@peltzmadeline
Project 2025 Partner Pushes Anti-Abortion Hard Line  In GOP Platform Fight

Project 2025 Partner Pushes Anti-Abortion Hard Line In GOP Platform Fight

The Family Research Council, an extreme anti-LGBTQ group and Project 2025 partner, is leading a new initiative called the “Platform Integrity Project” calling on the public to get involved with an effort to pressure the Republican Party to adopt a hardline anti-abortion stance as it drafts its platform for the 2024 campaign.

FRC president Tony Perkins is a delegate to the GOP platform committee, a position he’s held twice in the past.

The Platform Integrity Project website reads, “The GOP Platform has a strong pro-life, pro-family, and pro-freedom track record. Encourage your state’s delegates to protect these fundamental issues when they meet in Milwaukee to draft the new Platform July 8 and 9."

According to the site, which includes a prayer for “state delegates and other officials” writing the new party platform to receive God-given “wisdom and discernment,” the initiative is backed by more than 20 other conservative groups.

This push comes amidst an intense intra-party fight over the GOP party platform as the Republican National Convention approaches. The platform has not been updated since the 2016 election, before Roe v. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court in 2022.

Earlier this week, The New York Timesreported that a coalition of 10 conservative groups, including the Family Research Council, sent a letter to former President Donald Trump in June urging him to “make clear that you do not intend to weaken the pro-life plank,” while also praising him as “the most pro-life president in American history.” Other signatories of the letter include anti-abortion leaders from Project 2025 partners like Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America and Concerned Women for America.

According to a report from Semafor, the RNC will break from “decades-long precedent” to formulate its platform behind closed doors this year, prompting frustration among committee members as well as conservative movement leaders.

As a platform delegate, Perkins will be in the room. In a May 21 speech to the Muskegon County, Michigan, GOP posted to Perkins’ YouTube page, the FRC president warned that Republicans are choosing to “retreat” from abortion and instructed them to instead commit to an “inflexible” anti-choice stance for 2024.

Reporting indicates that some at the RNC and in President Trump’s inner circle see taking a hardline as a mistake. According to NBC News, the campaign is taking an active role in stopping the party from moving what it sees as too far right on abortion and marriage. And according to the Times, “In the two years since the Supreme Court that Mr. Trump transformed decided to overturn Roe, he has grown ever more convinced that hard-line abortion restrictions are electoral poison."

That’s not to say that Trump is not an anti-abortion extremist. He has reportedly expressed private support for a national 16-week abortion ban and in the 2016 campaign made a promise to sign a 20-week abortion ban into law. He has taken credit for appointing the justices that voted to overturn Roe, and as president took steps to curtail abortion access.

FRC has also recruited the support of former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who recently told Perkins in an interview, “I think it’s a mistake for Republicans to avoid such an important critical issue. And I know it’s controversial,” adding “I think it is so central to who we are as Americans to understand the value of every human life."

Project 2025, of which FRC is a partner organization, is an extreme right-wing initiative organized by The Heritage Foundation to provide policy and personnel to the next Republican presidential administration. The effort involves more than 100 partner organizations, and its nearly 900-page policy book — Mandate for Leadership: The Conservative Promise — represents a major threat to democracy.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

'Leaner' Republican Party Aims To Partner With Outside Extremist Groups

'Leaner' Republican Party Aims To Partner With Outside Extremist Groups

The Washington Post reported the Republican National Committee describes its 2024 approach as “leaner” and “more efficient” than in previous cycles, and that it intends to operate with a smaller staff and more robust partnerships with outside groups.

One of these outside groups is Turning Point USA, the conservative “youth” organization founded by Charlie Kirk in 2012 that has since grown into a social media juggernaut, with a massive digital footprint, and a major player on the conservative conference circuit. The group has long-standing ties with extremists, and Kirk himself frequently pushes racism on his radio show and weekly podcast.

The Washington Post reports that a weekend fundraiser for the Republican National Committee included meetings between James Blair, political director for both the RNC and the Trump campaign, and representatives from Turning Point and other outside groups. From the report:

Blair praised Turning Point in particular as a group that is doing “great work.”

Turning Point’s founder, Charlie Kirk, has been similarly effusive, recently announcing on social media: “As someone who has been a skeptic of the RNC in the past, I am very encouraged by what is happening.”

Instead of them being sort of outside allies now, they’re more like partners for us. And we are going to be the battlefield commander,” Blair said. “The new regime is top down. The new regime is, ‘You get in our rowboat and you row. You dance to the beat of our music, or we’ll just simply say who’s not playing ball.’”

Turning Point and its leader Charlie Kirk have spread racism

Of particular concern is Turning Point and Charlie Kirk’s racism and ties to far-right antisemitic, white supremacist movements.

On a April 30 stream on Rumble, Holocaust denier and far-right cult figure Nick Fuentes claimed that Turning Point is being taken over by young extremists associated with his “groyper” movement.

Fuentes said, “Turning Point, we had a big rivalry with them and they hated us, they fired everyone that was associated with me, and then this past year, their CFO Tyler Bowyer said, well, you know, some groypers are OK."

Turning Point Action Chief Operating Officer Tyler Bowyer said that some of Fuentes’ groypers are “OK-ish” and “just want to have an honest debate” while appearing on TPUSA founder Charlie Kirk’s podcast last month to talk about former Daily Wire host Candace Owens. Owens recently left the right-wing outlet following a string of comments against Jewish people. Figures associated with the “groypers” have previously spoken at Turning Point USA events on college campuses.

In November 2022, Fuentes dined with Donald Trump and pro-Hitler rapper Ye (formerly Kanye West) at Trump’s Florida resort Mar-a-Lago. Fuentes has repeatedly praised Adolf Hitler and compared himself to Hitler. He has also denied the Holocaust and called for a “holy war” against Jewish people.

Kirk himself has drawn hostility within the conservative movement for his own racist comments. In the last few months, he has remarked on his podcast that if he sees a Black pilot he’s going to doubt his qualifications and launched a campaign to discredit the work of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

These comments resulted in significant backlash from conservative commentators and Trump allies. Longtime Trump surrogate pastor Darrell Scott described Kirk’s comments as “bullcrap,” saying, “That boy’s a racist right there.”

In the same NBC article that reported Scott’s comments, an anonymous Trump ally said the former president is “f---ing pissed that Charlie is out causing problems for him in the Black community.”

Kirk’s record of racism and antisemitism is extensive. He has suggested that Black women including Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson and MSNBC host Joy Reid “do not have the brain processing power to otherwise be taken really seriously” and used affirmative action to “steal a white person’s slot,” said that “Haiti is legitimately infested with demonic voodoo,” and attacked the Democratic Party coalition as “resentful, government-addicted minorities and people that want government benefits."

He has also pushed antisemitic stereotypes in the wake of Israel’s invasion of Gaza, blaming “Jewish dollars” for funding “cultural Marxist ideas” and saying Jews control “not just the colleges; it’s the nonprofits, it’s the movies, it’s Hollywood, it’s all of it,” among other comments.

Kirk has made negative comments about Trump’s ground game

Kirk has not expressed confidence in the Republicans’ ground game ahead of the 2024 election, going so far as to attack their efforts.

On The Charlie Kirk Show, he said that the Biden campaign has a “superior ground game."

“The bad news,” he added, “is I do not know if we have the infrastructure, if we have the troops, the plumbing to translate the public sentiment into election success."

In another clip posted to X (formerly Twitter) by the Biden campaign, Kirk said, “We are struggling right now to open up the necessary field offices to compete against Joe Biden."

He praised Trump campaign operatives Chris LaCivita, who has been at the forefront of the RNC’s pivot, and campaign senior adviser Susie Wiles, then listed off Biden’s extensive ground operations in battleground states.

He continued, “Thankfully, we at Turning Point Action, we have well over a hundred people now chasing ballots in Arizona, trying to close that gap.”

As The Associated Press reported in October 2023, Turning Point Action, the organization’s political arm, has been fundraising for a $108 million campaign effort to turn out votes for Trump in the battleground states of Arizona, Wisconsin, and Georgia.

This push comes amid scrutiny. Kirk himself has become a millionaire as a result of his political prominence. Additionally, the group is relying on a mobile app, which will serve as a platform for its get out the vote campaign, developed by the company Superfeed Technologies. Superfeed’s board is chaired by Tyler Bowyer, Turning Point’s chief operating officer, who has suffered financial setbacks in recent years. Bowyer was recently indicted by a grand jury in Arizona for being part of former President Donald Trump’s fake electors scheme to overturn the 2020 election.

Veteran Republican campaign operatives have warned that such a large investment goes far beyond the scope of what is needed for field operations in just three states. Jon Seaton, a former aide to the late Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), told the Associated Press that “there’s not even enough doors” to knock on in the territory.

Concerns about Turning Point’s connections to extremism, Kirk’s history of racism and antisemitism, and dubious fundraising scheme should ring alarm bells among any political operatives seeking to build a campaign for Trump. Instead, they’re leaning in.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Navarro Trump

As Navarro Begins Sentence, Bannon Tells Trumpists To Be Ready 'For Prison'

In recent days, MAGA media have been sending subtle (and not so subtle) messages to their supporters that they ought to be willing and prepared to go to jail on behalf of the Trump movement.

While giving a keynote address to the Patrons for American Statecraft Conference, put on by the right-wing organization American Moment, War Room host Steve Bannon told the audience, “You have to be prepared to go to prison” for “deconstructing the administrative state,” bragging, “I’ve got prison sentences all over.”

Bannon reposted the clip on Gettr, adding, “The Call to Action is Victory,” and that under former President Donald Trump “the Hunted Become the Hunters— and the Jails and Prisons Fill with all the Traitors.”

This message has since spread across the conservative media ecosystem. On March 19, former Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro reported to federal prison. Convicted of contempt of Congress, Navarro was sentenced to serve four months after refusing to comply with a subpoena from the House January 6 committee in February 2022. Before surrendering, he gave a rambling press conference during which he promoted his forthcoming book and offered reporters advanced copies.

After taking the press conference live on War Room, returned to sing Navarro’s praises. “The composure he had, the courage he has, and that courage is contagious,” Bannon said, suggesting others will follow in Navarro’s footsteps to prison, “It’s one of the things the Biden regime is afraid of.” He later added: “I love the fact he makes a pitch for the book right there. It’s pure Navarro. That’s Trumpian.”

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell joined later to echo the sentiment: “Peter’s leading the charge with his courage. And, you guys, it’s — courage is contagious. It’s spread everywhere now.”

On March 18, Navarro appeared on Donald Trump Jr.’s podcast Triggered with Donald Trump Jr.

Trump Jr. — whose publishing company, Winning Team Publishing, is behind Navarro’s new book — praised Navarro for appearing on his podcast before reporting to prison. “I wish every conservative had your balls, but more importantly your heart,” said the former president’s eldest son, “I think everyone watching has to understand that. Because that’s honestly — that’s a lesson in patriotism, right there. It’s amazing to me. It truly is. And, man, I wish we had a billion of you.”

Across social media, Trump supporters have been posting messages of solidarity with Navarro. “The Biden admin just threw one of Trump’s senior advisors in jail today,” wrote neo-Nazi collaborator and prominent MAGA troll Jack Posobiec. “You think they won’t do the same to you and your family? This is what they have wanted all along.”

Former Trump White House speechwriter Darren Beattie, who was fired after it was revealed he spoke at a white nationalist conference, posted, “Send power to the great Peter Navarro.”

Vaccine conspiracy theorist and MAGA media regular Robert Malone said Navarro’s incarceration shows that “each of us are at risk until this spiritual war has been won.”

But Navarro is no victim. He was convicted because he knowingly and willfully defied a congressional subpoena. He was denied a delayed sentence pending appeal after the Supreme Court affirmed a lower court’s ruling that any appeal was unlikely to overturn sentencing or result in a new trial. As U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta said to Navarro during his initial sentencing in January: “You are not a victim. You are not the object of a political prosecution. These are circumstances of your own making.”

Meanwhile, many Trump supporters already know what it feels like to face jail time for the game show host president. According to analysis by The Washington Post, “Judges have ordered prison time for nearly every defendant convicted of a felony and some jail time to about half of those convicted of misdemeanors” committed in connection to the January 6 insurrection.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Steve Bannon Raising Funds For House Republicans Who Ousted McCarthy

Steve Bannon Raising Funds For House Republicans Who Ousted McCarthy

Reps. Matt Gaetz, Nancy Mace, and Matt Rosendale — three of the eight Republican members of Congress who voted yesterday to oust now-former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy — appeared on former Trump strategist Steve Bannon’s show War Room this morning to defend their votes and fundraise ahead of the 2024 election.

Bannon’s influence in right-wing media and the Republican Party ebbs and flows. But he's always available in moments of crisis, and aligned members of Congress flock to his conveniently located studio when there is money to be raised.

It may be a short-term boost, but there are long-term consequences for relying on his platform, Over the years he has almost single-handedly caused Republicans to lose an otherwise safe Senate seat in Alabama after boosting extremist candidate and accused child predator Roy Moore in 2017, led the charge to insurrection in 2020, and boosted a slate of candidates who overwhelmingly lost in the 2022 midterms. As a policy advisor, he's not much better. For example, he once claimed the Biden administration's initiative to cure cancer is a covert operation to eliminate the human race; he has praised Russian leader Vladimir Putin and called Russia's invasion of Ukraine a “regional border dispute between two Slavic peoples.”

Bannon is celebrating McCarthy’s historic ouster in the House, hailing “the hard eight” Republicans who voted against McCarthy as heroes.

“We are honored to have two of the leaders of this revolt with us live in the War Room today,” Bannon said.

He spent most of the first hour of his show with Mace and Gaetz, who both defended their “revolt” that has thrown the House of Representatives into chaos. Almost immediately, Mace made a plea for cash.

“The establishment is coming after me, I mean 100% — started last night and I need help, I’m going to need help to get through this,” she said before plugging her campaign website.

Gaetz followed up by plugging his own campaign website and tying his fundraising efforts to Bannon’s audience, who call themselves the “posse,” saying, “The posse won, and the posse was attacked last night.”

The pair offer little specifics on what they are looking for in a speaker going forward, though Bannon seemed to attack Rep. Steve Scalise.

“Jim Jordan, his people are saying he’s inching toward a speaker’s bid,” the host claimed. “I mean, Scalise would be naturally, that would be the logical order if you wanted the same apparatus to run you, that leadership team.”

“I think we would want to hear their vision,” Gaetz responded.

“We’re both open to who the next speaker is,” Mace said in the second segment. “I mean, we’re not asking for a whole lot. Just being responsible and telling the truth. That’s the low bar. That’s bare minimum.”

Rosendale appeared next and argued that “there is absolutely no reason that we can’t continue” the House GOP’s legislative business. Bannon asked Rosendale for his perspective on the succession battle coming up and the representative demurred, saying it’s “great” that “there will not be a coronation, there will be a discussion, a debate, and the No. 1 characteristic that I’m looking for is someone who’s trustworthy.”

Like his fellow travelers Gaetz and Mace, Rosendale also plugged his fundraising.

“The apparatus is coming after you and the other heroic, the patriotic, the hard eight, as I call them,” Bannon said, referring to efforts to unseat Rosendale and the others. “K Street, they’re in shock right now, but they’re regrouping overnight and they’re going to come hard. Where do they go for you, congressman?”

Rosendale then promoted his campaign website and social media before declaring: “This is about fighting for our nation. This is about allowing the Democrats to dictate the terms of how our government functions when we have a Republican majority, and if we’re not going to stand by and allow that to happen and let them push us further into debt.”

Not to be outdone, Bannon, a seasoned grifter, used the opportunity to plug his own hustle: promoting a collection of pamphlets he wrote on a website selling gold-backed retirement accounts. “Make sure you talk to Philip, Patrick, and the guys about the tax-free instruments and opportunities they have for you. But go do it today, you’ve got to be up to speed on everything related to precious metals, the United States dollar, and the debt crisis.”

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Charlie Kirk

Rupert Murdoch, Charlie Kirk And Gen Z's Rejection Of The Far Right

Rupert Murdoch announced on September 21 that he will be stepping down as chairman of Fox Corp. and News Corp. after a 70-year career poisoning global media with right-wing lies and hate. Fox is now in the hands of Lachlan Murdoch, whose track record at the company indicates he is even more grimly ideological than his father, serving as the main force backing Tucker Carlson’s on-air white supremacy and pushing the network to support Donald Trump’s 2020 election lies despite their financial consequences.

While Rupert Murdoch repeatedly made clear in his announcement that he does not intend to take his thumb entirely off the scale of his outlets, the question of who will now rise to prominence in the right-wing media ecosystem lingers. In just the last few years, the movement’s founding fathers, including Roger Ailes, Rupert Murdoch, and Rush Limbaugh, have died or stepped away, leaving conservative media without a center of gravity. Lachlan Murdoch and other rising right-wing media figures are jockeying to lead the hate and misinformation machine into the next generation.

One of these figures is Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk.

Since first appearing on the scene in 2012, when he had just barely graduated from high school, Kirk has built TPUSA into a reported $80 million media empire. The organization hosts numerous shows and has millions of followers across multiple social media platforms. Kirk himself is a Salem Radio host whose nationally syndicated program is broadcast in Limbaugh’s old time slot.

TPUSA is purportedly an organization representing the next generation of conservative activists, with Kirk as their leading voice. But there is scant evidence that the group has a genuine connection with Gen Z, whose social and political attitudes are overwhelmingly liberal. An October 2021 internal presentation obtained by The Verge stated that only 15 percent of Turning Point’s Instagram audience is actually student-aged. As the organization’s own documentation states: “The content that is going out right now is completely missing our target audience.” (TPUSA told The Verge that “the presentations in question contain multiple inaccuracies and erroneous data.”)

As the original shapers of right-wing media fade into history, Kirk seemingly hopes to capture the attention of the next generation and raise his own profile in the conservative movement by leaning into increasingly hardcore far-right positions. On the very same day that Murdoch announced he was stepping down, Kirk took to his radio show and launched into a vile, racist attack on migrants on the southern border, declaring that a “foreign invasion” of “fighting-age young males who will end up raping many of your daughters.”

He also specifically invoked and validated the white supremacist “great replacement” conspiracy theory.

“Obviously the Democrat Party supports this because of power,” Kirk declared. “They smear us and slander us when we bring up the great replacement. The Castro brothers themselves have said that was the reason.”

“You should be at fever-pitch anger,” he concluded.

Kirk is only reflecting the lasting influence of Tucker Carlson, who brought the great replacement conspiracy theory to mainstream conservative audiences with the full backing of Lachlan Murdoch, who is now the sole chair of his family’s global media empire.

But the Charlie Kirk of today would be unrecognizable to who he was yesterday. In his comprehensive history of the first 10 years of TPUSA, University of North Georgia rhetoric professor Matthew Boedy notes that as the organization has grown, Kirk has expressed increasingly extreme views, including on the topic of immigration.

In 2019, Kirk came under attack by the white nationalist “groyper” movement after he stated that “highly-educated immigrants should get ‘a green card’ stapled to their U.S. college diplomas.” This kicked off the so-called “groyper wars” in which followers of neo-Nazi Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes repeatedly confronted Kirk with racist and antisemitic dog whistles while he was on a speaking tour. Kirk ultimately penned an apologia on American Greatness, the same far-right blog that had launched the initial criticism.

Just recently, Fuentes bragged that his followers had infiltrated Turning Point USA and his one-time target had now adopted his messaging.

“I think in 2023, Charlie Kirk, all these others, they sound way more like me, today, than they sound like themselves four years ago,” Fuentes said, before launching into an attack on Jewish people.

Kirk has also radicalized significantly against LGBTQ people.

In 2019, he posted a video of an exchange with an audience member labeled “CHARLIE KIRK TAKES DOWN ANTI-GAY EXTREMIST.” In the video, the audience member condemned Kirk for accepting gay people in the conservative movement. Kirk defended himself and gay conservatives, asking, “What does what they do in their private life concern you so much?” and adding that if you do not embrace and love all people as Jesus did, “then you, sir, are not a conservative.”

As Boedy points out, a TPUSA chapter guide from 2017 specifically instructs participants: “no talk about abortion, gay marriage, etc.”

Since then, Kirk has become one of the most extreme voices singling out LGBTQ people for violence across the right-wing media.

  • In August, Kirk said that trans people who join fraternities and sororities should “be made fun of so much, bullied so much, crying so much, they would get themselves out.”
  • Kirk has referred to trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney with an anti-trans slur on multiple occasions.
  • Kirk called LGBTQ identification a “social contagion.”
  • During 2023’s Pride Month, Kirk vowed to remember “all the gay flag stuff” at Starbucks after several stores caved to right-wing pressure to take down Pride decorations.
  • On the first day of Pride Month, Kirk tweeted, “Pride is a sin.”
  • Kirk has argued that “monogamous heterosexual marriage should be a prerequisite to adoption.”
  • In 2022, Kirk warned that gay people “are not happy just having marriage. Instead, they now want to corrupt your children.”

But perhaps Kirk’s biggest transformation has been on the role of religion.

Boedy tracks this transformation masterfully. As TPUSA was getting off the ground, Kirk criticized the conservative movement of decades past for evangelizing too much, claimed to promote right-wing values “through a secular worldview,” and once told an audience that “he saw his job as the face of TPUSA as ‘no different than’ being a plumber or electrician, who likely don’t tell everyone they met about their religion.”

In 2021, Kirk launched the TPUSA Faith initiative, which he has used as a platform to increasingly lean into Christian nationalism. Since then, TPUSA Faith launched Freedom Life Church, a network of TPUSA-aligned congregations with the expressed goal “to change the trajectory of our nation by restoring America's biblical values.”

In 2022, he declared, “There is no separation of church and state.”

Kirk has also falsely claimed that the Founding Fathers based our system of government on the Book of Genesis, and speaks of the country as engaged in a “spiritual battle.”

The Murdochs and Fox News are also directly responsible for helping Kirk launch his career. As TPUSA was just getting off the ground, Kirk started becoming a semi-regular guest on Fox News as the youthful face of opposing the Obama presidency, often hosted by Neil Cavuto. Kirk has appeared at least 235 times on weekday Fox shows since 2018, though his last appearance was May 18, 2023, having since seemingly been blacklisted from the network.

Like the rest of us, Charlie Kirk is getting older, but high school and college students are staying the same age. Conservative media across the board face an uphill battle if they want to win over Gen Z. So far, Kirk’s strategic approach to inheriting the house that Rupert (and Rush) built has been to amplify the extremist fringes.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Fox Staffer: Rising Antisemitism Reflects 'Jewish Presence In Banking'

Fox Staffer: Rising Antisemitism Reflects 'Jewish Presence In Banking'

Matteo Cina, a production assistant for Fox News Digital and a former writer for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, repeatedly posted antisemitic comments on his TikTok page, writing that “it is hard to talk about the Holocaust and rising anti semitism without discussing Jewish presence in banking.”

Media Matters has confirmed the legitimacy of Cina’s comments after they were first circulated in screenshots on Twitter. In replies to a video posted to his own profile on TikTok, Cina made multiple comments validating “Jewish stereotypes,” including that “Jews control the financial sector,” and claiming this contributed to the atrocities of the Holocaust. In the video, Cina defended Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ new teaching guidelines in Florida that claim “slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”

Cina’s TikTok bio reads: “Former Capitol Hill Dep. Comms & Writer for Gov. Abbott. Currently Fox News”. According to his LinkedIn page, he worked for Abbott beginning in August 2021 and joined Fox News in February 2022. Cina’s author page on the Fox News website identifies him as a production assistant for Fox News Digital, and his most recent byline was published July 9.

The revelations of Cina’s antisemitic commentary come amid internal discontent at Fox News over prime-time host Greg Gutfeld’s recent comments that victims of Nazi concentration camps “had to be useful” to survive extermination. “Utility kept you alive,” he added. The comments prompted pushback from the Auschwitz Museum, which said Gutfeld’s comment “does not represent the complex history of the genocide perpetrated by Nazi Germany.”

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

The Charlie Kirk Show

Racist Writer Who Worked For Carlson Pops Up Again -- With Charlie Kirk

Blake Neff, a former writer for Fox’s now-defunct Tucker Carlson Tonight who resigned from the show in 2020 following revelations that he made racist and sexist posts in an online forum, has resurfaced on Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk’s radio show, apparently as a producer.

In July 2020, CNN’s Oliver Darcy reported that Neff, then the top writer for Tucker Carlson’s show, had been anonymously posting racist, misogynistic, homophobic, and other offensive content on an online forum for five years. Neff used racist and homophobic slurs, referred to women in a derogatory manner, and pushed white supremacist content while writing for Carlson’s show. Neff resigned after CNN contacted him for comment.

On the website for The Charlie Kirk Show, Neff is identified as “producer Blake.” In addition to appearing on that show, Neff has also joined Kirk on a new panel show called THOUGHTCRIME.

Neff appeared with Kirk on the first episode of THOUGHTCRIME, a new weekly panel show streamed live exclusively on Kirk’s Rumble channel that’s apparently co-hosted by Pizzagate conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec. Kirk introduced Neff as “very high-IQ Blake,” saying, “And we’re really honored to have Blake on our team — he’s great. And the most, let’s just say, awful people in the world tried to destroy Blake’s life and we’re not going to let that happen.” Later he added, “We love Blake and he does a great job.”

In a prerecorded introduction attached to the audio-only version of the show, Kirk described THOUGHTCRIME as “R-rated,” with “rather graphic elements,” and “not homeschool friendly.”

On June 21, Neff appeared again on Salem Radio Network’s The Charlie Kirk Show to discuss the submersible vessel carrying four tourists and a captain that got lost while diving to the Titanic shipwreck. Kirk described Neff as “our resident submarine expert,” and a chyron identified Neff as “The Charlie Kirk Show Submarine expert.” Neff described the plight of the lost vessel story as “refreshing” as far as news cycles go.

After the break, Kirk referred to Neff as “part of” the new weekly panel show. Neff also said, “I don’t want to say, like, you should not” go on a submersible vessel seemingly operated on a video game controller.

During THOUGHTCRIME, the panelists repeatedly used an anti-trans slur and discussed the X-rated topic of “glory holes” in response to The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh’s claim on Twitter that “Fox Corp is celebrating Pride by encouraging employees to read about ‘“glory holes.’”

This type of talk stands out coming from Kirk, not only because of the raunchy topic, but also because of how it contrasts with the self-righteous Christian nationalist rhetoric he’s embraced over the last year with the launch of Turning Point USA Faith, an initiative to propagandize young people by setting up Turning Point USA chapters in their churches.

“What is a glory hole?” asked Kirk.

“Oh my sweet summer child,” responded Neff.

Kirk then Googled it live on air.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Women's Leadership Summit

Right-Wing Career Women Urge Girls To Drop Aspirations -- And Marry Now (VIDEO)

I’m fascinated by Turning Point USA’s Young Women’s Leadership Summit for the same reasons I watch ABC’s The Bachelorette. The dating show tries to awkwardly reconcile fundamentally opposed interpretations of gender roles in a woman’s pursuit of an opposite-sex partner. The woman crowned as the bachelorette each season represents a certain type of conformity. She is feminine, unattainable, a prize to be won, flirty, and non-threatening to masculinity -- the ideal future wife. At the same time, her role is highly subversive to traditional norms of courtship -- she’s “dating” 25 men at once. This scenario totally boggles the normative masculinity of the contestants pursuing her.

Turning Point USA’s Young Women’s Leadership Summit, which targets college and high-school age girls, grapples with these same contradictions in a much darker and more prescriptive way. Speaker after speaker emphasized to the audience that they should become wives, mothers, and accessories to the astroturfed conservative movement rather than pursuing a demanding career. These themes were nearly identical to last year’s YWLS.

Yet this conference exists because of the labor of women on the right who clearly value their careers. Speakers like TPUSA influencer Alex Clark, Fox host Laura Ingraham, and The Daily Wire’s Candace Owens both covertly and overtly discouraged the audience of young women from pursuing high-powered careers — but it takes a lot of work to build an audience as a woman in right-wing media. Behind the scenes, Turning Point USA’s events and marketing leadership are also populated by women. Chief Marketing Officer Marina Minas’ biography says nothing of her achievements in the domestic realm. The same goes for the vice president of events, Lauren Toncich.

Forgoing a career in pursuit of marriage and motherhood is not something the women delivering this message can speak about from personal experience. This tension drew me to attend the event in person in Grapevine, Texas, from June 9 to 11.

Much to my surprise, the first thing I saw when I pulled up to the venue was a massive pride flag. In his opening speech, TPUSA founder Charlie Kirk described his unsuccessful efforts to have the flag taken down: “I tried my best to take down the flag everybody,” he said. The crowd responded with cheers. “I failed, OK? I’m sorry. I tried my best. I know you were all thinking it, right? What is that all about? By the way, this hotel better do something or we’re going to find another hotel because I’m not going to come back, this is ridiculous.”

The conference featured an exhibition hall with booths selling “dump your liberal boyfriend” sweatshirts from a right-wing dating app founded by a former Trump White House staffer, career recruitment for Turning Point USA and Turning Point Faith, and bedazzled purses shaped like guns. The bathrooms were decked out with advertisements for a gender-exclusionary tampon brand. Virtually all surfaces, including the elevator doors, were covered in the themed TPUSA aesthetic.

Alex Clark, host of Turning Point USA’s podcasts directed at young women and the face of this event, opened the conference with what can only be described as an angry, judgmental lecture, titled “The Top 4 Lies of Modern Feminism.” She opened by asking, “Young Women’s Leadership Summit, are you ready to see this degenerate rotten culture that we’ve been living in get a makeover?” After applause, she praised the audience’s themed outfits. Fair is fair -- there were some good ones out there.

For the next 30 minutes, she launched into a winding, pseudo-academic diatribe about the four lies of modern feminism, which according to Clark are birth control, abortion, fertility care, and day care. She has staked her brand in part on spreading misinformation about birth control -- it’s a regular feature of her podcasts POPlitics and The Spillover, as well as her prolific Instagram presence.

She asked the audience, “Who in this room has decided to ditch hormonal birth control?” Very few hands went up. “Wow,” she responded, following up by asking, “How many of you are considering ditching hormonal birth control?” Even fewer hands went up. Just a few minutes into her speech she lost the room, and it got worse from there.

Attacking abortion and fertility care are not unique to Clark’s brand, but her opposition to day care is both a new and relatively isolated stance, and it didn’t land with the YWLS crowd. It was on this topic that her speech veered from sleepy to bizarre. She described it as her “spiciest take,” saying that “a lot of mothers in the ‘70s” (the decade was the conference’s theme) “who desired freedom and flexibility or who didn’t necessarily have a support system were oblivious to the fact that the solutions presented to them as safe, liberating or harmless were anything but. And one of those solutions was day care.” After an awkward pause, she added, “It just got real uncomfy. Did you feel that shift?”

Clark claimed, “The feminist movement is in large part to blame for the fracturing of the traditional home, where women were coerced outside of their natural roles as mothers into the workforce.” She went on: “The feminist movement gave way to the notion that a woman could have her cake and eat it too. You can have the career you want and you can raise your children in a positive, educational environment, aka day care.” She described it as “a lie to tell women that we can have it all.” Just because day care is “normal or common doesn’t mean it’s right,” according to Clark.

Not only is Clark a highly successful political commentator with two podcasts and the face of a yearly conference, she is also, as she noted in her own speech, not a mother. Even more bizarrely, she was not giving opening remarks to a conference for mothers.

Kirk spoke next, telling the audience that women have a tendency to be “cliquey” and “mean,” unlike men, to encourage networking at the event.

The TPUSA founder then pivoted to the normal slop that someone hears if they have the misfortune of tuning in to his daily radio show, railing against a “social contagion that is spreading the country at a rapid pace that disguises itself as transgenderism and it is accelerating, it is not slowing down.” He told the audience, “We have seen an all-out, deliberate, concentrated, non-stop, relentless assault on women in this country” by “creepy, narcissistic freaks who think they are men wearing dresses to compete in sports against many of you.”

After establishing that “women are more agreeable than men,” Kirk told his audience they must “be disagreeable” in attacking the humanity of transgender people, who he called “creepy men that have deep-seated mental problems that need treatment.”

Throughout the weekend, attacks on transgender people consistently garnered the loudest and most enthusiastic cheers.

Lara Trump and Laura Ingraham finished up the first day of the conference. Lara Trump skirted around the massive elephant in the room -- her father-in-law’s stunning indictment on espionage charges relating to his handling of classified documents in his post-presidency. Her only remarks on the topic consisted of boilerplate talking points about some amorphous authority persecuting her father-in-law to stop him from becoming president again.

Like virtually every other speaker, Lara Trump attacked transgender athletes, and used the topic to draw attention to her own body: “I’ve been an athlete for most of my life. You might notice my legs are very muscular. I still do a little working out on the side, you know, I’ve got to stay in shape.”


Laura Ingraham’s remarks barely merit a mention, except for her puzzling comments on supermodel Gisele Bündchen. “It’s far easier to live in a society that encourages modesty than to live in a society that encourages women to show it all, flaunt it all, all the time,” she said. “Who can ever keep up with that? By the way, other than maybe Gisele Bündchen, who really does look good in a thong bathing suit on the beach? Sorry, you’ve got to be a special type of person who looks good in that.”



Fundamentalist podcaster Allie Beth Stuckey opened day two of the conference. She, unsurprisingly, struck a notably more pointed Christian extremist tone than the other speakers, though religious rhetoric was ubiquitous throughout the conference. “I can tell you what your highest calling is,” she said. It’s not to have a career, “it’s not even to be a wife and a mom, as wonderful as those things are. Your highest calling is to glorify God.”

Podcaster and Turning Point USA personality Benny Johnson followed, and used much of his time to tell the audience of college and high school girls to “become a woman of value.” Calling out women who say they have trouble finding a partner, he asked, “Have you behaved like a great woman that would attract a great man?”

“Have you been a great woman? There ain’t nothing wrong with being a trad wife. Being a trad wife’s based. Men love this.”


Gross.

Naturally, the idea that elections are being stolen from Republicans also permeated the conference. Real America’s Voice host Gina Loudon sympathized with the young audience about how much they have “endured” in recent years: “You’ve had your country stolen, you’ve had an election stolen, you’ve had your restrooms taken over by men who say they’re women and you’ve had your entire gender completely, just, undermined.”

The only person who spoke more than once at the Young Women’s Leadership Summit was Kirk, who returned to the stage on day two for a Q&A session. One question during the session came from a college student involved with Turning Point USA on her campus, who said she is working toward her dream career in orthopedic surgery.

The exchange almost perfectly distilled the overarching message of the weekend. The audience member told Kirk that she is career-driven and has not thought much about marriage or starting a family. She asked if he had advice to give to “somebody who so badly wants to succeed in surgery,” but will be 30 years old before she has time to think about “settling down.”

Kirk’s answer was straightforward and clear: “You’re going to have to choose which one matters more.” He then told her to spend a couple of days with infants and see how she feels afterward, and stressed that she may run out of time to find a husband if she focuses on her career throughout her 20s.

Kirk told her that “there are a lot of successful, 35-year-old orthopedic surgeons that have cats, and not kids, and they’re very miserable."


This is one of the fundamental contradictions of the Young Women’s Leadership Summit and Turning Point USA’s recruitment of young women overall. If the main message for this audience — many of whom identified themselves as leaders of campus TPUSA chapters — is that they should leave politics to men, seek fulfillment exclusively in the domestic sphere, and focus on indoctrinating a litter of children into an ideology of hate and victimhood, then most of the organization’s activity is irrelevant to its female members.

In the early evening, Owens closed day two. Her walkout was met with the loudest cheers and applause of the entire weekend.

She framed her remarks around the idea that women have a biological predisposition to sentimentality, motherhood, and nurturing.

“Your emotions and your nurturing are meant for those relationships in your life that mean the most,” Owens said. “You will see it — you will become a tiger, you will become a bear when you have children,” adding bleakly, “The reason that you fight, the reason that you get up in the morning, the reason that you breathe will become so clear. You will never be more sure of yourself when you realize that there is something inside of you that just knows what to do with a child.” She assumed that members of the audience “already experience that.”


According to Owens, the left has used the media to manipulate these natural female instincts. Her message to this group of “young women leaders” in the conservative movement: “Every ill that we are fighting right now in society has been brought forth by women.”

Setting aside Owens’ extremely misogynistic message, we can look at the pillars of her own life for a moment. She is a woman who you might say “has it all”: a career, a public platform, and a family. But she presents herself as if she appeared on stage to roaring adoration by accident, her authority stemming from her status as a model mother, and not because of a single-minded ambition to get famous through a Faustian bargain with conservative media.

As I write this, the third day of the conference has begun. The speakers are the weekend’s afterthought: failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, anti-trans former swimmer Riley Gaines, and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), among others. By now the narrative of the weekend is clear: there is a very narrow vision of what a fulfilled woman's life can consist of and an extremely limited set of acceptable aspirations. If you don’t want to give up everything else to have children and marry a Christian man, something is fundamentally, biologically, biblically wrong with you. Charlie Kirk recommends you pray about it.

The things that went unsaid were notable, too -- former President Donald Trump’s indictment on federal charges, perhaps one of the biggest stories of any post-presidential period in American history, was hardly mentioned, despite the massive reaction in the broader right-wing universe. Current events, news, politics, struggles over justice and power -- these things were not deemed relevant to the audience at the Young Women’s Leadership Summit. It was all identity, all the time -- no substance, just aesthetics and grievance.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Sean Hannity

How Fox Presents The Network's Tainted 'Talent' To Media Buyers

Fox Corp. gave their upfront presentation yesterday in midtown Manhattan. Outside the event, several protests gathered, including striking writers from the Writers’ Guild of America as well as anti-Fox protesters calling for advertisers to defund Fox News.

Inside the event, Fox reportedly deprived their guests of chairs as Gordon Ramsay dropped f-bombs and former NFL tight end Rob Gronkowski botched an ad pitch from Fox Sports’ Erin Andrews.

Fox News personalities were also featured in the presentation, including some of the network’s most extreme personalities such as Jesse Watters, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and Jeanine Pirro, among others. As Fox attempts to clean up the wreckage of a historic defamation settlement with Dominion Voting Systems, they are simultaneously attempting to downplay the network’s extremism by promoting digital properties like Tubi, Fox Nation, and Fox Weather while also injecting right-wing propagandists on Fox News to signal that the company does not intend to deviate from its tried and true business model of sacrificing democracy for cable news ratings.

Fox is having an identity crisis across its various platforms. Last quarter the company posted a loss as a result of their $787 million defamation settlement. They’re currently also facing: an ongoing writers’ strike, a “soft advertising market” and the never ending cord cutting trend that only continues to get worse, and fallout from the unceremonious firing of their star Tucker Carlson that has tanked Fox News’ primetime ratings.

Despite all this, Lachlan Murdoch told investors last week that Carlson’s departure will not change “programming strategy at Fox News,” an indication that advertisers and cable providers should expect more of the same on the network.

And, indeed, Fox’s presentation to media buyers on Monday afternoon in New York City featured an appearance from a Fox News personality who bore significant responsibility for the lies that led to that defamation settlement.

Here’s some of just the recent commentary from Fox News personalities featured in the upfronts pitch.

The Five

The Five is Fox News’ top-rated show. It features a roundtable discussion among the most unhinged hosts at the network, including Greg Gutfeld, Jesse Watters, and Jeanine Pirro. All three hosts, in addition to Jessica Tarlov, who is a rotating liberal host on the show, were featured via a live feed during the upfronts presentation. In addition to his role on The Five, Jesse Watters hosts the 7 PM hour solo, and Gutfeld is host of the 11 PM hour on Fox, a program that is the network’s stab at a late-night talk show.

Jeanine Pirro was a key figure in Fox’s peddling of election conspiracy theories after the 2020 election. Emails disclosed via Dominion Voting Systems' lawsuit against Fox News review that Pirro's executive producer Jerry Andrews called her “just as nuts” as Sidney Powell, then-Trump's lawyer that was behind some of the most ludicrous lies told by his campaign. At the time, Pirro had recently hosted Powell on her show, during which she and her guest pushed lies about Dominion. Pirro pushed conspiracy theories about the 2020 election even after Fox's own “Brain Room” had debunked them.

According to Variety, Greg Gutfeld’s attempt at humor regarding the ongoing Writers Guild of America strike fell flat among the crowd.

Here are some recent eyebrow-raising clips from these personalities.

  • On May 15, Gutfeld said that Democrats are lying about the threat of white supremacy to “keep Blacks angry.”
  • In April, Gutfeld said climate change “improves people's lives.”
  • In March, Gutfeld suggested that “white leftists do worse things to Blacks than the Aryan Nations ever could.”
  • Gutfeld said in January it’s time to tell the homeless, “You don’t get to live with us.”
  • Gutfeld suggested that President Joe Biden is hiding “Barack Obama’s real birth certificate” and using it for blackmail against “Black males.”
  • On May 15, Jesse Watters said on The Five that Black Americans should be more concerned with “absent fathers, education issues” than with white supremacist mass shooters.
  • Watters said that “women are in their prime in their late teens” while mocking former CNN host Don Lemon.
  • During Black History Month, Watters said the “people who financed it” deserve credit for American infrastructure built by slaves.
  • Watters suggested burning squatters alive.
  • Watters accused teachers of “poisoning” and “trying to destroy” children because “the teachers have daddy issues.”
  • In January, Jeanine Pirro proclaimed that George Soros is “behind the destruction of law and order in America.”
  • Pirro argued that Nazism and white supremacy should be allowed on social media platforms.
  • In November, Pirro argued that “Holocaust deniers,” “hate speech,” and Sandy Hook truthers should be allowed on Twitter.
  • Pirro said that “we are living in a fascist state” because the media won’t cover Hunter Biden’s laptop.

Dana Perino and Bill Hemmer

Dana Perino and Bill Hemmer were featured as “straight news” personalities during the upfronts presentation. They are co-anchors of America’s Newsroom, where they both frequently push tepid right-wing talking points, blurring the line between news and opinion. Perino is also a co-host of The Five.

  • During a March edition of The Five, Perino struggled to define the word woke: “It could be a feeling, it could be a sense.”
  • Perino and her co-hosts on The Five attacked unhoused people for washing their clothes.
  • In September 2022, Perino said we should “involuntarily commit” the homeless.
  • In June 2022, Perino said she is “concerned” Americans won’t be “allowed to celebrate” the Fourth of July soon.
  • Perino suggested that the January 6 committee hearings were meant to “distract from other issues.”
  • Bill Hemmer attacked Disney for opposing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ “Don’t Say Gay” bill, asserting that there was “leaked video now of Disney execs unveil efforts to push the company's woke agenda.”
  • In July, Hemmer suggested that federal gun legislation would not have helped stop a mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois.
  • In November 2021, Hemmer helped spread a baseless anti-vaccine rumor while on air.
  • In February 2021, Hemmer allowed former President Donald Trump to push lies about the 2020 election.
  • Following the 2020 election, Hemmer continuously supported Trump’s election challenges.

Sean Hannity

Reporting indicates that Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham were featured in the Fox News “sizzle reel” presented to advertisers and media buyers during the upfront presentation, “though primetime was decidedly not a focus of the presentation, with the 2024 election instead taking center stage.” Hannity and Ingraham have a long track record at Fox and elsewhere in right-wing media of extreme commentary.

Sean Hannity has been the poster boy for right-wing conspiracy theories and bigotry since Fox News Channel launched in 1996. He was a major booster of Trump’s election conspiracy theories and a singularly important driver of the Seth Rich conspiracy theory. Here are some of his most extreme recent comments.

  • Hannity called for the arrest of Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
  • On his radio show, he said Trump should have pardoned himself and his family before leaving office.
  • He blamed Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse on “an obsessive company-wide focus on race, gender, sexual orientation.”
  • In February, Hannity endorsed Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-GA) call for banning “people who move from blue states to red states from voting for five years.”
  • He said in January that “vaccines and boosters do not work as they have told us.”
  • Hannity compared vaping Juul pods to giving children the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • To stop mass shootings, Hannity argued for “tax breaks” for armed military and police officers who work for free patrolling schools.

Laura Ingraham

Laura Ingraham is an anti-immigrant extremist and a propagator of hate, lies, and misinformation. She’s used her platform on the network to attack school shooting survivors and murder victims. Here are recent examples of extremism on her Fox show, The Ingraham Angle:

  • On May 11, Ingraham said an “untold” number of Americans “will lose their lives” because of immigration.”
  • She said the Biden administration is encouraging border crossings “to fundamentally change America.”
  • Ingraham told her audience that coverage of the Allen, Texas, shooting was a “bloody electoral strategy” by the Democrats.
  • She recently said Democrats want to put conservatives “in a camp.”
  • Ingraham defended Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas after reports that he received lavish gifts from a major Republican donor.
  • She compared Trump’s indictment in New York to “Stalin’s purges.”
  • Ingraham claimed that Trump’s indictment was a distraction from the school shooting in Nashville.
  • She called January 6 rioters “old ladies walking through the halls of Congress taking selfies.”
  • Ingraham and her guest Sen. Josh Hawley attempted to connect gender-affirming care to the Nashville shooting.

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.

Read The Texts: Lawsuit Reveals Damning New Evidence Of Fox Deception

Read The Texts: Lawsuit Reveals Damning New Evidence Of Fox Deception

Media Matters has obtained a slide deck used at a March 21 hearing in Dominion Voting Systems’ defamation lawsuit against Fox News. Dominion is currently suing the network for repeating lies about the company's involvement in the 2020 election in furtherance of the Trump campaign’s attempts to overturn President Joe Biden’s victory. Filings from the suit made public over recent weeks have shown that from the Murdochs themselves to top talent and show producers, Fox engaged in a systematic effort to profit from lies about the 2020 election and avoid backlash from its rabid audience.

Media Matters’ Matt Gertz highlighted some topline findings from the new slides in a Twitter thread.

In one instance, in response to anchor Eric Shawn fact-checking one of Donald Trump's election lies, Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott said, “This has to stop now. ... This is bad business. ... The audience is furious and we are just feeding them material.”

Notes from a pre-interview with Rep. Kevin McCarthy reveal him saying that he did not believe there was “mass cheat” in the 2020 election.

Texts show Tucker Carlson calling former Trump attorney Sidney Powell a “crazy person” and “a psychopath” among various slurs.

Another instance shows Fox “Brain Room” staffer Leonard Balducci sending fact checks from Dominion and The Associated Press debunking election fraud claims to production staff.

An email shows Scott stressing that “I can't keep defending these reporters who don't understand our viewers and how to handle stories. ... We lost 25k subs from FOX NATION.”

In a text chain, Carlson called election denier Mike Lindell “definitely crazy,” but conceded that he “has bailed us out loads of times when no one else would” with ads.


In an email to Fox executives, Jeanine Pirro’s executive producer said her pre-taped monologue “is rife w[ith] conspiracy theories and bs and is yet another example why this woman should never be on live television.”

An internal review confirmed that parts of her monologue were incorrect or unconfirmed, and the network aired it anyway.

Soon after, Fox promoted Pirro to co-host of the live panel show The Five.


Fox Corp. is now kicking off the yearly effort to sell the majority of its advertising space on Fox News and other properties with a misleading pitch to buyers that features some of the top talent who pushed lies about the election and others who enabled them behind the scenes. For more information on the Dominion lawsuit, click here.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Steve Bannon

Report: Justice Department Probing Bannon Role In Guo's Alleged Frauds

A new report in Mother Jones cites sources that claim Steve Bannon is being investigated for playing a role behind the scenes advising his longtime associate Ho Wan Kwok, also known as Miles Guo, on his allegedly fraudulent schemes. Guo was arrested after being charged with 12 counts of fraud, financial crimes, and obstruction of justice by the Southern District of New York for his role overseeing a wide-ranging conspiracy of fraudulent ventures totalling over $1 billion.

Bannon publicly promoted these allegedly fraudulent schemes on multiple occasions. In one instance, Bannon endorsed a cryptocoin called H Coin and its associated exchange, calling their launch “monumental” and part of the “institutionalization of the counteroffensive to the Chinese Communist Party.”

According to the indictment, Guo and others “fraudulently obtained more than approximately $262 million in victim funds through the Himalaya Exchange.”

Mother Jones quotes sources who had been contacted by FBI and SEC agents and “asked for details on Bannon’s role advising Guo on soliciting investment funds in 2020.” Sources also say Bannon “privately advised” Guo and his alleged co-conspirator on GTV and so-called “G|Clubs.” The SDNY release describes how Guo “touted” GTV as a “wide-ranging media company,” and made “false representations regarding how the money raised” from investors “would be used.” Investors were told that the “G|Clubs” would “provide participants with the opportunity to buy discounted stock in other Guo ventures.” Guo and his co-conspirator Kin Ming Je “misappropriated hundreds of millions of dollars in fraudulently obtained funds,” according to the SDNY.

According to Mother Jones:

Still, Bannon gave vital assistance to Guo’s operation. The former top aide to Donald Trump not only publicly cheered on companies that Guo allegedly used to rip off fans, but also privately advised Guo on how to solicit investments in those companies.

FBI and SEC agents, who are still investigating Guo’s capers, have sought information about Bannon’s work for the Chinese mogul, according to two people contacted by agents. One source said that agents asked for details on Bannon’s role advising Guo on soliciting investment funds in 2020.

Starting in the spring of 2020, Guo raised hundreds of millions of dollars by offering backers a chance to invest in what Guo said was a private offering of shares in GTV. Information sent to potential investors named Bannon as a member of GTV’s board.

Bannon also played a larger role than was publicly known in the GTV offering, people familiar with the effort told Mother Jones. These sources said that Bannon privately advised Guo, Je, and others on the GTV offering. Bannon also provided advice on a follow-up venture called G|Clubs, sources said. Guo claimed that membership in this club —which cost between $10,000 and $50,000—would provide participants with the opportunity to buy discounted stock in other Guo ventures. Prosecutors said that members actually received “few to no discernible membership benefits.”

In 2020, Bannon was arrested by postal service agents for his own separate fraudulent scheme on Guo’s yacht, which, according to the SDNY, itself was financed through Guo’s alleged fraud.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Bannon

Bannon And Kirk Exploit China Balloon Paranoia To Boost 'Prepper' Sales

After days of nonstop coverage of a Chinese balloon crossing the continental United States, far-right influencers are now using it to sell prepper supplies for what they claim is an imminent collapse of the American economy. Right-wing media personalities Charlie Kirk and Steve Bannon are hyping the recent Chinese spy balloon saga to sell prepper supplies on their shows.

Both Kirk and Bannon have plugged the preparedness company My Patriot Supply during their recent broadcasts, claiming that the balloon incident — which has been a major subject of fearmongering and conspiracy theories in conservative media — should prompt viewers to amass large quantities of food and other supplies in case of an apocalyptic disaster.

During an ad read on his February 3 radio show, Kirk mentioned the Chinese spy balloon and told his audience they are “nine meals away from anarchy,” adding, “As the Chinese Community Party takes pictures and spies on you, gets your kids addicted to fentanyl and also hooked on TikTok, at least you will be well fed when anarchy comes.”

On February 7, Bannon hosted My Patriot Supply Vice President of Sales Joe Rieck, who said that the balloon posed such a threat that “literally we were seconds away from being pushed back to the dark ages” and has sparked an increased interest from the public in his company’s products. He then plugged “Faraday bags,” “anti-radiation tablets,” and “dosimeter cards” as the items his customers are “stocking up on right now” because “we were so close to having something catastrophic happen in our borders.”

“You’ve got to get ahead of the curve here” added Bannon, advising his audience as “rational people” to purchase My Patriot Supply products.

“These are things that are going to come in handy because we’ve all seen how close we were to a huge disaster,” said Rieck. “And if they can float a balloon and it takes the government five days to take action, then who’s to say that the Chinese couldn’t have just pushed a button and ended everything three days ago.”

This type of bottom-of-the-barrel grift is par for the course for right-wing media — Bannon alone has promoted a veritable empire of scummy products.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Steve Bannon Runs His 2020 'Election Fraud' Playbook Again

Steve Bannon Runs His 2020 'Election Fraud' Playbook Again

No recurring right-wing conspiracy theory is more threatening to the very foundation of American democracy than falsehoods about widespread electoral fraud. The majority of Republicans falsely believe the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump, and his supporters staged a coup attempt. Today, half of all Americans expect there to be fraud in the 2022 midterms, according to one recent national poll. It’s bad.

There’s plenty of blame to go around for this tragedy among right-wing media culprits — but chief among them must be former Trump strategist Steve Bannon’s War Room, ground zero for conspiracy theories about the election being stolen in 2020. To this day, the show’s central reason for existence is to keep these conspiracy theories alive to fuel the further radicalization of the Republican Party and its base.

Even before Trump lost, Bannon was saying the election would be stolen from him. In September 2020, he launched a national tour titled “The Plot to Steal 2020” to demonstrate how Democrats would use “digital muscle” and “lawfare” in collaboration with the Chinese government, The New York Times, former Attorney General Eric Holder, and “street thugs of antifa and the radical parts of Black Lives Matter” to “foist an illegitimate regime onto the republic of the United States.”

On Election Day 2020, Bannon declared that Trump would claim victory “right before the 11 o’clock news” (a sentiment he also shared in private). Through the post-election period, Bannon continued to mold his platform into a central propaganda hub for the MAGA movement to radicalize Trump supporters on the idea that the election was stolen, using violent rhetoric to whip them into a frenzy and even calling for the beheading of Dr. Anthony Fauci and FBI Director Christopher Wray. This continued in the days leading up to the January 6 Capitol insurrection.

Here we are again. Bannon is once more trying to organize his conservative audience around falsehoods and conspiracy theories about supposed election fraud. But this time, he has taken the last two years to regroup and strategize, rather than riding the reactive rollercoaster that was the final days of the Trump presidency. Almost immediately after the January 6 disaster, Bannon began hosting local Republican Party activist Dan Schultz to recruit and train election deniers to work as precinct officers. The responsibilities of these positions vary by state; according to ProPublica, they can “have a say in choosing poll workers” in some states and even “help pick members of boards that oversee elections.”

In the last few months, the plan of attack has expanded. In late August, Bannon declared that Democrats were planning to steal the 2022 midterms while broadcasting live from Mike Lindell’s “Moment of Truth” Summit. (Bannon does MyPillow ad reads multiple times an hour for four hours a day, five days a week, with an additional two hours on Saturday. He recently told The New York Times Lindell is “the most significant financier in all of conservative media.”)

Echoing 2020, this falsehood is now a constant refrain on the show, a slightly updated backdrop to Bannon’s protestations from two years ago. What’s different this time is the pro-Trump election denial movement is now more prepared. As Bannon told his audience in September: “It’s going to be MAGA in the room, counting the votes, because only MAGA can count fair.”

“We are prepared this time. We are trained this time.”

On October 28, he again warned the midterms are “a whole different game” because “we are prepared this time. We are trained this time."

To execute, War Room hosts a virtual parade of extremist activists pushing election denial efforts across the country. One of the most prominent is Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who collaborated with Trump to attempt to overturn the 2020 election. She is now leading an election denial group called the Election Integrity Network, which recruits and trains people to work as poll watchers and other positions in election administration. (At one recent training hosted by Mitchell’s group, coup memo author John Eastman told volunteers to “document what you’ve seen, raise the challenge” and “get it all written down” because “that then becomes the basis for an affidavit in a court challenge after the fact.”)

Mitchell has also instructed the War Room audience to volunteer in Democratic stronghold counties previously subjected to destructive conspiracy theories during the Trump campaign in 2020, including ones they don’t live in. One of the counties she highlighted is DeKalb County, Georgia, one of four counties that make up the metropolitan Atlanta area and which also has the second largest population of Black voters in the state.

Republican National Committee head Ronna McDaniel has also made War Room her home base to promote the RNC’s first time “election integrity” efforts, now that it has been freed from a consent decree that limited the group’s ability to organize due to concerns over racially motivated voter suppression and intimidation. On November 1, McDaniel told Bannon her recruitment efforts saw a “jump” after her appearance on War Room.

In addition to partnering with the RNC and a laundry list of other election denial organizations, Bannon is now aligned with Alex Jones. This is a relatively new development -- Jones was not much of a character at all in the 2020 rendition of this song and dance. Jones recently appeared on the show to tell Bannon’s audience that they should be “documenting everything” to prevent supposed fraud in the upcoming election. In turn, Bannon has appeared on Infowars to recruit viewers to become poll workers, asking them on October 26 to join in “an overwhelming show of force” aiming “to destroy the groomer party, to destroy the globalist party.”

Bannon’s Violent Rhetoric

Undermining public confidence in the midterms is just the first part of Bannon’s agenda; to really set his listeners on fire, they are also inundated with repeat calls to violence. Bannon has referred to Mitchell’s election denier recruitment efforts as a “call to arms.” He recently promised to threaten members of Congress “by bayonet” if they don’t fall in line with the extremist right. He later doubled down on this statement, reposting the video on his GETTR page and promising “the Battle to reign in an out-of-control Government [commences] immediately upon Victory.”

Perhaps most concerning is Bannon’s repeated defense of men wearing camouflage and carrying guns while loitering outside ballot drop boxes in Arizona as a part of an effort by QAnon support Melody Jennings, who has repeatedly appeared on War Room recruiting volunteers to “monitor” drop boxes in the state. Defending the armed men from reports that they were intimidating voters, he said, “It’s not intimidation to put a set of eyeballs on these things.”

For the more hardcore elements of the War Room audience, some of whom showed up at the Capitol on January 6 and repeated his calls to violence verbatim, Steve Bannon’s bizarre circus of a show is not one of many measured perspectives they’re taking into account before drawing a larger conclusion on how they should vote or otherwise act politically. The show is exclusively available on right-wing platforms, whether it’s streamed directly from Real America’s Voice, the network home of the show, or on Rumble, described as “the right-wing’s go-to video site” that claims to have reached 78 million monthly users in August, more than 10 times that of Trump’s Truth Social platform. They are angry, unpersuadable, digitally walled off, and slurping up four hours of conspiratorial ranting a day. It’s the true definition of a fever swamp, where disease festers undisturbed.

Bridging the (small) gap between Alex Jones and the heights of the Republican Party establishment, War Room thrives off the same toxic combination of election denial and violent rhetoric that we saw in 2020. This time, the critical difference that two years of planning makes could have devastating consequences.

The recent assassination attempt at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s home in San Francisco, where her husband remains in the ICU, should set off alarm bells. According to NBC News, alleged assailant David DePape told investigators the attack was intended to “show other Members of Congress there were consequences to actions,” echoing Bannon’s recent rhetoric. DePape also reportedly professed to be a transhumanism conspiracy theorist who credited the Gamergate harassment campaign for radicalizing him, a hallmark example of the violent consequences of online harassment campaigns that Bannon had a direct role in promoting during his time heading Breitbart.

Much attention was paid to Bannon’s contempt of Congress trial, conviction, and sentencing. There were good reasons for this -- it was a historic conviction and sentencing and a cathartic moment for those of us who watched the circle of criminals supporting Donald Trump’s presidency escape virtually unscathed. But while the mainstream media has always had a very close eye on Bannon’s legal problems, the daily drumbeat of his show, even after the House Select Committee put its influence on full display in front of the entire country, has not received the same attention outside of Media Matters and very few others.

War Room is filled to the brim with leads for journalists tracking how the extreme right is attempting to disrupt and undermine the midterm elections. Of the various campaigns and activists that appear on War Room, most will fail to have an impact. That is par for the course when you’re flooding the zone with shit, according to Bannon’s own characterization. But some, like rallying at the Capitol on January 6, will have consequences that will reverberate for generations. Every day, Bannon is laying out, in specific detail, tied to specific calls to action, the strategy to create chaos at the polls and in the streets, on Election Day and beyond. Two years since Bannon started saying the 2020 election would be stolen and he is still running this same play.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Kanye West And Alex Jones' Infowars Join In Bashing Jews

Kanye West And Alex Jones' Infowars Join In Bashing Jews

Far-right outlet Infowars celebrated Kanye West after he made antis-Semitic remarks on Instagram and Twitter over the weekend and pushed conspiracy theories on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight. The admiration goes both ways — West shouted out Infowars head Alex Jones during his interview on Fox.

West has made multiple anti-Semitic remarks over the course of his recent media tour. On Instagram, he posted screenshots of a text message allegedly sent to media mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs, in which he wrote “I'ma use you as an example to show the Jewish people that told you to call me that no one can threaten or influence me.” After he was restricted from posting on Instagram, he took to Twitter and threatened to go “death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE,” who he claimed “have toyed with me and tried to black ball anyone whoever opposes your agenda.”

On the October 9 edition of InfowarsSunday Night Live, Jones reacted to West’s segment on Tucker Carlson Tonight, during which the rapper remarked, “Have I reached Alex Jones territory yet?”

Jones said “people are waking up and very exciting, positive things are happening” in response to West’s conspiracy theory suggesting that actor Matthew McConaughey and clothing retailer the Gap knew about the Uvalde school shooting before it happened. Jones added that West “has a lot of courage, and so does Candace Owens,” after the pair wore T-shirts that said “White Lives Matter” at West’s Paris fashion show. Jones took credit, saying, “We woke up Kanye West, folks.”

Later on, Infowars host Owen Shroyer took over the broadcast and went on a full-fledged anti-Semitic rant, saying he has “yet to see what Kanye West has said that’s bigoted.” Shroyer defended West, and concluded his segment by blaming Jewish people for poverty among Black Americans “when Jewish people are making out like bandits making millions of dollars on foreign policies.” He also said West is “being attacked relentlessly because he said ‘Jew.’”

OWEN SHROYER (HOST): I don’t see anything bigoted about it. Now you have the Democrat Party, you have the ADL, you have the SPLC, you have all these different groups and you have the conservative wing, the Israel First MAGA conservative wing, they’re all going after Kanye West too, saying he is bigoted. I did not hear one thing Kanye West said that was bigoted.

I don’t want to be involved in Russia-Ukraine. I don’t want to be involved in Israel-Palestine. I don’t want to be involved in Saudi Arabia-Yemen. I don’t want to be involved in any of this crap, and neither does Kanye West. And he sees this and he says why are Americans poor and hungry — specifically Black Americans — poor and hungry, when Jewish people are making out like bandits making millions of dollars on foreign policies? … So Kanye being attacked relentlessly because he said “Jew.” That’s what it is. You’re not even allowed to say it, you’re not even allowed to point out that there’s anybody Jewish in the media or anybody Jewish in the Congress, you’re not allowed to do it.

When the broadcast resumed after a break, Shroyer said the backlash to West’s remarks “only proves what he is talking about is real.”


Infowars also published an article with the headline “Establishment Sends Warning to Kanye West For Speaking His Mind.”

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Far-Right Conspiracists Deny Russian Atrocities In Bucha

Far-Right Conspiracists Deny Russian Atrocities In Bucha

Right-wing media influencers have spread narratives denying the Russian military’s involvement in reported war crimes committed in the town of Bucha, a suburb of Kyiv, Ukraine.

Following the withdrawal of Russian troops from the region, mainstream media outlets have reported on satellite images from the region that show mass graves, bodies that show signs of execution, and streets of the once-quiet town “littered with burned-out tanks and corpses.” PBS and The Associated Press have identified four potential war crimes committed by the Russian military since April 3, and their collaborative War Crimes Watch Ukraine resource has verified 113 potential war crimes overall.

The Russian government has denied responsibility for these atrocities. An official Russian Telegram channel denied accusations that Russian soldiers killed Ukrainians in Bucha and claimed that “the photos and video footage from Bucha are another hoax, a staged production and provocation by the Kiev regime for the Western media.”

Far-right influencers took to podcasts, interviews, and social media to boost the Russians’ denial that the massacre was staged or faked, blaming a number of different countries and global organizations.

Conspiracy theory site Infowars has been a hotbed of conspiracy theories related to the atrocities in Bucha. On April 5, Alex Jones took to the show to promote articles on the Infowars site that “clearly show a lot of this was fake.”



The next day guest host Robert Barnes continued to spout similar claims. Barnes asserted that the Russian forces did not control Bucha while they stayed in the city and did not “cut off any civilian infrastructure.” He then repeated assertions that atrocities in the area were not reported until days after Russian forces exited, claiming that fact showed the massacre was a false flag.




On its website, Infowarstouted remarks by Tucker Carlson foreign policy muse Douglas Macgregor. Macgregor told a YouTube podcast that he was “extremely suspicious” at the “brilliant timing” and unanimous condemnation in the media of Russia's actions in Bucha, likening the condemnation to the lies used to sell the Iraq War. In the same podcast, Macgregor later said of the Bucha massacre that “it’s hard for me to believe that this was a deliberate act done by the Russian military” and that “I looked at both sides of this and I couldn't come away with a certain conclusion one way or the other. There were things that didn't make a lot of sense.”

During the April 4 broadcast of Human Events Daily with Jack Posobiec, the Pizzagate conspiracy theorist claimed “we can’t tell what happened” in Bucha and “both sides have their grievances.” The comments were boosted by The Post Millennial, a right-wing blog. Posobiec has a history of boosting Russian-backed conspiracy theories about the war in Ukraine.

Former presidential candidate Ron Paul claimed on the April 5 edition of the Ron Paul Liberty Report that he’s “very suspicious of what we're hearing, just who has been doing what.” His co-host Daniel McAdams repeated denial narratives, saying, “We do not know what happened in this small town,” and went on to describe a timeline of events that implied Russian forces were not behind the massacre.

During a livestream on Rumble, the right-wing alternative to YouTube, militia-linked radio host Pete Santilli claimed the massacre was faked and the CIA was behind it. The episode also included a video sourced from Infowars that supposedly proved the massacre was faked.

On CrossTalk, a Christian nationalist show hosted by QAnon conspiracy theorist Lauren Witzke and Edward Szall, the co-hosts claimed Russian forces in Bucha were “helping the Ukrainians; they weren’t abusing them, they weren’t doing terrible things to them,” as evidenced by images of food packaging alongside the dead.

Witzke also claimed to have heard rumors Ukrainians are accepting help from Russian forces and said she has “nothing but respect for Putin. And you know what, it’s a daggum shame that they’re doing this crap to people, that they’re murdering people, just so they can paint him as this horrible leader, this tyrant.” The episode, which was cross-posted to the “Stew Peters Network” page on Rumble, is titled “Ukrainian War Crimes in Bucha Exposed: Zelensky’s MI6 Nazi False Flag Murdered Kids.”

The Russian-backed misinformation problem extends beyond far-right media in the English language. The Venezuelen-owened TV outlet Telesur shared a video to its 1.5 million YouTube subscribers on April 4, that called the events in Bucha a farce and included the claims the images were taken following the exit of Russian forces as proof of the falsehood.

In right-leaning private Facebook groups, users have both expressed skepticism about the atrocities in Bucha, suggesting that they have been staged by the “Kiev regime” or “a Liberal faction.” Some posts linked to Infowars and Summit News (an affiliated project of Infowars), while others linked directly to Russian state media sites RT and TASS. We found only one instance where Facebook flagged such posts as “False Information.”

Far-right communities on fringe social media platforms have also spread Russian denial.

Gab CEO Andrew Torba posted to his platform a video from RT that implied the images and videos coming from Bucha were faked. The post amassed over 1,800 likes, comments, and reposts. Another post shared to Gab, known as a haven for white nationalists, on April 5 by @Corvid1984 also questioned the reality of the massacre based on the images and videos coming out of the region. The post received over 1,500 engagements.

A post on the QAnon forum GreatAwakening.win claims, “The National Guard of Ukraine filmed its entering into the town north of Kiev where the alleged massacre took place. They were first in the town after the withdrawal of Russian troops. The video clearly shows no dead bodies on the streets.”

Messaging platform Telegram was also rife with the narrative that reports of potential war crimes in Bucha were Ukrainian propaganda. QAnon-affiliated Telegram channel We The Media reposted a different video originally published by Intel Slava Z, a Russian Telegram news aggregator, and claimed it shows “staged footage of the Ukrainian psyop unit from Bucha.”

On April 4, holocaust denier and leader of the fascist “America First” movement Nick Fuentes posted a link to his cozy.tv livestream decrying the “Fake ‘Bucha’ massacre.” During the stream, Fuentes also said the West “needs an excuse to escalate the war just as much as the Ukrainians, and how do they do that? Well they do a handshake deal, and the Ukrainians fake the massacre and the Western media eats it up, they feed that to the population.”


Printed with permission from Media Matters.

How Carlson Lied To Whitewash Oath Keepers’ Armed Conspiracy

How Carlson Lied To Whitewash Oath Keepers’ Armed Conspiracy


Fox News’ Tucker Carlson has repeatedly hosted alleged Oath Keeper Thomas Caldwell, who was charged on January 13 with seditious conspiracy alongside Oath Keeper leader Stewart Rhodes and nine others in connection to the anti-government militia’s plot to violently overthrow the government on January 6, 2021. Carlson has interviewed Caldwell on both his Fox News show and his Fox Nation show. With Carlson’s help, Caldwell and his wife cast themselves as victims of overzealous prosecution for the events of January 6.

In their discussions Carlson and his guests overlooked some key details while portraying Caldwell, who was first arrested and indicted for his January 6 actions shortly after that day, merely as a “disabled veteran.

As noted in the indictment, Caldwell was stationed outside Washington, D.C., on January 5, standing ready to distribute weapons to his fellow militia members at the direction of Rhodes. He allegedly helped coordinate the Oath Keepers’ so-called “quick reaction force.” The indictment states that the militia had “amassed firearms on the outskirts of Washington, D.C., distributed them among ‘quick reaction force’ (‘QRF’) teams, and planned to use the firearms in support of their plot to stop the lawful transfer of presidential power.”

The indictment alleges, “The QRF teams were prepared to rapidly transport firearms and other weapons into Washington, D.C., in support of operations aimed at using force to stop the lawful transfer of presidential power. The QRF teams were coordinated, in part, by Thomas Caldwell and Edward Vallejo.”

Rhodes indictment 1rhodes indictment

The indictment also notes that Caldwell did march to the Capitol on January 6, which has been documented in previous media reports. Some of Caldwell’s involvement coordinating the “QRF” was released in a court filing in December and was reported on by local DC outlet WUSA.

The government’s case claims Caldwell sought boats to assist the QRF, saying he wrote in a message that they could have “heavy weapons standing by, quickly load them and ferry them across the river to our waiting arms.” It also alleges that “on January 5, 2021, Caldwell and others drove into Washington, D.C., around the Capitol, and back to their hotel in Virginia” where the Oath Keepers had stockpiled weapons. The indictment says that “Caldwell described the trip as ‘recce,’ or a reconnaissance mission.”

In his repeated interviews of Caldwell and his wife Sharon, Carlson hasn’t painted the full picture of the facts as laid out by the government or of the grave implications had the events of January 6 turned out even slightly differently.

Carlson first mentioned Caldwell in his monologue on June 15. Noting the reporting about the quick reaction force, Carlson flatly stated that because Caldwell’s two co-conspirators were not indicted at the time, they were “almost certainly working for the FBI.” The idiotic logic is breathtaking even today:

The government's indictments further indicate that Caldwell -- who by the way is a 65-year-old man -- was led to believe there would be a "quick reaction force" also participating in January 6. That quick reaction force, Caldwell was told, would be led by someone called "Person Three" -- who had a hotel room and an accomplice.
But wait. Here’s the interesting thing. "Person Two" and "Person Three" were organizers of the riot. The government knows who they are, but the government has not charged them. Why is that? You know why. They were almost certainly working for the FBI. So FBI operatives were organizing the attack on the Capitol on January 6, according to government documents. And those two are not alone.

As HuffPo’s Ryan Reilly has pointed out, court documents show that the person staying in a hotel room with Caldwell was his wife. In truth, Carlson was just ripping off a flimsy conspiracy theory from Darren Beattie, a frequent guest of his who has attended a white nationalist conference.

Caldwell first appeared on Tucker Carlson Tonight on October 4, 2021. Carlson cited American Greatness blogger Julie Kelly’s coverage of Caldwell’s plight while introducing his guest. (At American Greatness, Kelly has repeatedly written about Caldwell in glowing terms. Just days ago she used Caldwell’s prior indictment as evidence that the federal government was behind the attack that day)

In the interview, Caldwell told Carlson the Oath Keepers “seem to be very nice people” but “I’m not part of that organization.” Carlson closed the segment by saying, “I hope you crush these people, and we’re going to follow your case, and I hope that you both will come back. It’s shocking this could happen in our country.”

Following that interview, right-wing figures like Kelly and New York Post columnist Miranda Devine raised money for Caldwell on social media.

Caldwell and his wife appeared again with Carlson on his Fox Nation show Tucker Carlson Today in November. During the 50-minute-long interview, Carlson described the circumstances of Caldwell’s arrest as “beyond belief” and said “there was no reason” for him to be arrested in the way he described. Carlson went so far as to ask that Caldwell publicly name the U.S. attorney prosecuting his case, which Caldwell declined to do. Carlson said, “I hope that he’s punished” for his handling of the case.

Carlson omitted key details from what the FBI found at Caldwell’s home that day. A February 2021 BuzzFeed News report says agents found “receipts for the purchase of ‘a concealed firearm intentionally built to look like a cell phone,’” live ammunition, and “a notepad with the legend ‘Death List,’ and below that the name of an elections official from another state, as well as a relative of that person.”

Prosecutors at the time also shared a text message from Caldwell about the plan, noted above, to ferry guns on January 6 into Washington, D.C., with boats. The judge in his case at the time found that Caldwell must be held in custody until his trial because he “represents not just a danger to the community but to the fabric of democracy.”

On Tucker Carlson Today, the eponymous host instead focused on whether Caldwell was an official member of the Oath Keepers, saying that “it is not a crime to belong to the Oath Keepers or any other organization in this country, no matter what Joe Biden thinks of it. Is that still true? I mean, you’re allowed to belong to any volunteer organization you want, right?”

Carlson asked Caldwell if he entered the Capitol building or did anything illegal; when Caldwell answered no, Carlson immediately took him at his word, saying that he “didn't get caught up in any of the illegal activities on that day, it doesn't sound like.”

In a 50-minute interview with someone indicted for their activities on January 6, that was essentially all the time Carlson spent trying to figure out what Caldwell did that day.

Carlson then proceeded to try to get Caldwell to endorse his Ray Epps conspiracy theory:

In that clip, Carlson goes on to suggest that there’s a federal government conspiracy because Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes had not (yet) been arrested.

The appearance was amplified by Pizzagate conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec.

In Caldwell’s third appearance with Carlson, on January 13, 2022, following the charges for seditious conspiracy, Carlson asked him about the text message and plans to ferry weapons across the Potomac. Caldwell denied that he had made those plans, and that exchange soon devolved into Carlson mockingly asking if Caldwell owned any howitzers. Most of the interview ended up just repeating the same notes – Caldwell denying he was in the Capitol building and talking about how much being prosecuted hurts his family.

Carlson didn’t mention why people may be skeptical of Caldwell’s denial: Messages made public by the Department of Justice show that Caldwell bragged to unnamed recipients about participating in the attack and that he told people to “storm the place and hang the traitors":

“Then we heard Pence f***** us. Wr [sic] had over a million oeople [sic] here. Then the lying media said Trump supporters were breaking through barricades so I said if we’re going to get blamed, might as well do it so I grabbed up my American flag and said let’s take the damn capitol,” Caldwell allegedly said. “So people started surging forward and climbing the scaffolding outside so I said lets storm the place and hang the traitors. Everybody thought that was a good idea so we did.”
“[W]e climbed the steps after breaking 2 rows of barricades, yhen [sic] got on the parapets and the people in front of me broke through the doors and started duking it out with the pigs who broke and ran,” Caldwell allegedly continued. “Then we started stealing the cops riot shields a d [sic] throwing fire extinguishers through windows. It was a great time.”

In addition to Carlson, One America News Network also hosted Caldwell for a friendly interview.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters