Media Matters weekly newsletter, May 5
Welcome back to Media Matters' weekly email. As a senior researcher with Media Matters, I monitor and analyze right-wing content across a wide variety of platforms, trying to understand what makes it tick. Each Friday I'll go through all the main narratives, craziest clips, and ridiculous moments from conservative media over the past week. If you want this delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe here.
Throughout this week, Media Matters published leaked videos of Tucker Carlson. Fox News attempted to silence Media Matters from publishing these leaked materials. Media Matters President and CEO Angelo Carusone responded by saying, “Reporting on newsworthy leaked materials is a cornerstone of journalism.” You can see Fox's letter here. Fox's first draft of the letter was somehow worse.
- The first video showed Carlson criticizing Fox’s streaming platform Fox Nation, saying “nobody watches Fox Nation because the site sucks.” Carlson’s criticism seemingly occurred while the host was attempting to perform some image rehab for misogynist social media influencer Andrew Tate. Carlson said he was “welcoming him [Tate] back into the brotherhood of journalists.”
- The second batch of videos show Carlson being extremely creepy in his comments about women. In one bizarre segment, Carlson said, “I can never assess my appearance. I wait for my postmenopausal fans to weigh in on that.”
- The third video showed Carlson being “triggered” by Dominion Voting Systems’ deposition lawyer in its $1.6 billion lawsuit against Fox. This defamation lawsuit, which Fox settled for $787.5 million, exposed numerous racist, misogynistic, and hypocritical text messages sent by Carlson. Carlson described the “10 hours” he spent with the lawyer and “the hate that I felt for that guy” as “unhealthy.” Carlson went on to curse the lawyer.
- In the fourth leak, Carlson asked a woman applying makeup if “pillow fights ever break out” in the women’s bathroom. After the makeup artist replied that they do not, Carlson suggested, “That'd be more [of] a dorm activity.”
Former Fox producer Abby Grossberg is currently suing Fox, accusing Carlson and the network of sexism and harassment.
Alongside these videos, The New York Times published a racist text message Carlson sent to his producer in 2021. The message shows Carlson fantasizing about violence and claiming that “three against one … is not how white men fight.” Conservative pundits quickly came to Carlson’s defense over this message, claiming that it was neither racist nor hurtful to the former prime-time host’s brand. And while the text allegedly contributed to the decision to fire Carlson, it was not that different from the white nationalism that aired on his program.
Right-wing media have not restricted themselves to merely defending Carlson. Pundits across various platforms have all decisively turned against Fox. Newsmax, which has been using Carlson’s ouster from Fox to lure viewers to its channel, was at the forefront of this anti-Fox campaign. Newsmax prime-time host (and former Fox host) Eric Bolling called the News Corp.-owning Murdoch family “new world order globalists” who are carrying out a “new world order globalist kill list.” Daytime host Rob Finnerty even hinted that Carlson could possibly join the Newsmax ranks. Steve Bannon called the Murdoch family “demonic.” And The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh said to his viewers, “If you’re still a Fox News viewer, you should just ask yourself, do I trust these people?”
Fox continues to have ongoing legal problems as Smartmatic’s $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit against the network continues to progress. Between Carlson’s loss and the network’s legal exposure, we have every reason to expect that Fox will become even more extreme in its rhetoric following Carlson’s ouster, even while it attempts to raise your cable bill, forcing you to subsidize this bloodthirstiness. Don’t let the network do that.
Sign up to NoFoxFee.com to get tips on how to send a polite message to your provider and say, “Don’t let Fox News raise my bill.”
This week in stupid
- Fox’s Jesse Watters said “I can tell” when a person is undocumented just by looking at them."
- The Daily Wire's Matt Walsh warned “we're filling the military with cross-dressers.”
This week in scary
- The Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles gave a defense of book burning, saying, “I would probably happily burn” many books.”
- Newsmax’s Eric Bolling said schoolchildren are being “indoctrinated by actual devil worshippers” to build a “dark army.”
In case you missed it
- Bully Steven Crowder has been under a barrage of abuse accusations, ranging from his wife to former employees. This week, he responded to allegations that he inappropriately exposed himself to staff — using a skit about exposing himself to a staffer.
- Mark Levin said he “won't do” his Fox News show if viewers are serious about a Fox boycott.
- BlazeTV Steve Deace called Republican mega-donor Peter Thiel a “homosexual corporatist” who won’t fund Ron DeSantis because he’s “actually serious about this groomer stuff.”
- Fox’s Greg Gutfeld said, “Wokeism is every bit as racist as white nationalism.”
- A Fox Business guest praised TikTok for letting misinformation about abortion to spread “completely untouched.”
- As conservative pundits continue to promote book banning, Fox’s Jesse Watters jumped into the fray as he defended the banning of a Judy Blume book in Florida.
- Sinclair’s Sharyl Attkisson gave credence to the QAnon conspiracy theory.
- After former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio and three other members of the group were convicted of seditious conspiracy related to the January 6 insurrection, Newsmax's Greg Kelly called it a "sham and a shame." He also said that Tarrio was "unjustly convicted."
- Steve Bannon guest Mike Davis said the Proud Boys seditious conspiracy convictions were about “trying to take out Trump.”
- After a year of actively posting on his social media platform Truth Social, former President Donald Trump amplified QAnon-promoting accounts nearly 500 times.
- Influencers and right-wing figures are promoting crypto gambling and sports betting to young viewers online.
- North Carolina Lieutenant Governor, and potential gubernatorial candidate, Mark Robinson claimed that Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby were victims of a left-wing “plot” to destroy them for their “so-called sexual crimes.”
- Russell Brand’s Rumble show has been uncritically platforming dangerous right-wing figures and conspiracy theorists.
- Right-wing media have been exploiting anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. as a potential spoiler candidate for President Joe Biden.
- The conservative Sinclair Broadcast Group is ceasing nearly all local news broadcasts at 10 stations across the country. It will be broadcasting a right-wing misinformation program instead.
- After a tragic shooting that resulted in the deaths of five family members in Cleveland, Texas, right-wing media are using the immigration status of the alleged shooter to fearmonger about migrants.
- Trump campaign adviser and former OAN host Christina Bobb urged viewers of a QAnon show to “go be a part of our campaign.”
- Fox News has ignored the ongoing battery lawsuit by E. Jean Carroll against Donald Trump.
- Washington Post “Fact Checker” editor and chief writer Glenn Kessler compared Biden correctly pointing out deficit reduction during his administration to Trump-style “propaganda.”
- Fox’s Sean Hannity praised Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy for infiltrating “enemy territory” via his mainstream news interviews.”