting identical Facebook remarks to promote a clickbait website

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    When House Republicans released the results of their investigation claiming to clear President Donald Trump of colluding with Russia during the 2016 election, the Facebook pages of several right-wing pundits posted strikingly similar thoughts at roughly the same time.

    “The news we’ve all been waiting for,” wrote former Fox News personality and current congressional candidate Stacey Dash.

    “The news we’ve all been waiting for,” remarked Sarah Palin.

    “The news we’ve all been waiting for,” CNN political commentator Ben Ferguson and Media Research Center senior fellow Allen West both wrote.

    That same pattern has repeated itself for months: Pundits post identical (or virtually identical) remarks, quips, or paragraph-long commentaries, along with a link to a website owned by Young Conservatives LLC.

    It’s not a coincidence. Commentators such as Dash, Ferguson, Palin, and West all have websites connected to Young Conservatives and they all regularly share the clickbait company's content. Young Conservatives' main news site is currently americanewscentral.com. If you’ve never heard of that site it's likely because it was launched in just the past few months -- and it will likely soon be defunct.

    BuzzFeed’s Craig Silverman explained this month that the company has been using a practice called domain hopping, “an increasingly popular tactic of quickly hopping from one domain name to another in order to blunt the impact of Facebook’s recent News Feed algorithm changes. It’s also used by publishers as a way to stay one step ahead of blacklists used by brands and agencies to keep their ads off controversial or inflammatory websites.” He added that West's own page at allenwestblog.americanewscentral.com has already "used more than a dozen different domains with his name in them" since January 2017.

    The extent of Young Conservatives’ involvement with those right-wing pundits is unclear. The company did not respond to an inquiry from Media Matters and declined an earlier request for comment from BuzzFeed about “Sarah Palin or its other partners.”

    Media Matters sent requests for comment to Dash through emails listed on her campaign documents and to Ferguson, Palin, and West through website contact forms but did not hear back as of posting. (A disclaimer on Palin's Facebook page indicates that she does not personally write many of the remarks on her account, stating that posts “by Sarah Palin” are signed “SP.”)

    Media Matters also sent an inquiry to the group Chicks on the Right, asking about a post on its Facebook page that included identical remarks to those of other pundits and for clarification regarding its relationship with Young Conservatives. Co-founder Miriam Weaver responded in a blog post by criticizing Media Matters and writing that it's "absolutely none of Media Matters’ business (or anyone’s, really)" whom the group works with and what financial relationships it has. She also defended the identifical Facebook post practice, stating, in part, that “we share their story the way it appears on their page, and they share our story the way it appears on our page – hence, the identical language. It’s less work that way, you see.” From Chicks on the Right's post (emphasis in original):

    Here’s the deal. Once a day, usually sometime in the evening hours, we share a post from our friends, the Young Conservatives, on our Facebook page, which we and ONLY WE manage. They, in turn, share one of our posts on their Facebook page. It’s a lovely partnership – one that allows us to cross-promote with our respective audiences. It costs us nothing to share their posts, and it costs them nothing to share ours. It’s a mutual swap, if you will. Once a day. And we share their story the way it appears on their page, and they share our story the way it appears on our page – hence, the identical language. It’s less work that way, you see. It appears, from the OH-SO-SCANDALOUS link that Media Matters included in their email, that the Young Cons have similar relationships with other folks as well. Good for them, I say. I love to see conservatives helping each other out. The more the conservative message gets out to the masses, the better!

    A Media Matters review of the Young Conservatives-connected pundits found numerous posts promoting affiliated content that contained identical or virtually identical remarks.

    One of the most frequent cut-and-pasters is Republican political commentator Stacey Dash. She has continued to post links to Young Conservatives content even though she’s running for Congress in California and her Facebook page is connected to her campaign website.

    The posts push conservative tropes and sometimes veer into vitriol. For instance, Dash, Ferguson, and West have repeatedly criticized and mocked the survivors of the February 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL.

    [Dash, Ferguson, West]

    [Dash, Ferguson, West]

    [Dash, Ferguson, West]

    Here are some of the many examples of identical remarks from Young Conservatives-affiliated pundits.

    Dash, Ferguson, and West had the same reaction to an NFL story:

    Dash, Ferguson, and West had the same “Yeehaw!” reaction to a federal court ruling:

    Chicks on the RightFerguson, and Palin had the same two-sentence reaction to a court decision about California. West, however, opted to use "isn't a good idea" instead of "isn't panning out."

    And here are Dash and Ferguson doing an "insert sarcasm here" joke just one minute apart:

    Even purported first-person posts are cut and pasted across different accounts. Here are Dash and Ferguson making an observation about the Parkland shooting at the same time:

    Here are Dash and Ferguson writing about Enterprise Rent-A-Car at the same time:

    And here they are talking about Trump:

    To be fair, their posts are not always identical. When Dash and Ferguson claimed they may have found themselves a new church, Ferguson opted not to include the word “freaking”:

  • Reported Facebook fact-checking partner The Weekly Standard pushes Sarah Palin’s death panel lie

    Facebook fact-checker PolitiFact had designated the death panel myth 2009’s “lie of the year”

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    The Weekly Standard published a column pushing the debunked lie that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) includes “death panels” just days after a report surfaced that Facebook plans to enlist the conservative outlet as a fact-checker to fight fake news.

    On October 7, Quartz reported that Facebook was in talks with The Weekly Standard to become a fact-checker, helping to oversee pieces shared on the social media platform that have been flagged as possible fake news. If a deal is finalized, The Weekly Standard would join fact-checkers such as Snopes and PolitiFact, which joined when Facebook announced the initiative last December.

    For its upcoming October 23 magazine issue, The Weekly Standard published a piece by frequent contributor Wesley J. Smith of the right-wing Discovery Institute headlined “Death Panels: Sarah Palin Was Right.” The headline refers to a lie fabricated in 2009 by serial misinformer Betsy McCaughey and amplified by former Republoican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin that the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) system set up by the ACA would determine whether seniors and people with disabilities were worthy of care. The false claim was so notorious that PolitiFact, which is a partner on Facebook’s fake news initiative, deemed it its 2009 “Lie of the Year.” The Standard column claims without proof that the IPAB “could, one day, be weaponized to implement invidious medical discrimination mandates—e.g., health-care rationing.” The column also cites a 2012 New York Times op-ed from Steve Rattner, a former adviser to former President Barack Obama, as evidence that the IPAB could demand medical rationing. But in the actual op-ed, Rattner simply discussed forms of health care rationing he would prefer and laments that the ACA “regrettably includes severe restrictions” on rationing.

    This is not the first time the Standard and its writers have pushed misinformation. In February, the outlet appeared to fall victim to smears from fake news purveyors when it falsely accused a former National Security Council staffer of being a political Obama appointee. The Standard promoted the lie that Healthcare.gov stripped insurance customers of their right to privacy and mischaracterized comments made by proponents of health care reform. Its editor-in-chief, Stephen Hayes, wrote a book falsely claiming that Al Qaeda collaborated with Saddam Hussein, and its founder, William Kristol, was a major booster of the Iraq War and claimed that “we'll be vindicated when we discover the weapons of mass destruction and when we liberate the people of Iraq.” Kristol also played a major role in Palin’s selection as the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee. The magazine has also previously attacked PolitiFact's credibility; one of its writers attacked Facebook over its fact-checking program, labeling the fact-checkers as “a panel of censors” and complaining that they “cannot be trusted to be fair to conservatives.”

    Facebook’s attempt to bring in conservatives to help fight fake news is not objectionable in and of itself; indeed, researchers and experts have called on conservatives to help fight fake news, and the social media giant could certainly use help. But it is imperative that those partners be good-faith actors that do not push misinformation themselves. That The Weekly Standard would publish such a misleading column about something as thoroughly discredited as death panels is not an encouraging sign that it will help improve the accuracy of information shared on Facebook.

  • Will Fox News Finally Take The Debt Ceiling Seriously?

    Fox Spent Years Urging Republicans To Default On The National Debt To Hurt President Obama

    ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON & ALEX MORASH

    Since Republicans took control of the House of Representatives in 2011, Fox News personalities have urged them to use the threat of defaulting on the sovereign debt obligations of the United States government as a means of winning political concessions. With Republicans now in full control of Congress, will the talking heads at Fox finally come to terms with this monumental threat to the global economy and urge the GOP to raise the debt ceiling?

  • The Economy Created 2.1 Million Jobs In 2016, But The News Talked About Only 700 Of Them

    Trump’s Misleading Carrier Deal Was A Dominant Narrative During 2016 Coverage Of The Job Market

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Media Matters research for the fourth quarter of the year found that broadcast evening news fixated on then President-elect Donald Trump’s misleading announcement that he was responsible for saving hundreds of jobs at an American manufacturer while largely ignoring the roughly 2.1 million jobs gained by the U.S. economy in 2016.

    Television news fawned over Trump’s late-November participation in negotiations between state authorities and Indiana-based appliance manufacturer Carrier in which the company decided to move only half of its jobs to Mexico in exchange for tax subsidies. The same outlets continued to fall head over heels for Trump when he misleadingly declared on December 6 that he had brokered a deal with Japanese technology giant SoftBank to create “50,000 new jobs” in the United States. Some journalists were quick to point out that the media may be getting “bamboozled by these announcements,” and the Carrier deal was blasted as nothing more than “crony capitalism” -- a concept that even Sarah Palin understood. ​

    New research from Media Matters revealed that overall coverage of the economy during the fourth quarter of the year spiked after Election Day, in large part driven not by consistently positive economic indicators or discussions of the future of health care reform, but by Trump’s self-serving boasts about his alleged role as a job creator. Of the 275 qualifying economic news segments aired by cable and broadcast programs from October through December, 56 featured a significant discussion of Trump’s supposed deal making with Carrier and Softbank. The media obsession with Trump’s Carrier and Softbank announcements accounted for an absurd 47 percent of evening news segments on the economy for the final 32 days of 2016.

    Television news obsessed over Trump’s claims of saving 700 jobs at one plant and practically ignored the roughly 2.1 million jobs that had been created in 2016 as part the longest stretch of job growth on record. Media Matters identified 119 segments on the economy -- some discussing more than one issue -- from November 30 through December 31; of those, 56 discussed deals supposedly brokered by Trump to save or create jobs via Carrier and Softbank. Broadcast and cable evening news coverage of these deals eclipsed all other economic reporting during this time frame: 41 segments discussed tax policy, 30 segments discussed all other news surrounding economic growth or job creation, 26 segments focused on health care policy, 18 segments explored minimum wage policies, and 16 segments discussed economic inequality.

    Media all but ignored the big picture by staying so focused on Trump’s pronouncements, falling prey to what ThinkProgress editor-in-chief Judd Legum described as Trump’s “formula for manipulating the public.” News outlets have repeatedly learned the hard way not to trust Trump’s proclamations and “nonsense” supply-side economic proposals. Yet television news still gives Trump an exhaustive amount of attention -- the same type of attention that research found played a role in Trump’s political rise. Now, it could influence public perception of his presidency.

  • Meet OANN, Another Right-Wing Outlet Shilling For Trump

    ››› ››› CHRISTOPHER LEWIS

    One America News Network (OANN) drew attention after President-elect Donald Trump took a question from its correspondent at his January 11 press conference. OANN, which was founded in 2013 as a right-wing news network akin to Fox News, shilled for Trump throughout his campaign and recently hired Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski as a commentator. The network has a history of race-baiting and presenting anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, and anti-abortion reporting.

  • Internet Trolls Unleash Attacks On Washington Post Reporter Following Completely Made Up Right-Wing Media Smear

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    A false right-wing media report targeting The Washington Post’s Doris Truong has resulted in what she described as her “own personal Pizzagate” in which she was erroneously identified as being at Rex Tillerson’s confirmation hearing and surreptitiously taking photos of pieces of paper he left behind.

    Following Tillerson’s January 11 confirmation hearing for his nomination to serve as the next secretary of state, a photo of an unidentified woman seemingly taking photos of notes left behind at Tillerson’s empty seat began circulating on Twitter. Notoriously dishonest, and consistently wrong, right-wing blogger Jim Hoft then posted the photo and a video of the incident identifying the woman as Truong. Hoft has since updated his post and admitted that the woman pictured was not Truong, but the URL still reads “sick-wapo-reporter-caught-sneaking-photos,” a reference to Hoft’s original misleading headline. From there, the false claim was pushed by other right-wing media personalities like former Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin and linked to by The Drudge Report, driving even more traffic to the story and leading to widespread harassment of Truong at the hands of internet trolls.

    From Truong’s January 12 account of the episode published by The Washington Post:

    By the time I woke up, trolls had commented on social media channels besides Twitter. My Facebook feed had dozens of angry messages from people I didn’t know, as did comments on my Instagram account. Even my rarely used YouTube channel attracted attention. My emails and my voicemail included messages calling me “pathetic” and a “sneaky thief.”

    A lot of the comments also focused on my Chinese heritage, implying — or outright stating — that I must be spying for China. Some called for an FBI investigation of what they deemed illegal behavior.

    […]

    Even more bizarrely, one Twitter user insisted that “facial software on the video” led to the “almost positive” conclusion that the woman was me.

    But even if people believed that the person at the hearing wasn’t me, they wanted to know who she was. And that’s what’s particularly alarming about this time in our society: Why are people so quick to look for someone to condemn? And during the confusion about the woman’s identity, why is it presumed that she is a journalist? Or that taking pictures of notes in an open hearing is illegal? Or, for that matter, that she was even taking pictures of Tillerson’s notes?

    Despite his admission that he has no idea who the woman is, Hoft is still identifying her as a “reporter” and pushing the unsubstantiated claim that she was “sneaking photos” without any supporting evidence.

    Truong’s encounter with the far-right online fringe shares startling similarities with so-called “Pizzagate,” a fake news conspiracy theory perpetuated by Trump ally and right-wing radio host Alex Jones that eventually led one alt-right adherent to shoot inside a pizzeria in Washington, D.C. and engage in an armed standoff with police. In fact, Jim Hoft credited one of the leaders of the “pizzagate” fake news conspiracy in his original attack on Truong; right-wing blogger and sexual assault apologist Mike Cernovich, who recently directed an online harassment campaign against political satirist and video editor Vic Berger.

    As was the case with “pizzagate,” wherein an armed conspiracy theorist held up a pizza parlor while he “investigated” the veracity of absurd claims he read online, many of Truong’s online harassers are demanding that she get to the bottom of this story, and identify the woman herself, before they’ll accept that it wasn’t her.

  • Chris Wallace’s History Of Sexist Remarks Poses Another Challenge For His Role As Debate Moderator

    Blog ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

    Final presidential debate moderator Chris Wallace faces the challenge of asking Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump about the numerous allegations that he sexually assaulted several women, but Wallace’s ability to confront Trump’s treatment of women is no doubt tainted by his own history of sexist and sexually charged rhetoric about women.

    Wallace, anchor of Fox News Sunday, has made numerous sexually charged remarks about women, such as calling the National Transportation Safety Board chair a “babe” and remarking that “you would not expect a government bureaucrat to be an attractive woman” and making creepy comments about former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin for years. Appearing on conservative radio host Mike Gallagher’s show in 2009, Wallace asked if Gallagher could “put in a good word” for him with Palin. Just a few months later, on Imus in the Morning, Wallace replied, “one can only hope” when asked if Palin would be “sitting on [his] lap” during an interview. Even the hosts of Fox & Friends, who are no strangers to sexism, confronted him over those comments. Wallace also explained in 2011 that one of the reasons he was “dazzled” by Palin is that she’s “very attractive.”

    In 2015, Wallace again stirred controversy when he remarked that singer Kelly Clarkson, who had already been fighting an onslaught of body shaming in the media, “could stay off the deep dish pizza.” The comment brings to mind Trump’s statements about former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, whom he called “Miss Piggy” and described as an “eating machine.” Wallace did eventually apologize, calling his comment “offensive.”

    Making fun of Clarkson’s weight, however, was not the first time Wallace ridiculed a woman’s appearance. In 2013, Wallace approved of a New York Post cover photograph of a supposedly angry Hillary Clinton labeled “No Wonder Bill’s Afraid,” which was heavily criticized as “blatantly sexist” and “offensive sexist garbage.” Wallace called the cover “funny” and asserted that “nice can be overrated sometimes.” With a history of comments like this, how will Wallace approach Trump’s dismissal of People reporter Natasha Stoynoff as too ugly for him to assault?

    Wallace’s history of making sexist comments taint his ability to confront Trump over the vulgar video of the candidate boasting about sexually assaulting women and the increasing number of women accusing him of inappropriate sexual conduct. Although Trump denied that he had sexually assaulted women, the mounting accusations allege that his words were in line with the sexually predatory behavior he bragged about in the 2005 tapes.

    Wallace’s role as debate moderator poses other challenges as well. Wallace changed his stance on fact-checking in debates (he says it’s not his role, even though he corrected Trump during a primary debate), and he has been wildly inconsistent in how he talks about immigration. Additionally, a Fox News host is hardly the most appropriate moderator for this debate given that Trump has retreated to the station as a safe space -- and avoided other press -- while his campaign implodes under the allegations of sexual harassment and assault.

  • 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
     
  • Right-Wing Media Lash Out Over Sarah Palin's Donald Trump Endorsement

    ››› ››› CRISTIANO LIMA

    Right-wing media figures are lashing out over Sarah Palin's endorsement of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. They say the endorsement amounts to "nothing but opportunism and ego," and that it abandons Palin's conservative Tea Party ideology because Trump is "neither a committed conservative nor an anti-establishment rogue." 

  • The History Of Sarah Palin And Donald Trump's Mutual Admiration Society

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    UPDATE: As expected, Palin officially endorsed Trump. Touting the endorsement, Trump said in a statement, "I am greatly honored to receive Sarah's endorsement," adding, "She is a friend, and a high-quality person whom I have great respect for. I am proud to have her support."

    ORIGINAL POST: Numerous media outlets have speculated that Sarah Palin will endorse Donald Trump for president at an Iowa rally tonight. Over the years, Palin and Trump have cultivated a mutual admiration society, complimenting and supporting each other.

    The day after the 2008 election, Trump told Fox News' Greta Van Susteren that despite her failure to be elected vice president, Palin was a "fine woman" who "made things interesting."

    The two crossed paths in 2011 when Trump was again promoting the birther conspiracy theory about President Obama's place of birth. Palin defended Trump, telling Greta Van Susteren that "I respect what he's doing in putting his money where his mouth is. He's actually investigating his speculation there on Obama's birth certificate and Obama's college records and all those things that Obama, though he promises to be a transparent official, he certainly isn't because he could certainly reveal many of these documents and put many of these issues to rest." In another Fox interview Palin praised the birther push, saying "more power to him."

    Trump later expressed his appreciation for Palin's support in a Wall Street Journal interview, noting she was "so gracious to me on the birther issue." (Think Progress has explained how the pair have "bonded over birtherism.")

    Later that year when Palin went on a multi-city bus tour as speculation built that she might announce a presidential run in 2012, one of her most-covered stops was in New York City where she had pizza with Trump.

    At the time there were questions about whether Palin might choose Trump as her running mate. Trump said, "She didn't ask me, but I'll tell you, she's a terrific woman."

    After Trump officially announced his presidential run in 2015, Palin has been a reliable source of support for him.

    On Breitbart.com, Palin wrote an op-ed praising Trump, writing that "The elites are shocked by Trump's dominance, but everyday Americans aren't."

    Palin guest hosted an episode of the conservative One America News Network's program On Point and interviewed Trump. She sympathized with him over "personal 'gotcha' questions" which were "really trying to get you, us, anybody running for office off game."

    Responding to Trump's statement that he'd "love" for Palin to serve in a Trump administration, she floated her name for secretary of energy. She told CNN's Jake Tapper, "I think a lot about the Department of Energy, because energy is my baby: oil and gas and minerals, those things that God has dumped on this part of the Earth for mankind's use instead of us relying on unfriendly foreign nations."

    When Trump was criticized after he disparaged the military service of former Palin running mate Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Palin called both McCain and Trump heroes and said, "Trump is the candidate giving voice to untold millions of fed-up Americans witnessing a purposeful destruction of our economy and the equal opportunity for success that made America exceptional."

    Trump called in to a pro-Palin internet radio show, "The Palin Update," on Mama Grizzly Radio and told listeners that voters have been asking him when he would get her support, "I still have people saying, 'Get Sarah's support! Get Sarah's support!' No matter where I go."

    Palin also had Trump's back after he fumbled over a series of foreign policy questions with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. She said, "I think I'd rather have a president who is tough and puts America first than can win a game of Trivial Pursuit."

    In another sign of their philosophical alignment, Trump recently hired the former chief of staff of Palin's PAC to be the national political director for his campaign.

  • Donald Trump Joins Right-Wing Media In Their Crush On Vladimir Putin

    ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump excused Vladimir Putin's extensive human rights violations by saying that "at least he's a leader, unlike what we have in this country." His praise for the Russian president echoes that of right-wing media, who have swooned over Putin for years as a way of attacking President Obama's supposed weakness.