Research ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS & MILES LE
Fox Business devoted an entire week to debating the merits of capitalism and socialism, dominated by billionaires lecturing about the supposed evil of combating income inequality.
Fox Business devoted an entire week to debating the merits of capitalism and socialism, dominated by billionaires lecturing about the supposed evil of combating income inequality.
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Herman Cain, President Donald Trump’s pick for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board, frequently acted as a gold company spokesperson on his radio program. He warned listeners in advertisements that they need to put some of their assets in gold because there’s a recession coming and “even central banks are buying gold every year in astronomical amounts. What do they know that you don’t?”
Cain is a right-wing commentator who was previously the chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and a Republican presidential candidate. Cain dropped out of the race in December 2011 after several women reported him for sexual misconduct. The Washington Post reported that one of those women, Sharon Bialek, has said “she is willing to testify before the Senate Banking Committee if called upon. And she said Cain’s past behavior with women, including three others who have accused him of sexual harassment, should disqualify him from the Fed post.”
Media Matters previously reported that Cain sent dubious medical information to his mailing list and also sent scammy financial emails that touted now-virtually-worthless penny stocks, pushed a “weird trick” that supposedly “adds up to $1,000 a month to Social Security checks,” and boasted of a "moneymaking strategy" that could "turn $1,000 into $800,000." He also sent sponsored emails touting the alleged benefits of investing in precious metals, including a message from a gold company which claimed that a return to the gold standard “could provide the biggest wealth building event of our lifetime.”
In the past, Cain has advocated for the gold standard, which would tie U.S. currency to the value of gold. He recently told The Wall Street Journal: “I just know that no, I am not a beat-the-drum advocate for the gold standard these days because our economy is too complex. Too complex.”
On his now-defunct WSB program, Cain frequently recorded advertisements for ITM Trading, an Arizona-based company that describes itself as a “full service buy/sell precious metals firm. We deal in most forms of physical gold and silver, shipped directly to your door.” Cain’s ads played into his listeners’ economic fears and touted gold as a protection against “economic calamity.” Here are four examples of ads that Cain aired on his show during 2016:
“Have you noticed how fast gas prices are rising lately? Did consumer demand suddenly explode or is this just another Wall Street manipulation? Could this push us into the recession I have been warning about? If so, your investments could go down quite a bit, 10, 20, 30% or more. The good news is there is something you can do to protect yourself. You put some of your assets in gold. Why? When traditional investments are losing value, gold tends to rise in value. It’s a hedge against economic calamity and it’s been considered a safe haven for thousands of years.”
“With the Dow rallying back to recent highs, everything looks good on the surface. But the underlying data is saying something very different. Some analysts are saying another recession may be on the horizon. Have you heeded my advice and gotten some gold from ITM Trading? Well I have, and you should too.”
“It’s almost time for the presidential election and if you are like the majority of Americans, you are praying that your candidate will win and provide some much needed confidence and economic security for the country. But what if the unthinkable happens? Well regardless of the outcome, you can protect yourself now by owning gold and silver.
“Ninety three percent of polled Americans do not trust in our Congress to do what’s best for our country. That is why gold and silver are more important than ever. … Even central banks are buying gold every year in astronomical amounts. What do they know that you don’t?”
During one segment on his radio program, a listener called in and asked Cain questions about whether he should buy gold. He responded that he’s “not an expert” on gold but advised the caller to contact ITM Trading.
Right-wing commentator Herman Cain previously sent sponsored emails touting the alleged benefits of investing in precious metals, including a message from a gold company which claimed that a return to the gold standard “could provide the biggest wealth building event of our lifetime.” Cain is President Donald Trump’s pick for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board, which helps set the country’s monetary policy.
Cain was previously the chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and a Republican presidential candidate. He dropped out of the race in December 2011 after several women reported him for sexual misconduct. The Washington Post reported that one of those women, Sharon Bialek, has said she is “willing to testify before the Senate Banking Committee if called upon. And she said Cain’s past behavior with women, including three others who have accused him of sexual harassment, should disqualify him from the Fed post.”
His financial opinions have also come under scrutiny. Washington Post reporter Matt O’Brien recently wrote that “Cain spent the Obama years advocating for a return to the gold standard” -- which ties currency to the value of gold -- and explained why adopting such a policy would be problematic. He added that “literally every top economist in the University of Chicago Business School’s poll of them would tell you that the gold standard is a bad idea.”
Cain has used his email list to send paid advertisements which push gold and the gold standard. He sent a sponsored email on December 24 for the precious metals company Advantage Gold. The email, which was written by Advantage Gold Managing Director Kirill Zagalsky, claimed that House Resolution 5404, which is titled “To define the dollar as a fixed weight of gold” (also known as the gold standard), “could provide the biggest wealth building event of our lifetime” and “could double or even triple your retirement.” (The bill had no cosponsors and did not pass in the now-concluded 115th Congress.) Here’s an excerpt from the email:
Clicking on the link in the email leads the readers to a form requesting that they enter their name, email address, and telephone number so they can receive a “secret” book chapter regarding gold.
In 2015, Cain similarly sent a sponsored email touting the supposed benefits of investing in gold and silver. The email, which was written by precious metals company Goldco, carried the subject line: “Your IRA or 401K Is Now Worthless.” It then claimed: “Just a few months ago, governments and central banks from all over the world met at the G20 Summit to decide the fate of your savings account should the worlds banks crash. Their decision? Your savings account is up for grabs. … But by using 1 simple & legal IRS Loophole you can protect your retirement dollars by adding physical assets like gold & silver to your retirement account.”
Media Matters has documented Cain’s other email grifts in light of his potential seating on the Federal Reserve Board:
Herman Cain, President Donald Trump’s pick for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board, took money to promote the newsletter of an anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist. Cain also sent sponsored emails suggesting that the government is forcing citizens to take “7 deadly drugs” and that former first lady Nancy Reagan's "desperate fight to cure Alzheimer’s disease" may be "over."
Cain is a right-wing commentator who previously was the chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and a Republican presidential candidate. He dropped out of the race in December 2011 after several women reported him for sexual misconduct. The Washington Post reported on April 4 that “Sharon Bialek, who said Cain had reached beneath her skirt in 1997 and tried to pull her head toward his crotch, said Thursday that his record of harassment should disqualify him from the Fed post.”
Cain also recently founded a pro-Trump PAC with Floyd Brown, a right-wing birther who produced the racist Willie Horton ad attacking Michael Dukakis in the 1988 presidential election. The PAC recently attacked the 12 Republican senators who voted against Trump's emergency border declaration as “traitors.”
Media Matters has documented that Cain sent scammy financial emails to his mailing list, including ones that touted now-virtually-worthless penny stocks and dubious financial advice like a “weird trick” that supposedly “adds up to $1,000 a month to Social Security checks” and a "moneymaking strategy" that could "turn $1,000 into $800,000."
Catherine Rampell, who covers economics as a Washington Post opinion columnist, recently noted that "Cain spent the years following his failed presidential campaign spamming his email followers with snake-oil scams, promising 'weird tricks' that would make his followers get rich quick or 'naturally' cure their erectile dysfunction. Of course, such grifting might enhance Cain’s candidacy in Trump’s eyes, but it hardly bodes well for a man seeking to join an institution with consumer protection duties."
Cain has also pushed sponsored emails with scammy medical information to his email list. Here is a look at three of those dangerous paid promotions.
In 2013 and 2015, Cain sent sponsored emails touting the work of Dr. Russell Blaylock, an anti-vaccination “quack” who has repeatedly appeared on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ program. The emails were part of an advertising campaign for a subscription to The Blaylock Wellness Report, which is published by the conservative website Newsmax.
Blaylock is a frequent source of misinformation about vaccines through Newsmax, where he is also a columnist. Here are six false and dangerous headlines for Blaylock-written columns on Newsmax about vaccines:
As the World Health Organization explains, “Vaccines are safe”:
Vaccines are safe. Any licensed vaccine is rigorously tested across multiple phases of trials before it is approved for use, and regularly reassessed once it is on the market. Scientists are also constantly monitoring information from several sources for any sign that a vaccine may cause an adverse event. Most vaccine reactions are usually minor and temporary, such as a sore arm or mild fever. In the rare event a serious side effect is reported, it is immediately investigated.
It is far more likely to be seriously injured by a vaccine-preventable disease than by a vaccine. For example, in the case of polio, the disease can cause paralysis, measles can cause encephalitis and blindness, and some vaccine-preventable diseases can even result in death. While any serious injury or death caused by vaccines is one too many, the benefits of vaccination greatly outweigh the risks, and many more illness and deaths would occur without vaccines.
Blaylock has also repeatedly appeared on discredited conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ program, where he has fearmongered about vaccines and other topics. A sampling of Infowars headlines about his appearances include: “Infowars.com Saves Lives: Dr. Russell Blaylock Exposes Medical Genocide”; “Dr. Russell Blaylock: Obamacare is Mandated Social Engineering”; “Blaylock: Fluoride's Deadly Secret”; “Interview: Dr. Russell Blaylock Exposes Obama's Nazi Healthcare System.”
Some of the Cain emails had the following disclosure at the end: “Material Connection Disclosure: The sender of this email may receive compensation for the advertising contained in this message. Any products or services offered by sponsors or advertisers have not been evaluated by Herman Cain and as such no warranty or claims are made.”
Associating with Blaylock has previously been toxic for a Trump-affiliated politician. In 2014, right-wing commentator Scott Brown, a former Massachusetts senator who is now Trump’s ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, dropped Newsmax as an email advertising partner after he was criticized for sending sponsored advertising from Blaylock to his mailing list.
Cain sent a sponsored email from the Health Sciences Institute which claimed that "an insider near Washington D.C. has just blown the lid off the 7 Deadly Drugs the U.S. Government can't wait for you to swallow." The email assured readers that it's not a conspiracy theory since the "whistleblower has concrete evidence 'the powers that be' are shoving pure poison down your throat... and laughing all the way to the bank, while you're carted off to the graveyard. ... P.S. You won't believe what innocent little pill rounds out the list at #1. If you're taking it regularly, you're 530% more likely to die TONIGHT."
Mother Jones’ Tim Murphy wrote a 2015 article about the scammy practices of the Health Sciences Institute, which publishes a subscription newsletter. He reported:
Last year, a man named Brian Chambers announced a world-changing advance: An international research organization called the Health Sciences Institute had found an incredible cure for cancer hidden in the Book of Matthew. For just $74, you, too, could discover the secret.
That was the breathless pitch emailed to hundreds of thousands of [former Arkansas Gov. Mike] Huckabee’s followers in January, beneath a “special message” from the Republican presidential candidate trumpeting “important information.” Upon closer inspection, the divine remedy—eating fewer carbs—was never recommended by St. Matthew. Chambers is not a doctor, and the studies on starvation diets he cited make no mention of “cures.”
The Health Sciences Institute is part of a company called NewMarket Health, which is just one asset of a Baltimore-based publishing empire named Agora Inc. Agora’s subsidiaries and affiliates publish more than 40 newsletters and sell more than 300 books on a range of topics, including biblical health tips, natural-healing supplements, and “insider” investment advice—a mix of ideas the company considers the intellectual equivalent of the marketplace of ancient Athens. To find new readers for its ever-expanding catalog of publications, Agora’s subsidiaries have tapped into a network of conservative heavyweights, including Huckabee, Ron Paul, and Newt Gingrich, who sell access to their massive email lists to advertise Agora’s products.
Cain sent a sponsored email from a group called Laissez Faire in 2015 and 2016 which falsely suggested that doctors have found a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. (The advertising campaign, which appears to have been aimed at selling newsletter subscriptions, has been discontinued and the landing page no longer exists.)
Laissez Faire is another Agora-affiliated company that sells a subscription-based newsletter which claims to show readers “how to live a happy, healthy, and wealthy life.” It also publishes a newsletter called Natural Health Solutions, which uses Nancy Reagan (“Nancy’s 90-Day Protocol”) in advertising materials in an attempt to gain subscribers.
Correction (4/10/19): This piece originally stated that Scott Brown promoted Russell Blaylock in 2013. In fact, it was in 2014.
Cain also associated with a fraudster who was later barred by the SEC "from involvement in any future penny stock offerings"
Herman Cain, whom President Donald Trump is recommending to the Federal Reserve Board, has sent numerous sponsored emails to his mailing list promoting penny stocks that are now virtually worthless.
Cain is a right-wing commentator and former chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. He previously ran for president but dropped out after several women reported him for sexual misconduct. The Washington Post reported on April 4 that “Sharon Bialek, who said Cain had reached beneath her skirt in 1997 and tried to pull her head toward his crotch, said Thursday that his record of harassment should disqualify him from the Fed post.”
In the years since his presidential campaign, Cain has turned his mailing list into a haven for scammy emails. In January, Media Matters documented numerous financial grift emails that Cain sent to his list. Cain also recently founded a pro-Trump PAC with Floyd Brown, a right-wing birther who produced the racist Willie Horton ad attacking Michael Dukakis in the 1988 presidential election. The PAC recently attacked the 12 Republican senators who voted against Trump's emergency border declaration as “traitors” who can’t be trusted “to defend President Trump.”
Cain has also repeatedly touted penny stocks to his email subscribers. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission defines "penny stock" as generally referring “to a security issued by a very small company that trades at less than $5 per share” and says such stocks are “generally considered speculative investments.” The penny stock market is riddled with unsavory practices and fraud, especially because of paid promoters who attempt to pump up the price of penny stocks for the benefit of themselves and their employers.
Andrew Calamari, then-director of the SEC's New York office, said in 2014: "If we had a message to deliver, it would be that this is a very dangerous market for retail investors and that they should tread very, very carefully.”
Media Matters has received numerous sponsored emails from Herman Cain promoting penny stocks which are now virtually worthless. Those emails, which were not written by Cain, told readers of countless future financial rewards, including turning "$5,000 into more than $40,000 within a few short months”; making "ten-times your money or better”; and becoming "multi-millionaires in the process."
Cain’s penny stock mailings also include pitches from disgraced penny stock fraudster Tobin Smith, who was so corrupt that Fox News fired him in 2013 for violating a policy against paid stock promotions. In 2016, the SEC announced that Smith “agreed to settle charges that he and his company fraudulently promoted a penny stock [IceWEB Inc.] to investors” and “agreed to be barred from involvement in any future penny stock offerings.”
Here are 10 examples of Cain’s mailing list sending sponsored emails which touted now-virtually-worthless penny stocks. (Note: Because of the transient nature of penny stock promotions and the passage of time, many of the original images in the emails are no longer available.)
See the email, sent on 9/17/14, here.
Sample sales pitch from the sponsored email, which was written by The Wall Street Revelator’s Andrew Carpenter:
Virtus Oil & Gas VOIL suddenly finds itself conservatively valued in excess of $70.71 a share*...
And you can buy VOIL right now for around $1.50!
Opportunities like this don't come often. It's big, it's unprecedented, and it's happening right now. I urge you to follow up immediately. Virtus Oil & Gas VOIL could yield stratospheric gains for shareholders who move in immediately.
Current stock price: $0.025.
See the email, sent on 4/10/14, here.
Sample sales pitch from the sponsored email, which was written by BottomLine Newsletter's John Person:
Disruptive technologies have the ability to change society, revolutionize entire industries, and turn savvy investors into multi-millionaires in the process.
American Heritage (AHII) is, in my opinion, destined to become one of the leaders in the fast-growing electronic cigarette business. Currently trading for about $1-2, the stock could easily double or triple in the next 18-24 months if the company remains independent.
Current stock price: $0.00.
See the email, sent on 4/7/14, here.
Sample sales pitch from the sponsored email, which was written by Next Big Thing Investor PRO’s Tobin Smith:
The Simple Investment Case for Ener-Core (ENCR): 2.50 dollars to 3.00 dollars over the Next 12 Months
I discovered this company from one of the only investment banks that covers smaller industrial clean technology companies.
These analysts (who are top drawer in the clean tech world) published an Ener-Core (ENCR)12-month price target of 2.50 dollars in the beginning of 2014.
But I truly think their target price is too conservative in the short term--3 dollars is reasonable given that the company is OUT of its proof-of-concept stage and ramping up revenues in 2014 with a hockey-stick type sales ramp in 2015.
You will need to act quickly on this...you've seen how as these Industrial Cleantech stocks get discovered many have exploded in value in a matter of weeks and months.
The key to your chance for catching the NEXT 884% Industrial Cleantech monster winner is of course to be in the stock at today's prices...but you know that.
Current stock price: $0.10.
See the email, sent on 2/5/14, here.
Sample sales pitch from the sponsored email, which was written by The Myers Letter’s John Myers:
Centor Energy (CNTO) just went public. Shares are now around $1, and as my just-released Special Report reveals, early investors are looking at a 1,200% winner.
I'm John Myers and I'm going on record saying CNTO is set to jump from $1 to $8. And that's my short-term outlook. Longer term could see the stock climb to $25 and from there onwards to $100.
Current stock price: $0.0011.
See the email, sent on 1/29/14, here.
Sample sales pitch from the sponsored email, which was written by The Bowser Report’s Thomas Rice:
Recommendation: KonaRed (KRED)
Rated: Speculative Buy
Current Price: $0.70
Initial Target: $4.50
Long-Term Target: $8.00
KonaRed is already selling at Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Albertson'’s, 7-11 and other giant retailers in Hawaii. Now, this breakthrough sensation and the company that makes it, KonaRed (KRED) is ready for prime time. It is looking at rolling out all across the U.S. mainland! Investors are thrilled -– KRED is still under $1. Buy now!
FREE report reveals how early KRED investors (such as you!) could turn $5,000 into more than $40,000 within a few short months.
Current stock price: $0.0151.
See the email, sent on 12/24/13, here.
Sample sponsored email claim, which was written by The Kolber Report’s Jonathan Kolber:
Endeavor IP (OTCBB: ENIP) represents the hottest company I've seen in decades. I believe ENIP is a company with little downside... and a strong likelihood of seeing an extraordinarily high upside become a reality.
P.S. Make no mistake...it takes just one company to cut a deal - or attempt a buyout - and shares of Endeavor IP (OTCBB: ENIP) could potentially move so quickly you wouldn'™t [sic] have time to get in. That's why it's so important that you act now - before the window closes - to avoid missing out on what could be your second chance to turn $10,000 into $757,200 just like investors in patent stock VHC!
Current stock price: $0.00.
See the email, sent on 8/19/13, here.
Sample sponsored email claim, which was written by Champlain Media’s Tobin Smith:
Strike now and you stand to make ten-times your money or better with this off-radar newcomer:
North American Oil & Gas (NAMG)!
This is an urgent buy recommendation to act on immediately!
Current stock price: $0.00.
See the email, sent on 6/18/13, here.
Sample sales pitch from the sponsored email, which was written by James Rapholz of James Rapholz's Economic Advice:
Cash in on the Greatest Materials Bonanza Since the Invention of Plastic!
Can you imagine investing $2,000 in National Graphite Corp (NGRC) and walking away with $132,000? It's not only possible...
I think it could happen in just months!
P.S. Graphite is such a modern-era commodity, watching this 40 cent stock hit $13.20 is certainly possible. Last century steel played the same role as a breakthrough material. And it was.
Current stock price: $0.06.
See the email, sent on 5/13/13, here.
Sample sponsored email claim, which was written by NBT Equity Group’s Tobin Smith:
• How this little-known breakthrough technology could help make the U.S. the world’s #1 Oil producer by 2017.
• How this same revolutionary technology could be about to add some 6 trillion barrels oil to the world’s recoverable reserves.
• Why Obama and the environmentalists will absolutely love it.
• Why you really could turn $10,000 into $50,000 in the next 6-1`2 [sic] months if you act now!
Buy Petrosonic (PSON) now while you can still get it at less than $1 and . . .
Look for $3.50 to $4.00 in six months or less!
Hang on for a big-oil takeover that could rocket PSON as high as $30.95!
Current stock price: $0.0001.
See the email, sent on 5/10/13, here.
Sample sponsored email claim, which was written by Hard Asset Report’s Ken Williams:
Investors are buying this stock up to $10 per share... with a $20 price target
Polar Petroleum (POLR) may be about to hand us a massive windfall, like we witnessed on Carrizo Oil (5,500%), Denbury Resources (3,400%) and Northern Oil (1,100%).
Polar Petroleum (POLR) could blow-the-doors off all three of these stocks...
Astute investors are buying shares in Polar Petroleum now for near-term gains of up to 1,800%
Current stock price: $0.0001.
Herman Cain, who is reportedly President Donald Trump’s nominee for a Federal Reserve Board seat that would require a Senate confirmation vote, founded a pro-Trump PAC with a right-wing birther that called 12 Republican senators “traitors” who can’t be trusted “to defend President Trump.”
Cain is a conservative commentator and former chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City who previously ran for president but dropped out after several women reported him for sexual misconduct. He helped start America Fighting Back PAC last year to support Trump and his agenda. The organization’s chairman is right-wing commentator and consultant Floyd Brown, a birther who produced the racist Willie Horton ad attacking Michael Dukakis in the 1988 presidential election and said Obama "hates Christianity" and "is a Muslim" (Obama is a Christian).
The PAC recently sent an email attempting to raise money from readers by attacking the 12 Republican senators who voted against President Trump’s emergency border declaration. Those senators are: Lamar Alexander (TN), Roy Blunt (MO), Susan Collins (ME), Mike Lee (UT), Jerry Moran (KS), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Rand Paul (KY), Rob Portman (OH), Mitt Romney (UT), Marco Rubio (FL), Pat Toomey (PA), and Roger Wicker (MS).
Brown sent a March 28 email stating that “Herman Cain founded America Fighting Back PAC because he couldn’t trust establishment Republicans to defend President Trump. It turns out he was RIGHT." The email added:
12 Senate Republicans tried to sabotage President Trump’s national emergency to build the wall.
America Fighting Back PAC will NEVER forget that, so we’re creating a RINO TARGET FUND that we will use to fire these 12 backstabbers IF they ever cross President Trump -- and you -- again.
The email links to a donation page stating: “Now that 12 RINO Senators stabbed President Trump in the back, we need your help. Please make a contribution to our RINO TARGET FUND right now -- and we’ll show these 12 traitors how much we’ve raised as a WARNING never to cross the American people again.”
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Right-wing commentator Herman Cain, who is reportedly being considered for a Federal Reserve seat, has spent years pushing scammy financial emails to his mailing list. Those sponsored emails touted a “weird trick” that supposedly “adds up to $1,000 a month to Social Security checks”; advice on “the best place to hide your money”; and financial trades that could “turn $1,000 into $1.6 million.”
Bloomberg reported today that Cain, who has been a radio host and often appears on Fox News, “is being considered by President Donald Trump for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board. … Cain ran for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination but dropped out in late 2011 after allegations he engaged in sexual harassment when he led the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s.”
Trump, who himself has been reported for sexual misconduct by more than 20 women, defended Cain at the time. As CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski and Chris Massie reported, Trump told Fox News in November 2011 that the women who reported Cain “probably do love their names splashed across the front pages. … I think Herman should take very, very strong action, even if he has to bring a major lawsuit against the women.”
After dropping his 2012 presidential bid, Cain profited off his email list of supporters by sending sponsored content. (Those emails contained the following disclaimer at the end: “The sender of this email may receive compensation for the advertising contained in this message. Any products or services offered by sponsors or advertisers have not been evaluated by Herman Cain and as such no warranty or claims are made.”)
As Ben Adler wrote in The New Republic in January 2014, Cain is one of several conservatives who “are pioneering a new, more direct method for post-campaign buckraking. All it requires is some digitally savvy accomplices—and a total immunity to shame.”
Media Matters has documented over the years how politicians like Cain -- including former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, U.S. Ambassador Scott Brown -- and right-wing publications have been bilking their followers with scammy emails from questionable sources.
With Cain poised to potentially join the Federal Reserve board, here are some of the scammiest financial emails that he has sent over the years.
Cain sent a sponsored email from Agora Financial suggesting that Americans could piggyback “onto ‘Canadian Social Security’” and collect “extra benefit checks between $400 and $4,700 every month.” CNBC criticized Agora Financial for the ad, stating: “There's only one problem: that's not the way it works, according to authorities.” Mother Jones’ Tim Murphy reported that “Agora and its subsidiaries have been accused of crossing the line between aggressive salesmanship and deception.”
For more on the “weird trick” email claims, go here.
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After professor Christine Blasey Ford testified on September 27 that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh attempted to rape her in the 1980s, The Washington Post published a memo from Rachel Mitchell, the sex crimes prosecutor hired by Senate Republicans to interrogate Ford, explaining why she theoretically would not prosecute Kavanaugh.
Multiple news outlets have noted that the conclusions in Mitchell’s memo -- among them that Ford’s claims are “even weaker” than a "'he said, she said’ case" -- cannot be seen as credible. The Washington Post pointed out that since there hasn’t been an actual investigation of the claims, Mitchell’s assertion of no corroborating evidence falls flat. Think Progress noted that while Mitchell questioned Ford extensively, she spoke to Kavanaugh, the alleged assailant, for just 15 minutes. Mother Jones reported that a former colleague of Mitchell’s, Matthew Long, dismissed her “willingness to author” the memo as “absolutely disingenuous,” and he asserted that the prosecutor “doesn’t have sufficient information to even draw these conclusions.” Long also criticized Mitchell for attacking Ford’s gaps in memory, noting that he was “trained by Ms. Mitchell about how trauma explicitly does prevent memory from happening” and concluding, “Ms. Mitchell knows better than that.”
Additionally, as journalists and outlets have pointed out, a Supreme Court nomination is not a trial; it’s more akin to a job interview. The question of whether a prosecutor is willing to bring charges against Kavanaugh is not equivalent to that of whether he should serve on the highest court of the land.
Desperate to undercut Ford, right-wing media figures have ignored the obvious problems in Mitchell’s memo and instead portrayed the document as credible evidence of Kavanaugh’s innocence:
Fox & Friends’ Brian Kilmeade: Mitchell “concluded that she would not -- this was a weak case and I never would recommend, wouldn’t think anyone would recommend, they prosecute this case.”
Fox’s Laura Ingraham wrote, “Sex Crimes Prosecutor Rachel Mitchell’s report exhonerates (sic) Kavanaugh,” linking to a Gateway Pundit piece with a similar title. Radio host Bill Mitchell and Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton also shared the article.
NBC’s Megyn Kelly: Mitchell “submitted a memo” saying that Ford’s case “doesn’t even satisfy by the preponderance of the evidence standard, … which is the lowest bar in any case. … And now we want the FBI to spend this week going back and scouring the Maryland neighborhood and … figuring out who renovated and when.”
Fox contributor Lisa Boothe shared Mitchell’s report and wrote, “Can everyone please stop pretending like Dr. Ford is credible now? She is NOT credible. It’s painfully obvious. I feel like I’ve been living in the Twilight Zone.”
NRA’s Dana Loesch quoted a Daily Mail article on Mitchell’s report, writing that “there is NOT enough evidence to back accuser's claims.”
Former presidential candidate Herman Cain: “Even the lady that asked the questions during the judiciary committee [hearing], she wrote an eight-page report that said that there was no there there.”
The Federalist’s Sean Davis: “This memorandum from Rachel Mitchell is a rather stunning indictment not of Kavanaugh, but of Ford and her story, which seems to change each time she tells it. The only consistent aspect of Ford’s story is how often it changes.”
Townhall editor and Fox contributor Katie Pavlich: “I’d like to point out that nearly everyone in the media, minus a few (myself included), said Ford was ‘very credible.’ She wasn’t.”
FoxNews.com’s Stephen Miller: “I believe Rachel Mitchell”
Townhall’s Guy Benson: Mitchell’s memo “is extremely compelling”
Daily Wire’s Ashe Schow: “Mark my words, the media is currently looking for other sex crimes prosecutors to say they would absolutely take this case to court.”
The Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles: “I believe Rachel Mitchell. #IBelieveWomen”
The Daily Caller’s Benny Johnson: “BELIEVE 👏 ALL 👏 WOMEN 👏”
Conservative commentator Michelle Malkin’s site Twitchy: “RUH-ROH: Rachel Mitchell’s independent analysis spells even BIGGER trouble for Senate Dems and Ford’s attorneys.”
Frequent Fox guest Morgan Ortagus: “A professional prosecutor is saying… there’s too many inconsistencies with the story. ... I know you’re shaking your head, but, I mean, she’s spent a lifetime as a career prosecutor working on this.”
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A Media Matters study found that Facebook pages of some mainstream conservative media outlets, Republican media figures, and even apolitical clickbait sites are part of promotional campaigns involving websites with a history of promoting anti-Islam fake news and conspiracy theories.
Liftable Media owns three sites that have pushed anti-Islam pieces: Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal, both right-wing propaganda sites, and it’s inspiration content site Liftable.com. Media Matters tracked links from Facebook to one of the sites, Conservative Tribune, and found 74 pages posting URLs with codes indicating that the links were part of a promotional campaign seemingly coordinated with Liftable Media. They included pages for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Fox News contributor Herman Cain, former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, and conservative commentator Dick Morris, among others.
Fifteen of the pages that posted the links were verified with blue or gray badges, meaning Facebook has verified that the page is “the authentic Page or profile for this public figure, media company or brand” (blue) or that it is “an authentic Page for this business or organization” (gray).
Three of Liftable Media’s websites have spun anti-Islam conspiracy theories.
Liftable.com, which Liftable Media describes as a site for “uplifting and inspiring stories,” has posted articles vilifying Islam as a violent religion. One article on the site claimed that “Islam has been on a bloody rampage to conquer, convert or kill the world since 620 A.D.” Another said that the Quran “orders every follower to conduct their lives with violence and brutality, butchering all who refuse to convert and comply.”
Another Liftable Media site, The Western Journal, has attacked Muslim immigrants and Islam with articles labeled as “commentary.” The smears in these articles focus on “warning” readers that an influx of Muslim immigrants in the U.S. and Europe will lead to violent culture clashes and supporting bans against Muslim immigrants as a solution.
The third Liftable Media site, Conservative Tribune, has the most extensive history of spreading viral fake news against Muslims. A review of data from Crowdtangle shows that the site’s anti-Islam content has generated over 1.5 million Facebook impressions. The site has falsely claimed that Sharia was being implemented in Dearborn, MI, and it pushed similar fake news claiming that Muslims were attempting to establish a Sharia court in Irving, TX. Conservative Tribune also showed support for Irving residents who deployed intimidation tactics against Muslim residents, including people armed with AR-15s who protested outside a local mosque and released the names of Muslims living in the area.
For over a year, Conservative Tribune also pushed viral debunked conspiracy theories about Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year-old student from Irving who was arrested after bringing a clock to school. In multiple articles, Conservative Tribune suggested that Mohamed was a “pawn” in an orchestrated stunt that his father staged in order to make “fake” accusations of “Islamophobia.”
Conservative Tribune baselessly suggested that Mohamed was involved with terrorists. One article suggested a potential connection between Mohamed and a mosque he “grew up near” in Dallas, which Conservative Tribune claimed faced allegations of terrorist financing. Another implied it was suspicious that “innocent” Mohammed was invited to visit Qatar by “an organization with strong ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.” Yet another said: “If you’re a terrorist, what better role model than Ahmed ‘Bomb Clock Boy’ Mohamed?”
After Mohamed’s family filed a civil suit against the city and school district, Conservative Tribune attacked Mohamed for “stabb[ing] his school, his town and his country in the back.”
Recently, Conservative Tribune attacked Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, saying he “cozied up to [a] terror group” just because Israel hired a member of the civil rights advocacy group Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Conservative Tribune has an extensive history of smearing CAIR and falsely claiming it is a terrorist group involved with Islamic indoctrination and efforts to impose Sharia.
Liftable Media is owned by Patrick Brown, whose father, Floyd Brown, founded WesternJournalism.com. Floyd Brown is a Republican consultant with a history of promoting racist conspiracy theories through political ads. According to Newsweek, Patrick runs Liftable Media’s four main websites, Conservative Tribune, The Western Journal (formerly known as Western Journalism), Liftable.com, and the sports news site The Wildcard, and Floyd, who is chairman of Liftable Media’s board of directors, helps provide funding for the company. Before starting Liftable Media in 2014, Patrick worked for an organization his faither chairs, The Western Center for Journalism (WCJ). Patrick is listed on WCJ’s site as a “trainer,” as are far-right figures James O’Keefe and Joseph Farah of WorldNetDaily.
Liftable Media has acquired various other hyperpartisan sites, including the now-inactive Tea Party News Network and USA Radio Networks (Floyd is the latter’s current CEO). Most recently, Liftable Media acquired Liberty Alliance, a media company that ran a membership network of conservative and fake news sites. In a press release on the acquisition, Liftable Media stated that Liberty Alliance would “expand Liftable Media’s reach by an additional 2 million Facebook followers.”
UTM codes are parameters that can be added to a URL in order to track web traffic from a specific source on Google Analytics without changing the destination of the URL. There are four types of parameters (source, medium, content, and campaign), and labels for each parameter are customizable and trackable by whoever is running a website domain. The tool is used by companies to track the source of traffic to a specific page on their site (Facebook, Twitter, email newsletters, et cetera).
A Media Matters study of Conservative Tribune’s Facebook traction between January 2018 and April 2018 found 74 pages posting links to conservativetribune.com that used UTM codes that included the name of the page or company behind it -- indicating someone was tracking the traffic from that page/company. Of the 74, seven pages had over 2 million page likes; 11 had between 1 and 2 million page likes; and an additional 12 had over 500,000 page likes. Thirty-eight of these pages seemed to be operated by Liftable Media, based on the UTM parameters used and the pages’ “About” sections. Many of the other 36 pages seemed to be separately operated by a combination of marketing companies, clickbait sites, and the personal pages of Republican figures including former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Fox News contributor Herman Cain, former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, and conservative commentator Dick Morris.
These are the Facebook pages sharing Conservative Tribune links with UTM codes:
The Tea Party
The Western Journal
Right Wing News
Governor Jan Brewer
Family Research Council
Deep 6 The Deep State with Dick Morris
Faith Family America
Conservative 50 - Living the American Dream
Ted Cruz Is The Man
Right Alert Polls
Petitions to Congress
Polls to Congress
Latino News Today
Family First by Liftable
Ben Carson is the Man
Donald Trump is the Man
Stop Hillary Clinton
Rebirth of Freedom
The Conservative Update
The Jefferson Newsletter
No microsoft word, I didn't spell my last name wrong.
A REAL man doesn't love million girls He loves one girl in million ways
United States Constitution
Rep. Trey Gowdy for Speaker of the House
Vision to America
Obama Makes Me Puke
President Donald J Trump
Obama Is Officially The Worst President In American History
Home Defense Gun
Conservative Republicans of Texas
Rodney Lee Conover
Conservative World Daily
We Love President Donald Trump
Thirteen of the pages posting links with UTM codes are verified with blue badges, which Facebook says means the page is “the authentic Page or profile for this public figure, media company or brand.” All 13 verified pages used UTM parameters corresponding to the owner and/or name of the page (for example, Mike Huckabee’s pages included the parameter “mikehuckabee”). Using Crowdtangle data, Media Matters looked through all links posted by these blue-badge pages between January 1, 2018, and January 31, 2018, and counted the percentage of links posted that go to Liftable Media’s four main brands, Conservative Tribune, The Western Journal, Liftable.com, and The Wildcard. (We did not look at links from Facebook pages for Liftable Media’s brand sites -- The Western Journal, Conservative Tribune, and Liftable.com.)
Several of these blue-badge pages are affiliated with Republican media figures, including Brewer, Huckabee, and Cain. Both Liftable Media owner Patrick Brown and his father, Floyd, donated to Huckabee’s 2016 presidential bid. Floyd also donated to Herman Cain’s 2012 presidential PAC.
Some conservative organizations also appear to be part of Liftable Media’s promotional network. Family Research Council (FRC), which has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, has previously, though infrequently, shared links to Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal with UTM codes specific to FRC. Ken Blackwell, a senior fellow at FRC, regularly shares Liftable Media links with UTM parameters specific to his name.
Another page, The Tea Party, seems to be run by Liftable Media and does not actually pertain to the tea party movement. This page, which links to westernjournal.com in its “About” section and to a liftablemedia.com email address, has over 3.2 million likes, significantly more than the actual “Tea Party” Facebook page.
Since January, Eagle Rising has stopped posting articles from Liftable Media brands. Gov. Brewer’s page stopped on February 28.
Liftable Media has 38 Facebook pages, and 16 of them post links with UTM codes to six non-Liftable Media websites: The Daily Wire, Faith Family America, Shared, American Military News, Little Things, and Providr. And the same non-Liftable Media pages that promote Conservative Tribune and other Liftable Media sites also promote at least 35 other websites, including the mainstream right-wing site The Blacksphere with Kevin Jackson; fake news sites American Military News, BizPac Review, Clash Daily with Doug Giles, and Daily-Vine (formerly known as Freedom Daily); Christian and inspirational websites including Faith It, Glad Wire, and Inspire More; and apolitical clickbait sites including Cooking Panda and Watch This.
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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]