Steve Doocy | Media Matters for America

Steve Doocy

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  • The right-wing media figures defending Sean Hannity’s relationship with Michael Cohen

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ & BOBBY LEWIS

    Right-wing media figures are jumping to defend Fox News host Sean Hannity after it was revealed that Hannity has been a client of longtime lawyer to President Donald Trump, Michael Cohen. Hannity’s defenders are suggesting that he has “been victimized” by the revelation of his name, claiming that he “wasn’t engaging” Cohen “as a lawyer,” and even arguing that Hannity possibly “did not know he was a client of Michael Cohen."

  • Fox’s Steve Doocy uncritically pushes Russian smear about Syrian first responders

    Other pro-Trump and right-wing media figures have suggested the alleged chemical attack was a “false flag”

    Blog ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    During the coverage of possible American strikes against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy uncritically pushed a Russian-backed smear against an organization of first responders on the ground in Syria called the Syria Civil Defence, also known as the White Helmets. While discussing the potential American response to the April 7 apparent chemical attack outside Damascus, Doocy said, “Some of it could be Russian propaganda, but I was reading this morning in Newsweek … that apparently this group called the White Helmets, … there are stories that they staged bodies to make it look like there was a gas attack.” From the April 12 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

    STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): There are these stories out there, and you've got to figure some of it could be Russian propaganda, but I was reading this morning in Newsweek, online because there is no print edition anymore, that apparently this group called the White Helmets, which used to be the Syrian defense organization, there are stories that they staged bodies to make it look like there was a gas attack. Meanwhile, you've got Russian media saying, "We sent investigators in, our military did, and they could not find any traces of any toxins or gas on any of the bodies."

    Doocy's co-hosts Brian Kilmeade and Ainsley Earhardt pushed back on Doocy’s comment, with Kilmeade saying, “Unbelievable, they really expect us to buy that?” What Doocy inadequately stipulated “could be Russian propaganda,” is, in fact, Russian propaganda. As it has been well-documented, the White Helmets have been “the target of an extraordinary disinformation campaign” that is “propagated online by a network of anti-imperialist activists, conspiracy theorists and trolls with the support of the Russian government (which provides military support to the Syrian regime).” According to Wired, the “smear campaign” against the first responders is “designed to bolster the regime of Syrian president Bashar Assad and undermine its opponents, including the United States.”

    Doocy’s uncritical parroting of a smear against the Syrian first responders comes as numerous pro-Trump and right-wing media figures, such as Tucker Carlson, Alex Jones, Michael Savage, and other conspiracy theorists have suggested the April 7 chemical attack was a “false flag.”

  • There's a sharp divide in how Trump's staunchest allies are covering the Cohen raid

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    President Donald Trump’s most avid defenders have split over how to respond to the FBI raid of his lawyer Michael D. Cohen's office and residence. Last night, Fox hosts Lou Dobbs and Sean Hannity used their shows to call for action against the investigators while this morning, the hosts and guests of Fox & Friends warned that any such action could have severe consequences for Trump’s administration.

    In an extraordinary move, the FBI yesterday seized business records, emails, and documents from Cohen’s New York office, acting on a warrant obtained by the U.S. attorney’s office for the southern district of New York in coordination with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Cohen played a key role in both the potentially illegal payoff of adult film actress Stormy Daniels as well as the Trump Organization’s shady international business dealings.

    The unusual divide among Fox’s pro-Trump propagandists over how to treat a major new development in the series of federal criminal investigations into the president and his associates comes as Trump has been reportedly watching cable news coverage of the surprise raid and fuming.

    Speaking to reporters before a meeting with senior military leadership, Trump described the action by law enforcement as “an attack on our country, in a true sense. It's an attack on what we all stand for." Asked about whether he might respond by firing Mueller, he said “We’ll see what happens,” adding that “many people have said” that he should do so.

    Trump also blamed the day’s stock market decline on the raid. This parroted an argument made on Fox News a few hours earlier, unsurprisingly suggesting that Fox was the network he was tuning in to for Cohen coverage.

    If the president watched Fox News’ Hannity or Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs Tonight -- both among his favorite programs, each hosted by a conservative commentator Trump frequently consults for advice -- he would have seen an extensive attack on the investigations. Highlights include:

    • Dobbs said of Mueller, “I would fire the SOB in three seconds if it were me.”
    • Fox legal analyst Gregg Jarrett responded, “I know you would and he certainly deserves it.”
    • Dobbs described the investigation as “a historic assault on the very idea of American government, a constitutional republic.”
    • Fox contributor and former Trump White House aide Sebastian Gorka told Dobbs, “Mueller has to be dealt with. He has to be fired or he has to be asked, ‘What are you investigating that has anything to do with Russia?’”
    • Joe diGenova, a Fox regular who was briefly part of Trump’s legal team, argued that Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general overseeing Mueller’s investigation, and FBI Director Christopher Wray should be held “in contempt of Congress” for failing to provide documents on the Trump investigation quickly enough, and “if they don't produce the documents, they should move to impeach both of them.”
    • Hannity opened his show by saying, “This is now officially an all-hands-on-deck effort to totally malign and, if possible, impeach the president of the United States. Now, Mueller and Rosenstein have declared what is a legal war on the president.”
    • Hannity added, “My message tonight to Mueller is simple: If you have evidence of collusion, any at all, show it to us or end this partisan investigation. The country is hanging by a thread tonight and you don’t seem to care.”

    The hosts of Fox & Friends handled the story very differently. To be sure, they were also quite critical of the raid. Brian Kilmeade argued that it was intended "to get to the documents that many people thought violated attorney-client privilege." Ainsley Earhardt portrayed it as a conspiracy on the part of Mueller, his team of Democratic attorneys, and Rosenstein, whom she described as “Mueller’s BFF.” And the whole gang criticized Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to recuse himself that paved the way for Mueller’s appointment.

    But contrary to the evening lineup, the morning show’s hosts and guests largely argued that any effort the president might take to curtail the investigation would only make things worse. Kilmeade and co-host Steve Doocy pointed out that there would be a “firestorm” if Sessions were to step down because the argument that he had done so without being pressured would not be credible. And Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law professor and Fox regular, argued that if Trump were to fire Mueller, he would “magnify the dangers for himself and his presidency.”

    Moreover, the program devoted surprisingly little time to what seems like an earthquake for the Trump administration. Fox & Friends spent only a handful of segments on the story over the course of the broadcast, hardly the sort of all-systems-go defense we’ve come to expect from the president’s favorite show.

    It’s unclear which message is getting through to Trump. But it appears that his tweets this morning saying “Attorney–client privilege is dead!” and calling the probe “A TOTAL WITCH HUNT!!!” were motivated by criticism of the investigation on Fox & Friends.

    We may find out shortly whether Trump will take Dobbs’ advice to fire Mueller immediately or be convinced by Turley’s comments that that would be a crucial mistake.

  • Fox News figures are downplaying Trump’s moves towards a trade war with China

    Blog ››› ››› GRACE BENNETT


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    As President Donald Trump ramps up a potential trade war with China, Fox News and Fox Business figures have been downplaying the damage his actions could do.

    Since the beginning of 2018, President Donald Trump has been rolling out increasingly aggressive tariffs on Chinese goods. In January, the president announced new tariffs targeting solar panels and washing machines, goods that primarily come from China. In March, he announced further tariffs on steel imports. And this week, the U.S. announced $50 billion worth of new tariffs, prompting the Chinese government to retaliate, placing tariffs on “128 American-made products” and asserting that the U.S. tariffs “violate World Trade Organization rules.”

    Following the news of China imposing retaliatory tariffs, CNN interviewed several economists who expressed concern that the increased economic hostility between the two nations might soon spiral into an all-out trade war. Joseph Brusuelas, chief U.S. economist at accounting and consulting firm RSM, told CNN, “This is a classic lose-lose proposition, no one wins.” After Trump threatened to impose additional tariffs, and the Chinese government promised to respond in kind, experts warned that additional tariffs would hurt both countries.

    Despite experts’ concerns, Fox News and Fox Business figures are downplaying fears of a trade war:

    • On America’s Newsroom, Fox’s Maria Bartiromo dismissed concerns about trade, commenting that she’s “not worried” about trade fears because she looks “at the broader picture.”

    • On Fox News’ Fox & Friends, host Steve Doocy downplayed Trump’s trade moves by claiming, “there are no tariffs,” arguing that “this is the starting point,” and “it’s all a suggestion, it’s all a negotiation.”

    • Fox News contributor Tammy Bruce argued that “this is not about a trade war,” and compared America’s trade deficit with China to “a battered woman situation.” She also asserted that ““this will, in the end, because of Trump’s ability to negotiate, work out well.”

    • During the same broadcast, Fox Business’ Charles Payne claimed that “President Trump [has reminded] us that we’re not in a trade war,” because, “China already won that.”

    • On Fox News Radio's The Brian Kilmeade Show, Fox’s Brian Kilmeade dismissed the possibility of a trade war, claiming, “I do believe this is what we call the pre-fight, and so far, it's hype. It doesn't mean there's actually going to be a Showtime, HBO main event.”

    • Trump sycophant Lou Dobbs dismissed those who claim there is no trade war, claiming that there already is a trade war with China, but the United States simply wasn’t “fighting it until this president arrived in Washington.”

    • Fox Business' Stuart Varney explained away stock market backlash to Trump's tariffs as "an emotional response,” and claimed that “all this talk of a trade war” is “overblown.”

    • Frequent Fox guest Ron Meyer referred to China’s retaliatory tariffs as “minor.”

    • Fox’s Charles Payne claimed that the stock market drop following the announcement of China’s retaliatory tariffs was actually Wall Street “not only overreacting but trying to intimidate the White House."

    • On America’s Newsroom, Bartiromo claimed that she’s “not afraid of a trade war.” and that Trump’s actions are “more of a negotiation.”

    • During an appearance on America’s Newsroom, Payne dismissed fears about a trade war by claiming “we’re already in a trade war. We have been fighting with one hand behind our backs.”

    • On Fox News’ Outnumbered, Fox’s Geraldo Rivera argued that China’s retaliatory tariffs were insignificant and represented “chump change,” and expressed his confusion about why the market responded “so emotionally” to China’s tariffs.

    • During the same broadcast, Fox’s Trish Regan expressed her dismay at unfair Chinese trade policies, and said, “If it takes throwing around the idea of a few tariffs … maybe that works. Maybe it is, indeed, the art of the deal.”

    • Fox’s Sean Hannity dismissed concerns about a trade war on his radio show, claiming, “I don’t think there’s ever going to be a trade war.”

    • On Fox News’ Outnumbered, Fox’s Dagen McDowell defended Trump’s “approach with China,” claiming that there is a “method to this madness,” and that we don’t know if these “tariffs will ever be put in place.

  • Steve Doocy suggests adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census will help its accuracy. Experts say the opposite.

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    On Fox News’ morning show Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy claimed that the Trump administration’s decision to include a citizenship question in the 2020 census will help with getting an “accurate headcount.” In fact, census and civil rights experts have explained that the move will lower confidence in the census and lead to some immigrants not filling it out, decreasing its accuracy.

    The citizenship question already exists on the smaller American Community Survey that goes out to a small portion of households every year, but this will be the first time it will be included on the full decennial census survey since 1950. According to The Wall Street Journal, it will ask “whether a person is a citizen by birth or by naturalization or isn’t a citizen. It won’t ask about the legality of an immigrant’s presence.” The census is used for, among other things, apportioning seats in the House of Representatives and distributing federal funding among the states.

    Census and civil rights experts have said that the addition of this question will decrease response rates from immigrants, thus making the census less accurate:

    • A bipartisan group of former Census Bureau directors in a letter sent to the commerce secretary: “We strongly believe that adding an untested question on citizenship status at this late point in the decennial planning process would put the accuracy of the enumeration and success of the census in all communities at grave risk.”
    • Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights President and CEO Vanita Gupta: “This untimely, unnecessary, and untested citizenship question will disrupt planning at a critical point, undermine years of painstaking preparation, and increase costs significantly, putting a successful, accurate count at risk.”
    • Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law President and Executive Director Kristen Clarke: "This is an arbitrary and untested decision that all but guarantees that the Census will not produce a full and accurate count of the population as the constitution requires."
    • Brennan Center Democracy Program Director Wendy Weiser: “This question is a dangerous move that could lead to a serious skewing of the final census results, which would have a deleterious effect on our system of representative democracy."
    • Census expert Terri Ann Lowenthal: “Between evidence that the administration is manipulating the census for political gain, and fear that the administration will use the census to harm immigrants, confidence in the integrity of the count could plummet. And the census is only as good as the public’s willingness to participate.”

    But none of this mattered to Fox & Friends’ Steve Doocy. According to him, the addition of a citizenship question will ensure an “accurate headcount” of people:

    STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): The Democrats say, look, you're just trying to intimidate the people who are in this country, maybe not legally, but in California they are.

    STEVE HILTON: Yes, but there's a real thing. Being a citizen is a real thing with real issues attached to it that should affect your rights and your responsibilities in this country. So, establishing who is and isn't a citizen is a perfectly reasonable thing for government to do.

    DOOCY: Maybe the Democrats out there are worried that if they have an accurate depiction of who is living out there, accurate headcount, it's not as many people as they think, they might lose federal money, they might lose congressional districts, who knows.

  • Fox & Friends attacks March For Our Lives protesters as over-emotional and ignorant

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Fox News’ Fox & Friends and its weekend edition, Fox & Friends Sunday, repeatedly attacked the March for Our Lives protests, which took place in Washington, D.C., and over 800 other locations worldwide. Fox hosts and guests claimed the marchers had a “lack of appreciation and understanding of the Second Amendment” and let their “emotion” serve as “a terrible substitute for truth.”

    Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade: “It goes against logic” for survivors to want comprehensive gun control instead of somebody “shooting back for me.”

    NRATV contributor Dan Bongino treated the protest as an attack against him personally. Bongino complained that the marchers ignored “viable, workable solutions” to school shootings in order to “take away firearms from people like me who didn't do a damn thing wrong. What did I do wrong?”

    Fox News contributor Pete Hegseth donated to the NRA the day after the march. Hegseth further said of Martin Luther King, Jr's granddaughter, who spoke at the DC march: “Forgive me if I don’t want to watch a 9-year-old tell me that her dream is a world without guns. My world, I want a world without Islamists. I wish that was true too. It’s just not the case.”

    Campus Reform media director Cabot Phillips chided the marchers for their “lack of appreciation and understanding of the Second Amendment.” Phillips also lectured the attendees about needing to be “ready for a debate” if they want to have opinions.

    Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee told the marchers that “they’ve been used” and “emotion is a terrible substitute for truth.” Fox News’ Ed Henry added, “Truth over emotion -- we don’t hear that on a lot of other channels.”

    Fox News chief national correspondent Ed Henry said student activist David Hogg claimed a clear backpack rule at his school “violates his First Amendment rights,” “ forgetting about our Second Amendment.”

    Henry later complained that the marchers didn’t follow “the process” of seeking a constitutional amendment.

    Pastor Robert Jeffress Jr.: “Only the gospel of Christ” can “deal with the root problem” and eradicate gun violence.