Media Matters for America
Pruitt’s war on the press continues as EPA hires firm to create media-tracking "war room"
December 31st, 1969, 02:50 PM

Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

While Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt enjoys being feted by conservative and alt-right media outlets such as Fox and Friends and, he and his top aides at EPA are openly hostile toward other journalists. An investigative report published by Mother Jones demonstrates just how committed Pruitt is to waging and winning his war against the press.

Reporters Rebecca Leber, Andy Kroll, and Russ Choma write about the EPA hiring a GOP-linked public relations firm, Definers Corp., to track and influence media coverage of the agency. From their December 15 article:

According to federal contracting records, earlier this month Pruitt’s office inked a no-bid $120,000 contract with Definers Corp., a Virginia-based public relations firm founded by Matt Rhoades, who managed Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign. Following Romney’s defeat, Rhoades established America Rising, an ostensibly independent political action committee that works closely with the Republican National Committee and Republican candidates to mine damning information on opponents. Other higher-ups at Definers include former RNC research director Joe Pounder, who’s been described as “a master of opposition research,” and senior vice president Colin Reed, an oppo-research guru billed as “among the leaders of the war on [Sen. Elizabeth] Warren.”

The PR firm will equip the EPA with sophisticated “war room”-style media technology, the story reports:

The company also specializes in using the press and social media to “validate your narrative.” According to the company’s website, one of the tools to help do this is its “Definers Console” media-tracking technology. Reed said his firm contracted with Pruitt’s office at the EPA, which is the first governmental client to pay for the Definers Console. The technology promises “war room”-style media monitoring, analysis, and advice, according to marketing materials. A brochure for the Console assures users that they will be able to “monitor for potential crises, as well as to track their message dissemination, relevant responses to their messaging, and what competitors’ actions have been.”

Media Matters has previously reported on Trump officials’ tendency to appear on far-right and right-wing outlets and stations. Pruitt has been a key player in this trend; during his first six months at the EPA, he gave more interviews to Fox News than to all other major television networks combined.

At the same time, Pruitt’s EPA has publicly displayed hostility toward reporters at mainstream outlets. In late October, New York Times reporter Eric Lipton asked for comment on a story about the agency’s decision to make it harder to track the health consequences of certain industrial chemicals. EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman emailed this response: “No matter how much information we give you, you would never write a fair piece. The only thing inappropriate and biased is your continued fixation on writing elitist clickbait trying to attack qualified professionals committed to serving their country.”

In September, Associated Press reporter Michael Biesecker co-wrote a story about flooded toxic waste sites in Houston. The EPA then made the unprecedented move of criticizing the reporter by name in a press release:  “Unfortunately, the Associated Press’ Michael Biesecker has a history of not letting the facts get in the way of his story.”

Pruitt's EPA has also barred reporters from events, dropped them from press release distribution lists, and refused to give them his schedule.

Pruitt’s decision to hire Definers Corp. again demonstrates his willingness to go all-in on the Trump administration’s larger campaign to manipulate and undermine the free press.

The backing of this high-tech media firm will empower Pruitt to continue rebuffing basic public transparency, spinning the consequences of his deregulatory agenda, and muddying his climate science denial. The press will need to be ever vigilant, even while it's under attack.

Watch a tech entrepreneur explain why millions of Americans oppose the FCC's rollback of net neutrality
December 31st, 1969, 02:50 PM

ALI VELSHI (HOST): Reactions pouring after the [Federal Communication Commission's (FCC)] controversial move yesterday to roll back net neutrality rules, which require internet service providers to treat all traffic on the internet equally. Opponents are protesting the move saying the rule change is going to hurt consumers and could give internet providers the ability to block or slow down content on the internet. And some are taking action.


We should note, Comcast, the parent company of MSNBC, is one of the country's leading internet service providers and supports the rollback of net neutrality rules. Comcast has said in a statement it's commitment to customers remains the same, the company is not going to block, throttled, or discriminate against lawful content.


The amount of fury around this discussion is of epic proportions. The interesting thing is everybody makes the same argument. Everybody, no matter whether you're for net neutrality or you're against it, the argument is that "my side protects a free and open internet." Make it clear to me, Michael. What am I supposed to believe?

MICHAEL FERTIK: Epic fury, Ali. There is epic fury you’re exactly right. And it is justified epic fury. We do not know what will happen in the play out of these rules but it is possible that there's a lot of damage coming to the internet, and a lot of damage coming to innovation, in particular. When you go on an airplane, say Southwest or some other airline, and you open up your phone or your browser. You are usually allowed to have a certain, very limited access to the internet for free. Maybe a couple of magazines, a couple of TV shows. Those things are subsidized by the airline or by their content partners. But if you want the access to the whole internet, then you have to pay. So that is what the new change in the FCC rules could bring to your house. You might get a very small flavor of the internet, a very small slice of the internet. For example: just Facebook or just Google for free. But if you want access to the open internet, you might have to pay.

That's sort of my version of -- I think Silicon Valley's version of -- the worst, nightmare scenario. In which the big guys, the big companies, the ones like Google and Facebook that supposedly oppose this net neutrality rule change might actually profit from it. They might be able to pay or subsidize the Comcasts of the world to get a free, small sliver of the internet. That lowers your Comcast bill or your AT&T bill to zero dollars per month, but guess what? You don't get to use the entire internet.


Net neutrality died in silence as news networks once again dropped the ball

This is how TV news ought to be covering the death of net neutrality\

Journalism professor: Anti-net neutrality FCC chairman Ajit Pai "wants to enable the oligopoly of cable and the telephone to control the net"

How one man's fake news websites are trying to undermine the Alabama Senate election
December 31st, 1969, 02:50 PM

Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

A man vocal about his aims to deceive conservatives with his “satire” websites has created multiple made-up stories alleging voter fraud in the Alabama Senate special election. Some of these made-up stories have gone viral and were subsequently copied by fake news websites in an attempt to delegitimize the election and fuel right-wing myths about widespread voter fraud.

Christopher Blair is a self-professed troll who tries to deceive conservatives with stories on multiple websites he claims are satire, and has smeared people in his content. In the lead up to the Alabama special election between Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones, Blair’s websites published multiple stories attempting to discredit numerous allegations of sexual misconduct against Moore by making up other women who, according to the stories, were caught in their lies against the Republican candidate. One story, claiming that one of Moore’s accusers admitted on MSNBC that she lied, was shared so much on social media (in part thanks to fake news websites that ran with it) that Alabama conservative radio host Dale Jackson complained that “people keep sending” this fake news to him and a fact-checker from told NPR that she was forced to debunk it.

Since the day of the Alabama election, Blair and his websites have run nearly a dozen stories suggesting there was rampant voter fraud. These stories contain false allegations such as that polling officials caught a "van full of illegals" who were voting in multiple polling locations, that thousands of dead people voted for Jones, that a “busload of blacks from 3 states drove to Alabama” to vote for Jones, and that black people were caught voting multiple times with "fake IDs," among others. As The Washington Post’s Dave Weigel noted, some of these stories went viral. Other fake news websites shared the story about a “van full of illegals," and it received nearly 40,000 Facebook engagements combined, according to social media analytics website BuzzSumo. The “fake IDs” story, which the Montgomery Advertiser also noted was fake, was also shared and engaged with by thousands on social media. The stories were further amplified thanks to fake news websites.

As evidenced by the comments, many people who shared and responded to the made-up voter fraud stories on social media believed them to be true, writing that it showed that “we have to have voter I.D. in order to vote” and, “That's how the Dems have played for years, if you like a candidate vote 3 or 4 times, be sure the dead vote.” Blair even egged on some of these people, with the Facebook page for his website The Last Line of Defense writing back to someone who seemed to believe the “van full of illegals” story, “This is why we’re here, patriot. This is why we’re here.”

Blair’s actions are helping fuel existing right-wing efforts to push widespread voter fraud myths. He’s been launching more “satire” websites over the past several weeks, and some of those new websites have also published a few of these made-up Alabama stories. In the past, Blair has apologized for smearing fallen soldier Sgt. La David Johnson and a Toronto-based imam, but his stories continue to defame others and are given a bigger platform when fake news websites pick them up. Adding to the dubiousness of his apologies, Blair and his writers have lashed out at people who have criticized them and been forced to debunk his stories. And recently, Blair called criticism of the Alabama stories “hyperbolic” and again defended his stories as just “satire” in a Facebook post, showing his refusal to accept responsibility for spreading lies.

Gabriel Sherman: Murdoch's dismissal of sexual harassment at Fox shows he doesn't care about workplace culture
December 31st, 1969, 02:50 PM

CRAIG MELVIN (HOST): Gabe, as we talk about men's attitudes, there's something that Rupert Murdoch said today in an interview about Disney buying most of 21st Century Fox that caught our attention. This is just part of what Rupert Murdoch said.


RUPERT MURDOCH: That's all nonsense. There was a problem with our chief executive. Sort of over the year but isolated incidents. As soon as we investigated, he was out of our place in hours -- well, three or four days. That was largely political because we're conservative. All the liberals are going down the drain.


MELVIN: Your reaction?

GABRIEL SHERMAN: I mean there's so much there. I mean I think the fact that Roger Ailes, the former chair and CEO of Fox News, got away with almost two decades of sexual harassment is illustrated in that quote by Rupert Murdoch. The fact that he just dismisses this whole scandal with dozens of women had come forward at Fox as "not much, nonsense, there was sort of a problem." I mean, that blase attitude, the hear no evil, see no evil attitude, is this permissive culture that allowed this toxic workplace at Fox News to fester for so long. And I think, women at Fox News are very troubled by that attitude. I've been hearing from women over the last several months that not much has changed. Yes, the people are gone at Fox News, Roger Ailes and a lot his loyalists are gone, but they really feel a lot of this is window dressing, and that there are people at Fox News, men at Fox News, who are known to be harassers, who are still there and I think women are feeling terrified that the company has not fully cleaned up.

MELVIN: It was bizarre to hear him essentially, basically, sort of blame this vast left-wing conspiracy for sexual harassment at Fox News.

SHERMAN: Yeah, I mean that's the victim line that Bill O'Reilly took, that Roger Ailes took, and I think that is reflective of, again, Rupert Murdoch runs a company where profit matters above all. And he doesn't really care about workplace culture. Yes, when he gets found out and caught, he'll take some moves to clean up but it's not necessarily because he truly believes this fundamental change should happen.


Former Fox News anchor Juliet Huddy explains how nondisclosure agreements hid Bill O'Reilly's harassment

Rupert Murdoch says Fox News harassment stopped with Roger Ailes. He couldn't be more wrong. 

The infrastructure that enabled serial sexual harassment at Fox is still working

Hannity has a history of deceptively editing videos
December 31st, 1969, 02:50 PM

Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

On December 11, Fox News host Sean Hannity aired an edited quote from CNN analyst Paul Callan regarding Wikileaks and Donald Trump Jr. in order to label CNN as “fake news.” This is not the first time Hannity has deceptively edited clips to attack his perceived opponents.

During his December 11 show, Hannity aired a portion of a CNN segment about the network’s report that claimed that during the presidential campaign, Trump Jr. received an email providing website and login information for Hillary Clinton’s hacked campaign emails from Wikileaks. CNN later corrected some parts of its initial report. As reported by Mediaite, Hannity aired a part of the CNN segment on the report that implied Callan said Trump Jr. violated federal and New York state laws. But Callan’s full comment shows that he was speaking hypothetically, and actually said there was not enough evidence for a criminal case against Donald Trump Jr.

Hannity has a history of airing deceptively edited video clips to go after his perceived enemies. In 2011, CNN host Anderson Cooper called him out for clipping Cooper’s words out of context to make his straightforward report on former diplomat Joseph Wilson seem like an attack against the administration of former President George W. Bush. In that same episode, Hannity also deceptively edited clips from journalist Katie Couric and former CBS correspondent Mike Wallace.

Hannity also aired deceptive edits to attack then-President Barack Obama. In 2010, now-Fox host Howard Kurtz criticized Hannity for cropping an Obama speech, making it seem like Obama said that he was raising taxes  when he was actually saying that the Bush administration had planned for the tax increase to occur after Bush left office.  A year before that, Hannity aired clips from a Fox News interview with Obama, editing out specific lines in order to make it seem as if Obama had not acknowledged the role U.S. presidents played in lifting the Iron Curtain. Hannity’s deceptive edits and misrepresentations of Obama’s comments were part of his extensive anti-Obama, conservative disinformation campaign during Obama’s presidency.

In addition to clipping videos to fit his narrative agenda, Hannity has also promoted deceptively edited videos from discredited and fringe sources like James O’Keefe’s ACORN videos, Center for Medical Progress’ false attacks against Planned Parenthood, and filmmaker Ami Horowitz’s anti-Islam YouTube stunt. Hannity’s history of pushing disinformation and conspiracy theories has led to an exodus of advertisers from his Fox News program, adding to a significant drop in the network’s ad revenue. Media Matters has continued to urge Hannity’s advertisers to reconsider funding Hannity’s brand of disinformation and extremism, warning that his volatility makes him a business risk.

GOP leadership touted pro-tax plan op-eds that were deceptive cut-and-paste jobs
December 31st, 1969, 02:50 PM

In the midst of the congressional debate over its wildly unpopular tax plan, Republican leaders attempted to create the impression of a “drumbeat” of support by touting opinion pieces from “real Americans” and “state leaders.”

“The drumbeat for tax reform did not waver over the long Thanksgiving weekend,” proclaimed a press release about “state leaders” from Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan’s office, which included that “West Virginia’s state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, Gil White, doubled down on the benefits to small businesses in the state” in an op-ed. 

“Across the country, real Americans recognize what they stand to benefit,” read a press release from the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate Committee on Finance, which cited op-eds from National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) West Virginia director Gil White and Dan Lloyd, the plant manager for Procter & Gamble's Green Bay, WI, manufacturing facility.

But those op-eds were deceptive cut-and-paste jobs that appeared virtually word-for-word in other publications by different authors and were part of a pro-corporate tax cut media campaign by a deep-pocketed business lobbying group and one of the largest corporations in the country.

NFIB placed four op-eds in newspapers that were virtually identical but were supposedly written by four different authors. Editors told Media Matters that the lobbying group didn’t inform them they were using the same language elsewhere and had they known they wouldn’t have run the pieces.

Media Matters recently wrote about similar media efforts by Procter & Gamble to gain public support for the Republicans’ unpopular efforts on taxes. That included placing plant manager Dan Lloyd’s op-ed in the Green Bay Press-Gazette (WI) and subsequently four other op-eds under different names with virtually the same language.

Editors also criticized P&G’s tactics, with two explicitly saying they would not have run the pieces had they known it was a cut-and-paste effort. The Press-Gazette later added an editor’s note stating “Procter & Gamble indicated in an email to the Press-Gazette that this op-ed was written by the Green Bay plant manager. A review found it had not been previously published. We have since learned that almost identical op-eds by different plant managers were published elsewhere.”

The National Federation of Independent Business, which describes itself as “America’s leading small business association," has heavily supported Republican candidates and causes over the years. Mother Jones has written that NFIB is a "front group" that's been "leading the fight against taxing the rich." The group, whose IRS recent IRS 990 forms show annual revenues over $100 million, has received money from organizations backed by the billionaire industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch. The group has spent over three million dollars this year on lobbying and is now backing the Republicans’ efforts on taxes, which include large cuts to the corporate tax rate.

Part of the NFIB’s efforts to pass the GOP tax plan has included attempts to create the appearance of a groundswell of local support through opinion pieces by various NFIB leaders in local newspapers. While those op-eds have different authors, they are all virtually the same except for a sentence mentioning the U.S. senators who represent the paper’s readers. (Thanks to reader Waner, who previously wrote a post noting the similarities and notified Media Matters through our tip line.

The op-eds include:

  • A November 17 op-ed by NFIB Kansas state director Dan Murray in the Topeka Capital-Journal (KS).
  • A November 23 op-ed by NFIB Louisiana state director Dawn Starns in the Shreveport Times (LA).
  • A November 26 op-ed by NFIB West Virginia state director Gil White in The Intelligencer (Wheeling, WV).
  • A December 2 op-ed by NFIB Florida executive director Bill Herrle in The Palm Beach Post (FL).

Here, for example, is a composite image that compares the texts of the November 17 op-ed by Dan Murray and the Gil White op-ed from November 26 that was promoted by GOP leaders:

NFIB did not respond to requests for comment.

Editors at the papers which published the NFIB op-eds criticized the organization for its tactics and said that had they known the opinion pieces were cut-and-paste jobs their outlets wouldn’t have run the pieces.

Jeff Gauger, executive editor at the Shreveport Times, said: “We did not know it was an astroturf letter. If we’d known, we would not have published it. If NFIB reps send more letters, we’ll quiz them hard before agreeing to publish their letters."

Matt Johnson, editorial page editor at the Topeka Capital-Journal, said: “The article in question was published in The Topeka Capital-Journal before it ran in any of the other outlets you mentioned. We were not aware it would be published anywhere else. In fact, NFIB senior media manager Todd Pack assured me that the organization hadn't sent the piece to any other newspapers when he submitted it.” He added that they wouldn't have published the piece had they been made aware of that.

Mike Myer, executive editor at The Intelligencer, said that they "were not aware the same language was used by other authors. Had we known, we would have requested a change or, at the very least, noted similar or the same language was used elsewhere by other authors.”

The Palm Beach Post did not respond to a request for comment.

Trump attacks pro-family immigration policies using conservative media's nativist term at FBI National Academy
December 31st, 1969, 02:50 PM

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: As president, my greatest duty is to protect our nation and to protect our people. As we have witnessed recently, America faces grave threats. Terrorists have struck in the streets and subways of New York City twice in a few months. Both terrorists came to our country through the dysfunctional immigration system that we are correcting, and rapidly. And one came through chain migration. Chain migration. The other, visa lottery. They have a lottery. You pick people. You think the country is giving us their best people? No. What kind of a system is that? They come in by a lottery. They give us their worst people, they put them in a bin, but in his hand when he is picking them is really the worst of the worst. “Congratulations, you are going to the United States,” OK. What a system, lottery system. We are calling for Congress to end chain migration and to end the visa lottery system and replace it with a merit-based system of immigration.


Fox and Breitbart are helping Trump mainstream the term “chain migration,” a misleading nativist buzzword

Fox's Geraldo Rivera falsely claims visa lottery recipients are "absolutely unvetted"

Reporters challenge Trump administration official on whether there is a link to chain migration and terrorism; USCIS director couldn't answer

Rupert Murdoch's Trump support pays off
December 31st, 1969, 02:50 PM

Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

Rupert Murdoch, the 86-year-old conservative mogul who heads Fox News and The Wall Street Journal, is attempting to reshape his sprawling media empire in a way that could vastly expand his role in U.S. political life.

Murdoch’s greatest asset in that endeavor is President Donald Trump, whom Murdoch has cultivated by serving as his informal adviser and giving him fawning coverage through his news outlets. That effort now appears to be bearing fruit.

Yesterday, the White House publicly signed off on a deal that would allow Murdoch to refocus his holdings on news programming, while Trump’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) took a step that would allow Murdoch to dramatically expand those holdings.

Together, those steps could lead to a future where Fox’s pro-Trump commentary is piped into local broadcast news stations across the country.

Over the last 65 years, Murdoch turned a newspaper he inherited from his father into a news and entertainment goliath on four continents, with his News Corp and 21st Century Fox companies controlling substantial holdings in newspapers, publishing, and television and film production and distribution.

But Murdoch’s efforts at expansion have been stymied in recent years, while rival media companies consolidated and new threats arose from technology companies. Most recently, British regulators wary of Fox’s news practices stalled Murdoch’s bid to purchase the European broadcaster Sky PLC due to pressure from media experts and advocates, including Media Matters and Avaaz, placing in jeopardy a deal he has sought for years.

With his buying options restricted, Murdoch chose to sell instead. On Wednesday morning, The Walt Disney Co. announced a $52.4 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox assets, including its prized movie studio and television production arm, regional sports networks, cable channels FX and National Geographic, and its stakes in Hulu and Sky, among others. The move is a shocking retreat from the entertainment world, where Murdoch has been a major player for decades.

But Murdoch would retain the news companies that have helped make him a fixture in U.S. politics -- Fox Broadcasting network, its local broadcast televisions stations, Fox News, and Fox Business -- which, along with Fox Sports, will be spun off into a new company.

“The new Fox will draw upon the powerful live news and sports businesses of Fox, as well as the strength of our Broadcast network,” Murdoch said in a statement. He will also come away with a sizable cash hoard and what he’s said is a $2 billion annual cash flow, which will allow for dramatic expansion of that company, if the deal goes through.

Analysts say the corporate megamerger is similar to AT&T’s proposed acquisition of CNN corporate parent Time Warner, which Trump savaged on the campaign trail and the Justice Department has sued to block.

But Trump loves Fox News’ often sycophantic coverage of his administration and hates CNN’s more critical reporting, and so his view of this deal seems very different. Trump reportedly called Murdoch for assurance that he wasn’t planning to sell Fox, and yesterday White House press secretary Sarah Sanders publicly lauded the deal.

These shockingly inappropriate moves suggest that the administration may apply different standards to proposed mergers based on whether the president approves of the companies involved.

There’s good reason for the White House to be pleased: Murdoch now appears focused on growing the conservative news apparatus that helped make Trump president.

Reports suggest that he plans to purchase more local television stations and use Fox News to provide them with programming. This will require additional help that the Trump administration seems eager to provide.

Murdoch currently owns 28 television stations in 17 markets, including several of the nation’s largest, but was constrained from further purchases by the FCC regulations intended to preserve competition in media ownership. Murdoch has raged against the commission’s limitations for decades.

But Trump’s pick for FCC chair, Ajit Pai, has moved quickly to strip away the regulations holding moguls like Murdoch in check. In party-line votes this year, the Republican commissioners have eliminated several restrictions preventing further media consolidation.

And yesterday, the FCC voted to review the cap that currently prevents a single company from reaching more than 39 percent of U.S. television households.

If the cap is raised or eliminated altogether, Murdoch would be able to snap up television broadcast stations -- perhaps by purchasing ownership chains like Gannett or Hearst -- and drastically expand his reach.

But what will those new stations air? Fox’s stations currently benefit from programming provided by its scripted television production arm, 20th Century Fox TV. With that company sold to Disney, Fox stations will need to find a new, cheaper source of programming.

One way to do that, analysts suggest, will be to take advantage of Murdoch’s news companies, beaming Fox News content onto the broadcast airwaves.

“They obviously have a strong news product which they haven’t really cross pollinated with their broadcast network that much,” Katz Media Group’s Stacey Schulman told Variety. “In light of that and the fact that they’re losing a big content library and production arm, you might see more news production coming from the Fox News side showing up on the network.”

Increasing the scale of the broadcast network company would have financial benefits for Murdoch. But buying more stations in crucial swing states would also give him more political power, allowing him, in turn, to continue to pay back the Trump administration for its deregulatory zeal.

Murdoch’s stations already use Fox News' personalities to push its conservative viewpoint to some extent. The company’s reshaping -- and potential expansion -- will dramatically drive up the demand for that content.

Fox’s model could come to resemble that of Sinclair Broadcast Group, the conservative network of stations owned by the conservative mogul David Smith and his family, with must-run news packages pushing right-wing views produced by a central news programming office and sent out to stations across the country.

Murdoch has feuded with Smith for decades, and Sinclair, already the nation’s largest local news provider, has also sought to dramatically expand its station holdings amid Pai's deregulatory frenzy

The next few years could see a battle for dominance between two right-wing billionaires who use their news apparatuses to promote their conservative politics, overlapping with a presidential re-election campaign featuring the man who made their expansions possible.

Fox's Geraldo Rivera falsely claims visa lottery recipients are "absolutely unvetted"
December 31st, 1969, 02:50 PM

AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): Speaking of a city, right over here at Port Authority at the beginning of the week, we had a guy try to blow up a bunch of people in the subway. Thankfully, he was not successful. He got into our country through chain migration. So if your -- if his family had 17 kids, all of them can come in, all of their kids can come in, all of grandparents can come in. What do you think about it? 

GERALDO RIVERA: Well, first of all, I was absolutely agonizing over not being in New York on Monday. I was in Cleveland, our new home. And I felt so much for Times Square a block away, and it was awful what happened. And thank God he was an absolute bumble bum that he blew his own belly. I want them all to end that way. 

On the issue of immigration, I think the visa lottery has outlived its usefulness. I think that when you compare the Visa diversity lottery recipients, winners, with the DREAM Act students, for example -- if you're talking about groups of immigrants -- one is absolutely unvetted or only vetted after the fact. The other is so vetted that you know whether they have a cavity or not. You know exactly where they were born. You know exactly what they're doing. You  know exactly where they are now. That I think, the DREAM Act, is exactly the way immigration should happen. The Visa lottery, why this whole concept of winning? It's not about gambling. It's about -- immigration should serve, yes, a humanitarian purpose. But also, it should also strengthen the country. 


PETE HEGSETH  (CO-HOST): Should chain migration be significantly curtailed? Because --

RIVERA: It depends.

HEGSETH: Take Somalis in Minneapolis, where we've had some serious terror issues. The entire city of Mogadishu's coming if you don't put some barriers around it.

RIVERA: Right. And having covered Mogadishu from the ground, I can tell you it's a place that does not breed people who are going to study and be law-abiding. It's a crazy, anarchistic, violence place.


PolitiFact: Diversity visa applicants are vetted, despite contrary claim from White House press secretary

Slate: Somali Refugees Are Not a Threat


5 examples of misinformation in one Fox & Friends segment about the NYC truck attack, debunked 

Fox and Breitbart are helping Trump mainstream the term “chain migration,” a misleading nativist buzzword

Reporters challenge Trump administration official on whether there is a link to chain migration and terrorism; USCIS director couldn't answer

Fox's Hegseth Attacks Minneapolis Mayor For Going To A Mosque To Give Her State Of The City Address

Breitbart editor-in-chief: We had to defend Roy Moore from child molestation accusations to protect Trump from his accusers
December 31st, 1969, 02:50 PM

ALEX MARLOW (HOST): In hindsight guys, look, it's a -- there was no option at Breitbart -- and I will try to articulate this over and over. There was no option to throw Judge [Roy] Moore under the bus. If you set the standard that Roy Moore, who was accused of abusing five women, three of whom -- or six women, three of whom were not actually accusing him of doing anything illegal, two of whom either had a massive conflict of interest or were entirely uncredible for putting out a forged yearbook, that left one accuser and it was a he said, she said. If you make that the standard, the left is going to use it to take out President Trump. There was never any reason to cave unless you have a -- unless you would like President Trump to get removed from office, and if not even removed from office, at least have massive distractions from his agenda so that we never accomplish anything for the remainder of the president's term. And much of the Republican Party wants that. Much of the Republican Party does not see that as a negative. 

When you've got a race when you've got a horrible candidate. Let's not -- you guys are being too polite about Roy Moore, he was a terrible candidate. His message did not resonate, he had all the baggage, he had the scandal. When he'd run for statewide office he'd only won in very tight races or relatively tight, considering he's the Republican. Roy Moore was not a good candidate at all. 


Breitbart’s Joel Pollak argues Roy Moore’s reported sexual relationships with teenagers were “perfectly legitimate”

Roy Moore's email fundraising has heavily relied on

Breitbart editor-in-chief: Reports that Roy Moore molested a teenage girl are "a politically coordinated attack"

Breitbart runs defense after women say Roy Moore made sexual advances while they were teenagers

CNN's Christiane Amanpour: Trump's attacks on journalistic credibility are endangering foreign journalists in repressive regimes
December 31st, 1969, 02:50 PM

ANDERSON COOPER (HOST): We're in this extraordinary situation where dictators now can dismiss a free press as fake news, and are basically given permission to do so by the leader of the free world.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Anderson, you know, from my vantage point here overseas, and I've been following and tracking this ever since the word "fake news" came out of the president's mouth, before he was even inaugurated, we have seen an exponential increase in the harassment, the imprisonment, the assault of journalists all over the world.

You just have to look at the statistics of the Committee to Protect Journalists, and others who track journalists' safety. It really is a problem, whether it's in Russia with Vladimir Putin, whether it's in Turkey with President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan, or in the Philippines with President [Rodrigo] Duterte, and many other countries.

Of course, when they see the president of the United States -- first of all, it gives them a carte blanche, but even worse, they figure that if it comes from the president of the United States, at least he must know what he's talking about, there must be a grain of truth.

It's not like they're saying, "Oh, well he's giving us cover," they think "Maybe he's actually speaking the truth against us," and that's what's very, very dangerous.


The Trump Administration's War On The Press

Trump Just Blacklisted Media Outlets. We Warned You This Would Happen.

The White House and Trump’s propagandists teamed up to attack CNN at today’s press briefing

Fox correspondent: "I want to free Donald Trump from Mueller"    
December 31st, 1969, 02:50 PM

GERALDO RIVERA: Let's clean this up, let's end this --

SEAN HANNITY (HOST): Wait a minute. Hillary bought and paid for Russian lies, salacious -- a dossier to influence the American people! We know that as a fact, counselor.

RIVERA: Yes, I -- I don't dispute that.

HANNITY: My friend --

RIVERA: What I want to do is let this president -- I want to free Donald Trump.

JESSICA TARLOV: He's plenty free, he does whatever he wants.

RIVERA: I want to free Donald Trump from Mueller. I want him to go on and be president.


Trump's lie about Manafort's illegal activity predating his campaign came from Fox News

Geraldo and Hannity attack women for speaking out against Weinstein after NY Times exposed him

"Personal Gestapo," "witness intimidation," and "a witch hunt": How pro-Trump media reacted to the Manafort raid

Tucker Carlson agrees with guest that rape culture is "predictable" because we teach sex education in public institutions
December 31st, 1969, 02:50 PM

EVERETT PIPER: When we teach that sex is recreational rather than moral  we shouldn't be surprised to find a culture of men that behave licentiously. This is predictable. When we teach that sex is something that you can experiment with rather than something that you should be morally responsible for I think you can see what you’re going to have in culture as a result of that.

TUCKER CARLSON (HOST): I agree with that of course, I mean I think you’re obviously right.


PIPER: All of these institutions have been celebrating sexual license for decades. In other words, they’ve been giving instruction manuals, literal instruction manuals in how to engage in sexual activities with the hope and the prayer that a thin layer of latex will keep our kids from getting a disease. Now when there is no moral boundary left in that educational discussion other than consent, if you can merely find somebody that will consent to your libidinous appetite then what was wrong five minutes ago becomes okay because you found a willing accomplice. When that is the discussion that revolves around the sexual appetite of our culture then we’re going to have a predicable consequence that you see on the nightly news and that’s why I’m talking to you.


Breitbart editor-in-chief: Sexual assault and harassment allegations against Trump are “trumped up and bogus”

Following Roy Moore loss, Sean Hannity attempts to distance himself from Moore after defending him from sexual assault allegations 

Rush Limbaugh complains that "women are believed" when they say they've been sexually harassed

CNN contributor Ed Martin on fellow CNN employees and co-panelists: They're "black racists" and "rabid feminists"
December 31st, 1969, 02:50 PM

During his December 13 radio show, CNN pro-Trump contributor Ed Martin attacked his fellow CNN employees calling them "rabid feminists" and "black racists" while calling the network "the swamp" and "the beast." 

During coverage of the December 12 Alabama special election, Martin shilled for Trump and for defeated Alabama senatorial candidate Roy Moore while aggressively confronting fellow contributor and panel member Ana Navarro. Others on the panel included Symone Sanders and journalist April Ryan. The following day, while hosting his radio show The Ed Martin Movement, Martin attacked his co-panelists, calling them "rabid feminists" and "black racists." Martin, who has previously called CNN "fake news," also went after the network, referring to it as "the swamp."

ED MARTIN: What happens when you're trying to drain the swamp, is the swamp fights back. And so when I was in Washington, D.C., last night, and you might have seen it if you saw it, it was a hot night, a hot topic. It was a wild panel, we had two or three people on there that were just rabid feminists, actually racial -- racists, two of the women were racists, they were just racists, black racists. Everything that you say is going to be called racist. I mean, it was outrageous, but anyway. 


Roy Moore's problem was not only the accusations that were, I think, unfairly leveled against him  -- and they were you know, attacks on whether 40 years ago he had abused someone, or misused someone or mistreated someone. But then they were down the stretch they were he had said things about various positions including slavery and homosexuality and things, and they were all characterized in a way. None of that matters when I tell you the following fact, as I sat on the stage, on the set in the CNN studios. I mean, I go into the swamp, I enter the beast so you don't have to, so I can report back on what I found and here's what I found. What you need to know, what you need to know, what you must know, what you hear after I tell you, what you will now know, and what you can't forget, it has to inform what you do. As I sat on the stage next to this woman that's just racist, who went crazy, and everything is about race, she confessed -- that's the word I'd use -- but she confessed that her groups had 'mobilized,' that's the term they used, 'mobilized' voters in Alabama spending up to $3 million dollars to mobilize black voters in the cities.

While Martin has only been a CNN contributor for a few months, he has already raised eyebrows. Earlier this week, Martin defended Moore's dismissive comments about slavery by stating, "when the Jews were in bondage for years, they still loved each other." Previously, he attacked a woman who reported that Roy Moore molested her as a child, asking, "what is this woman? She's got multiple bankruptcies." He also defended President Donald Trump's ethnically-based insults against Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) calling them "fun and effective," and "100 percent" appropriate.

(h/t Right Wing Watch's Miranda Blue)

Rupert Murdoch says Fox News harassment stopped with Roger Ailes. He couldn't be more wrong. 
December 31st, 1969, 02:50 PM

Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

Fox News executive chairman Rupert Murdoch reportedly said in a Sky interview that the network’s ongoing culture of sexual harassment was actually “all nonsense” and consisted simply of “isolated incidents.” Murdoch further asserted that the harassment at Fox was only perpetrated by former chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, and “there’s been nothing else since then.”

Ailes was first publicly named for serial harassment in July 2016 when former Fox host Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit detailing how Ailes and Steve Doocy -- the current co-host of Fox & Friends -- made “sexually-charged comments” and were “sexist and condescending” toward her, respectively. The lawsuit also said Ailes made “demands for sex as a way to improve her job standing.” At least 25 women have come forward with stories of Ailes’ misconduct and harassment. Ailes resigned 2 weeks later. Ailes’ pattern of behavior, spanning at least a decade, seems far worse than a series of “isolated incidents.”

What’s more, since Ailes’ departure on July 21, 2016:

  • The New York Times reported that (now former) Fox News host Bill O’Reilly and/or Fox News parent company 21st Century Fox had made at least six settlements for sexual misconduct -- including one for an astounding $32 million.
  • Fox suspended and conducted an internal investigation into Fox Business host Charles Payne after frequent Fox guest Scottie Nell Hughes reported that Payne had coerced her into a years-long relationship “under threat of reprisals." Payne was later cleared by the internal investigation, but is now named in a lawsuit from Hughes alleging rape and retaliation by Payne.
  • Fox News suspended, then “part[ed] ways amicably” with co-host Eric Bolling amid an investigation into claims he sent “unsolicited photos of male genitalia to current and former female colleagues at the network.”
  • Newsweek wrote about public reports of misconduct by Fox News co-host Juan Williams when he worked at The Washington Post. Fox News hired him years after the harassment claims were public.
  • A video of Bette Midler’s interview with Barbara Walters in 1991 resurfaced in which Midler described Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera assaulting her. Midler shared the video herself, and reiterated her story, also saying Rivera never apologized. The video’s resurfacing coincided with Rivera publicly defending reported harassment and assault by former NBC host Matt Lauer. The following day, Fox News said it was “troubled” by Rivera’s comments and Rivera later tweeted apologies about his statements, as well as a (sort-of) apology to Midler.

So it sure seems like there’s been some other things since Ailes left!

This isn’t the first time lately Fox has tried to congratulate itself on handling sexual harassment complaints lately. It’s just the most bizarre.