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Tag: fox news

‘Justice For J6’ Rally Distracts From Attacks On Democracy By GOP At State Level

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

More than eight months after a mob of then-President Donald Trump's supporters stormed the Capitol building while the 2020 presidential election was being ratified, some media outlets hyped a follow-up rally at the Capitol. But in fact, the real action is happening elsewhere.

Some mainstream media outlets focused attention on Saturday's scheduled "Justice for J6" rally in Washington, D.C., organized by a former Trump 2016 campaign strategist who has resurfaced to contend that people being held in pre-trial detention for their role in the January 6 assault on the Capitol are "political prisoners." But in doing so, the media unduly magnified an event that was a sparsely attended bust — and overlooked a more insidious development in the ongoing attempts to spread further lies about the 2020 election.

Another story developed in Pennsylvania this week, where a committee in the Republican-controlled state Senate has taken a major step in advancing the far-right push for "forensic audits" of the 2020 election results throughout the country.

The state Senate's Intergovernmental Affairs and Operations Committee voted along party lines Wednesday to issue a subpoena for detailed personal records of every registered voter in the state, including normally non-public information such as driver's license numbers and the last four digits of people's Social Security numbers. In addition to the clear dangers for identity theft if such information were to leak into the wrong hands, these tactics are similar to efforts by Arizona Republicans and could lead to voter intimidation.

"There have been questions regarding the validity of people … who have voted, whether or not they exist," state Republican Sen. Cris Dush, who is also the committee chair, had said in a committee hearing. These statements are similar to former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani's discredited claims from last year that great numbers of votes had been cast under dead people's names in the swing state as it was won by Joe Biden. (There have been just a small handful of cases in Pennsylvania in which votes were cast under dead people's names — in acts committed by registered Republicans, who now regret having believed Trump's propaganda about election fraud.)

An analysis by Media Matters found that in cable news coverage since Tuesday, when Pennsylvania Republicans first announced they would be seeking all this private data, CNN has mentioned the rally in at least 69 segments, while MSNBC has included the story in at least 35 segments. (Fox News, by contrast, has given the rally almost no political oxygen, mentioning it only three times during the same time frame.)

Meanwhile, the Pennsylvania story has received only a fraction of the coverage, having been mentioned in at least 13 segments on CNN and at least seven on MSNBC, according to the same analysis. (Fox News has not mentioned the Pennsylvania subpoena at all.)

Atlantic Council fellow Jared Holt, who monitors online extremism, wrote last week that the media have largely overblown the rally in their coverage. (Emphasis in original.)

Take it from me, a guy who spends 40+ hrs a week staring into the extremist abyss: What you're seeing at this point is largely speculation. To be perfectly honest, I'm a frustrated at what I've seen so far from the nation's leading publishers of journalism. It feels they have learned nothing about covering this space.
This is not to say that the event will not carry an inherent risk of attracting extreme believers, or even some with a violent disposition. For that, the event is worth monitoring and keeping tabs on. I'd also strongly advise people stay away from the rally, given that possibility. But suggestions that organized extremist groups are mobilizing at any major scale around this event are unsupported by current analysis.

The media coverage from the two networks looks even worse for CNN when examining the content itself. The network interviewed the rally's lead organizer Matt Braynard, and has aired clips from the interview multiple times, where CNN justice correspondent Jessica Schneider debunked Braynard's assertions that the people being held in detention were nonviolent protesters. One segment from Erin Burnett OutFront contained only a brief mention that Holt said the rally was expected to fail.

By contrast, MSNBC has done a much better job of explaining in detail that the event was expected to be a dud. (Though at the same time, this also means the network has given too much attention to a story that amounts to nothing.)

On Friday's edition of Morning Joe, NBC News senior reporter Brandy Zadrozny bluntly explained that far-right groups were actually discouraging their members from going to this event, that Braynard has been engaged in a "money-making enterprise" surrounding MAGA causes, and that "all of this media attention really helps him to do just that."

WILLIE GEIST (CO-HOST): You've been keeping tabs online, on these online forums where these groups who planned and plotted January 6 also organized. What are you seeing this week, what are you seeing this morning, in terms of tomorrow's planned rally?

BRANDY ZADROZNY (NBC NEWS SENIOR REPORTER): Well, it's some good news, you know. We're not seeing any signs that we might usually see before a large, national-scale political rally, MAGA rally, extremist rally. We're seeing basically, really underwhelming posts, really limited to people nearby. People who are talking about this rally that you'd usually find in these circles — Proud Boys, QAnon, MAGA, anti-vaxxers — actually they're saying to stay away. There's a conspiracy theory that this is actually a honeypot or some sort of plot by the feds to entrap people to commit crimes. There's really barely a whimper out there for the real target audience.

I talked to Jared Holt from the Atlantic Council's DFR lab, and he's just saying really, the local energy is already preoccupied with community issues like in Portland or anti-mask vaccine rallies. So people are just too busy. And it's really important to note that unlike the January 6 Capitol attack, where it was really a bunch of different factions all sort of coming together under the umbrella of voter fraud, of the stolen election conspiracy theory — and really asked to be there by President Trump — no one is really doing this.

This event is actually just planned by this guy. His name is Matt Braynard, he works for this organization that he founded called Look Ahead America. And you know, he's a former Trump campaign operative. He's sort of a C-list player who jumps from MAGA cause to MAGA cause. He raised $650,000 last year to investigate the stolen election. So this is a money-making enterprise, and it's really important to remember that. And all of this media attention really helps him to do just that.

One major difference between the events of January 6 and Saturday's rally was that last time, the rioters sincerely believed that they were acting on behalf of the sitting president of the United States — and seemingly confirming their belief, Trump refused to immediately deploy the National Guard to defend Congress. No such incentive structure exists anymore, now that Joe Biden is actually in the White House, and any backup support would be sent to the Capitol if it is needed. Furthermore, Congress will not even be in session until next week. Those facts all seriously narrow down the range of people who might show up with violence in mind — though as we have also learned, such individuals could potentially show up on any other day.

To be clear, it is completely appropriate for security officials to prepare for violence just in case, and those preparations can themselves have a deterrent effect on any violence even occurring. But media hyping of the event is only serving to puff up its visibility and the public profiles of its organizers in a way that does not appear to be warranted.

Not only that, the time could be better spent shining a light on how the spirit of the insurrection has continued in state legislatures.

Methodology

Media Matters searched our internal database of all original, weekday programming on CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC (shows airing from 6 a.m. through midnight) for segments that analysts determined to include mention of either the September 18 Justice for J6 rally or the subpoenas for personal information in the Pennsylvania State audit of the 2020 U.S. presidential election from 6 a.m. September 14 through 12 p.m. September 17, 2021.

Stefanik Invokes Racist ‘Great Replacement’ Theory In Campaign Ads

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, the third-ranked Republican in the House, began running a series of campaign ads on Facebook on Wednesday invoking a racist conspiracy theory that falsely alleges that immigrants are being invited to the United States to replace white voters.

The campaign for Stefanik, who is up for reelection in November 2022 for New York's 22nd Congressional District, is promoting ads that read:" Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and Nancy Pelosi are attempting to flood our voter roles with 11 MILLION NEW VOTERS by giving illegal immigrants amnesty."

The ads link to a fundraising page featuring similar copy, which alleges, "Democrats want citizenship for 11 MILLION illegal immigrants… so they can stuff the ballot box for socialism."

Stefanik's ads make reference to efforts made by Democrats, including President Joe Biden, to create a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 10.3 million undocumented immigrants currently residing in the United States.

The ads also invoke the conspiracy theory known as "the great replacement," which the Anti-Defamation League has defined as "the hateful notion that the white race is in danger of being 'replaced' by a rising tide of non-whites."

Messages that promote the theory have become increasingly common among Republican elected officials and in conservative media.

In 2016, as he was running for office, former President Donald Trump said, "I think this will be the last election that the Republicans have a chance of winning because you're going to have people flowing across the border, you're going to have illegal immigrants coming in and they're going to be legalized and they're going to be able to vote and once that all happens you can forget it."

Fox News has also latched on to the message and many of its on-air personalities have spent the ensuing years repeating and amplifying the racist smear.

The most prominent advocate on the network has been host Tucker Carlson, who has invoked the idea on numerous occasions.

"I have less political power because they are importing a brand new electorate. Why should I sit back and take that?" Carlson said on the April 8 edition of his program.

In an April 9 letter to Fox News executives, Anti-Defamation League CEO and National Director Jonathan Greenblatt called on Fox News to fire Carlson for using the trope.

"It is dangerous race-baiting, extreme rhetoric. And yet, unfortunately, it is the culmination of a pattern of increasingly divisive rhetoric used by Carlson over the past few years," the letter read.

But Carlson was undeterred. On April 12, Carlson said on his program, "Demographic change is the key to the Democratic Party's political ambitions." And on April 21, Carlson told his audience, "You're being replaced, and there's nothing you can do about it."

Other Fox News hosts, including Laura Ingraham, Brian Kilmeade, and Jesse Watters, have also promoted the same racist "replacement" trope.

And Republicans in Congress have followed suit.

In a campaign video released on April 11, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) falsely claimed that Democrats "want borders wide open," alleging that this "helped Democrats take over the entire state of California" in the past.

During a congressional hearing on April 14, Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) claimed, "We're replacing national-born American — native-born Americans to permanently transform the political landscape of this very nation."

Two days later, on April 16, while appearing on Fox Business, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) attacked Democrats on immigration, asking, "Is it really they want to remake the demographics of America, to ensure their — that they stay in power forever? Is that what's happening here?"

The theory has had deadly real-world implications. It was cited in a manifesto left behind by the white supremacist who shot and killed 51 people and injured 40 in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019. The idea was also invoked by neo-Nazis who protested in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, using the slogan, "Jews will not replace us."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Now Fox News Will Require Daily Testing Of Unvaccinated Employees

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

CNN media reporter Oliver Darcy has unearthed a memo distributed at Fox News from Kevin Lord, the company's head of human resources, announcing that while more than 90 percent of its full-time employees claim to have been vaccinated for COVID-19, the company was now set to institute daily testing for everyone else. (Four weeks ago, all Fox employees were required to upload their vaccination status into a human resources database.)

Keep in mind that this is the same network whose actual on-air content has undermined vaccination efforts, celebrated people who refuse to take the vaccines, and even encouraged the use of counterfeit vaccination cards. The network had also previously attacked President Joe Biden in July for instituting vaccine and testing requirements for the federal workforce, even though Fox News had already been doing something very similar with a vaccine passport system for its own offices.

"Soon we will introduce another important health and safety measure for access to our facilities — daily COVID testing for the small group of employees who are not vaccinated or have not provided their vaccination status," Lord wrote in the new memo. "Additional details about this protocol will be shared with the relevant employees in the near future."

Fox is actually going way beyond Biden's policies. The upcoming rule from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration only requires that unvaccinated employees at companies with more than 100 workers would have to test negative once a week, while Fox News is mandating daily testing inside its own walls.

And since late last week, in response to Biden's order for vaccine and testing requirements for large businesses throughout the private sector, the network's talking heads have gone positively ballistic. (At the same time, none of them have quit their jobs at Fox in protest of the network's internal practices.)

  • Fox News contributor Mollie Hemingway said on Thursday night that Biden's order for vaccine and testing requirements was "going to require everybody to stand up and resist and fight."
  • Fox & Friends Weekend co-host Will Cain on Friday night compared proposals for vaccine requirements in order to board an airplane to "the right of Black Americans to enjoy interstate travel."
  • Sean Hannity also declared on Friday night that "you better get the vaccine or Dr. Joe Biden is going to unleash the full force of the federal government against you and your loved ones and your employer. And you will be cancelled in society altogether. You will be shut out of everything."
  • Fox & Friends Weekend co-host Rachel Campos Duffy said on Monday morning that vaccine and testing requirements are "the beginning of the communist-style social credit system," claiming that "this is the beginning of that system where if you're a dissident, if you don't agree with the party in power, you will be punished."
  • And on Monday night, Fox prime-time host Tucker Carlson warned that vaccine requirements would lead to a dystopian future of surveillance and forced psychotropic medications for the conservative population. Then, he suggested that something must be done to stop all of this before his own hypothetical scenario comes true: "Without mass resistance, that is exactly what is coming and it's coming soon, and once it does come, the question is where does it go from there?"

Apparently, "where does it go from there" is a job at Fox News.

Murdoch Media, GOP Fabricate Tale Of White House Cutting Biden’s Mic

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

The Republican Party and two media outlets owned by Rupert Murdoch pushed a false story about President Joe Biden that made its way into questioning of Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday.

During Blinken's appearance, Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho, the ranking Republican on the committee, asked him about a video clip shared the day before by the Republican National Committee on both its RNC Research Twitter feed and GOP War Room YouTube account and picked up by Fox News and the New York Post.

On Monday, Biden met with federal and state fire officials to receive a briefing at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho. The video clip shared by the RNC, which it titled "White House feed cuts out as Biden starts to ask a question," was taken from the White House feed of that meeting and shows the president asking a question, in the middle of which the feed ends.

The clip was included later that day in a story published by Fox News with the headline "White House abruptly cuts feed of Biden mid-sentence as he asks question at wildfires briefing."

The New York Post ran the story under the headline "White House livestream cuts Biden mid-sentence as he goes off script."

Risch told Blinken, "Look, we've all seen this, we saw it as recently as yesterday — somebody in the White House has authority to press the button and stop the president, cut off the president's speaking ability and sound. Who is that person?"

Laughing, Blinken responded, "I think anyone who knows the president, including members of this committee, knows that he speaks very clearly and very deliberately for himself. No one else does."

Risch persisted, asking, "Are you saying that there's no one in the White House that can cut him off, because yesterday that happened, and it's happened a number of times before then. It's been widely reported that somebody has the ability to push the button and cut off his sound and stop him from speaking. Who is that person?"

"There is no such person," Blinken replied.

After the exchange, having previously amplified the video from the Republican Party, Fox News then broadcast Risch's questioning of Blinken about it.

"It's come to the point, John, where senators are now asking about this in hearing rooms," noted host Sandra Smith on the program America Reports.

"It does seem to happen a lot," replied host John Roberts.

But the entire series of events, from the Republican Party to Fox News to the Senate hearing and back to Fox News, is based on the false premise that the video feed cutting off during an event involving the president is unusual.

In Biden's schedule from Monday the video feed of his briefing with federal and state fire agencies in Idaho is designated as "Out-of-Town Pool Spray at the Top."

That means that the video presented online and fed to television outlets was always intended to include only the comments from Biden and other officials made before the start of the event, not the entirety of the meeting.

"Translation of 'pool spray at top' -- reporters will hear some opening remarks and then leave as the president begins to engage in the briefing," noted Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler.

CNN fact checker Daniel Dale tweeted, "Prompted by a Republican National Committee tweet, right-wing media covered this like the White House was nervously censoring Biden as he went off script. In fact, as you've probably seen, it's entirely normal for the press to be ushered out/the cam to be shut off mid-meeting."

Observers noted the circularity of the entire episode: the Republican Party claiming that ordinary operations are somehow an example of a White House feeling the need to shield the president from his own words; right-wing outlets Fox News and the New York Post boosting the false claim; a Republican senator calling the false story "widely reported" and asking a Cabinet secretary to confirm it during a Senate hearing; and Fox then picking up the hearing as news.

Wrote Kessler, "It's especially dismaying that a senior senator like Risch would fall prey to such nonsense and waste valuable time on it during an important national security hearing."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Flattened By Vote, Recall Activists Wanly Claim 'Success'

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

On Wednesday, after the GOP effort to recall California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom officially came to an end in a resounding loss, Fox News hosted a roundtable of anti-Newsom activists who claimed they had achieved "success."

The recall results were not close. The ballot against recalling Newsom received 64 percent of the vote and held a lead of over 2.5 million votes, with 70 percent of the total counted.

However, Fox & Friends invited several guests who were a part of the recall movement to react to the results of the election, and many of them declared successes.

"I do think this was a huge success because a small group of people did put some fear into the governor to the point that he actually had to fly out the vice president and the president," Erica Kious, the former owner of a San Francisco hair salon, said, after saying she was "devastated" by the recall results.

In September 2020, Kious had released a video of Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visiting her salon despite COVID restrictions.

"It was a huge grassroots effort," guest Aaron Bergh said. "It was great to see this revolution of small business owners and dissatisfied parents and just ordinary Californians to put their foot down and say we need change here."

The GOP effort to oust Newsom lost despite national support and fundraising campaigns.

While Newsom outraised his opponents, there were millions raised in favor of the recall campaign. The Los Angeles Times reported that pro-recall efforts received over $45.2 million in donations.

The recall campaign also had the support of the national Republican Party and the California Republican Party.

"Gavin Newsom has had three years to solve California's problems. He has only made them worse. His time in office is up," Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel wrote in an op-ed column on FoxNews.com on Tuesday.

Jessica Millan Patterson, chair of the California Republican Party, wrote a few hours before the election, "@CAGOP has grown to 72,000 volunteers and made 18 million voter contacts to #RecallGavinNewsom - the excitement and enthusiasm is there, Californians are hungry for change."

And then there was Fox News. As polling began showing a likely Newsom win, Fox began to promote baseless conspiracy theories alleging that the election would be stolen.

"The only thing that will save Gavin Newsom is voter fraud," Fox host Tomi Lahren claimed on the September 7 edition of the program Outnumbered.

On August 22, Fox contributor Newt Gingrich similarly alleged that "this is going to be an election where they go all-out to steal the referendum."

And on August 25, Fox host Tucker Carlson claimed that President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris campaigning for Newsom was a threat to democracy: "Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are now set to campaign against the recall — 'No more democracy for you!' You've got to wonder, will the state survive this? Will there be a free and fair election?"

Despite the efforts of the state and national Republicans and their allies at Fox, the leading Republican candidate in the recall, Larry Elder, conceded on Tuesday night.

"Let's be gracious in defeat. By the way, we may have lost the battle, but we are going to win the war," Elder said.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Beltway Media Blame Biden For Vaccine Refusal, Ignore Fox Brainwashing

Reprinted with permission from Press Run

Busy extending the list of "crises" that President Joe Biden must face, the Beltway media are busy adding Covid vaccinations as a looming failure for the Democrat, as the nation readies a national mandate for the inoculations.

By putting the onus on Biden for the millions of defiant Trump voters who refuse to take the free, safe, and effective shot even as their neighbors become sick and die around them, the press is boosting the GOP — and missing a huge story.

We're witnessing one of the great mass brainwashings in American political history, as millions of Fox News Covid zombies eagerly swallow an ocean of lies, distortions, and misinformation. Yet the press blames Biden for not being able to convince them otherwise. Worse, the press blames the president without ever acknowledging the large-scale brainwashing that is happening.

Uncomfortable with reporting on a conservative movement that has lost touch with reality, the Beltway media are much more comfortable treating the vaccine story as one about a Democratic president who's failing to properly communicate and persuade. And one who's being outmaneuvered by Republicans.

Incredibly, the Washington Post recently cited as a "political win" for the GOP the fact that "Republican governors in several states have also had success in undermining Biden's efforts to require masks for schoolchildren and others in an effort to limit Covid-19 spread."

In a headline that was later changed, the Associated Press claimed that with his mandate announcement last week Biden had declared "war on the unvaccinated."

The New York Times announced, "Delta's rise has been fueled in part by the inability of Mr. Biden and his administration to persuade millions of vaccine-refusing Americans to inoculate themselves against the virus," in a type of dispatch that has been repeated nonstop by news outlets in recent weeks.

Virtually every reporter is working from the same script: Covid is surging and deaths are up because of Biden's "inability" to persuade vaccine "skeptics." What the Times report never addressed, and virtually none of them ever do, is that the reason millions of Americans still won't get vaccinated is because there is a choreographed, deep-pocketed political and media campaign designed to make sure millions of people don't get vaccinated. Period.

The press wants us to believe this is all just happening, by chance. It's not. Biden is battling powerful forces that reject science and are committed to prolonging the pandemic. That's essential to understand our continued health crisis, yet the press refuses to address it. Holding vaccine dead enders responsible for their actions is just not something they want to do.

Following Biden's Covid address to the nation on Thursday, CNN's Jake Tapper not only deducted points for the president's supposed "scolding tone," but the CNN anchor suggested Trump voters should not be singled out for extending the deadly pandemic. By Tapper's telling, because Trump voters are being lied to about the vaccine by far-right players, it's the liars who are to blame — who are the "villains" — not the millions of people who willingly embrace the falsehoods.

Last month, the Times posted a seven-minute, narrated report about an Arkansas community in the Ozarks with a ridiculously low vaccination/high Covid rate. "Rhetoric on freedom and choice is dissuading people from getting the shot, at a terrible cost," the Times tweeted, while promoting the clip. But who was responsible for the rhetoric that was creating a"terrible cost"? The seven-minute Times report never mentioned Fox News and never addressed who was pumping out all the Covid lies. But the report did capture lots of Arkansas locals spouting virus untruths: "We're talking about an unproven, untested vaccine."

Eight months after the vaccine arrived we know millions of Trump voters won't take it. That's not the news, although it remains a simple story to tell — and to blame Biden. Instead, journalists ought to be telling the harder truths and fixating on the why, and specifically calling out the forces at play.

The Times' Arkansas report did acknowledge "misinformation certainly exists here," but that single sentence represented the entirety of the coverage of that topic. The report also never mentioned "Republican," and instead referenced "leaders" who have politicized the vaccine.

Just yesterday, the Times published a piece, "How Outrage Over Vaccine Mandates Became a Mainstream GOP Stance," and failed to reference Fox News, which has aired hysterical, non-stop attacks on the federal mandate since it was announced. Fact: That's how outrage over common-sense mandates became mainstreamed within the GOP. Also on Sunday, the Times produced, "The U.S. is Falling to the Lowest Vaccination Rates of the World's Wealthiest Democracies," which included not one sentence addressing the why.

More recently, CNN produced its own 10-minute video about another poorly vaccinated Ozarks community, in Carter County Missouri. CNN spent days interviewing locals who regurgitated anti-virus rhetoric: "I ain't takin' that shit." "There's not enough research on it." "I believe if the good Lord wants me right now it doesn't matter if I take a vaccine or if I don't."

CNN omitted all references to Fox News or the Republican Party, and other bad-faith actors who have brainwashed so many people into thinking the Covid vaccine is evil despite the fact that inoculations have been part of everyday American life for decades — school children all across the country are not allowed to attend classes without vaccines for measles, mumps and many other diseases.

As with the Times report, the CNN segment was exceedingly gracious while interviewing Trump voters as they spewed nonstop misinformation about the vaccine and prolonged the pandemic.

As Major Defeat Loomed, McCarthy Said Recall Is ‘Pretty Big Victory’

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday claimed that even if the Republican-led campaign to recall Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom in California fails, it will still be a "pretty big victory" for his party. McCarthy represents California's 23rd Congressional District in Congress.

In an appearance on Fox News' Fox and Friends, he was asked what his expectations were for the outcome of the recall attempt, with polls set to close in California at 8 p.m. PT on Tuesday.

"Gavin Newsom has all the money, we just have the issues on our side," said McCarthy, adding, "Just getting it to a recall is a pretty big victory in itself."

California has some of the most lenient laws in the country as far as recalling a governor or other statewide official. The state requires that a petition collect signatures amounting to 12 percent of the votes cast in the last election for the office, the smallest percentage of signatures needed of all states. And due to the pandemic, recall hopefuls were granted an additional 120 days to gather signatures.

In spite of these advantages favoring the Republican-backed recall, polling has consistently shown opposition to the effort. In FiveThirtyEight's average of recall polls, 57.8 percent of respondents support keeping Newsom in office, while support for removal is at 41.5 percent.

The 12 most recent polls listed on the FiveThirtyEight site show the option to retain Newsom with a double-digit lead, ranging from 10 to 19 points.

From the September 14 edition of Fox & Friends:

AINSLEY EARHARDT, Fox News: What do you expect in California today, your state, with this recall?

KEVIN MCCARTHY: It's going to be interesting. Because here we are in California, Democrats outnumber Republicans two to one, but you're going to have to really watch what turns out today.

If Republicans are – independents are voting to remove Gavin Newsom, because think about it for one moment, if you travel California, there's homelessness in every place of it. Crime rising. There's not one national park in California open because there's mismanagement of forest that comes every single year. And do you want to reward that?

He's been in Sacramento for more than a decade and he has no plan to turn it around. All he does is bring in Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, and others to say, "Keep me, otherwise a Republican will win."

This is an opportunity to change the course. If we have a deficit going into election day, of a million or less, there's an opportunity that we can be successful here. But, you know, Gavin Newsom has all the money, we just have the issues on our side. Just getting it to a recall is a pretty big victory in itself.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

How Right-Wing Media Promote Ivermectin Scams

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

The ivermectin debacle shows the lengths that influential right-wing media figures are willing to go to avoid encouraging their viewers to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Propagandists like Fox News star Tucker Carlson would rather promote an anti-parasite drug that health agencies say has not been shown to be effective against the virus than the vaccines they say are almost miraculously so.

But the saga also shows how the right-wing movement functions as a money-making operation that serves up its hapless members to scammers.

NBC News' Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny last month detailed a scheme to cash in on people who want ivermectin, but can't get a prescription from a responsible medical practitioner. SpeakWithAnMD.com, they reported, is a telemedicine website touted on anti-vaccination social media communities for serving as a pill mill for ivermectin. The website offers consultations for $90; asks prospective patients whether they are seeking ivermectin, the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine, or another medication; and promises same-day delivery of prescribed drugs through an online pharmacy.

The telemedicine website has ties to the broader right-wing infrastructure, NBC News further reported. It partners with America's Frontline Doctors, a fringe-right medical organization that regularly promotes COVID-19 misinformation and has drawn sympathetic coverage from Fox News and other right-wing outlets. (That group's founder, Dr. Simone Gold, was arrested after storming the U.S. Capitol during the January 6 insurrection and charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct.)

This grift relies on three elements. First, demand for ivermectin is expanding due to its promotion by right-wing and contrarian media personalities and on social media platforms. Second, legitimate supply is limited because responsible doctors don't want to give their patients a drug that the Food and Drug Administration and the drug's manufacturer, among others, do not recommend as a treatment for COVID-19. And third, the drug is generally safe with proper dosing, limiting liability for the grifters. The marks are separated from their money but are otherwise fine -- unless they actually have or get COVID-19 and thought that ivermectin was a substitute for the vaccines or more proven therapeutics.

Wealthy right-wing propagandists like Carlson, his prime-time colleagues Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, and the litany of other notables who have touted ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment each play an essential role in this scheme, even if there's no reason to think they directly profit from it. By serving as hype men for a drug when there's little to no evidence it actually works, they are helping to fuel demand from an audience that trusts them. If they were to do otherwise -- if they were to reveal to their viewers that they were being taken advantage of by con artists -- the whole plot would likely collapse.

Right-wing media companies are built on this type of con culture. Outlets and personalities use ideological, often paranoid, political coverage to build connections with their audiences. They convince those audience members that mainstream information sources that present contradictory narratives can't be trusted. And then they bilk those marks for all they are worth.

The business model for Newsmax, the TV and digital empire overseen by Christopher Ruddy, revolves around this sort of grift. Its real moneymakers are its health and financial newsletters, authored by various charlatans, and its huge email lists, which consist overwhelmingly of older conservatives whom Ruddy gleefully sells out to any snake oil peddler or fraudster who can pay his fee. All of this has been well-known for years. But former President Donald Trump still goes on his close friend Ruddy's TV network; Trump's ludicrously dishonest first press secretary, Sean Spicer, is one of its hosts; Republican governors and members of Congress are frequent guests; and Newsmax's website publishes an array of columnists from all factions of the GOP. None of them care.

But Newsmax has simply perfected a business strategy seen throughout the right-wing press. Everywhere you turn, Republican luminaries and storied publications are renting their email lists to quacks hocking phony cures for Alzheimer's disease and financial conmen promising a path to riches for just a small fee. Commentators ranging from the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to the podcaster Joe Rogan to the "cool kid's philosopher" Ben Shapiro are all hocking brain pills of dubious effect. If you watch a few Fox commercial breaks, you'll hear all about the purported benefits of predatory reverse mortgages and how gold is the investment you need to protect yourself from the coming market crash.

All of these shady sales pitches boil down to a simple narrative: The experts and the mainstream press are conning you. They don't want you to know about Ronald Reagan's "secret cancer cure," or how to make your brain extra smooth, or how you can use their very affordable investment tips to escape ruin during the impending financial apocalypse, or about the survival food stockpile you'll need when the FEMA camps open. In fact, if you were one of the sheeple who watches the mainstream media, you probably wouldn't even know about the FEMA camps. Aren't you the lucky one?

These appeals are potent in part because they feed on the arguments that right-wing media have been making for decades. The lies and perfidy of the mainstream press and the secret knowledge available to right-wing media consumers are core precepts of the worldview that these outlets propagate.

None of these pathologies were paused for the pandemic. Instead, as the virus spread across the country, many right-wing media figures turned to peddling a host of fraudulent coronavirus treatments, at times drawing action from regulators. Conspiracy theorists and charlatans cashed in by rebranding themselves into contrarian COVID-19 gurus.And the leading lights of the right-wing commentariat have ping-ponged from one dubious therapeutic to another, while offering their followers a range of reasons why they may not want to take the safe, effective vaccines.

They've primed their audiences to believe bullshit, and there are plenty of grifters who are more than willing to take advantage. In right-wing media's long con, the dupes shell out while the propagandists get rich.