Kevin McCarthy

Right-Wing Media Figures Clash Over GOP Government Shutdown

As House Republicans fail to advance spending bills needed to fund the federal government and avert a government shutdown, right-wing media are at odds with one another over whether to cheer on the possibility of a shutdown or ridicule those Republicans leading the charge toward it.

The federal government will enter a partial shutdown by the end of this week unless Republicans can agree to funding extensions, which would mark the sixth consecutive shutdown brought on by a Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

The Republican-led House is lurching closer to a government shutdown

  • The federal government will shut down unless Republicans agree to continued funding by September 30. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives is struggling to find 218 votes to support must-pass appropriations legislation before the end of the fiscal year on September 30. If legislation is not authorized in time, the federal government may face a shutdown. [The Washington Post, 9/12/23]
  • House Republicans have failed to advance multiple spending bills in recent days. The House has a series of yearlong spending bills to address, to fund the departments of Defense, State, Agriculture, and Homeland Security. CNN reported on September 25 that during the previous week, the GOP’s leadership team “failed twice to advance the defense bill” and that Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy “put the House GOP’s stopgap bill on ice amid a right-wing rebellion.” [CNN, 9/25/23]

“Take a stand”: Many in conservative media support a shutdown

  • National Pulse Editor-in-Chief Raheem Kassam: “Govt shutdown > public lockdown.” [Twitter/X, 9/9/23]
  • Right-wing Grabien founder Tom Elliott: “My only concern w/ a govt shutdown is that it will be temporary.” [Twitter/X, 9/11/23]
  • Right-wing economist Stephen Moore: “Shutdown Might Mean Gov't Gets Serious About Fiscal Ineptitude.” In a syndicated column posted by Newsmax, Moore mocked concern over the damage of a government shutdown, comparing it to the public health orders early in the COVID-19 pandemic under the Trump administration. Even though he wrote, “I'm NOT in favor of a government shutdown,” he added, “But they aren't the end of the world,” and continued to downplay their impacts. He contradicted himself again by concluding: “But if it takes a short-term shutdown of some government agencies to force Congress and the White House to get serious about our fiscal ineptitude, then do it. It's for the children.” [Newsmax, 9/13/23]
  • OAN host Dan Ball expressed support for a government shutdown. In an interview with Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Ball said, “If the Dems can shut us down over the flu, then you guys, the Freedom Caucus, should shut us down over overspending.” Ball also said that shutting down the government “for a few weeks or months” won’t “damage anybody, except some federal employees might not get paid for a bit.” [OAN, Real America with Dan Ball, 9/13/23]
  • Fox star Sean Hannity instructed Republicans to “take a stand” and shut down the government, then blame Democrats. After demanding that Republicans shut down the government, Hannity encouraged them to blame Democrats for their obstruction: “And whatever the Republicans pull off in the House, and they eventually agree to, which will itself be a compromise, the Senate needs to do their job, and then they need to be willing to let the government shut down and then blame –– put the blame where it belongs: on the people that are robbing our children and our grandchildren blind. It's time to take a stand, that's what you guys got elected for. You said you wanted to, you know, lead. This is a chance to lead.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 9/19/23]
  • Newsmax host Eric Bolling: “Stop writing the checks. ... The American people don’t really care.” In an interview with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Bolling mocked Republicans for worrying about the political blowback of yet another federal government shutdown and added that Gaetz was right to oppose a funding deal, telling him to “stay strong.” [Newsmax, Eric Bolling The Balance, 9/19/23]
  • Former Trump strategist Steve Bannon: “Forcing the regime to shut down their own illegitimate government is a win.” Bannon asked his guest, far-right commentator Jack Posobiec, for his thoughts about “the meltdown of the uniparty,” and Posobiec argued that government shutdowns are nothing to fear even as he explained that intelligence personnel had to rotate days off during a shutdown when he worked for the government in 2013. [Real America’s Voice, War Room, 9/20/23]
  • Pro-Trump comics creator Scott Adams: “I back @RepMattGaetz on this. Avoiding a shutdown is a dumb goal. Fixing the budget approval process (as promised) is a winning system.” [Twitter/X, 9/24/23]
  • Ex-Fox Business host Lou Dobbs: “House RINOs are squealing at the prospect of actually shutting down this corrupt anti-citizen Federal government. End corruption—defund the Feds!” [Twitter/X, 9/24/23]

Other conservative media figures have disparaged Republicans for driving toward a shutdown

  • Fox contributor Karl Rove: Republicans get blamed for government shutdowns “generally because Republicans are responsible for the shutdown. They seem to eagerly want it.” Rove continued to criticize Republican lawmakers: “So yeah, there's a reason why they get blamed. And look, the American people demand that their government try and run itself in an appropriate fashion. And the fact that the biggest financial and business enterprise in the world, the U.S. government, cannot pass a budget in time and then ends up shutting itself down over things that are on the margin. … The Republicans are going to be shooting themselves in the foot in the run-up to the 2024 election if they continue to think that shutdowns are a great way to put themselves in front of the American people.” [Fox Broadcasting Co., Fox News Sunday, 9/17/23]
  • Fox News host Mark Levin on conservatives pushing for a shutdown: “You can’t be Pickett. … Even Pickett didn’t want to be in Pickett’s Charge.” On his radio show, Fox News host Mark Levin told conservatives, “if your goal is to bring down the government, let me tell you a little secret: They’re not going to be able to do it this way.” Levin acknowledged the reality that Senate Republicans will vote with Democrats to avoid some draconian spending cuts, then said: “And so, you know, you can't be Pickett. This can't be Pickett's Charge. Pickett's Charge, let's go get ‘em. Even Pickett didn't wanna be part of Pickett's Charge,” a reference to a disastrous Confederate attack during the Civil War. Levin added: “So if we have stupid people doing stupid things in the name of conservatism, that bothers me a lot. I'm never going to line up behind stupid.” [Westwood One, The Mark Levin Show, 9/18/23; Library of Congress, accessed 9/19/23]
  • Fox News Radio host Guy Benson: There are “Republicans saying, and not without reason, a shutdown is not a good idea.” In an interview with Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), Benson said that Republicans are giving the appearance of unreasonably opposing everything, “but part of the job is like manning up and being adults and getting something done as opposed to being against everything, especially when you’re at least nominally in the majority in the chamber where this stuff has to originate.” [Fox News Radio, Guy Benson Show, 9/18/23]
  • Right-wing commentator Ben Shapiro argued that “the Republican Party, they are the stupid party, there is no question, and that stupidity is extending over into this government shutdown talk.” On his radio program, Shapiro attacked the so-called “stupid party” Republicans for missing an opportunity to use spending negotiations as leverage against Democratic Party priorities. He concluded by offering the GOP strategic advice going forward: “Whenever chaos is projected to no apparent end — because the Democrats run the Senate and Joe Biden is the president, and so they have a bit of a say in what exactly ends up becoming law here — Republicans, how about this? Be concerted in the issues that you attack. Focus for a moment in time. Otherwise, Democrats are going to have something to run on, and that is not what you want.” [The Daily Wire, The Ben Shapiro Show, 9/18/23]
  • Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade grilled Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT) about his pro-shutdown stance: “Congressman, you just know if the government gets shut down, Republicans get the blame.” After a testy exchange between Kilmeade and Rosendale over the latter’s refusal to support a short-term proposal to avoid a government shutdown, Kilmeade replied: “Congressman, you just know if the government gets shut down, Republicans get the blame because they are not even providing even a CR [continuing resolution], a pathway to a CR. You're saying I'm not going to go for 30 days, so the government shuts down. That means your investigations stop, that means the border funding doesn't happen, and that's OK?” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 9/19/23]
  • On Hannity, Fox contributor and former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich singled out “all the people in the Freedom Caucus who are cheerfully screwing things up.” Gingrich argued that Freedom Caucus shenanigans might endanger GOP House seats in 2024. “Sometimes I think we have some members who can’t not only play chess or checkers, they can't play tic-tac-toe,” Gingrich said. “You have to start from success and work back.” Coincidentally, Gingrich engineered two government shutdowns during his time as House speaker, in part over a petty personal grudge. [Fox News, Hannity, 9/22/23; Media Matters, 8/31/10]
  • Fox anchor Maria Bartiromo to Rep. Gaetz: “Are you not right now indirectly working with Democrats? ... That's what your actions are doing.” Bartiromo pressed the far-right congressman over his strategy and noted, “That’s why some people feel this is a personal vendetta you have against” McCarthy. When Gaetz defended himself, Bartiromo replied, “You’re enabling” Democrats. [Fox News, Sunday Morning Futures, 9/24/23]

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Kevin McCarthy

Right-Wing Media Scorches 'Stupid' GOP Leaders Over Government Shutdown

As the Republican-led House faces a deadline of September 30 to fund the government and avoid a shutdown — and with some hardline Republicans recently rejecting a proposal to pass their own party’s proposed cuts and thus fund the government for just one more month — even some right-wing commentators openly agree a government shutdown would be bad idea for which the voting public would blame Republicans.

The federal government faces a September 30 shutdown deadline

  • The federal government will shut down unless Republicans agree to continued funding by September 30. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives is struggling to find 218 votes to support must-pass appropriations legislation before the end of the fiscal year on September 30. If legislation is not authorized in time, the federal government may face a shutdown. But House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) “is not (yet) considering relying on Democrats to pass a stopgap spending bill and will work to find enough Republican support,” according to The Washington Post, because “seeking Democratic votes would likely lead to an immediate challenge to Kevin McCarthy’s speakership from GOP hard-liners.” [The Washington Post,9/12/23]
  • A Republican-controlled House of Representatives has been responsible for the last five government shutdowns. In the last 30 years, a Republican-controlled House of Representatives has shut down the government twice under Democratic President Bill Clinton, once under Democratic President Barack Obama, and then twice under Republican President Donald Trump. The most-recent shutdown, the longest in U.S. history, began under a lame-duck Republican House that had lost in the 2018 midterms, and it ended only after spending provisions from the Democratic-controlled House were able to break a further deadlock in the Republican-controlled Senate. [, 1/25/19; The Hill, 1/25/19]
  • History suggests the public will more likely blame Republicans than Democrats for a shutdown. During government shutdowns under Clinton and Obama, polls showed that the public blamed the shutdown on congressional Republicans more than the Democratic president. During the most-recent government shutdown, which began during unified Republican control of the federal government, a majority of Americans blamed Trump for the impasse, rather than congressional Democrats. [; 1/11/19;, 1/15/19]

Some hard-right Republican lawmakers are opposing an intraparty deal to avoid a government shutdown

  • House Republicans negotiated among themselves for a short-term proposal to fund the government through October 31, with stiff spending cuts. Members from the hard-line House Freedom Caucus and the pro-McCarthy Main Street Caucus agreed to a short-term spending package with 8% cuts in spending levels except in the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments. The proposal, which has little chance of being enacted, “also includes conservative restrictions on immigration and the U.S. border with Mexico. It does not include funding for Ukraine, which Biden had requested.” [Reuters, 9/18/23]
  • Some hardline House Republicans declared their opposition to the proposal. In an article titled “Another doomed GOP spending plan collapses,” Politico reported that the immediate objection to the deal from multiple GOP lawmakers “highlights just how unmanageable the House GOP truly is, with Freedom Caucus leaders — including Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), its chair — endorsing a deal only to see it publicly rejected by a good chunk of its membership within a matter of minutes.” [Politico, 9/18/23]
  • Some initial news coverage said the Republican bill was doomed, with NBC News calling it “all but guaranteed to die in the Democratic-led Senate.” Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) called the bill “extreme,” saying it would “cut funding to the National Institutes of Health including funding for cancer research, defund the police, and decrease resources to important allies like Ukraine and Israel,” instead of “working on bipartisan solution[s] that could be enacted.” [NBC News, 9/17/23; The Hill,9/18/23; The Washington Post, 9/17/23]
  • The Democratic-led Senate, in contrast, has “been making good progress on the annual spending bills.” On September 18, The Hill reported that all of the annual appropriation bills had been passed out of committee and that the Democratic-led Senate “had been making good progress” until a Republican senator tried to halt progress on one of the spending bills. [The Hill, 9/18/23]

Right-wing media criticize Republicans for heading toward another shutdown, with some acknowledging the GOP deserves the blame

  • Fox News host Mark Levin on conservatives pushing for a shutdown: “You can’t be Pickett. … Even Pickett didn’t want to be in Pickett’s Charge.” On his radio show, Fox News host Mark Levin told conservatives, “if your goal is to bring down the government, let me tell you a little secret: They’re not going to be able to do it this way.” Levin acknowledged the reality that Senate Republicans will vote with Democrats to avoid some draconian spending cuts, then said: “And so, you know, you can't be Pickett. This can't be Pickett's Charge. Pickett's Charge, let's go get ‘em. Even Pickett didn't wanna be part of Pickett's Charge,” a reference to a disastrous Confederate attack during the Civil War. Levin added: “So if we have stupid people doing stupid things in the name of conservatism, that bothers me a lot. I'm never going to line up behind stupid.” [Westwood One, The Mark Levin Show, 9/18/23; Library of Congress, accessed 9/19/23]
  • Fox contributor Karl Rove: Republicans get blamed for government shutdowns “generally because Republicans are responsible for the shutdown. They seem to eagerly want it.” Rove continued to criticize Republican lawmakers: “So yeah, there's a reason why they get blamed. And look, the American people demand that their government try and run itself in an appropriate fashion. And the fact that the biggest financial and business enterprise in the world, the U.S. government, cannot pass a budget in time and then ends up shutting itself down over things that are on the margin. … The Republicans are going to be shooting themselves in the foot in the run-up to the 2024 election if they continue to think that shutdowns are a great way to put themselves in front of the American people.” [Fox Broadcasting Co., Fox News Sunday, 9/17/23]
  • Right-wing commentator Ben Shapiro argued that “the Republican Party, they are the stupid party, there is no question, and that stupidity is extending over into this government shutdown talk.” On his radio program, Shapiro attacked the so-called “stupid party” Republicans for missing an opportunity to use spending negotiations as leverage against Democratic Party priorities. He concluded by offering the GOP strategic advice going forward: “Whenever chaos is projected to no apparent end — because the Democrats run the Senate and Joe Biden is the president, and so they have a bit of a say in what exactly ends up becoming law here — Republicans, how about this? Be concerted in the issues that you attack. Focus for a moment in time. Otherwise, Democrats are going to have something to run on, and that is not what you want.” [The Daily Wire, The Ben Shapiro Show, 9/18/23]
  • Shapiro further added, “Republicans are hellbent on running directly into a wall at full speed.” “The measure wasn’t going to pass the Democratic-controlled Senate, anyway. But McCarthy was then going to use that as the basis for some sort of compromise with Democrats,” Shapiro explained. “It doesn’t matter, we’re just going to run directly into a wall, and the only loser here, presumably, will be the Republican Party. Because Democrats are not going to be punished for Republicans not even being able to come to an agreement on what they want the basis for negotiations to be.” [The Daily Wire, The Ben Shapiro Show, 9/19/23]
  • Fox News Radio host Guy Benson: There are “Republicans saying, and not without reason, a shutdown is not a good idea.” In an interview with Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), Benson said that Republicans are giving the appearance of unreasonably opposing everything, “but part of the job is like manning up and being adults and getting something done as opposed to being against everything, especially when you’re at least nominally in the majority in the chamber where this stuff has to originate.” [Fox News Radio, Guy Benson Show, 9/18/23]
  • Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade grilled Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT) about his pro-shutdown stance: “Congressman, you just know if the government gets shut down, Republicans get the blame.” After a testy exchange between Kilmeade and Rosendale over the latter’s refusal to support a short-term proposal to avoid a government shutdown, Kilmeade replied: “Congressman, you just know if the government gets shut down, Republicans get the blame because they are not even providing even a CR, a pathway to a CR. You're saying I'm not going to go for 30 day, so the government shuts down. That means your investigations stop, that means the border funding doesn't happen, and that's OK?” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 9/19/23]

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Linda Yaccarino

New CEO Yaccarino Is Lying About Hate Speech On Musk's 'X' Site (VIDEO)

X Corp. CEO Linda Yaccarino, the head of the social media site formerly known as Twitter, sat down for a lengthy interview Thursday on CNBC’s Squawk on the Street, during which she made a variety of obviously false statements about the platform and its performance since Elon Musk took over in October 2022. The business-channel interview should make it clear to any corporate executives watching that the site continues to be a virtual cesspool following Musk’s rebranding, and that Yaccarino’s appointment as CEO has predictably changed nothing.

Twitter is a more dangerous place today

When CNBC anchor Sara Eisen asked about major brands’ reluctance to advertise on the site due to the proliferation of hate speech, Yaccarino responded, “By all objective metrics, X is a much healthier and safer platform than it was a year ago. Since [Musk’s] acquisitions, we have built brand safety and content moderation tools that have never existed before at this company.”

In fact, academic research earlier this year showed that hate speech has nearly doubled on the site since Musk’s takeover, as he reinstated previously banned accounts and disingenuously declared a policy of protecting “free speech” on the platform. Meanwhile, just in the last two weeks, X Corp. sued the Center for Countering Digital Hate for their work showing that the site has failed to take action in response to antisemitic and anti-Muslim posts.

Media Matters data confirmed that under Yaccarino’s leadership, anti-LGBTQ hate is still prevalent on the platform: Nearly one-third of the top 200 accounts that tweeted about pride during June — Yaccarino’s first month as CEO — were right-wing accounts that have posted anti-LGBTQ content on Twitter.

In addition, all the content moderation systems that Twitter might possess still have a weakness: Elon Musk himself and his propensity to reverse content moderation decisions, including on hate speech. Caving to the demands of right-wing political and media figures, he recently reinstated a previously-banned account from an infamous conspiracy theorist who had posted child sexual abuse material to the site.

Ads for major brands end up in bad places

Yaccarino boasted that major brands were returning to the site, naming Coca-Cola, Visa, and State Farm among her examples. She said, “They’re coming back — the last bunch of weeks, continued revenue growth,” and explained that for the last eight weeks she has been personally speaking with corporate executives to who had either “maybe paused or reduced spending, to remind them about the power of the platform, and the power of the user base, and the economic potential of them partnering with us again.”

It’s worth noting, however, that the three specific brands she claimed were “coming back” to the platform never fully left in the first place. While they may have reduced spending, a Media Matters analysis of advertising data from Sensor Tower shows that they still advertised on the platform to some extent after Musk took over.

These companies should consider exactly what the “power of the platform” that Yaccarino touts will mean for their brand identities. Media Matters has spotted ads from Coca-Cola and State Farm right next to posts those companies might find objectionable, including vaccine misinformation from an account Musk had previously reinstated and infighting among white supremacists.

Media Matters has repeatedly shown that ads from major companies have continued to appear next to harmful content since the platform was rebranded over two weeks ago. We identified ads for brands including Honeywell, Discovery, National Women’s Soccer League, the Pittsburgh Steelers, USA Today, and Manchester City on the verified account of the National Socialist Network, a leading neo-Nazi group that engages in violence and has connections to terrorism.

And in a short period of scrolling through the site, we found an ad for Comcast next to content from election denier Roger Stone and QAnon influencer Jeffrey Pedersen (known online as “intheMatrixxx”); an ad from Disney next to a post from QAnon-promoting figure Brian Lupo (“CannCon”); a Samsung ad next to a post from anti-Muslim extremist Laura Loomer; an ad from Apple next to a tweet from right-wing blogger David Vance that amplified Tucker Carlson’s interview with misogynist Tristan Tate; and ads for Mondelez International’s Ritz Crackers and Chips Ahoy alongside content from right-wing psychologist and budding climate denier Jordan Peterson.

Elon Musk is still the problem

Eisen also asked about companies’ hesitancy to spend money on X because of Musk specifically, as he continues to amplify conspiracy theories with no apparent regard for their concerns. Yaccarino only made it clearer that he has none, and that she cannot control what Musk says or does. (This was confirmed in a June 1 federal court filing, in which lawyers for the company told the court that hiring Yaccarino as CEO “will not result in a different content-moderation strategy for Twitter, a company that will still be owned by Musk and led by a person chosen by Musk.”)

SARA EISEN: But I think there are questions with your boss’s own tweets. I was talking to a brand yesterday that scaled back advertising on X. Why? They said, well, the head of the company sometimes tweets things that we think are in violation of their own safety practices. And in an interview with my colleague David Faber, Elon said in response to a question about tweeting a conspiracy theory and whether that was risking losing advertisers, ‘I don’t care, I want to say what I say, and I lose money, so be it.’ Doesn’t that make your job impossible?

LINDA YACCARINO: It definitely does not make my job impossible. I think what it — it fuels more of an ambition for my job to make sure that everyone, including Elon, is entitled to their own opinion. Now, we all do things that we reconsider at other times. I think you remember, when I — in my early days of meeting Elon — I interviewed him at a marketing conference in Miami, and we had a little bit of a debate of rethinking tweets maybe, I don’t know, after 3 a.m. in the morning.

EISEN: Does he give you a heads-up on the tweets, Elon?

YACCARINO: I would never expect him to do so. I would never. And again, the real-time nature and beauty of X — clearing your tweets with someone is much less effective.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Jesse Watters

Still Lying: Fox Totally Falsifies GOP 'Star Witness' Testimony On Biden

Following the July 31 testimony to the House Oversight Committee by former Hunter Biden business partner Devon Archer, right-wing media outlets arrived at what should have been a very uncomfortable crossroads: They had relentlessly hyped a narrative that Archer would seriously incriminate President Joe Biden, but Archer denied that Joe Biden had talked business with his son’s associates and instead confirmed Hunter had sold only the “illusion” of access to his father. The full release of the transcript further busted right-wing narratives about any vast Biden family corruption linked to the president.

Fox News had an easy solution to this dilemma, however: It has simply claimed repeatedly that Archer had said the opposite of all these things. The brazenness with which the network is voicing these falsehoods is another example proving that Fox is simply a political propaganda outlet rather than any kind of news organization.

False: Joe Biden participated in nefarious business calls and dinners with Hunter Biden

The closest that House Republican investigators got to linking Joe Biden with his son’s business deals was that the two of them frequently spoke on the phone, and that Hunter Biden would put his father on speakerphone while in the company of his own business associates. But in his testimony, Archer explicitly said the two Bidens had been checking in on each other, making small talk — as well as discussing Beau Biden’s terminal cancer — and not discussing business.“Say, where are you, how’s the weather, how’s the fishing, how’s the — whatever it may be, whatever,” Archer said, describing the calls. “It was very, you know, casual conversations about — you know, not about cap tables or financials or anything like that.” Archer also said that while Joe Biden did attend several dinners with his son and some of his associates, but these dinners remained casual and they did not discuss business, instead discussing the U.N. World Food Program on which Hunter Biden then also served.But as Fox News hosts and guests tell it, Archer described proof of an intricate involvement between Joe Biden and his son’s business partners.

  • Fox News contributor Leo Terrell claimed the phone calls were “proof that Joe Biden knew what was going on” with Hunter Biden's business. Terrell proclaimed that “Joe Biden lied to the American people. He lied, and this witness has proven that he lied” when the president previously stated that he had no involvement with his son's business. Terrell continued, “Joe Biden getting on the phone and basically stating, ‘Hello,’ he made that call, is proof that Joe Biden knew what was going on.” [Fox News, The Story with Martha MacCallum, 8/1/23]
  • Fox guest and former Senate Republican staffer Garrett Ventry boasted that Archer’s “explosive testimony” showed Joe Biden “was potentially involved” and “certainly had knowledge” of Hunter Biden’s business. Ventry claimed that “we learned the day before [from] Devon Archer's explosive testimony that Joe Biden potentially was involved in Hunter Biden's business dealings, he certainly had knowledge of them.” Ventry further claimed that the indictment of former President Donald Trump for attempting to obstruct the 2020 election was really meant to be a distraction from this “explosive” evidence from Archer. [Fox News, America Reports, 8/2/23]
  • Fox News prime-time host Jesse Watters declared, “The full transcript of Biden's former business partner, Devon Archer, has just been released and it confirms everything that Joe Biden and the media have been lying to you about.” In fact, Archer’s testimony disproved everything that Watters and right-wing media have claimed. [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 8/3/23]
  • Fox host Maria Bartiromo said that Archer’s testimony about Hunter Biden putting his father on speakerphone “contradicts President Biden's repeated denial that he had no knowledge of his son's business deals.” In fact, Archer said that they did not discuss business during these speakerphone exchanges. [Fox News, Sunday Morning Futures, 8/6/23]
  • Conservative pundit Peter Schweitzer falsely claimed that Archer “unequivocally said any people discussing or claiming that he [Joe Biden] was not involved with his son's business is totally and completely incorrect.” Archer actually said that he was never aware of Hunter Biden discussing business with his father. [Fox News, Sunday Morning Futures, 8/6/23]

False: Hunter Biden sold access to Joe Biden and obtained changes in U.S. policy

Right-wing media has repeatedly mischaracterized conclusions from the testimony as proof that Hunter Biden sold access to then-Vice President Joe Biden. Archer’s testimony showed that Hunter Biden sold the “illusion of access” with no actual influence from his father. Archer further confirmed: “He did not ask him — to my knowledge, I never saw him say, do anything for any particular business,” nor was he aware of anything Joe Biden ever did in that direction.

  • Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett: “Devon Archer absolutely demolished Joe Biden's lies that he knew nothing, had no involvement. Archer confirmed that Hunter was selling access to his father and promises of influence.” Archer confirmed that Joe Biden was not involved in his son’s business deals, and that Hunter Biden sold an “illusion” of access rather than the real thing. [Fox News, Hannity, 8/3/23]
  • Right-wing author David Marcus: “There's no question left as to whether Joe Biden was involved in Hunter Biden's scheme to sell influence. Joe Biden was absolutely involved. The only question is did he know he was involved?” Again, Archer actually testified under oath that Joe Biden was not involved in his son’s business dealings. [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 8/7/23]
  • Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberley Strassel: “The important thing we learned this week from Devon Archer is that whenever Hunter Biden wanted to show that he had access to Washington, his dad willingly got on the phone. He came to the meetings, and it was all designed to help Hunter suggest he had access to the wheels of power.” Archer said that Joe Biden got on the phone with his son as they discussed Beau Biden’s terminal cancer and to check-in with each other emotionally. [Fox News, Hannity, 8/4/23]
  • Fox & Friends guest Brett Tolman: “This is the vice president of the United States getting on calls with foreign leaders in order to sell to them access and sell to them capability of helping them when they get in trouble.” This statement has no connection to reality. Archer testified that whenever Hunter Biden put his father on speakerphone, the result was an exchange of friendly hellos. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/1/23]

False: Joe Biden fired Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin to help Burisma

Fox News has continued to push the years-old smear campaign that led to then-President Donald Trump’s first impeachment, claiming that as vice president, Joe Biden pushed for the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor who was investigating the energy firm Burisma when Hunter Biden was on the company’s board.In fact, Archer confirmed that Shokin’s firing was consistent with a longstanding anti-corruption policy. Furthermore, Archer explained that “the firing of Shokin was bad for Burisma because he was under control,” meaning that Shokin was not seriously prosecuting Burisma and might have let the company off easy on any corruption charges. For example, Shokin’s lack of cooperation with a U.K. investigation had already led to the head of the company’s assets being unfrozen. Archer’s testimony is consistent with voluminous other reporting over the years demonstrating that Shokin was removed by the Ukrainian government at the urging of American and European officials concerned that the prosecutor was himself corrupt. (The international groundswell to remove Shokin actually predated Biden’s involvement.)Fox News, however, has fully resurrected this zombie narrative:

  • Fox News host Ainsley Earhardt stated that Joe Biden “went over there and he fired the prosecutor that was investigating the company for corruption.” For her proof of this, Earhardt cited an article in the right-wing Washington Examiner. Archer confirmed that Shokin’s firing was part of an anti-corruption policy. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/1/23]
  • New York Post columnist Miranda Devine said Joe Biden “withheld a billion dollars or threatened to withhold a billion dollars of U.S. aid from Ukraine unless they fired the very prosecutor who was investigating the company” that employed Hunter Biden. In reality, Archer said that Shokin’s firing was “bad for Burisma.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/1/23]
  • Fox News host Todd Piro: “Burisma was worried that people would legally mess with them, those people being Viktor Shokin, the prosecutor. So who could they get? Joe Biden.” Shokin was precisely not messing with Burisma, as the head of the company’s assets had been unfrozen “because of a lack of cooperation from the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office.” [Fox News, Outnumbered, 8/3/23]
  • Fox News contributor Andy McCarthy falsely claimed that Joe Biden “used his influence to help get a prosecutor fired, who happens to have been investigating the company that was paying his son $83,000 a month.” Archer confirmed that Shokin was not effectively investigating Burisma and his role as prosecutor was viewed as “good” for the company. [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 8/4/23]
  • Former Trump acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker: “Joe Biden brags about firing the prosecutor who was investigating Burisma. This is a prima facie case.” Shokin was failing to investigate Burisma. [Fox News, Life, Liberty & Levin, 8/6/23]

False: Joe Biden is compromised by foreign governments

Archer testified that he and Hunter Biden “didn’t raise capital from the Chinese,” and that they never spoke about any alleged prospects of Chinese investments being important to his family. But in Fox News’ telling, Archer’s testimony was proof that Joe Biden is in hock to foreign governments, especially China.

  • Fox News host Rachel Campos-Duffy claimed that “Joe Biden and his family have gotten, you know, enormously wealthy off of this kind of influence peddling. … These countries have something over him. He is compromised.” Archer shot down claims that foreign business dealings were of importance to Joe Biden. [Fox News, Fox & Friends Weekend, 8/5/23]
  • The Hill media columnist Joe Concha: “You have a president that can be compromised by the likes of China, Ukraine, Romania, you can go down the list. … If that’s the case, then this makes Watergate look like a smash-and-grab.” Archer denied claims that Joe Biden had been bribed. [Fox News, The Faulkner Focus, 8/7/23]
  • Fox News host Pete Hegseth claimed that “the Biden family can be bought and the Chinese will pay big bucks for it, or should I say big Yuans.” Archer said that he and Hunter Biden did not raise money from China. Instead, Hegseth switched from citing Archer to then relying on an article from serial smear merchant John Solomon for this particular claim. (Solomon’s article involves Hunter Biden’s business activities from 2017 and 2018, a time when his father did not hold any public office.) [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 8/4/23]
  • Bartiromo claimed that Archer said “what he called the brand was what China, Ukraine and Russia all wanted to pay for, with Joe Biden at the seat of — with Joe Biden at the seat of power as the vice president of the United States.” Archer specifically shot down claims that Joe Biden had been bribed. [Fox News, Sunday Morning Futures, 8/6/23]

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Fox Business Hosts Hype Biden 'Bribe' Tapes With No Proof They Exist

Fox Business Hosts Hype Biden 'Bribe' Tapes With No Proof They Exist

Fox Business hosts Stuart Varney and Jackie DeAngelis engaged in uncritical speculation this morning about rumored audio recordings implicating President Joe Biden in a bribery scandal, with Varney suggesting that they could be located in Ukraine and DeAngelis declaring, “We better see them, and they better hold people accountable.”

The fundamental problem is that even the leading Republicans seeking to dig up dirt on Biden have admitted that the tapes may not exist at all. In an interview with CNN last month, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) gave the meandering response: “I don’t even know where they are. I just know they exist, because of what the report says. Now, maybe they don’t exist. But how will I know until the FBI tells us, are they showing us their work?”

On Thursday, Grassley released an FBI document known as an FD-1023, which contains unverified allegations from a confidential human source. The source provided secondhand information that Ukrainian energy executive Mykola Zlochevsky had claimed years earlier to have recordings that would confirm he had bribed then-Vice President Biden. NBC News previously reported that a senior law enforcement official said the FBI and a Trump-appointed U.S. attorney had reviewed the bribery claim in 2020 and determined that it was not substantiated.

There should be a number of reasons to be skeptical about the allegations in the document, most notably that the source only spoke up in June 2020 about conversations that supposedly occurred in the years 2015-2017. And even this June 2020 contact occurred months after then-President Donald Trump’s first impeachment, when he had attempted to pressure the Ukrainian government into announcing an investigation of Biden in exchange for receiving badly needed military aid to defend itself from Russia.

Presumably, this information could have provided a more dramatic development during the heat of the impeachment, in order to show even some validity to the ongoing right-wing smear campaign against the Biden family. (Instead, the source waited until the general election campaign between Biden and Trump.) The document further notes that the source “explained it is very common for business men in post-Soviet countries to brag or show-off” about their political connections, and that they were “not able to provide any further opinion as to the veracity of Zlochevsky's aforementioned statements.”

DeAngelis appears to have further exaggerated the allegation even on its own secondhand terms. Whereas the confidential source in the report described Zlochevsky as claiming that “two of the recordings included Joe Biden, and the remaining 15 recordings only included Hunter Biden,” DeAngelis described these as “17 recordings that include Joe Biden in them.”

STUART VARNEY (HOST): Congressman James Comer says there is more to come in the Hunter investigation. Jackie, he wants criminal referrals?

JACKIE DEANGELIS (FOX BUSINESS HOST): He does, and he says by the time this is all said and done, there could possibly be six to 10 charges recommended to the Justice Department. Now, that would be really significant. I mean, obviously, we've got this latest bombshell in the FBI file, talking about the inform

ant's comments that specifically refer to Joe Biden. “It cost five [million] to pay one Biden and five [million] to pay the other Biden.” He calls Hunter Biden stupid. He says the head of Burisma has 17 recordings that include Joe Biden in them. So, we really need to piece this apart and get to the bottom of it. The House is working on that now — but six to 10 criminal referrals.

VARNEY: I believe the 17 tapes that you're talking about —


VARNEY: I think they're in Ukraine.

DEANGELIS: Yes, so this is the Ukrainian head of Burisma conducting these conversations that supposedly include the president.

VARNEY: Do you think we'll ever see those tapes?

DEANGELIS: We better see them, and they better hold people accountable for what’s happened here. This has been, I mean, really mind-boggling.

VARNEY: It is absolutely exploding.


VARNEY: And that's a fact.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

No, Hunter Biden Didn't Get A 'Sweetheart Deal' From GOP Prosecutor

No, Hunter Biden Didn't Get A 'Sweetheart Deal' From GOP Prosecutor

Right-wing media have attacked the plea deal reached for Hunter Biden over his past failure to pay taxes and unlawful possession of a gun, falsely claiming that the president’s son got a “sweetheart deal” in comparison with others who faced tax and gun charges and in particular comparing it to the sentencing of musician Kodak Black.

But numerous legal experts rebutted these conservative claims of a “sweetheart deal,” with some explaining that his deal is actually “harsh” for his circumstances as a first-time offender.

Legal experts rebutted claims of a “sweetheart deal"

On June 20, Hunter Biden was charged for tax evasion and unlawful gun possession. He pleaded guilty on misdemeanor tax charges, for which he likely faces probation, and agreed to a pretrial diversion program for the gun charge. Even though the U.S. attorney who prosecuted Biden was appointed by former President Donald Trump and was left in place by President Joe Biden to preserve the independence of his investigation, Republican lawmakers were quick to call the agreement a “slap on the wrist” and a “sweetheart deal” for the president’s son.

But legal experts interviewed by news outlets explained that the charges against Hunter Biden are rarely prosecuted and even more rarely include jail time. As many experts have explained, given Biden’s repayment of the taxes he owed, his lack of a prior criminal record, and the fact that his gun was not used in any crimes, his plea deal may even seem unduly “harsh.”

  • CNN legal analyst Jennifer Rodgers said that “it’s certainly not a sweetheart deal out of line with what happens in the rest of the country” and that the gun charge deal is “very standard” in similar circumstances. Rodgers explained: “So, on the gun form charge, it’s very, very standard for someone in this situation who lies on the form because they are an addict, the gun is long gone, apparently he only had it for a couple of weeks, it’s very standard in these circumstances for this diversion to occur and to wipe out the charges, assuming he successfully completes it. So, that’s totally standard. And the tax fraud is similar as well. I mean, he paid those taxes back a long time ago. That’s something that DOJ takes very, very seriously.” She continued: “This is not a sweetheart deal. … It’s certainly not a sweetheart deal out of line with what happens in the rest of the country.” [CNN, CNN News Central, 6/20/23]
  • MSNBC legal analyst Paul Butler explained that “this doesn’t look like a sweetheart deal,” explaining that “almost no defendant would be sent to federal prison for first time, low-level tax offenses.” Butler further noted that Biden paid back his owed taxes and sought treatment for his addiction, and that a federal judge may still ultimately step in if the judge deems the plea agreement too lenient. [MSNBC, Chris Jansing Reports, 6/20/23]
  • MSNBC legal analyst Catherine Christian: “I don’t think it’s accurate to call it a slap on the wrist” because Biden will have a criminal record. Christian said: “This is someone who didn't pay his taxes, and now he has — he's going to be stuck with these two criminal convictions on his record. He had a gun when he knew he was addicted to a controlled substance, and so now he has to go through a diversion program. So, I don't think it’s accurate to call it a slap on the wrist. As I said, these are serious charges that he’s now pleading guilty to.” [MSNBC, Ana Cabrera Reports, 6/20/23]
  • Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti: “If anything, Hunter Biden was treated harshly” for his tax charges because “those crimes are rarely charged.” [Twitter, 6/20/23]

  • NYU law professor and MSNBC legal analyst Andrew Weissmann: “This is if anything harsh, not lenient.” Weissmann wrote on Twitter: “first time tax offenders like this rarely get prosecuted and even rarer to get jail time. And false gun applications sadly also almost never get prosecuted or jail time. So this is if anything harsh, not lenient.” [Twitter, 6/20/23]
  • Former federal prosecutor Shan Wu wrote that “Attorney General Merrick Garland was actually pretty harsh on Hunter Biden.” In an opinion piece for The Daily Beast, Wu explained his reasoning:

The truth of the matter is that Attorney General Merrick Garland did Hunter Biden no favors in this case by leaving the original Trump-appointed prosecutor on the case, and approving a plea deal on charges that for anyone else would likely have resulted in no criminal charges being brought.

Under the terms of the plea deal, Hunter Biden must plead guilty to two misdemeanor counts of failing to pay his taxes in 2017 and 2018—for which he apparently underpaid by $100,000 each year. (In 2021, he paid the shortfall.) That makes the tax case a bit of an outlier, since prosecutors usually have little appetite for bringing criminal tax cases when the taxpayer has already paid the amount owing.

His self-admitted drug addiction likely played a role in prosecutors allowing him to seek pre-trial diversion, as diversion is frequently used as a means of holding drug addicts to accountability while not making them take a felony on the records in light of their addiction. In fact, it is rare for prosecutors to pursue criminal charges for this kind of false information on a gun ownership application form unless the gun was also used to commit some other crime, such as a robbery, to cite one example.

Here, however, there is no evidence Biden used the gun in any crime. He apparently only had the gun for two weeks before his then-girlfriend threw it away in a trash dumpster. [The Daily Beast,6/20/23]

  • MSNBC legal analyst Joyce Vance said “it wouldn’t at all be unusual” for the gun charge to be diverted.
    Vance said of the tax charges: “It’s very typical, the law provides for misdemeanors in cases where a defendant fails to file. And so this would be, I think, within the heartland of the way the department charges these kinds of cases, if that in fact is what the charge is, a failure to file.” Vance also called the gun charge “a more obscure portion of the statute,” adding that “it wouldn’t at all be unusual to see someone put into some form of front-end program.” [MSNBC, Morning Joe, 6/20/23]
  • CNN senior legal analyst Elie Honig: “There’s virtually no chance that a first-time offender would get sentenced to prison based on misdemeanors … especially tax-type misdemeanors.” Honig further explained that “the vast majority of federal firearms cases are either a firearm used in another crime of violence, or a firearm possessed by somebody who has a prior felony. This is sort of low down on the list of firearms offenses.” [CNN, CNN News Central, 6/20/23]
  • CNN chief legal analyst Laura Coates said that Biden’s pretrial diversion for the gun felony “is quite common in the grand scheme of things.” Coates explained: “These are oftentimes included in any plea deal to try to use a diversionary program that essentially says, look. If you keep on the up-and-up, if you stay clean, then you will not have this felony charge attached to your record as well. This actually is quite common in the grand scheme of things. What’s so uncommon is that it’s now a former vice president and current president’s child.” [CNN, CNN News Central, 6/20/23]
  • UCLA law professor Adam Winkler suggested that it’s unusual for someone to be charged solely for lying on a gun form. Winkler told The Washington Post that “prosecutors typically would not charge lying on a gun form as a stand-alone crime, instead filing it as a secondary charge when someone also may have committed a violent crime with the weapon.” [The Washington Post, 6/20/23]
  • Ohio State University law professor and sentencing expert Douglas Berman told The New York Times that “the average person is rarely prosecuted for” the crimes Biden was charged with. Berman further suggested that far from receiving preferential treatment in this case, Biden was charged only because he’s the president’s son and prosecutors may have hoped to avoid “the perception that there was some sort of special treatment or leniency.” From the NY Times:

Douglas Berman, a professor of law at Ohio State University and a sentencing expert, read the court papers unsealed on Tuesday morning and said that it was difficult to assess from the filings whether Mr. Biden received a sweetheart deal.
The crimes to which Mr. Biden is pleading guilty, Mr. Berman said, are ones that the average person is rarely prosecuted for because they are usually only brought along with more serious offenses.

In Mr. Biden’s case, they include a charge stemming from lying about drug use on the government form used for his purchase of a handgun. Current and former officials say tens of thousands of Americans, out of the 25 million who buy guns each year, lie on their forms and are not prosecuted.

“If these are the only offenses, most prosecutors are going to say it’s not worth a federal case — they would say: Let’s not make a federal case of it for the average person because it’s not worth it to bring a case unless there’s reason to be concerned that there’s a public safety issue or the trust that everyone is treated equally under the law is at stake,” Mr. Berman said.

Mr. Berman said that in this case, federal prosecutors are in a unique situation because there was a very high-profile defendant who was the subject of investigations for a range of activities. The failure to bring some charges when there is no factual dispute, he said, could create the impression of a two-tiered system of justice.

“Everyone is paying attention and the facts are not in dispute, so a failure to bring charges would create the perception that there was some sort of special treatment or leniency being given to the president’s son,” Mr. Berman [said]. [The New York Times, 6/20/23]

Right-wing media falsely claimed Hunter Biden got a “sweetheart deal”

Despite the extensive evidence and expert commentary to the contrary, right-wing media ran with the false accusation that Hunter Biden's plea agreement was a “sweetheart deal” arranged by a corrupt Department of Justice.

  • Fox News contributor and New York Post columnist Miranda Devine: Hunter Biden got “this sweetheart deal from the DOJ.” On Fox, Devine said: “I think Hunter Biden's team is quite correct in that their man is off the hook with this sweetheart deal from the DOJ,” before referencing GOP probes into Biden’s business dealings. [Fox News, America Reports, 6/20/23]
  • Tucker Carlson producer Justin Wells wrote on Twitter: “President Biden’s inept son, Hunter Biden, gets a sweetheart deal from the DOJ. What a joke.” [Twitter, 6/20/23]
  • On Twitter, Breitbart senior editor-at-large Joel Pollak wrote that Hunter Biden got “a sweetheart deal” and will later be pardoned by his father. Pollak claimed: “.@JoeBiden just had his leading opponent arrested for ‘documents’ while his son, Hunter — whom the media assured us was innocent — gets a sweetheart deal and will, no doubt, be pardoned. Trump was right about the Bidens in 2019, and they impeached him for it. Banana republic.” [Twitter, 6/20/23]
  • Fox host Jesse Watters said, “Hunter Biden was never going to go to prison anyway, he was either going to get a sweetheart plea deal or get pardoned.” Watters also asked, “If this wasn’t a sweetheart deal, then why did Donald Trump’s CFO get thrown in Rikers Island for 100 days for pleading guilty to a smaller tax charge than Hunter?” Watters continued making comparisons with celebrities who served prison time. [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 6/20/23]
  • Quoting House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Trump ally John Solomon argued that Hunter Biden got a “‘sweetheart’ plea deal” in the headline of an article he wrote on Just the News. [Just the News, 6/20/23]
  • Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton claimed Hunter Biden got a “sweetheart plea deal,” which is an “‘in-your-face’ show of contempt for the rule of law.” [Twitter, 6/20/23]
  • CPAC Chairman Matt Schlapp tweeted that the president “just orchestrated a sweetheart deal for his son in order to boost his re-election.” [Twitter, 6/20/23]

Conservatives made false comparison between Hunter Biden and rapper Kodak Black

Some conservative media figures and outlets compared Biden’s gun charge, described by the Justice Department as possessing “a firearm despite knowing he was an unlawful user of and addicted to a controlled substance,” to that of the rapper Kodak Black, who was sentenced to almost four years in prison for ostensibly similar gun charges.

But these comparisons exclude important context: Black already had an extensive criminal record and was facing numerous other criminal charges when he lied on background check forms to purchase multiple guns, and two of the guns he purchased were later found at crime scenes, including one, as The New York Times reported, “with Black’s fingerprints and a live round in the chamber — that had been used to fire at a ‘rival rap artist.’”

The remainder of Black’s sentence, for falsifying information to buy firearms, was commuted by former President Donald Trump during his last full day in office, and months later he received a plea agreement that avoided prison time in a case involving a report of sexual assault.

Conservatives ignored this context in making the comparison to further their false claim that Biden has been treated too leniently:

  • Devine highlighted the years in jail Black served for his gun charges: “I think David Weiss should come before [Rep. James Comer's (R-KY)] committee and just explain if everything was aboveboard exactly why they made the decisions they did, and why it took five years to come up with these two pretty minor misdemeanor tax charges and a gun charge that has gone away that has had people locked in jail for four years. The rapper Kodak Black was in jail for four years in a federal prison for lying on his background form to buy — he bought four guns in that case.” [Fox News, Hannity, 6/20/23]
  • Fox & Friends hosts claimed that Black merely used a “wrong Social Security number on the gun form” and went to prison, omitting all other context. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 6/21/23]
  • Daily Caller chief national correspondent Henry Rodgers wrote a tweet echoing a claim that Black “served 3 years in jail” for the “same crime”: “NEW: Kodak Black’s lawyer reacts to the Hunter Biden news… Says Kodak was charged for the same crime and had to serve 3 years in jail for it:” [Twitter, 6/20/23]
  • A headline repeated the false comparison: “Kodak Black's lawyer slams Hunter Biden plea deal after rapper sentenced to 3+ years for same crime.” [, 6/20/23]
  • Gateway Pundit also cited the false claim by Black’s lawyer that he was charged with the “same federal weapons crime” as Hunter Biden. Jim Hoft, the founder of Gateway Pundit, wrote:

Hunter will serve NO TIME in prison for his latest criminal actions.

The same DOJ sent rappers Lil Wayne and Kodak Black to prison for years on gun charges. Both rappers were granted a pardon by President Donald Trump.

Contrasting Hunter Biden’s case, Kodak Black, whose real name is Bill Kapri, faced similar charges in 2019.

According to New York Post, the Grammy-nominated artist was found guilty of providing false information on a federal gun purchase form to procure three firearms from a shop in Miami. Given his criminal record, Black was not eligible to buy these weapons.

Despite pleading guilty, Black was handed a sentence exceeding three years in federal prison. [The Gateway Pundit, 6/21/23]

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

How Fox News Promoted Homeless Vets Hoax To Smear Asylum Seekers

How Fox News Promoted Homeless Vets Hoax To Smear Asylum Seekers

Fox News and Fox Business relentlessly promoted a false New York Post story claiming that homeless veterans were displaced from hotels to make room for newly-arrived migrants for several days last week, devoting more than an hour of airtime to claims that seemed tailor-made for Fox’s anti-immigrant hysteria. The networks’ coverage even included interviews with local government officials who said they had met with the displaced veterans.

But the story told by the Post, and promoted by Fox, unraveled less than a week later, when local news outlets investigated the claims and determined that it was a hoax.

The Mid Hudson News was the first outlet to debunk the story. According to their reporting, there were never any veterans at the main hotel in question, the Crossroads Hotel, and nobody was kicked out to make room for migrants. The Mid Hudson Newsalso reported that the veterans that local politicians claimed to have met to verify the story were actually homeless men who were recruited from a shelter and paid “to act as veterans that had been displaced from a Newburgh hotel in order for a non-profit organization to perpetrate a fraud on the public.”

Another local newspaper, the Times Union, reported that an attorney for the Crossroads Hotel stated that staff at the hotel “are receiving serious threats — including death threats — from all over the county as a result of” the false accusation, and that staff one day “were forced to call 911 to seek protection against someone who was menacing the staff at the hotel, claiming he was looking for the veterans.”

Once this story was debunked by local news outlets, and nearly two weeks after Fox began promoting the story, Fox News and Fox Business began airing extremely short “updates,” which admitted that the entire story was false. On May 24, Fox rolled out an obviously scripted statement on several programs specifically mentioning the Crossroads Hotel, which had featured prominently in Fox’s coverage, possibly to avoid yet another defamation lawsuit similar to those brought by Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic in response to Fox’s political smear campaigns against them.

Key events in Fox’s promotion of this hoax:

  • May 12

    Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post published an “exclusive” evening report headlined: “Homeless vets are being booted from NY hotels to make room for migrants: advocates.” The report cited Sharon Toney-Finch, CEO of a nonprofit organization that the Post claimed “works with the vets.” According to the article, “Nearly two dozen struggling homeless veterans … were told by the hotels at the beginning of the week that their temporary housing was getting pulled out from under them at the establishments and that they’d have to move on to another spot.” The Post claimed that the Crossroads Hotel in Newburgh, New York, booted the majority of the veterans, and that they were relocated to another hotel “about 20 minutes away.”
  • May 13

    Fox & Friends Weekend kicked off Fox News’ coverage of this fake story the day after it was published by introducing it in the context of the expiration of Title 42 and prominently displaying the Post’s front page, with the cover stating: “Vets kicked out for migrants: Outrage as upstate hotels tell 20 homeless veterans to leave.” The co-hosts quoted from the Post as Pete Hegseth held up the front page to the camera.Later, Neil Cavuto interviewed Orange County (New York) Executive Steven Neuhaus, whom the Post reported had filed a lawsuit against the hotels, which supposedly kicked out the veterans. Neuhaus would be the first of several New York state government officials Fox would interview about the story. During the interview, Neuhaus attacked the owners of these hotels and urged the New York Civil Liberties Union to sue them, and claimed he talked to one of the displaced veterans, saying: “The girl I talked to today, she’s got three Purple Hearts, and a Bronze Star with valor. She was in tears.” (It’s unclear which woman Neuhaus claims to have spoken to; the homeless people recruited by Toney-Finch for this hoax were all men. However, Toney-Finch herself now faces scrutiny for potentially lying about her service in the Army, including her receipt of a Purple Heart.)
  • May 14

    A day after Fox began promoting the fake story, Fox News weekend anchor Arthel Neville explicitly claimed, “Fox News confirms 20 homeless vets just got kicked out of several hotels in the suburbs north of Manhattan to make room for those migrants getting bussed in from the city.” Fox correspondent CB Cotton then quoted Toney-Finch’s nonprofit organization (which had fabricated the entire thing) to substantiate the false claim.
  • May 15

    After the weekend, Fox News and Fox Business began promoting the hoax in earnest. Fox & Friends co-host Ainsley Earhardt said it was “astonishing that some of these hotels are getting migrants” and canceling other reservations, adding, “There are two couples that booked rooms for their wedding … and 20 vets also were in that hotel, they all had to move out because these migrants moved in.” Later on Fox & Friends, guest co-host Will Cain claimed that a “flood of illegal immigrants” are taking up hotel rooms and other resources in New York. Cain went on to remind viewers “about homeless veterans booted from a hotel so that rooms could be given to illegal immigrants,” with Earhardt adding, “Eric Adams says they’re gonna stay there for four months, so 20 veterans had to move to another hotel.”Fox anchor Harris Faulkner claimed the story showed “the disgraceful treatment of our military veterans played out in Orange County, New York,” as the nonexistent group of “at least 20 homeless veterans, some reportedly suffering from PTSD, had to give up their hotel rooms for illegals.” Fox contributor Johnny “Joey” Jones added a jab at the Biden administration, stating, “A president that would leave Americans stranded in Afghanistan probably doesn't see the onus to take care of 20 veterans in a hotel. And I hate to say it, but that's just the absolute truth of it.”

  • Outnumbered co-hosts Emily Compagno and Kayleigh McEnany expressed outrage over the Post story, with Compagno claiming “America's heroes are now paying the price” for the “Southern border crisis.” McEnany lamented, “I can't help but notice the contrast when you have a 24-year-old — a veteran, had been in Afghanistan — kicked out of his hotel room as an Afghan national on the terror watchlist is crossing the border in San Diego.”Fox anchor Martha MacCallum complained, “You’ve got the hotels in New York that are having to take folks in. You had one in Newburgh, New York, where they had to cancel a wedding and kick out some homeless veterans to make room for incoming migrants.” (Unlike the homeless veterans hoax, other outlets have confirmed the reported wedding cancellations.) Fox host Sean Hannity said, “Let’s get some facts out so Joe Biden can understand what is really going on,” before proclaiming: “This is pretty infuriating, homeless vets who served our great country, they’re being put out on the street and replaced by illegal immigrants.” As he said this, Hannity displayed the headline of a article which stated: “Biden admin, NY officials slammed after homeless veterans booted from migrant hotels: ‘Slap in the face.’” (After local news outlets debunked the false story, this article was completely changed to reflect the debunk, with an editor’s note added to the bottom).Fox Business anchor and noted election conspiracy theorist Maria Bartiromo introduced this fake story to Fox’s sister network during an interview with Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY). During the segment, Bartiromo slipped and said: “It's incredible that the vets are being killed — kicked out, so that there's room for illegals.”
  • May 16

    On May 16, another Fox correspondent, this time Nate Foy, said that Fox had “confirmed” that the fake story was true: “I can confirm those 20 veterans are staying at a different hotel, and a handful of them are on their way to permanent housing.”Later on The Ingraham Angle, David Riley, an American Legion representative in New York, joined host Laura Ingraham in expressing outrage over the fake Post story. Ingraham claimed homeless veterans were being treated as “second-class citizens” by supposedly being kicked out of hotels. During Riley’s angry ranting about the fake story, Fox aired b-roll video prominently showing the front of the Crossroads Hotel.Cavuto also continued to feature the fake story on his Fox Business program, where on-air graphics claimed, “Homeless vets booted from hotels to house migrants,” and, “Nearly two dozen homeless vets removed from hotels.”
  • May 17

    The hoax story continued to be told on several Fox programs on May 17, including for the first time on the network’s flagship “news” show, Special Report. On the program, Foy said that the office of New York City Mayor Eric Adams “denies removing homeless U.S. veterans from an Orange County hotel to accommodate migrants.”That night, the Mid Hudson Newspublished its first report debunking the New York Post’s story. Toney-Finch, who was the Post’s source for its story, had provided a credit card receipt for room charges at the Crossroads Hotel as proof that her organization paid for homeless veterans to stay there before they were supposedly displaced. But the Mid Hudson News determined that the receipt was a forgery, and a manager at the hotel said there was no record of that transaction. The newspaper further reported that “the manager said there were no veterans at the hotel, none were kicked out and no other guests were told to vacate. The hotel does have a group of asylum seekers there, but the seven-year general manager noted that the hotel is not even booked to capacity and rooms are available.”
  • May 18

    The day after the Mid Hudson News debunked this story, and hours after the newspaper published follow-up reporting on the hoax, Fox continued to air the fake story as if it was true. On Fox News Tonight, Riverhead, New York, Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said: “In particular, what’s really, really disturbing … was that in the Crossroads Hotel in Orange County, he [Mayor Eric Adams] made a deal with the hotel. They took 25 local area residents who were homeless, who needed this shelter, put them out on the street to house people that have come in over our borders.” Cain, who was hosting the show, did not correct her.
  • May 19

    On May 19, Mid Hudson Newspublished another story further debunking this hoax, reporting that a group of 15 local homeless men were recruited by Toney-Finch “to pretend they were veterans that had been kicked out of the Crossroads Hotel in the Town of Newburgh last Friday, in advance of the arrival of migrants brought up from New York City.” The newspaper reported that “they were each promised $200 along with food and alcohol” by Toney-Finch, who “appear[s] to have fabricated the entire story.”
  • Hours later, Fox began to admit that the story it promoted was fake. Fox correspondent Nate Foy, who previously claimed to have “confirmed” the story, offered what he described as a “quick update,” stating: “We’re now looking into new reports that a veterans advocate misled lawmakers, and media outlets, about a story that some homeless men may have been hired to pose as veterans.” Anchor John Roberts responded: “There’s enough chaos without potentially false stories running around out there.” Indeed.
  • Later that night, Ingraham offered her own “little update” on the hoax she had been promoting: “Before we go, a little update on a story we brought you this week about homeless vets being displaced from hotels so that illegals could move in. Turns out, the group behind the claim made it up. We have no clue as to why anyone would do such a thing.”
  • A Media Matters review determined that Fox News and Fox Business had devoted more than an hour of combined airtime to the promotion of this hoax prior to starting these corrections.The same night, The Daily Beast also published an exposé of Sharon Toney-Finch, the veteran and advocate who fabricated the story, which she fed to the New York Post and other media outlets. The Beast reported that she may have lied about her own military record and decorations:

The woman at the center of the maelstrom is Sharon Toney-Finch, who was inducted last July into the New York State Senate Veterans’ Hall of Fame after a special salute by lawmakers for her service. She is listed in the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor, has been the subject of glowing profiles about her heroism under fire, and once appeared on Fox & Friends to unveil a set of Purple Heart commemorative coins. On May 16, New York State Sen. Rob Rolison, a former police officer, honored Toney-Finch as a “woman of distinction,” making special note of her Purple Heart.[...]However, U.S. Army spokesman Bryce Dubee told The Daily Beast on Friday that the Department of Defense does not know anything about Toney-Finch and a Purple Heart.[...]Officials with the Army’s Human Resources Command told the Times-Union on Friday that they, too, were “unable to verify (from our records) that Sharon Toney received a Purple Heart.”

  • May 20

    On May 20, one week after Fox & Friends Weekend co-host Pete Hegseth, who is himself a decorated U.S. Army veteran, kicked off Fox’s promotion of this hoax by holding up the front page of the New York Post, he made a seemingly sincere apology and used the word “correction”: “We do have a quick correction on a story we brought you last weekend. The source who told the New York Post, get this one, that the homeless veterans in New York were displaced to make room for illegals at another New York hotel, made the story up. It was a made-up story. And our apologies for reporting it as such.”
  • May 21

    New York Mayor Eric Adams called out the hoax during an appearance on CBS’ Face The Nation on May 21, saying: “We have witnessed in some municipalities where they lied and stated that veterans were being forced out of hotels, which was untrue and found out to be fabricated. So, these types of tactics are just anti-American and anti-New York City.”And on CNN, anchor Jim Acosta and national correspondent Gloria Pazmino highlighted the “very disturbing story” of the homeless men hired to pose as displaced veterans, describing the allegations as “a complete scam.”
  • May 22

    On May 22, MSNBC host Chris Hayes ran a comprehensive segment calling out Fox News for claiming it had “confirmed” the false story, in the context of its recent $787.5 million defamation settlement in the Dominion case, as well as the long line of Republican politicians ranging from the local to national levels who pushed the hoax. He ended by mocking Ingraham’s contention that “we have no clue as to why anyone would do such a thing” like making up a story.“Why would anyone want to make up a story that’s too good to check, but plays directly into the most deranged bias of your conservative audience?” Hayes opined. “I can’t imagine Fox News airing those kinds of lies, but I guess there’s a first time for everything.”
  • May 24

    Multiple Fox News anchors and other on-air personalities, including Cavuto, Bartiromo, Faulkner, and others read a nearly-identical script, again described as an “update” rather than a correction or retraction, specifically naming the Crossroads Hotel and acknowledging that the story was false. They also gave a disingenuous promise to provide viewers more information “as we get it,” ignoring the extensive information already uncovered in the last week by both local and national news outlets. This script also ignored that they smeared migrants by pushing this fake story in the previous week.

TODD PIRO (CO-HOST): We want to update you on reports last week claiming that upstate hotels in Orange and Rockland counties, including the Crossroads Hotel, evicted a group of homeless veterans. We've since learned that veterans advocates misled local officials, and it now turns out those eviction claims were false. We wanted to update you on this story and make sure the record was set straight. More as we get it.

It turns out that the Crossroads Hotel that Fox repeatedly attacked in its promotion of this hoax, and which is prominently mentioned in the weirdly scripted corrections on May 24, is owned by Choice Hotels, which is an advertiser on Fox.

Fox News was effectively smearing one of its own advertisers by promoting a hoax that was reportedly followed by death threats.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Tucker Carlson

Why Fox's Carlson Is Promoting Fringe Presidential Candidates

Fox News prime-time star Tucker Carlson interviewed talk radio host Larry Elder yesterday, providing a platform for the previously failed political candidate to launch a seemingly improbable 2024 presidential campaign. But while Elder has virtually no chance of winning the Republican nomination away from disgraced former President Donald Trump, the real mission here may be for Fox News to recruit and promote its own pet candidates.

Elder previously ran for governor of California in the 2021 recall election, during which his long history of far-right political stances and election denial conspiracy theories helped to push incumbent Gov. Gavin Newsom to a landslide Democratic victory.

Against that backdrop, Carlson introduced his guest on April 20: “He just ran for governor of California in a recall election against Gavin Newsom. He came up short after the state's media united to call him a white supremacist. Still makes us laugh. It’s pretty offensive, actually. But he is not deterred. He has a major announcement for us tonight.”

While it’s certainly odd that a man who declined to run again for governor in 2022 would turn around and claim to be running a viable presidential campaign in 2024, on closer examination this fits well into a pattern of Fox serving as a platform for fringe candidates this year.

The network has remained primarily loyal to Trump, but Fox has also clearly been flirting with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as a possible alternative. In that context, the network’s cultivation of other vanity candidates has a familiar air to it. Fox is essentially working to control the political discourse, with some similarities to the way in which a dictatorial regime puts up its own controlled opposition parties which continue to praise the regime’s party line.

In essence, by cultivating the crop of would-be presidential challengers, Fox is serving as an apparatus of the Republican Party itself, while also asserting its own political control. (One thing that has definitely become clear, is that Fox News is not in the journalism business.)

Carlson’s broadcasts also combine this pattern of controlled political opposition with a possible agenda to advance his own political power. In comparison to fellow Fox prime-time host Sean Hannity, who had been a longtime Republican operative and close Trump adviser, Carlson’s efforts to dictate the Republican political agenda have met with less electoral success.

As such, Carlson’s work thus far in reaching out to presidential candidates has been a mix of elevating fringe candidates while also getting more potentially serious candidates to adopt his fringe positions.

On the February 21 edition of his show, Carlson hosted frequent Fox guest Vivek Ramaswamy to announce his Republican presidential campaign. This in turn kicked off a wider Fox News tour for the right-wing gadfly, who Carlson praised as “one of the great talkers we've ever had.” (Since then, Ramaswamy’s campaign has raised less than $1 million from people other than himself.)

On the March 13 edition of his show, Carlson explained that he had sent a questionnaire to potential presidential candidates, seeking for them to parrot his own pro-Russian talking points against supporting Ukraine. DeSantis took up Carlson’s invitation with the most gusto, describing Russia’s war of conquest against a neighboring country as a “territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia.” This was seemingly a major get for Carlson — but then it triggered such a wider uproar that DeSantis tried to walk it back.

This past Wednesday, Carlson also hosted fellow anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist Robert Kennedy Jr., with whom he has a long history going back years, and who has launched a spoiler campaign in the Democratic presidential primary. Carlson sang Kennedy’s praises while alleging a vast corporate conspiracy to silence the fringe candidate. “He’s not running to get rich. He's running to make things better, but he’s not allowed to have those conversations. He’s been censored,” Calson claimed. “Other media won’t even talk to him — he criticized their advertisers.” Carlson further described Kennedy as “Joe Biden's leading primary opponent.” (A poll published by USA Today to coincide with Kennedy's announcement showed him trailing Biden by a substantial margin among 2020 Democratic voters: 67 percent to 14 percent.)

Carlson has also developed a close relationship with the House Republican leadership, crafting revisionist propaganda in support of the far right’s assault on American democracy. Combined with his hosting of vanity presidential candidates, Carlson is seemingly throwing everything at the wall in the hopes that whatever does stick will serve to elevate his twisted political agenda.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Fox News

New Tapes: Trump Campaign Directed Bartiromo To Push January 6 (VIDEO)

New audio revealed as part of Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News — which Fox allegedly failed to provide to Dominion in the discovery process — shows how Fox News and Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo took directives from the Trump campaign to promote the campaign’s plan to overturn the 2020 presidential election results on January 6, 2021.

The new evidence was revealed by former Fox producer Abby Grossberg as part of her separate lawsuit against the network for allegedly setting her and Bartiromo up as scapegoats for Fox’s clear pattern of spreading lies and conspiracy theories about the 2020 election. While the paper trail released so far in the case shows that Grossberg herself promoted conspiracy theories in the pursuit of ratings, she has also brought forward additional evidence that has already produced big legal results in the Dominion case. The judge in the case reportedly sanctioned Fox on Wednesday for failing to turn over Grossberg’s audio recordings in a move that will give Dominion an opportunity to conduct further legal discovery at Fox’s expense.

On Wednesday night, MSNBC host Alex Wagner played exclusive audio excerpts from the key pieces of evidence that Grossberg had preserved and Fox had allegedly withheld from Dominion, including a phone call on November 8, 2020, in which then-Trump campaign attorney Rudy Giuliani admitted that he did not have evidence for his outlandish claims about Dominion. (Bartiromo and other Fox hosts continued to host Giuliani, anyway.) In another phone call, from December 5, 2020, an unnamed Trump campaign official admitted that Georgia’s statewide recount of ballots was “pretty darn close to what the machine count was,” and that the secretary of state’s office found that “that there weren’t any physical issues” with the voting machines. In a key piece of audio that Wagner played Wednesday night, the Trump campaign official also gave one of the earliest signals that the campaign intended to use the January 6, 2021, joint session of Congress in an attempt to overturn the election results, and that then-Vice President Mike Pence would supposedly “have to decide” which votes to count.

In another key section from the December 5, 2020, phone call that Grossberg’s lawyer provided to Wagner, the unnamed Trump campaign official suggested that media outlets should cover this date as a supposed milestone for determining the election — indeed, this had been his entire purpose for getting on this phone call.

Bartiromo immediately picked up on the Trump campaign’s instruction. On both her weekday morning Fox Business show, as well as her Sunday show on Fox News that Grossberg regularly produced, Bartiromo pushed the January 6 date many, many times, furthering the Trump campaign’s efforts to move the goal posts from its many legal and electoral defeats. These examples included instances in which Bartiromo either mentioned the date first, or she was clearly teeing up the guest to talk about the date, which Bartiromo depicted as an alleged point in time when Congress or Pence could realistically overturn the election.

  • On December 8, 2020, which was known as the “safe harbor” date against any legal challenges for the election results, Bartiromo hosted then-Trump campaign attorney Jenna Ellis, asking her, “So what do you see as, you know, today's date in terms of the safe harbor date? How does that complicate your challenges?” Ellis responded that “the ultimate date of significance is January 6,” which she said justified the campaign’s continued litigation. This was three days after Bartiromo’s call with the Trump campaign official. [Fox Business, Mornings with Maria Bartiromo, 12/8/20]
  • On the December 13 edition of her Sunday show, Bartiromo hosted Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), asking him, “I want you to walk us through what happens on January 6,” which she described as “another date, as we approach a potential transition” of the presidency. Jordan then described the efforts that congressional Republicans would make to object to the election results, in order to prevent the “potential transition” that Bartiromo had described. [Fox News, Sunday Morning Futures, 12/13/20]
  • On December 14, the date when the Electoral College delegates voted across the country, Bartiromo hosted then-House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. “What's your take on where we are?” she asked. “Is it the end of the line now for the president's campaign to stop and overturn this election as the Electoral College will meet, or are you looking at January 6 as a pivotal date or what?” [Fox Business, Mornings with Maria Bartiromo, 12/14/20]
  • The next day, December 15, Bartiromo read a news headline about the Electoral College results. Following a video clip of President-elect Joe Biden calling for the country “to unite, to heal,” Bartiromo said in a seeming rebuttal: “The next major step in the election process is on January 6. This is the date we are looking forward to, when Vice President Mike Pence is going to preside over the joint session of Congress while they officially tabulate the electoral votes.” [Fox Business, Mornings with Maria Bartiromo, 12/15/20]
  • On December 18, Bartiromo hosted former pro football player and future Republican U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker and his son, right-wing social media personality Christian Walker. Bartiromo played a video clip that Christian Walker had posted in which he declared, “The electors might have cast their votes today. They're not counted until January 6, when Congress meets. … This isn’t over yet.” Bartiromo responded: “I just love that.” [Fox Business, Mornings with Maria Bartiromo, 12/18/20]
  • On December 20, Bartiromo hosted Herschel and Christian Walker again on her Sunday show, once again praising Christian Walker’s online video and telling him, “You were basically underlining Section 1, Article 2 in the Constitution.” After Christian declared on “January 6, the vice president will count the votes,” Bartiromo did not challenge the apparent contention that Pence could determine the election results, but instead just praised Christian further: “Yes, and that's pretty much what you said on Instagram, which was great. It went viral.” [Fox News, Sunday Morning Futures, 12/20/20]
  • On the January 3, 2021, edition of her Sunday show — the weekend prior to the joint session of Congress — Bartiromo hosted multiple Republican members of Congress who were planning to challenge the election results. At the conclusion of one segment, she remarked to Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL): “If you're going to object to six states, and then you’ve got a two-hour debate, we’re not going to learn the results here until — well, we're not going to learn on January 6, that’s for sure. This goes into January 7.” (The electoral votes were indeed certified after midnight, under what had become truly unprecedented circumstances.) [Fox News, Sunday Morning Futures, 1/3/21]

The manner in which Grossberg has sought to substantiate the main claim in her lawsuit against Fox — that the network was allegedly setting up her and Bartiromo to take a fall in the Dominion lawsuit — is turning out to be a very strange thing indeed. Fox executives must bear ultimate responsibility for the lies the network helped to spread, but at the same time the new evidence that Grossberg has brought to bear in this case makes Bartiromo look worse and worse by revealing more of her reckless on-air behavior and coordination with the Trump campaign’s effort to subvert a national election result.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

CNN Aired Almost All Of Trump's Mendacious Mar-A-Lago Rally (VIDEO)

CNN Aired Almost All Of Trump's Mendacious Mar-A-Lago Rally (VIDEO)

On the evening following former President Donald Trump’s arraignment in New York City over hush money payments he arranged involving two women and a building doorman during his 2016 campaign, CNN provided the disgraced former president virtually unchecked airtime to spread a litany of lies to its audience.

CNN went live to Mar-a-Lago at 8:22 p.m. ET, followed by a straight feed for several minutes of Trump taking the stage to the cheers of the crowd, before he began his speech at 8:25 p.m. The network then carried Trump’s rambling speech directly for 23 minutes and 21 seconds of its 24 minute and 55 second total runtime, as he insulted the judge in the New York case as well as his family, continued pushing conspiracy theories claiming that the 2020 election was stolen from him, and personally attacked the prosecutors investigating him or his businesses in multiple other cases, accusing Black prosecutors of being “racist” and “racist in reverse.”

As Trump meandered through his prepared remarks, claiming “the USA is a mess” and attacking President Joe Biden, the network finally cut away as the clock turned 8:49 p.m. CNN anchor Anderson Cooper pitched his first question after the speech to former Trump strategic communications director Alyssa Farah Griffin, asking her about Trump’s continued dominance of the Republican Party.

CNN chose to air almost the entirety of Trump’s lie-filled Mar-a-Lago

ANDERSON COOPER (CNN ANCHOR): I mean, this is a reprise of — we were waiting for him to talk about what happened today, he finally talked about it a little bit at the end there, and now we’re cutting out of it, but a reprise of pretty much every grievance. If you were a Republican who cares about the Republican Party and the future of the Republican Party, and you are watching this tonight, realizing this man now may be more powerful in the Republican Party than he was yesterday, or at least a little bit more safe in the Republican Party than it was yesterday. What’s going through your mind?

Ten minutes later, CNN anchor Jake Tapper offered up the network’s rationale for why it had provided so much free airtime to Trump’s conspiratorial stump speech.

“We felt that it was important after a day in which we were bringing you news of his arrest and arraignments that we allow the president — the former president — to give his view of the proceeding,” Tapper said. “And then obviously, it was somewhat incoherent and then began turning into a campaign event, at which point we cut away.”

Earlier in the hour, MSNBC demonstrated how a news outlet should handle candidate Trump’s live appearances, when anchor Rachel Maddow explained that Trump was expected to be “just giving his normal list of grievances” and repeating his other lies. “We don't consider that necessarily newsworthy, and there's a cost to us as a news organization of knowingly broadcasting untrue things,” Maddow said.

The host then explained what the network would do, in case Trump actually said something important: “So, our deal with you is that we will monitor these remarks. If he does say anything newsworthy, we will turn them around and report on that right away. But for now, just know that it's happening and we're not taking it.”

CNN provided free airtime for a belligerent address by a politician under multiple criminal investigations who already once incited an attack on the U.S. Capitol, and then patted itself on the back for cutting away eventually.

fox conspiracy

Newest Fox Conspiracy: Bragg Indicted Trump To Boost Nomination (VIDEO)

Fox News has gone to the barricades to defend disgraced former President Donald Trump since his indictment over hush money payments made to porn actor Stormy Daniels in 2016, depicting Trump as the people’s hero against an insidious conspiracy. But some on Fox seem to be grappling with the possibility that they could get stuck with a damaged Republican presidential nominee as a result of this indictment, and potential future indictments as well.

Keep in mind that the network has also flirted with backing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for president in 2024, and may want to keep its options open. One possible solution: Float an idea to its viewers that if they rally around Trump, they might really be falling into a Democratic trap.

The first inkling of this idea came last week on the March 30 edition of Fox Business’ The Bottom Line, when co-host and former Republican Rep. Sean Duffy stated that while he agreed the indictment would help Trump “in the Republican primary,” he also wondered, “What impact does this have on the broader race for president should Donald Trump be the Republican nominee?”

Fox News contributor Ben Domenech recommended that Trump “needs to be able to have a plan that says law enforcement in America does not have the trust anymore of a bipartisan, a broad swath of the American people,” and run on a plan of “broad-based reforms” on behalf of all Americans.

The alternative is, Domenech said, “Just running on a victimhood complex, that may work within the context of a Republican primary but I don't think it is going to sell in a general election.”

The discussion became more blunt on that night’s edition of Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle. During a discussion falsely claiming that the indictment was supposedly an attempt to distract from real alleged scandals involving President Joe Biden’s son Hunter’s business dealings, frequent guest and New York Post columnist Miranda Devine segued to an outright declaration that Trump was now “very damaged goods for the general election.”

On Friday morning, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy pondered the fact that Trump’s poll numbers with Republican primary voters had only been going up as he spoke about the impending indictment. “So, I think there are some Democratic Party bosses who are thinking, all right, let’s make Donald Trump a martyr,” Doocy said. “This is just my crazy theory. Let's make him a martyr, he will win the primary but ultimately he’ll lose the general.”

That same morning, America's Newsroom co-anchor Bill Hemmer also pointed to what he called a “conventional wisdom starting to settle in over the last 12 hours” that “an indictment strengthens Trump's possibilities of getting the Republican nomination, but hurts his chances in a general election against Biden.” Co-anchor Shannon Bream also chimed in: “Well, and we saw yesterday on The View, Joy Behar said, ‘We Democrats want him.’ I mean, she made it very clear, ‘We definitely want him because we think he’s the most beatable.’” Bream then declared that Behar had “said the quiet part out loud.”

Later that morning on Fox News’ sister channel, Fox Business host Stuart Varney said, “A lot of people tell me that this indictment will solidify Trump's base, and maybe expand Trump's base, so that when we get to the primaries, Trump wins,” but then, “when you get to the general, he might not win because he's unpopular personally.”

Fox host Steve Hilton replied that if the indictment indeed helps Trump win the nomination, he should then “focus on the issues that Americans care about,” rather than fixating on his own perceived persecution. “You have to focus on the policy agenda that they want to see.”

That night on Fox Business’ WSJ At Large with Gerry Baker, The Hill columnist Kristin Tate declared that the indictment was a Democratic effort to boost Trump to the nomination — thinking he will lose with independent voters who “already think Trump is too bombastic and unstable,” stating matter-of-factly, “This is the plan, they want Trump to be the nominee; the last thing they want is to run against Ron DeSantis.”

“Okay, I think that’s probably right,” guest-host and Wall Street Journal editor James Freeman replied. “At the margin, probably helps Trump in the primary, but probably hurts him if he ends up being the general election candidate.”

Then on Saturday, April 1, Fox Business senior correspondent Charlie Gasparino further boosted the claim, citing unnamed donors, during an appearance on Fox News: “If you believe the donor class and their semi-conspiracy theory — I quite don't think it's that much of a conspiracy — but the theory here: Alvin Bragg politically played this brilliantly. He literally took a Republican Party that was, you know, maybe going to have a little in-fight between Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis, and best man wins. He took it and turned it upside down.”

On Monday morning, Fox News contributor and Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen declared on America’s Newsroom: “The indictment will help Donald Trump win the nomination, and it’ll help Democrats win the presidency. That’s why they are happy about it.”

Thiessen claimed that “a majority of Republicans want someone else to be the nominee, but even Republicans who are open to another candidate don't want to see their country turn into a banana republic where we weaponize the justice system to go against our political opponents.”

Thiessen further declared that “Joe Biden is the worst president in my lifetime,” and that the election “should be about how do we get rid of this administration, and replace it with a responsible conservative alternative.” (One would think that the previous president who attempted a coup d’etat would be considered the worst president in Thiessen’s lifetime.)

At around the same time, on Fox Business, Varney was inquiring once again about how “conventional wisdom right now says Trump will win the primaries, then lose the general.”

Fox News contributor Karl Rove replied: “I think that's a right conventional wisdom for now, but a lot of things are going to happen in the nine months left in this year.” To be exact, Rove predicted that Trump’s legal problems could get even worse, moving beyond just the New York case involving hush payments to an alleged mistress, and to more serious cases such as his reportedly lying to the federal government about his handling of classified documents.

“This is causing a rally-around-the-flag moment for the former president,” Rove said, before concluding “it is adding no support whatsoever” from 2020 Biden voters.

Stay tuned to see how Fox covers any potential other future indictments against Trump — perhaps involving classified documents, or the investigations of his many attempts to overturn his defeat in the 2020 election.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Martha MacCallum and  Bret Baier

Fox Anchors: Viewer Reaction, Not Accuracy, Should Dictate Election Calls

Fox News anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum argued in the weeks following the 2020 presidential election that the network should consider a “layer” beyond “statistics and numbers” when projecting the election results, and instead take into account how its conservative audience would react to the network’s calls.

The New York Timesreviewed a recording of a Zoom meeting held on November 16, 2020, over a week after the network’s decision desk had projected Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election. The article details discussions between Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott and the two purported straight news anchors on the continued political fallout over the network’s correct projection on election night that Joe Biden had won the swing state of Arizona. (Fox News later fired two key news executives who had presided over the call, which was factually correct and never reversed by any real-life developments.)

Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, the two main anchors, suggested it was not enough to call a state based on numerical calculations, the standard by which networks have made such determinations for generations, but that viewer reaction should be considered. “In a Trump environment,” Ms. MacCallum said, “the game is just very, very different.”

Ms. Scott invited Mr. Baier and Ms. MacCallum, “the face” of the network, as she called them, to describe the heat they were taking, according to the recording reviewed by The Times.

“We are still getting bombarded,” Mr. Baier said. “It became really hurtful.” He said projections were not enough to call a state when it would be so sensitive. “I know the statistics and the numbers, but there has to be, like, this other layer” so they could “think beyond, about the.”

Ms. MacCallum agreed: “There’s just obviously been a tremendous amount of backlash, which is, I think, more than any of us anticipated. And so there’s that layer between statistics and news judgment about timing that I think is a factor.” For “a loud faction of our viewership,” she said, the call was a blow.

Neither she nor Mr. Baier explained exactly what they meant by another “layer.” A person who was in the meeting and spoke on condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions said on Saturday that Mr. Baier had been talking about process because he was upset the Decision Desk had made the Arizona call without letting the anchors know first.

New York Times chief White House correspondent Peter Baker and The New Yorker staff writer Susan Glasser reported last year in their book The Divider that Baier had attempted to convince the network to retract its call of Arizona for Biden and to “put it back” as Trump winning, even though Trump trailed at the time by more than 10,000 votes.

“The Trump campaign was really pissed,” he wrote in an email to Jay Wallace, the president and executive editor at Fox. “This situation is getting uncomfortable. Really uncomfortable. I keep having to defend this on air.” He accused the Decision Desk of “holding on for pride” and added: “It’s hurting us. The sooner we pull it—even if it gives us major egg [on our faces]—and we put it back in his column the better we are in my opinion.

By the time of the Zoom meeting on November 16, there could not have been any remaining doubt over the fundamental accuracy of the Arizona call. Baier and MacCallum, however, were still arguing that it had been a political mistake for the network to be first on the air with this truthful story.

This newest reporting further reveals the extent to which Fox does not have a “straight news” side, but instead is just another cog in a right-wing propaganda machine. This story must also be considered in the context of revelations from Dominion Voting Systems’ ongoing defamation lawsuit against Fox, which reveals that Fox Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch and other key executives knew that the Trump campaign’s conspiracy theories about massive electoral fraud were indeed false, but that the network continued to push them in the pursuit of profit.

In the two-week period after the Fox News decision desk had declared Joe Biden the president-elect, the network’s coverage undermined that projection by questioning the results of the election or pushing conspiracy theories at least 774 times.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Mainstream Media Outlets Echo Right-Wing Hysteria Over Chinese Balloon

Mainstream Media Outlets Echo Right-Wing Hysteria Over Chinese Balloon

Several mainstream media outlets are echoing the Republican Party’s preferred alarmism against the Biden administration, over an apparent Chinese surveillance balloon that transited American airspace over the weekend, which the military took down safely and with seemingly no harm done to American national security.

Officials at the Department of Defense confirmed last Thursday that the military had been tracking the balloon, following reports that it had been spotted by the public. The officials also explained that the balloon had “limited” capability to gather any intelligence that China couldn’t already have gotten via spy satellites. After an American fighter jet shot the balloon down off the coast of South Carolina on Saturday, President Joe Biden publicly announced that he had ordered on Wednesday, after a briefing, that the balloon be taken down “as soon as possible.”

Pentagon officials delayed such action, however, until it could be done safely and away from any area where civilians could be harmed by crashing debris. U.S. and Canadian defense authorities also worked together to safeguard military assets across the balloon’s flight path. (The U.S. Navy is working now to recover the crashed debris.)

Mainstream media outlets, however, are struggling to maintain any sense of perspective or to calm the public’s nerves despite all of the available facts.

On Sunday’s edition of Meet the Press, NBC News chief Washington correspondent Andrea Mitchell said the attitude now in Congress was “reminiscent of the Cold War, the ‘Evil Empire,’” and faulted the Biden administration for not “sending out someone with a lot of metal on his chest, like a Colin Powell, Desert Storm,” to explain the entire situation — when in fact the Pentagon did hold a briefing with a military officer matching that exact description.

“It was a general nobody had known,” moderator Chuck Todd clarified, apparently referring to Department of Defense press secretary and Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder. “I mean, no offense to that general. But it was — it wasn’t the chairman of the joint chiefs.”

In response, Mitchell incorrectly claimed that the Pentagon spokesperson was “not military” and “now a press spokesperson, so he’s a public affairs official.” This mistake was especially glaring considering the fact that Mitchell covered the Friday, February 3 press conference live on-air for MSNBC. (It is also conceivable that Mitchell was mixing up Ryder with retired Rear Adm. John Kirby, a former Pentagon press secretary who now serves on the National Security Council, and not to Gen. Ryder.)

And while acknowledging the government’s ability to disrupt the balloon’s communications, Mitchell approvingly cited the idea that “we have to develop technology to take something out like this without worrying about debris falling.” Mitchell did not elaborate on how the military might someday be able to fire at a balloon without debris from either itself or a missile then falling to the ground from greater heights than regular air travel.

Moderator Chuck Todd replied, “They tested our, essentially, our electric fence.”

Likewise, CNN senior political reporter Stephen Collinson wrote an online piece titled “Why the Chinese balloon crisis could be a defining moment in the new Cold War.” While the balloon presented a “comparatively low-tech, modest security threat” in comparison to every other aspect of geopolitical intrigue, Collinson wrote that it had “created a sudden moment when the idea of a threat by China to the US homeland was neither distant, theoretical, unseen, or years in the future.”

“This all left President Joe Biden in a deeply vulnerable position as his Republican critics pounced,” Collinson pronounced dramatically.

Politico’s morning Playbook newsletter featured the headline “China deflates Biden’s SOTU swagger,” further declaring that Democrats were “eager for Biden to highlight a resilient economy and paint a sharp contrast with Hill Republicans while millions of voters tune in to watch. And yet, thanks to the balloon saga, it’s the GOP that’s relishing the chance to differentiate itself this week.”

The newsletter also uncritically carried Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s claim that Biden had “missed the opportunity to defend our sovereignty, send a message of strength, and bolster deterrence.” But separately, Politico had already reported that U.S. officials were working since last Tuesday to prevent the balloon from actually being able to collect any sensitive security information, thus making McConnell’s statement false and irrelevant.

Axios ran a similar take, outlining that Biden was preparing a speech that “takes credit for a resilient economy, celebrates record-low unemployment, and previews a broader domestic agenda designed to unify the country. … Now, a balloon from China has complicated that.”

“The president's challenge is to signal to Beijing that violating America’s airspace won’t be tolerated,” Axios wrote, “while also convincing Americans — and skeptical Republicans — that he did enough to protect U.S. airspace.” (Axios has known for well over a year that Republicans were planning a series of politically motivated investigations of the White House, yet the outlet still treats “skeptical Republicans” as an audience that Biden should somehow win over.)

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Why Biden And Pence Document Cases Shouldn't Deter Trump Prosecution (VIDEO)

Why Biden And Pence Document Cases Shouldn't Deter Trump Prosecution (VIDEO)

Several mainstream media outlets are manufacturing a political narrative that the discovery of classified documents at the homes of both President Joe Biden and former Vice President Mike Pence should alleviate pressure on disgraced former President Donald Trump, who not only took a vast trove of federal records but also refused to give them back.

Biden and Pence have both cooperated with federal investigators to recover and return documents that belong to the government, and both situations have rekindled scrutiny at the overall system of federal document classification and retention, which appears to be in serious need of reform. Their two examples stand in stark contrast to Trump’s behavior, and possible misconduct, regarding his own handling of government records.

According to reporting, Trump repeatedly obstructed the government’s efforts to retrieve documents inappropriately removed from the White House to his home in Florida. First, his legal team tried to excuse their mishandling of records by claiming the documents had been hastily packed away after his failed coup, before they later falsely told the government that they had returned all of the documents upon request. Evidence later emerged that Trump or his team were moving documents around his estate to evade discovery, as part of Trump’s ongoing defiance of a federal subpoena to return the materials.

This was the context of events that culminated in an August 2022 search of Trump’s residence by the FBI, which recovered hundreds of classified items among thousands of other government records. Trump then responded to these events by falsely claiming the government records were his personal property and that he had actually declassified the relevant materials, as well as making multiple threats of violence via his supporters if he were ever indicted for his potentially criminal behavior.

No Reason To Be “Evenhanded” In Wildly Different Cases

CNN special correspondent Jamie Gangel, who co-authored the network’s original breaking story in the Pence case, pointed out Wednesday night on The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer that “the Justice Department, this is Merrick Garland’s Justice Department, they want to appear evenhanded, as if they are treating all of these cases the same.” However, she added: “I think it is important to remember the Donald Trump case and the Joe Biden case and the Mike Pence case are very, very different. Trump had hundreds of documents. The intent, the obstruction, not — you know, holding on to these documents — is vastly different from how the Biden team reacted and cooperated.”

The problem here is that Gangel herself, and many others in mainstream media, spent crucial time this week saying that the Biden and Pence cases may both influence the Justice Department against taking any real action against Trump.

Reporters Suggest Trump Is Now Off The Hook Legally

Gangel had previously asserted multiple times that the Pence and Biden cases together could help Trump’s legal situation, despite the clear and obvious differences. For example, Gangel appeared on the January 24 edition of CNN’s The Lead with Jake Tapper and proclaimed that “even though his situation is completely different” the disgraced ex-president would gain some legal cover from the discovery of documents at Pence’s home.

Gangel later appeared during The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, where both she and CNN chief national affairs analyst Kasie Hunt discussed the key differences of Trump’s obstruction versus Pence’s and Biden’s cooperation. “What we've seen thus far with both Biden and with Pence is vastly different from Donald Trump,” Gangel said, “who at the very least seemed to want to take all of these things as souvenirs or for whatever, and then wouldn’t give them back.”

But later that night, appearing on Anderson Cooper 360, Gangel again said that these developing stories could help Trump, even as she reiterated his pattern of obstruction: “He clearly wanted to keep those things as souvenirs or for whatever and fought giving them back. But it may help him legally. So, you know, the issue of intent, which we've looked at with Trump. It just may be that Merrick Garland decides that there are so many of these cases that the Justice Department may decide not to bring charges.”

Gangel is not alone among CNN commentators promoting this argument. Former Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Tom Dupree said Tuesday that for the special counsels in both the Trump and Biden cases, “I don't see how you can help but factor in what’s going on with Pence as a calculus in your determination” as to whether to recommend criminal charges, adding, “Any distinctions among the situations of the three main players, I think are going to be lost on a large fraction of the American public.” (Dupree's assessment that the public won’t understand the basic differences in these three cases could be read as a stinging indictment of the reporting provided by CNN and other news outlets.)

CNN political analyst Margaret Talev also proclaimed, “I think, Pence revelations aside, the drip, drip of the Biden discoveries does defuse this issue, takes it off the table as a real weapon to use against Trump.” (Talev never actually explained why the Biden situation would act as a buffer for Trump.)

The New York Times also ran an article Tuesday comparing the Biden and Trump cases, effectively disregarding the relevant facts that distinguish them.

Times chief White House correspondent Peter Baker noted that the “cases are markedly different in their particulars, as has been noted repeatedly,” contrasting Biden’s cooperation with Trump’s obstruction. He continued, however: “But they are similar enough that as a practical matter Democrats can no longer use the issue against Mr. Trump politically, and investigators may have a harder time prosecuting him criminally.”

After proclaiming that the Biden case would neutralize any political attacks against Trump, the article briefly mentioned the emerging Pence case, arguing that people following the news would be led to believe misbehavior on the scale we saw from Trump was commonplace: “The public perception that everyone does it will only be fueled by the latest discovery of classified documents at the Indiana home of former Vice President Mike Pence.”

As the Pence story further developed on Tuesday, The Associated Press joined the chorus of false equivalency, misleadingly claiming “While a very different case, the Pence development could bolster the arguments of Trump and Biden, who have sought to downplay the significance of the discoveries at their homes.”

Yet another AP article Wednesday morning sought to present a further false equivalence of scandals between the Trump and Biden camps, even as it included the glaring differences:

Trump, a Republican, took it as an affront that the government came searching his quarters for classified material he wasn’t supposed to have, even though he fought efforts to reclaim them for months, and the government was forced to issue a subpoena to get them. Aides to Biden, a Democrat, say they cooperated quickly and fully when such material was found at a former office in Washington, though they waited for months to make public what had happened.

The obvious fact should be that the Pence and Biden cases are more alike, and in turn both are “very different” from Trump’s situation.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Reject Political Media Mythology: Debt Ceiling Rise Isn't A 'Credit Card'

Reject Political Media Mythology: Debt Ceiling Rise Isn't A 'Credit Card'

With Republicans once again setting the stage for gridlock in Congress over raising the U.S. Treasury's statutory debt limit, and using interviews to push disingenuous analogies comparing the federal government’s budgeting practices to that of an average American household. The real danger is that mainstream media could fall for this misleading comparison and pressure Democrats into enacting painful cuts to popular social programs, while also letting Republicans off the hook for their role in manufacturing this crisis in the first place.

These comparisons between federal and household budgets go back many years, and they ignore some glaring differences: Unlike a household or business, the U.S. government issues its own currency and can roll over its own debt. The political utility of this comparison, however, is that it has enabled conservatives to target social programs, while they avoid answering for their own role in running up the public debt through unfunded tax cuts under Republican administrations.

Deceptive “credit card” analogy distracts from GOP’s role in running up deficits

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) appeared on the January 15 edition of Fox News’ Sunday Morning Futures in an interview designed to excuse his party’s role in manufacturing a crisis, by accusing President Joe Biden and Democrats of wasteful spending akin to running up credit card debt.

“So, what I really think we would do is treat this like we would treat our own household,” McCarthy said. “If you had a child, you gave them a credit card, and they kept hitting the limit, you wouldn't just keep increasing it. You would first see, what are you spending your money on? How can we cut items out?”

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) appeared on the January 22 edition of Sunday Morning Futures and also blamed Biden singularly for the levels of U.S. debt, using the credit card comparison. In outlining this flawed analogy, Scalise also gave away the political game by describing what he thinks should happen next.

“And so what happened is the credit cards are maxed out. That's basically how you hit the debt ceiling. It's the ability to print more money. And that expires when you hit the debt ceiling,” Scalise said. “And so the only way to address it is to control spending or to increase the debt ceiling, or a combination of the two.” (Scalise left out the obvious third possibility — of undoing the Trump tax cuts for the wealthy — while instead pushing an agenda to go after important government programs.)

Other elected Republicans have continued pushing this deceitful analogy via Fox News, including Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) on the January 22 edition of Fox News Sunday.

As others have pointed out, McCarthy did not have a similar zeal for obstructing routine debt limit increases during the Trump administration, when he voted to extend the debt limit during unified Republican control of government, and later supported a deal between a Democratic-led House and a Republican president to suspend the limit. This all occurred against the backdrop of congressional Republicans helping Trump balloon the national debt and budget deficit through unpopular tax cuts benefiting America's wealthiest families and corporations.

But going beyond the point of hypocrisy, this false comparison enables other bad messaging and both-sides comparisons, which falsely equate congressional Republicans taking the economy hostage through debt ceiling brinkmanship with Democrats opposing the act of hostage-taking.

McCarthy's own “credit card” analogy doesn’t make any sense

Earlier this month on Peacock’s The Mehdi Hasan Show, Stony Brook University economics professor Stephanie Kelton explained why the federal debt ceiling is not remotely the same as a personal credit card limit — and just how nonsensical and potentially catastrophic the whole arrangement really is.

STEPHANIE KELTON (ECONOMICS PROFESSOR, STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY): We know that the limit on our credit card is imposed by the lender, right? It’s the lender who says, “I’m going to limit the amount of charges that I’m willing to allow you to put on the card, because I’m worried about your ability to repay the loan.” Now, the debt ceiling limit, who imposes that limit? It is not a lender; it is the borrower itself. It is the federal government, in the form of Congress, that is saying “we are self-imposing this absurd constraint.” Which, as you just said, does nothing to actually constrain spending. All it does is potentially impede the ability of the government to make the payments that Congress has already authorized.

So, the debt ceiling is a form of self-delusion and obviously the kind of thing that periodically takes us to the brink where, you know, we start to wonder whether we’re going to do something unprecedented that could create incredible chaos in the global financial system, which is to actually default on those payments.

MEHDI HASAN (HOST): And the credit card analogy is not just dumb, it doesn't even make sense. Because, what Steve Scalise is saying is, “Don't pay back your credit card bill.” That's essentially what they're saying, if they want to risk a debt default.

Last Thursday on CNN, University of Michigan economics professor Justin Wolfers also explained this distinction. He further added that to the extent that levels of public spending and debt are an issue, McCarthy and other members of Congress are the ones who should be fixing that via normal legislative processes, instead of threatening to “to punch the American people in the face” by defaulting on the government’s bills and inevitably triggering both higher interest rates and higher taxes while undermining the integrity of the entire economy.

ERICA HILL (ANCHOR): And this something I think that Speaker McCarthy was really looking to do, so he compared the debt limit to a family’s finances saying, “look, Congress at this point can’t just keep raising the government’s credit card limit.” That’s an analogy I think most Americans can understand. And it’s one you called “cute,” but you also said it’s wrong. Why doesn’t that example work here?

JUSTIN WOLFERS (ECONOMICS PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN): So, it’s wrong because the person who raises your credit card limit is the credit card company, it’s the lender. Speaker McCarthy is part of the government. The government’s the borrower. The only choice the borrower makes — and we all face it every month — is the credit card bill comes due, are you going to pay it or not?

So if Speaker McCarthy wants the U.S. government to spend less money, he needs to pass bills so that we spend less money. But right now, he’s got a credit card bill in the mail and he’s just stomping his feet and saying, “I’m not going to pay it.” This is the part, actually, where it’s a pretty good analogy. Most of your viewers know that’s a pretty bad idea, it’s a pretty good way of getting your credit cut off, raising interest rates. And what that means is if the U.S. government pays higher interest, you and I pay higher taxes.

Former Federal Reserve economist Louise Sheiner, currently a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, has also explained that the debt ceiling does not accomplish any fiscal restraint in the first place and should be abolished. “The only way to change the level of the debt is to change your tax revenues that are coming in or your spending that's going out, and that requires direct legislation on those elements,” Sheiner told KPCC radio in an interview published January 21. “And I think the evidence suggests that, really, the debt ceiling has not had a disciplinary effect on the budget. It really is used more, I think, as a political football than as a really intentional way of addressing our long-term challenges.”

Mainstream reporters mustn’t fall for the “credit card” analogy

CNN Inside Politics anchor John King ominously said Thursday, “The government’s credit card comes due, and there is no plan to pay it down.” And during a panel discussion, Tia Mitchell of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution claimed that the Biden administration was at risk of losing political support in the country because of it.

“And I think the people at home are looking at Congress — they’re not just looking at the White House, but they’re looking at Congress — and they’re saying, ‘We have to control our spending, because we only have so much we can put on our credit card. You need to do the same,’” Mitchell said. “Republicans understand that, and that’s why they want to have that conversation.”

About an hour later, CNN hosted Wolfers to explain exactly why the credit card analogy is wrong.

NBC News data reporter Brian Chung also used the credit card analogy Thursday on MSNBC: “Imagine that you have racked up $1,000 on your credit card, but you only have $800 to pay off that bill. That's the limit that we're talking about here. It's a cap on how much the government can borrow to pay its bills for spending that’s already been done, by the way, so it has nothing to do with whether money goes to defense or infrastructure, for example. … If they can’t pay its bills, then maybe they have to cut spending and funding and things like Social Security or Medicare.

NBC News senior Capitol Hill correspondent Garrett Haake also pointed out that congressional Republicans obstruct this purported credit card limit only when there is a Democratic president, not under a Republican. But the discourse is still trapped by this flawed analogy.

Update (1/23/23): This piece has been updated to include additional transcripts.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Fox Buries Bust Of New Mexico Shooting Suspect -- And His MAGA Motives

Fox Buries Bust Of New Mexico Shooting Suspect -- And His MAGA Motives

Fox News has almost completely neglected to cover breaking news developments in a series of shootings that targeted the homes of multiple Democratic officials in New Mexico, neglecting a story that would potentially call further attention to the network’s own promotion of conspiracy theories about voter fraud.

On Monday, an Albuquerque SWAT team arrested Solomon Pena, naming him as the suspected “mastermind” behind a series of drive-by shootings at the homes of four local Democratic elected officials, including two county commissioners as well as the incoming speaker of the state House. Nobody was injured in the shootings, but in one instance bullets went through the bedroom of a 10-year-old girl while she was asleep.

A crucial aspect of this story is the suspect’s alleged motive, reported by the Albuquerque Journal: Pena ran as the Republican nominee for a state legislative seat last November, losing with just 26 percent of the vote, and since then has made conspiratorial claims that the election was stolen. “Once the rigging is stopped, I will be sworn in as the State Rep for district 14,” Pena wrote in one Twitter post. He also was in Washington, D.C., on January 6, 2021, when then-President Donald Trump gathered his supporters in an attempted insurrection to overthrow the results of the 2020 election, and has since repeatedly voiced his support for Trump’s false claims about elections being stolen by Democrats.

CNN has covered the story for a total of one hour and 35 minutes over the past two days, MSNBC has covered it for a total of two hours and 20 minutes, including interviews on both networks with one of the officials whose home was shot, and who described Pena’s earlier visit to her home to complain that the election had been fraudulent. In an astonishing contrast, Fox News has covered it for a grand total of less than one minute.

Pena’s false claims of election fraud align with past messaging from Fox News personalities, from defending the January 6 insurrectionists to telling viewers not to trust the results of the 2022 midterm elections before and after Election Day.

The first mention of this story on Fox News was not even intentional: The network was carrying a live feed of White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre’s briefing with reporters, when a journalist asked a question.

Fox first purposefully included the story during a headline update on Special Report, lasting less than 30 seconds. The story received another 20 seconds of coverage on Fox News @ Night, as part of a collection of stories headlined under Fox’s misleading category “America’s Crime Crisis.” Fox mentioned in both instances that Pena had lost his campaign for the state legislature, but the network did not mention his false claims that the election was stolen, the fact that he had previously visited a county commissioner’s home to complain about the results, or his presence in Washington on the day of the January 6 insurrection.

Fox News could never admit a connection between those conspiracy theories and a rash of terrorist acts, as doing so would call into question the network’s own recent coverage. Last November, for example, prime-time host Tucker Carlson questioned the election results in Arizona, where a number of statewide Republican candidates lost their races, and declared ominously that “Americans lose their faith in their democratic system and when they lose that faith, they tend to become radical and over time, they can become dangerous.” In addition, the network’s coverage last August of the FBI search for stolen documents at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate was clearly aimed at whipping up its viewers into further rage.


Media Matters searched transcripts in the SnapStream video database for all original programming on CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC for any of the terms “shot,” “gun violence,” “death,” or “attack” or any variation of any of the terms “shoot,” “wound,” “kill,” “injure,” “gunfire,” or “terror” within close proximity of any of the terms “Solomon,” “Pena,” “Peña,” “New Mexico,” or “Albuquerque” from January 16, 2023, when authorities arrested Pena, through 12 p.m. ET on January 18, 2023.

We included segments, which we defined as instances when the shootings allegedly directed by Solomon Pena were the stated topic of discussion or when we found significant discussion of the shootings. We defined significant discussion as instances when two or more speakers in a multitopic segment discussed the shootings with one another.

We also included passing mentions, which we defined as instances when a single speaker in a segment on another topic mentioned the shootings without another speaker engaging with the comment, and teasers, which we defined as instances when the anchor or host promoted a segment about the shootings scheduled to air later in the broadcast.

We rounded all times to the nearest minute.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Right-Wing Media Promote Lies, Conspiracies About Documents Found At Biden Office

Right-Wing Media Promote Lies, Conspiracies About Documents Found At Biden Office

Right-wing media are disingenuously comparing the recent discovery of classified documents among President Joe Biden’s vice presidential papers at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement — a Washington, D.C., nonprofit think tank affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania — versus the ongoing scandal involving disgraced former President Donald Trump’s refusal to cooperate in returning classified documents he’d kept at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

CBS News broke the story Monday, reporting that Biden’s personal attorneys discovered the documents while they were preparing to move out of office space at the Penn Biden Center in November 2022. The White House counsel’s office immediately notified the National Archives, and Biden’s attorneys have cooperated with the government on searching for and returning materials.

NBC News reported Wednesday that Biden aides have “discovered at least one additional batch of classified documents” in a separate location as they continue what was described as an “exhaustive” search for items that belong at the National Archives.

By contrast, the scandal involving Trump's mishandling of government records first exploded into public view in February 2022, after reports surfaced that the National Archives had recovered 15 boxes of materials from his private residence in Florida, including classified records. (At the time, the Trump team’s absurd excuse for mishandling government records was that they were accidentally packed away amid Trump’s failed coup and hasty transition out of office.)

When even more classified documents were later recovered during an FBI search of Trump’s home in August 2022, the public learned that he and his legal team had refused to cooperate in returning the documents for months, and had only partially relented after a monthslong legal fight with the National Archives that necessitated a federal subpoena.

Before the FBI search of his home, Trump’s legal team falsely asserted to federal authorities that they had returned all the materials sought by the Department of Justice. Trump then variously switched his story to claim that he had actually declassified the materials before removing them, or to claim that he was allowed to retain them because they were his personal records and not government property. Trump also threatened more violence from his supporters if he got into legal trouble.

Contrary to Trump’s sound and fury, Biden has publicly said he was “surprised” to learn of the story about documents stored in his former office, and that his attorneys “did what they should have done” in returning the documents promptly.

Right-wing media are completely ignoring these crucial distinctions in their rush to exaggerate Biden’s situation as being tantamount to Trump’s scandal. On the one hand is Trump’s clear evasion and refusal to cooperate with government requests to turn over official documents, which were illegally removed from the White House after Trump’s unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the 2020 election and remain in office, compared to the Penn Biden Center taking it upon itself to notify the government and fully cooperate in returning documents that ought to have remained in federal custody.

These false comparisons seem to have multiple purposes. The first one is to muddy the waters on the investigation into Trump’s noncompliance with federal records laws. (CNN’s reaction to the Biden news initially fell for this line of thinking, though the network’s coverage has since improved somewhat.) In addition, right-wing media are trying to insist that despite his own team’s full cooperation, Biden really did commit some crime worthy of a serious criminal investigation, similar to the Trump case, or even impeachment by the newly Republican-controlled House of Representatives. And still others are pushing conspiracy theories that because Chinese donors have given money to the University of Pennsylvania, this would somehow give Chinese agents direct access to stored materials at the Penn Biden Center.

Comparisons to Trump Investigation

  • Fox News host Sean Hannity compared the mainstream media reaction to the Biden news with reactions to the Trump investigation: “The hysteria, well, it was as usual with anything Donald Trump, and the media mob, it was through the roof. Let’s see if they’ll apply this to Biden.” [Fox News, Hannity, 1/9/23]
  • Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett claimed, “They don’t know what they’re talking about, but this certainly blows a hole in any ability of Merrick Garland and the Department of Justice to go after Trump for allegedly mishandling classified documents,” adding, “No, his name’s Donald Trump so we’re going to go after him with a vengeance and threaten him with crimes.” [Fox News, Hannity, 1/9/23]
  • Fox News contributor Mike Huckabee sarcastically remarked about a potential raid on Biden’s office similar to what was done to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence: “Well, of course they’ll be treated the same. You and I both expect that, right?” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 1/10/23]
  • Former Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short explained the distinction that Trump’s legal team had not cooperated with the Justice Department, but still complained of a “double standard” by the government in the Biden case. Fox Business correspondent Jackie DeAngelis then falsely claimed without missing a beat that “the current sitting president when he was vice president did something very similar” as Trump. [Fox Business, Mornings with Maria Bartiromo, 1/10/23]
  • Fox News host Steve Doocy dismissed the “details are different in sheer numbers and stuff like that,” saying, “Nonetheless, when you have these kind of documents, just one counts. So it’s like, you know, people said, ‘Oh, he had 300, Biden only had 10.’ It just takes one.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 1/10/23]
  • Fox News correspondent Alexandria Hoff compared Biden’s reaction to the discovery that Trump was sitting on hundreds of documents to the reaction of the documents in his office, “The president had been far more outspoken when it came to his predecessor’s possession of classified documents, which led to the FBI raid of Mar-a-Lago.” [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 1/10/23]
  • Fox News contributor Jason Chaffetz asked, “Why aren’t they raiding the Penn Center? If there were classified documents there, do we know that they’ve got all of them? We just assume and take their word of somebody else?” [Fox News, The Faulkner Focus, 1/10/23]
  • Fox News commentator Jeanine Pirro claimed what Biden did was worse than Trump because Mar-a-Lago was more secure: “At least Mar-a-Lago was protected by the Secret Service. This is Penn. This is an academic institution.” [Fox News, The Five, 1/10/23]
  • Fox News Radio host Guy Benson dismissed comparisons to Trump’s case, even as he apparently acknowledged the relative egregiousness of Trump’s behavior: “If you walk into a courtroom and you are trying to defend your client for robbery, you can’t say, ‘Well, the guy in the next courtroom over is convicted of two murders or accused of two murders so my guy isn’t so bad.’” [Fox News, Special Report, 1/10/23]
  • Right-wing activist Mike Davis claimed that “President Trump had the absolute constitutional power under the commander-in-chief clause and the absolute statutory power under the Presidential Records Act to take — to declassify and take records,” before asking, “What are they doing about then-Vice President Joe Biden, who had no power to take these records? This is a clear violation of the Espionage Act for then-former Vice President Joe Biden to have these records.” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 1/10/23]
  • Fox’s The Ingraham Angle ran the chyron: “Double standard emerges in Biden doc scandal.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 1/10/23]
  • Fox News legal contributor Jonathan Turley: “So there’s a lot of questions there. But at the end of the day, the same underlying crime exists, even if there are differences in aspects of the case.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 1/10/23]
  • On Twitter, Hannity posted: “WHEN’S THE FBI RAID? Trump, Conservatives Unload Over Classified Docs Found at Biden Think Tank” [Twitter, 1/10/23]
  • Right-wing strategist Chuck Castillo: “They found Classified Docs at BIDEN’S OFFICE from when JOE was VP... Joe DID NOT HAVE legal authority to un-classify anything as VP.. This was KNOWN prior to MIDTERMS and possibly before TRUMP’S FBI RAID... Let that SINK IN for a few minutes.” [Twitter, 1/10/23]
  • Fox News host Dan Bongino: “Another massive Biden scandal erupts, as the media moved quickly into cover-up mode.” [Telegram, 1/10/23]
  • Fox News commentator Geraldo Rivera: “Biden’s own document embarrassment should just give DOJ more reason to drop probe of Trump’s documents. Neither had criminal intent. Why bother with bullshit?” [Twitter, 1/10/23]
  • Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton: “So Biden’s lawyers ‘found’ the records with classified markings while ‘packing’ his records in preparation for an office move from Biden’s influence-peddling operation run through University of Pennsylvania? Interesting, I didn’t know legal services could include office movers.” [Twitter, 1/10/23]
  • Washington Post columnist Hugh Hewitt, attacking a Politico article on the Biden White House’s cooperation: “Classic left-wing media spin: Article doesn’t even ask the most obvious question: Why wasn’t Biden case assigned to Special Counsel Jack Smith? It’s the same set of laws AND both subjects (Trump and Biden).” Previously, Hewitt argued in a September 2022 interview with Trump that every former president “has papers that should not be with them by accident,” only for Trump to continue to dispute the fact that he shouldn’t have possessed the materials. [Twitter, 1/10/23]
  • Fox News contributor Leo Terrell: “Attention, CNN and MSNBC. Are you going to report on the undisputed fact that Joe Biden has classified documents in his possession?” [Twitter, 1/10/23]

Calls for Biden to be investigated, impeached, or arrested

  • Former Trump adviser Stephen Miller told Fox’s Laura Ingraham, “You need to appoint a special counsel to find out not only what is going on with these documents, but to look at every single residence, property, and office under Biden’s control to determine what other classified documents he has purloined in violation of federal law.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 1/9/23]
  • The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh made a call for action in retaliation for the treatment of Trump: “We’ve got to call for investigations. We need to think about impeachment. This is, like, we have to treat it like a crisis because that’s what the left did. And we’re going to hold them to their own standard.” [The Daily Wire, The Matt Walsh Show, 1/10/23]
  • Mike Davis called for Attorney General Merrick Garland to take action, saying he “must appoint a special counsel to investigate this just like he did with President Trump. It is a more blatant conflict of interest for Garland to investigate this with his boss being Biden.” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 1/10/23]
  • The Gateway Pundit ran the headline: “‘When is the FBI Going to Raid the fMany Homes of Joe Biden?’ Trump Responds to Reports of Classified Documents Found at Penn Biden Center” [The Gateway Pundit, 1/9/23]
  • Judicial Watch: “RETWEET if you think Congress should investigate Biden family corruption!” [Twitter, 1/10/23]
  • Right-wing provocateur Dinesh D’Souza: “In one sentence, can anyone explain why Trump’s retention of classified documents constitutes a serious crime, if not outright treason, which should bar Trump forever from holding public office, while Biden’s retention of classified documents is benign and without consequence?” [Twitter, 1/10/23]

Conspiracy theories that the Biden documents are connected to the Chinese Communist Party

  • Fox News host Tucker Carlson suggested that documents at the Penn Biden Center were exposed to Chinese donors, saying, “Penn, as an institution, takes an awful lot of money from the Chinese Communist Party. I am not making that up. In recent years, Penn has received more than $50 million from anonymous Chinese donors. So the question is: Were those donors peering at the classified documents, the national security secrets, that Joe Biden had been stashing at the fake think tank that Penn set up for him?” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 1/9/23]
  • Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon claimed that “the Chinese Communist Party financed the whole thing,” including “the whole University of Pennsylvania deal,” adding that the CCP “has bought and paid the Biden administration.” [Real America’s Voice, War Room, 1/10/23]
  • Fox News host Greg Gutfeld fearmongered about Biden selling nuclear secrets to China: “I would not be doing my job if I didn’t raise the important questions that need to be raised about what actually happened. Do we know that there aren’t nuclear secrets in there? Perhaps he exchanged nuclear secrets to China for the 10%, that’s a question worth raising.” [Fox News, The Five, 1/10/23]
  • Fox News host Jesse Watters claimed, “They opened the Biden Center with Chinese money. He announces he’s doing the Biden Center at UPenn. And all of a sudden, China quadruples their donations to the University of Pennsylvania.” He then fearmongered, “In terms of national security implications here, where do you think the Chinese have greater access? To a think tank 15 minutes’ bike ride from the Chinese Embassy … or a basement at Mar-a-Lago.” [Fox News, The Five, 1/10/23]
  • Watters pushed the conspiracy again during his monologue: “The Chinese were paying Joe Biden a million dollars a year and it was just laundered through the Penn Biden Center. And just five miles away from the center was the Chinese Embassy.” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 1/10/23]
  • Carlson again pushed the conspiracy theory, saying, “There was a lot of money being raised and it was being raised by the University of Pennsylvania and it was being raised from foreign governments after the Biden Center opened. See the connection here?” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 1/10/23]
  • New York Post columnist Miranda Devine said the university’s “long, incestuous symbiotic relationship with the Bidens” resulted in attracting “a lot of Chinese money.” [Fox News, Tucker Carlson Tonight, 1/10/23]
  • Fox News host Sean Hannity baselessly claimed, “Now to put it simply, thanks to Joe Biden, America’s most sensitive secrets were floating around in an unsecured office that was bought and paid for by the CCP.” [Fox News, Hannity, 1/10/23]
  • Right-wing TV host Benny Johnson: “Tucker Carlson just nuked Joe Biden from space for hoarding classified documents in his ‘fake thinktank’ -- potentially for the Chinese donors of UPenn to see. Was Joe Biden selling American National Security to the Chinese Donors in his fake think tank? Like father like son.” [Twitter, 1/9/23]

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.