Stuart Varney | Media Matters for America

Stuart Varney

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  • Fox Business panel highlights increase in credit card rejections and delinquencies, fails to mention Trump administration’s gutting of consumer watchdog

    Trump administration has worked overtime to overturn consumer protections around credit

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    Fox Business hosts Stuart Varney and Elizabeth MacDonald recently highlighted a report from the New York Federal Reserve which detailed an upswing in credit card rejection rates and involuntary account closures, calling the report “bad news for the economy,” but failed to mention the Trump administration’s systematic effort to dismantle consumer protections around credit.

    Since President Donald Trump took office in January 2017, the administration has engaged in an ongoing and methodical effort, through the gutting of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), to scale back regulatory oversight of financial institutions, including credit card companies. That effort includes, for example, the rollback of a CFPB regulation “that would have made it easier for credit card and bank account users to sue companies for issues like overcharging,” as “most consumers would find it too expensive to pursue grievances against financial firms in court.”

    Even though objective observers note that the report “most likely signals that card companies issued debt too freely and to less-trustworthy borrowers,” MacDonald wrote the report off as “another weird kind of non sequitur of a thing popping out in the data.” From the December 6 edition of Fox Business’ Varney & Co.:

    STUART VARNEY (HOST): A red flag on the economy, maybe another one, what's going on with credit cards, Liz? Now's your chance.

    ELIZABETH MACDONALD (FOX BUSINESS HOST): So, yeah, sorry, forgive me, I was working another story. We're going to tell you about that in a second. Rejection rates for card applicants came in very high, according to the New York Fed. Also, involuntary bank account closures because of problems with credit card payments, also at five-year highs. So, are lenders bracing for -- another negative for the economy, is it that the lenders are bracing for a slowdown? I mean, interest rates are relatively low, so, for this to be happening, another weird kind of non sequitur of a thing popping out in the data.

    VARNEY: But the credit card stuff is bad news for the economy.

    MACDONALD: Yeah, the credit card thing, it's bad news. People not paying their cards, and they're getting their bank accounts shut down.

    VARNEY: That hurts.

  • Trump helped create Fox Business, which is now a key pro-Trump propaganda network

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    According to The Daily Beast, Donald Trump “helped” disgraced former Fox CEO and chairman Roger Ailes create Fox News' sister network, Fox Business.

    According to the report, “Prior to the Fox Business Network’s debut in 2007, late right-wing cable-news chief Roger Ailes consulted with then-reality-TV star Trump on how it should look and feel.” The report went on to note that Ailes and Trump “maintained their relationship well into the 2016 campaign, during which the disgraced and ousted Fox News chief briefly advised Trump.”

    Throughout the Trump presidency, Fox Business personalities such as Stuart Varney, Maria Bartiromo, and Lou Dobbs have consistently proven to be possibly even more sycophantically pro-Trump than their Fox News counterparts, pushing absurd conspiracy theories and even contradicting the public statements of their own network’s leadership in Trump’s defense. Fox Business’ programming in the Trump era also has earned the praise of noted conspiracy theorist and illustrious clown Alex Jones.

    From The Daily Beast’s November 21 report:

    Prior to the Fox Business Network’s debut in 2007, late right-wing cable-news chief Roger Ailes consulted with then-reality-TV star Trump on how it should look and feel, according to former Fox executives. The two maintained their relationship well into the 2016 campaign, during which the disgraced and ousted Fox News chief briefly advised Trump, the executives and a source close to Trump said.

    According to one source, Trump advised Ailes to angle the network more toward news, entertainment, and politics instead of only business coverage. It was Trump’s decade-old vision for Fox Business that would, especially during the Trump presidency, become reality.

    One of the reasons Fox Business has endured in political relevance is that the most powerful person in the world agrees with that sentiment.

    In the West Wing, Trump is still a frequent consumer of the Fox Business Network, former and current White House aides say, and is particularly taken by shows hosted by Dobbs and Maria Bartiromo. The president cites and praises both Fox Business stars regularly within the halls of the White House, both in official meetings and in casual conversations.

    Even without Trump’s physical presence at the Fox Business Network, the president’s fingerprints are all over the network 11 years later in that the channel has morphed from a right-leaning CNBC competitor into what can often be viewed as an even more fervently pro-Trump outlet than its big sister.

  • Fox News president says his network "supports CNN," but Fox News personalities have been attacking CNN and Jim Acosta on air

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    In the wake of the White House’s decision to pull CNN correspondent Jim Acosta’s press pass after a verbal spat with President Donald Trump during a press conference, and CNN’s subsequent lawsuit against the Trump administration to restore Acosta’s credentials, Fox News President Jay Wallace issued a statement saying his network “supports CNN in its legal effort to regain its White House reporter's press credential.” But Wallace’s own on-air talent doesn’t seem to agree.

    In fact, several Fox News personalities praised the White House on air for revoking Acosta's hard pass and have been attacking Acosta personally. Sean Hannity said that Acosta's pass had been "rightfully revoked"; Laura Ingraham hosted Matt Schlapp, a frequent Fox guest and the husband of White House Director of Strategic Communications Mercedes Schlapp, who called revoking the pass "the right decision"; and Fox contributor and former Trump deputy campaign manager David Bossie said that he was “so happy that the White House has revoked [Acosta’s] press credential.”

    Immediately following the November 7 incident, Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace blasted Acosta’s “shameful” behavior. Fox Business hosts Stuart Varney and Trish Regan also went on to trash Acosta; Varney called him “a disgrace to the White House press corps” and Regan suggested that a background in sexual assault was useful for analyzing Acosta's interaction with the White House intern who attempted to wrestle the microphone from his hand during the contentious briefing. Laura Ingraham characterized Acosta’s attempt to ask a question of the president a “disgraceful performance,” and frequent Fox guests Diamond and Silk referred to Acosta as “the enemy of the people” and “the enemy of the truth.”

  • Fox’s Varney pushes smear that Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum is anti-Israel

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    Fox Business host Stuart Varney helped the chairman of the Florida Republican Party push a smear against Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum on the eve of the 2018 midterm elections.

    Right-wing outlets have been trying to fabricate an "anti-Israel" narrative around Gillum based on some very tenuous arguments. The Washington Free Beacon published an article attacking Gillum for his “ties to radical anti-Israel groups” that have "promoted the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, or BDS," and The Daily Caller attacked him for speaking at an event hosted by a group primarily focused on engaging Muslim voters. Days later, the flimsy claims made their way onto Fox Business when Varney brought on Florida GOP Chairman Blaise Ingoglia to claim that Gillum has ties to groups that support terrorist organizations.

    But the claims that Gillum has “ties” to anti-Semitic groups are exaggerated and disingenuous. According to fact-checking site PolitiFact, Gillum has supported Dream Defenders, one of the groups conservative media are pointing to; but, according to his spokesperson, Gillum has opposed the group's stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict. Gillum signed a Dream Defenders pledge that “calls on those who sign it to pledge not to take a penny from the NRA or the Geo Group, a private prison operator," but which makes no mention of Israel. Gillum has stated that he does not support the BDS movement. And, even though Varney's guest tried to link Gillum to opposition for funding security for Jewish day schools, The Associated Press has reported on Gillum's support for that funding.

    From the November 5 edition of Fox Business’ Varney & Co.:

    STUART VARNEY (HOST): Gillum does have a slight lead in the polls, but his campaign has been linked to a radical, pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel group. Joining us now is Blaise Ingoglia, Florida GOP chair. Blaise, are those linked -- those links to anti-Israel organizations, is that resonating at all with Florida voters?

    BLAISE INGOGLIA (FLORIDA GOP CHAIRMAN): Well, it's definitely resonating with our Jewish community here in Florida. You know, after the attacks on the Jewish community in Pittsburgh, Andrew Gillum, still to this day, has yet to condemn those attacks. And he spoke before a group that opposes security for Jewish day schools here in the state of Florida. And that same group has just been unapologetic for their support of some terrorist groups and even defended them in court.

    And it's not just those groups, it's other groups like the Dream Defenders, which are anti-police. Andrew Gillum, unfortunately, and his campaign is surrounding themselves with some people who are just bad for Florida and bad, quite frankly, for the United States of America.