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On TV Show, Lou Dobbs Floats Ouster Of Trump's Campaign Manager

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

After President Donald Trump's recent rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which featured a lower-than-expected crowd turnout after the campaign had hyped expected attendance for days, Fox host and Trump confidant Lou Dobbs is questioning the effectiveness of Trump's reelection campaign apparatus.

Trump's campaign rally, held indoors at the Bank of Oklahoma center in Tulsa on June 20, drew around 6,200 attendees in a venue that had a maximum capacity of over 19,000. The campaign -- including both Trump and Brad Parscale, his campaign manager -- had spent the week prior boasting about receiving a million ticket requests. The event also initially featured an outdoor overflow venue where Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were scheduled to speak to excess supporters -- at one point, Trump predicted 40,000 people could attend in that space -- but the overflow plan was scrapped at the last minute when fewer than 25 people showed up.

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Trump's ‘Obamagate’ Retreads Debunked Conspiracy Theories

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

Last weekend, President Donald Trump unleashed a series of Mother's Day tweets accusing former President Barack Obama of an unspecified crime, referring to it as "Obamagate." Trump later went as far as to suggest that Obama and the Democratic presidential front-runner, former Vice President Joe Biden, should be in prison.

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Hannity Demands Arrest Of Democrats, Intelligence Officials

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.

President Donald Trump triggered turmoil in the Department of Justice (DOJ) last week after he tweeted public complaints about the sentencing recommendations for his longtime associate Roger Stone, after which Attorney General Bill Barr appeared to step in and interfere in the case. The incident rattled the legal community as fears escalated that an emboldened Trump — with Barr’s help — is politicizing the Justice Department for personal gain, prompting more than 2,000 former Department of Justice officials to sign a letter calling for Barr’s resignation and the Federal Judges Association to call an unprecedented emergency meeting.

Additional reporting revealed that Stone’s case was not the first time Barr’s Justice Department has intervened in legal matters close to Trump; NBC News reported on February 11 that Barr also intervened in the criminal investigations into former acting FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. On February 14, the Justice Department announced that McCabe would not be charged with lying to investigators, which Stone’s right-wing media defenders angrily insisted was an example of DOJ hypocrisy and further evidence of the “deep state” conspiracy theory against Trump. 

Fox News host Sean Hannity, along with a slew of his network cohorts, has spent years advancing that conspiracy theory while relentlessly calling on Barr and the Justice Department to investigate and arrest Trump’s political opponents. Some of these Fox News figures calling for new investigations were implicated in Trump’s Ukraine scandal, such as contributor John Solomon and the GOP legal duo Victoria Toensing and Joe diGenova. Others include Fox regulars Gregg Jarrett, Sara Carter, Dan Bongino, and Tom Fitton. The details among these calls vary, but they all carry the same theme: “Investigate the investigators,” or anyone else who has dared look into Trump’s misconduct over the last several years.  

At the core of Hannity’s grievance is an overwhelming obsession with the idea that a bureaucratic “deep state” has been seeking to undermine Trump’s presidency since before the 2016 election. Every attempt to hold Trump accountable since then — the Mueller report, the Ukraine scandal that led to impeachment, and any other inconvenient fact about Trump that surfaces — has supposedly been evidence of the “deep state” trying to take down the president. 

Given Trump’s long history of taking cues from Fox News and widespread concerns about the attorney general’s recent politicization of the Justice Department, it’s worth documenting the list of people whom Fox News has been relentlessly calling on Barr to investigate, arrest, or convict as part of this “deep state” conspiracy theory: 

  • Former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton
  • Former FBI Director James Comey
  • Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe
  • Former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates 
  • Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein 
  • Former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr 
  • Former Fusion GPS contractor Nellie Ohr
  • Former FBI agent Peter Strzok
  • Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page 
  • Former FBI lawyer James Baker
  • Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper
  • Former national security adviser Susan Rice
  • Former Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power
  • Former CIA Director John Brennan
  • Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch 
  • Former President Barack Obama

And here is more on the supposed reasons for investigating them, from Hannity himself. 

Fox News on Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and officials in the “deep state”

Former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has long served as a boogeyman for right-wing circles to attack, but Trump’s 2016 election brought a newfound desire to “lock her up,” as evidenced in Trump supporters’ infamous rally chant. Specifically, Hannity now wants her arrested for the “phony dossier that was full of Russian lies” — commonly known as the Steele dossier — that her 2016 campaign obtained from opposition research firm Fusion GPS. Hannity claims this was the basis of the FISA warrant to monitor Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. (It wasn’t.) Nellie Ohr worked as a contractor for Fusion GPS; many on the right point to the fact that her husband, former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, is a high-ranking DOJ official as further evidence of the “deep state,” and Hannity has called for retaliatory investigations against both. 

Fox News’ grievances against Clinton also include complaints that the Uranium One and email server scandals — flimsy right-wing conspiracy theories that have already been investigated and resulted in Clinton’s exoneration — were looked into by sham investigations led by former FBI Director James Comey. Hannity has called for Barr to reopen these investigations, often claiming that it’s hypocritical that Clinton hasn’t been treated as badly as he feels Trump has.

Hannity’s obsession with the “deep state” has led to his fixation on seeing punishment for the FBI investigators and anyone involved in Mueller’s investigation or in the events leading up to it. Hannity’s show spent months hyping up the DOJ’s internal inspector general report that looked into the investigators of the Mueller probe, compiled by Inspector General Michael Horowitz, in hopes that he would punish the people they’re hoping for. While the IG report did find some evidence of wrongdoing in the Mueller investigation, the conclusions were nowhere near the dramatic, nefarious conspiracy theory Hannity spent months weaving for his viewers. Refusing to falter, Hannity then turned his hopes to Barr, in his new role as attorney general, and federal prosecutor John Durham, who is currently leading a criminal inquiry into the origins of the Mueller investigation. 

Hannity’s accusations are muddled and flimsy, but the core idea is that former and current officials associated with the FBI colluded with Clinton’s campaign to help her win, and when that didn’t succeed, they launched a sham investigation (the Mueller investigation) into Trump to undermine his presidency. In Hannity’s view, former FBI Director James Comey, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, and former Deputy Attorneys General Sally Yates and Rod Rosenstein knowingly lied to the FISA court by using Clinton’s “phony dossier that was full of Russian lies” to illegally target Carter Page without informing the court that it was unverified and came from Clinton. 

Fox figures have also accused Comey of leaking classified information, which has since been disproven. Hannity also claims Comey, McCabe, Bruce Ohr, former FBI agent Peter Strzok, and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page used their positions to “persecute those they disagreed with politically, all trying to get Hillary Clinton elected.” Hannity also claims McCabe lied to the inspector general and committed perjury. 

According to Fox News personalities, former FBI lawyer James Baker, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former national security adviser Susan Rice, former Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, former CIA Director John Brennan, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and possibly former President Barack Obama himself also supposedly played a role in illegally leaking information toward the end of Obama’s presidency. 

Here is just a small sample of the times Fox News figures have called for Barr to investigate individuals associated with the FBI, the Clintons, and the Obama administration:

  • Last May, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski predicted on Lou Dobbs Tonight that “in March or April of next year, James Comey, Andy McCabe, Strzok and Page will be on trial for the crimes they committed.”
  • On a December 2017 edition of Fox News @ Night, Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton suggested that the FBI had been “compromised” and “turned into a KGB-type operation by the Obama administration.” 
  • A few months later, in February 2018, Fitton accused Obama of “presidential involvement in these sensitive criminal investigations,” referring to the investigation into Clinton’s emails and Mueller’s Russia investigation. Fitton added that he’s “always wondered why President Obama has skated really free from any serious inquiries about his involvement in the Russia investigations.” 
  • After the release of the Mueller report in March 2019, Hannity said that his “sources” were telling him “it’s all about to come cascading down” on those he claimed had “rigged the investigation into Hillary’s emails scandal” when there was “clear, compelling, incontrovertible evidence.” Hannity went on to call for the Trump administration to “fully expose every single one of these deep state actors,” saying, “James Comey, let’s start with him. Let’s start with Sally Yates. They need to be investigated. McCabe needs to be investigated.” He added, “Susan Rice, Samantha Powers, John Brennan, Clapper, Lynch — … they all must now be put under oath [and] investigated.”
  • On February 7, 2019, Hannity asked, “When is anybody going to be held accountable” for the Mueller investigation. His guest Gregg Jarrett predicted on Hannity that Barr would open investigations into Clinton and others after being sworn in as attorney general. 
  • One week later, a Hannity panel consisting of Jarrett, Carter, and guest David Schoen argued that at least a “dozen” individuals essentially “sought a coup d’etat to overthrow the President of the United States.” The panel named McCabe, Rosenstein, Brennan, Clapper, Bruce and Nellie Ohr, and others. 
  • In March 2019, Hannity called out the supposed “rigged investigation into Hillary” by Comey, Baker, and others. He asked “how is it possible with all that evidence” that Mueller isn’t investigating FBI officials, Obama officials, and the Clintons. DiGenova responded that “it is quite obvious that there were crimes committed by people associated with the Clinton campaign” and others that “have been ignored.” 
  • In August 2019, Hannity told Republican members of Congress that a “little birdie” told him that “apparently the FBI … didn’t treat [Clinton’s] campaign the way they treated Donald Trump.” Hannity also attacked the Steele dossier, Comey, and FBI officials. 
  • After it was reported that the DOJ would not be charging McCabe, Hannity said that if there aren’t successful investigations against the senior officials involved in investigating Russian interference, “we’re not going to have a constitutional republic anymore.” He added, “There is a five-alarm fire going on, … and it affects every single player that we have now talked about, and all of the crimes we’ve exposed, and all of the corruption we’ve exposed, and all the abuse of power we’ve exposed.” 
  • After Barr announced counter-investigations into the Mueller investigation in April 2019, Hannity declared that “to date, we have been right about everything that has transpired surrounding the deep state’s abuse of power” and warned that “if we don’t investigate investigators, lock up the bad actors, this country will be over as we know it.” Joe diGenova called Comey a “dirty cop” and said that Barr will “conclude” that “it all started in the White House. Barack Obama knew about this from day one.” Victoria Toensing predicted Obama, Biden, Yates, Rice, and Comey may be implicated.

Fox News has been calling on Bill Barr to carry out retaliatory investigations

For more than a year, various Fox News personalities have assured viewers that there is one man who is capable of taking down everyone who they feel has wronged Trump: Bill Barr. 

  • In a segment from December 2018 attacking the Clintons, Strzok, Page, and Obama, Toensing assured Dan Bongino, who was a guest host on Hannity, that “if we get Bill Barr in as the attorney general,” their concerns “will be addressed.” 
  • During Barr’s confirmation hearing in February 2019, Hannity presented a “road map of corruption” of all the crimes he wanted Barr to investigate regarding the Mueller report, saying that there is “no shortage of corrupt Trump-haters to investigate.” 
  • In April 2019, Barr announced counter-investigations into the Mueller report. Fox contributor Sara Carter predicted that an “avalanche” of information would be revealed by Barr’s investigations, and there are “a number of indictments that are on the way.” She claimed that the investigations will “lead all the way back to the White House. … And I’m talking about the Obama administration.”

In September, Fox Business host Lou Dobbs asked diGenova and Toensing, “How much are we going to be thanking Bill Barr ourselves?” DiGenova assured Dobbs that “Barr is a strong-willed individual” who “will not be afraid to bring cases that need to be brought.” DiGenova added that “the one thing he is going to do, I assure you,” is “to lower the hammer in a public way that’s going to be quite revealing to the American people.”

How Right-Wing Media Spread Debunked Rumor Of Iowa ‘Fraud’

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

Ahead of the Iowa caucuses, Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton and other key conservative media figures manufactured and spread a false smear about voter registrations, previewing how right-wing media plan to spread disinformation to sow doubt and confusion throughout the 2020 election cycle.

On February 2, Fitton tweeted that “eight Iowa counties have more voter registrations than citizens old enough to register.” Early the following morning, Iowa’s Republican secretary of state, Paul Pate, debunked the claim multiple times as “false,” responding to Twitter users who promoted the smear and issuing a formal statement. Independent journalist Judd Legum also explained that this claim is baseless and relies on a misinterpretation of data. Still, right-wing media acted in concert to feed the smear, spreading the false claim hours after it had been thoroughly debunked.

Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton

Fitton responded to Pate’s debunking by doubling down, claiming that Judicial Watch is “under attack for accurately highlighting dirty voting rolls in Iowa” and smearing the Republican secretary of state and journalists who reported on the claim. In addition to spreading the smear on Twitter, Fitton bought an advertisement on Facebook to promote it. Facebook took the advertisement down after a few hours, but not before it had received between 25,000 and 30,000 impressions.

Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk

Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk also played a key role in spreading the claim. On Sunday night, Kirk tweeted a paraphrase of Fitton’s report, gaining over 43,000 retweets and 62,000 likes. Pate debunked the claim early the following morning, but Kirk continued to spread the smear nearly 21 hours after Pate’s initial attempts to debunk it. 

The Epoch Times

The Epoch Times also played an outsized role in spreading the disinformation after it had been thoroughly debunked. At 4 p.m. EST on Monday — hours after Pate had debunked the claim — The Epoch Times published an article on the report, which initially simply pushed the false claim but later added Pate’s debunk. The article began to swiftly pick up engagement, earning over 100,000 total interactions on Facebook by 8 p.m. By the following morning, the article had obtained nearly 175,000 interactions on Facebook, which had to add a disclaimer warning users that the post contained false information. On Tuesday morning, most of the posts pushing the article on its multiple Facebook pages were deleted

Fox News’ Sean Hannity 

Fox News prime-time host Sean Hannity also promoted the smear online after it had been debunked, even though Fox Business anchor Neil Cavuto hosted Pate to debunk the claim on his show. Hannity’s website wrote the report up in an article titled “REPORT: Eight Iowa Counties Have More Registered Voters than ELIGIBLE Voters, 18K+ Extra Names.” Hannity tweeted out a link to his write-up at 4:07 p.m. EST on Monday, earning over 4,000 retweets and over 6,000 likes. MoveOn’s Natalie Martinez (formerly of Media Matters) also reported that some local radio stations that syndicate Hannity’s radio show were reposting the article. Hannity also posted it on Facebook, which added a disclaimer to his post too, though the social media network did not take it down. 

Other right-wing media figures and outlets involved in promoting the smear on Monday include The Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft, right-wing commentator Janie Johnson, and One America News Network.

This ordeal offers a glimpse into how right-wing organizations like Judicial Watch use distorted interpretations of information to fearmonger about voter fraud — a myth long-championed by conservatives to distract from real voter suppression. Their goal appears to be to cast doubt on election results, paving the way for conspiracy theories that leave their audience’s faith in voting institutions shaken. 

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

Right-Wing Media Smear Vindman’s Twin Brother As Leaker

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

On January 26, The New York Times reported on leaked portions of an unpublished manuscript from former national security adviser John Bolton, which the paper says revealed that President Donald Trump told Bolton he wanted to continue with a hold on Ukrainian military aid until the country opened investigations into Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. 

The same night, Breitbart News swiftly posted a conspiratorial smear against the brother of Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council expert on Ukraine who testified in the House impeachment inquiry in October. Breitbart claimed “a source close to the Trump administration” told the outlet that Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, Alexander’s brother, “is in charge of reviewing all publications by current and former NSC officials,” which would include Bolton’s book manuscript. 

Right-wing media have attacked Alexander Vindman with detestable smears since October, when he testified to Congress that he “did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen” and that he “was worried about the implications for the U.S. government’s support of Ukraine.” His testimony led to a swarm of right-wing media accusations that because he had immigrated from Ukraine as a small child, the Purple Heart winner may be more loyal toward Ukraine than the United States. 

Now, right-wing media outlets are turning their attention toward Yevgeny. While Breitbart‘s report is accurate that Yevgeny is a “senior ethics lawyer” for the NSC, there is no evidence that he saw the manuscript. In fact, Fox News’ John Roberts tweeted on January 27 that his sources say Yevgeny “is NOT part of the NSC team vetting John Bolton’s manuscript.”

Still, that didn’t stop right-wing media figures — including some from Roberts’ own network — from promoting the smear that the leak of Bolton’s book manuscript was a conspiracy stemming from the Vindmans. Conservative media outlets including The Washington TimesRedState, and Biz Pac Review reported the story, citing Breitbart. Prominent figures in conservative media tweeted about the conspiracy theory, including Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk, Fox News host Mark Levin, and right-wing radio host Bill Mitchell.

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), one of Trump’s strongest defenders in Congress, also promoted the smear:

The War Room podcast co-host Jason Miller also tweeted about the smear, writing, “No such thing as coincidences in politics.” Conservative giant Rush Limbaugh also promoted it as fact on his radio show, saying, “Yevgeny Vindman is the guy vetting Bolton’s book.” Newsmax’s Emerald Robinson tweeted the Breitbart article, sarcastically adding, “What a coincidence … if you believe in coincidences.” Fox News prime-time host Sean Hannity claimed on his radio show that “we’re hearing that the brother of a key Schiff impeachment witness” was allegedly involved in the leak, though he also said he had not confirmed the report and was getting it from Breitbart

Fox Business host Lou Dobbs similarly offered a disclaimer that a source denied the allegations to Fox News, but he mentioned that only after sharing the smear, saying, “Both Bolton and [Robert] O’Brien led the National Security Council that employed the likes of the infamous, anonymous whistleblower, never-Trumper Lt. Col. Alex Vindman, and his brother, Yevgeny Vindman, the security council senior ethics lawyer. Yevgeny is also in charge of reviewing publications for former or current NSC employees to ensure [removal of] confidential information — say, that sort of thing, well you know, that happens at the National Security Council, the CIA, and other secretive agencies.” Frequent Dobbs guest Ed Rollins then promoted the smear, effectively rendering Dobbs’ brief disclaimer moot. 

This treatment of the Vindmans illustrates the harassment, lies, smears, and vitriol right-wing media will employ to attack any critic of Trump, particularly witnesses in the impeachment proceedings.

What The New Evidence Shows About Rudy’s Ukraine Scheme

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

On Tuesday, new evidence was released in the impeachment inquiry involving President Donald Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to open a sham investigation into Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. The evidence includes a trove of documents from indicted Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas which appear to show Ukrainian prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko sought to have former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch removed in exchange for information on Biden.

At the center of the scandal lies former The Hill columnist and current Fox News contributor John Solomon. It has been known that Solomon used his Hill columns as a conduit for Trump personal attorney Giuliani’s conspiracy theories, but the new evidence further reveals the extent to which Solomon was involved. Vox’s Andrew Prokop broke down the timeline and details surrounding Solomon’s involvement:

The newly released documents show that Lutsenko complained to Parnas about Yovanovitch in March 2019, claiming that he wanted her removed. Parnas spoke to Solomon by phone in mid-March, and within a few days, Solomon wrote his first column featuring an interview with Lutsenko, who said that Yovanovitch had presented him with a “do not prosecute” list of Ukrainian citizens. (Yovanovitch denied the existence of such a list under oath, and no evidence has ever emerged that this list existed.)

Days later, Lutsenko urged Parnas to make a decision about “Madam” — likely a reference to Yovanovitch — or else his information on “B,” seemingly referring to Biden, would be called into question. On March 26, Lutsenko informed Parnas that the matters surrounding Burisma and Biden were progressing, but he again complained about Yovanovitch, to which Parnas replied that “she’s not getting away.” On April 1, Solomon wrote his first piece for The Hill linking Biden to Ukraine, interviewing Lutsenko and featuring the information he had been digging up.

The newly released documents further reveal the extent to which Solomon utilized his position as a columnist at The Hill to launder disinformation from Giuliani, Lutsenko, and others to bolster anti-Biden conspiracy theories and slander Yovanovitch, all in order to accomplish Trump’s goal of a corrupt, sham investigation into his potential political rival in 2020.

In addition to writing for The Hill, Solomon frequently appeared on Sean Hannity’s prime-time Fox show Hannity to launder his “reporting” on Ukraine. When Solomon ultimately left The Hill in late 2019 — leaving behind lasting damage due to his Ukraine columns — he was welcomed by Fox News with open arms, earning a contract as a Fox News contributor as a result of his conspiracy theory-ridden columns.

Food Stamp Cuts — An Early Christmas Gift For Fox News

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

On December 4, the Trump administration announced that it had approved plans to remove nearly 700,000 people from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that provides food stamps. Fox News, which has relentlessly attacked food stamp benefits for years, is cheering the move.

The proposed SNAP rule aims to tighten work requirements for able-bodied adults who don’t have children and receive food stamps. Under the current rule, states have the option to waive the three-month limit on food stamps for those not working or participating in work programs in areas with high unemployment rates, particularly during periods of economic downturn. The new rule aims to make it more difficult for states to grant waivers. 

During a public feedback period, over 140,000 comments on the proposed rule change were submitted, and the feedback was overwhelmingly negative. The rule change “really weakens SNAP’s ability to assist the unemployed during an economic downturn,” Stacy Dean, vice president of food assistance policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, told The Washington Post. Share Our Strength’s Senior Vice President Lisa Davis said, “It is deeply disappointing that despite overwhelming opposition to this proposal, the White House has finalized a rule that stiffens work requirements for millions of SNAP participants, which will likely lead to hundreds of thousands of people losing their benefits.” 

The Trump administration has also proposed two additional rule changes: One could strip nearly 3 million people of their benefits, leaving almost 1 million children without free or reduced-price school meals. The second would adjust the SNAP eligibility formulas over five years, potentially affecting one in five families receiving food assistance. These two additional rule changes are likely to be approved before the 2020 presidential election. 

For Fox News, the rule changes amount to an early Christmas present. Fox has long led the crusade against SNAP benefits, from lamenting the lack of “stigma” surrounding food stamps to relentlessly pushing the “culture of dependency” myth. Fox personalities have smeared SNAP benefits as a “feel good” program, and the network branded President Barack Obama as the “food stamp president” in 2012. Fox News has a history of deceptively misrepresenting facts to smear food stamp recipients. In 2013, the network had a field day covering the “food stamp surfer,” Jason Greenslate, whom Fox called “a blissfully jobless California surfer,” as he proudly declared that he exploits SNAP to live lavishly. Greenslate obviously does not represent the vast majority of food stamp recipients, but that didn’t stop Fox News from airing an hour-long special titled The Great Food Stamp Binge, centered on Greenslate, which was predictably filled with inaccuracies and fear-mongering. Fox then shamelessly distributed the program footage to members of the House prior to a vote on a bill that would cut food stamp benefits by $40 billion.

Now, Fox News is celebrating the Trump administration’s rule changes and continuing to perpetuate stereotypes that represent food stamp recipients as entitled and lazy. 

On Fox & Friends, guest Star Parker said that the move to cut SNAP benefits is “fantastic news” because people who are “comfortable on the couch” now have to “participate.” Parker lauded the government for “encouraging them to say we see the potential in you, so we’re going to change a few rules to encourage you, to encourage your own life to get involved in what is happening and making America great again.” Guest co-host Emily Compagno agreed that the cuts are an “investment into the potential” of people who will lose benefits. 

Fox News @ Night aired footage from the 2013 “Great Food Stamp Binge” program, with Fox “news”-side anchor Shannon Bream reminding viewers that “under the Obama administration,” Greenslate “used to use his food stamps to eat sushi and lobster.” The Daily Caller’s Stephanie Hamill repeated the talking point that SNAP is “supposed to be a safety net, not a lifestyle,” pointing to Greenslate as an example.

Fox Business host Stuart Varney said, “If there are 7 million jobs going begging and you’ve got able-bodied people who are getting food stamps for heaven’s sake, why not push them out into the workforce?” Fox Business’ Ashley Webster repeated the argument that food stamps are “there to help people, not become a way of life,” adding that the “problem” is “when you just sit back and it all comes in.” 

On Fox Business, host Charles Payne and White House Budget Office acting Director Russ Vought defended the rule changes. Vought claimed that media headlines describing the rule changes as cruel are “absolutely wrong” and said it will incentivize people to “get out of a cycle of dependency.” Payne described the rule changes as “tough love so that you can get in the game.”

Roger Stone Guilty On All Counts; Far Right Urges Pardon

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Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

 

On November 15, Trump loyalist Roger Stone was convicted in federal court on seven counts, including charges of lying to Congress and witness tampering. Now, right-wing and far-right media figures are urging President Donald Trump to pardon Stone.

Stone was found guilty on charges related to his September 2017 testimony to the House Intelligence Committee investigating Russian interference during the 2016 election, specifically regarding WikiLeaks’ release of hacked Democratic National Committee emails.

In response to the verdict, right-wing and far-right media figures are now calling on Trump to pardon Stone. Stone himself has pleaded with Trump to pardon him through a message sent to far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. (Jones, in turn, has responded to the verdict by threatening to out the jury in the Stone trial.) An online petition is currently circulating calling for the pardon. An online petition is currently circulating calling for the pardon. Though Stone has remained consistently loyal to Trump, some have noted that a pardon would result in Stone losing immunity, which could result in him being compelled to testify in a future legal proceeding involving Trump.

One America News Network’s Jack Posobiec tweeted: “What bunch of bullshiff this all is. And they want to put 70-year old Roger Stone behind bars for trash-talking Hillary Clinton? End the witch hunt @realDonaldTrump Roger deserves a pardon and everyone knows it.”

Conservative commentator and conspiracy theorist Mark Dice tweeted, “Pardon Roger Stone.”

Far-right commentator Cassandra Fairbanks tweeted that “Trump should nut up and pardon Roger Stone, Julian Assange and Gen. Flynn immediately,” adding, “It’s getting ridiculous.”

Former Trump aide Sam Nunberg said that Trump should pardon Stone because Trump “is getting impeached anyway.”

Co-founder of Latinos for Trump Marco Gutierrez shared on Twitter the petition for Trump to pardon Stone.

White nationalist Faith Goldy tweeted, “PARDON ROGER STONE,” tagging Trump’s twitter account. Goldy added, “Media will have a field day regardless of what you do. Do the right thing!!”

Conservative writer Daniel Bostic tweeted that “Trump must pardon Roger Stone,” adding, “Anything less is unacceptable.”

According to HuffPost’s Andy Campbell, far-right gang the Proud Boys has been pushing for Trump to pardon Stone.

Conservative strategist Chris Barron tweeted, “Dear @realDonaldTrump: pardon Roger Stone.”

Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton tweeted, “Roger Stone is another good candidate for a pardon.”

Townhall editor Matt Vespa tweeted, “Trump should pardon Roger Stone.”

On Telegram, far-right personalities Milo YiannopoulosLaura Loomer, and Jacob Wohl all shared the numbers for conservative giant Rush Limbaugh, the White House, and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), urging followers to call for an “immediate presidential pardon.”

Yiannopoulos also told Vox reporter Jane Coaston that if Trump doesn’t pardon Stone, “I’ll lead the impeachment effort. He will not deserve to be re-elected.”

Conservative strategist Seth Weathers tweeted that Trump “needs to immediately pardon Roger Stone,” adding that Stone “shouldn’t have to spend one day in jail over this political persecution.”

Bill Mitchell was succinct in his rationale for why Stone should be pardoned:

Sebastian Gorka suggested that Trump should pardon Stone and appoint him as ambassador to Ukraine.

Buck Sexton suggested Stone should be pardoned: “There’s no real damage here.”

There was also this guy broadcasting in front of the White House:

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As Dorian Wreaks Havoc, Fox News Dismisses Climate Science

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

As Hurricane Dorian swept through the Bahamas and makes its way along the United States coast, Fox News has been quick to cast doubt on the connections between the hurricane — and other recent natural disasters — and climate change.

As Dorian moves along the U.S. coast, it has left devastation in its wake, most notably in the Bahamas. In addition to being a powerful storm, Dorian is unusually slow-moving, ravaging the Bahamas in part because of its 1 mph speed.

The link between Hurricane Dorian’s catastrophic impact and climate change is clear — warmer water caused by climate change fuels hurricanes and increases their strength. The Union of Concerned Scientists explained the science of this relationship in three parts: Warmer water gives more fuel to hurricanes; rising seas worsen storm surges; and warmer air holds more water for rainfall. NPR conducted an interview with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration atmospheric scientist Jim Kossin, who explained how slow-moving hurricanes like Dorian are linked to climate change. Such storms will also likely increase in intensity in the future due to climate change. In short, scientists widely agree that “the science connecting climate change to hurricanes like Dorian is strong.”

Despite this clear consensus, Fox News has tried to shift blame away from human-made climate change and cast doubt on widely accepted science. Instead, Fox has insisted that hurricanes have always existed and therefore, climate change has nothing to do with them; has brought climate deniers on air; and has resorted to a favorite line of attack: berating Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). This time, the network assailed her for linking climate change to Dorian.

The Fox & Friends co-hosts chided Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) for linking Hurricane Dorian to climate change, arguing that “hurricanes have been happening since the beginning of the atmosphere.” They also asserted that Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez are “telling everybody who is pumping oil for a living, who is transporting gas for a living, who is working in the natural gas or oil industry” that “you are the problem, you are the nicotine in today’s society.”

During coverage of Hurricane Dorian on September 3, Fox “news”-side anchor Martha MacCallum hosted climate denier Roy Spencer, who denied the proven links between climate change and hurricanes and claimed that climate change-driven “warming is very slow.”

Undercover Video Exposes Far-Right ‘Journalist’ Andy Ngo

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

Far-right writer Andy Ngo has been presented as a credible authority on left-wing violence following an attack on him at a rally in late June. Now it’s been revealed that Ngo has secretly been working alongside a violent far-right group to cherry-pick and misrepresent left-wing activism in an attempt to downplay right-wing violence.

On August 26, the Portland Mercury reported that Ngo was present during conversations in which far-right protesters planned violent attacks against left-wing activists; even though he calls himself a journalist, Ngo never reported on these conversations.

This story is particularly relevant because of how the media has treated Ngo. On June 29, members of antifa attacked Ngo at a Portland, OR, rally held by the Proud Boys, a far-right violent gang. (Antifa comprises anti-fascist activists who “believe the best way to deal with the rise of white supremacy and hate groups in the Trump era is by confronting them on the street.”) The attack on Ngo predictably led to widespread condemnation of anti-fascists and left-wing violence from right-wing media outlets like Fox News and more mainstream media figures. Ngo emerged as an authority figure on attacks by anti-fascists.

Prior to the June attack, Ngo had just two appearances on Fox News in 2019, both on the network’s prime-time opinion shows Tucker Carlson Tonight and The Ingraham Angle. But the June 29 events transformed him into a regular. Since then, he has appeared on Fox News at least 12 times, making appearances on “news”-side programs such as The Story with Martha MacCallumFox & Friends First, and Fox News @ Night with Shannon Bream. He also appeared on the July 2 edition of CNN’s New Day to discuss his version of the attack and to condemn violence from the left. Many mainstream media outlets simply identified Ngo as an “independent journalist” or a “conservative journalist,” lending legitimacy to his narrative while ignoring his long record of credibility issues.

The August 26 report described an undercover activist dubbed “Ben,” who has been keeping his real identity a secret while posing as a right-wing protester with Patriot Prayer, a right-wing group with a history of violence. In the summer of 2018, some of its members were discovered with a cache of firearms on a rooftop in Portland.

In addition to reporting on Patriot Prayer’s violence, Ben discussed Ngo’s involvement with the group during demonstrations and his role in cherry-picking footage to avoid filming any violence from right-wing protesters. According to Ben, “Ngo doesn’t film Patriot Prayer protesters discussing strategies or motives. He only turns his camera on when members of antifa enter the scene.” He added, “There’s an understanding that Patriot Prayer protects him and he protects them.”

The Portland Mercury described a video Ben recorded shortly before Patriot Prayer members attacked left-wing activists at a local bar on May 1:

As the group waits, they discuss their weaponry. A few men try to guess which way the wind’s blowing to avoid getting “spray” in their eyes, presumably when they use it against members of antifa. Another man holds a thick wooden dowel, and practices swinging it like a baseball bat. A woman carries a red brick in her hand. Some don goggles, helmets, and tactical gloves.

 …

Ben captures someone telling a person on speakerphone, “There’s going to be a huge fight,” and gives them directions to Cider Riot.

 Ngo doesn’t film any of the conversations, and smiles when the group cracks jokes.

 “He overheard everything,” Ben recalls, “and said nothing.”

Ngo has a history of distorting events that occur at rallies in Portland, a city that has become a hub of far-right violence in recent years. During an August 19 far-right rally, Ngo tweeted a slew of videos that were later debunked as misleading or blatantly untrue. His reporting often painted left-wing groups as violent organizations that pose a threat equal to that of right-wing and white supremacist groups, even though experts say that the two are nowhere near comparable.

Ngo heavily leaned into the narrative that anti-fascists are a violent left-wing group, even labeling the activists “domestic terrorists.” The narrative soon reached Republican politicians: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)called for an investigation into Ngo’s attack, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)condemned “the hate and violence perpetrated by Antifa.” Cruz has since introduced legislation in Congress that seeks to label antifa as a domestic terrorist organization, citing the attack on Ngo as the basis for the legislation, and President Donald Trump has voiced his support. (Neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan have not been designated domestic terror groups.)

The revelation of his ties to violent far-right activists is a stark reminder that bad-faith actors — or right-wing grifters — often seek to manipulate the media to advance their own narrative; no matter how sympathetic such figures should appear, legitimate outlets should maintain a healthy degree of skepticism.