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  • Here's how Fox News is spinning the Mueller report

    Blog ››› ››› COURTNEY HAGLE

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    On April 18, the Department of Justice released a 448-page redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Since the report’s release, Fox News has been spinning its findings to appear favorable to President Donald Trump.

    Although Mueller didn’t officially charge Trump, the report is still widely seen as “a “brutal indictment of his campaign and his presidency.” According to NBC News, the first volume of the report “details how Trump and his allies solicited, encouraged, accepted and benefited from the assistance provided by America's most storied foreign adversary as part of a multi-front assault on American democracy.” The second volume “lays out comprehensive evidence that the president may have obstructed justice through what Mueller described as a ‘pattern of conduct’ that included firing FBI Director Jim Comey, trying to remove Mueller, publicly praising and condemning witnesses, and seeking to limit the scope of the probe.” In short, the report tells a story of “a president who used nearly every power vested in his office and his persona … to cover up ties between his campaign and Russia so that he could spare himself the public humiliation of having won an election that wasn't entirely on the level.” As NBC notes, critics argue that the report’s findings “rattle the very foundations of the American system of governance.”

    However, Fox News is still working hard to keep the president in a favorable light. Fox figures have argued that Trump’s actions were justifiable because he was frustrated; have deflected from the report’s findings by pivoting to the perceived reporting errors of the media; and have falsely claimed that one can’t obstruct justice without an underlying crime. Fox figures have also continued to call for an investigation of the investigators and of the origins of the probe, and they have defended Attorney General William Barr’s questionable and highly partisan actions.

    Narrative 1: Trump was cooperative and his actions were justified because he was frustrated

    Fox figures are suggesting that the fact that Trump didn’t use executive privilege is evidence that he cooperated with the Mueller investigation. Fox is also arguing that Trump’s reaction when he found out about the special counsel investigation could not be perceived as guilt because it came out of frustration that it would slow down his agenda. (Barr advanced this argument of Trump’s frustration in his April 18 press conference.) Fox is also pointing to an expletive Trump used as proof that he was just worried people would see him as an illegitimate president.

    Fox & Friends co-host Ainsley Earhardt claimed Trump said “I’m doomed” only because he had “been told that any time there's a special counsel, it goes on and on and on for years.”

    AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): Yeah, the president sat down at his desk and said, basically, I'm doomed. I have been told that any time there's a special counsel, it goes on and on and on for years. And he said this is the worst thing that's ever happened to me in my life. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/19/18]

    Fox’s Dana Perino claimed that Trump “was actually quite cooperative” with the special counsel’s investigation.

    DANA PERINO (HOST): I do want to ask Martha [MacCallum] about this idea about cooperation. And if we can pull up sound bite number 15, because I want to have you listen to this. And it's interesting to me that there's these calls about obstruction, and yet the president was actually quite cooperative -- didn't ask for executive privilege on any of the documents, allowed people to go and be interviewed. [Fox News, Daily Briefing with Dana Perino, 4/18/19]

    Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich claimed that Trump didn’t say a “bad word … in the sense that he was guilty” but “in the sense that special counsel investigations or special investigations, independent counsels slow down your agendas.”

    KATIE PAVLICH (FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR): You know, there's been this out-of-context quote from the Mueller report that reporters have been talking about as a result of the release, saying that the president said he was -- a bad word. He was -- essentially, his presidency was over as a result of the special counsel getting launched. But he didn't say it in the sense that he was guilty. He said it in the sense that special counsel investigations or special investigations, independent counsels slow down your agendas. [Fox News, Outnumbered Overtime, 4/18/19]

    Narrative 2: The media were wrong in their reporting on the Mueller report

    Fox figures are arguing that the Mueller report vindicated their accusations that the mainstream media was wrong in their reporting of the investigation, even though much of what mainstream media reported on was ultimately seen as corroborated by the final report. Various Fox figures demanded that media outlets apologize to Trump and others. White House counselor Kellyanne Conway echoed this narrative when she appeared on Fox, saying, “We’re accepting apologies today, too, for anybody who feels the grace in offering them.”

    Fox & Friends guest Buck Sexton criticized other media outlets for not apologizing for "the insanity that they have been reporting" about the Mueller investigation.

    AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): Buck, you have said this is a reminder of the media getting it wrong for the last two years. Do you think the media will realize -- or has realized that and will make it right or apologize? I think I know the answer.

    BUCK SEXTON (TALK RADIO HOST): I'm quite sure that the media is not going to apologize and, in fact, I think what you’re seeing today Ainsley is a lot of people doubling down. There was certainly a bit of humiliation that was doled out to them when we knew that there would no charges, either on obstruction or on collusion, conspiracy once that came out. But now you are going to see a lot of media outlets that are desperate to find something in this report to justify the insanity that they have been reporting on for two years. They are going to work very hard at a kind of special interpretive analysis here to say, “Well, there weren't charges, but look at this thing.” They are also going to dig deep into the redactions and suggest that that's where the real collusion happened or that’s where you’ll find -- I mean, it's all nonsense and it’s all politics for them. And speaking of politics, the Democrats are going to try to use obstruction. There will be some -- I don't know if the whole party will go in this direction to create a narrative that there needs to be at least investigations going toward or hearings going toward impeachment based on the obstruction evidence but not charges that will be in this report. I think that's pretty likely. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/18/19]

    On Tucker Carlson Tonight, Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume said media reporting on the Mueller investigation was “dog doo.”

    TUCKER CARLSON (HOST): [The Mueller report] comes out. How can the rest of us act like our assumptions for the past two years -- or their assumptions for the last two years -- were ratified, were right. I mean why doesn’t the entire city of Washington stop and ask itself, “How were we so wrong?”

    BRIT HUME (FOX NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST): Well, that can be attributed to the partisan divide that you see across the country and very much in Washington. There are some of us, such as those of us here at Fox News, who don't have any of this collusion dog doo all over our shoes and never did. And so we look at this and we think to ourselves, "Well, yeah, I guess we sort of sized that up properly." We didn't buy into that. We didn't make a hero out of Michael Avenatti and having him on our air a couple of hundred times and talk about what a serious presidential candidate he was. We didn't spin every story that came along to suggest that it pointed in the direction of the collusion that was talked about endlessly. We didn't do any of that. So there's a big segment of us -- there’s a big segment of our audience that didn't buy into that stuff either. So none of us tonight has anything but regrets that this took up as much of our time and as much of our political air as it did as you point out. [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 4/18/19]

    On his show, Carlson said, “The Mueller report is probably the single most humiliating thing that has ever happened to the White House press corps."

    TUCKER CARLSON (HOST): These are hysterical children. They should not be in journalism, but they are. In fact, they run journalism, and they have no plans on giving up their power. The Mueller report is probably the single most humiliating thing that has ever happened to the White House press corps in the history of this country. So, how did reporters in Washington respond today when it finally came out? Well, they did what they do best; they celebrated themselves. [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 4/18/19]

    Fox’s Mark Levin claimed that “it's now a matter of the American people versus the press," adding, “I would call them the unfree press.” Levin also cast doubt on the legitimacy of the report, saying that “you have no idea” if "the report is truthful” and that it’s a “200-page op-ed” that Mueller “should never have written.”

    MARK LEVIN (FOX HOST): This is political document that he should never have written. A political document that is 200 pages long that the press keeps focusing on. That's why he and Weissmann and the others wrote it, because he knew you all -- he knew CNN would be obsessed with it. He knew that MSNBC would be obsessed with it. This is an op-ed. This is a 200-page op-ed. That's all this is.

    LEVIN: This is a hack job. Now, where are we here? Where are we here? From my perspective, it's now a matter of the American people versus the press. Or how I would call them, the unfree press. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/19/18]

    Narrative 3: The report found "no obstruction"

    A growing Fox narrative asserts that there’s no obstruction of justice unless there’s an underlying crime. Attorney General Barr also suggested this idea, which, according to The Washington Post, is wrong: “It’s black letter law that a defendant can satisfy the corrupt intent criterion for obstruction even if the defendant himself committed no underlying crime.” That hasn’t stopped Fox from using this talking point -- Trump even tweeted a paraphrased quote from Fox host Martha MacCallum, writing, “When there is not an underlying crime with regard to Collusion (in fact, the whole thing was a made up fraud), it is difficult to say that someone is obstructing something. There was no underlying crime.”

    On Fox & Friends, former independent counsel Ken Starr said that “not only was there no obstruction, there was cooperation.” Co-host Ainsley Earhardt accused the left of “shifting the narrative yet again” to obstruction.

    AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): We heard Russia, Russia, Russia. Then we heard no collusion. And now we're hearing obstruction, obstruction, obstruction. The left is shifting the narrative yet again. Are you surprised?

    KEN STARR (FORMER INDEPENDENT COUNSEL): Well, I'm not. I'm disappointed, but here's the bottom line: Not only was there no obstruction, there was cooperation. Did the president want to cooperate? No. Did he like Bob Mueller and the whole thing? He hated it. Well, guess what? Bill Clinton hated me and hated the investigation. Ulysses S. Grant fired the special counsel. Harry Truman's attorney general fired the special counsel. Famously, Richard Nixon fired the special counsel and the special prosecutor. You know there's a difference between having thoughts and this is another dimension that really did surprise me: how open and frank the conversations are with the president of the United States that then become disclosed and they are now in the public domain. We used to call that executive privilege. Talk about cooperation: cooperation in all caps. Not a single, as far as we know, invocation of executive privilege when these were such private, confidential conversations that are now, obviously, embarrassing to the president and being seized upon for political purposes. But there was no obstruction here. The 10 obstructive acts just don't add up to being an obstruction of justice in the criminal sense.[Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/19/19]

    Fox News correspondent Ed Henry falsely claimed, “You can't obstruct something if there is no underlying crime.”

    ED HENRY (GUEST CO-HOST): Think about what they have said in the run-up to this. Rudy Giuliani and Jay Sekulow have said you can't obstruct something if there is no underlying crime. So if part one of the Mueller report says there was no collusion/conspiracy coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians, then there is no underlying criminal activity by the president of the United States. So then how can you say, “Well, there is no crime but you obstructed justice even though you didn't commit a crime”? [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/18/19]

    The following day, Henry again falsely claimed that there is “no obstruction there” because Trump’s aides “didn’t act on it.”

    ED HENRY (FOX NEWS CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT): Well, on that incident that Brian [Kilmeade] was talking about with Don McGahn, who was White House counsel at the time, it basically talked about the president calling him up, and the report says that weekend, the president called McGahn and directed him to have the special counsel removed because of asserted conflicts of interest. McGahn did not carry out the instruction for fear of being seen as triggering another "Saturday Night Massacre" and instead prepared to resign himself. Now McGahn ultimately did not quit and the president did not follow up with McGahn on his request to have the special counsel removed. Important points there because in the end, embarrassing details for the president about how it all played out. But he didn't act on it. McGahn didn't act on it. So there was no removal of Robert Mueller. So no obstruction there. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/19/19]

    Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade falsely asserted that Mueller found Trump wasn't trying to obstruct the investigation.

    BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): One of the big controversies I guess from the White House perspective is there will be a mass of details, according to, I think, Jonathan Swan, a great reporter on Axios, of the president unloading on -- about Mueller, about [Jeff] Sessions, about Rod Rosenstein to, I guess, [former White House counsel] Don McGahn and others. I have news for you: We all heard it. We have seen it, we've interviewed him. We've read his Twitter feed. He's doing it non-stop in front of the public eye which might have made it challenging for Robert Mueller to figure out, “Is these the rantings of an innocent man or is somebody trying to manipulate me?” And Robert Mueller's answer is obviously no one is manipulating him. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/18/19]

    Narrative 4: The investigators and origin of the Mueller investigation need to be investigated

    For weeks, Fox personalities have been demanding that the origins of the investigation, Hillary Clinton, and the Obama administration be investigated. The narrative made its way to Barr’s press briefing, where Fox White House correspondent Catherine Herridge asked Barr if he will investigate the “genesis of the Russia investigation.” This right-wing narrative questions the legitimacy of the starting point of the investigation, even though the details of the investigation’s origins are public.

    Speaking to Trump attorney Jay Sekulow, Fox host Sean Hannity questioned the origin of the report, asking, “Are we really to believe the origins of this as they claim?”

    SEAN HANNITY: Attorney General Barr said the other day, and there was a media freakout over it, that yes, the Trump campaign was spied upon. Now it happened in a number of ways. It happened vis-a-vis the FISA warrant full of the Hillary-bought-and-paid-for, of all things Russian lies as the bulk of information, according to the Grassley-Graham memo. … Are we really to believe the origins of this as they claim was George Papadopoulos and a drink set-up? Do you believe that origin? Because that would not warrant what has just happened to this country. [Fox News, Hannity, 4/18/19]

    Fox Nation host Lynette Hardaway of the Diamond and Silk duo said, “The government officials that participated … need to be brought to justice,” later adding that it's "time to investigate the investigators.”

    LYNETTE HARDAWAY (DIAMOND, FOX NATION PERSONALITY): You have to understand also that the media is trying to divert attention away from what really happened.


    HARDAWAY: The government officials that participated, that masterminded, that orchestrated all of this here collusion mess -- they need to be brought to justice.

    RICHARDSON: That's right.

    HARDAWAY: It's time to investigate the investigators. They don't want the issue to get out. And that's why they are trying to divert our attention away for, and trying to push this obstruction of justice mess when there was no obstruction of justice. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/19/19]

    Narrative 5: Barr was transparent and technically didn’t need to release anything at all

    Some mainstream reporters have disagreed with premature reporting describing the report as "lightly redacted," but Fox figures have repeated that phrase, with some arguing that Barr didn’t need to release a report at all and praising his transparency.

    Fox anchor Shannon Bream defended Barr, saying he didn't have to release Mueller's report. Host Dana Perino agreed that “the attorney general didn’t have to do this at all.”

    DANA PERINO (HOST): Shannon Bream, I did want to ask you about this. It's very lightly redacted. I worked at the Justice Department for a while. I know redactions are very frustrating to people. I think we have a full screen that we can pull up that shows that they did try to provide the American people as much as they possibly could in this report. But also to your point, earlier, and we'll repeat it here, the attorney general didn't have to do this at all.

    SHANNON BREAM (FOX NEWS ANCHOR): Yeah, there's nothing in the statute of the regulations that require him to do this. I mean, the way that it works is that the attorney, or the special counsel has to report to the attorney general on his findings. It simply says that the attorney general has to report on those things to Congress. It could have been one page. It could have been the four-page letter he sent a couple of weeks ago. He wasn't obligated to release this publicly or to Congress. So for people who were worried about his transparency, which he pledged to do, I would hope that many of them would look at this today, and they may still have their concerns on the issue of collusion, but each redaction is spelled out perfectly.

    But what people were really wanting to dig into was obstruction, so on that volume, too, hundreds of pages there of material that is both flattering and unflattering to the president has been revealed. Barr promised when he was asked by Sen. [Jeanne] Shaheen on the Hill that he would not withhold information that could be damaging to the president. So it looks like he's made the effort here. We'll see if it's enough for Congress, because as we've talked about, House Judiciary has already approved subpoenas and they say they'll use them if they need to. [Fox News, The Daily Briefing with Dana Perino, 4/19/19]

    Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano claimed that Barr “erred on the side of transparency.” Fox host Martha MacCallum agreed, saying that “by most standards” the report is “lightly redacted.”

    MARTHA MACCALLUM: With regard to the report itself, we have a kind of cool graphic that The Wall Street Journal did that is an overview photograph of all of the pages, and you can see where the redactions are. It is, I think by most standards, fairly lightly redacted.

    ANDREW NAPOLITANO (FOX SENIOR JUDICIAL ANALYST): Yes, I quite -- I was wrong. I sat right here and I said half of it was going to be redacted and the more redactions, the less credibility it will have. I was very wrong. They were -- erred on the side of transparency in the redactions. [Fox News, The Story with Martha MacCallum, 4/19/19]

    Fox’s Catherine Herridge said that the report is “lightly redacted.”

    CATHERINE HERRIDGE (FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT): I've been able to peel through it. It is lightly redacted and where there are redactions there is actually a statement justifying the redactions. [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 4/18/19]

    Narrative 6: Fox defended Barr against accusations that he acted unprofessionally and in a partisan manner

    Since the release of the Mueller report, Barr’s actions have been called into question due to his oversimplification of the report in a four-page summary he initially released. According to The Guardian, Barr “was responsible for the decision not to prosecute Trump, despite the preponderance of evidence gathered by Mueller.” Barr’s Thursday morning press conference, held before anyone in media had seen the report, was seen as an effort to spin the report's findings ahead of its release, raising questions about his credibility and ability to act in a nonpartisan capacity. Still, Fox figures are defending Barr, brushing off criticisms of his actions as merely stemming from Democrats’ disappointment in the results of the report.

    On Outnumbered, the panelists defended Barr. Co-host Dagen McDowell called criticisms of Barr "unbridled outrage," while co-host Lisa Kennedy Montgomery dismissed them as "clearly a Democratic talking point."

    DAGEN MCDOWELL (CO-HOST): What do you make of just the unbridled outrage toward Attorney General Bill Barr that we certainly saw in the media yesterday? Because I was talking to Robert Ray, who worked on the Whitewater investigation after Ken Starr did. And he said the argument that the attorney general varied from fair characterization of what Bob Mueller did, that notion is completely ridiculous. He knew the whole report was going to come out. And he said people are going to remember that the way this man is being disparaged, because you would be disciplined if you attacked a federal judge this way.

    LISA KENNEDY MONTGOMERY (CO-HOST): And it was so clearly a Democrat talking point that was issued, and that's why all the presidential candidates parroted it. And it's -- I don't understand -- the only thing that you can say is they were looking for something very clear and demonstrative to hang their hats on in order to impeach or at least reputationally tar the president beyond repair. And when they didn't have that one big thing, the next thing was to go after the AG. But I don't think that's going to stick, either. [Fox News, Outnumbered, 4/19/19]

    America's Newsroom co-anchor Bill Hemmer said that it's "clear" that "so many Democrats have turned their fire on Bill Barr." His guest Tom Dupree agreed, claiming that Barr is a "target" for Democrats "who were hoping that the report would have reached a different conclusion."

    BILL HEMMER: What was clear watching the coverage yesterday is that so many Democrats have turned their fire on Bill Barr. Is that fair to say now, Tom?

    TOM DUPREE (FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL): I think that is fair to say. Look, I think that there were a lot of Democrats who were hoping that the report would have reached a different conclusion, as to the underlying collusion or nonexistence of collusion with Russia. And when they didn't get that, I think they said well, what can we do now? And I think Barr presents a target. I mean, his press conference yesterday, he explained the reasons why he reached a conclusion he did around obstruction. I think it opened him up to charges from some quarters that he was acting more as the president's personal lawyer then rather as an impartial, neutral arbiter of the law. So, I think they see Barr as a more vulnerable target at this point, frankly, than the president. [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 4/19/19]

  • Sean Hannity lies about Trump campaign and associates destroying evidence

    Despite Hannity's claim, Mueller report clearly and unequivocally states that Trump campaign and associates destroyed evidence

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Sean Hannity lied to his audience when he said the Trump campaign and Trump associates did not destroy evidence that would be relevant to the special counsel’s investigation.

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): That’s right, no bleach bit, unlike Hillary Clinton. The president didn't destroy subpoenaed emails or any other evidence in this case. He did not invoke executive privilege. Instead, according to former independent counsel Ken Starr, the president’s cooperation in this case was unprecedented. And that’s because President Trump had nothing to hide.

    According to a report from NPR, the special counsel found that “some” people “associated with the Trump Campaign” and others interviewed in the investigation “deleted relevant communications or communicated during the relevant period using applications that feature encryption.” This prevented Mueller’s office from ruling out the possibility “that the unavailable information would shed additional light on (or cast in a new light) the events described in the report.” From Page 18 of the special counsel’s report:

    Further, the Office learned that some of the individuals we interviewed or whose conduct we investigated—including some associated with the Trump Campaign—deleted relevant communications or communicated during the relevant period using applications that feature encryption or that do not provide for long-term retention of data or communications records. In such cases, the Office was not able to corroborate witness statements through comparison to contemporaneous communications or fully question witnesses about statements that appeared inconsistent with other known facts.

    Accordingly, while this report embodies factual and legal determinations that the Office believes to be accurate and complete to the greatest extent possible, given these identified gaps, the Office cannot rule out the possibility that the unavailable information would shed additional light on (or cast in a new light) the events described in the report.

  • Mueller report reveals Sean Hannity was the person who informed Reince Priebus about the Trump Tower meeting

    Blog ››› ››› GRACE BENNETT

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    According to the redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report that was released on April 18, it was Fox News host Sean Hannity who informed then-White House chief of staff Reince Priebus about a controversial June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between senior Trump campaign staff and a Russian lawyer in New York City. Over the past year, Hannity has repeatedly downplayed the significance of the meeting and attacked the media for reporting on it. This new revelation again shows the close relationship between President Donald Trump and the Fox host, who some White House aides have described as the administration’s “shadow” chief of staff.

    According to the report, “Priebus recalled learning about the June 9 [Trump Tower] meeting from Fox News host Sean Hannity in late June 2017.” This meeting, during which Trump campaign advisers, Trump’s family members Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner, and other Trump officials were expecting to receive dirt on then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, has received a great deal of media scrutiny and was part of the Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

    Hannity, however, has downplayed the importance of the Trump Tower meeting throughout the investigation and criticized the media for reporting on it and other developments in the Mueller probe. In 2017, he also hosted Trump Jr. on his Fox show to whitewash the meeting, and he has repeatedly attempted to kneecap the investigation by fearmongering about the intentions of people involved in it and calling for them to be fired or prosecuted.

    The fact that Hannity is the one who told the president’s then-chief of staff about the Trump Tower meeting demonstrates his important role in the Trump sphere. As The Washington Post reported, Trump and Hannity often talk on the phone about “ideas for Hannity’s show, Trump’s frustration with the ongoing special counsel probe and even, at times, what the president should tweet. ... When he’s off the phone, Trump is known to cite Hannity when he talks with White House advisers.” In addition, Trump relies on Hannity and other Fox hosts for policy advice.  

    Hannity is mentioned two more times within the report. The first reference notes that the Fox host engaged with tweets posted by accounts controlled by the Russian Internet Research Agency. The second relays that Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen talked about a potential Trump meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Hannity’s radio show.

  • Fox correspondent channeled network’s opinion side at Barr’s press conference

    Catherine Herridge asked Attorney General Barr what Hannity and Fox & Friends have been demanding: When will he investigate the investigators?

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    In yet another blow to the supposed separation between Fox’s “news” side and its opinion hosts and contributors, correspondent Catherine Herridge wasted her question at Attorney General William Barr’s press conference by echoing the demands of Fox & Friends just hours earlier and Hannity the night before: When will he investigate the origins of the probe into the Trump campaign?

    Herridge chose to channel the narrative from Fox’s opinion shows at Barr’s press conference by asking, “Is there anything you can share today about your review of the genesis of the Russia investigation and whether assets have been provided to investigate?”

    This same question was repeatedly raised on Fox News earlier this morning. As the nation awaited the release of Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade asked, “How soon do we pivot to how this whole thing started?” Before the press conference began, Fox News contributor Andrew McCarthy said that Barr should talk about “an inquiry into the origins of the investigation.” Fox & Friends guest and former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, misrepresenting what actually took place, said: “We need to hold the people who did that spying accountable.” Fox contributor David Bossie followed that up by saying, “I hope that during this morning's press conference that the attorney general is going to tell the American people that he has impaneled a grand jury to investigate the investigators.” And Fox contributor Jason Chaffetz expressed a desire for Barr to skip past any investigation and go straight to prosecutions.

    All of that was just from this morning’s Fox & Friends. And it was just a continuation of similar absurdity from last night’s Hannity. During his monologue, Sean Hannity said:

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): The investigations taking place right now in the DOJ, in Congress, are the only thing standing in the way of this country becoming a banana republic. If we don't investigate investigators, lock up the bad actors, this country will be over as we know it. All must be held to account, including those who rigged Hillary's probe, persecuted Trump, spied on a political campaign, tried to rig a presidential election, attempted a deep-state coup on a duly elected president of the United States. If justice is not served, say goodbye to our democratic republic, say goodbye to your freedoms. You can say goodbye to your precious rights endowed by our Constitution and creator, God.

    We must protect also the 99.9% of good people in the FBI, in the intelligence community, that protect the innocent people here and around the globe, premier agencies around the world. It's only 1% that did wrong. We either get equal justice that we deserve, or we’ll have no country.

    Hannity later said, “I want to know what [former President Barack] Obama knew, and [former national security adviser Susan] Rice knew, and [former Director of National Intelligence James] Clapper knew, and [former CIA Director John] Brennan knew.”

    His guests followed suit. Republican lawyer Joe diGenova expressed confidence that Barr “will start a process which is going to lead to a series of federal grand juries to hold accountable all the people you are talking about.” GOP attorney Victoria Toensing said “justice will be served” for Trump’s investigators, and Hannity contributor Sara Carter asserted:

    There are a number of indictments that are on the way. There's going to be a very serious investigation into what had happened and what had transpired since the Hillary Clinton investigation by the FBI, all the way through the origins at the very beginning of the investigation into then-candidate Trump and those within his campaign. And this is going to be significant because they are going to look for these origins, and I think -- I agree completely with Joe and with Victoria that it's going to lead all the way back to the White House. And that is what I'm hearing and I'm talking about the Obama administration.

    This narrative has been a fixation among Fox’s opinion hosts -- particularly Hannity, a close Trump adviser -- for months. That it would become the single focus of the Fox correspondent asking a question of the attorney general shows there is no division between Fox’s “news” and its opinion side -- the network is a pro-Trump propaganda outlet, plain and simple.

  • Six weeks of Fox's Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez obsession: "Totalitarian," "ignorant," "scary," and waging a "war on cows"

    In these 42 days, Fox News and Fox Business talked about AOC every single day, mentioning her at least 3,181 times

    Blog ››› ››› COURTNEY HAGLE

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Fox News has always used certain prominent Democrats as boogeymen -- someone for hosts and guests to demonize, knock down, and refer to whenever grievances need to be aired against the Democratic Party. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and Nancy Pelosi all have been put in this rhetorical role, but since June 2018, Fox personalities have set their sights on a new target: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

    Ocasio-Cortez, commonly referred to as AOC, is a 29-year-old freshman Democratic congresswoman from the Bronx. Since arriving in Washington, D.C., Ocasio-Cortez has drawn continued attention for championing progressive policies such as “Medicare for All,” expanding the national debate on climate change with the introduction of the Green New Deal, demonstrating a savvy use of social media, and pursuing sharp lines of questioning in high-profile congressional committee hearings. 

    She has also become an obsession on Fox News. In the six weeks from February 25 and April 7, her name was mentioned 3,181 times on Fox News and Fox Business; not a day went by in that time frame that she wasn't discussed on the networks. 

    Ocasio-Cortez is brought up constantly, even if the topic has nothing to do with her, as with the recent terror attacks in New Zealand. Hosts and guests smear and misrepresent Ocasio-Cortez’s agenda, caricaturing it while painting it as radical, dangerous, far-left socialism. They often draw bleak comparisons between her progressive vision and the turmoil in Venezuela or invoke murderous dictators to attack her policies. Fox figures go on extended, agressively angry rants about her. They've repeatedly attacked her intelligence, used her age to discredit her, and dismissed her as a “little girl,” (as when Brit Hume said she's “kind of adorable in sort of the way that a 5-year-old child can be adorable"). They cite national polls about her popularity, despite her being a first-term congresswoman representing one district in New York, and claim she has taken over the Democratic Party. They have accused Ocasio-Cortez, whose family hailed from Puerto Rico, of using “minority privilege” to criticize Fox personalities and trying to push “Latin American values” on the U.S. to “bring the kind of socialism that destroyed Venezuela.”

    Various Fox hosts, including Stuart Varney, Greg Gutfeld, and David Asman, have alluded to Fox's laser focus on Ocasio-Cortez. Varney, for example, once acknowledged, "We have an AOC segment every single day, almost every single hour. She's good for our ratings":

    Here is a (noncomprehensive) glimpse into what just six weeks of Fox News and Fox Business’ Ocasio-Cortez coverage looks like:

    Week 1Fox freaked out over Ocasio-Cortez wanting to ban children; pushed a partisan, since-debunked claim about the cost of the Green New Deal, and helped make her one of the stars of CPAC.

    Week 2Fox accused Ocasio-Cortez of being a hypocrite for using cars, relentlessly covered alleged ethics violations filed by conservative activist groups against her staff, and used her support of Rep. Ilhan Omar to accuse Democrats of having an anti-Semitism problem. 

    Week 3Fox melted down when Ocasio-Cortez said Ronald Reagan used racism to stoke divisions, attempted to pit her against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to claim major divisions in the Democratic Party, and attacked her education and intelligence. 

    Week 4Fox hyped a Gallup poll about Ocasio-Cortez's national approval ratings, covered more alleged ethics violations, and attacked Time magazine for a cover featuring her. 

    Week 5Fox continued to push the bogus Green New Deal cost claim and criticized her questioning during House committee hearings. 

    Week 6Fox attacked Ocasio-Cortez's (accurate) tweets about the 22nd Amendment and croissants, obsessed over another Instagram Live video while mocking her unfurnished apartment, and accused her of adopting a fake accent. 

    Week 1

    February 25

    Fox distorted Ocasio-Cortez’s comments about climate change, children, and the Green New Deal to paint them as both extreme and ridiculous, while pushing a bogus price tag for the Green New Deal. During a February 24 livestream video on Instagram, Ocasio-Cortez talked about the reality many young people face under the looming threat of climate change, including concerns about having children in a world that scientists predict will become increasingly uninhabitable due to climate change. The comments sparked a day of faux outrage at Fox News. Fox figures mocked and misrepresented Ocasio-Cortez’s climate agenda, implying that she is discouraging people from having children.

    Fox additionally smeared her climate agenda by pushing a discredited claim made by a conservative activist group that the Green New Deal could cost $93 trillion over 10 years. The network also criticized and mocked Ocasio-Cortez’s recent comments in which she pointed out that no one else has presented a climate agenda on the scale of the Green New Deal, making her the “boss” until someone else steps up.

    On his prime-time show, Sean Hannity claimed Ocasio-Cortez wanted to ban airplanes and cows, pushed the bogus Green New Deal price tag, and called her "radical, socialist views" on climate “insane” and “scary.” Fox News host Sean Hannity pushed the myth that Ocasio-Cortez is trying to ban “gas-powered cars, airplanes, … and even cows,” as well as the then-new (and quickly discredited) "study" that found the Green New Deal would cost $93 trillion. He also claimed that “like any good socialist,” Ocasio-Cortez “loves the heavy, oppressive hand of the federal government.” He added, it’s “scary” that many Democrats are “lining up to support Ocasio-Cortez and her radical, socialist views.” [Fox News, Hannity, 2/25/19

    Tucker Carlson called Ocasio-Cortez an “idiotic wind bag" who should be told "to be quiet and take a seat” and lashed out over her Instagram comments about having children. In a segment that lasted over nine minutes, Fox host Tucker Carlson claimed that the Green New Deal would “shut down the entire American economy.” Carlson also sarcastically berated her comments on having children, asking, “I don’t know, AIexandria, can we [still have children]? You’re the boss now. If you say we can't reproduce the species, of course we won't. It's your call." [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 2/25/19]

    Martha MacCallum called Ocasio-Cortez's Instagram comment about children "unoptimistic" and hosted Lara Trump, who suggested Ocasio-Cortez was "rambling" because she was drinking. Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum said Ocasio-Cortez was being “unoptimistic” because “Americans love to, you know, have your kids, create the next generation.” Lara Trump, daugher-in-law of President Donald Trump, also complained that children learning about climate science “are being indoctrinated with all this nonsense.” [Fox News, The Story with Martha MacCallum, 2/25/19]

    Katie Pavlich: Ocasio-Cortez's climate views are the result of “indoctrination.” Fox News co-host Katie Pavlich complained that educating children on climate science is “indoctrination,” pointing to a “recycling art contest” that she won when she was nine. Co-host Greg Gutfeld briefly acknowledged Fox’s obsession with Ocasio-Cortez, admitting that he tries to “keep our portions of AOC down to 5 percent,” but “at Fox they’re all like no, throw the AOC out there.” The co-hosts then proceeded to mock her concerns about having children in a world facing extreme climate change. [Fox News, The Five, 2/25/19]

    February 26

    Fox continued to mock and distort the Green New Deal resolution, compared her comments about having children to China's one-child policy, and pushed the bogus Green New Deal cost estimate. Figures at Fox continued to distort and misrepresent Ocasio-Cortez’s comments the following day, going as far as to call her “disturbingly authoritarian” and accusing her of advocating for “civilizational suicide” by suggesting that younger people have concerns about having children. Fox also repeatedly pushed the false figure that the Green New Deal would cost $93 trillion, using the number to paint Ocasio-Cortez’s platform as an unrealistic idea that would “bankrupt” and “hurt our country.”

    Carlson suggested Ocasio-Cortez's comment on having children was flawed because China's one-child policy didn't make that country "cleaner." He also pointed out that China is “the world’s largest polluter,” implying that a one-child rule -- which Ocasio-Cortez has never proposed -- is incompatible with her environmental goals. [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 2/26/19]

    Brian Kilmeade pushed the bogus $93 trillion Green New Deal price tag, while Pete Hegseth argued that Ocasio-Cortez is advocating for “civilizational suicide.” Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade continued to hype the supposed cost of the Green New Deal. Fellow co-host Pete Hegseth falsely claimed that “she's saying ‘don't have kids because it's going to hurt our country,’” and argued, “When you stop believing in your own country and your own values and free market economics, you give up what made you special in the first place.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 2/26/19]

    Steve Hilton said Ocasio-Cortez's “no-child policy” is “disturbingly authoritarian, even fascistic,” and Melissa Francis called her an "elitist" and pushed the myth that she wants to ban planes and cows. Fox Business host and Outnumbered guest host Steve Hilton also said that it seems like Ocasio-Cortez “would be much more comfortable, frankly, in China.” Co-host Melissa Francis claimed that Ocasio-Cortez’s platform is actually the “ultimate rich ideology” and that she is the “ultimate elitist.” Francis also falsely claimed that Ocasio-Cortez wants to “get rid of children, airplanes, and cows.” Co-host Lisa Kennedy Montgomery (Kennedy) chimed in that “dingbats who worry that the Earth is swallowing itself … shouldn’t have kids.” The segment also promoted the bogus $93 trillion figure for the Green New Deal. [Fox News, Outnumbered, 2/26/19]

    February 27

    Fox pushed a clip of Ivanka Trump criticizing Ocasio-Cortez’s calls for a job guarantee and a mandatory living wage. In a February 25 interview, Ivanka Trump claimed that most Americans did not, “in their heart, want to be given something,” referencing the Green New Deal's push for a job guarantee and a living wage. The next day, Ocasio-Cortez responded in a tweet that “as a person who actually worked for tips & hourly wages in my life, … I can tell you that most people want to be paid enough to live.” The narrative on Fox for the day turned into Ivanka vs. Ocasio-Cortez, with most hosts and guests cheerleading Ivanka while criticizing the idea of a higher minimum wage.

    Mike Huckabee responded to Ocasio-Cortez calling a living wage a right, saying it was "ridiculous to talk about a minimum wage." On The Story with Martha MacCallum, Fox contributor Mike Huckabee railed against the minimum wage in response to the exchange between Ivanka Trump and Ocasio-Cortez. MacCallum also praised Trump for choosing to work when "she doesn't have to work at all," while claiming there is a “scorn element” involved in criticizing her privilege. [Fox News, The Story with Martha MacCallum, 2/27/19]

    In response to Ocasio-Cortez’s comments, Fox Business host Stuart Varney asserted, “A living wage is not a right. It simply is not a right.” Fox Business correspondent Susan Li said, “Yes, people do want to earn money. Why be given something when you should go and earn it.” [Fox News, Varney & Co., 2/27/19]

    Dagen McDowell: Cardi B is "a lot smarter on economic points than AOC is." Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo argued that it’s wrong to attack Ivanka “after what she’s done her entire life.” After a nearly five-minute segment devoted to Ocasio-Cortez, Fox Business anchor Dagen McDowell quoted Grace-Marie Turner of the Galen Institute who said that “our attention to [Ocasio-Cortez] fuels her celebrity and therefore her ideas. Time to get over our fascination and move on.” [Fox Business, Mornings with Maria, 2/27/19]

    February 28

    During CPAC, Fox made it clear that Ocasio-Cortez was going to be a big topic for the conference. Ocasio-Cortez came up often on Fox amid discussions of the Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual convention for conservative politicians and activists. Additionally, Fox continued to smear Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal and painted the 2020 election as a referendum on socialism vs. capitalism.

    Ronna McDaniel repeated the bogus Green New Deal cost estimate and said it would "take away the American dream." On America's Newsroom, with a chyron reading "CPAC 2019 to focus on Democrats' growing socialist agenda," Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel parroted the inflated Green New Deal price tag, said the proposal would ruin the American dream, said “the Green New Deal is a path to bankruptcy for our country," and fearmongered that Ocasio-Cortez's agenda could turn the U.S. into Venezuela. The anchor, Sandra Smith, indicated her agreement throughout the segment. [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 2/28/19]

    Sebastian Gorka called the Green New Deal "communist" and claimed Ocasio-Cortez wants to “ban you from eating hamburgers and cheeseburgers.” Then-Fox contributor Sebastian Gorka touted his CPAC speech, in which he called Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal “a watermelon -- green on the outside, deep red communist on the inside.” Gorka also likened Ocasio-Cortez’s agenda to “communism” and claimed that the 2020 election will be a “choice between oppression and freedom.” [Fox News, Hannity, 2/28/19]

    March 1

    Fox hyped the claim that Ocasio-Cortez was compiling "a list" of Democrats to target. On Friday, a rumor circulated in right-wing publications that Ocasio-Cortez was putting moderate Democrats on a list and would support primary challengers against them in 2020. Fox ran with the rumor to advance the narrative that Ocasio-Cortez is the root cause of infighting among Democrats. In reality, the claim was a misrepresentation; in a meeting of House Democrats, Pelosi expressed frustration with moderate Democrats siding with Republicans on procedural votes, and Ocasio-Cortez reportedly indicated that she would support progressive activists in 2020. The "list" comment came from her spokesperson, and on Twitter, Ocasio-Cortez clarified, "I didn’t say that they were putting themselves on a list for primaries. I said that by Dems distinguishing themselves by breaking off on procedural MTR votes, they were inadvertently making a list of targets for the GOP and for progressive advocates on their pro-ICE vote."

    Varney dedicated a monologue to smearing Ocasio-Cortez’s role among fellow Democrats. Varney began by describing the Democratic Party as “pretty rough” and “open warfare,” adding that Ocasio-Cortez is “at the center of it.” He pushed the narrative that, according to Ocasio-Cortez, moderate Democrats are “putting themselves on a list. Presumably, that’s a list of Democrats who would face primary challenges from the socialists.” He described the Democrats in the House as a “fractured caucus” that is “split, and AOC is the main cause.” He concluded by saying that “for the next 20 months, the battle between moderates and socialists will rage on” but “the power and influence of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has yet to be rolled back.” [Fox Business, Varney & Co., 3/1/19]

    Later in the same show, Varney admitted, “We have an AOC segment every single day almost every single hour” because “she is good for our ratings.” [Fox Business, Varney & Co., 3/1/19]

    Jason Chaffetz claimed that Ocasio-Cortez “vowed to put anyone who votes with Republicans on a list.” While guest hosting Hannity, Fox's Jason Chaffetz pointed out, in an attempt at a “gotcha” moment, that Ocasio-Cortez has previously voted with Republicans, adding that “she should be on this list” and that he looks “forward to seeing who she recruits to primary herself.” [Fox News, Hannity, 3/1/19]

    Carlson: If you “ask too many questions or think too many independent thoughts … you will wind up on Commissar Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s list.” Carlson painted a bleak picture of Ocasio-Cortez’s rumored list, claiming that it’s “not politics” but a “cult.” He also claimed that “nuance is the enemy” and “accomodation is a sin.” He described her rumored list as “totalitarian,” “stupid and boring,” and “a replacement for thought.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 3/1/19]

    Jesse Watters: Ocasio-Cortez "wants to create a civil war” and is “the Steve Bannon of the left now.” Fox host Jesse Watters added that “Republicans are scoring so many points because of AOC.” Fox anchor and host Dana Perino also claimed that moderates are “now facing threats and political retribution if they work with Republicans." [Fox News, The Five, 3/1/19]

    Weekend (March 2-3)

    Jeanine Pirro hyped Trump’s CPAC comments about Ocasio-Cortez while she and her guests referred to her as "a bartender" and compared limiting meat consumption to a dictatorship. Fox host Jeanine Pirro and her guests repeatedly misrepresented Ocasio-Cortez’s climate agenda. Pirro said Ocasio-Cortez is now “the person that everybody is talking about” before asserting that she “threatens to put moderate Dems on a list and she threatens to primary them.” Pirro then asked her guests, “Does she think she is in charge, or is Pelosi in charge?” Guest Stephanie Hamill responded that Ocasio-Cortez “has the loud minority on her side right now” and “she does think she’s the boss, she’s in charge.” Pirro addressed Ocasio-Cortez’s comments about the effects of factory farming on environment and asked if her suggestion that we reconsider our consumption of factory-farmed meat is “somewhat of a dictatorship?” Pirro dismissed Ocasio-Cortez’s concerns and said, “She is a bartender -- should we be drinking and not eating hamburgers?” Hamill then claimed to be “petrified of the idea of somebody suggesting that the government should regulate when you eat cheeseburgers,” even though Ocasio-Cortez has proposed nothing of the sort. [Fox News, Justice with Judge Jeanine, 3/2/19]

    Watters also used the idea of a list to illustrate divisions within the Democratic Party. He claimed there is a “civil war” in the Democratic Party and “leading the way: none other than freshman firebrand Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.” Chaffetz agreed that Democrats are “eating their own.” A chyron later claimed “AOC keeps ‘naughty’ list.” [Fox News, Watters’ World, 3/2/19]

    Hegseth called Ocasio-Cortez “Comrade Cortez” while discussing her comments about ICE. Former acting ICE Director Tom Homan claimed that he cancelled his flight to respond to Ocasio-Cortez’s comments and said she “doesn’t know fact from fiction” and “doesn’t know how to tell the truth” before pushing back on her criticisms of ICE abuses. He added that he’s “never been this upset in my career” before asking, “How dare she?” Homan also called for “ethics investigations” into Ocasio-Cortez for her criticisms of ICE. Guest co-host Rachel Campos-Duffy thanked Homan for “clearing up the misinformation coming from AOC.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends Weekend, 3/2/19]

    Week 2

    March 4

    Fox claimed Ocasio-Cortez is a hypocrite for using cars while advocating for the Green New Deal. On March 4, Fox News’ predominant talking point regarding Ocasio-Cortez revolved around a New York Post report that she rode in a minivan when she was “a mere five-minute walk” from the nearest subway station, supposedly proving the hypocrisy of Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal. Ocasio-Cortez later responded that the minivan belonged to her aunt and that “If they saw how many goldfish snacks were in this thing they’d say I was killing the ocean too.”

    Fox & Friends First anchor Heather Childers highlighted the story on her show, framing it as “the congresswoman behind the Green New Deal ditches the subway for a gas-guzzling minivan.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends First, 3/4/19]

    Hannity: "Just like socialist comrade Bernie Sanders, Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez's rhetoric doesn't seem to match her actions.” Hannity described the “major exposé” by the New York Post before claiming that Ocasio-Cortez’s traveling habits are hypocritical because she has “called for abolishing airplanes." He then asked why “those who shout the loudest for the radical climate-shaming policies are always the last to make the personal sacrifices and lead by example.” [Fox News, Hannity, 3/4/19]

    Carlson amplified comments calling Ocasio-Cortez a "garden-variety hypocrite” and a “pompous little twit" for riding in the minivan. Carlson claimed Ocasio-Cortez thinks climate change is “so important we may have to stop having children," before pointing to her perceived hypocrisy for using cars and airplanes and claiming that “we always know what people believe by the way they live, not by what they say, but by how they act." Carlson finished by highlighting tweets that he said “correctly” called Ocasio-Cortez a “garden-variety hypocrite” and a “pompous little twit.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 3/4/19]

    March 5

    Fox distorted a reported campaign finance violation involving Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, going as far as to suggest she could possibly go to jail. On March 4, Washington Examiner reported on a complaint filed with the FEC that Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff “funneled over $1 million in political donations into two of his own private companies.” While The Washington Post also reported on the story, any potential campaign finance violations and subsequent legal issues seem to have little to do with Ocasio-Cortez. Additionally, these reported violations pale in comparison to President Donald Trump’s possible campaign finance violations, which are often downplayed on Fox News. Still, Fox figures used this story to again paint Ocasio-Cortez as a hypocrite and even went as far as suggesting she herself could possibly go to jail.

    Fox also continued to push the rumored list that Ocasio-Cortez is compiling of her fellow Democrats, advancing the narrative that there are divisions between Ocasio-Cortez and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Fox figures also misrepresented parts of her agenda to appear more extreme.

    Laura Ingraham: “Could the Democrats shining new star be seeing some, well, shiny new prison bars?” Fox host Laura Ingraham then told her guest Brad Smith, former commissioner of Federal Election Commision that “it’s nice to see the tables turned on some of these Democrats who are on their high horses all the time, claiming to have the moral superiority over everybody else.” While Smith said that he doesn’t think she will go to prison, he said that the situation shows “the rank hypocrisy here.” He also added that Ocasio-Cortez’s “best defense is probably that she was too ignorant and she didn’t know what was going on.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 3/5/19]

    Carlson claimed that Ocasio-Cortez is hypocritical because “she described herself as an enemy of big money in politics.” He used the story to bring up the minivan scandal discussed earlier in the week, saying that Ocasio-Cortez is a “sworn enemy of carbon, but that didn’t stop her from taking hundreds of Uber rides when the subway was just a few feet away.” Carlson’s guest, Melissa Francis, later accused Ocasio-Cortez of elitism, describing her as “the ruling class” while Francis and Carlson are “just the serfs along the way.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 3/5/19]

    Fox’s Brit Hume said that “for all of her callowness and arguable shallowness,” she “makes news” because she’s “kind of adorable in sort of the way that a 5-year-old child can be adorable.” Carlson agreed, adding that while she is “brave,” she’s “also really arrogant.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 3/5/19]

    Hannity went all-in to advance the narrative that Ocasio-Cortez has taken control of the Democrats from Pelosi. He began his segment by claiming that Democrats are “imploding,” claiming that “radical, extreme far-left socialists have now taken over any and any Democrat who doesn't fall in line and support this radical extreme agenda.” He claimed, “Nancy Pelosi is afraid of all of those freshmen [representatives] ... led by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.” He then said that “political intimidation is always a key component of socialism” and railed against her agenda before detailing the Federal Election Commission complaint against her chief of staff. He pushed the narrative that Ocasio-Cortez is a hypocrite “who wants to ban all air travel, but she herself loves flying on airplanes between New York and D.C.” [Fox News, Hannity, 3/5/19]

    March 6

    Fox used Ocasio-Cortez’s support of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) to push the idea that there is rising anti-Semitism in the Democratic Party and attacked her position on Amazon's headquarters. On March 6, Fox figures used Ocasio-Cortez’s support of Omar during the continuing controversy surrounding Omar’s comments as a reason why Pelosi wasn’t punishing Omar and said that it was a sign that she has lost control of her caucus to Ocasio-Cortez. When they weren’t discussing the Omar controversy, Fox figures talked about the issues surrounding Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, condescendingly berated her immigration position, or just talked about her general popularity. Some also used Amazon’s decision to withdraw its plans to build a second headquarters in New York to blame Ocasio-Cortez and promote billboards in New York City attacking her.

    Hannity claimed that “it's pretty safe to say that the real speaker of the House for the Democrats is Ocasio-Cortez, not Nancy Pelosi.” He asserted that “instead of taking punitive action” against Omar, Pelosi “is making excuses” for her “because Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez is publicly supporting Omar.” Hannity went on to claim that “Pelosi is terrified” of “being overthrown by even more radicals within her own party.” [Fox News, Hannity, 3/6/19]

    Carlson: Ocasio-Cortez is “completely out of touch” and “has no idea what America is like.” Carlson also condescendingly said that her “tiny little world of fair trade coffee shops is thriving.” Carlson added, “Ocasio-Cortez and the rest of the morons say” people are “racist” if they're bothered by the number of overdose deaths from fentanyl coming across the border. [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 3/6/19]

    Steve Doocy called out Ocasio-Cortez’s supposed “hypocrisy” because “when she was running, she was all about transparency.” While discussing her chief of staff’s alleged campaign violation, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy painted Ocasio-Cortez as a hypocrite. His guest, Mark Fitzgibbons, referenced her line of questioning in hearings on campaign finance, saying, “It's no irony that Ms. Ocasio-Cortez role-played the bad guy in hearings last month about regulating campaign finance even more.” Fitzgibbons also called Ocasio-Cortez “a socialist crusader” who “doesn’t know the rules.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/6/19]

    Fox Business panel claimed Ocasio-Cortez had backtracked on her position opposing Amazon’s plans to build a second headquarters in New York City after the online retail giant withdrew from the plan. Fox Business’ Bartiromo and Ashley Webster also highlighted billboards put up in the city smearing Ocasio-Cortez over the Green New Deal. [Fox Business, Mornings with Maria, 3/6/19]

    March 7

    Fox turned Ocasio-Cortez's boyfriend getting a House email address to access her work schedule and talking about throwing away plastic bags into pseudo-scandals. On March 7, right-wing publications reported another perceived ethics violation against Ocasio-Cortez after she reportedly attained a House email address for her boyfriend -- a common move among House members to grant their partners access to their House schedule. The stories attempted to smear her as hypocritical “for listing her live-in boyfriend as a staff member and getting him an official House email address.” Ocasio-Cortez denied accusations that he is a staff member in her office, but Fox still used the opportunity to claim Ocasio-Cortez was hypocritically giving her boyfriend special treatment.

    Fox also talked about a new Ocasio-Cortez scandal -- that she sometimes throws away her plastic bags from the grocery store -- after an interview in which Ocasio-Cortez said that patrons often get too many plastic bags they don’t know what to do with, pointing out that recycling programs can be inefficient, causing people to be wasteful. Fox jumped at the chance to use this comment to illustrate Ocasio-Cortez’s hypocrisy for introducing the Green New Deal. In addition to pushing these new scandals, Fox also continued to use Ocasio-Cortez’s support of Omar to attack Pelosi’s leadership.

    Hannity asserted that these complaints are “all extremely serious issues that could result in charges.” He added that “like every other good socialist, she appears to be pretty corrupt to the core.” He smeared Ocasio-Cortez as “everything that is wrong with this new radical extreme Democratic socialist party,” telling his viewers that Democrats are now a “party that is pushing the most radical socialist economic policies that will guarantee America spirals into a depression -- it’s that serious.” [Fox News, Hannity, 3/7/19]

    Carlson used what he called “a spasm of left-wing outrage” that led to plastic straws being banned to talk about Ocasio-Cortez’s comments on plastic bags. His guest Mark Steyn added that “what’s oddly revealing about all this” is Ocasio-Cortez sounds “strangely unwoke” compared to “some well-meaning, liberal progressive who eschews all the plastic bags and produces some smelly, disgusting permanent bag.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 3/7/19

    Allie Beth Stuckey asked who’s really in charge of the Democratic Party, “because I remember AOC saying that she was in charge.” Allie Beth Stuckey added that she thinks “Nancy Pelosi is just acquiescing to whatever Ilhan Omar or AOC says,” repeating, “I just want to know who’s actually leading?” [Fox News, Outnumbered, 3/7/19]

    Charles Payne brought up what he dubbed the “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez factor.” Fox Business host Charles Payne elaborated that he is referring to Ocasio-Cortez coming “to the aid of her fellow freshman [Omar] and has seen the turn of tide.” He added that “it just feels like within that party, the shifting tide is toward a new leader and it’s not Nancy Pelosi.” Fox chief national correspondent Ed Henry claimed that Payne was “right to mention Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez,” adding that her support of Omar adds to “pressure that is on Speaker Nancy Pelosi” because now Democrats are “dealing with their internal business like this.” [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 3/7/19]

    March 8

    On Friday, most discussions about Ocasio-Cortez focused on the House anti-hate resolution, passed the day before on March 7. Many on Fox continued to accuse Ocasio-Cortez, along with Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Omar, of hijacking the party from Pelosi. An additional narrative formed on Fox accusing Ocasio-Cortez of hypocrisy for “fundraising off of Omar’s anti-Semitism” when she is “one of the main drivers of this push for the government to take people's liberty and freedom.” Other Fox figures continued to push supposed scandals that had developed over the course of the week, such as her hypocrisy surrounding the Green New Deal.

    Hannity: "This should shock the conscience and alarm every single American” because Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib, and Omar are “pulling the strings” as the “head of the entire Democratic Party.” Hannity repeated the sentiment that “Nancy Pelosi is just speaker in name only.” He also said that “as per usual, Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez [is[ leading the way.” He added that Ocasio-Cortez is “fundraising off of Omar’s anti-Semitism” and “begging for donations.” [Fox News, Hannity, 3/8/19]

    Kennedy described Ocasio-Cortez “fundraising off this controversy” as hypocritical. Kennedy implied that it is hypocritical to fundraise “because Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is, you know, one of the main drivers of this push for the government to take people’s liberty and freedom, yet she wants to tap into the private sector and raise money off this controversy.” [Fox News, Outnumbered, 3/8/19]

    Varney on Ocasio-Cortez’s fundraising email: “Didn’t she use to rail against big money in politics?” Fox contributor Tammy Bruce agreed, pointing to Ocasio-Cortez’s “own issues” with alleged ethics violations. Bruce also asserted that Ocasio-Cortez defending Omar creates a “team AOC” and that “it also shows you that no one’s afraid of Nancy Pelosi.” Varney and Bruce used the incident involving Omar to illustrate divisions among the Democrats, to criticize Pelosi’s leadership, and to accuse Democrats of anti-Semitism. [Fox Business, Varney & Co., 3/8/19

    The three Fox & Friends co-hosts also pushed the narrative that Ocasio-Cortez could be the new House speaker. Co-host Ainsley Earhardt asked, “After all the Democratic infighting this week, can you imagine a Speaker Ocasio-Cortez instead?” Doocy replied, “Interesting,” and Kilmeade said, “She might as well be the speaker.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/19/19]

    Weekend (March 9-10)

    Watters dramatically covered “possible ethics investigations” in his “Watters’ World exclusive investigation into Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.” He listed off potential violations before saying that Ocasio-Cortez “is accused of being a green hypocrite.” He suggested that Ocasio-Cortez may have committed a “possible felony” with a campaign finance violation. Guest Phil Kerpen asserted that she is “certainly in trouble. The question is how much trouble. We know at a minimum there are reporting violation.” Watters interrupted him, claiming that “that’s what they tried to impeach” Trump over, referring to payments made to adult actor Stormy Daniels. He also claimed Ocasio-Cortez is “in trouble, potentially, for her Twitter use” and is “breaking all sorts of rules as a member of Congress” by linking between her social media accounts, which he called “a big no-no.” Watters then pivoted to her perceived hypocrisy, saying, “She wants to get rid of air travel and cows and all sorts of fossil fuels and all that, it looks like though she’s not living too green, personally.” Watters said that “one of the Greenpeace guys called her a total joke” and added that she “doesn’t even recycle or use compost or -- she got caught throwing away a bunch of plastic bags.” [Fox News, Watters’ World, 3/9/19]

    Campos-Duffy claimed young people who have concerns about climate change, including Ocasio-Cortez, are indoctrinated. While discussing a high school walkout in protest inaction toward climate change, Campos-Duffy asserted that “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, these kids, they are products of an educational system that is indoctrinating instead of educating.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends Weekend, 3/9/19]

    Week 3

    March 11

    The primary Ocasio-Cortez narrative focused on comments she made at SXSW. While speaking at the 2019 SXSW Conference and Festival, Ocasio-Cortez criticized capitalism as “irredeemable.” According to Rolling Stone, “When addressing the scourge of racism in America, Ocasio-Cortez pointed to Ronald Reagan as an example of drumming up racial fears.” Her comments caused hysteria among Fox figures, with many accusing Ocasio-Cortez of ignorance about history and refusing to acknowledge the merits of her remarks. Others accused her of rewriting history and attacking “the DNA of conservatism.”

    Ingraham claimed that Ocasio-Cortez is trying to “knock off conservative heroes” by criticizing Reagan. [Fox News, Ingraham Angle, 3/11/19]

    Francis: Ocasio-Cortez "seems like she’s not terribly educated about some of the things that she talks about.” Kennedy accused Ocasio-Cortez of being hypocritical for fundraising because “she wants to win in this capitalist system” when she is generally critical of capitalism. Kennedy added, “The statist grab that she’s going for will bankrupt the country.” Francis also said that Ocasio-Cortez “literally doesn’t understand what the definition of capitalism is.” Kennedy added that Ocasio-Cortez “doesn’t give any historical evidence for claims against Ronald Reagan,” even though Ocasio-Cortez actually pointed to multiple examples during her speech. [Fox News, Outnumbered, 3/11/19]

    Varney called Ocasio-Cortez’s comments “simply ridiculous,” “plain false,” and “fantastical economic nonsense.” He also added that “AOC is good on television,” “very attractive,” and a “media star.” Varney commented, “AOC is so far out of line and so far from national policy that she must surely be a bubble, that is a phenom that rises super fast but which then collapses in the clear light of day.” He and his guest discussed her comments at length, with his guest saying that he sometimes doesn’t “even understand what she’s talking about. It’s unbelievable.” [Fox Business, Varney & Co., 3/11/19]

    Later in the show, Varney said it was "extreme" for Ocasio-Cortez to say some people without jobs in the U.S. are left to die. Varney mentioned that he “was watching a lot of AOC over the weekend, as many bites as I could take in” and that she is “very good television” and “a very appealing character.” Varney repeated that he had problems with Ocasio-Cortez’s assertion that “if you don’t have a job in America, we’ll leave you to die,” saying that that is “a little extreme.” [Fox Business, Varney & Co., 3/11/19]

    Huckabee: “Unfortunately, they didn’t teach history where she went to school, and therefore she doesn’t understand what the Cold War was like.” Huckabee added that when socialism is enacted, “the only way to keep people under it is to kill the ones who complain.” [Fox Business, Varney & Co., 3/11/19]

    Payne mocked Ocasio-Cortez’s comments as “more of the social justice, ‘let’s go back, rewrite the wrongs of yesterday.’” He also claimed, “AOC seems to be now the person making all of the major decisions or at least setting the tone for the Democratic Party.” [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 3/11/19]

    March 12

    Fox figures continued to attack Ocasio-Cortez’s remarks at SXSW, her policies, and her intelligence. Many Fox hosts and guests also used a report that Pelosi was currently against impeaching Trump to overstate Ocasio-Cortez’s role within the party and illustrate further divisions between Ocasio-Cortez and Pelosi. Shortly after the report, Ocasio-Cortez released a statement that she deferred to the party leadership on impeaching Trump.

    On Fox & Friends, guest Patrick Moore called Ocasio-Cortez a “pompous little twit” for introducing the Green New Deal. He also asserted that “the whole climate crisis” doesn’t exist and that it is “not only fake news, it’s fake science.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/12/19]

    Kennedy: Ocasio-Cortez's comments at SXSW reflect "just how little she understands about basic economics.” During her show, Kennedy argued that "the big shots in the [Democratic] party” are “risking mutiny” from freshman representatives like Ocasio-Cortez. She also claimed that Ocasio-Cortez is “one of the leaders of the faction giving Pelosi a headache” and characterized the Green New Deal as “a plan to completely remake and destroy the U.S. economy.” Kennedy said her comments from over the weekend reflect “just how little she understands about basic economics.” [Fox Business, Kennedy, 3/12/19]

    Later in the same show, Kennedy blamed education for Ocasio-Cortez’s views, saying, “That’s why we have people like AOC.” She added, “That mentality is the product of the college system.” [Fox Business, Kennedy, 3/12/19]

    March 13

    Fox attacked Ocasio-Cortez for her questioning of the Wells Fargo CEO during a House oversight committee hearing. Ocasio-Cortez accused Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan of “financing the caging of children,” asking him to explain why, as The Washington Post put it, “his company was financially supporting detention facilities where migrant children were held.” Fox again resorted to attacking Ocasio-Cortez’s intelligence. Fox also continued to smear and misrepresent Ocasio-Cortez’s policies like the Green New Deal.

    Hannity distorted Ocasio-Cortez’s entire agenda, claiming, “In addition to her new open borders agenda, the new green deal, no cows, planes, cars, oil, or gas, the new face of the left doesn't want you to worry about having to ever work again.” Fox contributor Newt Gingrich also claimed, “In a normal, healthy society, Alexandria would be seen as this interesting graduate student who … smoked a little grass, drank a little beer, … once read half of a book, knows nothing, and nobody would take her seriously. In a healthy society, she would be a joke. She doesn’t know anything; her views are based on whatever random thought comes in that morning and her proposals are beyond silly.” [Fox News, Hannity, 3/13/19

    Liz Peek: Ocasio-Cortez is “very confused.” On Varney & Co., Fox Business contributor Liz Peek also said, “If I were advising AOC, … I would tell her to slow down. I would tell her to get her facts in a row.” She added, “The scary thing about this woman is she has enormous influence.” [Fox Business, Varney & Co., 3/13/19]

    Payne called Ocasio-Cortez’s questioning “outright nuts” and “crazy.” He called her “crazy like a fox” and scoffed at a USA Today article that pointed out that air pollution disproportionately impacts minority communities, which he tied to Ocasio-Cortez’s points. [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 3/13/19]

    McDowell: Ocasio-Cortez is “not old enough to even run for president,” yet she proposed the Green New Deal, which seems to have a “complete, fundamental misunderstanding of our greatness and our strength because of the energy sector and its growth.” [Fox Business, Mornings with Maria, 3/13/19]

    March 14

    Fox used Beto O’Rourke’s presidential campaign announcement to attack Ocasio-Cortez. Fox used O’Rourke’s announcement for a 2020 presidential run and his promise of action regarding climate change to attack Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal and climate policy. Fox also used Ocasio-Cortez to claim O’Rourke was far to the left of the political spectrum. When she wasn’t mentioned in the context of O’Rourke, Fox figures continued to attack her line of questioning at public committee hearings.

    Hannity characterized O’Rourke’s agenda as “radical” and “far-left,” adding that he is “parroting Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal, which will be a disaster.” He asserted that “Democrats have morphed into a total doomsday climate cult” before repeating the lie that Ocasio-Cortez wants to “get rid of oil, gas, planes, cars, and even cows.” [Fox News, Hannity, 3/14/19]

    On Outnumbered, Gingrich remarked that O’Rourke “actually trumped AOC because he now is worried that we are about on the end of extinction.” [Fox News, Outnumbered, 3/14/19]

    Carlson called Ocasio-Cortez a “fake revolutionary” and referred to her questioning as “bonkers.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 3/14/19]

    March 15

    Fox lashed out at Ocasio-Cortez for her tweet about gun violence after shootings at two mosques in New Zealand. Fox criticized Ocasio-Cortez after she tweeted in response to the Christchuch, New Zealand, shootings at two mosques, which left at least 50 people dead. Ocasio-Cortez wrote, “What good are your thoughts & prayers when they don’t even keep the pews safe?”

    Fox also celebrated Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) “baller move” to hold a vote on Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal, claiming it would turn out poorly for her. When Fox figures didn’t bring up Ocasio-Cortez in these contexts, they resorted to the usual attacks on her intelligence, discussed her relationship with Pelosi, and fearmongered about socialism.

    Carlson claimed that Ocasio-Cortez “blamed the National Rifle Association somehow” for the mosque shootings while he fearmongered about “authoritarian forces within our country” that would like to “invalidate” the Second Amendment. He said that Ocasio-Cortez “doesn’t know” or “doesn’t care” that New Zealand has “far stricter gun laws than in the United States,” before turning to defending the NRA and the Second Amendment, claiming “the left would like to invalidate that amendment, along with other parts of the Bill of Rights that are in their way.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 3/15/19]

    Hannity referred to Ocasio-Cortez as “the new leader” and the “real speaker in Congress.” He brought up her declining national approval rating, speculating that it’s because of her “radical policies.” [Fox News, Hannity, 3/15/19]

    Harris Faulkner called McConnell’s decision to force a vote on the Green New Deal a “baller move.” Outnumbered and Outnumbered Overtime host Harris Faulkner's guest Chris Wilson agreed, adding that Ocasio-Cortez is “learning an important lesson of the policy process” that “you just can't throw out any sort of crazy idea without there being consequences.” He also said the Green New Deal would “essentially destroy the steel industry, destroy the auto industry, [and] destroy the coal industry.” [Fox News, Outnumbered, 3/15/19]

    Earhardt helped fearmonger about socialism, giving her guest the platform to explain why we should “be very afraid of socialism.” Wall Street Journal editor Dan Henninger answered that “you just look at what is happening with the Democratic Party -- suddenly freshman Democrat Ocasio-Cortez has become a superstar.” He characterized her questioning at a House oversight hearing earlier in the week as “beating up on the CEO of Wells Fargo,” and “basically incorporating the private sector into their agenda, saying, ‘We own you; we’re going to tell you what to do.’” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/15/19]

    Weekend (March 16-17)

    Fox & Friends Weekend discussed Ocasio-Cortez’s declining national poll numbers and, referring to the college admissions scandal, claimed that her "ignorance" is a sign of how admissions standards have fallen. Guest Michael Knowles claimed they are “pretty brutal numbers” but conceded that “her net favorables are up among Democrats” and have “remained positive and have basically held” among women and people of color. However, he claimed her numbers are “so brutal overall” because “she has demonstrated her own ignorance,” then he falsely claimed that the Green New Deal would “outlaw trains, planes, and automobiles.” He also said that she has “leaned heavily into racial identity politics.” Co-host Ed Henry brought up Knowles’ Fox News op-ed titled “Ocasio-Cortez’s ignorance proved admissions fraud is the symptom, not the cause of America’s education crisis,” which referred to the college admissions scandal in which wealthy parents illegally bribed their children’s way into college. Knowles connected the scandal to Ocasio-Cortez, commenting on “how the standards have fallen so much that Ocasio-Cortez could have a degree with honors in economics … and not be able to articulate basic economic concepts.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends Weekend, 3/16/19]

    Howard Kurtz also discussed Ocasio-Cortez’s declining poll numbers and admitted “conservative media love to cover and criticize her … often on policy, sometimes personal.” He also pointed out that Ocasio-Cortez referred to Fox as “AOC TMZ,” hitting back that her low approval rating among Republicans “can’t all be Fox’s fault.” [Fox News, MediaBuzz, 3/17/19]

    Week 4

    March 18

    Fox discussed Ocasio-Cortez’s new approval rating. On Monday, Fox’s primary attack focused a new poll showing national voters’ approval rating of Ocasio-Cortez. Though her approval rating is relatively low, that “over 70% of the public can form an opinion of a freshman member of Congress is statistically remarkable.” As pointed out by CNN, “just 53% of Americans had an opinion of then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama at the end of his first two years in Congress.” Still, Fox used the new poll numbers to smear Ocasio-Cortez. Fox also continued to use Ocasio-Cortez to fearmonger about socialism.

    Lou Dobbs attacked Ocasio-Cortez for joking about a "boring" hearing, saying she was "dealing with her apathy by doing pushups over a recess." Dobbs hosted the Washington Examiner’s Byron York to discuss Ocasio-Cortez’s performance during the hearing. Dobbs observed that Ocasio-Cortez can “commit every gaffe, every preposterous construct known to the language seemingly, and still get more ink. We are really committed to her, aren’t we.” York speculated that “a number of Democrats on Capitol Hill are at the least irritated by the idea that is being put out that Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are kind of the whole new freshman class when Democrats did pick up dozens and dozens of seats in this last election.” [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 3/18/19]

    In a segment fearmongering about Democratic policies, a Fox & Friends guest claimed Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal would lead to “class warfare.” Tom Del Beccaro, the former chairman of California Republican Party, presented ominous “nine steps to socialism,” painting a picture of the United States transforming into Venezuela if Democratic policies were passed. Del Beccaro tied the United States’ supposed downward spiral to Ocasio-Cortez, asserting, “If we kill off economic growth with AOC's Green New Deal, then you're going to have this class warfare.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/18/19]

    Kennedy panel labeled Ocasio-Cortez "the chief villain” in New York’s failed Amazon deal. Kennedy had a three-minute segment discussing a poll of Ocasio-Cortez’s national approval rating. She began by saying that Ocasio-Cortez has been “dominating news cycles lately, but Americans haven’t warmed up to her.” The panel speculated on the reasons her approval rating might have dropped, including her involvement “as the chief villain” in New York’s failed Amazon deal. Kennedy mocked and mimicked Ocasio-Cortez, saying, “Whenever you take on one of her positions, she says it’s racism and sexism.” [Fox Business, Kennedy, 3/18/19]

    Payne also discussed Ocasio-Cortez’s approval rating, concluding that “it seems like more and more Americans are starting to reject her.” Payne hosted “resident millennial” Allie Beth Stuckey, who pointed to Ocasio-Cortez’s “arrogance” and said that she “doesn’t know very much policy-wise.” Payne called Ocasio-Cortez “something of a bull in a China shop within her own party” and claimed that “many are saying she’s the de facto speaker of the House,” a sentiment expressed by many figures on Fox News and Fox Business. [Fox Business, Varney & Co., 3/18/19]

    March 19

    Fox continued to mock Ocasio-Cortez’s polling numbers to discredit her. On Tuesday, Fox continued to revel in Ocasio-Cortez’s low polling numbers. Fox figures also repeated tired attacks on socialism and the Green New Deal and mocked Ocasio-Cortez’s intelligence.

    Joe DiGenova mocked Ocasio-Cortez’s accent, saying she “does that Latina thing.” Laura Ingraham had asked Joe DiGenova, a Fox regular, if he noticed that when Ocasio-Cortez introduces herself, she takes on an “Obama put-on accent.” [Fox News, Ingraham Angle, 3/19/19]

    Carlson covered Ocasio-Cortez’s poll numbers in a segment that lasted more than seven minutes, calling her “self-involved and dumb.” He mocked Ocasio-Cortez for pointing to Fox News’ relentless coverage of her as impacting her poll numbers. He then provided a sarcastic “litmus test” for his viewers to compare themselves to Ocasio-Cortez. Referring to her February 25 comments on children and climate change, Carlson sarcastically said that someone who still wants children is “probably a white supremacist” according to Ocasio-Cortez. He also pushed the idea that Ocasio-Cortez wants to police how many hamburgers people are allowed to eat. Later, Fox contributor Lisa Boothe claimed, “Most Americans don’t look at cow farts as some sort of imminent problem that’s coming up here.” Carlson finished the segment by saying, “She’d be an interesting person if she wasn’t just so self-involved and dumb.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 3/19/18]

    March 20

    Fox continued hyping alleged ethics violations involving Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, dubiously citing right-wing media reports to claim that they led to the Justice Democrats PAC removing them both from its board. After various right-wing media sites reported on a regulatory filing noting that Ocasio-Cortez and her chief of staff were removed from the Justice Democrats PAC board, Fox News claimed that their removal from the board was related to the alleged ethics violations against her chief of staff. In fact, both left in 2018. Fox used this story to promote the narrative that Ocasio-Cortez is an elitist and a hypocrite for claiming to be a self-made politician. Fox also continued to use old attacks, including overhyping divisions between her and Pelosi.

    Payne criticized Ocasio-Cortez because “her whole thing is, ‘I made this off of YouTube videos and … knocking door-to-door.’” He added, “They were engaged in the very things that she says she stands against.” [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 3/20/19]

    Hannity berated Ocasio-Cortez for being hypocritical, claiming that she “loves to take planes instead of the train … despite her calls to abolish air travel.” He also lied that “the left” is calling for “no planes, cows, cars, oil, or gas.” [Fox News, Hannity, 3/20/19]

    Jedediah Bila had Campus Reform’s Cabot Phillips on to share footage of Georgetown University students claiming Ocasio-Cortez is “the face of the Democratic Party.” The segment was introduced with a graphic that had photos of Pelosi and Ocasio-Cortez and read “Who’s the boss?” Every student who was shown in the clip answered Ocasio-Cortez, which Phillips used to argue younger people on college campuses “overwhelmingly” see Ocasio-Cortez as in charge of the Democratic Party. After discussing Phillips’ campus interviews, Bila and Phillips turned to discussing Ocasio-Cortez’s polling numbers. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/20/19]

    On Fox News @ Night, host Shannon Bream highlighted only Ocasio-Cortez’s opinion when discussing gun control legislation in New Zealand. Bream did not share any other Democratic or Republican member of Congress’ opinion. [Fox News, Fox News @ Night, 3/20/19]

    March 21

    Fox continued to attack Ocasio-Cortez’s ideas and hearing questioning, as well as a new Time magazine cover story featuring her. Fox’s Ocasio-Cortez attacks focused on smearing her as radical, questioning her merit for being featured on a Time cover, and discussing her lines of questioning at recent high-profile congressional hearings, which a Fox figure admitted were impressive.

    Mike Huckabee called Ocasio-Cortez a "Manchurian candidate” based on her questionings in high-profile congressional hearings. Kilmeade said that “somebody’s writing her questions” and “there is some forces behind her,” implying that she couldn’t have done it by herself. Huckabee commented, “It's amazing how big a deal she has become, to be a 29-year-old with no major accomplishments to her credit other than making some really bizarre policy pronouncements.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/21/19]

    Bartiromo and her panel discussed Ocasio-Cortez’s Time cover, with guest Mark Penn commenting that a “Time magazine cover isn’t what it used to be.” He added, “She’s become the de facto leader of the Democratic Party right now and that’s a problem.” Dagen McDowell said, “Nancy Pelosi most certainly, probably is irate over that notion.” McDowell also said that Ocasio-Cortez “constantly says things that are just idiotic and very often untrue.” The segment about Ocasio-Cortez lasted almost six minutes. [Fox Business, Mornings with Maria, 3/21/19]

    An America’s Newsroom panel discussed Ocasio-Cortez being featured in a Republican attack ad, where a congressional GOP candidate says, “She has the media, she has the followers, but bless her heart, she has some terrible ideas.” Co-anchor Sandra Smith observed that “less than three months after taking office and there she is, already starring in a congressional GOP ad.” Fox contributor Guy Benson pointed out that “AOC is underwater by double digits nationally” because “she has underdeveloped, economically ruinous ideas, and the media has amplified her and made her into a giant star.” Another guest, Brian Brenberg, elaborated that “she has got all these problems” and it’s “easy to use her as a punching bag,” but conceded that “the GOP needs its own ideas.” The panel also discussed Ocasio-Cortez’s Time cover, which Benson used to claim, “She’s not a right-wing phenomenon; the media has built her.” [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 3/21/19]

    March 22

    Ahead of the AIPAC conference, Fox blamed Ocasio-Cortez and Omar for pressuring Democrats not to attend. Fox used the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s weekend conference to push the narrative that anti-Semitism is rising in the Democratic Party. Fox also accused Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar of being the reason that several 2020 Democratic presidential candidates decided not to go, despite a prominent call to boycott the conference in solidarity with Palestinian sovereignty. Additionally, Fox continued to smear Ocasio-Cortez’s policies ahead of a planned Green New Deal vote in the Senate.

    Payne: The Green New Deal is a smoke screen” for “a socialist agenda.” Payne referred to the Green New Deal as “mumble jumble" and argued that aggressive climate action by the United States isn’t worth it because China and India are still large sources of pollution. [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 3/22/19]

    On America’s Newsroom, guest A.B. Stoddard claimed that Democrats skipping AIPAC are “letting Rashida Tlaib and AOC and Ilhan Omar determine the debate of Democrats and Israel.” [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 3/22/19]

    Jedediah Bila attacked Ocasio-Cortez’s comments in Time magazine that people her age “never saw American prosperity.” Bila suggested that Ocasio-Cortez is inadvertently criticizing Obama, while Ed Henry claimed that her family’s ability to move from the Bronx in New York to a wealthier county proves she benefitted from prosperity. Varney again commented on the Green New Deal, saying that it was “not good for America.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/22/19]

    Weekend (March 23-24)

    Ben Shapiro called the suggestion in Ocasio-Cortez' Time profile that millennials haven't experienced prosperity "ignorant." On Watters' World, Ben Shapiro said, "The argument of the left has been that America is fundamentally an unfair, terrible place. ... There's this profile of AOC in Time magazine, and the journalist, Charlotte Alter, suggested that millenials have not experienced prosperity. How ignorant do you have to be to believe that statement and then think that the system that has built American prosperity is inherently bad? Unfortunately, that sort of ignorance is prevailing." [Fox News, Watters' World, 3/23/19]

    Bartiromo pushed the false $94 trillion cost estimate for the Green New Deal. On Sunday Morning Futures, Bartiromo asked Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), "I know that sometimes you vote alongside Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Does it bother you that the idea that you can get rid of fossil fuels in ten years doesn't make sense and that it would cost upwards of $94 trillion?" [Fox News, Sunday Morning Futures, 3/24/19]

    Week 5

    March 25

    Ahead of McConnell’s Senate vote on the Green New Deal, Fox smeared the deal and Ocasio-Cortez. Fox hosts continued to push the idea that the Green New Deal will cost $93 trillion long after the claim had already been credibly debunked.

    Varney claimed the Green New Deal is an “embarrassment” and that Ocasio-Cortez “is a bubble that will burst on this spike of Green New Deal.” Fox Business host Elizabeth MacDonald said that Ocasio-Cortez is “underestimating the intelligence of the voter” before repeating the debunked $93 trillion figure. Fox’s Ashley Webster added that the deal is a “great gift to the GOP.” [Fox Business, Varney & Co., 3/25/19]

    Bartiromo pushed the $93 trillion figure while starting a discussion about the vote on Green New Deal. Fox guest Gianno Caldwell joked that we need to “get one of those seeing eye dogs for the Democrats on this deal because obviously they don’t clearly see the numbers,” pointing to the debunked statistic. McDowell called the Green New Deal “a big ball of you-know-what” and a “pamphlet of idiocy from AOC.” [Fox Business, Mornings with Maria, 3/25/19]

    Fox Business guest Jonathan Hoenig told Ocasio-Cortez to “put up or shut up” and “get on the record, raise your hand that you are pro-human extinction.” Hoenig added that “the irony of the environmentalists” is that “they love the environment but they hate people.” Guest Gary Kaltbaum noted that he “find[s] it interesting this young lady tweets about wasting time and wasting votes but not wasting $93 trillion of our money.” Host David Asman pointed out that $93 trillion is “more money than the United States government has spent in the entire history of the United States.” Fox guest Jack Hough said that the “lesson to be learnt here for everyone is don’t put your dumb ideas in writing.” [Fox Business, Bulls & Bears, 3/25/19]

    March 26

    Fox celebrated the Senate’s vote on the Green New Deal as Ocasio-Cortez’s defeat. On March 26, the Senate voted on the Green New Deal in a procedural move that Democrats called a “sham” and a ploy to foster an intraparty divide. As ABC News reported, “Democrats want members of the Republican leadership to schedule hearings rather than bringing the legislation straight to the floor for a vote.” The final tally was 0-57; Republicans and a few Democrats voted “nay” and 43 Democrats voted “present” in protest, though many Democrats have said that they “support the framework of the resolution.” Despite this, Fox covered the vote as a political failure for Ocasio-Cortez and continued to smear the Green New Deal.

    Ed Rollins called the Green New Deal an “idiotic bill that the young lady from Queens’ 14th Congressional District” introduced." Fox News political analyst Ed Rollins and host Lou Dobbs also pushed the debunked figure that the Green New Deal would cost $93 trillion. [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 3/26/19]

    Kennedy celebrated the vote, cheering, “Hurray, the Green New Deal is dead” after it “crashed and burned.” Hoenig mocked Ocasio-Cortez for emphasizing the seriousness of climate change and claimed that the Green New Deal is “not pro-environment” but “anti-man.” He berated Ocasio-Cortez and millenials for “this climate change hysteria” and asserted that Ocasio-Cortez’s concerns don’t “bear out in reality” because “the air and water is cleaner than it ever has been before.” [Fox Business, Kennedy, 3/26/19]

    Asman also continued to push the debunked $93 trillion figure, while his guest called the Green New Deal a "war on cows." Fox News contributor Deneen Borelli said that the Senate vote proves that “even the Democrats know the Green New Deal is a sheer disaster,” adding that it would be a “war on cows.” Borelli also said that Democrats are “on the wrong side of everything” and “all of their policies are just absolutely outrageous.” [Fox News, Trish Regan Primetime, 3/26/19]

    March 27

    Fox figures criticized another line of questioning by Ocasio-Cortez during a Senate hearing, where she berated Republicans for claiming the issue of climate change is an “elitist” cause. After Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) asserted that addressing climate change is a problem that “sounds great” if you’re a “rich liberal from maybe New York or California,” Ocasio-Cortez argued that climate change will impact the most vulnerable and impoverished American communities. In addition to discussing her line of questioning during the hearing, Fox figures continued to celebrate the Green New Deal’s lack of “yea” votes in the procedural Senate vote.

    Payne accused Ocasio-Cortez of being “very disingenuous” because she is “conflating” the asthma problems in Harlem and Bronx with climate change. In response to Ocasio-Cortez’s line of questioning, Payne pointed to other contributing factors to higher asthma rates and claimed that it “has zero to do with CO2 emissions, per se, or this climate change debate.” He claimed Ocasio-Cortez is “conflating the two” and used higher rates of asthma as “a way of also bringing race into the conversation.” [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 3/27/19]

    Fox & Friends celebrated the Senate vote against the Green New Deal as a hit on Ocasio-Cortez. Earhardt claimed that the vote went “down in flames” and “fell flat.” The co-hosts also mocked Democratic candidates for suggesting that a comprehensive climate plan is comparable to landing on the moon. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/27/19]

    Carlson mocked Ocasio-Cortez’s comments emphasizing the seriousness of the Green New Deal, claiming, “Nobody is dying from global warming in this country.” He characterized the Green New Deal as a “sham just like the Russia investigation before it and the next sham after it.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 3/27/19]

    On Fox Business, Trump campaign adviser Madison Gesiotto claimed Ocasio-Cortez’s questioning shows that she is “out of touch with what the people need.” Gesiotto added, “No one wants to drink bad water but that’s not what the Green New Deal was about and she knows better than that.” Varney characterized the Green New Deal as “radical environmental[ism] with socialism thrown over the top.” [Fox Business, Varney & Co., 3/27/19]

    March 28

    Fox figures continued to talk about the Senate vote on the Green New Deal and covered Trump’s comments on the proposal. At a rally in Grand Rapids, MI, Trump called the Green New Deal a “$100 trillion government takeover” and the crowd chanted “AOC sucks” during Donald Trump Jr.’s speech.

    Josh Holmes said that Democrats can’t be “particularly intrigued by the idea that [Ocasio-Cortez] is sort of Geppetto with the marionette, telling them what they can and can’t vote on.” Fox regular Josh Holmes, former chief of staff to Mitch McConnell, also claimed that Democrats are “pitted against a progressive base and the rest of America.” [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 3/28/19]

    On Hannity, Rush Limbaugh said that “it’s absurd” that “anybody can believe this intellectually.” He sarcastically added, “If we’ve only got 12 years, then we better just throw everything out the window and start doing everything we want to do every day because we’re going to be dead in 12 years if we don’t enact their stupid” Green New Deal. He also accused Democrats of “manipulating and misrepresenting their unfortunately sick base” who “wants to hear that we’re going to die; they want to hear the apocalypse is coming.” [Fox News, Hannity, 3/28/19]

    Carlson and Mark Steyn praised Trump’s campaign rally remarks. Steyn commented on the “relish” Trump had at his rally in attacking Ocasio-Cortez and the Green New Deal. He added that Trump’s “riffs on the news” are “actually funnier than late-night talk show hosts.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 3/28/19]

    March 29

    On Friday, Fox continued to celebrate Trump’s comments on Ocasio-Cortez and the Green New Deal he made during his campaign rally. Fox personalities loved the president's comments about Ocasio-Cortez’s policies, particularly his remarks that he “loves campaigning against the Green New Deal.” Fox amplified Trump’s lies about the Green New Deal, including that it means “no more airplanes, no more cows.” Some Fox figures said the Green New Deal will be a strong talking point for Trump going forward during the 2020 campaign.

    Mornings with Maria aired footage from Trump’s rally showing the crowd chanting “AOC sucks.” Bartiromo followed by pointing out that “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's poll numbers are dropping.” McDowell said, “As you know, I love to talk about AOC,” and later pivoted back to Ocasio-Cortez, asserting, “AOC is driving the bus for the Democrats in terms of policy ideas.” Guest James Freeman suggested that support for Ocasio-Cortez stems from “millennials that tend to be more socialistic because they feel like they weren’t bailed out in 2008.” [Fox Business, Mornings with Maria, 3/29/19]

    On The Five, the panel cheered Trump’s remarks at the rally, while Greg Gutfeld suggested that “‘Green New Deal’ is kind of now replacing his ‘lock her up’” refrain. [Fox News, The Five, 3/29/19]

    Varney: Trump has had a good week “beating up on the Green New Deal.” Varney repeated Trump’s rally claim that “he loves campaigning against it,” adding, “Of course he does. Even Democrats running for the presidency wouldn’t support it when it was up for a vote in the Senate.” [Fox Business, Varney & Co., 3/29/19]

    Weekend (March 30-31)

    Fox & Friends Weekend co-hosts berated Ocasio-Cortez’s comments regarding the history behind former President Franklin Roosevelt and the 22nd Amendment. During a town hall on MSNBC, Ocasio Cortez noted (correctly) that the 22nd Amendment, which created presidential term limits, was established to prevent Roosevelt from winning reelection. In fact, as explained by the nonpartisan National Constitution Center, the push for the 22nd Amendment was a major issue well before Roosevelt died, and it was a direct reaction to his campaign for a fourth term. However, the co-hosts claimed she was wrong because Roosevelt died two years before the 22nd Amendment was formally approved by Congress. Henry conceded that “she’s right that FDR being in there for consecutive terms in general got this movement going, but to say it prevented him from being reelected is not what happened.” Bila accused Ocasio-Cortez of being “so overconfident because she’s used to not being challenged” and advised her to “take some responsibility.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends Weekend, 3/31/19]

    On The Next Revolution, the panel discussed the Senate’s Green New Deal vote and Ocasio-Cortez’s Time magazine cover. Host Steve Hilton claimed that “she’s basically become the leader of the party” and “there seems to be nothing they can do about it.” Guest Charlie Kirk warned people against not taking Ocasio-Cortez seriously, mischaracterizing her agenda as a “$100 trillion takeover of the American economy.” Kirk also asked, “At what point is their party leadership going to take a stand against her?” [Fox News, The Next Revolution, 3/31/19]

    Week 6

    April 1

    Fox continued to smear Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal town hall, along with her comments about FDR and the origins of the 22nd Amendment. In addition to continuing to attack Ocasio-Cortez over her town hall comments about the 22nd Amendment, Fox News jumped at the opportunity to smear Ocasio-Cortez as lacking intelligence about basic historical events.

    Hannity accused Ocasio-Cortez of “rewriting history.” He added that “you would think … that somebody sworn to uphold and protect the U.S. Constitution would understand the context of the amendments to our U.S. Constitution.” He then pointed to past comments made by Ocasio-Cortez, saying, “Maybe that’s too much to expect.” [Fox News, Hannity, 4/1/19]

    Carlson attacked Ocasio-Cortez as “a 29-year-old former bartender” attempting “to teach you about science” and called her "a moron and nasty and more self-righteous than any televangelist." He claimed, “It’s official: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a moron and nasty and more self-righteous than any televangelist who ever preached a sermon on cable access. She’s not impressive; she’s awful.” Carlson rhetorically asked, “How does a member of Congress who hasn’t yet turned 30, someone who has never even raised children, get the right to lecture me about morality?” While he conceded that Ocasio-Cortez’s comments on the economy are “basically true,” he added that it “doesn’t mean she is right about anything else.” Carlson concluded that “taking power from the banks and giving it to Ocasio-Cortez” would be putting “an even dumber person in charge.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 4/1/19]

    Asman introduced the segment by characterizing Ocasio-Cortez’s comments as a “big history flub.” Asman explained to his viewers while guest hosting Trish Regan Primetime that “the problem with that, of course, is FDR died in 1945 and the amendment was not until 1947,” appearing to not understand that the campaign for presidential term limits began while Roosevelt was alive and in office. Asman then took a jab at Ocasio-Cortez’s alma mater, saying, “When you think of how many mistakes she makes, … you just wonder how she was educated in Boston University.” Hegseth responded, “She was not educated, David, she was indoctrinated.” The chyron during half of the segment read “Ocasio-Cortez’s hypocrisy exposed.” In a moment of self-awareness, Asman pointed out that “we are focusing on her” even though “she’s not running for president.” [Fox Business, Trish Regan Primetime, 4/1/19; National Constitution Center, 10/5/18]

    Varney calling the town hall “propaganda.” He conceded that the “media loves her, maybe it’s for ratings purposes,” added that “she is very good television,” and concluded, “It is just obvious that the media is biased towards socialism.” [Fox Business, Varney & Co., 4/1/19]

    April 2

    Fox extensively covered Ocasio-Cortez’s tweet about value of human labor. The tweet pointed out that croissants at LaGuardia airport are $7 a piece, but some people think that a $15 an hour minimum wage “for dedicated human labor” is too high. Fox misrepresented Ocasio-Cortez’s point to imply that she was saying wage prices are connected to pastry costs, even after she explained in a follow-up tweet that “it’s not an argument against the price of a croissant - it’s about the value of human worth.” But guests and hosts continued to distort, misrepresent, and dissect what she meant, using the tweet to conclude that she is ignorant about how the economy works and twisting her words to suggest she is upset over croissant prices.

    On Varney & Co., Varney’s guest Justin Haskins said that her argument is “totally ridiculous” and “the reality is” Ocasio-Cortez and Democrats such as Bernie Sanders “have no idea how markets work or they know how they work and they just don't care.” He added that she wants “to get rid of freedom in the economy so that she and people like her can decide what croissants cost.” Varney claimed Ocasio-Cortez wants “legislative wages.” [Fox Business, Varney & Co., 4/2/19]

    Bartiromo introduced the “controversy this morning over croissants.” Ignoring Ocasio-Cortez’s point about value of human labor, McDowell asked “why are you flying” when “it’s hard on the planet,” then concluded that croissants are expensive at the airport because of “the government and the port authority” charging high rent prices. [Fox Business, Mornings with Maria, 4/2/19]

    Asman: Ocasio-Cortez is "gearing up for her next battle: pastry prices.” Asman misrepresented her comments on croissants at LaGuardia and minimum wages, saying that she is “gearing up for her next battle: pastry prices.” He also referenced Fox's obsession with Ocasio-Cortez, saying, “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez -- what would a show be without mentioning her name?” [Fox Business, Bulls & Bears, 4/2/19]

    April 3

    Fox hyped report given exclusively to it about an alleged ethics violation against Ocasio-Cortez filed by a conservative attorney who founded the Stop the AOC PAC. The complaint “was given exclusively to Fox News in advance of its filing” by a conservative attorney who founded the Stop the AOC PAC, and it is still unclear if anything illegal actually transpired. Regardless, Fox used the opportunity to attack Ocasio-Cortez as disingenuous and a hypocrite. 

    Carlson talked about allegations facing “the world’s most famous 29-year-old.” Melissa Francis pointed out that her chief of staff is a “tech multimillionaire,” seeming to imply that Ocasio-Cortez is a hypocrite for hiring someone who is wealthy. Francis conceded that she doesn’t “know if it is illegal,” but “the main point is that she was supposed to be about getting money out of politics and about transparency.” Francis finished by saying, “I hate hypocrites.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 4/3/19]

    Hannity claimed that Ocasio-Cortez is caught up in “another FEC violation.” He sarcastically added, “So sorry to hear that. Sad.” Minutes later, he introduced the segment by saying, “Villain of the day: Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.” [Fox News, Hannity, 4/3/19]

    Ingraham and Hannity joked about Ocasio-Cortez, with Ingraham saying, “You’re picking on AOC again” and Hannity saying “she’s very sensitive” for responding on Twitter to critics. Ingraham responded, “No, she can’t handle it, but that’s OK. She’s young and they learn, you know, these kids these days.” Hannity suggested that “we need a safe zone … like college kids.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 4/3/19]

    April 4

    Fox attacked Ocasio-Cortez for saying opponents of climate action won't be able to scrub their records like opponents of civil rights did, and they mocked her for having an unfurnished apartment. In another Instagram livestream video, Ocasio-Cortez is seen on the floor of her unfurnished apartment building furniture and discussing the Green New Deal with her viewers. She urged viewers to consider the impact that climate change will have on their grandchildren and warned that the longevity of the internet means that those opposing climate solutions will not be able to hide their opposition decades from now. To make her point, she referenced to the civil rights movement and said that many people alive today “hide the fact that their families and their grandparents fought against the principles of equal rights in the United States.” She added that she pities climate deniers “for your role in history right now.”

    She also addressed those critical of the honest mistakes she’s made, saying that she is a 29-year-old member of Congress who has time to learn, but at least she bases her decisions on morality, unlike people who push for “deliberate polic[ies] to attack people based on their national origin.” Fox figures took great offense to her comments, suggesting she was comparing the morality of the civil rights movement to the seriousness of climate change and ignoring that her comparison was focused on the opposition to these two movements. Fox also criticized her for still living in an unfurnished apartment, in addition to attacking her intelligence and perceived hypocrisy.

    On Varney & Co., the panel mocked Ocasio-Cortez for having an unfurnished apartment and smeared her as a hypocrite for shopping at Whole Foods. Referring to Ocasio-Cortez’s outspoken criticism of Amazon, Webster pointed out that “there are no low income housing opportunities in her new building down in Washington, D.C. But there is a Whole Foods, which is owned by Amazon.” He added that she’s living “the kind of life she talks out about so much,” again attempting to smear her as a hypocrite. Varney said that his producer was “appalled” by Ocasio-Cortez’s apartment, asking “What is a congresswoman doing in an unfurnished apartment?” MacDonald brought up her recent croissant comments to also accuse Ocasio-Cortez of hypocrisy, asking, “What’s she doing flying a plane if she’s about the Green New Deal? What was she in the airport for?” [Fox Business, Varney & Co., 4/4/19]

    Carlson: "Like a lot of narcissistic children, Ocasio-Cortez doesn’t believe in honest disagreement."  Calrson began his rant by saying, "there’s at least one person who knows even less than your average cable news anchor,” and she’s the “loudest” member of Congress. He complained that she can “wade half-cocked into the country’s most important debates, prove yourself an idiot,” and “move on.” He claimed that 2020 Democratic presidential candidates are “endorsing some new policy that has pretty much zero public support, but sounds like something woke baristas in Brooklyn would be excited about,” referencing Ocasio-Cortez’s background. [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 4/4/19]

    Hannity ranted that Ocasio-Cortez is “hitting really new levels of strange, bizarre.” He gave her a “history lesson” listing prominent Democrats who opposed the civil rights movement, ignoring the historical context of party realignment. He purposefully misrepresented her February 25 comments about some young people’s concerns over having children to paint her as contradictory, saying, “You previously told us we may have to stop having kids altogether, but now we have to be worried about our grandkids.” He sarcastically added, “It appears that just like the unbuilt furniture in her apartment, the congresswoman’s ideas are far from being put together.” He then fearmongered that she has a “real influence” and “Nancy Pelosi’s scared to death of her,” before chiding people who “want to dismiss all of the alarmism and no oil, gas, combustion engine, planes, cows, and everything's free.” He stressed to his viewers that they “need to take it seriously as we expose this radical, socialist agenda for what it is.” Watters chimed in, saying, “Civil rights was a real fight. You can fight climate change with suntan lotion. It’s not that big of a deal.” Watters also attributed the “category-five catastrophe at the border” to Ocasio-Cortez’s “open border policies.” [Fox News, Hannity, 4/4/19;, 8/18/17]

    April 5

    On Friday, Fox lashed out over Ocasio-Cortez' use of social media, including her calling out one of their own contributors, and created a fake controversy surrounding her perceived accent. On April 4, Fox News contributor Lawrence Jones was mocked online for tweeting a picture from the U.S.-Mexico border while wearing a bulletproof vest that appeared to offer very little protection and seemed to be for show -- the vest left vital organs exposed and did not appear to have any armor plates. Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that his vest looked like it is from “Party City” and asserted that “Fox is really out here doing the most on a budget to make the border look more dangerous than it is,” drawing immediate criticism from Fox News.

    Ocasio-Cortez also was accused by right-wing media of using what some perceived as an “accent that she never uses” while speaking to “a room of predominately (sic) black people” at the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network Conference. Ocasio-Cortez responded on Twitter, writing, “Any kid who grew up in a distinct linguistic culture & had to learn to navigate class enviros at school/work knows what’s up.” In a follow-up tweet, Ocasio-Cortez added, “As much as the right wants to distort & deflect, I am from the Bronx. I act & talk like it, *especially* when I’m fired up and especially when I’m home.” She also said, “It is so hurtful to see how every aspect of my life is weaponized against me, yet somehow asserted as false at the same time.” Some on Fox and in right-wing media still accused Ocasio-Cortez of inauthentically using a “blaccent” to appear more relatable to Black people.

    Ingraham and guest Raymond Arroyo covered Ocasio-Cortez’s “new accent.” Arroyo claimed that “AOC seems like she is trying out this new African-American, Southern-esque accent,” which Ingraham compared to an older speech by Hillary Clinton in which she was accused of faking a Southern accent. Commenting on Ocasio-Cortez’s response, Arroyo said “that doesn’t exactly sound like Queens to me” and added, “Somebody should remind these women all African-Americans are not beneath the Mason-Dixon line.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 4/5/19]

    Carlson: Ocasio-Cortez “didn’t just come to prostrate herself before Emperor Al. She was also there to test out a brand new accent.” He claimed, “We have played a lot of clips of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She didn’t talk like that in a single one of them. That’s fake.” Later in his show, his guest Dan Bongino asked “what is with Democrats and constantly changing how they talk” and urged Ocasio-Cortez to “be genuine.” Carlson asked “how patronized” Bongino would feel had he been there, and Bongino responded by drawing another comparison between Ocasio-Cortez and Clinton. [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 4/5/19]

    Trish Regan asked former acting ICE Director Tom Homan about Jones being “trolled by the likes of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who was online making all kinds of fun of him for wearing a vest.” Homan responded to Fox Business anchor Trish Regan by arguing that the border is “dangerous” and “that's why Border Patrol agents, ICE agents carry guns and wear bulletproof vests.” He said that Ocasio-Cortez “needs to look in the mirror” because she is a hypocrite for working on Capitol Hill with “hundreds of armed officers.” He also said that Ocasio-Cortez has been “a congresswoman for three months and everything she says is wrong,” adding that “she needs to educate herself” and “people have died defending this nation on that border.” Regan agreed that “she’s young, inexperienced, and not that smart” and said she has “a very big mouth.” [Fox Business, Trish Regan Primetime, 4/5/19]

    Varney discussed Ocasio-Cortez’s use of social media with Fox Nation host Tomi Lahren, who said Ocasio-Cortez was "better suited" for reality TV. Though she admitted that Ocasio-Cortez is media savvy, Lahren complained that “the policy is not there. The logic isn’t there. The common sense is not there, and the education really isn’t there.” Lahren added that she would “rather [Ocasio-Cortez] become an Instagram personality than represent anyone in Congress,” suggesting that she’d be “better suited” for reality television such as “The Bachelorette” or “The Real Housewives of somewhere.” [Fox Business, Varney & Co. 4/5/19]

    Weekend (April 6-7)

    Watters called Ocasio-Cortez a "scam artist" while his guest called her "morally bankrupt." The chyron displayed during the segment read, “Is AOC losing it?” Lynette Hardaway, also known as Diamond, asserted that Ocasio-Cortez “has to be morally bankrupt” to push for the “green new scam.” She also chided Ocasio-Cortez for wanting to “bankrupt our country and then you want to fearmonger and you want to bully us into going on. … We say no to the Green New Deal.” Silk, also known as Rochelle Richardson, added that “we also say no to dying in 12 years.” Watters concluded by comparing Ocasio-Cortez to a “scam artist.” [Fox News, Watters’ World, 4/6/19]

    Pirro referred to Ocasio-Cortez as a “young bartender” again falsely claiming the Green New Deal would cost $93 trillion and ban planes and hamburgers. Pirro misrepresented her climate agenda, falsely claiming that “you can’t fly in an airplane” and “you can’t eat a hamburger because the cows are passing too much gas,” adding, “The whole thing is absurd.” Guest Stephanie Hamill complained about criticism of Trump’s remarks by saying that everyone has “a big fit over anything President Trump says,” even though that is frequently how Fox covers Ocasio-Cortez. Hamill also falsely claimed the “green new scam” would cost $93 trillion and require “no cows, no planes.” [Fox News, Justice with Judge Jeanine, 4/7/19]

    MethodologyMedia Matters searched Grabien transcripts for "AOC" and "Ocasio" between February 25 and April 7.

  • Fox keeps pushing the anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that motivated the Tree of Life shooter

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Before setting out to allegedly perpetrate what’s believed to have been the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in American history, the Tree of Life synagogue shooter went on Gab to write a post in which he blamed Jewish people in the U.S. “for bringing in an invasion of nonwhite immigrants.” In the past 24 hours, Fox has peddled the same talking point twice during its prime-time programming, showing that the network is not above promoting the same baseless, anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that have motivated violent extremists.

    On the April 10 edition of his Fox News show, Sean Hannity hosted conspiracy theory-monger Glenn Beck, who said the migrant caravans were “directly” funded by “George Soros and others” (George Soros is Jewish). Beck then directly addressed President Donald Trump -- a common practice at Fox -- saying the caravans are “an assault on the republic” and that “we can’t fight the enemy if we won’t call them by name.”

    And while fearmongering about immigration during the April 10 edition of his show, Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs claimed “left-wing money, a lot of groups” and “the United Nations” (which the Tree of Life shooter also mentioned) were behind caravans of migrants headed for the U.S. border.

    Though Dobbs didn’t specifically mention Jewish people, he has peddled the conspiracy theory of Jewish groups funding migrant caravans enough times that “left-wing money” has become a dog whistle for his intended audience. Dobbs and others at Fox News repeatedly peddled this conspiracy theory in 2018 with little repercussion. After Judicial Watch’s Chris Farrell claimed on Dobbs’ show that the “Soros-occupied State Department” was helping fund a group of migrants traveling to the United States, people widely criticized the show, with Variety noting that “citations like that are typically meant to allude to Jews,” and Fox condemned the statement, banning Farrell from the network. But soon after, Dobbs showed the hollowness of Fox’s attempt to curtail anti-Semitism on its airwaves; as Dobbs tried to wrap up a segment in another episode, one of his guests said criticizing Soros was not anti-Semitic. Dobbs laughed, adding, “I’m certainly glad that I didn’t just break away there.”

    Additionally, Dobbs’ baseless comments about migrants have been celebrated in the past by conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones, whose site Infowars pushed the conspiracy theory that the United Nations and George Soros is behind the “migrant caravan invasion.”

    After the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre and even after Soros himself was directly targeted with a pipe bomb, right-wing media figures continued their attacks on him. Dobbs posted a tweet, which he later deleted, saying, “Fake News--Fake Bombs.”

    Many journalists and media figures noticed yesterday’s episode of blatant anti-Semitism and its connections to the Tree of Life massacre. But to Fox, it’s business as usual.

  • Right-wing media amplify absurd interpretation of something Rep. Ilhan Omar said about 9/11

    A majority of criticisms against Omar are being made in bad faith

    Blog ››› ››› PARKER MOLLOY

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    On March 23, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) spoke at an event put on by the Los Angeles chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Woodland Hills, CA. The roughly 20-minute speech, which centered on some of the challenges American Muslims face such as anti-Muslim rhetoric, is attracting new attention weeks later for a line mentioning 9/11.

    In context, what she said was clear: No matter how “good” American Muslims are, they’ll continue to be treated as second-class citizens because of anti-Muslim attitudes and government policies that intensified in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. American Muslims are still treated with suspicion and subjected to undue scrutiny by the government and public alike. The argument Omar was making in her speech was very clearly about how unfair it is to be lumped in with terrorists and constantly stereotyped on the basis of faith. While saying this, she referred to the 9/11 hijackers as “some people.” When put in context, that choice of words was clearly meant to differentiate between terrorists and American Muslims. The controversy surrounding this line (in bold below) is based on misinterpreting what she said as downplaying the 9/11 attacks -- something that she never did.  Below is a partial transcript:

    The truth is you can go to school and be a good student. You can listen to your dad and mom and become a doctor. You can have that beautiful wedding that makes mom and dad happy. You can buy that beautiful house. But none of that stuff matters if you one day show up to the hospital and your wife, or maybe yourself, is having a baby, and you can’t have the access that you need because someone doesn’t recognize you as fully human.

    It doesn’t matter how good you were if you can’t have your prayer mat and take your 15-minute break to go pray in a country that was founded on religious liberty. It doesn’t matter how good you are if you one day find yourself in a school where other religions are talked about, but when Islam is mentioned, we are only talking about terrorists. And if you say something, you are sent to the principal’s office. So to me, I say, raise hell; make people uncomfortable.

    Because here’s the truth -- here’s the truth: Far too long, we have lived with the discomfort of being a second-class citizen, and frankly, I’m tired of it, and every single Muslim in this country should be tired of it. CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties. So you can’t just say that today someone is looking at me strange, that I am going to try to make myself look pleasant. You have to say, “This person is looking at me strange. I am not comfortable with it. I am going to go talk to them and ask them why.” Because that is a right you have.

    A bad-faith reading of Omar’s speech sparked the latest in an increasingly long line of attacks on the congresswoman.

    On April 8, Imam Mohamad Tawhidi tweeted a 19-second clip from the speech, falsely stating that Omar doesn’t consider 9/11 a terrorist attack. He also called CAIR a “terrorist organization.”

    By the afternoon of April 9, right-wing media were all over this story, perhaps nudged on by tweets from Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) and Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, the latter of whom accused Omar of being “anti-American.”

    Breitbart, The Washington Times, and the Christian Broadcasting Network published articles about the video. The Daily Wire’s Ryan Saavedra, who called Omar an “idiot” earlier in the week, wrote that Omar “trivialized the deadliest terrorist attack in U.S. history.” Conservative Review went so far as to baselessly suggest that Omar appeared “to be entertaining a conspiracy theory when she [said] that ‘some people did something.’” On the April 9 edition of The Glenn Beck Program, co-host Pat Gray commented on the clip, saying that Omar “makes American Muslims sound like the victims of 9/11. They weren’t.”

    During his April 9 Fox News show, Sean Hannity criticized Omar, referring to the “just unearthed” video. Describing the video as “unearthed” might give the impression that there was an attempt to hide it, but it was actually posted on YouTube, and Fox News even streamed it live on Facebook.

    On the April 10 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade questioned whether Omar was sufficiently American, saying, “Really? ‘Some people did something’? You have to wonder if she is an American first. ... Can you imagine if she was representing your community, and you were in her district, how embarrassed you must feel today.”

    Kilmeade continued: “This would’ve been an opportunity for a Muslim American to say, ‘Let me just tell you how Al Qaeda, ISIS, al-Shabab, and others don’t represent our religion and that maybe we got lumped in together.’” He also said that the U.S. is “trying to contain this infection which is Muslim extremists. Why she wouldn't use herself and her leadership position to separate the American Muslim from that school of thought is beyond me.”

    Obviously, it wouldn’t have made much sense for Omar to explain to an audience of Muslims at a Muslim advocacy organization fundraiser something they very obviously already know -- that they’re not the same as the 9/11 terrorists. Kilmeade didn’t let that stop him, however.

    This is the latest example of right-wing media willfully offering obtuse and sinister interpretations of something a Democrat said.

    Recently, the RNC published an 18-second clip of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) saying, “We need comprehensive immigration reform. If you are in this country now, you must have the right to pay into Social Security, to pay your taxes, to pay into the local school system, and to have a pathway to citizenship.”

    A reasonable interpretation of what she said is that many undocumented immigrants pay into our systems as it is, and these productive members of society should have a right to pursue citizenship if they want to. The right-wing narrative, however, coalesced around an obviously false claim that she was suggesting giving Social Security money to undocumented immigrants.

    The same thing happened last year after a clip of former Attorney General Eric Holder was widely spread with the claim that he was calling for violence when he said “when they go low, we kick them,” even though he went on to very explicitly say what he meant by “kick.”

    In addition to being undercut by the context of the event, their argument against Omar’s speech is further demolished when you consider that President Donald Trump has a history of referring to terrorists as “losers” -- which Fox News defended at the time. The one real point they might have is that she misstated when CAIR was founded. The organization was founded in 1994, not after the 9/11 attacks.

    Update (4/11/19): Right-wing media continued their anti-Omar pile-on into the evening and morning after this piece was originally published. During the April 10 edition of Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs Tonight, Dobbs and guest Tammy Bruce laid into Omar for the “some people did something” line.

    “She sounds like she hates America, Tammy,” said Dobbs. “She sounds like she hates Jews; she hates Israelis. What is it she doesn’t hate?”

    Bruce then baselessly claimed that the line was intended to convey a belief that “we deserve, perhaps, what happened to us [on 9/11]. That those innocent victims deserve that in some fashion.”

    On April 11, the New York Post published a front page story based on the distorted comment accompanied by a photo of one of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center and the headline “Here’s your something.” This, again, doesn’t fairly reflect what she said.

    The message of her speech was specifically that American Muslims often get unfairly lumped in with terrorists. On March 1, NBC reported that the West Virginia Republican Party allegedly set up an anti-Muslim display in the state capitol building. Among the items was a picture of the World Trade Center being hit by a plane with the words “‘Never forget’ - you said..” Below that was a photo of Omar with the text “I am the proof - you have forgotten.”

    In February, a Coast Guard lieutenant named Christopher Paul Hasson was arrested on drug and gun charges, and prosecutors found that he had been creating a hit list of prominent Democrats and journalists to attack. Omar was among the names. In early April, a Trump supporter named Patrick W. Carlineo was arrested for threatening to assassinate Omar.

    Ramping up anti-Omar sentiment based on a willful misreading of something she said will only put her in more danger.

  • When conservatives claim censorship, they're often just showcasing their tech ignorance

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Allegations that social media companies are biased against conservatives and censoring right-wing content have become a common narrative on right-wing media and, ironically, recurrent content on the same social media platforms the narrative targets. These claims are just another iteration of the long-term right-wing effort to brand most of the mainstream press as biased against conservatives in an attempt to “work the refs” and get favorable treatment, this time applied to tech giants.

    But many of the episodes used to push allegations of censorship or bias can actually be explained through technical arguments in which political motivations play no role. And that showcases, at best, a preoccupying level of digital illiteracy among those making the allegations and, at worst, the inherent bad faith of these claims.

    As explained previously by Media Matters’ Parker Molloy, this playbook has been working for conservatives for over half a century, at least since “Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater gave reporters covering his campaign pins that read ‘Eastern Liberal Press.’” The strategy of putting the onus of proving neutrality on the mainstream press worked -- media have since over-represented conservatives, engaged in false equivalences, offered platforms to far-right hacks in the name of balance, and prioritized negative coverage of Democratic politicians -- and the same playbook is now being applied to tech giants.

    This, too, seems to be working: These platforms have groveled in response to accusations of bias by tapping extremist figures and far-right grifters as advisers or by having their leadership appear on right-wing propaganda shows to appease right-wing audiences.

    Moreover, in what seem like efforts to avoid accusations of right-wing content censorship, tech platforms have let racism proliferate undeterred, making social media both an unsafe space for members of vulnerable communities and a valuable tool for dangerous far-right radicalization and recruitment.

    But many of the episodes that have been used to help right-wing media built a useful narrative can actually be explained by technical reasons unrelated to bias or censorship, including anti-spam policies used on tech platforms to combat inauthentic behavior or digital illiteracy on the part of users. What follows is a noncomprehensive list of examples:

    • A conservative site complained of bias because autocomplete search results on Google didn’t show the lack of new indictments stemming from the Trump-Russia investigation, ignoring the platform’s autocomplete policies against character denigration.

      As Media Matters’ Parker Molloy pointed out on Twitter, right-wing site Washington Free Beacon accused Google of bias against President Donald Trump because its search bar autocomplete results didn’t point users to the news that there had been no new indictments related to the special counsel investigation on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Google search liaison Danny Sullivan directly addressed the complaint, explaining that to avoid character denigration, the platform’s autocomplete policies specifically avoid offering predictions that contain “indictment” next to a person’s name. Sullivan had to reiterate his explanation after Washington Free Beacon promoted its article again without clarifying political bias was not playing a role in the autocomplete results.
    • Those alleging that a temporary loss of Twitter followers was indicative of the platform’s bias against anti-abortion movie Unplanned failed to understand Twitter’s “ban evasion” mechanisms. On April 1, a number of right-wing media figures and politicians accused Twitter of deliberately censoring anti-abortion movie Unplanned after the Twitter account for the movie lost followers temporarily. As explained by NBC’s Ben Collins, Twitter responded that the temporary loss of followers wasn’t about the Unplanned account itself, but came because an account linked to the Unplanned account had violated Twitter rules, triggering the platform’s automated “ban evasion” mechanisms, which aim to limit users banned from the platform from coming back by using alternative accounts. As Collins pointed out, Twitter’s ban evasion systems identify accounts that could be linked in different ways, including by shared IP or email addresses. Shortly after, Twitter manually overturned the automated system and restored the Unplanned movie account, noting that follower counts can take time to replenish.

    • Conservatives incorrectly interpreted temporary account activity limitations meant to stave off inauthentic, spammy activity as censorship. Platforms are known to limit the number of comments or likes single accounts can make in a determined period of time to stave off spam, automated behavior, and inauthentic activity; authentic accounts managed by real people can be affected by these limitations whenever their behavior matches automation patterns. Reportedly, different limits apply to different accounts depending on how old they are. Yet Donald Trump Jr. and White House social media director Dan Scavino have claimed they’re being censored when this has allegedly happened to them.

    • There have been accusations of “#censorship” based on “a crazy drop in new followers,” but there are unrelated reasons for altered follower counts. Trump Jr. has also claimed that drops in followers or stagnant follower counts amount to “#censorship.” However, Instagram has experienced glitches that have affected follower counts for many accounts, and the platform’s policies that aim to reduce inauthentic activity have in the past caused account purges that result in diminished follower counts for users displaying automated behavior. President Donald Trump made a similar accusation against Twitter, claiming to have lost followers. As Mashable pointed out, users across the political spectrum lose followers as a result of purges, or removals of “inactive accounts and fake profiles.” In fact, a Twitter purge in the summer of 2018 cost former President Barack Obama more followers than Fox’s Sean Hannity.

    • A Republican lawmaker complained that a Google search mainly returned negative results about unpopular Republican legislation, saying it was evidence of bias, but in fact it was likely reflective of an overwhelming amount of criticism. During a December 11 hearing before Congress, Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) cited “a firsthand experience” to ask Google CEO Sundar Pichai why the first few pages of results he found on Google about the Republican bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act showed so much negative criticism. Chabot also questioned why the majority of results of Google searches for the Republican tax cuts criticized them as favoring the rich. As Pichai explained, search results are not based on political ideology. What Chabot seemed to not understand was that Google search returns are actually based on rankings (a site that is ranked high appears higher on search results) that depend on factors like domain authority, which is calculated by the number and reliability of sites that link to it, among other things. Which is to say, negative results are evidence that sites with high domain authority are referring to the search term in negative ways -- something that has more to do with the substance of the search term than the search engine itself.

    • Another legislator complained to Google that an iPhone displayed negative language about him, implying it was evidence of Google’s bias, but the phone was manufactured by Apple. During the same December hearing in which Google’s Pichai testified, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) -- whose extremist record includes explicit endorsements of white supremacists -- complained that his 7-year-old granddaughter had been exposed to negative language about him on her iPhone. King said, "And I’m not going to say into the record what kind of language was used around that picture of her grandfather, but I’d ask you: How does that show up on a 7-year-old’s iPhone, who’s playing a kids game?” As Pichar said, Google does not manufacture iPhones; Apple does. Moreover, even if the hardware in question had been a Google-manufactured Android, King’s complaint displayed his own digital illiteracy more than any possible tech platform bias directed against him.

    • A congressman alleged that Google is biased because it showed negative information from his Wikipedia page in its search results, while his own staff’s edits to his page were not approved by Wikipedia editors. While questioning Google’s Pichai during the December hearing, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) took issue with Google’s search results displaying details from his Wikipedia page when his name is searched, because the “liberal editors around the world” of the free encyclopedia “put up a bunch of garbage” about him, while the “proper, honest” edits his own chief of staff made to Gohmert’s page were not approved. As Motherboard’s reporting on this matter has explained, what’s displayed on Google’s knowledge panels isn’t evidence of bias, but of the tech giant’s “cynical, damaging, and unfair over-reliance on Wikipedia’s volunteer editors.”

    • PragerU alleged that removal of far-right content on platforms was based on “deliberate censorship of conservative ideas,” but an expert found “plausible, non-ideologically motivated explanations” for the removal. After online propaganda machine PragerU accused platforms of “deliberate censorship of conservative ideas” for removing PragerU videos (and then reinstating them after admitting a mistake), an expert “reviewed several of the videos” and found explanations for their removal that had little to do with political bias. As Data & Society’s Francesca Tripodi explained, some videos contained language that could have been picked up by platforms’ automated systems and then -- when reviewed by third-party moderators that are sometimes outsourced to the Philippines -- the reviewers placed more importance on the specific language than on the political substance of the video. Tripodi also pointed out that the platforms’ lack of process transparency could have contributed to right-wing cries of censorship and bias.

    • Right-wing outlets affected by a Facebook purge claimed it was evidence of anti-right-wing bias. In fact, it was evidence of spammy behavior. Right-wing outlets claimed that the removal of right-wing content pages showed Facebook was biased against the right. Yet Facebook explained in an October 11 blog post that the reasoning behind the removal of over 800 pages and accounts was based on user violations of the platform’s rules against spam and “coordinated inauthentic behavior.” According to Gizmodo’s report at the time, Facebook pointed out that while the spammy behavior the platform targeted for removal seemed financially motivated, the pages were “at least using political content to drive traffic to their ad-supported websites.” Prominent amplification networks of right-wing content were affected by the purge -- but it was because the pages were in violation of the platform’s guidelines regarding “coordinated inauthentic behavior,” which had nothing to do with the pages’ political alignment.

    • An allegation that Facebook “deboosts” right-wing content was not supported by hard evidence. A Media Matters study found right-wing political pages and left-wing political pages on Facebook have about the same amount of interactions. Donald Trump Jr. has devoted media appearances and columns to pushing generalized claims of censorship from Big Tech. In a March 17 column published by The Hill, Trump Jr. pointed to Facebook documents published by serial bullshitter James O’Keefe to allege that the site targeted conservative posts for “deboost”-ing. A new Media Matters study of content from 395 Facebook pages that regularly post about American political news between July 2, 2018, and March 17, 2019, shows that not only did left-leaning and right-leaning pages have roughly the same engagement numbers, but -- between January 14 and March 17, the weeks leading up to this new wave of conservative censorship claims -- right-leaning pages on average actually received more interactions than left-leaning pages.

    Alex Kaplan and Natalie Martinez contributed research for this piece.

  • Fox News discussed the Green New Deal more often than CNN and MSNBC combined

    And Fox's coverage of the plan was riddled with misinformation, mockery, and climate change skepticism

    Blog ››› ››› TED MACDONALD

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    In the last week of March, Fox News aired more than twice as many prime-time segments discussing the Green New Deal as MSNBC and CNN combined, Media Matters found. Fox ran 22 segments on the Green New Deal, and only half of them even mentioned climate change. MSNBC and CNN aired 14 and five segments, respectively, but all of those discussed climate change.

    Fox aired more Green New Deal segments than CNN and MSNBC combined from March 25 to 31

    Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed. Markey (D-MA) introduced the Green New Deal on February 7, thrusting the issue of climate change into the national political conversation. On March 26, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called a procedural vote on the resolution, attempting to embarrass Democrats by forcing them to take a stance on it before senators had a chance to hold hearings and debate the measure. Almost all Senate Democrats banded together to call McConnell's bluff by voting "present" instead of yes or no. 

    Media Matters analyzed prime-time cable news coverage of the Green New Deal during the week of the Senate vote. From March 25 to 31, Fox News ran 22 segments discussing the Green New Deal on its weekday and weekend prime-time shows airing between 5 p.m. and midnight. Across this same period, MSNBC aired 14 prime-time segments discussing the Green New Deal, and CNN aired five.

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Only half of Fox's Green New Deal segments mentioned climate change, 11 out of 22, despite the fact that the plan is designed specifically to address the climate crisis. In contrast, all segments about the Green New Deal on MSNBC and CNN discussed climate change.

    Media Matters did a similar analysis in February in the days after the Green New Deal was introduced. It found that Fox covered the Green New Deal more than three times as often as MSNBC and CNN combined from February 7 to 11; Fox aired 34 segments that mentioned the proposal, MSNBC aired eight, and CNN aired three. And during that period, Fox mentioned climate change in 41% of its Green New Deal segments, MSNBC mentioned climate change in 62%, and CNN mentioned it in 67%. 

    Comparing those earlier findings to our new ones, Fox ran fewer segments on the Green New Deal in the last week of March than it had during that stretch in early February, and a similar proportion of the segments mentioned climate change. MSNBC and CNN, in contrast, both improved their performance, airing more segments on the Green New Deal and discussing climate change in all of them. And in the case of MSNBC in particular, many of the segments were longer and more substantive and informative.

    But the overall trend of Fox covering the Green New Deal more than its cable competitors continued, and that's a significant problem because Fox's coverage is so bad. 

    Fox's coverage of the Green New Deal was rife with misinformation and mockery

    In the last week of March, many of Fox’s 22 segments mentioning the Green New Deal contained misinformation. A number of them falsely suggested or stated that the plan would ban airplanes or cars, which it would not. Others claimed that the Green New Deal would cost $93 trillion or $100 trillion, though both figures have been debunked. In four cases, the misinformation came directly from President Donald Trump; he maligned the Green New Deal during a speech in Michigan, and Fox aired footage of that speech without rebutting Trump's false statements. Donald Trump Jr. spread false information too. On the March 25 episode of Tucker Carlson Tonight, he mocked the plan and said, "we don't exactly have $93 trillion to spend to say you're going to take a bus to Hawaii."

    Another classic example of a Fox discussion about the Green New Deal came on the March 30 episode of Watters' World, in which Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale was interviewed:

    JESSE WATTERS (HOST): Good, now, what is the data telling you about socialism? The Green New Deal, are people responding to that? Or is this a killer at the ballot box?

    BRAD PARSCALE: I mean, look, I think it’s a great issue for the president. I think it's just, as he said last -- as he's been trying to say all week, I think it’s incredible how much they just want $100 trillion, destroy the economy, turn us into Venezuela.

    WATTERS: He wants to run against the Green New Deal.

    PARSCALE: Oh yes. Oh yeah.

    WATTERS: He is licking his chops.

    PARSCALE: Yeah, it's like a juicy steak. I mean, getting rid cows, airplanes, no more Hawaiian senators --

    WATTERS: Right, yes, it's like the Big Mac president running against the vegans. It's not going to fly.

    Two of Fox's prime-time Green New Deal segments cast doubt on the scientific consensus around climate change. One came from Tucker Carlson on the March 27 episode of Tucker Carlson Tonight, during which he said, “The climate seems like it is changing. Climate changes a lot, always has, maybe human activity is causing it.” In the same episode, he also made the false claim that “nobody is dying from global warming in this country.” The next night on Hannity, guest Rush Limbaugh was more explicit in his climate denial, claiming, “We don't even have the power to impact the climate. We can't change it for better or worse. But it is constantly changing. All we can do is adapt to it. We're the best in the world at that.”

    But both Tucker Carlson Tonight and Hannity, Fox's flagship evening opinion shows, spent less time on the Green New deal in the last week of March than they had in early February, when they both aired rants about its allegedly oppressive nature.

    In contrast, Fox News @ Night with host Shannon Bream, which Fox bills as a straight "news" program, aired more segments on the plan in the last week of March than it had in early February. The Fox News @ Night segments also spread misinformation, like the false claim that the plan would cost $100 trillion. Fox News @ Night also gave a platform to Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) on March 27 to continue the ridiculous attack he had made on the Green New Deal on the Senate floor earlier that day; on the show, Lee mocked the plan further, saying, "The Green New Deal is its own punch line."

    MSNBC aired strong coverage of the Green New Deal and climate change, thanks in large part to Chris Hayes

    MSNBC aired 14 segments on the Green New Deal in the last week of March, and nine of them ran on All In With Chris Hayes. All of MSNBC's segments discussed the plan within the context of climate change.

    Hayes produced standout coverage of the Green New Deal, including substantive discussion of what it aims to do and why climate action is critical. After the Senate vote on March 26, Markey appeared on All In With Chris Hayes to explain the reasoning behind the Democrats’ strategy to vote “present”:

    SEN. ED MARKEY (D-MA): I voted “present” because Mitch McConnell and the Republicans, who are making a mockery of the legislative process, they gave us no hearings. We could have no expert witnesses. We could have no scientists. We could have no people from the states which have been affected by the massive climate-related damage, which has occurred from forest fires in California to the storms across the Midwest, the hurricanes sweeping through Texas and Florida. None of that was allowed to be presented as part of a hearing process.

    CHRIS HAYES (HOST): Today illustrated to me the enormous gap -- I mean, I think the Republicans by and large, your fellow colleagues, they see it all as a joke, as a stunt. I mean, the gap between what the actual physics are -- what the science says, what the scale of the challenge is -- and where the Republicans are, it almost seems un-overcomeable to me. Does it to you?

    MARKEY: It is pretty big. I mean, the United Nations and their scientists at the end of 2018 said that climate is warming so rapidly that it now poses an existential threat to the planet. The 13 federal agencies with jurisdiction over climate issued their own report at the end of 2018. They came to a conclusion that said this is very serious and we had to do something about it.

    On March 29, All In With Chris Hayes aired a special episode in which Hayes interviewed Ocasio-Cortez and a host of others about climate change and the Green New Deal. This episode accounted for four of MSNBC's segments about the Green New Deal in the last week of March. Hayes also aired segments about how Republicans are failing to substantively engage on climate change and how climate change is already affecting residents of the Bronx, among others.

    According to a recent Public Citizen analysis, Hayes discussed climate change more than his MSNBC peers over the past 24 months -- even though he called climate change a “palpable ratings killer” last July. He was criticized for that comment, and since then he's aired climate coverage more often. Public Citizen is now calling on Hayes to commit to cover climate change at least once a week.

    Other discussions of the Green New Deal on MSNBC came during interviews with politicians, including Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) on MTP Daily, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) on Politics Nation, and Markey again on The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell.

    One MSNBC segment included a guest who argued against taking dramatic steps to combat climate change. On the March 26 episode of MTP Daily, New York Times columnist Bret Stephens warned that we could "bankrupt ourselves in the process of ensuring ourselves against the potential risk." Host Katy Tur and NBC analyst Heather McGhee both pushed back against Stephens' claim that climate change isn't serious enough to warrant bold action. 

    CNN infrequently mentioned the Green New Deal, but connected it to climate change when it did

    CNN aired only five prime-time segments that discussed the Green New Deal in the last week of March. Climate change was brought up in all of them.

    Three of these discussions occurred during interviews with Democratic presidential candidates. On the March 26 episode of Erin Burnett Tonight, Julián Castro, former secretary of Housing and Urban Development, said he was a "fan of the Green New Deal." Though he did not say the words "climate change" or "global warming," he spoke about the climate crisis, noting the need to "protect our planet" and the promise of renewable energy. Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper appeared on CNN Tonight on March 26 and said he does not support the Green New Deal, but he thinks climate change is "one of the defining issues of our times." And during a CNN town hall on March 27, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) restated his support for the Green New Deal and emphasized the importance of fighting climate change.

    Fox is distorting the public conversation about the Green New Deal

    It is good news that MSNBC and CNN have been discussing the Green New Deal in the context of climate change, and in some cases examining its policy ideas in-depth.

    Unfortunately, Fox News is still talking about the Green New Deal more than its cable competitors, and often in dishonest and destructive ways. By spreading misinformation about the proposal, Fox is distorting the national dialogue about it. Sean McElwee -- co-founder of Data for Progress, a progressive think tank that helped to shape the Green New Deal -- made this point in a March 27 op-ed in The New York Times:

    The core challenge the Green New Deal faces is not so much on the merits of the concept or even its political feasibility; it is that many of its Democratic supporters have met an aggressive and one-sided onslaught from the right with very little by way of response.

    Though many components of the Green New Deal are popular, the Republican propaganda machine has already reshaped the narrative, and it has done so with virtually no coordinated pushback from progressives, or certainly nowhere near enough, a worrying pattern.

    Progressive pushback has emerged more often in recent weeks, especially on MSNBC. But Fox, by covering the Green New Deal so aggressively and negatively, is already prejudicing many voters against it before they have a chance to learn what it actually calls for and why. McElwee cited polling by the progressive project Navigator that found Republican Fox viewers were more likely than other voters both to have heard a lot about the Green New Deal and to have seen negative coverage, and a recent poll by Navigator found that Fox News viewers were more inclined than others to deny that human-made climate change is happening.

    Fox is unlikely to change its approach, so other media outlets need to step up with more frequent, honest, and probing coverage of the Green New Deal and other proposals for addressing the climate crisis. Failure to do so will distort the overall discourse around climate change and hinder the process of finding solutions.


    Media Matters conducted Nexis and IQ Media searches for mentions of "green new deal" in programs that aired on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC between 5 p.m. and midnight from March 25 to 31. We then searched within those transcripts for mentions of “climate” or "global warming." We counted any segments that were devoted to the Green New Deal or made substantial mention of it. We did not count teasers, passing mentions, or rebroadcasts.