Tags ››› investigative
  • Geraldo Rivera Says He's "The Conscience of Fox" On Immigration Slurs

    Blog ››› ››› JOE STRUPP

    Geraldo Rivera called himself "the conscience of Fox and the rest of the cable news world" when asked Tuesday about his objections to the use of the terms "illegals" and "aliens" in reference to undocumented immigrants.

    He also added that he has made his opposition to such phrases "very, very clear" to Fox employees "from top to bottom," but stopped short of any further direct criticism of the network.

    "If I'm going to be the conscience of Fox and the rest of the cable news world, then it is a role that I enthusiastically embrace," he told Media Matters during an appearance at a WABC Radio job fair in New York City.

    His comments came in response to a question about a May 4 online column Rivera wrote for Fox News Latino, in which he denounced the use of certain terms to describe immigrants, especially "aliens" and "illegals."

    In the column, Rivera took news outlets, including Fox, to task for using such terms, writing:

    Like the words 'Jew' or 'slob' or 'slut', the phrase 'illegal alien' has the elegance of being harsh, but defensible, if accurate. Although it can be used as a cutting reference, it can still be uttered in polite company without fear of raising many eyebrows, especially among those who feel similarly negative about the individual being described.

    Asked Tuesday if he had raised the issue with Fox executives, Rivera said, "I've talked to all my colleagues, everyone knows my feelings, from top to bottom. I think the combination of those two pejoratives, 'illegal' and 'aliens,' is really a way to demean people, to separate people. I've made my feelings very, very clear to my colleagues at Fox."

    Rivera's complaints have as yet fallen on deaf ears. The "illegals" slur is regularly used on Fox's "straight news" and opinion programming and websites. The week before Rivera published his column, his Fox colleagues Bill O'Reilly, Tucker Carlson, and Mike Huckabee all defended such rhetoric in separate segments criticizing what O'Reilly termed the "crazy" opposition to the term by the "far left."

    In fact, the same day Rivera published his column, The O'Reilly Factor guest host Laura Ingraham re-aired the segment in which O'Reilly was "taking on that far left campaign that wants to ban the word "illegal" when it comes to -- I'm saying it, wait - illegal aliens." Earlier in that same broadcast, Ingraham hosted Rivera to discuss a woman who brought her child into a tanning salon with her and a lethal hazing case at a Florida college.

    Rivera credited Fox for letting him make his views clear on the air, even if the network would not ban the use of such phrases.

    "And the great thing though, in fairness to Fox, they let me say and they let me publish that and, you know, I say it on the air as well."

  • Investigative Reporters Slam NRA-Backed Bill Targeting Illegal Gun Sale Stings

    Blog ››› ››› JOE STRUPP

    Model legislation supported by the National Rifle Association and the American Legislative Exchange Council that would make it illegal for private citizens to conduct stings exposing illegal gun sales is being criticized by veteran investigative reporters and media law experts who say it could negatively impact undercover journalists who report on such activities.

    "This law appears to create a shield for illegal conduct. We would be very concerned as investigative reporters with any attempt to criminalize legitimate reporting. Reporters don't go out and somehow force gun dealers to make these sales," said Stephen Engelberg, managing editor at, the Pulitzer-Prize winning investigative reporting site. "The illegal activity is the sale of the guns, not the failure to flash a press badge for the sale of the gun."

    The so-called "Honesty in Purchasing Firearms" bill was presented in August 2011 by NRA lobbyist Tara Mica to ALEC's since-disbanded Public Safety and Elections Task Force. The task force adopted it as model legislation.

    The bill states, in part, that:

    Any person who knowingly solicits, persuades, encourages or entices a licensed dealer or private seller of firearms or ammunition to transfer a firearm or ammunition under circumstances which the person knows would violate the laws of this state or the United States is guilty of a felony.

    The bill also makes it illegal to intentionally give a licensed firearm dealer or private seller "materially false information with intent to deceive the dealer or seller about the legality of a transfer of a firearm or ammunition." Violators are punished with up to a $5,000 fine and five years in prison.

    The NRA has explicitly stated that such legislation, which has been adopted in several states, is intended to target undercover stings by gun violence prevention activists seeking to shine a light on illegal private sellers.

    Those efforts typically involve private dealers selling firearms to undercover activists after those individuals tell the buyer they don't think they could pass a federal background check. Such checks are not required for the transfer of firearms by private sellers, only federal firearms licensees, but it is illegal for anyone to sell a firearm if they have reason to believe the buyer can't legally own the weapon.

    Critics contend the proposed law could block undercover reporters who seek to purchase weapons in this manner in an effort to expose the criminal practice.

    Earlier this year NBC national investigative reporter Jeff Rossen engaged in such a sting and produced an extensive report for Today which the network said "exposes how simple it is for criminals and even terrorists to purchase deadly weapons in public places - with no questions asked."

    "It's ill-guided, or misguided or worse," said Sandra Baron, executive director of the Media Law Resource Center, which advises media outlets on legal issues, when asked about the bill. "It might also provide some basis for a constitutional challenge to such a bill if it were enacted in that it is intended to single out the press and those with a particular perspective on illegal gun sales."

    She later added, "The whole notion is that if we can make it unlawful to show and tell, then no one will ever know about it. It is an extraordinary effort and I believe it is a desperate one when you have to penalize those who would make public unlawful acts; it is a pretty desperate measure."

  • Disbanded ALEC Task Force Chair: Gun and Voter Issues No Longer Priority

    Blog ››› ››› JOE STRUPP

    The former chair of the American Legislative Exchange Council's recently disbanded Elections and Public Safety Task Force said most of the committee's work on voting and gun issues probably will not continue elsewhere within ALEC, but said some could be pursued if they have ties to economic issues.

    "The criminal justice area has been one where we have had consensus in doing the kinds of things we're doing with justice re-investment and with the things like our smart on crime initiatives and those things I hope don't get damaged by these actions going on now to break up what we've been able to put together," said Republican Texas State Rep. Jerry Madden, former chair of the committee.

    Madden made the comments following the announcement last week that ALEC would disband the committee after it drew complaints for its role in promoting NRA-backed gun laws and voter restrictions. ALEC says it will now refocus on economic legislation.

    The National Rifle Association, a longtime member of and donor to ALEC, reportedly objected to the change.

    During the previous week at least 10 companies left the organization following Color of Change's campaign that encouraged corporations to cut ties with ALEC due to its promotion of such laws.

    The Christian Post reported earlier this week that Madden said ALEC planned to pursue many of the same issues elsewhere within the organization:

    Republican State Rep. Jerry Madden of Texas chairs the Public Safety Task Force and although he is disappointed the committee is disbanding, he said many of the issues will be transferred to other committees.

    "ALEC's decision won't impact the important issues we've worked on," Madden told The Christian Post. "But I will say this, these groups are targeting ALEC because when conservatives get together, we influence state and federal policy in a major way and these groups are scared of us - and should be."

    Contacted by Media Matters on Wednesday, Madden said most of the gun and voting issues previously targeted by his committee will likely not be pursued as ALEC continues. But he hinted that some might have ties to economic concerns that would make them valid subjects to target

  • Jewish Justice Organization Condemns Ailes Following Gawker Publication Of Emails On Soros

    Blog ››› ››› JOE STRUPP

    The chief executive of a leading Jewish policy organization is condemning Fox News president Roger Ailes for reportedly urging his hosts to push the false claim that Jewish philanthropist George Soros aided the Nazis during the Holocaust.

    Alan van Capelle, CEO of Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice, criticized Ailes following a report today that Ailes had emailed Fox host Bill O'Reilly suggesting he promote the false claim about Soros. Van Cappelle said that those emails indicate "the hate at Fox starts at the top."

    According to a story on Gawker, which obtained the emails:

    On November 1, 2010, Ailes sent an email to Bill O'Reilly and his producer David Tabacoff. It contained a partial transcript from a 12-year-old 60 Minutes profile of George Soros in which Soros, a Jew, acknowledged that he posed as a Christian under the Nazi regime and helped confiscate property from other Jews being shipped off to death camps.

    The emails indicate Ailes received the transcript from Mitchell Kweit, Fox's vice president for news research and strategic information, in an email titled "Soros No Nazi Guilt," and forwarded it to O'Reilly and Tabacoff with the note, "FYI. This guy has no conscience."

    In reality, as a fourteen-year-old boy in occupied Hungary, Soros was hidden from the Nazis by a Christian family. The man hiding Soros was assigned to go inventory the estate of a wealthy Jewish family and brought Soros along to protect him. Soros himself was never part of any property confiscation.

    O'Reilly's producer Tabacoff replied to Ailes with a single word: "ugly." Ailes responded by asking, "Do you think you guys will use it or should I give it to someone else?"

    That someone else was likely Glenn Beck. The following evening during the 5 p.m. hour of his show, Beck promoted a special about Soros. Beck referred to the billionaire philanthropist as a "puppet master" and questioned his Jewish identity. Earlier that day on his radio show, Beck said Soros "saw people into gas chambers."

    Beck's "special," which was broadcast a week later, included the information Ailes forwarded to O'Reilly. Beck claimed Soros "had to help the government confiscate the lands of his fellow Jewish friends and neighbors." On his radio show Beck went even further, saying that Soros helped "send the Jews" to "death camps." His comments were widely condemned by Jewish leaders.

    "It's obvious that Glenn Beck could not have carried on his insane tirades against George Soros without the support of Roger Ailes, so these emails really just confirm what common sense tell us - the hate at Fox News starts at the top," van Capelle told Media Matters in a statement Thursday.

    "George Soros lost family members in the Holocaust. As a 13 year old boy he survived because his father arranged for him to be hidden with a non-Jewish family willing to take an enormous risk to do the right thing. Six decades later Roger Ailes and Glenn Beck exploited these circumstances to call Soros a Nazi-collaborator. It's a characterization that speaks volumes about Ailes and Beck, and says nothing at all about George Soros."

    Bend the Arc was formed in April 2012 from the merger of Jewish Funds for Justice and the Progressive Jewish Alliance.

  • UPDATED: National Review Drops Writer For Speaking At "White Supremacist" Conference

    Blog ››› ››› JOE STRUPP
    NRO contributor Robert Weissberg (left)
    at American Renaissance conference
    with "pro-White" radio host James Edwards
    and editor Jared Taylor.


    In a post last night at NRO, Rich Lowry announced that Weissberg "will no longer be posting" at National Review due to his appearance at the American Renaissance conference:

    Unbeknowst to us, occasional Phi Beta Cons contributor Robert Weissberg (whose book was published a few years ago by Transaction) participated in an American Renaissance conference where he delivered a noxious talk about the future of white nationalism. He will no longer be posting here. Thanks to those who brought it to our attention.

    National Review, which recently severed its relationship with writer John Derbyshire for a column in which he advised parents to teach their children to be wary of blacks, has another contributor who may draw similar scrutiny.

    In March, National Review Online contributor Robert Weissberg spoke at the annual conference of the magazine American Renaissance, described as a "white supremacist journal" by the Anti-Defamation League. Reportedly proposing "A Politically Viable Alternative to White Nationalism," Weissberg described to the audience of 150 an "enclave" solution in which zoning laws and other methods could be used to create "Whitopias" in America.

    Weissberg, an emeritus professor at the University of Illinois, is a regular contributor to National Review Online, having written 10 posts for its Phi Beta Con blog on education, the most recent coming within the last week.

    During his speech at the conference, Weissberg discussed how to keep "Whitopias" white and the positives of "maintaining whiteness," according to the American Renaissance website:

    Prof. Weissberg argued that an "80 percent solution" would be one that enforced the "First-World" standards of excellence and hard work that attract and reward whites. He pointed out that there are still many "Whitopias" in America and that there are many ways to keep them white, such as zoning that requires large houses, and a cultural ambiance or classical music and refined demeanor that repels undesirables. This approach to maintaining whiteness has the advantage that people can make a living catering to whites in their enclaves.

    Prof. Weissberg went on to argue that liberals are beyond reason when it comes to race, that explaining the facts of IQ or the necessity of racial consciousness for whites "is like trying to explain to an eight-year-old why sex is more fun than chocolate ice cream."

    Other speakers at the conference include James Edwards, known for his "pro-white" radio show, Political Cesspool, and the presidential and vice-presidential candidates of the white nationalist American Third Position party, Mervin Miller and Virginia Abernathy.

    Last Thursday, longtime National Review writer Derbyshire published a piece for Taki's Magazine that urged parents to teach their children to, among other things, not "attend events likely to draw a lot of blacks." The piece was swiftly condemned across the ideological spectrum; on Saturday night National Review Editor Rich Lowry announced that Derbyshire could no longer write for National Review. Lowry did not respond to repeated requests for comment on Weissberg's standing with National Review Tuesday morning.

    Weissberg spoke with Media Matters Monday evening about his views and American Renaissance involvement, first noted at

    Asked why he would appear at an event sponsored by American Renaissance, Weissberg defended the group.

    "It really is, it's not a white supremacist, as far as I'm concerned. There are probably people in the organization who are white supremacists, okay. There are probably people in the Democratic party and the Republican party who are also, okay," he said. "But I would not tar an organization by singling out a few members who have odd extreme political views and then labeling the organization as endorsing those views. The problem, if I may digress here a little bit, I am a member of several organizations, sort of conservative, ranging from AR, which is, to much more respectable things and the thing about AR is that they cannot control who shows up. You walk in the door, or you pay your whatever it is, $75 convention fee, and you are part of the crowd, that's it."

  • Defends Beck Column Because Readers Know "What He Is"

    Blog ››› ››› JOE STRUPP is standing by the decision to allow Glenn Beck to write a column for its On Faith blog in spite of his history of offensive comments and violent rhetoric, according to the site's top editor, Sally Quinn, who defended running the piece because readers know "who he is and what he is."

    "When you run somebody like that, people already come to it knowing who he is and what he is," Quinn told Media Matters. "He represents a certain segment of society and he's got a following."

    She also said it was On Faith that reached out to Beck, seeking his take on a religious issue for the site, which bills itself as a "Conversation on Religion and Politics."

    Asked why the website would seek a view from a commentator with Beck's record, Quinn said, "He represents a huge segment of society and actually I thought that he had a sort of a unique take on the situation. We don't only run people we agree with or disagree with. We like to get all points of view. I didn't see that there was anything offensive about the column or controversial."

    Beck's column was posted February 19 and attacked President Obama for announcing that rules promulgated under his health care reform law would give women access to health care plans covering contraception at no additional cost. Beck responded by declaring, "we are all Catholics now."

    Beck also wrote:

    This is why Americans are offended by the ruling from the White House that would force church-run institutions to pay for birth control and morning-after pills, which are tantamount to abortion. The so-called compromise is no compromise - under government-approved health insurance plans that the church pays for, abortifacients would be covered. Sin by proxy - that's the compromise.

    Obama's birth control policy has broad support from Catholic hospitals, colleges, and charities, and recent polls show a majority of Catholics believe employers should be required to provide health care plans that cover contraception at no additional cost.

    The decision to give Beck space came in spite of Beck's repeated condemnation by Jewish groups for offensive comments, as well as his history of violent rhetoric. It also follows his departure from Fox News last year.

  • "Fertile Ground": White Nationalists Organize Within Tea Party

    Blog ››› ››› DAVID HOLTHOUSE

    Addressing a rally in April 2011, white nationalist lawyer William Johnson lamented the media scrutiny he drew with his recent failed campaign for a judgeship in California.

    White nationalist lawyer William Johnson at San Juan Capistrano rally

    "Ron Paul endorsed me for Superior Court judge, and I was on my way," Johnson said. "No sooner than I'd put my hat in the ring than ... it came out that Johnson is a white nationalist, that Johnson wants to create a separate white ethno-state, that Johnson supports the 14 words of [white power domestic terrorist] David Lane, that 'We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children,' and the media went wild with all of that, and Ron Paul withdrew his endorsement of me...because he did not believe in a separate white ethno-state and he didn't know that I did."

    A white ethno-state? The 14 words?

    Johnson sounded like he was at a neo-Nazi conference, as in 1986 when he addressed the Aryan Nations World Congress. But the banner hanging over the stage was not a Swastika flag. It read: "Tax Day Tea Party."

    The April 16 rally in San Juan Capistrano, California, corresponded with more than 100 Tea Party rallies scheduled across the country for that Saturday. It was promoted on the website of Tea, also known as 1776 Tea Party, one of six well-established Tea Party umbrella groups. Its true organizers, however, were from American Third Position, or A3P, a white nationalist political party founded by racist skinheads. A3P did not respond to repeated inquiries for this article. Neither did 1776 Tea Party.

    Since April 2010, A3P members have organized, co-sponsored or freely distributed literature at no fewer than 10 Tea Party rallies in six states, including Augusta, Georgia; Harrison, Arkansas; Baton Rogue, Louisiana and throughout California, where A3P was founded in May 2009 by Freedom 14, a racist skinhead crew seeking to establish a more respectable-seeming political front group.

    Although it would be unfair to characterize the Tea Party movement on the whole as white nationalist, it's clear that large gatherings of angry, conservative, predominately white Americans are viewed with relish by groups like A3P.

    "The Tea Parties are fertile ground for our activists," said A3P Pennsylvania Chairman Steve Smith. "Tea Party supporters and the A3P share much common ground with regard to our political agendas."

  • Fox Fails To Fact Check On Operation Castaway

    Blog ››› ››› DAVID HOLTHOUSE

    Before last summer, Hugh Crumpler III was best known in central Florida as a professional bass guide.

    But for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) he was a big fish.

    Guns confiscated from Hugh Crumpler III. Photo Courtesy ATF

    Crumpler, 64, was a key player in a major international gun smuggling network. It was taken down by the Tampa Field Division of the ATF with Operation Castaway, a six-month investigation that federal prosecutors called "the most significant firearms trafficking investigation in Central Florida history."

    Nothing in the more than 500 pages of Operation Castaway court documents, which are public records, indicate anything other than a textbook operation culminating in the interdiction of a large shipment of firearms bound for Honduras. Eight traffickers including Crumpler were convicted and sentenced to between two and a half and seven years in federal prison.

    Despite this winning outcome, Operation Castaway is under attack from right-wing bloggers and Fox. These critics are disregarding basic standards of fact checking in their rush to link the Tampa investigation to Operation Fast and Furious, the failed ATF initiative in which agents knowingly allowed firearms to be trafficked across the border into Mexico.

    In one typical example, Fox Business host Lou Dobbs branded Operation Castaway "a second version of the botched operation Fast and Furious" during his July 11 broadcast.