Outnumbered Overtime | Media Matters for America

Outnumbered Overtime

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  • The Trump administration is detaining migrants in horrid conditions. Fox News is trying to dismiss concerns by attacking Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.


    After visiting border detention centers in El Paso and Clint, TX, last week, a few members of Congress gave similar scathing accounts about the conditions faced by migrants being detained in those facilities. Their observations aligned with separate reporting from major media outlets and the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General about the conditions at the border facilities. But Fox News selectively focused on freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and attacked her for her comments.

  • As news organizations and experts question the effectiveness of new Iran sanctions, Fox pushes Trump’s propaganda

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Multiple cable and broadcast news personalities and major national newspapers have cast doubt on the effectiveness of President Donald Trump’s new “hard-hitting” sanctions designed to keep Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and top Iranian military officials from accessing parts of the international banking system. But Fox News figures, including several anchors and reporters from its supposed “straight news” division, are echoing Trump’s framing of the sanctions’ effectiveness, describing them as “harsh,” “crippling,” and “tough.”

    Foreign policy experts and former Treasury Department officials have said that Trump’s latest sanctions are unnecessary and will have no real impact. Kate Bauer, a former Treasury official who is now at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, explained to The New Yorker that Trump didn’t even need to sign a new executive order because the authority to implement such sanctions already existed under a 2012 executive order signed by President Barack Obama. 

    Eurasia Group founder Ian Bremmer told Business Insider that Trump’s “latest sanctions are more bark than bite; they don't change the economic calculations for the Iranian regime.” 

    MSNBC global affairs analyst Wendy Sherman, the former undersecretary of state who led the team that negotiated the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, suggested to host Chris Hayes that the new sanctions will have virtually no effect on the intended targets. According to Sherman, most of the people targeted in Trump’s executive order were already sanctioned by a previous executive order, and “none of them have much to do with international financial institutions because international financial institutions don't want to have anything to do with them.”

    Some of the nation’s largest newspapers also published articles explaining that Trump’s new sanctions will likely have little effect. The New York Times reported they “will have almost no impact on the ayatollah” and “the same appears to be true for most of the other individuals sanctioned on Monday.” Another article from the Times stated that “any additional pressure from the new sanctions is likely to be minimal.” International Crisis Group President Robert Malley, a former senior Obama administration official on the Middle East, told the Times that the sanctions are “symbolic politics at its worst” and “at every level it is illogical, counterproductive or useless.” Brookings Institution Iran scholar Suzanne Maloney told The Washington Post, “Any new measures are only incremental and possibly redundant.” Sanctions expert Elizabeth Rosenberg of the Center for a New American Security also told the Post, “Further economic sanctions are almost entirely symbolic, rather than being economically significant.”

    Many broadcast and cable news reports about Trump’s new sanctions also questioned their effectiveness. PBS NewsHour’s Monday report featured Karim Sadjadpour, a Middle East expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, who said, “I don't think it's probably going to be enough to break them and force them to capitulate, but it could trigger a further Iranian response in this escalation cycle we’re already in.” CBS News White House correspondent Paula Reid said on CBS Evening News: “These new sanctions may only have a minimal impact as top Iranian officials likely do not keep significant assets in international banks.” MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell cited reporting from the Times that “any additional pressure from the new sanctions is likely to be minimal.” And CNN anchor Erin Burnett questioned the Trump administration’s framing of its new sanctions.

    ERIN BURNETT (ANCHOR): “Highly effective” or are they? Is this real action or just tough talk? Take for example Iran's supreme leader. No one really knows where his money is to even lock it up. He hasn’t even left Iran in years. Plus our Fred Pleitgen, who spent last week in Tehran, says -- tells us tonight that these sanctions have no wider impact on Iran's military or political leadership than the ones already in place.

    But Fox News -- which has a significant influence on the president and has been pushing Trump’s propaganda on Iran while mostly nudging him toward war -- started echoing Trump’s framing of his newest sanctions. Prime-time host Sean Hannity hyperbolically said that Trump was “delivering even more crippling sanctions on this radical, rogue regime.” But it wasn’t just the opinion host who pushed Trump’s message; some of Fox’s so-called “news division” anchors and correspondents also presented Trump’s sanctions as powerful and effective, contrary to what experts have been saying. On her show Fox News @ Night, anchor Shannon Bream called the sanctions “potentially crippling” and correspondent Gillian Turner said that the sanctions are “some of the most targeted, biting sanctions the Treasury has dropped in decades.”

    Fox’s chief White House correspondent, John Roberts, also parroted Trump’s propaganda, referring to what he called “tough new sanctions” on both Outnumbered Overtime and The Daily Briefing without noting that they will have little impact on their targets. On Your World, he framed them as “harsh new sanctions,” but on Special Report, Roberts went even further in his effusive promotion of Trump’s framing: 

    JOHN ROBERTS (WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT): The Trump administration has imposed more than a thousand sanctions against Iran since the U.S. pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal in 2017. But the sanctions that were announced today take the economic squeeze to a whole new level.

  • Fox personalities in the news and opinion divisions fearmonger that asylum-seekers could “fundamentally change the sovereignty of our country”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    On the May 28 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, “straight news” correspondent Griff Jenkins -- filling in as co-host -- claimed that “the Border Patrol says behind closed doors … once we just release [migrant or asylum-seeking] adult single males into the community, it is going to fundamentally change the sovereignty of our country on that border.” Jenkins also said that he “wish[es] they would say it publicly more often.” 

    Later in the day, another Fox News personality made a similar point. Outnumbered co-host Harris Faulkner, who also anchors the companion "news" show Outnumbered Overtime, discussed the possibility of Transportation Security Administration agents joining Border Patrol on the border "to keep that line, that sovereignty down there," again suggesting that immigration is a threat to U.S. sovereignty.

    On the May 23 edition of Outnumbered Overtime, Fox News contributor and former acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Tom Homan similarly claimed that “if we fail to detain [adult individual asylum-seekers] until they see a judge, you will lose the border … [and] you’re going to see an unprecedented surge of all sorts of chaos on the border.” Faulkner commented that Homan’s comment “gives me chills.”  

    Fox News has consistently driven the nativist narrative that immigration “is a flat-out invasion” of the United States. Fox & Friends has played a key role in driving the misinformation. Co-host Steve Doocy recently praised Jenkins for a report fearmongering about “rumors of ebola” in a migrant caravan; Jenkins had reported on the rumors but had debunked them in the same report. 

    As The Washington Post reported, the “militaristic ‘invasion’ metaphor” is “one of the oldest and most persistent anti-immigration metaphors in the country’s history, employed to oppose Irish Catholics, Asians, Latinos, Germans, Jews and just about everyone except white Protestants of English ancestry who now lives in America.” Framing immigration as an “invasion” erases the individual stories and reasons people have for seeking to live in the United States, replacing it with an imaginary, monolithic “army” seeking to destroy the country.  

  • Fox downplays report that Trump ordered officials to give son-in-law Kushner a security clearance

    Blog ››› ››› COURTNEY HAGLE

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    The New York Times reported on Thursday that President Donald Trump “ordered his chief of staff to grant his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, a top-secret security clearance last year, overruling concerns flagged by intelligence officials and the White House’s top lawyer.” Even though the decision could pose serious national security risks, Fox News shows either ignored or downplayed the report.

    On February 28, The New York Times reported that Trump ordered top-level security clearances for Kushner despite opposition and concerns from the FBI, the CIA, the White House counsel, and his then-chief of staff John Kelly. According to the Times, “Officials had raised questions about [Kushner’s] own and his family’s real estate business’s ties to foreign governments and investors, and about initially unreported contacts he had with foreigners.” Kushner regularly expressed his frustration to Trump, but when the White House counsel’s office recommended to the president in May that Kushner not be given a top-secret clearance, Trump “ordered Mr. Kelly to grant it to Mr. Kushner anyway.” The Washington Post released a separate investigation on the topic later that day, confirming the Times report.

    Kushner’s clearance had been held up for over a year and was even “downgraded from interim top secret to secret” in February 2018. But after he was given the top-security clearance, the White House claimed that the president was not involved in the security clearance process. Kushner’s lawyer said that his client followed a standard process. Ivanka Trump, Kushner’s wife and Trump’s eldest daughter who also serves as a senior adviser in the White House, said only a few weeks ago that Trump “had no involvement pertaining to my clearance or my husband’s clearance, zero.” Ivanka also pushed back on reports that Kushner had trouble receiving a clearance, dismissing them as “anonymous leaks.” In a January interview with the Times, Trump also repeatedly denied being involved in the security process, saying that he “was never involved with the security.”

    Trump’s decision to sidestep security processes posed egregious national security risks, and it was an insult to public servants who have to go through the standard process. But Fox News failed to emphasize the seriousness of his decision. Most of the network’s shows ignored the report entirely, and those that did cover it worked to downplay the story’s significance. On Lou Dobbs Tonight, Fox Business analyst Ed Rollins dismissed the report, saying, “Ultimately, the president has the right to clear anybody he wants to clear.” He added, “The bottom line is we should be grateful [Kushner is] there.”

    On The Ingraham Angle, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who says he was pushed off the presidential transition team over his personal conflict with Kushner, said that the “president had the absolute right to give a security clearance to whoever he wanted to,” but that the real issue is that Trump and Ivanka repeatedly lied about it. Host Laura Ingraham argued that Ivanka “might not have any knowledge of any of this” before conceding, “We all commit unforced errors in our lives, and it’s an unforced error if the reporting is accurate.”

    On Fox News @ Night, host Shannon Bream mentioned the report for less than 20 seconds.

    On the March 1 edition of Fox & Friends, Christie talked about the report in a segment that lasted for about one minute and 30 seconds. Christie again asserted that “ordering the clearance is not problematic” and that “the problem is they didn’t tell the truth.”

    America’s Newsroom aired one brief segment on Kushner’s denial of the report. When asked about the story, White House senior advisor Kellyanne Conway replied, “We don’t discuss security clearances.” Later in the show, Fox News host Chris Wallace discussed the report and described Conway’s comments as “a classic non-denial denial,” pointing out that Ivanka and others have discussed the security clearance in the past. Wallace also pointed out that if the report was “false, if in fact the president hadn’t been involved, I can’t imagine they wouldn’t say that. They have no qualms about saying when news is fake, when [there’s] reporting they think is inaccurate. They are not saying that about this story, so I think that speaks for itself.

    On Outnumbered, the five-person panel sought to justify Trump's actions, with co-host Melissa Francis asking, "Why are they continuing to make a big deal out of this story?" Co-host Morgan Ortagus said she would have liked the report to discuss whether Clinton officials lost their security clearances while she was secretary of state.

    On Outnumbered Overtime, host Harris Faulkner mentioned the report briefly in a segment that lasted less than one minute.

    Media Matters looked at Fox News segments from when the Times' report was published on February 28 until 2 pm on March 1.