Laura Ingraham hosts Herman Cain to warn that the “current climate” of sexual assault allegations have possibly gone “too far”
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Fox News host Sean Hannity has become a reliable ally for powerful men accused of sexual assault and harassment, regularly using his platform to discredit women who report sexual misconduct and cast doubt on their complaints. Here is a look back on the ways Hannity has attempted to undermine these women and defend the men who have been reported.
Eight women have said Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, a former judge of Alabama Supreme Court, sexually harassed or assaulted them, or had relations with them, when they were teenagers. The Washington Post first reported on November 9 that Leigh Corfman was 14 years old when Moore made sexual advancements toward her, and a number of women have since come forward with similar claims.
Hannity: Many women who report sexual harassment “will lie to make money.” [Media Matters, 11/9/17]
Hannity: “Then you have false allegations that are made, and -- how do you determine? It's ‘He said, she [said].’" [Media Matters, 11/9/17]
Hannity: “How do you know if it's true? How do we -- what's true? What's not true? How do you ascertain the truth?” [Media Matters, 11/9/17]
Hannity: “We do have Ten Commandments. One of the commandments is ‘Thou shalt not bear false witness.’ We know human beings break, with regularity, the other nine commandments. Did they break this one?” [Media Matters, 11/9/17]
Hannity: “But then also, are there false allegations? And when it's ‘he said, she said’ or whatever, how do you tell the difference?” [Premiere Radio Networks, Media Matters, 11/9/17]
Hannity invoked the Duke Lacrosse team case; Michael Brown, who was shot by a white cop in Ferguson, MO; George Zimmerman, who fatally shot Trayvon Martin; and Freddie Gray, who was killed in police custody to suggest there’s a history of accusers lying. [Media Matters, 11/9/17]
Hannity: The “swamp,” “the sewer,” and the “establishment” are out to get Moore. [Media Matters, 11/9/17]
Hannity: The Wash. Post “hates anything Republican, anything conservative.” [Media Matters, 11/9/17]
In July 2016, former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit against Roger Ailes, the now-deceased former Fox News CEO, alleging sexual harassment and retaliation against her when she would not have “a sexual relationship with him.” An additional 25 women also came forward with similar accusations. Reports later detailed startling revelations of Ailes’ attempts to cover up his sexual misconduct by spying on employees and silencing his accusers.
Hannity to Carlson: “Why did you stay after such ‘harassment’ asking for more airtime?” [Twitter, 7/13/16]
Hannity about Carlson: “Why did [Carlson] send handwritten notes with smiley faces asking for more airtime after the ‘alleged’ traumatic incident?” [Twitter, 7/13/16]
Hannity attacked accusations levied by Carlson as coming from a “publicity seeking” attorney. [Twitter, 7/9/16]
Hannity: “Hundreds of woman (sic) at Fox that I talked to” said all allegations against Ailes are “BS.” [Twitter, 7/9/16]
Hannity: “I have spoken to many woman (sic) who work at Fox that have the most amazing stories of how kind Roger is to them.” [Twitter, 7/9/16]
Hannity to Gabriel Sherman who reported on Ailes: “U r an Ailes and Fox stalker.” [Twitter, 7/13/16]
In 2016, at least 20 women accused then-candidate Donald Trump of sexual misconduct, including 12 nonconsensual physical encounters. In October 2016, The Washington Post reported on a video clip in which a hot microphone caught Trump bragging to Billy Bush, then of Access Hollywood, “in vulgar terms about kissing, groping and trying to have sex with women.”
Hannity shrugged off accusations against Trump, arguing, “King David had 500 concubines for crying out loud!” [Fox News, Hannity, 10/7/16]
Hannity suggested that one of Trump’s accusers may have “welcome[d]” the sexual assault. [Media Matters, 10/13/16]
Hannity mocked one of Trump's accusers: “Donald Trump groped me on a plane. It was all right for the first 15 minutes, but then he went too far.” [Media Matters, 10/14/17]
Hannity on Trump accusers: “Just saying ‘help’ would solve the problem.” [Media Matters, 10/20/17]
Hannity called accusations of sexual assault against Trump “an attempt to neutralize the WikiLeaks revelations,” referring to the stories generated from hacked Democratic emails. [Media Matters, 10/13/16]
On April 1, The New York Times reported that former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly and 21st Century Fox, Fox News’ parent company, paid out at least $13 million in settlements with five women who said O’Reilly harassed them.
Hannity hosted disgraced former Fox host O’Reilly after he was fired from the network. [Media Matters, 9/25/17]
In 1991, Anita Hill, who worked as a former aide to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas during his time at the Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “submitted a confidential statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee alleging that Thomas had sexually harassed her 10 years earlier,” according to CBS News. At least two other women also accused Thomas of sexual assault.
While interviewing Thomas, Hannity referred to his accusers as “those that systematically went about destroying you.” [FoxNews.com, 10/3/07]
Hannity implied that Thomas was “an innocent man” who had had “his reputation destroyed forever.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 11/10/17]
Hannity has praised Thomas for “giving one of the most powerful defenses” against sexual assault accusations. [Fox News, Hannity, 11/10/17]
In 2011, at least two women reported that Herman Cain, who was at the time a candidate in the Republican presidential primaries, had sexually harased them during his tenure as the head of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s.
Under a screen graphic that read “Herman hysteria,” Hannity questioned whether the charges were “politically motivated,” and badgered an accuser for “staying in the car” with Cain after she says she was harassed. [Media Matters, 11/11/11]
Hannity sought to discredit accusations against Cain and Justice Clarence Thomas, parroting their characterization of the charges as a “high-tech lynching.” [Politico, 11/10/11]
Hannity on Cain’s press conference denying sexual harassment accusations: “You would think this is going to end it.” [Media Matters 11/9/11]
After Ailes was ousted in August 2016 amid mounting sexual harassment allegations, Fox News promoted Bill Shine to co-president of the network. As senior executive vice president, Shine had reportedly “played an integral role” in covering up sexual harassment claims, including those against Ailes. Shine had a role in pushing “women into confidential mediation [and into] signing nondisclosure agreements in exchange for their contracts to be paid” as well as in establishing a “counter-narrative” to discredit Carlson. He later resigned after reports surfaced that he was cited “in at least four lawsuits” that accused him of ignoring, dismissing, and even concealing sexual harassment allegations against Ailes.
Hannity: “Somebody HIGH UP AND INSIDE FNC is trying to get an innocent person fired.” [Twitter, 4/27/16]
Hannity: If Shine is fired, “that’s the total end of the FNC as we know it.” [Twitter, 4/27/16]
Hannity: “#Istandwithshine.” [Twitter, 4/27/16]
Fake news websites cited Russian social media accounts, including @TEN_GOP, to attack Muslims, defend Trump against perceived enemies, and attack the press
Fake news websites have cited multiple Twitter accounts likely run by Russian operatives in articles they’ve posted, undoubtedly helping the accounts’ backers sow discord in the United States.
On October 17, the Russian publication RBC published a report on the Internet Research Agency, a Russian firm tied to the Kremlin, and how it impacted the 2016 election via social media platforms. Included in that report were the usernames of multiple Twitter accounts that these operatives used, the most prominent being @TEN_GOP. Other publications have also reported on other Twitter and Facebook accounts that these operatives used. Twitter will reportedly tell Congress that it has since discovered 2,752 accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency.
Hyperpartisan websites known to push fake news have repeatedly cited some of these accounts in their articles (specifically @Pamela_Moore13, @USA_Gunslinger, @10_GOP, @Crystal1Johnson, and @Jeblary2016), as the accounts’ tweets can align with these websites’ agendas, and the pieces have then been shared on social media. Last December, multiple fake news websites cited a claim from the account @Pamela_Moore13 that Minnesota Muslims “want Sharia law.” Facebook users then shared the articles, with some commenters demanding that the subjects “be deported” and claiming that they “DO NOT BELONG IN THIS COUNTRY.” Combined, those articles received over 20,000 Facebook engagements, according to social media analytics website BuzzSumo. A fake news website also cited the @Pamela_Moore13 account to attack Starbucks for promising to hire refugees, and the piece was also shared on Facebook and Twitter.
Fake news websites also prominently cited these accounts to praise or defend President Donald Trump, with the pieces shared on social media. A fake news website cited a comment from the alleged Russian account @USA_Gunslinger that “this video of crowds in Poland cheering the arrival of @realDonaldTrump makes me so proud to be American” to claim that Poland was “ecstatic” for Trump to visit the country. Fake news websites also cited @Pamela_Moore13 to defend Trump’s mass firing of U.S. attorneys in articles that were then shared on some Facebook pages. Such sites also cited the account to push Trump’s false claim that Trump had wiretapped Trump Tower.
Most often, these alleged Russian accounts were employed to attack Trump’s perceived enemies, with the results again being shared on social media. Fake news websites and others websites cited one of the accounts to accuse former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of colluding with Russia and to claim that Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) (already a target via @TEN_GOP) wanted Sharia law and had attacked former FBI Director James Comey. They also targeted former President Barack Obama, citing the same Russian account to claim that Obama tried to sabotage Trump, and used that same account to accuse former national security adviser Susan Rice of “felonies.” YourNewsWire, a fake news website accused of being a Russian proxy, cited that same account to attack former Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. Some of these articles received thousands of Facebook engagements.
Additionally, hyperpartisan websites cited the Russian accounts to:
Attack the press, going after CNN for supposedly cutting off an official from Puerto Rico during an interview because the official criticized someone who has criticized Trump, and for supposedly suggesting that only Democrats prayed at the congressional baseball game held for Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) after he was shot (that article was pushed on Facebook by Fox News contributor Herman Cain). A website also cited one of the alleged accounts to call for Fox News anchor Shepard Smith’s firing.
Play both sides of American nationalism. Some fake news websites cited @TEN_GOP in outrage that a supposed Chicago teacher had her students walk on an American flag and to claim that someone took a knee in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. In the other direction, contributors for another fake news website cited alleged Russian account @Jeblary2016 to attack “US aggression.”
Push unverified information about the Las Vegas mass shooting, citing alleged Russian account @10_GOP (not the same account as @TEN_GOP).
Play up chaos regarding race relations in the United States, citing alleged Russian account @Crystal1Johnson to claim that “we live in a police state” and @10_GOP to hype a protest in St. Louis, MO, after a police officer was acquitted of murder.
Claim that a “liberal website” wanted to “stab” Trump supporters, attack actor Johnny Depp for seeming to call for Trump’s assassination, and attack a Democratic congresswoman for not participating in a moment of silence for the Las Vegas mass shooting.
Combined, these fake news websites' articles citing alleged Russian accounts had at least 140,000 Facebook engagements, according to BuzzSumo.
Non-fake news websites also cited some of these alleged Russian accounts, along with other alleged Russian accounts @tpartynews and @lgbtunitedcom. Far-right blog The Gateway Pundit repeatedly cited @Pamela_Moore13 to hype a Trump rally in North Carolina, defend Trump’s firings of U.S. attorneys, identify a supposed Muslim gunman, and compare Democrats to ISIS. Another outlet, the conspiracy-minded Infowars, cross-posted pieces citing @10_GOP to hype the St. Louis police protest and @Pamela_Moore13 to push a hashtag calling for the firing of Trump aide and son-in-law Jared Kushner. Other outlets that cited these alleged Russian accounts included Breitbart, The Blaze, RedState, the Washington Examiner, Fox News (multiple times, including a Fox News columnist retweeting one of the accounts), The Telegraph, The Washington Post, Vox, HuffPost, and The Associated Press.
It's obvious that hyperpartisan websites acted as a multiplier for the influence of these alleged Russian accounts, as they did with @TEN_GOP, giving them a reach they may not have had otherwise and thus aiding the Russians’ likely goal of ensuring tumult in the country.
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Following the first 2016 presidential debate, Fox News defended Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s poor debate performance with an array of excuses and misinformation including misleading charts, “unscientific” online polling, and attacks on moderator Lester Holt. The network also offered Trump an immediate post-debate refuge with host Sean Hannity.
After Fox News suspended Newt Gingrich’s contract with the network given the possibility that he could be named the running mate to presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, Fox figures lauded Gingrich as a “smart campaign pick” and said a Trump-Gingrich ticket would be “ideal.” Fox figures have been pushing Gingrich for Trump’s vice president selection for months.
For months, media have repeatedly claimed that presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump was beginning to “pivot” to become a more “serious-sounding candidate” whenever he appeared to begin using “a more subdued tone” or briefly refrained from insulting his opponents.
Right-wing media dismissed or downplayed the news that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had made history by becoming the first woman presumptively nominated by a major political party for president, calling it “anti-climactic” and “inevitable.”
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Fox News hosts and guests spun protests against GOP front-runner Donald Trump at recent campaign events in California as beneficial to Trump as a candidate.
Right-wing media smeared the Islamic Society of Baltimore (ISB) after President Obama announced that it would be the first U.S. mosque he visits in his presidency. Conservative media accused the mosque, one of the largest Muslim centers in the mid-Atlantic region, of having ties to terrorism based on cherry-picked, decades-old connections and former employees.
Conservative media outlets are trying to cash in on Donald Trump's presidential run through paid email solicitations.
The Washington Post reported, "Newsmax Media has reached out to owners of conservative e-mail lists with a request to help raise money for Trump -- all while allowing them to keep 30 percent of what's contributed to the candidate."
The Post wrote that Newsmax sent an email stating the "Trump team is willing to pay 3rd party email list owners like yourself 30 percent of gross donations made to your email list" and "we think this will be highly profitable." Newsmax said they could provide sample Trump banners, links, and emails, and added that "these are considered paid ads, and don't imply an endorsement on the part of Newsmax or by any third party affiliate like yourself for the Trump campaign."
The Daily Caller, Dick Morris, Michael Reagan, PJ Media, and Herman Cain have sent paid email fundraising solicitations on behalf of the Trump campaign to their newsletter subscribers, according to a Media Matters search of its newsletter archive. Morris and Reagan state their emails came via Newsmax. The Caller, Cain and PJ Media emails do not mention Newsmax (the Post, which noted Cain's email, said Newsmax wouldn't confirm if Cain sent the Trump email through them). The emails sent by the outlets appear to work off the same "Urgent Letter from Donald Trump" template referenced in the Newsmax solicitation highlighted by the Post.
An August 10 email sent by Dick Morris, for instance, asked after the Fox News debate: "Trump or Megyn? Show Your Support for Donald." A notice at the bottom notes that Morris "is represented exclusively by Newsmax Media."
Newsmax is also peddling Trump's "Make America Great Again" hat as a bonus for signing up for a trial subscription to its magazine.
Breitbart has been accused of accepting financial backing from Trump in exchange for positive coverage, a charge the outlet denies.
It's not clear why the campaign of a billionaire who has said he's rich enough to self-fund and doesn't "need anybody's money" has to solicit donations. Media Matters has frequently documented how much of the conservative media is trying to cash-in on their followers.
Conservative pundits are attacking Hillary Clinton as "anathema to feminists" because she "married up," never achieved anything aside from being "the president's wife," and "has only ever gotten anywhere in politics because of who she's married to."
Erika Falk, an executive director at Georgetown's McCourt School of Public Policy, wrote in Women for President: Media Bias in Nine Campaigns that during the 2008 campaign, media "conveyed disrespect for Clinton ... by implying that she has no personal accomplishments and all her success was due to her husband." University of Maryland professor Shawn J. Parry-Giles similarly noted in Hillary Clinton in the News: Gender and Authenticity in American Politics that pundits "complained that Clinton's accomplishments derived from her opportunistic marriage rather than her own credentials, further eroding her feminist commitments and her political authenticity."
The refrain that Clinton "has only ever gotten anywhere in politics because of who she's married to" has resurfaced again regarding her 2016 presidential campaign.
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