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  • Right-wing media were furious over exclusion of citizenship question from census

    Blog ››› ››› COURTNEY HAGLE


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    After the Justice Department confirmed that the 2020 census would not include a question about citizenship status, right-wing media expressed disappointment and outrage at the Trump administration and attacked Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts for rejecting the administration's reasoning for adding the question. 

    Last week, the Supreme Court rejected the Trump administration’s stated reason for adding the question. Roberts, a conservative justice, wrote the 5-4 majority opinion, saying that the Trump administration’s argument for adding the question “appears to have been contrived.” The decision came weeks after evidence was found in the files of late Republican redistricting strategist Thomas Hofeller that suggested “the question was crafted specifically to give an electoral advantage to Republicans and whites.”

    Though the decision left open the possibility that the Trump administration could provide a stronger argument, the Justice Department unexpectedly announced on July 2 that it had dropped the question from the census. According to The Washington Post, “The decision was made after officials determined that there would not be enough time to continue the legal battle and meet the printing deadlines for the census questionnaire.” 

    Right-wing media responded to the news by attacking Roberts, arguing that Trump should not have caved so easily, expressing outrage and disappointment over the apparent defeat, and arguing that this further proves Democrats care more about undocumented immigrants than Americans. 

    Trump appeared to take their bait, tweeting on July 3 that reports “about the Department of Commerce dropping its quest to put the Citizenship Question on the Census is incorrect” and “we are absolutely moving forward, as we must, because of the importance of the answer to this question.” However, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross had already confirmed on July 2 that “the Census Bureau has started the process of printing the decennial questionnaires without the question,” and Justice Department spokesperson Kelly Laco also confirmed that there will be no citizenship question on the 2020 census.

    Here’s what right-wing media figures said about the census question to provoke the president’s apparent reaction:

    Attacking Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts 

    Conservative commentator Bill Mitchell said Roberts’ decision was “nonsensical and specious.” He claimed Roberts’ is “clearly compromised.” 

    Conservative commentator Ned Ryun claimed, “We’re in trouble when the Chief Justice of our SCOTUS doesn't think we should ask a citizenship question on the census.” Ryun asked, “Have we completely lost our minds??”

    Matt Schlapp, chair of the American Conservative Union, claimed, “Chief Justice John Roberts has forever harmed the country with his petulant ruling on the census.”

    Arguing that the Trump administration should not have caved

    National Review’s Dan McLaughlin called the decision a “completely unforced error.” He added that the “court confirmed that Trump had the power to [add the question], if the Administration had handled it competently.” 

    Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton said that the Trump administration “should continue to try to move this issue through the courts in time for the 2020 census.” He also insisted, “Of course U.S. Census should try to figure out how many Americans and non-Americans are here.” 

    Conservative commentator Steve Deace sarcastically responded to Trump’s tweet about the Supreme Court decision, tweeting, “If only, like, you ran the branch of government in charge of executing the census.” Deace went on to say: “Imagine the constitutionally-mandated power you could wield to undo such an unAmerican travesty? But alas, since you're totally helpless, no bueno!”

    Conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt claimed that callers in to his radio show were “shocked” that Trump “threw in towel on #2020Census case.” Hewitt claimed, “There are ways to revive the case, but it sounds like a complete loss.” 

    Townhall’s Kurt Schlichter agreed with Hewitt, saying that he “laid out how exactly to get this question on the census” and urging Trump to “fire anybody who gets in the way.” 

    Hewitt called the case “one of the biggest legal defeats of the Trump presidency” if “the case is truly over.” Hewitt also wrote that he is “very surprised” Trump “surrendered without a battle on this issue.” 

    Expressing outrage and disappointment that the question wouldn't be included

    Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade questioned if “the administration use[d] the right move” and asked why the administration didn’t “use different means to present [the] case.”

    On his Fox Business show, host Lou Dobbs claimed the Trump administration is “giving up the fight.” Dobbs disappointedly added that the Trump administration could have argued the case further, but “the White House apparently determined it just simply didn’t have the time to do so.” 

    Conservative commentator Mark Simone sarcastically asked, “If we allow the census to ask if people are citizens, then what's next? Cops asking drivers if they have a license? Ushers asking people if they have a ticket? Train conductors asking to see your ticket? Customs asking to see your passport? Where will it end?”

    Arguing that Democrats prioritize “illegals” more than Americans and undocumented immigrants shouldn’t be counted in the census

    Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk suggested that Democrats “need the illegal aliens' votes,” urging his followers to share his tweet “if ONLY US citizens should be counted on the Census!”

    Newsmax TV host John Cardillo said, “It is absolutely moronic that we cannot ask if someone’s a citizen on the 2020 Census.” He added, “This is all about diluting the value of US citizenship and putting illegals on equal footing.”

    Responding to a user who questioned the legality of the question, Breitbart’s Joel B. Pollak insisted that “it had been on the Census before” and “Democrats just don’t want you to know how much your vote is diluted by non-citizens and illegal aliens.” 

    Deace insisted, “There’s no way to spin it. Illegals matter more than you.” He berated the government for not bothering to find “out if you’re in the country illegally or not,” adding sarcastically, “Happy 4th!”  

    The Federalist’s Benjamin Weingarten said that the “long and short” of the case is that Democrats “don't want you to know how much non-citizens including illegals diminish your vote.” In a second tweet, he said, “This issue further incentivizes open borders and sanctuary city policies to the detriment of law-abiding American citizens.”

    Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton claimed “the Left wants to effectively erase citizenship, which is why they oppose a Census question that would uncover how many non-citizens in United States.”

    One America News Network -- one of Trump’s favorite media outlets -- tweeted: “Democrats hope to turn red states blue by counting illegals on census.”

    OANN’s Jack Posobiec insisted, “No serious country would count non-citizens in a census or twist itself in knots over if it were even able to.”

    Anti-Muslim group ACT for America tweeted, “Only US CITIZENS should be counted on the US Census!”

    Priests for Life National Director Frank Pavone insisted that “citizenship carries certain privileges. How are we supposed to know whether someone is entitled to such privileges or not?” Pavone answered his own question, saying, “By asking the question, of course.”

  • Fox News and right-wing media freak out about Mueller's press conference: "You are a disgrace!" 

    Blog ››› ››› JOHN KERR
  • These conservative media figures are pushing Trump to declare a national emergency over a border wall

    ››› ››› COURTNEY HAGLE

    As President Donald Trump’s government shutdown continues with no clear end in sight, some in right-wing media have been clamoring for the president to use the powers under the National Emergencies Act of 1976 “to move funds around to build this border wall” and “release the shutdown.”  Conservative media figures have argued that if Trump were to do so, “nobody can second-guess him” and that he has “unfettered authority” to declare a national emergency.

  • President Trump opened the gates for a wave of authoritarian and anti-Semitic attacks on George Soros

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    President Donald Trump’s Twitter attack last week on George Soros set off a round of anti-Semitic attacks on the Jewish financier, as well as authoritarian calls from key Trump supporters for the president to use state power to freeze or seize Soros’ assets.

    Conservatives have long been obsessed with Soros, a key figure on the left who has supported a raft of progressive organizations, including Media Matters. Right-wing commentators frequently attempt to draw links, however tangential or absurd, between Soros and virtually any protest or action that happens on the left, seeking to delegitimize grassroots energy as the work of a shadowy billionaire. At times, that criticism is steeped in classic anti-Semitic tropes that have been used for generations to justify attacks on Jewish people.

    In the latest attempt in this vein, conservatives have tried to blame Soros for the opposition to Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination. On Friday, Trump, apparently responding to something he saw on TV, amplified that criticism. He tweeted that protests against the pending confirmation of Kavanaugh had been “paid for by Soros and others”:

    Not all criticism of Soros is anti-Semitic, any more than is all criticism of Sheldon Adelson, a major conservative donor who is also Jewish. Both are major players in their respective movements, and reporting on people who wield such influence is a vital journalistic endeavor. But such critiques must be made carefully because horrific acts have been justified by the notion that Jewish people control the political system.

    It is impossible to imagine Trump -- who has relied on anti-Semitic tropes in speeches, on Twitter, and in a campaign ad, and is beloved by anti-Semites and white supremacists -- treating the issue with the required care. Given the comment and its context, many commentators have suggested his tweet had anti-Semitic overtones. Trump-supporting denizens of far-right fever swamps certainly interpreted it that way -- they praised Trump for having “named the Jew,” a term bigots use for identifying the supposed Jewish masters of the world.

    The next day, Trump’s close allies began pushing for him to use the power of the presidency against Soros. Rudy Giuliani, his personal lawyer, retweeted a comment calling Soros “the anti-Christ” and arguing, “Freeze his assets & I bet the protests stop”.

    Bill Mitchell, a fervent Trump superfan with a radio show and over 380,000 Twitter followers, publicly fantasized about jailing Soros and seizing his assets for “seditious conspiracy.”

    Many commentators have pointed out that those tweets also have anti-Semitic overtones. They also involve the president’s supporters literally asking him to do what dictators do -- use the power of the state to punish his political opponents, explicitly for the apparent crime of opposing him.

    That same morning on October 6, Tom Fitton, the head of the conservative foundation Judicial Watch, whose investigations are geared to benefit the president, honed in on Soros’ overseas pro-democracy work. Fitton, a favorite of the president and his Fox News propagandists, argued that the federal government should cut off its support for Soros’ non-governmental organizations. According to Fitton, Soros is aligned with the “Deep State” and the tax dollars funding the work of his NGOs abroad allow him to devote more of his own cash to backing progressive organizations in the U.S.

    Who benefits from cutting off funding to pro-democracy movements? Authoritarian leaders and nationalist parties across Central and Eastern Europe. The very forces that have spent the last several years demonizing Soros, often with anti-Semitic attacks that have driven rising concerns about the safety of Jews in their countries.

    Fitton is effectively arguing to help out Vladimir Putin in order to own the libs. And considering Giuliani's and Mitchell's Twitter activity, it wasn’t close to the most authoritarian suggestion of the weekend.

  • Right-wing media are pushing Rachel Mitchell’s flawed memo about Christine Blasey Ford’s report of sexual assault by Kavanaugh 

    Blog ››› ››› GRACE BENNETT & BOBBY LEWIS


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    After professor Christine Blasey Ford testified on September 27 that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh attempted to rape her in the 1980s, The Washington Post published a memo from Rachel Mitchell, the sex crimes prosecutor hired by Senate Republicans to interrogate Ford, explaining why she theoretically would not prosecute Kavanaugh.

    Multiple news outlets have noted that the conclusions in Mitchell’s memo -- among them that Ford’s claims are “even weaker” than a "'he said, she said’ case" -- cannot be seen as credible. The Washington Post pointed out that since there hasn’t been an actual investigation of the claims, Mitchell’s assertion of no corroborating evidence falls flat. Think Progress noted that while Mitchell questioned Ford extensively, she spoke to Kavanaugh, the alleged assailant, for just 15 minutes. Mother Jones reported that a former colleague of Mitchell’s, Matthew Long, dismissed her “willingness to author” the memo as “absolutely disingenuous,” and he asserted that the prosecutor “doesn’t have sufficient information to even draw these conclusions.” Long also criticized Mitchell for attacking Ford’s gaps in memory, noting that he was “trained by Ms. Mitchell about how trauma explicitly does prevent memory from happening” and concluding, “Ms. Mitchell knows better than that.”

    Additionally, as journalists and outlets have pointed out, a Supreme Court nomination is not a trial; it’s more akin to a job interview. The question of whether a prosecutor is willing to bring charges against Kavanaugh is not equivalent to that of whether he should serve on the highest court of the land.

    Desperate to undercut Ford, right-wing media figures have ignored the obvious problems in Mitchell’s memo and instead portrayed the document as credible evidence of Kavanaugh’s innocence:

    Fox & FriendsBrian Kilmeade: Mitchell “concluded that she would not -- this was a weak case and I never would recommend, wouldn’t think anyone would recommend, they prosecute this case.”

    Fox’s Laura Ingraham wrote, “Sex Crimes Prosecutor Rachel Mitchell’s report exhonerates (sic) Kavanaugh,” linking to a Gateway Pundit piece with a similar title. Radio host Bill Mitchell and Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton also shared the article.

    NBC’s Megyn Kelly: Mitchell “submitted a memo” saying that Ford’s case “doesn’t even satisfy by the preponderance of the evidence standard, … which is the lowest bar in any case. … And now we want the FBI to spend this week going back and scouring the Maryland neighborhood and … figuring out who renovated and when.”

    Fox contributor Lisa Boothe shared Mitchell’s report and wrote, “Can everyone please stop pretending like Dr. Ford is credible now? She is NOT credible. It’s painfully obvious. I feel like I’ve been living in the Twilight Zone.”

    NRA’s Dana Loesch quoted a Daily Mail article on Mitchell’s report, writing that “there is NOT enough evidence to back accuser's claims.”

    Former presidential candidate Herman Cain: “Even the lady that asked the questions during the judiciary committee [hearing], she wrote an eight-page report that said that there was no there there.”

    The Federalist’s Sean Davis: “This memorandum from Rachel Mitchell is a rather stunning indictment not of Kavanaugh, but of Ford and her story, which seems to change each time she tells it. The only consistent aspect of Ford’s story is how often it changes.”

    Townhall editor and Fox contributor Katie Pavlich: “I’d like to point out that nearly everyone in the media, minus a few (myself included), said Ford was ‘very credible.’ She wasn’t.”

    Gateway Pundit’s Jacob Wohl: “Sex crimes prosecutor Rachel Mitchell COMPLETELY EXONERATES Brett Kavanaugh,” and “finds Ford's allegations totally suspect, potentially fraudulent.”

    FoxNews.com’s Stephen Miller: “I believe Rachel Mitchell”

    Mark Levin: Mitchell, “a real sex crimes prosecutor,” did an “excellent job” of “exposing gaps & contradictions in Ford’s Senate testimony.”

    Townhall’s Guy Benson: Mitchell’s memo “is extremely compelling”

    Daily Wire’s Ashe Schow: “Mark my words, the media is currently looking for other sex crimes prosecutors to say they would absolutely take this case to court.”

    The Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles: “I believe Rachel Mitchell. #IBelieveWomen”

    The Daily Caller’s Benny Johnson: “BELIEVE 👏 ALL 👏 WOMEN 👏”

    Conservative commentator Michelle Malkin’s site Twitchy: “RUH-ROH: Rachel Mitchell’s independent analysis spells even BIGGER trouble for Senate Dems and Ford’s attorneys.”

    Frequent Fox guest Morgan Ortagus: “A professional prosecutor is saying… there’s too many inconsistencies with the story. ... I know you’re shaking your head, but, I mean, she’s spent a lifetime as a career prosecutor working on this.”

  • Right-wing media figures are defending Trump’s lies about the Puerto Rican death toll 

    Blog ››› ››› GRACE BENNETT


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    On Thursday morning, President Donald Trump tweeted that he did not believe the official death toll from Hurricanes Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico last year, claiming that Democrats inflated the number to make him look “as bad as possible.” An independent study commissioned by the Puerto Rican government estimated that nearly 3,000 people died as a result of the storms, but Trump rejected this figure, claiming the high number was just "bad politics."

    The president’s comments come as multiple states are readying to face another dangerous (and “tremendously wet”) storm, and two days after Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló forcefully rejected the president’s earlier assertion that the federal government’s response to Hurricane Maria was “incredibly successful.” Instead of focusing on incoming Hurricane Florence, which has the potential to cause massive damage and threaten lives on the East Coast, the president is trying to gaslight the public, asserting with absolutely no evidence that Democrats inflated the death toll in Puerto Rico. This isn’t the first time the president has taken to Twitter to lie to the American public.  

    Unsurprisingly, right-wing media figures have once again answered the call to excuse the inexcusable:

    Fox’s Geraldo Rivera responded to news of Trump’s tweets by arguing that it is “grotesquely unfair” to blame Trump for the federal government’s response to the hurricanes and claiming that the problem with Hurricane Maria coverage is that “intense politically motivated hatred of President Trump deflects attention from what’s really needed.”

    Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton: “The dramatic increase in death toll due to hurricane in Puerto Rico is result of statistical guess work. … we should be suspicious of a guess that moves it up to nearly 3,000.”

    NRATV’s Grant Stinchfield: “I’m there with Donald Trump -- I call bogus on the 3,000 deaths."

    The Resurgent’s Erick Erickson: “The President would be more willing to accept the truth about the thousands dead in Puerto Rico if news outlet in the country weren't trying to blame him for the deaths.”

    Breitbart White House correspondent Charlie Spiering: “He’s right. The 2,975 who died did not die ‘IN’ the storm but in six month period AFTER the storm.”

    Fox News’ Cody Derespina attempted to equivocate over the “official” death toll. Using deaths that resulted from 9/11 as an analogy, he suggested that many of the hurricane deaths shouldn’t be considered in the “official tally” because many of them occurred in the months afterward.

    Moral Majority founder Jerry Falwell: “Dems learned how to politicize natural disasters when Katrina hit New Orleans. It worked against Bush 43 so now they’re trying it against @realDonaldTrump with his response to Maria in Puerto Rico last year.”

    In addition, Fox News ignored Trump's denialism for several hours, at which point the network's reporter downplayed it as Trump merely continuing his "feud with Puerto Rican officials." 

  • “It seemed pretty dangerous”: Right-wing and pro-Trump media lash out at Kavanaugh confirmation hearing protesters

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Members of the right-wing and pro-Trump media -- typically the self-proclaimed vanguards of “free of speech” -- are lining up to attack protesters who are exercising their First Amendment rights by voicing their opposition to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. They’ve attacked protesters as “venomous” and “dangerous” and even leveled sexist digs at female protesters, saying that they “are showing how truly ugly women can be.”