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Tag: maria bartiromo

Newly Released Text Messages Show Fox Anchors Plotting Trump's Coup

On Friday, CNN reported on a newly unearthed set of text messages between former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and multiple Fox News hosts, exchanged during the two-and-a-half months between Election Day 2020 and President Joe Biden’s inauguration in January 2021. The texts further reveal the extent to which Fox was integral to Trump’s plot to illegally hold onto power after losing the election. The texts also prove yet again that Fox operates day-to-day as a propaganda arm for the Republican Party, not as a news organization.

Maria Bartiromo Gave Trump Questions And Guidance In Advance Of Interview

CNN reported that Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo gave Meadows the questions in advance of her interview with President Donald Trump on the November 29, 2020, edition of her weekend show on Fox News, Sunday Morning Futures. The texts reveal that Bartiromo also provided Trump with explicit messaging guidance and instructions on how to respond to her softball questions, which she intended to help him better make his case that the election outcome was illegitimate. The segment was Trump’s first TV interview since the election, and it aired roughly three weeks after all the major media outlets, including Fox News, had projected Biden as the winner.

Bartiromo texted Meadows that morning, hours before the interview with Trump, to claim that “the public wants to know he will fight this,” and that people “want to hear a path to victory” and that “he's in control.” (The entire premise of Bartiromo’s line of questioning was false, because a majority of “the public” had just voted for Biden.)

She then laid out the first question she would ask: “1Q You've said MANY TIMES THIS ELECTION IS RIGGED... And the facts are on your side. Let's start there. What are the facts? Characterize what took place here. Then I will drill down on the fraud including the statistical impossibilities of Biden magic (federalist).” (Based on Bartiromo’s word choice, it is possible that she was referring to a piece from a week earlier in the right-wing site The Federalist, titled “5 More Ways Joe Biden Magically Outperformed Election Norms.”)

Surely enough, the interview began exactly with that question: “Mr. President, you have said many times that this election was rigged, that there was much fraud, and the facts are on your side. Let's start there. Please go through the facts, characterize what took place.”

Throughout the rest of the interview, Bartiromo provided Trump with a platform to air a litany of lies about the election results, going on for 45 minutes, including his outlandish claims about voting machines being used to change the results. Dominion Voting Systems is currently suing Fox News for $1.6 billion for the network’s role in Trump’s defamation campaign against the voting machine company. Another voting technology firm, Smartmatic, is suing Fox News for $2.7 billion and has also named Bartiromo as a defendant for her role in promoting conspiracy theories that the company played a role in altering the election result.

Separately, ABC News’ chief Washington correspondent, Jonathan Karl, reported last year that Bartiromo had called then-Attorney General Bill Barr in mid-November 2020, complaining to him that the Justice Department had not taken action against supposed voter fraud. “She called me up and she was screaming,” Barr told Karl. “I yelled back at her. She’s lost it.” Fox News denied the reports of Bartiromo’s unprofessional conduct — though this wasn’t exactly convincing, because Bartiromo had publicly stated her hopes for Barr to intervene and help reverse the election results.

Hannity Was “At War" With Chris Wallace And News Reporters

Another Fox News host who is heavily implicated in the latest texts is Sean Hannity, who was already known to have functioned as Trump’s “shadow” chief of staff and as a constant sounding board for the disgraced former president. Previously released texts had shown that Hannity tried to work on damage control after the failed coup attempt on January 6, and that he had urged the White House to have Trump call off his supporters from attacking the Capitol. (In public, Hannity claimed the attackers were left-wing infiltrators.) Other texts show that Hannity took instructions from Meadows on coordinating get-out-the-vote messaging on Election Day in 2020. The latest revelations demonstrate the extent of Hannity’s efforts to keep Fox News from straying away from the administration’s illegal efforts to cling to power.

On December 6, 2020, Meadows sent Hannity a link to an article in The Hill, highlighting a segment from that morning’s edition of Fox News Sunday in which the show’s then-host Chris Wallace pointedly interrupted Trump’s former secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, after Azar had referred to Joe Biden as “Vice President Biden.”

“He's the president-elect, sir,” Wallace replied, repeating that point again in their conversation.

In texts to Hannity, Meadows castigated Wallace and Fox, writing, “Doing this to try and get ratings will not work in the long run and I am doubtful it is even a short term winning strategy.”

“I've been at war with them all week,” Hannity replied.

Meadows later asked on December 11, 2020, for Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott’s direct phone number — noting that he wished to avoid making a call to the network’s main switchboard. Hannity asked the next day whether Meadows had gotten through to Fox executives, again declaring, “I’ve been at war with them.” (As it turned out, Meadows had not yet called Scott, as he had been too busy working on the Trump administration’s lame-duck pardons.)

Keep in mind that the major news networks had all projected Biden as the winner a month before, on November 7 — and yes, that included Fox. The network, however, undermined its own decision desk’s projections by attempting to subvert the election results nearly 600 times in just the two weeks after the election call.

To the degree that tension existed between the opinion and alleged “straight news” sides at Fox, that conflict has since been resolved by Chris Wallace’s decision a year later to quit the network. Wallace said recently that he had been fine with opinion content on the channel, but he had reached his limit. “When people start to question the truth — Who won the 2020 election? Was Jan. 6 an insurrection? — I found that unsustainable.”

Hannity, of course, is still at Fox, where he is launching smear campaigns, parroting Kremlin spokespeople, and helping Trump to continue pushing the Big Lie.

Sean Hannity wrote one cheesy Trump campaign ad — and he may have written yet another one that never aired

This latest batch of text messages also reveals that Hannity lied last year about the extent of his connections to the Trump campaign — seemingly confirming a story that Hannity had previously described as being “full of shit.”

Last year, Wall Street Journal senior White House reporter Mike Bender published a book about the 2020 election and its aftermath, titled Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost. The book revealed that Hannity had actually written a Trump campaign ad, which insiders even referred to as “the Hannity ad” and “the one Hannity wrote.” The specific ad in question was an attack spot that seemed to deploy every anti-Biden talking point at once, referring to him as a “47-year swamp creature” who had “accomplished nothing,” and tying him to the so-called “radical, socialist Green New Deal.” Trump’s campaign staff reportedly ridiculed it.

“Inside the campaign, the spot was mocked mercilessly, mostly because of the dramatic, over-the-top language and a message that seemed to value quantity over quality,” Bender wrote. The campaign came up with a solution to the problem, by running the ad only during Hannity’s own show on Fox News: “If Trump and Hannity watched the spot on television – and were satisfied enough to stop asking about the commercial – that seemed to be the best result of the ad. The cost of that investment: $1.5m.”

Hannity, however, denied the story in very strong terms. “The world knows that Sean Hannity supports Donald Trump,” he told Bender. “But my involvement specifically in the campaign — no. I was not involved that much. Anybody who said that is full of shit.”

On December 8, 2020, however, as Hannity and Meadows commiserated via text, Hannity bemoaned that the campaign had not done more on the topic of election fraud during the campaign — including regarding an ad he had written for them.

“I was screaming about no ads from Labor Day on,” he wrote. “I made my own they never ran it. I'm not pointing fingers. I'm frustrated.” It is possible here that Hannity may have been referring to yet another campaign ad that he wrote, but which still went unaired.

Hannity’s vulgar denial to Bender of the earlier campaign ad not only reveals that he is a liar, but there’s more. In this instance, he also lied to a news reporter at The Wall Street Journal, the most prominent of the Murdoch media empire’s journalistic front operations and a perpetual doormat for the opinion side. The fact that he would lie to one of his colleagues from another Murdoch publication clearly demonstrates the sense of leverage Hannity has over anyone who thinks they really can report news while working at a Murdoch outlet.

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.

Fox Host Bartiromo Attacks Security Measures At Biden Home

Fox News and Fox Business are criticizing the building by the Secret Service of a fence around the Delaware vacation home of President Joe Biden and his family. In segments broadcast on both networks, the building of the fence was juxtaposed with the halt in construction of former President Donald Trump's border wall on the border between the United States and Mexico. Biden halted work on the wall on Jan. 20, his first day in office.

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How Arizona Audit Became Fox’s Biggest Gaslighting Charade Ever

Reprinted with permission from PressRun

Apparently Howard Kurtz never got the memo.

On his weekly Fox News show, Media Buzz, Kurtz invited a panel of guests to discuss the results of the so-called Arizona audit, which had dragged on all year in an effort by MAGA's to prove somehow that Trump had won the Copper State last November.

Instead of finding a treasure trove of uncounted Trump ballots, as conspirators had predicted, the pointless review of two million ballots in Maricopa County found that President Joe Biden defeated Trump by slightly more votes than the official count.

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Debate Over Ivermectin Obscures Biggest Pandemic Problem

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Several national news outlets stepped on a rake over the weekend by credulously parroting an Oklahoma TV news station's apparently bogus report that the state's rural hospitals were flooded with people who overdosed while taking the veterinary form of the anti-parasite drug ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment. After the story was debunked, conversation on Twitter quickly turned to the practices of mainstream journalists, as well as to whether mocking conservatives for taking so-called "horse paste" is effective or counterproductive in getting them to take COVID-19 vaccines.

I think journalists should be much more skeptical about thinly sourced news stories and try to report them independently rather than simply accepting the accounts as true. But these debates also strike me as tangential to an issue that is more directly driving public health outcomes: Influential conservative media figures have spent much of this year assailing the effort to vaccinate Americans while falsely suggesting that COVID-19 vaccines are unsafe and ineffective, and their sabotage has been very successful in convincing Republicans not to get shots of potentially lifesaving drugs.

In this particular case, those influential conservatives have been touting ivermectin to their audiences as a COVID-19 treatment they could take instead of the vaccines, even as the relevant health agencies and the drug's manufacturer say there's no evidence that it works. Last month, the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning following reports that some people had overdosed while taking the more-concentrated version of the drug intended for horses, rather than the formulation prescribed by doctors for humans.

Who's been talking up ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment? An incomplete list includes Fox hosts Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Maria Bartiromo, Brian Kilmeade, Greg Gutfeld, and Will Cain, along with regular network guests Drs. Harvey Risch, George Fareed, and Ramin Oskoui; influential podcasters Joe Rogan and Bret Weinstein; an array of personalities on One America News Network; and PragerU founder Dennis Prager. Discussions of the drug are also rampant on social media platforms including Facebook.

Others on the right are spending their energy developing anti-anti-ivermectin positions. They may not be explicitly defending its use as a COVID-19 treatment, but they are focusing their fire on its critics.

All of these people have vastly more influence with right-wing vaccine skeptics than anyone on Twitter, in the mainstream press, or in the public health community does. The result of their commentary is a strong correlation between partisanship and interest in ivermectin, one that mirrors the correlation between partisanship and rejection of vaccination.

And the right-wing campaign against vaccination is ongoing.

Fox hosts have now turned to decrying the media's coverage of the Oklahoma ivermectin story -- while also continuing to promote the drug's use as a COVID-19 treatment.

"Ivermectin, by the way -- however it turns out, whatever you decide to do -- was developed and awarded a Nobel Prize back in 2015," Kilmeade said while guest-hosting Tucker Carlson Tonight on Tuesday. "It combats river blindness and tropical maladies. Sometimes drugs worked for different things. For some people, they chose to try it. It wasn't out there to make a mockery of."

We know what it looks like when Fox and its ilk go all-in on promoting a drug to their viewers -- it's the same 24/7 shilling that the network gave to the antimalarial medicine hydroxychloroquine last spring. But confronted with the existence of vaccines with near-miraculous effectiveness against COVID-19, they haven't done that. Instead, they've thrown up a host of objections to the vaccines and the campaign to get people to take them while instead promoting drugs like ivermectin that lack a fraction of the evidence in their favor.

It's worth contemplating the best possible way to reach unvaccinated conservatives. But we should be realistic about the potential impact even a maximally effective message might have on a group that gets information from sources within a near-seamless right-wing information bubble.

The people who are most skilled at influencing that audience don't seem to want them to get vaccinated. Until and unless right-wing media personalities decide they care as much about whether their viewers die lonely, painful deaths as they do about "critical race theory" or the availability of Dr. Seuss books, it will be an uphill fight.

With Newsom Leading In Recall, Fox News Cries ‘Fraud’

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Fox News is rolling out the next round of election-related conspiracy theories: This time, by casting doubt on the idea that a Democrat could win an election in the heavily Democratic state of California, where incumbent Gov. Gavin Newsom is facing a recall election backed by Republicans.

For what it's worth, recent polls from SurveyUSA, the Public Policy Institute of California, and even Republican polling firm Trafalgar Group have all put Newsom ahead by significant margins in the key vote to remain in office.

Fox News previously served a major role in former President Donald Trump's efforts to subvert the results of the 2020 presidential election. And beyond that, attempting to cast doubt on any Democratic win is on brand for Fox — network personalities also attacked the Georgia Senate runoffs while votes were being counted, including by casting suspicion on the high voter turnout in the election. And in the wake of the January 6 attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters, part of the network's immediate response was to push for changes to voting lawsthat would help to suppress Democratic turnout, which the network then supported in the months afterward.

In that context, Fox Nation host Tomi Lahren claimed on Tuesday's edition of Outnumbered: "The only thing that will save Gavin Newsom is voter fraud. So as they say, stay woke, pay attention to the voter fraud going on in California, because it's going to have big consequences not only for that state, but for upcoming elections."

And on Monday night, when Republican gubernatorial candidate and right-wing radio host Larry Elder appeared for an interview on Fox News Primetime, it was rotating host Rachel Campos-Duffy who brought up the subject of supposed election fraud: "A lot of people think you have the wind at your back but you seem to be concerned about some shenanigans that could be happening at the ballot box — or maybe in the mail."

Elder has indeed spread conspiracy theories about voting machines having been rigged in the 2020 presidential election, and suggested that this might happen again in the California recall, but in this instance he simply gave some rhetorical boilerplate on being "concerned about voter fraud," and said that his campaign website had a "voter integrity project set up with a bunch of lawyers ready to file lawsuits if anybody sees anything suspicious."

And last week, on the September 1 edition of Tucker Carlson Tonight, host Tucker Carlson said that expanded usage of mail-in voting in multiple states, including in the case of California, were being done because Newsom "knows that mail-in ballots, which by definition lack any form of voter ID, cannot be verified. Those kind of ballots overwhelmingly benefit his party because they abet voter fraud."

Carlson has also spread falsehoods about non-citizens voting in the recall, and he claimed on August 25 that the state would need outside observers to "to make sure this election isn't stolen."

Some in media have argued that these right-wing talking points picked up recently because the early statistics on returned ballots have indicated that Democratic voters are not sitting the election out, and therefore the groundwork must be laid for a conspiracy theory to explain a possible Republican loss.

To the extent that this explanation might be true, it should also be noted that the foundation was already being laid weeks ago, including by one of Fox News' most shameless and vitriolic promoters of election denialism: Newt Gingrich. Appearing on the August 22 edition of Sunday Morning Futures, in a segment reminiscent of host Maria Bartiromo and Gingrich's previous false claims about the 2020 election, the former GOP House speaker painted a lurid picture of vast election fraud in California:

NEWT GINGRICH (FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR): Frankly, what people ought to look at is this is going to be an election where they go all-out to steal the referendum. The secretary of state of California has now said you can print your own ballots. I mean, you think about this. You talk about the opposite of election integrity. They're going to allow you to print your own ballots. They're going to allow people to come around and harvest your ballot.

So, the unions will be out there, and they will make sure that everybody votes, even if they don't vote. And I think this may well be the most rigged statewide election we have seen probably in at least a half century.

And I think people should look carefully at this, because there's pretty good evidence that, if Newsom is in a straight, honest count, he probably — he has a good chance of losing. But if they can stuff every ballot box in California and they can cheat in every way possible — and so [Vice President Kamala Harris is] part of raising the money to pay for the cheating. I mean, it's just that simple. It's not complicated.

MARIA BARTIROMO (HOST): That is so extraordinary.

GINGRICH: Yes.

BARTIROMO: And that is the reason we continue to focus on all of these audits going on across the country. We want fair and free elections.

(Just to be clear, Gingrich's references to voters being able to "print your own ballots" involves a state program, known as the Remote Accessible Vote-by-Mail system, made in order to accommodate disabled voters and expanded during the pandemic, which has safeguards to ensure that a person can only print one ballot.)

At around that same time, Fox personalities also latched onto a local story involving a reported felon who was found in possession of 300 mail-in ballots — although it quickly became clear that these were among thousands of pieces of stolen mail, along with other items such as driver's licenses and credit cards, rather than the alleged thief having actually targeted the ballots specifically.

"There's nothing to indicate this was anything specifically to impact the election," a spokesman for the Los Angeles county clerk's office said. "It seems like this person was likely trying to steal mail."

The August 24 edition of Fox Business' The Evening Edit ran a segment with the loaded chyron asking, "Why were 300 mail-in ballots stolen in CA recall election?" — even though the ballots made up just a fraction of the overall theft of mail. Republican strategist Ford O'Connell claimed that "to be perfectly honest with you, with Gavin Newsom on the ropes, you have to think that this is just a little more than coincidental." He later upped the rhetorical ante even further: "Remember, Nancy Pelosi said she was going to activate her own operation. Maybe this is what she meant."

"We don't know — I know you're being facetious," responded host Elizabeth MacDonald, though there was not any indication of such an intent on O'Connell's part.

And on the August 25 edition of Tucker Carlson Tonight, the host claimed that Democratic efforts to campaign for Newsom were themselves 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?"

He then interviewed Republican lawyer Harmeet Dhillon, who used the story as an example of supposed Democratic malfeasance: "Of course, they are playing fast and loose. We've seen some very alarming scenes of 300 ballots bundled together in the car of a person with a gun and some drugs, and so we are definitely looking into all of these issues."

Dhillon's invocation of the story was then followed by an on-screen visual of the stolen mail, which Carlson's production would have needed to already have prepared.

On the subject of ballots being thrown out, as well as the need to ensure a free and fair election, Dhillon previously served as a campaign legal adviser to Donald Trump in 2020. In the days following the election, she appeared with then-Fox Business host Lou Dobbs and spoke of the campaign's effort to have the Supreme Court intervene in the ongoing vote counts: "We're waiting for the United States Supreme Court — of which the president has nominated three justices — to step in and do something. And hopefully Amy Coney Barrett will come through."

So perhaps these people might not be approaching the California recall from a standpoint of supporting democracy.

Trump Praises Jan. 6 Rioters As ‘Patriots’ And ‘Peaceful People’

Former President Donald Trump has nothing but praise for his supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol in January. The former commander in chief called those who attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6 “peaceful people" and “patriots" in an interview aired on Fox News' Sunday Morning Futures. Trump supporters besieged the Capitol, following a speech he gave in Washington that day, as Congress was meeting to finalize Electoral College results of the November 2020 presidential election. Hundreds of people have been arrested and several people have been charged with crimes stemming from the rampage, in wh...

Misinformer, Meet Liar: Correcting Maria Bartiromo’s Latest Trump Interview

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

On March 16, Fox News Primetime and Fox's Maria Bartiromo hosted former President and Celebrity Apprentice host Donald Trump for a friendly interview full of the kind of lies and misinformation for which both interviewer and interviewee are known.

Bartiromo spent most of the interview lobbing softball questions and letting blatant lies go unchecked while the former president rattled off a series of lies and delusions. In several instances, Bartiromo herself was a source of false information.

Below is a list of some of the lies and distortions uncritically aired by Fox.

Trump's Phone Calls To Georgia Officials Conflated

Bartiromo misrepresented a correction issued by The Washington Post regarding a conversation between Trump and Georgia election investigator Frances Watson, asserting that the correction was in regard to the now-infamous conversation between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

The Post reported that Watson had a conversation with Trump in which the then-president pressured Watson to "find the fraud" and said she would become a "national hero" if she did so. The statements turned out to be false, meriting correction, yet Trump and right-wing media have used the error to excuse and vindicate Trump's behavior during the 2020 election and the aftermath.

As explained by Vox:

According to a newly surfaced recording of the call with Watson, Trump did not in fact use those exact words. He did say she could find "dishonesty" in Fulton County, and that "when the right answer comes out, you'll be praised." But the language of the quotes the Post attributed to Trump were not accurate. As a result, the Post had to run a prominent correction. Trump and conservatives are now scorning the paper, and even some mainstream reporters are looking askance and wondering how it happened.
The correction was merited — it's important for reporters (and their sources) to be careful in attributing exact language in quotes. And it is unfortunate that these incorrect quotes spread so widely.
...
However, Trump has used the correction to claim in a statement that "the original story was a Hoax, right from the very beginning," which is untrue. The original story that got so much attention was Trump's call with Raffensperger, for which we had the full and accurate transcript all along. It has not been corrected. Furthermore, it remains the case that Trump did in fact call Watson to insist he won the state and that she should turn up evidence revealing fraud. "The country is counting on it," he said.

More Lies About The 2020 Election

Trump stated that "our Supreme Court and our courts didn't have the courage to overturn elections that should have been overturned." Courage had nothing to do with it; in fact, of the 62 lawsuits filed by Trump and his allies in a desperate and embarrassing attempt to delay the inevitable, all but one were rejected.

The Supreme Court itself declined to take up two Trump-supported lawsuits over the election, rejecting a major one from Texas as lacking standing and saying all other pending motions were "moot."

Lies About Voting Bights Bill HR-1

V

Trump echoed Fox News's drumbeat of misinformation around HR-1, or the For The People Act, which would expand voting rights and increase campaign finance transparency across the country. Trump echoed Fox's claim that the For The People Act is not constitutional, despite legal precedent and even though experts have affirmed that H.R. 1 is a constitutional exercise of Congress' power. In the interview, Baritomo gave Trump free reign to echo right-wing media attempts to falsely paint the legislation as a corrupt attempt to seize power from Republicans and state legislatures.

Lies About Immigration


Trump said immigrants coming through the southern border would "destroy our country if they don't do something about it." He also claimed that there was an influx of migrants arriving from the Middle East. The claim likely relates to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's recent statement that migrants at the border are "not just people from Mexico or Honduras or El Salvador. They're now finding people from Yemen, Iran, Turkey. People on the terrorist watch list they are catching, and they're rushing in all at once."

There is no concrete evidence backing this assertion. In fact, according to The Washington Post, Trump's own State Department debunked the claim:

The Trump administration first asserted this in the run-up to the 2018 midterm elections, offering a range of misleading statistics to buttress the claim that terrorists from the Middle East were filtering through the U.S.-Mexico border. But administration officials never offered any proof or identified a single terrorist.
In reports issued during the Trump administration, the State Department said that there was "no credible evidence indicating that international terrorist groups have established bases in Mexico, worked with Mexican drug cartels, or sent operatives via Mexico into the United States" and that "there have been no cases of terrorist groups exploiting these gaps to move operations through the region."

COVID-19 Vaccine


Trump claimed that he and his administration "came up with the vaccine, which is going to save the world." Of course, that's incorrect, and the COVID-19 vaccine went into development almost as soon as the coronovirus's genetic sequence was made public.

The claim also sits uncomfortably amid Fox News's reticence to encourage its viewers to actually get vaccinated. Hosts on the network are regularly sowing doubt and distrust in vaccinations, Tucker Carlson accused President Joe Biden of "vaccine coercion," and Laura Ingraham called Biden's COVID-19 relief speech "vaccine propaganda." The network is caught between indignation that Trump doesn't receive enough gratitude for the existence of the vaccine and assertions that the vaccine itself should not be trusted.

That being said, it is objectively good that Trump told his supporters to take the vaccine, especially given that others at Fox have been suggesting otherwise.