Weasel Zippers | Media Matters for America

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  • Right-wing media hype flawed report on illegal voting pushed by serial conservative misinformers

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Conservative media are reporting on a study claiming that thousands of illegal votes have been cast in Virginia since 1988. However, the study's authors have reportedly used “unreliable methodology” before, its findings go against those of several other studies and experts on voter fraud, and a person inaccurately targeted in it has called it a “gross misrepresentation of the facts.” Additionally, the study was put out by groups known for spreading conspiracy theories and fables about voter fraud and intimidation and which have previously used dubious methodologies in their studies.

  • Right-Wing Media Outlets Echo Trump's Unfounded Smears Of Sally Yates

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Right-wing media outlets are echoing smears from President Donald Trump and his administration against former acting Attorney General Sally Yates leading up to her Senate testimony regarding former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Their dubious claim that Yates is a Democratic partisan comes from a single disgraced Bush-era State Department official who resigned after “impeding ongoing criminal investigations in Iraq,” while their claim that she leaked classified information has not been independently substantiated by anyone with knowledge of the situation.

  • Fox Runs With Bogus ISIS Link To Chattanooga Shooting

    UPDATE: Fox Admits It Was Wrong About ISIS Tweet

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    Fox News reported that an "ISIS-linked" Twitter account warned of today's shooting in Tennessee before it happened, but the tweet in question was sent after the attack had ended. The falsehood was propagated by anti-Islam blogger Pamela Geller before spreading through conservative media

    Four Marines were killed when a shooter fired on two military sites in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Fox News reported that the attacks may be connected to ISIS because an ISIS supporter purportedly discussed the shooting on Twitter before it happened. Fox host Sean Hannity repeated the false claim on his radio show.

    In fact, the tweet Fox News referenced was posted well after the shooting had already occurred. Mashable editor Brian Ries first pointed out the discrepancy.

    On Your World, Fox's chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge reported, "the last investigative thread I would mention at this point is that we're taking a hard look at a Twitter account -- an ISIS-linked Twitter account -- that seemed to have foreknowledge of the shooting in Chattanooga. The tweet went out at 10:34 with the hashtag Chattanooga referring to American dogs and a likely shooting. This of course was about 15 minutes before the shooting took place."

    On his radio show, Fox News host Sean Hannity also referenced the inaccurate information.

    HANNITY: We have a report from Robert Spencer's Jihad Watch, that he's put together -- a timeline regarding today's, what they are now calling a domestic terrorist act in Chattanooga. We have four Marines that have been killed. By the way, our thoughts, our prayers are with the families and the entire military community there. According to the AP, the shooting started around 10:30, 10:45. The Islamic State tweeted a warning about the attack, posted at 10:34 a.m. The ISIS tweet specifically mentioned Chattanooga, which is an obvious reference to the attack. If it's true that ISIS was taking credit for the shooting at the exact same time, or maybe slightly before the shooting commenced, that would be pretty strong evidence of a connection. And Spencer reminds us the Islamic State has called on Muslims to murder American military personnel here in the U.S.

    Fox repeated the claim in further segments on Your World, The Five, and later on Special Report.

    The source of the claim is conservative blogger Pamela Geller, who has a long history of anti-Muslim activism.

    Geller made the claim on Twitter and on her blog, writing, "This morning an ISIS supporter tweeted this at 10:34 am -- the shooting started at 10:45." The report cited by Hannity from Jihad Watch cites Geller as the source. Spencer has often worked with Geller on anti-Muslim projects.

    But the tweet was posted at 1:34 p.m. Eastern time, not 10:34 a.m., as Geller asserted. According to news reports, the shooting "unfolded at two sites over 30 minutes" and started "around 10:45 a.m. ET."

    The image of the tweet she references on her blog appears to be stamped with the Western time zone -- Twitter time stamps are based on the user's time zone, not the time zone of the person who made the tweet.

    Media Matters took this screenshot of the ISIS supporter's Twitter account at 5:13 p.m. ET, and it shows that the post was made 4 hours previously (near the 1 o'clock hour Eastern time).

    Conservative blog Weasel Zippers also made the erroneous conclusion about the tweet in a post headlined, "Islamic State Account Tweets Warnings About Chattanooga Moments Before Shooting Began."

    UPDATE: After this story was published, Fox News began to pull back on their allegation. From Special Report with Bret Baier:

    BRET BAIER: Let me be careful about the tweet to the ISIS-related account. In Garland, Texas we know that it came out before the shooting, before that happened. In this case, the time stamp does say 10:34, but we don't know if that's Pacific time, Mountain time, Eastern time, so we have to be careful about it coming out before the shooting. Point is there are ISIS accounts that are pointing directly to this incident and touting it as one of own.

    UPDATE #2: On The O'Reilly Factor, this story was addressed at least three more times.

    At the top of the Factor, O'Reilly reported the "sensational" ISIS tweet story, even after admitting it wasn't "exactly clear whether it's accurate."

    Midway through the show, Catherine Herridge reappeared and admitted that "there are now some questions about the time stamp on one of the ISIS tweets earlier today." When O'Reilly pressed her on how she learned about the tweet, she said, "I first saw it this afternoon, it was part of the social media that was circulating." 

    At the end of the Factor, Special Report anchor Bret Baier clarified the timing of the tweet, saying that "all indications now are that it came out after the attack." When O'Reilly asked if that meant the ISIS tweet story was "a bogus situation," Baier replied, "yeah." 

  • Fox Attacks "Foolish" George Clooney Over Typhoon Haiyan And Climate Change

    Blog ››› ››› SHAUNA THEEL

    George Clooney Source: Creative CommonsFox Business disparaged actor George Clooney as "irresponsible" and "foolish" for allegedly "blaming" Super Typhoon Haiyan on climate change. However, Clooney merely stated that regardless of "whether or not this particular storm" can be attributed to climate change, denying the existence of manmade climate change -- as those censuring Clooney have -- is "ridiculous."

    Super Typhoon Haiyan was one of the strongest tropical cyclones in world history when it struck the Philippines on November 7, killing as many as 10,000 people. Scientists have stated that intense tropical cyclones such as Haiyan are expected to become more frequent as the earth warms, although many caution against attributing Haiyan directly to climate change. Sea level rise due to climate change also worsens the deadly storm surge for tropical cyclones such as Haiyan and Hurricane Sandy.

    In an apparent response to a question about the typhoon, "Gravity" co-star Clooney criticized those who ignore the vast majority of scientists on climate change:

    CLOONEY: Well it's just a stupid argument. I mean, whether or not this particular storm is any one -- if you have 99 percent of doctors who tell you "you are sick" and 1 percent that says "ah, you're fine," you probably want to hang out with, check it up for the 99. You know what I mean? I -- the idea that we ignore that we are in some way involved in climate change is ridiculous. What's the worst thing that happens? We clean up the earth a little bit? And you know, yeah, I find this to be the most ridiculous argument ever.

    On Monday, Fox Business host Stuart Varney and Fox News' senior meteorologist Janice Dean harangued Clooney for supposedly "us[ing] the tragedy to push his climate change agenda," saying his statement was "irresponsible" and "foolish" -- without ever airing or quoting what he actually said:

    Dean also criticized Clooney for weighing in on climate change because he does not have a "seal of approval" from the American Meteorological Society (AMS), as she does. However, AMS officials have criticized broadcast meteorologists such as Dean for offering "nonscientific" opinions on climate change:

  • Daily Caller Distorts American Jobs Created By Green Energy Loans

    Blog ››› ››› SHAUNA THEEL

    First Solar via TreehuggerThe Daily Caller recently reported that "$3.1 billion in DOE loan guarantees" to First Solar "created mostly overseas jobs." In fact, the chairman of First Solar testified before Congress that "all the jobs directly created with the loan guarantees" are American.

    The Daily Caller embedded video of his testimony in its report, but apparently didn't watch it all the way through. Neither did right-wing news aggregator Weasel Zippers, which ran with a similarly misleading headline.

    In a House Oversight Committee hearing, Chairman Darrell Issa attempted to make hay of the fact that First Solar, which is based in Arizona and employs thousands in the U.S., also has solar projects and employees overseas. But Michael Ahearn, the chairman of First Solar, clarified that the loan guarantees only support projects in the U.S.:

    REP. DARRELL ISSA (R-CA): OK, so jobs created with loan guarantees, stimulus, and others, basically not American.

    MICHAEL AHEARN, FIRST SOLAR: No, no, all those jobs are American and all the jobs directly created with the loan guarantee.

  • Still Not True: Conservatives Revive Falsehood That Samantha Power Called For Invading Israel

    Blog ››› ››› REMINGTON SHEPARD

    Right-wing media are responding to Obama adviser Samantha Power's appointment as chair of the newly created Atrocities Prevention Board by reviving the long-debunked smear that Power once advocated for an invasion of Israel.

    Echoing a post by conservative blogger and Breitbart contributor Jeff Dunetz, Jim Hoft and Weasel Zippers both ran with the false claim that Power "called for [a] military invasion of Israel." Hoft further called Power a "Jew-basher," while Weasel Zippers stated that Power's appointment to the Atrocities Prevention Board was "[u]nreal even by Obama's woeful standards."

    All three posts take comments made by Power out of context in order to claim that she pushed for an invasion of Israel.

  • Right-Wing Media Rope Bush-Appointed Judge Into Obama's Second Amendment "Assault"

    ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Right-wing media outlets are suggesting that a recent decision by Obama-appointed Judge Sue Myerscough dismissing a case that sought to overturn Illinois' ban on publicly carrying firearms is evidence of President Obama's "assault on the Second Amendment." But the Supreme Court has not ruled on the constitutionality of such bans, and Myerscough's ruling is consistent with those of several other judges, including one appointed by President George W. Bush.

  • Conservative Media Now Criticizing Obama For Imaginary Solar Subsidies

    Blog ››› ››› SHAUNA THEEL

    Conservative media are trying to blame the financial troubles of any renewable energy company on Obama -- whether his administration funded them or not. Willard & Kelsey Solar Group, an Ohio-based solar panel manufacturer you've probably never heard of, recently laid off about 40 employees. Soon after, Rush Limbaugh declared that the company was "another Solyndra" that received "federal Obama dollars" and Fox Nation claimed it was "Obama-Funded":

    Trouble is, that's not true. The Toledo Blade reported in February that the company hadn't been able to obtain "federal funding or incentives":

    The spotlight hasn't translated into federal funding or incentives for Willard & Kelsey, [WK Solar Chief Financial Officer Mossie] Murphy noted.

    The company applied for, but did not receive, federal tax credits in 2009 for advanced energy projects. "There are other solar companies that are far better funded in terms of federal programs and stimulus dollars," he said.

    Although WK Solar received support from the Ohio state government, a spokesperson for the company confirms that they "received no federal incentives."

    According to the Small Business Administration, around 50% of new companies fail in the first 5 years. WK Solar got up and running in 2008, as the economy was crashing and the credit crisis was in full swing. It's nonsensical to turn every struggling small business into a national story, but these days, the media seem to lose their minds when they hear the words "solar" or "clean energy."

  • Right-Wing Media Fearmonger About Newark Gun Control Program

    Blog ››› ››› JUSTIN BERRIER

    On January 11, Fox Nation and right-wing blog Weasel Zippers highlighted a video of Newark, NJ, Mayor Cory Booker outlining the details of a Newark gun control program to fearmonger that people would be "turn[ed] in" for "owning a gun."

    The program, called Gun Stoppers, offers a reward of up to $1,000 for residents who provide information leading to an arrest for a gun-related crime. After Weasel Zippers posted the video of Booker under the headline, "Newark, NJ Mayor: Turn In Your Neighbor For Owning A Gun...Get $1,000 Reward," Fox Nation quickly followed suit:

    Fox Nation Booker

    But the headline used by both blogs is incredibly misleading. The program does not reward Newark residents for "turn[ing] in your neighbor for owning a gun." It rewards residents for providing information leading to arrests related to cases of illegal gun possession or gun-related crimes -- a fact made abundantly clear in the video, in which Booker says, "If you know someone carrying an illegal gun, give us the information and get the money."

  • Right-Wing Blogs Attack Michelle Obama Over Appearance On Nickelodeon's iCarly

    Blog ››› ››› TODD GREGORY

    Michelle Obama is making a guest appearance on the January 16 edition of iCarly, which Entertainment Weekly describes as a "hit Nickelodeon sitcom." Entertainment Weekly reported that in the episode, "Mrs. Obama surprises Carly and Co. to commend them for supporting military families (as part of the First Lady's Joining Forces initiative)."

    Because this involved Michelle Obama doing something -- anything -- right-wing blogs took this as an opportunity to attack her.

    In a clip of Obama's appearance posted by Entertainment Weekly, one of the characters on the show refers to the first lady as "your excellency." Another character corrects the first, saying, "You don't call her 'your excellency.' " Obama responds, "No, no. I kind of like it." Laughter is heard after she delivers this line.

    In a post on his Gateway Pundit blog, Jim Hoft wrote, "Michelle Obama makes an appearance on Nickelodeon this month where she jokes that she 'kind of likes' being called 'Your Excellency.' Yeah, we know." He illustrated his post with an image depicting Obama as Marie Antoinette -- with a large, muscular arm (other right-wing bloggers have used the same image):

  • Latest Attack On Michelle Obama: She Went To Target

    ››› ››› MELODY JOHNSON

    Right-wing media have attacked Michelle Obama for going shopping at Target, claiming she went " 'incognito,' Lady Gaga-style" and asking, "Who does she think she's fooling?" Right-wing media have previously attacked the first lady for everything from promoting health initiaitves to wearing a red dress at a state dinner.

  • "Socialist Day": Right-Wing Media Again Attack Obama Over 9-11 Day Of Service

    ››› ››› MELODY JOHNSON

    In the weeks before the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, right-wing media figures have renewed their attacks on President Obama for calling for a National Day of Service on September 11. However, in 2009, a majority of Republican senators voted to establish a 9-11 National Day of Service, and President Bush routinely called on Americans to volunteer on September 11.