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  • Russian senator and right-wing media agree: Trump is just trying to avoid a war with Russia

    Russian Sen. Alexei Pushkov: “I am amazed at the desire of the US media and a large part of Congress to portray Moscow as an enemy of the US. What do they want? Do they want a war with a nuclear power?”

    Blog ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Right-wing media and at least one Russian official are singing from the same song sheet after President Donald Trump’s humiliating press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland. As condemnation for Trump’s absurd performance builds, right-wing pundits, administration officials and, now, representatives of the Russian government are suggesting critics of the president are trying to foment war with Russia.

    In an attempt to provide cover for a president of the United States slandering American law enforcement and intelligence agencies while standing on foreign soil next to a despotic kleptocrat who has repeatedly attempted to destabilize western democracies and American allies, some in right-wing media suggested that the president was simply attempting to “avoid war with” the world’s largest nuclear power. Some have even argued that “Democrats” and “establishment media [want] war with Russia,” an argument that was presented by prominent Putin apologist Stephen Cohen (who has regularly been featured on Fox host Tucker Carlson’s show to discuss the relationship between the U.S. and Russia) on the state-run outlet, RT.

    Now, according to BBC’s Steve Rosenberg, a Russian senator is making the same argument.

    Of course, there are a number of options short of armed conflict that the United States and its western allies could take up to counter Russian aggression, but this is not the first time Russian and U.S., pro-Trump media talking points have been in sync. In 2017, Fox News’ senior judicial analyst, Judge Andrew Napolitano, claimed that former President Barack Obama asked the British Government Communications Headquarters to eavesdrop on Trump during the 2016 campaign and the transition period, and to provide the former president with transcripts of Trump's conversations. Media Matters traced the assertion back to an interview on the state-sponsored Russian network RT with a former CIA official who has accused John Kerry of war crimes, spread the 2008 rumor about a supposed recording of former first lady Michelle Obama “railing against ‘whitey,’” and now is floating "sedition" charges against former Obama officials. Also in 2017, Russian state-run media and American pro-Trump media messaging converged after former national security advisor Michael Flynn’s resignation.

  • Right-Wing Media Portray May Day Demonstrations As Violent Anarchy

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Labor rights advocates and progressive political activists commemorated May Day with marches in the United States and around the world in solidarity with immigrants and workers, but their mostly peaceful demonstrations were smeared by right-wing outlets, which painted them as violent outbursts led by anarchists.

    May 1 or May Day has been commemorated internationally as a workers rights holiday for over 100 years and this year it happened to roughly coincide with the culmination of President Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office. Trump’s tenure thus far has been typified by toxic anti-immigrant rhetoric and aggressively anti-worker policies and hundreds of thousands of activists peacefully marched this May Day in Washington, D.C. and across the country demonstrating their opposition to his agenda. While clashes broke out in some cities, most marches in the U.S. and around the world were peaceful.

    In response to the demonstrations, fringe right-wing outlets like The Gateway Pundit, ZeroHedge, and Infowars, along with the Russian government propaganda outlet RT, used the few isolated instances of violence to paint a picture that all protesters were violent communists and anarchists. Right-wing conspiracy site WorldNetDaily warned, “Movements like this always end in death, poverty and misery.” had a bevy of articles on May Day that claimed protesters were “radical left-wing activists,” alleged the crowd sizes at the protests did not live up to expectations, hyped violence that broke out in Portland as being endemic to other demonstrations and mocked Facebook for letting workers take the day off to join up with “communists and Black Bloc enforcers” at May Day protests.

    Fox News’ portrayals of the May Day rallies depicted a similar dystopia. On the May 2 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, Fox Business host Stuart Varney discarded the notion that the demonstrations had anything to do with “workers, or workers rights, or trade unions” and claimed May Day had been hijacked by “the violent left” to protest Trump. Varney continued to lambast May Day protesters on his Fox Business program while guest Tom Sullivan claimed the demonstrators were actually communist agitators who “just changed their names” to blend in with progressivism. From the May 2 edition of Fox Business’ Varney & Co.:

  • Right-Wing And “Alt-Right” Media Mischaracterize VOA Report To Lie About Russian Hacking

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Right-wing media are attacking CrowdStrike, the cybersecurity firm that in June 2016 “was the first to link last year’s hacks of Democratic Party computers to Russian actors,” in an attempt to discredit the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to aid President Donald Trump. In fact, CrowdStrike’s apparently erroneous findings are in reference to a different example of Russian hacking, and have no bearing on the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusions, which have independently “identified Russian officials who fed material hacked from the Democratic National Committee and party leaders to WikiLeaks.”

  • Report: FBI Investigating Russian Operatives Using Bots To Spread Stories From Breitbart, RT, Infowars

    Investigators Are “Exploring Whether The Far-Right News Operations Took Any Actions To Assist Russia’s Operatives”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    According to a report from McClatchy, the FBI is investigating Russia’s use of “bots” to push pro-Trump news stories on Facebook and Twitter from conservative websites and “Kremlin-backed RT News and Sputnik News.”

    The March 20 article from McClatchy reported that “[o]peratives for Russia appear to have strategically timed the computer commands, known as ‘bots,’ to blitz social media with links to pro-Trump stories.” The “bots” pushed stories that mixed fact and fiction from “conservative sites such as Breitbart News and Infowars, as well as on the Kremlin-backed RT News and Sputnik News.” From the March 20 report:

    Federal investigators are examining whether far-right news sites played any role last year in a Russian cyber operation that dramatically widened the reach of news stories — some fictional — that favored Donald Trump’s presidential bid, two people familiar with the inquiry say.

    Operatives for Russia appear to have strategically timed the computer commands, known as “bots,” to blitz social media with links to the pro-Trump stories at times when the billionaire businessman was on the defensive in his race against Democrat Hillary Clinton, these sources said.

    The bots’ end products were largely millions of Twitter and Facebook posts carrying links to stories on conservative internet sites such as Breitbart News and InfoWars, as well as on the Kremlin-backed RT News and Sputnik News, the sources said. Some of the stories were false or mixed fact and fiction, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the bot attacks are part of an FBI-led investigation into a multifaceted Russian operation to influence last year’s elections.

    Investigators examining the bot attacks are exploring whether the far-right news operations took any actions to assist Russia’s operatives. Their participation, however, wasn’t necessary for the bots to amplify their news through Twitter and Facebook.


    As for the bots, they carried links not only to news stories but also to Democratic emails posted on WikiLeaks, especially those hacked from Podesta and made public in October, said Philip Howard, a professor at the Oxford University Internet Institute who has researched the bot attacks.

    Howard said that, as an example, bots had spread links to fictional stories that accused Clinton of involvement in running a child-sex ring in the basement of a Washington pizza parlor. The posts inspired a North Carolina man to drive to Washington and fire an assault weapon in the restaurant, according to police reports.

    Howard’s study of bot-generated Twitter traffic during last fall’s Trump-Clinton campaign debates showed that bot messages favorable to Trump significantly outnumbered those sympathetic to Clinton.

  • Fox News Conspiracy Theory That Obama Asked British Intelligence To Wiretap Donald Trump Echoes RT Interview

    Spread By Infowars, Reddit, Breitbart, And Other Conspiracy Sites, The Wiretap Claim Goes Back To The Person Who Said There Was An Obama "Whitey" Tape

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Fox News’ senior judicial analyst, Judge Andrew Napolitano, claimed that former President Barack Obama asked a British intelligence agency to spy on President Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign and the transition period and to provide the former president with transcripts of Trump's conversations. Napolitano’s claim can be traced in part back to an interview on the state-sponsored Russian network RT with a former CIA official who has accused John Kerry of war crimes, spread the 2008 rumor about a supposed recording of former first lady Michelle Obama “railing against ‘whitey,’” and now is floating "sedition" charges against former Obama officials.

  • Appearing On Russian State Television, Longtime Trump Adviser Roger Stone Pushes Trump's Wiretap Lie

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    President Donald Trump’s ally and self-proclaimed “dirty trickster” Roger Stone appeared on the Russian state-funded outlet RT yet again, and pushed Trump’s false claim that former President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower.

    In an interview with RT, at least his fifth since 2015, Stone stated that both he and Trump believe that Trump Tower “was under surveillance by the federal government and the intelligence agencies” during the 2016 presidential campaign in “potentially the greatest scandal in American history.” Stone added that if wiretapping did occur, “it is unlikely” it was done “without the permission and knowledge of the President.” He called for a “grand jury” where Obama would be “questioned under oath.” Current and former intelligence officials have said Trump’s charge is false.

    During the interview, Stone also disputed the American intelligence community’s consensus that Russia interfered with the 2016 election, claiming, “The mainstream media in this country keeps repeating it ad nauseam despite a stunning lack of evidence,” and bemoaned former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s resignation from his post and Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recusal from any campaign-related probes. Flynn was ousted after it was made public that he lied to Vice President Mike Pence about discussing sanctions with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. Similarly, Sessions recused himself from investigations of the Russian influence on the election after it was revealed that he also met twice with the Russian ambassador and failed to disclose those meetings when asked under oath during his confirmation hearing.

    Stone, a longtime friend, ally, and adviser to Trump, is reportedly under investigation by law enforcement as part of a probe of links between Trump associates and Russian officials during the 2016 campaign. Stone claimed last August that he personally was in communication with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. A March 8 report also alleges that he exchanged private Twitter messages with “Guccifer 2.0,” an entity U.S. officials believe was created by Russian officials to publicize emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

    This is not Stone’s first interview with RT, a Russian-funded media network that Western countries believe works to “sow doubt about democratic institutions and destabilize the West.” Since June 2015, when Trump launched his presidential campaign, Stone appeared on RT at least four times before this latest interview. He claimed in a 2015 interview that Chelsea Clinton was a “co-conspirator” in the “profiteering” and “bribes” of the Clinton Foundation, and said in a February 2016 RT interview that Jeb Bush “brings out his mother” Barbara Bush “on those rare occasions when she’s sober” and that the Bush family is “like an organized crime family.” In another February 2016 interview, he pushed for the election of Trump and said the U.S needed “to have a leader, to have a president kind of like Comrade Putin.” More recently, he suggested in a January 31 interview that former DNC staffer Seth Rich was murdered over the hacking of the organization’s emails and that the “entire notion that the Russians hacked this election and did so in order to affect the result is a falsehood, is a canard.”

    Stone has a decades-long history of employing dirty tricks, was banned from multiple American cable outlets, and regularly spouts violent, racist, and sexist rhetoric, including calling Hillary Clinton a “cunt” and advocating her execution. He has also attacked various media figures, calling them things like “professional negro” and “stupid bitch.” Stone is a discredited researcher and conspiracy theorist who claims that the Clintons and the Bushes secretly murdered dozens and that the collapse of World Trade Center Building 7 was “suspicious.” He believes that President Lyndon Johnson killed President John F. Kennedy, President George H.W. Bush tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan, and the Clintons killed John F. Kennedy Jr.

  • Headlines Tout Trump’s False Claim That Intel Briefing “Was Delayed,” Omitting Intelligence Community’s Pushback

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Multiple outlets pushed President-elect Donald Trump’s false claim on Tuesday, January 3, that an intelligence briefing had been “delayed until Friday” because officials “needed” extra time “to build a case” regarding Russian meddling in the 2016 election. While some outlets noted in their headlines that intelligence officials have said that there was never a briefing scheduled for January 3, many others simply framed their headlines around Trump’s false claim that the briefing had been “delayed.”

  • Five Times Comey Corrected Right-Wing Media Misinformation During His Congressional Testimony On Clinton Email Probe

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    During his July 7 testimony on Capitol Hill, FBI Director James Comey dismantled several right-wing media myths about Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she served as secretary of state. In his testimony about the FBI’s recommendation against pursuing criminal charges, Comey debunked flawed comparisons and corrected faulty definitions that right-wing media have repeatedly pushed.

  • Right-Wing Media Run With Another Baseless Comparison With Clinton Emails

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Media spuriously likened Hillary Clinton’s email use to the case of Bryan Nishimura -- who was criminally charged with mishandling classified information -- after FBI Director James Comey announced the bureau would not recommend criminal charges against Clinton. Media figures seized on Nishimura’s 2015 charges to erroneously characterize Comey’s announcement as a double standard, but, as with the debunked comparisons of Clinton’s email use to David Petraeus’ and John Deutch’s cases, legal experts note that unlike Clinton, Nishimura knowingly mishandled classified information.

  • So Rand Paul shunned "Meet the Press" for a Kremlin-backed, 9-11 conspiracy news org?

    Blog ››› ››› WILL BUNCH

    It's amazing what gets lost in the vortex of long holiday weekend -- not just Roy Halladay's perfect game but of course Obama and Sestak and Clinton in THE SCANDAL OF THE CENTURY and then there was also this from Rand Paul and his quixotic GOP Senate campaign in Kentucky, in which he questioned the 14th Amendment (also a slavery thing, but I digress...) and its interpretation that it grants citizenship to children of undocumented parents born within the United States.

    That's an interesting and important debate, but what was really amazing was where he made his comments -- particularly since this was the same time frame in which he cancelled an appearance on NBC's "Meet The Press," when it was clear that the dons of the GOP wanted to reduce the exposure of libertarian Paul and his unorthodox views on matters like the 1964 Civil Rights Act or President's Obama's "un-American" treatment of British petroleum.

    So instead of talking to NBC News, Paul talked to a venue in which he clearly felt more comfortable: The Kremlin- linked, conspiracy minded Russia Today.

    Um, wait, who's anti-American?

    Here's a little about Russia Today (typically ID'd in its reports as "RT"):

    Russia's state-owned news agency, RIA-NOVOSTI, has surprised media watchers by announcing plans to launch a new, 24-hour global television news channel to improve Russia's image abroad. Russia Today is to hit the airwaves late this year and is being hailed by organizers as a new Russian CNN. But several analysts say the venture will amount to nothing more than Kremlin propaganda.

    Russia's domestic television media, which consists of only two government-sponsored tv channels, already suffers from a credibility problem. Enter plans for Russia Today, whose organizers say it will cover international news with a, "Russian outlook" and the issue takes on a whole new dimension.

    As the Washington Post explained more clearly:

    Russia Today, a news channel set up in April 2005, is broadcasting in English and Arabic and planning to expand into Spanish. At first glance it looks a lot like CNN, but it can be a breathless cheerleader for the Kremlin.

    OK, so Rand Paul spoke with a Kremlin-funded news org -- nothing wrong with talking to the foreign press every so often, right? Except that Russia Today, or RT, also promotes a particular brand of conspiracy theorizing that many voters in Paul's home state of Kentucky would find appalling -- including frequent news stories and commentators promoting the idea that 9/11 was a U.S. government inside job.

    Here's a story from RT's website, dated Sept. 9, 2009: "911 Reasons Why 911 Was (Probably) an Inside Job":

    9/11 was the day steel-framed buildings fell like sandcastles, the law of physics worked in reverse and the United States Air Force went missing in action. So what is the real story?

    Before attempting to identify "nine hundred and eleven reasons why 9/11 was an inside job" (which will start tomorrow as part of an investigative, four-part report), I would like to briefly mention my own "where-were-you-on-9/11-moment" since it has a lot to do with my reasons for rejecting the official version of events that fateful day.

    That was hardly a one-off, either. Here you can watch RT's glowing report on the "9/11 truth" movement in New Hampshire, while here is the supposed true story behind "9/11, the new world order and the Fed" and here is another Russia Today report that I've embedded at the bottom of the post, about the idea that explosives and not the hijacked jetliners caused the Twin Towers to fall:

    Could the most audacious terrorist attack in history be a "sophisticated masterpiece of demolition"?

    That's what chemistry professor Niels Harrit has been asking, following his investigation of the World Trade Centre rubble, which has revealed traces of explosives.

    Where is Russia Today getting its wacky ideas about America and 9/11? It could be from a U.S. commentator that it frequently invites on the air to explain what's happening here -- radio's conspiracy-theorist-in-chief, who makes even Glenn Beck look sane, and that would be Austin-based Alex Jones. You can see some of Jones' TV commentaries for Russia Today here and here and here and here and here, promoting his "Obama Deception" documentary that claims that "America has become a puppet in the hands of private bankers working towards a new world order."

    Drawing the circle together is that fact that Jones has been a big booster of Rand Paul's father, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, when he ran for president in 2008, and Jones -- who has also promoted the 9/11-inside job theory -- has often hosted Rand Paul on his nationally syndicated show as well. As Mother Jones' David Corn reported last month:

    Both men have appeared on his show, which, of course, doesn't mean they endorse his 9/11 views and other opinions. (Last December, Rand Paul's campaign communications director, Chris Hightower, resigned after a blogger exposed Hightower as an anti-Christian who believed that the US government was responsible for 9/11. The Paul campaign, asked by a local newspaper, if Paul agreed with Hightower on 9/11, said it was a "complicated situation" with "truth on both sides.") But Rand Paul has shown sympathy for Jones' overall view of a world of global conspiracies, and he has expressed support for some of Jones' unconventional ideas.

    During a July 23, 2009 show, Jones, decrying the Wall Street bailout, asked Paul, "This isn't really socialism….Isn't this more akin to fascism?" Paul replied, "You're exactly right." Later on the show, while Jones was denouncing cap-and-trade legislation (which he says could lead to "toilet paper taxes") and calling for investigating Al Gore, Paul noted that should the climate bill become law, "we will have an army of armed EPA agents--thousands of them." These EPA troopers, according to Paul, would be free to burst into homes and apartments to determine if they were meeting energy-efficiency standards.

    This is Rand Paul's world -- where the media circle he feels most comfortable in is the conspiracy web spun by Russia Today and its frequent commentator Alex Jones, while he's clearly not ready for the kind of scrutiny he'd get from a more mainstream show like "Meet the Press." Despite that, polls continue to show Paul with a slight lead going into the fall elections. America and the U.S. Senate may be in for quite a ride.