Fox News Channel | Media Matters for America

Fox News Channel

Tags ››› Fox News Channel
  • The many times Trump lawyers and propagandists demanded Mueller be removed

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Ty Cobb, who leads the personal legal team President Donald Trump assembled to respond to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, is blaming the media for questions about whether Trump plans to fire Mueller. There’s no reason for journalists to take that criticism seriously. Trump’s other lawyers have suggested that Mueller’s probe into the interactions between Trump associates and Russia should be terminated, echoing the president’s media allies, who have called for the special counsel’s firing or resignation dozens of times.

    In a statement Sunday night, Cobb said, “In response to media speculation and related questions being posed to the Administration, the White House yet again confirms that the President is not considering or discussing the firing of the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller.”

    But the speculation Cobb criticized came in part in response to comments from another member of Trump’s legal team. On Saturday morning, responding to the Justice Department’s firing of former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, John Dowd told The Daily Beast, “I pray that Acting Attorney General [Rod] Rosenstein will follow the brilliant and courageous example of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and bring an end to [the] alleged Russia Collusion investigation manufactured by McCabe’s boss James Comey based upon a fraudulent and corrupt Dossier.” With Sessions having recused himself because he was part of Trump’s campaign, Rosenstein currently oversees the Mueller probe, and he has repeatedly said that he opposes ending the investigation.

    On Saturday night, Trump tweeted, “The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime.”

    Dowd’s comment was far from the first call from a Trump lawyer for ending Mueller’s investigation. In June, Jay Sekulow set off a firestorm when he was asked if Trump would “promise not to interfere, not attempt at anytime to order the deputy attorney general to fire Robert Mueller.” Sekulow did not give a definitive response, instead saying, “If there was a basis … that raised the kind of issues that are serious, as in the situation with James Comey, the president has authority to take action. Whether he will do it is ultimately a decision the president makes.”

    Sekulow is a longtime fixture on right-wing TV and sometime guest host of Sean Hannity’s radio show. While he has “virtually no experience in law enforcement investigations or white-collar matters,” he was reportedly hired to serve as “the omnipresent TV face of Trump's defense” because the president liked the way that Sekulow defended Trump in cable news appearances.

    Since Trump hired him, Sekulow has suggested that Mueller has a conflict of interest due to a purported friendship with former FBI director James Comey; repeatedly called for a criminal investigation of Comey; and demanded the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Mueller’s team (he later walked back that call).

    While Sekulow has said there is “no basis” for firing Mueller, he frequently appears on Fox alongside Hannity, whose show has featured a drumbeat of calls for Mueller’s termination. The result has been exchanges like this one from June after Hannity said the special counsel should “resign immediately”:

    HANNITY: He needs to go, right or wrong?

    SEKULOW: Look, here's how you handle it --

    HANNITY: He needs to go.

    SEKULOW: Look, here's the situation. I'm one of the president's lawyers.

    HANNITY: All right, I'll say it. He needs to go.

    While Trump’s personal lawyers have wavered, White House counsel Donald F. McGahn II reportedly told Trump in June he would resign rather then execute the president’s order to instruct the Justice Department to remove Mueller. Trump backed down.

    While it would be difficult for the president to fire the special counsel directly without facing a legal challenge, he can order Rosenstein to fire him. Rosenstein would then have to either carry out the president’s order or resign. Trump could then pose the same order to Rosenstein’s replacement, continuing until he found someone willing to fire Mueller. Trump could also replace Sessions with someone who would not be recused from the Russia investigation, who could end the probe.

    In deciding whether and how to kick off a constitutional crisis, the president is likely seeking advice from beyond the typical set of lawyers and White House aides. Trump consumes hours of cable news every day and has close ties with numerous TV personalities. He doesn’t just watch their shows; he calls them up, brings them to the White House, and even hires them into his administration.

    On air, these propagandists play to Trump’s worst impulses, urging him to behave like an authoritarian by prosecuting his political foes and describing the Mueller probe as a “coup.” The ad hoc outside advisers from the president’s television screen include Hannity and Jeanine Pirro, who have led the pro-Trump media’s frequent calls for ending the Mueller investigation and “cleansing” the ranks of the Justice Department and FBI.

    Here are some of the calls for the termination of the special counsel probe:

    Hannity: "Mueller needs to, I'm sorry, he needs to be removed." [Fox News, Hannity, 6/8/17]

    Fox political contributor Newt Gingrich: Congress should “abolish” the special counsel. [The Hill, 6/11/17]

    Hannity: "This special counsel, Mueller, needs to be shut down immediately." [Fox News, Hannity, 6/12/17]

    Fox legal analyst Gregg Jarrett: "The acting attorney general who appointed Mueller should fire him." [Fox News, Hannity, 6/12/17]

    Hannity: "Mueller and Rod Rosenstein, recuse themselves, resign immediately." [Fox News, Hannity, 6/14/17]

    Hannity: Mueller "should recuse himself," "needs to end this witch hunt right now." [Fox News, Hannity, 6/20/17]

    Radio host Rush Limbaugh: "One way to end" the Russia probe "is just pardon everybody that Mueller is investigating, right now.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 7/21/17]

    Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade calls for an end date for the Russia investigation: “Six months is enough.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/31/17]

    WSJ editorial: Mueller “should step down in favor of someone more credible.”

    The latest news supports our view that Mr. Mueller is too conflicted to investigate the FBI and should step down in favor of someone more credible. The investigation would surely continue, though perhaps with someone who doesn’t think his job includes protecting the FBI and Mr. Comey from answering questions about their role in the 2016 election. [The Wall Street Journal, 12/4/17]

    Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs: “A call for the firing of Robert Mueller no longer really truly satisfies any call for accountability,” so he should be prosecuted. [Media Matters, 12/8/17]

    Investor’s Business Daily: “FBI, Mueller Investigation Of Trump Is Politicized — Shut It Down.” [Investor’s Business Daily, 12/4/17]

    American Spectator’s Scott McKay: “Trump should tell Mueller he has until Christmas to bring an indictment against someone for collusion with the Russians, or else he’s fired and his probe gets disbanded.” [The American Spectator, 12/5/17]

    Roger Stone in Daily Caller: “Why Robert Mueller Must Be Removed And His Partisan Hit Squad Dismantled.” [The Daily Caller, 12/20/17]

    Wash. Times’ Cheryl Chumley: “Mr. Mueller, shut down this sham investigation.” [The Washington Times, 1/23/18]

    Townhall’s Jeff Crouere: “The Mueller Witch Hunt Must End.” [Townhall, 2/3/18]

    Hannity: Mueller’s “investigation should be shut down immediately.” [Fox News, Hannity, 3/12/18]

    Additional research provided by Nick Fernandez, Alex Kaplan, and Nina Mast

  • Sean Hannity is now trying to claim he does "real news," yet he has repeatedly admitted he's "not a journalist"

    Hannity claims to be a journalist only when it suits him


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    In a March 15 Time magazine profile, Fox News anchor Shepard Smith said of the discrepancy between his own news reporting and his network’s opinion lineup that “some of our opinion programming is there strictly to be entertaining” and that “they don’t really have rules on the opinion side. They can say whatever they want.”

    Sean Hannity, host of one of Fox News’ opinion shows, blasted Smith’s characterization, claiming that he “breaks news daily” and that Smith is “clueless about what we do every day.” (Fox is currently being sued for the kind of “news” Hannity breaks.)

    Of course, the Fox host and Trump sycophant has repeatedly asserted that he is not a journalist and not a “news person,” while also coining his own phrase -- “advocacy journalist” -- to use when it’s convenient.

    • On the July 7, 2004, edition of Fox News’ Hannity & Colmes, Sean Hannity commented,“I'm not a journalist. I am an outspoken, compassionate, thoughtful, independent-thinking conservative.”

    • In an October 8, 2008, article, the New York Daily News reported that “Hannity doesn’t call himself a journalist, but rather a talk show host, which is significant because it frees him to offer opinions when he wants.” The article quoted him as saying,“I have an opinion. Everybody knows it. Everybody who sees me, watches me, knows I'm a conservative."

    • On March 6, 2012, Hannity tweeted that he’s “an OPINION advocacy journalist.”

    • During a May 2015 segment on his radio program criticizing ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Hannity said: “I’m honest about my opinions. I am a conservative. I say I’m a registered conservative. I am a talk show host. I don’t portray myself as a news -- a news person. Now, I am a journalist, but there are different forms of journalism. There’s advocacy journalism. ... I’m the only conservative in the country that hosts a nightly news program, an opinion program, a talk show, in the country that says he’s a conservative.”

    • In August 2015, Hannity said Univision anchor Jorge Ramos is “not a journalist, and you’re not a reporter. You are a talk show host. You may think you’re a news guy. You may present yourself as a news guy. But you are an advocacy journalist, which makes you -- puts you on par with somebody like me. You never hear me call myself a journalist. I'm not. I'm a talk show host.”

    • During a December 14, 2015, interview with International Business Times, Hannity again argued that he is not a journalist: “If you ask me, am I a journalist? No. Advocacy journalist, you could say that, but I consider myself a talk show host.”

    • In April 2016, after a series of softball interviews with then-presidential candidate Donald Trump, Hannity hit back at critics, claiming, “I'm not a journalist, I'm a talk show host.”

    • The next month, Hannity was back to calling himself an “advocacy journalist” while criticizing Katie Couric.

    • In August 2016, Hannity told The New York Times that he has “never claimed to be a journalist."

    • In October 2016, Hannity twice tweeted that he was not a journalist.​

    • On March 27, 2017, Hannity said he was “an opinionated journalist.”

    • On August 7, he was “a journalist, but ... an advocacy journalist.”

    • He referred to himself as an “advocacy journalist” again during an interview for a November New York Times Magazine profile: “I’m a journalist. But I’m an advocacy journalist, or an opinion journalist.”

    • On January 5, Hannity described his Fox show as “an opinion program” on which he is “an advocacy journalist.”

    • On January 11, Hannity said that people suggest he is “not a journalist,” but “I am a journalist. I'm an advocacy, opinion journalist,” and said, “I still do plenty of reporting.”

    • On January 17, Hannity argued that “part of being a talk show host is journalism. ... It’s just not traditional journalism. It’s advocacy journalism, it’s opinion journalism.”

    • On January 24, Hannity said that he’s “a talk show host” who “wear[s] many hats,” among them “opinion journalist” or “advocacy journalist.”

    • On February 7, Hannity argued that while he is not a “traditional journalist ... part of my job as a talk show host is journalism.”

    • On February 22, Hannity claimed that he knows reporters who “say that they’re jealous of me because I’m doing work that they’re not allowed to do on their network.” On the same day, Hannity argued on his radio show that “as part of being a talk show host, I actually do journalism,” but he noted that he is an “opinion journalist” and “an advocacy journalist.”

    • On March 15, Hannity said on his radio show that “I’ve spent a lot of time now doing more reporting than I've ever done in my career.” He listed several frequent guests who he claims break news on his show, including Jay Sekulow, President Donald Trump’s lawyer.

  • Torture fan Sean Hannity still hasn't been waterboarded like he promised

    Blog ››› ››› SIMON MALOY

    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Gina Haspel’s nomination to be director of the CIA has reinvigorated the long-simmering controversy over the George W. Bush administration’s decision to turn America into a torture state. Haspel, who oversaw the torture of one detainee at a CIA black site in 2002 and later engineered the destruction of videotaped evidence of torture, is being held up as a hero by conservative pundits who celebrate her “toughness.”

    One of those pundits, Fox News’ Sean Hannity, has spent the past week defending Haspel and advocating for the torture techniques she implemented. “We can't have evil exist in this world without doing something to counter it,” he said on his March 13 show. “And if it means that terrorists caught on the battlefield are forced to answer questions, well, sadly that’s what you have to do because you are dealing with evil.”

    This line of argument resurrects an issue related to the torture controversy that has remained conspicuously unresolved for nearly a decade: Sean Hannity promised to be waterboarded but still hasn’t done it.

    Hannity has long been an advocate for torture, and one of his more curious pro-torture strategies is to dismiss its unpleasantness while simultaneously lauding its effectiveness. Back in April 2009, while speaking to actor Charles Grodin on his Fox News show, Hannity said: “Is it really so bad to dunk a terrorist's head in water and make him talk? Tell me what's wrong with that.” Later in the program, the two had this exchange:

    CHARLES GRODIN: Have you ever been waterboarded?

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): No, but Ollie North has and I've talked to him about it.

    GRODIN: And how -- would you consent to be waterboarded?

    HANNITY: Yes.

    GRODIN: So we could get the truth out of you?

    HANNITY: Yes. Sure.

    GRODIN: We can waterboard you?

    HANNITY: Sure.

    GRODIN: Are you busy on Sunday?

    HANNITY: I'll do it for charity. I'll let you do it.

    GRODIN: I wouldn't do it.

    HANNITY: I'll do it for the troops' families.

    That was almost nine years ago, and Hannity still has not been waterboarded, but not for lack of trying. Keith Olbermann, then an MSNBC host, tried to get Hannity to live up to his promise by pledging $1,000 to charity for every second of torture Hannity could endure. Four years after his initial promise, ThinkProgress called into his radio show to ask when he was going to follow through, and Hannity snapped at the reporter for being rude. “Here I am, nice enough to bring you on the program and give you an opportunity to give your pretty radical left-wing point of view,” he said, “and that’s kind of -- you know what -- the way you treat me.”

    And now here we are in the year 2018 and Hannity is still noticeably unwaterboarded and still hiding behind the fact that his buddy Oliver North knows what it’s like. “Have you been waterboarded in your life, in your career in the military as a marine that served his country and have a Purple Heart or two,” Hannity asked North on his March 15 show. North said yes he had as part of SERE training, a program soldiers go through to learn how to resist -- you guessed it -- torture. “I waterboarded at least 150 people,” North said, “some of whom I'm sure are right now wondering what the heck is going on because it was all legal before.”

    Look, Sean, one of the sad consequences of the utter lack of torture accountability and your status as a premier advocate of state-sponsored barbarism is that the torture issue isn’t going away, which means this whole “I volunteered to be waterboarded” issue isn’t going away -- that is, until you get waterboarded. No one is saying you’re a coward, Sean. In no way am I implying that the reason you haven’t followed through on your nine-year-old promise to be waterboarded for charity is that behind the bravado lurks a secret terror of what the “dunking” entails.

    Quite the contrary, in fact. I think your promise to volunteer to put yourself through this physically debilitating and psychologically horrifying torture technique is the height of manliness. A total alpha move. And the fact that you’re going to do it for the troops is just patriotic icing on the testosterone cupcake.

  • Myths and facts about California's pro-choice law regarding fake health clinics

    The Supreme Court will hear a case regulating the deceptive practices of anti-abortion clinics

    ››› ››› JULIE TULBERT

    On March 20, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra. This case concerns a California law requiring unlicensed pregnancy clinics to disclose their lack of medical services and licensed pregnancy clinics to post a notice about low-cost or free reproductive health services offered by the state. Some media outlets have pushed the myth that the law compels anti-abortion fake health clinics to promote pro-choice views, including by advertising for abortions.