The Ingraham Angle | Media Matters for America

The Ingraham Angle

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  • Fox regular who called for "a cleansing" of the FBI and DOJ is advising Trump on a replacement attorney general

    Pro-Trump lawyer Joseph diGenova has repeatedly attacked the Russia probe and Sessions

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Discredited Republican lawyer Joe diGenova told Fox News host Laura Ingraham that he has been advising President Donald Trump on the replacement of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

    A U.S. attorney during the Reagan administration, diGenova played a partisan role in investigations into President Bill Clinton during the 1990s, including serving as the source for a later-retracted newspaper article, and he was criticized for behaving unprofessionally while working for congressional subcommittees. He also fabricated false claims against the Obama administration over the 2012 Benghazi attack.

    DiGenova briefly joined Trump’s personal legal team regarding the Russia probe earlier this year after he defended the president on Fox News, but he was taken off the team for conflicts of interest within a week. DiGenova claims that he is still advising Trump, and he told Ingraham last night that he has “a couple of ideas which I have shared with the president” about who can permanently replace Sessions:

    LAURA INGRAHAM (HOST): I have to ask you on picks for attorney general. We all have maybe a couple ideas -- what are your ideas?

    JOSEPH DIGENOVA: Well, I have a couple of ideas which I have shared with the president, and I'm not going to share them with anybody else. So, if I say any of my ideas, I will be sharing a conversation with the president.

    DiGenova’s latest comments came just hours after Trump fired Sessions following a nearly two-year campaign of publicly humiliating the attorney general for his recusal from the Russia investigation. After the firing, Trump named Sessions’ former chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker -- who has previously supported Trump against the Russia investigation -- acting attorney general.

    In an interview with the Daily Caller's Ginni Thomas, diGenova called for "a cleansing of the FBI and the upper echelons of the Department of Justice." DiGenova also called Russian interference "a false Russian conspiracy that never existed" that was built with "false facts."

    JOSEPH DIGENOVA: It's a big deal because I have a saying that the FBI used to spy on the Russians, this time they spied on us. What this story is about, it's about a brazen plot to again exonerate Hillary Clinton from a clear violation of the law with regard to the way she handled classified information with her private server, absolutely a crime, absolutely a felony. It's about finding out why, as the Inspector General is doing at the Department of Justice, why Comey and the senior DOJ officials conducted a fake criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton, followed none of the regular rules, gave her every break in the book, immunized all kinds of people, allowed the destruction of evidence, no grand jury, no subpoenas, no search warrant. That's not an investigation, that's a Potemkin village. It's a farce and everybody knew it was a farce. The problem was she didn't win and because she didn't win the farce became a very serious opera. It wasn't a comic opera anymore, it was a tragic opera and she was going to be the focus.

    What this is about is, this is about a lavabo, a cleansing of the FBI and the upper echelons of the Department of Justice.

    We're going to discover that the Attorney General Loretta Lynch, her deputy Sally Yates, the head of the National Security Division John Carlin, Bruce Ohr, and other senior DOJ officials and regrettably line attorneys, people who were senior career civil servants, violated the law, perhaps committed crimes and covered up crimes by a presidential candidate. But more than that they tried to frame an incoming president with a false Russian conspiracy that never existed and they knew it and they plotted to to ruin him as a candidate and then destroy him a president.

    That's why this is important. That's why connecting the dots is important, because the FBI now has to be completely reconstructed from the ground up. The men and women at the bureau are great people, that's not who we're talking about, we never have been. We are talking about people like James Comey, McCabe, Strzok, Page, Baker, Priestep, whose name nobody knows. He's the head of the counterintelligence division and he was the one who was involved in planning this entire crazy thing involving Fusion GPS, the false dossier, and creating evidence.

    This is what people have to understand. What the Bureau did was, by working with Fusion GPS, and giving contractors access to highly classified information, which they had no legal right to see, they needed to create something they could give to the court, the foreign intelligence court, so that they could get wiretaps and surveillance taps and email taps and phone taps on the Trump people so that if there was anything they could find it out. Of course there was nothing. There was ... there never was anything and they created false facts so that they could get surveillance warrants. Those are all crimes. Every single one of those acts constitutes a crime because it was done not for a legitimate law enforcement reason, not for national security reasons, but to create a false case against a candidate Donald Trump, a president-elect Donald Trump, and a president Donald Trump.

    On Fox, diGenova has repeatedly claimed that the Russia probe is a conspiracy to “frame Donald Trump,” and that multiple people at the FBI and Department of Justice should be investigated, fired, and arrested. He has demanded Congress impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray, and he has said Rosenstein should “rot in hell” for the way he has overseen the Russia investigation. He suggested then-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s secret payments to two women on behalf of Trump during the presidential campaign weren’t illegal. DiGenova also claimed that the DOJ-authorized FBI search of Cohen’s office was “an act of terror” and that a prosecutor was using “terror tactics” to “coerce” former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort.

    DiGenova didn’t reserve his ire only for the Russia probe and those directly overseeing it. He spent months criticizing Sessions before Trump fired him. In May, diGenova said on Fox’s Hannity that Sessions’ recusal “was an unforced betrayal of the president” -- a statement Trump loved so much he directly quoted it in a tweet that also name-checked diGenova.

    On Hannity in August, diGenova said Trump “is entitled to a fully engaged attorney general. He has never had that. ... Jeff Sessions has no command presence. He doesn’t understand the job that he has.” During that appearance, diGenova also said: “After the next election, Jeff should give the president the courtesy of a resignation.” In early October, diGenova said:

    Look, make no mistake about it: Rod Rosenstein is a creep. He is a dishonest -- fundamentally dishonest – he cares about one thing, himself, his next job, and his future. The president, of course, will keep him through the next -- through the election cycle. Keeping him after that is an open question.

    ...

    Where is Jeff Sessions? He is on a milk carton. This guy is so sad and so depressing to watch him twist in the breeze as an incompetent attorney general. And there behind him is Rasputin, Rod Rosenstein. This is an ugly period for the department, and it will not get better until both of them are gone.

    Later in October, diGenova offered more criticism: “I would say Sessions and Rosenstein will go down in history as the two worst officials in the Department of Justice in its history.”

  • Leprosy, rabies, HIV and smallpox: Fox News is spreading evidence-free conspiracy theories of a disease infested migrant caravan

    ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET & MADELINE PELTZ

    Fox News has been actively pushing a baseless conspiracy theory that the migrant caravan heading for the Southern U.S. border is a disease infested group of people who will infect the U.S. population if allowed entry. Over the past week, Fox hosts and guests have speculated that the migrants are carrying rabies, leprosy, smallpox, and AIDS among other diseases.

  • Fox News' ad chief admits that advertisers are leaving. Here's what's going on.

    Most national advertisers reject Fox News’ most prominent hosts -- and with good reason

    Blog ››› ››› ANGELO CARUSONE


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    A new report published by Politico examines the rejection that Fox News’ most prominent programs are experiencing from advertisers.

    Just how bad is it?

    According to the article, Fox News host Laura Ingraham’s advertiser base has effectively evaporated. Most national “blue-chip” advertisers won’t advertise on her show. Her advertiser base, which had included 229 brands prior to April 2018, has shrunk down to 85, with many of those either being short-burst political advertisers or less desirable direct-response ads.

    In late March 2018, Ingraham publicly ridiculed Parkland mass-shooting survivor David Hogg for not being accepted to a college he had applied to attend. Hogg and online activists responded by showing Ingraham’s history of attacks to her advertisers. Advertisers fled her program in droves, with many publicly announcing their decision and many more quietly removing their ads. Advertisers publicly exited her show a second time a few months later after Ingraham compared immigrant children detention centers to summer camps.

    As Politico observes, Fox News responded to this diminished advertiser inventory by reducing the commercial time on Ingraham’s show by about one-third -- from around 15 minutes per show to a bit more than 10 minutes per show.

    But this time statistic alone doesn’t capture the full scope of the damage, because it includes unpaid ads (like promos for Fox News programs).

    If you look at paid ads alone, Ingraham’s show has about 50 percent less ads per show now than she did before advertisers started to flee. According to a Media Matters analysis, Ingraham averaged 31 paid ads per show prior to advertisers fleeing her show in late March and now averages 17 paid ads per show.

    With most blue-chip advertisers refusing to run on Ingraham’s show, the companies filling the available slots are direct-response advertisers that “often look to buy leftover space at discounted rates and are less picky about where their ads appear,” Politico noted. Over time, this trend has the net effect of driving down the ad rates for a show. (The exact same thing happened with Glenn Beck’s Fox program, as I chronicled here in great detail.)

    In dollars and cents, Kantar Media’s Jon Swallen tells Politico, Ingraham’s advertising revenue could be down a staggering 15-30 percent!

    The advertiser problems aren’t limited to Ingraham’s show either. Dozens of companies have removed their ads from Sean Hannity’s program, and even more have told me that they block Hannity and other more extreme Fox News programs so their ads never appear in the first place.

    Fox News’ head of ad sales, Marianne Gambelli, blamed Media Matters and activists for making advertisers uncomfortable with aligning with certain content.

    Gambelli’s assessment is partially correct. Activists have been a potent force here. And, I admit, Media Matters has doggedly chronicled Fox News, and we have spent considerable time over the past year warning advertisers and media buyers about Fox News’ intensifying extremism and the risks of associating with it.

    But Gambelli ignores the bigger cause of Fox News’ growing advertiser problem: the channel’s own talent.

    Fox News’ most prominent shows -- the ones that are supposed to be most palatable for advertisers -- are also defined by bigotry, extremism, conspiracy theories, and outright volatility. From a business perspective, they’re a bad bet.

    Additionally, those shows and the network as a whole often function as an extension of the White House’s communications operation. It’s one thing for a show to have an ideological or political perspective, but much of Fox News’ programming these days is more akin to a political propaganda operation. That puts advertisers in the position of not just aligning with an ideology, but actively participating in politics -- something just about every advertiser is loathe to do.

    Earlier this month, I tweeted out this observation following a series of recent conversations with media buyers:

    In the past two weeks, I've spoken pretty extensively [with] media buyers that place a lot of ads on Fox News. There is deep anxiety brewing that they will need to shift their clients' ads away from Fox News before a massive controversy forces them to after causing reputation damage.

    After a then Fox News contributor tweeted that Prof. Blasey Ford was a "skank," one buyer who I had been pushing on for some time reached out to me saying, “This is what you've been warning about. Thank god for advertisers this didn't happen on air.”

    But what that buyer missed and I pointed out is: It just as easily could have happened on air because that kind of stuff is not abnormal for Fox News, it's actually the norm. And you can see similar odious comments daily.

    Those sentiments I was hearing were echoed by the advertising executive quoted in the Politico report:

    One advertising executive said that most brands he works with find it easier to steer clear of the Fox News prime-time block. He said CNN and MSNBC are not subject to the same concerns, since those networks’ hosts have not courted controversy at the same level.

    “Those prime-time personalities for the most part have proven themselves over time to be more trouble than they’re worth,” the executive said of Fox News.

    Indeed. The advertising industry has ample reason to feel this way.

    Last fall, Fox News viewers began smashing their Keurig machines at Sean Hannity’s behest after the company advised me that it would remove its ads from Hannity’s show:

    Fox News basically let the situation unfold for days before seemingly intervering and pressuring Hannity to tamp down the boycott of his former advertiser. But the business damage was done, as more media buyers recognized that the best way to protect their clients from the inevitable next outrage was just to keep their ads off the program in the first place.

    There’s been a steady stream of reminders, too.

    For example, Tucker Carlson courted controversy earlier this summer when he began effectively promoting an ethnonationalist ideal of people living with their own kind by arguing that diversity actually makes society weaker.

    Just a few weeks ago, citing an increase in non-white people in America, Laura Ingraham lamented that “in some parts of the country, it does seem like the America that we know and love doesn’t exist anymore.”

    And there are plenty more where those two examples came from.

    The bottom-line takeaway from this latest Politico piece is consistent with what I have been saying for some time now: A portion of Fox News’ programming is increasingly toxic to advertisers due to its extremism or volatility, and those shows are experiencing deep and sustained advertiser losses.

    It’s clear that Fox News isn’t going to change or address the issues either. So those advertiser problems are about to get even worse.

  • Laura Ingraham hosts leader of right-wing group responsible for violent Portland riots for softball interview

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Laura Ingraham hosted Joey Gibson, the leader of violent right-wing group, Patriot Prayer, on her October 15th show and gave him a softball interview allowing him to deny his group's violent past. Gibson’s group was responsible for the violent riots that took place in Portland on October 13th, and has previously encouraged his group to “instigate” violence and promised that any counter-protesters “are going to feel the pain.”

    The Oregonian reported on Monday that Gibson’s group had previously been discovered on rooftops in Portland with a cache of firearms prior to a summer protest. Gibson denied any prior knowledge of the rooftop incident, claiming “it sounds like they completely exaggerated it.” None of these issues were brought up by Ingraham who allowed Gibson to claim that his group never has “any intention to get violent” in a softball interview that included Gibson promoting his group’s website on his t-shirt.

    From the October 15 edition of Fox News' The Ingraham Angle:
     

    LAURA INGRAHAM (HOST): Joining us now from Portland is one of the organizers of last week's counter-protest, Joey Gibson, he's also the founder of Patriot Prayer. Joey, did your group -- I know you were arrested at one point, back in, I guess it was in May for -- didn't you carry a gun at some -- one of the events at University of Washington campus, or a couple of your guys did? You were arrested for that, but did your group --

    JOEY GIBSON: No, we were detained.

    INGRAHAM: What's that?

    GIBSON: We were detained for a second and then let go.

    INGRAHAM: Okay, you were detained and let go.

    GIBSON: Yeah.

    INGRAHAM: But in this case, did you have any intention of getting violent with this antifa group?

    GIBSON: No, we never have any intention to get violent. For us, it's about challenging the mayor, challenging these protest groups, and just being able to march. If they attack us, then people definitely do defend themselves, but we've had so many marches and rallies where no one shows up and it's completely peaceful and we have a great time.

    INGRAHAM: So, what is the goal of your group, as we watch this chaotic video? I mean, looks like a lot of people got hurt. There were batons and mace being used and rocks and bottles being thrown. So, but what's the -- what is your goal with your protest?

    GIBSON: Sure, so, it depends on the city and what the mayors do. For example, we went down to Berkeley, we kept hitting it because the police were standing down, and so the goal was to get the mayor to allow the police do their job. So, from city to city, it changes.

    Related:

    SPLC: Patriot Prayer again brings violence to Portland with 'flash march' downtown, rounding out a weekend of far-right violence

    The Guardian: Portland man says he was attacked by man linked to far-right Senate candidate

    The Oregonian: Bear spray, bloody brawls at Patriot Prayer 'law and order' march in Portland

    Previously:

    Sean Hannity blames Democrats for violence committed by pro-Trump group, the Proud Boys

    Hannity and his guests lie about violent rioting by pro-Trump supporters, claim it was "the left"

    Fox & Friends sanitizes anti-government extremists