Right Side Broadcasting Network (RSBN) host Nick Fuentes went on a violent, on-air tirade, suggesting that it was “time to kill the globalists” who run CNN, adding, “I don’t want CNN to go out of business … I want the people that run CNN to be arrested and deported or hanged.”
RSBN was deemed “the unofficial version of Trump TV” by The Washington Post’s Callum Borchers after the network, Borchers reported, “teamed up” with the Donald Trump’s presidential campaign “to produce pre- and post-debate analysis shows that streamed on Trump’s Facebook Page.” The network’s CEO, Joe Seales, hosted an “ask me anything” session on a pro-Trump Reddit page and wrote that ”Trump built RSBN.” In December, the network announced that it received White House press credentials to cover the Trump administration. Among the network’s staff is date rape promoter Mike Cernovich, racist YouTube prankster "Joey Salads,” and islamophobe Nick Fuentes.
In an April 19 on-air tirade, Fuentes claimed that Muslims and immigrants are not protected under the First Amendment and called for the people who run CNN to be “arrested and deported or hanged.” From the April 19 edition of RSBN’s America First with Nick Fuentes:
NICK FUENTES (HOST): The First Amendment was not written for Muslims, by the way. It wasn't written for a barbaric ideology that wanted to come over and kill us. It was written for Calvinists. It was written for Lutherans and Catholics, not for Salafists, not for Wahabists, not for the Saudi royal family. Don't think the founders had that one in mind. And it also was intended for citizens, not for immigrants. If the First Amendment protected everyone's right to have their religion and express it in every country, we'd have our police in the Congo or in Uganda fighting against the Lord's Resistance Army. And you never hear that side of the story on the mainstream media, and why not? Why don't we hear about it? Why do none of our elected officials talk about this or like this? They know it's true. Why don't we hear about in the mainstream media? We don't hear about it on Fox News, by the way, either. And why not?
Who runs the media? Globalists. Time to kill the globalists. I don't want to not watch CNN. I don't want CNN to go out of business. I don't want CNN to be more honest. I want people that run CNN to be arrested and deported or hanged because this is deliberate. This is not an accident. It's not, “Oh, you know journalists have a liberal bias because they're educated, and educated people tend to be” -- none of that. It is malicious intent. There is a design, there is an agenda here. And the people behind CNN that are pushing outright lies, and you see the people who try and expose the truth are cut off so obviously. They get their mics cut off, and they say, “Oh whoops, we've lost the signal. Technical difficulties.”
The network did issue a statement apologizing for the comments, calling them “unacceptable” and “inappropriate.” The apology, however, was promptly contradicted when the show’s producer thanked the Twitter users who heaped praise on Fuentes’ call for violence and praised him as “a smart young man.”
A reader tip contributed to this story. Thank you for your support and keep them coming.
Bill O’Reilly, the king of cable news, has fallen. He was a victim of his own monstrosity. The network that had willingly written large checks on his behalf to make the women he had sexually harassed go away withdrew its support after the payments were revealed and his show’s advertisers ran for cover.
The O’Reilly Factor was the linchpin in an evening lineup that was once the most stable in the industry. But in less than a year, O’Reilly, Greta Van Susteren, and Megyn Kelly have all left or been shown the door, along with the man who hired them, former Fox chairman and CEO Roger Ailes. The only remaining host from the 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern Standard Time block the network was rolling out a year ago is Sean Hannity.
Removing O’Reilly gave the network’s top executives the opportunity to dramatically reshape their network’s programming. But the new evening lineup, which debuts tonight, presents as much of the status quo as possible -- O’Reillyism without O’Reilly. The result will test whether hosts actually matter at Fox, or whether the network’s audience will sit for any pro-Trump conservative put in front of them.
Since Fox’s inception in 1996, O’Reilly has been the anchor of the network’s ratings and the keystone of its “fair and balanced” mantra with his so-called “No Spin Zone.” After an undistinguished career as a broadcast newsman, O’Reilly used his position at the newly launched Fox to reimagine himself (falsely) as a son of working-class Levittown, Long Island, who was looking out for “the folks.” His show became the platform for his “culture warrior” mentality, presenting the average American as under constant attack by never-ending waves of elitist secular progressives who hate Christianity and traditional American values and want to reshape the country in the image of Western Europe.
Fox’s executives were not ready to lose O’Reilly -- earlier this year, they signed him to a new deal through 2020 with a raise to an annual salary of $25 million, in full knowledge that The New York Times was investigating the network’s sexual harassment payouts. They were betting that his high ratings, which spill over to the benefit of the rest of the evening’s programming, would be difficult to retain with only the other personnel they had under contract.
Tucker Carlson, Jesse Watters, and Eric Bolling, the three hosts who will benefit the most from the shakeup, built their careers at Fox by imitating the same “culture war” racism and misogyny O’Reilly helped weave into the network’s DNA. Like O’Reilly, each has gained attention during the presidential campaign and the early days of Donald Trump’s administration as stalwart supporters of the president.
Where each rising Fox star's O’Reilly imitations fall short, however, is in their ability and skill in grounding their commentary as coming from a working-class “man of the people.”
Carlson, who spent virtually his entire life living among the elite, is the son of a U.S. ambassador and former head of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the stepson of a scion of the Swanson frozen foods empire. He has hosted shows at two other networks and remains known for the bow-tied prepster image he cultivated at CNN.
While Bolling grew up without Carlson’s privileged background, he evinces an on-air contempt for the working class rooted in his previous career as a commodities trader on the New York Mercantile Exchange, where he eventually became a member of its board of directors. And Watters, who spent his career as an O’Reilly minion, conducting ambush interviews of the leading Fox host’s various perceived enemies, bills himself as a “political humorist,” not a commentator.
None of the three has O’Reilly’s on-air presence or skill. But Fox’s hope is that aping O’Reilly is enough to keep his audience on board.
Fox’s promotion of three white, male, grievance-mongering Trump sycophants is no accident. The network had other options available. Executives could have given a show to Dana Perino, a more substantive conservative who has been much more skeptical of Trump. They could have tried to pivot to airing more hard news by promoting one of the reporters who contribute to the flagship news program Special Report.
They could have even tried to bring someone in from outside the network, though admittedly it’s hard to imagine that journalists are banging down the doors to join a network mired in a year-long series of sexual harassment reports.
No, instead, Fox doubled down on pro-Trump racism, sexism, and xenophobia because that is what the network wants to put on its airwaves. Its executives are priming the resentment pump because they think O’Reillyism will keep their audience coming back for more.
Without O’Reilly, we will now be able to see whether Fox’s audience is stable and willing to keep watching no matter who hosts the network’s programs, or whether O’Reilly’s talent was the key factor in retaining his viewers.
If the network’s ratings stay the same, -- or even improve -- it should be cold comfort for Fox’s executives. They kept O’Reilly around, even though they knew about the many reports that he was sexually harassing his colleagues, because they thought he was essential for the network’s ratings. If that turns out not to be the case, they enabled a predator for no reason at all.
Media Matters has consistently found that evening cable news can’t stop misinforming about abortion, and a new study from the Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) demonstrates that the stigma this misinformation supports isn’t just pervasive in the news; it dominates popular culture as well.
Abortion stigma assumes that having an abortion is inherently wrong, and it contributes to negative assumptions about those who have them. Although this definition may seem broad, these assumptions are reinforced through some media coverage and popular culture -- and by many people’s lack of accurate information about the procedure itself. The resulting stigma can cause individuals, including politicians, to push dangerous myths, policies, and laws restricting abortion access.
A study by Media Matters that examined segments about abortion or reproductive rights on evening cable news programs on Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC from March 7, 2016 through March 1, 2017, found that 64 percent of cable news segments about abortion contained inaccurate information. More specifically, cable news reported inaccurate information about late-term abortion a staggering 88 percent of the time. While abortion is a safe procedure undergone for a host of different personal reasons, cable news often depicts it as dangerous and morally bankrupt based on misinformation from discredited and biased anti-abortion groups.
Beyond cable news, television plotlines overwhelmingly depict abortion in inaccurate and stigmatizing ways. In a new study, ANSIRH researched plotlines on American television from 2005 and 2016 where a character underwent an abortion or referred to having obtained an abortion. ANSIRH identified 80 abortion plotlines during this time period and found that 37.5 percent of them depicted abortion procedures with complications, medical interventions, or other negative health consequences. In real life, only 2.1 percent of abortion procedures involve these issues.
The most egregious abortion plotlines involved the supposed long-term consequences characters faced after having an abortion. Of the 80 stories, 23.8 percent depicted negative long-term consequences for characters who had an abortion. For example, 4 percent of characters who had an abortion were shown to have committed suicide, 11 percent were rendered infertile, and even 5 percent of characters were shown dying. As ANSIRH and Media Matters have pointed out, other studies have definitively shown that mental health is not substantially impacted following an abortion. In addition, having an abortion -- even multiple abortions -- is not likely to have a negative impact on fertility.
Finally, abortion is a common and overwhelmingly safe medical procedure. Although some of the plotlines examined by ANSIRH were set in time periods or places where abortion was illegal (procedures that have higher rates of complications and death), ANSIRH explained that television exaggerates these dangers, which can negatively impact audience’s views on contemporary, legal abortion. Even in instances where the storylines depicted legal abortion, ANSIRH still found that a “markedly high” percentage misrepresented the long-term health consequences. Depictions like these, ANSIRH explained, “could be a contributing factor in the political erosion of abortion rights.”
Right-wing media and anti-choice organizations have worked relentlessly to stigmatize abortion and vilify abortion providers -- resulting in medically unnecessary laws and decreased abortion access. While depicting medical complications from abortion may make for dramatic television, these representations are inaccurate and ultimately harmful. Right-wing media and cable news don’t need any help misinforming about or stigmatizing abortion. Television shows ought to stop helping them spread lies and discourage public dialogue about a safe, legal, and common medical procedure.
Graphic by Sarah Wasko.
Most of the Sunday news shows failed to cover the worldwide March for Science protests, an international demonstration partly meant to draw attention to President Donald Trump’s “disregard for evidence-based knowledge” and climate change denial.
Protesters across the world demonstrated on April 22 for Earth Day, many of whom demonstrated against Trump’s “proposal to sharply cut federal science and research budgets and his administration's skepticism about climate change and the need to slow global warming,” according to Reuters. Leading up to the protests, a number of scientists voiced their concerns about the Trump administration’s climate-denying appointments, “politically motivated data deletions” of environmental science citations, and general “woeful ignorance” of science and climate change.
Nonetheless, Sunday news shows generally ignored the events that attracted hundreds of thousands of protesters. ABC’s This Week, CBS’ Face the Nation, and NBC’s Meet the Press failed to mention the March for Science at all, according to a Media Matters review. CNN’s State of the Union only had a brief headline about the demonstrations, and Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday only dedicated about one and a half minutes to the story.
Sunday shows’ lack of coverage of the march is representative of media’s dearth of climate change coverage in general. A recent Media Matters study found that in 2016, the evening newscasts and Sunday shows on ABC, CBS, and NBC, as well as Fox News Sunday, collectively decreased their total coverage of climate change by 66 percent compared to 2015.
Media Matters searched SnapStream for mentions of “March for Science,” “science,” and “march” on the April 23 editions of CNN’s State of the Union, ABC’s This Week, CBS’ Face the Nation, NBC’s Meet the Press, and Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday.
BRIAN STELTER: The culture of harassment at Fox News came from the top-down. It came from Roger Ailes. The same man who built up Fox News into a conservative force, allegedly also tore down women through sexist behavior and ideological bullying. Ailes had a long history in Republican politics and TV before creating Fox News. According to Gabriel Sherman's reporting, Ailes was investigated for hurling an anti-Semitic slur at a colleague back in the mid-1990s when he was running CNBC. Then he went over to Fox News. So, what was he like to work with? What tone did he set at Fox for Bill O'Reilly and other employees? You know, anchors rarely jump from Fox to other networks, which is what makes this next interview unusual. Alisyn Camerota did leave. She spent more than a decade at Fox before joining CNN in 2014. For the first time she is speaking in depth about the harassment she experienced at Fox. Alisyn, thanks for sitting down with me.
ALISYN CAMEROTA: My pleasure.
STELTER: This week on your program New Day, you said there was harassment at Fox. It sounded like you were speaking from first-hand experience. You're speaking about this for the first time. Why now?
CAMEROTA: Well, I don't relish the idea of talking about this. I left Fox about three years ago and have, you know, tried to respect my previous workplace. I still have lots of close friends there, talk to them all of the time, I have lunch with them, I see them and I don't like the idea of even criticizing my past workplace where I was for many years. But something feels different this week. It felt like there was a tipping point this week. You know, when Roger Ailes was ousted in July there was a lot of talk about whether the culture was there, and now, with Bill O'Reilly having been fired, it feels as though, if I take the Murdochs at their word, they really want to know what was wrong there and what the culture was like, and I don't know how you get that from silence. So it feels like this might be the right time to just have this conversation and let some daylight in.
STELTER: And you said on the air Bill O'Reilly never harassed you, but you didn't say that about Roger Ailes. Did Roger Ailes ever sexually harass you?
CAMEROTA: Yes. Roger Ailes did sexually harass me. Let me be clear. Roger Ailes was -- could be charming, he could be quite charismatic. He could be uproariously funny. He could also be a bit of a bully and mean. And he also was often kind of grossly inappropriate with things that he would say. And I think that many of us experienced that. He would talk about body parts. He would say give me a spin. He would want to be greeted with a hug. But the time that I remember most was when I was first starting out at Fox and I was single. And I remember being in Roger's office and I was saying that I wanted more opportunity. And he said, "Well, I would have to work with you."
STELTER: Work with you?
CAMEROTA: "I would have to work with you on that case. I would have to work with you really closely. And it may require us getting to know each other better. And that might have to happen away from here. And it might have to happen at a hotel. Do you know what I'm saying?" And I said, "Yeah, I think I do know what you're saying." And I just want to say that I knew in my head at that moment I'm never going to that hotel under any circumstances. But I didn't know what that meant for me and for my career. And I remember vividly that I had sort of an out of body experience hovering over us in the office and thinking, "Is this it? Is this the end of my time here? Will I be fired if I don't do this?" And I just want everybody to understand that when it happens, there is a visceral reaction that you have where you recognize my career and everything I've worked for is under threat, and I don't know what's going to happen next.
STELTER: And you end up then doing what?
CAMEROTA: Well, I just went home and I didn't tell anybody at the time because I was embarrassed. And it is sort of humiliating.
CAMEROTA: It's embarrassing. When this man you have gone to tell about your strengths and to sort of see if you're doing a good job at work, you know, makes that sort of proposition, it is demeaning and it is humiliating. And so I was sort of embarrassed to tell people. And I decided, personally, and everybody deals with it differently. "I'm going to ignore that. I'm going to pretend that never happened." He then changed his M.O. and when I say that I experienced harassment there, it was different. For me it was no longer sexual harassment it was harassment of a different variety.
STELTER: What do you mean?
CAMEROTA: It was sort of emotional harassment. Roger Ailes ruled with an iron fist. And he wanted us all to fall in line and have his world view and say the things that he wanted us to say on Fox News. And he targeted me because he sort of figured out early on that I didn't share his world view. And he said, "You're not saying the conservative things that I want you to say and you could be a real role model and you could be a real star if only you could sound conservative sometimes." And I said "Well, Roger, that's not my job. I'm not supposed to sound conservative or liberal. I'm supposed to be a fair and balanced, in your terms, journalist. And I'm supposed to be open and I'm not supposed to take a side." And that, he didn't appreciate or particularly like. I was often you know, sort of called on the carpet for things because he thought I wasn't reflecting the conservative agenda. So he and I had a lot of interaction and sometimes arguments. Sometimes he would lecture me, sometimes he would insult me.
STELTER: So that's a different form of cultural rot within an organization -- bullying or emotional harassment.
CAMEROTA: You have to make a choice at that point. Of whether or not you're just going to make it easy, your life easy and go along with what he wants you to say, or if you're going to try to fight it and try to stand up for sort of finding the truth or try to stand up for representing both sides. And I would, you know, say to him when he would identify something that he thought that I hadn't been conservative enough sounding, and I would say, "You know, Roger, first of all, isn't it supposed to be fair and balanced? Aren't I supposed to be playing devil's advocate? Aren't I supposed to be representing --
STELTER: Isn't that my job?
CAMEROTA: "Isn't that my job? Aren't I supposed to be representing the other side?" And he said, "There is no other side." Roger's world view -- there was no other side. Liberals were always wrong. Conservatives were generally right. And that's what he felt that we should be reflecting on the air. And so when I say that there was bullying, it was very unpleasant at times to be alone in Roger's office when he would, you know, boom and bellow at me about how I was getting it wrong.
STELTER: Is Ailes' behavior part of the reason you left Fox a few years ago?
CAMEROTA: Yes. It is. I realized that, you know, Roger was quite clear about how "If only you could say these things I could make you a big star and I could give you great time slots."
STELTER: You're saying it was first "come to my hotel room." When you rejected him, then it became, "say the things I want you to say on air."
CAMEROTA: Yes, but I don't believe those two are mutually exclusive. He liked -- both of those things were things he was obviously interested in. But I didn't -- I don't believe that's journalism. And I really wrestled with that. I didn't want to only have to talk about Roger's agenda and the things that Roger thought were best for this country. I thought that there was room for debate, and there was certainly room to hear the other side. And so it became clear to me fairly early that I was in a dead end job and Roger was never going to convert me, and that I was never going to be the person, the mouthpiece that he wanted me to be, and that I needed to go. I don't like the idea of being summoned to the boss' office and being called on the carpet and being either yelled at or criticized or insulted. And it got really tiresome, so much so that towards the end, I started refusing to go to Roger's office.
Seven more African-American Fox News employees are expected to join two black colleagues who are suing the network for racial harassment from former comptroller Judy Slater and accounting director Tammy Efinger, according to a new report from New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman.
This escalation in Fox’s legal troubles comes amid longtime host Bill O’Reilly’s ouster due to multiple sexual harassment allegations and an adviser exodus from his show, and Fox owner Rupert Murdoch’s bid to take over British satellite broadcasting company Sky News -- which threatens British broadcasting standards thanks to the toxic corporate culture exposed by allegations of widespread sexual and racial harassment at Murdoch’s key American TV network. It also comes as the explicit sexism and racism of Fox News continues to fester, with the leadership of Fox now under Bill Shine, a man who helped cover up harassment at the network by former chairman and CEO Roger Ailes.
The network was originally forced to fire Slater after she made racist comments to co-workers. According to The New York Times, the original lawsuit from a Fox payroll manager and payroll coordinator alleges they were racially harassed with “racially charged comments” from Slater, “including suggestions that black men were ‘women beaters’ and that black people wanted to physically harm white people.” The lawsuit alleged, “Slater’s superiors did little to address her behavior, which created a hostile work environment that resulted in ‘severe and pervasive discrimination and harassment.’”
New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman reported in an April 23 piece that seven other black employees plan to join this racial discrimination lawsuit. According to lawyers representing the affected employees, “Not once did Ms. Efinger step in or attempt to interfere with Ms. Slater’s outrageous conduct," instead “laugh[ing] or giggl[ing] following Ms. Slater’s vitriol.” The letter also details new racist, Jim Crow-era behavior from Fox’s accounting department, such as forcing the black employees to have “‘arm wrestling matches’ with white female employees in [Slater’s] office.” In an appearance discussing his report on MSNBC’s AM Joy, Sherman said these new descriptions of racist behavior at Fox “are really evident of a culture that is entrenched and that has not changed in the wake of Bill O'Reilly's departure.” From the report:
The Murdochs hoped firing Bill O’Reilly would signal a changing culture at Fox News. “We want to underscore our consistent commitment to fostering a work environment built on the values of trust and respect,” Rupert and his sons, James and Lachlan, wrote in a memo to Fox News employees on Wednesday. But the dismissal of Fox News’s highest rated host isn’t going to end the crisis at the network. The toxic culture, fostered for 20 years by former CEO Roger Ailes, is proving far more difficult to remedy.
Next week, according to sources, seven black Fox News employees plan to join a racial discrimination suit filed last month by two colleagues. The original lawsuit alleged that Fox News’s longtime comptroller, Judy Slater, subjected members of Fox’s payroll staff to racial insults for years. (Fox News fired Slater in February after those employees began litigation against the network.)
Lawyers representing the payroll employees are demanding that Fox’s accounting director, Tammy Efinger, also be removed from supervising an employee because she allegedly participated in Slater’s racist behavior. In a letter to the network’s lawyers obtained by New York, the attorneys state: “Not once did Ms. Efinger step in or attempt to interfere with Ms. Slater’s outrageous conduct.” The letter adds, instead, “Ms. Efinger chose to laugh or giggle following Ms. Slater’s vitriol.”
According to the plaintiffs’ attorneys, Slater demanded that black employees hold “arm wrestling matches’” with white female employees in her office, just down the hall from Ailes’s office on the 2nd floor of Fox headquarters. “Forcing a black woman employee to ‘fight’ for the amusement and pleasure of her white superiors is horrifying. This highly offensive and humiliating act is reminiscent of Jim Crow era battle royals,” the letter says, referring to the practice of paying black men to fight blindfolded at carnivals for white spectators’ entertainment. The lawyers argue that Efinger bragged about wanting to “fight” a black employee.
BRIAN STELTER (HOST): Let me turn to the missing aircraft carrier, which was now actually I believe to be on the way to the Korean peninsula. April, what was your read on this? Was this another credibility blow to the White House?
APRIL RYAN: Yes. And this is not just talking heads stuff. This is something that the American public is talking about. We're seeing in polls the trust and credibility issue for this president is not there. It's very minimal, if anything. Now, when you come to an issue of sending an armada somewhere, you cannot just make that call in a moment's notice. I have talked to intelligence officials as well as generals to find out what happened, and they said you cannot just summon someone right now to turn. This has got to be something that's planned out, a strategy. So the issue of credibility was knocked right there with that statement.
STELTER: Does this mean, April, the next time President Trump says, quote, "We're sending an armada" -- that's what he said to Fox's Maria Bartiromo -- do you have to report that more cautiously, add more caveats, say, "Hey, we can't even confirm this is true?" Are you going to have to -- are we going to have to be more and more careful taking the administration's word on these matters?
RYAN: What we will do as White House press people, reporters, we will actually take what the president says and actually go in and find out what the real truth is. We will call generals, we will call our sources in the intelligence community and find out what's going on because, unfortunately, there is more of an onus to really take what he says -- the president or the press secretary or anyone in this administration -- and dig a little bit more to find out the truth, go into the weeds and find out what really is happening. So we'll take what he says, but also dig a bit deeper to find out where the truth may lie, if there is indeed a problem with the truth.
STELTER: Right. It's what we always do, but there's more pressure to do it now. It ended up being a military reporter just scrolling through Navy websites, seeing these pictures, informing us of what was really going on.
ERIC BOEHLERT: I mean Bill O'Reilly has been a cornerstone of our [Media Matters'] monitoring for ten years. I mean Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, that's who we started out pointing out. This is misinformation. It's kind of rancid stuff and as Amanda [Terkel] describing, the DNA goes beyond that, right? It goes to this bullying, this kind of intimidation.
CHRIS HAYES (HOST): Yeah.
BOEHLERT: And he's kind of personifies this kind of this jerk culture, this persona. But now we realize it's not a persona, it didn't end from eight to nine o'clock at night. It existed around the clock for people who worked at Fox News and women who worked at Fox News, who worked for O'Reilly and who worked for [former Fox News CEO Roger] Ailes. So we're getting a much larger picture than when Media Matters started ten years ago, [that] Bill O'Reilly lies. We're getting a picture of this work culture at Fox News that is just kind off the charts. It's synonymous with almost the sexual predator of Trump during the campaign and Roger Ailes, the allegation against him certainly are beyond harassment. It's a very ugly picture, it's a very ugly culture that Rupert Murdoch has created
HAYES: Do you think the place can change?
BOEHLERT: It can. The question is will it? Bill Shine has been promoted to president of Fox News last summer, right? The Murdoch sons could have come in and really cleaned house after Ailes. They promoted people who were implicated in covering all this stuff up.
HAYES: Explain who Bill Shine is.
BOEHLERT: Bill Shine is a longtime Ailes confidant -- O'Reilly confidant -- and he was promoted to Fox president last August. And people said -- and people like, people who worked at Fox had been very specific, "He quieted us. He told us to take the buyout. He told us not to go after Roger Ailes," and they promoted him.
BOEHLERT: And so that's -- they still have a huge cultural problem.
KEN SCHNECK (HOST): So let’s talk about the Eliminate Hate Campaign. Where the heck did this come from? We need it and we need it badly.
ERIN FITZGERALD: So this came from a project that we started this time last year. When you monitor the media every day, you notice these microtrends and you start to develop hunches. We noticed that in any given news cycle that anti-LGBTQ hate groups were never labeled in media publications, or at least it seemed infrequent to us, where with other extremist ideologies, generally that label is included. So we did what good researchers do and we did a study. We looked at top publications and we found that publications used [Southern Poverty Law Center] SPLC’s designation for all other extremist ideologies but rarely, if ever, used it for anti-LGBT hate groups.
SCHNECK: You found that over a half a decade of research shows that journalists more often than not fail to identify anti-LGBTQ hate groups as such. So we have to do our two part question here: first, why is that happening and then second, why is it important that these anti-LGBTQ hate groups be designated as such?
FITZGERALD: I wish I understood why it was happening. I think a lot of the pushback, particularly at the anti-LGBTQ hate groups, is that people think that SPLC designates them as such because of their biblical views on marriage or because they aren’t comfortable with trans[gender] kids and their kids sharing bathrooms together and that’s actually not true. There’s three things that trigger an SPLC designation: if an organization engages in serial misinformation or spreads malicious lies with the intention of denying people rights, or engages in incendiary and inflammatory name-calling, or attempts to criminalize LGBTQ people. Which I think are three fairly stringent benchmarks and I think that we can all agree that they are pretty heinous things to be doing.
SCHNECK: Yeah, and so -- with a campaign like this, how do we set out to do this?
FITZGERALD: Well, I think it’s multi-pronged really because these anti-LGBTQ hate groups are very good at coordinating with one another and they’ve been doing this for a long time sort of under the radar. There are groups like the American Family Association and Alliance Defending Freedom, who operate under the guise of being conservative Christian organizations and that’s actually not true at all. They’re mega organizations that have a lot of funding and they sort of obfuscate their true intentions by using this “religious freedom” language. After marriage equality passed, they regrouped and came out with a new strategy and that’s around “privacy” and that’s around “religious freedom” -- and really it’s just cloaked discrimination. Their talking points are very valid; they sound very believable. So if you are in middle America, if you’re my mom or dad and you hear them on ABC or CBS, you’re going to not understand the context of the work that they’ve done previously. ADF is a big proponent of the criminalization of LGBTQ people and they’ve been for decades.
SCHNECK: I think that some of our listeners out there need to maybe be reminded and maybe i’ll speak from the “I”: Oh, that’s right! These organizations actually do have sway over a wide swath of Americans out there.
FITZGERALD: They do! They do because their talking points are very much centered around personal beliefs and religion and not -- they don’t really talk about -- they’re not out right homophobic in the way they used to be. They’ve really streamlined and savvied up around their communications strategy and they’ve used the media as a battleground for that.
Bloomberg recently announced the creation of a new website that will provide audiences with important reporting on the economic and business implications of climate change. The move comes at a time when big businesses around the world are urging governments to take action as they increasingly recognize the reality and the risk of climate change.
On April 20, the Huffington Post reported that “Bloomberg, the titan of business and financial journalism, is adding a site devoted to climate science and the future of energy to its sprawling news empire.” The website, ClimateChanged.com, will serve as “a hub for coverage of how rising global temperatures are changing the planet and moving financial markets.”
Bloomberg’s Sustainability Editor Eric Roston explained the decision, stating, “Climate change is fundamentally an economic story, it’s an economic problem. … It’s naturally a business story and it’s naturally a concern to rationally minded executives in any sized enterprise.” And Jared Sandberg, senior executive editor in Bloomberg’s digital division, said, “[Climate change is] the mother of all risk. … If you have intelligence agencies around the world identifying climate change as one of the great, destabilizing forces, there’s a massive risk to contend with for any business and any investor behind it.”
The Huffington Post added that Climate Changed would give Bloomberg “a leg up” over its competitors, particularly The Wall Street Journal: “The Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper’s hard-line conservativism appears to have bled over from the opinion pages to the news section. A study published in 2015 by researchers at Rutgers University, the University of Michigan and the University of Oslo found that from 2006 to 2011, the Journal’s news reporting rarely mentioned threats or effects of climate change, compared with the country’s other leading broadsheet newspapers.”
Bloomberg’s decision to launch a website dedicated to the impact of climate change on world economies and businesses is a particularly timely one. In recent months, businesses have become increasingly vocal about the need to address climate change. Big companies, including ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, renewable energy groups, and major American manufacturers such as General Electric are pressuring President Donald Trump to keep the U.S. in the Paris climate agreement. And after Trump took his biggest step yet towards rolling back former President Barack Obama’s “environmental legacy,” Buzzfeed News reported that “billion-dollar corporations” have said that “they'll keep on battling carbon pollution regardless of what the government says” because “climate change is a significant concern for their business.”
From the Huffington Post article:
The data and media giant on Thursday launched ClimateChanged.com, a hub for coverage of how rising global temperatures are changing the planet and moving financial markets.
“Climate change is fundamentally an economic story, it’s an economic problem,” Eric Roston, Bloomberg’s sustainability editor, told The Huffington Post in an interview on Tuesday. “It’s naturally a business story and it’s naturally a concern to rationally minded executives in any sized enterprise.”
The site fits comfortably into Bloomberg’s stable of products, anchored by its lucrative data terminal business. In December 2015, just before 195 countries reached the historic emissions-cutting deal known as the Paris Agreement, Bloomberg published its Carbon Clock, featuring a carbon dioxide tracker overlaid on satellite images of the Earth. The company owns Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a data firm dedicated to the energy industry. Michael Bloomberg, who returned to his namesake company after his third term as New York City mayor, is an outspoken climate advocate, who this week published a book with former Sierra Club chief Carl Pope on how cities and businesses can lead energy reform.
Climate Changed gives Bloomberg a leg up on The Wall Street Journal, arguably its chief competitor in the market for prestige journalism. The Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper’s hard-line conservativism appears to have bled over from the opinion pages to the news section. A study published in 2015 by researchers at Rutgers University, the University of Michigan and the University of Oslo found that from 2006 to 2011, the Journal’s news reporting rarely mentioned threats or effects of climate change, compared with the country’s other leading broadsheet newspapers.
“[Climate change is] the mother of all risk,” [senior executive editor in Bloomberg’s digital division Jared] Sandberg added. “If you have intelligence agencies around the world identifying climate change as one of the great, destabilizing forces, there’s a massive risk to contend with for any business and any investor behind it.”
It took years of sexual harassment reports, millions of dollars in non-disclosure agreements, and a successful advertisers boycott, but Bill O’Reilly was finally fired from Fox News. But his ousting cannot be taken as indicative of a major culture shift within the network as long as current co-president of Fox News Bill Shine continues to be at the helm. As senior executive vice president, Shine reportedly retaliated against women who reported sexual harassment by former-CEO Roger Ailes and helped participate in covering up the reports that eventually led to Ailes’ ouster.
After Ailes was fired in August 2016, the network swiftly promoted Shine and Fox executive Jack Abernethy as co-presidents. In September, Fox announced that Shine had signed a new multi-year contract with the network, saying the deal guaranteed "stability and leadership to help guide the network for years to come.” Shine, however, has been named in various lawsuits against the network for his “complicity,” and it has previously been reported that Shine played a key role in helping cover up Ailes’ conduct by silencing and “smearing” women who complained.
According to New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman, Shine aided Ailes in handling Laurie Luhn, a woman who reported Ailes for sexual and psychological harassment, by checking her into hotels in different cities after she suffered a mental breakdown and monitoring her outgoing emails. Former Fox host Andrea Tantaros named Shine as a defendant in her sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit against Fox News and Roger Ailes. According to Tantaros’ lawsuit, she met with Shine to discuss “relief from Ailes’ sexual harassment and [Executive Vice President Irena] Briganti’s retaliatory media vendetta against her," but Shine “told her that Ailes was a ‘very powerful man’ and that she ‘needed to let this one go.’” Fox News contributor Julie Roginsky also named Shine in a lawsuit against Ailes, in which she said Shine was complicit in “Ailes’ harassment and of punishing her for raising the issue.”
Shine, who has been described as Ailes’ “right-hand man,” has reportedly “pushed women into confidential mediation, signing nondisclosure agreements in exchange for their contracts to be paid,” which is consistent with the recent New York Times reporting about five women who “received payouts from either Mr. O’Reilly or the company in exchange for agreeing to not pursue litigation or speak about their accusations.” The payouts amount to “about $13 million.” According to Sherman, Shine “played a role in rallying the women to speak out against Roger Ailes’ accusers and lead this counter-narrative to try to say don't believe Gretchen Carlson.” NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik corroborated such reporting in a tweet, writing, “Some within Fox News tell me programming/opinion EVP Bill Shine, an Ailes confidant, knew of misconduct & ensuing complaints by women.”
If Fox wants people to believe that they’re trying to improve the culture at the network, Shine should be the next one to leave.
The Guardian: Foreign Intelligence Services “Played A Crucial Role In Alerting” U.S. Officials About Contacts “Between Members Of Donald Trump’s Campaign Team And Russian Intelligence Operatives.” On April 13, The Guardian reported that, along with a "number of western agencies," Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) “played a crucial role in alerting their counterparts in Washington to contacts between members of [President] Donald Trump’s campaign team and Russian intelligence operatives.” According to the report, “GCHQ first became aware in late 2015 of suspicious ‘interactions’ between figures connected to Trump and known or suspected Russian agents” and then the “intelligence was passed to the US as part of a routine exchange of information.” The report also noted that “after an initially slow start,” then-CIA Director John Brennan “used GCHQ information and intelligence from other partners to launch a major inter-agency investigation.” From the report:
Britain’s spy agencies played a crucial role in alerting their counterparts in Washington to contacts between members of Donald Trump’s campaign team and Russian intelligence operatives, the Guardian has been told.
GCHQ first became aware in late 2015 of suspicious “interactions” between figures connected to Trump and known or suspected Russian agents, a source close to UK intelligence said. This intelligence was passed to the US as part of a routine exchange of information, they added.
Over the next six months, until summer 2016, a number of western agencies shared further information on contacts between Trump’s inner circle and Russians, sources said.
It is understood that GCHQ was at no point carrying out a targeted operation against Trump or his team or proactively seeking information. The alleged conversations were picked up by chance as part of routine surveillance of Russian intelligence assets. Over several months, different agencies targeting the same people began to see a pattern of connections that were flagged to intelligence officials in the US.
Instead both US and UK intelligence sources acknowledge that GCHQ played an early, prominent role in kickstarting the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation, which began in late July 2016.
One source called the British eavesdropping agency the “principal whistleblower”.
According to one account, GCHQ’s then head, Robert Hannigan, passed material in summer 2016 to the CIA chief, John Brennan. The matter was deemed so sensitive it was handled at “director level”. After an initially slow start, Brennan used GCHQ information and intelligence from other partners to launch a major inter-agency investigation.
In late August and September Brennan gave a series of classified briefings to the Gang of Eight, the top-ranking Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and Senate. He told them the agency had evidence the Kremlin might be trying to help Trump to win the presidency, the New York Times reported. [The Guardian, 4/13/17]
The American Spectator And Before It’s News: Brennan “Teamed Up” With Foreign Countries To “Cripple Trump’s Candidacy.” A week after the Guardian’s article was published, The American Spectator baselessly claimed that Brennan “teamed up with British spies and Estonian spies to cripple Trump’s candidacy” in order to “retain his position as CIA director under Hillary [Clinton].” It baselessly added that the foreign intelligence these countries found was “phony” because “Estonia was eager to see Trump lose” and that “British spy agencies” were “also full of officials who wanted to see Trump lose.” The article was later republished by fake news purveyor Before It’s News. From the April 19 article:
An article in the Guardian last week provides more confirmation that John Brennan was the American progenitor of political espionage aimed at defeating Donald Trump. One side did collude with foreign powers to tip the election — Hillary’s.
Seeking to retain his position as CIA director under Hillary, Brennan teamed up with British spies and Estonian spies to cripple Trump’s candidacy. He used their phony intelligence as a pretext for a multi-agency investigation into Trump, which led the FBI to probe a computer server connected to Trump Tower and gave cover to Susan Rice, among other Hillary supporters, to spy on Trump and his people.
The Guardian story is written in a style designed to flatter its sources (they are cast as high-minded whistleblowers), but the upshot of it is devastating for them, nonetheless, and explains why all the criminal leaks against Trump first originated in the British press. According to the story, Brennan got his anti-Trump tips primarily from British spies but also Estonian spies and others. The story confirms that the seed of the espionage into Trump was planted by Estonia. The BBC’s Paul Wood reported last year that the intelligence agency of an unnamed Baltic State had tipped Brennan off in April 2016 to a conversation purporting to show that the Kremlin was funneling cash into the Trump campaign.
Any other CIA director would have disregarded such a flaky tip, recognizing that Estonia was eager to see Trump lose (its officials had bought into Hillary’s propaganda that Trump was going to pull out of NATO and leave Baltic countries exposed to Putin). But Brennan opportunistically seized on it, as he later that summer seized on the half-baked intelligence of British spy agencies (also full of officials who wanted to see Trump lose).
The Guardian says that British spy head Robert Hannigan “passed material in summer 2016 to the CIA chief, John Brennan.” To ensure that these flaky tips leaked out, Brennan disseminated them on Capitol Hill. In August and September of 2016, he gave briefings to the “Gang of Eight” about them, which then turned up on the front page of the New York Times.
Liberals pompously quote the saying — “the bigger the lie, the more it will be believed” — even as their media enshrine it. Historians will look back on 2016 and marvel at the audacity of its big lie: whispers of an imaginary Trump-Russia collusion that wafted up from the fever swamps of a real collusion between John Brennan and foreign powers seeking Trump’s defeat. [The American Spectator, 4/19/17; Before It’s News, 4/21/17; Media Matters, 12/14/16]
The Daily Wire: “Report: Former CIA Director Colluded With Foreign Spies to Falsify Trump-Russia Connections.” In a piece headlined “Report: Former CIA Director Colluded With Foreign Spies to Falsify Trump-Russia Connections,” The Daily Wire claimed that the Spectator report “cuts to the point far more succinctly” than the Guardian did, and added that “Brennan was the center of the storm.” From the April 20 article (emphasis original):
There were dueling headlines this week, one from a liberal British newspaper, the other from a conservative U.S. magazine.
"British spies were first to spot Trump team's links with Russia," wrote The Guardian. Well, bother, that'll put the prezzy in a bit of a spot.
But wait, there was this other headline -- same story, just a different headline, from The American Spectator: "Confirmed: John Brennan Colluded With Foreign Spies to Defeat Trump."
Well dang, now we don't know what to think.
Funny, it was all right there in The Guardian report -- Brennan was the center of the storm. "The matter was deemed so sensitive it was handled at 'director level.' After an initially slow start, Brennan used GCHQ information and intelligence from other partners to launch a major inter-agency investigation."
But The Spectator cuts to the point far more succinctly. [The Daily Wire, 4/20/17]
Gateway Pundit: Brennan “Colluded” With Foreign “Spies Who Sought To … Manufacture Trump-Russia Ties.” The Gateway Pundit claimed in an April 19 article that the Spectator showed Brennan “colluded with British and Estonian spies who sought to both to manufacture Trump-Russia ties and bring down Trump’s candidacy as a whole.” [The Gateway Pundit, 4/19/17]
TruthFeed: “John Brennan Colluded With Foreign Spies Against Trump.” In a piece headlined “BREAKING REPORT: John Brennan Colluded With Foreign Spies Against Trump,” fake news purveyor TruthFeed claimed that Brennan is “known to have ‘extreme hatred’ for President Trump.” It falsely added that Trump “was 100% right with his claim that the Obama admin spied on his team for political purposes,” and reprinted the Spectator piece afterwards. From the April 20 article:
The evidence is now overwhelming.
The liberal media is desperate to hide the truth but all signs point to the reality Trump was 100% right with his claim that the Obama admin spied on his team for political purposes.
Right Wing News: Hillary Clinton “Used” Brennan To Team “Up With Foreign Governments” To Influence The Election. Fake news purveyor Right Wing News claimed that “if anyone was teaming up with foreign governments to influence the results of the 2016 Presidential election, it was Hillary Clinton,” and that “she appears to have used John Brennan to do it.” It suggested that the “American intelligence community” “pointed” the GCHQ to the information it found on communication between Trump associates and Russian officials. From the April 20 article:
Reports indicate that if anyone was teaming up with foreign governments to influence the results of the 2016 Presidential election, it was Hillary Clinton. Worse yet is the fact that she appears to have used John Brennan to do it, as he was trying to stay on as CIA director under her “inevitable” Presidency.
This is definitely something that the Trump White House should be investigating, because it might reveal a deeper level of spying on the then-Republican Presidential Candidate than even the most skeptical of supporters could have anticipated.
Do you think it’s possible that the GHCQ just “happened” to stumble across these contacts without being pointed in that direction by the American intelligence community? [Right Wing News, 4/20/17; Media Matters, 12/14/16]
Mad World News: Brennan Should Be Sent “To Jail For Breaking Political Espionage Laws.” Fake news purveyor Mad World News claimed that “dirtbag” Brennan “tried to use the CIA, with help from at least six other countries, to help Hillary Clinton win the presidency.” It added that Brennan “collu[ded] with intelligence agencies from at least seven other countries to defeat and then discredit Trump,” and that he should be sent “to jail for breaking political espionage laws.” From the April 20 article:
Barack Obama’s CIA Director John Brennan is now the focal point of both Congressional intelligence committees as new damning information was revealed, confirming that he tried to use the CIA, with help from at least six other countries, to help Hillary Clinton win the presidency in exchange for a huge favor. What this dirtbag did is enough to not only make your blood boil but send him to jail for breaking political espionage laws.
According to The Gateway Pundit, a new report has surfaced showing that John Brennan, Obama’s former CIA Director, was the origin point in the American intelligence community who facilitated the political espionage of President Donald Trump in an attempt to take him down before he won the election.
Brennan’s collusion with intelligence agencies from at least seven other countries to defeat and then discredit Trump is being regarded as the biggest intel collaboration in recent history against a political figure. The most important questions are finally getting answered in this latest bombshell revelation. Now, we understand why so many corrupt players went up against Trump, and it isn’t a pretty picture.
According to The American Spectator, in an effort to keep his position as CIA director under Hillary, Brennan joined forces with British spies, along with the intelligence agencies of at least 5 other countries, including Germany, France, Poland, Australia, and Estonia. The faulty information Brennan gathered and leaked to the press was used by the FBI to start their probe of a computer server connected to Trump Tower and also gave cover to Susan Rice for Obama’s political unmasking scheme. The pieces are finally coming together and not in a way that will help Brennan avoid prosecution.
Brennan deserves to go down for this. There is no way in hell that America can survive these kinds of traitors planted so deeply inside our intelligence community. It’s time for American patriots to make noise, make calls, make demands, and bring prison sentences for Brennan and his like. [Mad World News, 4/20/17; Media Matters, 12/14/16]
CNN: European Intelligence Officials Were Not Targeting Trump Officials But Picked Up Communications During “Incidental Collection.” According to a CNN report, “British and other European intelligence agencies intercepted communications between associates of Donald Trump and Russian officials and other Russian individuals during the campaign and passed on those communications to their US counterparts.” Additionally, CNN reported that sources say GCHQ was not “proactively targeting members of the Trump team but rather picked up these communications during what's known as ‘incidental collection.’” From the April 13 report:
British and other European intelligence agencies intercepted communications between associates of Donald Trump and Russian officials and other Russian individuals during the campaign and passed on those communications to their US counterparts, US congressional and law enforcement and US and European intelligence sources tell CNN.
The communications were captured during routine surveillance of Russian officials and other Russians known to western intelligence. British and European intelligence agencies, including GCHQ, the British intelligence agency responsible for communications surveillance, were not proactively targeting members of the Trump team but rather picked up these communications during what's known as "incidental collection," these sources tell CNN. [CNN.com, 4/13/17]
CNN’s Philip Mudd: “It’s A Simple Intel-Sharing Agreement That Includes Some Trump Stuff.” CNN counterterrorism analyst Philip Mudd characterized the collaboration between British and U.S. intelligence officials as “a simple intel-sharing agreement that includes some Trump stuff.” Mudd added that it is “entirely incorrect” to say that “the British were targeting American politicians. That’s a lie.” From the April 14 edition of CNN’s New Day:
ALISYN CAMEROTA (CO-HOST): There was this Fox News analyst who said that President Obama had gone around the FISA court and done something illegal and used JCHQ (sic) to find out about Trump associates. Well now we know that in fact it was the British intel agency that tapped the U.S. intelligence agency on the shoulder and said, “We’re finding something that looks suspicious to us.”
PHILIP MUDD: Yeah, but timeout. The Fox News analyst suggested the British were targeting American politicians. That's a lie. Let me tell you how this works. I can't wait to see this play out in Washington today and tomorrow because I guarantee there will be some conspiracy theory that's nuts. Let me tell you reality. There's a huge volume of local -- what we call traffic in the intelligence business: email, phone. That includes Russians, Chinese, Iranians. Think of this as burden sharing, resource sharing. The Americans don't want to collect all of it and have their closest allies, maybe the British, collect all the same stuff. They have agreements about what kind of stuff each is going to collect. When they collect it, they share it. This has been going on for decades. In this case, what would have happened is the Americans might collect some Russian lines. The British collect the others. The British aren't looking through it saying either, how do we target Trump people or how do we find Trump stuff in our intelligence and pass it to the Americans. They’re just passing Russian stuff. Within that haystack of Russian stuff is some Trump communications with the Russians, what we call incidental collection. So I think this is going to be portrayed as a conspiracy, as it was on Fox. That is entirely incorrect. It is a simple intel-sharing agreement that includes some Trump stuff. [CNN, New Day, 4/14/17]
Fringe Outlets And Fake News Purveyors Falsely Claimed British Intelligence Report Showed Napolitano’s British Trump Wiretap Claim Was Vindicated. Many of these fringe outlets and fake news purveyors wrongly claimed that Fox analyst Andrew Napolitano’s false allegation that former President Barack Obama “went outside the chain of command” to demand British intelligence officials spy on Trump was vindicated. They claimed that the reports showed Napolitano “was right” and that his claimed was “confirmed.” In fact, the GCHQ has said the claim was “totally untrue and quite frankly absurd” because GCHQ “can only gather intelligence for national security purposes." The claim was also originally pushed on Russian state media. [Media Matters, 4/14/17]
STEPHANIE RUHLE (HOST): On Earth Day this Saturday, tens of thousands of people are expected to march in the March for Science. The main march will take place along the National Mall in D.C., but satellite marches are taking place across the country and take a look, even around the world. In fact there will be 517 satellite marches taking place across the globe on Saturday. The nonpartisan -- and that's what's important -- the nonpartisan event hopes to make science a nonpartisan issue calling on lawmakers to listen to proven facts when enacting policies. And one person who is going to be marching is someone I definitely recognize from his hit show on Discovery, Mythbusters. He's also going to be the keynote speaker at the San Fran March, and he joins me now, Adam Savage. Adam, why exactly are you doing this march? Is it in response to anything in particular?
ADAM SAVAGE (FORMER MYTHBUSTERS HOST): Yes, it is in response to the fact that we live in a time where people are passing legislation like in North Carolina to not pay attention to science when making legislation about coastal water levels rising. That is absolutely ludicrous and and anti -- anti-human. We need to make, as you just said, policies based on the best evidence we have available to us, and that's why I'm marching.
RUHLE: And when you talk about this March for Science, there’s a lot of focus going to be on climate change. But besides climate change as the main issue, what other issues do you want to put in the forefront that we might not be thinking about?
SAVAGE: I want people to understand that science is not something that smart people are doing off in the corner just to create facts for us to know. It is an ongoing process by which humans make our world better. And although it's a stressful time politically, no matter which side of the aisle you fall on, all of us want the same thing. We want a better world for our kids and for our loved ones and for our future. And science and making policy based on, again, the best evidence we have is the way to achieve that.
The Washington Post has repeatedly failed to inform readers about major financial conflicts of interest in pieces by opinion writer Ed Rogers. Rogers is a leading Republican lobbyist who has used his Post column to advocate for the interests of his firm’s clients without disclosure in at least a dozen instances since the beginning of 2016.
Rogers writes for the publication’s PostPartisan blog. His columns also regularly appear in the Post’s physical edition and are syndicated across the country through its syndication service.
His Post credentials are touted to potential clients in his corporate biography, which states: “Since 2011, Ed has been an opinion writer for the Washington Post, where he writes about politics and the current state of affairs in Washington, D.C., from a Republican point of view.”
Lobbying experts told Media Matters that the Post’s arrangement with a lobbyist of Rogers’ stature is “rare” and “highly unusual.”
He added that while it’s hard to quantify how much the Post column helps his lobbying business since Rogers “has plenty of influence with or without his columns ... it almost certainly helps him. I can't imagine his gig as a Post columnist isn't part of his pitch to potential clients.”
“Most lobbyists do not promote ideas in the public domain on their own behalf, under their own name,” LaPira said. “I doubt anybody has ever kept track of how common it is for lobbyists to write regular columns like this because it is so rare.”
Rogers has repeatedly used his Post column to promote the lobbying interests of his firm’s clients over the years. Media Matters previously documented in 2015 how Rogers attacked environmental and financial regulations without disclosing his firm’s relevant clients. Rogers' columns subsequently included disclosures in some -- but not all -- pieces where he discusses environmental regulations.
In addition to environmental issues, Rogers has numerous potential conflicts on both the domestic and international front. He and his firm's colleagues have registered as agents for foreign governments and have counted Saudi Arabia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo as clients. Ukraine recently signed BGR to lobby for it as the country “seeks to strengthen its relationship with the United States.”
Media Matters reached out to The Washington Post and sent examples of Rogers’ writings with conflicts of interests. Editorial page editor Fred Hiatt respond by saying the Post wasn’t “initially clear enough with Ed on our expectations” but defended the Post and Rogers, and disputed “some” of Media Matters’ examples:
“We weren’t initially clear enough with Ed on our expectations. We do believe genuine conflicts should be disclosed, he is committed to doing so, and has done so numerous times. Some of what you flag here does not strike me as that kind of conflict. For example, we make no secret of the fact that Rogers is a conservative Republican whose firm lobbies for business interests; the fact that he would criticize Hillary Clinton for wanting to raise corporate tax rates I don’t think would surprise readers or strike them as stemming from a hidden conflict of interest. If he lobbies for a specific client or specific issue and then writes about that specific client or issue, I think readers should be made aware, and I’m confident Ed agrees.”
BGR Group did not reply to a request for comment.
Media Matters reviewed Rogers’ opinion pieces from the start of 2016 through today and found that the Post is failing to properly disclose when Rogers and his clients’ lobbying interests intersect. These disclosure violations include:
Here are 12 examples of how the Post is failing its readers:
BRG Lobbied For MassMutual On “Legislation Related To The Proposed DoL Fiduciary Rule.” In 2016, President Barack Obama issued rules for the Department of Labor requiring that, as The New York Times noted, “all financial professionals who provide advice related to your retirement money must provide recommendations that are in your best interest.” President Trump has since delayed the rules. BGR’s lobbying disclosure for financial services company MassMutual stated last year that it lobbied on “legislation related to the proposed DoL fiduciary rule.” MassMutual has publicly criticized the proposed rule, claiming it “will hurt Americans.” BGR received $220,000 in 2016 from MassMutual to lobby. [The New York Times, 4/6/16; NPR.org, 2/17/17; Senate.gov, accessed 4/21/17, Boston Business Journal, 4/6/16; OpenSecrets.org, accessed 4/21/17]
Rogers Praised “Rescinding President Barack Obama’s Retirement Account Advisory Business Regulations Before They Can Go Into Effect.”
In just two weeks as president, Donald Trump has already taken some substantive measures on the economy, including his executive order generally reducing regulations and controlling regulatory costs; requiring pipeline projects to be completed using iron or steel products manufactured in the United States; revising Dodd-Frank; and rescinding President Barack Obama’s retirement account advisory business regulations before they can go into effect in April. Plus, Trump made Wilbur Ross, his commerce secretary nominee, one of the adults in charge of the NAFTA negotiations. In doing so, Trump defused a potentially ugly situation and sidelined some of his more bombastic advisers. The NAFTA overhaul is a critically important move, and it’s good that Trump has given Ross a powerful White House embrace. [The Washington Post, 2/6/17]
BGR Lobbied For MassMutual On Dodd Frank. BGR also lobbied for MassMutual on “Dodd-Frank regulatory implementation provisions relating to insurance companies” and “HR 5983, the Financial CHOICE Act of 2016,” which would roll back Dodd-Frank. [Senate.gov, accessed 4/21/17, 4/21/17; The New York Times, 9/13/16]
Rogers Praised Effort To Roll Back Dodd-Frank.
In just two weeks as president, Donald Trump has already taken some substantive measures on the economy, including his executive order generally reducing regulations and controlling regulatory costs; requiring pipeline projects to be completed using iron or steel products manufactured in the United States; revising Dodd-Frank; and rescinding President Barack Obama’s retirement account advisory business regulations before they can go into effect in April. Plus, Trump made Wilbur Ross, his commerce secretary nominee, one of the adults in charge of the NAFTA negotiations. In doing so, Trump defused a potentially ugly situation and sidelined some of his more bombastic advisers. The NAFTA overhaul is a critically important move, and it’s good that Trump has given Ross a powerful White House embrace. [The Washington Post, 2/6/17]
BGR Lobbied For Financial Services Companies. Rogers’ group collected $270,000 in 2016 lobbying on behalf of Franklin Resources in 2016. A 2016 lobbying disclosure report stated that BGR had provided “strategic advice and counsel on legislative and regulatory actions that are impacting or may potentially impact Franklin Resources and/or the financial services industry.” BGR also lobbied for financial services providers LetterOne Holdings, MassMutual, and PGP Investors. Rogers personally lobbied for Franklin and LetterOne. [OpenSecrets.org, accessed 4/21/17; Senate.gov, accessed 4/21/17, 4/21/17, 4/21/17, 4/21/17]
Rogers: Hillary Clinton Should Defend The Financial Services Industry And Attack Sanders As Having “No Idea What The Financial Industry Does.”
First, Clinton should do more — not less, more — live TV. Her net performance is pretty good during the debates and in interviews; she just has to do a better job of preparing for the tough questions. Clinton’s campaign is plagued by two big, corrosive questions. One, she needs to address the issue of her relationship with big banks and Wall Street. She and her family — and I say family because even Chelsea Clinton worked on Wall Street for a while, and her husband is a Goldman Sachs alumnus and currently runs a hedge fund — have been especially close to Wall Street, and it is painful to watch Hillary Clinton try to suggest otherwise. Perhaps Clinton could actually learn something from how Donald Trump unabashedly embraces his experiences. Rather than pretend she doesn’t know the big players on Wall Street, Clinton should use her familiarity with the financial services industry to suggest she knows how to corral them without killing them. Clinton should say, a la Trump, that “I know these people,” “Sure, I took their money” and “I know what they care about and how to make them get in line.” Clinton should argue that Sanders has no idea what the financial industry does or what its pressure points are, but as a former senator from New York, she can easily pinpoint its vulnerabilities. Clinton should look those who question her Wall Street ties straight in the eye and bluff them into silence. [The Washington Post, 2/8/16]
BGR Lobbies For Tomahawk Missile Maker Raytheon. Rogers personally lobbies for Raytheon, which manufactures the million-dollar Tomahawk missiles used in the recent Syria strike. BGR received $120,000 in 2016 for lobbying on “Defense and communications procurement; Defense appropriations and authorizations.” [Media Matters, 4/11/17]
Rogers Praised Trump’s Handling Of Syria.
I don’t want to jinx anything, but President Trump may be experiencing the best sequence of events since he became president. Just this week, he received bipartisan support for his military strike in Syria, secured Judge Neil Gorsuch’s Senate confirmation to the Supreme Court, had impressive meetings with both King Abdullah II of Jordan and President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi of Egypt, caught a break with the Susan Rice scandal, and it appears he has walked away from a successful encounter with Chinese President Xi Jinping — all without knocking it off the rails with a wayward tweet. And it’s not just me saying that, no less than Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass wrote that this was “arguably [the] best of Donald Trump’s still young presidency, from [a] successful strike in Syria to confirmation of his Supreme Court nominee.” Imagine that, decisive and poised presidential action from the president himself.
The president is receiving mostly positive coverage as a result of the strike in Syria, but even Trump’s critics are talking about him in a serious way. There has been no discussion of chaos during the strike or wild tweets and off-key chatter that diminished the significance of the action that was taken. Most analysts and political commentators are describing the attack as a calculated, level-headed decision by a president whose foreign policy disposition has been ambiguous. And oh, by the way, it doesn’t hurt that Trump did something so adverse to Russia in Syria. It showed that Trump is perfectly capable of acting with brutal hostility toward a vital interest of Vladimir Putin’s.
In politics, just like in golf, luck counts. The fact that Trump launched an attack against Syria while his Chinese counterpart was present and able to witness the aftermath in the media was a powerful stroke of good luck for the White House. In case Xi needed any reminding of just how serious Trump may be about taking action in North Korea, the Syria attack couldn’t have been a better example or come at a better time. By all accounts, expectations for their meeting were low. But reports indicate that Trump and Xi had substantive, mostly positive conversations, perhaps leaving the Chinese president with a lot to think about. It looks like he may have walked away with a better impression of how Trump thinks and how his administration functions. [The Washington Post, 4/8/17]
Rogers’ Firm Lobbied For Caterpillar, Which Said It Would Financially Benefit From Keystone XL Pipeline’s Approval. A 2016 form for BGR stated that it lobbied for Caterpillar to “provide counsel and strategic guidance on federal activity regarding infrastructure improvements.” Caterpillar stated on its government affairs website that “has an interest in” the Keystone XL pipeline’s approval because “Caterpillar pipelayers, excavators and track-type tractors are used in the North American pipeline business.” BGR received $310,000 in 2016 for its lobbying work. [Senate.gov, accessed 4/21/17; Caterpillar, accessed 4/21/17; OpenSecrets.org, accessed 4/21/17]
Rogers Criticized Sen. Bernie Sanders For His “Wacky” Position On The Keystone XL Pipeline.
It is safe to say that presidential campaigns are mostly about peace, prosperity and the character of the candidates. In none of these categories does Clinton approach the court of public opinion with clean hands. Most voters do not want an Obama third term — yet in order to get through the primaries, Clinton has had to embrace all things Obama. She has had to embrace the weakest economic growth of any postwar recovery and the first recovery where the economy did not grow at least three percent in any year following the end of the last recession. She has had to temporarily disassociate herself from longtime Clinton family allies and benefactors on Wall Street and in the business community while espousing Obama’s anti-business mantra. Not to mention, she has had to swing to the left to adopt Sen. Bernie Sanders’ wacky positions on the minimum wage, trade, the Keystone XL pipeline and whatever else. [The Washington Post, 6/3/16]
Rogers Dismissed Liberals’ Concerns Over The Keystone XL Pipeline. (The Post piece did disclose that Rogers’ firm “represents interests in the fossil fuel and nuclear power industries” but made no mention of Rogers’ ties to a company that “has an interest in” the pipeline being built).
The left’s opposition to Tillerson will largely be grounded in the fact that he comes from an oil company. Let’s face it: The people who don’t want the Keystone XL pipeline or the Dakota Access pipeline, who oppose drilling or fracking anywhere and who think that de-carbonizing the economy is possible are the same people who will lead the fight against Tillerson’s confirmation. There is almost nothing Tillerson can say that will satisfy these people. Many among the global warming alarmist crowd approach the topic of climate change with a near-religious zeal. [The Washington Post, 1/5/17]
BGR Group Lobbies For Numerous Energy Companies. In 2016, BGR lobbied for Chevron, JKX Oil & Gas, Nuclear Energy Institute, Southern Co., and WEC Energy Group. Rogers personally lobbied for JKX Oil & Gas and Southern (JKX's registration start date with BGR was September 1, 2016). [OpenSecrets.org, accessed 4/21/17; Senate.gov, accessed 4/21/17, 4/21/17; 4/21/17]
The Post Has Been Inconsistent In Disclosing Rogers’ Anti-Environmental Conflicts. Rogers frequently criticizes environmental regulations in his Post writings. In some instances, Rogers included a disclosure noting his firm’s clients, writing: “Disclosure: My firm represents interests in the fossil fuel and nuclear power industries.” In several instances, Rogers did not include such a disclosure. This piece only takes issue with those that do not, which are noted below. [The Washington Post, 1/5/17]
Rogers Attacked Liberals For Promoting “Policies, Often Under The Guise Of Environmental And Global Warming Activism, That Suppress Development, Growth And Good, Middle-Class Jobs.”
The party of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton doesn’t like free enterprise or those who associate with it. They like social activists more than they like American workers. The national Democratic Party is composed of a circle of self-reinforcing members, including academics, feminists, environmentalists, government unions, Hollywood, minority and LGBT activists, trial lawyers and a host of financiers like Tom Steyer. What do they all have in common? These groups tend to have a parasitic relationship with private enterprises that actually employ people, particularly people who work in a trade. Democratic insiders promote policies, often under the guise of environmental and global warming activism, that suppress development, growth and good, middle-class jobs. The failure of the Obama economy speaks for itself. [The Washington Post, 5/18/16]
Rogers Criticized Obama For Running “A Punitive Regulatory Regime Enhanced By A Pointless Passion For Global Warming Initiatives” And Having An “Anti-Business Bias.”
The president and the Democrats are either oblivious or dishonest when they talk about their “economic success.” In what will probably be Obama’s most lasting legacy, he has run up the national debt by $10 trillion — more than all our other presidents combined — leaving future generations weighed down by the Obama debt. He has stifled small businesses with excessive taxation, perpetuated a punitive regulatory regime enhanced by a pointless passion for global warming initiatives and acted with anti-business bias that has all amalgamated to slow growth and spread discontent across the country. [The Washington Post, 6/23/16]
Rogers: Democrats “Obsess[ing] Over Climate Change” Helped Them Lose The Election.
If you’re still confused about why Democrats lost the election, look no further than the issues they prioritize. Instead of focusing on jobs, the economy and national security, the Democrats obsess over climate change, bathroom breaks and, curiously, sanctuary cities. Now is a good time for the Republicans to pick some fights, and the issue of sanctuary cities is a prime target. It’s a perfect reminder of what Democrats have become. As my old boss Lee Atwater used to say, “Never kick a man when he is up.” And right now, the Democrats are down, divided and in disarray. [The Washington Post, 12/8/16]
Rogers Criticized Obama’s Global Warming Policy.
To make matters worse, Obama has capitulated to and strengthened enemy regimes in Iran and Cuba. He scrambled our international priorities and declared global warming to be one of our most significant national security problems, requiring billions to be spent to lower carbon emissions in the United States at the expense of American businesses while giving China a pass. [The Washington Post, 12/29/16]
Rogers’ BGR Group Lobbies On Corporate Tax Cuts. BGR lobbied for pharmaceutical company Amgen Inc. on “corporate tax reform.” Amgen CEO Robert Bradway reportedly said the company would be “a clear beneficiary” of lowering the corporate tax. BGR listed “tax reform” as a lobbying issue for other clients such as Southern and Asia Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce [Senate.gov, accessed 4/21/17, 4/21/17, 4/21/17; FiercePharma, 1/10/17]
Rogers Praised Trump For Pledging To “Cut The Corporate Tax Rate From The Current 35 Percent Rate To 15 Percent.”
Obviously, Trump’s able advisers had a hand in crafting what is a solid, Republican plan. I have said for years that we don’t have many problems that wouldn’t be solved by a few years of 4 percent economic growth. Well, the plan that Trump laid out yesterday calls for at least 3.5 percent growth per year — which, considering the anemic growth under President Obama, would be an economic boom. He also wants to cut the corporate tax rate from the current 35 percent rate to 15 percent, and his plan eliminates both the death tax and the carried-interest loophole. Much of this is standard Republican fare that the Democrats and the usual suspects among their apologists will instantly criticize. But that’s okay, because finally, this campaign will be getting around to having arguments about policy.
I’m not ready to say Trump would be a good president, but this a good plan. [The Washington Post, 9/16/16]
Rogers Attacked Clinton For Saying She Would Make Corporations “Pay Their Fair Share.”
As I read the economic policy speech Hillary Clinton gave in Michigan yesterday, as a partisan Republican, I was enthused by the prospects. Her economic plan isn’t even Obamanomics 2.0; it is Obamanomics 1.5. For those of you who haven’t read the fact sheet that the Clinton campaign released along with the speech, I encourage you to read it. Here’s the link. It’s a parody of what a real fact sheet should look like. And the tired, pedantic language Clinton uses is cringe-worthy. She wants to tinker around the edges with just more of the same: Raise taxes, spend more, send more money to Washington and give away more money here and there. One of my favorite lines is “Hillary will make sure that corporations and the most fortunate play by the rules and pay their fair share.” Gee, that’s a bold position. The way she sets up her positions to supposedly contrast with those of Donald Trump reads like a Goofus and Gallant page from Highlights magazine. [The Washington Post, 8/12/16]
PETER OGBURN (HOST): Bill O'Reilly is gone.
MEDIA MATTERS PRESIDENT ANGELO CARUSONE: He is gone.
OGBURN: End of an era at Fox News.
CARUSONE: It certainly is, almost. There's one still vestige of this industrial-scale sexual harassment in Roger Ailes there and that's the co-president that resigned his contract just three weeks ago, and that's Bill Shine.
OGBURN: Tell me about that.
CARUSONE: He is sort of the big -- the last piece of this is that when Roger Ailes, when all the reports against Roger Ailes last summer came out, more than two dozen, the person that -- whose name kept coming up was Bill Shine, who was an executive at the time. He kind of was -- he sort of was a protege of Roger Ailes. And he was involved in sort of retaliation and covering up against these women. And when the reports against Bill O'Reilly came up, his name came up again because he had also been involved in the retaliation against these women. He is the co-president of Fox News.
OGBURN: I think a lot of people tried to shine -- shine a light on him, on Bill Shine, as saying like he's the not the Roger Ailes guy, he's going to get Fox News back into shape after Roger Ailes leaves.
OGBURN: He's going to restore some integrity into the network --
CARUSONE: That's right.
OGBURN: -- and how long did that last?
CARUSONE: And not at all.
OGBURN: Just a couple of months?
CARUSONE: That's right. The reason they were doing it was they wanted to assuage both their audience and their associates that Fox wasn't going to become radical lefty outlet, right? And that was a big part of it, but ultimately -- I mean, Bill O'Reilly going is important because there was this notion that they were never going to hold him accountable.
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