Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

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

Fox News Launches Phony 'Foreign Donations' Attack On ActBlue

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

Fox News is hyping another set of disingenuous allegations from a right-wing group against the online fundraising platform and payment processor ActBlue, claiming that half the donations made to Democratic candidates via the platform are by people who have self-identified as "unemployed" and thus may show that foreign agents are funneling money into Democratic political campaigns.

What is actually going on here: Since federal election law requires political donors to list either their employer or the lack of one, these "unemployed" donors would also include retirees, students, stay-at-home parents, and so on.

Read Now Show less

Rush Limbaugh Offers Plan For Trump To Steal Election

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

Right-wing talk radio host Rush Limbaugh has been busy this week helping to build up a conspiracy theory about the increased use of mail-in voting during the coronavirus pandemic, which has the potential to set off national chaos as votes are counted in the 2020 election.

Read Now Show less

Fox Hosts Say Story That Trump Slurred Troops Is ‘Fake’ — But Fox Reporter Confirms It

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

The new bombshell report from The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg, reporting that President Donald Trump had repeatedly disparaged fallen U.S. troops as "losers" and "suckers," has now been confirmed by a rather unexpected media voice: Fox News national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin. This latest confirmation comes after Fox's previous coverage of the story continually backed Trump's denials.

Read Now Show less

Why Are Mainstream Media Whitewashing Violence-Prone ‘Patriot Prayer’ Group?

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

In the wake of the shooting death over the weekend of a supporter of the far-right group Patriot Prayer in Portland, Oregon, The New York Times, USA Today, and MSNBC are papering over the intrinsically violent nature of the group, its ties to white nationalism, and its history of staging armed confrontations against anti-fascist activists. This lapse is part of a larger pattern of mainstream media coverage that shies away from calling out right-wing extremism.

Read Now Show less

Rush Limbaugh Smears Harris With Myth About Her Ancestry

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

Rush Limbaugh has joined the bizarre right-wing chorus questioning whether Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), the Democratic candidate for vice president, is authentically a Black American, due to her reported descent from an Irish-born slaveholder in Jamaica — an analysis that is both factually wrong and morally repugnant on multiple levels.

On Monday's edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show, the host read an article from right-wing site PJ Media by Senior Editor Tyler O'Neil titled "Joe Biden Alienated Black Voters by Picking Kamala Harris." (Both Limbaugh and O'Neil are white.)

Limbaugh then went on to his own discussion of Harris' ancestry:

From the August 17, 2020, edition of Premiere Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show

RUSH LIMBAUGH: Now, "why" — you're asking, "Why would Kamala Harris alienate Black voters when, all intents and purposes, she appears to be Black?" Well, there may be this little ditty.

Dinesh D'Souza had been looking into Kamala Harris, and he had a tweet a couple of days ago. "The privilege Kamala Harris has enjoyed throughout her life was built on the backs of 200 Black slaves, forced to work on five plantations by her ancestor Hamilton Brown. I've yet to hear any sympathy from the kleft for these Black lives, which evidently don't matter at all."

But apparently, her — look, this is not "apparently," we've all known it. Those of us who have studied Kamala Harris, those of us who looked into her background, we know she's not African American. She doesn't have slave blood, she's not down for the struggle. She's not — none of that. She doesn't have any attachment, like Obama didn't.

Obama didn't have any direct attachment to the struggle. He didn't have any direct attachment to Selma, even though he went there, tried to make it look like he did. She doesn't, either. In fact, her family was wealthy in Jamaica, and they owned slaves.

If this language seems at all familiar, it is because Limbaugh said similar things about former President Barack Obama, whose father was from Kenya. Limbaugh said in 2012, for example: "He wasn't down with the struggle. He doesn't have slave blood. You know all that."

As for Limbaugh's assertion that Harris' reported ancestry discredits her credentials as being part of the Black American experience, this requires a lot of nerve given the well-known history of white men sexually assaulting slave women and children who were conceived as a result.

PolitiFact discussed an essay written by Harris' father Donald Harris, a retired economics professor, tracing his ancestry to Hamilton Brown, an Irish plantation owner in Jamaica in the early 1800s, and his son also named Hamilton Brown. The outlet explored the social status of Black Jamaicans in the immediate post-emancipation period as barely changed from slavery itself.

It seems possible that Kamala Harris is as likely a descendant of a slave-owner as she is an enslaved person. Jessian Prince, who the family tree identified as Miss Crishy's mother and would therefore be Kamala Harris' great-great-grandmother, is listed on birth and death records as a "labourer." Almost always, [author Tom] Zoellner said, laborers in Jamaica at that time were "people of African extraction who were the children and grandchildren of enslaved people who had been freed in 1838."

From 1834 to 1838, the term "labourer" meant "apprentice" — "basically a paid slave," Zoellner said. After emancipation, "the energy of planters was now to be directed towards converting a former slave labour force into a permanent plantation labour force," according to the government. "From the perspective of the planters, it was the same rider on the same mule, cantering towards the same destiny."

During Harris' presidential run last year, Snopes also wrote about the accusations regarding her family tree. After reviewing the sparse historical records, the site nevertheless concluded, "That particular branch of Brown's family tree derived just as much from an enslaved woman, whose identity may well be lost to history, as it did from Brown himself."

Even if it is the case that the Harris family ... are descendants of Hamilton Brown, those who seek to attack or undermine Sen. Harris for the wrongdoing of a man who died almost 200 years ago should first gain a better understanding of the often complicated, traumatic histories of black families in the United States — and tread much more carefully.

As an example of how this discussion might affect Black families in the United States, Limbaugh also credited this discussion to right-wing commentator Dinesh D'Souza, who had previously stated on the August 11 edition of Fox News' The Ingraham Angle: "Kamala Harris seems to be descended less from the legacy of, let's say, Frederick Douglass, than she is from the legacy of the plantation itself."

D'Souza may have said quite a bit more than he realized, however, by invoking the name of the great Black American abolitionist Frederick Douglass — whose own biological father was known to have been a white man, possibly either his first or second owner, before Douglass himself later escaped to freedom. Douglass also wrote extensively on the topic in his first two memoirs: "For thousands are ushered into the world, annually, who—like myself—owe their existence to white fathers and, most frequently, to their masters, and masters' sons. The slave woman is at the mercy of the fathers, sons or brothers of her master. The thoughtful know the rest."

D'Souza was not alone in thinking this was some kind of real point, however. Fox News host Mark Levin, on his BlazeTV show the same day, had claimed that Harris' "ancestry does not go back to American slavery. To the best of my knowledge, her ancestry does not go back to slavery at all."

This claim was immediately met with the appropriate combination of ridicule and serious debunking:

Clarification (8/17/20): The language in this piece has been updated for clarity.

Rush Limbaugh Revives Crude Sexist Smear Against Sen. Harris

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) is widely seen as a leading choice to be Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden's running mate. As Biden moves closer to announcing his running mate, Rush Limbaugh revived a smear against Harris that implies that she advanced her career by dating a prominent politician.

Limbaugh has launched sexist attacks on Democratic politicians, family members, and aides for decades, frequently tying the attacks to personal relationships and marriages. This was particularly true of Hillary Clinton, for example.

Read Now Show less

Disastrous Axios Interview Confounds Trump’s Right-Wing Chorus

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

President Donald Trump met last week with Axios political correspondent Jonathan Swan, for an interview on the program Axios on HBO, which just aired on Monday and is now being met with excoriating reviews — though Fox News is mostly ignoring it — especially for Trump's answer regarding the accelerating U.S. death toll from the coronavirus pandemic, which has again reached over 1,000 per day.

"They are dying, that's true. And it is what it is," Trump said. "But that doesn't mean we aren't doing everything we can. It's under control, as much as you can control it."

Read Now Show less

News Outlets Promote False Narrative Blaming Democrats For Relief Bill Failure

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

As the country grapples with the economic devastation of the coronavirus pandemic, news shows are embracing a false Republican narrative that Democrats are to blame for a delay in the renewal of extended economic benefits. The fact is that Republicans waited until the eleventh hour to even make a proposal to begin with, while the Democratic-led House has been passing bills for months.

The economic stakes here are very high, and carry real consequences. With all the economic dislocation from the virus, the Census Bureau announced last week nearly 30 million Americans did not get enough to eat last week. While the extra $600 per week in federal unemployment assistance is keeping many people afloat, there exists the potential for up to 40 million Americans to lose their homes, "four times the amount seen during the Great Recession."

Read Now Show less

Right-Wing Media Spin And Squawk Over Trump’s ‘Delay Election’ Tweet

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

Right-wing media outlets are now trying to figure out exactly how to interpret President Donald Trump's tweet this morning calling to "delay" the 2020 election.

Read Now Show less

Fox News Viewers Increasingly Believe Covid-19 Conspiracy Theory

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

A new Axios/Ipsos poll finds that people who get their news from Fox News are more likely to buy into a conspiracy theory that has frequently been spread by right-wing media since the pandemic began: The false and baseless idea that the coronavirus death count has been inflated.

The poll found that 62 percent of Fox News watchers said the real number of coronavirus deaths is lower than the official number, closely aligning with 59 percent of Republicans. By contrast, only 9 percent of Democrats and 31 percent of Americans overall professed this view.

Read Now Show less

Latest White House Assault On Fauci Echoes Right-Wing Media Attacks

The Washington Post reported Sunday that the Trump White House is seeking to minimize the public profile of Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and even to discredit his position with the public over the coronavirus pandemic.

The Post reported: "A White House official released a statement saying that 'several White House officials are concerned about the number of times Dr. Fauci has been wrong on things' and included a lengthy list of the scientist's comments from early in the outbreak."

This echoes what right-wing media figures have been saying in recent days.

There has been a slow build-up of new anti-Fauci statements in right-wing media over the past two weeks, perhaps mirroring (or feeding) the White House's critiques of Fauci's early statements on such matters as mask wearing and person-to-person transmission.Fauci's stances evolved over time on those matters as more information about the virus became known.

And the bottom line, according to these right-wing narratives, is that Fauci is Trump's enemy.

On the July 2 edition of Tucker Carlson Tonight, the eponymous host singled out a comment that Fauci had made during a January 22 appearance on Fox Business' Bulls & Bears, telling the panel that the Chinese government was being transparent about the virus.

"Many were skeptical that the Chinese government could be trusted to describe what was really happening. But those skeptics were assured by one man, Dr. Tony Fauci," Carlson said sarcastically — failing to note that President Donald Trump himself had repeatedly praised the Chinese government's response for weeks after that cherry-picked Fauci comment.

On the July 5 edition of Fox News' MediaBuzz, Fox contributor and Federalist senior editor Mollie Hemingway accused Fauci of inconsistency on masks:

HOWARD KURTZ (HOST): Mollie, why has Anthony Fauci become such a lighting rod on the right? There's plenty of other examples besides the one I just played.

MOLLIE HEMINGWAY (FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR): Yeah. No, I'm not sure why exactly. But he is someone who has also been a little bit inconsistent in his messaging and has a responsibility for that. You know, back in March, claiming that there was no need for anyone to wear masks. And now he says there is. That does also hurt trust. But more than anything, I think, he's a public health talking head.

That doesn't make him an expert on everything. And he's been someone who hasn't been particularly good at thinking through the downsides of some of the things that he's recommended. He's not an expert in what happens when you keep children out of school or forbid them for entering school, you know, in the coming year. He's not an expert in all of the consequences of lockdown in terms of anxiety and loneliness and fear and joblessness, and economic ruin.

On the July 9 edition of Hannity, Trump himself criticized Fauci, using the same narrative seen in right-wing media: "Dr. Fauci is a nice man, but he's made a lot of mistakes. … They've been wrong about a lot of things, including face masks. Maybe they are wrong, maybe not. But a lot of them said, don't wear a mask, don't wear a mask. And now they are saying, wear a mask. So, a lot of mistakes were made, a lot of mistakes."

Later that night on The Ingraham Angle, host Laura Ingraham spun a conspiracy theory that "the left started to freak out a little bit" at the prospect of the country reopening. "So how could they keep the panic and anxiety going to ensure a Biden victory?" she asked rhetorically — then showing video of Fauci recommending that states should consider locking down again if they have serious outbreaks.

Later in the program, Ingraham played another video of Fauci, and remarked: "The translation — get ready to be locked down until Biden is elected. I'm sorry, I hear that, and my blood boils."

On July 10, The Federalist ran an article titled "Why We Can't Trust Anything 'The Science' Says Any More." While the article's text did not mention Fauci by name, it prominently displayed a photo of him at the top of the piece:

The article complained:

In recent months, we've been told that "science says" so many contradictory and even flat-out false things, it's hard to even keep track of them all.
Science says don't wear a mask. Except that you absolutely should wear a mask. Even though it isn't recommended by medical scientists using data from other respiratory disease outbreaks. But it's still helpful. Or actually it's not really, according to the Centers for Disease Control in 2017. Yet you should still wear a mask, or else. Who knows?

Also that day, Rush Limbaugh levied the accusation of inconsistency at both Fauci and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Here's Dr. Fauci, unassailable. 'You know, we need to think about locking down again — uh, uh, uh, no — OK, no, since the market's tanked, we can just pause the reopening,'" Limbaugh said. "And then the CDC comes along and says it'd be safer for the kids to put them in classrooms than to keep them at home."

On the July 10 edition of Fox host Mark Levin's talk radio show, the host concurred with Trump's musings for less coronavirus testing, and then added: "Dr. Fauci says, 'Let's not look at the mortality rate, that doesn't tell us anything.' This guy, may I say this respectfully, is becoming a quack. Did I say quack? I said quack! 'Don't wear masks' — now in some states, you better wear a mask."

Audio: Giuliani Promotes Kooky Conspiracy Tales About Black Lives Matter

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

Rudy Giuliani, the personal attorney for President Donald Trump and former mayor of New York City, spun a series of conspiracy theories about the Black Lives Matter movement during his June 28 radio show on WABC in New York, even suggesting that it could possibly be prosecuted under RICO laws.

Along with his co-host Maria Ryan, Giuliani presented Black Lives Matter as a subversive movement that is covertly organizing and mobilizing a violent uprising for the overthrow of America.

Read Now Show less

Covering Up For Trump, Fox News Returns To Pandemic Denial

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

The New York Times released a devastating report on Saturday which found that President Donald Trump had failed to respond to warnings from medical experts, intelligence agencies, and his own trusted adviser on trade issues over the dangers presented by COVID-19, losing valuable time to contain the pandemic as a result. Now, Fox News is scrambling to spin the report's damaging fallout in favor of Trump.

The Times' April 11 report said:

Read Now Show less

Social Distancing Works, So Fox Hosts Are Ready To End It

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

Fox News is continuing its effort to declare victory in the country's struggle to get through the coronavirus pandemic, pointing to continued downward revisions in the projected death count to argue that the regular economy should be reopened. In fact, those downward revisions are happening precisely because of the social distancing measures that Fox commentators want to start peeling back.

Read Now Show less

Right-Wing Media Again Push To Open Economy Despite Death Toll

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.

Between Thursday afternoon and Friday morning, there has been an increased wave of right-wing media figures calling for an end to the economic lockdown in place to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. As they've begun to explain rather openly, the cost for jobs and businesses is just too much for what they deem is a low death figure being reported.

Left out of all these discussions is a key detail: The reason that COVID-19 death predictions have been revised down from over 2 million to a (still horrific) figure of up to 240,000 is precisely because of the social distancing and stay-at-home orders. If that regimen were to simply be lifted, then the projected deaths would rise again — especially if the health care system were to become overwhelmed.

But as they miss this point, many of these right-wing media figures seem to think even this reduced level of deaths has come with too high an economic cost.

On the Thursday night edition of Fox News' Tucker Carlson Tonight, the eponymous host defended Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick for suggesting last week on his show that senior citizens should be willing to risk the increased health dangers in order to restore jobs and businesses. Carlson declared that there should've been a greater discussion about businesses remaining operational while just certain vulnerable groups "remained inside, cloistered away" — even if there was a greater risk of death rate becoming higher — rather than costing millions of jobs.

From the April 2, 2020, edition of Fox News' Tucker Carlson Tonight

TUCKER CARLSON (HOST): What would've happened for example if we would've adopted a more conventional response to this epidemic? What if we asked the elderly and the immunocompromised and anyone else facing statistically higher rates of risk to stay inside, cloistered away. And then at the same time allowed the rest of the population to use informed common sense and continue to work? What if we'd done that a month ago? Would the death rate today be much higher than it is now? Maybe, maybe not. We don't know. But it's clearly a conversation we should've had before we locked the entire country down and put ten million people out of work. But we didn't have that conversation. Instead we outsourced the decision to public health officials. And that's a strange irony of the moment we're living through. One of the main lessons of this crisis is that the public health establishment failed us badly.

On Sean Hannity's Fox News show, Fox host Mark Levin gave a dire warning that the financial aid bills would turn America into Venezuela by "pouring money into industries that are not open" and paying people not to work. "Don't pass another bill. Open up parts of the economy," Levin said. "Ask these businesses what they can do, and tell these governors to cut it out."

From the April 2, 2020, edition of Fox News' Hannity

On The Ingraham Angle, Fox host Laura Ingraham decried the statistical models "funded by billionaires that keep Americans out of work," said that "hundreds of thousands" of Americans die of all sorts of things — though of course "every life is precious" — but that the economic lockdown to fight coronavirus might "kill the patient, which is America."

From the April 2, 2020, edition of Fox News' The Ingraham Angle

In a discussion with guest Victor Davis Hanson, the two of them also further talked about how awful it was to shut down the economy over such minimal deaths now happening.

From the April 2, 2020, edition of Fox News' The Ingraham Angle

LAURA INGRAHAM (HOST): Yes, well, when you have PhD, scientists, biostatisticians, bio — you know physics experts, Nobel laureates saying wait a second, we have to know the denominator to understand the lethality of this disease. And every life is precious, we want to keep everybody safe and we — of course, that's a given. But we also have to understand the cost of American lives on the other side of this.
When they're saying this now, Victor, you got to — you got to imagine the policymakers at some point will hear from the people who are suffering with these job losses in these businesses and say, you know, "We have lives as well, and we have to somehow preserve them."
VICTORY DAVIS HANSON (SENIOR FELLOW, THE HOOVER INSTITUTION): Laura, I'm sitting in a state that's the fifth largest economy in the world that's completely shut down and we've suffered less than 250 deaths and we have about 3 million people. Three people per million that have died.
We have twice the population of New York and we've suffered one-tenth the deaths and one-twentieth the deaths on per capita basis and so this one size fit all is absolutely insane. There are individual conditions, many of which we don't know. But we do know the results and California should be treated in a different way than New York City.
And that means that we can have a graduated return to some type of normalcy because we're — it doesn't — we don't shut down the greatest economy in the United States in California because we have three people per million dying. That's just a fact of life when we have 760 people in California dying every day. And during this crisis we have about four extra on average.
INGRAHAM: Now Victor, we're going to be — and I loved it piece, by the way, which I posted and everyone's got to read and I'll send it around again tonight on Twitter, discussing just that. An actual data, an actual numbers, not to minimize any loss of life.

On Friday morning's edition of America's Newsroom, Fox Business anchor David Asman responded to the newest unemployment figures by warning that the country was on the verge of a new Great Depression, and asked, "How many lives would be lost as a result of that as opposed to the coronavirus?" After April, Asman concluded, "We have to get back to work."

From the April 3, 2020, edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom

DAVID ASMAN (FOX BUSINESS ANCHOR): The Oxford Economics projects a loss of 30 million jobs by the beginning of June. That would be a 16 percent unemployment rate. We have not seen those figures since the Great Depression. And the real key here, Sandra [Smith], and you know this so well, is what would be worse for America right now — another Great Depression like we had back in the 1930s or a continuation of the coronavirus? A lot of people say with the various restrictions we have in place now, with the various medications that are online, we better get back to work soon, that is, at the end of this 30-day period. If not, we are risking a Great Depression. And how many lives would be lost as a result of that, as opposed to the coronavirus?

There's no getting over — there's no easy solution here, but there's a lot of money out there for individuals — the 157 million people in the workforce, for the 30 million small businesses, and for individuals who are going to be getting those checks. So as long as the government operates efficiently — that's hoping for a lot — but if that happens, we'll be OK at least for the month. After that, I think we have to get back to work.

Indeed, Variety reported that an internal Fox News memo shows the company is hoping for a "possible return to work" for remote employees in early May.

And the patience of Fox's on-air personalities is running out. On this afternoon's edition of Outnumbered, co-host Melissa Francis wondered: "Who doesn't know 10, 12 people who have it at this point, personally? … At this point we are destroying our economy. … That part is so scary to me. I don't know about the continued stay inside. I'm losing faith in it."

From the April 3, 2020, episode of Fox News' Outnumbered

Other right-wing media figures are also pushing this narrative.

Far-right online personality Mike Cernovich put the dollars-for-lives argument rather bluntly:

Jim Hoft of The Gateway Pundit — a right-wing outlet known for pushing conspiracy theories and recently quoted by Trump — tweeted an appeal to "Open The Economy!"

The Washington Times columnist Cheryl K. Chumley posted a piece this morning, "Anthony Fauci goes nuts," declaring:

The question on the table is whether 4,513 deaths due to coronavirus in the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands justifies closing down an entire country — its economy, schools, transportation systems, entertainment and more — for 30 days or more.

So when Fauci calls for a national order to keep every man, woman and child in America at home, behind closed doors, for the next 30 days or longer, he's only suggesting the best course of action that, in his medical opinion, would keep his patients — whom he's deemed to be all of America — safe and healthy, free of risks of catching the coronavirus.
But that doesn't mean he's right. That doesn't mean his medical opinion ought to be taken as sacrosanct; all the other considerations — economic, political, social — tossed to the side as secondaries.
Americans are not lab rats, and America is not a science lab.
The country can't come to a grinding halt every time flu season approaches.

The Federalist, already one of the most irresponsible outlets for conservative thought on the pandemic, posted a piece today titled "We Cannot Destroy The Country For The Sake Of New York City." Never mind the fact that red states such as Florida, Ohio, Louisiana, and Indiana are also grappling with this pandemic, as well.

As Crisis Escalates, Right-Wing Figures Still Reject Reality

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

American life is grinding to a halt during the coronavirus outbreak as people are being urged — or even being ordered by state and local governments — to stay inside as much as possible.

In both New York City and Los Angeles, bars and restaurants have been ordered to close almost completely, with service only for delivery or takeout. Movie theaters in both cities have also been shut down.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has just ordered similar restaurant closures on a statewide basis. And in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom has ordered a reduced occupancy of 50 percent in restaurants and is urging people over 65-years-old or with chronic health conditions to stay inside.

Schools are also closing across the country, which could place a secondary strain on doctors and nurses in need of child care services. In many places, the school closings could potentially go all the way through the academic year.

Disney World has also shut down — though as a promotion of sorts, the company is releasing the hit movie Frozen 2 onto its Disney+ streaming service three months ahead of schedule to help keep all those parents and children entertained.

Despite the growing list of changes to everyday life in the U.S., there are still voices in right-wing media who claim this is all a giant conspiracy to hurt President Donald Trump or to destroy America and its freedoms, instead urging people to ignore guidance from “big government” and medical experts to practice social distancing:

Former Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, Sheriff David Clarke

Former New York City police commissioner and recent Trump pardon recipient Bernard Kerik

Racist media figure Katie Hopkins

Right-wing radio host Todd Starnes

The Wall Street Journal’s Matthew Hennessey

Anti-Muslim bigot Pamela Geller

Right-wing radio host Mark Simone

Former NRATV host Grant Stinchfield

American Family Radio’s Bryan Fischer

Conservative Review’s Daniel Horowitz

Right-wing radio host Bill Mitchell

Pro-Trump conspiracy theory blog The Gateway Pundit

“BREAKING EXCLUSIVE: The Coronavirus Fatality Rate Reported by the Media Is COMPLETELY INACCURATE. The Actual Rate Is LESS THAN THE FLU – MEDIA LYING AGAIN!” (3/16/20)

“Nashville Business Owners Defy Mayor and Remain Open! – Say Order to Close Bars and Restaurants on Broadway Is UNCONSTITUTIONAL” (3/15/20)

“Is It Related? Italy Holds the Largest Chinese Diaspora Community in the EU Today – And Now Has the Largest Outbreak of Coronavirus in Europe” (3/15/20)

“Is the Worst Case Scenario for Coronavirus Overblown?… Will 21 Million Americans Really Need Hospitalization?” (3/15/20)

“BY THE NUMBERS, Via the CDC: 2019 Flu – 22,000 Dead and 10 percent Mortality Rate …2019 Coronavirus – 50 Dead and 2 percent Mortality Rate” (3/14/20)

“Leftist Michigan Governor Flirts with Invoking ‘Martial Law’ using Virus as Excuse to Power Grab” (3/14/20)

“Enemy of the People – Rude Reporters Lash Out at Trump Over Coronavirus – Media Hysteria Causes Panic Buying, Americans Fight Over Toilet Paper” (3/14/20)

Trump Parrots Hannity’s Lies About Obama Response To 2009 Swine Flu Outbreak

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

While speaking to reporters Thursday afternoon at the White House, President Donald Trump made a false claim about the Obama administration’s handling of the H1N1 flu (also commonly known as “swine flu”) back in 2009. And there’s a good bet that he’s learned this latest fiction from Fox News — and his favorite host, Sean Hannity.

“If you go back and look at the swine flu, and what happened with the swine flu,” Trump said, “you’ll see how many people died, and how actually nothing was done for such a long period of time, as people were dying all over the place. We’re doing it the opposite. We’re very much ahead of everything.”

As Media Matters has previously documented, Hannity and other right-wing personalities and outlets have circulated a lie that the Obama administration had done nothing about H1N1 — waiting six months to declare a national emergency, they say — while Americans died in vast numbers. In fact, this is totally false, and it also relies on obfuscations based around bureaucratic terms of art and specific effects on government regulations.

The Obama administration declared a public health emergency in April 2009, for the purpose of freeing up funds for emergency preparedness. Then came an official national emergency declaration in October 2009, which also served a specific regulatory purpose by waiving certain federal requirements to allow hospitals and local governments to set up alternate treatment sites. And in the interim, the government had been working with researchers on developing a vaccine for the H1N1 strain and coordinating its launch in the fall.

In fact, just on Wednesday night, Hannity repeated the charge of Obama waiting to declare a national emergency. And while briefly acknowledging the health emergency early on, he threw in yet another lie.

CitationFrom the March 11, 2020, edition of Fox News’ Hannity

SEAN HANNITY (HOST): For more perspective, we go back to 2009. That year, more than a thousand Americans had died in a six-month period from H1N1, better known as swine flu, that virus, and 20,000 Americans had contracted the pandemic before President Obama himself declared a national emergency. One of his health officials on day 11 did, in fact, say it was an emergency to release some funding. Got to tell the truth on all cases, but a thousand Americans at that point had died.

In fact, at the time of the public health emergency declaration in April 2009, there had been just 20 confirmed cases of H1N1 in the United States — and no deaths.

From a Reuters fact check, published two days ago:

A public health emergency for Swine Flu, also known as H1N1, was declared on April 26, 2009 by the Obama administration with no deaths in the U.S. (see here). While Obama personally declared H1N1 an emergency in October 2009, when over a thousand had died (see here), the “Secretary of Health and Human Services first declared a public health emergency” on April 26, 2009. Statements that say Obama and his administration waited until 1,000 had died before declaring an emergency often ignore this April 26, 2009 Government announcement (see it here). The claim that there were 1,000 deaths when a public health emergency was declared under Obama’s administration is therefore false.

One has to wonder: Was Trump watching Hannity last night and repeating the charge today? (Before Hannity’s repetition of the lie Wednesday night, it was being spread anew on Twitter by right-wing activist Charlie Kirk and Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.)

The H1N1 pandemic was a highly prevalent infection, with a later analysis showing it had infected 1 in 5 people worldwide. However, its death rate was very low, estimated at only 0.02 percent (around 200,000 deaths globally and 12,000 in the United States). By contrast, COVID-19 appears to be much more dangerous among the infected population so far, with a currently estimated mortality rate of 1 percent, or 10 times the normal flu.