What 'Bloodbath'? Auto Is Stronger, Paying Higher Wages Than Under Trump

What 'Bloodbath'? Auto Is Stronger, Paying Higher Wages Than Under Trump

During a March 16 campaign rally in Ohio, former president and presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump declared, “If I don’t get elected, it’s going to be a bloodbath for the whole — that’s going to be the least of it. It’s going to be a bloodbath for the country.” Trump’s violent rhetoric spurred a flurry of media discussion whether his warning of a “bloodbath” centered on other remarks in his speech about the auto industry, as suggested by the Trump campaign, or meant something more sinister given his history of endorsing actual political violence.

But the former explanation itself is a lie; the auto industry is at an 18-year high for employment and wages have soared during the Biden administration, even as Trump's MAGA media allies claim that the industry is currently suffering because of President Joe Biden’s policies. Additionally, Trump's earlier policies as president hurt the auto industry. (Given these facts, it should come as no surprise that the United Auto Workers endorsed Biden for reelection earlier this year.)

Media outlets are so caught up in the spin over exactly which “bloodbath” Trump might’ve been referring to, they are losing sight of the fact that even his campaign’s excuse is itself another lie about the economy.

  • Trump warned of a “bloodbath” if he loses the presidential election
    • During his rally, Trump said: “Now, if I don’t get elected, it’s going to be a bloodbath for the whole — that’s going to be the least of it. It’s going to be a bloodbath for the country.” He later added: “If this election isn’t won, I’m not sure that you’ll ever have another election in this country.” [NBC News, 3/16/24]
    • The Biden campaign responded to Trump's comments by pointing to his previous support of political violence. “This is who Donald Trump is: a loser who gets beat by over 7 million votes and then instead of appealing to a wider mainstream audience doubles down on his threats of political violence,” Biden campaign spokesman James Singer said. “He wants another January 6, but the American people are going to give him another electoral defeat this November because they continue to reject his extremism, his affection for violence, and his thirst for revenge.” [The Washington Post, 1/10/24; NBC News, 3/16/24]
    • NBC News reported that during the rally, Trump saluted while a recording played of the national anthem being sung by jail inmates awaiting trial for the January 6 insurrection; Trump also referred to imprisoned rioters as “hostages” and “unbelievable patriots.” The article also included a statement from Trump campaign spokeswoman Karoline Leavitt, who said: “Biden’s policies will create an economic bloodbath for the auto industry and autoworkers.” [NBC News, 3/16/24]
  • Trump's media allies came to his defense, pushing his campaign's claim that he meant a “bloodbath” in the auto industry and assailing its performance under Biden due to EVs
    • Newsmax host Emma Rechenberg: “It was clearly in the context of what's going on with the economy, and what's going on more specifically here with the auto industry right now.” Clearly implying that the auto industry is hurting right now, Rechenberg added: “And we've seen from the current president, the Biden administration, their push for this EV market, right, and outsourcing work from other countries here.” [Newsmax, The National Report, 3/18/24]
    • Newsmax host Rob Finnerty: “He's talking about the auto industry and the fact that jobs are being taken by car companies that are importing cars, and that means factories are closing here in the U.S.” Regular guest Mercedes Schlapp of the American Conservative Union echoed this, saying: “It's very clear that he's referring to the auto industry with the fact that these auto parts would be made in different countries like China and Mexico, and the importance of taking strong actions against China when it comes to the auto industry.” [Newsmax, Wake Up America, 3/18/24]
    • CNN conservative commentator Alice Stewart: “There are several definitions of ‘bloodbath,’” but Trump's “campaign made the point quite accurately that Joe Biden's electric vehicle mandates are killing the American manufacturing industry.” Stewart continued: “They're making the case that under the Biden administration, that's not great news for the auto manufacturing industry, and that's an accurate statement.” [CNN, CNN Newsroom, 3/17/24]
    • Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo: Trump “said there would be a bloodbath in the auto industry if Biden gets his way jamming down the throats of Americans EV vehicles, and the mainstream media completely mangled his words.” [Fox News, Sunday Morning Futures, 3/17/24]
  • Auto industry employment is at the highest levels in 18 years, and autoworkers made huge wage gains
    • Bureau of Labor Statistics data show more people currently employed in auto manufacturing than at any time since July 2006. Data presented in a graph from the St. Louis Fed shows that nearly 1.07 million Americans are currently employed in auto manufacturing, the highest level since July 2006, when just over 1.07 million workers were employed in the industry. [Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, accessed 3/18/24]
    • BLS data also show that wages throughout the auto industry are higher than ever under Biden. [Bureau of Labor Statistics, accessed 3/18/24]
    • Biden supported the UAW strike that resulted in “record wage hikes” for autoworkers' wages, while Trump opposed it. In December, Reuters reported that car manufacturers in the U.S. “are bumping up pay for their non-union workers after the United Auto Workers (UAW) secured record wage hikes and benefits for union workers at the Detroit Three automakers.” And while Biden supported UAW's efforts to expand unionization and made history by joining striking autoworkers on the picket line, Trump blasted the strike and slammed it in a speech to a non-union auto parts plant. [Reuters, 12/19/23, 11/10/23; NBC News, 9/26/23; ABC News, 9/28/23]
    • New car sales in 2024 are expected to rise to the highest since 2019, normalizing after supply chain issues caused by the pandemic. CNBC reported: “Any increase in U.S. sales next year would mark the first sequential sales growth for the automotive industry since 2015-16.” [CNBC, 12/21/23]
    • Biden is not pandering to Chinese EV automakers, and has maintained the 25% tax on Chinese-made cars that Trump put in place. Biden is also currently debating raising these tariffs even more, despite pleas from Chinese car company BYD to remove them. (There is controversy over whether this would be the best move for climate goals.) [The Wall Street Journal, 12/21/23; Vox, 3/4/24]
    • Trump's policies hurt the auto industry and he previously called for wage cuts and bankruptcy for the sector
    • Trump's steel tariffs hurt the auto industry. PolitiFact explained that Trump’s actions to set a 25% tariff on steel imports and a 10% tariff on aluminum imports actually “hampered the U.S. auto industry, sparking the loss of thousands of jobs.” The article continued: “GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler, now part of Stellantis, all have closed plants in Michigan since 2018, the year the tariffs were imposed. GM and Ford paid $1 billion each in increased steel costs in 2018. … A December 2020 summary from the Congressional Research Service, Congress’ nonpartisan policy arm, said most studies ‘suggest a negative overall effect on U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) as a result of the tariffs’ and that most studies found U.S. consumers and companies ‘bore nearly the entire increased costs associated with the tariffs.’” [PolitiFact, 10/8/23]
    • In 2008, Trump called for wage cuts for autoworkers and said the Big Three U.S. automakers should go bankrupt. In a 2008 Fox News interview, Trump said, “I think that the unions are really, really hurting very badly what's going on with the autos. … And by the way, the union workers are fantastic, but probably they have to take a cut.” Trump added: “They get their little 5%. They get another 2%. They get another 3%, 4%, then all of a sudden they're making more money than the people that own the company.” During that Fox interview, Trump also said the automakers should go through bankruptcy: “There are so many ways that it can be saved. If they do a Chapter 11. … If they do a Chapter 11, and over the years I've put companies into a Chapter 11. You negotiate from Chapter 11. It's a tremendous strength.” [Fox News, Your World, 12/17/08]
  • News organizations covered the spin over Trump’s “bloodbath” comment without debunking the lie about the auto industry’s performance under Biden
    • The Washington Post carried a Trump spokesman’s comment that “Biden’s policies will create an economic bloodbath for the auto industry and autoworkers.” The Post failed to note there is no such “economic bloodbath” in the industry under Biden’s policies now, and that U.S. autoworkers are better off today than they were under Trump. [The Washington Post, 3/16/24]
  • The Associated Press: “Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said that Trump had clearly been talking about the impact of a second Biden term on the auto industry and broader economy.” The AP article also failed to mention any details about the current state of the auto industry, but did report that “Trump repeatedly noted his difficulty reading from his teleprompters, which could be seen visibly whipping in 35-mile-per-hour wind gusts.” [The Associated Press, 3/17/24]
  • Politico: “Defenders of the former president say he was speaking about the plight of the auto industry.” The article included quotes on the Sunday shows from Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH), Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD), and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), who all highlighted the supposed context of the purportedly imperiled auto industry. [Politico, 3/17/24]
  • CNN: “The Trump campaign shot back Saturday night, saying the former president was speaking about autoworkers.” “‘Biden’s policies will create an economic bloodbath for the auto industry and autoworkers,’ Trump campaign spokeswoman Karoline Leavitt said.” [CNN, 3/17/24]
  • The Sunday political talk shows failed to clarify the point that the U.S. auto industry is doing better now than it did under Trump. Transcripts show that the hosts never raised this point, instead getting hung up on what the word “bloodbath” might be referring to. [ABC, This Week, 3/17/24; CBS, Face The Nation, 3/17/24; CNN, State of the Union, 3/17/24; NBC, Meet The Press, 3/17/24]
  • The New York Times carried Trump’s social media post claiming that media outlets “fully understood that I was simply referring to imports allowed by Crooked Joe Biden, which are killing the automobile industry.” The Times failed to note that nothing is “killing” the U.S. auto industry, which is in better shape now than when Trump was president. [The New York Times, 3/18/24]
With research contributions from Ilana Berger

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Biden Tax Proposal Provokes Right-Wing Defense Of 'Trickle-Down Economics'

Biden Tax Proposal Provokes Right-Wing Defense Of 'Trickle-Down Economics'

After President Joe Biden called for an end to “trickle-down economics” and promoted a vision of the U.S. in which the wealthy “pay their fair share” of taxes during his March 7 State of the Union address, conservative media figures defended the discredited economic model and decried the president's call to tax the rich.

But experts reacting to Biden's speech noted that the president was correct when he argued that tax cuts for the rich have been a policy failure. Multiple studies examining decades of “trickle-down economics” show that such policies have overwhelmingly benefited the rich.

Biden called for the end of “trickle-down economics” policies that don't help the middle class

During his State of the Union address, Biden laid out a vision of the future in which corporations and wealthy individuals pay “their fair share” of taxes and the U.S. abandons the myth of “trickle-down economics.”

“I want to talk about the future of possibilities that we can build together. A future where the days of trickle-down economics are over, and the wealthy and the biggest corporations no longer get all the tax breaks.”

Biden added: “I grew up in a home where trickle-down economics didn’t put much on my dad’s kitchen table. That’s why I determined to turn things around, so the middle class does well. When they do well, the poor have a way up, and the wealthy still do very well. We all do well.”

Later in the speech, Biden called on Congress to “make the tax code fair” by making “big corporations, the very wealthy, finally begin to pay their fair share.” Biden emphasized that making the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share of taxes is vital to “the question of fundamental fairness for all Americans.”

He called out the Trump administration, which “enacted a $2 trillion tax cut, overwhelmingly benefit[ing] the top 1% — the very wealthy and the biggest corporations — and exploded the federal deficit.”

Biden also called for raising the corporate minimum tax rate “to at least 21%” and for a “minimum tax for billionaires at 25%.”

Economic research backs up Biden's criticism of failed “trickle-down” policies

Experts at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities validated the president’s critique of tax breaks for the wealthy — especially those created by Trump’s unpopular 2017 legislation, officially known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Chuck Marr, CBPP's vice president of federal tax policy, noted: “As President Biden is highlighting, the Trump tax law was skewed to the rich, was extremely expensive, and failed to trickle-down.”

Marr added: “The corporate tax rate cut is Exhibit A: the benefits went to executives, not workers.”

CBPP President Sharon Parrott posted: “The President is right. We need to raise revenues on high income households and corporations to make high-value investments in people, communities, and the economy and to improve our fiscal outlook.”

Center for Economic and Policy Research senior economist Dean Baker noted during the speech that “Republicans are upset that Biden has made taxes mandatory for the rich, not just ordinary people.”

The official CEPR account on X also explained that the wealthiest Americans have already stopped paying taxes into Social Security for this year, because the payroll tax does not apply on income above $168,600.

“Millionaires stopped paying into #SocialSecurity 5 days ago,” the post read. “We’re glad @POTUS called out the rigged tax system, which puts the burden of paying for #SocialSecurity on working-class people. #ScrapTheCap so the rich pay their fair share.”

Melissa Boteach, vice president for income security and child care at the National Women’s Law Center, posted that Biden was “hitting it out of the park on tax fairness. Policies to #taxtherich are fundamental to investing in our families and are HUGELY popular across” political parties.

“Trickle-down economics” has further enriched the wealthy and increased national debt

  • A 2012 Congressional Research Service report, which analyzed tax cuts for the rich since 1945, concluded that tax cuts for the wealthy don’t stimulate economic growth. A September 2012 report from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service determined that “changes over the past 65 years to the top marginal tax rate and the top capital gains tax rate do not appear correlated with economic growth,” adding, “The top tax rates appear to have little or no relation to the size of the economic pie.” The report further concluded that these tax cuts served to exacerbate economic inequality, stating that ”top tax rate reductions appear to be associated with increasing concentrations of income at the top of the income distribution." The CRS report dealt such a heavy blow to trickle-down economic orthodoxy that Senate Republicans fought to suppress the report's findings. The report was eventually revised and re-released months later and featured most of the same conclusions. [Congressional Research Service, 9/14/12, 12/12/12; The New York Times, 11/1/12; NBC News, 12/13/12]
  • A 2020 study analyzed the effects of tax cuts for the rich spanning “five decades in 18 wealthy nations” and found that “the rich got richer and there was no meaningful effect on unemployment or economic growth.” Researchers at The London School of Economics and Political Science published a working paper in 2020 analyzing the tax regimes of 18 major developed economies that concluded that “major reforms reducing taxes on the rich lead to higher income inequality as measured by the top 1% share of pre-tax national income.” In a later interview with LSE’s economics blog, one of the researchers who conducted the study added: “Our results align pretty closely with some work from Thomas Piketty, that would suggest that what happens if you cut taxes on the rich is that they then bargain more aggressively for their own compensation at the direct expense of workers lower down the income distribution.” [LSE International Inequalities Institute, December 2020; The London School of Economics, 1/24/23]
  • A new study of Trump's 2017 tax cuts for the rich found it produced wage gains far below what was promised and that, instead of paying for itself as Republicans promised, it added “more than $100 billion a year” to the national debt. The New York Times reported that the study “found the cuts delivered wage gains that were ‘an order of magnitude below’ what Trump officials predicted: about $750 per worker per year on average over the long run, compared to promises of $4,000 to $9,000 per worker.” [The New York Times, 3/4/24; National Bureau of Economic Research, March 2024]
  • Economists predicted in 2016 that Trump's “nonsense … supply-side, trickle-down economics” would do nothing to help the economy. After Trump unveiled his tax and economic policy proposals in August 2016, economists and tax policy experts from across the political spectrum slammed his plan. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich dismissed Trump's plan as the “normal nonsense of supply-side, trickle-down economics” characteristic of Republican politicians. Conservative tax analyst Ryan Ellis noted that Trump’s proposed deduction for child-care expenses “would provide no benefit to low income workers and single parents who are unlikely to have any tax liability to begin with.” University of Michigan economist Betsey Stevenson posted that “Trump's economic plan focuses in on those he thinks need the most help: the 540 billionaires in the U.S.” [Media Matters, 8/9/16]

Right-wing media responded by defending failed tax cut policies and rejecting Biden’s take
    • Fox & Friends First co-host Todd Piro: “The dirty little secret” is “if you tax corporations more, jobs will go away.” Pirro continued: “At the end of the day, corporations are going to hit that number … whether it comes through increased output or at the sake of you and our jobs.” Pirro also dismissed “the typical tropes of tax the rich, who, in reality, pay most if not close to all of the taxes in this country.” Fox financial contributor Cheryl Casone interjected, “50%.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends First, 3/8/24]
    • National Review senior writer Noah Rothman defended “trickle-down economics” from Biden’s critique. National Review posted on X (formerly known as Twitter): “@NoahCRothman: Biden indicts ‘trickle-down economics’ because it did little to help his family when he was growing up. But Biden grew up in the 1950s and early 60s, when the top marginal tax rates approached 50%. Which is to say that Joe Biden did not, in fact, grow up during a period typified by ‘trickle-down economics.’” [Twitter/X, 3/7/24]
    • National Review senior writer Dan McLaughlin: “Biden’s rants against ‘trickle down economics’ have not changed a whit since he was singing this tune throughout the Reagan years, railing against growth and prosperity.” [Twitter/X, 3/7/24]
    • Fox Business host Charles Payne: “The top 1.0% pay almost 50% of income taxes...what is fair? What is punitive? It’s all deflection from runaway spending.” [Twitter/X, 3/7/24]
    • Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade: “Love the class warfare…let’s simplify the tax code to make Americans hate rich people …what a unifier!!…lets make rich people pay more to taxes so they can stop hiring people and buying buildings, cars, planes and give to charities.” [Twitter/X, 3/7/24]
    • Committee to Unleash Prosperity President Phil Kerpen: “The tax share of the rich is by far the highest it has ever been under the Trump tax cuts. Biden's tax hikes will harm the economy and reduce the share paid by the rich. It happens every time.” [Twitter/X, 3/7/24]

    Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

    Maria Bartiromo

    Fox Hosts Roar In Defense Of Credit Card 'Junk Fees'

    Some in right-wing media are criticizing the Biden administration for creating an interagency strike force to crack down on what it described as “unfair and illegal pricing” schemes, including enforcing a new federal rule that would cap credit card late fees for major credit card companies at $8 and save tens of millions of Americans billions of dollars annually.

    • The Biden administration is cracking down on “unfair and illegal” price gouging by major corporations
      • On March 5, President Biden launched a “Strike Force on Unfair and Illegal Pricing” co-chaired by the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice. Biden launched an interagency strike force to tackle “unfair and illegal” price increases by large corporations, which according to CNBC “Biden sees as a major reason why consumers are not yet feeling the impact of cooling inflation rates and a strong economy.” FTC Chair Lina Khan announced to reporters that the strike force “builds on the FTC’s far-reaching work to promote competition and tackle unlawful business practices that are inflating costs for Americans.” [The White House, 3/5/24; CNBC, 3/5/24]
      • The strike force's launch coincides with a new CFPB restriction that caps credit card late fees at $8. Citing CFPB data, the New York Times reported that such late fees “have become a major profit source for credit card issuers, generating more than $14 billion in 2022.” According to the Times, the bureau also indicated that credit card issuers have been exploiting a loophole in a 2010 Federal Reserve rule that allowed credit card issuers to adjust late fees based on inflation and raised “their fees far beyond the actual costs they incur when payments arrive late." NPR noted that “by law, the fees are supposed to be tied to a credit card issuer's own costs associated with the late payment,” but the bureau “found that even as banks have adopted cheaper processes for dealing with late payments, the fees have continued to climb.” [The New York Times, 3/5/24; NPR, 3/5/24]
      • CFPB: An estimated 45 million Americans who incur late fees will save an average of $220 each year — a total savings of $10 billion annually — by capping credit card late fees. “For over a decade, credit card giants have been exploiting a loophole to harvest billions of dollars in junk fees from American consumers,” CFPB Director Rohit Chopra said of the bureau’s move to cap late fees. “Today's rule ends the era of big credit card companies hiding behind the excuse of inflation when they hike fees on borrowers and boost their own bottom lines.” The bureau's press release stated that the rule applies “to the largest credit card issuers, those with more than 1 million open accounts," which “account for more than 95% of total outstanding credit card balances.” [Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 3/5/24]

      • A February 2023 poll found “overwhelming bipartisan support” for capping credit card late fees to $8. According to the poll conducted by progressive research group Navigator, 79% of registered voters supported the Biden administration “lowering the limit credit card companies can charge per late fee from $41 to $8.” Those numbers included 74% of independents and 68% of Republicans. [Navigator, 3/2/23]
      • Potential Trump VP pick Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) is trying to block the rule capping credit card late fees. Bloomberg reported that “Senator Tim Scott, a potential Trump vice presidential pick and the top Republican on the Banking Committee, said Tuesday he would push the Senate to take action to block the new regulation” through a Senate vote via the Congressional Review Act. “It will decrease the availability of credit card products for those who need it most, raise rates for many borrowers who carry a balance but pay on time, and increase the likelihood of late payments across the board,” Scott argued in a public statement. [Bloomberg, 3/5/24]
    • Conservative media responded to Biden's efforts to save Americans money by attacking him and the new CFPB rule
      • Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo repeatedly accused Biden of prioritizing reducing credit card late fees over other issues. On March 5, Bartiromo criticized Biden for “what the president is spending his time doing.” Bartiromo said, “This morning he's [President Biden] talking about late fees, and he's talking about corporate America, and it's companies' fault that people are facing inflation.” The next day, Bartiromo continued this line of attack: “We have so many serious priorities,” she said. “I mean a woman is dead because she was murdered by an illegal migrant in Georgia and now we're talking about late fees.” [Fox Business, Mornings with Maria Bartiromo, 3/5/24, 3/6/24]
      • On Newsmax, conservative economist Peter Morici accused Biden of initiating the cap on late fees as a scheme to buy votes. At first, Morici downplayed the number of Americans the new rule would help, before adding: “Think about who's always paying late fees. They're probably the kind of folks that would vote for Democrats. This is a way of motivating them to go out and vote,” he said. “This administration is now getting desperate looking at the polls, and they're looking at every conceivable way to buy a vote.” Morici later compared the rule to Soviet-era price fixing. “If you want the government setting prices, then let’s resurrect the old Soviet Union," he said. [Newsmax, The National Report, 3/5/24]
      • Outkick host Tomi Lahren: “We have an invasion at our southern border that is costing our country billions, and your sleepy President is going after junk fees. Unbelievable.” [Twitter/X, 3/5/24]
    • WSJ editorial: “The Biden ‘Strike Force’ Is Coming for You.” Instead of blaming credit card companies for charging consumers exorbitant fees, The Wall Street Journal's editorial board characterized the CFPB rule as a “burdensome government regulation,” adding that “such fees have proliferated under Mr. Biden because business costs have increased.” Even though the new rule is expected to save consumers billions, the editorial board concluded that “The Biden Presidency is becoming more expensive for Americans by the day.” [The Wall Street Journal, 3/5/24]
    • Fox's The Five mockingly described the new initiative as Biden’s “shrinkflation” strike force. After The Five co-host Jeanine Pirro opened a segment by criticizing Biden for the new strike force, co-host Dana Perino piled on, saying, “This is a brainless decision.” She added: “The market is the strike force. But if Biden is interested in doing this, you could look at all of the issues that we're talking about in terms of where he is polling badly. Why is there no strike force to go after the border? How about, could we have a strike force to bring home hostages who are being held in Gaza? What about a strike force on fixing COVID learning loss? I mean we could go on and on.” [Fox News, The Five, 3/5/24]
    • Fox's The Story portrayed the Biden administration’s attempt to rein in illegal and unfair price increases as an attempt to “squash capitalism.” “I was reading a piece this morning about how capitalism is the defining characteristic that sets this country apart from all of our enemies,” Fox host Martha MacCallum said. “So if you squash capitalism, you're going to put that into remission.” Fox Business host Brian Brenberg added, “This is the anti-rich, anti-wealth crusade that they're [Democrats are] on.” [Fox News, The Story, 3/5/24]

    Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

    George Santos

    Right-Wing Pundits Yearning For Santos After Special Election Defeat

    Conservative media figures are expressing regret for the expulsion of disgraced former Rep. George Santos (R-NY) following the Democratic victory in last night’s special election to fill his seat. Many of them are blaming Republican congressional leadership and GOP institutions for creating an opening for Democrats to retake a seat in the U.S. House by allowing Santos to be expelled, ignoring political reporting that immigration was a key issue in the race after right-wing media and former President Donald Trump helped the GOP sink a bipartisan immigration deal just a week prior to the election.

    • A Democrat won the special election for Santos’ House seat
      • Democrat Tom Suozzi won the New York special election to fill the seat left vacant after Santos was expelled from the House. From The Associated Press: “Suozzi defeated Republican Mazi Pilip to take the seat that was left vacant when George Santos, also a Republican, was expelled from Congress. The victory marks a return to Washington for Suozzi, who represented the district for three terms before giving it up to run, unsuccessfully, for governor.” [The Associated Press, 2/14/24]
      • Congress voted on December 1, 2023, to expel Santos — who faces multiple criminal charges — in a bipartisan 311-114 vote over campaign finance violations, fraudulent schemes, and blatant lies outlined in a House Ethics Committee report. The first-term GOP representative, who announced he would not seek reelection following the report, is also facing a 23-count federal indictment and a Justice Department investigation into the allegations — which include misusing campaign funds to pay for Botox and OnlyFans, “a subscription-based website where people sell adult content.” [The Associated Press, 12/1/23; CBS, 11/16/23; CNN, 11/16/23]
    • Immigration was a key issue in the special election, and right-wing media just pushed the GOP to sink a bipartisan immigration bill
      • The New York Times reported that Suozzi “went on the attack” when his opponent “condemned a bipartisan Senate deal that included stiff border security provisions that conservatives had demanded.” [The New York Times, 2/13/24]
      • Analyzing the special election’s aftermath, The Washington Post noted, “The GOP’s immigration focus didn’t work” — in part because Suozzi supported immigration reforms while his opponent “echoed GOP attacks” against “the bipartisan Senate deal that Republicans ultimately torpedoed last week.” [The Washington Post, 2/13/24]

        • The Hill: Suozzi’s opponent “centered much of her campaign messaging around immigration as the issue received widespread attention both nationwide and in the district.” The Hill reported that polling found the district’s voters “considered immigration more important than any other issue.” [The Hill,2/14/24]
        • Conservative media pushed multiple myths about immigration and a bipartisan Senate bill to convince Republicans to kill it. After relentless opposition from conservative media, former President Donald Trump, and House Republicans, GOP senators on February 7 blocked a compromise bill that extracted major immigration policy concessions from Democrats in exchange for security aid for Ukraine and other U.S. allies. In the days and weeks leading up to the bill’s defeat, conservative media pushed multiple myths about the border deal to stir up enough opposition to block it — even though the bill itself was negotiated by conservative Sen. James Lankford (R-OK). [Media Matters, 2/12/24]
        • Conservative media attacked GOP supporters of the bipartisan bill. After the bill’s text was released, right-wing media suggested that supportive lawmakers were betraying their party and constituents. Weeks before the bill was finished, however, right-wing media were already threatening to oust Republicans who worked on the deal. [Media Matters, 2/7/24, 1/19/24]
      • Following the Democratic victory, conservatives criticized Republicans for allowing the expulsion of Santos
        • NewsBusters Executive Editor Tim Graham: “If I were a pol, I would have voted against dumping” Santos. Graham wrote “Santos didn't deserve the seat, but the majority is paper-thin” to justify keeping Santos in the House. [Twitter/X, 2/14/24]
        • National Review senior writer Dan McLaughlin: “I still think the House - both parties - will live to regret breaking longstanding norms to expel Santos.” McLaughlin also criticized the House GOP leadership’s “choice to put a reputation for ethical standards above the party's immediate self-interest.” [Twitter/X, 2/13/24]
        • Conservative talk radio host Bo Snerdley: “Congrats to the Republican Party Republicans threw out Santos and got a Democrat.” [Twitter/X, 2/13/24]
        • Conservative Substack author @amuse: “Unforced Error: The GOP should have allowed Santos to have his day in court before expelling him. We barely could push through an impeachment today - now that he’s been replaced by a Democrat we’d lose that vote tomorrow.” [Twitter/X, 2/13/24]
      • Right-wing online show host Benny Johnson: “The outcome of expelling George Santos: Democrats gain a seat. Republicans are useless and are addicted to losing.” [Twitter/X, 2/13/24]
      • Students for Trump founder Ryan Fournier: “They removed George Santos and a Democrat takes the seat. Pathetic.” Fournier added in a follow-up post, “GUT THE RNC.” [Twitter/X, 2/13/24, 2/13/24]
      • Daily Wire host Michael Knowles: “We kicked George Santos out of Congress for some reason and, you’re going to be shocked to hear it, a Democrat won his seat.” Knowles complained that “we kicked out a Republican congressman because he’s a weirdo” and, after going off on a racist tangent against Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), said: “You’re going to give up potentially a razor-thin Republican majority — for what? To stand on the principles that no one applies?” [The Daily Wire, The Michael Knowles Show, 2/14/24]
      • Fox & Friends host Lawrence Jones: “The real problem, guys, is, why did they give up the seat to begin with?” Jones added: “I understand people have criticism, rightfully, of George Santos. But you should allow the voters to decide. Instead, the Democrats stay together again, and Republicans voted to get rid of one of their members. Great job, now you’ve lost the seat, and you can't get anything passed.” Jones’ co-hosts followed up by explaining that Santos was a fraud and the ethics report on him was damning. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 2/14/24]

    Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

    Why Won't Media Report Basic Facts About Trump's Colorado Ballot Debacle?

    Why Won't Media Report Basic Facts About Trump's Colorado Ballot Debacle?

    News organizations have a duty to get specific facts correct in their coverage of the explosive news that the Colorado Supreme Court has ruled former President Donald Trump ineligible to serve as president under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment for “overt, voluntary, and direct participation in the insurrection” on January 6, 2021. These facts include that Republican voters — not Democrats — were behind the challenge to Trump’s candidacy and conservative legal theorists supported it; that the 14th Amendment’s prohibition of insurrectionists from serving in federal office requires no conviction and is self-executing; and that Trump received proper due process throughout the district court trial and Supreme Court hearing.

    Colorado Republican primary voters were the driving force behind the challenge to Trump’s ballot qualifications, and conservative legal theorists supported it

    • Six Colorado voters — four Republicans and two independents — sued to disqualify Trump from the primary ballot to ensure only “qualified candidate[s]” could receive votes. The New York Times reported that these voters “argued that Mr. Trump’s presence on the Republican primary ballot would harm them by siphoning support from their preferred candidates and, if he won the nomination, by depriving them of the ability ‘to vote for a qualified candidate in the general election.’” [The New York Times, 12/19/23]
    • Multiple conservative legal experts and scholars have argued that Trump is disqualified from the presidency. J. Michael Luttig, who co-wrote an essay in The Atlantic titled “The Constitution Prohibits Trump From Ever Being President Again,” formerly worked in the Reagan White House counsel’s office, clerked for conservative judges (including former Justice Antonin Scalia), and was appointed to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by President George H.W. Bush. Two conservative law professors who published a paper concluding that Trump is ineligible to serve as president, William Baude of the University of Chicago and Michael Stokes Paulsen of the University of St. Thomas, are both “active members of the Federalist Society, the conservative legal group, and proponents of originalism, the method of interpretation that seeks to determine the Constitution’s original meaning.” [The Washington Post, 7/2/98; The Atlantic, 8/19/23; The New York Times, 8/10/23]

    Section 3 of the 14th Amendment is self-executing, requires no conviction, and applies to both insurrectionists and people who have “given aid or comfort” to insurrectionists

    • The text of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment makes no mention of a conviction. The text reads: “No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.” [United States Congress, accessed 12/20/23]
    • J. Michael Luttig and Laurence H. Tribe: “The former president’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, and the resulting attack on the U.S. Capitol, place him squarely within the ambit of the disqualification clause, and he is therefore ineligible to serve as president ever again.” They continued in their Atlantic essay, citing Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election: “Both of us concluded some years ago that, in fact, a conviction would be beside the point. The disqualification clause operates independently of any such criminal proceedings and, indeed, also independently of impeachment proceedings and of congressional legislation. The clause was designed to operate directly and immediately upon those who betray their oaths to the Constitution, whether by taking up arms to overturn our government or by waging war on our government by attempting to overturn a presidential election through a bloodless coup.” [The Atlantic, 8/19/23]
    • William Baude and Michael Stokes Paulsen argued that “Section Three is self-executing, operating as an immediate disqualification from office, without the need for additional action by Congress.” Their paper’s abstract adds, “It can and should be enforced by every official, state or federal, who judges qualifications.” [University of Pennsylvania Law Review, Vol. 172, 8/14/23]
    • Baude and Paulsen also explained that Section 3 “in particular … disqualifies former President Donald Trump, and potentially many others, because of their participation in the attempted overthrow of the 2020 presidential election.” The abstract adds, “Section Three covers a broad range of conduct against the authority of the constitutional order, including many instances of indirect participation or support as ‘aid or comfort.’” [University of Pennsylvania Law Review, Vol. 172, 8/14/23]

    Trump was afforded due process in the Colorado legal decisions

    • Trump’s team called on seven witnesses during a weeklong Colorado district court trial. According to The New York Times, Trump’s witness list consisted of former Defense Department chief of staff Kashyap Patel, former campaign spokesperson Katrina Pierson, Republican activist Amy Kremer, Thomas Van Flein, who is the chief of staff to Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Colorado Republican Party treasurer Tom Bjorklund, Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), and law professor Robert J. Delahunty. [The New York Times, 12/19/23]
    • Colorado Newsline reported that the district court case included “more than 30 hours of evidentiary proceedings, witness testimony and closing arguments.” [Colorado Newsline, 11/17/23]
    • The district court verdict was appealed by both sides to the Colorado Supreme Court, which held a two-hour hearing during which Trump’s team was able to make its case. [Colorado Newsline, 12/6/23]
    • The Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling concluded that the legal process that resulted in Trump’s barring from the primary ballot “provide[s] adequate due process.” [The Supreme Court of the State of Colorado, 12/19/23]

    Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

    Joe Biden

    Fox Reporter Debunks Fox Narrative Blaming Biden For Hamas Terror Attack

    Following the terrorist organization Hamas’ surprise attacks on Israel, multiple Fox News figures have claimed that President Joe Biden is at fault for a recent prisoner exchange with Iran, referencing that country’s history of supporting Hamas.

    But before Fox blamed Biden for the attacks on its Sunday programming, Fox chief national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin had already debunked this false narrative. In a series of social media posts, Griffin explained that none of that money has even been spent yet and pointed out that the Trump administration had set up similar funds for Iran.

    In September, right-wing media falsely attacked the deal to release Americans from Iran as a $6 billion “ransom.” Iran-backed Hamas attacked Israel in October.

    • The exchange last month freed five Americans from unjust captivity while making $6 billion in frozen Iranian funds accessible for humanitarian purchases in a restricted Qatar-based account, in compliance with existing sanctions. Notably, the funds were not a payment from the U.S. but were actually Iranian money that has been frozen in South Korea. [Media Matters, 9/12/23]
    • Iran has long supported Hamas with funding, weapons, and training. [Wilson Center, 5/21/21]
    • Hamas attacks on Israel over the weekend have reportedly killed more than 600. [CNN, 10/8/23]
    • The Associated Press: “The Republican field is blaming Joe Biden for dealing with Iran after Hamas’ attack on Israel.” AP reported that numerous Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) directly linked the $6 billion in restricted funds as part of the prisoner swap to the attacks on Israel. [The Associated Press, 10/7/23]

    Following the example of Republicans, Fox figures blamed Biden’s prisoner swap with Iran for Hamas’ attacks on Israel

    • Fox News anchor Maria Bartiromo: “It’s not just the $6 billion that was unleashed by Joe Biden in the last two weeks” that caused the attacks. She added: “The truth is is there has been appeasement in place from day one.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends Weekend, 10/8/23]
    • Bartiromo’s Fox program aired a graphic directly linking Biden’s prisoner swap with Hamas’ attacks on Israel. The graphic stated: “Iran-backed Hamas launches deadly attack on Israel weeks after Biden unfreezes $6B in Iranian assets.” [Fox News, Sunday Morning Futures, 10/8/23]
    • Fox & Friends Weekend guest Lisa Daftari: Biden “unfreezing $6 billion just a few weeks ago” “emboldened” Iran to help Hamas attack Israel. [Fox News, Fox & Friends Weekend, 10/8/23]
    • On Fox News Sunday, former Trump Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who set up a similar fund for Iran, linked the unfrozen Iranian funds to the Hamas attack on Israel. Pompeo dismissed a Biden administration official saying that the “decision to give them [Iran] $6 billion didn’t matter,” saying that the Biden administration’s “policy to cozy up to Iran has created enormous risk for Israel, which we are seeing play out today.” But a November 2018 CNBC report detailed Pompeo’s explanation of the Trump administration setting up a similar fund for Iran. [Fox Broadcasting Co., Fox News Sunday, 10/8/23; CNBC, 11/2/18]
    • Fox News Digital columnist David Marcus: “We’re not stupid. The money Iran doesn’t have to spend on food and medicine can be spent murdering Israeli children, and Joe Biden gave it to them.” [Twitter/X, 10/7/23]
    • Frequent Fox guest and former Trump official Morgan Ortagus: “Iranian-backed terrorists are dragging women’s bodies through the streets. Biden has got to stop sending billions of dollars to Iran. Just stop it.” [Twitter/X, 10/7/23]
    • Fox contributor Andrew McCarthy: The Biden administration is responsible for Hamas attacks on Israel. McCarthy wrote in National Review that the administration “chose to extend Tehran a lifeline of $6 billion in funding” and that the restrictions on the funds are meaningless because “money is fungible: $6 billion in new funds supposedly earmarked for food and medicine equals $6 billion in existing funds that can be shifted to Iran’s main export: jihad – like what’s happening in Israel right now.” [National Review, 10/7/23]

    Fox correspondent Jennifer Griffin explained that the $6 billion fund remains untouched, and that the Trump administration set up a similar fund for Iran

    • Fox News chief national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin: Those blaming Biden “are missing some key facts.” In a social media post, Griffin explained: “Those who are saying that this $6 billion that was part of the American hostage release negotiated by the Biden administration likely fueled the Hamas invasion are missing some key facts….None of the money has been spent yet. It remains in a Qatari bank under US Treasury watch.” [Twitter/X, 10/7/23]
    • Griffin: The Trump administration used a similar mechanism to allow Iran to use oil money to make humanitarian purchases. Griffin explained: “Under the Trump administration 4 banks worldwide were allowed to hold money from Iranian oil sales to 4 countries.” She added, “Under the Trump Admin deal that preceded Biden hostage deal, Iran could draw on that money for humanitarian purchases that had to be verified by the US Treasury.” [Twitter/X, 10/7/23, 10/7/23]
    • White House National Security Council: None of the money from the $6 billion fund for Iran to purchase humanitarian supplies has been spent, and it has “absolutely nothing to do with” the attacks. NSC spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said: “Not a single cent from these funds has been spent, and when it is spent, it can only be spent on things like food and medicine for the Iranian people. These funds have absolutely nothing to do with the horrific attacks today and this is not the time to spread disinformation.” [The Associated Press, 10/7/23]
    • Secretary of State Antony Blinken: “The previous administration set up a very similar mechanism to enable Iran to use” such funds “for humanitarian purposes.” During a CNN interview, Blinken added: “So people are either misinformed, or they're misinforming. And either way, it's wrong.” [Twitter/X, 10/8/23]
    • In 2018, Trump Secretary of State Mike Pompeo explained its similar setup that would allow “revenue from Iranian oil purchased through waivers” to “sit in foreign accounts and can only be used by Iran to purchase humanitarian goods and non-sanctioned items.” [CNBC, 11/2/18]

    Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

    Kevin McCarthy

    Right-Wing Media Figures Clash Over GOP Government Shutdown

    As House Republicans fail to advance spending bills needed to fund the federal government and avert a government shutdown, right-wing media are at odds with one another over whether to cheer on the possibility of a shutdown or ridicule those Republicans leading the charge toward it.

    The federal government will enter a partial shutdown by the end of this week unless Republicans can agree to funding extensions, which would mark the sixth consecutive shutdown brought on by a Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

    The Republican-led House is lurching closer to a government shutdown

    • The federal government will shut down unless Republicans agree to continued funding by September 30. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives is struggling to find 218 votes to support must-pass appropriations legislation before the end of the fiscal year on September 30. If legislation is not authorized in time, the federal government may face a shutdown. [The Washington Post, 9/12/23]
    • House Republicans have failed to advance multiple spending bills in recent days. The House has a series of yearlong spending bills to address, to fund the departments of Defense, State, Agriculture, and Homeland Security. CNN reported on September 25 that during the previous week, the GOP’s leadership team “failed twice to advance the defense bill” and that Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy “put the House GOP’s stopgap bill on ice amid a right-wing rebellion.” [CNN, 9/25/23]

    “Take a stand”: Many in conservative media support a shutdown

    • National Pulse Editor-in-Chief Raheem Kassam: “Govt shutdown > public lockdown.” [Twitter/X, 9/9/23]
    • Right-wing Grabien founder Tom Elliott: “My only concern w/ a govt shutdown is that it will be temporary.” [Twitter/X, 9/11/23]
    • Right-wing economist Stephen Moore: “Shutdown Might Mean Gov't Gets Serious About Fiscal Ineptitude.” In a syndicated column posted by Newsmax, Moore mocked concern over the damage of a government shutdown, comparing it to the public health orders early in the COVID-19 pandemic under the Trump administration. Even though he wrote, “I'm NOT in favor of a government shutdown,” he added, “But they aren't the end of the world,” and continued to downplay their impacts. He contradicted himself again by concluding: “But if it takes a short-term shutdown of some government agencies to force Congress and the White House to get serious about our fiscal ineptitude, then do it. It's for the children.” [Newsmax, 9/13/23]
    • OAN host Dan Ball expressed support for a government shutdown. In an interview with Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Ball said, “If the Dems can shut us down over the flu, then you guys, the Freedom Caucus, should shut us down over overspending.” Ball also said that shutting down the government “for a few weeks or months” won’t “damage anybody, except some federal employees might not get paid for a bit.” [OAN, Real America with Dan Ball, 9/13/23]
    • Fox star Sean Hannity instructed Republicans to “take a stand” and shut down the government, then blame Democrats. After demanding that Republicans shut down the government, Hannity encouraged them to blame Democrats for their obstruction: “And whatever the Republicans pull off in the House, and they eventually agree to, which will itself be a compromise, the Senate needs to do their job, and then they need to be willing to let the government shut down and then blame –– put the blame where it belongs: on the people that are robbing our children and our grandchildren blind. It's time to take a stand, that's what you guys got elected for. You said you wanted to, you know, lead. This is a chance to lead.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 9/19/23]
    • Newsmax host Eric Bolling: “Stop writing the checks. ... The American people don’t really care.” In an interview with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Bolling mocked Republicans for worrying about the political blowback of yet another federal government shutdown and added that Gaetz was right to oppose a funding deal, telling him to “stay strong.” [Newsmax, Eric Bolling The Balance, 9/19/23]
    • Former Trump strategist Steve Bannon: “Forcing the regime to shut down their own illegitimate government is a win.” Bannon asked his guest, far-right commentator Jack Posobiec, for his thoughts about “the meltdown of the uniparty,” and Posobiec argued that government shutdowns are nothing to fear even as he explained that intelligence personnel had to rotate days off during a shutdown when he worked for the government in 2013. [Real America’s Voice, War Room, 9/20/23]
    • Pro-Trump comics creator Scott Adams: “I back @RepMattGaetz on this. Avoiding a shutdown is a dumb goal. Fixing the budget approval process (as promised) is a winning system.” [Twitter/X, 9/24/23]
    • Ex-Fox Business host Lou Dobbs: “House RINOs are squealing at the prospect of actually shutting down this corrupt anti-citizen Federal government. End corruption—defund the Feds!” [Twitter/X, 9/24/23]

    Other conservative media figures have disparaged Republicans for driving toward a shutdown

    • Fox contributor Karl Rove: Republicans get blamed for government shutdowns “generally because Republicans are responsible for the shutdown. They seem to eagerly want it.” Rove continued to criticize Republican lawmakers: “So yeah, there's a reason why they get blamed. And look, the American people demand that their government try and run itself in an appropriate fashion. And the fact that the biggest financial and business enterprise in the world, the U.S. government, cannot pass a budget in time and then ends up shutting itself down over things that are on the margin. … The Republicans are going to be shooting themselves in the foot in the run-up to the 2024 election if they continue to think that shutdowns are a great way to put themselves in front of the American people.” [Fox Broadcasting Co., Fox News Sunday, 9/17/23]
    • Fox News host Mark Levin on conservatives pushing for a shutdown: “You can’t be Pickett. … Even Pickett didn’t want to be in Pickett’s Charge.” On his radio show, Fox News host Mark Levin told conservatives, “if your goal is to bring down the government, let me tell you a little secret: They’re not going to be able to do it this way.” Levin acknowledged the reality that Senate Republicans will vote with Democrats to avoid some draconian spending cuts, then said: “And so, you know, you can't be Pickett. This can't be Pickett's Charge. Pickett's Charge, let's go get ‘em. Even Pickett didn't wanna be part of Pickett's Charge,” a reference to a disastrous Confederate attack during the Civil War. Levin added: “So if we have stupid people doing stupid things in the name of conservatism, that bothers me a lot. I'm never going to line up behind stupid.” [Westwood One, The Mark Levin Show, 9/18/23; Library of Congress, accessed 9/19/23]
    • Fox News Radio host Guy Benson: There are “Republicans saying, and not without reason, a shutdown is not a good idea.” In an interview with Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), Benson said that Republicans are giving the appearance of unreasonably opposing everything, “but part of the job is like manning up and being adults and getting something done as opposed to being against everything, especially when you’re at least nominally in the majority in the chamber where this stuff has to originate.” [Fox News Radio, Guy Benson Show, 9/18/23]
    • Right-wing commentator Ben Shapiro argued that “the Republican Party, they are the stupid party, there is no question, and that stupidity is extending over into this government shutdown talk.” On his radio program, Shapiro attacked the so-called “stupid party” Republicans for missing an opportunity to use spending negotiations as leverage against Democratic Party priorities. He concluded by offering the GOP strategic advice going forward: “Whenever chaos is projected to no apparent end — because the Democrats run the Senate and Joe Biden is the president, and so they have a bit of a say in what exactly ends up becoming law here — Republicans, how about this? Be concerted in the issues that you attack. Focus for a moment in time. Otherwise, Democrats are going to have something to run on, and that is not what you want.” [The Daily Wire, The Ben Shapiro Show, 9/18/23]
    • Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade grilled Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT) about his pro-shutdown stance: “Congressman, you just know if the government gets shut down, Republicans get the blame.” After a testy exchange between Kilmeade and Rosendale over the latter’s refusal to support a short-term proposal to avoid a government shutdown, Kilmeade replied: “Congressman, you just know if the government gets shut down, Republicans get the blame because they are not even providing even a CR [continuing resolution], a pathway to a CR. You're saying I'm not going to go for 30 days, so the government shuts down. That means your investigations stop, that means the border funding doesn't happen, and that's OK?” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 9/19/23]
    • On Hannity, Fox contributor and former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich singled out “all the people in the Freedom Caucus who are cheerfully screwing things up.” Gingrich argued that Freedom Caucus shenanigans might endanger GOP House seats in 2024. “Sometimes I think we have some members who can’t not only play chess or checkers, they can't play tic-tac-toe,” Gingrich said. “You have to start from success and work back.” Coincidentally, Gingrich engineered two government shutdowns during his time as House speaker, in part over a petty personal grudge. [Fox News, Hannity, 9/22/23; Media Matters, 8/31/10]
    • Fox anchor Maria Bartiromo to Rep. Gaetz: “Are you not right now indirectly working with Democrats? ... That's what your actions are doing.” Bartiromo pressed the far-right congressman over his strategy and noted, “That’s why some people feel this is a personal vendetta you have against” McCarthy. When Gaetz defended himself, Bartiromo replied, “You’re enabling” Democrats. [Fox News, Sunday Morning Futures, 9/24/23]

    Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

    Kevin McCarthy

    Right-Wing Media Scorches 'Stupid' GOP Leaders Over Government Shutdown

    As the Republican-led House faces a deadline of September 30 to fund the government and avoid a shutdown — and with some hardline Republicans recently rejecting a proposal to pass their own party’s proposed cuts and thus fund the government for just one more month — even some right-wing commentators openly agree a government shutdown would be bad idea for which the voting public would blame Republicans.

    The federal government faces a September 30 shutdown deadline

    • The federal government will shut down unless Republicans agree to continued funding by September 30. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives is struggling to find 218 votes to support must-pass appropriations legislation before the end of the fiscal year on September 30. If legislation is not authorized in time, the federal government may face a shutdown. But House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) “is not (yet) considering relying on Democrats to pass a stopgap spending bill and will work to find enough Republican support,” according to The Washington Post, because “seeking Democratic votes would likely lead to an immediate challenge to Kevin McCarthy’s speakership from GOP hard-liners.” [The Washington Post,9/12/23]
    • A Republican-controlled House of Representatives has been responsible for the last five government shutdowns. In the last 30 years, a Republican-controlled House of Representatives has shut down the government twice under Democratic President Bill Clinton, once under Democratic President Barack Obama, and then twice under Republican President Donald Trump. The most-recent shutdown, the longest in U.S. history, began under a lame-duck Republican House that had lost in the 2018 midterms, and it ended only after spending provisions from the Democratic-controlled House were able to break a further deadlock in the Republican-controlled Senate. [PBS.org, 1/25/19; The Hill, 1/25/19]
    • History suggests the public will more likely blame Republicans than Democrats for a shutdown. During government shutdowns under Clinton and Obama, polls showed that the public blamed the shutdown on congressional Republicans more than the Democratic president. During the most-recent government shutdown, which began during unified Republican control of the federal government, a majority of Americans blamed Trump for the impasse, rather than congressional Democrats. [CNN.com; 1/11/19; PBS.org, 1/15/19]

    Some hard-right Republican lawmakers are opposing an intraparty deal to avoid a government shutdown

    • House Republicans negotiated among themselves for a short-term proposal to fund the government through October 31, with stiff spending cuts. Members from the hard-line House Freedom Caucus and the pro-McCarthy Main Street Caucus agreed to a short-term spending package with 8% cuts in spending levels except in the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments. The proposal, which has little chance of being enacted, “also includes conservative restrictions on immigration and the U.S. border with Mexico. It does not include funding for Ukraine, which Biden had requested.” [Reuters, 9/18/23]
    • Some hardline House Republicans declared their opposition to the proposal. In an article titled “Another doomed GOP spending plan collapses,” Politico reported that the immediate objection to the deal from multiple GOP lawmakers “highlights just how unmanageable the House GOP truly is, with Freedom Caucus leaders — including Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), its chair — endorsing a deal only to see it publicly rejected by a good chunk of its membership within a matter of minutes.” [Politico, 9/18/23]
    • Some initial news coverage said the Republican bill was doomed, with NBC News calling it “all but guaranteed to die in the Democratic-led Senate.” Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) called the bill “extreme,” saying it would “cut funding to the National Institutes of Health including funding for cancer research, defund the police, and decrease resources to important allies like Ukraine and Israel,” instead of “working on bipartisan solution[s] that could be enacted.” [NBC News, 9/17/23; The Hill,9/18/23; The Washington Post, 9/17/23]
    • The Democratic-led Senate, in contrast, has “been making good progress on the annual spending bills.” On September 18, The Hill reported that all of the annual appropriation bills had been passed out of committee and that the Democratic-led Senate “had been making good progress” until a Republican senator tried to halt progress on one of the spending bills. [The Hill, 9/18/23]

    Right-wing media criticize Republicans for heading toward another shutdown, with some acknowledging the GOP deserves the blame

    • Fox News host Mark Levin on conservatives pushing for a shutdown: “You can’t be Pickett. … Even Pickett didn’t want to be in Pickett’s Charge.” On his radio show, Fox News host Mark Levin told conservatives, “if your goal is to bring down the government, let me tell you a little secret: They’re not going to be able to do it this way.” Levin acknowledged the reality that Senate Republicans will vote with Democrats to avoid some draconian spending cuts, then said: “And so, you know, you can't be Pickett. This can't be Pickett's Charge. Pickett's Charge, let's go get ‘em. Even Pickett didn't wanna be part of Pickett's Charge,” a reference to a disastrous Confederate attack during the Civil War. Levin added: “So if we have stupid people doing stupid things in the name of conservatism, that bothers me a lot. I'm never going to line up behind stupid.” [Westwood One, The Mark Levin Show, 9/18/23; Library of Congress, accessed 9/19/23]
    • Fox contributor Karl Rove: Republicans get blamed for government shutdowns “generally because Republicans are responsible for the shutdown. They seem to eagerly want it.” Rove continued to criticize Republican lawmakers: “So yeah, there's a reason why they get blamed. And look, the American people demand that their government try and run itself in an appropriate fashion. And the fact that the biggest financial and business enterprise in the world, the U.S. government, cannot pass a budget in time and then ends up shutting itself down over things that are on the margin. … The Republicans are going to be shooting themselves in the foot in the run-up to the 2024 election if they continue to think that shutdowns are a great way to put themselves in front of the American people.” [Fox Broadcasting Co., Fox News Sunday, 9/17/23]
    • Right-wing commentator Ben Shapiro argued that “the Republican Party, they are the stupid party, there is no question, and that stupidity is extending over into this government shutdown talk.” On his radio program, Shapiro attacked the so-called “stupid party” Republicans for missing an opportunity to use spending negotiations as leverage against Democratic Party priorities. He concluded by offering the GOP strategic advice going forward: “Whenever chaos is projected to no apparent end — because the Democrats run the Senate and Joe Biden is the president, and so they have a bit of a say in what exactly ends up becoming law here — Republicans, how about this? Be concerted in the issues that you attack. Focus for a moment in time. Otherwise, Democrats are going to have something to run on, and that is not what you want.” [The Daily Wire, The Ben Shapiro Show, 9/18/23]
    • Shapiro further added, “Republicans are hellbent on running directly into a wall at full speed.” “The measure wasn’t going to pass the Democratic-controlled Senate, anyway. But McCarthy was then going to use that as the basis for some sort of compromise with Democrats,” Shapiro explained. “It doesn’t matter, we’re just going to run directly into a wall, and the only loser here, presumably, will be the Republican Party. Because Democrats are not going to be punished for Republicans not even being able to come to an agreement on what they want the basis for negotiations to be.” [The Daily Wire, The Ben Shapiro Show, 9/19/23]
    • Fox News Radio host Guy Benson: There are “Republicans saying, and not without reason, a shutdown is not a good idea.” In an interview with Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), Benson said that Republicans are giving the appearance of unreasonably opposing everything, “but part of the job is like manning up and being adults and getting something done as opposed to being against everything, especially when you’re at least nominally in the majority in the chamber where this stuff has to originate.” [Fox News Radio, Guy Benson Show, 9/18/23]
    • Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade grilled Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT) about his pro-shutdown stance: “Congressman, you just know if the government gets shut down, Republicans get the blame.” After a testy exchange between Kilmeade and Rosendale over the latter’s refusal to support a short-term proposal to avoid a government shutdown, Kilmeade replied: “Congressman, you just know if the government gets shut down, Republicans get the blame because they are not even providing even a CR, a pathway to a CR. You're saying I'm not going to go for 30 day, so the government shuts down. That means your investigations stop, that means the border funding doesn't happen, and that's OK?” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 9/19/23]

    Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

    Roger Stone

    Roger Stone Repeatedly Pushed Fake Elector Scheme After 2020 Election

    After MSNBC’s Ari Melber aired video this week of right-wing political operative Roger Stone pushing for Republican legislatures to replace electors — similar in purpose to the fake electors scheme central to former President Donald Trump’s criminal indictments over his 2020 election theft attempt — Media Matters found multiple instances of Stone urging this version of election theft in right-wing media appearances and a social media post after the election.

    As Melber emphasized in his August 16 scoop, Stone was shown dictating a memo on November 5, 2020, involving a plot to convince Republican-led state legislatures in multiple states Joe Biden won to replace legitimate electors with slates of false electors for Trump two days before major news organizations called the election for Biden. For his version of the fake electors scheme, Trump was charged on August 1 with conspiracy to defraud the United States, along with other criminal charges, and the fake electors plot was featured in his Georgia indictment as well.

    Although Trump’s unindicted co-conspirators in that plot have been identified through the efforts of journalists, Stone’s name was not among them, and he had escaped attention over the indictments until now. In the 2020 election’s aftermath, Stone continued to push his scheme to replace Biden electors with illegitimate Trump electors in order to overturn the election in multiple appearances on far-right media programs and posts to his Telegram account.

    In echoes of the discredited and unconstitutional Independent State Legislature theory, Stone claimed that the nonexistent evidence of fraud, which failed to win any court victories for the Trump team, could be used to persuade GOP-majority state legislatures to swap their electors from Biden to Trump. Stone's scheme would have pursued a different means to the same end to steal the election for Trump through the Electoral College.

    • Stone explained on Infowars’ The Alex Jones Show that he was “shooting for” Republican state lawmakers to overturn election results and sending Trump electors instead. “I don’t think patriots understand that the last chain in this process is the legislatures certifying who the electors who will go to the Electoral College are,” Stone said. “They are who we’re shooting for. … The state legislatures who are controlled by Republicans will make this final decision.” [Infowars, The Alex Jones Show, 11/10/20]
    • On Salem Media’s The Eric Metaxas Show, Stone said Trump should be able “to overturn a number of these state elections” and switch electors from Biden to himself. Stone explained: “There is a process here. We’re not done when ABC and The Associated Press say we are. The media does not choose who the president is, they have no legal right to declare anybody president. Only the Electoral College can do that, and we have a long way to go between now and the Electoral College meeting in the middle of December. The president has more than enough legal arguments to overturn a number of these state elections and award the delegates, pardon me, the electors, correctly, as required by law to the person who won the majority of the legal ballots cast.” [Salem Media Group, The Eric Metaxas Show, 11/13/20]
    • In a Telegram post, Stone wrote, “Republicans in the state legislatures have an obligation to review the massive evidence of voter fraud” before assigning electors. Stone argued that “neither the state nor federal courts have the final say in this epic saga” and that Republican legislators must determine “whether the election has been legally and honestly conducted, before deciding who should represent the state in the all-important electoral college.” [Telegram, 11/16/20]
    • On Alex Jones’ Infowars program again, Stone urged Trump supporters to contact GOP state legislators about stealing Biden electoral votes for Trump. During his appearance a month after the election, Stone advised Trump to focus on state legislatures instead of just the courts in his efforts to steal the election, and said: “I think supporters of the president in the key states need to begin now contacting the Republican state legislators … and urge them to support the president, to support an objective and honest count of the election and the certification of electors that will support Donald Trump at the Electoral College.” [Infowars, The Alex Jones Show, 12/2/20]

    Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

    No, Hunter Biden Didn't Get A 'Sweetheart Deal' From GOP Prosecutor

    No, Hunter Biden Didn't Get A 'Sweetheart Deal' From GOP Prosecutor

    Right-wing media have attacked the plea deal reached for Hunter Biden over his past failure to pay taxes and unlawful possession of a gun, falsely claiming that the president’s son got a “sweetheart deal” in comparison with others who faced tax and gun charges and in particular comparing it to the sentencing of musician Kodak Black.

    But numerous legal experts rebutted these conservative claims of a “sweetheart deal,” with some explaining that his deal is actually “harsh” for his circumstances as a first-time offender.

    Legal experts rebutted claims of a “sweetheart deal"

    On June 20, Hunter Biden was charged for tax evasion and unlawful gun possession. He pleaded guilty on misdemeanor tax charges, for which he likely faces probation, and agreed to a pretrial diversion program for the gun charge. Even though the U.S. attorney who prosecuted Biden was appointed by former President Donald Trump and was left in place by President Joe Biden to preserve the independence of his investigation, Republican lawmakers were quick to call the agreement a “slap on the wrist” and a “sweetheart deal” for the president’s son.

    But legal experts interviewed by news outlets explained that the charges against Hunter Biden are rarely prosecuted and even more rarely include jail time. As many experts have explained, given Biden’s repayment of the taxes he owed, his lack of a prior criminal record, and the fact that his gun was not used in any crimes, his plea deal may even seem unduly “harsh.”

    • CNN legal analyst Jennifer Rodgers said that “it’s certainly not a sweetheart deal out of line with what happens in the rest of the country” and that the gun charge deal is “very standard” in similar circumstances. Rodgers explained: “So, on the gun form charge, it’s very, very standard for someone in this situation who lies on the form because they are an addict, the gun is long gone, apparently he only had it for a couple of weeks, it’s very standard in these circumstances for this diversion to occur and to wipe out the charges, assuming he successfully completes it. So, that’s totally standard. And the tax fraud is similar as well. I mean, he paid those taxes back a long time ago. That’s something that DOJ takes very, very seriously.” She continued: “This is not a sweetheart deal. … It’s certainly not a sweetheart deal out of line with what happens in the rest of the country.” [CNN, CNN News Central, 6/20/23]
    • MSNBC legal analyst Paul Butler explained that “this doesn’t look like a sweetheart deal,” explaining that “almost no defendant would be sent to federal prison for first time, low-level tax offenses.” Butler further noted that Biden paid back his owed taxes and sought treatment for his addiction, and that a federal judge may still ultimately step in if the judge deems the plea agreement too lenient. [MSNBC, Chris Jansing Reports, 6/20/23]
    • MSNBC legal analyst Catherine Christian: “I don’t think it’s accurate to call it a slap on the wrist” because Biden will have a criminal record. Christian said: “This is someone who didn't pay his taxes, and now he has — he's going to be stuck with these two criminal convictions on his record. He had a gun when he knew he was addicted to a controlled substance, and so now he has to go through a diversion program. So, I don't think it’s accurate to call it a slap on the wrist. As I said, these are serious charges that he’s now pleading guilty to.” [MSNBC, Ana Cabrera Reports, 6/20/23]
    • Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti: “If anything, Hunter Biden was treated harshly” for his tax charges because “those crimes are rarely charged.” [Twitter, 6/20/23]

    • NYU law professor and MSNBC legal analyst Andrew Weissmann: “This is if anything harsh, not lenient.” Weissmann wrote on Twitter: “first time tax offenders like this rarely get prosecuted and even rarer to get jail time. And false gun applications sadly also almost never get prosecuted or jail time. So this is if anything harsh, not lenient.” [Twitter, 6/20/23]
    • Former federal prosecutor Shan Wu wrote that “Attorney General Merrick Garland was actually pretty harsh on Hunter Biden.” In an opinion piece for The Daily Beast, Wu explained his reasoning:

    The truth of the matter is that Attorney General Merrick Garland did Hunter Biden no favors in this case by leaving the original Trump-appointed prosecutor on the case, and approving a plea deal on charges that for anyone else would likely have resulted in no criminal charges being brought.

    Under the terms of the plea deal, Hunter Biden must plead guilty to two misdemeanor counts of failing to pay his taxes in 2017 and 2018—for which he apparently underpaid by $100,000 each year. (In 2021, he paid the shortfall.) That makes the tax case a bit of an outlier, since prosecutors usually have little appetite for bringing criminal tax cases when the taxpayer has already paid the amount owing.

    His self-admitted drug addiction likely played a role in prosecutors allowing him to seek pre-trial diversion, as diversion is frequently used as a means of holding drug addicts to accountability while not making them take a felony on the records in light of their addiction. In fact, it is rare for prosecutors to pursue criminal charges for this kind of false information on a gun ownership application form unless the gun was also used to commit some other crime, such as a robbery, to cite one example.

    Here, however, there is no evidence Biden used the gun in any crime. He apparently only had the gun for two weeks before his then-girlfriend threw it away in a trash dumpster. [The Daily Beast,6/20/23]

    • MSNBC legal analyst Joyce Vance said “it wouldn’t at all be unusual” for the gun charge to be diverted.
      Vance said of the tax charges: “It’s very typical, the law provides for misdemeanors in cases where a defendant fails to file. And so this would be, I think, within the heartland of the way the department charges these kinds of cases, if that in fact is what the charge is, a failure to file.” Vance also called the gun charge “a more obscure portion of the statute,” adding that “it wouldn’t at all be unusual to see someone put into some form of front-end program.” [MSNBC, Morning Joe, 6/20/23]
    • CNN senior legal analyst Elie Honig: “There’s virtually no chance that a first-time offender would get sentenced to prison based on misdemeanors … especially tax-type misdemeanors.” Honig further explained that “the vast majority of federal firearms cases are either a firearm used in another crime of violence, or a firearm possessed by somebody who has a prior felony. This is sort of low down on the list of firearms offenses.” [CNN, CNN News Central, 6/20/23]
    • CNN chief legal analyst Laura Coates said that Biden’s pretrial diversion for the gun felony “is quite common in the grand scheme of things.” Coates explained: “These are oftentimes included in any plea deal to try to use a diversionary program that essentially says, look. If you keep on the up-and-up, if you stay clean, then you will not have this felony charge attached to your record as well. This actually is quite common in the grand scheme of things. What’s so uncommon is that it’s now a former vice president and current president’s child.” [CNN, CNN News Central, 6/20/23]
    • UCLA law professor Adam Winkler suggested that it’s unusual for someone to be charged solely for lying on a gun form. Winkler told The Washington Post that “prosecutors typically would not charge lying on a gun form as a stand-alone crime, instead filing it as a secondary charge when someone also may have committed a violent crime with the weapon.” [The Washington Post, 6/20/23]
    • Ohio State University law professor and sentencing expert Douglas Berman told The New York Times that “the average person is rarely prosecuted for” the crimes Biden was charged with. Berman further suggested that far from receiving preferential treatment in this case, Biden was charged only because he’s the president’s son and prosecutors may have hoped to avoid “the perception that there was some sort of special treatment or leniency.” From the NY Times:

    Douglas Berman, a professor of law at Ohio State University and a sentencing expert, read the court papers unsealed on Tuesday morning and said that it was difficult to assess from the filings whether Mr. Biden received a sweetheart deal.
    The crimes to which Mr. Biden is pleading guilty, Mr. Berman said, are ones that the average person is rarely prosecuted for because they are usually only brought along with more serious offenses.

    In Mr. Biden’s case, they include a charge stemming from lying about drug use on the government form used for his purchase of a handgun. Current and former officials say tens of thousands of Americans, out of the 25 million who buy guns each year, lie on their forms and are not prosecuted.

    “If these are the only offenses, most prosecutors are going to say it’s not worth a federal case — they would say: Let’s not make a federal case of it for the average person because it’s not worth it to bring a case unless there’s reason to be concerned that there’s a public safety issue or the trust that everyone is treated equally under the law is at stake,” Mr. Berman said.

    Mr. Berman said that in this case, federal prosecutors are in a unique situation because there was a very high-profile defendant who was the subject of investigations for a range of activities. The failure to bring some charges when there is no factual dispute, he said, could create the impression of a two-tiered system of justice.

    “Everyone is paying attention and the facts are not in dispute, so a failure to bring charges would create the perception that there was some sort of special treatment or leniency being given to the president’s son,” Mr. Berman [said]. [The New York Times, 6/20/23]

    Right-wing media falsely claimed Hunter Biden got a “sweetheart deal”

    Despite the extensive evidence and expert commentary to the contrary, right-wing media ran with the false accusation that Hunter Biden's plea agreement was a “sweetheart deal” arranged by a corrupt Department of Justice.

    • Fox News contributor and New York Post columnist Miranda Devine: Hunter Biden got “this sweetheart deal from the DOJ.” On Fox, Devine said: “I think Hunter Biden's team is quite correct in that their man is off the hook with this sweetheart deal from the DOJ,” before referencing GOP probes into Biden’s business dealings. [Fox News, America Reports, 6/20/23]
    • Tucker Carlson producer Justin Wells wrote on Twitter: “President Biden’s inept son, Hunter Biden, gets a sweetheart deal from the DOJ. What a joke.” [Twitter, 6/20/23]
    • On Twitter, Breitbart senior editor-at-large Joel Pollak wrote that Hunter Biden got “a sweetheart deal” and will later be pardoned by his father. Pollak claimed: “.@JoeBiden just had his leading opponent arrested for ‘documents’ while his son, Hunter — whom the media assured us was innocent — gets a sweetheart deal and will, no doubt, be pardoned. Trump was right about the Bidens in 2019, and they impeached him for it. Banana republic.” [Twitter, 6/20/23]
    • Fox host Jesse Watters said, “Hunter Biden was never going to go to prison anyway, he was either going to get a sweetheart plea deal or get pardoned.” Watters also asked, “If this wasn’t a sweetheart deal, then why did Donald Trump’s CFO get thrown in Rikers Island for 100 days for pleading guilty to a smaller tax charge than Hunter?” Watters continued making comparisons with celebrities who served prison time. [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 6/20/23]
    • Quoting House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Trump ally John Solomon argued that Hunter Biden got a “‘sweetheart’ plea deal” in the headline of an article he wrote on Just the News. [Just the News, 6/20/23]
    • Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton claimed Hunter Biden got a “sweetheart plea deal,” which is an “‘in-your-face’ show of contempt for the rule of law.” [Twitter, 6/20/23]
    • CPAC Chairman Matt Schlapp tweeted that the president “just orchestrated a sweetheart deal for his son in order to boost his re-election.” [Twitter, 6/20/23]

    Conservatives made false comparison between Hunter Biden and rapper Kodak Black

    Some conservative media figures and outlets compared Biden’s gun charge, described by the Justice Department as possessing “a firearm despite knowing he was an unlawful user of and addicted to a controlled substance,” to that of the rapper Kodak Black, who was sentenced to almost four years in prison for ostensibly similar gun charges.

    But these comparisons exclude important context: Black already had an extensive criminal record and was facing numerous other criminal charges when he lied on background check forms to purchase multiple guns, and two of the guns he purchased were later found at crime scenes, including one, as The New York Times reported, “with Black’s fingerprints and a live round in the chamber — that had been used to fire at a ‘rival rap artist.’”

    The remainder of Black’s sentence, for falsifying information to buy firearms, was commuted by former President Donald Trump during his last full day in office, and months later he received a plea agreement that avoided prison time in a case involving a report of sexual assault.

    Conservatives ignored this context in making the comparison to further their false claim that Biden has been treated too leniently:

    • Devine highlighted the years in jail Black served for his gun charges: “I think David Weiss should come before [Rep. James Comer's (R-KY)] committee and just explain if everything was aboveboard exactly why they made the decisions they did, and why it took five years to come up with these two pretty minor misdemeanor tax charges and a gun charge that has gone away that has had people locked in jail for four years. The rapper Kodak Black was in jail for four years in a federal prison for lying on his background form to buy — he bought four guns in that case.” [Fox News, Hannity, 6/20/23]
    • Fox & Friends hosts claimed that Black merely used a “wrong Social Security number on the gun form” and went to prison, omitting all other context. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 6/21/23]
    • Daily Caller chief national correspondent Henry Rodgers wrote a tweet echoing a claim that Black “served 3 years in jail” for the “same crime”: “NEW: Kodak Black’s lawyer reacts to the Hunter Biden news… Says Kodak was charged for the same crime and had to serve 3 years in jail for it:” [Twitter, 6/20/23]
    • A FoxNews.com headline repeated the false comparison: “Kodak Black's lawyer slams Hunter Biden plea deal after rapper sentenced to 3+ years for same crime.” [FoxNews.com, 6/20/23]
    • Gateway Pundit also cited the false claim by Black’s lawyer that he was charged with the “same federal weapons crime” as Hunter Biden. Jim Hoft, the founder of Gateway Pundit, wrote:

    Hunter will serve NO TIME in prison for his latest criminal actions.

    The same DOJ sent rappers Lil Wayne and Kodak Black to prison for years on gun charges. Both rappers were granted a pardon by President Donald Trump.

    Contrasting Hunter Biden’s case, Kodak Black, whose real name is Bill Kapri, faced similar charges in 2019.

    According to New York Post, the Grammy-nominated artist was found guilty of providing false information on a federal gun purchase form to procure three firearms from a shop in Miami. Given his criminal record, Black was not eligible to buy these weapons.

    Despite pleading guilty, Black was handed a sentence exceeding three years in federal prison. [The Gateway Pundit, 6/21/23]

    Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

    Right-Wing Defenses Of Trump Are Incinerated By Prosecution Disclosures

    Right-Wing Defenses Of Trump Are Incinerated By Prosecution Disclosures

    The 47-page federal criminal indictment against former President Donald Trump unsealed on Friday incinerates months of desperate attempts by his media allies to excuse his behavior in handling classified material and the resulting probe of his actions.

    Trump’s sycophants have claimed that Trump did not do anything wrong -- but the indictment says:

    • Trump kept the documents in unsecured locations at Mar-a-Lago, including a ballroom and bathroom.
    • Trump allegedly bragged that he had classified documents, acknowledging that he didn’t and could no longer declassify them while showing them to visitors.
    • Classified documents related to U.S. nuclear programs were found at Mar-a-Lago.
    • Trump’s actions were unique from other instances of people maintaining classified documents in that he willfully and knowingly mishandled the documents.
    • Trump himself packed boxes.
    • Trump admitted in an audio recording that he couldn’t declassify a document after he left office.

    DEFENSE: The docs were secured

    Right-wing media have claimed that the documents were secure at Trump’s home in Mar-a-Lago. Fox News host Mark Levin said the documents were “safer at Mar-a-Lago” than “at the National Archives.” Conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec tweeted similar sentiments, saying, “Mar-a-Lago is protected inside and out by Secret Service federal agents at all times.”

    INDICTMENT: Trump kept the documents in unsecured locations at Mar-a-Lago

    As the indictment explains, Mar-a-Lago “was not an authorized location for the storage, possession, review, display, or discussion of classified documents. Nevertheless, Trump stored his boxes containing classified documents in various locations,” including in a ballroom, a bathroom and shower, an office space, his bedroom, and a storage room.” The indictment breaks down the locations, saying they include:

    • “The Mar-a-Lago Club’s White and Gold Ballroom, in which events and gatherings took place.”
    • “The business center at The Mar-a-Lago Club.”
    • “The shower where his other stuff is” in“The Mar-a-Lago Club’s Lake Room.”
    • The “Storage Room,” the hallway for which “could be reached from multiple outside entrances, including one accessible from The Mar-a-Lago Club pool patio through a doorway that was often kept open,” and which “was near the liquor supply closet, linen room, lock shop, and various other rooms.”
    • Trump’s “summer residence at The Bedminster Club,” which, like Mar-a-Lago, “was not an authorized location for the storage, possession, review, display, or discussion of classified documents.”
    • “Pine Hall,” which is “an entry room in Trump’s residence."
    • Trump’s office.

    DEFENSE: The documents were declassified

    After the FBI seized documents during its search of Mar-a-Lago, Trump and his allies in right-wing media repeatedly claimed that Trump had issued a “standing order” to declassify documents at “the moment he removed them” from the Oval Office, with some even saying he was “the classification authority” and could essentially “wave a magic wand” to declassify documents without a paper trail.

    Simultaneously, Trump sycophant and serial misinformer John Solomon and former Trump Department of Defense official Kash Patel — both of whom were named Trump’s representatives to the National Archives — claimed to be “on a mission” to prove Trump had declassified the documents.

    Right-wing media continued to push these claims in recent months.

    INDICTMENT: Trump allegedly bragged that he had classified documents, acknowledging that he didn’t and could no longer declassify them while showing them to visitors

    According to the indictment, “on two occasions in 2021, Trump showed classified documents to others,” including in one instance where Trump noted that the U.S. military “plan of attack” document he was sharing was “highly confidential” and “secret information,” adding, “See as president I could have declassified it. … Now I can’t, you know, but this is still a secret.”

    DEFENSE: There were no serious classified materials

    After news broke that the FBI was looking for material pertaining to nuclear weapons at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago, Fox host Sean Hannity, along with others in conservative media, downplayed the reporting, repeating Trump’s statement that “nuclear weapons, that issue is a hoax.”

    And after it was reported that the FBI’s search proved to be fruitful, right-wing media still tried to leap to Trump’s defense.

    On Fox News, host Laura Ingraham claimed, “And the issue of the nuclear capabilities of other countries, the CIA, I believe, has its own website that gives a lot of this information about — right?” Geraldo Rivera compared Trump's alleged crimes to “a library book that was overdue.”

    INDICTMENT: Classified documents about U.S. nuclear programs were found at Mar-a-Lago

    According to the indictment, included in the boxes of classified documents was information “regarding defense and weapons capabilities of both the United States and foreign countries” and about “United States nuclear programs.” According to the Department of Justice: “The unauthorized disclosure of these classified documents could put at risk the national security of the United States, foreign relations, the safety of the United States military, and human sources and the continued viability of sensitive intelligence collection methods.”

    DEFENSE: Everyone does it

    Right-wing media have echoed Trump’s repeated claims that other presidents had also taken classified documents and suggested that Trump is being indicted only as a part of a “witch hunt” against him.

    INDICTMENT: Trump’s actions were unique in that he willfully mishandled the documents

    Trump’s claims about these specific former presidents have been debunked and while former Vice President Mike Pence and President Joe Biden found classified documents at their properties, they immediately returned them and have not faced any charges. The indictment shows a clear disparity, alleging that Trump “did willfully retain the documents,” knew he had the documents, and knew they were classified.

    In the indictment, Trump is quoted as saying to a staffer that a document he showed was “secret information” and that “as president he could have declassified it” but now he can’t. Further, when subpoenaed to turn over the documents, Trump “endeavored to obstruct the FBI and grand jury investigation, and conceal his continued retention of classified documents,” the indictment alleges.

    DEFENSE: Trump didn’t pack the boxes

    Some right-wing media figures have claimed that the former president lacks culpability because he supposedly didn’t pack the boxes himself.

    Fox’s Sean Duffy asked, “Do you think that he went through the boxes at Mar-a-Lago? Do you think he knows what he had in those boxes? I don’t think he did."

    Former White House spokesperson Ari Fleischer made the same claim on Fox, saying, “If President Trump himself did not pack up those boxes — if, as reported, GSA, the General Services Administration packed up the boxes, then it’s very hard to see culpability for the president. And I have it on reliable authority that Donald Trump himself never opened those boxes in Mar-a-Lago and has no idea what’s in them.”

    INDICTMENT: Trump himself packed boxes

    According to the indictment, “In January 2021, as he was preparing to leave the White House, Trump and his White House staff, including [Trump aide Walt] Nauta, packed items, including some of Trump’s boxes.” The indictment added, “Trump was personally involved in this process.”

    DEFENSE: Nobody knows the proper declassification procedure anyway

    On his radio show, Hannity downplayed potential obstruction of justice charges against Trump, and said: “I would argue, legally, he doesn't have any obligation to cooperate with, and nor can anyone give a real definition of whether or not, you know, exactly how one president is supposed to declassify the materials anyway.”

    INDICTMENT: Trump says on tape that he couldn't declassify documents after leaving office

    The indictment reveals that Trump had knowledge of the proper declassification procedure. In an audio recording during a meeting he had with a writer and several other people, “Trump showed and described a ‘plan of attack’ that Trump said was prepared for him by the Department of Defense.”

    Trump told them that the plan he was showing was “highly confidential” and “secret,” and said, “As president I could have declassified it,” but “now I can’t.”

    Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

    How Fox News Promoted Homeless Vets Hoax To Smear Asylum Seekers

    How Fox News Promoted Homeless Vets Hoax To Smear Asylum Seekers

    Fox News and Fox Business relentlessly promoted a false New York Post story claiming that homeless veterans were displaced from hotels to make room for newly-arrived migrants for several days last week, devoting more than an hour of airtime to claims that seemed tailor-made for Fox’s anti-immigrant hysteria. The networks’ coverage even included interviews with local government officials who said they had met with the displaced veterans.

    But the story told by the Post, and promoted by Fox, unraveled less than a week later, when local news outlets investigated the claims and determined that it was a hoax.

    The Mid Hudson News was the first outlet to debunk the story. According to their reporting, there were never any veterans at the main hotel in question, the Crossroads Hotel, and nobody was kicked out to make room for migrants. The Mid Hudson Newsalso reported that the veterans that local politicians claimed to have met to verify the story were actually homeless men who were recruited from a shelter and paid “to act as veterans that had been displaced from a Newburgh hotel in order for a non-profit organization to perpetrate a fraud on the public.”

    Another local newspaper, the Times Union, reported that an attorney for the Crossroads Hotel stated that staff at the hotel “are receiving serious threats — including death threats — from all over the county as a result of” the false accusation, and that staff one day “were forced to call 911 to seek protection against someone who was menacing the staff at the hotel, claiming he was looking for the veterans.”

    Once this story was debunked by local news outlets, and nearly two weeks after Fox began promoting the story, Fox News and Fox Business began airing extremely short “updates,” which admitted that the entire story was false. On May 24, Fox rolled out an obviously scripted statement on several programs specifically mentioning the Crossroads Hotel, which had featured prominently in Fox’s coverage, possibly to avoid yet another defamation lawsuit similar to those brought by Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic in response to Fox’s political smear campaigns against them.

    Key events in Fox’s promotion of this hoax:

    • May 12

      Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post published an “exclusive” evening report headlined: “Homeless vets are being booted from NY hotels to make room for migrants: advocates.” The report cited Sharon Toney-Finch, CEO of a nonprofit organization that the Post claimed “works with the vets.” According to the article, “Nearly two dozen struggling homeless veterans … were told by the hotels at the beginning of the week that their temporary housing was getting pulled out from under them at the establishments and that they’d have to move on to another spot.” The Post claimed that the Crossroads Hotel in Newburgh, New York, booted the majority of the veterans, and that they were relocated to another hotel “about 20 minutes away.”
    • May 13

      Fox & Friends Weekend kicked off Fox News’ coverage of this fake story the day after it was published by introducing it in the context of the expiration of Title 42 and prominently displaying the Post’s front page, with the cover stating: “Vets kicked out for migrants: Outrage as upstate hotels tell 20 homeless veterans to leave.” The co-hosts quoted from the Post as Pete Hegseth held up the front page to the camera.Later, Neil Cavuto interviewed Orange County (New York) Executive Steven Neuhaus, whom the Post reported had filed a lawsuit against the hotels, which supposedly kicked out the veterans. Neuhaus would be the first of several New York state government officials Fox would interview about the story. During the interview, Neuhaus attacked the owners of these hotels and urged the New York Civil Liberties Union to sue them, and claimed he talked to one of the displaced veterans, saying: “The girl I talked to today, she’s got three Purple Hearts, and a Bronze Star with valor. She was in tears.” (It’s unclear which woman Neuhaus claims to have spoken to; the homeless people recruited by Toney-Finch for this hoax were all men. However, Toney-Finch herself now faces scrutiny for potentially lying about her service in the Army, including her receipt of a Purple Heart.)
    • May 14

      A day after Fox began promoting the fake story, Fox News weekend anchor Arthel Neville explicitly claimed, “Fox News confirms 20 homeless vets just got kicked out of several hotels in the suburbs north of Manhattan to make room for those migrants getting bussed in from the city.” Fox correspondent CB Cotton then quoted Toney-Finch’s nonprofit organization (which had fabricated the entire thing) to substantiate the false claim.
    • May 15

      After the weekend, Fox News and Fox Business began promoting the hoax in earnest. Fox & Friends co-host Ainsley Earhardt said it was “astonishing that some of these hotels are getting migrants” and canceling other reservations, adding, “There are two couples that booked rooms for their wedding … and 20 vets also were in that hotel, they all had to move out because these migrants moved in.” Later on Fox & Friends, guest co-host Will Cain claimed that a “flood of illegal immigrants” are taking up hotel rooms and other resources in New York. Cain went on to remind viewers “about homeless veterans booted from a hotel so that rooms could be given to illegal immigrants,” with Earhardt adding, “Eric Adams says they’re gonna stay there for four months, so 20 veterans had to move to another hotel.”Fox anchor Harris Faulkner claimed the story showed “the disgraceful treatment of our military veterans played out in Orange County, New York,” as the nonexistent group of “at least 20 homeless veterans, some reportedly suffering from PTSD, had to give up their hotel rooms for illegals.” Fox contributor Johnny “Joey” Jones added a jab at the Biden administration, stating, “A president that would leave Americans stranded in Afghanistan probably doesn't see the onus to take care of 20 veterans in a hotel. And I hate to say it, but that's just the absolute truth of it.”

    • Outnumbered co-hosts Emily Compagno and Kayleigh McEnany expressed outrage over the Post story, with Compagno claiming “America's heroes are now paying the price” for the “Southern border crisis.” McEnany lamented, “I can't help but notice the contrast when you have a 24-year-old — a veteran, had been in Afghanistan — kicked out of his hotel room as an Afghan national on the terror watchlist is crossing the border in San Diego.”Fox anchor Martha MacCallum complained, “You’ve got the hotels in New York that are having to take folks in. You had one in Newburgh, New York, where they had to cancel a wedding and kick out some homeless veterans to make room for incoming migrants.” (Unlike the homeless veterans hoax, other outlets have confirmed the reported wedding cancellations.) Fox host Sean Hannity said, “Let’s get some facts out so Joe Biden can understand what is really going on,” before proclaiming: “This is pretty infuriating, homeless vets who served our great country, they’re being put out on the street and replaced by illegal immigrants.” As he said this, Hannity displayed the headline of a FoxNews.com article which stated: “Biden admin, NY officials slammed after homeless veterans booted from migrant hotels: ‘Slap in the face.’” (After local news outlets debunked the false story, this FoxNews.com article was completely changed to reflect the debunk, with an editor’s note added to the bottom).Fox Business anchor and noted election conspiracy theorist Maria Bartiromo introduced this fake story to Fox’s sister network during an interview with Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY). During the segment, Bartiromo slipped and said: “It's incredible that the vets are being killed — kicked out, so that there's room for illegals.”
    • May 16

      On May 16, another Fox correspondent, this time Nate Foy, said that Fox had “confirmed” that the fake story was true: “I can confirm those 20 veterans are staying at a different hotel, and a handful of them are on their way to permanent housing.”Later on The Ingraham Angle, David Riley, an American Legion representative in New York, joined host Laura Ingraham in expressing outrage over the fake Post story. Ingraham claimed homeless veterans were being treated as “second-class citizens” by supposedly being kicked out of hotels. During Riley’s angry ranting about the fake story, Fox aired b-roll video prominently showing the front of the Crossroads Hotel.Cavuto also continued to feature the fake story on his Fox Business program, where on-air graphics claimed, “Homeless vets booted from hotels to house migrants,” and, “Nearly two dozen homeless vets removed from hotels.”
    • May 17

      The hoax story continued to be told on several Fox programs on May 17, including for the first time on the network’s flagship “news” show, Special Report. On the program, Foy said that the office of New York City Mayor Eric Adams “denies removing homeless U.S. veterans from an Orange County hotel to accommodate migrants.”That night, the Mid Hudson Newspublished its first report debunking the New York Post’s story. Toney-Finch, who was the Post’s source for its story, had provided a credit card receipt for room charges at the Crossroads Hotel as proof that her organization paid for homeless veterans to stay there before they were supposedly displaced. But the Mid Hudson News determined that the receipt was a forgery, and a manager at the hotel said there was no record of that transaction. The newspaper further reported that “the manager said there were no veterans at the hotel, none were kicked out and no other guests were told to vacate. The hotel does have a group of asylum seekers there, but the seven-year general manager noted that the hotel is not even booked to capacity and rooms are available.”
    • May 18

      The day after the Mid Hudson News debunked this story, and hours after the newspaper published follow-up reporting on the hoax, Fox continued to air the fake story as if it was true. On Fox News Tonight, Riverhead, New York, Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said: “In particular, what’s really, really disturbing … was that in the Crossroads Hotel in Orange County, he [Mayor Eric Adams] made a deal with the hotel. They took 25 local area residents who were homeless, who needed this shelter, put them out on the street to house people that have come in over our borders.” Cain, who was hosting the show, did not correct her.
    • May 19

      On May 19, Mid Hudson Newspublished another story further debunking this hoax, reporting that a group of 15 local homeless men were recruited by Toney-Finch “to pretend they were veterans that had been kicked out of the Crossroads Hotel in the Town of Newburgh last Friday, in advance of the arrival of migrants brought up from New York City.” The newspaper reported that “they were each promised $200 along with food and alcohol” by Toney-Finch, who “appear[s] to have fabricated the entire story.”
    • Hours later, Fox began to admit that the story it promoted was fake. Fox correspondent Nate Foy, who previously claimed to have “confirmed” the story, offered what he described as a “quick update,” stating: “We’re now looking into new reports that a veterans advocate misled lawmakers, and media outlets, about a story that some homeless men may have been hired to pose as veterans.” Anchor John Roberts responded: “There’s enough chaos without potentially false stories running around out there.” Indeed.
    • Later that night, Ingraham offered her own “little update” on the hoax she had been promoting: “Before we go, a little update on a story we brought you this week about homeless vets being displaced from hotels so that illegals could move in. Turns out, the group behind the claim made it up. We have no clue as to why anyone would do such a thing.”
    • A Media Matters review determined that Fox News and Fox Business had devoted more than an hour of combined airtime to the promotion of this hoax prior to starting these corrections.The same night, The Daily Beast also published an exposé of Sharon Toney-Finch, the veteran and advocate who fabricated the story, which she fed to the New York Post and other media outlets. The Beast reported that she may have lied about her own military record and decorations:

    The woman at the center of the maelstrom is Sharon Toney-Finch, who was inducted last July into the New York State Senate Veterans’ Hall of Fame after a special salute by lawmakers for her service. She is listed in the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor, has been the subject of glowing profiles about her heroism under fire, and once appeared on Fox & Friends to unveil a set of Purple Heart commemorative coins. On May 16, New York State Sen. Rob Rolison, a former police officer, honored Toney-Finch as a “woman of distinction,” making special note of her Purple Heart.[...]However, U.S. Army spokesman Bryce Dubee told The Daily Beast on Friday that the Department of Defense does not know anything about Toney-Finch and a Purple Heart.[...]Officials with the Army’s Human Resources Command told the Times-Union on Friday that they, too, were “unable to verify (from our records) that Sharon Toney received a Purple Heart.”

    • May 20

      On May 20, one week after Fox & Friends Weekend co-host Pete Hegseth, who is himself a decorated U.S. Army veteran, kicked off Fox’s promotion of this hoax by holding up the front page of the New York Post, he made a seemingly sincere apology and used the word “correction”: “We do have a quick correction on a story we brought you last weekend. The source who told the New York Post, get this one, that the homeless veterans in New York were displaced to make room for illegals at another New York hotel, made the story up. It was a made-up story. And our apologies for reporting it as such.”
    • May 21

      New York Mayor Eric Adams called out the hoax during an appearance on CBS’ Face The Nation on May 21, saying: “We have witnessed in some municipalities where they lied and stated that veterans were being forced out of hotels, which was untrue and found out to be fabricated. So, these types of tactics are just anti-American and anti-New York City.”And on CNN, anchor Jim Acosta and national correspondent Gloria Pazmino highlighted the “very disturbing story” of the homeless men hired to pose as displaced veterans, describing the allegations as “a complete scam.”
    • May 22

      On May 22, MSNBC host Chris Hayes ran a comprehensive segment calling out Fox News for claiming it had “confirmed” the false story, in the context of its recent $787.5 million defamation settlement in the Dominion case, as well as the long line of Republican politicians ranging from the local to national levels who pushed the hoax. He ended by mocking Ingraham’s contention that “we have no clue as to why anyone would do such a thing” like making up a story.“Why would anyone want to make up a story that’s too good to check, but plays directly into the most deranged bias of your conservative audience?” Hayes opined. “I can’t imagine Fox News airing those kinds of lies, but I guess there’s a first time for everything.”
    • May 24

      Multiple Fox News anchors and other on-air personalities, including Cavuto, Bartiromo, Faulkner, and others read a nearly-identical script, again described as an “update” rather than a correction or retraction, specifically naming the Crossroads Hotel and acknowledging that the story was false. They also gave a disingenuous promise to provide viewers more information “as we get it,” ignoring the extensive information already uncovered in the last week by both local and national news outlets. This script also ignored that they smeared migrants by pushing this fake story in the previous week.

    TODD PIRO (CO-HOST): We want to update you on reports last week claiming that upstate hotels in Orange and Rockland counties, including the Crossroads Hotel, evicted a group of homeless veterans. We've since learned that veterans advocates misled local officials, and it now turns out those eviction claims were false. We wanted to update you on this story and make sure the record was set straight. More as we get it.

    It turns out that the Crossroads Hotel that Fox repeatedly attacked in its promotion of this hoax, and which is prominently mentioned in the weirdly scripted corrections on May 24, is owned by Choice Hotels, which is an advertiser on Fox.

    Fox News was effectively smearing one of its own advertisers by promoting a hoax that was reportedly followed by death threats.

    Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

    Tucker Carlson

    Carlson Producer's Lawsuit Reveals Astoundingly Toxic Misogyny At Fox

    Abby Grossberg, who worked as a senior booking producer on Tucker Carlson’s prime time Fox News show Tucker Carlson Tonight, said in a lawsuit against the right-wing network that the work space assigned to the show was decorated with sexist imagery and that Carlson’s staff repeatedly and openly demeaned women. This follows numerous incidents of sexual harassment (and worse) at Fox stretching back over two decades.

    Grossberg is suing Fox for sexual harassment she said she experienced there, and for allegedly setting her up to take a fall in its $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems for Fox’s spreading of false claims about the 2020 election. On March 20, The New York Timesreported that Grossberg “says she and other women endured frank and open sexism from co-workers and superiors at the network, which has been dogged for years by lawsuits and allegations about sexual harassment by Fox executives and stars.” Fox had also filed a lawsuit to silence Grossberg, but the network withdrew that lawsuit the next day. As the Times reported, Grossberg’s lawsuit specified sexual harassment and a misogynistic work environment on Carlson’s highly-watched show:

    Last year, she began working as a senior booking producer at “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” On her first full day, according to the lawsuit, Ms. Grossberg discovered that the show’s Manhattan work space was decorated with large pictures of Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, then the House speaker, wearing a plunging swimsuit.

    The next day, Justin Wells, Mr. Carlson’s top producer, called Ms. Grossberg into his office, she said, to ask whether Ms. Bartiromo was having a sexual relationship with the House Republican leader, Kevin McCarthy.

    Mr. Carlson’s staff joked about Jews and freely deployed a vulgar term for women, according to the complaint.

    Later that fall, it said, before an appearance on the show by Tudor Dixon, the Republican candidate for Michigan governor, Mr. Carlson’s staff held a mock debate about whether they would prefer to have sex with Ms. Dixon or her Democratic opponent, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

    Grossberg’s lawsuit details numerous other reported instances of sexual harassment and demeaning comments about women from Carlson’s staff, including a producer stating that a Republican member of Congress only got elected “because she fucked the person who had the job before her,” two producers saying that one of Grossberg’s female subordinates should sleep with a guest to get him booked, and a producer mocking the appearance of another female staffer.

    As Grossberg also explained in her lawsuit, Fox in general and Carlson in particular have a long and troubled history with sexual harassment and abuse, which stretches back at least as far as 2002. The network’s founder and former president and CEO, Roger Ailes, was nothing less than a serial sexual predator that the network long covered up for.

    Grossberg’s lawsuit also pointed to audio clips unearthed by Media Matters in which Carlson repeatedly excused or made light of child rape in comments on a radio program. Among those comments included Carlson saying: Underage marriage is not “the same thing exactly as pulling a child from a bus stop and sexually assaulting that child. ... The rapist in this case has made a lifelong commitment to live and take care of the person so it is a little different.” He also said criminal charges against former cult leader Warren Jeffs are “bullshit” because “arranging a marriage between a 16-year-old and a 27-year-old is not the same as pulling a stranger off the street and raping her.” And Carlson also commented that a teacher who raped a 13-year-old took pressure off the victim’s female classmates because they wouldn’t have to sleep with him.

    Carlson also pushed these sick views on Fox’s programming. In April 2014, Carlson defended a teacher who performed a lap dance on a 15-year-old student during class, calling criminal charges in this case “deranged” because “there’s no victim,” before saying “this isn’t a crime.” In May 2014, Carlson doubled down on this, saying: “Every man understands this; a 15 year-old boy looks at this as the greatest thing that ever happened.” And in June 2014, Carlson said of the case of a female teacher who raped a 16-year-old male student: “It’s ludicrous that we’re calling this a rape,” saying the student “went and tattled to the police” and concluding “what a whiny country this is.”

    Carlson’s on-air misogyny has old roots, but has also continued in recent years. Last month, Carlson and a guest said that women aren’t biologically capable of being both employed and happy. In March 2021, Carlson faced backlash after insulting women who serve in the U.S. military while boasting about China’s supposed military superiority over the United States. And Carlson has repeatedly attacked women’s struggle for equality in America, calling it “a movement that is at war with nature.” Carlson’s yearslong fixation on demeaning women and denying calls for gender equity resulted in Media Matters labeling him as a “professional sexist” in 2017, a description that remains equally apt today.

    Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

    Lachlan Murdoch

    They Knew It Was A Lie: Fox News Purposely Pushed Deception On 2020 Voting

    A recent filing in the Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit against Fox News reveals how much the network knew it was pushing false claims to its viewers in the aftermath of the 2020 election by suggesting that Dominion’s voting machines were involved in voter fraud.

    In March 2021, Dominion filed a defamation suit against Fox for the false claims the network pushed after the election. Those false claims were extensive: In the two-week period after Fox News declared Joe Biden the president-elect, the network questioned the results of the election or pushed conspiracy theories about it almost 800 times, including by using Dominion as a scapegoat. Fox became an outlet that aired Trump campaign lies about Dominion voting machines getting hacked without any evidence.

    For Dominion to prove defamation, the company must show that Fox acted with “actual malice,” meaning that Fox knew the allegations made about Dominion were false or that Fox acted in reckless disregard for the truth. On February 16, Dominion’s brief calling for a summary judgment in its favor was released to the public. As Dominion detailed in the filing, “literally dozens of people with editorial responsibility—from the top of the organization to the producers of specific shows to the hosts themselves—acted with actual malice.” Indeed, the filing shows “lies in twenty accused statements across six different shows with the active involvement of numerous Fox Executives.”

    Here are some of the damning quotes from the filing showing how much Fox’s executives and employees knew they were lying about Dominion or the election at the time:

    • Fox star Tucker Carlson to his producer Alex Pfeiffer about Sidney Powell, one of Trump's campaign lawyers: “Powell is lying.” [11/16/20]
    • Host Laura Ingraham to Carlson and fellow host Sean Hannity: “Sidney Powell is a bit nuts. Sorry but she is.” [11/15/20]
    • Carlson to Ingraham: “Sidney Powell is lying by the way. I caught her. It’s insane.” Ingraham replied: “Sidney is a complete nut. No one will work with her. Ditto with Rudy.” Carlson replied: “It’s unbelievably offensive to me. Our viewers are good people and they believe it.” [11/19/20]
    • Fox Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch: “Really crazy stuff.” [11/19/20]
    • Murdoch after watching Giuliani and Powell on November 19, 2020: “Terrible stuff damaging everybody, I fear.” Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott replied, “Yes Sean [Hannity] and even [Jeanine] Pirro agrees.” [11/19/20]
    • Fox reporter Lucas Tomlinson to anchor Bret Baier: “It’s dangerously insane these conspiracy theories.” [12/1/2020]
    • Fox Politics Editor Chris Stirewalt on whether the allegation that Dominion rigged the election was true: “No reasonable person would have thought that.”
    • Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott responded “Yes, I believe that,” to the question “You believe, since at least the time that Fox News called the election on November 7th, that Joe Biden was legitimately elected the President of the United States, correct?”
    • As the filing outlined, Carlson texted a redacted name “that it was ‘shockingly reckless’ to claim that Dominion rigged the election ‘[i]f there’s no one inside the company willing to talk, or internal Dominion documents or copies of the software showing that they did it’ and ‘as you know there isn’t.’” [11/21/20]
    • Fox’s internal “fact checks” about Dominion allegations reported they were “incorrect” and “not evidence of widespread fraud.” [11/13/20; 11/20/20]
    • After canceling Pirro’s November 7 show, Fox executive David Clark told Executive Vice President of Primetime Programming Meade Cooper: “Her guests are all going to say the election is being stolen and if she pushes back at all it will just be token.”
    • Ingraham’s producer Tommy Firth texted Fox executive Ron Mitchell: “This dominion shit is going to give me a fucking aneurysm—as many times as I’ve told Laura it’s bs, she sees shit posters and trump tweeting about it.” [11/8/20]
    • Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott to Fox Corp. CEO Lachlan Murdoch: “Viewers going through the 5 stages of grief. It’s a question of trust—the AZ [call] was damaging but we will highlight our stars and plant flags letting the viewers know we hear them and respect them.” Murdoch replied: “Yes. But needs constant rebuilding without any missteps.” Scott responded: “Yes today is day one and it’s a process.” [11/9/20]
    • Fox News Washington, D.C., Managing Editor Bill Sammon to Fox Political Editor Chris Stirewalt on the network’s coverage of “supposed election fraud”: “It’s remarkable how weak ratings make[] good journalists do bad things.” [12/2/20]
    • Carlson to Ingraham: Powell’s “a nut, as you said at the outset. It totally wrecked my weekend. Wow... I had to try to make the WH disavow her, which they obviously should have done long before.” Ingraham responded to Carlson: “No serious lawyer could believe what they were saying.” [11/22/20]
    • Rupert Murdoch told Scott to read a Wall Street Journal piece about Newsmax, telling her: “These people should be watched, if skeptically. Trump will concede eventually and we should concentrate on Georgia, helping any way we can. We don’t want to antagonize Trump further, but Giuliani taken with a large grain of salt. Everything at stake here.” [11/16/20]
    • Scott: “Privately, I had a number of conversations with Sean where he wanted the President to accept the results.”
    • After White House correspondent Kristen Fisher fact-checked Giuliani and Powell’s press conference, she received a call from her boss, Bryan Boughton, in which he “emphasized that higher-ups at Fox News were also unhappy with it,” and said that Fisher “needed to do a better job of…—this is a quote—‘respecting our audience.’” [11/19/20]
    • Fox Corp. Senior Vice President Raj Shah wrote: “shit is so crazy right now. so many people openly denying the obvious that Powell is clearly full of it.” Carlson’s producer Alex Pfeiffer replied: “She is a fucking nutcase.” [11/22/20]
    • Rupert Murdoch told Suzanne Scott, “It’s been suggested our prime time three should independently or together say something like ‘the election is over and Joe Biden won,’” and that such a statement “would go a long way to stop the Trump myth that the election [was] stolen.” [1/5/21]
    • Carlson complained to Hannity about Fox News reporter Jacqui Heinrich, who “was ‘fact checking’ a tweet by Trump that mentioned Dominion—and specifically mentioned Hannity’s and Dobbs’ broadcasts that evening discussing Dominion” Carlson reportedly wrote: “Please get her fired. Seriously....What the fuck? I’m actually shocked...It needs to stop immediately, like tonight. It’s measurably hurting the company. The stock price is down. Not a joke.” [11/12/20]
    • According to the filing, “Ingraham herself testified that she has no basis to believe Dominion committed election fraud by rigging the 2020 Presidential Election or that it is owned by a company founded in Venezuela to rig elections for Hugo Chavez (and agreed its ownership is ‘readily ascertainable’).”
    • Anchor Dana Perino also called the voter fraud allegations “total bs,” “insane,” and “nonsense.”
    • Powell sent an email to Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo about voter fraud claims that “Powell had received from a ‘source’ which the author herself describes as ‘pretty wackadoodle.’” According to the filing, “Bartiromo agreed at her deposition that this email was ‘nonsense’ … and inherently unreliable.”
    • As the filing laid out:
    Each circumstantial factor cuts strongly in Dominion’s favor. But here, the words of multiple Fox employees provide overwhelming direct evidence of actual malice. In addition to the evidence cited above, the excerpts below feature just some of the additional examples showing Fox employees knew at the time that these claims—and the guests promoting them—were:
    • “ludicrous” –Tucker Carlson [11/20/20]
    • “totally off the rails” –Tucker Carlson [12/24/20]
    • “F’ing lunatics” –Sean Hannity [12/22/20]
    • “nuts” –Dana Perino [11/16/20]
    • “complete bs” –Producer John Fawcett to Lou Dobbs [11/27/20]
    • “kooky” –Maria Bartiromo, regarding email received from Powell [11/07/20]
    • “MIND BLOWINGLY NUTS” –Raj Shah, Fox Corporation SVP [11/21/20]

    Fox knew that it was pushing lies about Dominion and the election, and the network continued to smear the company and spread conspiracy theories anyway.

    Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

    Far Right Exploits Hamlin's Cardiac Arrest To Smear Vaccines

    Far Right Exploits Hamlin's Cardiac Arrest To Smear COVID Vaccination

    Soon after Buffalo Bills defensive back Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field following a cardiac arrest, right-wing figures on Twitter and other social media platforms were baselessly blaming his injury on COVID-19 vaccines.

    Early in the morning of January 3, the Bills released a statement explaining that Hamlin “suffered a cardiac arrest following a hit in the Buffalo Bills' game versus the Cincinnati Bengals. His heartbeat was restored on the field and he was transferred to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center for further testing and treatment. He is currently sedated and listed in critical condition.”

    Even though cardiologists have been all over the news explaining that Hamlin likely experienced a condition called commotio cordis, in which an impact to the chest during a specific time in the heartbeat cycle can cause cardiac arrest, right-wing figures rushed to blame Hamlin’s condition on supposed side effects of COVID-19 vaccines without a shred of evidence. Many of them referenced debunked claims, previously spread by conservatives, of athletes suddenly collapsing following their vaccination:

    • Turning Point USA co-founder Charlie Kirk: “This is a tragic and all too familiar sight right now: Athletes dropping suddenly.” [Twitter, 1/2/23]
    • Former Newsmax host Grant Stinchfield: “This is brutal. And I know what everyone with any common sense is thinking. This isn’t the first time a pro athlete had this happen. 💉💉NFL Mandate. Prayers for Hamlin.” [Twitter, 1/2/23]
    • Real America’s Voice host Ben Bergquam posted multiple tweets both explicitly and implicitly blaming Hamlin’s injury on vaccines. [Twitter, 1/2/23, 1/2/23, 1/2/23]
    • BlazeTV host Steve Deace: “I’m totally sure the same people who lied to you about lockdowns, masks, asymptomatic spread, school closures, HCQ, Ivermectin, the testing, the jabs, and about #DiedSuddendly will now suddenly tell you the truth about what you saw on Monday Night Football last night.” [Twitter, 1/3/23]
    • BlazeTV host Alex Stein: “Safe and Effective for 8 billion people with absolutely no side effects.” [Twitter, 1/2/23]
    • Former Newsmax host Emerald Robinson: “Everybody knows what happened to Damar Hamlin because it's happened to too many athletes around the world since COVID vaccination was required in sports.” [Twitter, 1/3/23]
    • News aggregator account NEWS_MAKER posted multiple tweets blaming vaccines. [Twitter, 1/3/23, 1/3/23, 1/3/23]
    • Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton: “The NFL pushed the covid vaccines on its players. When will the league investigate whether the ‘rare’ myocarditis vaccine side-effect is impacting players--such as making them more susceptible to game-related severe heart injuries?” [Twitter, 1/2/23]
    • Right-wing activist Laura Loomer: “We have a responsibility to speak up for those who become victims of Big Pharma & victims of @NFL management who pushed the vaccine onto healthy young players & staff. We have a responsibility to speak up for those who are vulnerable & fell victim to this crime against humanity.” [Twitter, 1/2/23]
    • Anti-vaccine doctor Peter McCullough: “This recent paper from Dr. Polykretis and myself gets the sharp rise in athlete deaths into PUBMED. Since vaccination, ‘1598 athletes suffered cardiac arrest, 1101 of which with deadly outcome. Over a prior 38-years (1966-2004), 1101 athletes < age of 35 died (~29/yr).” [Twitter, 1/3/23]
    • QAnon influencer InTheMatrixxx: “Buffalo Bills’ Damar Hamlin appears ok then just dropped. Vaccines?” [Truth Social, 1/3/23]
    • Serial vaccine misinformer Sheri Tenpenny: “The media will 100% cover this up - guaranteed ‘Hamlin collided with Bengals receiver Tee Higgins after a completion. He got to his feet, appeared to adjust his face mask with his right hand, and then fell backward about three seconds later and lay motionless.’” [Telegram, 1/2/23]
    • Q-Anon account We The Media posted a meme associating the Hamlin incident with vaccines/Pfizer. [Telegram, 1/3/23]
    • War Room host Steve Bannon said, “You’ve got to consider the vaccine issues in this regard.” [Real America’s Voice, War Room, 1/3/23]

    Users in right-wing Facebook groups are sharing sentiments similar to the claims cited above. One user decried that people can’t “dare suggest” Hamlin’s collapse was vaccine-related, another complained that people “still can’t connect the dot[s]” between COVID-19 vaccines and heart failures, and another baselessly claimed that “there is mounting evidence that shows the #MRNA shot is directly related to the increase of cardiac issues in male athletes.”

    Conservative media have previously spread baseless or misleading claims about links between COVID-19 vaccines and heart injuries and deaths. In mid-2021, Kirk speculated that over 1 million people could have died from the vaccines. Fox News primetime host Tucker Carlson repeatedly spread misinformation that the vaccines are harmful for heart health, especially for younger men. Far-right misinformers baselessly claimed that rapper DMX’s death following a heart attack was caused by COVID-19 vaccines, and The Daily Wire’s Candace Owens said the same following the death of comedian Bob Saget.

    Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

    Mainstream News Outlets Spread Speculation About Bidens While Trumps Escape Scrutiny

    Mainstream News Outlets Spread Speculation About Bidens While Trumps Escape Scrutiny

    Last week, members of Republican House leadership announced plans for bogus show-trial investigations targeting President Joe Biden’s son Hunter, focusing on private business deals that have already been exhaustively covered and where a previous GOP-led investigation found no wrongdoing by Joe Biden. Several major news organizations took the bait and published mostly credulous stories about the upcoming GOP witch hunt, while failing to mention the obvious parallels between the Republican accusations targeting the Biden family and the plethora of shady international business deals by former President Donald Trump and his family.

    During Trump’s first run for president in the 2016 election, news organizations reported on Trump’s various Middle Eastern business deals while he questioned Middle Eastern state donations to the Clinton Foundation; Trump had sought investment partnerships with former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi’s government, and he reportedly had a business relationship with an apparent money-laundering operation associated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, which the Trump administration would later designate as a foreign terrorist organization. Trump had even sought a deal during his presidential run with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

    During Trump’s presidency, his daughter Ivanka — who worked as a senior adviser in the Trump White House at the time — received multiple new trademarks in China worth millions of dollars days before her father “vowed to find a way” to save a Chinese telecommunications company from bankruptcy.

    This pattern of suspicious business entanglements with hostile and corrupt foreign governments continued after the Trump administration.

    In mid-2021, the Saudi Arabian government invested $2 billion into Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner’s new private equity firm. Kushner had also previously worked as a senior adviser in Trump’s White House and used his government position to build a relationship with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Reporting on the deal revealed that politics played a major role in the investment, with the crown prince overriding Saudi analysts who opposed the investment in Kushner’s unproven business. In what’s not likely to be a coincidence,

    Trump had earlier bragged that he had “saved his [Crown Prince Mohammed’s] ass” and made Congress “leave him alone” after the Saudi government’s gruesome 2018 assassination of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. (This past June, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform announced an investigation into whether Kushner used his government position to secure the investment.) In 2022, Trump made a deal with the Saudi-funded LIV Golf tour to host several events at his golf courses. Most recently, as Trump was launching his 2024 presidential campaign, he signed a real estate deal to build Trump-branded buildings in partnership with the government of Oman.

    Incredibly, none of these actual Trump family business scandals were mentioned in multiple articles from major news organizations covering the GOP’s planned investigation of Hunter Biden, even though the parallel is obvious. Instead, these outlets ran mostly credulous stories centering the Republicans’ specious narratives that Hunter Biden’s business deals are worthy of yet more congressional investigation:

    • NBC News highlighted House Republicans’ laughable plans to “try to determine whether the family’s business activities ‘compromise U.S. national security and President Biden’s ability to lead with impartiality.’” There was no mention of whether the Trump family’s business activities compromised his impartiality.
    • ABC News noted that the GOP claims are nothing new and that the Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) highlighted during the House Republicans' press conference “do not amount to crimes,” yet failed to mention any Trump family business deals, even the Kushner firm’s $2 billion investment from Saudi Arabia that is currently under congressional investigation.
    • CNN likewise threw cold water on Republican allegations highlighting the SARs but also failed to mention the Trump family’s international business entanglements.
    • Politico noted that the GOP’s efforts are “a probe in search of a problem” but didn’t mention the actual problems created by Trump and his family making deals with foreign governments during his previous campaigns and administration, as well as while he is running for president again.
    • The New York Times highlighted plans by Democratic-aligned groups to counter House Republicans’ investigation yet also didn’t mention the various international business deals engaged in by Trump and his family.
    • NPR promoted GOP claims about Hunter Biden’s business dealings and one Republican’s comparison of them “to those of Michael Flynn” who “lobbied for the Turkish government while advising the Trump campaign,” yet somehow failed to mention foreign business dealings by Trump and his family.

    Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

    Right-Wingers Celebrate Musk's Renewed Offer To Buy Twitter

    Right-Wingers Celebrate Musk's Renewed Offer To Buy Twitter

    After The Wall Street Journalreported that billionaire Elon Musk proposed to Twitter that he buy the company at his original offer of roughly $44 billion — following months of his attempts to back out of the deal, resulting in a recent lawsuit — many right-wing media personalities celebrated the news and expressed hope that banned users would be allowed back on the social media platform.

    In a statement released in response to the reported acquisition, Media Matters President Angelo Carusone warned that under Musk’s ownership, Twitter “will become a supercharged engine of radicalization if he follows through with even a fraction of what he has promised.” Musk had “made it clear that he would roll back Twitter’s community standards and safety guidelines, reinstate Donald Trump along with scores of other accounts suspended for violence and abuse, and open the floodgates of disinformation,” he said. NBC online disinformation reporter Ben Collins offered similar warnings in a short Twitter thread, stating that “it could actually affect midterms” because Musk “can elevate any idea or person he wants through recommendations and UX [user experience] choices and there will be no oversight on this as a private company.”

    When the purchase deal was first announced in late April, there was excitement among right-wing figures banned from Twitter for violating its terms of service and on right-leaning Facebook pages. Anti-trans figures celebrated by expressing increasing bigotry on the platform in violation of its rules against hateful conduct. Fox News hosts were also ecstatic, with some advising Musk to fire everyone at Twitter while pushing the fake narrative that the platform censors conservatives. (According to reporting from the Los Angeles Times, Musk has often opposed transparency at Tesla and quashed his employees’ freedom of speech.)

    Now, right-wing media and extremists are once again celebrating Musk for moving forward with his offer to buy Twitter. They’re especially expressing excitement about the likelihood that Musk would return disgraced former President Donald Trump to the platform, from which he has been banned since inciting violence surrounding the January 6 attempt to overthrow the government. He continues to spread inciting rhetoric, recently against law enforcement.

    Some right-wing media figures expressed glee about Musk’s Twitter deal

    • Former Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitanosaid that Musk’s Twitter acquisition would be a “great gift to the American people.”
    • Fox Nation host Tammy Bruceexpressed relief that Musk’s deal to buy Twitter had been rekindled: “As long as he gets it that’s all that matters.”
    • Fox host Dan Bonginospeculated that Musk would “own the libs at Twitter,” and he bid his audience to “enjoy every second.”
    • On his Telegram channel, Stop the Steal founder Ali Alexandersuggested he might be back on Twitter if the Musk deal goes through and said that “firing bad Twitter staff” and allowing every bad actor who has been banned from the platform back on “makes PEACE more probable.”
    • The right-wing political organization Project Veritas — which specializes in "sting" operations aimed at smearing its perceived political opponents — used Musk’s takeover as an opportunity to solicit emails from whistleblowers to “restore trust in Twitter.”
    • On the Great Awakening message board, which is associated with the QAnon community conspiracy theory, users agreed that Musk had played Twitter “like a f**kin fiddle.” As one top commenter ominously wrote: “They're so screwed without the commie censorship crew.”
    • Users on the pro-Trump message board The Donaldsuggested that Twitter is a “MASSIVE democrat bot farm” and that Democrats “won’t be happy” about losing their “psyop, programming machine.”

    Other right-wing figures speculated that Musk’s Twitter acquisition will open the floodgates for “free speech”

    • Fox Business reporter Lauren Simonettispeculated that the Musk deal could be positive for Twitter users if he “makes these changes that are more supportive of free speech.”
    • Newsmax host Greg Kellysuggested that Musk might bring Trump back on the platform and said that “we should be able to say whatever the hell it is we want to say.”
    • Newsmax anchor Bob Sellerscommented that the deal “could have a political effect” and Musk might “allow things other people would not have” on Twitter.
    • Conservative media watchdog Newsbusterspublished an article titled “Free Speech Wins, Libs Have Epic Meltdown Over Musk Deal.” On Twitter, the organization’s founder, Brent Bozzell, said that he hoped the deal would go through “for the sake of free speech.”
    • Frequent Fox guest Glenn Greenwald said that the “hysteria” over Musk’s Twitter acquisition derived from liberals' fear that “Musk will stop censoring their adversaries.”
    • On his radio show, Outkick.com founder and frequent Fox News guest Clay Travissaid the deal was a big win for “those of us who want to be able to share our actual opinions on social media.” Meanwhile, Outkick.com published an article praising the deal as “a tremendous win for freedom of speech.”
    • In a Twitter thread, right-wing provocateur Christopher Rufosingled out Media Matters and others for reporting on disinformation and prescribed that Musk “should protect independent voices against the false, manipulative, and destructive game of these ‘disinformation reporters’” upon seizing the company’s reins.
    • On Facebook, right-wing advocacy groupPragerUattributed a quote to Musk bashing “wokeness” as “a shield to be mean and cruel, armored in false virtue.” The post racked up over 100,000 interactions.
    • On Truth Social, right-wing filmmaker and conspiracy theorist Dinesh D’Souzasaid that Democrats are “terrified by the prospect that under Elon musk, Twitter might again become a genuine free speech platform.” On Twitter, D’Souza speculated that his own following on the platform might double “to around 5 million.”
    • Former One America News Network host Liz Wheelerteased that she might voice opinions about elections, COVID-19, or trans people as a “first tweet on FREE SPEECH Twitter” once Musk takes over.

    Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.