The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

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

Tag: sean hannity

‘Local Parent’ On Fox News Is Professional GOP And Trump Flack

Fox News has avidly promoted former Trump administration officials as seemingly being just concerned local parents in the network's coverage of the upcoming Virginia gubernatorial election. And in the case of one guest who has frequently appeared or been cited by the network's hosts, his political connections go far and wide through both political campaigns and even Fox News itself.

Ian Prior is one of many Republican activists, political staffers, and Trump administration alumni who have appeared on Fox News as part of its campaign against "critical race theory." The network has used the term as a "catch-all" phrase for any right-wing culture war grievances, especially over racial diversity and civil rights, in an effort to mobilize Republican voters for this year's Virginia elections and the midterms next year.

Prior now leads Fight for Schools, a political action committee launched this year to support "common sense candidates" who oppose "critical race theory." In addition to his many years in communications for Republican campaigns, he has his own political communications consulting firm and political newsletter. He also worked in the Trump administration from 2017 to 2018, as deputy director of public affairs at the Justice Department under then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

And the world of both conservative media and Republican political operatives is a small one indeed. During Prior's time as deputy director of the DOJ's Office of Public Affairs under Sessions, his coworkers in public affairs included media affairs coordinator Devin O'Malley — who is now the campaign spokesman for Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin. In addition, two other colleagues were media affairs specialist Kerri Kupec, who this year became Fox News' Washington, D.C., editor after serving the rest of former President Donald Trump's term at DOJ under both Sessions and his successor, Bill Barr; and press assistant Kelly Laco, who is now a news and politics editor for Fox News digital content — and who has quoted Prior in at least one article. (The article noted Prior's DOJ experience, but not the fact that he and Laco were former colleagues.)


screen grab


On Wednesday's edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy read a statement from Prior, responding to former President Barack Obama's recent campaign rally for former Virginia governor and current Democratic nominee Terry McAullife — while presenting Prior as simply a concerned local parent who has come to prominence recently.

"Ian Prior, who's been on this program, he's one of the parents who's very concerned about what's going on out in Loudoun County," Doocy said, before reading a statement that concluded with the accusation: "It is clear that all the star power coming in for Terry McAuliffe is reading off the same deceptive page of sheet music with talking points designed to deceive people as to what's really happening in Virginia public schools."

Co-host Brian Kilmeade then added: "This is real, this is organic, this is not scripted. These are people standing up, Democrats and Republicans standing up for what's happening in their schools."


Prior also appeared last Thursday with Fox News host Sean Hannity, during which his background as a Trump administration staffer was also not disclosed. By contrast, Prior had also appeared twice this month on The Story with Martha MacCallum, during which both MacCallum and guest anchor Trace Gallagher cited his experience in the Trump administration. (Though earlier this year, MacCallum had also failed to disclose Prior's background.)

So it appears that as the Virginia election gets closer, Prior has become less and less of a former Trump DOJ official and more of being just a concerned local parent whose attacks on Democrats are "organic" and "not scripted."

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.

Read Now Show less

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.

Fox News Urges 'Fight Back' Against Its Own Corporate Pandemic Policies

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Fox News' hypocrisy is on full display in its outraged coverage of President Joe Biden's announcement yesterday that large businesses would now be required to have their workers either be vaccinated or undergo weekly testing for COVID-19 — something that Fox News has already been doing for months.

Previously, the network had attacked Biden for instituting a similar policy for the federal workforce. But it was also first reported two months ago that Fox News has used an internal program called the "Fox Clear Pass," in which employees who provide their proof of vaccination could bypass daily health screenings — a policy that stands in stark contrast to the network's relentless fearmongering about vaccine passports. And three weeks ago, Fox employees were further required to upload their vaccination status into a human resources database.

Meanwhile, the network's content has relentlessly undermined vaccination efforts, celebrated people who refuse to take the vaccines, and even encouraged the use of counterfeit vaccination cards — all acts that Fox's own human resources department would likely frown upon.

Biden announced in his speech Thursday that over 175 million Americans are now fully protected by the vaccine, "Many of us are frustrated with the nearly 80 million Americans who are still not vaccinated, even though the vaccine is safe, effective, and free." He also noted that his policy lined up with what a certain company has been doing for its own workforce.

"Some of the biggest companies are already requiring this," Biden said. "United Airlines, Disney, Tysons Foods, and even Fox News."

But faced with the choice of either acknowledging that fact, or stirring up the fringe who continue to refuse safe, effective vaccines and even the most basic public health measures, Fox News has chosen the latter.

On Thursday night's edition of Fox News Primetime, rotating host Rachel Campos-Duffy bemoaned that Americans have been compliant for too long, and asked Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich whether Americans would start to "fight back" against these requirements. Neither of the two commentators acknowledged that they work for a network that has already been practicing these rules, which they have both presumably been "compliant" with in one manner or another.

RACHEL CAMPOS-DUFFY (HOST): Katie, I've just been really surprised throughout this pandemic of how compliant Americans have been, especially young people. How do we fight back? What is going to be the final straw before Americans say enough is enough?

KATIE PAVLICH (FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I think a lot of Americans are fighting back and saying enough is enough.

On a side note, Pavlich then claimed that the U.S. Postal Service union was exempted from the new rule — seemingly based on a false report and a misunderstanding of the legal nature of the USPS workforce — claiming this as evidence to declare that "we do know that people are fighting back."

And on Tucker Carlson Tonight guest host Jesse Watters spoke with former Trump campaign legal adviser Harmeet Dhillon, who said that she already had "multiple clients" asking to file a legal challenge to the regulations once they were formally issued. (The two also discussed the supposed "carveout" for postal workers.)

The two went on to say that this policy would be impossible for companies' human resources departments to actually administer. But then again, any such company that actually does find this task difficult could just ask Fox News for advice.

JESSE WATTERS (GUEST HOST): And I think if you can listen closely, you can hear every HR department in the country go hit the liquor cabinet after this, because it's going to be -- it's going to get rowdy in the workplace.

HARMEET DHILLON (FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN LEGAL ADVISER): It's that bad, and I'm an employer.

WATTERS: Yes.

DHILLON: It is going to be impossible to administer this and who are the police going to be policing it? And who is going to pay the cost of it? It is effectively a tax on the American employer, and I think it's not going to fly, frankly.

WATTERS: I would agree.

Fox host Sean Hannity also protested Biden's announcement that "scolded we, the American people," and "vilified the unvaccinated," adding: "Joe, you cancelled all medical freedom today with your broad edict and your mandates, one-size-fits-all medicine. You eliminated medical privacy. You eliminated all doctor-patient confidentiality" — in which case Hannity ought to also speak to his own company's HR department.

And on The Ingraham Angle, Fox News contributor Mollie Hemingway compared the vaccine and testing mandates to "fascism," and said it would "require everybody to stand up and resist and fight." (Still no word on whether Hemingway plans to stop going on Fox News, for its own role in having practiced these exact policies even before the "fascist" government order came down to everybody else.)

MOLLIE HEMINGWAY (THE FEDERALIST): It's just amazing that for four years, every time there was a mean tweet we were told that it was fascism come to America. And then you actually have the government ordering corporations what to do, telling individuals what to do, and the same people who were hysterical for the last four years don't seem to notice what's happening. This is a tremendous assault on American constitutional governance. It's going to require everybody to stand up and resist and fight. But we can't count on anyone in the media because they believe their job is to support one political party over its political opponents and they will paper over all these things that just a few years ago they would have thought horrific and unacceptable of any president.

This blatant lack of self-awareness continued into the morning. Introducing a news update on Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy said that Biden's order "could put jobs on the line for millions of hard-working Americans who will not have a choice."

Fox News correspondent Mark Meredith also attempted to turn this into a political gotcha moment, in line with the network's efforts to scaepgoat undocumented immigrants for COVID-19 infections despite a total lack of validity.

"Some people were noting that in the speech last night, there was no mention of requiring migrants crossing into the U.S. to get the jab," Meredith said — though one could suppose that this problem would be solved if any of them were to apply for jobs at Fox News.

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.

Right-Wing Media Won’t Stop Lying About Afghan ‘Hanged’ From Chopper


Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Multiple right-wing media figures, outlets, and social media users falsely claimed that a viral video showing a man in Afghanistan suspended from a helicopter was an execution by the Taliban. Other footage of the flight showed the man alive and well, and reportedly he was attempting to fix a flag.

This narrative is just one example of multiple falsehoods spread by conservatives to attack President Joe Biden following his decision to withdraw U.S. military forces from Afghanistan.

As Media Matters previously wrote, Fox News host Sean Hannity aired the footage on the August 31 edition of Fox News' Hannity, falsely claiming it showed the Taliban dangling a hanged man from a Black Hawk helicopter in Afghanistan. But Hannity's claim had been debunked before his show aired.

Conservative media personalities and politicians — including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO) — also repeated the false claim on Twitter, using it to criticize the Biden administration's decision to remove U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Cruz later deleted his tweet, writing that the information in it "may be inaccurate."

A tweet by Rep. Jason Smith that reads "On the day that we see innocent people hanging from an American helicopter, the Biden Administration decides to pull out early leaving behind hundreds of Americans and even more innocents to die at the hands of the Taliban. It's unacceptable and heartbreaking."

A Fox anchor along with multiple contributors and guests have also engaged with the false claim, as have other right-wing cable channels like One America News Network and Newsmax, other media organizations and users on fringe social media platforms.

Fox News and Fox Business

  • On August 30, a day before Hannity himself pushed this lie, Hannity guest Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) said that "we had a video today of one of our Blackhawk helicopters with somebody hanging from it as it moves through the sky."
  • Also on August 30, guest Elliot Ackerman said on The Ingraham Angle that "we just saw the Taliban flying a Blackhawk helicopter above Kandahar with a dead body hanging from its bottom."
  • On August 30, Fox Business guest Stephen Yates said: "We have today the Taliban hanging someone from a helicopter."
  • On August 31, Fox Business guest Sam Brown said, "We're seeing the reality of the Taliban now flying Blackhawk helicopters over Kabul, hanging their enemy."
  • Later the same day, Fox contributor Katie Pavlich said on The Five, "They are hanging people from our helicopters." Pavlich repeated this later in the show, saying the Taliban have "been using" weapons left behind "to execute our allies who helped us on the ground. … They hung a guy with a helicopter."
  • That evening, Fox Business anchor David Asman was discussing the helicopters U.S. forces left behind and said: "At least one was used yesterday in horrific fashion to hang a human being. We don't know the circumstances of that. We don't know who that person was that was hanging from the helicopter. But in one of the typically sick dimension of the way that these -- the Taliban think, or whoever was piloting that helicopter, that's how they used it."
  • And on September 1, Fox News contributor Charles Hurt said on Fox Business, "The image of our Blackhawk helicopter flying around Kabul with the body of what appears to be a dead person hanging from the bottom of it -- those images get seared into people's minds, and they never forget it."

Newsmax

  • On the August 31 edition of the morning show Wake Up America, Newsmax's Alex Kraemer showed and read a tweet claiming that the Taliban "are now hanging innocent civilians from [helicopters] for the world to see." Later in the show, co-host Rob Finnertysaid: "We saw someone hanging from a helicopter on video. This person was dead."
  • During Newsmax's August 31 midday show John Bachman Now, the host said there are "U.S. Blackhawks reportedly being flown by the Taliban with people hanging from them."
  • Later that day on American Agenda, Newsmax host Grant Stinchfield said the Taliban were "flying people hanging from Blackhawk helicopters yesterday." Later in the show, former Trump spokesperson Jason Miller referenced people in Kabul risking being "flown around the city hanging by their neck off of a helicopter."
  • On September 1, Finnerty repeated this lie on Wake Up America, saying: "We saw somebody hanging from a U.S. military helicopter over Kabul just a couple of days ago."

One America News Network

  • On August 31, the host of OAN's In Focus with Stephanie Hamill said: "There's video circulating online of them in an American helicopter with a man hanging by his neck off of the helicopter." Her guest, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), replied: "That's sick. That is sick."
  • Later on Real America, host Dan Ball previewed the video he claimed shows "the Taliban flying one of our Blackhawk choppers in Kandahar with a body hanging from it" with a long-winded warning about graphic content. He added: "Now, have we vetted it all out? Can I confirm it happened yesterday? I don't know when it happened. It's all over the web. It's from Kandahar. I can't read what that says, but we're getting this from multiple sources of folks that were there on the ground. They confirm it's one of our choppers, they confirm it's from Afghanistan. I don't know who's hanging there, but -- you want to see this stuff come over here? And I'm not trying to fearmonger one bit. I'm keeping it real, folks."

Other right-wing outlets and social media

  • On August 30, Gateway Pundit shared a screenshot of the video on its website along with tweets containing versions of the video, incorrectly claiming that "today the Islamists used US helicopters to hang 'traitors' in Kandahar Afghanistan" and argued that the Taliban was "openly mocking" the U.S.
  • On August 31, the New York Post published the video on its website along with an article that said "it is not immediately clear exactly how [the person in the video] is attached or if he is alive." The piece then quoted "some journalists" who it says "insisted that it showed someone who had been hanged — and then paraded in the skies."
  • The video of the helicopter and screenshots from the video also spread on several fringe right-wing social media platforms between August 30 and September 1, including Gab, 4chan, and Patriots.win. This content was also shared widely among right-wing users on the messaging app Telegram. Many of these posts criticized the Biden administration, with one Patriots.win user claiming, falsely, that the Taliban was "flying [a] Biden-provided Blackhawk helicopter…while hanging someone from it." This post quoted a tweet stating that "it's an absolute shitfest to see the Taliban now actually flying US BlackHawk helicopters, hanging people by the throat from them!! The American President will never be forgiven for this!!"
Research contributions from Leo Fernandez and Bobby Lewis

Republican Civil War Erupts Over Infrastructure Vote

Reprinted with permission American Independent

Conservative Republican members of Congress appeared on Fox News and Newsmax on Tuesday night to lament the fact that 19 Republican senators voted for the bipartisan infrastructure package, along with every Democratic senator.

The $1.2 trillion package provides funds to repair and construct roads, bridges, and railroad systems across the country, among other projects.

Despite polling repeatedly showing widespread support for the infrastructure plan — across party lines — conservative outlets have frequently attacked it.

On Newsmax TV's Rob Schmitt Tonight, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) described the legislation as part of an agenda of "crazy ideas" offered up by Democrats.

He said the infrastructure bill was part of a package of "four stupid ideas" and said, "This is ridiculous, and the American people know it. Why senators, Republican senators, voted for it, I'll never know."

Appearing on Fox News' Hannity, Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) sounded a similar note.

Kennedy said that Democrats wanted the bill's passage "like Ben [Affleck] wants J-Lo [Jennifer Lopez" and said Republicans "just got out-maneuvered, intelligence was chasing us and we got beat."

Conservative host Sean Hannity said Republicans "beat themselves" by voting for the bill and Kennedy agreed, replying, "that's what I'm saying." He went on to describe the bill as a "dumpster fire."

Fox News host Mark Levin on Tuesday called for a primary challenge to the Republicans who voted for the legislation, while the network has repeatedly attempted to claim that the infrastructure spending in the bill is not really infrastructure.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Dodging Guilt, DeSantis Scapegoats Immigrants For Covid Surge

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is attempting to shift the blame for his state's alarming uptick in COVID cases but he's already facing pushback against that effort. Over the last week, the Republican governor has taken aim at the (CDC), President Joe Biden, his administration, and even immigrants.

"Joe Biden has the nerve to tell me to get out of the way on COVID while he lets COVID-infected migrants pour over our southern border by the hundreds of thousands," DeSantis previously said. "No elected official is doing more to enable the transmission of COVID in America than Joe Biden with his open borders policies."

On another occasion, DeSantis attempted to place the blame on unvaccinated and undocumented immigrants. According to the Florida governor, "it's immigrants crossing the border — and not the Floridians he has encouraged to behave irresponsibly, the unvaccinated or the unmasked — who are spreading variants."

DeSantis' remarks echo the words of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Fox News' Sean Hannity. Now, DeSantis' claims are being completely debunked. An analysis published by The Washington Post explains why immigrants are not to blame for the latest accelerated spread of the Delta variant of COVID.

"This idea depends on three key misunderstandings," the paper reports. "A misunderstanding of the surge in arrivals at the Mexico border, a misunderstanding of how migrants are released from federal custody, and a misunderstanding of where the pandemic is actually at its worst."

The analysis also highlights a distinct Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy counsel for the American Immigration Council. He explained how and why immigrants are typically tested far more than any other individuals in the country.

"Migrants are in many ways the most tested group in the country. No other group of people in the entire country is being tested at a near-100 percent rate," he said by phone. "So when we talk about infection rates of migrants, what we actually know is that a lot of people who are testing positive are asymptomatic; who, if they were in the United States, would have just never been tested."

Despite DeSantis' sentiments being debunked, his office released a lengthy statement in an attempt to offer clarity about his remarks. In reference to immigrants, his office did admit that migration is not solely responsible

"What we know from official data is that about 200,000 people cross the border illegally every month. They come from over 100 countries, and some of those countries where a significant portion of the migrants hail from, such as Haiti, have extremely low rates of COVID vaccination. Therefore — When the Biden administration discusses implementing vaccine passports for legal immigrants and tourists coming to our country, but allows the free movement of illegal immigrants through the border and around the country (especially to Florida, which 70% of migrants detained and interviewed by our state law enforcement assisting with border security in Texas reported as their final destination) without any mitigation measures, that is hypocritical.

If President Biden was serious about "shutting down the virus" as he promised, his open border policies do not make any sense. At the very least, it's unfair (not to mention unscientific) that legal immigrants, tourists, and even American citizens are subject to more stringent COVID restrictions than illegal immigrants are. If public health recommendations are about public health, these recommendations should apply to all people equally.

Hospitals report data on inpatient bed usage, ICU capacity, COVID hospitalizations, and other metrics directly to HHS, but they do not report citizenship status of patients, as far as I am aware. The concern is that some people could be feeling fine, but carrying variants from different countries and spreading them to higher risk individuals, who then get extremely ill.

Of course, migration isn't the only factor in COVID spread, and the governor has never implied that to be the case. The main issue that Governor DeSantis highlighted with his comments yesterday was the paradoxical nature of the Biden Administration's support for additional restrictions on Americans and lawful immigrants (namely, the WH support for vaccine passports) while allowing illegal migrants to cross the border and travel through the country freely.