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Fox News, fringe media outlets, and fake news purveyors echoed New York Post columnist Paul Sperry’s claims that former President Barack Obama is establishing a “shadow government” through his nonprofit organization Organizing for Action (OFA), with an “army of agitators -- numbering more than 30,000” -- to organize protests against, and to “sabotage,” President Donald Trump. Sperry has a history of pushing falsehoods, misleading claims, and anti-Muslim conspiracy theories. A similar claim about an Obama “shadow government” was also made on Fox by discredited author Ed Klein in December 2016.
Fox News contributor and former Rep. Allen West (R-FL) said today on Fox News Radio that he was able to “sit down and interview for a potential position in” President-elect Donald Trump’s administration. West has a long history of pushing smears, lies, and incendiary rhetoric, especially against Muslims.
West served in the U.S. Army but was "stripped of his command after pleading guilty to assaulting an Iraqi detainee during interrogation,” as The Boston Globe noted. Gen. James Mattis, who is Trump’s pick for defense secretary, reportedly criticized West as a “commander who has lost his moral balance or has watched too many Hollywood movies.” After leaving the military, West became a one-term congressman and subsequently a political commentator.
West has repeatedly used toxic rhetoric about a variety of topics. He called President Obama an "Islamist" and "disgusting racist”; said the "Democrat Party is an anti-Semitic party"; and falsely accused dozens of congressional Democrats of being "members of the Communist Party.” He claimed that Islam “is not a religion” and “we need to have individuals stand up and say that” and his Facebook page posted (then removed) an image praising efforts to “exterminate Muslims." He also questioned the “loyalties” of Senator-elect Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), who received the Purple Heart, and said feminists are "neutering American men and bringing us to the point of this incredible weakness."
Here’s some of what West would bring to a potential Trump administration:
West Was "Stripped Of His Command After Pleading Guilty To Assaulting An Iraqi Detainee." The Boston Globe noted in 2003 that West was "stripped of his command after pleading guilty to assaulting an Iraqi detainee during interrogation. ... The military said that during an interrogation of an Iraqi police officer Aug. 20 near the village of Taji, north of Baghdad, West fired his pistol near the head of the prisoner, threatened to kill him, and allowed his troops to beat the man." [Boston Globe, 12/14/03; Media Matters, 2/8/10]
Gen. Mattis Reportedly Said Of West’s Behavior: “Commander Who Has Lost His Moral Balance Or Has Watched Too Many Hollywood Movies.” Roll Call noted that Gen. James Mattis, who was nominated to be defense secretary by Trump, reportedly criticized West for his actions as a commander:
West drew Mattis’ scrutiny after he was reprimanded for firing a weapon near the head of prisoner he was interrogating while he was an artillery battalion commander in Iraq in 2003.
In putting together documents to prepare his Marines for deployment to Iraq, Mattis pointed to the case of West as a “commander who has lost his moral balance or has watched too many Hollywood movies,” defense writer Thomas Ricks wrote in his book “Fiasco.” [Roll Call, 12/6/16]
West Left Conservative Website After He Reportedly "Had An Anti-Semitic Exchange With A Staffer, Calling Her A 'Jewish American princess.'" West left the conservative website Pajamas Media after, according to BuzzFeed, West had "an altercation with a female staffer in which he allegedly called her a 'Jewish American princess' ... Asked specifically whether he referred to the employee as a 'Jewish American princess,' West said simply, 'There was an exchange, that's all.'" [BuzzFeed, 9/26/13]
West Heavily Plagiarized A Viral Internet Story. West plagiarized from a viral internet story in a piece attacking the Obama administration for purportedly ignoring the deaths of law enforcement officers. West lifted at least six paragraphs (including typos) from the story, which was previously posted on sites like Yahoo! Answers, Free Republic, Facebook, and the comments section of various websites. [Media Matters, 12/12/14]
West Questioned The "Loyalties" Of Decorated Veteran And Illinois Sen.-Elect Tammy Duckworth. During an 2014 appearance on a conservative radio show, West said of decorated veteran Tammy Duckworth and her position on the response to the 2012 Benghazi attack: “I just don't know where her loyalties lie. You know, for her to have been a veteran, a wounded warrior for the United States Army, she should know that this is not the right thing. And hopefully, you know, she will remember the oath of office that she took as an Army officer and not the allegiance I guess she believes she has to the liberal progressives of the Democrat Party." [Media Matters, 5/22/14]
West: Islam “Is Not A Religion” And “We Need To Have Individuals Stand Up And Say That." West claimed that "Islam is a totalitarian theocratic political ideology, it is not a religion. It has not been a religion since 622 AD, and we need to have individuals stand up and say that." [Media Matters, 5/17/13]
West: "The Black Community Was Stronger" And Had "Better Education Opportunities" During Segregation. [Fox Business, Varney & Co., 9/28/16]
West’s Facebook Page Posted An Image Praising Mattis For Alleged Plan To “Exterminate Muslims.” West’s Facebook page posted an image claiming that Trump picked Mattis for defense secretary in order to “exterminate Muslims.” His editor-in-chief later claimed that the image was posted “without Allen West’s knowledge or consent.” [BuzzFeed, 12/11/16]
West Called Obama And Attorney General Holder "Vile And Disgusting Racists." West wrote of President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder: "How long will it be before 'you people' realize you have elevated someone to the office of president who abjectly despises you -- not to mention his henchman Holder. Combined they are the most vile and disgusting racists." [AllenBWest.com, 1/14/14, via Media Matters]
West: "Barack Hussein Obama Is An Islamist." West wrote on his website that Obama "is purposefully enabling the Islamist cause" and concluded: "Sorry, but I can only explain this one way: Barack Hussein Obama is an Islamist in his foreign policy perspectives and supports their cause. You can go back and listen to his 2009 speech in Cairo, where Muslim Brotherhood associates were seated front and center." West repeated his claim in the media, telling Boston Herald Radio that "deep down inside, you know, Barack Hussein Obama has an Islamist sympathy ... I don't understand where this president's loyalties lie, and I have to ask the question, whose side is he on?" [AllenBWest.com, 8/13/14; Boston Herald Radio, Trending Now, 8/19/14]
West's Response To Whether Obama Is A Muslim: "The President Has An Eastern Orientation, I'll Put It That Way." At a July 2014 event hosted by Republicans, West didn't dispute an audience member who falsely claimed that "Obama is a Muslim." Instead, West responded that he's "not going to get into that" but the president "has an Eastern orientation, I'll put it that way." He later added: "Don't care whether or not he's a Muslim. I care about his orientation. And his association." [Media Matters, 7/15/14]
West Said Holder Is A "Worse Threat" Than Al Qaeda. In a fundraising email, West claimed that Holder was a "bigger threat to our Republic" than terrorist Ayman al-Zawahiri, a former deputy of Osama bin Laden. [Media Matters, 6/7/13]
West: The “Democrat Party Is An Anti-Semitic Party." During an interview on Boston Herald Radio, West claimed Obama was "withholding" aid to Israel, and that the "Democrat Party is an anti-Semitic party." [Boston Herald Radio, Trending Now, 8/19/14]
West Compared Democrats To Nazis, Called Media "Complicit." West told reporters in December 2011: "If Joseph Goebbels was around, he'd be very proud of the Democrat Party, because they have an incredible propaganda machine ... Let's be honest, you know, some of the people in the media are complicit with this and enabling them to get that type of message out." [Media Matters, 5/17/13]
West Falsely Accused Dozens Of Congressional Democrats Of Being Communists. West accused roughly 80 Democratic House members of being "members of the Communist Party. ... It's called the Congressional Progressive Caucus." [Media Matters, 5/17/13]
West Attacked Gold Star Father Khizr Khan For “A Damn Politicized Stunt” When Khan Spoke At The Democratic National Convention. [Media Matters, 8/1/16]
West Claimed He Was The Victim Of “Sharia Law” At Walmart Because An Employee Under 21 Couldn’t Sell Him Alcohol. West wrote a post originally headlined, "Sharia law comes to Walmart?" In the story, he recounted a weekend trip to Walmart, where a "Muslim employee" manning the cash register was unable to sell him alcohol. His site later posted an update noting that in reality, “employees under 21 years old are prohibited from selling cigarettes and alcohol.” [Media Matters, 5/11/15]
West Told Military To Disobey Commander-In-Chief. In 2014, the Defense Department announced it would expand an existing program, Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI), to allow recruiters "to target foreign nationals with high-demand skills, mostly rare foreign language expertise or specialized health care training." West responded by telling members of the armed forces to disobey their orders. He wrote: "Barack Hussein Obama took out his pen and ordered our Military to enlist illegal aliens. In other words, this charlatan has allowed those who have disrespected our Constitution and are not citizens to take an oath to support and defend the very document, our rule of law, of which they are in violation." He added: "This is an illegal order and should not be followed by our Military." [Media Matters, 9/26/14]
West Invokes Slavery To Attack Democrats. West has claimed that Democrats are keeping black voters on a "plantation." He also said that "the Democratic appetite for ever-increasing redistributionary handouts is in fact the most insidious form of slavery remaining in the world today" and President Obama would "rather you be his slave." [Media Matters, 5/17/13]
West Agreed With Radio Host That "Khmer Rouge Feminists" Are Attempting A "Coup" Against The Military. During an appearance on Michael Savage's radio program, West agreed with Savage's assertion that "Khmer Rouge feminists" are attempting a "coup" against the military by proposing to change the military chain of command in sexual assault cases. West also criticized liberals for wanting to "put women into combat arms units ... so that they can meet some socially engineering goal or egalitarian goal." [Media Matters, 6/6/13]
West: Feminists Are "Neutering American Men." West has criticized liberal women for "neutering American men and bringing us to the point of this incredible weakness" and said "we are not going to have our men become subservient." He was also denounced for comments about Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) in which he wrote to her, "You have proven repeatedly that you are not a Lady, therefore, shall not be afforded due respect from me!" [Media Matters, 5/17/13]
West: "Fishy" Focus On Kidnapped Nigerian Girls Is Meant To Distract From Benghazi. West wrote a post headlined, "Focus on Boko Haram right now seems fishy to me," which accused the Obama administration of disingenuously caring about the kidnapping of Nigerian schoolgirls by the Boko Haram terrorist organization, claiming the administration was attempting to distract the public from "all the scandals facing the Obama administration, especially Benghazi and the Select Committee." [Media Matters, 5/12/14]
West: Obama "Purposefully Creating Drama" Like Malaysia Airlines MH17 Crash. West wrote on his website:
Sadly, hundreds of Ukrainians and 298 souls on MH17 have paid the price for the weakness and abject cowardice of Obama's "flexibility."
And here in America we quibble over a lawsuit against this charlatan.
The blood on Vladimir Putin's hands was poured by Barack Obama who is indirectly responsible, accountable and no different than Neville Chamberlain's weakness in the face of the 20th Century maniacal dictator Adolf Hitler.
So much for no drama Obama. He is purposefully creating drama globally. [AllenBWest.com, 7/18/14, via Media Matters]
West's Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric. West has warned that illegal immigration is like an "invasion into your country." He's also accused Democratic officials of being "almost treasonous" by inviting undocumented immigrants to attend a hearing on the DREAM Act. [Media Matters, 5/17/13]
West Hyped Hoax Story Of An ISIS Inspired Stabbing Of Teacher At French Preschool. [Media Matters, 12/14/15]
West Likened Photo Of Black Women Graduating From West Point To Confederate Sympathizers. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/11/16]
Trump Has Picked -- Or Considered -- Over A Dozen Right-Wing Media Veterans For His Administration
President-elect Donald Trump has picked -- or considered -- nearly a dozen people who have worked in right-wing media, including talk radio, right-wing news sites, Fox News, and conservative newspapers, to fill his administration. And Trump himself made weekly guest appearances on Fox for a number of years while his vice president used to host a conservative talk radio show.
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Right-wing media criticized the coverage Khizr Khan’s speech at the Democratic National Convention, comparing it to the lack of coverage given to Patricia Smith’s speech at the Republican National Convention. But Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump directly attacked Khizr and Ghazala Khan with anti-Muslim and personal attacks, fueling widespread outrage and blacklash.
West: Khan Should Ask For God’s Forgiveness For His "Damn Politicized Stunt"
National Rifle Association board member and conservative pundit Allen West published an attack on Khizr Khan, a speaker at the Democratic National Convention whose son, a captain in the U.S. Army, was killed while serving in Iraq in 2004.
West concluded a lengthy attack on Khan posted to his website, “I grieve for the loss of your son. However, I grieve even more that you used his sacrifice and loss as nothing more than a damn politicized stunt. May God forgive you for it.”
During a July 28 speech at the Democratic convention, Khan, standing beside his wife Ghazala, spoke about their son, U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan, who was killed in Iraq in 2004 by a car bomb while protecting soldiers under his command.
Khan’s remarks received widespread attention after he condemned the anti-Muslim rhetoric of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, asking whether Trump had ever read the U.S. Constitution and addressing the nominee, “You have sacrificed nothing and no one.”
In a July 31 post to his website, West joined Trump and other members of conservative media who have attacked Khan since his convention speech. West is a retired Army Lt. Colonel whose service ended in controversy over his use of interrogation tactics in Iraq.
In addition to writing that he grieved Khan’s speech more than the death of Khan’s son, West also wrote of Khan’s decision to make his speech: “I tend to believe that if alive, your son would consider that type of behavior abhorrent and deplorable” and suggested that the elder Khan “will be remembered as a political pawn.”
West added that during his speech, Khan should have “taken the time to explain how humbled and thankful you are to live in America.” Khan actually did address his family’s decision to immigrate to the United States in his convention remarks, saying, “We were blessed to raise our three sons in a nation where they were free to be themselves and follow their dreams.”
West also wished that during the convention speech Khan would have called the chief prophet and central figure of the Islam religion, the Prophet Muhammad, “a murderous warlord, psychopath, and, by modern day standards, a pedophile.”
West was elected to a leadership position within the NRA during the group’s 2016 elections. He has also served as a Fox News contributor and the executive director of the think tank National Center for Policy Analysis.
West’s diatribe against Khan was praised by fellow NRA board member Ted Nugent who wrote on his Facebook page, “DITTO Allen West from all humans with a brain, heart & soul! Allen West would make a great Commander in Chief!”:
As chaos erupted on the floor of the Republican National Convention, Fox News figures spun the upheaval as entertaining “high drama” and “democracy at its best.” But other conservative media figures blasted the scene on the floor, calling it “ugly,” “authoritarian,” “chaos.”
Several conservative media figures lashed out at President Barack Obama after an attack on police officers in Dallas, TX, during a peaceful demonstration against the recent police shootings of two black men. Numerous Fox personalities blamed Obama for the attacks and right-wing media figures criticized his remarks in the aftermath of the shootings.
There they go again.
Conservative media figures, apparently disheartened by recent poll results showing presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump heading in the wrong direction, are once again claiming biased or unreliable pollsters are unfairly weighting results against their party. If this sounds familiar, it’s because they did the same thing in 2012, spending months attempting to “unskew” polls showing Mitt Romney losing, only to watch him be soundly defeated on election day.
In the run-up to the 2012 election, conservatives consistently complained that polls showing President Obama in the lead were inaccurately counting the gap between self-identified Democrats and Republicans. According to this school of thought, the polls were being “skewed” to show Romney losing. One blogger, Dean Chambers, took the data in the polls and reweighted them with a partisan split friendlier to Republicans resulting in “unskewed” polls showing Romney easily winning. Chambers’ work -- which was more akin to wishful thinking than academic analysis -- was nonetheless widely cited by conservative media as evidence of a concerted effort to influence the results of the presidential election in Obama’s favor.
The polls were not skewed. An average of 2012 election polling predicted that Obama would win by 0.7%. In reality, the victory was by a margin of 3.86%. If anything the polls undercounted Obama’s support.
Polls can of course go up and down, and the occasional outlier is inevitable. But the argument that the partisan split that pollsters report as they survey voters is somehow skewed to help Democrats is a conspiracy, not actual analysis.
Despite this, conservative media are once again pushing the “unskewed” theme as recent polls show Clinton leading Trump.
This time, the charge against the polls is being led in part by the candidate himself. Trump recently responded to a poll showing him losing with tweets that complained “The @ABC poll sample is heavy on Democrats. Very dishonest - why would they do that?” and “The ‘dirty’ poll done by @ABC @washingtonpost is a disgrace. Even they admit that many more Democrats were polled.”
The ABC News/Washington Post poll in question shows Clinton ahead of Trump 51%-39%.
FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver noticed the reboot of the “unskewed” theme and asked, “Has anyone seen Donald Trump and Dean Chambers in the same room together?”
Conservative media figures have also zeroed in on the ABC/Wash. Post poll for criticism. On Fox News’ Fox and Friends, co-host Steve Doocy said that in the methodology for the ABC/Washington Post poll “they actually talked to 12 percent more Democrats than Republicans,” adding, “According to the Gallup poll, there are 3 percent more Democrats in the country than Republicans, so it looks like they've got a favorite in it.” During the same segment, co-host Brian Kilmeade explained to viewers, “So far Donald Trump leads in most independent polls.” This is true, if by “most,” Kilmeade meant none of the last 21 polls included in Real Clear Politics’ general election polling data.
The methodology for the poll, conducted by Langer Research for ABC/Washington Post, addresses the partisan breakdown":
Partisanship can follow political preferences, and in this poll Democrats account for 36 percent of all adults and 37 percent of registered voters – a non-significant (+3) difference from last month. (The former is numerically its highest since 2009, the latter, since 2012.) Republicans account for 24 percent of all adults and 27 percent of registered voters, about their average in recent years, with the rest independents.
This accounts for little of the shift in voter preferences, however. Even using the same party divisions from last month’s ABC/Post survey, in which Trump was +2, he’d now be -8. The reason, mentioned above, is his comparatively weak performance among Republicans – 77 percent support – compared with Clinton’s support among Democrats, 90 percent.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll showing Clinton with a 13% lead over Trump prompted an outburst as well.
On Fox News host Sean Hannity’s official website, a blog post complained the poll “is heavily skewed.” On his June 27 radio show, Hannity cited the partisan breakdown and described it as a “misleading poll” because the media is “in the tank for Hillary.”
Hannity apparently didn’t learn his lesson about attempting to unskew polls in 2012, when he was saying things like, “These polls are so skewed, so phony, that we need to start paying attention to what’s going on so that you won’t be deflated.”
In a post purporting to highlight “More Polling Tricks” from an “EXTREMELY SKEWED” poll, conservative blogger Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit complained this week that “Reuters freighted their poll with 20 percent more Democrats than Republicans” and concluded that “we can safely say that Trump appears to be in much better shape than the poll suggests and could likely be headed to a landslide victory in November.”
Hoft made a similar argument in September of 2012, complaining that a CNN poll showing Obama leading Romney “drastically oversampled Democrats to get this stunning result.” He then went on to cite Dean Chambers, who said that when “unskewed” the CNN poll showed Romney leading by eight percent.
Perhaps remembering how much egg the conservative media had on its face after the 2012 debacle, Fox News contributor Brit Hume tried to steer his fellow conservatives away from repeating their mistakes.
In an appearance on America’s Newsroom, Hume noted that Trump “couldn’t stop talking” about polls showing him in the lead during the primaries, but now “his supporters, the ones I hear from anyway say that the poll is rigged, and all the rest of it.” Then he told host Martha MacCallum, “I don't think your viewers should pay too much attention to that. Look at the polling averages. Look at all the polls put together, to see what you get. And I think the picture's pretty clear. He's trailing, but not insurmountably.”
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Allen West attacked his Fox News colleagues for their moderation of last night's Republican debate, calling their performance unprofessional, "petty," "petulant," and designed "to incite a spiteful environment."
In a January 29 post on his website, the Fox News contributor wrote that he didn't "think Megyn Kelly's opening statement about 'an elephant not in the room' was professional. The snarky intro question about the person who wasn't there was just as petty and petulant as his reaction of not appearing at the debate."
West also criticized moderators Kelly, Chris Wallace, and Bret Baier for attempting "to evoke a little Trump bashing, but most of the candidates didn't take the bait -- kudos." He added: "Also, was it just me, or did Wallace, Kelly,and Baier purposefully promote a contentious atmosphere? It's one thing to present tough questions, another to incite a spiteful environment."
West concluded that while the debate had a "much more substantive aura ... the Fox Business News team of Maria Bartiromo and Neal Cavuto [sic], along with Sandra Smith and Trish Regan, did a much better overall job."
NY Times Reported That The Story Was Fabricated
Fox News contributor Allen West hyped a debunked story of an ISIS-inspired "stabbing spree" at a preschool while criticizing President Obama for not changing his strategy against the terrorist organization. The New York Times reported that the teacher fabricated the story so he could be transferred to another school.
During the December 14 edition of Your World with Neil Cavuto, West spoke with host Cavuto about President Obama's December 14 visit to the Pentagon regarding the president's ISIS strategy. West criticized Obama's strategy and stoked fears about ISIS operating in Europe, claiming, "in the last 24 hours we found out about another ISIS-inspired jihadi who went on a stabbing spree":
ALLEN WEST (CONTRIBUTOR): So, when you're dealing with an enemy such as ISIS that is able to command and control operations into Paris and, yet again, in the last 24 hours we found out about another ISIS-inspired jihadi who went on a stabbing spree, and we know what has happened in San Bernardino, and there's the potential for more of those attacks to occur. So we need to get in there and root them out and 50 special forces operators that are going around searching for partners, as Jennifer Griffin said, what kind of mission is that and how are we put our special operators in that type of position where they're going to go look for friends?
NEIL CAVUTO (HOST): Well you know what it loses sight of in the case of both the Paris and the California attacks aren't so much the source of the activity, what might have been in the Middle East, to the fact there are cells or friends or sympathizers already in key locales, including the United States, including San Bernardino, California, and that the one thing he did not address.
However, West's claim of a "stabbing spree" was confirmed to be false earlier that day. According to The New York Times, French police said the teacher that claimed to be stabbed by ISIS "wounded himself alone in his classroom" and was "done so that [the teacher] could have himself transferred" to another position.
Fox News contributor Allen West criticized his employer for suspending Ralph Peters after Peters called President Obama "a total pussy."
During a December 7 appearance on Fox Business, Peters said of President Obama after his December 6 Oval Office address on terrorism: "I mean this guy is such a total pussy, it's stunning." Fox News subsequently suspended Peters for two weeks, calling the language "completely inappropriate and unacceptable for our air."
West, who has a history of incendiary remarks about progressives and President Obama, took to his Facebook page to criticize Fox News. West linked to an article about Peters' suspension and commented: "Oh come on!! He Spoke the truth and now look what happened to him..."