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  • Pro-Trump media attack judge in Michael Cohen case after Sean Hannity is revealed as his client

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    Agenda-driven right-wing figures and online media outlets are using their platforms to try to discredit Judge Kimba Wood, a federal judge overseeing the case of President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen, currently under scrutiny for possible bank fraud and wire fraud. Right-wing media started targeting Wood after she ordered Cohen to disclose the name of his anonymous legal client on the basis that there was no legal ground to withhold it; the client turned out to be Fox News anchor Sean Hannity. Far-right Twitter trolls, conservative writers, and Fox News commentators -- among others -- dug into Wood’s past, scandalized her ties to Democrats, and attacked her for training as a Playboy bunny while in law school.

    This is a familiar tactic for right-wing media figures, who regularly attempt to defame any judge with whom they disagree. Right-wing media have also launched a full-on offensive against special counsel Robert Mueller and his team’s investigation into ties between the Trump orbit and Russian officials. Here are some of the things these figures and outlets have claimed undermine Wood’s credibility:

    She trained for five days in college as a Playboy bunny

    True Pundit: “Cohen’s Judge & Stormy Daniels Have Much in Common: Playboy Bunny Judge Worked for Hugh Hefner”

    Infowars’ Jerome Corsi: Wood “worked as a Playboy Bunny at a Playboy casino in 1966.”

    She officiated George Soros’ wedding in 2013

    Infowars: “No Joke: Judge Who Forced Cohen to ID Hannity Performed Soros Wedding”

    Conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec: Sean Hannity was “doxed by Liberal Judge” who was at George Soros’ wedding.

    Right-wing troll Mike Cernovich: "On the same day that Soros-funded Media Matters announces a boycott, The judge who performed Soros' wedding names Sean Hannity as a Michael Cohen client. TOTAL COINCIDENCE."

    The Daily Wire’s Ryan Saavedra: “The judge who ordered @SeanHannity's name to be released performed the wedding for far-left billionaire George Soros.”

    Fox News host Melissa Francis: “Kimba Wood taking time away from Michael Cohen matter to perform George Soros wedding.”

    She was considered by the Clintons for attorney general

    Conservative commentator Jeffrey Lord: Bill and Hillary Clinton “pressed to make [Wood] Attorney General.”

    FrontPage Magazine: “Judge Kimba Wood was Bill Clinton's nominee for Attorney General. But then her nomination fell apart over her employment of an illegal alien and the Playboy thing. ... It's a safe bet that Judge Kimba Wood might harbor some resentment toward Republicans."

    Fox’s Sebastian Gorka: Wood “is a Clinton confidante who was chosen by Hillary to be AG. The #DEEPstate is real.”

    Right-wing radio host Mark Simone: “Michael Cohen's bad luck was getting a judge from the Clinton administration.To give you an idea of her politics - Kimba Wood was chosen by the Clinton's to be Attorney General and she performed George Soros's wedding.”

    American Thinker: Wood “was Bill Clinton's second choice to be attorney general. … Is this amazingly great luck for the Mueller-U.S. attorney tag team or what?”

    Disclosure: George Soros made a donation to Media Matters in 2010.

  • This is what it sounds like when right-wing media figures talk about Martin Luther King Jr.

    In the last year, they’ve compared King to Trump and misrepresented his legacy 

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

    On April 4, 1968, civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, TN. Fifty years later, most of the United States remember King for his tireless efforts toward achieving racial equality and his leadership during the civil rights movement. But in the last year alone, various right-wing media figures have misrepresented King’s legacy and invoked his name to push for their own interests. Here is what they’ve had to say about the King in the last year:

    • Former CNN commentator Jeffrey Lord twice compared President Donald Trump to King. He told CNN viewers to “think of President Trump as the Martin Luther King of health care,” and then doubled down on that comparison, claiming Trump and King used similar “strategy.”

    • Lord then penned an op-ed for The American Spectator in which he claimed that identity politics -- “the grandson of slavery” -- “is merely the modern version of the segregation that King would give his life fighting to end.” Lord also scolded the NAACP for being insufficiently grateful to Trump after “black unemployment had hit its lowest level on record.”

    • Fox’s Pete Hegseth attacked King’s 9-year-old granddaughter, who spoke at the March For Our Lives: “Her grandfather, Martin Luther King, did so much for this country, but she's saying, ‘I dream of a world without guns.’ It's like, I dream of a world without Islamists, too.”

    • Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones compared himself to King, claiming, “I’m one of the biggest proponents of nonviolence [along with] Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King.”

    • Fox’s Neil Cavuto questioned whether King would have recoiled at Confederate statues, asking King’s niece Alveda King, “Did your dad or uncle have anything to say about growing up in the Atlanta area and the South where there were a lot of these statues back then -- did they recoil at them? Did they hate them?” King’s niece replied, “There was never a recoiling.”

    • Pro-Trump writer Jacob Wohl compared Trump to King, tweeting: “President Trump, like Martin Luther King, is a civil rights icon.” Wohl also argued that “Martin Luther King would be a Trump Supporter” and recycled a favorite right-wing claim that the Democratic Party was the party that “opposed Abraham Lincoln, founded the KKK, supported segregation and attacked Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”

    • Infowars’ Paul Joseph Watson tweeted, “Modern ‘progressive’ activists & #BlackLivesMatter supporters oppose everything Martin Luther King stood for. Judge people on the content of their character, not the color of their skin.”

    • Fox opinion contributor Jeremy Hunt wrote, “Please stop politicizing Martin Luther King Day. It's a day for national unity, not political division. … On a day designed for public service and national unity, some in the media insist on making it about politics.”

    • The New York Post's editorial board wrote, “Race is no longer a barrier to elective office, let alone to voting,” and added that King would be “distressed by today’s hypersensitivity and growing political correctness that have made honest dialogue and discussions of race and other issues nearly impossible.”

    • During a white nationalist rant, Alex Jones compared King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech to the rise of Trump-ism in America: “It’s just incredible that we’re in the middle of this epic historical battle. And Trump’s right when he said this is the new American moment. This is like Martin Luther King 'I Have a Dream' speech.”

    • The Atlantic’s Kevin Williamson wrote, “Using King’s moral stature to promote socialism or global-warming legislation in 2018 is morally and intellectually dishonest.”

  • Stephen Moore Still Doesn’t Understand Employment Numbers: Coal Edition

    Blog ››› ››› KEVIN KALHOEFER

    Discredited economic pundit and former Trump campaign adviser Stephen Moore has been employing his longstanding practice of misrepresenting jobs data to hail President Donald Trump for a non-existent resurgence of coal mining jobs.

    Employment in the coal industry has been mired in a decades-long decline due to advances in mining technology, increased automation, a shift toward mountaintop removal, and competition from natural gas and renewables. Not surprisingly, numerous experts and industry observers have called Trump’s promise to put coal miners “back to work” by unraveling environmental protections an empty one. From the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis:

    But according to Trump’s former economic adviser Stephen Moore, coal mining’s implausible comeback is already here. Since Trump issued his executive order to roll back Obama-era environmental protections and begin “withdrawing and rewriting the Obama-era Clean Power Plan” regulating coal-fired power plants, Moore has misrepresented jobs data to claim Trump is already bringing back lost coal mining jobs.

    In an April op-ed published in The Washington Times and The American Spectator, Moore wrote:

    Buried in an otherwise humdrum jobs report for March was the jaw-dropping pronouncement by the Labor Department that mining jobs in America were up by 11,000 in March. Since the low point in October 2016 and following years of painful layoffs in the mining industry, the mining sector has added 35,000 jobs.

    What a turnaround. It comes at a time when liberals have been saying that Donald Trump has been lying to the American people when he has said that he can bring coal jobs back. Well, so far he has.

    Yet those 11,000 jobs referenced in the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) March jobs report were not coal jobs, as Vox explained (emphasis added):

    Coal mining, another big revitalization promise from Trump, is an even weaker story. The latest jobs numbers for the mining industry overall look promising, with employment steadily increasing and 11,000 new jobs created in March. On closer inspection, though, most of these jobs are in the category of “support services.”

    In other words, these aren’t the coal jobs that Trump promised to bring back. These are mostly jobs related to fracking, such as those required to install and maintain equipment needed to drill for oil and natural gas, says Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, DC. When oil prices rise, which has been happening in recent months, fracking activity increases too.

    Nonetheless, Moore doubled down on his misleading claim following the BLS’ April jobs report, writing in a May 9 Breitbart op-ed, “Well, coal is back. The latest jobs report says that 8,000 more mining jobs were added in April. That brings the grand total to more than 40,000 new mining jobs since the election of Donald J. Trump. Does this sound like an industry in decline?”

    Moore once again ignored that the vast majority of those jobs were created in categories other than “coal mining.” Had Moore bothered to look at the actual coal mining jobs category, he would know that figure had only grown by approximately 200 and it has barely moved since Election Day.

    Even if there were an uptick in coal mining jobs, Vox makes clear that Trump “couldn’t take credit” for that increase since it’s still too early to see any impact from the Trump administration’s policies.

    This sort of misleading economic analysis has long been Moore’s calling card and illustrates why The Kansas City Star decided to stop publishing Moore’s op-eds in 2014 after a similar series of statistical games (though Moore’s divorced-from-reality economic analysis is still good enough for CNN). Moore’s false pronouncements of a Trump-inspired coal comeback are just more of the same.

  • Right-Wing Media Figures Want Trump To Shut Down The Government So They Can Blame Democrats

    ››› ››› NINA MAST

    Right-wing media figures are displeased after the likelihood of a government shutdown seemed to fade following a breakthrough after days of failed negotiations and speculation. Specifically, right-wing media figures cheered the idea of a shutdown because they wanted to make sure that “Democrats get blamed” and to exact revenge after, as they claimed, Democrats made previous shutdowns “as painful as possible.”

  • Right-Wing Outlets Falsely Claim Former CIA Director “Colluded” With Foreign Countries To Oppose Trump

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Right-wing outlets and fake news purveyors are spinning a Guardian report to falsely claim that former CIA Director John Brennan “colluded” with foreign countries to target President Donald Trump. Communications between members of the Trump campaign and Russian officials was gathered incidentally by other countries by during routine monitoring of Russian activity. Many of these same outlets previously used this Guardian article to falsely suggest that Fox analyst Andrew Napolitano was vindicated in his claim about collusion between the British and former President Barack Obama.

  • Right-Wing Media Use Misleading Report To Boost Trump’s Claim Of Media Bias

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Conservative media are using a report from the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) to reinforce Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s claim that the media is rigged against him, pointing to the report’s claim that media figures have donated more to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign than Trump’s. But according to The Washington Post, the report doesn’t “tell the whole story” and doesn’t prove “widespread bias” because it does not include any campaign trail reporters who influence coverage of the election.

  • CNN Commentator Demands Paul Ryan Resign As House Speaker

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    CNN political commentator and American Spectator writer Jeffrey Lord called on House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) to “Resign the Speakership immediately.” In an open letter to Ryan, Lord claimed that by “refusing to defend” Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, Ryan has “refused outright to perform [his] job as a senior party leader.”

    After Ryan announced on October 10 that he would no longer defend or campaign with Trump, the Republican nominee lashed out at the House Speaker, calling him “weak,” “ineffective,” and “disloyal.” Trump’s biggest right-wing media defenders also criticized Ryan, claiming that he is in “survival mode” and slamming the House Speaker and like-minded Republicans as “weak, feckless, timid,” and “spineless.”

    Lord has done his fair share of carrying Trump’s “fetid water,” from defending his attacks on the Khan family as mere “politics,” to claiming Trump was within his rights to criticize former Miss Universe Alicia Machado for her gaining weight because she may have been “in violation of her contract.” Lord even argued that Trump should not release his tax returns because his “political opponents are going to go through there and look to make issues out of things.”

    In his latest defense for the Republican nominee, Lord writes to Ryan that it is time for him to “do the honorable thing and resign as Speaker of the House.” Lord concluded, “your most recent statement about Donald Trump makes it vividly clear that with less than a month to go before a major presidential election — an election that will determine the fate of the Supreme Court, the economy, and America’s role in a world where it faces a mortal enemy — you are refusing to lead and cannot follow the voters of your own party.” From the October 11 American Spectator post:

    Dear Mr. Speaker:

    I like you.

    We both admired and worked for Jack Kemp at different stages of his career. I agree with much of your Kemp-style agenda. So it gives me no pleasure to say what is now abundantly obvious.

    It is time for you to do the honorable thing and resign as Speaker of the House.

    Your views on Donald Trump — and for that matter anything else — are between you and your constituents in Wisconsin. But most certainly what you do as Speaker of the House — which is to say as the leader of the Republican Party in the House and a senior leader in the national Republican Party — is to support the Republican presidential nominee elected by the voters. Amazingly, you have dragged your feet repeatedly on one of your central responsibilities as a party leader. Now, with your latest statement refusing to defend Donald Trump — the Republican nominee and the elected leader of the Republican Party — you have refused outright to perform your job as a senior party leader.

    With that in mind, it is time to do the right thing — and the honorable thing: Resign the Speakership immediately.

    [...]

    Your most recent statement about Donald Trump makes it vividly clear that with less than a month to go before a major presidential election — an election that will determine the fate of the Supreme Court, the economy, and America’s role in a world where it faces a mortal enemy — you are refusing to lead and cannot follow the voters of your own party. Which leaves only one honorable choice: get out of the way.

    I say this with great respect and great regret.

    It is time for you to resign as Speaker of the House.

  • Right-Wing “Porn Star” Attack On Former Miss Universe Falls Apart

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Conservative media figures are responding to former Miss Universe Alicia Machado’s statements that Donald Trump called her “Miss Piggy” and publicly humiliated her for gaining weight by accusing her of being a “porn star.” It is unclear why Trump’s behavior would be mitigated by Machado later performing in adult films, but those claims nonetheless appear to be false.

    During the first presidential debate, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton pointed to Trump’s record of mistreating women, specifically highlighting his attacks Machado. Trump, who owned the Miss Universe pageant from 1996 to 2015, doubled down the morning after the debate on the September 27 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, saying Machado had “gained a massive amount of weight and it was a real problem.” Trump supporters have sought to explain away Trump’s actions by seeking to undermine Machado’s character.

    In a September 27 article headlined, “Porn Star Campaigns For Hillary Clinton,” the Daily Caller falsely reported that “Snippets of an adult film starring Machado are available on multiple free porn websites.” While the headline remains the same, that language has been removed from the article, which now states that she “is in a sextape” that was released in 2005.

    The article features the correction, “The star of Apprentass 4 was Angel Dark, not Alicia Machado.” While the correction is nonspecific, it appears that the Caller based the entire premise of their claim that Machado is a “porn star” on the incorrect belief that she was featured in that film. According to The Daily Beast, which reported on conservatives’ smear effort against Machado, “there does not appear to be any evidence suggesting the existence of professionally made pornography starring Machado.”

    While the article no longer cites an example of her appearing in an adult film, it still baselessly claims that Machado made an “appearance in porn” and has a “background in pornography.”

    The apparently unsubstantiated claim that Machado appeared in adult films rocketed through Trump’s supporters in the right-wing media. Rush Limbaugh opened his September 28 radio show by describing Machado as the “porn star Miss Piggy.” Fox News’ Sean Hannity claimed on his radio show “that she may have starred in an adult film, and available apparently on multiple free porn websites according to the Daily Caller.” He also said that Machado is “in all these porn videos” during an interview with Eric Trump. And CNN’s Jeffrey Lord repeatedly described Machado as a “porn star” in an American Spectator article headlined “Hillary’s Bad Judgement: Exploits Porn Star Surrogate.”

    This effort to shame Machado into silence would be despicable even if it were true. But it appears that the entire smear campaign is also completely false.

  • These Are The Right-Wing Media Figures Spinning Trump's Bogus Legal Argument Against Trump U. Judge

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Some conservative media figures are still backing up presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s absurd argument that a federal judge overseeing the lawsuit against Trump University supposedly has a conflict of interest due to being “Mexican” or because he is a member of a Latino Bar Association group, saying Trump’s claim is not “a stretch,” is not “unreasonable,” and that the judge “is all too willing to associate himself with his ethnicity.” However, long-standing legal precedent has repeatedly ruled out a judge’s race or ethnicity as valid grounds for recusal.