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Top Republican Consulting Firm Aiding QAnon Senate Candidate In Oregon

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

Oregon Republican Senate candidate Jo Rae Perkins has been running a campaign promoting the QAnon conspiracy theory. She's been helped by Axiom Strategies, a leading GOP political and media consulting firm that's headed by former Ted Cruz 2016 campaign manager Jeff Roe and employs former Trump acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker.

QAnon is a violence-linked conspiracy theory based on cryptic posts to online message boards from an anonymous user known as "Q" that have spread rampantly on social media and among fringe right-wing media. QAnon conspiracy theorists essentially believe that President Donald Trump is secretly working to take down the purported "deep state," a supposed cabal of high-ranking officials who they claim are operating pedophile rings.

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Trump Campaign Official Went On QAnon Show To Recruit Volunteers

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

In a previously unreported appearance, Trump campaign official Erin Perrine went on a QAnon program to promote President Donald Trump's reelection campaign and recruit volunteers. Perrine encouraged the QAnon audience to "sign up and attend a Trump Victory Leadership Initiative training" and also said that they could "talk to their local GOP party, their state party."

QAnon is a violence-linked conspiracy theory based on cryptic posts to online message boards from an anonymous user known as "Q" that have spread rampantly on social media and among fringe right-wing media. QAnon conspiracy theorists essentially believe that Trump is secretly working to take down the purported "deep state," a supposed cabal of high-ranking officials who they claim are operating pedophile rings.

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California GOP Backs QAnon Conspiracist For Congress

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.

While California and the United States as a whole are breaking coronavirus case records, the California Republican Party has been backing the congressional bid of coronavirus conspiracy theorist and writer Mike Cargile.

Cargile, who is a QAnon conspiracy theorist, has claimed that the coronavirus is a "scamdemic" and "NOTHING compared to the diseases and plagues headed this way via the rats and the homeless"; and has praised the lie-filled Plandemic video as "EXACTLY why I'm in this race!"

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Anti-Vax Star Of ‘Plandemic’ Endorses Bogus Bleach Therapy

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Judy Mikovits, the discredited scientist who stars in the lie-filled conspiracy theory film Plandemic, recently appeared on the podcast of a church that has sold a chlorine dioxide product as a coronavirus cure and defended the organization's promotion of the bogus and dangerous treatment. The Food and Drug Administration has stated that "chlorine dioxide products have not been shown to be safe and effective for any use, including COVID-19."

The Genesis II Church of Health and Healing, which is led by Mark Grenon, has touted supposed "protocols" and products related to Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS), a bleach product that the church falsely claims can cure a variety of ailments, including the coronavirus.

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Despite Rules, Fake Coronavirus Cures Still Pushed On Facebook

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.

Facebook has stated that it is committed to fighting coronavirus misinformation by removing content that promotes bogus preventatives and cures. But Media Matters has found ten businesses that are using the platform to peddle products that can supposedly, among other things, "protect" against the coronavirus, "prevent" it, or "kill" it.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that "there is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus." The Food and Drug Administration and Federal Trade Commission have been sending warning letters to companies that promote their products as being able to treat, cure, or prevent COVID-19.

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The Media Personalities Profiteering From Coronavirus Scams And Grifts

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

This guide will be continuously updated. If you spot a coronavirus-related health scam or grift, please feel free to email Media Matters.

Numerous media figures and outlets, especially in the right-wing media, have been profiteering off of the coronavirus pandemic by promoting health grifts and scams, including supposed coronavirus treatments, preventatives, and cures.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that "there is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus."

Various government agencies at the federal and state levels have sent warning letters to companies and individuals who have been hawking purported coronavirus cures.

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Supplement Firm Hustling ‘Coronavirus Defense’ Pills On Right-Wing Radio

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.

"If you feel a symptom, then you have to hit it extra hard. … Double up. Triple up."

"This is the kind of best defense that we've got against corona."

"You can fight this from within. That's the only way."

Conservative talk radio listeners are hearing marketing for a supplement that can supposedly defend against the coronavirus and even extinguish its symptoms. The promotions are for Balance of Nature, a company with a history of deceptive marketing that's heavily advertising in markets including New York City through radio partnerships.

The Centers for Disease Control states that "there is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus" and "the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus."

The FDA has issued warning letters to several companies with products "that, without approval or authorization by FDA, claim to mitigate, prevent, treat, diagnose, or cure COVID-19 in people." New York Attorney General Letitia James has also taken action against "individuals and companies selling and marketing certain products as treatments or cures for the coronavirus," including hosts Alex Jones and Wayne Allyn Root.

Balance of Nature produces a "natural whole-food produce supplement" which it claims "makes it easier to get the recommended daily servings of fruits and veggies." It is led by Douglas Howard, who, according to the company, received his doctor of chiropractic degree at Cleveland Chiropractic College and "has not practiced and is not currently practicing as a medical doctor."

Numerous radio hosts have done marketing such as commercials, endorsements, and interview segments for Balance of Nature. The promoters include Salem Radio Network hosts Larry Elder, Mike Gallagher, and Sebastian Gorka; and Joe Piscopo and Kevin McCullough. Balance of Nature also produces a radio infomercial which airs around the country, including in Chicago, New York City, and San Diego.

Balance of Nature has a history of engaging in problematic marketing, as the nonprofit Truth in Advertising has documented. In August 2019, the Food and Drug Administration sent a warning letter to the Utah-based company after an inspection and review of its operations "revealed serious violations of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act) and applicable regulations." The infractions include product labeling which "establish that these products are drugs … because they are intended for use in the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease." The FDA wrote that the company made treatment claims regarding ailments such as cancer, diabetes, arthritis, cholesterol, and multiple sclerosis.

The company is now trying to capitalize on the coronavirus pandemic with similar prevention and treatment rhetoric on radio. The supplement has been pitched to listeners as the "only" and "best" defense against the virus, and also as a treatment against it when the first signs of symptoms occur.

During a March 2 appearance on WNYM's The Joe Piscopo Show, which was first noted by Truth in Advertising, Howard portrayed his product as "the only way" to fight the coronavirus, stating: "Balance of Nature has that chemistry to build the immune system, awaken it, and make it be there. You can fight this from within. That's the only way." He also said that when you feel "a little tickle in your throat" or "a little sniffle," you should "double, triple, quadruple" the use of the product. From the appearance:

DOUGLAS HOWARD: Right now in all of this scare that everybody's having, you know, is — the biggest thing is the only defense you have — there is no drug, there is no chemical. The only defense you have is to build your own immune system. And that's what I do. People call me. I get calls, texts, and emails every day, personally, it said, "What are you doing? What are you doing?" I say, "Just exactly what I do every day. I'm building and keeping my immune system safe."
The thing is is you've got to look at it three ways. Number one, you have to, you have to stay active. Move as much as you can. Get outside of stuffy rooms, get fresh air, move around, be social. Get out of any negative — get out of negative fights and social activities you have.
And then you've got to give it the right chemistry. Give it the chemistry. And Balance of Nature has that chemistry to build the immune system, awaken it, and make it be there. You can fight this from within. That's the only way. One other thing, and I want to tell you this, too. Anybody. Joe, if you start to get a little tickle in your throat, you start to get a little sniffle. At the first sign of it, double, triple, quadruple — I'm dead serious. It's easier to put a spark out than it is to put out a fire. And this thing becomes a raging forest fire.

Later during the program, Howard said that any future immunization to the coronavirus will be too late for people and "your body will build its own immunity to it. … I take Balance of Nature."

HOWARD: Build your immune system. That's all you can do. There's not a drug, there's not a — there's nothing out there. By the time they come up with an immunization, if they can, or could, then it's already going to have happened. And your body will build its own immunity to it. That's what our body does — it's amazing, it's awesome. And it's the, it is the immunosuppressed and the people who already have severe illnesses, and the elderly, are the most at-risk. And they have to be ultra careful, I will agree. And everybody else, all of us, we need to be vigilant on our own immune system. I take Balance of Nature, I keep active, and I try to stay out of any difficulties in relationships.

Radio host and Balance of Nature pitchman Kevin McCullough has sold the supplement as a solution to the coronavirus, flu, bronchitis, and cancer.Kevin McCullough AM 970 promo imageKevin McCullough

Balance of Nature is a major advertiser on Kevin McCullough Radio, where Howard has a weekly segment. McCullough is a conservative commentator who frequently appears on Fox News. Kevin McCullough Radio airs on WMCA (AM 570) and WNYM (AM 970) in New York City (he also hosts a video version of his show called Radio Night Live).

McCullough has previously promoted Balance of Nature as a potential treatment for cancer and other medical problems. He stated in June 2017: "If you're struggling with some health areas, and Dr. Howard, I don't think there's any limit on what these things can really help, at least not in the overwhelming amount of response that you've had. I mean, if you've got — if you're struggling with cancer, if you've got hep-C, if you've got other types of deficiencies, get this stuff going. What can it hurt if it gives you that relief or begins to help you in that way that is really powerful?"

In May 2017, he promoted a segment with Howard and wrote: "Literally did more to cure my flu this year than any anti-viral or antibiotic Ive ever used." In September 2017, McCullough wrote: "Whether you struggle with skin irritations, diabetes, Hep C, cancers, lower abdominal, prostate issues, low energy, and literally tons of other areas, the power of whole fruit and vegetables and their tens of thousands phytonutrients to improve every cell in your body has been peer-reviewed, and medically observed. … They radically changed my life. I used to get sick every time the weather changed, but now taking fruits and veggies I haven't had even one bronchial, asthmatic, allergy, cold or flu."

McCullough and Howard are now turning their sights to the coronavirus and pitching Balance of Nature as a solution.

During McCullough's February 27 show, he and Howard discussed ways to protect against the coronavirus. After talking about aspects related to health, Howard concluded by telling listeners that "the key is, is, for example, I do take Balance of Nature. That's what I take." McCullough then went for the sale, stating: "To reiterate, and I want to be very clear, doc's not saying fruits and veggies will cure anything. He's not saying that it'll cure you from anything. What he's saying is it will help your immune system be the fighters that your body needs when it is attacked and this is the kind of best defense that we've got against corona and those other, even the flu, and other things right now." McCullough added that people should "order more than just the basic dosage so that you can boost that immune system and be ready in the event that you come into contact with something that you shouldn't be."

On March 5, Howard dismissed the hypothetical coronavirus vaccine, stating: "I'll be honest, I'm not going to run out and do this vaccination anyways because I've been working on this for weeks and months and years of my own immune system and it's not too late for everybody to start, and we briefed on this last time a little bit, but I'd like to hit a little bit more on what can you do to take away some of this hysteria."

Later while discussing ways to fight the coronavirus, Howard said: "If you feel a symptom, then you have to hit it extra hard. And so I'm talking to all of our, all of our — the people who have listened to me in the past that are taking Balance of Nature, for example, and living by this health triad, which is what I call this. If you're living by the health triad and you start to feel a symptom, then you hit it back hard. Double up. Triple up. There's nothing, you know, with Balance of Nature — there's no toxicity." McCullough followed up by asking, "You can't overdose on it, is what he's saying?" to which Howard replied: "No."

During a March 19 segment about the coronavirus featuring Balance of Nature, McCullough concluded by stating that he's "upped my dosage the last couple of weeks because I am the one person in the house that's been going out and having contact with the public, even at the grocery stores and stuff. So, I've got to tell you, it's working for me. I think it will work for you."

New York AG Orders Right-Winger To Desist From COVID-19 Cure Fraud

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

The New York State Office of the Attorney General has told Newsmax TV host Wayne Allyn Root “to immediately cease and desist from making misleading claims” after the right-wing host touted alkaline silver as an important product for people who are concerned about coronavirus. 

Root is the host of The Wayne Allyn Root Show on Newsmax TV, a cable news network that “reaches over 70 million cable/satellite homes and subscribers.” The network has positioned itself as an aggressively pro-Trump voice and recently began airing a program featuring former White House press secretary Sean Spicer and former Republican National Committee deputy communications director Lyndsay Keith. Its CEO is Christopher Ruddy, a Trump friend and adviser

As Media Matters first reported, Root used his March 11 program to downplay concerns about the coronavirus. He then addressed people who were concerned about the virus by directing them to watch an ad touting a suspect silver product. Root stated: “‘My Doctor Suggests’ message is next. You fear coronavirus, here’s a very important message now.” Newsmax then aired an ad for featuring Gordon Pedersen, who claims to have an “all-natural solution” that “destroys” things like “viruses.” (The advertisement also touted a promo code specific to Root.)

Pedersen is a quack doctor who has claimed that his alkaline structured silver can supposedly be used against 83 ailments. He has also claimed that his silver product will “protect” against the coronavirus and make it “leave your body. You just never get the sickness.”

Root also endorsed My Doctor Suggests and alkaline structured silver on Twitter by claiming that it “kills [the] virus” and stating that the product “just might save your life.” Those posts, which are still online, do not include any disclaimer that he has a financial relationship with the company. 

Lisa Landau, the chief of the health care bureau in the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James, sent a March 19 letter to Root via Newsmax Media explaining that the office “is extremely concerned by your statements during the March 11, 2020” edition of his show regarding coronavirus and My Doctor Suggests, writing, in part: 

As the program closed, you stated, “My Doctor Suggests’ message is next. You fear coronavirus, here’s a very important message now.” Then, an advertisement by My Doctor Suggests, LLC for alkaline structured silver aired, and viewers were offered a discount when using the promotional code “root.”

The 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) poses serious consequences to public health, and consumers are concerned as to how they can best protect themselves and their families. Your representations may mislead consumers as to the effectiveness of the above-named product in protecting against the current outbreak. Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) and the World Health Organization (“WHO”) have stated that there is no specific medicine to prevent or treat this disease. Therefore, any misrepresentation that the above-named product is effective at combatting and/or treating COVID-19 violates New York law.

Landau added that Root is “hereby advised to immediately cease and desist from making misleading claims as they violate New York’s consumer protection statutes … which prohibit fraudulent and deceptive business practices and false advertising.” 

Media Matters has contacted Newsmax for comment and will update this post if they respond. 

The Las Vegas Review-Journal recently ended its relationship with Root as a columnist and cited his silver promotions as a factor. Las Vegas Review-Journal publisher, CEO, and editor Keith Moyer told Media Matters that “Mr. Root’s advertising, marketing and other media interests had begun to broadly diverge from the journalistic standards and intentions of the Review-Journal. That compelled us to end our relationship with him. We wish him well.” 

The New York Attorney General’s office previously sent a letter to Alex Jones after he claimed that his toothpaste could kill coronavirus. 

Newsmax also sent an email telling its older-leaning audience that “the worst thing” they could do regarding the coronavirus outbreak is to “get a vaccine when it becomes available” because vaccines are supposedly “a scam.” (Newsmax later distanced itself from that email.) It additionally sent marketing emails claiming that if you give it money for a book written nearly a decade ago, you can find “3 powerful secrets to never getting sick again,” including ways to ward off “coronavirus and cancer.”

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) recently called on Newsmax to stop pushing a false advertisement from gold company Monetary Gold which falsely claims that federal law allows banks to seize people’s accounts and “use those funds when necessary to keep itself, the bank, afloat.” (Townhall also sent that advertisement.) 

EDITOR’S NOTE: National Memo editor-in-chief Joe Conason appears regularly on Newsmax TV, as do many credible commentators.

CNN And Fox Commentators Serve As Trump Campaign Surrogates

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.

President Donald Trump last week continued his feud with CNN by excluding the network from his annual lunch with network anchors. Nevertheless, two CNN personalities have recently been serving as surrogates for his campaign. 

The Trump campaign has been staging events, including rallies with the president, alongside the Democratic primaries. CNN commentator David Urban was a part of the campaign’s Iowa efforts while fellow CNN commentator Sean Duffy is now helping in New Hampshire. Urban previously served as a senior adviser to Trump’s 2016 campaign while Duffy resigned from Congress last year. 

Trump and his campaign have tirelessly attacked CNN as “fake news” while also using the network as a revolving door for advisers. Former CNN commentators who are now part of the Trump campaign include national press secretary Kayleigh McEnany; senior adviser Corey Lewandowski (who also served Trump campaign manager in 2016); campaign surrogate Matthew Whitaker; Black Voices for Trump advisory board member Paris Dennard; and Pro-Life Voices for Trump advisory board member Ed MartinSteve Cortes, who recently parted ways with CNN, is now working for America First Action, a super PAC whose efforts have been endorsed by the Trump campaign.   

As the Daily Beast’s Justin Baragona reported, CNN has defended its employment of Urban while he works for the Trump campaign, saying Urban “is not paid by the campaign.” Still, both Urban and Duffy undoubtably financially benefit from their ties to the Trump campaign (and CNN) through their jobs at lobbying firms. Urban is the president of American Continental Group and lobbies the Trump administration. And Duffy is a senior counsel at BGR Group and also lobbies the Trump administration

Relatedly, Urban has repeatedly used his CNN position to push for the interests of his lobbying clients without any disclosure about his financial entanglements. Duffy can potentially do the same for his own clients; he recently registered to lobby for Gramercy Funds Management and Polaris Industries and his firm lobbies for dozens of other clients. 

Fox News commentators David Bossie, Thomas Homan, and Sarah Huckabee Sanders also campaigned for Trump in Iowa despite Fox’s purported policy against “talent” participating in campaign events. Bossie is campaigning for Trump in New Hampshire and received a shoutout from Trump at a rally last night. 

CBS Hires Priebus Without Disclosing Political, Corporate Ties

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

Reince Priebus is a Republican operative who is best-known for his humiliating tenure as President Donald Trump’s first White House chief of staff. Priebus now holds senior roles at affiliated lobbying and legal firms; his law firm is connected to the Trump Organization and has collected over $280,000 in fees from GOP campaign groups such as the Republican National Committee.

Despite all that, CBS News announced on January 22 that the network has hired Priebus as a political analyst. He appeared on its coverage of the Senate impeachment trial, where he was the only political operative guest and his conflicts of interest went undisclosed. 

RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, whose organization employs Reince’s firm for legal services, congratulated Reince on his hiring. 

Priebus worked in the Trump White House from January 2017 to July 2017, when he was ousted in embarrassing fashion. In October 2017, he returned to work at “Michael Best & Friedrich LLP as President and Chief Strategist and Chair of the Board of Advisors for Michael Best Strategies LLC, the firm’s government relations and public affairs group.” 

He is also a serial misinformer who was recently called out by his own future employer. Priebus appeared on CBS in November to talk about Trump’s impeachment and falsely claimed that Trump told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in his infamous phone call to speak with Attorney General William Barr, not Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani (in fact, as CBS noted, “Trump did mention Giuliani by name”). 

Priebus has continued his defense of Trump outside of the White House, stating recently on Fox News of the Senate impeachment trial: “Sometimes the best defense is the ‘so what’ defense, which is, if everything the Democrats said is true, it’s still not impeachable. If everything Lev Parnas has said is true, it’s still not impeachable”

In addition to his credibility problem, Priebus arrives at CBS News with numerous conflicts of interest. 

Priebus financially profits from the success of Republicans through his law firm. According to a search of available 2019 Federal Election Commission records, Michael Best & Friedrich LLP has received over $280,000 in legal fees combined from the Republican National Committee, the Committee on Arrangements for the 2020 Republican National Convention, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), and the Republican Party of Wisconsin. (Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) also paid $247 to the Wisconsin-based firm for an “event space rental.”) 

Stefan Passantino, a former White House deputy counsel and current partner at the firm, also represents the Trump Organization regarding congressional inquiries into the president’s business. 

Additionally, Priebus could potentially appear on CBS and discuss issues relevant to companies he’s financially connected to through his law firm and its government affairs and public relations affiliate. Michael Best Strategies, which has an office in Washington, D.C., describes itself as “one of the nation’s fast-growing B2B consulting firms specializing in lobbying, government relations, public affairs, crisis management, shared value strategies, political partnership development, and community/stakeholder engagement strategies” and states that it works on issues related to “the healthcare, energy and environment, manufacturing, tax and finance, higher education and agriculture, food and beverage industries.” According to a search of federal government lobbying records, Michael Best Strategies has lobbied for companies that include NACCO Industries (the public holding company for the North American Coal Corp.), Plains All American Pipelineand the Primex Family of Companies. (Priebus himself has not registered to lobby for clients.) 

Public relations activity is not subject to federal disclosure rules, meaning that Priebus is likely connected to numerous other companies beyond what’s publicly available.

During his first appearance as a CBS News commentator, where he heavily defended Trump, Priebus was simply introduced by host Norah O’Donnell as a Trump’s first White House chief of staff and a CBS News analyst. His financial conflicts of interest were not mentioned. He was the only partisan commentator on the panel, which included CBS personalities Margaret Brennan, John Dickerson, and Leslie Stahl. 

Hiring former and current Trump officials has been a failure for non-Fox News outlets. CNN has famously cycled through Trump advisers Corey Lewandowski, Bryan Lanza, and Steve Cortes. And Sinclair Broadcast Group recently dropped “must-run” segments featuring former Trump aide Boris Epshteyn. 

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

Fox News Personalities Appeared At Numerous GOP Fundraisers In 2019

Shortly after Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Jeanine Pirro had finished speaking at a November 2018 campaign rally for President Donald Trump, the network issued a head-scratching statement: “Fox News does not condone any talent participating in campaign events. … This was an unfortunate distraction and has been addressed.” 

Media Matters had spent years documenting Fox News personalities who have appeared at Republican campaign events and fundraisers before that statement. And in the months before that November 2018 rally, Hannity and Pirro both headlined Republican campaign events. 

The Fox News speaking circuit has been lucrative to both Republican groups and Fox News hosts. In 2010, for instance, Hannity keynoted a National Republican Congressional Committee dinner which “raised over $7 million.” Fox hosts Tucker Carlson, Lou Dobbs, Greg Gutfeld, Hannity, Pete Hegseth, Laura Ingraham, and Pirro have received over $500,000 combined in speaking fees from Republican groups while working at the network. And numerous Fox personalities have also enriched Trump by speaking at his properties. 

In 2019, however, Fox News personalities began to mysteriously disappear from the schedule of GOP events after Media Matters reported on them. As the year went on, there were at least 11 instances in which Fox personalities scheduled and then withdrew from GOP-aligned events. 

The Washington Post reported in early December that the network has struggled to prevent Fox personalities from campaigning for Republicans: 

Fox declined to address specific instances, but a spokeswoman said the network has addressed the issue with its contributors and hosts, as well as third-party agents who book events. She did not say how it was addressed or why it continues to arise more than a year after Hannity and Pirro’s appearances at Trump’s rally.

However, behind the scenes, the network appears to have to gone to considerable effort to stop its on-air personalities from promoting Republican events and causes. Network executives have intervened to cancel a long string of fundraising appearances that were to have featured Fox News figures, according to people at Fox, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe its internal operations.

Here’s a list of the events which Fox News figures withdrew from in 2019 (the dates are listed for when the appearance was originally scheduled):

  • February 16: A Brian Kilmeade event for the Williamson County Republican Party in Tennessee. 
  • April 3: A Shannon Bream event for the James Madison Institute in Florida. 
  • April 25: A Pete Hegseth event for the Bridgeport Republican Town Committee in Connecticut. 
  • September 18: A Jeanine Pirro event for the Trump fan club Trump Team 2020 Florida in Pensacola, Florida. 
  • September 19: A Pirro event for Trump Team 2020 Florida in Jacksonville, Florida. 
  • September 22: A Pirro event for Trump Team 2020 Florida in The Villages, Florida. 
  • September 24: A Pirro event for Trump Team 2020 Florida in Vero Beach, Florida. 
  • October 20: A Pirro event for the pro-Trump group Jexit.  
  • October 25: A Pirro event for the King County Republican Party in Washington state. 
  • November 7: Pirro event for the Valley Young Republicans in Fresno, California. 
  • February 21, 2020: A Lawrence Jones event for the Snohomish County Republican Party in Washington state. 

At the same time, numerous Fox personalities have continued to appear at GOP-aligned events. For instance: 

  • Host Mark Levin headlined two campaign rallies for Geary Higgins’ Virginia state Senate campaign. 
  • Host Jeanine Pirro made two appearances at Republican fundraisers in November. 
  • Legal analyst Gregg Jarrett appeared at a gathering for a pro-Trump fan club in December and also headlined a Republican fundraiser in April. 
  • Contributor Jason Chaffetz has headlined numerous GOP fundraisers, including one in December
  • Contributor Dan Bongino appeared in a Trump campaign video and received money to appear at Republican fundraisers. 
  • Fox Nation hosts Diamond and Silk regularly appear at Republican events. Fox has bizarrely defended itself by claiming that “Diamond & Silk license short weekly videos to Fox Nation – they are not Fox News contributors or employees. When they appear on FNC and FBN, they do so as guests.”
  • Fox Nation hosts Rachel Campos-Duffy and David Webb have both headlined Republican events.

Leading Fox personalities have demonstrated that they’re still intent on helping Republicans off the air. Levin said that he’ll continue to do campaign events if he wants to and “nobody on this planet is going to stop me. No corporation, no left-wing group… nobody.” Pirro’s two fundraising appearances in November were unannounced, potentially in reaction to prior pushback from the network. And Hannity, who has a history of skirting media standards without any apparent reprisals, told Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) he’d “do a town hall with” him if he ran for the Senate; Hannity already campaigned with him in 2018.

IMAGE: Jeanine Pirro of Fox News

‘Clinton Cash’ Author Schweizer, Billed As Nonpartisan, Will Keynote GOP Fundraiser

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

Supposedly “nonpartisan” reporter Peter Schweizer, who has propelled negative stories about Democratic candidates into outlets such as The New York Times, is set to appear as a paid speaker for a Republican fundraiser.  

Schweizer is the president of the Government Accountability Institute (GAI), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Republican megadonors Rebekah Mercer, who is GAI’s chairwoman, and Robert Mercer gave GAI $500,000 in 2018. The organization was co-founded by Stephen Bannon, who closely tied GAI to before he left both organizations to work for President Donald Trump in August 2016. Schweizer is currently a senior contributor for Breitbart.

Schweizer and GAI notoriously advanced shoddy research into the media regarding the Clintons during the 2016 campaign. They have again attempted to do that with Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, with Schweizer earning a New York Times op-ed that inadequately described him as simply “an investigative journalist” and author. 

Schweizer is now further tying himself financially to the Republican Party and Trump. He is scheduled to keynote a February 21 fundraiser in Washington state for the Snohomish County Republican Party, which is, in part, dedicated to electing “Republican candidates to federal, state, county and municipal offices.” A flyer for the event identifies Schweizer as “the “President of the Government Accountability Institute and a best-selling author.” 

The party announced Schweizer’s appearance on November 26 and touted his books about the Clintons and Bidens. A few days later, the party sent $10,450 to All American Entertainment, which helps book Schweizer for appearances, as the “1st installment for keynote.” 

Prior speakers for Snohomish’s annual fundraiser have included former Turning Point USA official Candace OwensProject Veritas founder James O’Keefe, and Fox News’ Pete Hegseth. Fox News’ Lawrence Jones was originally scheduled to headline the Schweizer event but according to the party he had to cancel because of “a new Fox News employee Policy. Employees can no longer speak at political organizations.” (Fox News has inconsistently enforced that policy.)  

Schweizer has previously been portrayed as “nonpartisan.” claimed in 2018 that “Schweizer has garnered praise from conservatives and progressives alike for his reputation as a nonpartisan deep-dive investigative journalist.” (In reality, numerous reporters have criticized his shoddy work.) 

After the New York Times received criticism for publishing Schweizer in October, a Times spokesperson said that his “op-ed makes an argument that nonpartisan government watchdogs would make, arguing in favor of a law that would prohibit self-dealing by those with government connections.” Breitbart celebrated the Times’ “nonpartisan” description in a post. 

Schweizer previously worked for Republicans, including President George W. Bush and former Govs. Sarah Palin and Bobby Jindal. He also headlined Republican fundraisers in 2012.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

YouTube Allows White Nationalist Group To Raise Funds On Site

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

The white nationalist website VDare said it surpassed a $40,000 fundraising goal thanks, in part, to a livestreaming fundraiser yesterday on YouTube. Despite criticism, the technology company has declined to ban the organization from its platform. 

VDare is a leading white nationalist website that regularly attacks immigrants. The Southern Poverty Law Center has written that the site “regularly publishes articles by prominent white nationalists, race scientists and anti-Semites.” Numerous Republicans have promoted VDare content over the years. Now-White House senior adviser Stephen Miller shared a link to VDare in 2015, as the SPLC’s Michael Edison Hayden recently reported

The site also runs a YouTube channel which regularly features white nationalist propaganda. For example, VDare host Wilson Hewlett said the alleged El Paso shooter’s use of the word “invasion” to describe immigration was “apt,” praised an anti-Semitic trope as potentially being “onto something,” and argued there are “general differences in aptitude across racial lines.” 

Despite YouTube’s claim to have a policy that prohibits “videos alleging that a group is superior in order to justify discrimination, segregation or exclusion based on qualities” such as race, the platform has allowed the organization to continue to post videos (it briefly banned the channel in August then reversed itself). 

YouTube’s willingness to grant a platform to VDare allows the outlet to directly raise money on the video site for its work.

On December 3, VDare spent nearly two hours on YouTube promoting its year-end fundraising campaign, which Editor Peter Brimelow called “the most important part of our financial life.” The fundraiser also featured VDare contributors John Derbyshire and Faith Goldy. Derbyshire, who has described himself as “a mild and tolerant” “racist” and “homophobe,” was previously fired from the National Review after he penned a column advising white and Asian parents to warn their children about the supposed threats posed by black people. Goldy is a white nationalist who last year unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Toronto. 

The livestream naturally featured white nationalist content. Brimelow pushed the “great replacement” conspiracy theory, stating that there’s a “demographic disaster” happening and people in “Europe and America are being displaced, are being outnumbered, swamped, by massive immigration.” And Derbyshire, apparently referencing a blog post by “The Z Man,” said: “He was writing just yesterday, I think it was, how you can’t help but notice that some of the whitest states like Maine and Minnesota have been getting some of the most troublesome groups coming in as refugees from Africa. That’s how we got Ilhan Omar. That’s how Lewiston, Maine, turned Somali. These people know what they’re doing.” 

During the livestream, VDare displayed a banner asking viewers to visit its site to donate money. VDare’s commentators also used YouTube’s “super chat” feature, which enables viewers to pay money to have their comments featured prominently. (VDare wrote at one point: “Your super chats will be read at the end of the stream! Thank you all!”) 

At the beginning of the livestream, Brimelow stated that site had already raised “about $16,000” and hoped to get to $20,000 by the end of the night to get a “matching grant.” By the end of the lifestream, VDare advancement officer Lydia Brimelow said “we were only $387 short of the super stretch. That amount—and more—came in within minutes of turning off the mics. By midnight we surpassed the super stretch matching by over $1,000, bringing our 24 hour total, including the fully matched pledges, to $42, 574!”  

In addition to white nationalist YouTube videos, the funding enables VDare to publish posts such as: “One Problem With These Hispanic Immigrants Is Their Disgusting Behavior,” “Indians Aren`t That Intelligent (On Average),” “Diversity Is Strength! It’s Also…Hispanic Immigrants Taking Over FBI’s Ten Most Wanted,” “America Does Not Need ANY Immigrants From Africa,” and “Roll Over, JIHAD—There’s Also HIJRA, Muslim Conquest By Immigration.”

State Department Hires Obscure Anti-Muslim, Homophobic Pundit As Senior Adviser

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

When he was a right-wing pundit, senior State Department adviser Frank Wuco claimed that Muslims “by-and-large” will “subjugate and humiliate non-Muslim members of their societies” and that their core faith purportedly instructs them that they can’t “coexist peacefully with other religions.” He also pushed conspiracy theories about the Obama administration and said that “societies and nations for millennia have suffered greatly” for LGBTQ acceptance. 

The Washington Post reported on November 27 that Wuco is now a senior adviser at the State Department’s Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance. The publication added that during a 2016 radio appearance, Wuco had “suggested dropping nuclear bombs on Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks.”

Wuco, a retired naval intelligence officer, previously worked as a conservative pundit and radio host before joining the Department of Homeland Security in January 2017. As a DHS senior adviser, he helped implement Trump’s orders to the agency, including his ban on travelers from some Muslim-majority countries.

Media Matters reported on Wuco in March 2017 and noted that he had a history of making anti-Muslim remarks, including stating on Fox News in 2014 that banning visas from “Muslim nations” is “one of these sort of great ideas that can never happen.” 

CNN’s KFile unit also examined Wuco’s history, finding that he pushed “claims that former President Barack Obama’s memoir was ghostwritten by former anti-Vietnam War radical Bill Ayers, that former CIA director John Brennan had converted to Islam and that Attorney General Eric Holder had been a member of the Black Panthers.” 

The following are some of Wuco’s anti-Muslim and anti-LGBTQ remarks as a right-wing pundit. (A summary of Wuco’s anti-Muslim remarks previously appeared in a January 2018 Media Matters post.)  

Wuco praised the surveillance of mosques as key to finding “out what’s going on” in the Muslim community. During a November 2015 Fox News appearance, Wuco said that a “mosque surveillance” program is key to finding “out what’s going on behind the walls” of “mosques and Islamic reading centers.”  He added that after the cancellation of a mosque surveillance program in New York City, he “can only hope that some of these programs continue with other agencies.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends Weekend, 11/14/15, via Media Matters]

Wuco: Muslims “by-and-large” will “subjugate and humiliate non-Muslim members of their societies” and enact Sharia law. Wuco warned on his now-defunct radio show website that “Muslim populations by-and-large will become enclave societies that, first, resist assimilation and then, will make every effort to establish independent rule for their enclaves under Shari’ah law.”

Every place we find friends, stalwarts, allies, we find the menace of jihad, which will necessarily result in violence to counter the position of a large Muslim population living under “other-than-Muslim” rule. Muslim enclaves in the UK and Canada, ahead of themselves on laboring to establish Shari’ah law for themselves, are only now beginning to experience what successive Philippine governments have faced for over a century. While perfectly happy to subjugate and humiliate non-Muslim members of their societies (just ask Christians in Egypt or Indonesia how easy life is), Muslim populations by-and-large will become enclave societies that, first, resist assimilation and then, will make every effort to establish independent rule for their enclaves under Shari’ah law, using violence to secure what they believe to be their divinely revealed right; the eventual subsuming of all that lies outside the dar al-Islam (house of Islam), until all is within it; until all is consumed by Islam in preparation for God’s final judgement of man. Those who have made the obligation to this commitment are shockingly large in number; they have just begun; and, they believe they are active participants in God’s final prescription for the salvation of all humanity. Not sure the lights inside the Beltway are on, on this one. [Need To Know, 2/27/10, via Internet Archive and Media Matters]

Wuco: “If you’re a Muslim, you believe” that “violence and warfare against unbelievers” is “prescribed by God.” Following the June 2016 mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, FL, Wuco told of shooter Omar Mateen: “There’s nothing radical about him at all. He is a Muslim who is following the strictures of Islam and its guidance and prescriptions for violence and warfare against unbelievers. … If you’re a Muslim, you believe it’s being prescribed by God and it’s being ordained by the wisdom of Muhammad.” [Politico2/7/17; YouTube, 6/13/16, via Media Matters]

Wuco: “Right-thinking” Muslims “engage in jihad” because of their religion. Wuco said of Islam during an interview on an internet radio program: “If you’re a right-thinking Muslim, the inspiration, the motivation, to engage in jihad doesn’t come from Al Qaeda, or doesn’t come from Inspire magazine. It comes from God himself.” [The Liberty NewsCast with Willie Lawson4/30/13, via Media Matters]

Wuco: “The assertiveness of Muslim communities in western nations is becoming so pronounced. … You don’t even need ISIS in Sweden.” While speaking on a radio program, Wuco warned that Muslims are infiltrating communities in Western nations: “The assertiveness of Muslim communities in Western nations is becoming so pronounced. … You don’t even need ISIS in Sweden, you’ve got every day run-of-the-mill Muslims in massive communities protesting and becoming violent with the Swedish government, saying that they’re going to take over the country. This isn’t even ISIS. These are just peace-loving Muslims who have been allowed to immigrate into these countries.” [The Dougherty Report1/18/16, via Media Matters]

Wuco in 2014: Halting visas from “Muslim nations” is one of “these sort of great ideas that can never happen.” During an August 2014 Fox News program, Wuco responded to comments from Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) about a ban on visas from the Middle East, saying that the proposed policy is “one of these sort of great ideas that can never happen. … You’re just not going to stop the visa application process into this country from Muslim nations in a blanket type of policy.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends8/28/14, via Media Matters]

Wuco frequently delivered presentations “as a fictional character he created named Fuad Wasul,” who had a “heavy Arabic accent.” HuffPost’s Christopher Mathias wrote in March 2017:

Wuco’s dim portrayal of Muslims has also veered into the bizarre.

During his work as a security consultant and radio host, Wuco often gave presentations as a fictional character he created named Fuad Wasul ― a “committed jihadist” escaped from an American military prison to help westerners understand what motivates Muslim fighters.

Wuco, who is from Florida, would role-play as Wasul, delivering the presentations with a “heavy Arabic accent,” according to a 2008 Florida news report.

“If you think you’re winning this war, if you think that you’re defeating jihad, you’re wrong, dead wrong,” Wasul (Wuco) once told a room full of civilian analysts working for military intelligence at MacDill Air Force Base. [HuffPost, 3/16/17]

Wuco said “the true nature of Islam … never intended to coexist, to complement, to mingle with other faiths.”

FRANK WUCO: I’m afraid that President Obama is horribly mistaken in his tendency to believe, take at face value everything he learned from his Muslim friends in Chicago, largely an incredible group of apologists and vehement anti-Israelis, anti-Jewish, segment of the population. Whatever he learned when he was in Indonesia, which may not have been much, because he was a fairly young fellow when he was there at the time.

But I believe it’s culminated in a critical misunderstanding of the true nature of Islam, which was never intended to coexist, to complement, to mingle with other faiths. It is clearly stated in the law, in the traditions, in the Quran, that Islam is here to abrogate all faiths that came before, was sent to abrogate and cleanse the corruption of the Jews and the Christians that are found in the previous scriptures. So Islam abrogates all prior scriptures. Islam abrogates all prior faiths. And the goal of jihad, the goal is to bring as much of the living world, of the material world into the Islamic system as possible before the final day of judgement. So, for us to assume that the reason that the jihadists do what they do is only because they’re emotionally angry with us is really an insult to the commitment to jihad, if i’m the jihadist. [Blog Talk Radio, The Willie Lawson Show8/10/10]

Wuco: It’s “Muslim propaganda” that Islam is “a religion that seeks cohabitation and tolerance and peace with non-Muslim faith groups and nationalities.”

ERSKINE: So, that’s why we’re having problems with a lot of the Christians being persecuted again in Egypt, and a lot of the situations that are going on right now in the Middle East. So this was nothing that we should have been cheering about as so many in the news service were doing.  

FRANK WUCO: Well, part of the reason is that so many have bought in hook, line, and sinker into the Muslim propaganda, particularly generated by the Muslim Brotherhood, that this is a — yeah, it’s a religion that seeks cohabitation and tolerance and peace with non-Muslim faith groups and nationalities and it just simply is not true. To say that Islam is willing to coexist peacefully with other religions and other sort of nationalities, if you can have such a thing in Islam, is really antithetical to what the Quran and what Sharia law teaches. [Erskine Overnight7/21/12

Wuco claimed that “societies and nations for millennia have suffered greatly” for LGBTQ acceptance. While speaking with Wuco on his program in May 2016, radio host Charles Butler linked then-President Barack Obama’s decision to allow transgender individuals to serve in the military — which Trump has attempted to rescind — to “paganism, hedonism, bestiality, Sodom and Gomorrah.” Wuco replied by claiming that the “patterns are clear. Societies and nations for millennia have suffered greatly … not from just from a biblical, spiritual standpoint, but just from a human engineering standpoint in their ability to sustain a order and a society with no cultural center and no moral center. So this is a pattern that will repeat itself.” [The Reality Check, 5/10/16, via Media Matters

Wuco on transgender people: “I wouldn’t want to spend five minutes inside their heads … [it’s a] horrible existence.” Wuco said on a radio program in May 2016: “How often do you hear or see or encounter somebody who suffers from this malady — and I have deep sympathy for people like this. I wouldn’t want to spend five minutes inside their heads, it’s got [unintelligible] horrible existence. How many of them made this transformation and all of a sudden they’re happy?”  [The Reality Check, 5/10/16, via Media Matters

While discussing transgender people, Wuco remarked that it would be “great” to pretend to be transgender to “go into the women’s shower” at the gym. Wuco stated of transgender people and bathrooms: “What a great thing this can be if transgender can just be, rename it just whimsical transgender and one day on a whimsy, you’re at the Y, or you’re at the gym, and you just, ‘I feel like, I feel like being a woman today, I’m going to go into the women’s shower.’” [The Reality Check, 2/1/16, via Media Matters

Wuco appeared on a radio show where the host twice used an anti-gay slur; he did not respond to the use of the slur. Wuco repeatedly appeared on Butler’s show. During one of Wuco’s appearances, Butler twice called two people whom he allegedly encountered at a hotel “faggots.” Wuco did not directly respond to the slurs. After Butler said that Wuco had to go, Wuco stated before signing off: “Charles, you take it easy, my man.” He appeared again on the show after Trump’s election in November, which was shortly before he got his senior job at DHS. [The Reality Check, 5/10/16, via Media Matters

CNN: Wuco “mocked the LGBT community.” CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski, Chris Massie, and Nathan McDermott reviewed “more than 40 hours” of Wuco’s conservative talk radio show and other media appearances and found that Wuco had “mocked the LGBT community,” “criticized gay-straight alliances in high schools,” and said “that gay people hijacked the word ‘gay’ from happy people and that he was going to reclaim the word.” [CNN, 12/14/17

Photo credit: Ceci Freed/ Media Matters

Despite Network Rule, Fox Host Levin Headlined Virginia GOP Rally

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

Fox News host Mark Levin headlined a campaign rally for a critical state Senate race in Virginia this week despite the network’s purported prohibition against “talent participating in campaign events.”

In early November 2018, after Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Jeanine Pirro spoke at a campaign event for President Donald Trump, Fox News lied by claiming that the network “does not condone any talent participating in campaign events.” In reality, network personalities — such as Levin — have played key roles in Republican campaign events.

Levin is a right-wing radio personality who has also hosted the weekend Fox News program Life, Liberty, and Levin since February 2018. He participated in a campaign rally on November 4 — the day before Election Day — for Geary Higgins’ Virginia state Senate campaign. Levin previously headlined a May 19 rally for Higgins. Higgins ended up losing the crucial race, which helped deliver control of the state Senate to Democrats.

On his Facebook page on Election Day, Higgins wrote: “We had a fantastic rally yesterday with many fellow patriots! Thanks to Mark Levin for his rousing speech and for coming out to support our incredible Republican ticket.” He also posted pictures of Levin at the rally.

We had a fantastic rally yesterday with many fellow patriots! Thanks to Mark Levin for his rousing speech and for coming out to support our incredible Republican ticket.

Posted by Geary Higgins for Senate on Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Higgins’ campaign ran Facebook ads for both rallies.

Mark Levin FB ad campaign

On July 14, 2018, Levin also headlined a campaign event for Florida Republican Ron DeSantis’ successful gubernatorial campaign at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Florida. He’s scheduled to give another speech in Florida, this time in December for the pro-Trump group Turning Point USA at the president’s Mar-a-Lago resort.

In the past year, Media Matters has documented how Fox News has inconsistently enforced its policy against “talent” participating in campaign events. For instance, at least seven GOP-aligned events featuring Pirro have recently been canceled for various reasons. Numerous Fox Nation hosts, however, have participated in campaign activities for Republican groups.

Fox News personality Lawrence Jones is also set to headline a GOP campaign event. Jones is a Fox Nation host who was recently elevated “to a regular substitute host and co-host role” with the network; Fox News host Sean Hannity has identified Jones as an “investigative reporter” and “correspondent” for the network. Jones is scheduled to keynote a February 2020 fundraising dinner for the Snohomish County Republican Party in Washington state. Fox News host Pete Hegseth spoke at the group’s 2017 fundraiser and received $5,547.60.

*This piece has been updated with additional information.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore