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America This Week

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  • Disgraced former Fox News hosts Bill O’Reilly and Eric Bolling reunite on Bolling’s Sinclair program

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    Disgraced former Fox News host and serial sexual harasser Bill O’Reilly appeared on the latest episode of Eric Bolling’s show for Sinclair Broadcast Group. The two men have a lot in common: Both Bolling and O’Reilly previously worked at Fox News, and both left their previous hosting gigs after reports that they had sexually harassed multiple colleagues.

    O’Reilly was one of several guests on the May 22 edition of Bolling’s America This Week program, a relatively new weekly political show that streams on Sinclair station websites and occasionally broadcasts on air. In the roughly eight-minute interview, Bolling and O’Reilly discussed disagreements among Democratic presidential candidates about appearing on Fox News, Bolling's and O'Reilly's opinions about The New York Times, and journalists’ use of anonymous sources. The casual interview began and ended with a series of inside jokes about the conservative media world and teasing banter between the host and his “good friend.”

    The episode also featured Sinclair employees (and ex-Fox News employees) Sebastian Gorka and James Rosen, as well as Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) and conservative grifter James O’Keefe, among others.

    O’Reilly was fired from Fox News in April 2017 following reports that he and 21st Century Fox had settled multiple sexual harassment lawsuits. Later reporting from The New York Times revealed that Fox and O’Reilly actually paid out a total of about $45 million in six publicly known settlements with women who reported he sexually harassed or verbally abused them -- including one previously unknown $32 million sexual harassment settlement reached shortly before Fox renewed his contract in early 2017. (During the interview, Bolling acknowledged that O’Reilly had a “bone of contention with [the Times] for a very long time,” likely a reference to the paper reporting several major scoops about these settlements.)

    O’Reilly has since been largely relegated to streaming and posting his takes on his eponymous website, though he is now writing a book about President Donald Trump and he interviewed the president on Air Force One earlier this year.

    Bolling left Fox News in 2017 as well, following reports he had sent multiple workers unsolicited pictures of genitalia. Bolling now hosts a regular program on the conservative streaming platform BlazeTV as well as his Sinclair show. He, too, has remained part of Trump’s orbit, working with first lady Melania Trump on opioid misuse issues and interviewing the president for a previous episode of his Sinclair show.

    O’Reilly and Bolling both embodied the worst of Fox News during their tenures at the network, frequently spewing race-baiting, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, and misogynistic rhetoric.

  • Eric Bolling is using his Sinclair and BlazeTV shows to elevate conspiracy theorists Alex Jones and Roger Stone

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    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Right-wing media personality Eric Bolling now hosts regular programs at two different outlets: Sinclair Broadcast Group and BlazeTV. In the space of a week, he has used both platforms to interview well-known conspiracy theorists -- and appeared on one of their shows as well.

    In early April, Bolling began hosting a weekly show for Sinclair called America This Week, which streams online on websites of Sinclair news stations and is promoted with on-air teasers or sometimes aired in full on some Sinclair news stations. The program has also already featured a number of right-wing media talking heads and members of the Trump orbit, including: President Donald Trump himself, former Trump adviser and Sinclair contributor Sebastian Gorka, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, Sinclair reporter and former Fox employee James Rosen, presidential daughter-in-law and current Trump campaign adviser Lara Trump, former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, and Sinclair chief political commentator and former Trump staffer Boris Epshteyn.

    On the May 1 edition of Sinclair's America This Week, Bolling interviewed longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone. Stone is a sexist, racist conspiracy theorist who has pushed conspiracy theories about the 9/11 terror attacks, the JFK assassination, the Clintons and Bushes (saying they committed murders), the 2016 presidential election, the death of former Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich, and more. In January, Stone was indicted for obstruction, making false statements to Congress, and witness tampering as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

    In the 10-minute interview with Bolling, Stone discussed his current criminal defense, his background as an aide to President Richard Nixon, his relationship with Trump, and the 2020 presidential election. Below is the full segment:

    Before joining Sinclair, Bolling was already hosting a regular program on the conservative outlet Blaze Media’s streaming platform BlazeTV. The show, America with Eric Bolling, continues to stream online most weekdays for a subscription audience.

    The April 24 edition of America with Eric Bolling featured an interview with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. Major social media networks have taken actions against Jones and his outlet Infowars to limit their ability to share content. Jones has used his outlet to spread rampant bigotry, hint at violence, host and promote white supremacists, and push conspiracy theories about mass tragedies including the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, the Parkland high school shooting, the 9/11 attacks, and the Boston Marathon bombings, as well as the 2016 presidential election and “globalist” plots by prominent political figures such as the Clinton and Obama families.

    In the episode, Bolling introduced Jones as a “good friend of the show, good friend of mine.” The segment also re-aired an Infowars clip (of Jones yelling into a bullhorn outside the White House). At one point during their interview outside the Capitol, the men attempt to confront a woman who called one of them a liar as she passed by. Bolling half-heartedly tried to downplay some of Jones’ more extreme views, saying that he disagreed with what Jones has said about Sandy Hook and 9/11 specifically but that he believes Jones should be free to say what he wants. Jones responded by asserting that media and tech companies conspired to twist his words on those topics, which Bolling did not challenge. (Jones has repeatedly tried to rewrite the history of his comments on Sandy Hook, but Media Matters has documented his repeated lies on the subject.)

    Jones ended the interview by promoting his website and telling viewers, “Tune in to this guy, spread the word about his show, my show, and the free, independent media that’s bringing this country back.”

    On the same day, Bolling and Jones also filmed a second interview -- this time with Jones interviewing Bolling for Infowars. A video was posted to the Infowars website on April 27 that included both Jones’ interview of Bolling and Bolling’s previously aired interview of Jones for BlazeTV. In the Infowars interview footage, Bolling and Jones discussed several supposed smear campaigns against them from “the left” and each talked about his personal relationship with Trump. At one point, Jones called former first lady Michelle Obama an anti-trans slur and referred to her as “Michael Obama,” and Bolling laughed and said he was staying out of it. The interview ended with Bolling promoting his BlazeTV and Sinclair shows and discussing Sinclair’s move toward hiring more conservatives and possibly competing with Fox News.

    During his lengthy tenure as a host at Fox News, Bolling himself trafficked in conspiracy theories. He was one of the outlet’s leading voices pushing the racist Obama birther conspiracy theory and also hinted at far-right claims about the tragic death of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich. Bolling left Fox in 2017 amid reports that he had sent multiple colleagues unsolicited images of genitalia.

    Bolling is now in the unusual position of simultaneously hosting shows on dual media platforms with ostensibly different missions. Sinclair is now well-known for injecting conservative bias into its local news broadcasts and for employing an outsize number of right-wing personalities, but it still styles itself as a more neutral media outlet. BlazeTV is a relatively new right-wing behemoth cobbled together from two obviously and openly conservative online outlets: Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze and Mark Levin’s CRTV. Both of Bolling’s shows attempt to create a veneer of legitimacy by bringing on token liberals or actual journalists for discussions, but they do far greater harm by elevating far-right conspiracy theorists in the same place.

    Notably, Bolling also uses the two shows to cross-promote his own work. During one Sinclair special program in February, Bolling appeared in front of a background with the BlazeTV logo and aired clips from his interviews for BlazeTV. Advertising for BlazeTV programming was also shown on screen. And on his BlazeTV show, Bolling has aired snippets of his Sinclair interview with Trump and told viewers to tune in to his Sinclair show.

  • Sinclair's latest Trump interview may as well have been produced by the White House

    Former Fox host Eric Bolling interviewed the president, and it went about how you'd expect

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    This week, President Donald Trump continued his practice of rewarding conservative media outlets he believes are not biased against him, sitting down for an exclusive interview in the Rose Garden with Eric Bolling, a political anchor at the right-wing Sinclair Broadcast Group.

    Bolling interviewed Trump for the third episode of his new show for Sinclair, America This Week, which streams on Sinclair station websites weekly and is promoted and occasionally aired on the stations themselves.

    In one promotional clip, Trump and Bolling discussed the president’s belief that the press is biased against him because of “Trump derangement syndrome.” Trump also said that the term “fake news” is no longer strong enough to convey mainstream media’s supposed bias against him. This clip aired on at least 49 stations in 28 states and the District of Columbia on April 16 and 17, according to the iQ media database.  

    In another clip, the president misleadingly told Bolling (and viewers), “We’re building a lot of wall right now. We’re taking old stuff down that didn’t work, and we’re using -- we’re building beautiful 30-foot barriers and bollards and, in some cases, concrete, depending on what we need. And a lot of wall is being built.” This clip aired on at least 40 stations in 22 states from April 12 through April 15.

    The full 15-minute interview was posted online on April 17, and it was about what you might expect from a former Fox News host who previously said he would work for Trump for $1. Bolling introduced the interview like this:

    I found the president relaxed and confident, just off the Mueller and Barr report release. The busiest and most powerful man on the planet gave me 15 minutes on tape and another 30 minutes walking around the beautiful Rose Garden setting.

    And the interview itself began (after a minute-long monologue from Bolling about Media Matters) with the men stating that they respect each other. Many of Bolling’s questions for the president were more like supportive comments about Trump’s agenda or softball setups for Trump to bash Democrats or the media. Here are a few:

    • “The left wing, the mainstream media seems to love anything that can take a shot at Mr. Trump. But here’s what I want to ask: We’re now going to be aired in 200 stations across the country. Middle America is watching. What type of news diet are they being fed by the mainstream media, all these people?”
    • “The number came out. And the lowest number of jobless claims in 49 and a half years. Almost 50 years. You know, I had to debate with a guy the other day about whose economy is it. I said it’s a Trump economy. He said, ‘No, no, no, this is just Trump finishing up Obama’s economy.’ I beg to differ. I think your GDP is pushing 3% and Obama had point one and a half. Half the GDP.”
    • “Can I tell you, one of the things -- and I’ve done business; I started in the business networks -- one of the things that people ignore and one of the ways I always catch liberals who were attacking me about ‘it was Obama’s economy, not Trump’s’ is: For the first time in maybe 12 years, wages are growing substantially. And that’s a function of a more favorable business environment. Companies feel better about the future, so they’ll pay people more to stay. Whereas in the past, they were, ‘Eh, I’m not sure about the economy.’ So it’s a confidence in the economy that probably is immeasurable, but that’s part of the reason why the number has been so good.”
    • “I remember you came in on a Saturday and started rolling back regulation. I’ll never forget that.”
    • “This new -- on the left -- this new embrace of socialism. You know, AOC comes -- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez -- comes out with a Green New Deal. We’re going to be extinct in 12 years unless we adopt this program?”
    • “Anti-Semitism a growing concern with a couple of new freshman congresswomen, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar. Your thoughts on is there a growing tide of anti-Semitism in the country?”

    This sit-down with Bolling is Trump’s ninth on-camera interview of the year. In February, he was interviewed by CBS’ Margaret Brennan, and earlier this month he spoke with KSTP in St. Paul, MN; the other six interviews were with Fox News or Fox Business personalities. He has also sat down for multiple interviews with Sinclair personalities in the past, including for a series of “must-run” segments with Sinclair chief political commentator and former Trump aide Boris Epshteyn last year.

    Bolling previously worked at the president’s favorite network, Fox News, where he pushed the network’s signature misogyny, race-baiting, and anti-Muslim rhetoric, as well as the racist birther conspiracy theory championed by Trump. He left Fox in 2017 amid reports that he sent multiple colleagues unsolicited images of genitalia.

    The first two episodes of Bolling’s Sinclair program were ripped right from Fox News, focusing on common conservative tropes like media bias, censorship, and a border crisis. The program has also already featured a number of right-wing media talking heads and members of the Trump orbit, including: former Trump adviser and Sinclair contributor Sebastian Gorka, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, Sinclair reporter and former Fox employee James Rosen, presidential daughter-in-law and current Trump campaign adviser Lara Trump, former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), Sinclair chief political commentator Boris Epshteyn and Sinclair commentator Ameshia Cross, and several liberals who are also frequent Fox News guests. It was only a matter of time before Bolling landed an interview with the president himself.

    Rob Savillo contributed research to this post.

  • Eric Bolling's new show for Sinclair Broadcast Group brings the worst of right-wing media to local news

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    Sinclair Broadcast Group’s newest program signals the conservative media giant’s shift toward more openly embracing right-wing propaganda and hiring Fox News castoffs.

    On April 2, Mediaite reported that Sinclair was set to debut America This Week, a new weekly program hosted by Eric Bolling. The first episode would include appearances by several members of the Trump inner circle: former Trump strategist Steve Bannon, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, and 2020 campaign adviser and the president’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump. Bolling is a newly official Sinclair personality who has been making appearances on its national programming for months, and he also hosts a streaming show with right-wing outlet BlazeTV. He was previously a host and co-host at Fox News -- where he regularly trafficked in conspiracy theories, misogyny, and race-baiting -- but he left in 2017 amid reports that he sent multiple colleagues unsolicited images of genitalia.

    The first two episodes of Eric Bolling’s America This Week program are straight out of Fox News

    In a sign of Sinclair’s increasing willingness to adopt the Fox News model of poisoning viewers against any other news sources, much of the first hour-long program was devoted to decrying so-called media bias against President Donald Trump:

    • The program began with a brief introductory monologue from Bolling in which he told viewers, “This show is all about holding the mainstream media and the powerful accountable.” Bolling then decried “today’s media, where truth and facts give way to biased opinions and a dangerous disregard for fact.”
    • Bolling then led a discussion with former Trump adviser and Sinclair contributor Sebastian Gorka and Democratic strategist and frequent Fox News guest Jonathan Harris, and another with former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Both Gorka and Lewandowski addressed supposed mainstream media bias against the president.
    • Later in the episode, Bolling featured a report about Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) from James Rosen, another former Fox News employee.
    • He also played a pre-taped interview with presidential daughter-in-law and current Trump campaign adviser Lara Trump, which touched on the idea of media bias against the president.
    • The show also aired an interview at the “Breitbart Embassy” with former Trump adviser Steve Bannon discussing, again, media bias against Trump, the concept of a “deep state,” and Bannon’s thoughts about various public figures including former FBI Director James Comey, progressive philanthropist George Soros, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), the pope, Trump, and himself.

    The second episode had similarly Fox-y elements:

    • Bolling’s monologue was focused on a “crisis at the border.”
    • It was followed by a discussion with Gorka, again, along with Democratic strategist Joel Payne, about immigration and special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election.
    • Bolling then introduced his interview with Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) about “the Russian collusion illusion.” Nunes spent the last portion of the interview discussing the false talking point that conservatives are being “shadow banned” or otherwise discriminated against by social media platforms and his lawsuit against Twitter.
    • Bolling conducted a long interview with former President Barack Obama adviser Austan Goolsbee (also a frequent Fox News guest), in part to discuss whether a good economy ought to be credited to Obama or Trump.
    • There was another report from Rosen, this time focused on Attorney General Bill Barr’s misleading statements before Congress about “spying” on the Trump presidential campaign in 2016.
    • And there was a discussion about Hitler apologist and far-right personality Candace Owens and “nationalism” between Sinclair chief political commentator Boris Epshteyn and Sinclair commentator Ameshia Cross.

    The episodes attempt to show some balance by including short segments from Sinclair local reporters in different states, and bringing in reporters at national outlets for a segment called “Balls and Strikes” in which Bolling goes over stories of the week (so far, Politico’s Gabby Orr, Time’s Brian Bennett, and The Daily Beast’s Lachlan Markay have appeared).

    Next week, Bolling said, will feature an interview with the president.

    America This Week premiered mostly online

    The first two full episodes of America This Week were posted on local Sinclair station websites on April 3 and April 10. While initial reporting suggested the show would air on Sinclair news stations across the country weekly, thus far it appears to have been distributed primarily online, with short excerpts aired on TV.

    According to the iQ media database, on April 3 and 4, local stations typically aired one (or both) of two short clips from Bolling’s interview with Bannon and then told audiences to head to the station website to see the entire program. The teasers and interview snippets aired on at least 61 Sinclair stations in 29 states and the District of Columbia. A handful of stations told viewers the full program would be broadcast on Sunday nights at a certain time, but iQ media video showed those stations airing different national programming such as Entertainment Tonight or wrestling matches at those times instead.

    The America This Week snippets that some local news viewers saw on air last week were these two clips:

    Steve Bannon railing against media bias at The New York Times and CNN (as seen here on KEYE in Austin, TX):

    Or Steve Bannon discussing a “deep state” and doing word association about himself (as seen here on KTVL in Medford, OR):

    The following week, the second episode of the program again was featured on Sinclair station websites and promoted on the air with clips from Bolling’s interview with Nunes. As seen on KBAK in Bakersfield, CA:

    The first episode of Bolling's show does not appear to have aired in full on any local news stations -- at least not on any the larger news affiliates that are included in the iQ media database. It is possible the show aired on smaller stations, like CW or MyNetwork affiliates, or on digital-only subchannels, both of which cater to smaller audiences. On April 10, Bolling promoted the show on Twitter, telling users to “check your local listings.” The replies are largely from accounts saying that they couldn’t find the program. The local Washington, D.C., Sinclair station, WJLA, aired Wheel of Fortune during the 7 p.m. hour that night.

    Eric Bolling represents the essence of Fox News

    For months before the premiere of America This Week, Bolling had been hosting ongoing town hall programming for Sinclair focused on opioids, including one in which he interviewed first lady Melania Trump. He was also beginning to make appearances on other Sinclair national programming as a “political anchor,” and he interviewed both President Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on behalf of Sinclair in recent months.

    At Fox, Bolling regularly trafficked in the casual misogyny, race-baiting, anti-Muslim rhetoric, and right-wing conspiracy theories that continue to define the network. In his time at Fox:

    • Bolling was a major voice pushing the racist birther conspiracy theory about Obama. He even examined Obama’s birth certificate on the air, speculating that the certificate’s border showed it may have been photoshopped.
    • He also speculated about the death of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich, saying, “There wasn’t a robbery. … This was a hit.”
    • Bolling had to apologize for asking if the first female pilot for the United Arab Emirates, who participated in bombing against Islamic State terrorists, “would … be considered boobs on the ground.”
    • He whined that allowing young girls to play football was part of “the wussification of American men” and criticized a story of a 9-year-old girl playing football, saying, “Let the boys be boys, let the girls be girls.”
    • Bolling told Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) that she should “step away from the crack pipe.”
    • He lectured “rappers,” saying that they should be happy because white people are “financing their lifestyles” by buying their music.
    • Bolling criticized Obama's leadership by claiming the first Black president was "chugging a few 40s" instead of doing his job.
    • When Gabonese President Ali Bongo visited the White House during the Obama administration, Bolling characterized it as "a hoodlum in the hizzouse."
    • He has also argued that “there’s no racial aspect of [police] profiling” and said that racism doesn’t exist anymore.
    • Bolling argued that “every terrorist on American soil has been a Muslim.”
    • Bolling also opposed the proposal to build a Muslim community center near ground zero in New York City, suggesting it could be “a meeting place for some of the scariest minds,” even “some of the biggest terrorist minds.”

    Bolling joins other former Fox News personalities who’ve moved to Sinclair

    Bolling is one of three former Fox News employees to have landed at Sinclair after leaving the network, all of whom appeared in both episodes so far of America This Week.

    Former Fox contributor Sebastian Gorka, an anti-Muslim extremist and Washington, D.C., swamp creature, recently officially became a Sinclair contributor as well. Like Bolling, Gorka had appeared multiple times in Sinclair national news programming beforehand, and he also hosted at least two special programs that aired on Sinclair local news stations. One of these specials, called The Rise of Terrorism: A Clash of Cultures, featured footage labeled as "ISIS propaganda" and shots of terror attacks followed by Gorka asking viewers, "Can the teachings of Islam and western values ever be reconciled? Is it possible for the waves of refugees arriving in the west to assimilate and coexist peacefully?"

    Sinclair investigative reporter James Rosen also joined Sinclair this year; he previously worked as Fox News’ chief Washington correspondent before leaving the network in early 2018 amid reports that he sexually harassed colleagues.

    Sinclair’s future

    Sinclair’s recent decisions to formally hire multiple ex-Fox News figures and to give one of them a weekly online program signal the media giant’s shift to more openly embracing its reputation as a right-wing outlet. For years, Sinclair flew under the radar and was quietly injecting conservative spin into local news programming -- but now that it’s become more of a household name, it seems to be pivoting even further right.

    Before the broadcasting giant began airing Trumpian “must-run” segments warning of media bias last spring, Sinclair stations were already running multiple commentary segments featuring what were clearly right-wing perspectives, producing fearmongering “Terrorism Alert Desk” segments, and broadcasting weekly shows from conservative conspiracy theorist Sharyl Attkisson and right-wing grifter Armstrong Williams. In recent months, Sinclair finally brought a liberal commentator on board to produce “must-runs” from a different point of view, but the company simultaneously invested in Rosen, Gorka, and Bolling.