The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

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

Why Are The New York Times And Politico Promoting A Fake Kerry Scandal?

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

The New York Times and Politico are helping spread a manufactured scandal against former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, now the White House's special climate envoy, over the manifestly absurd claim that he disclosed secret Israeli operations in the Syrian civil war to Iran's foreign minister.

In articles posted on Monday, the Times and Politico played up attacks on Kerry by Republican politicians such as Sens. Dan Sullivan of Alaska and Rick Scott of Florida, as well as former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley. By focusing on this aspect to their coverage, they are doing exactly what Fox News is demanding for other media outlets to follow its lead.

In addition, the Times and Politico pieces gave little consideration to the obvious objection that the information was not secret — even though both outlets had reported on the strikes before. (And so did Fox.)

Kerry has issued a strongly worded denial, saying that such an exchange never happened:

Iran International, a United Kingdom-based outlet, first reported on a leaked interview recording of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who claimed that military leaders kept him in the dark about Israeli strikes on Iranian assets in Syria and that he learned of the strikes from Kerry. According to the outlet, this claim is "not very credible," since those attacks were already reported via international media.

An analysis in the right-wing Jerusalem Post saw through the problem in Zarif's claim as well: "The idea that Zarif was told information on Israeli airstrikes by John Kerry and that he didn't know about airstrikes on Iranian convoys in Syria appears ridiculous. Does he not read his own Iranian media? Does he not have any sources inside his own ministry? … Is he the most uninformed foreign minister in the world?"

But in its latest story on Kerry's denial and Republican political attacks, the Times played down the extent to which the strikes have been public knowledge — which if emphasized, would have cast doubt on both Zarif's version of events and any notion of Republican outrage.

"Israel has made little effort to deny years of strikes attributed to it by Syria's government, news outlets and nongovernmental organizations tracking the Syrian conflict," the paper said. In fact, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu admitted to the strikes on a hot microphone during a meeting with Eastern European leaders in 2017, with further public admissions in 2018 and early 2019. The Times also could have noted that the Israeli military publicly acknowledged in September 2018 that it had struck over 200 Iranian targets since just 2017 — let alone the time period before that — but the paper instead chose to be vague on just how public this knowledge is.

Instead the Times simply noted: "A New York Times article from 2019 included similar information on the number of Israeli strikes." Besides the hair-splitting over the particular number, the Times previously reported on Israeli strikes against Iranian targets in Syria multiple times in 2013 and also reported in 2018 on the escalating conflict between the two countries. But instead, it referred to just one of its articles from 2019, which happened to include information the Israeli military had already divulged the year before.

Politico followed a similar pattern, covering the story as more of a political back-and-forth in a piece headlined "GOP tears into Kerry amid Iran controversy," without acknowledging the fact that these attacks were already public knowledge.

And while it noted in the seventh paragraph that "Zarif's version of events has not been independently corroborated," one of the asterisks it attached to his remarks was that it is "also unclear whether Kerry allegedly revealed the Israeli operations to Zarif before they were publicly reported by Israel itself in 2018."

This framing depicts the Israeli actions in Syria as having been some kind of secret. In fact, Politico itself had casually mentioned the fact of the Israeli strikes over the years.

But noting such facts now would get in the way of media narratives that rely on covering political squabbles while treating partisan and opportunistic accusations as if they were legitimate.

How Fox News Channel Invented The Biden 'Burger Ban'

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Update (4/26/21 4 p.m.): This piece has been updated, to include Fox News anchor John Roberts' on-air correction Monday.

After a right-wing British news site introduced a blatant lie about President Joe Biden's green-energy and infrastructure proposals — fraudulently suggesting that the administration is attempting to limit people to having one hamburger a month — Fox News then stepped up as the venue to amplify it into a much wider and frankly embarrassing discourse with its American audience.

In doing so, the network's purported "news"-side personalities are just as guilty as the officially billed opinion hosts, who have all contributed to this fake story now being spread by high-level Republican politicians. For one, the Biden administration does not have a specific plan yet —but rather an outline of goals to reduce emissions, with a focus on transitioning to clean-energy infrastructure. There is nothing about mandating a virtual end to meat consumption — nor would there ever be in any eventual plan from an administration in the real world — not that the network's anchors would acknowledge such facts.

This latest narrative is in fact a revival of a false attack that right-wing media have been pushing for at least two years, attempting to exploit and discredit any proposal to reduce pollution that affects the climate, and turn it into a vast conspiracy of government controls.

This time, right-wing media are distorting a University of Michigan study from 2020, which found that "replacing half of all animal-based foods in the U.S. diet with plant-based alternatives could reduce climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions 1.6 billion metric tons by 2030." The study's lead author told CNN's Daniel Dale over the weekend: "I, admittedly, have no idea what Biden's plan has to say about our diets."

Essentially, in right-wing media's telling, Biden wants to reduce emissions by shifting to green energy and electric vehicles; this old study said that slashing meat consumption would reduce emissions; therefore, Biden wants to cut meat consumption. (This is a misuse of the transitive property of mathematics, a seemingly easy concept that is in fact "useful to study in order to avoid mistakes in situations where it doesn't hold.")

The right-wing British outlet The Daily Mail started this new cycle of false attacks with a headline claiming, "Biden's climate plan could limit you to eat just one burger a MONTH." The article cited "a study by Michigan University's Center for Sustainable Systems," without mentioning that the study was a year old and unrelated to any Biden plans. Soon,Fox News picked up this rhetorical sleight of hand on both its "news" and "opinion" sides.

On Friday's edition of America Reports with John Roberts & Sandra Smith, co-anchor Roberts opened a segment by declaring: "Say goodbye to your burgers if you want to sign up for the climate agenda. That's the finding of one study."

Roberts claimed that "researchers say" people would have to cut meat in order to meet Biden's climate goals, while an on-screen graphic cited the University of Michigan. A chyron at the bottom of the screen throughout the segment claimed "bye-bye burgers under Biden's climate plan."

Roberts and Smith then brought on Fox Business host and former Trump administration economic adviser Larry Kudlow. Roberts opened the discussion with a joking reference to the Wendy's fast-food advertising campaign from the 1980s, "Where's the Beef?"

And on Fox's late night news time slot, anchor Shannon Bream opened her broadcast by rhetorically asking viewers: "Could new climate impact plans limit you to just one burger a month?"

Fox News White House correspondent Kevin Corke falsely claimed: "The Center for Sustainable Systems at the University of Michigan says cutting, quote, 'small diet-related greenhouse gas emissions by half' could help reach Biden's climate numbers by the 2030 target date." (The Michigan study did not talk about Biden's plans or any government mandates.)

Bream responded: "OK. About the burger thing, I'm not going to comply with that. So, I'm wondering, can you buy credits, like you can go buy the carbon credits. Can I buy, like, cheeseburger credits? Because I'm willing to do that — I'm not willing to go one burger a month."

But then in an odd development, Roberts ran a short correction on Monday in which he acknowledged that the University of Michigan study was from 2020. He then blamed "a graphic and a script" for having "incorrectly implied" that limiting meat consumption "was part of Biden's plan for dealing with climate change. That is not the case."

The segment in question had featured an on-screen graphic claiming to explain "Biden's climate requirements," with the citation to the University of Michigan,. failing to mention that the study was from 2020. But the segment also involved multiple other chyrons, such as the aforementioned "Bye-bye burgers under Biden's climate plan" as well as "Study: 90% of red meat out with Biden climate plan" and "Biden's climate plan burns all-you-can-eat burgers."

Roberts himself had said in that segment: "In order to help hit the Biden administration's climate goals of reducing emissions by 50% from 2005 [levels] by 2030, researchers say you'd have to cut about 90% of red meat from your diet." Roberts, Smith, and Kudlow never acknowledged that the study was from 2020 and unconnected to any current proposals from the White House.

Roberts now appears to be implying that the words he said on the air as a news anchor were simply "a script," thus passing responsibility to others.

Fox Opinion And "News" Anchors Promote Same Falsehoods

The coverage from Fox's "news"-side personalities was indistinguishable from the "opinion" hosts, as they dishonestly told their viewers that Biden's climate goals or some direstly related study discussed banning burgers. Viewers were never told that the study being cited was a year old and not connected to the White House's proposals.

On Friday morning's edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Ainsley Earhardt claimed that "part of [Biden's] climate or green targets are to cut our red meat. He wants to cut out 90% of the red meat that you all eat." Fox Nation host Rachel Campos-Duffy said in response that Biden never would have won Wisconsin in 2020, where she lives, if the public had known he was going to make this proposal.

Fox Business host Charles Payne also claimed that "one analysis of the plan" said that Biden's climate goals would cut meat consumption, which an on-screen graphic called "Biden policy effect on meat." Payne further compared the proposal to the 1970s dystopian sci-fi movie Soylent Green.

And on Kudlow's Fox Business show — around 90 minutes after he had just appeared with Roberts and Smith — the host cited "a study coming out of the University of Michigan, which says that to meet the Biden Green New Deal targets," Americans would have to stop eating meat. Kudlow then repeatedly warned that people would be subjected to the horrors of "plant-based beer" on the Fourth of July. Beer, of course, is a plant and fungi-based product to begin with, and Kudlow earned public mockery from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and many others on Twitter.

But on the other hand, Kudlow's parade of horribles does make a bit of sense when one realizes that he has made a successful career in both right-wing media and the government out of being wrong on just about everything.

Then things got even more absurd on Saturday night, starting with Fox host Jesse Watters on his show Watters' World.

"The Democrats always said they want government to stay out of the bedroom — but it looks like the government just walked downstairs into your kitchen," Watters said. "Because Americans are going to have to cut their red meat consumption by 90%, in order to reduce emissions to hit Biden's target. That means you're only allowed to eat four pounds of red meat a year. That adds up to a burger a month — that's it."

Of course, there is no such forthcoming government mandate.

Fox host Jeanine Pirro, meanwhile, told any of her viewers who might enjoy a burger that "the left with their Green New Deal wants to make sure you don't."

By this point, neither Watters nor Pirro even bothered to cite the misused study from the University of Michigan — instead, the accusation of the Biden administration virtually eliminating meat consumption had simply been given its own independent existence, without even requiring a pretext of any evidence.

Pirro went with a visual that simply must be seen to be believed:

‘Tucker Must Go’: Carlson Endorses Neo-Nazi Conspiracy Theory On Air

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, called on Friday morning for the firing of Fox News host Tucker Carlson, after Carlson embraced the white nationalist "replacement" conspiracy theory on Thursday night.

"Now, I know that the left and all the little gatekeepers on Twitter become literally hysterical if you use the term 'replacement,' if you suggest that the Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate, the voters now casting ballots, with new people, more obedient voters from the Third World," Carlson said during an appearance on Fox News Primetime. "But they become hysterical because that's what's happening actually. Let's just say it: That's true."

The so-called "great replacement" theory posits that white people are being systematically "replaced" by people of color through mass immigration. The Guardian explained that under this theory, "replacement has been orchestrated by a shadowy group as part of their grand plan to rule the world … . This group is often overtly identified as being Jews, but sometimes the antisemitism is more implicit."

The theory has also been linked to far-right terrorists who committed mass shootings in both New Zealand and El Paso, Texas, in 2019. The white nationalist groups who marched in 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia, were also heard chantingboth "You will not replace us" and the variant "Jews will not replace us."

In addition, Fox News personalities (including Carlson) have promoted the conspiracy theory for years, casting immigration as a "purposeful repopulation of America" and helping to propel the idea further into the mainstream of public discourse.

Carlson's own escalated rhetoric Thursday night also appeared to tap directly into the calls for direct action that motivated previous attackers. In a twisted logical pirouette, he declared that his opposition to immigration was a "voting rights" issue on the grounds that any new citizens in the country would mean "every time they import a new voter, I become disenfranchised as a current voter." (Meanwhile, he has also supported conspiracy theories about the 2020 election and the new wave of restrictions on voting rights.)

"Why should I sit back and take that?" he said. "The power that I have as an American guaranteed at birth is one man, one vote, and they are diluting it. No, they are not allowed to do it. Why are we putting up with this?"

Fox News Anchors Insist That Infrastructure Isn’t Really ‘Infrastructure’

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Fox News is mounting a rhetorical push against President Joe Biden's infrastructure plan announced on Wednesday and is trying to declare that a number of projects mentioned in the bill aren't "infrastructure" — even when they obviously are.

According to Fox's purported "news side" personalities as well as segments from opinion hosts, only roads and bridges actually qualify for the label — which leaves out the following: The electrical grid, broadband internet, building construction, plumbing networks, and who knows what else.

On Thursday morning's edition of America's Newsroom, Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer asked Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg why only a portion of the spending money was "dedicated to roads and bridges," instead highlighting the bill's investments in "electric grid improvements, broadband, water systems, and on and on it goes."

Buttigieg then explained what was wrong with this argument: The electric grid, broadband internet, and other technologies are part of the infrastructure of a modern economy.

This line of argument, suggesting that various areas of technology don't really count as "infrastructure," began even before Biden delivered his speech. And it also becomes clear that Fox's goalposts have kept on moving.

On Wednesday's edition of Your World with Neil Cavuto, Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy said that there are "still some infrastructure priorities in this package," such as money for roads and bridges, as well as to replace all the lead pipes still being used in the country, and $213 billion for environmentally sustainable housing.

But other items, shown in a list on screen, included "$174 billion to 'win' electric vehicle market" — as if the emerging market of electric vehicles doesn't require a public strategy.

But then in the very next hour on The Five, co-host Jesse Watters contrasted the problem of potholes on the highways with building "a lot of electric car charging stations for all the Tesla drivers," though the bill also includes basic money for roads. He also complained about the environmental improvements to buildings, casting it as wasteful: "If they retrofit every single building here in Manhattan, I'm going to have a headache with all the hammering. It's enough already."

Similarly, Sean Hannity remarked on Wednesday night that a large portion of the bill would be dedicated to such purportedly non-infrastructure projects as "retrofitting millions of homes and hospitals and other buildings in an environmentally conscious way and other funds would go towards building new green schools."

Hannity also brought on South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem, who declared: "I was shocked by how much doesn't go into infrastructure. It goes into research and development. It goes into housing, and pipes, and different initiatives, green energy, and it really is not an honest conversation we're having about what this proposal is."

The next morning, Fox & Friends co-host Ainsley Earhardt reaired the clip of Noem's comments. Keep in mind, of course, that Doocy's earlier segment had included the replacement of lead pipes and housing improvements as part of the genuine "infrastructure" components of the package. But now, the network will run that clip of Noem as a serious statement, even after it was widely reported and lampooned the night before.

Georgia Election Law Is A Civil Rights Issue, Not A Partisan Quarrel

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Georgia Gov. Brain Kemp signed a Republican-backed election bill into law on Thursday that contains sweeping changes to the state's elections that already have voting rights advocates filing a legal challenge. These changes include introduction of new voter-ID requirements for absentee ballots, limitations on the use of ballot drop boxes, and more legislative control over the elections. And in a bad indication of the environment, state lawmaker Park Cannon, who is Black, was arrested and hauled into a police car after knocking on Kemp's door during the bill signing.

In the 2020 election, Joe Biden became the first Democrat to win Georgia in a presidential election since 1992. And then in January, Democratic candidates Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff swept the state's two Senate seats, taking the majority control of the U.S. Senate from the GOP. After an election season with historically high turnout across the country and Democratic wins heavily driven by Black voters support, Republicans in Georgia and across the country have now embarked on a coordinated effort to restrict access to voting.

But for some in the media, the issue of voting rights is just another political game between the parties, rather than an important struggle for constitutional rights.

Earlier on Thursday, for example, National Journal tweeted out an article that played the both-sides maneuver against coverage of congressional Democrats H.R. 1 bill, which passed the House on March 3 and is meant to protect voting rights, and Republican efforts to make voting more difficult.

Georgia Isn't Just An "Overheated" Political Play

Simply put, whether people can or cannot vote should not be viewed as equivalent positions in the course of political debate.

Politico, for example, had an item in Friday morning's Playbook highlighting Thursday's events in Georgia with the title, "Your Move, Democrats."

YOUR MOVE, DEMOCRATS — "Sweeping changes to Georgia elections signed into law," Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Gov. Brian Kemp quickly signed a vast rewrite of Georgia's election rules into law Thursday, imposing voter ID requirements, limiting drop boxes and allowing state takeovers of local elections after last year's close presidential race. Kemp finalized the bill just over an hour after it cleared the General Assembly, leaving no doubt about its fate amid public pressure against voting restrictions.
"Protesters outside the Capitol said the bill would disenfranchise voters, calling it 'Jim Crow 2.0.' State Rep. Park Cannon, D-Atlanta, was arrested by state Troopers after knocking on Kemp's office door to try to witness the bill signing. He briefly interrupted his prepared remarks as Cannon was forcibly removed from the building by officers."

National Journal's Josh Kraushaar also tweeted that the Democrats' "overheated" allegations of voter suppression might just spur on greater voter mobilization.

Kraushaar then remarked that "raising the flag of voter suppression is one of the more effective ways to turn out your base." He quickly attracted some critical responses:

Kraushaar also claimed that the bill "doesn't do nearly as much as advertised,"overlooking the political atmosphere in which far more extreme proposals have circulated and were changed only after vigorous public protest. Republican lawmakers unsuccessfully tried to abolish no-excuse absentee voting — available since 2005 and used heavily by Democratic voters in 2020 — and tried to curtail early voting on Sundays, which has traditionally been used by Black church leaders to mobilize voters. (Kraushaar simply noted that "Souls to the Polls remains in Georgia," without any acknowledgement of just how hard people had worked on the ground to keep it.)

The fact that a less extreme bill passed is not simply a non-story if it followed weeks of controversy and efforts to prevent something even worse.

Georgia Law Exists Because Black Voters Propelled Democratic Victories

Kemp said after signing the bill: "There's no doubt there were many alarming issues with how the election was handled, and those problems, understandably, led to a crisis of confidence in the ballot box here in Georgia."

Of course, this "crisis of confidence" about the 2020 election result exists because it was stirred up by Fox News, other right-wing media, and Republican politicians and activists pushing the Big Lie advanced by former President Donald Trump that the election was stolen from him. Most notoriously in Georgia's case, Trump threatened Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, with prosecution if he did not help to reverse Biden's victory in the state.

And now, this new law strips the secretary of state of their position as the chair of the state board of elections. Instead, a majority of the board will now be appointed by the legislature, and the board will have the ability to suspend and replace local county elections officials.

Georgia Public Broadcasting notes that the law caps the number of counties where the state board could replace the local officials at four. This number may be enough to take control of the counties with larger populations where both Joe Biden and the new Democratic senators carried their victories with overwhelming margins in the Atlanta metro area.

And perhaps most notoriously, the new law makes it a crime to give food or waterto voters waiting in lines. The important context here is that voters in Georgia, especially in minority communities, had to wait in line for up to 11 hours to vote last year. Academic studies have also shown that "relative to entirely-white neighborhoods, residents of entirely-black neighborhoods waited 29 percent longer to vote and were 74 percent more likely to spend more than 30 minutes at their polling place."

Simply put, urban areas with large minority populations are routinely not given enough resources and polling places, thus causing them to have to wait in line for much longer in order to vote. Though the new law does take some steps to correct this longstanding problem, a person might be suspicious at why delivering any basic rations to people in long lines that might still exist would also be forbidden.

And that particular provision has people calling for more civil disobedience in the 2022 elections — which could potentially result in yet more arrests.

Fox News Whines Because Doocy Couldn't Ask Biden About Covid 'Conspiracy'

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Immediately after President Joe Biden's first official press conference, Fox News had a complaint that now even some mainstream voices are covering as a storyin and of itself: The president did not call on network correspondent Peter Doocy.

The problem is that Doocy is not really part of a "news" organization at all. Fox News is instead the linchpin of a right-wing entertainment complex, while its own CEO Lachlan Murdoch has called the network the "loyal opposition" to the new administration. Fox also purged a number of its arguably legitimate journalists following the 2020 election, in addition to cutting down its "news side"in favor of more right-wing opinion programming, and would rather stir up cultural grievances than discuss serious national issues.

Furthermore, it is now clear that Doocy would've used such an opportunity to ask Biden about a running set of conspiracy theories from the network. And even besides that, Fox's own running spin on other key issues still filtered through in the questions from other reporters.

Slate's Ben Mathis-Lilley noted that the press conference featured questions seemingly right out of Fox's own talking points — including narratives originating from Stephen Miller, the former Trump immigration adviser with ties to white nationalist ideology who has now become a major presence on Fox.

NBC News chief White House correspondent Kristen Welker asked Biden during the press conference, regarding the U.S.-Mexico border: "Did you move too quickly to roll back some of the executive orders of your predecessor?"

Biden responded that the policies he reversed involved "separating children from their mothers," adding that he was only "ending programs that did not exist before Trump became president" and which had undermined both "international law" and "human dignity."

This question's framing echoed Fox's own purported "news side," such as anchor Harris Faulkner's interview with Trump this week, which maintained that Biden had undermined the protection of the border.

But in reality, Biden has drawn back Trump's border closure only slightly, in cases of unaccompanied minors and some families with young children. The policy has otherwise largely been kept intact, to the point that an American Civil Liberties Union attorney who first sued the Trump administration over this issue calls it "flatly illegal" and declares, "There is zero daylight between the Biden administration and Trump administration's position."

But in the meantime, many people in mainstream media are adopting Fox's broad framing of the issue, instead of properly examining the details.

Almost immediately after the press conference, Fox anchors John Roberts and Sandra Smith had on Doocy, who literally held up a binder to demonstrate the questions he wanted to ask. These subjects included "the investigation into the origins of" COVID-19, as well as about "this big idea to completely transform the economy" with green jobs.

Some key context here: Fox News has long pushed the theory that the coronavirus originated in a virology lab in China — even accusing Dr. Anthony Fauci of bearing culpability for it, too. (Just to be clear: Genome analysis has consistently shown that the coronavirus evolved naturally and was not man-made.)

Fox News anchor Dana Perino, former White House press secretary under President George W. Bush, said that if she were still working at the White House, "I would have told the president to call on Peter Doocy," and that Biden could have answered Doocy's questions.

"Why make Peter Doocy a story, right?" she said. "Just take his question and move on."

In the next hour, Fox anchor Martha MacCallum brought Doocy on again, to ask him what questions he would have asked the president if he'd gotten a chance. Doocy did not mention the "origins of COVID" this time. Instead, he said in more general terms that not enough questions had been asked about the pandemic and the transition to a greener economy.

"I just wish that maybe the schedule could have been done a little bit differently today, so we could have the president for longer," Doocy said, ending his appearance on an apparently sarcastic note. "But he's the president, and he was off to do something that the leader of the free world has to do — 3 o'clock on a Thursday."

"So next time, you should be at the top of the list," MacCallum replied in a friendly tone, to which Doocy readily agreed.

On the subject of a green economy, it is also worth noting that Fox News was a near-constant source of false information on the Texas blackouts in February, wrongly blaming the disaster on frozen wind turbines and "Green New Deal" policies — though of course, the Green New Deal has not been enacted in the Republican-run state, and the state's fossil fuel sources had also frozen over due to an overall failure to winterize the Texas power grid.

By contrast, local media in Texas widely debunked the misinformation, and a poll released earlier this month from the progressive strategy firm Data for Progress found that the American public at large did not buy into this propaganda campaign — though only a narrow plurality of Fox News viewers were able to provide the correct answer on what had caused the blackouts.

In fact, Fox has embraced climate denial and misinformation for years, making clear its intent to undermine action on climate change heading into the Biden administration.

Mainstream Media Hype Of Gov. DeSantis Ignores Harsh Facts

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Gov. Ron DeSantis is continuing his state's defiant response to the coronavirus pandemic by not only refusing to impose public restrictions, but even seeking to crack down on local governments which attempt to take such basic measures as mask mandates. In doing so, the Florida Republican has an ally in Fox News — the network that frequently undermined public health efforts and even now is trafficking in dangerous anti-vaccine theories — and also in mainstream media outlets, which are making some key mistakes in attempting to cover him.

On Thursday, DeSantis held a "public health roundtable" event featuring hand-picked supporters of his policies including Dr. Scott Atlas, a radiologist and frequent Fox News guest who also advised DeSantis last year. At the event, Atlas reportedly called contact tracing of infected individuals a "completely wrong strategy," and declared there was "no evidence that a mask mandate has worked."

Notably, Atlas had previously joined former President Donald Trump's team of medical advisers — after many appearances on Fox in which he frequently spoke out against most advice from virologists and epidemiologists on how the country should have dealt with the pandemic. The Washington Post had reported that during his time at the White House, Atlas advocated for a dangerous "herd immunity" strategy of simply allowing the virus to spread, and he had also "shot down attempts by Birx and Fauci to expand testing … and advanced fringe theories, such as that social distancing and mask-wearing were meaningless and would not have changed the course of the virus."

Much like Atlas' path to the White House, DeSantis also built his career on Fox News. As Politico explained in 2018, "DeSantis' cultivation of his Fox relationship made all the difference" in his upset victory in the Republican primary for governor that year. He then returned to the network in 2020 to build up a positive image at a time when the pandemic was ravaging his state, after he had reopened far earlier than elsewhere.

Now, he's relying on Fox and other media outlets to promote his handling of the public health crisis, while downplaying the costs of his decisions.

Fox News Pumping Up DeSantis

The Fox-DeSantis relationship continues into the present, as well. DeSantis appeared this past Saturday with Fox News host Jeanine Pirro, who asked him about his state's pandemic response: "New York is still a mess, and you got it right. How did you do it?"

Meanwhile, Fox's purported "news side" has also helped to spread a pro-DeSantis message.

On Monday's edition of Special Report with Bret Baier, the anchor used a misleading statistic, during a discussion with Fox senior analyst Brit Hume. "Cases in California 33,500,000, a little bit more than that as of March 15, deaths 55,000," Baier said. "Florida cases there, you see them, 1.9 million, deaths 32,000."

This statistic was also repeated on Fox News @ Night with Shannon Bream, in a discussion between the anchor and two right-wing guests, Florida Republican Party Vice Chair Christian Ziegler and Fox News contributor Marc Thiessen.

Baier and Ziegler only gave the raw numbers of cases and deaths in each state, along with an on-screen graphic that presented those numbers, seeming to give the impression that Florida had done a far better job than California. But in fact, California has nearly twice the population of Florida — making a raw-numbers comparison virtually useless without adjusting for that difference, an error that was quickly notedon social media.

When adjusted for population, Florida really has more cases and deaths per capita in comparison to California, with 151 deaths per 100,000 people in Florida compared to 140 in California. Also quite concerning, Florida has had a substantially higher number of cases in the past week, 141.3 cases per 100,000 people compared to just 47.6 in California.

Mainstream Outlets Bungling DeSantis Story, Too

CNN has run a segment this week by the network's chief national affairs correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, which begins with a clip of DeSantis triumphantly declaring that "it's booming here because you can live like a human being."

But both the segment and an accompanying text article by Zeleny fail their audiences by putting all of Desantis' own seemingly positive framing up front, such as a lede sentence declaring that he is "standing unabashedly tall among the nation's governors on the front lines of the coronavirus fight."

It is not until nearly three minutes into the video segment, and many paragraphs into the text piece, that certain caveats start to really become visible — as well as the hidden underside of DeSantis' preferred storyline:

  • It is not until the 16th paragraph that readers actually learn that experts believe "comparing one state to another is complicated and often counterproductive," with factors such as Florida's humidity or New York City's population density presenting very different pictures.
  • In the 20th paragraph, readers learn that DeSantis has been "locked in one fight after another with the state's media over transparency on Covid statistics and other issues." For example, the Miami Herald explained this month that Florida state government had "spent a year stonewalling, obfuscating and evading requests for information about such vital matters as the number of COVID deaths recorded by [medical] examiners' offices, details about contact tracing to see where transmission was occurring and which eldercare facilities had seen outbreaks among staff and residents."
  • And then, in the 25th paragraph, readers learn of a possible scandal about DeSantis allegedly giving his top donors privileged access to vaccinations by placing "invitation-only" clinics in their upscale communities. The Miami Herald also reported on this story, describing one such example: "Ocean Reef Club is an ultra-exclusive neighborhood that is arguably one of the highest-security private communities in the nation. … It's also home to many wealthy donors to the Florida Republican Party and GOP candidates, including Gov. Ron DeSantis."

The New York Times has also attempted a seemingly more balanced piece — though it begins with the wistful, dream-like headline 'I'd Much Rather Be in Florida.' The sub-headline then explains the real issue: "Floridians are out and about and pandemic restrictions have been lifted. There's just one problem: The virus never went away."

The article's lead paragraph is also quite blunt about the real cost of the state's decision to just play down the dangers: "Other than New York, no big city in the United States has been struggling with more coronavirus cases in recent weeks than Miami. But you would hardly know that if you lived here." The Times also explains that Florida's economy isn't exactly "booming," either, with tourism having fallen and the state government facing a $2.7 billion deficit that "will need an injection of federal stimulus money."

That headline, however, is immediately problematic — not only because most people do not click past headlines — but because the Times then leaves itself vulnerable to being twisted around by right-wing media outlets. And indeed, both Fox News and PJ Media have now cited that turn of phrase to claim that DeSantis is receiving a positive reappraisal.

Politico, meanwhile, is presenting a triumphalist, near-perfect image for DeSantis, with a post on Thursday night, "How Ron DeSantis won the pandemic," along with a full-length magazine profile touting his presidential hopes for 2024.

"He was right," the profile begins. "Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, has been saying as much for weeks — in partisan speeches, on conservative cable, at often out-of-the-way vaccine sites around the state in quick-hit appearances as spartan as they are scripted."

Deep into the article, one finally learns: "Mayors say DeSantis didn't make the hard decisions—they did. He shunted the onus as well as the political peril, they contend, by making them enforce rules he wouldn't and hasn't," and only toward the very end is it noted that Miami's Republican mayor is one of those critics, and "hasn't been able to get him on the phone for months."

Poll: Public Rejects Blaming Clean Energy For Texas Power Failure

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

A poll released this weekend by the progressive strategy firm Data for Progress found the American public did not buy into a relentless propaganda campaign from right-wing media, which attempted to blame the Texas blackouts on renewable energy sources.

Instead, the public understood the reality of what went on: All power sources in the state had failed, including the state's primary fossil fuels.

The poll asked respondents which of the following options caused the power outages in Texas:

  1. Unusually cold winter weather conditions caused Texas power plants, including coal, natural gas, nuclear, and renewable energy sources, to go offline. This caused power outages across the state.
  2. Texas invested too much in renewable energy like wind and solar energy. Wind turbines froze because of the cold weather which led to power outages across the state.

In response, 64 percent of surveyed people correctly picked the first option, compared to only 28 percent who thought that Texas had over-invested itself in wind turbines. Even 50 percent of self-identified Republicans chose the correct answer, while 41 percent blamed renewable energy. The poll was conducted from February 19 to 22, surveying likely voters nationally via web panels.

poll graphs

Among self-identified Republicans who watch Fox News, the percentage was slightly lower: 47 percent picked the correct option. Finally, Republicans who watch Fox's far-right competitors Newsmax and One America News were even more divorced from reality — with an actual majority believing that the blackouts were because of wind turbines.

poll graphs

An earlier Media Matters study had found that Fox programming lied 128 times over less than 48 hours, falsely attributing the power outages to failures in renewable energy sources such as wind turbines.

For example, Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott told Fox host Sean Hannity that his state's catastrophe "shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America." (Of course, the Green New Deal is not currently the law in Texas.) Meanwhile, Abbott had admitted in other settings that the state's natural gas and coal infrastructure had also frozen over.

Other right-wing media outlets pushing this campaign included Fox's corporate cousin The Wall Street Journal and the Sinclair Broadcast Group and its local TV stations across the country.

By contrast, local media in Texas widely debunked the misinformation, explaining that natural gas infrastructure was freezing over and more to blame than wind power, and that the root problem was from the state's failure to require utilities to winterize.

On Fox, Stephen Miller Falsely Claims Migrant Kids Were ‘Humanely Returned’ To Families

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Former Trump administration senior adviser Stephen Miller appeared Thursday morning on Fox & Friends, to attack President Joe Biden's immigration policies. During the interview, Miller falsely claimed that the Trump administration maintained a practice of "safely and humanely" returning unaccompanied minor immigrants to their families.

In fact, the practices of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials during the Trump administration were notorious for their dysfunctional treatment of unaccompanied minors. A ProPublica report last year titled "The Trump Administration Is Rushing Deportations of Migrant Children During Coronavirus" included young children who had "a parent in the U.S. ready to receive them, and no one in their home country to care for them," and teenagers with dangerous family situations waiting for them back home.

The New York Times also documented that the administration had "deported hundreds of migrant children alone — in some cases, without notifying their families," which also included other relatives in the United States, and that "others have been pushed back into Mexico, where thousands of migrants are living in filthy tent camps and overrun shelters." The Times also reported the Trump administration had ordered the expulsion of minors who still had pending asylum appeals. Congressional Democrats had charged that the administration's practices violated the existing federal law for the treatment of unaccompanied children, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.

Miller played a key role in advocating for the worst abuses of Trump-era immigration policies, but on Fox & Friends, he claimed those policies actually "saved lives" and "kept children safe."

Video fileVideo Player00:0004:17SHARE

Fox News has been continuously fearmongering against Biden's immigration policies, including a false claim that undocumented immigrants who committed violent crimes would not be investigated and deported, and alleging that immigration was the real insurrectionagainst America, rather than the attack against the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters on January 6. The network also recently attacked Biden's policies by repeatedly showing b-roll footage of a migrant caravan that had been broken up while crossing from Honduras into Guatemala, a 1,400-mile journey from U.S. territory.

QAnon And Trumpists Plot GOP Takeover -- With Bannon's Advice

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon's recent interview with a local Republican Party committee member on how Trump supporters might be able to take control of the party at the grassroots level is now being enthusiastically promoted on far-right platforms — including to followers of the QAnon conspiracy theory, which has been linked to domestic terrorism and the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

On February 6, Bannon hosted Dan Schultz, an attorney and a local GOP committee member from Arizona, on his podcast to discuss conservatives taking over the Republican Party by becoming the local precinct committee officers throughout the country as many of these positions are vacant from lack of public awareness. From there, according to Schultz, they could gain influence over local elected officials and even determine the course of national presidential nominations.

Bannon's interview with Schultz caught further attention, with social media posts appearing on far-right platforms 4chan,, and Gab. These posts especially focused on the claim by Bannon and Schultz that 200,000 local committee slots nationwide — roughly half of the total seats — currently stand empty and could be filled easily, potentially even by running unopposed. Some of the posts touted this as "The Best Kept Secret to taking over the Republican (GOP) Party."

These social media platforms have long served as havens for white nationalists, as well as spreading conspiracy theories about such topics as the Black Lives Matter movement and the 2020 election, as well as dangerous rhetoric related to the coronavirus pandemic and the January 6 insurrection.

In addition, one of the Telegram accounts promoting the plan is a follower of the the QAnon conspiracy theory; QAnon supporters have widely supported the January 6 insurrection and called for a military coup in the United States. A number of QAnon supporters ran for Congress and state legislatures in 2020, the most successful of whom was Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA). This month, the House of Representatives voted to strip Greene of her committee assignments, due to her history of espousing conspiracy theories and supporting violent threats against members of Congress when she was an online commentator.

During the interview, Schultz spoke of the power and influence that comes from local committees at the grassroots level in speaking to politicians, and organizing votes in the primary elections that those local candidates must first win. Also key, Schultz explained, is the election of delegates and party officials higher up the line.

"You'll also elect the delegates to the four-year state presidential nominating convention. The delegates there that you've elected — and you can run for delegate — only the precinct committeemen elect the delegates," Schultz said. "The delegates elect the national convention delegates directly, and then they also elect the national committeeman and the national committeewoman to a four-year term on the RNC. That's real political power. We can take over the party if we invade it."

This has been a long-running project for Schultz, ever since the tea party movement gained prominence over a decade ago because of its opposition to President Barack Obama.

"And I've told people this since 2009. I told the tea partyers this," Schultz added. "If you will not at least try this, and get involved, and take over the party, I can't guarantee you that we'll save the republic, but I can guarantee you this: We'll lose it. If we conservatives don't take over the Republican Party, we're going to lose our republic."

Bannon also emphasized the importance of what Schultz was saying by commenting, "This is the ability to take over the Republican Party, because this is where the votes are. It's a pyramid, and this is the base of the pyramid."

Video fileVideo Player00:0004:59SHARE


Bannon previously made numerous calls for former President Donald Trump to subvert the results of the 2020 election. He also compared pro-Trump protests after the elections to the American Revolution and on January 5, said that "all hell is going to break loose tomorrow" when the Electoral College votes were going to get counted. (Since then, he has tried to downplay the violence that took place that day — while also urging Trump's impeachment legal team to continue pursuing the false claims that the election was stolen.)

Fox News Warns Removing Trump Will Enrage His Delusional Mobs

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Fox News is now warning against the efforts to impeach President Donald Trump during his final two weeks in office, following the failed putsch at the Capitol on Wednesday — with an argument that is essentially a plea to give in to the fear of more violent mobs.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told CBS News' 60 Minutes in an interview broadcast on Sunday: "Well I like the 25th Amendment because it gets rid of him. He's out of office. But there is strong support in the Congress for impeaching the president a second time. This president is guilty of inciting insurrection. He has to pay a price for that."

Since Trump's January 6 speech that incited a rally full of his supporters to storm the Capitol, congressional Democrats have been calling for Trump's immediate removal from office. Trump also reportedly watched the event on TV with excitement, while resisting internal calls in the White House to send the National Guard to protect the Capitol. (Maryland's Republican governor has publicly spoken out about the delays in obtaining permission to send his state National Guard units.)

But for his supporters on Fox News — the network that both before and immediately afterthe 2020 election promoted Trump's disproven conspiracy theories about mass voter fraud — the onus is on Democrats to unite the country. A premature removal of Trump from office, they say, would only make those tens of millions of people who voted for Trump feel even worse and perhaps cause them to rise up again.

Fox figures who supported stealing the election now call on Democrats to "unify the country" and not "inflame" Trump's voters

On January 7, Fox host Sean Hannity spoke with Matt Schlapp, head of the American Conservative Union, who said that President-elect Joe Biden and the Democrats must decide if "they want to unify and take down the heat or do they want to impeach and cancel and attack." "Let the 73 million Americans who voted … for Donald Trump feel like their voices have been heard," Schlapp stated, adding later that if that doesn't happen, "this literally is going to make it very hard for this country to stay as a union and it's a very troublesome thing."

Schlapp had previously taken to Twitter the day after the 2020 election and had attempted to incite riots aimed at stopping the ongoing vote counts.

MATT SCHLAPP (CHAIRMAN, AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE UNION): If you want to unify the country, let the 73 million Americans who voted — over 73 million Americans who voted for Donald Trump feel like their voices have been heard.L et's get to this inauguration, and then let's let the representatives and senators they've elected to Congress, let's them all do their job by advocating for the positions they feel.

Instead, whether it's corporate America which is increasingly becoming woke or other big voices on social media companies, et cetera, instead it's always a desire to shut down anybody who is a conservative, shut down anybody who is for the MAGA agenda, and this literally is going to make it very hard for this country to stay as a union and it's a very troublesome thing.

Prime-time host Laura Ingraham spoke with Republican activist Harmeet Dhillon, who had previously acted as a Trump 2020 campaign legal adviser.

"I wish what happened yesterday with his supporters had never happened," Dhillon said. "But for the left to characterize Trump supporters and over 70 million of us as a mob of white supremacists is outrageous." She then further claimed that impeachment would amount to a "witch hunt."

In the days after the election, while votes were still being counted in key swing states, Dhillon had told Fox Business host Lou Dobbs: "We're waiting for the United States Supreme Court — of which the president has nominated three justices — to step in and do something. And hopefully Amy Coney Barrett will come through."

HARMEET DHILLON (CEO, CENTER FOR AMERICAN LIBERTY): I wish what happened yesterday with his supporters had never happened.

But for the left to characterize Trump supporters and over 70 million of us as a mob of white supremacists is outrageous. There were a lot of peaceful protesters in Washington yesterday. A tiny, tiny fraction of them got out of hand, and they should be punished as the president said. Why should the president resign for that? I think it is time for an orderly transition.

A resignation and impeachment even as some of these folks are saying and Nancy Pelosi and others, is not an orderly transition. It is a witch hunt. It is punitive. And it is going to inflame rhetoric and nothing is going to inflame rhetoric in this country for the next couple of years more than putting a target on the back of Trump supporters like the left is doing today.

Ingraham also spoke with former independent counsel and current Fox contributor Ken Starr, who headed up the investigation leading to President Bill Clinton's impeachment in 1998 and then returned to defend Trump from impeachment in 2019. In the days after the election, Starr had also publicly endorsed Trump's attempt to convince Republican-led state legislatures to discard Biden's popular vote victories in their states and instead appoint slates of Electoral College delegates for Trump.

Starr described the latest effort to impeach Trump as "an act of deliberate divisiveness at a time when I thought that we were trying to unify the country."

Starr also made appeals for "kindness and compassion" and claimed he was "not seeing that from the leaders on the Democratic side." He also said that "there needs to be a national conciliation and reconciliation" and asserted that all this "inflammatory rhetoric" is "anti-American tradition. The traditions that are great is let us find common ground and work to agree where we can, but disagree with respect with one another."

While he invoked "American tradition," Starr did not address the point that the president of the United States — for the first time in American history — had incited an attempted violent overturn of his own electoral defeat.

And on Sunday night's edition of The Next Revolution with Steve Hilton, guest Charlie Kirk of Turning Point USA declared that another impeachment "will only further rip our country apart."

In the days before the insurrection, Kirk had publicly endorsed the push from the Trump legal team and far-right media for Vice President Mike Pence to unilaterally reject states' Electoral College votes for Biden. "Some people say that's not constitutional," Kirk said on January 4. "Then try it. Make them sue and get the Supreme Court into action."

Kirk has also deleted a tweet declaring that his Turning Point Action group was sending "80+ buses full of patriots to DC to fight for this president."

Fox figures declare that "this country is ready to explode again," and Trump's supporters are "more dug in than ever"

On the Friday morning edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Ainsley Earhardt appealed to the president-elect to consider all the voters: "We need to remember the voter here — on both sides of the aisle. And we are looking to Joe Biden now to unite all of us, to heal our country. And I hope that he can do that. We are praying that he can do that."

Co-host Brian Kilmeade also concluded that removing the president in such a short time frame simply isn't feasible and that the calls from Democrats to do so were only making the situation worse: "If you thought, 'I'm going to bring the country together,' the last thing you would probably do is what they did yesterday, because 75 million people voted for the president."

Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace also appeared on America's Newsroom and told co-anchor Sandra Smith that he's hearing from his GOP sources, the impression that if Trump "keeps quiet" for the next 12 days, impeaching him or removing him via the 25th Amendment would escalate public tensions.

"From what I hear from Republicans on the Hill, people in the White House, they feel that any kind of removal at this point would probably create more harm, more outrage than it would damp down, than it would solve," Wallace said. "Obviously there are millions of people who supported Donald Trump. There are hundreds of thousands who were on the Mall who believe that this election was stolen from him. And for him to be removed from office, either from within his administration or by Congress, would only enrage those people further. So I think that's a last resort."

While mentioning the Trump supporters who believe the election was stolen from him, Wallace conveniently failed to note the role Fox News played in promoting Trump's conspiracy theories and undermining public confidence in the election.

And on Friday night, Fox "news side" anchor Martha MacCallum opened her show by explaining to viewers that impeachment of Trump at this point " would prevent President Trump from ever running again — it's kind of like being disbarred if you're an attorney."

But she then proceeded with an editorial comment, rhetorically asking: "But is this truly the path to stability for these tumultuous times? Do these politicians care about the country — or their next weapon? Given the fragility of this moment, is this what's best for America?"

"74 million people have voted for the president, 80 million who voted for Joe Biden," MacCallum added. "What would be the best for all of them? Would that send a message that the government is truly putting its citizens and its economy first for everyone?

And on Sunday's edition of Fox & Friends Weekend, Fox News contributor Mike Huckabee declared also furthered the idea that impeachment would not unify the country, while the tens of millions of Trump voters are "pretty ticked off as it is."

"There is no grounds for impeachment, there just isn't," Huckabee said "If you go back and look at what impeachment's supposed to mean — I mean, this is absurd, and the timing makes it even more absurd."

Just to be clear the relevant text in the Constitution says: "The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors."

In all these segments mentioning over 70 million Trump voters, little regard was given to over 80 million people who voted for Biden and that they just witnessed an attempted coup incited and abetted by the lame-duck president of the United States.

And on Monday's edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade reacted to Pelosi's call for Trump's removal by saying that the country was "ready to explode again."

The admission: Impeachment is dangerous because Trump's supporters are dangerous

But on Thursday afternoon, it was Fox News contributor Andy McCarthy, writing at National Review who made the most blunt admission of all: Do not impeach Trump, because "our deeply divided country is a tinderbox right now" — and Trump's supporters are delusional fanatics.

"For purposes of national cohesion and stability, it doesn't matter that millions of ardent Trump supporters are wrong to believe the election was a coup," McCarthy wrote. "What matters is that they believe it." (Emphasis in the original.)

Obviously, it is not my purpose to trivialize what happened yesterday. It is a stain on the republic, and I have publicly stated that the president incited it. Having prosecuted a man for inciting crimes of violence, it is not a term I use lightly.
That said, the events of yesterday also demonstrated yet again that our deeply divided country is a tinderbox right now.
I have tried, over the past two months, to analyze the president's allegations of election fraud and improprieties. It is apparent that the major claims he is making about a stolen election are untrue — even if it is also clear that there were improprieties, and that there are significant election-integrity problems with mass-scale mail-in voting.
The problem, however, is that Trump is an extraordinarily effective populist demagogue. What's more, the presidency is still the bully-pulpit, for good or ill. As a result, tens of millions of Americans believe his claims. The vast majority of them are not thugs bent on storming the Capitol, but they are smoldering for a variety of reasons, not least a year of pandemic, lockdowns, economic distress, rioting, spiking crime rates, and — lest we forget — a foolishly partisan presidential impeachment.
For purposes of national cohesion and stability, it doesn't matter that millions of ardent Trump supporters are wrong to believe the election was a coup. What matters is that they believe it. There will be plenty of time later to assess blame for that, to examine the reasons for the outsize influence the president has continued to exercise over many Republicans in a post-election period when his influence should be eroding. For the moment, we have to deal with the straits we're in. That counsels against further inflaming the situation if that can be
The conduct we've witnessed is impeachable, and I will not contend otherwise. Still, there are 13 days to go in this presidential term.

During the previous Trump impeachment, McCarthy had embraced the "no harm, no foul"defense on the grounds that Trump's efforts to use military aid to pressure the government of Ukraine into smearing Joe Biden had not succeeded. (A key point: The attempt had almost come through and had failed because the perpetrators had been caught.)

In the years before the Trump presidency, however, McCarthy had called for the impeachment of President Barack Obama for alleged executive overreach and also recommended that Hillary Clinton be impeached if she were to be elected president in 2016.

Far-Right Media Provocateurs Cheered On Capitol Violence

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

A mob of angry Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, seeking to stop the counting of the Electoral College votes for President-elect Joe Biden's November victory over President Donald Trump.

A substantial number of right-wing media figures tweeted in support of the insurrectionists, defending their actions and drawing false equivalences.

The riot at the Capitol came after a rally in Freedom Plaza, which was headlined by Trump and other Republican officials who are trying to discredit Biden's victory in the election, and which included a number of provocative statements to the crowd. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL)proclaimed to attendees, "Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass," and Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani likened his quest to examine "crooked" voting machines and "fraudulent" ballots to a "trial by combat."

Trump himself told his supporters: "You'll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong. We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated."

As the rally concluded, attendees charged toward the Capitol steps, fighting with Capitol Police and breaching security barriers to go inside the building, causing Congress to halt its proceedings.

The Gateway Pundit site ran a headline describing the mob as "patriots."

screen grab

Sebastian Gorka, the former Trump White House deputy assistant who praised the supposed "patriots" on his radio show, also cheered on the event using his Twitter account, declaring that they had "taken Capitol Hill."

screen grab

Elijah Schaffer of BlazeTV posted video clips of the ongoing mob conflicts with the police and posted a photo that he said was taken from inside House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-CA) office, claiming that he was there "with the thousands of revolutionaries who have stormed the building" and describing the attack on the Capitol as "the current revolution."

screen grab

Radio host Rush Limbaugh's producer James Golden, who also goes by the radio name "Bo Snerdley," described the event as a "peaceful protest" and called the election "fraudulent." He also suggested that anti-fascist elements had "infiltrated this" in order to spark violence.

And while claiming to abjure violence, Golden seemed to be positioning the actions of the mob alongside other alleged offenses such as "stolen elections" and "horrid journalism."

screen grabscreen grabscreen grabscreen grab

Newsmax host Michelle Malkin ridiculed Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) for condemning the riot.

screen grab

Fox Business host Charles Payne retweeted a message asking: "How long do you expect people to be SILENT?"

screen grab

Patrick Howley, who runs the right-wing site National File, openly called for the overthrow of the civil government and claimed if the "Patriots seize the control of Congress, … they have the right to assemble their own Congress":

screen grabscreen grabscreen grab

Right-wing provocateur Dinesh D'Souza, who has received a presidential pardon from Trump on his conviction for violating campaign finance laws, argued: "I don't approve of storming the Capitol but isn't it a fact that if Antifa and BLM did it, the media would be in raptures about the passionate demonstration of commitment to racial justice?"

D'Souza, who has also pushed misinformation about the election and previously declaredthat "we are not uniting with thieves and tyrants" — meaning a Biden administration — also argued on Wednesday that "the Trumpsters are taking a page from the Democrats. … The Left tried to win by forced occupation what it could not win through the political process. So ditto now from the other side."

He then added with a quote from military history, likening the post-election events to a war.

screen grab

Right-wing Twitter personality John Cardillo declared, "DC is seeing what happens when you ignore the Constitution and the will of the people for decade upon decade." He further added: "They make a mockery of American and Americans, and now act like victims when people have hit their boiling point."

Fox News Barely Mentions Trump’s ‘Martial Law’ Meeting

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

Fox News, the network that avidly promoted President Donald Trump's efforts to subvert the election results, is now almost silent on a major story from over the weekend: the reports in both The New York Times and Axios that Trump is flirting with martial law.

The news outlets reported over the weekend that Trump met with conspiracy theorist attorney Sidney Powell and his disgraced former national security adviser Michael Flynn, with Trump pondering whether to seize voting machines for examination, and perhaps even to appoint Powell as a special counsel to investigate the election.

Read Now Show less

As Biden Wins Electoral College, Right-Wing Media Promote Bogus 'Trump Elector’ Slates

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

While the Electoral College members officially voted Monday and completed Joe Biden's win in the presidential election, a number of right-wing media outlets were busy promoting another maneuver: State Republican Parties putting up their own "elector" slates for President Donald Trump — in states that Biden actually won — which carry no legal weight.

"As we speak, today, an alternate slate of electors in the contested states is going to vote, and we're going to send those results up to Congress," White House adviser Stephen Miller declared on Monday's edition of Fox & Friends. "This will ensure that all of our legal remedies remain open."

Read Now Show less

‘Civil War’ And ’Secession’ Chatter Getting Louder On Far Right

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

Right-wing figures online are now toying with the ultimate act of resistance against Joe Biden's win over Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election: secession and civil war. The idea has picked up steam in the past few days, thanks to a boost it got from talk radio host and Medal of Freedom recipient Rush Limbaugh.

Limbaugh made waves on Wednesday when he said, "I actually think that we're trending toward secession." I see more and more people asking what in the world do we have in common with the people who live in, say, New York?"

Read Now Show less

Polls: Most Americans Agree Biden Won -- Unless They Watch Fox News

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

A new Daily Kos/Civiqs poll confirms that a large majority of Americans accept and acknowledge the outcome of the 2020 presidential election: President-elect Joe Biden's victory over President Donald Trump. But among people who watch Fox News — which has waged a relentless public campaign to fan doubts about the election, seemingly because the network is afraid of angering Trump and losing its viewer base of his supporters — rejecting the election's result continues to be the norm.

The new poll asked, "Do you accept the outcome of the 2020 presidential election: Joe Biden defeating Donald Trump?" The overall result was that 58 percent accepted the outcome against 33 percent who still did not.

These numbers are consistent with a Monmouth University poll from three weeks ago, which found that 60 percent of American adults said Biden won "fair and square," compared to only 32 percent who said that Biden won because of alleged voter fraud. But the poll found that among Trump's supporters, 77 percent said "Biden's win was due to fraud," with the director of Monmouth's polling noting, "The anger among Trump's base is tied to a belief that the election was stolen."

The Daily Kos/Civiqs poll gets at an additional angle of this attitude among right-wing media audiences: Among those who watch Fox News "frequently," only 18 percent said they accepted the outcome, versus 63 percent who did not. Among those who watch Fox "occasionally," it was a statistical dead heat, with 43 percent of such viewers accepting Biden's win compared to 44 percent who did not. (Overall, eight percent of respondents said they frequently watch Fox, and 29 percent said they watch it occasionally.)

Meanwhile, people who said they don't watch Fox News were found to have accepted the election outcome by a margin of 70 percent to 24 percent.

Fox News has been at the forefront of Trump's effort to overturn the election results, taking a leading position among other right-wing media outlets. In just the first two weeks after the election, the network pushed conspiracy theories or cast doubt on the election results nearly 600 times. All told, the network has spread various debunked stories about alleged election rigging — while also downplaying Republican attempts to throw out entire swaths of legitimate votes, inciting potential civil unrest, and insisting that Trump really did win the election.

Even Fox's purported "straight news" coverage has hyped Trump's public campaign against the election results, offering public support to his efforts, downplaying his lies, and being nearly indistinguishable from the network's avowed opinion hosts in continuing to spread debunked stories about alleged voting misconduct. Just this week, one of the network's "news-side" programs used the right-wing "#StopTheSteal" hashtag to promote an interview with Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) on his efforts to have Congress block the election results.

And so the cycle continues: Fox viewers continue to doubt the legitimate outcome of the election in favor of conspiracy theories and false claims of voter fraud — and the network continues to push these baseless pro-Trump narratives every day, contributing to its viewers' disbelief and defiance over Biden's victory.

Feud Erupts Over Carlson’s Challenge To Loony Trump Conspiracy Lawyer

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

Right-wing media now have to grapple with a strange new internal conflict: whether to endorse the set of conspiracy theories being peddled by Trump campaign attorney Sidney Powell, who is insisting that President Donald Trump's purported election victory was snatched away by an international conspiracy of South American communists, a wealthy Jewish American philanthropist, and computer servers in Europe.

Read Now Show less