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  • Fox News op-ed uncritically cited white supremacist piece claiming Democrats subject “whites to outright racial plunder”

    Fox News changed the citation after our inquiry

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    A op-ed attacking former Attorney General Eric Holder uncritically relied on, and linked to, a piece by white supremacist Jared Taylor that accused Democrats of subjecting “whites to outright racial plunder.” Fox News changed the link after Media Matters contacted the network.

    Jeremy Carl, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, wrote a May 23 op-ed complaining about a Starbucks policy allowing “anyone to spend time in its stores and use restrooms regardless of whether they make a purchase.” He also criticized the company for having engaged "Eric Holder as an adviser on diversity issues,” claiming he “has a long history of making accusations of racial discrimination, often unjustified.”

    As one piece of evidence against Holder, Carl linked to a January 2015 opinion piece by Jared Taylor on the white supremacist website American Renaissance. Media Matters found the May op-ed while examining media outlets that have uncritically promoted or cited research by white supremacist media.

    The Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that American Renaissance “has been one of the vilest white nationalist publications, often promoting eugenics and blatant anti-black and anti-Latino racists. In 2005 for example, after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, Taylor wrote, ‘When blacks are left entirely to their own devices, Western Civilization—any kind of civilization—disappears.’” The Anti-Defamation League wrote that Taylor “upholds racial homogeneity as the key to fostering peaceful coexistence.”

    Taylor’s piece was a review of conservative commentators John Fund and Hans von Spakovsky’s book Obama’s Enforcer: Eric Holder’s Justice Department. The review began by attacking Holder as “a devious, power-hungry, racial zealot” who is “probably the most racially committed black ever to hold a cabinet job” and concluded that while the Republican and Democratic parties are similar, Republicans “are less likely to subject whites to outright racial plunder.”  

    Media Matters contacted Fox News about the op-ed and asked if the network thought the research citation was appropriate. The company did not reply but changed the link so it now directs to the Amazon page for Obama’s Enforcer. The site has not noted the change or posted an editor’s note (the op-ed’s timestamp reflects the update).

    Media Matters later contacted Carl, who stated: “Obviously I would not have intentionally cited American Renaissance in any article I wrote — I wrote this article on a very fast same-day deadline at Fox News’ request and simply missed the sourcing. I suspect I missed it because the article was discussing work by Hans Von Spakovsky from Heritage, whom I do know and whose work I trust. I likely simply erred in assuming it was by Von Spakovsky.”

    Carl, who agreed with Fox's decision to change the citation, also claimed “Holder has a history of numerous racist statements and actions is beyond doubt. I don’t apologize for saying that — then or now. One doesn’t need to link to American Renaissance to make that point, and obviously I would not have intentionally done so.” He additionally suggested that because Media Matters chose to contact Fox directly first rather than the author, it was evidence we are engaging in the “harassment of a critic of leftism" instead of a "pursuit of truth.”

  • Fox News and Russian state media are promoting a conspiracy theorist's California secessionist ploy

    "New California" secessionists are led by a Sandy Hook and Agenda 21 conspiracy theorist

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Fox News is promoting what it calls a bid by “conservatives in California so fed up with liberals running their state” to “break away” from the state and form a “New California.” What Fox didn’t mention is that the secessionist ploy is being led by a conspiracy theorist. 

    “New California” is just the latest iteration of long-running, minor secessionist movements in California that previously materialized in 2016 as the #Calexit hashtag and “Yes California” electoral campaign, but the small group leading the charge is getting some media help from interesting places. A January 17 segment of Fox & Friends discussed the current campaign and a story about it was featured on the front page of the same day. Far-right troll Jack Posobiec and Russian state media are also pushing the campaign on Twitter. 

    The January 17 segment of Fox & Friends briefly featured comments by Robert Paul Preston, whom the show credited as the “founder” of “New California.” On its website, Fox News identified Preston and his group as “California conservatives.” Both the article and the segment on Fox & Friends failed to note that Preston is a conspiracy theorist and Sandy Hook truther. Preston believes in “Agenda 21,” a conspiracy theory dating to when Glenn Beck hosted a show on Fox News. "Agenda 21" believers like Preston think that the United Nations is executing a “master plan” to “remove you from your land ... take away our Constitutional Rights and depopulate our planet.” Preston also believes the Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax. 

    Along with Fox News, Russia’s state-owned media company RT (formerly Russia Today) is also pushing the “New California” narrative with tweets and an article. Like Fox, the RT write-up also uncritically quotes Paul Preston in support of secession. 

    Russia-linked social media bots have driven previous iterations of American secessionist narratives. On November 4, 2017, the BBC reported that the #Calexit hashtag and narrative around the 2016 election “was artificially driven by automated bots or fake accounts,” many of which were connected to the pro-Kremlin “troll factory” known as the Internet Research Agency. Additionally, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the leader of “Yes California” lived in and ran the campaign from Russia.

  • How pro-Trump media are attacking Moore's accusers: claiming a forged yearbook signature, suggesting bribery, and quibbling over a phone's location

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore has come under fire following accusations that he attempted to rape a teenager and engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct with other teens, including a then-14-year-old minor. In order to defend Moore, right-wing and far-right media that have also been staunch supporters of President Donald Trump have resorted to pushing conspiracy theories -- some based on discredited Twitter accounts -- including suggesting that Moore’s signature on the yearbook of one of the accusers is forged and questioning the location of a phone another accuser said she used to speak to Moore. Moore’s wife has also pushed some of the conspiratorial claims on Facebook.

    Pushing conspiracy theories

    When Beverly Young Nelson, the woman who said Moore tried to rape her in 1977, showed the media a message signed “Roy Moore, D.A.” in her yearbook from that year, a conspiracy theory began making the rounds. The far-right and consistently unreliable blog Gateway Pundit claimed that the signature was forged in a piece headlined “IT’S A FAKE.” The website cited Twitter account Thomas Wictor as its source, claiming Wictor is “known for his insightful take on politics.” On the contrary, Wictor has a history of pushing false claims, including helping spread a made-up Puerto Rican trucker strike after Hurricane Maria and sharing a fake Facebook post of fallen soldier La David Johnson’s wife criticizing Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL). Despite Wictor’s poor track record, Gateway Pundit’s highly dubious claim has spread among other pro-Trump media and message boards that have previously helped push conspiracy theories. Roy Moore’s wife, Kayla Moore, also posted the article on her Facebook page.

    Before that, shortly after the The Washington Post published its initial report about Moore, Twitter account @umpire43 dubiously claimed that a “family friend” told his wife that “a WAPO reporter named Beth offered her 1000$ to accuse Roy Moore.” The Gateway Pundit and the conspiracy theory outlet Infowars both picked up the tweet, and from there, numerous fake news websites promoted it, as did the far-right-friendly One America News Network. Kayla Moore also posted a link on Facebook to one of the fake news websites pushing the claim. But the Twitter account that launched the rumor has previously made a similar allegation about two other news outlets, has lied about its own background, and has since deleted many of its tweets.

    Pushing irrelevant or inconsequential stories to try to discredit the accusers

    Many pro-Trump media outlets have also jumped on the tangential point that one of the accusers, Deborah Wesson Gibson, was an interpreter for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign and worked with former Vice President Joe Biden at some events. Breitbart, The Gateway Pundit, Infowars, and many fake news websites all jumped on this allegation, and more traditional right-wing media outlets such as Fox News and The Daily Caller hyped it as well.

    Pro-Trump media have also supported a separate effort by Breitbart to discredit the accusers. One Breitbart report claimed that the mother of Leigh Corfman, who was 14 at the time of her encounter with Moore, said that her daughter did not have a phone in her bedroom, though the Post reported that Corfman had spoken with Moore on such a phone. Kayla Moore, The Gateway Pundit and multiple fake news websites promoted Breitbart’s report, which dubiously suggested that Corfman was lying. Another Breitbart report hyped a comment from Corfman’s mother that the Post “worked to convince her daughter to give an interview,” even though the Post had acknowledged that fact in its original report. Gateway Pundit called it “one heck of a revelation,” and fake news website TruthFeed called it a “bombshell.”

    Victim shaming

    Pro-Trump media commentators have also smeared the accusers in other ways. Some have suggested that struggles Corfman faced later in her life meant her accusation was not credible (in fact the Post reported that Corfman hesitated to share her story earlier precisely because she feared her struggles would be used against her). CNN’s Ed Martin suggested that Corfman should not be believed because she had “multiple bankruptcies.” Fox News host Sean Hannity on his radio show said that the accusers could be violating one of the Ten Commandments: “thou shalt not bear false witness.” On the same show, a guest, Daily Mail columnist Katie Hopkins, said that Corfman “disgust[ed]” her because she “spent 38 years thinking about this before [she] said anything” and was “making women poison to work for.” Additionally, radio host Rush Limbaugh called Corfman a “wacky,” “self-admitted mess of a woman,” and frequent Fox News guest David Wohl called Corfman “basically incorrigible” because she “was suffering from drug addiction, alcohol abuse.” As Post columnist Margaret Sullivan noted, these kinds of smears are exactly why so many women are hesitant to report abuse.

  • Russian propaganda on Twitter is infiltrating fake news websites

    Fake news websites cited Russian social media accounts, including @TEN_GOP, to attack Muslims, defend Trump against perceived enemies, and attack the press

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Fake news websites have cited multiple Twitter accounts likely run by Russian operatives in articles they’ve posted, undoubtedly helping the accounts’ backers sow discord in the United States.

    On October 17, the Russian publication RBC published a report on the Internet Research Agency, a Russian firm tied to the Kremlin, and how it impacted the 2016 election via social media platforms. Included in that report were the usernames of multiple Twitter accounts that these operatives used, the most prominent being @TEN_GOP. Other publications have also reported on other Twitter and Facebook accounts that these operatives used. Twitter will reportedly tell Congress that it has since discovered 2,752 accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency.

    Hyperpartisan websites known to push fake news have repeatedly cited some of these accounts in their articles (specifically @Pamela_Moore13, @USA_Gunslinger, @10_GOP, @Crystal1Johnson, and @Jeblary2016), as the accounts’ tweets can align with these websites’ agendas, and the pieces have then been shared on social media. Last December, multiple fake news websites cited a claim from the account @Pamela_Moore13 that Minnesota Muslims “want Sharia law.” Facebook users then shared the articles, with some commenters demanding that the subjects “be deported” and claiming that they “DO NOT BELONG IN THIS COUNTRY.” Combined, those articles received over 20,000 Facebook engagements, according to social media analytics website BuzzSumo. A fake news website also cited the @Pamela_Moore13 account to attack Starbucks for promising to hire refugees, and the piece was also shared on Facebook and Twitter.

    Fake news websites also prominently cited these accounts to praise or defend President Donald Trump, with the pieces shared on social media. A fake news website cited a comment from the alleged Russian account @USA_Gunslinger that “this video of crowds in Poland cheering the arrival of @realDonaldTrump makes me so proud to be American” to claim that Poland was “ecstatic” for Trump to visit the country. Fake news websites also cited @Pamela_Moore13 to defend Trump’s mass firing of U.S. attorneys in articles that were then shared on some Facebook pages. Such sites also cited the account to push Trump’s false claim that Trump had wiretapped Trump Tower.

    Most often, these alleged Russian accounts were employed to attack Trump’s perceived enemies, with the results again being shared on social media. Fake news websites and others websites cited one of the accounts to accuse former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of colluding with Russia and to claim that Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) (already a target via @TEN_GOP) wanted Sharia law and had attacked former FBI Director James Comey. They also targeted former President Barack Obama, citing the same Russian account to claim that Obama tried to sabotage Trump, and used that same account to accuse former national security adviser Susan Rice of “felonies.” YourNewsWire, a fake news website accused of being a Russian proxy, cited that same account to attack former Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. Some of these articles received thousands of Facebook engagements.

    Additionally, hyperpartisan websites cited the Russian accounts to:

    Combined, these fake news websites' articles citing alleged Russian accounts had at least 140,000 Facebook engagements, according to BuzzSumo.

    Non-fake news websites also cited some of these alleged Russian accounts, along with other alleged Russian accounts @tpartynews and @lgbtunitedcom. Far-right blog The Gateway Pundit repeatedly cited @Pamela_Moore13 to hype a Trump rally in North Carolina, defend Trump’s firings of U.S. attorneys, identify a supposed Muslim gunman, and compare Democrats to ISIS. Another outlet, the conspiracy-minded Infowars, cross-posted pieces citing @10_GOP to hype the St. Louis police protest and @Pamela_Moore13 to push a hashtag calling for the firing of Trump aide and son-in-law Jared Kushner. Other outlets that cited these alleged Russian accounts included Breitbart, The Blaze, RedState, the Washington Examiner, Fox News (multiple times, including a Fox News columnist retweeting one of the accounts), The Telegraph, The Washington Post, Vox, HuffPost, and The Associated Press.

    It's obvious that hyperpartisan websites acted as a multiplier for the influence of these alleged Russian accounts, as they did with @TEN_GOP, giving them a reach they may not have had otherwise and thus aiding the Russians’ likely goal of ensuring tumult in the country.

  • Study: Fox News covered immigration five times as much as CNN and MSNBC combined

    Fox regularly pushes misinformation about DACA and sanctuary cities

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    A Media Matters review of recent evening programming on the three major cable news channels found that Fox News is covering immigration significantly more than CNN and MSNBC, a disparity that has occurred before. But Fox’s coverage of immigration issues is overwhelmingly negative, and its dominance of the subject on cable news effectively allows it to shape the debate when immigration issues are a topic of national discussion.

    From October 9 to October 13, the week after President Donald Trump "dropped a potential bomb into negotiations on the future" of President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Fox News’ programming between 5 and 11 p.m. devoted a total of one hour, two minutes and 23 seconds to discussing immigration, compared to CNN’s six minutes and nine seconds of coverage and MSNBC’s five minutes and 47 seconds of coverage.

    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    During this time, CNN and MSNBC primarily covered the issue in terms of legislative battles, discussing the attempts by some lawmakers to pass a bill to protect beneficiaries of DACA. Fox News discussed the DACA legislative process, but also spent significant airtime pushing anti-immigrant sentiments and myths.

    These findings represent a trend, not an isolated event. Media Matters previously found that during the first two weeks of July, even when few immigration issues were making national headlines, Fox News outpaced CNN and MSNBC on immigration coverage even more starkly; during that time period, Fox News’ evening programs dedicated a total of 15 segments to immigration-related topics, totaling one hour, three minutes, and 31 seconds of coverage. CNN’s evening news programming included only one immigration-focused segment that was three minutes and six seconds long. MSNBC’s evening news programs dedicated two segments to immigration coverage, totaling three minutes and two seconds of reporting.

    By outpacing other networks’ immigration coverage, Fox News can lay the groundwork for right-wing immigration myths to spread, as in the debate over so-called sanctuary cities. The sustained stream of misinformation about sanctuary cities from Fox -- and the relative absence of discussion about sanctuary cities on CNN and MSNBC -- may have contributed to the belief among 40 percent of Americans that sanctuary cities are “less safe” compared to non-sanctuary jurisdictions, even though data shows the exact opposite. Ousted Fox News host Bill O’Reilly even convinced Congress to consider Kate’s Law, anti-sanctuary-city legislation that he initiated, which passed in the House in June.

    The discrepancy can be spotted beyond cable news and in media more broadly. A report by the nonprofit Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC) on coverage of immigrant detention found that Breitbart and far exceeded comparable outlets in the frequency with which they reported on immigrant detention and that those sites, as well as the conservative newspaper The Washington Times, routinely cast immigrants as criminals. The CIVIC report included the following data:

    Graph and data courtesy of Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC)


    Media Matters searched Nexis transcripts of CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC programming between 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. from October 9 to October 13 and from July 3 to July 14 (excluding weekends) for the terms immigrant, immigration, illegal alien, illegals, border, border wall, sanctuary, or DACA. For every qualifying segment, Media Matters used iQ media to count the amount of time spent covering that specific immigration topic. We also coded for each immigration topic. We defined “significant discussion” as a host posing a question to a guest related to the topic and the guest answering the question. We also counted news reports.

    Cristina López G. and Kyanna Spaulding contributed to this report.

  • Discredited gun researcher John Lott’s misleading Las Vegas massacre claims are falling apart

    Lott doesn’t want readers to know that strong gun regulations are associated with lower levels of homicide

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Discredited gun researcher John Lott attacked strong firearms regulations in a op-ed with a dishonest comparison between the United States and Europe relating to gun laws and public massacres.

    Following a mass shooting sniper attack on a Las Vegas country music concert that left 59 dead and more than 500 people wounded, Lott -- a go-to source for conservative misinformation about gun violence following high-profile shootings -- published an opinion piece at comparing machine gun attacks in Europe versus the United States.

    Lott wrote that “Europe, which has all the gun controls that are being pushed in the aftermath of the Las Vegas carnage, has actually suffered more bloodshed from these types of attacks than the U.S.,” before noting that machine guns have been used in multiple public attacks in Europe in recent years while the Las Vegas attack “may be the first mass public shooting in the U.S. involving a machine gun.”

    Using this comparison to attack strong gun regulations is highly misleading because it is premised on a narrow subset of gun violence -- public mass shootings involving machine guns. For example, the parameters of Lott’s comparison exclude mass attacks in the U.S. where the shooters used semi-automatic assault weapons, such as the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, which killed 26, and the Pulse nightclub shooting, which killed 49.

    What Lott fails to tell readers is that overall, Europe has much stronger gun laws and much lower rates of gun homicide than the United States.

    And it’s not the case that murders by means other than guns in Europe make up the difference in rates; European countries -- and high-income nations generally -- typically have lower homicide rates by all means compared to the United States:

    Overall, the association between stronger gun laws and lower gun violence is well-established. As the Harvard Injury Control Research Center has concluded, “A broad array of evidence indicates that gun availability is a risk factor for homicide, both in the United States and across high-income countries. Case-control studies, ecological time-series and cross-sectional studies indicate that in homes, cities, states and regions in the U.S., where there are more guns, both men and women are at a higher risk for homicide, particularly firearm homicide.”

    Lott’s comparison between the U.S. and Europe also underscores that he failed to wait for the facts of the Las Vegas shooting to play out before attacking strong gun regulations.

    At the time Lott published his article, audio and video footage of the attack were spurring lots of speculation that the gunman used a fully automatic machine gun, which is legal to own in the U.S. if manufactured before 1986 but is more heavily regulated than other weapons. But this may have not been the case, further undercutting Lott’s cherry-picking comparison.

    Following his piece’s publication, The Associated Press reported that, according to authorities, the gunman possessed “two ‘bump-stocks’ that could have converted semi-automatic firearms into fully automatic ones.” These weapon attachments are legal in the United States, although Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) 2013 assault weapons ban bill proposed to outlaw them.

    Lott is best known as the author of More Guns, Less Crime, a book whose conclusion that permissive gun laws reduce crime rates was later debunked by academics who found serious flaws in his research.

    While Lott is often quoted in media following high-profile incidents of gun violence, he should not be considered a credible source for information. In addition to pushing flawed research, Lott has been embroiled in a number of ethics controversies, including regarding his admission that he used the pseudonym "Mary Rosh" to defend his works from critics and praise his own research in online discussions. He has also faced allegations that he fabricated the results of a study on defensive gun use and has been caught attempting to surreptitiously revise his data after critics discovered errors.

  • It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Todd Starnes attacking Superman for protecting “illegals” from being shot

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The right wing grievance over a perceived liberal bias in Hollywood, which previously led to right-wing media personalities attacking Wonder Woman, The Lego Movie, Frozen, Tinker Bell, and the Mario Brothers, has now turned toward the latest issue of Action Comics. In his article for, Fox host Todd Starnes attacked Superman for protecting undocumented immigrants in the comic, saying, “The Man of Steel has now become a propaganda tool for the defenders of illegal aliens.”

    In the latest issue of the series that’s published by DC Comics, Superman stood in front a group of people as an aggrieved man shot at them with his machine gun. In his article, Starnes suggested that Superman should be “rounding up the illegals and flying them back,” and speculated that “it’s only a matter of time before DC Comics unleashes other superheroes in its corporate quest to defend the alien invaders.” He also suggested that such storylines amount to ”indoctrinating our kids.” From the September 13 post:

    The Man of Steel has now become a propaganda tool for the defenders of illegal aliens.

    In the most recent issue of Action Comics, Superman comes to the rescue of a group of illegal aliens -- under attack from a white guy wearing an American flag bandana and waving around a machine gun.


    Instead of rounding up the illegals and flying them back to where they came from, the Man of Steel snatches the white guy and with a menacing look snarls, "The only person responsible for the blackness smothering your soul -- is you."

    Remember when Superman stood for truth, justice and the American way? Then again, Clark Kent is technically an illegal alien – a native of Krypton.

  • Newt Gingrich used Fox position to push for-profit colleges without disclosing conflict of interest

    Following Media Matters inquiry, added belated editor’s notes disclosing Gingrich’s for-profit college ties

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Newt Gingrich has been helping the for-profit college industry -- both behind the scenes and through his Fox News platform -- in its attempt to dismantle safeguards designed to protect students from being saddled with debt and targeted with unsavory practices.

    Gingrich’s efforts include op-eds which, until recently, pushed for-profit college talking points without any disclosure that he works as a consultant for that industry.

    President Barack Obama led a crackdown on fraud and abusive practices within the for-profit college industry. For instance, the administration released regulations to let students "apply to have their federal loans discharged if their college used illegal and deceptive tactics to persuade them to borrow money to attend," as The Washington Post noted. It also made changes to the “gainful employment” rule, which, according to the Post, would have effectively “shut down for-profit programs that repeatedly fail to show, through certain measures, that graduates are earning enough to pay down the loans taken out to attend those programs.”

    Those reform measures were opposed by the for-profit college industry and its main lobbying organization, Career Education Colleges and Universities (CECU). The group states that it represents “more than 600 educational institutions” and “advocates for policies that seek to reduce the regulatory burden of all institutions of higher education.”

    Under President Donald Trump’s administration and Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' supervision, the for-profit industry is making a comeback. Politico recently reported that “for-profit colleges are winning their battle to dismantle Obama-era restrictions as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos rolls back regulations, grants reprieves to schools at risk of losing their federal funding and stocks her agency with industry insiders.”

    The publication reported that as part of the industry’s efforts, CECU hired Gingrich as a consultant “to make connections inside the Trump world.” CECU is headed by former Rep. Steve Gunderson (R-WI), who is friends with Gingrich and had hired Callista Gingrich -- now nominated as the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See -- as a staffer in his House office. (Callista Gingrich also consulted for CECU, according to her financial disclosure forms.)

    Newt Gingrich has not only been doing the lobbying group’s work behind the scenes -- he’s also been using his position as a Fox News contributor to push for-profit college talking points, writing three op-eds about the issue since he was hired by CECU.

    Gingrich wrote an August 5, 2016, op-ed in which he criticized the Democratic Party platform for imposing “special regulations targeting private sector colleges, universities and career education programs” and criticized the Obama administration for purportedly punishing “good, law abiding institutions that focus on skills training and career education.” That op-ed included a note that Gingrich “is an advisor to Career Education Colleges and Universities.”

    But two subsequent op-eds did not initially include any disclosure that Gingrich works for CECU.

    Gingrich wrote an op-ed in December in which he criticized the Department of Education for having “forced almost 900 private sector campuses into closure” in the past four years. The op-ed quoted “a recent analysis of Department of Education data by Career Education Colleges and Universities” to show that private sector schools are “critical” to certain industries. He also wrote that “the Trump administration should announce that it intends to make the disastrous Gainful Employment Rule open for review.” (The administration has since halted the rule.)

    He wrote another op-ed in March criticizing the Obama administration for having purportedly “made a mission out of demonizing private for-profit colleges and universities. … Not only will these Obama-led efforts hurt Americans, but without these colleges and career training programs, our ability to fill the jobs President Trump is working to bring to this county will be severely hindered.”

    Media Matters sent requests for comment to Fox News about the lack of disclosures. Fox did not respond but subsequently added editor’s notes about Gingrich’s conflict of interest.

    Gingrich has a history of problems with transparency and ethics ranging from his time as House speaker -- when, as NPR noted, “he was the first speaker of the House, ever, to be punished by the House for ethics violations” -- to his media career at CNN and Fox News. recently initially failed to disclose another conflict of interest with op-ed writer James J. Fotis, who took to the website to defend recently pardoned racist Sheriff Joe Arpaio. That piece initially did not note that Fotis is “paid to run Arpaio's legal defense charity.” As the Post’s Erik Wemple noted about that op-ed, “When it comes to such disclosures, the more information, the better."  

  • Lawsuit ties Fox News’ “devious scheming” in Seth Rich reporting to Sky bid

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    A new lawsuit ties Fox News’ misconduct in its reporting of the murder of a Democratic staffer to parent company 21st Century Fox’s bid to takeover Sky PLC.

    NPR’s David Folkenflik reported today that Fox News contributor Rod Wheeler filed a defamation lawsuit stating that the conservative channel and a wealthy supporter of President Donald Trump “worked in concert under the watchful eye of the White House to concoct a story about the murder of” Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich, who was killed in what Washington D.C. police believe to be a botched robbery attempt in June 2016. Rich’s murder has been the subject of unfounded conspiracy theories in the conservative media, especially on Fox News.

    Fox News was forced to retract a story about Rich’s murder featuring quotes by Wheeler last May. According to NPR, Wheeler says that Fox “and the Trump supporter intended to deflect public attention from growing concern about the administration's ties to the Russian government. His suit charges that a Fox News reporter created quotations out of thin air and attributed them to him to propel her story.”

    Wheeler’s lawsuit connects Fox News’ conduct to parent company 21st Century Fox’s bid to take over Sky. Media Matters has opposed Fox’s bid for control of the British satellite broadcaster due to “the company’s demonstrated culture of malfeasance and governance deficiencies borne out of Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch’s commitment to advancing his personal political agenda.”

    The suit states that while Fox executives claimed they “were completely transparent during” meetings with British regulators about the bid, those executives “failed to disclose the facts regarding Fox’s role in the effort to influence American politics by disseminating” the Rich story. The suit adds that the “devious scheming” involved in Fox’s mishandling of the story “is precisely why British regulators have yet to provide a green light to Fox for the Sky takeover bid, and why many U.K. politicians question whether Fox is capable of news dissemination in a fair and neutral manner.” From the complaint:

    96. As part of the U.K.’s takeover rules, government officials referred Fox’s takeover bid to Ofcom, the communications regulation agency tasked with investigating Fox and issuing a report as to whether Fox had a “commitment to broadcasting standards.” As part of the regulators’ inquiry, attention was focused on whether Fox was “fit and proper” to exert such enormous influence over U.K.’s news and media industries.

    97. In an effort to convince regulators that Fox was in compliance with the rules, senior executives from Fox participated in meetings with Ofcom investigators and provided testimony under oath. Specifically, Fox Executives, including [general counsel Gerson] Zweifach, met with regulators in London on March 27, 2017, April 11, 2017, May 11, 2017 and May 30, 2017, to alleviate concerns regarding Fox’s ability to influence the media.

    98. Despite public claims that Fox Executives were completely transparent during the Ofcom investigation, upon information and belief, Fox Executives failed to disclose the facts regarding Fox’s role in the effort to influence American politics by disseminating Zimmerman’s story.

    99. Clearly, senior level producers at Fox, as well as [Executive Vice President of legal and business affairs Dianne] Brandi and [Executive Vice President of news and editorial Jay] Wallace, were aware of the fact that Zimmerman’s article, while unsubstantiated, provided support to the Trump Administration’s desire to divert attention from the Russian email hacking scandal.

    100. It is hard to imagine a clearer example of Fox’s willingness and determination to influence the news agenda and the political process than a situation where it knowingly generates and publishes fake news to further its own political agenda.

    101. Such devious scheming is precisely why British regulators have yet to provide a green light to Fox for the Sky takeover bid, and why many U.K. politicians question whether Fox is capable of news dissemination in a fair and neutral manner.

  • No, Fox News, Nevada did not declare a “state of emergency" over marijuana

    Fox News’ inaccurate report on Nevada marijuana sales is lazy reporting at best, reefer madness at worst

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    On July 11, published an article claiming that Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) had “declared a state of emergency on Friday” over inadequate supplies of marijuana for retail sales. In reality, the governor had “authorized state regulators to consider an emergency regulation” to deal with a marijuana shortage.

    On July 10, Fox’s Salt Lake City affiliate, Fox 13, reported that the Nevada Tax Commission issued a statement that it will, according to the report, “consider emergency regulations … to provide a structure for marijuana distribution to retailers.” The piece also said that Nevada’s governor had “endorsed” the “statement of emergency declared for recreational marijuana regulations.” 

    The next day, Fox News’ website published an article citing Fox 13’s story to report that “Gov. Brian Sandoval, R-Nev., issued the state of emergency on Friday” with the intention of allowing the state’s Department of Taxation to “contemplate emergency regulations that would permit liquor wholesalers to cash in on the marijuana sales.” The New York Post, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch along with Fox News, also claimed that “Gov. Brian Sandoval is calling for a ‘state of emergency’.” But the governor has categorically not “declared a state of emergency,” as and the New York Post claim.

    In reality, as The Associated Press reported, Sandoval only (emphasis added) “authorized state regulators to consider an emergency regulation that would allow officials to determine whether the state has enough marijuana distributors to keep its retail shops supplied.” Several Nevada-based news outlets reported accurately on the possible “emergency regulation,” with The Nevada Independent explaining that the regulation would “pave the way for opening up the distribution role to more than just liquor distributors.” Even Fox News’ Las Vegas affiliate reported that “Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) endorsed an emergency marijuana regulation on behalf of the Department of Taxation's Statement of Emergency that is set to be considered for adoption on July 13 by the Nevada Tax Commission.”

    For over a decade, Fox News has made embarrassingly inaccurate marijuana claims, including to smear academics, poor people, and criminal justice reform. In 2005, Sean Hannity called an illegal marijuana-growing facility a “secret liberal lab” because it was underneath a State University of New York campus. In 2012, Steve Doocy criticized Amendment 64, Colorado’s legalization of marijuana, by falsely claiming it offers “nothing” to stop people from “getting all potted up on weed” and driving, even though the bill states that “driving under the influence of marijuana shall remain illegal.” In 2014, Fox’s Martha MacCallum ignored statistics that show that black people are arrested for using marijuana more often than white people even though they have similar rates of usage, when she suggested that the real problem was black people smoking too much weed. 

    The effect of Fox’s marijuana smears has even been felt in Congress. In 2014 the network successfully brought into the mainstream narrative an absurd urban myth that Colorado allowed people to buy marijuana with food stamps, spawning a misinformation campaign that resulted in two proposed congressional bills and is referenced by Fox guests to this day. 

  • New right-wing media talking point: It's no big deal if Trump colluded with the Russians

    Legal experts and Trump’s attorney general agree it would be “improper and illegal”

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Conservative media figures have repeatedly downplayed possible collusion between associates of President Donald Trump and the Russian government, suggesting that “it’s not a crime” to collude with a foreign government to influence U.S. elections. Legal experts and Trump’s own attorney general, however, agree that such collusion would be “improper and illegal.”

  • Conservatives Deflect From Trump's Cover-Up By Calling Comey A Criminal


    President Donald Trump’s conservative media allies are attacking former FBI Director James Comey and accusing him of wrongdoing for writing and keeping a memo about a February meeting with Trump. The memo reportedly revealed that Trump asked Comey to drop an investigation into former national security adviser Mike Flynn. Despite the outrage aimed at Comey by conservative media figures for not divulging the memo earlier, experts have explained that doing so could have interfered with the FBI’s investigation.