Heather Childers | Media Matters for America

Heather Childers

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  • The Mueller probe is over. Now Fox News wants retaliatory investigations.

    In one day, Fox News aired 26 segments calling for investigations into those involved in the Mueller report and Trump's perceived enemies 

    Blog ››› ››› LIS POWER & ROB SAVILLO


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    The day after Attorney General William Barr released his summary letter on the findings of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, nearly half of Fox News’ segments on the Mueller probe mentioned the idea of future investigations into those involved in the probe -- as well as Trump’s perceived enemies.

    As the Mueller inquiry concluded, Fox News figures and others on the right began to ramp up calls for new or reopened investigations into Hillary Clinton, the FBI, and the Russia probe itself. President Donald Trump and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), both pushed the idea of investigating the investigators on March 25, with Trump saying that some people involved in the probe “will certainly be looked at” and Graham promising to “try to find out” whether investigators’ actions were nefarious.

    Fox News aired 118 segments about the Mueller probe that day, and 58 of them -- 49 percent -- mentioned the possibility of future investigations against those involved in the probe or perceived to be against Trump; 26 of those segments featured someone specifically endorsing additional investigations.

    Anchors, hosts, and guests repeatedly discussed the possibility of investigating a whole slew of people who worked in the Obama administration. The list of people and organizations who Fox figures and guests felt should be targeted for investigation included Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, the FBI, the Department of Justice, former FBI Director James Comey, former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, DOJ official Bruce Ohr, former FBI agent Peter Strzok, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, former CIA Director John Brennan, former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, Fusion GPS, the Clinton Foundation, former national security adviser Susan Rice, former Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and more.

    Statements noting Republicans’ desires to investigate the origins of the Mueller probe were common refrains on Fox News, with Fox & Friends’ Steve Doocy asking viewers, “Is it time to investigate the investigators?” On Fox & Friends First, co-host Heather Childers asked, “Should the Obama administration, should Hillary Clinton now both be investigated?” Her guest, attorney Jenna Ellis, responded, “Absolutely.” On Fox & Friends, Fox contributor Mike Huckabee claimed there was an “attempted coup d’etat” while demanding that Republicans “counterpunch hard” by investigating the Justice Department and FBI.

    When Graham held a press conference to talk about future investigations, Fox News aired 20 minutes of it. Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum drilled her guest, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), on whether he’d support investigating “the origins of this investigation. What President Obama knew, what Loretta Lynch knew, what James Comey knew, what John Brennan knew.” Sean Hannity’s entire show basically revolved around discussing future investigations and the idea of a “day of reckoning” for Clinton and everyone else in the Obama administration.

    After years of complaining about what they saw as an unjust investigation into Trump, Fox News personalities are now, in their own words, counterpunching, and pushing for a multitude of “tit for tat” investigations -- something that even one Fox guest called “ridiculous.”

    Methodology

    Media Matters searched the Snapstream video database for Fox News Channel transcripts dated March 25, 2019, containing any variation of the term “investigate” on its own or any variation of “investigate” within close proximity of any of the following terms: “Brennan,” “Clapper,” “Schiff,” “Swalwell,” “Steele,” “Rice,” “Page,” “Strzok,” “McCabe,” “Clinton,” “Comey,” “Mueller,” “special counsel,” or any variation of “investigate.”

    We defined as segments discussions in which special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference with the 2016 U.S. presidential election and related matters was the stated topic of discussion or in which at least two speakers in a multi-topic discussion discussed Mueller’s report with one another.

    We then coded each segment for whether 1) anyone mentioned the possibility that Mueller, others involved in Mueller’s investigation, or those perceived to be against Trump could also be investigated; or 2) anyone explicitly endorsed investigations of Mueller, others involved in Mueller’s investigation, or those perceived to be against Trump.

  • Media Falsely Give Trump Credit For A Ford Plant Not Moving To Mexico

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Media are uncritically hyping President-elect Donald Trump’s false claim that he should be credited for Ford Motor Co.’s decision not to relocate a plant from Kentucky to Mexico, despite the fact that the plant was never going to close and no jobs were going to be lost. While right-wing media hyped Trump’s claim on its face as proof of his political success, mainstream media echoed that pro-Trump spin in a series of misleading headlines, which critics have called out for being out of context and “completely wrong.”

  • Five Ways Fox Is Spinning The Release Of Trump's Tax Returns

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Fox News is using five strategies to deflect criticism away from Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump amid The New York Times’ release of portions of Trump’s tax returns. The network is hyping Trump’s claim that he can change the tax code because he knows it well, that most Americans do the same thing Trump did, that his tax avoidance shows how well his business career went, and that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton did the same thing. It’s also pivoting to criticize the Clinton Foundation.

  • Media Falsely Equate Trump’s Billion-Dollar Tax Avoidance Scheme With Clinton’s Taxes

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Media figures are inaccurately equating Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of a common tax deduction on her 2015 tax return to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s $916 million declared loss in 1995, which, The New York Times reported, he could have used to virtually wipe out his federal income tax obligations over the past two decades. Several media outlets have falsely claimed Clinton “did the same thing” as Trump when, in fact, Clinton’s 2015 tax return shows that she could take only a $3,000 deduction for her reported $700,000 loss, and her campaign reports that she has paid between a 25 and 38 percent income tax rate since 2001.

  • GOP Lawmakers Latch Onto Fox’s Unsubstantiated Claims About A Clinton Foundation Investigation

    ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    GOP lawmakers reportedly circulated a letter requesting several federal agencies investigate the Clinton Foundation, parroting “unresolved media reports” to allege that the nonprofit was a “lawless ‘pay to play’ enterprise.” This latest move echoes months of unsubstantiated assertions from Fox News that the foundation was already under investigation for supposed abuses during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state.

  • Fox Dismisses Obama's Remarks On Importance Of Equal Pay Day

    Blog ››› ››› DAYANITA RAMESH

    On Equal Pay Day, Fox News devoted less than one minute of airtime to cover President Obama’s speech at the newly-designated Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument in Washington D.C., while MSNBC and CNN aired the speech nearly in its entirety.

    Obama spoke at the designation of the monument seeking to “honor the movement for women’s equality,” which coincided with the 20th anniversary of Equal Pay Day -- the day when the average woman's pay catches up with the average man's from the previous year. According to an April 2016 report from the American Association of University Women (AAUW), working women in the United States earned “just 79 percent of what men were paid” in 2014, with disparities far worse for women of color. President Obama’s speech was covered for over 10 minutes on MSNBC and CNN, nearly the entire duration of the speech. In contrast, Fox briefly noted that the speech was occurring, but never cut away to hear Obama’s remarks, which lasted almost 12 minutes. The guest host of Fox News’ Happening Now, Heather Childers, described the monument and Equal Pay Day but instead of cutting to the speech, simply noted, “We wanted to let you know it was going on”:

    HEATHER CHILDERS: We do have a Fox News alert for you, we are going to take you live to Washington D.C., that’s where President Obama is delivering remarks at the newly designated Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument there in D.C. Of course, it is dedicated to women's equality. It's a house and a museum. It includes a collection of different artifacts, suffrage banners, archives, all related to voting rights for women and equality for women. And this is coming as a matter of fact on Equal Pay Day, a day meant to symbolize how much more a woman has to work on average to earn what a man earned in the previous year, so that's going on in Washington, D.C. for you, right now. We wanted to let you know it was going on.

    This poor coverage of the gender pay gap is not new to the network that has continually dismissed the issue as “an absolute myth,” blamed womens' choices for their lack of pay equity, and targeted celebrities and athletes who spoke out about wage disparities in their industries.

  • Zubik v. Burwell: The Conservative "Abortifacient" Myth That Became The Latest Attempt To Block ACA Contraceptive Coverage

    ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    On March 23, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Zubik v. Burwell, a consolidated case brought by religious nonprofits challenging a process for opting out of the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) contraception mandate. These groups argue that the process of opting out of providing insurance coverage for forms of contraception that they falsely deem "abortifacients" poses a "substantial burden" to their religious beliefs, a claim right-wing media have endorsed.

  • Right-Wing Media Distort Hillary Clinton's Comments About Libya Intervention

    Conservative Media Follow RNC Lead In Smearing Clinton For Accurately Stating No Americans Died In Military Campaign To Oust Gadhafi

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ, TYLER CHERRY & BOBBY LEWIS

    Right-wing media figures are distorting a comment made by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during a MSNBC town hall, where Clinton said "we didn't lose a single person" during the 2011 U.S. military intervention in Libya. Conservative commentators parroted the GOP in berating Clinton for allegedly "forgetting" about the four Americans who were killed during the 2012 Benghazi attacks, when in reality Clinton was referring only to the military intervention in Libya, which ended nearly a year before the Benghazi attacks.