Timcast IRL

Right-Wing Media Reject Clear Evidence That Mall Shooter Was Neo-Nazi

Right-wing media figures responded to news that the gunman who committed a mass shooting at a mall in Allen, Texas, on Saturday had an account on a Russian social media website where he posted neo-Nazi material, calling the discovery a “psyop.”

Many conservative commentators attempted to discredit the information by claiming the researcher who found the account, Aric Toler, was acting as a cut-out for the CIA or other intelligence agencies attempting to control the U.S. population through disinformation. Toler is the director of training and research at Bellingcat, an award-winning open-source investigative organization widely cited in journalistic and academic publications.

These commentators argued that Toler’s investigation couldn’t be trusted because of Bellingcat’s supposed ties to the U.S. government — it is in fact an independent organization — and also because the shooter’s alleged account often shared content from right-wing media figures including Tim Pool and anti-LGBTQ activist Chaya Raichik, who runs Libs of TikTok. They claimed that some sort of conspiracy was responsible for the fact that the media found and reported on the Texas shooter’s posts quickly, while the supposed “manifesto” written by the perpetrator who committed a mass shooting in Nashville, Tennessee, on March 27 has yet to be released.

In fact, the head of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said in mid-April that the Nashville shooter’s so-called manifesto was not a statement of political ideology and was closer to a collection of notes praising other school shooters. Regardless of its content, it bears no relation to Toler’s ability to find and post open-source information that is not controlled by law enforcement.

Toler posted his findings about the Texas gunman’s account in a May 8 Twitter thread which included a screenshot showing episodes of Timcast IRL, leading Toler to comment, “The Allen shooter was apparently a @timcast fan.” That news was widely shared online throughout the course of the afternoon.

That evening, Pool responded on his YouTube stream, saying the profile “does not seem to be real” without offering any evidence to support his claim.

“So there's a tragic story coming out of Texas, a mass shooting, and leftist researchers and the corporate press are running with this story that they've discovered the profile of this individual and lo, this Mexican man is actually a white supremacist,” Pool said. “Now the thing is, it seems like researchers have dug through this profile, it does not seem to be real. This person was posting weird things in the past couple of weeks to no followers and to no one, but of course the media's going to run with it.”

“On this profile, there are posts about Libs of TikTok and I believe it’s four clips from this show from one particular episode,” he continued.

“You see, here's where we get into the psyop: No one knows if this Russian social media profile is — actually belongs to this guy,” Pool said several minutes later. “A Bellingcat researcher named Aric Toler just said, ‘I found this profile that looks like it’s his.’ In fact, I’m pretty sure he even said, ‘I didn’t verify it, I don’t know.’”

Pool is incorrect. Toler did verify that the account belonged to the shooter, as he detailed in a Google doc to supplement his original thread. Pool may have been referring to a tweet Toler deleted about being unsure if a photo of Nazi tattoos showed the gunman; Toler clarified he deleted it because he had later verified the photo.

Pool’s unsubstantiated accusations that the social media account was a “psyop” were widespread in conservative media.

Steven Crowder echoed that line on the May 9 edition of his Rumble show, Louder With Crowder.

“We also have some information that's, I should say, curious regarding the Allen shooter,” he said. “We have more information now, and the more information that comes out, the more you don't believe said information because the purveyors of information are CIA plants.”

After incredulously listing off Toler’s findings, Crowder contrasted it with the relative lack of information about the Nashville shooter’s writings, clearly insinuating that a conspiracy is afoot.

“All of that, but still nothing on the Nashville shooter? Oh, it's for our safety,” Crowder said. “Alright. Let's just buy it wholesale. Curious coincidences, don't you think?”

Anti-LGBTQ right-wing pundit Allie Beth Stuckey made a similar argument on her Relatable podcast.

“The media believes that they have landed upon what the motive is for this — very quickly they turned out a narrative,” Stuckey said, before immediately discussing the “Nashville shooting” and subsequent delayed release of that shooter’s writings.

“The media hasn't even surmised why this person who went to Covenant Christian school grew up, decided they were the opposite sex, clearly rebelled against her Christian upbringing, went to this Christian school, shot it up, and killed nine people,” she added. “Like they can't even put those pieces together but they think they've landed on the clear motivation for the shooter who committed these acts of violence on Saturday, two days ago.”

Like Crowder and many other right-wing figures, Stuckey also suggested that the Texas gunman couldn’t hold white supremacist beliefs because he had a Hispanic surname.

“His name is equivalent to — and I'm sorry, this is just a fake name that I am making up, OK, this is not a real person, this is not the name of the shooter — his name though is equal to Pablo Rodriguez, OK?” Stuckey said. “So they're saying that someone apparently named something like Pablo Rodriguez, who looks like a Pablo Rodriguez, was a raging white supremacist.”

Fox Corp.’s Outkick Media founder Clay Travis also argued that the media has concocted a narrative that supporters of former President Donald Trump are uniquely violent, and when the evidence doesn’t support that, mainstream outlets will “manufacture” it.

“This guy is Hispanic, as you have mentioned, his parents do not speak English,” Travis told his co-host. “They have tried to turn him into a white supremacist.”

“All of the shootings that are happening, they don't really seem connected to Donald Trump and they certainly don't seem by and large connected to far-right-wing ideologues,” Travis later said. “So they're trying to manufacture them now. That’s what I see coming out of this coverage so far.”

These conspiracy theories spread far and wide on Twitter, in part from amplification by the site’s owner, Elon Musk. He responded to several posts claiming Toler’s work was a “psyop,” including at least three from Josie Tait, who works at Timcast and tweets under the handle “The Redheaded Libertarian.”

Right-wing troll account Catturd2 also said it was a psyop, somehow related to the authorities decision to delay releasing the Nashville shooter’s writings.

Misinformation activists Andy Ngo and Ian Miles Cheong similarly cast doubt on Toler’s findings without providing any counter evidence.

Toler’s findings have been corroborated by other researchers, and no one in conservative media has presented any evidence to counter them or to support their “psyop” theory. All available evidence shows that the Allen shooter was a neo-Nazi who consumed right-wing media, despite the baseless claims to the contrary.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.


Why 'Christian' Nationalists Plan To Destroy The Federal Civil Service

Mainstream media outlets are ignoring Christian nationalism’s central role in a new conservative operation to ensure that a future Republican president implements “Schedule F,” a radical plan to eliminate job protections for federal workers who don’t share an extreme, right-wing ideology.

If successful, the effort could convert up to 20,000 career federal staff positions into political appointments, which usually top out at around 4,000, effectively gutting agencies of experts with decades of institutional knowledge. The order could theoretically expand to make hundreds of thousands of federal workers with union protections into at-will employees. That kind of “rightward move on the federal civil service is unheard of among Western democracies, and has only really reappeared as a policy goal in states with recent authoritarian backsliding, such as Brazil under Jair Bolsonaro or Viktor Orban’s Hungary,” according to GovExec.

The man behind the push to make Schedule F a fait accompli under the next Republican president is Russ Vought, a Christian nationalist and the founder of MAGA-aligned think tank the Center for Renewing America. Vought served as head of the Office of Management and Budget under former President Donald Trump, and oversaw a brief rollout of Schedule F in the final weeks of the administration.

As Media Matters has previously reported, Vought explicitly wants to draft an “army” of conservative activists with a “Biblical worldview” to staff the federal bureaucracy under the next Republican administration. Last September, Vought agreed with Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk’s suggestion that there should be “ideological purity tests” to serve in the federal workforce, a position Trump has now adopted as well.

Vought also advocated for changes to congressional rules to target individual civil servants, potentially removing their funding or firing them, further demonstrating his desire to purge career staffers who don’t share his views. He is also advising House Republicans in the ongoing debt ceiling negotiations, hoping to use the threat of default to slash funding for anti-poverty programs and add new work requirements to Medicaid.

Within the last several days, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and NBC News each covered aspects of this behind-the-scenes campaign, but omitted crucial details about Vought’s extreme ideology and the stakes of this looming fight. Although all three stories provided some valuable insights into Vought’s efforts, none included hisopenembrace of Christiannationalism in their coverage.

On April 20, the Timeswrote about conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation’s efforts to create a massive database of potential applicants to staff the next Republican-led executive branch, dubbed Project 2025. Vought’s think tank is one of Heritage’s partners, and he’s mentioned although not quoted at the end of the piece. (Vought was previously vice president at Heritage Action for America, the Heritage Foundation’s advocacy arm.)

The Times’ headline and subhead significantly downplayed the ambitions animating Project 2025.

Like the subheading, the body of the story analogizes the effort to a “right-wing LinkedIn,” and focuses on the difficulties of creating a single database that could satisfy the various potential Republican primary winners.

To the Times’ credit, the story eventually lays out the stakes of Schedule F, though not until the 11th and subsequent paragraphs.

Typically, a new president is allowed to replace around 4,000 “political appointees” — a revolving layer that sits atop the federal work force. Below the political layer lies a long-term work force of more than two million, who have strong employment protections meant to make it harder for a new president of a different political party to fire them. These protections, enshrined in law, established a civil service that is supposed to be apolitical — with federal officials accumulating subject matter and institutional expertise over long careers in the service of both Republican and Democratic presidents.

Mr. Trump wants to demolish that career civil service — or what he pejoratively calls “the deep state.” He has privately told allies that if he gets back into power he plans to fire far more than the 4,000 government officials that presidents are typically allowed to replace. Mr. Trump’s lawyers already have the legal instrument in hand.

The Times then mentions Vought in its closing paragraphs, and although the piece describes him as working to “gut the federal civil service in a second Trump administration,” it omits any mention of his theocratic views.

The Washington Post, similarly, offered some valuable contributions in its recent coverage of Trump and Vought’s emerging scheme. The Post’s April 21 headline warns of Trump’s “authoritarian vision for second term,” clearly foregrounding the gravity of the situation in a way the Times’ headline failed to do.

The piece also includes criticism from good government experts on the dangers of Schedule F, though it doesn’t mention that term specifically.

Some of Trump’s proposals for overhauling the merit-based civil service would require congressional action. The result could be to undermine the ability of professional public servants to reliably deliver government services without political interference, warned Max Stier, chief executive of the Partnership for Public Service, a nonpartisan nonprofit that supports federal workforce development.

“He is proposing changes that would create the world that he is objecting to,” Stier said. “It does have real-time consequences in terms of undermining public trust in our government. That’s a real problem because trust in government is a core part of our democracy.”

The article quotes Vought and mentions CRA, but, like the Times’ piece, doesn’t include mention of his Christian nationalist beliefs. Instead, readers learn about Vought’s sense of his own centrality in the larger movement.

“I guarantee the stuff we’re putting forward is not going to get thrown in the trash,” said Vought, who contributed the transition project’s chapter on exercising authority through the Executive Office of the President, akin to a playbook for a White House chief of staff. Some of Vought’s ideas have found their way into Trump’s proposals, such as a recent announcement on bringing independent agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission under White House supervision.

“There’s a glove of power needed to beat back the administrative state or deep state,” he said, “and if you’re not willing to put your hand in that glove you will fail, regardless of how much credibility you have with the base.”

The piece has much to recommend it as a big-picture overview of Trump’s goals for a second term, but readers would immensely benefit from a clearer understanding of Vought’s ideology, not just his proximity to power.

Like the Times and the Post, NBC’s coverage of this topic had some strong aspects to it. Both the headline and the subheading of NBC’s April 26 piece makes clear that this is a labor protection story in addition to a story about overseeing policy.

NBC also quotes Max Stier, the good government expert cited by the Post. But Vought is the centerpiece.

“I think Schedule F is basically doctrine now on the right,” said Russ Vought, an architect of Schedule F when he was Trump’s director of the Office of Management and Budget. “So I think one that sits in that position does not have an ability to not do this, not unlike any other governing philosophy” widely embraced by conservatives.

“Schedule F is getting to the point where I cannot see anyone who runs on the Republican side who doesn’t put this into play,” Vought, the president of the Center for Renewing America, a right-wing think tank, continued.

Vought’s analysis may very well be accurate, which makes it all the more important for readers to understand his overt ideology and stated goals. Instead, all of the relevant context is outsourced to Stier, and Vought’s Christian nationalism again went unmentioned.

Although Vought speaks of reining in the “woke and weaponized” bureaucracy, the reality is that his goal is to unleash the power of the federal government against his enemies. Christian nationalism is incompatible with secular, multicultural democracy, and any coverage of Schedule F needs to make that clear.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Right-Wing Media Provide 'Safe Space' For Calls To Cut Social Security (VIDEO)

Right-Wing Media Provide 'Safe Space' For Calls To Cut Social Security (VIDEO)

Right-wing media figures and activists continue to call for cuts to Social Security and Medicare, even as leaders of the Republican Party deny that slashing benefits for seniors is a goal. Conservative pundits are making these demands against the backdrop of ongoing debt ceiling negotiations between the White House and the Republican-controlled House, perpetuating the myth that federal spending is out of control as an excuse to push austerity policies.

Conservative orthodoxy has long held that Social Security and Medicare need to be “reformed,” a euphemism for cutting benefits or the raising eligibility age for future enrollees of either program. Nearly 90% of people over 65 were receiving Social Security checks as of the end of last year, representing about 30% of their income, according to official figures. As of last September, more than 65 million people were on Medicare. Slashing federal spending for either of those programs is politically unpopular, and some conservatives have changed their messaging — if not their underlying ideology — as a result.

Former President Donald Trump, for example, recently released an ad attacking Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis – who is expected to announce his candidacy shortly – for backing cuts to the programs. Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has also promised not to include the programs in the massive spending reductions his party is seeking.

But old habits die hard, and there is no shortage of recent examples of conservative media figures, activists, and politicians who have made it clear that their goal is to weaken and undermine these programs, often under the pretext of protecting them in the long term.

Townhall editor Katie Pavlich illustrated this dynamic last week on Fox News, when she referenced the national debt as a justification for cutting benefits to seniors. “The bottom line is that for either party in Washington, if they want to actually address this $32 trillion problem, someone is going to have to propose spending -- legislation that takes on reforming social security and Medicare,” Pavlich said. “Those are the things that are driving the debt.”

Fox News anchor John Roberts showed how the Republican talking point infiltrates the network’s so-called straight news coverage.

“There’s all this talk about how to get spending under control, and I think people on both sides rationally know there is no way to get spending under control unless you start to implement reforms to things like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, but neither side wants to come forward unilaterally and say, ‘Here’s our plan to do it,’” Roberts said. “There needs to be cooperation, they need to reach out across the aisle and until they do that, that debt ceiling is just going to keep bumping up and bumping up and bumping up — look at where it is now, more than $31 trillion, it's stunning.”

Roberts’ argument rests on the unstated and incorrect assumption that the US budget is analogous to a household budget, a fallacy that has been repeatedly debunked.

Earlier this month, Fox News host Mark Levin called for cuts on his radio show, even as he denied he was doing so. “Now, this isn't about cutting them,” Levin said. “This is about changing certain variables in these programs for future generations.”

“One of the proposals that was made several years ago, and I think what DeSantis voted for, and I would have voted for it too, was to raise the retirement age to 70, to grandfather in all current beneficiaries and those who will be beneficiaries within the next 10 years, so anybody 55 and older, because it's not gonna exist,” he continued.

Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk similarly advocated for reducing benefits to seniors in the future, also positioning himself as telling a harsh but necessary truth. “Current beneficiaries, I don't think anything should be touched, but yes, there need to be some adjustments for future retirees,” Kirk said. “And if you even say that, it's like the third rail.”

The right-wing outlet The Epoch Times positively covered presidential candidate Nikki Haley’s calls to gut Social Security and Medicare as well, with the headline: “Haley Promises Supporters She Will Address the Nation’s Huge Deficit.”

Speaking in a barn in the legislative district where she got her political start, Nikki Haley, former UN ambassador and South Carolina governor, said the nation needs to get its fiscal house in order.

And that work, she said, will include reforming entitlements.

“Social Security will be bankrupt in 10 years. Medicare will be bankrupt in five,” she said.

Fellow Republican presidential primary candidate Mike Pence also advocated for reductions to Social Security and Medicare, saying “we’ve got to put them on the table in the long term.”

On former Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s War Room podcast, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) broke from the official leadership line to consider reducing seniors’ benefits. “I believe that we have to have a discussion about raising the age of Social Security,” Gaetz said.

Right-wing site The Daily Caller was more honest than most in a story from earlier this month headlined: “Despite The Establishment’s Best Efforts, Some Republicans Want To Reform Entitlements.”

National Review, which has long positioned itself as the intellectual vanguard of the conservative movement, has also been open about their desire to weaken Social Security and Medicare.

In a blog post pegged to Trump’s attack ad, senior writer Noah Rothman defended DeSantis on the grounds that “the longtime Republican lawmaker once evinced support for longtime Republican positions: specifically, the urgent and undeniable national imperative for reforming America’s unfunded entitlement programs before they collapse.”

In another, contributor Jack Salmon called for “raising the retirement age to at least 68, indexing retirement age to life expectancy, and adopting chained Consumer Price Index [CPI] as the preferred metric for measuring annual cost-of-living adjustments.” Research shows that moving to chained CPI would reduce benefits for seniors.

Russ Vought, a Christian nationalist sympathizer and the founder of the right-wing think tank the Center for Renewing America, has been at the center of the debt ceiling debate, including pushing for massive cuts to social welfare programs. Like McCarthy, Vought’s official line is that his organization isn’t targeting Social Security or Medicare, but diverges from the House leader in acknowledging that those programs are only off the table for the short term.

“The House Republicans are not making Social Security and Medicare a fight on this debt limit,” Vought said on Fox News last month. He added that his organization’s budget targeted Medicaid, while also admitting that when it came to Social Security and Medicare, “We have to reform those programs over time.”

While Social Security and Medicare are universal programs that benefit seniors, and are incredibly politically durable as a result, Medicaid is a targeted anti-poverty program whose recipients conservatives are happy to demonize. There is no small irony that the faux-populist wing of the Republican Party — which includes Bannon and Vought — are doing their best to deny health care to the working class.

Vought frequently expresses his eagerness to slash Medicaid coverage by implementing work requirements. Public health experts call that a “terrible idea,” but it is nonetheless one that conservatives keep proposing. “You’ve been talking about the work requirements,” Bannon said to Vought on an April 24 edition of War Room.

Vought responded, arguing to get significant fiscal reductions in spending “you have to really begin to reform Medicaid, as I’ve proposed, and get people who are adults without children off of the Medicaid program.”

Bannon has repeatedly advocated for reducing the federal budget by cutting Medicaid. On April 18, he reiterated that “Medicare and Social Security are off the table,” but “you can get there” by “getting into Medicaid.” He similarly called for “massive cuts” to Medicaid earlier this year at the Conservative Political Action Conference, citing Vought’s work.

The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that the House GOP plan to add work requirements to Medicaid would result in 10 million people losing their coverage.

The through-line from all of these statements are clear. Conservatives in government and right-wing media are laying the foundation to eviscerate the limited but important social programs for seniors and the working class. Their denials are paper-thin, when they’re even offered at all.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Fox News

Murdochs Demand All Subscribers Cough Up Huge Increase In Fox Cable Fees

Following Fox News’ massive defamation settlement paid out to Dominion Election Systems, the network is now pursuing an even more aggressive strategy to raise revenue by increasing the fee paid by cable and satellite providers to $3 per subscriber, according to a new report from Vanity Fair.

Fox News executives insist that sponsors have not been spooked by the Big Lie scandal, nor have the cable and satellite providers that carry the network. In the negotiations that are taking place this spring between Fox and the likes of Comcast, Fox wants to break past the three-buck mark—meaning three dollars per cable household per month, according to sources familiar with the matter. Even though the American cable universe is shrinking, Murdoch and his son Lachlan Murdoch are still extracting billions of dollars.

These fees are the majority of revenue for Fox, more even than advertising, and they are significantly higher than those charged by the network’s competitors. Fox has been able to raise prices and charge disproportionately high rates due to its history of deceptive and aggressive negotiating tactics during contract renewal talks with providers.

During a February 2022 earnings call, Fox Corp. CEO Lachlan Murdoch announced that 70% of the network’s cable and satellite contracts will be up for renewal during fiscal years 2023 and 2024. Murdoch has signaled to investors that Fox aims to continue to increase affiliate revenue even as the cord-cutting trend continues to accelerate, shrinking the consumer base.

Dominion sued Fox News and Fox Corp. for defamation over the network’s 2020 election coverage that falsely claimed the company’s election machines had been used to alter votes, among other debunked conspiracy theories. The two parties settled the case immediately before the trial was set to begin this week, with Fox paying out $787.5 million to Dominion. Still, as Media Matters President Angelo Carusone wrote in an MSNBC op-ed, “Fox News is about to burn brighter and hotter” to shore up the loyalty of its audience, which the network will then leverage during upcoming negotiations.

Carusone continued:

The impact of Dominion’s lawsuit was always going to be limited because of Fox’s ultimate weapon: cable carriage fees.

The dirty secret about Fox News is that it is one of the only commercial TV channels that doesn’t need a single advertisement to be profitable, if not the only one. In fact, Fox could have zero dollars in ad revenue and still have at least a 35% profit margin. This is the result of carriage fees and the guaranteed revenue they provide Fox.

During what would have been the Dominion trial, Fox News is actively renewing, or gearing up to renew, its contracts with at least three major cable providers — a potentially even bigger financial stake than the case. These three renewals alone, even without increases, would be worth nearly $1 billion annually to Fox.

Since negotiations are ongoing, the exact amount of money Fox will be able to extract hasn’t yet been finalized, but Vanity Fair’s reporting allows for a reasonable estimate.

Per S&P Global, there are approximately 61.9 million multichannel video subscribers, including cable, satellite, and other delivery service providers. If Fox is collecting $2.18 from each of them, as is their current affiliate fee rate, that’s over $1.3 billion in revenue. If that rate goes up to $3 per subscriber, Fox News would be earning more than $1.8 billion from affiliate revenue alone — mostly from customers who don’t watch the channel and have no desire to fund the network’s defamation settlement.

This means that Fox has every incentive to ramp up its extremism, rather than attempt to moderate it. Back to Carusone:

For Fox, success here necessitates that its audience be as fervent as ever. Accordingly, you can expect the network to raise the temperature of its simmering cauldron of deceit and extremism to a full-on boil. It has no other choice.

That process has already begun; Fox has told more than 60 lies about the election and January 6 prosecutions in 2023 alone.

For more information on Media Matters’ campaign to protect consumers from Fox’s affiliate fee greed, click here.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Mike Lindell

Fox Lawyer Throws MyPillow Sponsor Under The Bus In Dominion Case

A lawyer for Fox News and Fox Corp. told a judge in Delaware that MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, a top advertiser for the network, was not a reliable source of information when he appeared on Tucker Carlson’s show in January of 2021, during a hearing held earlier this week. It is rare for a broadcaster to publicly disparage a top sponsor, and could be a signal of growing tensions between Fox and Lindell.

Erin Murphy, the lawyer, was defending Fox against a defamation lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems in response to the network’s post-2020 election coverage. Dominion alleges that Fox knowingly and deliberately aired false information about the company’s voting machines and software, in a bid to win back viewers who were fleeing to right-wing competitor Newsmax.

Dominion claims that Fox attempted to draw those viewers in by indulging their incorrect belief that the 2020 election was rigged, a position held by former President Donald Trump and his lawyers. Private communications at Fox News revealed through the lawsuit show that on-air talent and top executives – including Fox Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch and his son and Fox Corp. CEO Lachlan Murdoch– knew that Trump’s conspiracy theories about the hacked election were false, but aired them anyway.

Much of Murphy’s defense of Fox rested on her argument that a “reasonable viewer” could discern that Maria Bartiromo, Lou Dobbs, and others at the network who provided a platform for Trump’s lawyers were merely covering newsworthy allegations, rather than presenting the false claims as statements of fact.

But Murphy’s defense of an interview that top star Tucker Carlson conducted with Lindell took a different tack. Lindell’s appearance on Carlson’s January 26, 2021, program, she argued, was so incoherent that Fox News’ audience would be confused enough to find him inherently unreliable.

A “reasonable viewer would be puzzled on anything he is talking about,” Murphy told Judge Eric Davis, who is presiding over the case.

Murphy told the judge that Carlson invited Lindell on his show to discuss “cancel culture,” rather than Dominion machines specifically. She acknowledged that Lindell did bring up Dominion voting machines, but argued his comments were so disjointed that a viewer wouldn’t be able to follow his train of thought.

Murphy additionally presented Lindell’s commentary as absurd on its face. At one point in the interview, “he dares Dominion to sue him,” she said, exasperated.

Murphy argued that, contrary to Dominion’s claims that Carlson endorsed Lindell’s false allegations, he in fact treated them as “conspiracy theories” and signaled to his audience that they shouldn’t believe anything his guest was saying. In reality, Carlson made a much more couched statement, that mainstream outlets who ostracized Lindell were “not making conspiracy theories go away."

Dominion’s position is that Carlson knew Lindell would bring up baseless allegations about voter fraud, and that Fox wanted to “assuage” a major advertiser. Providing Lindell with a platform to spread known falsehoods, Dominion argued, served as a de facto endorsement of them. That argument is supported by Carlson’s own deposition in the case. “As far as I know, Mike Lindell makes that same claim every single day of the year on his website and any interview that he does,” Carlson said in sworn testimony.

Rupert Murdoch later acknowledged under questioning from Dominion lawyers that it was “wrong” for Carlson to have had Lindell on his show in the weeks after January 6.

Last month, Lindell addressed the issue on his own show, telling his viewers that he “had to tell the truth” about Dominion on Carlson's show.

Lindell and Fox have had public feuds in the recent past. In July of 2021, Lindell threatened to pull his ads from Fox News because the network wouldn’t air a spot for his bogus cyber symposium. (The Dominion case has already revealed that Fox News' CEO sent Lindell a gift to woo him back after that; by mid-2022 Fox News was running more MyPillow ads than ever.)

Whether Fox’s legal strategy of characterizing him as an unreliable conspiracy theorist will further inflame those tensions remains to be seen.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Guo and Bannon

Bannon Repeatedly Promoted Alleged Scams By Indicted Partner Guo (VIDEO)

Several newly resurfaced videos show former Trump adviser Steve Bannon promoting allegedly fraudulent schemes perpetrated by his longtime associate and former financial backer Miles Guo, also known as Ho Wan Kwok and Guo Wengui.

Federal prosecutors arrested Guo on Wednesday on allegations that he ran a sprawling $1 billion fraud and money laundering scam, according to an unsealed indictment released the same day. Shortly after the news broke, Media Matters reported that Bannon had promoted some of the elements of Guo’s scheme that were included in the indictment.

Guo’s alleged wide-ranging conspiracy included a faux-cryptocurrency “ecosystem” called Himalaya Exchange, including a digital asset called H Coin. Unlike most cryptocurrencies, the coins in Himalaya Exchange weren’t tradable with other digital currencies unless they were first converted to U.S. dollars — requests which the platform could deny at its “discretion” — according to the indictment. Guo also ran a suite of media properties, including a broadcast service called GTV, which he used to allegedly defraud investors through selling stock in the company and pocketing the deposits, rather than investing them in the business.

The new videos raise further questions about Bannon’s potential involvement in Guo’s activities. In a video published November 17, 2021, Bannon promoted Himalaya Exchange and H Coin, shortly after the coin was publicly offered.

“I think the H Coin team and the Himalaya Exchange team is to be congratulated,” Bannon said. “I believe it’s the first time anybody's ever — in 2 weeks, we have $27 billion of market cap.”

Bannon then went on to praise a laundry list of Guo’s ventures, several of which are included in the indictment.

“One of the things about Miles, in my time of knowing him — just the, you know, the music, the fashion, GNews, GTV, association with Gettr, all these things you see popping off has been such successes really in such a short period of time,” Bannon said.

Last April, Guo allegedly illegally transferred $37 million from Himalaya Exchange to cover costs of his personal luxury yacht. Postal service agents arrested Bannon on Guo’s yacht in August 2020, for allegations of defrauding investors in the failed “We Build the Wall” scam.

Two other videos come from a panel discussion in September 2021, that included Guo, Bannon, former Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro, and former Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller. At the time of the event, Miller was CEO of Twitter competitor Gettr, another project backed by Guo. As part of the investigation against Guo, authorities seized over $2.7 million from a Gettr bank account in September 2022, according to the indictment. This February, Miller resigned from Gettr to join Trump’s 2024 campaign.

The panel discussion was in celebration of Guo and Bannon’s joint venture called the New Federal State of China, a rebranding of the so-called whistleblowers movement. Bannon hoped the NFSC would become a “government in exile” that could seize power once the Chinese Communist Party was destroyed, a goal he and Guo shared.

“No matter what the CCP does, it’s impossible to take down this movement,” Bannon said. “The whistleblower movement, the New Federal State, the Rule of Law, GTV and G News — GTV and G News are five times bigger than a year ago.”

Guo founded two nonprofits — the Rule of Law Foundation and the Rule of Law Society — both of which are named in the indictment as vehicles he used in furtherance of the conspiracy. Bannon was on the board of the Rule of Law Society but reportedly resigned at some point in the summer of 2020.

Earlier in the panel, Bannon made many of the same points about Guo’s various projects.

“The New Federal State, the whistleblower movement, the Rule of Law Society and Foundation, Gettr, G Fashion, all this — what the world is seeing is a new China and a new Chinese,” Bannon said.

Although G Fashion is not mentioned in the indictment, another similarly branded company of Guo’s called G Clubs was allegedly a central pillar in the scheme to defraud investors.

Last June, the NFSC celebrated its second anniversary, and Bannon again promoted Guo’s ventures, praising “G Fashion and Gettr and all these different companies that have been brought together,” which also include “a news organization, … that you can stay on GNews 24 hours a day and get incredible news.”

At the same event, Guo underlined his pitch to potential investors. “Lots of investors trust us because we are in business in America,” Guo said as Bannon sat beside him. “Because they trust, believe us — we really can take down the CCP.”

The NFSC was also a big sponsor of the Conservative Political Action Conference this year after other companies, including Fox News, dropped out.

Hours after Guo was taken into custody, a fire broke out at his luxury Sherry-Netherland penthouse in Manhattan. The blaze is still under investigation.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Mr. Guo

Top Bannon Associate Guo Wengui Busted In Alleged Billion-Dollar Fraud

Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon promoted a cryptocurrency and other properties created by his longtime associate and Chinese businessman Ho Wan Kwok, also known as Miles Guo -- who is now under federal indictment for charges related to a digital coin scheme as well as other allegations of fraud and money laundering.

Guo’s relationship with Bannon goes back at least to 2017. A New York Times report from the time stated that Bannon would head “the so-called Rule of Law Fund” — the $100 million effort that Guo was financing — to criticize the Chinese government. The Southern District of New York’s indictment indicates that Guo used two nonprofits — the Rule of Law Foundation and the Rule of Law Society — founded in 2018 to “amass followers who were aligned” with his purported policy objectives in China and who were also inclined to believe his “statements regarding investment and money-making opportunities.” Guo began funding Bannon in 2018, though the current state of their financial ties isn't publicly known.

Guo then leveraged his followers to launch a number of different allegedly fraudulent ventures. The newly unsealed indictment alleges that Guo and others “fraudulently obtained more than approximately $262 million in victim funds through the Himalaya Exchange, a purported cryptocurrency ‘ecosystem’ accessible on the internet.”

Himalaya Exchange included a digital coin used for trading called the Himalaya Coin, or H Coin, and a so-called stablecoin that was purportedly backed by U.S. federal reserves and had a fixed exchange rate of one Himalaya Dollar to one U.S. dollar.

Guo debuted the exchange around April 2021, and Bannon praised the coin in an interview the following November on GTV, another venture in Guo’s alleged fraudulent scheme, just days after the coin’s initial offering.

“It’s monumental,” Bannon said in response to the coin’s release.

“I think if you look at it, the pieces are coming in place,” he added. Bannon then listed a series of projects that he and Guo were jointly involved in, including “G News, GTV, there’s Gettr, there’s now H Coin, there’s the Himalaya Exchange.”

“If you look at the institutionalization of the counteroffensive to the Chinese Communist Party, it’s pretty impressive,” Bannon continued.

In fact, as laid out in the indictment, the purported crypto scheme wasn’t cryptocurrency at all, but rather a series of “credits” that could only be used on the Himalaya Exchange or ultimately converted to dollars (which the exchange could deny). Guo and his named co-conspirator, Kin Ming Je, aka William Je, later extracted a $37 million “loan” from Himalaya Exchange to cover the costs of Guo’s luxury yacht.

Bannon was arrested by Postal Service agents on the yacht in August 2020, on allegations of his own fraudulent scheme. In that case, federal prosecutors accused Bannon and others of defrauding contributors to his so-called “charity” “We Build the Wall” out of more than $15 million for personal expenses.

Federal investigators are also allegedly interested in a Bannon-linked cryptocurrency called FJB.

Bannon and Guo have manylinks to one another and have long praised each other in public.

In October 2020, two of Guo’s media properties lavished praise on Bannon, to which he responded by returning the favor.

“G News and GTV, great article today, comes out that GTV, Miles Guo, Steve Bannon, saving western civilization,” Bannon said. “Hey, I don’t know if I’d go that far but let’s say this: I’m so proud of G News and GTV for stepping up.”

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Fox News Discovers Regulation Is Needed After Ohio Derailment

Fox News Discovers Regulation Is Needed After Ohio Derailment

Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade acknowledged on Thursday that federal regulations may be necessary to protect people and the environment, a rare admission on a network that has pushed for mass deregulation for decades. Kilmeade, who co-hosts Fox & Friends, made the comments while discussing the East Palestine, Ohio, train derailment and its aftermath.

“I knew nothing about these derailment numbers,” Kilmeade said. “I'm stunned by it – that we have thousands of derailments all the time and how costly it is, and how they're not kept up and maybe the regulation needs to be there.”

Fox News has long vilified federal regulations as governmental overreach, and needless red tape that eats into corporate profits. In 2011, the network launchedRegulation Nation, a series that would “expose how excessive laws are drowning American businesses.” The series was the brainchild of then-Fox News President Roger Ailes, who said at the time that bureaucrats “draw up regulations to try to ruin your life.”

That same year, Fox News also waged a full-on war against the Environmental Protection Agency, and continues to argue against environmental regulations, including in its so-called straight news programs.

More recently, Fox News personalities and their guests have railed against federal regulations for the oil industry, argued that federal regulations are a way to divide families, blamed regulations that purport to limit police violence for resulting in the police killing of Tyre Nichols, and pushed for further deregulation of the cryptocurrency market, just to name a few examples. Fox News and other cable networks also largely ignored the Trump administration’s broad deregulatory agenda to benefit massive polluters in the early weeks of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Television coverage of East Palestine was scant and decontextualized, including on Fox News, immediately after the derailment, with only three percent of coverage mentioning the decadeslong deregulatory push by the rail industry. The Obama administration attempted to make more effective train brakes mandatory following a series of derailments in 2014, which the industry fought against, effectively hollowing out the proposed rules. In 2018, the Trump administration completely repealed the regulations.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Bannon's Big 'Stolen Election' Lies Incited Fascist Attack On Brazil Capital

Bannon's Big 'Stolen Election' Lies Incited Fascist Attack On Brazil Capital

Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon has spent more than two months denying the results of last year’s Brazilian presidential election, helping to lay the groundwork for the attacks on government buildings over the weekend carried out by supporters of defeated former President Jair Bolsonaro. The mob violence from Bolsonaro’s supporters bore a striking resemblance to the attempted coup at the U.S. Capitol two years ago, which Bannon also helped to foment.

The day after the pro-Bolsonaro, anti-democracy riot, Bannon defended the protesters’ perceived grievances on his War Room podcast. “The key is legitimacy, you must show you are legitimate,” Bannon said. “There were millions and millions — tens of millions of people in the street, working class people, and particularly … Evangelical Christians that are not prepared to sit there and let an atheistic, Marxist, communist criminal like Lula steal the election and steal their country.”

Bannon has been questioning the legitimacy of the Brazilian election process since former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, known as Lula, was declared the winner on October 30. In the immediate aftermath of Bolsonaro’s loss, Bannon baselessly claimed on his podcast that the vote totals couldn’t be trusted and urged Bolsonaro to fight on. He was frequently joined by Matthew Tyrmand, a conservative activist who has claimed to discover mathematical anomalies that call the Brazilian election results into question. (An analysis from the Brazilian military did not find evidence of fraud in the election.)

Despite Bannon’s pleas, Bolsonaro ultimately acknowledged the results on November 2, 2022, although he didn’t technically concede. In late December, Bolsonaro traveled to Florida, where he remains, while still facing mounting investigations in his home country.

Bannon and Tyrmand continued to cast doubt on the vote totals even after Bolsonaro had at least nominally accepted defeat. On November 3, Bannon invited Tyrmand on War Room to discuss the pro-Bolsonaro street protests following his electoral defeat. “The piece was amazing,” Bannon said, referring to an article Tyrmand had recently published. “You can see how they stole this.”

The pro-Bolsonaro forces are “up against a transnational criminal class that has both partnerships with the party of Davos, the World Economic Forum, and the Chinese Communist Party. That’s what’s trying to take over Brazil,” Bannon continued. Those remarks echoed an argument also put forward by Fox News’ Tucker Carlson claiming that the CCP is using Lula to turn Brazil into a de facto Chinese colony.

“What you see in the streets is the people of Brazil saying, ‘We don’t want that,’” Bannon concluded.

Tyrmand then speculated about a military audit in the case of fraud, “which you and I certainly believe there is, based on what we’ve seen with our own eyes,” he told Bannon.

Later that month, Tyrmand returned to the show to discuss the ongoing protests, which he described as “the largest street demonstrations in human history.”

“This brings back memories of the people in the streets fighting Soviet communism in the late ‘80s, when the Berlin Wall was coming down,” Tyrmand claimed. “You know what, this is orders of magnitude bigger.”

“It’s the Brazilian Spring,” Bannon added.

Tyrmand then claimed that social media posts showed voting machines had been improperly transported from their storage areas and insinuated that it was evidence of potential tampering or fraud.

“The election was stolen,” Bannon replied.

Two days later, Tyrmand again appeared on War Room to cast further doubt about the vote totals.

“People know they’ve been defrauded, they know that the mathematics behind what the machines demonstrated is patently ludicrous, it doesn’t pass any empirical analytical test when you know people all over the country voted for Bolsonaro,” he said.

Tyrmand was back on Bannon’s show in early December, describing the Bolsonaristas as “Constitutionalists” who “believe in the peaceful process and transitions of power.” He then expressed his hope that “the military will do their job that’s afforded them in the Constitution” and carry out an audit of the election results.

Bannon also regularly denied the results of the Brazilian election on his Gettr account. On November 2, he referred to the rolling unrest in the country as the “beginning of a Brazilian Spring,” a phrase he would repeat in the coming days.

The same day, as right-wing figures promoted the idea of a military audit that they hoped would change the results of the election, Bannon appeared to endorse a military coup. “The Military Represents,” he wrote alongside a video of camouflaged trucks driving through the streets.

On November 3, he shared a New York Times article reporting on the Bolsonaristas who wanted the military to intervene. “The People of Brazil will not tolerate the Globalist and the CCP stealing their country,” he wrote.

Later that month, Bannon called Lula a “transnational criminal” who “stole the Brazilian election,” describing it as “very clear.”

Even as it became increasingly obvious that Bolsonaro had no chance to return to power, Bannon kept the drumbeat going. “The People of Brazil will not tolerate a godless atheist Marxist like Lula to takeover illegally and destroy their country,” Bannon wrote on Christmas Eve.

Then on January 8, as the pro-Bolsonaro riot was commencing in Brazil’s capital, Bannon repeatedlyposted on Gettr that “Lula stole the election” and referred to the insurrectionists as “Brazilian Freedom Fighters.”

Just as in the January 6 insurrection, the anti-democratic forces in Brazil were unsuccessful in changing the results of an election they lost. For Bannon, it’s yet another recent failure.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Trump Think-Tank Concocts Plan To Weaponize FBI Against Liberals

Trumpist Think-Tank Concocts Plan To Weaponize FBI Against Liberals

The Center for Renewing America, a think tank closely aligned with former President Donald Trump, has outlined a series of proposals that could inhibit Department of Justice and FBI investigations into far-right extremism and unleash the Bureau against the right’s political enemies. This effort aligns closely with editorial decisions at Fox News, which has manufactured a false narrative that the FBI has secretly been “rigging elections” against Republicans, including in the 2022 midterms. The network’s top star, Tucker Carlson, recently falsely accused the FBI of working “to subvert the outcome of what the rest of us assumed were free and fair elections.”

CRA is led by Christian nationalist Russ Vought, who served as Trump’s director of the Office of Management and Budget. Vought appears frequently on Steve Bannon’s War Room podcast, and has been on Fox News at least 11 times since founding CRA following his stint in the White House. Trump administration alumni Ken Cuccinelli, Jeff Clark, and Kash Patel are also affiliated with CRA.

CRA is one of the many organizations on the right pushing for the new House Republican majority to investigate the DOJ and FBI for a supposed anti-conservative bias, following the GOP’s takeover of the House. House Republicans won’t have any direct control over how the DOJ and FBI operate, but the lower chamber can exert pressure on executive branch agencies through budgeting, hearings, and investigations. The GOP’s approach in the House could also foreshadow how a future Republican president may seek to restructure the DOJ and other federal law enforcement agencies.

In early December, CRA released its budget proposal to act as a roadmap of sorts for conservative lawmakers. The document is called "A Commitment to End Woke and Weaponized Government," and includes a long list of right-wing grievances aimed at federal agencies that Vought claims are pursuing social and racial justice policies to the detriment of conservatives. Central to this push is Vought’s effort to create a narrative that the Department of Justice and the FBI are organs of the left bent on suppressing the right – a claim that is wrong both in the current moment and historically.

Given the chaotic start to the House Republicans’ new majority, the public doesn’t know exactly what these investigations might look like, but a new report from conservative columnist Kimberley Strassel at the Wall Street Journal offers some clues. On December 29, 2021, Strassel wrote, “House Republicans plan to set up a panel under the House Judiciary Committee, tentatively called the ‘Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government.'” Separately, Politico reported that some on the furthest-right flank of the House Republican caucus demanded that GOP leader Kevin McCarthy investigate a “weaponized government” in exchange for their support for his bid for Speaker of the House.

It isn’t clear whether these Republicans deliberately adopted language almost identical to that used by CRA, but Vought’s status as a high-profile conservative activist suggests that his budget is as good a place as any to look for a preview of what investigative angles and recommendations this potential subcommittee might pursue.

CRA pushes to increase the FBI’s ability to “thwart” efforts at criminal justice reform

Coinciding roughly with Trump’s political ascendence, conservatives have argued that the FBI has been turned into a secret political force bent on persecuting conservatives, a paradigm CRA’s proposal endorses wholeheartedly. These missives from conservatives sometimes lead to overly credulous mainstream media framing that claims the right aims to rein in the FBI or otherwise curtail the overall power of federal law enforcement. CRA’s budget blows that narrative out of the water.

Rather than wanting to circumscribe the powers of the DOJ and FBI, CRA’s budget makes clear that the conservative goal is to sabotage the least reactionary elements of these agencies, while ramping up funding to offices that can target the right’s political opponents in exactly the way they claim – incorrectly – that law enforcement has been used against them.

Within the DOJ, CRA calls for “significant cuts” to “the highly politicized Civil Rights Division and Environment and Natural Resources Division,” and the ”full elimination of the ‘equity’ obsessed Community Relations Service." It also seeks “to terminate the recently-created Office of Environmental Justice,” which CRA claims is “the beginning of a weaponized effort to target American citizens who refuse to adhere to a destructive green energy agenda.”

As for the FBI, CRA demands “funding reductions within specific subdivisions of the Bureau that are not salvageable due to a willful and repeated pattern of partisan lawfare waged against Americans who do not share the bureaucracy’s increasingly woke and progressive worldview.” This includes “reprioritizing” funding in the Bureau’s Intelligence, Counterintelligence, and Counterterrorism units, as all have been supposedly captured by a “radically woke worldview.” All three of those divisions are at least partially responsible for the FBI’s halting and inadequate attempts to disrupt far-right domestic extremist groups in the United States.

Crucially, there is one office at the FBI that would see its funding get a massive increase: the Criminal Investigative Division. “The Budget calls for $4 billion, an increase of $618 million or 18.3 percent over FY21 levels, to thwart the increasing societal destruction caused by progressive policies at the state and local levels that have defunded police, refused to prosecute criminals, and released violent felons into communities,” CRA writes.

The budget doesn’t specify exactly how the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division would operate in state and local jurisdictions to “thwart” their “progressive policies.” The most reasonable interpretation of this proposal, though, is that Vought and CRA want the FBI to operate like a free-range, federal police force that a Republican president can dispatch to localities deemed as hostile. The FBI’s responses to the uprisings following the death of George Floyd in summer 2020, while Trump was still in office, offer a preview of what that might look like: infiltration, surveillance, and targeting of Black activists.

Beyond the DOJ and FBI, the CRA budget offers other proposed changes to law enforcement, each of which would shift the relative balance of power in these agencies towards their most reactionary components. In the Department of Homeland Security section, CRA calls for additional Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. The budget calls for the elimination of a State Department office tasked with “eliminating corruption” and the redirecting of those funds towards “border enforcement and Coast Guard missions to combat drug trafficking.”

CRA also proposes eliminating “funding for the recent hiring of 87,000 new IRS agents,” who the document claims are “targeting hardworking Americans and struggling families in a craven effort to sustain the broader bureaucracy’s radical progressive agenda.” Vought and CRA here are joining in a chorus of right-wing pundits who have opposed the new hiring of IRS agents under a thin pretext of right-wing populism, but which in reality is simply a reformulation of the longstanding conservative goal to dodge taxes personally and starve public institutions as a matter of policy.

Looming in the background is Vought’s embrace of "Schedule F,” a Trump-era policy designed to remove career federal staffers if they were deemed insufficiently committed to conservative causes. After leaving government, Vought has doubled down on this approach to public service, advising the next Republican president to implement “ideological purity tests” to purge workers with an ”anti-racist" ideology in favor of those with a “Biblical worldview.”

An FBI under the type of administration Vought envisions would likely resemble a Bureau recommitted to the worst excesses and abuses of its past. Although Vought imagines he and his colleagues are subject to that treatment now, his budget shows he's more than willing to actually take this approach against his political opponents.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Far Right Pushing Lawsuits And Armed Protests Over Defeat In Arizona

Far Right Pushing Lawsuits And Armed Protests Over Defeat In Arizona

Despite multiple media outlets – including Fox News – calling the Arizona governor’s race for Democratic nominee Katie Hobbs, Republican Kari Lake has refused to concede, with right-wing media figures pushing her to continue to question the results and possibly mount a legal challenge in court. What any eventual challenge might look like is unclear, but some of Lake’s advisers are reportedly hoping that the vote results could ultimately get close enough to trigger an automatic recount.

From The New York Times:

Election officials have said that despite scattered problems, there were no issues that prevented voters from casting ballots on Election Day.

Still, Ms. Lake has given no sign that she is preparing to concede. Her only public words so far have been to suggest, without evidence, that the vote was tainted. “Arizonans know BS when they see it,” she tweeted on Monday night, after The Associated Press called the race.

Lake is a close ally of former President Donald Trump and received significant support from those in his circle, including former senior strategist Steve Bannon. Both Trump and Bannon baselessly have now claimed the Arizona midterm elections were fraudulent, a clear echo of their denialist rhetoric following the 2020 election.

“Wow! They just took the election away from Kari Lake. It’s really bad out there!” Trump wrote on Truth Social.

Bannon, who appeared with Lake at a rally in early November and repeatedly interviewed her on his War Room podcast during the campaign, has reportedly been advising Lake behind the scenes since Election Day. According to The Washington Post, Bannon was “clear-eyed about the unfavorable numbers” she faced before losing her race. Despite this, he has used vague innuendo to tell his audience the results cannot be certified.

On the evening of November 15, after Fox and othermediaoutlets had declared Hobbs the winner, Bannon called the results “impossible,” saying that there was “zero possibility this thing can be certified.”

“Don't think that Kari Lake is not going to fight this one down to the bitter end because she is going to fight this one down to the bitter end,” Bannon said.

On November 16, Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk declared, “we need to have a new election in Arizona,” and partially blamed “fraud” for Lake’s defeat. He also pushed back on a response from a listener accusing him of “legitimizing” Hobbs’ win. “I’m the one that’s actually encouraging Kari Lake to file a lawsuit … asking for a new election in Arizona,” he said.

Turning Point Action activist Tyler Bowyer, who is also allegedly advising Lake and was instrumental in spreading early conspiracy theories about Arizona voting machines on Election Day, demanded that the statewide results be “fully litigated” in court.

Arizona secretary of state candidate Mark Finchem retweeted Bowyer’s post, then wrote, “Less tweets more lawsuits.” Finchem was a constant presence on Bannon’s War Room throughout his candidacy, and became one of the most prominent election deniers in the country, in addition to being a member of the extremist militia the Oath Keepers.

Right-wing operative Floyd Brown, the founder of conspiracy theory website the Western Journal and the man behind the infamously racist “Willie Horton” campaign ad, has been working with Lake as well. According to Brown, Lake will “not go quietly into the night. She intends to stand and fight.”

The Western Journal has a long history of pushing extremist ideas, including early misinformation about COVID-19 and anti-LGBTQ propaganda. Now, Floyd and his colleagues are working to sow doubt about the Arizona vote totals.

On Twitter, the Western Journal’s Olivia Brown asked her followers to send “testimonials” of potential election fraud they had witnessed, claiming, “All of these reports of #AZVoterSuppression occurred in heavy Republican areas.”

Western Journal senior staff writer Randy DeSoto called the Arizona results “irreparably tainted” and argued that the “only fair remedy to address the fiasco that occurred in Maricopa County on Election Day is a redo.”

Trump lawyer and former One America News host Christina Bobb echoed the point. “I think they need a new election,” Bobb said on Tuesday evening. “I mean, the only way to restore confidence in the election in Arizona is to redo it.”

The official Twitter account for Lake’s campaign also called for a do-over. “We don't care if this is unprecedented,” the account wrote. “The appropriate thing to do would be to let Maricopa County cast their votes again.”

Others on the right pushed for a more extreme response to Lake’s loss. Conservative radio show host Joe Oltmann responded to Hobbs’ win by engaging in his typical violent rhetoric.

“Shut it down,” Oltmann said. “I'm going to Arizona. I know a lot of people are going to Arizona. We shut it down. We shut down every road, we shut down everything. We shut it down. And if it takes a week, if it takes two weeks, if it takes five weeks, it takes two months, if it takes us through Christmas, it's OK.”

“We start by starving off those people who are institutionally enslaving us,” he declared, adding that this is “the Boston Tea Party moment — this is it.”

“You make sure that when you're out there and you shut it down, and you have 5,000 cars on the street, and you're all out there having a barbecue, you're well armed,” he continued, outlining suggested “rules of engagement” for election protests in Arizona. “But nobody sees you're well-armed. Nobody sees you’re well-armed until you're actually protecting someone else. ... And when they do something to one of us, you make sure they pay for it.”

“And that’s not violent — we’re peaceful and we’re going to remain peaceful,” he added, as a promotional crawl at the bottom of the screen advertised deals on guns and ammunition.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Carlson Eulogizes Hell’s Angel Sonny Barger, Violent Criminal And Drug Smuggler

Carlson Eulogizes Hell’s Angel Sonny Barger, Violent Criminal And Drug Smuggler

Fox News star Tucker Carlson eulogized Ralph “Sonny” Barger over the weekend, effusively praising the founder of the vigilante biker gang Hells Angels just one month after telling Republicans to run on crime policies. Barger spent around 13 years in prison following convictions for assault with a deadly weapon and kidnapping, among other charges.

Carlson celebrated Barger in his remarks, presenting him as the type of person Carlson aspires to be. “Stand tall, stay loyal, remain free, and always value honor,” Carlson said in a clip shared to Twitter by right-wing conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec. Quoting Barger’s supposed philosophy, Carlson remarked, “If there is a phrase that sums up more perfectly what I want to be, what I aspire to be, and the kind of man I respect, I can’t think of a phrase.”

The Department of Justice considers the Hells Angels to be linked to organized criminal activities, including cross-border drug smuggling, as well as “assault, extortion, [and] homicide.”

Barger himself had a long history of criminal charges and convictions stemming from drug distribution and violence. In 1988, he and another member “were convicted of conspiracy to transport and receive explosives in interstate commerce with intent to kill and damage buildings” belonging to a rival motorcycle club, The Associated Press reported at the time. He was charged in 2002 with aggravated assault after allegedly breaking his wife’s ribs and lacerating her spleen, according to Tom Barker, a professor and expert on outlaw motorcycle gangs.

Carlson’s kind words for Barger come just weeks after he hyped a supposed increase in crime nationwide and instructed Republicans to campaign on it. “If every Republican office-seeker, every Republican candidate in the United States focused on law and order and equality under the law, there would be a red wave” in the November midterms, Carlson said in his August 19 monologue. The next day, Carlson stated that “suddenly, there is a huge amount of stealing in the United States. It’s everywhere.” He offered no evidence for his claim.

Carlson’s simultaneous endorsement of Barger and the Hells Angels on the one hand, and propagandizing about a supposed crime wave on the other, is obviously superficially hypocritical. But beneath the hypocrisy lies a consistent political ideology. For reactionaries like Carlson, criminal activity isn’t — and can’t be — an objective, neutrally applied description of behavior.

The classical music composer Frank Wilhoit offered a pithy summary of conservatism that aptly resolves Carlson’s seemingly contradictory positions. “Conservatism consists of exactly one proposition, to wit: There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect,” Wilhoit wrote in 2018.

For Carlson, shoplifting is a crime, but conspiring to overturn the 2020 election and engaging in an attempted fascist insurrection isn’t. In his analysis, whether someone counts as a criminal is a post hoc determination based on the identity of the person in question. Poor people, Black people, and immigrants can all be criminals, whereas conservatives who rioted on January 6 are being persecuted by a tyrannical government for their political beliefs.

For all of his supposed outlaw status, Barger had an alternately antagonistic and cooperative relationship with law enforcement, which typifies the symbiotic relationship between vigilante gangs and cops throughout the 20th century in the United States. In the late 1960s and early ‘70s, Barger regularly served as an informant to Oakland police, offering tips about weapons caches in exchange for leniency for arrested Angels, according to testimony Sgt. Ted Hilliard offered at the time.

“Mr. Barger would load them in the back of my car—automatic rifles and dynamite, for example,” Hilliard said, according to The New York Times. The Oakland police preferred to work with the Angels and “let the Angels operate,” as Rolling Stone reported at the time, rather than risk the weapons falling into the hands of leftist groups like the Weathermen or the Black Panthers.

That’s the history that Carlson was embracing at Barger’s service. While the hypocrisy on the surface is glaring, the underlying belief structure is entirely coherent. The law is a tool to punish out-groups that have been criminalized, while vigilante gangs that reinforce the dominant social order — whether Hells Angels or the Oathkeepers — must be celebrated and defended.

“I’m honored to be here,” Carlson concluded his weekend remarks. “Thank you for having me.” The applause from the assembled Hells Angels made clear that the admiration was mutual.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Christian Nationalists Want 'Ideological Purity' Tests For Federal Employees

Christian Nationalists Want 'Ideological Purity' Tests For Federal Employees

Christian nationalist Russ Vought recently appeared on Turning Point USA co-founder Charlie Kirk’s radio show to discuss plans to purge at least 10% of federal career staffers under a new Trump administration. Vought described that portion of the federal workforce as “the roots of the problem” that prevented former President Donald Trump from fully implementing his agenda. During the interview, Kirk suggested that the next Republican administration subject civil servants to “ideological purity tests.”

Vought ran the powerful Office of Management and Budget under Trump and now heads up a right-wing think tank called the Center for Renewing America, whose mission is to “renew a consensus of America as a nation under God.” While at OMB, Vought helped develop a policy called “Schedule F” as a tool that would allow a new conservative administration to circumvent job protections typically enjoyed by federal workers who aren’t politically appointed.

Speaking on the September 23 edition of The Charlie Kirk Show, Vought claimed to have reclassified 90% of the workers in his own office under that job category.

“Schedule F is an authority that we discovered and developed at the end of the Trump administration to give the president the ability to reclassify career civil servants, who normally have permanency within the bureaucracy, to turn them into essentially at-will employees,” Vought told Kirk.

When asked by Kirk how many career employees he’d like to potentially sack using this authority, Vought set the floor at 10% of current workers, but suggested that he considers as much as 80% of the federal workforce to be ideological opponents.

“I would say that within my agency, we had, you know, 80% of it was left-leaning,” Vought said. “Their paradigms were all rooted in this permanent class, ruling class that defines the milieu of Washington, D.C.”

“And you can reason and work with that crowd, but there is about a 10% of activists that are animated by the wokeism, the anti-racist movement, to be able to come into these agencies and they're just activists,” Vought added.

Vought then told Kirk that someone in the human resources department at OMB described themselves and their colleagues as “committed anti-racists.”

Kirk responded by calling that person the leader of “a sleeper cell of a woke communist ideology who's just right there within our federal government.”

“You're going to have to figure out how to solve that, I don’t know,” Kirk continued. “But ideological purity tests are an interesting approach, but let's break up the federal government first and then we'll go from there.”

In July, Axios reported on discussions Trump allies were having about staffing their next administration, with the Schedule F being central to the framework. Vought reportedly has been a leader in these efforts: As Media Matters reported a week prior to Axios’ story, Vought stated publicly that he wants to build an “army” of hard-right activists with “Biblical worldview” to run the federal agencies that he can’t outright destroy. He’s been very clear that the goal is to get “ideologically committed individuals up and down the agencies,” and he’s been similarly clear that Schedule F is the way to do it.

Right-wing propagandist Christopher Rufo – known for launching bad-faith attacks on critical race theory and targeting children’s hospitals that provide care to trans youth – has pushed for a similar course of action.

“The idea is to centralize ideological control over the federal agencies in the White House and create a team at the Office of Management and Budget to enforce it,” Rufo said in an interview with conservative website IM-1776 in July.

In furtherance of those shared goals, Vought has attempted to turn the Center for Renewing America into a shadow government-in-waiting for Trump or another conservative president. In June, Vought brought on Jeffrey Clark, a former Department of Justice environmental lawyer and Trump’s top coup architect, as senior fellow at CRA. Kash Patel, another key figure in Trump’s attempt to subvert the 2020 election, is a CRA senior fellow as well.

In the recent interview with Kirk, Vought expressed a commonregret among former Trump officials that the administration wasted precious time in its first years adjusting to the steep learning curve of running the government.

“My hope is that we don’t have to do that again because we're laying the groundwork now,” Vought said, later adding, “We want to make sure that can never happen again and make sure that from day one, we can ensure that the agenda is being done.”

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Warning Of 'War On Republicans," Fox Stokes Next Insurrection

Warning Of 'War On Republicans," Fox Stokes Next Insurrection

On Monday evening, Fox News stars Tucker Carlson and Jesse Watters each used the 21st anniversary of 9/11 to tell their millions of viewers that the Biden administration has declared war on conservatives for their political beliefs.

Carlson and Watters argued, as the network has for months, that President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice is a tyrannical force bent on persecuting Fox News viewers, and that it’s only a matter of time before Democrats criminalize all political dissent.

Both defended the election denialism that has become core to the Republican Party after Trump’s loss in 2020, reinforcing the idea not only that the election was stolen, but also that those who say the election wasn’t rigged are jackbooted authoritarians.

Carlson approached the topic by playing a clip of Chuck Todd’s interview of Vice President Kamala Harris, in which she described how dangerous it is to have at least 11 election deniers running for secretary of state positions throughout the country. Typically the top statewide election official, the office is incredibly powerful, and those races have been flooded with cash as Republicans seek to install denialists to oversee upcoming elections.

Todd framed the interview, which was pegged to the anniversary of 9/11, as a discussion of how national security issues had evolved from external dangers to “the threat within.”

“Who is this threat?” Carlson responded. “Well, of course, it's you and anyone else in the way of the Biden administration.”

“And especially, as the vice president just said, and you saw it, anyone who questions the legitimacy of the last election,” he continued.

Carlson then added his own election conspiracism, arguing without evidence that “there are reasons not to believe” the final vote count, and that if a conservative voices that belief, under Biden, “you need to be pursued by law enforcement.”

Minutes later, Carlson brought up the Department of Justice issuance of roughly 40 subpoenas to top aides to former President Donald Trump, including white nationalist Stephen Miller.

Carlson argued that the Biden Department of Justice was trying to “suppress political dissent, to hobble an entire political party and to keep these people from ever participating in American politics again.”

One hour earlier, Watters had made a similar point. “This war on Republicans -- it's a war of choice,” he said. “It's a preemptive war so the Republican Party never wins another election. And that is the real threat to democracy.”

Fox News’ business model relies on stoking its viewers’ fears, and Monday’s segments come on the heels of months of similar coverage.

In late June, Carlson devoted an entire opening monologue to a lengthy mischaracterization of the legal cases of 14 conservatives, nearly all of whom were involved in some effort to overturn the 2020 election. “The signature tactic of the Biden administration … has been the criminalizing of American politics,” Carlson said at the time.

Carlson and others at Fox also spent part of the summer pushing a preposterous theory that Biden was hiring 87,000 new IRS agents to act as a paramilitary force against conservatives. A Media Matters study found that the network had pushed the bogus theory more than 200 times by the end of August.

Following the search of Trump’s residence and golf resort at Mar-a-Lago, Fox and other right-wing outlets and pundits characterized the DOJ’s actions as additional evidence that Biden was persecuting regular conservatives. “But the real target of this investigation isn't Trump,” Laura Ingraham said. “The real target of this investigation is you or anyone who dares to call out and take on the rank corruption of the D.C. establishment.”

Watters responded to the search by arguing that any attempt to hold Trump accountable was in reality an attack on Fox viewers. “These are bloodthirsty savages who want to see you humiliated and violated,” he said. “This is a threat to anybody who opposes them. Look what we can do to you. We can even storm into your president's home and take whatever we want.”

“They don’t need evidence,” Watters said in July, speaking broadly about various DOJ investigations into Trump. “Their goal is to scare you into submission.”

The overall implication of these arguments — that conservatives are being persecuted, and that the January 6 insurrection was really just about asking questions about vote totals — is not hard to understand. Fox News is laying the groundwork for future fascist violence, including but not limited to violence in response to elections won by Democrats.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Was Zeldin 'Keychain Assault' Incident A Republican Set-Up?

Was Zeldin 'Keychain Assault' Incident A Republican Set-Up?

Mainstream media outlets have largely followed conservative media’s framing after a man allegedly attempted to injure Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) with a small self-defense-style keychain tool at a July 21 speech. Right-wing media, often quoting Zeldin or people associated with his campaign, have used the event to attack New York state’s modest bail reform laws. Several mainstream outlets adopted this basic template, further spreading the incorrect idea that the reforms were to blame for the alleged assailant’s release from custody.

There are two key pieces of information that have been almost entirely ignored in the mainstream national press but were reported in local media. First, the initial prosecutor in the case, Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley, was listed publicly as Zeldin’s campaign co-chair as recently as July 25. The Albany Times Unionreported Doorley’s connection with the campaign in its coverage, but was given conflicting responses by the various parties as to whether Doorley was in fact an active campaign co-chair. (Doorley has recused herself from the case.)

Second, as the Times Union also reported, Doorley’s office charged the alleged perpetrator, David G. Jakubonis, with second degree attempted assault on Friday, July 22. That nonviolent charge – which was not eligible for bail – was a surprise to many, the Times Union reported, because “law enforcement in Monroe County is known for pressing heavier charges than prosecutors in many other counties.” The previous year, Monroe prosecutors had only brought that charge one time, instead usually pursuing far harsher penalties that would include bail. (Jakubonis was separately arrested and charged in federal court, and is in custody pending a hearing scheduled for July 27.)

Initial reporting from The Washington Post, The Associated Press, Politico, and CNN all failed to mention Doorley’s close ties to the Zeldin campaign. However, each one similarly mentioned New York’s bail reform laws, either implicitly or explicitly in a negative light. The AP, for example, twice referenced calls to “toughen” the laws. None of those stories included direct quotes from any proponents of bail reform.

Additionally, Politico included an absurd quote from GOP congressional candidate and New York state Assembly member Mike Lawler, who said the bail reforms had an “Attempted Assassination Loophole.” The piece’s headline adopted conservative talking points wholesale.

A follow-up story from CNN had only one subheading, capturing the tenor of almost all the mainstream coverage:

The New York Timesdidn’t mention Doorley’s links to Zeldin until the 24th paragraph of its story. Instead, the paper foregrounded Zeldin’s position in the second paragraph, paraphrasing his argument “that the episode viscerally drove home the need to increase policing and tighten New York’s bail laws to make it easier for judges to hold people charged with certain crimes.”

The unusually lenient charge from an office known for pursuing harsher penalties led some bail reform advocates to speculate whether Doorley’s office’s decision virtually to ensure that Jakubonis would be released quickly was deliberate.

New York lawmakers passed a bill in 2019 eliminating cash bail “for most misdemeanors and some nonviolent felony charges,” according to the NYCLU, which argued the change was “an overdue recognition that a person’s wealth should not determine their liberty.”

Then, in 2020, police, prosecutors, and reactionary politicians from both parties used misleading data and deliberate misinformation campaigns to blame the reforms for the increase in some – but not all – categories of crime. There is in fact no evidence linking these issues. Nonetheless, the reforms were rolled back and “two dozen crimes [were added] to the list of serious charges for which a judge could impose cash bail,” according to the New York Times. “They included sex trafficking, grand larceny, second-degree burglary, vehicular assault and any crime that results in a death.”

Conservative media outlets are pushing to weaken the reforms even further. Mainstream media shouldn’t adopt their misleading framing to help them in that campaign.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Running In 2024? Tucker Carlson Delivers Bizarre

Running In 2024? Tucker Carlson Delivers Bizarre, Banal Speech In Iowa

As the media speculates whether Carlson is mulling a 2024 presidential run, he’s milking his audience for all they’re worth and enriching the corporate overlords he pretends to hate

The Tucker Carlson merch booth at the Family Leadership Summit in downtown Des Moines, Iowa, sits between a recumbent bicycle vendor and a table with a suitcase full of plastic fetuses. It’s obvious why the anti-abortion activists at fetus-table are here, even if the bike company’s decision to attend the conference is more opaque. Carlson’s presence, like his stand full of cheap hats and water bottles branded with his name, similarly splits the difference.

This annual event, organized by the conservative religious organization known as The FAMiLY Leadership Council, has played host to the biggest names in conservative politics and media, including former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, and former Vice President Mike Pence. It was at the Family Leadership Summit in 2015 that Donald Trump famously took a shot at the late Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), saying he preferred war heroes who didn’t get captured.

So when The FAMiLY Leader announced Carlson would be its keynote speaker this year, it predictably triggered a wave of speculation about whether the cable news host was contemplating a presidential run in 2024 – rumors he has consistently denied. If Carlson is considering a run, this is exactly the type of event he would attend. If he’s not, then maybe he’s just here to stoke his already substantial ego.

His keynote address on Friday didn’t offer any clues one way or the other. Instead, it was mostly a rehash of a stump speech he’s given before: a lazy, phoned-in polemic about the importance of the family and the moral bankruptcy of the political establishment in both parties. Even as he trained his ire against Republican leaders – he singled out former South Carolina Gov. and Trump cabinet member Nikki Haley for comments she made after the police killing of George Floyd – he made it clear that, despite the summit’s pretenses to be nonpartisan for tax avoidance’s sake, everyone there was a Republican voter.

“The other side is so menacing, so scary at this point, a combination of fully embraced delusion and extremely high levels of aggression,” Carlson said. “That, you know, sometimes I think to myself, if this person – I don't want to single anyone out or attack anyone – but if this person had absolute power, what would happen? You know, people would get hurt.”

“If you can look directly into a camera and claim not simply that a man is a woman, but that anyone who won’t follow you in saying something obviously untrue must be hurt – if you’re capable of doing that, like what aren’t you capable of?” Carlson asked.

Carlson’s speech was hateful in predictable ways. Like many of the speakers, he made repeated anti-trans statements under the guise of protecting “girls sports,” the favored euphemism of the moment. He referred to George Floyd as a “convicted felon.” Then he made more anti-trans comments, arguing that gender-affirming health care was “sterilizing children.”

But in front of this audience, he eschewed some of the open racism and xenophobia that he indulges in on his prime-time Fox show. Rather than ranting about the “great replacement” conspiracy theory or other white nationalist ideas, his speech was more abstract and philosophical.

“America is a physical place. No, it's not an idea,” he said, his voice dripping with incredulity that anyone would think otherwise. “I get out of bed and there's like a ground underneath me. There's, like, soil and trees.”

As is always the case with Carlson, there’s more going on here than is immediately apparent. Rejecting the common liberal claim that America is an idea is a not-so-subtle rejection of what that implicit idea is, at least in theory: namely a pluralistic, multiracial democracy. And although close readings and searching for dog whistles can sometimes go too far, Carlson’s history of advancing eco-fascistic ideas makes any mention of “soil” uncomfortably reminiscent of the fascist slogan “blood and soil.”

Carlson is also obsessed with what he claims is the God-given natural order of things.

“The positive, the good, the calm, the placid, the orderly, the natural – that's what needs to be affirmed,” Carlson told the crowd.

After attacking the environmentalist movement for its supposed hypocrisy, Carlson indulged in a riff on the nature of beauty, a bizarre but telling tangent.

“Is a wind turbine beautiful? No,” Carlson said. “Rivers are beautiful. Gardenias are beautiful. Springer spaniel faces are beautiful. Children are beautiful. The sky is beautiful. These are not things that people make. These are things that God made, and the Republican Party must defend them.”

These statements are banal on their own, and from almost anyone else wouldn’t deserve a second thought. But Carlson is doing something here that shouldn’t be ignored. In speaking about beauty and nature, God and the family, he’s putting forward a politics that’s facially uncontroversial but inherently oppressive. And even if Carlson isn’t planning to run for office, he’s almost certainly providing a template and set of talking points for far-right candidates who are.

To Carlson and the other speakers and attendees here, God’s order has no room for LGBTQ people – and especially trans people. They simply cannot exist if society is to be beautiful.

“The Republican Party should be about nature in human relationships” the Fox host thundered, pivoting off his rant about how wind turbines are, to him, similarly against nature. “The most basic desire of most people – not every single person, but of most people, the overwhelming majority of people – is to mate and have children and perpetuate the species.”

“‘I’m not really sure if I’m a boy or a girl.’ OK, that’s kind of the last thing that needs positive affirmation,” Carlson said. The same is true for gay and bi people.

Order, for Carlson, also means that the mass movement to fight racist oppression at the hands of the police in the summer of 2020 must be demonized.

“Our cities burned down,” Carlson said. “A lot of people died. And I thought, ‘Why should what happened between a cop and George Floyd outside a convenience store in Minneapolis be personal and painful to anyone else?’”

When Carlson talks about the importance of family, it’s not some feel-good truism. He’s talking about a particular type of family, based on patriarchal dominance, that will be forced on people who can get pregnant and are forced to carry the pregnancy to term. In this way, he transforms his anti-abortion views, which are designed to harm women economically and socially, into a vision of liberation.

To Carlson, companies like Citibank and Nike, which are supposedly “paying their female employees to have abortions,” have tricked people into believing that economic autonomy is a prerequisite to happiness, rather than raising a family.

“They're really saying it is more important to serve us than to have a family,” he said. “You'll be happier as you rise within our company than you would be if you had your own children.”

It’s worth noting that roughly a quarter of the display booths at this event were for “crisis pregnancy centers,” anti-abortion spaces that masquerade as health care providers.

That evening, Carlson taped a live episode of his prime-time show from Iowa. He directed his viewers to watch footage of his speech on Fox News’ streaming platform, Fox Nation, twice. Selling cheap hats is one thing, but convincing his viewers to give Lachlan Murdoch $5.99 per month is much more lucrative. By Murdoch’s own admission, Fox Nation helps to insulate Carlson from the typical pressures of selling ads because he can point to subscription revenue as his value to the network. (Blue-chip advertisers have long sinceabandoned Carlson’s Fox News show for his lengthy history of bigoted remarks.)

Carlson is 53. Let’s say he wants to work for another 12 years, maybe more, maybe less. Whenever he quits broadcasting, he definitely doesn’t want to get fired, and his best protection against that – against any external pressure from boycotts at all – is Fox Nation. So after spending 41 minutes that afternoon preaching the word of God to the true believers, he ended his day as he ends all days: As a company man, singing for his supper, dancing for the corporate overlords he pretends to detest.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Carlson Denounces Prosecution Of Coup Plotters

In Lying Rant, Carlson Denounces Prosecution Of Coup Plotters And Rioters

Fox News’ top star Tucker Carlson devoted his opening monologue on June 29 to mischaracterizing a wide array of criminal investigations into far-right figures, arguing that the Department of Justice is targeting political opponents for speech and acts protected by the Constitution. “The signature tactic of the Biden administration … has been the criminalizing of American politics,” Carlson said.

The segment was filled with overt lies and deliberately misleading sleights of hand, and it omitted important information and context from each supposed case of persecution. Carlson’s objective was to paint President Joe Biden as a totalitarian who had unleashed his private state militia on his enemies. Crucially, nearly every person Carlson defended in the process is connected in some way to the attempted coup on January 6, and his segment needs to be understood in that context. He’s notopposed to draconian law enforcement per se, he’s opposed to any attempts to prevent another fascist insurrection.

It’s worth underlining at the outset that claims by the DOJ, FBI, and police should be treated with skepticism in all cases, including those below. But that’s not what Carlson was doing in his Wednesday segment. He was manufacturing a narrative out of whole cloth that the DOJ is in reality a secret police force bent on repressing and persecuting conservatives. Both historically and currently, the opposite is true. Police at the local and federal level are far more likely to infiltrate, investigate, and prosecute leftist activists than conservatives. But Carlson wants to convince his viewers they’re a persecuted, oppressed group to justify their grievances and stoke election denialism.

Carlson’s first example of political persecution was Douglass Mackey, known online by the pseudonym Ricky Vaughn. “He was arrested. For what? A crime? No, for creating internet memes that made fun of Hillary Clinton,” said Carlson. “But according to the Justice Department, those memes, quote, ‘deprived individuals of their constitutional right to vote,’ so he went to jail.”

In reality, Mackey engaged in a prolific online disinformation campaign in 2016 “designed to encourage supporters” of Clinton “to ‘vote’ via text message or social media, a legally invalid method of voting,” according to the Justice Department. Mackey’s stated goal, as detailed in the complaint, was to “limit black turnout."

Carlson then moved on to Russell Taylor and Alan Hostetter. “What did they do wrong? Well, they organized a lawful political rally on January 6. They even had a permit for the rally,” Carlson said. "Taylor also committed the grave offense of being seen with Roger Stone in the days before January 6. That is now a crime, too.”

It’s not clear what rally Carlson is referring to, but the idea that Taylor and Hostetter were arrested simply for holding a permitted event and standing next to Roger Stone is absurd. They're both facing charges related to their activities during the insurrection on January 6. Hostetter was charged with “conspiracy, obstructing an official proceeding and unlawful entry on restricted building or grounds,” and Taylor was charged “with obstructing law enforcement during a civil disorder and unlawful possession of a dangerous weapon on Capitol grounds.”

The two are being charged alongside four members of the far-right Three Percenters militia, whom they coordinated with prior to the insurrection, though Hostetter is trying to get an individual trial. (Hostetter has accused Taylor of being a “government operative of some sort,” though there’s no public evidence to support that claim.)

Carlson’s next subject was former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, one of the architects of Trump’s attempted coup.

“On April 28, 2021, the Feds seized the cell phones and computers belonging to the president's former lawyer Rudy Giuliani. That didn’t used to be allowed. You can’t seize the records of someone's attorney. Those are confidential lawyer-client communication. Now at the time, we are told that Rudy Giuliani had done something illegal in Ukraine — the walls were closing in. He was never charged with anything like that, because it was all fake. But they got his privileged communications anyway.”

Carlson left out one crucial bit of information here. The court appointed a former federal judge to oversee a privilege review of the devices and files to ensure that protected information was kept confidential. Privilege review is common, and Giuliani’s lawyer agreed to the judge’s appointment at the time. So the idea that “they” — an amorphous, all-powerful government — got all of Giuliani’s “privileged communications” is completely misleading.

Next was Giuliani associate George Dickson. “The FBI never explained the purpose of that raid but Dickson was working on a documentary about Joe Biden and Hunter Biden and their business dealings in Ukraine, and that is no longer allowed,” said Carlson. Little is known about the FBI’s interest in Dickson, but the “investigation appears tied to an ongoing federal probe into whether Giuliani violated foreign lobbying laws by working on behalf of a Ukrainian prosecutor,” according to Mother Jones, who broke the story.

Carlson then moved on to Infowars provocateur Owen Shroyer. “According to the federal complaint, Shroyer told the crowd on January 6, quote, ‘Today, we March for the Capitol because on this historic January 6, 2021, we have to let our congressmen and women know and we have to let Mike Pence know that they stole the election,’ end quote. Now you may not agree with that or maybe you do, it doesn’t matter. That is protected speech under our Constitution,” Carlson said. “But under Joe Biden, it is a crime."

Contrary to the deliberately misleading impression that Carlson left his viewers with, Shroyer was not charged with a crime for what he said, like incitement to riot. He is instead facing two misdemeanor counts for his actions during the riot, one for “knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority” and one for “violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.";

Next, Carlson went to right-wing propagandist James O’Keefe and his colleagues at disinformation hub Project Veritas. Carlson claimed the FBI raided their houses because “they reported on a diary written by Joe Biden's daughter Ashley. And in that diary, Biden’s daughter writes, [and] reveals to the rest of us, that Joe Biden showered with her in a way that she described as inappropriate and that she blames for making her sexually compulsive in later life."

The O’Keefe raid is a complicated, confusing story, but Carlson is wrong on basic facts. Crucially, Project Veritas did not report on the diary. Its contents were instead published by an obscure, right-wing blog and went almost entirely unnoticed at the time. Carlson’s decision to repeat the alleged contents of the diary on his show betrays his true motivation: to disseminate information he thinks will be damaging to Biden as widely as possible.

There is still a significant amount of information about this case that remains unknown to the public. In general, the DOJ is prohibited from targeting reporters, including for publishing stolen information, unless the journalist was actively involved in committing the illegal acts. In the immediate aftermath of the raid, the Committee to Protect Journalists “expressed concern” over the DOJ’s actions, and the ACLU urged the court to appoint a “special master” to determine whether the raid was justified. In the following months, however, the New York Timesreported that a Project Veritas employee attempted to verify the authenticity of the diary by misrepresenting themselves, which may harm the group’s claims that it acted in accordance with standard journalistic practices and ethics.

Carlson then moved on to former Trump adviser Steve Bannon. “Bannon's crime was that he didn’t bend the knee for the January 6 committee. He cited executive privilege,” Carlson said. “According to Nancy Pelosi, that means Steve Bannon belongs in jail.”

Although the House did find Bannon in contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena for records related to the attempted coup, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) does not determine who goes to jail. Shortly after the House vote, the DOJ issued a two-count indictment against him for his failure to comply with a subpoena issued by the January 6 committee.

Carlson then described the cases of Tina Peters, a Colorado elections clerk, and her associate Sherronna Bishop, former campaign manager to the far-right Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO). The FBI executed searches on both women’s houses on November 16, 2021. Carlson said “the FBI gave no reason” for the Bishop raid, and that the “DOJ said Peters raised doubts about the legitimacy of the last election.”

Again, Carlson is deliberately misleading his viewers here. Both raids appear to stem from an incident in May 2020, during which election data Peters was in charge of was leaked to far-right extremist Ron Watkins, according to the Daily Beast. Watkins is the founder of the extremist QAnon-hosting site 8Kun, where he posted the stolen data. In March, Peters was indicted on 10 felony and misdemeanor charges related to those events — the kind of election breach that she claimed to be fighting against.

Next was Peter Navarro, Trump’s former top trade adviser. “He sued the January 6 committee. He claimed executive privilege with his communications with the president,” Carlson said, by way of explaining why Navarro was arrested. “And rather than go to court, the January 6 committee simply had him arrested at the airport and sent to jail in irons."

Like Bannon, Navarro was charged with contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena for materials related to the January 6 attempted coup. The idea that he was arrested as a shortcut — or in retaliation for suing the committee — is totally unsubstantiated.

Moving on to Michigan Republican gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley, Carlson played a clip of Kelley explaining his arrest, in which he claimed, “There was no crime committed, Tucker, no; never entered the Capitol building, exercising my First Amendment.” According to Carlson, this was indicative of a pattern that if you “speak up against Joe Biden, dare to organize other people to speak up against Joe Biden, dare to run for office against Joe Biden, … you raise your chances of the FBI showing up at your house exponentially.”

In reality, according to NPR, Kelley was charged with four misdemeanors related to his activity at the Capitol on January 6 that allege that he “knowingly entered and engaged in disorderly conduct in restricted buildings or grounds and engaged in an act of physical violence against a person or property."

Carlson then moved to former Trump lawyer John Eastman. “On June 22 of this month, the feds cornered former Trump attorney John Eastman in a parking lot and seized his phone. They didn’t even provide a warrant before they did that.” After showing the clip of Eastman being given the warrant immediately after his phone was seized, Carlson gave his own recap: “Put your hands up, no warrant for you. What’d that man do wrong? We still don’t know."

Exact details on why Eastman’s phone was confiscated have not been released, but it is clear that Eastman was heavily involved in helping Trump engineer preposterous, pseudo-legal mechanisms with the goal of “disrupting the congressional certification of the election’s outcome,” according to the New York Times. Carlson’s claim that “we still don’t know” what Eastman did wrong is blatantly incorrect. In March, a federal judge determined “that Eastman and Trump ‘likely’ entered into a criminal conspiracy to obstruct Congress,” calling it “a coup in search of a legal theory."

Carlson’s final example was former Trump DOJ official Jeffrey Clark. “There’s no suggestion he committed any crime of anything, that he did anything wrong,” Carlson said. “What he did was say things that Joe Biden and Joe Biden’s Justice Department didn’t like, so he was hauled out of his home in his pajamas for maximum public humiliation."

While it is still unclear what investigators were looking for in Clark’s home, the New York Timesreported that the raid was likely related to his role in trying to subvert the results of the 2020 election, specifically, his “proposing to send a letter to state officials in Georgia falsely stating that the department had evidence that could lead Georgia to rescind its certification of Mr. Biden’s victory in that key swing state."

Again, approaching DOJ and FBI claims with skepticism is good practice; pretending that they’re a secret police force persecuting conservatives is not. Such rhetoric just serves as groundwork for the next coup, insurrection, or other form of reactionary lawlessness.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.