The Ingraham Angle | Media Matters for America

The Ingraham Angle

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  • Right-wing media go all-out to denigrate Christine Blasey Ford, who says Kavanaugh assaulted her

    Ford said Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh attempted to rape her when they were high school students, but many media conservatives attacked her or say Kavanaugh should be confirmed anyway

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    The Washington Post reported on Sunday that Christine Blasey Ford had written a letter this summer to a Democratic lawmaker saying that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were both high school students. Soon after Ford’s account was published, right-wing media figures and outlets began attacking her credibility, publicly discounting her story, or calling on Kavanaugh to be confirmed by Republicans anyway.

    Details from the letter, which she wrote to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), leaked out several days earlier, and then Ford “decided that if her story is going to be told, she wants to be the one to tell it.” From the Post’s story:

    Speaking publicly for the first time, Ford said that one summer in the early 1980s, Kavanaugh and a friend — both “stumbling drunk,” Ford alleges — corralled her into a bedroom during a gathering of teenagers at a house in Montgomery County.

    While his friend watched, she said, Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed on her back and groped her over her clothes, grinding his body against hers and clumsily attempting to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she wore over it. When she tried to scream, she said, he put his hand over her mouth.

    “I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” said Ford, now a 51-year-old research psychologist in northern California. “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”

    Ford said she was able to escape when Kavanaugh’s friend and classmate at Georgetown Preparatory School, Mark Judge, jumped on top of them, sending all three tumbling. She said she ran from the room, briefly locked herself in a bathroom and then fled the house.

    Ford said she told no one of the incident in any detail until 2012, when she was in couples therapy with her husband. The therapist’s notes, portions of which were provided by Ford and reviewed by The Washington Post, do not mention Kavanaugh’s name but say she reported that she was attacked by students “from an elitist boys’ school” who went on to become “highly respected and high-ranking members of society in Washington.” The notes say four boys were involved, a discrepancy Ford says was an error on the therapist’s part. Ford said there were four boys at the party but only two in the room.

    Notes from an individual therapy session the following year, when she was being treated for what she says have been long-term effects of the incident, show Ford described a “rape attempt” in her late teens.

    Kavanaugh has denied the report after Ford went public, calling it “a completely false allegation.” He previously said, “I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation.” The immediate reaction from many conservative media figures was terrible: Many cast doubt on her account, others suggested they might believe her but said Kavanaugh should be confirmed as a Supreme Court justice anyway, and others impugned her motives, suggesting a political or personal grudge.

    Conservatives who cast doubt on Ford’s account

    FoxNews.com’s Stephen Miller: “This was not a sexual assault. … Hold the vote. Confirm him. … It was drunk teenagers playing seven minutes of heaven.”

    Breitbart’s John Nolte: “GOP blows Kavanaugh, falls for this, they will be massacred in November.”

    Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones mocked Ford’s accusation: “Brett Kavanaugh in 1986 came to Dallas, TX, and I was in high school, and he raped me.”

    Trump ally and conservative political operator Roger Stone: “This is a woman looking for her Anita Hill moment. This is her 15 minutes.”

    Turning Point USA’s Candace Owens: “Nothing to see here, folks,” Ford is “just another woman who conveniently tripped and fell out of amnesia.”

    Conservative radio host Erick Erickson: “If the GOP does not stand up to this character assassination attempt on Kavanaugh, every judicial nominee moving forward is going to suffer last minute sexual assault allegations.”

    Erick Erickson: “I do not believe Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser. I do believe there is a Democrat PR firm working this story.”

    Erick Erickson: “People who want to keep killing kids really shouldn’t be throwing Jesus in the face of those who don’t believe the accusation against Kavanaugh.”

    Fox News’ Tomi Lahren: “Decades-old allegations against Kavanaugh come out just days before a vote….victim or opportunist?”

    Tomi Lahren: "Female empowerment is NOT using sexual assault allegations to torpedo someone you disagree with politically."

    Fox contributor Tammy Bruce: Report of assault by Kavanaugh is “an attempt at a political assassination.”

    Newsmax’s John Cardillo: “No, 35+ year old dubious allegations about a non-crime made by a left-wing activist … do not hold water.”

    NRATV’s Grant Stinchfield: “I have no idea if Judge Kavanaugh pushed this woman down on a bed at a high school house party where she wriggled free and ran away or not. What I do know is in the 35 years since, not one other woman has raised such an allegation. Sixty-five other women have, in fact, now come to his defense.”

    Fox Business host Dagen McDowell: “You have to press [Ford] on any potential bias that’s there” against Republicans.

    Fake news site TruthFeed: Ford’s story has “more holes than a slice of swiss cheese.”

    The despicable Democrats are pulling out all the stops to try and derail the Judge Kavanaugh vote for SCOTUS.

    They’re now claiming that Judge Kavanaugh attacked a woman in high school, nearly killing her. The woman, whose story has more holes than a slice of swiss cheese, claims there was a man in the room who witnessed the entire thing.

    One big problem. That man, says it never happened.

    Facebook page Silence is Consent posted a meme misleadingly claiming Ford was “so ‘devastated’” by incident “she contacted Feinstein 35 years later.”

    Fox Business host Bob Massi:The thing that’s remarkable to me” is that someone “with amazing credentials, amazing resumes, and an allegation like this comes out … and their entire career credibility is gone. … That’s the trouble with this.”

    Sean Hannity radio show guest David Schoen: "The real crime here that happened" is Sen. Dianne Feinstein "presenting this thing under ... this veil of mystery."

    Fox News host Sean Hannity cast doubt on Ford's accusation because of "everything else you see about Judge Kavanaugh's life ... this is a guy that spends a lot of time feeding the homeless."

    CRTV's Gavin McInnes: Ford is "clearly full of crap." 

    Ethics and Public Policy Center Lance Morrow's Wall Street Journal op-ed likened Ford's accusation to Salem Witch Trials, diminished alleged rape attempt: "No clothes were removed, and no sexual penetration occurred."

    The Salem witch trials turned on what was called “spectral evidence.” That was testimony from witnesses—either malicious or hysterical—who claimed the accused had assumed the form of a black cat or some other devilish creature and had come visiting in the night in order to torment the witness with bites and scratches, or to rearrange the bedroom furniture, or to send the baby into paroxysms.

    ...

    Three hundred twenty-six years later, an anonymous woman—a spectral and possibly nonexistent woman, for all that one knew when the story emerged—accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her 36 years ago, when he was a high-school student. It seemed as if the American constitutional process might be drawn back to the neighborhood of Salem, Mass. According to this phantom testimony, 17-year-old Brett held the girl down, pawed her and tried to force himself upon her, and held his hand over her mouth when she screamed, until a second prep-school devil piled on top, they all tumbled to the floor, and the girl managed to slip away. The boys were “stumbling drunk,” according to the account.

    ...

    The thing happened—if it happened—an awfully long time ago, back in Ronald Reagan’s time, when the actors in the drama were minors and (the boys, anyway) under the blurring influence of alcohol and adolescent hormones. No clothes were removed, and no sexual penetration occurred. The sin, if there was one, was not one of those that Catholic theology calls peccata clamantia—sins that cry to heaven for vengeance.

    The offense alleged is not nothing, by any means. It is ugly, and stupid more than evil, one might think, but trauma is subjective and hard to parse legally. Common sense is a little hard put to know what to make of the episode, if it happened. The dust of 36 years has settled over the memory. The passage of time sometimes causes people to forget; sometimes it causes them to invent or embellish. Invention takes on bright energies when its muse is politics, which is the Olympics of illusion. 

    Conservatives who indicated that whether or not they believe Ford, Kavanaugh should be confirmed

    Federalist contributor Tom Nichols: “I’m good with the story being true,” but it shouldn’t “derail [his] nomination.”

    Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh: Ford’s report can’t be proven, “so he should be confirmed.”

    Cato Institute’s Ilya Shapiro: “The Senate should just vote” on Kavanaugh.

    The Federalist: Kavanaugh “should be confirmed” despite Ford’s report.

    Townhall.com editor Guy Benson: “Absent additional evidence, I don’t know how it would be remotely just to derail the nomination” of Kavanaugh.

    The Wall Street Journal editorial board suggested Ford possibly misremembered "in the cauldron of a therapy session to rescue a marriage," and stated that letting Ford's accusation "stop Mr. Kavanaugh's confirmation would ratify what has all the earmarks of a calculated political ambush."

    The woman accusing Brett Kavanaugh of a drunken assault when both were teenagers has now come forward publicly, and on Monday it caused Republicans to delay a confirmation vote and schedule another public hearing. Yet there is no way to confirm her story after 36 years, and to let it stop Mr. Kavanaugh’s confirmation would ratify what has all the earmarks of a calculated political ambush.

    ...

    Mr. Kavanaugh denies all this “categorically and unequivocally,” and there is simply no way to prove it. The only witness to the event is Mr. Kavanaugh’s high school male friend, Mark Judge, who also says he recalls no such event. Ms. Ford concedes she told no one about it—not even a high school girl friend or family member—until 2012 when she told the story as part of couples therapy with her husband.

    The vagaries of memory are well known, all the more so when they emerge in the cauldron of a therapy session to rescue a marriage. Experts know that human beings can come to believe firmly over the years that something happened when it never did or is based on partial truth. Mistaken identity is also possible.

    ...

    This is simply too distant and uncorroborated a story to warrant a new hearing or to delay a vote. We’ve heard from all three principals, and there are no other witnesses to call. Democrats will use Monday’s hearing as a political spectacle to coax Mr. Kavanaugh into looking defensive or angry, and to portray Republicans as anti-women. Odds are it will be a circus.

    ...

    Letting an accusation that is this old, this unsubstantiated and this procedurally irregular defeat Mr. Kavanaugh would also mean weaponizing every sexual assault allegation no matter the evidence. It will tarnish the #MeToo cause with the smear of partisanship, and it will unleash even greater polarizing furies.

    Conservatives who attacked Ford’s motives

    Mike Cernovich: “Christine Blasey is a far left wing activist. ... this is straight activism on her part.”

    The Gateway Pundit: Ford is a “far-left activist.”

    Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft: Ford is an “unhinged liberal professor who former students describe as dark, mad, scary and troubled.”

    Fox News host Laura Ingraham: “Apparently this accuser was fine with leaving Brett Kavanaugh on the second highest court of the land. … But it was when he was up for the Supreme Court that suddenly the stakes got higher.”

    Laura Ingraham: "This all has the whiff of a political smear masquerading as a sexual assault allegation."

    Fake news site RedstateWatcher: Ford is a "registered Democrat and Democrat activist.”

    Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh: Ford is "a political activist. She's an angry political activist. She's much more than just a victim of alleged attempted rape."

    Fox News host Tucker Carlson: "Does anyone really believe this story would have surfaced if Brett Kavanaugh had pledged allegiance to Roe v. Wade? Of course it wouldn't have."​

    Right-wing Facebook meme pages and groups engaged in a smear campaign against Ford

    Many right-wing meme pages attacking Ford falsely painted her as a Democratic political operative. [1, 2, 3, 4]

    Some pages tried to undermine Ford’s allegations by questioning her timing in coming forward and her memory of the incident. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

    A woman from a Shuttershock photo of an anti-Trump protest in New York City was falsely attributed as Ford. [1, 2]

    Alex Kaplan and Natalie Martinez contributed research to this post.

  • No crime but a witch hunt: Pro-Trump media’s off-the-wall reactions to Manafort's conviction and Cohen's guilty plea

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    After former Trump campaign Chairman Paul Manafort and former Trump attorney Michael Cohen were found guilty and pleaded guilty, respectively, each on eight criminal counts, right-wing media immediately rose to President Donald Trump’s defense. Multiple media figures claimed that none of the charges had anything to do with Trump and that Trump’s former associates pleaded guilty to crimes that “don’t exist.”

  • As hundreds of newspapers plan editorials to denounce Trump’s war on the press, Fox hosts attack the newspapers

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Fox News and Fox Business hosts are slamming hundreds of newspapers as “anti-Trump” and “fake news” for coordinating to publish editorials on August 16 denouncing President Donald Trump’s war on the press.

    Trump and his administration publicly attacked news organizations and specific journalists hundreds of times in just his first year in office. Though he routinely attacked news organizations during his presidential campaign and the transition period between his election and inauguration, Trump’s anti-press rhetoric reached a new low in February 2017, when he began calling news organizations “the enemy of the American people”:

    Trump repeated his comments multiple times, though he eventually added the disclaimer that only “fake news” is “the enemy of the people” -- a bogus claim because he’s spent years labeling a broad range of mainstream news outlets and journalists as “fake news.”

    Many newspapers have decided that they’ve had enough and are pushing back. Led by The Boston Globe, more than 100 newspaper editorial boards around the country are reportedly planning to publish editorials on August 16 “on the dangers of the administration’s assault on the press.” Each newspaper will be writing its own editorial in this coordinated effort.

    Fox, which has both served as a platform for Trump’s attacks on the press and promoted his attacks on its own, is now criticizing the newspapers participating in this effort as anti-Trump and “fake news.” On August 13, five Fox News and Fox Business hosts took offense to the coordinated editorial release protesting Trump’s anti-press rhetoric. Fox & Friends First co-host Rob Schmitt said these newspapers are releasing editorials “attacking the president” and that “there is just kind of a mainstream, somewhat leftist bias coming from a lot of our media companies.” Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy commented that The Boston Globe “said essentially they’re going after the president.” Varney & Co. guest host Ashley Webster and Wall Street Journal editorial board member James Freeman both defended Trump’s rhetoric that the media are “the enemy of the people,” pushing Trump’s ridiculous claim that his critique applies only to “fake news.” Fox Business host Lou Dobbs referred to the planned editorials as “anti-Trump screeds” by “coordinated national left-wing fake news.” And Fox host Laura Ingraham, while criticizing media coverage of antifa actions against reporters, mocked the newspapers’ coordinated effort as “not collusion or anything.”

  • Here are 52 examples of Laura Ingraham’s racism

    Blog ››› ››› GRACE BENNETT


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Fox News’ Laura Ingraham has drawn widespread rebuke following a racist anti-immigrant rant on the August 8 edition of her Fox show. During her far-from-subtle diatribe, Ingraham bemoaned “massive demographic changes, … changes that none of us ever voted for, and most of us don't like,” and complained, “In some parts of the country, it does seem like the America that we know and love doesn't exist anymore.” Later in the program, she questioned whether “Black-on-Black” crime is a larger issue for the Black community than the racism that infects the criminal justice system. Her comments are a nearly perfect parallel of the rhetoric used by white supremacists and were embraced and commended by former KKK leader David Duke. Outside of white supremacist circles, however, politicians, activist groups, and other media figures widely condemned the rant.  

    Following the criticism, Ingraham defended her comments, arguing that the goal of her monologue was “to point out that the rule of law, meaning secure borders, is something that used to bind our country together.” Ingraham’s deflection, however, is disingenuous and undermined by her history of racist commentary and anti-immigrant rhetoric. Her Fox News show, The Ingraham Angle, is less than a year old, but Ingraham has already turned it into a racist, extremist cesspool.

    It isn’t difficult to find examples of Ingraham’s boundless hostility toward immigrants and her obvious apathy towards non-white communities. Here are just a few highlights from over the years (seriously, there are many more):  

    Ingraham has spent years demonizing and mocking immigrants.
     

    • On The Ingraham Angle, she dismissed asylum claims from Hondurans fleeing violence because, according to her, “it’s not our problem.”

    • She claimed that children torn from their parents as a result of the Trump administration policies and who were not yet reunited with their families were being protected by the administration because, “due to domestic or drug abuse, many of these parents are now deemed unfit to care for their children or dangerous for their children.”

    • Ingraham said, “Most people believe that if you come into the country illegally, it's sad when your family gets separated, no one wants to see that, but it's your responsibility.”

    • She hosted John Lott, president of the conservative Crime Prevention Research Center, to defend his debunked report alleging that undocumented immigrants in Arizona commit more crimes -- and more dangerous crimes -- than other Arizonans.

    • During a 2015 appearance on Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier, Ingraham urged then-presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Scott Walker to support ending birthright citizenship to “throw something to the conservatives on immigration.”

    • During a 2013 appearance on the now-defunct Fox show The O’Reilly Factor, Ingraham claimed that a lot of recent immigrants “have wreaked havoc upon communities.”

    • Ingraham suggested that the United States should shoot deported immigrants who attempt to re-enter the country: “Why don't we ship [imprisoned undocumented immigrants] back home and say you come again, you'll be shot crossing the border?”

    • Ingraham defended then-candidate Donald Trump’s claim that Mexico is “sending rapists” to the United States and argued that Mexicans “have come here to murder and rape our people.”

    • She mocked children detained by U.S. officials after being separated from their families, calling the detention centers “essentially summer camps,” comparing them to “play spaces,” and saying that people’s outrage over children being held in cages is “hilarious.”

    • She claimed that immigration from Mexico would make the U.S. a “hellhole.”

    • She smeared the American children of undocumented immigrants as “anchor fetuses.”

    • Ingraham compared DACA protestors to “wild dogs” and attacked DACA recipients who serve in the U.S. military, saying, “This is the American military. This is not the military of mercenary illegal immigrants!"

    • She once claimed, “Nobody has a right to be here except the people who are born here.”

    • Ingraham blamed Muslim and Latino immigrants for Republicans losing elections in Virginia and added, “It will become increasingly difficult, for sure, for Republicans to win if Republicans don't get a handle on immigration.”

    • Ingraham contended that the middle class is frustrated that “everybody has to bow down to the new immigrant class.”

    • Ingraham celebrated her radio show’s role in blocking comprehensive immigration reform, commenting to viewers, “Guess who helped stop it? You’re listening to one of the reasons it was stopped.”

    • In 2014, she argued that the Hispanic Caucus should be called the “open borders caucus.”

    • She bemoaned that an “all-immigrant population have come and moved into Northern Virginia,” claimed that “we have a mass influx of illegal immigrants in Virginia,” and called immigrant communities “rabid fanatics.”  

    • Ingraham used a drug-related arrest of one man to besmirch immigrants as “trash.”

    • She argued that one way to “enforce our immigration laws” would be to “end birthright citizenship.”

    • In 2014, she derided Michigan Republican Gov. Rick Snyder's plan to attract skilled immigrants to work and live in bankrupt Detroit, saying "we can then wall off Detroit" to keep those immigrants from moving to other parts of the country.

    • Later that year, she referred to the thousands of unaccompanied children fleeing from violence in Central America as “an invasion facilitated by our own government."

    Ingraham has demonstrated particular vitriol for Muslim people, especially immigrants and refugees.
     

    • On The Ingraham Angle, she questioned White House chief of staff John Kelly about why Trump is bringing in so many "Islamic" refugees.

    • She was an early defender of the idea of a “Muslim ban” and suggested that Trump’s proposal “isn’t broad enough.” She claimed that she would “go further” and “do a pause on all immigration.”

    • She also said that Middle Eastern countries should be told that “we’re cutting you off,” adding, “You’re not going to come into this country and destroy what’s good about America.”  

    • Ingraham stated that the U.S. should only accept refugees that “we can verifiably say are Christians” and that Muslims should “stay in the Middle East.”

    • She has fearmongered about Muslim women, asking, “What’s under that Burqa, baby?”

    • She questioned why we even allow Muslim immigration when we “can’t tell if an Islamic individual is going to be radicalized.”

    • Ingraham argued that, in contrast to Muslims, Christian refugees do not “try to blow us up.”

    • She compared mosque surveillance to “body cameras on police.”

    • She questioned why "the Muslims" are "never supporting the conservatives on" anti-LGBTQ initiatives.

    Ingraham is routinely dismissive of any language that is not English and frequently demeans languages spoken by immigrants.
     

    • She has insisted that English “should be the national language of this country.”

    • She stated, “You’re only going to be here if you’re speaking our language.”

    • Ingraham argued that multilingual schools are "costing the good people, Catholics, Christians ... opportunities and money.”

    • She claimed multilingual schools make "you think you're in a foreign country."

    • She mocked MSNBC's Jose Diaz-Balart for translating for a Spanish speaking guest.

    • Ingraham attacked a person who was protesting deportations for speaking with an accent.  

    • She compared someone reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in Arabic to a “skinhead” reciting the pledge and argued that “most people who love this country love it enough to speak” English.

    Ingraham has a history of making other racist and anti-Semitic comments, as well as disparaging organizations that serve minority communities.
     

    • On The Ingraham Angle, she said that Black NBA players LeBron James and Kevin Durant should “shut up and dribble.”

    • Ingraham called NFL players who kneel during the national anthem to protest police brutality “bratty players” who “disrespect the country.” On a separate occasion, she also stated that “a lot of these guys are punks.”

    • She said that she “would’ve prefered Madea doing political commentary” instead of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA).

    • On her Fox show, Ingraham praised Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee as a “truly great” man, and on Fox & Friends, she decried the destruction of a Confederate statue.

    • During an appearance on Fox & Friends, she accused the NAACP of “becom[ing] a push organization for racist sentiments in many ways."

    • Again on Fox & Friends, Ingraham claimed that terrorism is “the price ... to pay for multiculturalism."

    • During an appearance on The O’Reilly Factor, Ingraham asked, “Are we supposed to hold the bar really low for President [Barack] Obama simply because he’s half-Black?”

    • She once argued that minority voters picked Obama because he was “half-Black.”

    • Ingraham called activist group Black Lives Matter “a complete fraud” and said they didn’t care about Black-on-Black crime.

    • She contended that “affirmative action is "shafting people who are not of the appropriate color, or background, or ethnicity."

    • Ingraham once stated that she doesn’t “think of Jewish people as minorities because they’re so successful.”

    • She attacked Univision and Telemundo as “toxic," "Hispanic-centric outlets," that "revile the American experience."

    • She also accused Spanish language media as a whole of teaching undocumented immigrants “how to avoid deportation.”

    • In 2014, Ingraham claimed that the left wants “a system of racial spoils in place to level the playing field.”