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

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

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

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Michigan GOP Drops Attempt To Rig Vote Totals — And Irks Fox News

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

Fox's purported "straight news" side delivered a segment Wednesday on a major story from the night before — the failed attempt by Republican canvassing board members in Wayne County, Michigan, to block certification of the votes from the majority-minority city of Detroit — falsely presenting it as a legitimate story about supposed voter fraud.

The segment on America's Newsroom was of a piece with other recent Fox "news" coverage, in which the whole network has encouraged President Donald Trump's attempts to defy the election results and to push conspiracy theories about the victory by President-elect Joe Biden.

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Rush Limbaugh Can’t Do Election Math, But He Loves Conspiracy Theories

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

With Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden appearing likely to clinch the election on Friday against incumbent President Donald Trump, right-wing talk radio host Rush Limbaugh provided his listeners with a cornucopia of conspiracy theories about Democratic officials manufacturing votes to overcome what would otherwise have been a Trump landslide victory.

His propaganda creates an image of fraud at the polls — in contrast to actual election results — that would put Charles Foster Kane's newspapers to shame.

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Trump Echoes False Right-Wing Claims About Masks

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

At President Donald Trump's campaign rally Thursday in Greenville, North Carolina, he made the absurd claim that "85 percent of the people wearing the masks" get infected with the coronavirus, thus presenting the wearing of protective masks as a hazardous act by itself — with the claim carried on Fox News' live coverage of the rally, as well. At the root of his newest false claim, it turns out, are a number of incorrect posts across far-right news sites pushing public health misinformation — along with Fox News host Tucker Carlson.

And on top of that, Trump has further misunderstood the misleading claims those sources have made.

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LISTEN: The Strangest Moments Of Trump’s ‘Virtual Rally’ With Rush Limbaugh

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

President Donald Trump conducted a two-hour phone interview on Friday with talk radio host and Trump-conferred Medal of Freedom recipient Rush Limbaugh. Promoted beforehand by Limbaugh as the "largest virtual rally in radio history" — and coming right after Trump publicly refused to hold next week's presidential debate remotely, despite his recent COVID-19 diagnosis — the appearance instead became a lengthy conversation between the two men, attempting to cast the president as America's great leader in these tumultuous times.

The interview began in a quite surreal fashion, with Limbaugh's production team playing a recording of God Bless the U.S.A., a country song often performed at Republican rallies, followed by the canned sound of imaginary cheering crowds. And then Limbaugh greeted the president, asking his guest to envision the sight of a great campaign rally.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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."

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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."

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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.

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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.

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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.

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