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Ron DeSantis

Trump Allies Blasting DeSantis Over Remarks On 'Porn Star Hush Money'

On March 20, presumed presidential candidate and Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis responded to a question about former President Donald Trump’s potential indictment with common conservative messaging, saying the Manhattan district attorney involved is a “Soros-funded prosecutor” who is imposing “a political agenda on society.” But some of DeSantis’ other commentary lit pro-Trump media up in fury.

In the middle of attacking Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, DeSantis also said, “Look, I don't know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some type of alleged affair." DeSantis’ drive-by comment, about the reason Trump is rumored to be facing indictment, echoes years of liberal and mainstream criticism of Trump. He also indicated that he would not get involved in the potential indictment “in any way,” saying that he was instead focused on “real issues.”

The governor’s commentary led to a flood of Trump supporters condemning his “catastrophic miscalculation” and “pure weakness.”

Although some of these pro-Trump voices still express appreciation for DeSantis, his comments have fueled the growing sense in some right-wing media circles that “he is establishment and will be a major disappointment to those who think otherwise.” The response to DeSantis' comments is more proof that media allies of Trump and DeSantis are moving toward open war.

    • On Real America's Voice’s War Room, host Steve Bannon and radio host John Fredericksattacked DeSantis for his comments, with Bannon claiming it was “not an acceptable response” and Fredericks calling DeSantis’ statement “one of the most unbelievable, feckless, weasel, consultant-driven responses in a crisis you've ever heard.”
    • On Twitter, Donald Trump Jr. took particular offense to DeSantis claiming the possible indictment is not a “real issue” and called his comments “pure weakness,” claiming the governor is “totally owned by Karl Rove, Paul Ryan & his billionaire donors.”
    • Trump’s other son, Eric Trump, also took to Twitter to claim that when “they do the exact same thing to him, his friends and his family,” DeSantis will “neither have the backbone, nor the resources” to defend himself against the “corrupt system.” He also said DeSantis is “not the guy I thought he was.”
    • Conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiecshared a video of the comments, highlighting DeSantis’ pledge to not get involved with the investigation. Posobiec also tweeted “Et tu, Brute?” seemingly in reference to DeSantis’ comments.
    • After wishing DeSantis well, far-right troll Mike Cernovichcalled the speech a “catastrophic miscalculation” that was “disappointing to me.” Cernovich claimed the incident would make it “easier for me to remain objective” moving forward in the 2024 presidential race.
    • Daily Wire host Candace Owensclaimed on Twitter that the Florida governor's supporters “saw things in DeSantis that were never there.” In another tweet, Owens praised DeSantis for handling COVID-19 “correctly and bravely” but said he is “not America first.”
    • Blaze Media host Steve Deacetweeted a short essay that called DeSantis “the best and most successful GOP politician of modern times” but also relayed his hope that DeSantis makes a stronger statement backing Trump.
    • Failed Republican House candidate and anti-Muslim troll Laura Loomerclaimed DeSantis mocked Trump by stating he “doesn’t know much about paying porn stars off” and used the barb to address DeSantis’ supposed “shorter prison sentences for Child porn crimes.”
    • Conspiracy theorist Dinesh D’Souzatweeted his disappointment about the back-and-forth attacks between Trump and DeSantis and claimed DeSantis should have realized the Trump investigation and possible arrest “has NOTHING to do with paying off a porn star.”
    • Daily Wire host Matt Walshcalled the statement from DeSantis “not good.” Walsh called his decision to not back Trump more forcefully in light of the potential indictment an “unforced error here.”
    • Revolver News owner Darren Beattieimplied that DeSantis’ statement showed he is lacking “good political instincts.” Beattie said about the comments, “This is bad.”
    • Right-wing activist Raheem Kassamtweeted “Woooooow” about DeSantis suggesting the potential arrest is “not a ‘real issue.’”

    Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

    alex jones

    MAGA Extremists Who Rejected McCarthy Now Embrace Him

    Two of the loudest voices in the far-right media fever swamps have begun to back Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) leadership in the House of Representatives after previously opposing his bid for speaker. Steve Bannon and Alex Jones are now cheering McCarthy following his moves to initiate hearings, remove Democrats from committee assignments, and signal allegiance to Jones ally Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA). January 6 organizer Ali Alexander has also showered the new GOP speaker with praise, emphasizing that far-right media figures increasingly view McCarthy as supporting — or even outright sharing — the same agenda they push on their extremist shows.

    The day after the final speaker vote on January 7, Jones defended Greene’s support of McCarthy and said “I feel good” about McCarthy’s win. Jones later hosted Greene on his January 12 show where she defended her decision, claiming “the reason why I didn’t oppose Kevin McCarthy’s speakership [was] because I knew there was no plan against him” and that McCarthy had “listened to us for the past two years.” Jones told his audience that “we’re going to wait and see what happens now” but “we’re already seeing some really good bills getting voted on.”

    In a February 6 Infowars segment with longtime GOP “dirty trickster” and Trump ally Roger Stone, Jones said he was “hopefully optimistic with some of the first moves I’ve seen out of McCarthy.” Jones also praised Republicans for refusing Democratic Reps. Eric Swalwell and Adam Schiff committee placements, saying that McCarthy was “starting to do some of the right things.”

    On January 30, Jones’ fellow Infowars host Owen Shroyer commended McCarthy for not “playing these games” in denying Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) her position on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Shroyer called the move “a good thing coming from Kevin McCarthy” and even “a win” because it shows “the Democrats aren’t running him.”

    For his part, Bannon has become one of McCarthy’s biggest cheerleaders. In the midst of the congressional battle over the nation’s debt limit, Bannon lauded the new House speaker’s remarks on refusing to raise the debt ceiling after meeting with President Joe Biden, calling it “brilliant” and “the best I’ve ever seen McCarthy,” later adding, “I think he did well today.”

    After McCarthy booted Swalwell and Schiff from the House Intelligence Committee, Bannon asserted,“That is a different Kevin McCarthy.” And while still claiming that “McCarthy’s head of the cartel” — a common phrase Bannon uses to describe the political establishment — he added that the speaker’s committee change was “massive — these are huge developments, not small developments.”

    “He’s also peopled — or populated these committees with strong MAGA voices,” Bannon added. “He’s got real fighters on there who basically know how to grab a microphone and get the nation’s attention in these hearings.”

    Praise for the new speaker has come from other far-right media figures as well. While adding the caveat that he’s “been an opponent of McCarthy since 2009,” Stop the Steal organizer Ali Alexander recently suggested that “these, ironically, are Kevin McCarthy’s best days” because of the new committee appointments, and said he’s “doing a great job.”

    Alexander — the far-right activist, conspiracy theorist, and election denier — even added that “I’m very happy with Kevin McCarthy, and I never imagined myself saying those words.”

    This praise is a stark transition from less than a month prior, when Bannon and Jones both actively campaigned against McCarthy’s candidacy for speaker and other far-right media figures joined them in attacking McCarthy.

    A Heel Turn On Kevin McCarthy

    Both Jones and Bannon opposed McCarthy’s bid for the speakership when it was up for debate at the beginning of the year.

    During the fight for the speakership, Infowars hosts Jones, Shroyer, and Stone all attacked McCarthy’s candidacy. Jones threw his support behind Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) and claimed, “I don’t think, at the end of the day, McCarthy can be trusted” to execute the hearings and impeachments the far right is hoping for.


    On January 5, Stone outright claimed, “It’s over for this guy, stick a fork in him. He’s done.”

    Shroyer called Rep. Matt Gaetz’s (R-FL) plan to “sabotage” McCarthy “brilliant” and “political genius.” In the same segment, Shroyer attacked McCarthy for not having conservative values and not being pro-America, calling him “an empty suit.” Shroyer also claimed a McCarthy speakership “does nothing for the Republican Party. It does nothing to drain the swamp. It’s completely pointless,” later adding that “nothing good happens if Kevin McCarthy is the speaker.”

    Bannon also had a different idea of who should be nominated for the position when this saga first began. In a January 5 conversation with former Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka during the many votes for House speaker, Bannon said that former President Donald Trump was “uniquely skilled” to unite the Republican Party and kick start the GOP’s House investigations into the Biden administration. Bannon later agreed when Gorka added, “It would be The Apprentice but with real stakes.”

    On the same day, Bannon claimed: “Kevin McCarthy is not deserving of the speakership for the simple reason he can’t be trusted in a tough fight to represent and to have the titanium spine you’re going to need to stand up to the elites that run this country and have led to the managed decline of the greatest nation on Earth.”


    After Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) appeared on Fox News’ Hannity to defend her refusal to give McCarthy her vote for speaker, Bannon took aim at Fox and claimed that the network was “out to crush” and “destroy” members of Congress who did not support McCarthy’s bid for speaker. War Room guest and right-wing radio host John Fredericks joined in to accuse Fox News of being a “24/7 shill for Kevin McCarthy. That’s all they are. They’re not even reporting the news.”

    Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

    On CBS, 'Dr. Phil' Is Now A Platform For Far-Right Hate And Disinformation

    On CBS, 'Dr. Phil' Show Now Promotes Far-Right Hate And Disinformation

    The newest season of CBS’ Dr. Phil has regularly featured right-wing personalities, including anti-abortion activists, Fox News and PragerU personalities, and members of far-right student and parent groups, giving them platforms to share misinformation and hate.

    This trend appears to be a distinct turn for the show in contrast to the previous season. Dr. Phil now tackles conservative culture war issues like critical race theory, transgender athletes, “cancel culture,” cultural appropriation, and abortion.

    During the previous season that began in September 2021, the first 25 episodes included 15 episodes on personal family stories, 8 on true crime, and just 2 focused on societal topics described as being “in the news”: "dynamic" seniors and bad flying experiences. Of the first 25 episodes of the current season, 24 have focused on general societal topics, with only one true crime-focused episode and no episodes surrounding personal conflicts.

    Season 20 did include two appearances from particularly bigoted right-wing media personalities. Matt Walsh of The Daily Wire appeared in an episode in January focused on nonbinary and transgender identity. Right-wing media used the episode to spread hate against nonbinary and transgender people online, and it has since been erased from Hulu, Dr. Phil’s site, and YouTube. And right-wing troll James Lindsay appeared in January 2022 to discuss critical race theory in schools, comparing it to neo-Marxism.

    These types of guests are now commonplace. In many instances, host Phil McGraw does not provide background on the groups his guests represent.

    One of the show’s newest episodes, which tackled supposed cancel culture and featured Fox News personality Tomi Lahren, caught the attention of her employer, with McGraw making an appearance on Hannity to discuss it. McGraw cited a statistic from libertarian think tank the CATO Institute that “almost two-thirds of Americans are afraid to speak out for fear that they will say something they shouldn’t say” and ended his interview saying, “We don’t have to get offended every time we have the chance to be offended.”

    Here are a number of the many appearances by right-wing influencers in 2022:

    • Anti-abortion activist Lila Rose appeared as a guest during the September 12 episode, titled “Carry to Bury: The Abortion Debate.” Rose, the founder of the anti-abortion group Live Action, argued with an audience member, calling abortion “the intentional destruction of an innocent human life.” Rose also falsely stated that “abortion is devastating to women’s mental health” though data shows restricting access to abortion is more likely to cause mental health issues in women.

    • Federalist contributor and member of the conservative women’s groupIndependent Women's Network Asra Nomani was a guest on the September 15 episode, where she advocated for a mother who claims her child was using different pronouns at school and no one from the school notified her. Nomani pushed for parental involvement in conversations around students’ gender identity.
    • During the September 30 episode, PragerU host Will Witt claimed cultural appropriation is actually appreciation because “you can’t claim that something is just a part of your culture either. It’s for people to share and celebrate and use.” Witt also said that Native Americans he spoke with “wanted people to come and say ‘geronimo,’ they wanted planes named the Apache helicopter, they wanted the Washington Redskins as their sports team to celebrate their culture.” Many Native American groups actually pushed for Washington’s football team to change their name and said they found the use of “Redskin” offensive.
    • Another PragerU podcast host and conservative activist, Amala Ekpunobi, appeared in the same September 30 episode. Ekpunobi argued with panelists who claimed cultural appropriation is a problem and pushed back against definitions of cultural appropriation with a slew of irrelevant questions.
    • Fox News and Outkick commentator Tomi Lahren appeared on the October 10 show to talk about “cancel culture” and how it has impacted her. During her segment, Lahren claimed that “it seems to be mostly conservatives that are mostly targeted by this cancel culture.” Dr. Phil aired footage from right-wing student group Turning Point USA of a recent college event where Lahren was slated to speak and protests “turned violent,” causing her to be escorted out by police.
    • In part two of the episode on cancel culture, aired on October 11, members of the right-wing student group Young America’s Foundation claimed they experienced censorship or cancellation after posting anti-abortion and anti-leftist flyers on their college campus. In a previously recorded segment, members of the group claimed they promoted “traditional American values” like “free speech.” The flyers shown on air said “the leftists lie” and “beware the destructive influences and blind arrogance of the left.” YAF claimed the fliers were posted in celebration of the fall of the Berlin Wall. In an interview with Dr. Phil, one member of YAF claimed that “the faculty conspired together … to suppress our speech.”
    • During an episode published October 12 about harm reduction in communities with drug abuse crisis, frequent FoxNewsguest and climate contrarian Michael Shellenberger was identified as someone who said “our country has gone soft on drugs.” Shellenberger stated that housing should be “earned” by drug abusers, noting that “the reward for being off drugs is that you get an apartment.” Along with host Dr. Phil, Shellenberger continuously refuted data and facts stated by addiction specialist Maia Szalavitz, claiming harm reduction strategies used in Europe are not the same as proposed plans for California and their strategies would not work in the United States. It has been shown that harm reduction strategies have been successful in reducing deaths from drug overdoses in other countries.
    • Right-wing commentator Brad Polumbo appeared during the October 14 episode, which put Generation Z influencers against Baby Boomers in a discussion about the differences between age groups. Polumbo claimed that Gen Z is getting free speech wrong, stating that “they think things like hate speech need to be stopped” making air quotation marks around the phrase “hate speech.” Polumbo also fought back against fellow panel members who called repercussions for saying offensive things a “positive thing” by stating, “You’re not free to say whatever you want if you get fired for an off-color joke.”
    • Conservative author Greg Lukianoff spoke out against Gen Z influencers in the October 14 episode who said it’s normal to have repercussions for offensive language by claiming, “The idea that this is just business as usual is just wrong.” Lukianoff also claimed the number of “canceled” college professors is out of control: “You didn’t have these kinds of numbers even during McCarthyism.” Lukianoff also appeared in the October 10 episode to discuss cancel culture, and he and Dr. Phil implied that watching Will Smith slap Chris Rock at the Oscars may have led to the attack on Salman Rushdie in a kind of “contagion effect.”
    • Co-founders of the far-right “parental rights” group Moms for Liberty Tiffany Justice and Tina Descovich appeared on the show on October 19 to advocate in favor of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill and similar legislation for all 50 states. While explaining Moms for Liberty’s plan to ban predominantly LGBTQ books from school libraries, Descovich claimed that “it’s unfortunate that many LGBTQ books have so much sexual violence in them.” This year saw “unprecedented” attempts at book bans across the country, with LGBTQ-themed books often the target.

    Justice and another member of Moms for Liberty, Quisha King, also appeared on the show in January 2022 in an episode focused on critical race theory. The show described Justice and King as believing “CRT is being taught in K-12 schools and is poisoning the minds of their children.”

    McGraw has occasionally platformed well-known right-wing figures on his show in the past. In February 2019, far-rightextremists Ben Shapiro and Andy Ngo made appearances on an episode about Jussie Smollet lying about being a victim of a hate crime. During the episode, Shapiro claimed the mainstream media refused to cover hate crimes not committed by white supremacists because they don't fit their narrative. Shapiro appeared on Dr. Philagain in March of 2019 to promote his book, The Right Side of History: How Reason and Moral Purpose Made the West Great, which McGraw called “very well done.”

    In October of this year Dr. Phil was the second most-watched talk show in the US, just behind Live with Kelly and Ryan. Last season the show averaged 2.405 million viewers nationwide during the 2021-2022 TV season.

    Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

    Hannity Producer Texted Meadows To Push ‘Proof’ Of 2020 Election Fraud

    Hannity Producer Texted Meadows To Push ‘Proof’ Of 2020 Election Fraud

    Newly released text messages show that the executive producer of Sean Hannity's radio show, Lynda McLaughlin, asked then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows for a meeting with President Donald Trump to share “hard data” that “show[ed] proof of the fraud” being pushed by the White House, Fox News, and the entire right-wing media in the 2020 election.

    CNN’s Reliable Sources newsletter reported on the text messages, taken from a new book by former January 6 committee staffer (and former congressman) Denver Riggleman; as noted in the block quote below, CNN independently verified the messages as well.

    Hannity Producer's Big Ask: In early January 2021, during the politically turbulent time before Joe Biden assumed the office of the presidency, the executive producer of Sean Hannity's radio show sought to meet directly with then-President Donald Trump.

    The producer, Lynda McLaughlin, texted Mark Meadows, the former acting chief of staff, with a big ask, claiming she had "hard data" which "show[ed] proof of the fraud" — evidently about the 2020 election. McLaughlin characterized the dubious information as "irrefutable" and wanted to take it straight to Trump.

    "Mark -- are we able to present our data to POTUS?" McLaughlin asked.

    The messages underscore the intimate relationship that Hannity, his team, and the right-wing media writ large shared with the Trump White House. The cozy relationship exposed in the messages lays bare that in many cases, right-wing media outlets and personalities not only positively covered the Trump White House, but actively worked arm-in-arm with it.
    For instance, when McLaughlin texted Meadows introducing herself ("Hey it's Lynda from Hannity") and told Meadows she was "rallying the troops," Meadows replied by thanking her for her "wonderful" contribution and connecting her with the Trump-supporting Rep. Jim Jordan. "Jim Jordon [sic] will gladly coordinate with the House team," Meadows texted McLaughlin. "Do you need his contact?"

    CNN also reported that “Meadows seemed to stop responding to McLaughlin later in the conversation, after she asked to meet with Trump.”

    This is not the first time McLaughlin has been directly involved in stoking right-wing conspiracy theories of election fraud. In December 2020, McLaughlin, as part of the so-called “Data Integrity Group,'' testified to the Georgia Senate Judicial Subcommittee that the group had proof of votes being taken from Trump and given to Joe Biden.

    During the hearing, McLaughlin never revealed her connection to Hannity.

    Hannity later lauded his producer for her strong efforts to overturn the election.

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): On December 30th, there is this really incredible group. Lynda McLaughlin works with them, our own Lynda, Data Integrity Group, they actually gave Senate testimony on December 30th about Georgia for example, the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Elections. Let's see, the people you have involved in this seem pretty impressive to me. You've got one guy is a data scientist with over a decade experience in a lot of industries, what we have here is fraud that we can prove in this election and then I begin to look at the background and the people, one is a nine-year veteran of the US Navy, worked as an electronic warfare technicians, cryptologic technician whatever the hell that is, Arabic linguist, worked at the NSA as a mission manager, later worked as a CIA contractor at the Counter-terrorism Center. And I'm like, "wow."

    On January 2, 2021, the claims were amplified by far-right The Epoch Times and its affiliated NTD YouTube channel.

    McLaughlin appeared in an interview with The Epoch Times, released on its site on January 5, 2021, in which she suggests election fraud occurred in Pennsylvania as well.

    Justin Mealey and Dave Lobue, other members of the “Data Integrity Group,” also appeared on Lou Dobbs' Fox Business show on January 5:


    The claims from the Data Integrity Group have been debunked.

    All together, this is another example of the close relationship between Fox News personalities and the Trump White House.

    Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

    Indiana Doctor Broke No Laws In Rape Victim's Abortion

    Smeared By Fox, Indiana Doctor Broke No Laws In Rape Victim's Abortion

    Following an Indy Star report about a 10-year-old rape victim traveling from Ohio to Indiana for an abortion, right-wing media have tried repeatedly to disprove the story or attack the individuals involved, even since the story was confirmed to be true.

    The source behind the story, Dr. Caitlin Bernard, has been under heavy scrutiny for being the sole source for the story. Washington Post columnist Glenn Kessler, while misspelling her name, dismissed her as an activist. Right-wing media figures were also quick to discredit Bernard, especially after President Joe Biden mentioned the story in a pro-abortion rights speech and the Ohio Attorney General said on Fox News that he was unaware of any report of the rape. After the story was further confirmed by the arrest of a suspect, right-wing media outlets continuedunconfirmedattacksagainst Bernard, claiming that she had a history of not reporting underage rapes. Fox News’ Jesse Watters did not hesitate to pile on to the attacks, and he even invited on the Indiana attorney general, who declared that his office would be investigating Bernard.

    Right-wing media figures have continued to target Bernard, repeating claims that she should be investigated for not reporting the crime to authorities, in a clear attempt to discourage other health care providers from coming forward with similar stories. The claim that Bernard failed to report the procedure has been debunked by a local Fox affiliate, which obtained Indiana Department of Health documents showing that she reported the incident. Right-wing media continue to promote the Indiana attorney general’s claims of an investigation into Bernard’s actions, as well as general claims that Bernard acted outside the law.

    Following Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita’s appearance on Fox News’ Jesse Watters Primetime, cries for an investigation into Bernard’s response to the crime spread over right-wing news sites. The articles primarily quoted Rokita’s statements directly, with only one of them, from PJ Media, adding a later correction that Bernard had indeed complied with privacy laws.

    Fox News host Jesse Watters

    Watters, as part of his repeated attempts to undermine the story, claimed on the July 13 edition of Fox News’ Jesse Watters Primetime, that “this Indiana abortion doctor has covered this up,” and that “she has a history of failing to report child abuse cases.” Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita then appeared on the show to announce his investigation into Bernard, stating, “We have this abortion activist acting as a doctor with a history of failing to report. So, we're gathering the information. We're gathering the evidence as we speak, and we're going to fight this to the end, including looking at her licensure. If she failed to report it in Indiana, it's a crime for – to not report, to intentionally not report.”

    Newsmax Co-host Bianca de la Garza

    On the July 14 edition of Newsmax’s John Bachman Now, co-host Bianca de la Garza repeated that Indiana authorities are “not sure if she [Bernard] reported the rape, as required by law.” When asked why abortion providers allegedly sometimes fail to report rape, guest Abby Johnson claimed that “most abortion facilities do not report rape. They are a safe haven for abusers. The fact that she, from what we can tell, was not one of the people that reported this, is very very common. They protect abusers. We see that over and over again. We’ve seen that in undercover footage.”

    YouTuber Tim Pool

    Right-wing YouTuber Tim Pool repeated Watters’ claim that Bernard did not report the crime, stating on July 14 that “the people who were helping this little girl didn’t report it,” and claiming that “if they reported it, then maybe they would have gotten services, and that's where the hoax actually does come into play.”


    BlazeTV host Glenn Beck and PJ Media writer Megan Fox

    BlazeTV host Glenn Beck got the story wrong on his July 14 show as well, frequently mixing up Bernard and the Ohio doctor who referred the victim to her and claiming that “she instead reported it to the press. She's now also being investigated in Ohio for a violation of HIPAA. A 10-year-old – and tell me these people care.”. PJ Media writer Megan Fox, who has led the charge on Twitter in accusing those involved of protecting the girl’s rapist, later clarified that Bernard is being accused of failure to report rather than the Ohio doctor, but added that “I don't know if she reported to the Indianapolis police her mandated report.” She went on to say that Bernard “still won't answer directly what role she had in helping this investigation or not.”

    The Daily Wire's Ben Shapiro

    The Daily Wire founder Ben Shapiro claimed on his July 14 podcast that “it does not look as though we have any information about the doctor or who this girl saw making a police report, which is actually required by law.”

    Fox co-host Carley Shimkus

    Fox & Friends co-host Carley Shimkus reported on July 15 that Rokita’s investigation “comes after it is revealed that the 27-year-old alleged rapist was listed as a minor in the report sent to authorities. Rokita saying the doctor in question has a, quote, ‘history of failing to report criminal incidents.’”

    Fox co-hosts Kayleigh McEnany, Emily Compagno, and Fox contributor David Webb

    In a July 14 group discussion on Outnumbered, co-host Kayleigh McEnany falsely claimed Bernard did not report, asking, “Why did you report this to a newspaper and not authorities?” Co-host Emily Compagno responded that “it's a crime to intentionally not report. … There are HIPAA violation allegations now. That could lead to criminal and/or also civil penalties. That could lead up to jail time.” Later on, Fox contributor David Webb accused Bernard of using the child for political gain: “Why was she used as a political tool? Why was the doctor not acting on it? Why was she first a political tool?”



    One America News’ Kara McKinney

    One America News’ Kara McKinney stated on the July 14 edition of her show Tipping Point that “Todd Rokita told Fox News yesterday that his office is investigating the aforementioned Dr. Caitlin Bernard for not reporting the rape of a 10-year-old to authorities, as she is required to do. Bernard faces a possible loss of her license.”

    Babylon Bee Managing Editor Joel Berry

    Babylon Bee Managing Editor Joel Berry shared a screenshot of Bernard’s work phone number in a tweet and claimed if the story was true then Bernard “helped cover up the rape, failed to report it to authorities, and sent the victim back to her rapist to be raped again.”

    Townhall Media

    Townhall Media, owner of both Townhall and PJ Media news sites, published articles on the affiliated sites repeating the claims that Bernard is under investigation for possibly not reporting the rape to authorities. The July 14 article published to Townhall included a quote from Rokita declaring his intentions to remove Bernard’s license if she did not go to the authorities. PJ Media’s article was updated at 8:13 p.m. on July 14 with a statement from Bernard’s employer saying that “IU Health’s investigation found Dr. Bernard in compliance with privacy laws.”

    The Washington Times

    The Washington Times published an article repeating Rokita’s statement and noting, “An Indiana abortion provider is under investigation over whether she reported the rape of a 10-year-old Ohio girl as required by law.”

    Just the News

    Just the News, a website run by misinformer John Solomon, repeated the claims that Bernard had previously had complaints filed against her for not reporting underage rape. The site quoted from Rokita’s appearance on Fox, where he said, “We have the rape, and then we have this abortion activist acting as a doctor with a history of failing to report.”

    National Review

    National Review published a July 14 article that discussed Rokita’s intent to investigate Bernard and continued to cast doubt on the original story, saying, “Many pundits and representatives were skeptical of the story.” It also implied there was no evidence Bernard reported the attack to the authorities, saying the original article “did not make any mention of a law enforcement probe, which should have been immediately triggered after a medical professional learned of the rape.”

    Blaze Media

    Blaze media covered Rokita’s Fox News appearance in a July 14 piece, noting that “Rokita said his office will investigate Bernard because she purportedly failed to disclose the case to law enforcement.” The article also included Bernard’s statement following Rokita’s TV appearance.

    The Daily Caller

    The Daily Caller published a July 14 article outlining Rokita’s intent to investigate Bernard for “potentially failing to report the rape of a minor to law enforcement.” The article goes on to reference Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, who earlier this week claimed there was no evidence of the rape taking place. The Daily Caller stated, “Yost said Monday his office had no evidence that the rape of the girl had occurred as prosecutors had not been able to identify a report to law enforcement.”

    Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

    Right-Wing Media Spurred Racist Death Threats Against Election Workers

    Right-Wing Media Spurred Racist Death Threats Against Election Workers

    Wandrea “Shaye” Moss, a former Georgia election worker, testified today about the harassment and threats she received after she was targeted in a right-wing media-driven conspiracy theory about Democrats stealing the 2020 presidential election in the state. Moss spoke to the January 6 congressional committee today about the racist threats against her which followed the widespread coverage.

    Moss said she wanted to work in election administration because her grandmother emphasized that voting was not always a right that Black people had in the United States. Due to the threats and harassment she received, she's been forced to leave her job.

    Moss also detailed a break-in at her grandmother’s house in which people “knocked on her door” and “just started pushing their way through, claiming that they were coming in to make a citizen’s arrest.” The committee also played footage from the testimony that her mother and fellow election worker, Ruby Freeman, gave prior to the hearing, in which she described how her life had been turned upside down by right-wing conspiracy theories.

    Moss and Freeman were targeted following the release of footage that the Trump campaign claimed provided evidence of voter fraud. The footage provoked a false conspiracy theory that the Georgia poll workers unloaded ballots from a concealed suitcase in order to sway the election results. The conspiracy theory has been repeatedlydebunked. By the beginning of January, Freeman had evacuated her home after the FBI concluded she was no longer safe in the days preceding January 6.

    Moss and Freeman have sued The Gateway Pundit and One America News Network for their coverage of the footage that spurred the false conspiracy theory. OAN was later dismissed from the suit. Fox News and other right-wing outlets repeatedly covered the footage of Moss and Freeman, though the network never explicitly named the two workers.

    • On the December 3, 2020, edition of The Five, co-host Jesse Watters played the video and asked Fox News “straight news” host Martha MacCallum whether then-Attorney General Bill Barr would look into the footage.
    • Fox host Tucker Carlson also aired the footage on his December 3, 2020, show and called it “pretty unbelievable” that the video showed “poll workers pulling ballots out of suitcases.”
    • During Sean Hannity’s hour on the same night, the Fox host also aired the footage and singled out Moss by spot shadowing her and saying, “Look at her right there.” A Trump campaign representative, Jacki Pick, repeatedly referred to Moss as “the lady with the blonde braids.”
    • On the December 7, 2020, edition of his show, Hannity again played the footage and claimed Moss and other election workers pulled out suitcases “apparently filled with thousands and thousands of ballots, which were then counted by the workers that were allowed to remain in the room that pulled them out of the suitcases they conveniently had there, without partisan observers, without the media.”
    • Right-wing news site The Federalist also published an article on December 7, 2020, attempting to refute verified debunkings of the conspiracy theory. It claimed “Big Tech” did not even come “close” to debunking the election fraud theories.
    • At the end of December 2020, Fox began airing advertisements paid for by the Trump campaign that included the footage and repeated the debunked claims that the containers shown in the video were filled with somehow fraudulent Democratic ballots.

    Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

    D’Souza’s Big Lie ‘Documentary’

    The Clumsy Fakery Behind D’Souza’s Big Lie ‘Documentary’

    Right-wing pundit, conspiracy theorist, and liar Dinesh D’Souza is releasing a new movie, 2000 Mules, based on false claims about the 2020 election. The movie was made in partnership with conservative media giant Salem Media Group and True the Vote, a Texas-based group that has been pushing conspiracy theories around election fraud and dodging claims of intimidating voters since at least 2012.

    D’Souza and True the Vote have promoted the film by claiming it uncovers an army of unidentifiable operatives secretly packing ballot boxes in swing states during the 2020 election. They allege to have proved this activity through geolocation evidence that shows, as The Washington Post put it, “some people may have been near drop-box locations on a given day.” The movie also claims to show individuals dropping more than one ballot into ballot boxes, a common occurrence in 2020 as collecting and submitting multiple people’s ballots was legal in some form in all the states discussed in 2000 Mules.

    The claims made in the trailer have been debunked by experts. The Washington Post explained how the geolocation data used by True the Vote has no way to be verified as geofencing data typically only pinpoint a person within approximately 30 feet. The Post article went on to suggest the group likely cherry-picked data based on its predetermined theory.

    A fact check by the Associated Press also showed that True the Vote’s research was based on “faulty assumptions, anonymous accounts and improper analysis of cellphone location data, which is not precise enough to confirm that somebody deposited a ballot into a drop box, according to experts.” And beyond the questionable data in this instance, multiplereviews conducted in the past two years have found no evidence of widespread voter fraud occurring during the 2020 election.

    High-profile right-wing influencers and politicians have latched onto this farcical theory and have heavily promoted 2000 Mules through social media channels and on radio shows and podcasts. Former President Donald Trump released the movie’s trailer at his April 23 rally in Ohio and issued a statement praising D’Souza’s work and claiming the movie “proves the 2020 Election was Rigged and Stolen.”

    Dinesh D’Souza is known for his books and movies, primarily based on conspiracy theories and falsehoods. He pleaded guilty to violating campaign laws in 2014 and was pardoned by Trump in 2018. He has previously released five right-wing conspiracy-based movies. The latest, Trump Card, was released in 2020 and included “racist dog whistles, low-production-value historical re-enactments, and interviews with a dizzying, dubious array of subjects,” according to the AV Club.

    True the Vote was founded in 2009 by Catherine Engelbrecht, who won the Ronald Reagan Freedom Award by the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2011 for her work with the group. More recently, True the Vote was sued by a high-profile donor, who had donated $2.5 million to the group’s election fraud investigation, saying the group did not spend the money as it said it would. Engelbrecht and Gregg Phillips, who has falsely claimed to have evidence of voter fraud in the 2016 election, have taken credit for the research behind the film and have presented their “findings” at a hearing by Wisconsin’s Campaigns and Elections Committee and in other publicinterviews.

    D’Souza secured some right-wing pundits like former Trump adviser and current Newsmax host Sebastian Gorka, right-wing commentator Charlie Kirk, and talk show host Dennis Prager to appear in 2000 Mules. All three of them have showshostedby Salem Media Group.

    Here are some examples of right-wing media figures – including some of those who appear in the trailer – who have promoted the movie through their own channels:

    • Charlie Kirk partnered with D’Souza to provide exclusive showings and had D’Souza onThe Charlie Kirk Show to promote the movie.
    • Sebastian Gorka aired the trailer during his show, The Gorka Reality Check, on Newsmax.
    • Conservative talk radio host Larry Elder, who also appears in 2000 Mules and also has a show hosted by Salem Media Group, tweeted his support for D’Souza’s project by sharing WND’s article on the movie titled “Miranda Devine: 'The most compelling evidence' of 2020 vote fraud.”
    • Miranda Devine wrote a column in the New York Post covering the movie and appeared on Fox News’ Fox & Friends where she pushed the false “mules” conspiracy theory and pointed to D’Souza’s movie as evidence.
    • Right-wing site Breitbart published an article covering the release of the movie’s trailer. The piece was titled “Trump Reveals Trailer of Explosive ‘2000 Mules’ Ballot Harvesting Documentary at Ohio Rally.”
    • The Gateway Pundit published an article promoting the release of the movie titled “Dinesh D’Souza Releases Movie Poster for ‘2000 Mules’ on 2020 Election Fraud — Premiere Dates Announced — May 2 thru May 7.” The site later suggested the leak of the draft Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade was timed to suppress D'Souza's film.
    • Newsmax host Grant Stinchfield called D’Souza’s trailer a “bombshell” during the January 31 edition of his show Stinchfield.
    • OAN has heavilypromotedthefilm, and one host even claims to be traveling to Mar-a-Lago for its premiere.
    • Buck Sexton invited D’Souza to promotethe film on his show Hold the Line.
    • QAnon-affiliated Matrixxx Groove Showhad D’Souza on as a guest to promote the movie.
    • Overstock.com founder Patrick Byrne, who has heavy ties to QAnon shows and influencers, has promoted the film on his Telegram channel.

    On April 30, D’Souza shared a video to his YouTube channel outlining the many ways people can watch 2000 Mules, including in over 300 theaters across the U.S. and a virtual premiere following which the movie will be hosted on a Rumble-owned site. D’Souza went on to claim:

    We're releasing this movie in a very novel way because we're in an age of censorship and so the normal places that I put movies, which is you find them in Apple iTunes and Amazon Prime -- no, this movie is not going to be available in those ways.

    Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.

    ‘Libs Of TikTok’ Used Twitter To Target Over 200 Teachers And Schools

    ‘Libs Of TikTok’ Used Twitter To Target Over 200 Teachers And Schools

    The Twitter account “Libs of TikTok” has dictated right-wing media’s anti-LGBTQ talking points in recent months, especially on Fox News. The account run by Chaya Raichik frequently targets LGBTQ content creators by misgendering individuals and inciting harassment, both of which seemingly violate Twitter’s policies against hateful conduct and abusive behavior. Amid rising social media attacks and legislation against the LGBTQ community, Libs of TikTok has celebrated schools shutting down their Twitter accounts after repeated harassment and praised right-wing politicians for criticizing education around gender identity and sexuality.

    A Media Matters review of Raichik’s Twitter account found that Libs of TikTok has tagged or named at least 222 schools, education organizations, or school system employees in 2022, often directing users to harass an individual school district or teacher. In the last week alone, the account has targeted a school district, a middle school, and fourteachers for teaching students about identity, sexuality, or other so-called “propaganda.”

    Texas’ Austin Independent School District has been targeted in at least 18 tweets by the Libs of TikTok account. The tweets questioned the district's Pride celebrations and tagged individual employees.

    On March 22, Libs of TikTok shareda letter from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to the Austin district that claimed celebrating Pride events with students was a “week-long indoctrination” and against Texas state law. Raichik wrote, “Omg. I’ve been tweeting about this district for 2 days. This makes me so happy.”

    Just this week, Libs of TikTok posted another attack against the district, sharing a fake Facebook post that falsely claimed the district was giving elementary students homework on furries. This misinformation resulted in the district's Twitter account receiving replies accusing the schools of “grooming” students and claiming parents were pulling their children out for “crossing the line.”

    Raichik’s targeting of Salem Keizer Public Schools in Oregon is another case study in this smear feedback loop. The schools were tagged in at least 12 tweets from Libs of TikTok between February 28 and April 5. Raichik attacked the school district over teaching a book that mentions instances of racism in U.S. history, announcing new policies that support trans students using chosen pronouns and bathrooms, and issuing pronoun pins to students and faculty.

    Libs of TikTok then claimed Salem Keizer Public Schools was in “disarray” from the social media attention following the tweets. An April 4 tweet from the Salem Keizer account, which typically receives just a handful of interactions on its tweets, received hundreds of replies — many filled with anti-LGBTQ attacks and smears. Raichik mockingly called on her followers to continue harassing the district’s Twitter account, writing, “It would be really bad if everyone kept tagging them.”

    In another instance of Libs of TikTok using Twitter’s platform for targeted harassment, Raichik shared a video in a thread of tweets on April 10 from a trans teacher on Instagram explaining how he teaches his students about identity. Raichik tagged the teacher’s employer and included the teacher’s Instagram username in her tweets. Users replying to Libs of TikTok argued that the teacher should not be allowed to work with children and declared that he is “another groomer that needs to be arrested and jailed for abusing and trying to indoctrinate kids into the sickness.”

    The school blocked Libs of TikTok, deleted related tweets, and made its Twitter account private, likely due to the harassment received from Libs of TikTok supporters. Raichik celebrated, tweeting on April 11, “They aren’t coping well with all the attention.” The teacher’s Instagram account was made private as well.

    Raichik also targeted a Florida teacher who said she'd rather lose her job than out any of her LGBTQ students to their parents. Libs of TikTok shared the video on March 29, which was then amplified by the website of Sinclair Broadcast Group’s The National Desk on March 30. The National Desk named the teacher’s employer, which said it was investigating the video. An article from right-wing outlet TheBlaze claimed the teacher had made her TikTok account private, “but Libs of TikTok saved a copy and posted it to Twitter.” (The account is now active with the video in question removed.)

    Raichik’s Libs of TikTok account, which now boasts over 1 million followers, has already been suspended from Twitter twice in recent weeks for violating the platform’s rules against hateful conduct — and she has told Fox News, “I'm never gonna stop.” With previously banned accounts celebrating their opportunity to possibly return to the platform following Elon Musk’s recently announced deal to take ownership, Twitter should act now to prevent Libs of TikTok from continuing to drive harassment against LGBTQ teachers, allies, and educational institutions.

    Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.