Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}


Fox News Fabricates Photo Of Gunman In Seattle ‘Autonomous Zone’

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern noticed on Friday that Fox News added a man carrying a military-assault rifle into images of Seattle's Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) -- a police-free area currently occupied by protesters against police violence.

Fox News featured the images on its website without any mention that they had been altered. Moreover, the images placed the exact same gunman in two different photos. In one, the gunman's left arm had been weirdly cut off in a straight line from the shoulder to the elbow.

Read Now Show less

Trump And Fox Blame ‘Fake Media’ For Looming Recession

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

President Donald Trump and his allies at Fox News have settled on a strategy to deal with the possibility of an oncoming economic recession: Blame the media.

The United States is currently experiencing the longest economic expansion on record, growing every quarter since the early days of President Barack Obama’s tenure. But no boom lasts forever, and key economic indicators suggest that the economy is now weakening and that a recession may be on the horizon. A recent survey found nearly three in four economists expect one by 2021, reflecting “growing skepticism among economists and investors that the U.S. economy will be able to withstand a protracted trade war with China without serious harm amid a weakening global outlook.”

Trump is reportedly worried about the impact that might have on his reelection campaign, and rightfully so, as sitting presidents who face recessions as Election Day approaches typically lose. His response — along with talking up the economy while lashing out at the response of his handpicked Federal Reserve chairman — has been to push the paranoid conspiracy theory that the press is deliberately trying to tank the economy to stop his re-election. This plays into Trump’s years-long campaign to delegitimize the press as the “enemy of the people.”

It is also absurd, a classic example of starting with the conclusion that your perceived enemy is responsible for your predicament and then backfilling the details. After spending years portraying journalists as vicious partisans out to get him, it’s a short step for Trump to declare they are willing to hurt millions of Americans in that effort.

But while one can always find an idiot pundit willing to sign on to a morally reprehensible position, the bulk of the press quite clearly isn’t cheering on a recession — it is reporting based on economic data and expert analysis that one may be imminent.

In addition to the lack of evidence for the president’s narrative, it also doesn’t make sense — even if you grant the premise that journalists are willing to create economic havoc just to hurt Trump (and you shouldn’t), would they really do that knowing that their industry’s already weak financial position means that their own livelihoods would be jeopardized?

The conspiracy theory’s fundamental stupidity hasn’t stopped the president’s loyal propagandists from pushing it. Fox commentators have played a key role in validating and popularizing Trump’s attacks on the press, and they’ve adopted his current salvo with zeal.

Indeed, Lou Dobbs, whose Fox Business show Trump watches religiously and who at times has advised the White House, levied the charge even before Trump did. On August 14, he responded to media reports that the inverted yield curve for U.S. Treasury bonds might signal a recession by accusing the “leftist national media” of “talking down the Trump stock market and the Trump economy” as part of an effort to elect a Democratic president.

Trump echoed Dobbs in a tweet the next afternoon, baselessly accusing journalists of “doing everything they can to crash the economy because they think that will be bad for me and my re-election.”

Blessed by the president, the narrative quickly took hold on Fox News and Fox Business as hosts accused the press of “talking down the economy deliberately” and trying to “make this economy go into recession.”

For Sean Hannity, this was evidence that journalists are willing to threaten the economic security of millions of Americans for political gain. “Some are desperately hoping — hoping and praying, hoping and praying Americans will lose their jobs, lose their savings, see a major decrease in their retirement, 401(k)s,” he claimed on Wednesday night. “They want people to suffer. Why? So they can get back power and President Trump will lose the election. Do you know what? It doesn’t get any sicker than what these people are doing.”

“How is it possible [journalists] don’t want America to succeed?” he later asked Dobbs. “I’m the dishwasher, I’m the cook, the waiter, bartender, construction guy. I want all those guys to succeed. That’s me.”

“Yes, it’s the foundation of the American dream. We want everyone in this country to succeed,” Dobbs replied. “And the nonsense that is being spewed — by the way, not just the radical Dems, but their complicit, national left-wing media friends — they are basically building a drumbeat for a recession.”

Fox News hosts Jeanine Pirro and Jesse Watters continued to push the conspiracy theory narrative through the weekend. Trump did too, tweeting from the G-7 meeting in Biarritz, France, that the news media is “trying to force a Recession” because journalists “hate” the United States.

Meanwhile, the president lifted up a segment from Fox News host Steve Hilton praising his economic stewardship as an example of good news coverage:

By Monday morning’s edition of Fox & Friends, the media’s “recession hoax” had become part of the network’s litany of purportedly false media narratives, along with Russian collusion and Trump’s racism.

Blaming bad economic news on the press might not help Trump with the majority of voters. But it will keep the base charged up against journalists — and make them less likely to question whether Trump’s policies haven’t worked out, keeping him from facing accountability.

Rubio Promotes Shady Border Wall Fundraiser

A serial fake news creator launched a GoFundMe campaign to solicit funds from Trump supporters to build the wall Mexico was supposed to pay for — and Sen. Marco Rubio thinks it’s a great idea.

Brian Kolfage created the “We The People Will Fund The Wall” page, with the stated goal of raising $1 billion.

“If the 63 million people who voted for Trump each pledge $80, we can build the wall,” Kolfage promises. So far, he has raised $11.6 million. He’s also soliciting checks on a separate website to be sent directly to him.

On Friday, Rubio used his platform as a sitting senator — he has 3.6 million followers on Twitter — to promote the dubious crusade. He hailed Kolfage as a “true American hero” and praised him for taking “the initiative on the border wall.” In Rubio’s view, Kolfage “shames those who for political reasons irrationally oppose making America safer.”

The tweet came in the midst of a series of tweets from Rubio supporting Trump and his plot to shut down the federal government unless he gets $5 billion to fund his needless wall.

But in promoting Kolfage, Rubio is exposing millions to a campaign put together by an individual with a troubled past.

An Iraq War veteran, Kolfage ran a Facebook page called Right Wing News as part of what NBC News called “a ring of affiliate sites that frequently trafficked in conspiracy theories.”

Right Wing News was pulled down by Facebook in a part of a crackdown on fake news. Kolfage’s page was one of many described by Facebook as “using fake accounts … to drive traffic to their websites” or “were ad farms using Facebook to mislead people into thinking that they were forums for legitimate political debate.”

After Facebook pulled his page, Kolfage created a group called Fight4FreeSpeech and began soliciting online donations for it.

Kolfage doesn’t mention any of his questionable past in his GoFundMe solicitation to “fund the wall.” Instead, he promises donors that their money will go “to the right place” because he has “contacted the Trump Administration to secure a point of contact where all the funds will go upon completion” and claims to have “very high level contacts already helping.”

He also assures his donors that “this is not a scam” and offers, as proof, the fact that he is using his real name and has appeared repeatedly on Fox.

And Fox has been boosting the bizarre campaign, giving him air time on both Fox News and Fox Business.

Now his operation is getting free advertising from his own senator. The amplification could lead to millions more being thrown into Kolfage’s coffers, despite his troublesome past.

There’s no reason to think that Kolfage’s latest project is any more credible than his past ventures. And if the people who are sending him their money end up getting scammed, Rubio can take some credit for promoting the ill-conceived effort.

Published with permission of The American Independent.

At Davos, Trump Is Loudly Booed For Self-Pitying Attacks On The Press

Reprinted with permission from

Foreign journalists let Donald Trump know that his authoritarian claims of fake news aren’t going to be shrugged off, the way so many American journalists now do when the president unleashes reckless, dangerous attacks on the free press.

After delivering a speech to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Trump agreed to a brief question-and-answer session, where he was asked what in his life had prepared him for the presidency.

The narcissist in chief immediately started taking about his press coverage and how much media attention he’s received his entire adult life.

“And throughout my whole life — someone will explain someday why — but I’ve always gotten a lot. And as a businessman I was always treated really well by the press. You know, the numbers speak and things happen, but I’ve always really had a very good press.”

The lifelong publicity hound then complained his favorable press coverage vanished when he decided to run for office.

That thin-skinned charge was immediately met with a wave of boos and jeers from foreign press.

Foreign journos sitting next to me booed Trump’s attack on the press.

By contrast, Trump’s attorneys refused to deny the story.

As for Trump’s whining about his campaign coverage, many studies have shown that he benefited from the media’s relentless and mindless obsession on Hillary Clinton’s emails during the campaign.

Not only did Trump receive far less negative coverage than Clinton in 2016, according to an exhaustive review by the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, but Trump received more overall press attention. Additionally, Clinton’s so-called scandals got more press coverage than Trump’s.

As president, Trump’s vicious attacks on the free press have earned him the “top oppressor” label from the Committee to Protect Journalists, beating out some of the world’s worst dictators, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Trump’s “fake news” attacks and insistence that he’s a victim might work with his conservative media enablers at home — but as he found at Davos, the rest of the world knows better.

Eric Boehlert is a veteran progressive writer for Media Matters and Salon and author of two books: Lapdogs: How The Press Rolled Over for Bush, and Bloggers On The Bus. Follow him on Twitter @ericboehlert.