Stephen Moore | Media Matters for America

Stephen Moore

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  • Stephen Moore previously attacked the GOP senators he now needs for his Fed bid

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI



    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Stephen Moore, President Donald Trump’s pick for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board, spent years attacking Republicans for purportedly being insufficiently Republican. Moore now needs the support of some of those same Republicans in the Senate if his bid is going to succeed.

    Moore is a longtime Republican commentator and Trump economic adviser with problematic views on women and economics. Moore's bid is reportedly in trouble because of a host of issues, including his past commentary. 

    He has also worked with several right-wing organizations, including co-founding the Club for Growth in 1999. The group was started to “help elect candidates who support the Reagan vision of limited government and lower taxes” and oppose Republicans who “vote like Democrats.” Club for Growth booted Moore in late 2004, and it eventually paid the Federal Election Commission a $350,000 penalty “for its failures to register as a political committee during each of the national elections during Mr. Moore’s tenure as president,” as The Wall Street Journal noted.

    During his career as a pundit, Moore has frequently attacked Republicans for supposedly being insufficiently loyal to the party. He said Utah’s Mitt Romney is a “traitor” who has “no voice left in the Republican Party” because of his past criticism of Trump. He attacked Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski for purportedly supporting “anti-growth” policies as a politician. He labeled Maine’s Susan Collins a “dinosaur” who was waging a “last stand at the Alamo” over a tax bill. He called West Virginia’s Shelley Moore Capito a “Republican In Name Only” for her vote on a Department of Labor bill that wasn’t supported by then-President George W. Bush. And he declined to support “career politician” Johnny Isakson in a Republican primary in Georgia because of his “worse-than-average” voting record.  

    Mitt Romney (Utah)

    During a December 6, 2016, appearance on the conservative radio program Rose Unplugged, Moore criticized Romney, who at the time was in consideration for secretary of state:

    STEPHEN MOORE: I’m a “never Romney” guy. Never Romney. Never, never, never Romney. Mitt Romney cannot be the secretary of state, his behavior was despicable throughout this campaign. And look, if he had an ounce of dignity, if he really believes the things that he said about Donald Trump. This man has no dignity. Why would he even entertain the offer of -- you know, come on -- you know, you’re bigger than that. You bet on the wrong horse and you go -- you ride off in the sunshine because nobody really cares about you anymore. You have no constituency; you have no voice left in the Republican Party. Good riddance. I feel strongly about this. I really do. I think it would be a betrayal of people like you and me if he picked somebody like -- turncoat like Mitt Romney.

    Moore himself was a Trump critic before joining his campaign.

    During a November 28, 2016, interview with WLS-AM’s Big John and Ramblin' Ray, Moore said: “I cannot stand the idea of Mitt Romney being in this Cabinet.” He added that Romney was a “traitor.”

    Susan Collins (Maine)

    CBS News reported in a June 2004 article that Moore referred to Susan Collins, among others, as a “dinosaur” while talking about the political debate over Bush’s tax plan:

    The Republican Party has changed. It was once dominated by a strict adherence to cutting revenues only if spending was decreased proportionally. Since President Ronald Reagan, however, it has become a party that believes tax cuts benefit the economy even at the cost of a ballooning deficit.

    President Bush's dedication to cutting taxes is so fervent, that even with the drastic spending increases of wartime he refused to compromise in the slightest on tax cuts.

    "These four Republicans are the last dying gasp of dinosaur northeastern Republicans," Moore says. "This is their last stand at the Alamo."

    Besides Chafee, the other three Republican senators opposed to the Bush tax cuts are Maine's Susan Collins and Olympia J. Snowe, and John McCain of Arizona.

    Lisa Murkowski (Alaska)

    A June 11, 2004, article in the Anchorage Daily News reported that Moore said he liked then-Republican Senate primary candidate Mike Miller better than Murkowski because she voted for “a bill that expanded the Medicare program, which he thinks is too expensive, and believes she supported ‘anti-growth" policies when she was in the Alaska Legislature.” (Miller lost the primary to Murkowski.)

    Stephen Moore, president of Club for Growth, said he likes Miller's politics but can't invest in him if his campaign is "hopeless."

    "We basically agreed that he's certainly better than Lisa Murkowski," Moore said. Moore doesn't like her vote for a bill that expanded the Medicare program, which he thinks is too expensive, and believes she supported "anti-growth" policies when she was in the Alaska Legislature.

    "Our reservation is whether or not (Miller) has any chance of beating her, the viability issue," Moore said. "We said we'd wait until we saw some polling."

    So far, Alaska public-opinion surveys show Murkowski has an enormous lead over Miller.

    Shelley Moore Capito (West Virginia)

    Moore’s Club for Growth put then-West Virginia Rep. Capito’s name in its “Republicans In Name Only” list after she and other Republicans voted on a measure regarding Department of Labor rules on overtime pay in 2003. The group wrote that the now-West Virginia senator was one of “the Republicans In Name Only who voted against the efforts to modernize these complicated regulations.”

    Johnny Isakson (Georgia)

    Politico reported on April 17 that Moore backed Herman Cain over then-Rep. Johnny Isakson in a 2003 Republican Senate primary, calling Isakson's voting record “worse-than-average” and labeling him a “career politician”:

    “The Democrats don’t have any blacks in the Senate. We, as Republicans, could. A black, free-market senator from the South would be rich with irony,” Moore told the National Review, referring to Cain, in 2003. After endorsing Cain, he dinged Isakson for losing out: “Cain beat out Congressmen Johnny Isakson and Mac Collins for this very significant endorsement.”

    Moore also tore into Isakson in a 2004 statement backing Cain, calling Isakson’s voting record “worse-than-average,” dubbing him a “career politician” and vowing to support Collins or Cain over him, according to a Club press release posted on a conservative website.

    Republicans said Isakson was cool to Cain’s nomination, though Isakson personally declined to criticize Cain in an interview last week. His office on Wednesday declined to comment on Moore’s support of Cain in the 2004 primary.

  • Stephen Moore defended slave owner Robert E. Lee, wrongly claiming that “Lee hated slavery"

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Shortly after the deadly August 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, VA, Stephen Moore went on CNN and defended the honor of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, claiming that he “hated slavery. He abhorred slavery, but he fought for his section of the country.” After his remarks resurfaced today, historians and reporters criticized Moore for his historical revisionism.

    President Donald Trump recently picked Moore for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board. Moore is a right-wing commentator who has objectionable views on women and the economy.

    Moore previously worked as a commentator for CNN and appeared on the August 17, 2017, edition of CNN Newsroom, shortly after the violent Unite the Right rally in which white supremacists claimed to march against the removal of Lee’s statue in Charlottesville, VA. On August 12, 2017, neo-Nazi James A. Fields Jr. killed anti-racism activist Heather Heyer with his car during the protest.

    During that CNN appearance, Moore defended the legacy and reputation of the Confederate leader, stating that “Robert E. Lee hated slavery. He abhorred slavery, but he fought for his section of the country.” He added that “the Civil War was about the South having its own rights,” and slavery “was a big part of it, but it wasn't only that.”

    CNN anchor John Berman told Moore during the exchange: “I can't let it slide. Robert E. Lee held slaves. He ordered the beating of slaves. He ordered the return of fugitive slaves and he fought for the dissolution of the Union to maintain slavery.”

    After his comments were resurfaced by Media Matters, reporters and academics criticized Moore’s historical revisionism.

    Princeton University historian Kevin M. Kruse tweeted, “Robert E. Lee owned slaves and brutalized them. Lee led an armed revolt against the United States to preserve and expand slavery. And during that armed revolt, Lee's army captured free blacks in the North and enslaved them.”

    Washington Post reporter Michael Scherer wrote: “Gen. Lee wrote that he believed ‘the relation of master and slave, controlled by humane laws and influenced by Christianity and an enlightened public sentiment [was] the best that can exist between the white and black races…’”

    Economist Washington correspondent Jon Fasman wrote: “Moore's assertion is a) manifestly untrue, and b) no excuse for treason.”

    Cornell University historian Lawrence Glickman wrote: “Stephen Moore proves that he's just as good a historian as he is as an economist.”

    Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery tweeted about the exchange, writing that Moore mischaracterized what the Post reporter said during a previous segment that also discussed Charlottesville. Lowery wrote that Moore claimed he had argued that “Robert E. Lee and all confederate soldiers were terrorists,” while what he actually argued was that “Lee fought for a treasonous cause and committed acts of brutal racial violence - not someone who should be honored w/public monuments.” He also tweeted: “The historical record is clear, though, Robert E. Lee was a traitor and brutal slave owner.”

  • Stephen Moore's hatred of climate science inspired him to attack Ivanka Trump

    Moore: Ivanka Trump “grew up in Manhattan … Think about who all of Ivanka’s friends are: They’re Manhattan liberals”

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Stephen Moore, President Donald Trump’s pick for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board, hates support for climate change science so much that he previously attacked Ivanka Trump as an elitist who’s friends with “Manhattan liberals” for her supposed (but ineffectual) support for action on climate change.

    Moore is a right-wing commentator who has come under fire for his views on women and the economy. He previously worked as a contributor to CNN and Fox News; Moore repeatedly told audiences that Fox News’ motto is “fair, balanced, and blonde” and that he enjoyed working there because he “met a lot of beautiful women.”

    Moore has also frequently made incendiary and inaccurate comments about climate science, including claiming that:

    • Global warming is the greatest scam of the last 100 years; these people are fanatics.”
    • The effort to combat climate change is “one of the greatest propaganda campaigns in world history.”  
    • Scientists are lying about climate change to get “really, really, really rich,” and they “have a vested financial interest in talking about armageddon and these kinds of things.”
    • Environmentalists “are young Stalinists. I can’t go on college campuses today to even question their religion of global warming – and it is a religion, by the way.”
    • Fracking is "like the equivalent in health care of a cure for cancer."

    On June 1, 2017, President Trump announced that the United States would leave the Paris climate accord, which aims to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. Prior to the decision, media outlets reported that Ivanka Trump preferred that the country stay in the agreement. (Regardless of her reported views, she works for the White House as an adviser and the administration has heavily rolled back environmental protections; and she defends the administration and its anti-science policies, including retweeting the White House’s claim that “the Trump Administration has been an active and meaningful driver for science and technology policy in America.”)

    In a June 1, 2017, radio segment shortly before the announcement, radio host Rose Tennent brought up Ivanka Trump’s reported attempt to influence the president’s Paris accord decision and told Moore that while she loves the Trumps, she “didn’t vote for” her and her husband Jared Kushner. Moore responded by stating that he has “nothing but respect for them” and believes they’re “brilliant,” “hard-working,” and “impressive,” but then trashed Ivanka as out-of-touch.

    “Where did they grow up? They grew up in Manhattan,” Moore said. “You know? I mean, they have a different view of the world. Right? I mean, think about who all of Ivanka’s friends are: They’re Manhattan liberals.”

    He added: “They don’t know steel workers, they don’t know coal miners, they don’t know people who are welders and pipefitters.”

    ROSE TENNENT (HOST): One of the things though I was reading yesterday, when some of the people around him -- for example, his daughter who is very influential, she doesn’t want him to leave.

    STEPHEN MOORE: No, she doesn’t.

    TENNENT: And, yeah, and see, this is this one of my concerns. Steve, I’m going to be honest with you, and I love the Trumps. I mean I’ve interviewed every one of them. My favorite is Eric, I think he’s just amazing. You know I love them. But I don’t necessarily -- I didn’t necessarily vote to have Ivanka and her husband in the White House and having that great of an influence over Donald Trump. I love that they can -- that he has somebody to lean on and trust and count on. But I just didn’t want that input because I didn’t vote for them. I would never vote for Kushner. You know what I mean?

    MOORE: Well, I got to know Jared and Ivanka as well on the campaign trail. And, by the way, I have nothing but respect for them.

    TENNENT: Absolutely.

    MOORE: They’re brilliant people and they are so hard-working --

    TENNENT: Lovely.

    MOORE: -- and so impressive in every way. But look. Where did they grow up? They grew up in Manhattan. You know? I mean, they have a different view of the world. Right? I mean, think about who all of Ivanka’s friends are: They’re Manhattan liberals. And, you know, so, I think her attitude about this has been colored by the fact that she’s hanging out with people. They don’t -- the people that, you know, grew up in Manhattan, they don’t know steel workers, they don’t know coal miners, they don’t know people who are welders and pipefitters. And those -- again, I go back to the point that it’s working-class Americans who are going to pay the price for this if we go forward.

    While Moore suggested he’s a champion of “working-class” non-Manhattanites, in 2014, he called Cincinnati and Cleveland some of the "armpits of America."

  • Stephen Moore repeatedly said he liked working at Fox News because he met "a lot of beautiful women" there

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Stephen Moore, President Donald Trump’s pick for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board, frequently told audiences that Fox News’ motto is “fair, balanced, and blonde” and that he enjoyed working there because he “met a lot of beautiful women.”

    Moore has come under fire in recent days for his sexist commentary about women. CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski and Paul LeBlanc reported that he “has written that women should be banned from refereeing, announcing or beer vending at men's college basketball games, asking if there was any area in life ‘where men can take vacation from women.’”

    Moore also said during an October 2017 appearance on CNN that he got “very good advice” from a CEO who told him to “never have a meeting with a woman without someone else in the room” because women have reported sexual harassment against people in a “position of power” like Bill O’Reilly and Trump.

    Moore worked as a Fox News contributor from 2013 to early 2017, when he left the right-wing network for CNN (after Trump's Fed announcement, CNN removed him as a commentator). He also frequently appeared on Fox News as a guest before becoming an official commentator. Fox News’ workplace culture has been toxic for years, especially for women.

    One of the staples of his speeches to organizations was touting how he's met “beautiful women” at Fox News, calling it one of his employment’s “fringe benefits” and saying it makes Fox News a “fun” and “great” place to work. Here are five examples:

    • During a May 10, 2012, speech for the Freedom Foundation, Moore said: “It’s great to be working with Fox News. You know their motto, by the way? Fair, balanced, and blonde, right? I’ve met a lot of beautiful women at Fox News, including Megyn Kelly, who I have to confess -- my wife isn’t here -- I’m in love with Megyn Kelly.”
    • During an October 18, 2012, speech at the Kansas Policy Institute, Moore said: “You know the theme of Fox News, right? Fair, balanced, and blonde. I’ve met so many, you know, beautiful women at Fox and it’s a lot of fun to work there.”
    • During a November 15, 2012, speech for the Citizens' Council for Health Freedom, Moore said: “People are always asking me, ‘What’s Greta [Van Susteren] really like?’ And I say, ‘Greta is absolutely perfect for Fox News. She’s fair, balanced, and blonde.’ And that is the philosophy of Fox News. ... One of the great things about working at Fox News: I have met a lot of beautiful women at Fox News. It’s a great place to work.” The Washington Post first reported on that remark.
    • During an August 7, 2013, speech for the American Legislative Exchange Council, Moore said: “My night job is working at Fox. You all know the theme of Fox News? Fair, balanced, and blonde. I’ve met a lot of beautiful women at Fox News.”  
    • During a November 21, 2013, speech at Brown University, Moore said: “By the way, for those of you who do watch Fox News, you all know the motto for Fox News, right, John? It’s Fox News: fair, balanced, and blonde. I’ve met a lot of beautiful women at Fox News and it’s one of the fringe benefits of working there.”
  • Eight times that Trump Fed pick Stephen Moore has endorsed some version of the gold standard

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Right-wing economist Stephen Moore has frequently recommended that the United States return to some version of the gold standard, saying that he loves the idea and that former President Richard Nixon’s decision to drop the monetary system in the 1970s was probably an impeachable offense. Now that President Donald Trump has picked him for a seat on the Federal Reserve, Moore has claimed he’s “not in favor of a gold standard” and has “never actually been a gold standard guy.”

    Moore, a longtime commentator who most recently worked for CNN, has a long history of pushing partisan and false economic propaganda. He worked for Trump’s 2016 campaign and co-authored the book Trumponomics: Inside the America First Plan to Revive Our Economy.

    CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski and Paul LeBlanc recently reported that “Moore advocated for eliminating the corporate and federal income taxes entirely, calling the 16th Amendment that created the income tax the ‘most evil’ law passed in the 20th century.” He also “repeatedly said he believed capitalism was more important than democracy,” attacked Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell as “one of Trump's ‘worst appointments,’” and “called for firing hundreds of employees at the Federal Reserve Board,” calling them “‘worthless’ economists,” they wrote.

    Moore has also frequently endorsed the idea of the country returning to the gold standard, which would tie the United States’ currency to the value of gold. Washington Post reporter Matt O’Brien explained why such as a policy would be a “disaster”:

    So the gold standard is a lot like playing Russian roulette with the economy. It can turn recoveries into recessions, and prevent recessions from turning into recoveries just because the price of gold “wants” to go up at an inopportune moment, and we have to raise rates when everything else would tell us not to. But wait: It gets worse. This isn’t just about forcing governments to adopt bad monetary policies. It’s about stopping them from enacting good fiscal policies, too. Countries on the gold standard can’t run big deficits without markets wondering how committed they are to it — at which point, they would need to raise rates to reassure them. So even thinking about expansionary policy would require to them to impose even more contractionary policy. This isn’t a hypothetical, but rather a history of what happened in the 1930s.

    Now that he’s potentially moving from the pundit world into a job requiring Senate confirmation, Moore has been trying to hide his past support for the gold standard.

    During the April 11 edition of CNN’s Erin Burnett OutFront, Moore blatantly lied by claiming: “I don’t think I’ve ever really said anything much about the gold -- I’m not in favor of a gold standard, I am in favor of using commodities as a forward-looking indicator for where prices are.” Burnett then played three clips of him endorsing a gold standard. Moore responded: “I think that a gold standard would certainly be better than we have right now, but I think there’s a much better system that we could put in place, which would not just look at gold, but all commodities.”

    Moore also said during a March 22 appearance on Bloomberg that he’s “never actually been a gold standard guy. I’m open-minded to it.”

    Here are eight examples of Moore endorsing some version of the gold standard over the years, including the three instances CNN aired:

    “I didn't believe in this before. We need to go back to a gold standard. We really do.” [Washington Policy Center, 3/9/09]

    “How many of you are aware that Richard Nixon was the president who took America off the gold standard? In 1971, the U.S. went off the gold standard. I always said that Richard Nixon was impeached for all the wrong reasons. He should have probably been impeached for taking America off the gold standard. … I’m kind of a convert to this idea. I really think we have to go back to some kind of monetary system where we have an anchor of gold. And we’ve lost that. And so I actually have come around to the idea that I think we have to re-establish some kind of gold standard in America so the dollar retains its value.” [BBT Economics, video posted online on September 2010]

    “I don't know if I'm for a hard gold standard like we had, but I do think we have to peg the dollar to gold, because what we've seen in the last 10 years is a 30 -- about 30 percent decline in the value of the dollar, and I believe, Judge, that the number one factor behind the slowdown in this U.S. economy has been the decline in the dollar. Let's make the dollar as good as gold again. That's what the Gipper said, right? Make the dollar as good as gold.” [Fox Business, Freedom Watch, 6/21/11]

    ROBERT REICH (professor and former labor secretary): “You want to go on the gold standard?”

    STEPHEN MOORE: “Yes, I do. … I want hard money, sound money!” [CNBC, The Kudlow Report, 1/11/12]

    "We have got to get rid of the Federal Reserve and move towards a gold standard in this country!" [FreedomWorks, 9/12/15, via CNN.com]

    “We need sound money. Why don’t we audit the Fed and see what these people are doing at the Federal Reserve, they’re ruining our country. And why don't we go back to a gold standard in America? Let's make our currency as good as gold again!” [FreePAC, 3/12/16]

    "We should go back to some kind of gold standard, where -- I want to take discretion away from the Fed. We don't want the Fed to be making all these decisions. … We should, I believe, we should go back to some kind of gold, maybe not a gold standard, but have the dollar be as good as gold, so that the price of the dollar is relative to what it is in gold and take the discretion away from the politicians, and if you do that, I do think you’re going to see a stable currency." [Young America’s Foundation, 9/23/16]

    “I like the idea of going to a gold standard and restoring, you know, value to our currency. … [Conservative publisher] Steve [Forbes] has a new book out on the gold standard, so I love that idea.” [Turning Point USA, 12/17/16]

  • Trump is naming the nation’s worst economist to the Federal Reserve

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    I don’t have a degree in economics, but I do know that Stephen Moore -- announced today as President Donald Trump’s pick to fill a seat on the Federal Reserve Board -- is an odious hack.

    Moore, of late a CNN senior economic analyst and Heritage Foundation apparatchik, has spent his career using lofty platforms at media outlets and right-wing think tanks to promote whatever the Republican Party’s line of the day might be on economic policy issues. He is the latest in a long line of TV news pundits to catch the president’s eye and garner a nomination to a powerful federal post.

    Trump’s claim that Moore is “very respected” is, as is typical for this president, a lie. Moore is widely known for being sloppy and dishonest, the kind of shill who spurs a newspaper to promise not to publish his work anymore after needing to append a lengthy correction to one of his op-eds.

    Moore is also a pure partisan, with his economic opinions following from what benefits his party. When Barack Obama was in the White House, that meant calling for tight monetary policy even though that would hurt economic growth; with Trump in the White House, it has meant fervent demands for loose monetary policy, which he says would improve economic growth.

    But for Trump, Moore’s biggest flaw is a feature, not a bug.

    You can count on Moore to support the Fed taking all available actions to keep the economy booming in order to help Trump get re-elected. And in the event that Trump loses and a Democrat takes the White House, you can expect him to immediately turn on the dime and claim that the economy needs to be slowed down to prevent inflation. Economic indicators will mean nothing to Moore; only raw political power will matter to him.

    Let us not forget CNN’s role in this farce. The news network whose tagline is “Facts First” thought Moore’s partisan commentary was so valuable that the network lured him away from his Fox News post after Trump’s election. Moore’s reputation as a hack had been cemented long before CNN hired him, and the network didn’t care.

    This is par for the course for CNN and its president, Jeff Zucker, who were so enamored of providing on-air “balance” that they hired a team of pro-Trump shills and grifters to fill the network’s green rooms. Rather than providing its viewers with information, CNN has preferred pugilistic battles, letting presidential propagandists duke it out with more credible voices.

    And now the president has plucked one of those gladiators from the ring and wants to put him on the Fed’s board.

  • CNN and Fox News contributors are appearing in numerous Trump campaign videos

    In campaign video, Lara Trump thanked CNN commentator for “fighting for the president”

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign has been producing news-style videos featuring numerous media figures, including commentators for CNN and Fox News.

    The president’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump has been hosting the video series “Real News,” which includes guest interviews and campaign propaganda. The videos, which are posted on the president's Facebook page and carry “paid for by Donald J. Trump for president” disclaimers, ask viewers to sign up for mobile alerts from the campaign, a list-building activity that the 2020 campaign can use to raise money and organize get-out-the vote activities.

    The Hollywood Reporter’s Jeremy Barr reported on March 19 that conservative commentators and sisters Diamond and Silk appeared in a recent video with Lara Trump. Fox News attempted to distance itself from the campaign video by stating that Diamond and Silk “license short weekly videos to Fox Nation – they are not Fox News contributors or employees. When they appear on FNC and FBN, they do so as guests." That explanation contradicts Fox News’ own identifications of the two as “Fox News Channel contributors,” “Fox Nation contributors,” and “Fox Nation hosts.”  

    Regardless of Diamond and Silk’s employment classification, several Fox News contributors have appeared in Trump campaign videos with Lara Trump. They include Deneen Borelli, Alveda King, David Bossie, and Mike Huckabee.

    CNN analysts have also appeared in Trump campaign videos despite the president’s frequent trashing of the network as “fake news.”


    CNN's David Urban and Stephen Moore with Lara Trump. 

    David Urban is a CNN commentator who previously worked as a paid consultant for Trump’s 2016 campaign. During a March Trump video appearance, the campaign identified him as the president of American Continental Group, a major lobbying firm that lobbies the Trump administration and Congress on a variety of issues. (Urban has used his CNN gig to specifically push a lobbying client and its interests without disclosing the connection to viewers.)

    In that video, which did not mention his CNN role, Urban spoke like a Trump surrogate. The Republican commentator, who directed Trump's 2016 operation in Pennyslvania, said that “Pennsylvania is always a tough state to win. I predict, I'll say it here again, I think we’re going to win in 2020. It’s going to be close, but we’re going to win, the president’s going to put the time in; you know, we’re going to work hard and we’re going to win. I have no doubt that he will win in 2020 in Pennsylvania." He also lied about the Green New Deal, claiming that “you’re not going to have a car; forget, you know, no cows ever again.” (Urban’s firm does lobbying work on behalf of oil and gas interests.)

    At the conclusion of the video, Lara Trump thanked Urban for “the job you do every single day out there fighting for the president. You really do an incredible job, and we are so lucky to have you.” Urban responded by saying that he loves President Trump and relayed that people tell him, “You may not hear it on the mainstream media, but we really like” the president. Urban also appeared in a June 2018 video and touted Trump ahead of the then-upcoming midterm elections.

    Stephen Moore is a senior economics analyst for CNN who advises Trump (during a recent appearance, CNN described Moore as “an informal White House adviser”). He has made several appearances on Trump’s video program and promoted Trump’s economic message.

    Other media commentators who have appeared in the Trump campaign’s videos include Fox 5 DC host, Daily Caller video columnist, and Pizzagate conspiracy theorist Stephanie Hamill; Talking Point USA’s Candace Owens; conservative troll Dinesh D’Souza; and Trump sycophant Bill Mitchell.

  • The 15 most ridiculous things media said about climate change in 2018

    Blog ››› ››› TED MACDONALD


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    1. Fox host Lou Dobbs says that climate change is a UN plot “to take over the world”

    On the December 4 episode of Lou Dobbs Tonight, Fox Business host Lou Dobbs claimed that the United Nations would “like to take over the world” and it see[s] the perfect opportunity in global warming.” Dobbs then said, “There is great, great debate over whether there is that quote-unquote 'warming'" -- a claim that is, of course, objectively false. Dobbs has peddled inane theories about climate change in the past, calling human-caused global warming a “largely Democratic belief” and suggesting that the sun may be more responsible for global warming than humans.

    2. CNN commentator Rick Santorum says that that climate scientists are “driven by the money”

    On the November 25 episode of CNN’s State of the Union, CNN commentator and former Republican Sen. Rick Santorum praised the efforts of the Trump administration to try to bury the release of the National Climate Assessment, claiming that the scientists who wrote it are “driven by the money.” Despite this claim being completely false and widely mocked on social media, Santorum repeated it on CNN just two days later. Santorum failed to note, however, that he himself has received copious amounts of money from the fossil-fuel industry throughout his career.

    3. Infowars host suggests John Kerry broke up a hurricane with an energy beam shot from Antarctica

    Perhaps the leader in promoting absurd conspiracy theories, Infowars waded into the topic of climate change in the wake of Hurricane Lane hitting Hawaii in August. On the August 23 episode of Infowars’ War Room, host Owen Shroyer proposed the idea that John Kerry shot an energy beam from Antarctica that split the hurricane in two. He said, “Why is John Kerry going down to Antarctica just a week after the election to discuss climate change and then you have energy beams coming out of Antarctica splitting hurricanes? Yeah, what is John Kerry doing down there? That’s awfully suspicious to me.” Kerry later poked fun at the comments on Twitter.

    4. Fox commentator Tammy Bruce calls climate change a “malleable issue” for “the left” as they can “blame everything on it”

    On the September 14 episode of Fox Business Network's Varney & Co., Fox News commentator Tammy Bruce said that climate change is “great” for “the left” because people on the left can “blame everything on it.” She continued, “And this is of course the goal, is it's not even about the nature of the weather itself but the blaming of humanity, of the nature of what we're doing, that we're the problem. And of course that gives you an excuse then to control what people do, to control business, and to control industry.”

    5. Former Daily Caller contributor Ian Miles Cheong says that climate change is a neo-Marxist hoax invented to dismantle capitalism

    On October 9, gamergate supporter and writer Ian Miles Cheong tweeted, “Climate change is a hoax invented by neo-Marxists within the scientific community to destabilize the world economy and dismantle what they call ‘systems of oppression’ and what the rest of us call capitalism.” Cheong followed up with, “To clarify, I’m talking about man-made climate change and the fear mongering surrounding it.” (As if we needed further clarification on this tin-foil-hat take.)

    6. During cold weather spell, Fox & Friends host urges Trump to take credit for solving global warming

    A brutal winter storm in early January left at least 22 people dead on the East Coast, and Fox & Friends used that storm to praise its favorite viewer, President Donald Trump. On the January 7 episode of Fox & Friends Weekend, co-host Pete Hegseth said, “I think President Trump should take credit for solving global warming. Look at how cold it is, that is just another accomplishment that we need to put on the list. Global warming, done. President Trump eradicated it.”

    7. Former Rep. Allen West says God has climate change “under control”

    Former Republican Rep. Allen West, a senior fellow at the right-wing Media Research Center, has an interesting theory about climate change. On October 4 West stated on CRTV, “God couldn't get the weather right, it's man-made climate change. I remember when people asked me about climate change, I said yeah, winter, spring, summer, and fall. They said no, man-made climate-- I said no, no -- so, you know, there's a creator that's got this under control. But what they're doing is they’re delegitimizing, they're undermining the sovereignty of the creator.”

    8. Conservative host Mark Levin likens climate change to Marxism

    On the February 13 episode of LevinTV Tonight on CRTV, Mark Levin laments that because climate change has been “pushed out as a scientific fact,” it's assumed that …“there’s something wrong with” those who dare question it. Levin also calls climate change a “no growth, anti-capitalism movement” that has been “exported to the United States like Marxism itself.” Levin has a history of making idiotic statements denying climate change.

    9. According to radio host Rush Limbaugh, the Hurricane Florence forecast was “all to heighten the belief in climate change”

    What’s a list of ridiculous climate change claims without right-wing media’s most prolific offender, Rush Limbaugh? On the September 11 episode of The Rush Limbaugh Show, as Hurricane Florence was headed for the Carolinas, he claimed, “The forecast and the destruction potential doom and gloom is all to heighten the belief in climate change.”

    10. Fox’s Sean Hannity says that “they do lie to us repeatedly about global warming”

    Sean Hannity, never one to shy away from denying climate change, did it again in 2018 when discussing a winter storm. On the March 6 episode of his radio program, The Sean Hannity Show, Hannity said, “They do lie to us repeatedly about global warming.” He continued: “They just call it global whatever -- climate change, because this way, it's generic. And if it's hot or too hot, they can say it's climate change. If it's cold, or too cold, they can say it's climate change. But it didn't work out when they said ‘global cooling’ or ‘global warming,’ so they had to fix it.”

    11. CNN commentator says there is a “climate change industrial complex”

    Stephen Moore, a CNN commentator and self-described “economist,” is part of CNN's recent climate-denier problem. On the November 26 edition of CNN's Erin Burnett OutFront, Moore tried to discredit the National Climate Assessment by saying, “We have created a climate change industrial complex in this country, with billions and billions and billions of dollars at stake. A lot of people are getting really, really, really rich off the climate change issue.” Moore repeated these claims the next day, again on Burnett’s show. Like Santorum, Moore has been the beneficiary of money from fossil fuel companies, which have funded some of the groups he's worked for.

    12. Commentator Mark Steyn says that that climate change is a form of class war

    On the November 29 episode of Tucker Carlson Tonight, commentator Mark Steyn said that climate change “is actually a form of class war.” He continued: “In macro terms it’s a way of the developed world denying the developing world any chance to live the kind of lives that people in the developed world live.” He also stated, “It’s an elite thing. Nobody takes it seriously.” Although Steyn has been attacking the climate consensus for at least the last decade, he has no actual background in climate science.

    13. Breitbart’s James Delingpole claims that the “great global warming scare” was launched by “dirty tricks”

    In June 1988, NASA scientist James Hansen gave now-famous testimony to the Senate in which he described humans’ contributions to global warming. On the 30th anniversary of that landmark testimony, Breitbart writer and notorious climate denier James Delingpole penned an article lambasting it, claiming that Hansen used “dirty tricks” to help launch the “great global warming scare.” Delingpole wrote: “But – like the scare itself – the claims were dishonest, hysterical, misleading, unscientific, needlessly alarmist, and cynically stage-managed.” Some of the “dirty tricks” that Delingpole mentioned include the committee chairman scheduling the testimony on the hottest day in June and opening all of the windows in the room. Delingpole, of course, didn’t mention that the evidence of human-induced global warming existed long before Hansen’s testimony. He also predictably failed to note the incredible accuracy of Hansen’s global warming claims.

    14. Columnist Cal Thomas doesn’t think climate change is “settled science”

    Syndicated columnist Cal Thomas criticized the National Climate Assessment in an opinion piece that was published in a number of papers and websites, including the Chicago Tribune. Thomas claimed that climate change is not “settled science” and criticized “scare tactics by leftists who want even more government control over our lives.” To back up his claims, Thomas cited Climate Depot, a website dedicated to denying global warming, and quoted its founder, the industry-funded fraudster Marc Morano. He also cited Patrick Michaels, a climate denier who has received funding from various fossil fuel companies. Finally, Thomas misattributed a quote that called the report a “pile of crap,” saying it came from Princeton oceanographer John P. Dunne when in fact it came from John Dunn of the climate-denier group Heartland Institute. It speaks volumes that a number of newspapers chose to publish Thomas’ column despite its multiple inaccuracies (though some later corrected the quote attribution).

    15. Conservative author Ann Coulter cites white nationalism as a reason to pretend to “believe in global warming”

    On April 25, Coulter tweeted: “I'm fine with pretending to believe in global warming if we can save our language, culture & borders. #MacronCode.” Coulter, a virulent racist who has long supported Trump’s dehumanizing immigration policies, has made ridiculous claims about climate change before, and once stated that global warming deniers are considered equivalent to Holocaust deniers. Her April tweet, sent on the day that French President Emmanuel Macron addressed the U.S. Congress, points to a disturbing trend in which some white nationalists take climate change seriously only because the changing climate will lead to the northward migration of refugees from the Global South.

  • The media are still talking about the National Climate Assessment, and for that we can thank climate deniers

    Blog ››› ››› LISA HYMAS


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    A version of this post was originally published on Grist.

    Right-wingers' efforts to derail media coverage of the National Climate Assessment backfired not once but twice.

    First, the Trump administration tried to bury the National Climate Assessment by releasing it on Black Friday, but that tactic bombed. It turns out that "Trump tries to bury a new climate report" is a much sexier headline than "Scientists release a new climate report."

    Then, climate deniers fanned out on TV networks to spread lies and deceptive talking about the report, but they got far more criticism than they expected, and that criticism kept climate change in the news.

    Overall the report got loads of media coverage in the days after it was released. The quality was decidedly mixed -- some of it was good, some of it was awful -- but the good coverage appears to have outweighed the bad.

    The good

    At least 140 newspapers around the country featured the National Climate Assessment on their front pages the morning after it was released, according to the Columbia Journalism Review. That included not just The New York Times and The Washington Post, which have strong teams of climate reporters, but also smaller papers all around the U.S., including 20 of them in California. A number of the papers highlighted the ways that climate change is hitting their regions, like the Portland Press Herald in Maine:

    MSNBC aired some strong segments. In one, host Ali Velshi mocked President Donald Trump's claim that his “gut” told him the report is wrong. He then interviewed climate scientist Brenda Ekwurzel of the Union of Concerned Scientists, a co-author of the assessment, who explained the report's findings and how scientists arrived at them. 

    CNN served up some highly problematic coverage -- more on that below -- but it also did some good interviews with climate scientists about the report, as well as three senators who are serious about addressing the climate crisis. And CNN took a novel approach to real-time fact-checking when White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders lied about the report during a press briefing. The network showed live video of Sanders, but paired it alongside a text bar labeled "Facts First" that corrected some of her false claims:

    All of the Sunday morning political talk shows discussed the report on the weekend after it was released. It was the first time in 2018 that every one of them addressed climate change on the same day. They rarely cover climate change at all.

    The bad

    Unfortunately, we would have been better off without some of that Sunday show coverage -- particularly the segments that gave airtime to rabid climate deniers. One of the worst ran on NBC's Meet the Press and featured Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank supported by the Koch brothers. She trotted out a favorite climate denier line -- "I'm not a scientist" -- and then proceeded to spout pure nonsense about how the globe is getting cooler.

    Egregious drivel about climate change also cropped up on CNN's State of the Union, which asked not one but two climate deniers to weigh in on the report. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) offered bland, lukewarm climate denial: "Our climate always changes and we see those ebb-and-flows through time." Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) one-upped Ernst by going all in for scalding-hot climate denial, praising the Trump team’s attempt to bury the report and claiming that the scientists who wrote it were “driven by the money":

    Santorum was roundly mocked on Twitter for making such a completely bogus claim. You might have thought that this would discourage other climate deniers from following suit, or at least discourage CNN from giving them a platform. You would have been wrong.

    The following Monday, CNN hosted two more right-wingers who made the same ridiculous claim that climate scientists were in it for the money: Tom DeLay, who resigned as Republican House majority leader in 2005 after being convicted of money laundering and conspiracy, and Stephen Moore, a Trump-loving “economist” who's worked for Koch-funded groups.

    The next day, on Tuesday morning, CNN seemed like it might be trying to redeem itself. It ran one segment in which CNN political analyst John Avlon fact-checked and thoroughly debunked the claim that scientists are getting rich by studying climate change, and another in which climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe explained that she and the other co-authors of the National Climate Assessment were paid "zero dollars" for their efforts.

    But a few hours later, the bonkers claims were back. CNN yet again invited both Santorum and Moore to repeat the warmed-over lie that scientists are driven by a multi-billion-dollar climate change industry that has manufactured a false crisis. Santorum presented this ludicrous falsehood and many others in a panel discussion on Anderson Cooper 360°. Cooper had interviewed Hayhoe for that same episode, but her interview got bumped and was only posted online, while the segment with Santorum’s false claims aired during prime time.

    Oh, and CNN also failed to note that Santorum, Moore, and DeLay have all received copious amounts of cash themselves from the fossil fuel industry.

    The backlash

    Other media outlets bashed CNN and NBC for featuring climate deniers, and that led to still more coverage of climate change and the National Climate Assessment, most of which was good.

    The New York Times published a fact-checking piece titled, "The Baseless Claim That Climate Scientists Are ‘Driven’ by Money," which cited and debunked statements made by Santorum and DeLay. PunditFact, a project of the fact-checking site PolitiFact, looked into Pletka's claims and labeled them "false."

    New York Times media columnist Jim Rutenberg published a story titled "News Networks Fall Short on Climate Story as Dolphins Die on the Beach," which highlighted the false claims made by Pletka and Santorum and put them in the context of climate change impacts in Florida. The Washington Post's media columnist Margaret Sullivan tweeted out Rutenberg's story.

    Climate scientist Hayhoe published an op-ed in The Washington Post that debunked the myths propagated on CNN by Santorum and DeLay, among others.

    WNYC's On the Media hosted yours truly in a discussion about coverage of the National Climate Assessment, including the problem of featuring climate deniers on air.

    Politico's Morning Media daily newsletter, written by media reporter Michael Calderone, highlighted problems with press coverage of the National Climate Assessment on four different occasions after the report came out.

    ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd was just one of many influential media figures who tweeted their disapproval of segments that featured climate deniers:

    The fact that some members of the media screwed up their coverage so royally meant that other members of the media kept reporting on the story longer than they might have otherwise.

    Fox opts for footwear coverage

    Meanwhile, the folks over at Trump's favorite network were living in their own universe, as usual. Fox News gave the National Climate Assessment very little airtime. A few straight-news segments covered it, but the most popular Fox shows didn't. CNN media correspondent Brian Stelter pointed out that on the day of the report's release, Fox spent more time discussing the shoes of Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) than it did discussing climate change.

    Considering what Fox's top personalities would have been likely to say about the report had they bothered to cover it, it's probably just as well that they stayed mum.

  • On WNYC's On the Media, Lisa Hymas explains what the press got right and wrong in covering the National Climate Assessment

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Lisa Hymas, director of Media Matters' climate and energy program, went on On the Media to discuss coverage of the National Climate Assessment -- the good coverage as well as the problems that cropped up on the Sunday morning political talk shows and CNN.

    From the November 30 edition of WNYC's On the Media:

    BROOKE GLADSTONE (HOST): So the National Climate Assessment dropped on Black Friday.

    LISA HYMAS: It looked like a pathetically blatant attempt by the Trump administration to keep it out of the public eye. But it didn't work.

    A lot of the print media did better than TV. The New York Times and The Washington Post, they have really strong climate teams; they did great coverage. But you saw it in smaller papers all around the country. The Columbia Journalism Review found that at least 140 newspapers around the country put it on their front pages. That includes places like The Chicago Tribune and the Miami Herald, 20 different papers in California. And many of those papers also looked at the local impacts. The Portland Press Herald in Maine, they had a big story about the national implications, but they also, on their print front page, had a big story about the impacts in New England, specifically.

    But I think TV was a mixed bag: Sometimes the coverage was good, and sometimes it was not. And in cases where the coverage is poor, we probably would have been better off without it.

    GLADSTONE: You said that Sunday was the first time this year that the five major Sunday shows discussed climate change on the same day. We're talking about ABC's This Week, CBS' Face the Nation, CNN's State of the Union, Fox News Sunday, and NBC's Meet the Press -- they all had segments. The most talked-about one on Sunday was probably on Meet the Press.

    HYMAS: Yes. NBC's Meet the Press featured Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank that's supported by the Koch brothers. She used a favorite climate denier line ...

    [BEGIN AUDIO CLIP]

    DANIELLE PLETKA (SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE): I'm not a scientist. I look at this as a citizen, and I see it, so I understand it. On the other hand, we need to also recognize that we just had two of the coldest years, biggest drop in global temperatures, that we've had since the 1980s, the biggest in the last 100 years. We don't talk about that because it's not part of the agenda.

    [END AUDIO CLIP]

    HYMAS: No. Climate scientists have been very clear that the global climate has consistently been warming, and the hottest years have been the most recent ones.

    GLADSTONE: Yeah. NOAA said that 2015, ’16, and ’17 were the warmest on record, but 2017 was only the third-warmest.

    HYMAS: I don't really find that comforting. You know, if you're not a scientist, you ought to listen to scientists. To say, "I'm not a scientist, but I don't believe this," that's nonsense.

    I mean, one thing that was frustrating about this last episode of Meet the Press: Host Chuck Todd later in the same show interviewed Tom Steyer, who got his start as an activist by focusing on climate change, and Todd didn't ask him anything about the report. The focus was just on the 2020 presidential race.

    GLADSTONE: Let's look at how Fox News handled the report on the day it was released. Here's CNN's Brian Stelter with a recap.

    [BEGIN AUDIO CLIP]

    BRIAN STELTER (CNN MEDIA CORRESPONDENT): The network actually spent more time talking about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's shoes on Friday. Now to be fair, the networks' newscasts did air several segments about climate change, about the crisis, on Saturday. But on the president's favorite talk shows, nada, not a word.

    [END AUDIO CLIP]

    GLADSTONE: Meanwhile, Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace also did not invite a climate scientist on to discuss the report. He spoke with Republican Senator of Nebraska Ben Sasse, who dodged the topic of climate action and spoke vaguely about the need for innovation.

    [BEGIN AUDIO CLIP]

    SASSE: Because you can't legislate or regulate your way into the past. We have to innovate our way into the future. And right now you don't hear a lot of the people who put climate as their No. 1 issue, you don't hear a lot of them offering constructive, innovative solutions for the future. It's usually just a lot of alarmism.

    [END AUDIO CLIP]

    HYMAS: You know, notably, Fox's big-name personalities didn't dig in on the report at all. They just stayed focused on their pet issues. So you had Sean Hannity, this past week, ranting about Hillary Clinton's supposed scandals and crimes. I mean, he's still doing that more than two years after she lost the presidential election. And you had Lou Dobbs scaremongering about the migrant caravan. And the Russia investigation is a witch hunt -- that got a lot of coverage this past week, but the climate report didn't.

    GLADSTONE: Margaret Brennan of CBS' Face the Nation did speak to a scientist about the report, NASA's Steven Clarke, but that exchange was very brief, and it was buried in a segment that was almost entirely about NASA's Mars probe.

    HYMAS: Yes. So, on the one hand, I was glad to see that Face the Nation actually asked a scientist about the climate report. We track how often the Sunday shows incorporate or talk to scientists when they're discussing climate change, and it's been almost three years since any Sunday show has asked a scientist about climate change.

    GLADSTONE: What? Seriously?

    HYMAS: Yes, the last time was in December of 2015. It was also on Face the Nation.

    GLADSTONE: So many opportunities. So many national conferences, so many elections, so many extreme weather incidents, and nothing?

    HYMAS: There are climate scientists who are really good public speakers and who do a really great job of explaining the science in terms that normal people can understand, but they don't get the airtime.

    GLADSTONE: I think the winner of the week's booby prize, though, would probably be CNN.

    HYMAS: I think that's true. Rick Santorum was on CNN claiming that scientists are in it for the money.

    [AUDIO CLIP]

    RICK SANTORUM (FORMER SENATOR): If there was no climate change, we'd have a lot of scientists looking for work. The reality is that a lot of these scientists are driven by the money that they receive ...

    [END AUDIO CLIP]

    HYMAS: The next day, we saw Tom DeLay, the former House majority leader.

    [AUDIO CLIP]

    TOM DELAY (FORMER REPRESENTATIVE): The report is nothing more than a rehash of age-old, 10- to 20-year assumptions made by scientists that get paid to further the politics of global warming.

    [END AUDIO CLIP]

    HYMAS: He's the disgraced former House majority leader who had to resign after he was convicted of money laundering and conspiracy. Why is this guy qualified to discuss a scientific report about climate change? We saw Stephen Moore, a Trump-loving economist, making the same ridiculous claim on CNN.

    [BEGIN AUDIO CLIP]

    STEPHEN MOORE: Billions and billions and billions of dollars at stake. A lot of people are getting really, really, really rich off the climate change issue.

    [END AUDIO CLIP]

    HYMAS: Then on Tuesday morning, John Avlon did a good segment on CNN where he completely debunked this notion that there's a big climate-industrial complex and that scientists are just doing it to get rich.

    [BEGIN AUDIO CLIP]

    JOHN AVLON (CNN POLITICAL ANALYST): Now, that talking point you're hearing is a classic bit of distraction and deflection. In fact, one of the scientists who worked on the climate change report, Katharine Hayhoe, confirms that she and her colleagues were paid, quote, “zero dollars” for their work and could easily make 10 times their salaries by working for something like Big Oil.

    [END AUDIO CLIP]

    HYMAS: But, later that same day on Tuesday, just hours after Avlon's fact-checking segment ran, CNN again had on Stephen Moore to make that same claim. And what was so frustrating about CNN having these climate deniers on to make ridiculous claims is they didn't disclose the fact that Rick Santorum and Tom Delay, when they were in Congress, they got more than $700,000 each from the oil and gas industry in campaign contributions. Stephen Moore works for a number of groups that are funded by the Koch brothers. Last month, Stephen Moore gave a speech to the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association. These things were not disclosed, but those men were allowed to accuse scientists of being in it for the money.

    GLADSTONE: Why does CNN pay people like Rick Santorum to lie to the public it's supposed to be serving?

    HYMAS: I will never understand why CNN pays Rick Santorum.

    Cable TV likes to have conflict, and they like to have sparks fly. But there’s much better ways you can do it, even if you do want the conflict. I mean, it's absurd, in 2018, for a discussion about climate change to include someone who contends that we're actually in a period of global cooling. Get people who all recognize the challenge of climate change but propose different responses and solutions to it. There are plenty of conservatives who propose carbon taxes. Let's see them discuss and debate people who are proposing a highly progressive Green New Deal, or a carbon-fee-and-dividend approach. There's a lot to debate. It just doesn't have to be a denier against someone who accepts the reality of climate change.

  • CNN keeps letting guests and paid commentators lie about climate scientists

    It's not true that scientists do climate research to get rich, and CNN knows it

    Blog ››› ››› LISA HYMAS & EVLONDO COOPER



    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    This post was updated on November 28.

    CNN has let at least three commentators argue this week that scientists are warning the public about climate change because they're getting rich by doing so -- a ridiculous and patently false claim. CNN knows it's ridiculous and false because the network ran a fact-checking segment debunking the claim and interviewed a climate scientist who explained why it's wrong. But even that didn't stop the network from continuing to spread the lie.

    To make matters worse, the three people who made this lie on CNN -- former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), former Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX), and Trump-boosting economist Stephen Moore -- have themselves been the beneficiaries of fossil fuel money, but CNN failed to disclose that information.

    CNN lets liars lie

    Following the release of the National Climate Assessment, a major government report about the dangers that climate change poses to the U.S., CNN contributor Santorum came on State of the Union on Sunday morning to discuss it. Among other idiotic things, he said:

    I think the point that Donald Trump makes is true, which is -- look, if there was no climate change, we'd have a lot of scientists looking for work. The reality is that a lot of these scientists are driven by the money that they receive, and of course they don't receive money from corporations and Exxon and the like. Why? Because they're not allowed to because it's tainted. But they can receive it from people who support their agenda, and that, I believe, is what's really going on here.

    Santorum's comments about climate scientists doing it for the money were widely mocked on Twitter. But that didn't stop other conservative commentators from repeating the bogus claim during CNN appearances.

    DeLay, who resigned as House majority leader in 2005 after being convicted of money laundering and conspiracy, made similar comments on CNN Right Now on Monday: 

    The report is nothing more than a rehash of age-old 10- to 20-year assumptions made by scientists that get paid to further the politics of global warming.

    Moore, a right-wing economist with a record of being wrong, echoed those points later on Monday on Erin Burnett Outfront:

    We have created a climate change industrial complex in this country, with billions and billions and billions of dollars at stake. A lot of people are getting really, really, really rich off the climate change issue.

    CNN does fact-checking, confirms that the lie is a lie

    On Tuesday morning, CNN's John Avlon played clips of what Santorum and DeLay said and then proceeded to debunk their claims in a "Reality Check" segment:

    JOHN AVLON (POLITICAL ANALYST): Now that talking point you're hearing is a classic bit of distraction and deflection designed to muddy the waters just enough to confuse the clear consensus. In fact, one of the scientists who worked on the climate change report, Katharine Hayhoe, confirms that she and her colleagues were paid, quote, “zero dollars” for their work and could easily make ten times their salaries by working for something like Big Oil. So it turns out that this idea that climate change scientists are rolling in the dough Scrooge McDuck-style is so pervasive that it had to have its own Yale study debunking it.

    The Yale study that he referred to is a guide by the Yale Climate Communications group that lists arguments refuting the "persistent myth" that scientists are in it for the money.

    CNN then hosted the climate scientist Avlon cited, Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, who laughed at the claim that she and her colleagues are paid to advance an agenda and explained why it's incorrect:

    KATHARINE HAYHOE (ATMOSPHERIC SCIENTIST): I got paid zero dollars to write this report. My salary would have been exactly the same if I had or hadn't. And if I were studying astrophysics like I used to, I'd probably get exactly the same salary as well. The reality is that I’ve found people often accuse us of doing what they would often do themselves in our position. If we just cast our eye down the richest corporations in the world on Wikipedia's list, the vast majority of those owe their wealth to fossil fuels, so therefore they have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo as long as possible.

    CNN invites liar back on to repeat lie

    But even after CNN debunked the lie with its own programming, the network invited Moore back on to double down and repeat the discredited claim. During At This Hour With Kate Bolduan on Tuesday, host Bolduan played Moore a clip of Hayhoe's comments and let him respond:

    MOORE: She runs the climate change center at the school in Texas. What keeps those centers alive is the climate change industry. My only point is that the government in the United States and around the world has spent billions and billions of dollars on climate change. It has become an industry. That does call into question some of the partiality of this research. But the bigger point is --

    BOLDUAN: You still don't think she is just motivated by science?

    MOORE: She may be. I'm not calling out any single person. I'm just saying that the industry is very, very well funded. It’s in the billions of dollars. People have a vested financial interest in talking about armageddon and these kinds of things.

    CNN invited Moore back on for yet another appearance on Tuesday, again on Erin Burnett OutFront, in which he continued to repeat specious right-wing talking points about the National Climate Assessment.

    And Santorum also got another chance to repeat the lie about climate scientists being motivated by money. During an appearance on Anderson Cooper 360° on Tuesday night, Santorum said:

    I said this the other day and I've gotten a -- I've become a very popular man on Twitter in the last couple of days for the comment I made about scientists making money. There would be no chair of the head of climate studies at every university in America if we didn’t have a crisis. These people make money because there's a crisis.

    Santorum's appearance on Anderson Cooper 360° was all the more egregious because Cooper interviewed climate scientist Hayhoe for the episode, and even teased the interview during the show, but ultimately didn't air it. Hayhoe revealed this fact in a tweet, part of a longer thread about the experience:

    CNN did end up posting the interview with Hayhoe on its website. In it, Hayhoe said:

    HAYHOE: What I do take personally is when we are accused of being in it for the money. I got paid zero dollars to write this report, and honestly, I could have spent those hundreds of hours elsewhere. We don't do this for the money. We do it because we're physicians of the planet. We understand that our planet is running a fever. The impacts are serious and will become dangerous, and we have to act now, not for the good of the planet but for the good of every single human who lives on it.

    COOPER: I mean, that is something the president has said in the past, that this is a hoax, and that there are people who've said on our air that this is a money-making scheme essentially, this is a money-making venture.

    HAYHOE: I would ask them where are they getting their money from.

    Great points from Hayhoe. Too bad they didn't make it on the air.

    CNN fails to disclose that liars have received fossil fuel money

    While CNN lets its commentators falsely accuse scientists of being motivated by graft, the network has failed to disclose that those very commentators have financial motivations of their own: All three have gotten money from fossil fuel interests that oppose climate action.

    Santorum received $763,331 in contributions from the oil and gas industry during his time in the Senate from 1995 to 2007. His long career of shilling on behalf of fossil fuel interests paid off after he left Congress and started doing lucrative work as a consultant, including earning $142,500 in 2010 and the first half of 2011 from Consol Energy, a Pennsylvania coal and gas company. Santorum is also currently the co-chair of biofuels advocacy group Americans for Energy Security and Innovation. Anderson Cooper disclosed that Santorum is paid by the biofuels group before his discussion with Santorum, but did not note the fossil fuel money Santorum has raked in over the years.

    DeLay received $739,677 in contributions from the oil and gas industry from 1985 to 2008, and gave enormous handouts to the industry during his time in office.

    For his part, Moore has worked for many fossil fuel-backed advocacy groups, including the Koch-funded Cato Institute, Club for Growth, and Donors Capital Fund. He was also chief economist at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank that has been funded by ExxonMobil and the Kochs. And just last last month, Moore gave a speech at the annual meeting of the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association. 

    At the very least, CNN should disclose its commentators' conflicts of interest. Better, of course, would be not to give them a platform from which to spew their nonsense. But CNN is more dedicated to showy fireworks and conflict than to the truth.