Patrick Howley

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  • Pro-Trump media push conspiracy theory that acting FBI director is a “ringleader” in plot to take down Trump

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    An “alt-right”-affiliated outlet and fake news purveyors are pushing a highly dubious conspiracy theory from a fringe blog that acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe is a “ringleader” in a plot against President Donald Trump.

    Big League Politics, a fringe blog founded by former Daily Caller writer Patrick Howley, cited an “inside source” to claim that McCabe was the “ringleader” behind a collaboration “against” Trump by McCabe, former FBI Director James Comey, and Russia probe special counsel Robert Mueller. According to Howley, the source also called the three men “creatures of the swamp.” The blog also employs “alt-right” figure Cassandra Fairbanks, and it previously helped revive a fringe smear that Comey was biased in his investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email server due to his brother’s supposed connections to the Clintons. The McCabe article has drawn slightly more than 100 Facebook engagements so far, according to social media analytics website BuzzSumo.

    Soon after it was published, the report was picked up by “alt-right”-affiliated blog The Gateway Pundit, which wrote that the revelations showed that Mueller is “in bed” with McCabe and Comey, that the three are working to “undermine” Trump, and that McCabe is the “real treat” of this “swamp fiasco.” Though The Gateway Pundit regularly pushes false stories, Fox News and Trump have regularly cited its content, the White House has given its correspondent press credentials, and the site is currently trying to get congressional press credentials. The Gateway Pundit’s McCabe article has received at least 6,200 Facebook engagements, according to BuzzSumo.

    Thanks to the Gateway Pundit article, fake news purveyors then spread this dubious claim. Before It’s News wrote that the report meant “FBI directors past and present apparently have it in for” Trump, and The Political Insider said that it showed “the deep state is preparing for war.” Mad World News and Washington Feed wrote that McCabe was “execut[ing]” Comey’s “treacherous” “backup plan” and that Trump needs to “get rid of” these “deep state hacks.” Freedom Daily called the report a “bombshell” that showed a “treasonous plot” that “shady” McCabe was “execut[ing]," and that Trump needed to “act quickly” to “get rid of” him. The Political Insider, Mad World News, and Freedom Daily articles have received at least 2,000, 1,600, and 5,500 Facebook engagements, respectively, according to BuzzSumo.

    The “alt-right”/fake news ecosystem pushing this dubious new charge has essentially been a propaganda machine for Trump, and the network continues to target Comey and Mueller as they become potential threats to the president. Mueller is leading the investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign in the 2016 election, and Comey has testified that he believes Trump fired him due to the probe. The new claim also comes as Trump tweeted that he is “being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director” and that he is the target of a “witch hunt.”

  • Why Did The New York Times Call The Daily Caller “Moderate”?

    Blog ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

    The New York Times described The Daily Caller, the right-wing website run by Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, as “relatively moderate.” If The New York Times believes The Daily Caller to be “relatively moderate,” anti-Semitic, sexist, racist, anti-LGBT commentary must be what passes for moderation in the right-wing media sphere these days.

    In a report on the future of Fox’s prime-time lineup, the Times noted that Carlson will take over the 7 p.m. slot once held by Greta Van Susteren’s On The Record. The article labeled Carlson’s website The Daily Caller “a provocative, if relatively moderate, right-leaning website”:

    As Fox faces competition from scrappier rivals like Breitbart News, Mr. Carlson, 47, is in some ways a throwback to a more genteel era of conservatism. Preppy and jovial, Mr. Carlson founded The Daily Caller, a provocative, if relatively moderate, right-leaning website, and he has often evinced a mischievous streak; in 2006, he agreed to be a contestant on “Dancing With the Stars,” although he was eliminated in the first round.

    Carlson has, both in print and on air, regularly promoted a conservative brand of commentary laced with misogyny, misinformation, and factually inaccurate attacks, which The Daily Caller has reflected.

    The Daily Caller once published a piece with a headline so offensive (“Kill All The Jews And When That Is Done Kill Those That Refused To Defend Them”) that Carlson had to blame it on the editor being “hungover” before updating the article with a different headline. This anti-Semitic offense was not an unusual move for the Caller, which has repeatedly quoted a Holocaust denier

    One would need to go back only a couple of weeks to find the Caller rewriting a heart-wrenching op-ed about a woman’s decision to terminate a wanted pregnancy after 20 weeks, when she discovered that the developing fetus “was missing half his heart” and “very unlikely [to] survive delivery.” The Caller “edited” it with stigmatizing language to shame the woman for receiving necessary medical care. In one part, it “revised” the woman’s statement about the “well of [her] grief” over the termination to read (emphasis original): “I wanted him to know [before I killed him] how important he was to me, that the well of my grief and love for him would stretch deeper and deeper into the vastness of our family’s small yet limitless life.”

    The Daily Caller captioned a video of American Indian Movement protesters hit by a car, “White man overruns indigenous peoples with superior technology” (since changed). It referred to Obama as “wife beater” in another headline because his sleeveless undershirt was visible through his white dress shirt. It published an op-ed praising Russia’s extreme anti-LGBT “gay propaganda” laws, which were condemned by human rights experts for violating international human rights law and essentially criminalizing homosexuality. And the outlet promoted a hoax birther story that former Democratic Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie said there was “absolutely no proof at all that [Barack Obama] was born in Hawaii.” Abercrombie did not make those comments.

    In 2014, former Daily Caller reporter Patrick Howley launched a series of sexist attacks about “pumping” BuzzFeed’s Rosie Gray, for which Carlson had to publicly apologize. The Caller also baselessly claimed that former Miss Universe Alicia Machado was a “porn star campaign[ing] for Hillary Clinton,” even though Machado has never appeared in porn.

    The Daily Caller throws climate change denial into its mix of “relatively moderate” coverage (the polar bears are “doing just fine”) and tops it off with an opinion page ripe with conspiracy theories (Is the government planning “to kill 174,000 of the nation’s military and replace them with Department of Homeland Security … forces loyal to the Administration?”). If this is what is considered moderate in right-wing media today, there may be too few lines left to cross.

  • The Daily Caller Relies On Holocaust Denier To Smear President Clinton

    By Own Standards, Daily Caller Promoted A Holocaust Denier

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    A Daily Caller smear is falling apart after the conservative outlet relied on the word of a Holocaust denier and con artist to accuse President Bill Clinton of having "once praised" him in a letter of commendation. The Daily Caller published that allegation without presenting any evidence they actually saw Clinton's supposed letter of commendation.

    The person in question, David Cole, has since said he fabricated his Clinton commendation, and he wrote a year ago that he falsified significant portions of his biography. Despite Cole's long history of hoaxes and being "pathologically duplicitous," the conservative publication still relied on his claim to attack Clinton.

    Cole is a Holocaust denier and serial liar. He appeared in the media in the 1990s questioning various aspects of the Holocaust. In an attempt to make money, Cole then changed his identity to "David Stein" and began producing, according to The Guardian, "respectable, conventional Holocaust documentaries" under the banner of Nistarim/The Tinbergen Archives. He also "started writing op-eds under Stein and other pseudonyms, expressing what he said was his growing fervour for a hawkish foreign policy, a strong Israel and conservative social policy." 

    The Guardian exposed his duplicity in a May 2013 piece and noted that despite his attempted conversion to respectability, "Cole today still challenges established Holocaust scholarship, including the certainty about Nazi gas chambers." Simon Wiesenthal Center associate dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper said of Cole, who is Jewish: "I'm very disappointed that someone who abused his Jewishness to get his five minutes of notoriety still stands by his lies. It's disgusting and puts him in the camp of bigotry."

    The paper added that Cole's former friends and acquaintances "called him pathologically duplicitous, alleging he padded his film resume on the IMDb database with fictitious entries." Cole/Stein's IMDb biography claims he received a commendation "for his work from President Bill Clinton." 

    According to a ZoomInfo.com cache of his former production company's website, Cole/Stein further claimed "Bill Clinton recognized David's film Nuremberg with a special commendation that read, 'It is with great pride that I recognize David Stein and his organization, the Tinbergen Archives, for their part in keeping the memory and the lessons of the Holocaust from ever being forgotten. By discovering the documentary film Nuremberg, they have done the world a great service.'"

    Cole's deception extends into other areas during his time as a documentarian. In a January 2014 post on his website, Cole brags about tricking people with his alias "Cal Tinbergen," who was purportedly the president of "the Tinbergen Archives." "Tinbergen," who was named after a character from a Roger Corman sci-fi movie, became a collaborator on several of Cole/Stein's projects and even placed an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times. Cole wrote in January 2014 that "there is no 'Tinbergen Archives.'"  

    Yet the Daily Caller picked up the ZoomInfo.com claim that President Clinton praised Stein and the Tinbergen Archives, despite numerous red flags, including Cole's publicly available admission that the Tinbergen Archives doesn't exist.

  • Conservative Media Try To Undercut Shaheen Campaign With Last-Minute Conspiracy-Mongering

    Blog ››› ››› ELLIE SANDMEYER

    Right-wing media are disingenuously claiming Democratic incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen's (NH) widely-publicized support of basic campaign finance rules is "bombshell" evidence that she urged the "targeting" of conservatives.

    Just hours before election day, the Daily Caller released a report alleging that Shaheen was "principally involved in a plot with Lois Lerner and President Barack Obama's political appointee at the IRS to lead a program of harassment against conservative nonprofit groups during the 2012 election." As evidence, it pointed to the fact that Shaheen had corresponded with the IRS lawyer William J. Wilkins about decades-old campaign finance regulations.

    The Daily Caller added that a "major conservative super PAC" included Shaheen's name in a Freedom of Information Act request pertaining to the IRS. "If YOUR NAME is the search term that the conservative super PAC uses in its bid to get public information," writes Patrick Howley, "then you just might be involved in something."

    Other right-wing media sources rapidly seized on the opportunity to attack Shaheen. Fox News, which has relentlessly promoted the campaign of her challenger, former Fox News employee Scott Brown, trumpeted the claim as "a death sentence" for Shaheen's Senate hopes.

    But the Daily Caller's piece does not demonstrate a scandal of any kind and appears only to be repackaging already-reported information about a benign exchange of letters between several Democratic senators and IRS attorneys.

    It's no secret that Senate Democrats asked the IRS to clearly define how much money 501(c)4 nonprofits, which gain tax exemption as "social welfare" organizations, are allowed to spend on election-related activities. In 2012, Democratic Senators, including Shaheen, released a letter publicly requesting that the IRS offer more specific "administrative guidance" on campaign finance restrictions for nonprofit groups. The request received media attention at the time, and IRS lawyer William J. Wilkins responded to Shaheen and others with a letter describing existing campaign finance rules:

    "These regulations have been in place since 1959," Wilkins wrote. "We will consider proposed changes in this area as we work with Tax-Exempt and Government Entities and the Treasury Department's Office of Tax Policy to identify tax issues that should be addressed" in designing new regulations and "guidance."

    "I hope this information is helpful," Wilkins wrote. "I am sending a similar response to your colleagues. If you have questions, please contact me or have your staff contact Cathy Barre at (202) 622-3720."

    Right-wing media have repeatedly used unfounded conspiracy theories to prop up the IRS "scandal" after the allegations that the IRS solely investigated conservative groups' campaign spending began to crumble. Meanwhile, the political influence of money spent by outside groups has soared to record levels in the 2014 election cycle.

  • Daily Caller Defends Racist, Transphobic Writer Against "Politically Correct Hysteria"

    Blog ››› ››› LUKE BRINKER

    The Daily Caller defended a commentator who used the words "fag" and "trannies" in a post assailing the transgender community, blaming "politically correct" mobs for allegedly getting the post censored.

    On August 12, Vice magazine co-founder Gavin McInnes published a profanity-laden post on Thought Catalog titled "Transphobia Is Perfectly Natural." In the post, McInnes argued that transgender people are just "mentally ill gays," calling them "nuts trapped in a crazy person's body":

    We're all transphobic. We aren't blind. We see there are no old trannies. They die of drug overdoses and suicide way before they're 40 and nobody notices because nobody knows them. They are mentally ill gays who need help, and that help doesn't include being maimed by physicians. These aren't women trapped in a man's body. They are nuts trapped in a crazy person's body. I see them on the streets of New York. They are guys with tits and a sweatshirt. They wear jeans and New Balance. "What's the matter with simply being a fag who wears makeup?" I think when I see them. You're not a woman. You're a tomboy at best.

    [...]

    By pretending this is all perfectly sane, you are enabling these poor bastards to mutilate themselves. 

    The post generated a significant backlash, with scores of writers demanding that their work be removed from Thought Catalog. Within a week of the post's publication, McInnes was placed on "indefinite leave" from his position as chief creative officer of the ad agency Rooster.

    In a September 2 article, Daily Caller reporter Patrick Howley called the criticism of McInnes' post evidence of a "politically correct hysteria" engulfing the country. Howley also interviewed McInnes, offering him a platform to denounce the "culture of psychotic harassment" that he alleged was persecuting him:

    Writer, commentator and Vice magazine co-founder Gavin McInnes said that politically correct hysteria like the kind that recently cost him his job is similar to the mafia.

    "It's a real quandary people who write have to face right now," McInnes told The Daily Caller. "Am I going to speak freely or am I going to hide?"

    [...]

    McInnes, who was in Georgia shooting a movie at the time of the scandal, is not too concerned about his livelihood. But he bemoaned the plight of young writers starting out in an industry that you'd think would appreciate candor, and instead punishes it in storms of faux-moralistic activism.

    McInnes is one of the few writers in America today willing to expose the mechanics of our P.C. outrage culture, and to deflate the idea that pro-censorship Internet hordes are doing anything righteous. Will mine be the first generation in history to gauge intellectual success as a measure not of challenging taboos, but rather of maniacally defending them? [emphasis added]

  • Meet Patrick Howley: The Daily Caller's Resident Sexist

    Blog ››› ››› HANNAH GROCH-BEGLEY

    Patrick Howley

    Daily Caller Editor-in-Chief Tucker Carlson has apologized for reporter Patrick Howley's sexist and inappropriate comments about Buzzfeed's Rosie Gray, but Howley has a history of pushing misogynistic rhetoric at Carlson's outlet.

    On March 19, Howley sparked backlash for tweeting "Not to make an obvious point, but who the Hell would want to pump Rosie Gray?" and "'Pumping' @RosieGray must be the most traumatic experience since Somalia," in response to a blog post which had pushed the sexist and crude suggestion that Gray got her Buzzfeed stories through a sexual relationship with another reporter. Howley and Carlson, his Daily Caller boss, subsequently apologized to Gray for the tweets, and Howley has deleted his entire twitter account.

    Patrick Howley Tweets About Rosie Gray

    Howley's comments were disgusting. But they were not terribly surprising -- he has previously dismissed rape culture, tweeting it "has nothing to do with rape. It's a smear for the sports, beer culture that libs hate," and his writing for the Caller has included inappropriate and demeaning attacks on women.