2016 Democratic National Convention | Media Matters for America

2016 Democratic National Convention

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  • “Mind control,” “shadow government,” and Seth Rich: Sean Hannity’s history of pushing conspiracy theories

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Fox News host Sean Hannity attracted widespread condemnation for pushing conspiracy theories about a murdered Democratic National Committee staffer, but it wasn’t his first time promoting or entertaining such wild claims on air. From claiming that the NFL’s Colin Kaepernick protested the national anthem because he “may have converted to Islam” to implying that former President Barack Obama is a terrorist sympathizer, here are some examples of Hannity embracing conspiracy theories.

  • Politico Magazine: Trump’s Attacks On Khan Family May Be His “McCarthy Moment,” From Which He May Not Recover

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Politico Magazine contributing editor Zachary Karabell likened Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s attacks on Khizr and Ghazala Khan to the culmination of Joseph McCarthy’s communist witch hunt in 1954, drawing parallels between Trump “attacking the unimpeachable, suffering parents of a dead hero” and McCarthy “raising suspicions about the loyalties of senior officials in the U.S. Army.”

    Karabell wrote of Trump’s attacks, “we may just have witnessed his McCarthy moment,” referring to how McCarthy’s political career “never recovered” after one of his targets, Joseph Welch, “called out” “the bully” on national television.

    After Khizr Khan, whose son was killed in the line of duty in Iraq in 2004, excoriated Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric and policy proposals at the Democratic National Convention, Trump responded by attacking the Khan family. Trump’s attacks earned bipartisan scorn.

    The Khan family has continued to steadfastly denounce Trump’s “ignorant” behavior, pointing to his attacks as evidence “he has not read the Constitution of this country.”

    Karabell wrote that just as in 1954, when “the bully [Joseph McCarthy] had been called out in public” by Welch and “never recovered,” Trump’s attacks on the Khan family may be “his McCarthy moment.” He argued that Trump may have “crossed over some invisible line of decency that even many voters who now support him can’t stomach,” because he “touched a kind of ethical third rail by attacking the unimpeachable, suffering parents of a dead hero.” Karabell finished, “Donald Trump has churned up a great deal of darkness” with his attacks on the Khan family, “and his moment may just have passed,” just like McCarthy in 1954. From the August 1 Politico Magazine article:

    Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?” Those cutting words, delivered on national television, effectively ended the career of Senator Joe McCarthy. For four years, McCarthy had enjoyed a kind of immunity as he smeared anyone he pleased while on a national witch hunt for Communist sympathizers. But in the spring of 1954, during hearings on supposed infiltrators in the U.S. Army that were broadcast on the new medium of television, McCarthy casually sought to destroy a young lawyer at the firm of Joseph Welch, counsel to the Army, an esteemed Harvard-trained lawyer and fellow Republican. When McCarthy suggested the junior attorney had Communist sympathies, the courtly Welch sank his head in despair, then looked McCarthy in the eye and excoriated him with those immortal words. Tens of millions of new American TV viewers watched in fascination and horror. The senator from Wisconsin never recovered.

    Such turning points are not always evident when they happen: When does a nation reach a moment in which even a popular demagogue who has enjoyed a seeming immunity from public condemnation—no matter what he says—goes too far? History doesn’t repeat itself, and Donald Trump has defied many predictions of his downfall in the past. But it’s possible we may just have witnessed his McCarthy moment, considering the criticism that has been heaped on the GOP candidate from all sides in the past few days since Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the Pakistani-born American parents of an Army captain killed in the line of duty in Iraq in 2004, appeared at the podium of the Democratic National Convention to honor their son and make the case against Trump for president.


    The coming days will determine whether Donald Trump has, like Joe McCarthy, crossed over some invisible line of decency that even many voters who now support him can’t stomach. In many ways the controversy is similar to past moments when Trump has attacked innocent people—like the judge in his Trump University case, Gonzalo P. Curiel, whom Trump impugned for his “Mexican heritage”—and was condemned for it, but still managed to keep his standing in the polls. This time could be different—even from when Trump insulted Sen. John McCain's war service, declaring that McCain was no hero because he was only captured, although the Arizona senator withstood torture for four years. Many predicted Trump’s downfall then too, and it didn’t happen.

    But now Trump has touched a kind of ethical third rail by attacking the unimpeachable, suffering parents of a dead hero—Capt. Khan was awarded the Bronze Star for his actions—and by cheapening the very idea of sacrifice for one’s country. And with just 98 days left until the election, the GOP candidate's campaign is consumed in another unnecessary controversy—perhaps the biggest one yet—and Trump is being condemned by leading figures in both parties.

  • Fox's Fumbled Response To Khan Speech: Why Wasn't Benghazi Covered Like This?

    Fox Was Only Cable News Network Not To Air Khan, Benghazi Speeches During Conventions

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Fox News anchors Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade erroneously claimed that “no networks covered” the Republican National Convention speech from Patricia Smith, whose son was killed in the 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya. In fact, Fox News was the only cable news network not to carry Pat Smith’s speech live, yet the hosts alleged that “there is a double standard” because the “mainstream media is paying all the attention” to Khizr Khan’s Democratic convention speech.

    On July 18, the first night of the Republican National Convention, Patricia Smith -- the mother of a victim of the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya -- attacked Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, blaming Clinton for her son’s death.

    MSNBC and CNN both carried Smith’s speech live. Fox News did not, opting instead for a live phone interview with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

    Yet on August 1, Doocy and Kilmeade lamented that “no networks” covered Smith’s remarks live. The hosts bemoaned that “the mainstream media is paying all the attention to the Khan family” -- parents of a fallen U.S. Army captain who spoke on July 28 at the Democratic National Convention and criticized Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric. Fox News was the only news cable network not to carry Khan’s speech, instead airing a Benghazi attack ad over the speech during commercial. Yet Kilmeade asserted “Nobody covered [Smith’s] remarks live but almost everybody covered Mr. Khan's remarks live”:

    STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): [The Khan family] lost their son, but there is a double standard. The mainstream media is paying all the attention to the Khan family and yet not so much to the Smith family. Sean Smith lost his life in Benghazi and it was one week earlier at the Republican convention where Pat Smith directly and personally blamed Hillary Clinton for her son getting killed. And why isn't this getting coverage?


    BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): Meanwhile, I was on the floor for that. I did not know that no networks covered her. Nobody covered those remarks live but almost everybody covered Khan's, Mr. Khan's remarks live.

    DOOCY: There is a double standard it seems.

    Doocy and Kilmeade should take up their complaints of a “double standard” with their own network, which has long pushed the debunked myth and oft-repeated smear that Clinton deliberately lied about the cause of the Benghazi attacks.

  • Fox News Didn’t Show Democratic Convention Speeches That Cut Against Its Right-Wing Narrative

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Fox News did not air several Democratic National Convention speeches from figures promoting issues that run counter to the narrative the network has pushed for years -- including racial justice, reproductive rights, gun safety reform, LGBT equality, and respect for Muslim-Americans.

    During the second day of the convention on July 26, members of the “Mothers of the Movement,” a group of women whose African-American children were killed due to gun violence or in officer-involved shootings, shared their experiences and their children’s memories. The women also urged people to support Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, who they said “isn’t afraid to say that black lives matter,” and pushed for criminal justice reform and gun safety reform. Fox News not only neglected to air the speeches, but the Mothers of the Movement appearance went completely unmentioned at the time. Fox News and right-wing media have repeatedly demonized the Black Lives Matter movement, likening it to “a hate group” and a “murder movement.” They have also dismissed calls for criminal justice reform, pushing the “black-on-black crime” canard as an excuse and calling concerns about systemic racism in American society “dumb.”

    The convention also featured speakers who advocated for protecting abortion rights, including Planned Parenthood Action Fund president Cecile Richards, who spoke on July 26, and NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue, who spoke on July 27. Both speeches were ignored by Fox. Protecting abortion rights runs counter to the stigma Fox casts on the medical procedure, with their hosts falsely framing abortion law restrictions as patient safety measures and calling a common abortion procedure “dismemberment abortion.” Conservative media have joined Fox figures to demonize Planned Parenthood, repeatedly pushing debunked myths that the organization profited off the selling of fetal tissue. This smear effort has been led by Fox News, which has hosted overwhelmingly anti-choice guests -- often extremists -- to push misinformation about abortion and about Planned Parenthood.

    The convention included remarks from relatives of victims of the Orlando and Sandy Hook massacres, both speaking on July 27 on behalf of gun safety reform. Fox covered neither speaker. Fox has consistently misinformed on the issue of gun safety, pushing the National Rifle Association-driven lie that gun safety measures would “take” guns away from lawful gun owners,and calling gun safety reforms “flat-out dangerous.” Right-wing media have also falsely claimed that shootings tend to occur in so-called “gun-free zones,” and have even asserted that restricting assault weapons such as those used in the Orlando and Sandy Hook mass shootings constitutes a “war on women.”

    On the final day of the convention, Sarah McBride delivered remarks as the first openly transgender person to ever speak at a party convention. McBride urged the passing of legislation to “combat violence against transgender women of color, and to end the HIV and AIDS epidemic once and for all.” Again, Fox was the only cable network to not carry the speech. Fox has long waged a war on LGBT rights, arguing marriage equality would be a slippery slope to marrying animals and portraying those opposed to the policy as victims. More recently, Fox has worked to demonize transgender Americans, calling equal access to bathrooms for transgender people a “violation … of everybody’s rights” and pushing the dangerous and long-debunked myth that safe, accessible bathrooms for all would result in grown men targeting girls in restrooms. Fox personalities have also called transgender Americans “confused” and “troubled” and “a very big threat to our culture.”

    Muslim-American Khizr Khan, whose son was a U.S. Army captain killed in Iraq, also addressed the convention on July 28. Khan spoke about the honor he and his wife felt to attend the convention “as patriotic American Muslims with undivided loyalty to our country.” Khan condemned Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s rhetoric against Muslims, challenging Trump to read the Constitution and concluding, “You have sacrificed nothing. And no one." Fox only aired two minutes of the 7-minute-long speech without audio as commercials -- including a Benghazi attack ad -- played over it. Fox figures have repeatedly questioned the patriotism and beliefs of Muslim-Americans, saying it is “ridiculous” to claim they “are assimilating”, claiming that Islam “was born of violence," and repeatedly ignoring Muslim-American voices to falsely assert that the community doesn’t speak out after terrorist attacks. Fox and right-wing media also gave cover to Trump’s Muslim ban proposal, calling it “rather prudent” and framing it as “the Constitution versus the Quran on every level.”

    Here are The Democratic Convention Speeches Fox Didn't Show