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Trump / Russia

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  • 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.”

  • Trump Ally And News Source Alex Jones Regularly Pushes CIA Conspiracy Theories

    Jones Previously Said The CIA Was Involved In 9/11 And The Oklahoma City And Boston Marathon Bombings

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has been repeatedly warning President-elect Donald Trump that “rogue elements” within the CIA are trying to “assassinate” him before he takes office. Trump, who has been publicly feuding with the CIA in recent weeks, reportedly speaks to Jones on the phone and watches his videos. He has previously echoed Jones' other conspiracy theories and rhetoric.

    Jones is a toxic promoter of conspiracy theories, including that the United States government perpetrated the 9/11 attacks and the tragedies at Columbine, Oklahoma City, Sandy Hook, and the Boston Marathon, among others. He was also a leading promoter of the false “pizzagate” conspiracy theories that led a Jones listener to fire a gun inside a Washington, D.C., pizzeria.

    Trump has mainstreamed Jones: He appeared on Jones’ program in December 2015 and said he has an “amazing” reputation. Trump also called Jones after the election to thank his audience for supporting his candidacy and promised to appear on his program soon.

    Trump reportedly watches Jones’ program and he has repeatedly echoed Jones’ ideas and rhetoric, prompting Jones to remark that it’s “surreal to talk about issues here on air and then word for word hear Trump say it two days later.” Top Trump adviser Roger Stone is also a contributor and frequent guest to Jones’ program. He told Jones that Trump appreciates his work and “knows that you are the centerpiece of the resistance.”

    The CIA recently “concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency,” according to The Washington Post. Trump has responded to the report by dismissing and attacking the CIA. The Post subsequently reported that Trump’s attacks “will probably deepen an existing rift between Trump and the agencies and raised questions about how the government’s 16 spying agencies will function in his administration on matters such as counterterrorism and cyberwarfare.”

    Meanwhile, Alex Jones has been repeatedly warning Trump that people within the CIA are “planning to assassinate” or “overthrow” Trump and that the agency is “thinking about bringing in outside mercenaries or other agencies” in order to do that.

    Author Jon Ronson reported that Jones told him he and Trump speak on the phone and he also communicates with the president-elect through YouTube videos. Jones reportedly said: “I put a video out … a message to Trump. And then two days later he lays out the case. It’s like sending up the Bat Signal.”

    Following the Post’s CIA story, Jones issued an “emergency alert” video on December 11 warning Trump that the CIA is trying “to assassinate” the president-elect. From his December 11 video:

    ALEX JONES: Why I’m really concerned is that this could be used inside government to trigger emergency systems under COG (continuity of government) that if a major leader like the president is actually a foreign agent they can then reportedly be taken out. And so to have the bold move of implying that a president-elect is being manipulated and controlled by the Russians is a very, very serious telltale sign that they could be thinking about bringing in outside mercenaries or other agencies to actually try to assassinate the 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump, before he even gets into office. Because remember: They are incredibly desperate right now.

    Jones added later in his video that “criminal corporate elements inside the CIA and other agencies” are “moving right now to try to basically overthrow Trump.”

    On December 11, he issued another "alert" in which he accused the CIA of subverting Trump and the election. Jones said he “contacted the proper parties. I have run this intel up a lot of important, informed flagpoles, and they all concurred that there is a plan, which we now see is quite evident, to try to steal the election from the American people and Donald J. Trump.” He added that “rogue elements of the CIA are planning to assassinate Trump if they can. They’re definitely looking at it right now.”

    Jones also appeared live in an “emergency” Facebook video on December 12 under the caption “CIA Now Stealing Election Trump Must Go On Offense!” In a “message to the president,” Jones told Trump, “I know you see some of my reports, but you’ve got to go on the offense” against perceived anti-Trump forces because “they’re going to politically kill you, and your name first, then they’re going to kill you.” He then suggested that members of the CIA are “enemies” and encouraged him to “go all the way” against them. 

    Jones’ YouTube channel has published numerous other videos accusing the CIA of trying to kill or "overturn" Trump's election. Headlines include “It's Official: CIA, Dems, MSM Planning To Overturn Trump Election!”;National Emergency: CIA Attempting To Overthrow Election”; “Entire MSM Promote Assassination Of Trump, In Prep For CIA Takeover”; and “CIA/Dems Move Forward With Plan to Steal Election From Trump.”

    Jones has accused the CIA of being involved in some of the worst terrorist attacks in recent history. Jones said roughly a week after September 11 that the attacks were “a federal operation” and he had “smoking gun evidence” that Osama Bin Laden was “a CIA asset” and “a CIA hireling doing his job” for the government.

    He claimed that the CIA was part of a government cabal that bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995. Jones said, “Oklahoma City was a total false flag with NATO, the ATF, and the CIA and the FBI.”

    Jones claimed that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was convicted of the Boston Marathon bombing, “was totally set up, ladies and gentlemen, to sell the police state.” Jones also claimed that Dzhokhar's deceased brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, “worked for the CIA.” 

    The conspiracy theorist also recently claimed that Facebook’s new plan to fight fake news is a CIA plot and called on Trump to “unfund the CIA trying to run this.” 

  • After Weeks Of Denials, Fox News Independently Confirms Russian Interference In US Election

    Catherine Herridge: “These Operations Were Sanctioned By The Highest Levels Of The Russian Government”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Fox News’ chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge reported that Fox News has independently verified Russian-backed cyber militias targeted US systems in “an effort to interfere in the US election.” Herridge’s report comes after weeks of Fox News denying the Russian government could have anything to do with the election hack.

    After 17 intelligence agencies reported that the Russian government was involved with hacking political organizations’ emails, Fox News repeatedly attempted to cast doubt on the reports by calling the agencies political. Fox host Sean Hannity derided the CIA’s conclusions as “politically motivated” “fake news,” and his colleague Tucker Carlson has repeatedly downplayed the possibility of Russia influencing the election and attacked anybody supporting the thesis. And Fox News contributor John Bolton even claimed that the “ridiculous” allegations of Russian interference could be a “false flag.” 

    Despite Fox’s campaign to cast doubt on the possibility of the Russian government seeking to undermine American elections, a December 15 report from chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge said that “Fox News has independently confirmed that Russian backed cyber-militias were targeting US systems and influential US persons in the summer of 2015,” an operation which “evolved into an effort to interfere in the US election … sanctioned by the highest levels of the Russian government.” From the December 15 edition of Fox News’ The Kelly File:

    CATHERINE HERRIDGE: Fox News has independently confirmed that Russian-backed cyber militias were targeting US systems and influential US persons in the summer of 2015, and the operation evolved into an effort to interfere in the US election. These operations were sanctioned by the highest levels of the Russian government. 

    After the FBI director’s July statement about the Clinton email investigation, a government source says there was a reluctance to further insert government institutions and their assessments into an already deeply politicized election cycle. A leading cybersecurity expert says the intelligence community reviewed the techniques, tactics, and procedures leveraged in the attacks and made the link to Russia. In October, the agencies and Homeland Security, or DHS, went on the record, though Putin was not mentioned by name. 

  • How Right-Wing Media Helped Trump Voters Warm Up To Vladimir Putin

    Blog ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    A new YouGov/Economist poll found that among registered Republicans and Trump voters, more than a third now hold a “favorable” view of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Though a majority still view Putin negatively, right-wing media -- which spent years holding Putin up as a “better leader” than President Barack Obama -- set the stage for Republican opinions to shift in the autocrat’s favor, leading to a nearly 50-point swing in support from conservatives in just over two years. And after the United States intelligence community publicly disclosed that its members believe Russia interfered in the 2016 election, many right-wing media figures doubled down on their support for Putin and are downplaying Russia’s involvement in the election.

    Putin is an authoritarian “strongman” who has cracked down in Russia on freedom of speech and freedom of the press, signed into law draconian anti-gay legislation, and invaded and annexed the Crimean Peninsula, part of Ukraine. Nevertheless, for years, right-wing media have praised Vladimir Putin as a great leader, comparing him favorably against Obama. Fox figures have consistently lauded the Russian autocrat as “a real he-man” and have claimed that Putin has “come to the diplomatic rescue” of President Obama. One Fox host even went so far as to proclaim that she would like Putin to be president of the United States “for 48 hours,” so he could fight ISIS. In 2014, conservative commentator Pat Buchanan suggested that Putin is “one of us” and applauded him for "planting Russia's flag firmly on the side of traditional Christianity" with his policies against reproductive rights and LGBTQ rights -- evidence, Buchanan suggested, that God is on Putin's side in his clash with the West. Even conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh once admitted that Putin was “saying things I agree with” when the Russian president announced that he “opposed the adoption of Russian orphans by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender foreign couples.”

    Primed by right-wing media, Trump voters now hold a more positive view of Putin and Russia. Since July 2014, Republican voters’ opinions overall of Putin have improved by 56 points, and in 2016 they voted for a candidate in Trump who is openly sympathetic to the autocrat and even invited his government to hack personal emails from Trump’s Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. According to the poll, 35 percent of Trump voters and 37 percent of registered Republicans now hold a “favorable” view of Putin.

    Now, even though the U.S. intelligence community has stated that its members are “confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations,” some right-wing media are siding with Putin and downplaying the severity of the hacks. Security experts have characterized the Russian interference in the 2016 election as “Watergate 2.0” and “a concern to all those who share democratic values,” but the president-elect, who has consistently been enabled by those same conservative media figures, insists the claims of Russian interference are “just another excuse” and that he does not “believe it.” It seems, that right-wing media will follow Trump’s lead and continue to use Putin’s personality to advance partisan goals over the national security of the United States.

  • Supporters Of Rex Tillerson, Trump's Pick For State, Have Exxon Ties Of Their Own

    Mainstream Outlets Tout Support Of Gates, Rice, And Baker, But Ignore Their Stakes In Exxon

    ››› ››› NINA MAST

    After President-elect Donald Trump announced ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as his pick for secretary of state, morning news shows and newspapers noted that prominent figures including James Baker III, Robert M. Gates, and Condoleezza Rice have expressed support for Tillerson, with some mentioning that such support adds credibility to the pick. But those outlets failed to disclose that all three figures have considerable financial ties through their businesses to Tillerson, ExxonMobil, and the oil company’s Russian business ventures.

  • CIA Report Of Russian Interference Proves That Right-Wing Media Will Call Anything They Don't Like "Fake News"

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Conservative media continued to use the phrase “fake news” incorrectly in an attempt to delegitimize news that does not fit their agenda -- in this case reports about alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. In doing so, conservatives are fueling President-elect Donald Trump’s effort to stymie credible news as well as trying to undermine the real concerns about the spread of actual false information packaged as legitimate news.

    Right-wing media sought to dismiss news that the CIA concluded that Russia meddled in the 2016 election to actively help Trump by claiming that the report is merely “fake news.” On the December 12 edition of his radio program, Rush Limbaugh asserted, “This whole business of Russia hacking our election is fake news with the imprimatur of intelligence agencies and the CIA, and it's brought to us by the same newspapers that took out, tried to take out Richard Nixon.” Fox News host Sean Hannity also drew the same conclusion, saying on his radio show that “this is another liberal fake news story that they’re all falling for, and it’s politically motivated.” Right-wing outlets Breitbart and InfoWars ran headlines dismissing the reports as “fake news.”

    Trump transition spokesman Sean Spicer and Trump adviser and Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich have also tried to hijack the term “fake news,” claiming that reports from legitimate news outlets such as The New York Times were “fake news” in an attempt to delegitimize pieces that did not fit their agenda.

    While there is no standard definition for fake news, a variety of outlets and experts have defined these types of pieces as entirely fabricated stories seeking to imitate the style of legitimate news outlets to fool readers. This definition certainly does not apply to the several reports highlighting the CIA’s findings that Russia meddled in the U.S. presidential election to help Trump, which was reported in The Washington Post and did not seek to intentionally mislead readers.

    As The Washington Post‘s Ruth Marcus wrote, “there is a difference between inevitably flawed and intentionally false. To deliberately blur this distinction is to seek to undermine the central role of media in a free society.” This pattern from conservatives and right-wing media follows Trump’s use of “demagogic techniques,” as former Time Inc. Editor-in-Chief John Huey argued on CNN’s Reliable Sources, to “inoculate” himself from thorough, investigative reporting. It is also an attempt by purveyors of fake news such as InfoWars to try and whitewash the meaning of “fake news” and downplay the dangers that come from spreading it.

    Trump has waged a long term war on the press; it appears that this is just another attempt from his allies in conservative media to delegitimize news they don’t like.

  • In The Clash Between US Intelligence Agencies And Russia, Fox's Tucker Carlson Picks Russia

    Blog ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Fox News host Tucker Carlson has repeatedly downplayed the claims that Russia was involved in interfering in the 2016 presidential election, and in several interviews over the last week he attacked those supporting reports from the government agencies that found Russia played a role in getting Donald Trump elected. But Carlson’s personal effort to spin away the Russian interference in the American political system downplays its severity and runs counter to the warnings issued by American and international intelligence experts.

    On the December 7 edition of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight, Carlson hosted Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, to discuss Russian interference in the presidential election. Throughout the contentious interview, Carlson downplayed the U.S. intelligence community’s allegations that Russian intelligence services interfered in the American election, claiming the reports were made “without any evidence.” He also chastised Schiff for providing his evaluation of the classified evidence, saying, “I just think if you’re going to make a serious allegation about an actual country with an actual government, you ought to know what you’re talking about. And you don’t.”

    Since his interview with Schiff, Carlson has hosted two Democratic strategists on his show to relitigate the Schiff interview, prefacing the segments with a clip from the combative discussion earlier in the week. In both segments, Carlson downplayed the significance of a foreign power intervening in our election, suggesting that the reaction to the findings has been “disingenuous” because, as Carlson admitted, “There’s almost no institution in Washington that hasn't been hacked, probably in some cases by the Russians. Also the Chinese. And yet, you haven't seen any kind of response like this.” Carlson also argued that because “bad intelligence” led the United States into Iraq in 2003, he is correct to be skeptical.

    During Carlson’s appearance on the December 12 edition of Fox & Friends -- his first since The Washington Post reported that “Intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and others, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman” -- he argued that the cyberattacks actually provided a public benefit because “voters got more information than they would have had otherwise.” He also again acknowledged Russian interference by saying the Russians have been hacking Americans “for years” and “so have the Chinese.” Later that day on his own show, Carlson hosted Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and asked him indignantly why he should trust the intelligence community “that missed the fall of the Soviet Union,” adding, “It's pretty lame if that's your job and you miss like, everything.”

    Given Carlson’s previous praise for Putin and his ongoing failure to acknowledge Russia's confirmed role in the presidential election, his most recent unwillingness to accept the findings of the American intelligence community is not surprising. Carlson has made a point of repeatedly and unequivocally insisting that the U.S. intelligence community was pushing “an utterly unsubstantiated claim from the Clinton campaign that” the cyberattacks on American political institutions are “a Russian propaganda effort.” But considering the intelligence community’s findings since the election, Carlson’s repeated denials of the severity of Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election seem to be getting more and more desperate.

    While Carlson fails to accept the CIA’s conclusions, the allegations of Russian hacking have been corroborated by intelligence agencies in the United States and internationally. The Department Of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued a joint statement on election security stating that the “U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations.” And the intelligence services of various American allies also allege that Russian cyberattacks “represent a fundamental threat to … sovereignty” and “should be a concern to all those who share democratic values.” Even Republican senators on Capitol Hill have issued warnings and called for investigations into the matter, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who stated that the Russians “are not our friends.”

    While many have rallied around the idea that Russia’s role in the election requires investigation, at least Carlson will have one ally in his opposition. Earlier this year, like Carlson, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the hack was “important” because the “content [of the hacked emails] was given to the public.” Considering Carlson’s role as a prime-time TV news host, his failure to inform his viewers of the seriousness of the intelligence community’s evaluations on Russian interference in the 2016 election -- and his defense of Russia and echoing of the Russian president -- are especially problematic. And they provide the Russian government with a major defender in American media.

  • Here Is How Trump's Media Allies Reacted To CIA Report That Russian Government Intervened In Election To Help Trump

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    After an anonymous source within the Central Intelligence Agency told The Washington Post the agency has “high confidence” that the Russian government intervened in the 2016 election to assist President-elect Donald Trump, right-wing media outlets quickly sought to delegitimize the allegations by claiming the CIA is too partisan to be trusted, or that the hacking was in reality a “false flag” attack by another actor.