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Katharine Gorka, Anti-Muslim Commentator, Will Be Named Border Patrol Press Aide

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Katharine Gorka, who is expected to take over as the new Customs and Border Protection press secretary, previously falsely claimed that “the Muslim community in this country really isn’t working with us to prevent” terrorism.

CNN reported on June 18 that Gorka “is expected to be the new press secretary at Customs and Border Protection. Acting CBP Commissioner John Sanders told CNN Tuesday that Gorka is expected to take the position and he advocated for her to join the agency.” Gorka, who has been working as a senior adviser in the Department of Homeland Security since January 2017, also previously wrote for Breitbart.com. She is married to right-wing radio host and anti-Muslim commentator Sebastian Gorka.

BuzzFeed News reported in August 2017 that she has been “advising top officials at DHS on counter-terror policies, drafting the department’s reports to Congress on terrorism recruitment, and trying to instill her anti-Islamist philosophy throughout the department.” HuffPost and BuzzFeed News also reported that she helped deny funding from the Countering Violent Extremism program to Life After Hate, a nonprofit that works to help “people leave the violent far-right.”

During her time as a right-wing commentator, Gorka repeatedly made anti-Muslim remarks. In one appearance roughly half a year before entering the Trump administration, she specifically took issue with the Muslim community in the United States, complaining that Muslims purportedly aren’t “working with us to prevent” terrorist acts.

Gorka appeared on the August 3, 2016, edition of Sandy Rios in the Morning, a radio program hosted by anti-LGBTQ and anti-Muslim bigot Sandy Rios. While speaking about ISIS, Rios wondered if “there is a way that Muslims who are friends to the West” can distinguish themselves, and said that the “onus is on” Muslims to say that they’re “not a Sharia-compliant Muslim.”

Gorka answered: “That’s a burning question and I know that there’s a longstanding frustration that I share: Why more Muslims in this country haven’t stood up against this.” She then claimed that “about 110 ISIS supporters arrested or killed in this country since this all started in about March 2014, and a very small percentage were turned in by people who knew them. So that said that the Muslim community in this country really isn’t working with us to prevent this. And that should be disturbing to everyone.”

IMAGE: Katharine Gorka.

Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen Sees White Supremacist Terror Threat

The Department of Homeland Security is admitting that white supremacists are a real and growing problem, rejecting the claim Trump made after the Christchurch mass shooting.

In a speech at George Washington University on Monday, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was forced to acknowledge that hate-driven acts of violence are part of a growing problem within the United States.

The would-be terrorists “are using the same do-it-yourself, mass-murder tactics as we saw with the horrible assault last week in New Zealand against Muslim worshipers,” Nielsen said, even though Trump has refused to acknowledge the Islamic faith of those who were targeted in the mosque shootings.

Just Friday, when Trump was asked, following the New Zealand attacks, about the growing threat of white supremacists, he dismissed it as merely “a small group of people that have very, very serious problems.”

The comments from Trump echoed his administration’s policy thus far of de-emphasizing homegrown terrorism — they have even cut funding behind programs put in place to investigate such crimes.

But now even his handpicked Cabinet official Nielsen can’t hide from the evidence. She called attacks like the one in New Zealand “domestic terrorism,” a phrase Trump himself declined to use in his official statements.

Trump has a considerable history of anti-Islam statements and actions, most notably his attempts to impose a travel ban on Muslims coming to the United States.

In the wake of an attack by an individual who shares much of Trump’s anti-immigrant, pro-supremacist views, even his own team is acknowledging that Trump’s position is far afield from what is normal.

White supremacists are a threat, and no matter how much Trump covers for them, American lives are in danger.

Published with permission of The American Independent.

Conway: Trump Didn’t Inspire New Zealand Mass Murderer

Although President Donald Trump posted a tweet last Friday condemning the anti-Islam terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand (which has resulted in 50 deaths so far), some of his critics have noted that one of the suspects published a 74-page manifesto that described Trump as “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.” But Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway, during a Monday morning appearance on Fox News’ Fox and Friends, vehemently denied that Trump was an inspiration for the shooter in any way.

While Conway was addressing Fox and Friends co-host Steve Doocy and others, a headline ran across the bottom of the screen saying, “Media, Dems, blame Trump in wake of NZ attacks.” And Conway told the Fox News panel, “This president condemns hate and evil and bigotry, and we will continue to do so. People should feel safe in their places of worship, and we’ve seen far too often where that is not the case.”

Conway went out of her way to distance the New Zealand shooter from Trump’s beliefs, asserting that according to the manifesto, the shooter is “not a conservative” and “referred to himself as an eco-naturalist or an eco-fascist.”

During her March 18 Fox and Friends appearance, Conway also claimed that when Rep. Steve Scalise was shot by gunman James T. Hodgkinson in Arlington, Virginia in June 2017, Republicans didn’t blame liberals for the attack. Conway claimed, “We didn’t go around saying, ‘Gee, the guy said he watches MSNBC’ or ‘He’s a Bernie supporter.’ Nobody should do that.”

But in fact, Conway herself blamed liberals in June 2017 for Hodgkinson’s shooting spree, telling “Fox and Friends” that “as Steve Scalise was fighting for his life and crawling into right field in a trail of blood, you should go back and see what people were saying about the president and the Republicans at that very moment…. If I were shot and killed tomorrow, half of Twitter would explode in applause and excitement…. You can’t attack people personally, in a way, and think that tragedies like this won’t happen.”

Conway’s vigorous defense of Trump on Monday morning came around the time her husband, conservative attorney George Conway, was criticizing Trump for all the ranting he did on Twitter over the weekend. The attorney, describing Trump as a narcissist, tweeted, “Don’t assume that the things he says and does are part of a rational plan or strategy, because they seldom are. Consider them as a product of his pathologies.”

The Conways have had many disagreements on the merits of Trump’s presidency. While George Conway has been a frequent critic of the president on the right, his wife is among Trump’s most vocal defenders.

Is Jeanine Pirro’s Show Suspended? Fox News Won’t Tell

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

On March 16, Fox News pulled Jeanine Pirro’s Justice with Judge Jeanine from its weekly Saturday night slot after a week of outrage over her anti-Muslim rant against a sitting congresswoman. The next morning, President Donald Trump lashed out in a series of tweets, demanding Fox “Bring back @JudgeJeanine Pirro” and “fight for our Country.” The entire sequence of events highlights an important reality for advertisers: Fox News is bad for business.

During her March 9 show, Pirro suggested that Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D-MN) hijab was “indicative of her adherence to sharia law, which in itself is antithetical to the United States Constitution.” This outright bigotry prompted widespread outrage. A day later, Fox finally addressed it, saying that “we strongly condemn” Pirro’s remarks and that the network “addressed the matter with her directly.” Fox’s statement was accompanied by a separate statement from Pirro in which she neither apologized nor showed any remorse for what she said.

Fox replaced Pirro’s show with a documentary rerun on March 16. Jesse Watters, whose show airs before Pirro’s, did not mention her at all; normally he notes that her show follows his. The president appeared to be upset at missing one of his favorite TV programs, tweeting the next morning demands that “Fox must stay strong and fight back with vigor” and “Keep fighting for Tucker, and fight hard for @JudgeJeanine.”

There are four fundamental truths at play here. First, Fox News is under a lot of pressure following advertiser losses as a result of the network’s malfeasance and bigotry. Second, Fox News is a propaganda machine for the president, with the two entities now essentially merged. Third, Pirro’s show (and, for that matter, Tucker Carlson’s) is fundamentally bigoted to its core; she can never meaningfully distance herself from anti-Muslim statements since she’s been spewing rhetoric like this for years. And fourth, the Fox News audience wants the bigoted and anti-Muslim statements. They’ve been fed this for years, and now expect no less. That’s why you’ve seen people like Sebastian Gorka loudly defend Pirro this week.

In terms of any discipline for Pirro, Fox News kept mum for several days on the matter; CNN’s Brian Stelter is now reporting, per one source, that Pirro has been suspended for two weeks. But Fox executives’ instinctive secrecy just shows how afraid they are of their network’s audience: If Fox News were a real news organization, then at a minimum it would say on air that Pirro’s remarks were unacceptable and communicate what it is doing to its audience.

Instead of doing any of that, Fox News wants to send one message to its hard-right audience and an entirely different message to its advertisers. They are welcome to try, but the Fox audience will never abet any meaningful move away from bigotry, and the rest of the public (and advertisers) don’t have to play along. These are the tactics of a propaganda outlet, not a news organization.

Update: Fox News media analyst Howard Kurtz noted Pirro’s absense on his March 17 show, but did not confirm the suspension. According to Kurtz, “Without some public explanation of why the show was pulled, It certainly looks like a suspension.”