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Republicans, Fox News and Right-Wing Media Use Lies, Fear, Hate, Racism, Propaganda, Alternative Facts and Conspiracy Theories to Divide America and Promote the Rabbit Right Agenda - Page 2

By Lucian K. Truscott IV

I just got a death threat from a coward on Facebook, but It's the guys in ties on the TV I'm worried about. Some guy named James Neally, sent me a death threat a couple of weeks ago via Facebook Messenger. “Keep taling (sic) about the potus that way you did in your last article and it will be the end of you and your family.” Nice, huh? I spent several hours talking to the FBI about it this week. They’re trying to find James Neally and they’re not having much success. Facebook won’t reveal their records on Neally’s account to the FBI. He’s got a YouTube channel, on which he posted several videos of himself playing “Cripple Creek” on the banjo, but when I linked to one of the videos on my Facebook page, he took all of them down. He’s hiding now, which is what white supremacist right-wing fanatics do when they’re not actually going out and killing people, like Patrick Crusius did last week when he shot 22 people to death at a Walmart and wounded dozens of others. Going to a Synagogue, or a Walmart, or a public school, or a nightclub, or a movie theater and gunning down a bunch of people down, is what these guys do when they want to spread the evil lies of white supremacy. They seek attention, and they get it by killing people. We have a legitimate reason to be afraid of Patrick Crusius and his ilk because their deranged attachment to white supremacy causes them to kill people to bring attention to their cause. But I don’t think there’s much cause to fear the James Neallys of this world, because all they’re trying to do is shut you up. They don’t want people like me writing the things I write because it threatens their fellow white supremacists. In James Neally’s case, the white supremacist he’s trying to protect is the president of the United States.

By Marlow Stern

The “Real Time” host wasn’t buying the Fox News blowhard’s outrageous claim in the wake of the El Paso massacre. “What a shitty week, right?” announced Bill Maher. “Poor El Paso and Dayton, still reeling from two disasters: a mass shooting and a Trump visit.” The comedian kicked off the latest edition of his show Real Time with an extended rant on President Trump’s bizarre, self-centered reaction to the horrifying mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, that left 30 people dead—including a visit to a hospital in El Paso where Trump ordered an orphaned baby whose parents were both killed in the shooting back to the hospital so it could pose for photos with the president and first lady, since none of the eight gunshot victims being treated in the hospital were willing to do so, according to a CNN report. “We know now this pattern we’ve always seen where whenever there’s a tragedy, it’s always about how he’s feeling, right?!” Maher exclaimed. “It’s like, is he OK? This week after the massacres, he attacked the media, Obama, Google, Sherrod Brown, the mayor of Dayton, Beto, California, Sleepy Joe. He’s the only president who thinks ‘Consoler-in-Chief’ means you console him.”

Posted By Tim Hains

CNN contributor Rick Wilson responds to FOX News host Tucker Carlson, who has been arguing that the media's focus on racial divides is an effort to distract people from class divides: RICK WILSON: Tonight smelled like an awful lot like -- although FOX has an internal philosophy of "never apologize, never back down," that somebody finally said, wait a minute, every one of these idiots with a manifesto, it could be right off of Tucker Carlson's teleprompter...

By Justin Baragona

“White supremacy is real, as evidenced by fact,” one Fox reporter publicly declared on Twitter following primetime star Tucker Carlson’s claim that white supremacy is a “hoax.” Three days after Fox News host Tucker Carlson declared on-air that white supremacy is a “hoax,” his colleague, Fox News reporter Cristina Corbin, tweeted out a rebuke of the primetime star’s comments, noting that his views do not represent hers. “White supremacy is real, as evidenced by fact,” she wrote on Friday. “Claims that it is a ‘hoax’ do not represent my views.” Corbin is currently listed on Fox News’ website as “an investigative reporter and producer based in New York.” Her bio page was still active as of this article’s publication. Her most recent article with Fox News, a report on Canadian murder suspects, was published on July 31. White supremacy is real, as evidenced by fact. Claims that it is a "hoax" do not represent my views. — Cristina Corbin (@CristinaCorbin) August 9, 2019. Corbin’s public pushback on Carlson is reminiscent of another recent episode in which a lower-level Fox News employee publicly took a stand against a right-wing host on the network.

Analysis by Julia Horowitz, CNN Business

London (CNN Business) The insurrection at the US Capitol has sparked a political firestorm and unnerved millions of Americans. It has also unleashed a wave of criticism over the role played by pro-Trump media outlets such as Fox News, which fed lies and conspiracy theories about the election to angry supporters of the president for weeks. "The mob that stormed and desecrated the Capitol ... could not have existed in a country that hadn't been radicalized by the likes of [Fox News hosts] Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham, and swayed by biased news coverage," wrote Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan. But are the airwaves of any democracy free of this kind of harmful propaganda and downright fiction? The United Kingdom, for one, comes pretty close. Though the UK media scene is defined in part by a freewheeling and often partisan tabloid press with its own share of conspiracy theories, its TV news channels largely frame their coverage down the middle, with broadcasters such as the BBC and ITV maintaining high levels of public trust. Rupert Murdoch's Fox News is no longer on air in the country after failing to generate a significant viewer base. more...

Guess what happens when you tell people, over and over, that they’re being robbed? They may believe you.
By Peter Kafka

For more than two months, Fox News has been telling its viewers that the presidential election has been stolen. Or, at the very least, it could have been stolen. Now, facing the fatal consequence of that lie — a riot at the US Capitol that left at least four people dead — America’s most popular news network is telling its viewers the events were sad but also understandable. Because voters think the presidential election was stolen. “We got to this sad chaotic day for a reason. It is not your fault; it is their fault,” Fox’s Tucker Carlson said last night in his opening monologue, arguing that “millions of Americans sincerely believe the last election was fake.” You could hear the same argument throughout all of Fox’s programming Wednesday night. “Does anybody in the media, anybody in the left, do they want to understand how hundreds of thousands of Americans, what motivated them to leave their homes and their towns and their cities and often fly or come long distances to be at the massive rally?” Sean Hannity asked Wednesday night. And Fox and Friends host Brian Kilmeade had at least part of an answer: It was a “frustrated electorate” who felt they “haven’t had their day in court.” more...

*** Tucker Carlson is a lair and Jill Biden is smarter than Tucker Carlson so what does that say about him. ***

By Justine Coleman

Fox News host Tucker Carlson doubled down on mocking incoming first lady Jill Biden on his Wednesday show, labeling her as “illiterate” and blasting her doctoral dissertation.  On his Wednesday show, Carlson continued his criticism against Biden and her doctoral degree in education, piling on earlier attacks after The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed last week encouraging her not to use the “Dr.” title as a nonmedical doctor. On air, Carlson took to criticizing and nitpicking Biden’s doctoral dissertation, which she earned from the University of Delaware in 2007, calling it “our national shame.”

“Dr. Jill needs reading glasses,” he said. “Either that or she’s borderline illiterate. There are typos everywhere including in the first graph of the introduction. Dr. Jill can’t write. She can’t really think clearly either.” “The whole thing is just incredibly embarrassing and not simply to poor illiterate Jill Biden but to the college that considered this crap scholarship, embarrassing in fact to our entire system of higher education, to the nation itself,” Carlson added. The Fox News host, who regularly scrutinizes President-elect Joe Biden, began his segment by detailing an imaginary incident in which the viewer has a massive coronary, is taken to Jill Biden instead of a medical doctor and therefore dies. In his criticism of her dissertation, Carlson pointed out numerical inconsistencies and said parts “seem to be written in a foreign language in English words” and are “pure nonsense.” more...

Non-partisan expert brought in for ‘assessment of Smartmatic and recent claims about the company’
Louise Hall

Fox has aired a series of unusual news packages debunking baseless claims of electoral fraud made on the network in the wake of a legal threat filed against the broadcaster by an electronic voting company. The segment, which aired during the shows of Fox hosts Lou Dobbs, Jeanine Pirro and Maria Bartiromo’s over the weekend, featured an interview with voting technology expert Eddie Perez. The shows, whose hosts are ardent supporters of the president, were all mentioned in a demand letter from Smartmatic threatening legal action over an accused “disinformation campaign” against the company by Fox News.

In the clip, the nonpartisan expert from the Palo Alto-based Open Source Election Technology, debunks claims about the company platformed on the network. “There are lots of opinions of the integrity of the election, the irregularities of mail-in voting, of election voting machines and voting software,” Mr Dobbs said in a preface to the interview. more...

By Oliver Darcy, CNN Business

New York (CNN Business) A voting technology company swept up in baseless conspiracy theories about the 2020 election said on Monday that it had sent legal notices to Fox News and two other right-wing media companies for participating in a "disinformation campaign" aimed at damaging it. The company, Smartmatic, said that Fox News, One America News, and Newsmax have helped spread false and defamatory claims that are not supported by real evidence and could easily have been debunked with basic research.

"They have no evidence to support their attacks on Smartmatic because there is no evidence," Smartmatic chief executive Antonio Mugica said in a statement. "This campaign was designed to defame Smartmatic and undermine legitimately conducted elections." As President Donald Trump continues to attack the integrity of the voting system, some of his allies have homed in on Smartmatic because of the services it provided Los Angeles County for the 2020 election.

The baseless conspiracy theories peddled about Smartmatic, which mimic those pushed against Dominion Voting Systems, falsely suggest that the company's technology allowed the November vote to be rigged against Trump. Some strains of the conspiracy theory have aimed to tie the company to the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez and George Soros, the billionaire philanthropist who is portrayed as a boogeyman in right-wing media. more...

*** Hannity is helping Trump steal an election that has already been decided, this sounds like Russian propaganda. ***

'If we don't fix what is a broken, corrupt election system, the country is in deep trouble' Fox News host says
By Yael Halon | Fox News

A lawsuit filed by Texas and backed by 17 other states at the Supreme Court could be our country's last hope at fixing "a broken, corrupt election system" and restoring public faith in the U.S. voting process, Sean Hannity said Wednesday. "Tonight, one thing is very clear," the "Hannity" host said at the start of his opening monologue. "If we don't fix what is a broken, corrupt election system, the country is in deep trouble." Missouri on Wednesday led the group of 17 states that filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court supporting the lawsuit aimed at delaying the appointment of presidential electors from Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. The suit is "truly significant," Hannity said, and is perceived as the Trump campaign's last-ditch legal effort to contest the 2020 election results. more...

By Oliver Darcy, CNN Business

Since he was confirmed as attorney general, William Barr has been somewhat of a hero in the right-wing media universe. He has assailed the Russia probe. He has talked a big game about cracking down on Antifa. He has sharply criticized the news media. On and on it goes. But his celebrity status took a hit on Tuesday when he undercut President Trump's brazenly false contention that there was massive voter fraud in the 2020 election. Speaking to the Associated Press, Barr said that, "to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election."

The statement from Barr, which merely recited a simple fact, not only cut against what Trump has been saying, but also what Trump's propagandists and allies in right-wing media have been feeding their audiences. For weeks, these media personalities have strung their audiences along, suggesting that damning proof of fraud was just around the corner. Which is why the comment from Barr stung so bad.

The comment effectively forced these right-wing stars to pick between acknowledging the reality Barr laid out or continuing Trump's fantasy. Trump's most devoted propagandists chose the latter. And so they started to throw Barr under the bus, just as they've done with every other conservative who has dared to contradict the president. (Think about how former conservative stars such as Jeff Sessions, Justin Amash, Paul Ryan, and others were treated when they didn't blindly oblige Trump's demands.)

"A liar or a fool or both"
Fox Business host Lou Dobbs, whose conspiratorial program is a favorite of the president, attacked Barr in brutal terms on his show. "For the attorney general of the United States to make that statement — he is either a liar or a fool or both," Dobbs said. Dobbs then went further, suggesting Barr was "perhaps compromised." He characterized Barr as having "appeared to join in with the radical Dems and the deep-state and the resistance." more...

This came hours after the attorney general said there was no evidence of widespread, election-changing fraud in the 2020 race.
Justin Baragona

Fox Business Network host and top Donald Trump sycophant Lou Dobbs was absolutely beside himself on Tuesday over the news that Attorney General William Barr said there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the election results. Dobbs even accused Trump’s loyal A.G. of being part of the “deep state” and “perhaps compromised.” The pro-Trump TV personality, who has been one of the loudest boosters of the president’s baseless “rigged” election narrative, kicked off his program Tuesday evening by erupting at the attorney general for admitting the Justice Department has been unable to find any proof to back Trump’s claims that President-elect Joe Biden “stole” the election.

Grumbling that Barr has “been absent for weeks,” Dobbs insisted that the president’s legal team is “making advances” in the “battle for the White House” while reassuring his viewers that the campaign’s beyond-longshot lawsuits will “bolster President Trump’s charge that there has been clear electoral fraud.” Dobbs went on to complain that while the president’s “progress” in his quest to claim victory in the election has put him at odds with “insidious RINOs” and the “deep state,” a member of Trump’s “own cabinet appeared to join in with the radical Dems and the deep state and the resistance.”

Seething at Barr’s remarks about the lack of evidence of voter fraud, Dobbs—who also serves as an informal Trump adviser—blasted the attorney general in an extremely personal manner. “For the attorney general of the United States to make that statement, he is either a liar or a fool or both,” he exclaimed. “He may be, um, perhaps compromised. He may be simply unprincipled. Or he may be personally distraught or ill!” The Fox Business host would go on to cite the various conspiracies and unfounded allegations that Trump and his legal team have peddled, despite the fact that the president’s legal challenges have repeatedly been laughed out of court and states continue to certify their votes. more...

By Emily Czachor

Fox News anchor Eric Shawn responded to Donald Trump's election fraud allegations on Sunday afternoon, highlighting the lack of existing evidence to support claims that unlawful conduct distorted results in his Democratic opponent's favor. Intertwining additional commentary into an interview with Axios political reporter Hans Nichols, which focused on Trump's conversation with Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo hours earlier, Shawn noted that the president's efforts to challenge election results have earned widespread backlash.

"It seems that we have a president who, he can't wrap his brain or mind around the fact that, he can't process the fact that someone who he thinks is so inferior to him won the election," the Fox anchor said, after initially referencing comments from critics who "say [Trump's] claims are unsupported, reckless and incendiary."

Speaking to Bartiromo Sunday morning, Trump reiterated unproven accusations that seek to undermine the race's outcome during his first televised interview since Election Day. While addressing his campaign's efforts to challenge election procedures in court, Trump rattled off a number claims that echoed those frequently shared by his legal team as well as himself on social media. Trump suggested that ballots cast by Republican voters were discarded in parts of the country where a majority of support went to Joe Biden, and "massive dumps of votes" were illegitimately tallied after November 3. Those are two of many unfounded theories he shared during the interview. more...

Matthew Brown USA TODAY

Sen. Blunt refuses to call Biden president-elect, echoes election misinformation. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., declined to acknowledge Joe Biden was "president-elect" during an interview Sunday with CNN’s "State of the Union." The refusal came as President Donald Trump and many elected Republicans continue to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the 2020 election. "The president-elect technically has to be elected president by the electors. That happens in the middle of December,"  Blunt correctly said, sidestepping the reality that there is no doubt the electors will choose Biden as the next president of the United States.

"There is no official job president-elect," Blunt said, arguing that the distinction was a "straw man" created by the media. But in 2016, Blunt’s office published a press release "congratulating President-elect Donald Trump" the day after the election and long before the electors met. Federal and state courts have found the Trump campaign’s claims of fraud to be unfounded. While Blunt’s comments casting doubt on Biden's status as president-elect echo the Trump campaign’s attacks on the legitimacy of the election, he did not go so far as to claim the election was stolen, as Trump has baselessly contended.

"I don't think it was rigged but I do think there was some things that were done that shouldn't have been done," Blunt said without specifying what potential election wrongdoing he was referencing. "And I think there was some element of voter fraud as there is in every election. But I don't have any reason to believe that the numbers are there that would have made that difference.” more...

By Tim Elfrink

As Fox News host Tucker Carlson noted on Thursday night, he’s more than willing to give airtime to outlandish claims. “We literally do UFO segments,” he said. But even Carlson said he was fed up with the total lack of evidence produced by Sidney Powell, one of the Trump campaign’s attorneys, for her unfounded allegation that electronic voting systems had switched millions of ballots to favor President-elect Joe Biden.

“We invited Sidney Powell on the show. We would have given her the whole hour,” Carlson said. “But she never sent us any evidence, despite a lot of requests, polite requests. Not a page. When we kept pressing, she got angry and told us to stop contacting her.” Carlson also noted: “She never demonstrated that a single actual vote was moved illegitimately by software from one candidate to another. Not one.” more...

By Morgan Chalfant

Fox News on Monday cut away from a press conference during which White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany accused Democrats of “welcoming” fraud and illegal voting. “She is charging that the other side is welcoming fraud and welcoming illegal voting. Unless she has more details to back that up, I can’t in good countenance continuing showing you this,” Fox News host Neil Cavuto said on air as the network cut away from the press conference in Washington, D.C. “Maybe they do have something to back that up, but that’s an explosive charge to make that the other side is effectively rigging and cheating,” Cavuto continued. more...

Fox News has always been partisan. But has it become propaganda?
By Jane Mayer

In January, during the longest government shutdown in America’s history, President Donald Trump rode in a motorcade through Hidalgo County, Texas, eventually stopping on a grassy bluff overlooking the Rio Grande. The White House wanted to dramatize what Trump was portraying as a national emergency: the need to build a wall along the Mexican border. The presence of armored vehicles, bales of confiscated marijuana, and federal agents in flak jackets underscored the message.

But the photo op dramatized something else about the Administration. After members of the press pool got out of vans and headed over to where the President was about to speak, they noticed that Sean Hannity, the Fox News host, was already on location. Unlike them, he hadn’t been confined by the Secret Service, and was mingling with Administration officials, at one point hugging Kirstjen Nielsen, the Secretary of Homeland Security. The pool report noted that Hannity was seen “huddling” with the White House communications director, Bill Shine. After the photo op, Hannity had an exclusive on-air interview with Trump. Politico later reported that it was Hannity’s seventh interview with the President, and Fox’s forty-second. Since then, Trump has given Fox two more. He has granted only ten to the three other main television networks combined, and none to CNN, which he denounces as “fake news.” more...

Tucker also said that while UPS found the flash drive containing his “damning” Hunter Biden documents, he still believes that someone purposely tried to steal the docs.
Justin Baragona

Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who has obsessively covered Hunter Biden’s emails since the story exploded in conservative media earlier this month, suddenly said on Thursday night that he didn’t want to be involved with “piling on” Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s son. In recent weeks, following the New York Post reporting on unverified material purportedly obtained from a laptop belonging to Hunter Biden, Carlson has been at the forefront of Fox News’ coverage of the story while accusing the Bidens of corruption. This includes an exclusive interview with Tony Bobulinski, a former associate of Hunter’s who claims Joe Biden is lying about having no involvement in his son’s Chinese business deals. Numerous outlets, including Fox News’ news division, have reported that a review of corporate records and documents provided by Bobulinski reveals “no role for Joe Biden.”

Carlson, meanwhile, dropped a curious story on Wednesday night apparently introducing a whole new twist in the saga. Hinting at a nefarious plot by Deep State actors, the Fox News star told viewers that “damning” Hunter Biden documents that were shipped to him had “vanished,” adding that it was deeply concerning that such a thing could happen to a “trove of materials that are directly relevant to the presidential campaign that’s six days away.” Later that evening, he told a reporter that “someone’s reading our texts,” implying that he was being spied upon. By Thursday morning, despite the missing documents being found by shipping company UPS, Carlson continued to hint at malfeasance on the part of unnamed operatives who didn’t want the Biden documents to come out. more...

He killed the Stormy Daniels story. Now he’s pushing materials he allegedly got via the Delaware computer repairman who claimed to have Hunter’s laptops.
Erin Banco, Justin Baragona, Adam Rawnsley, Jordan Howell

When John Paul Mac Isaac, a computer repairman from Delaware, first spoke to reporters about how he ended up in the middle of one of the most politically controversial sagas of 2020, he said he handed over what he believed to be Hunter Biden’s laptop to the FBI because he felt it was his civic duty to do so. Mac Isaac, in his telling, was overwhelmed and frightened, but also a whistleblower who wanted to help his country. “I saw stuff that made me uncomfortable. I felt afraid,” he told reporters. “And I just wanted it to go away.”

What Mac Isaac left out of his recounting is that he also actively tried to push the story of the Hunter Biden laptops into the press after contacting the FBI. The Daily Beast has learned that Mac Isaac sought out a family member to help put him in touch with a conservative media personality who could disseminate contents of the hard drive to the public.

Eventually, Mac Isaac connected with Ken LaCorte, a former Fox News executive who effectively killed a story about the hush money deal between Stormy Daniels and Donald Trump in 2016. LaCorte told The Daily Beast this week that someone in Mac Isaac’s family reached out to a friend, a former News Corp employee, who then got in touch with him to make the connection with Mac Isaac.

LaCorte, who has written about his conversations with Mac Isaac, wouldn’t provide the names of either individual who helped make the connection but said that the Mac Isaac family member knew the News Corp employee socially. Two other individuals familiar with the situation said Mac Isaac communicated with his father, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel, about the laptop, its contents, and going to the FBI.

“I trust them,” Mac Isaac said of the person he reached out to for help. “They are better at this political spy press thing than I am. I wanted to get it out of the store and I wanted to do it safely. So I wanted someone who could vet who they are talking to and get a good vibe about them before they pass them over to me.” Mac Isaac later said he felt as though the FBI was trying to cover up the story behind the laptops. more...

“Come out and tell us why. Now we’re all ears, you have a full hour of the show. It’s all yours,” Hannity exclaimed while a Fox camera was perched outside Biden's house.
Justin Baragona

Fox News host Sean Hannity took his already over-the-top promotion of the Hunter Biden laptop story to new heights on Tuesday night, setting up a camera outside Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s house and calling for Biden to “walk outside” and do a live interview to “answer these pressing questions.” Over the past few days, Trumpworld has gone all-in on Trump personal attorney Rudy Giuliani’s “October surprise”—a series of New York Post stories centered on materials purportedly from Hunter Biden's laptop that supposedly show “smoking gun” evidence of corruption on the part of the Bidens. The emails that have been disseminated so far, however, do not show any direct wrongdoing.

While conservative media has run wild with the story of the supposed corruption involving China and the Ukrainian gas company Burisma, mainstream outlets have shown restraint in reporting it out, due to questions about the provenance of the supposed laptop and materials, Giuliani’s reputation as a hatchet man for President Donald Trump, and concerns it could be part of a targeted disinformation campaign. Credibility concerns around the story reportedly even exist within the Post itself, as reporters declined to have their bylines on the initial story and have decried the “flimsy” journalistic standards of the report. Hannity kicked off his program by noting that Fox News—whose news division reportedly passed on the story initially because of its lack of credibility—is now reporting that a law enforcement official says the FBI concurs that Hunter Biden’s emails and laptop aren’t part of a Russian disinformation plot. He then addressed the former vice president through the camera while the screen showed Biden’s darkened house. more...

Bill McCarthy

Tucker Carlson distorts new CDC report, makes false mask claim. The CDC report showed a correlation between testing positive for the coronavirus and going to bars and restaurants, where masks can’t be effectively worn. That counters Carlson’s claim that the July cases were “wearing a mask” and “infected anyway.”

The CDC report did not assess the impact of mask wearing on getting the coronavirus, and the study’s authors said the participants might not be representative of the U.S. The study dealt with 154 people who tested positive in July, not all the positive cases in July. Masks are most effective as "source control," preventing infected people from transmitting the virus. Experts say they offer the wearer some — but not total — protection. More...

*** Numerous studies and trials showed Hydroxychloroquine provided little to no benefit in treating coronavirus. ***

The Fox News star also claimed that the nation is currently on the “back end” of the pandemic, despite surging cases and the president testing positive.
Justin Baragona

Fox News host Sean Hannity reacted to the news of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis by touting the ineffective COVID-19 therapeutic hydroxychloroquine, claiming the nation is on the “back end” of the pandemic, and boasting that the president’s partial China travel restriction saved millions of Americans lives. The world stopped late Thursday night after it was revealed that the president and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for COVID-19, which has killed over 200,000 Americans. The news came as close White House aide Hope Hicks also tested positive for the disease.

Cable news networks scrambled to cover the bombshell news, especially Fox News, which was airing a repeat of Hannity at the time. Shortly after 1 a.m. ET, a substitute anchor was rushed on-air and Hannity himself called into the network to discuss the president’s illness. Earlier in the evening, the close Trump confidante had conducted a phone interview with the president, which featured Trump noting that he was waiting on his COVID-19 test results following Hicks coming up positive. more...

David Folkenflik

Tucker Carlson appears to be made of Teflon. Fox News' top-rated host has been repeatedly accused of anti-immigrant and racist comments, which have cost his political opinion show many of its major advertisers. Yet Carlson endures in his prime-time slot. Carlson even attacked his own network's chief news anchor on the air, with no real consequences. That anchor, Shepard Smith, quit mid-contract shortly after Carlson went after him.

Now comes the claim that you can't expect to literally believe the words that come out of Carlson's mouth. And that assertion is not coming from Carlson's critics. It's being made by a federal judge in the Southern District of New York and by Fox News's own lawyers in defending Carlson against accusations of slander. It worked, by the way.

Just read U.S. District Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil's opinion, leaning heavily on the arguments of Fox's lawyers: The "'general tenor' of the show should then inform a viewer that [Carlson] is not 'stating actual facts' about the topics he discusses and is instead engaging in 'exaggeration' and 'non-literal commentary.' " She wrote: "Fox persuasively argues, that given Mr. Carlson's reputation, any reasonable viewer 'arrive[s] with an appropriate amount of skepticism' about the statement he makes."

Vyskocil, an appointee of President Trump's, added, "Whether the Court frames Mr. Carlson's statements as 'exaggeration,' 'non-literal commentary,' or simply bloviating for his audience, the conclusion remains the same — the statements are not actionable." Vyskocil's ruling last week, dismissing a slander lawsuit filed against Carlson, was a win for Fox, First Amendment principles and the media more generally, as Fox News itself maintains. As a legal matter, the judge ruled that Karen McDougal, the woman suing Carlson, failed to surmount the challenge. But in the process of saving the Fox star, the network's attorneys raised the journalistic question: Just what level of fact-checking does Fox News expect, or subject its opinion shows to?  more...

*** Tucker Carlson is a liar. ***

Sonam Sheth

A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit against Fox News after lawyers for the network argued that no "reasonable viewer" takes the primetime host Tucker Carlson seriously, a new court filing said. The case was brought by the former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who said Carlson defamed her on his show, "Tucker Carlson Tonight," by saying she extorted President Donald Trump "out of approximately $150,000 in exchange for her silence about an alleged affair," the filing said.

Fox News asked the judge to toss out McDougal's case by arguing that "Carlson's statements were not statements of fact and that she failed adequately to allege actual malice." McDougal said two of Carlson's statements during the episode on December 10, 2018, were defamatory: More...

Facebook and Instagram said the Fox News host’s segment about COVID-19 contained false information.
By Josephine Harvey

Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s penchant for sharing misinformation about the coronavirus earned him a slap on the wrist from Facebook and Instagram on Wednesday ― and he didn’t take it well. A video of Carlson’s interview with Chinese virologist Li-Meng Yan was published on his social media accounts Tuesday with the caption “Chinese whistle-blower to Tucker: This virus was made in a lab & I can prove it.”

Scientists who have studied the virus’ genetics have overwhelmingly concluded that it originated in wildlife and was not engineered in a lab. Twitter did not take action against Carlson’s post, but it did suspend Yan’s account. Facebook and Instagram hid the content behind a “false information” label. Viewers were advised that the video “repeats information about COVID-19 that independent fact-checkers say is false.” The segment can still be viewed after clicking past the warning.

In response, Carlson went on a lengthy tirade Wednesday night about how he had been “censored” by Facebook. He dedicated more than 15 minutes of his program to defending Yan’s claims and bashing the social media giant for supposedly bringing an end to free speech. More...

Though Trump answered questions directly from voters in a recent town hall, Ingraham claimed he had been ambushed
Alex Henderson

After President Donald Trump answered questions from U.S. voters and moderator George Stephanopoulos at an ABC News townhall event in Philadelphia on Tuesday night, September 15, Trump supporters were quick to describe it as a gotcha event — including Fox News' Laura Ingraham, who considered the townhall an "ambush." But the following day on CNN, host John King found Ingraham's claim laughable and described Fox News as "state TV."

During the townhall, Trump answered questions on issues ranging from the coronavirus pandemic to racial justice. "On Fox News, Laura Ingraham called this an 'ambush' by ABC," King told reporter Josh Dawsey. "Yeah, ABC put the president of the United States, the leader of democracy, in a room with voters — where he had to answer questions from his citizens. I guess Fox News considers that an ambush. Does the Trump campaign think they should do more of this or, after last night, keep him away from voters?" More...

CNN

A controversial report in The Atlantic that said President Donald Trump disparaged US military members who died in service later had key details confirmed by other news outlets, including Fox News. Hours after network correspondent Jennifer Griffin confirmed portions of the story, Fox News host Greg Gutfeld contradicted her reporting by calling the news "a hoax."

Fox News host Bret Baier highlighted the hypocrisy of the president railing against “cancel culture” while trying to get his Fox colleague fired.
Matt Wilstein - the daily beast

Filling in for Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday this weekend, Bret Baier took the opportunity to accuse President Donald Trump of “cancel culture” hypocrisy for saying Fox News should fire the reporter who confirmed the explosive story from The Atlantic about his verbal attacks on the U.S. military.

“Jennifer Griffin should be fired for this kind of reporting,” the president tweeted on Friday after Fox’s national security correspondent confirmed with her sources that, among other things, he had described U.S. service members as “suckers” and “losers.” Trump added, “Never even called us for comment. @FoxNews is gone!”  “Have you ever heard the president use any of that language about veterans, dead or alive, ever being around him?” Baier asked Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin Sunday morning.

Fox spent hours bashing The Atlantic’s anonymous sourcing before citing unnamed sources to slap the report. (Hours later, another Fox reporter confirmed the original story.)
Justin Baragona - the daily beast

Fox News hosts and pundits spent much of Friday morning pushing back against an eye-popping report from The Atlantic alleging President Donald Trump called fallen military heroes “losers” and “suckers.” The network largely focused on the story’s multiple anonymous sources to suggest it was fabricated.

And without a hint of irony, Fox News correspondent John Roberts on Friday morning cited on-air two anonymous sources refuting the bombshell report, claiming “the president never said that according to both of these sources.” Roberts also backed the president’s denial that he canceled a trip to a France war cemetery “filled with losers” because he didn’t want to get his hair wet.

(UPDATE: Further complicating Fox’s mixed messaging on the use of anonymous sources in reporting, the network’s senior national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin on Friday afternoon confirmed The Atlantic’s reporting. A former Trump official told Griffin that Trump had said aloud that soldiers who went to Vietnam were “suckers,” asked “what’s in it” for vets, suggested “wounded guys” in a military parade would be “not a good look,” and did not want to lower flags for McCain’s death.)

Gutfeld was one of the more forceful critics of Trump’s equivocating on neo-Nazi marchers, but three years later he’s all-in on defending the president.
Justin Baragona

Over the past month, Fox News host Greg Gutfeld has taken it upon himself to defend President Donald Trump’s infamous 2017 remark that there were “very fine people” on both sides of the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville. Reports that Trump said what he said on camera are merely a “hoax” that has been “debunked,” Gutfeld has claimed. The long-time Fox News star hasn’t always seen it this way. In fact, he was among the loudest voices condemning Trump’s “both sides” moral equivocation after it happened. Such a dramatic shift in opinion is perhaps illustrative of Gutfeld’s years-long transition from an irreverent, comedy-adjacent Fox host to yet another one of the network’s many on-air bootlickers in the Trump era.

“I, like many people, never saw the whole tape or read the entire transcript when I made the initial incorrect comment. This is the way of the media: you must comment on a circulating clip—without context, or you’re not doing your job. But once you watch the whole context and read the transcript, you realize the whole thing was selectively edited to appear a way that created the opposite meaning of the truth,” Gutfeld said in a statement to The Daily Beast. “So, unlike many people in the media, I am always happy to change my position when I am wrong. I love doing that. I do realize that leftwing blogs, however, need to cling to this hoax, because it's the centerpiece of their divisive, racial narratives. Now that it's debunked, they are going after the people who simply tweet the transcript, and say, ‘see for yourself.’”

Earlier this month, such right-wing revisionism about the president‘s 2017 remarks flared up when Joe Biden mentioned the “very fine people” incident—during his announcement of Kamala Harris as his running mate—as an impetus for his Democratic presidential bid. Conservatives once again began claiming the president’s equivocation about white nationalists was taken out of context.

“That boy had no business being here, let alone with open carry,” one resident said of the 17-year-old being lionized on the far right for alleged vigilante murder.
Pilar Melende

As Kenosha, Wisconsin, continues to reel from the police shooting of Jacob Blake, residents are increasingly turning their anger to so-called outside agitators who some say invaded the city to sow chaos amongst the protests—and even kill demonstrators. “They [outsiders] tore up our neighborhood, this is our neighborhood, this is where we shop at. These are not Kenosha people,” Lonnie Stewart, 60, told The Daily Beast. “They’re coming to Kenosha, Wisconsin to destroy our city.” Immediately after a Kenosha police officer shot 29-year-old Blake in the back several times as he tried to get into a van with his kids on Sunday, the Wisconsin city descended into fiery unrest against police brutality. Buildings burned, and cars were razed as activists decried yet another act of police violence against a person of color.

That alone provided new fodder for the “outside agitator” narrative—that rogues from out of town have used protests across America over wanton killings by cops as an excuse to riot or incite violence. Those claims haven’t always been baseless, though they are most often used as a premise to crack down on activists. This week, they were also in keeping with the be-very-afraid spirit of the Republican National Convention, which has ignored police violence except to dunk on the unrest that follows it.

By Alexis Benveniste, CNN Business

New York (CNN Business) It's no secret that President Donald Trump is one of America's most avid Fox News watchers. But Trump's love for Fox has changed all Americans' lives. Trump will often hear about news -- or conspiracy theories -- on Fox, and he will create policy based on what he hears on the network. He also frequently calls the network to tell shows what to cover. "It's as if Trump has hijacked Fox News, said CNN's Chief Media Correspondent and anchor of Reliable Sources Brian Stelter in an interview with CNN's Alisyn Camerota Sunday. "Even people who never watch Fox are affected, because the president is misinformed by the channel." For example, President Trump tweeted that Americans shouldn't buy Goodyear tires after he watched a segment on Fox News reporting on how the company told employees not to wear MAGA hats.

His appearances on Fox News also create issues for the American public. Earlier this month, in a clip from an interview with "Fox & Friends," Trump falsely claimed that children are "almost immune" to the coronavirus. Facebook and Twitter recognized that he was sharing false information: Facebook removed the video, which was posted on Trump's account, and Twitter temporarily restricted the Trump campaign's ability to tweet. Twitter said the video was "in violation of the Twitter rules on Covid-19." Stelter delved into the Trump-Fox relationship in his new book "Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth."

CNN Right Now

CNN's Anderson Cooper talks with Miles Taylor, a former Department of Homeland Security official in the Trump administration, about why he called Fox host Lou Dobbs Trump's "shadow chief of staff." Source: CNN

By DAVID BAUDER Associated Press

NEW YORK — Brian Stelter knows critics accuse Fox News of bending the truth in order to maintain its staunch support of and closeness to President Donald Trump. As CNN media reporter and host of “Reliable Sources,” he’s often one of them. He wasn't prepared to hear the extent of concerns about the network's direction by people who work there. It was one of the reasons he wrote “Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth,” which will be released Tuesday. The book shot from No. 340 to No. 1 on Amazon’s best-seller’s list following Stelter’s appearance with Rachel Maddow on MSNBC Friday.

Several people at Fox privately expressed worry to him about the growing power of prime-time opinion hosts Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham at the expense of Fox's news operation, he said. “There is a real resistance inside Fox News,” Stelter told The Associated Press. “Nobody there would use that term. But there are many people there who are uncomfortable with Sean Hannity’s lies and Tucker Carlson’s xenophobia. It’s just that they are powerless, or feel powerless, and the prime-time stars have all the power. There are Trump true believers at Fox, but there are many others who are concerned about the damage being done, and don’t feel that they can speak out publicly.” After being presented with details of the book and phone conversations Thursday and Saturday, a Fox News representative said the network was declining comment.

Dan Mangan

A bombshell lawsuit filed by two women Monday accused former Fox News chief national correspondent Ed Henry of raping one of them and says that the network’s star anchor Sean Hannity once offered $100 to staffers to “date” another woman who also accuses Henry of sexual harassment. The federal suit says that one of the plaintiffs, Cathy Areu, also was sexually harassed by other high-profile men at Fox News, including Hannity, host Tucker Carlson, journalist Howard Kurtz and contributor Gianno Caldwell. The other plaintiff, former Fox Business associate producer Jennifer Eckhart, claims that Henry raped her, in addition to committing other sexual misconduct against her. Areu had been a frequent guest on Fox News, but the network says she was neither an employee nor a contributor. However, the lawsuit identifies her as meeting the definition of an employee, albeit not a full-time one. The Manhattan federal court lawsuit comes three weeks after Fox News fired Henry for what the network said was sexual misconduct.

By Dominic Patten

(UPDATED with Fox News & Ed Henry attorney statements on lawsuit) Tucker Carlson is returning to Fox News Channel tonight after a short vacation, but along with the cabler newser itself, Sean Hannity and the now fired Ed Henry, the top rated host also finds himself in the center of a whole new legal spotlight of alleged misconduct at the now Suzanne Scott and Jay Wallace-run outlet. “It is widely documented in the public record that Fox News has not only cultivated and fostered sexual harassment and misconduct, but has consistently accepted and rewarded it,” says a sex trafficking, sexual harassment, gender discrimination and retaliation lawsuit from former Fox Business Network associate producer Jennifer Eckhart and former FNC guest Cathy Areu filed today against the Rupert Murdoch-owned outlet, its former reporter and some of its biggest and loudest primetime hosts. “Nevertheless, Fox News would have the public believe that it is a different place from the Fox News that was run by former disgraced Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes,” the jury trial action adds, noting the many accusations against the axed and now deceased former Mike Douglas Show producer. “Unfortunately, it is actually worse,” the extremely detailed suit filed in federal court in New York asserts (READ IT HERE). “As described in detail herein, Fox News continues to protect and reward perpetrators of sexual harassment and refuses to take accountability for putting such persons in positions of power from which they can subject women to sexual misconduct, sexual assault and, in the case of Ms. Eckhart, rape,” the injunction and wide-spread damages seeking suit states. “Some of the names in leadership may have changed since Roger Ailes’ regime, but Fox News’ institutional apathy towards sexual misconduct has not.”

David Folkenflik

The revelation that Fox News prime-time star Tucker Carlson's top writer had posted racist, sexist and homophobic sentiments online for years under a pseudonym has led to renewed scrutiny of Carlson's own commentaries, which have inspired a series of advertising boycotts. On Monday, Carlson is set to address the growing controversy, which led to the resignation of the writer, Blake Neff, after questions were raised by CNN's Oliver Darcy. It also led to a condemnation of Neff's views by the network's chief executive. In an internal memo, Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott and President and Executive Editor Jay Wallace called the postings "horrific racist, misogynistic and homophobic behavior." Neff had, among other things, assailed the intelligence of Black Americans, African immigrants and Asian Americans, according to CNN. He also repeatedly demeaned a woman, posting details about her dating life and mocking her on personal terms. Carlson has publicly cited the importance of the value of Neff's work on his show and for Carlson's earlier book. The host has courted criticism repeatedly for severe rhetoric, especially toward people of color, immigrants and women.

By Oliver Darcy, CNN Business

New York (CNN Business) Editor's note: This article quotes racist, homophobic and sexist language, much of which has not been censored. The top writer for Fox News host Tucker Carlson has for years been using a pseudonym to post bigoted remarks on an online forum that is a hotbed for racist, sexist, and other offensive content, CNN Business learned this week. Just this week, the writer, Blake Neff, responded to a thread started by another user in 2018 with the subject line, "Would u let a JET BLACK congo n****er do lasik eye surgery on u for 50% off?" Neff wrote, "I wouldn't get LASIK from an Asian for free, so no." (The subject line was not censored on the forum.) On June 5, Neff wrote, "Black doods staying inside playing Call of Duty is probably one of the biggest factors keeping crime down." On June 24, Neff commented, "Honestly given how tired black people always claim to be, maybe the real crisis is their lack of sleep." On June 26, Neff wrote that the only people who care about changing the name of the NFL's Washington Redskins are "white libs and their university-'educated' pets." And over the course of five years, Neff has maintained a lengthy thread in which he has derided a woman and posted information about her dating life that has invited other users to mock her and invade her privacy. There has at times also been overlap between some material he posted or saw on the forum and Carlson's show.

What’s the President’s Daily Brief? Not ‘like a mini novel,’ as Fox News host says
Bill McCarthy

The President’s Daily Brief, or PDB, is the primary daily intelligence report prepared before dawn for the president and other designated administration officials. There is no set length or format for the PDB, which has varied from one administration to the next since it first came into practice under President Harry Truman. David Priess, a former CIA briefer and author of a book on the PDB, said the PDB is rarely longer than 25 pages. It is segmented into “articles” and often includes visuals. Reports that Russia offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan have shined a new light on the daily intelligence report prepared before dawn for the president — and President Donald Trump’s willingness to engage with it. The White House has said Trump was never orally briefed on the threat, but warnings that a Russian intelligence unit placed bounties on American forces appeared in the President’s Daily Brief, called the PDB, according to multiple news reports. The New York Times and Politico reported that the information was in a February PDB. The Associated Press said it appeared in 2019. Trump is not known to look through the PDB regularly or read it to completion, as several news organizations have reported since he took office in 2017. He relies instead on oral briefings that he receives from intelligence officials every few days.

by Karlene Lukovitz

During a court proceeding in a slander suit yesterday, a Fox News attorney argued that “Tucker Carlson Tonight” is a “commentary” show rather than a news show. Last December, Karen McDougal sued Fox News for slander in reaction to on-air remarks by Carlson back in 2018 about the circumstances surrounding suppression of McDougal’s story of her alleged affair with Donald Trump, in pre-Presidential days. In court yesterday, Fox News attorney Erin Murphy argued in part: “What we're talking about here, it’s not the front page of The New York Times. It’s 'Tucker Carlson Tonight,' which is a commentary show,” reportsThe Hollywood Reporter.

By Vivian Kane

Fox News is in court this week, thanks to a slander lawsuit brought by Karen McDougal, the former Playboy model who received $150,000 from the National Enquirer to stay quiet about an alleged affair with Donald Trump. McDougal says Tucker Carlson defamed her in a segment on her Stormy Daniels, who also claims to have had an affair with Trump. “Two women approached Donald Trump and threatened to ruin his career and humiliate his family if he doesn’t give them money,” Carlson said in December of 2018. (He didn’t mention McDougal by name but showed her picture onscreen.) He told his viewers that the facts of the case were “undisputed” while recounting the “gist” of a New York Times story. “Now that sounds like a classic case of extortion,” Carlson told his viewers. Now Fox News is having to argue that when he said that, Carlson wasn’t really accusing McDougal of committing a crime. And the best defense they can come up with is that Carlson has no obligation to investigate the claims he makes or relay actual facts to his viewers, and that those viewers understand those things when they tune into his show.

Under New York law, for Carlson’s words to be defamatory, his viewers would have to believe he meant them. And despite calling the facts he was relaying “undisputed,” despite presenting himself as a journalist on a network with “news” in its name, Fox News’s lawyers are arguing that no one believes Carlson is telling the straight truth. “What we’re talking about here, it’s not the front page of The New York Times,” said the network’s lawyer, Erin Murphy. “It’s Tucker Carlson Tonight, which is a commentary show.” Hmm, that’s funny because Tucker Carlson loves to accuse the Times of being an unreliable news source. I guess that’s just another thing his viewers were meant to know was false all along. This is reminiscent of fellow far-right “news” host Alex Jones, who has had to defend his monstrous lies about the Sandy Hook shooting in court. He has argued before that he’s a “performance artist” basically playing the character of a rightwing conspiracy theorist, as if that nullifies the damage done both to those who he attacks and those who take him at his word and absorb his lies as gospel, as so many Fox News viewers do.

By Oliver Darcy, CNN Business

New York (CNN) Fox News said on Monday that it "mistakenly" cropped President Trump out of a photograph that featured the accused sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein and his alleged accomplice Ghislaine Maxwell. "On Sunday, July 5, a report on Ghislaine Maxwell during Fox News Channel's 'America's News HQ' mistakenly eliminated President Donald Trump from a photo alongside then Melania Knauss, Jeffrey Epstein and Maxwell," a spokesperson for the network said. The Fox News spokesperson added, "We regret the error." Maxwell was charged by federal prosecutors in New York on Thursday for her alleged role in recruiting and sexually abusing underage girls as part of a years-long criminal enterprise. Trump's allies have played up ties between former Democratic President Bill Clinton and Epstein sometimes by sharing old photos in which both of them appear, while downplaying photos that show Trump and Epstein together. It's not the first time in recent weeks that Fox News has acknowledged a significant error related to photos accompanying news stories. In mid-June, Fox News expressed regret after it published digitally altered and misleading images of the "CHOP" demonstration in Seattle.

Reliable Sources

CNN political analyst and former Fox News contributor Kristen Powers says right-wing media's initial "refusal to accept" coronavirus as a real problem "cost a lot of lives" and did "irreparable damage." David Zurawik says it is still going on: "Trump and his right-wing messaging machine are muddying the waters." Source: CNN

The top cable network has spent months politicizing masks as either a liberal power grab or a sign of Democratic wimpiness. Steve Doocy may want to start there.
Justin Baragona, Maxwell Tani

Now that President Donald Trump has finally said that he’s “all for masks” amid a massive surge in COVID-19 cases, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy on Thursday wondered why wearing a mask to slow the spread of COVID-19 ever became politicized. “For some reason, over the last couple of weeks, a month, masks have become political,” the Fox host remarked during an interview. If he wants to identify that mysterious “some reason,” he needn’t look any further than his own colleagues. Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., Fox News hosts and guests have repeatedly criticized face coverings—either by openly mocking them or by claiming mandated mask-wearing is an infringement on personal freedom, particularly by Democratic officials eager to control the population. During an April 24 broadcast of Hannity, for instance, guest host Mike Huckabee and Fox News contributor Trey Gowdy—both former Republican elected officials—groused about a then-new Houston mandate that would fine residents up to $1,000 if they didn’t wear a mask in public, calling it an example of local government “trampling the constitutional rights of American citizens.” “Is this a threat to the long-term life and liberty of the United States and its people?” Huckabee wondered aloud about state and local coronavirus restrictions, prompting Gowdy to make an over-the-top observation about such fines.

By Viral News

Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the extreme Right Wing media consistently share Trump’s lies and misrepresentations as fact. With the Coronavirus deaths in the US now passing 130,000 and total cases approaching 3 million (remember when Trump said it would soon go down to zero?), Right Wing media must shoulder their share of the blame due to all of their parroting of Trump’s lies and dangerously ignorant ramblings about the deadly virus. The Fox News network and its hosts have shown they are willing to put their own audience at grave risk just to remain in Trump’s good graces. A news network has one responsibility to its viewers: Keep them informed by telling the truth. We’ll let you be the judge: But Fox News… isn’t a news network. It’s a Trumpist propaganda machine masquerading as a journalistic enterprise. Even so, you would hope that a global pandemic bearing down on America would trigger some moral sense of responsibility among its hosts. Wrong. The opposite happened. Worse yet, the Murdoch family, which owns Fox News, took precautions against the new coronavirus as the network’s hosts downplayed the risk posed by the pandemic on TV.

Desperate to distract from the coronavirus catastrophe, Trump and his media allies are going full-on rabid racism
Amanda Marcotte

Racism is all he's got. Everything else Donald Trump was going to run on this summer and fall has evaporated. The "booming" economy? (Which he inherited from Barack Obama in the first place.) The U.S. has the worst unemployment rate since the Great Depression and the situation is about to get exponentially worse as unemployment benefits expire. And no, "reopening" is not a solution, since the data makes clear that consumers have little interest in shopping or eating out during a pandemic. And then there was Trump's plan to hold big rallies to make himself look like he's got momentum, while Joe Biden campaigns in responsible ways that don't spread the coronavirus Not only was that plan sociopathic, it's also not working. Trump's big comeback rally in Tulsa was a hilarious failure, with only a third of the arena filled. Now Trump has canceled a rally in Alabama, citing coronavirus fears. It's just as likely that the campaign was scared of more empty seats — even some of his most ardent followers would rather root for him at home rather than risk getting sick.

Trump's efforts to paint Biden as too old and out of it to do a job as difficult as being president? Well, in the face of reports that Trump did nothing to push back against Russia paying Afghan fighters to kill American soldiers, the only "defense" of Trump is that he's either too lazy or too illiterate to pay attention to his intelligence briefings. For a 74-year-old man trying to argue he's sharper than his slightly older opponent, having his press secretary argue that Trump does too know how to read is arguably not a great look. As for the coronavirus itself, Trump is so hostile to any efforts to meaningfully fight the disease that people have started to wonder, only half-facetiously, whether he's campaigning on a pro-coronavirus agenda.

THE REAL CULPRIT
If business types really care about social justice, they’ll defund the country’s most prominent purveyor of anti-justice poison. And here’s an unlikely model for them to follow.
By Diane McWhorter

Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben are being emancipated, and now corporate America promises to tackle the crueler substructures of racism: impediments to opportunity that, perhaps as much as police brutality, explain why George Floyd went from a second-grader with dreams of becoming a Supreme Court justice to a dead man under a cop’s knee because of a fake $20 bill. The “racial equality and justice solutions” being explored by a new subcommittee of the Business Roundtable will take time and benchmarks. But there is an essential transformation the C-suite could set in motion immediately: Defund the toxic political culture, or at least its most conspicuous instrument, that makes progress difficult if not impossible and turns second thoughts about a mammy-esque syrup bottle into “they murdered Mrs. Butterworth,” as a recent guest on Fox News fumed. If the CEOs mean business, they will find an unlikely but useful (if somewhat squirrely) blueprint for change in “The Year of Birmingham,” the name the civil rights movement gave to 1963’s tectonic shift on civil rights, which has lately re-entered the news cycle. Martin Luther King Jr.’s epic demonstrations that spring set the standard for the George Floyd mass marches—and for the opposition response. The German shepherds that police commissioner Eugene “Bull” Connor used against King’s young foot soldiers made a recent comeback as “the most vicious dogs” tweet-sicced by Donald Trump.

Opinion by Erik Wemple

On his highly rated prime-time program, Fox News host Tucker Carlson commonly faults others for not properly loving America — for not sufficiently adoring its freedoms, opportunities and promise. He even goes as far as to say that Democrats “hate” the place. Among the reasons Carlson should indeed appreciate this country: His brand of tendentious broadcasting enjoys generous protection under the First Amendment. A case now making its way through federal courts, though, may test that proposition. In a complaint filed in December, former Playboy model Karen McDougal sued Fox News over a “Tucker Carlson Tonight” segment in which the host accused her of “extortion” in her dealings with Donald Trump. “Two women approach Donald Trump and threaten to ruin his career and humiliate his family if he doesn’t give them money,” argued Carlson in a December 2018 segment. “Now that sounds like a classic case of extortion. Yet for whatever reason, Trump caves to it, and he directs Michael Cohen to pay the ransom. Now, more than two years later, Trump is a felon for doing this. It doesn’t seem to make any sense.”

The three studies paint a picture of a media ecosystem that entertains conspiracy theories and discourages audiences from taking steps to protect themselves and others.

By Christopher Ingraham

Coronavirus infections have surged in a number of states, setting the United States on a markedly different pandemic trajectory than other wealthy nations. There are many reasons our response to the pandemic tied to more than 120,000 U.S. deaths has faltered, experts say, including the lack of a cohesive federal policy, missteps on testing and tracing, and a national culture emphasizing individualism. In recent weeks, three studies have focused on conservative media’s role in fostering confusion about the seriousness of the coronavirus. Taken together, they paint a picture of a media ecosystem that amplifies misinformation, entertains conspiracy theories and discourages audiences from taking concrete steps to protect themselves and others. he end result, according to one of the studies, is that infection and mortality rates are higher in places where one pundit who initially downplayed the severity of the pandemic — Fox News’s Sean Hannity — reaches the largest audiences. “We are receiving an incredible number of studies and solid data showing that consuming far-right media and social media content was strongly associated with low concern about the virus at the onset of the pandemic,” said Irene Pasquetto, chief editor of the Harvard Kennedy School Misinformation Review, which published one of the studies.

Misinformation and conspiracy theories
In April, Kathleen Hall Jamieson of the Annenberg Public Policy Center and Dolores Albarracin of the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign published a peer-reviewed study examining how Americans’ media diets affected their beliefs about the coronavirus. Administering a nationally representative phone survey with 1,008 respondents, they found that people who got most of their information from mainstream print and broadcast outlets tended to have an accurate assessment of the severity of the pandemic and their risks of infection. But those who relied on conservative sources, such as Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, were more likely to believe in conspiracy theories or unfounded rumors, such as the belief that taking vitamin C could prevent infection, that the Chinese government had created the virus, and that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention exaggerated the pandemic’s threat “to damage the Trump presidency.”

By Sky Palma

The Fort Worth Police Department is hitting back at Fox News host Tucker Carlson, saying a recent segment he did regarding a recent protest in the area was “absolutely inaccurate” and a “gross mischaracterization” of the events that took place. “This information is absolutely inaccurate and is not consistent with the actual facts,” the department said in a statement posted on social media. “The only charges dropped were minor misdemeanors which did not involve property or personal crimes,” the Dallas Morning News reports. On Monday, Carlson claimed that Fort Worth Police Chief Ed Kraus dropped all charges against dozens of protesters arrested during a May 31 demonstration in Fort Worth. But according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Kraus originally said there would be no charges against the protesters, but later clarified that assault and vandalism charges would not be dropped. Carlson also said that Kraus “issued a statement suggesting the real criminals in the riot were not the rioters, but his own police officers, who he suggested would be reigned in and perhaps punished.” But police say that is also inaccurate. “This too is absolutely inaccurate and a gross mischaracterization of any statement released by Chief Kraus or the department,” the department said. “Recklessly releasing such inaccurate, unverified information does nothing for the good of the public and simply creates an environment of confusion and bitterness during a time in which so many are wanting their voices heard.”

FAKING IT

Tracy Connor - The Daily Beast

Fox News reportedly spliced together a photo of an armed man with separate photos of broken shop windows and road barriers to create two misleading images for a report on Seattle’s police-free protest area, called the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone. The Seattle Times reports Fox had no disclaimers indicating the pictures—taken more than a week apart—had been altered. The network removed them when questions were raised but reportedly replaced them with an image taken before the zone was established. Fox also removed a photo of a burning city it had put above stories about Seattle; the picture actually showed an earlier protest in Minnesota. President Trump has been in a tizzy about the autonomous zone, claiming anarchists are now in control of the city, while Seattle officials note the zone has been mainly peaceful. - This may help explain why Fox News viewers do not know the truth; Fox News lies and uses alternative facts and pictures.

By Oliver Darcy, CNN Business

New York (CNN Business)Fox News published digitally altered and misleading images on its website's homepage Friday that made a demonstration in Seattle, in which a group of largely peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters have occupied six city blocks, appear violent and dangerous. The deceitful tactic was called out by The Seattle Times. The local newspaper reported that when it asked Fox News about the images, the network removed them. Fox News' depiction of the demonstration mirrors much of right-wing media's attempt to portray it as menacing. Protesters have declared a small slice of Seattle an "autonomous zone" after clashes with authorities led police to evacuate a precinct. While there have been some sightings of armed individuals, the area has remained largely peaceful with people gathering for food, speeches, and movie screenings. The narrative that took hold this week in right-wing circles was one in which armed members of Antifa seized a section of Seattle. City officials have said they have not interacted with members of Antifa, a network of loosely affiliated groups that have a history of violently clashing with right-wing organizations. "It's not an armed takeover," Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said on CNN Thursday night. "It's not a military junta." President Trump has, however, seemingly seized on reports in right-wing media, calling the protesters "domestic terrorists" and threatening to use federal force to clear them out of the area. Despite a description by the President that is at odds with the reality on the ground, Fox News has continued to present the situation as dangerous. Its publishing of altered and misleading images on its highly-trafficked website was the latest — and arguably the most egregious — example of that. Among the photos that Fox News published on its homepage was one that showed a protester running past a burning vehicle and building with the headline "CRAZY TOWN" blaring across the website. The image, which accompanied a story about the situation in Seattle, was in fact taken from the unrest last month in Minnesota. In other photos that showed the scene in Seattle, Fox News digitally added an image of a man armed with an assault rifle. - This may help explain why Fox News viewers do not know the truth; Fox News lies and uses alternative facts and pictures.

The Associated Press

SEATTLE (AP) — Fox News has removed digitally altered photos from its website after the Seattle Times on Friday noted misleading images used in the network’s coverage about a Seattle neighborhood that’s become a protest center against police brutality and racial injustice. As of Saturday, Fox News included an editors note posted at the top of at least three stories on its website covering the protest zone, saying it replaced a “home page photo collage” because it “did not clearly delineate between these images” and that it mistakenly included a St. Paul, Minnesota, photo in a slideshow about Seattle. The Seattle Times reports Fox News’ website featured at least two photos on Friday that inserted an image of a man standing with a military-style rifle, and that there were no disclaimers on how they were manipulated when featured on the network’s website for most of the day Friday. - This may help explain why Fox News viewers do not know the truth; Fox News lies and uses alternative facts and pictures.

By Isaac Stanley-Becker

Fox News on Friday removed manipulated images that had appeared on its website as part of the outlet’s coverage of protests over the killing of George Floyd, which has occasioned peaceful assemblies in cities across the country and, in Seattle, given rise to an unusual experiment in self-government. The misleading material ran alongside stories about a small expanse of city blocks in Seattle that activists have claimed as the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone. The police-free environment has become an object of scorn for right-wing activists and President Trump. As protesters occupied a six-block area surrounding an abandoned police precinct — and as Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan (D) promised to protect their First Amendment rights — Trump this week labeled them “domestic terrorists” and pledged to “take back” the city if state and local officials didn’t. The occupation has been peaceful, with activists from around the city visiting the car-free streets for political speeches, concerts and free food. But Fox’s coverage contributed to the appearance of armed unrest. The misleading material spliced a June 10 photograph of an armed man at the Seattle protests with different photographs — one also from June 10, of a sign reading, “You Are Now Entering Free Cap Hill,” and others from images captured May 30 of a shattered storefront and other unrest downtown. The conservative news site, in coverage that labeled Seattle “CRAZY TOWN” and called the city “helpless,” also displayed an image of a city block set ablaze that was actually taken in St. Paul, Minn. Fox removed the edited images in response to an article in the Seattle Times, telling the outlet in a statement, “We have replaced our photo illustration with the clearly delineated images of a gunman and a shattered storefront, both of which were taken this week in Seattle’s autonomous zone.” The image of the shattered storefront, however, was not captured this week in the autonomous zone. - This may help explain why Fox News viewers do not know the truth; Fox News lies and uses alternative facts and pictures.

By Brian Stelter, CNN Business

New York (CNN Business)"Bye-bye Tucker Carlson!" T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert tweeted earlier this week in response to consumers who criticized the advertisers on Carlson's show. Sievert said on Twitter that T-Mobile hasn't bought any air time on "Tucker Carlson Tonight" for "about a month, and we won't be in the future, either." Carlson's Fox News show has once again become a target of critics and a no-go zone for some advertisers. Liberal groups have called out Carlson's advertisers and encouraged customers to take action. The proximate cause: Carlson's comments about the Black Lives Matter movement. "This may be a lot of things, this moment we're living through, but it is definitely not about black lives," Carlson said Monday night. "Remember that when they come for you, and at this rate, they will." What many people heard Carlson telling his nearly 100% white audience was black-people-are-coming-for-you. The next day, Fox came out with a statement attempting to clarify: "Tucker's warning about 'when they come for you' was clearly referring to Democratic leaders and inner city politicians." Media Matters, an advocacy group that opposes Fox, re-shared a list it keeps of Carlson's sponsors. Sievert from T-Mobile spoke out on Tuesday. Papa John's Pizza said on Wednesday it would halt future advertising.

By Dominic Patten

Tucker Carlson has one of the most-watched shows on cable news, but the Fox News Channel host is losing advertisers – again. Whereas in 2018, when 20 companies yanked their ads after Carlson obtusely proclaimed that undocumented immigrants made America “poorer, and dirtier, and more divided,” this time the exits are over the host’s stance on the death of George Floyd and the ensuing nationwide protests against police violence and racism. Both Disney and T-Mobile have cut ties with the primetime Tucker Carlson Tonight over the host’s polarizing point of view on the Black Lives Matter movement and the desire for justice and equality in America that many of its members advocate. Along with Papa John’s and SmileDirectClub, the media giant and the telecommunications brand faced a backlash in recent days for their association with Carlson and his belief that the well-attended protests were “Black Lives Matter riots.” Or, put another way, putting money in Rupert Murdoch’s corporate pocket was not a branding position Disney or T-Mobile wanted to be in at this moment in America. Fox News did not respond to request for comment tonight on the ad exits. (UPDATE, 10 AM June 11: A Fox News spokesperson confirmed all national dollars/ads were moved to other programs and there has not been any national money lost.) Disney, which has run ads about 29 times this year on the much-watched FNC, did not respond to request for comment tonight on the issue. However, sources tell Deadline that the ads for ABC shows on Tucker Carlson Tonight were placed in error by third parties. The ads will not be running anymore, and no more placements by the Bob Chapek-led House of Mouse are expected on the show anytime soon. (UPDATE, 10:45 PM: “The ABC advertisements were placed on the show without our knowledge by third party media buyers who were unaware that we do not advertise on the show, and they have now been notified not to place any further ads,” an ABC spokesperson told Deadline tonight.)

By Allison Morrow, CNN Business

(CNN Business) In the news business, it's easy to get cynical (just look at what we saw on Fox News, below) but then some days you start to see good news pile up, and today that good news is a list of Very Important Brands choosing to fight for racial justice. Let's get into it.

FOX'S ALTERNATIVE UNIVERSE
On Tuesday night, Fox News host Sean Hannity compared President Donald Trump to George Floyd, arguing they are both victims of "crooked cops." As Hannity tells it, the FBI, in investigating the president's alleged connections to Russia, "tried to rig an election and destroy Donald Trump at all costs." (They didn't.)

BE AWARE: That moment was just the cherry atop a sundae of misinformation coming from the network. For several days, Fox has been playing back old riot footage over and over like it's the Zapruder film. You'd be forgiven for thinking Minneapolis is still burning (it's not), or that the unrest is getting worse in America's cities (it's not). CNN's chief media correspondent Brian Stelter has more on the alternative universe that's playing out on Fox.

THE MARKET NO LONGER CARES WHETHER TRUMP WINS
Conventional wisdom goes that Wall Street likes a Republican in office, especially when stocks are on a tear like they are right now.
But lately, it seems the market no longer cares who's leading in the polls. The fact that Trump is now lagging behind Joe Biden as stocks rally is noteworthy. Up until recently, the market had been moving practically in lockstep with the general election polls, so Biden's rise should have led to a dip. It hasn't. "The stock market has decoupled from Trump," one strategist said. CNN Business' Paul R. La Monica explains why.

BUSINESSES GET BEHIND BLACK LIVES MATTER
Some Very Big Names in Corporate America are signaling they're ready to work to correct racial injustices. (As for CrossFit ... we'll come back to that.)

By Aris Folley

A number of black graduates of Liberty University have reportedly signed on to a letter condemning the school’s president, Jerry Falwell Jr., days after he sought to mock Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) with a mask depicting the racist imagery from Northam's page in his medical school yearbook. “I was adamantly opposed to the mandate from @GovernorVA requiring citizens to wear face masks until I decided to design my own. If I am ordered to wear a mask, I will reluctantly comply, but only if this picture of Governor Blackface himself is on it!” Falwell tweeted Wednesday. The design was met with swift backlash on social media, and now, according to The Associated Press, several dozen black graduates from the Lynchburg, Va., university have signed a letter condemning the school president for his “infantile behavior” and accusing him of being concerned with “politics more than Christian academia or ministry.” “While your tweet may have been in jest about Virginia’s Governor, it made light of our nation’s painful history of slavery and racism,” the alumni reportedly wrote. They also referred to the tweet by Falwell, a staunch conservative who has a history of making controversial remarks, as a “microcosm of the past several years of divisive rhetoric.” “You have belittled staff, students and parents, you have defended inappropriate behaviors of politicians, encouraged violence, and disrespected people of other faiths,” the letter states.

Boente was asked to resign on Friday and two sources familiar with the decision to dismiss him said it came from high levels of the Justice Department rather than directly from FBI Director Christopher Wray.
By Julia Ainsley and Pete Williams

After a 38-year career with the Justice Department, the FBI's top lawyer Dana Boente was asked to resign on Friday. Two sources familiar with the decision to dismiss Boente said it came from high levels of the Justice Department rather than directly from FBI Director Christopher Wray. His departure comes on the heels of recent criticism by Fox News for his role in the investigation of former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. A spokesman for the FBI confirmed to NBC News that Boente did in fact resign on Friday. Fox News has recently criticized Boente's role in the investigation of Flynn, whose criminal charge for lying to the FBI was recently dropped by the Justice Department based in part on the argument that his lies were not material to an underlying investigation. Boente also said in a recently leaked memo that material put into the public record about Flynn was not exculpatory for the former national security advisor. The memo undermines the Justice Department's latest position that material about Flynn was mishandled by prosecutors. Fox Business host Lou Dobbs said on April 27 that, "Shocking new reports suggest F.B.I. General Counsel Dana Boente was acting in coordination with F.B.I. Director Christopher Wray to block the release of that evidence that would have cleared General Flynn." Wray formally asked for Boente's resignation, but the decision to end his tenure at the FBI came from Attorney General William Barr's Justice Department, which oversees the FBI, according to two sources.

By Lauren Carroll, Aaron Sharockman

The Daily Show posted a Vine Wednesday titled, "50 Fox News lies in 6 seconds." We’ve fact-checked almost all of the statements they cited. For the record, we originally counted 49 claims, not 50. The Daily Show said No. 50 was left off due to a technical error. They've updated their Vine, which we've included here.

The pandemic makes obvious what has long been true: Fox News is dangerous.
By Eric Alterman

Fox News is not news. I have been saying and writing this since Rupert Murdoch launched the network in 1996, but today, it is more important than ever to understand. Fox is, and always has been, a right-wing propaganda outlet disguised as a cable news network. Sure, CNN, MSNBC, and the network news programs are often filled with all manner of nonsense and misinformation. Indeed, Donald Trump likely would not be in the White House if Jeff Zucker, the president of CNN, hadn’t aired Trump’s falsehood-filled speeches and hired know-nothing flacks to flatter the candidate in a mindless dedication to “bothsideism.” While other networks may be craven and insufficiently concerned with accuracy, Fox is different. It is specifically designed to disinform its viewers and distort our national discourse. With the largest and most devoted audience in cable news, Fox’s commitment to deluding its audience has long been a barrier to intelligent discussion. Fox has devoted itself to climate denialism, racist attacks on immigrants, and the celebration of economic inequality, to name just three. During its first two decades, Murdoch could depend on the late right-wing ideologue and television impresario Roger Ailes to navigate Fox’s ideological direction. But since Ailes’s 2016 departure following a bevy of sexual harassment and exploitation scandals, its unofficial program director has been Donald J. Trump. During the Trump presidency, Fox has joined the president and the Republicans—and sometimes led him and them—in scapegoating the most vulnerable members of our society. But few Fox viewers have seen children caged and separated, often forever, from their parents. Few are victims of violent ICE raids. What is different about the current crisis is that Trump’s unique combination of dishonesty, conspiracism, and rank incompetence are right in front of all of us. Everyone has friends and family members who are losing their jobs or getting sick. This is not the kind of “he said/she said” situation where viewers have no vantage point from which to judge who is lying and who isn’t. This time, Fox’s misinformation is in our face. Eric Boehlert’s excellent newsletter, “Press Run,” points to just a few of recent examples of when Fox has “downplayed and minimized the novel coronavirus and assured viewers it was likely a partisan Democratic, ‘Deep State’ plot to take down Trump just like impeachment” as it was simultaneously “spreading blatant public health disinformation.”

ON TO THE NEXT TALKING POINT

After spending two full weeks of programming touting an anti-malarial drug as a coronavirus cure, Fox’s primetime stars have pulled back almost entirely—and so has the president.
By Justin Baragona

After weeks of incessantly hyping an unproven anti-malarial drug as a potential miracle cure for the coronavirus, Fox News has seemingly ditched its nearly round-the-clock promotion of hydroxychloroquine. Unsurprisingly, the change in tone coincided with President Donald Trump’s own retreat from touting the drug, and comes as multiple studies have shown no benefit to COVID-19 patients. Beginning in mid-to-late March and ramping up through the first two weeks of April, the president repeatedly lauded hydroxychloroquine—a drug developed decades ago to combat malaria and currently also used to treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis—as a “game-changer” that has brought people back from the dead. “What really do we have to lose?” Trump implored the public earlier this month, adding that the drug “doesn’t kill people.” Doctors and medical experts, however, consistently warned that the drug has some severe side effects, such as sudden cardiac arrest. As is often the case with the cable-news obsessed president, Trump only began promoting the malaria drug as a miracle cure after his favorite Fox opinion hosts openly touted it on-air and in private meetings with him. According to Media Matters for America, a liberal media watchdog, between March 23 and April 6, Fox hosts and guests lauded hydroxychloroquine almost 300 times. Throughout that time, both the president and Fox stars relied heavily on both anecdotal evidence and flawed studies—namely from a controversial French doctor whose methods have come under scrutiny—to push the drug as a coronavirus cure. The FDA eventually issued “emergency use authorization” in late March for doctors to prescribe the drug to COVID-19 patients in off-label use. But by mid-April, however, both Trump and his Fox News allies began to clam up on the drug. As first noted by Politico, the president barely spoke about the drug over the past week. Last Tuesday, during a meeting with coronavirus survivors, Trump did positively mention the drug with a Michigan state representative who credited hydroxychloroquine for saving her life. Prior to that, the president briefly mentioned the drug at last Monday’s briefing, announcing that the administration had obtained and deployed 28 million doses of the drug to hospitals nationwide. At the same briefing, however, he also spoke glowingly about the “promising results” from remdesivir, another drug that’s currently being tested as a potential COVID-19 treatment.

Sophisticated new research links Hannity’s coronavirus misinformation to “a greater number of Covid-19 cases and deaths.”
By Zack Beauchamp

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, media critics have warned that the decision from leading Fox News hosts to downplay the outbreak could cost lives. A new study provides statistical evidence that, in the case of Sean Hannity, that’s exactly what happened. The paper — from economists Leonardo Bursztyn, Aakaash Rao, Christopher Roth, and David Yanagizawa-Drott — focused on Fox news programming in February and early March. At the time, Hannity’s show was downplaying or ignoring the virus, while fellow Fox host Tucker Carlson was warning viewers about the disease’s risks. Using both a poll of Fox News viewers over age 55 and publicly available data on television-watching patterns, they calculate that Fox viewers who watched Hannity rather than Carlson were less likely to adhere to social distancing rules, and that areas where more people watched Hannity relative to Carlson had higher local rates of infection and death. “Greater exposure to Hannity relative to Tucker Carlson Tonight leads to a greater number of COVID-19 cases and deaths,” they write. “A one-standard deviation increase in relative viewership of Hannity relative to Carlson is associated with approximately 30 percent more COVID-19 cases on March 14, and 21 percent more COVID-19 deaths on March 28.” This is a working paper; it hasn’t been peer reviewed or accepted for publication at a journal. However, it’s consistent with a wide body of research finding that media consumption in general, and Fox News viewership in particular, can have a pretty powerful effect on individual behavior. Some of this research has found, for example, that TV consumption can affect decisions as intimate as whether or not to have children. It makes sense that an older American’s favorite TV host telling them they don’t need to worry about the coronavirus would cause them to ignore stay-at-home orders and care less about thoroughly washing their hands.

PEOPLE ARE DYING

The “Last Week Tonight” host took aim at the right-wing media for pushing dangerous disinformation concerning COVID-19.
By Marlow Stern

John Oliver returned to his “blank void” on Sunday night for another quarantine edition of Last Week Tonight. And the main story of the evening concerned the miniature protests that have been popping up against stay-at-home orders over COVID-19. And these little misguided protests have been thanks to the dangerous disinformation being pushed by those in the right-wing media who’ve repeatedly downplayed the danger of the novel coronavirus, which has killed over 165,000 people worldwide, including more than 41,000 in the U.S. There’s Rush Limbaugh—or “A man with millions of listeners, a Presidential Medal of Freedom, and almost certainly, a room in his basement that his housekeeper isn’t allowed to go into,” cracked Oliver. On March 11, Limbaugh said on his radio program, “All of this panic just is not warranted. When I tell you… that this virus is the common cold. When I said that, it was based on the number of cases. It’s also based on the kind of virus this is. Why do you think this is COVID-19? This is the 19th coronavirus!” “OK, no Rush. Just no,” said Oliver. “It’s called that because it was first identified in 2019, you giant potato.” He wasn’t finished: “No to your stupid quarantine beard. You look like if Santa was #MeToo’d, kicked out of the North Pole, and forced to move to a condo in Tampa with all linoleum floors.” Then there’s Fox News, with host Sean Hannity calling it a “hoax” and “hysteria,” and Laura Ingraham calling Democrats “panic pushers” for warning about the potential dangers of the disease. “When people started dying, and that argument became harder to sell, the network seemed to pivot from trying to downplay the warnings to downplaying the deaths,” Oliver explained, before throwing to Dr. Phil (yes, really), who said on Fox News, “The fact of the matter is…365,000 people [die] from swimming pools but we don’t shut the country down for that!”

Mr. Savage, the conservative radio host, is still loyal to President Trump but says right-wing media got it all wrong by doubting the severity of the coronavirus early on.
By Jeremy W. Peters

There are a lot of people who are ruining the country right now, according to Michael Savage. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Liberal mayors in big cities like San Francisco. Undocumented immigrants. Homeless people. But for the past two months, listeners to Mr. Savage’s conservative radio show have heard him howl with unabated contempt about another menace: “The pimps” in the right-wing media “who tell you what you want to hear.” They are “intellectual dwarfs” and “science illiterates,” he says, who spent weeks downplaying the threat from the coronavirus epidemic and accusing President Trump’s opponents of exaggerating it to hurt him politically. On Mr. Savage’s broadcast, which has one of the largest audiences in talk radio with 7.5 million listeners each week, the virus has never been a hoax or a bad case of the sniffles. He has lectured his fans on the research in detail: How it is transmitted; which treatments are proving effective; and the difference between morbidity and mortality rates. With no small amount of self-satisfaction, Mr. Savage reminds people of his credentials — a Ph.D. and training in epidemiology — and of the fact that he was one of the few voices in conservative media who had warned them all along. Much of the time, Mr. Savage still sounds like any other right-wing shock jock — making fun of Nancy Pelosi and doubting the validity of the #MeToo movement. But on the subject of the coronavirus, Mr. Savage has become one of the loudest voices of dissent on the right. His views are a striking departure from the accepted version of events among Mr. Trump’s loyalists in the media, who have made a concerted effort to deny that they downplayed the epidemic. Mr. Savage has attacked the credibility of the conservative media, accused its biggest stars of being too rote and unthinking in their defense of the president, and demanded that they be held accountable for misleading millions of Americans. “We’re living in a terrible time in America where truth has died,” Mr. Savage, who was one of the first conservative media stars to urge Mr. Trump to run for president, told his audience. “This is crazy,” he added, pointing to the way the president’s defenders always accuse the left of spreading “fake news.” “How can we not let our side be called on the carpet when they lie to the people?” That was Feb. 24. At the time, coronavirus outbreaks were largely limited to a handful of countries like China, South Korea and Italy. Only a few dozen cases had been reported in the United States. The same day, Rush Limbaugh likened the coronavirus to the common cold on his radio program. But it spread aggressively in America just as Mr. Savage had warned it would — a prediction that earned him the ire of people who called him a hysteric and a sellout. His contempt for hosts like Mr. Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, whose top-rated radio shows draw more than 30 million listeners each week, is especially searing. He mocks them as “Dr. Hannity” and “Rush Limbaugh, M.D., Ph.D.,” belittles their lack of education compared with his, and berates people who took their claims seriously.

BLOWHARDS-IN-CHIEF
The right-wing cable channel’s biggest stars have begun pushing Trump to ignore those egghead medical experts and view the viral pandemic as over and done with.
By Justin Baragona

Throughout the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump’s decisions and stances have seemingly been influenced by the unofficial advisers he treasures most: Fox News primetime hosts. After downplaying for weeks the threat of the virus, just as many on Fox News did the same, the president began taking it seriously last month after Tucker Carlson personally confronted him before delivering an on-air monologue calling for action. Elsewhere, Fox stars have been the primary driving force behind Trump’s incessant promotion of an unproven anti-malarial drug as the miracle COVID-19 cure. And in recent days, it seems, the president has been receiving his newest coronavirus intel briefing from Fox News. This time, they say, the pandemic is over and it’s time to move on. Throughout Tuesday night’s primetime stretch, Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham were in lockstep in telegraphing to Trump a message that the pandemic’s threat has been overstated, death counts have been inflated, and the U.S. is already on the downside of the curve. Carlson, who received mainstream plaudits for his “admirable” early coronavirus coverage, kicked off his show by declaring that the crisis “may have passed,” noting that health-care systems across the country haven’t come close to collapsing—“except in a handful of places.” “Patients are not dying alone in the hallways of emergency rooms with physicians too overwhelmed to treat them,” he asserted. “That was the concern. It happens in other countries, it's not happening here. Thank God for that.” There have been numerous reports and testimonials from health-care workers expressing horror over the conditions of overcrowded hospitals and the stress it has placed on both medical staffers and patients. Much reporting has also been done on how many patients are dying alone and away from family members and friends from the disease. But despite nearly 13,000 U.S. deaths and at least 400,000 confirmed cases, with portions of the country having yet to suffer the worst effects of the outbreak, Carlson called for a quick reversal of social-distancing restrictions in order to jumpstart the economy, citing downward revisions of coronavirus models as the key reason. “Before we go ahead and alter our lives and our country forever, it is fair to ask about the numbers, their numbers, the ones we acted on the first time, that turned out to be completely wrong,” the Fox star fumed. “How did they screw that up so thoroughly? That is a fair question.” Adjustments of expected death tolls in some models—which, weeks ago, showed as many as 240,000 American deaths—have largely occurred due to the widespread adoption of social-distancing guidelines and the assumption that school and business closures will stay in place through the summer. Even factoring all that in, the models still project roughly 80,000 deaths. Nevertheless, over the past few days, Carlson has been pushing the president to ignore medical expertise and quickly move forward with economic activity. “Is there a single person who sincerely expects the coronavirus itself will hurt more people in the end than the damage we're causing in our response to it? Probably not,” he said on Monday night. “Mass unemployment is almost certain to cause far more harm, including physical harm, to the average family than this disease.”

Polls show that Trish Regan, Sean Hannity, and others successfully bamboozled viewers about coronavirus. Now, Fox is reportedly lawyering up for a potential legal backlash.
By Caleb Ecarma

Just over a week ago, former Fox Business host Trish Regan parted ways with the network, ostensibly because she called the coronavirus melee “yet another attempt to impeach...demonize, and destroy the president.” That the comments, which mirrored those of nearly every other Fox host at the time, would result in her termination seemed disproportionate, and last week a member of Fox Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch’s front office told the Daily Beast that Regan represented “a sacrificial lamb”—a scapegoat for critics who lampooned the network for dangerously misinforming its viewers about a deadly pandemic. Regan’s ouster failed to achieve this goal, and according to new reports, Fox is now lawyering up, bracing for a litany of public-interest lawsuits and letters of condemnation for pedaling misinformation for weeks prior to coronavirus’s explosion in the U.S. The first such consumer-protection complaint came from the Washington League for Increased Transparency and Ethics (WASHLITE) on Thursday, which named Murdoch,__ Fox News, AT&T, Comcast, and other related entities as defendants. Seeking nominal damage, the suit claims the “defendants acted in bad faith to willfully and maliciously disseminate false information denying and minimizing the danger posed by the spread of the novel Coronavirus, or COVID-19, which is now recognized as an international pandemic.” WASHLITE board member Arthur West justified the suit by accusing Fox News of goading Americans into ignoring social distancing measures, thus exacerbating the outbreak. “That’s the real evil of this type of programming,” he told the Times of San Diego. “We believe it delayed and interfered with a prompt and adequate response to this coronavirus pandemic.” Well past the olive branch phase, Fox is reportedly ready for whatever court battles come next. “The strategy is no settlements, even if it costs way more to fight the lawsuit and seek sanctions for ambulance-chasing lawyers,” an executive told the Daily Beast. He recalled the Murdochs’ successful evasion of two lawsuits related to conspiratorial Fox coverage of the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich, which were dismissed in 2018 with help from the firm Williams & Connolly. In a statement to the Beast, Fox News general counsel Lily Fu Claffee described the WASHLITE suit as “Wrong on the facts, frivolous on the law” and added, “We will defend vigorously and seek sanctions as appropriate.” This time, however, might be very different from the Rich case. During a Sunday appearance on MSNBC, my colleague Gabriel Sherman said Fox insiders had expressed “real concern...that their early downplaying of the coronavirus actually exposes Fox News to potential legal action by viewers who maybe were misled and actually have died from this.” He went on to say that while the Murdochs are “privately taking coronavirus seriously”—Rupert Murdoch quietly cancelled his 89th birthday party on March 11—top hosts like Regan and Sean Hannity were actively “telling viewers that it’s a hoax...If it actually winds up being proved that people died because of it, this is a new terrain in terms of Fox being possibly held liable for their actions.”

Hannity responds to open letter signed by 74 journalism professors and leading journalists claiming Fox News spread false statements
by Victoria Bekiempis

Fox News host Sean Hannity has hit back against intense criticism of the conservative network’s coronavirus coverage, even claiming in a new interview he was ahead of most media in taking Covid-19 seriously. Hannity’s statements to Newsweek were in response to a 1 April open letter signed by 74 journalism professors and leading journalists that lambasted Fox News for allegedly spreading “misinformation” about the outbreak. The professors directly cited Hannity’s statement that the Democrats and media overplayed coronavirus to “bludgeon Trump with this new hoax”. The letter came before a report in The Daily Beast that Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch and his son, Lachlan Murdoch, are bracing for lawsuits over the network’s coronavirus coverage. Asked about his statement that Democrats and the media were using Covid-19 “to bludgeon Trump”, Hannity responded: “Many of them did.” “We are in the middle of the huge pandemic and where’s the Democrat saying, ‘You know, I didn’t agree with the travel ban at the time, but it was the right decision.’ Politics trumps truth in their world.” Hannity was referring to Trump’s decision to clamp down on – but not shut down, despite his repeated claims – travel from China as the virus broke out there. “It’s the same Democrats,” Hannity continued, “media mob and liberal professors who are so lazy they won’t even look at what I’ve said about the virus. They just go with their narrative. I never called it a ‘hoax’. “I said it was a hoax for them to be using it as a bludgeon on Trump. And they are. [House intelligence chair] Adam Schiff and [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi are talking about an investigation. Now? In the middle of a pandemic?” Hannity also said: “Go to my website and you’ll see irrefutable evidence that I have taken this seriously way before most in the media did. I warned in January that it was dangerous because it was highly contagious, but some people were asymptomatic, so it would spread quickly.” The professors’ letter, addressed to both Murdochs, claimed: “Viewers of Fox News, including the president of the United States, have been regularly subjected to misinformation relayed by the network–false statements downplaying the prevalence of Covid-19 and its harms.”

GASLIGHTING
Democrats and the media are the real downplayers of the coronavirus, claim two of Fox’s biggest stars who spent weeks peddling dismissive talking points about the pandemic.
By Justin Baragona

After spending weeks downplaying the deadly virus that now has nearly the entire U.S. under some form of lockdown, several Fox News stars are now attempting to gaslight viewers by claiming they sounded the alarms over the coronavirus all along while it was actually the media and Democrats who dismissed it. The network’s most-viewed primetime host Sean Hannity has recently devoted much airtime to insisting he has “always taken the coronavirus seriously,” despite no less than a month ago suggesting the pandemic might be a “deep state” plot to hurt the economy or, at another point, claiming concerns over the novel virus was a “new hoax” designed to “bludgeon” Trump. Like many of his Fox colleagues, Hannity suddenly changed his tune late last month on the virus after President Donald Trump finally pivoted to treating it seriously. The Fox star and unofficial Trump adviser has since taken aim at Democrats and critics who have rightly called out his previous coverage, claiming that all along he was the one warning of the coming disaster while they were the ones turning a blind eye. But despite Hannity’s perceived confidence in his coronavirus coverage, video and audio recordings do exist. The Fox star spent weeks misleadingly comparing the deadly virus to the seasonal flu while claiming Democrats were “politicizing and actually weaponizing an infectious disease” to “bludgeon” Trump. (Those comments throughout February and March that Democrats were nearly identical to those infamously made by now-former Fox Business host Trish Regan, who, on March 9, with an on-air graphic blaring “Coronavirus Impeachment Scam,” insisted the outbreak was “another attempt to impeach” Trump and “demonize and destroy the president.” Weeks later, Regan was let go by Fox.) Comparing the novel virus to the seasonal flu, meanwhile, was a tactic Trump and his allies adopted for weeks on end to downplay the deadliness of COVID-19 and excuse the president’s slow response. But that misleading comparison was thrown in Hannity’s face last month during an interview with top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large

(CNN) Every cable network is covering the coronavirus wall-to-wall. And has been doing so for weeks now. But while the coverage is constant across cable TV news, the message about coronavirus people are getting from the networks isn't the same. At all. Take this question, asked in a recent Pew poll, as to whether the coronavirus originated in nature (it did) or whether it was built in a laboratory (it wasn't). While 66% of MSNBC viewers and 52% of CNN watchers accurately said the coronavirus came from nature, just 37% of Fox News viewers said the same. The differences between cable network viewers' knowledge of the virus extend to how each network's stalwarts view the coronavirus coverage. Eight in 10 Fox News viewers say the media exaggerated the threat from coronavirus as compared to 54% of CNN viewers and just 35% of MSNBC watchers.

‘SO’S YOUR MOM’
The Fox News star took to both Twitter and his radio show to seethe with rage about a column lamenting his role in the spread of coronavirus misinformation.
by Lloyd Grove

Fox News star Sean Hannity seemed very, very upset Wednesday—also wounded, distraught and mad as a wet hen—over something he apparently read in The New York Times. Not content simply to unleash nine rabid early morning tweets lashing out at Times op-ed columnist Kara Swisher for noting his record of minimizing and belittling the coronavirus pandemic and dispensing dangerous disinformation to her eighty-something, Fox News-loving mother, Hannity continued to vent about Swisher, and even rant against her mom, on his syndicated afternoon radio show. “It’s a despicable newspaper,” President Donald Trump’s influential ex-officio adviser told his millions of listeners Wednesday. “I decided this morning to tweet out at some idiot that works for this paper,” Hannity added, unwilling at first to say Swisher’s name, “and I’m like, are you really proud of the newspaper that you work for? Are you proud of this? Because it is never-ending, non-stop, continuous lying.” After several more minutes of seething, Hannity finally acknowledged: “The woman’s name is Kara”—and he then affected to have trouble pronouncing her surname—“Sh-sh-swisher. I don’t even know who she is.” Actually, Swisher is a celebrated and supremely well-connected tech and media journalist, a formidable figure in Silicon Valley who is well-known to Hannity’s bosses, Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch, as well as to Lachlan’s younger brother James. Hannity, on the other hand, “is a windbag of rage,” Swisher told The Daily Beast, responding to his attacks. Describing his reaction to Swisher’s column, Hannity went on: “Somebody sends it to me and I read it and I’m like ‘Ugh.’ She writes about her poor mother. And by the way, I wish her mother well. Apparently at one point [she] was a friend of mine. I guess not anymore… Her daughter maybe talked her out of it. I just said, ‘You are ignorant, and you are lazy and you are a total hypocrite.’ Because she is.” Swisher began her column, titled “Fox’s Fake News Contagion”: “You can relax, Sean Hannity, I’m not going to sue you”—a reference to the idea, gaining traction among some Fox News critics, that the Trump-friendly cable channel should be held accountable in a court of law for broadcasting hours and hours of coronavirus misinformation that allegedly has resulted in sickness and deaths.

The network spent too long spraying its viewers with false information about the coronavirus pandemic.
By Kara Swisher

You can relax, Sean Hannity, I’m not going to sue you. Some people are suggesting that there might be grounds for legal action against the cable network that you pretty much rule — Fox News — because you and your colleagues dished out dangerous misinformation about the virus in the early days of the crisis in the United States. Some might allege that they have lost loved ones because of what was broadcast by your news organization. But lawsuits are a bad idea. Here’s why: I believe in Fox News’s First Amendment right as a press organization, even if some of its on-air talent did not mind being egregiously bad at their jobs when it came to giving out accurate health data. And, more to the point, when all is said and done, my Mom will listen to her children over Fox News. One of us — my brother — is an actual doctor and knows what he is talking about. And the other is a persistent annoyance — that would be me. I’m a huge pest, in fact. “I’m going to block your number, if you don’t stop,” my mother said to me over the phone several weeks ago from Florida, after I had texted her the umpteenth chart about the spread of coronavirus across the country. All of these graphs had scary lines that went up and to the right. And all of them flashed big honking red lights: Go home and stay there until all clear. She ignored my texts, so I had switched to calling her to make sure she had accurate information in those critical weeks at the end of February and the beginning of March. She is in the over-80 group that is most at risk of dying from infection. I worry a lot. But she was not concerned — and it was clear why. Her primary source of news is Fox. In those days she was telling me that the Covid-19 threat was overblown by the mainstream news media (note, her daughter is in the media). She told me that it wasn’t going to be that big a deal. She told me that it was just like the flu. And, she added, it was more likely that the Democrats were using the virus to score political points. And, did I know, by the way, that Joe Biden was addled? Thankfully, Mom had not gone as far as claiming the coronavirus is a plot to hurt President Trump — a theory pushed by some at Fox News heavily at first. While she has been alternately appalled and amused by the president, and often takes his side, she is not enough of a superfan to think that he is any kind of victim here. So, she kept going out with friends to restaurants and shopping and generally living her life as it always had been. “What’s the big deal, Kara? Stop bothering me,” she said over the phone. “You’re the one who is going to get sick, if you don’t stop working so much.” And with that she was off to another social event, with me unable to stop her since I was hundreds of miles away. That spring break kid was bad, but this was also not good. I could not lay the blame at the feet of social media this time. No, Facebook was not my mother’s source of misinformation (in fact, the company has been trying to improve in this area). It was not the fault of Dr. Google, which has at least pushed out more good information than bad. And my mom doesn’t use Twitter. Instead, it was Fox, the whole Fox and nothing but the Fox. Many children of older parents have come to know this news diet as the equivalent of extreme senior sugar addiction mixed with a series of truly unpleasant and conspiracy-laden doughnuts. You know all those awful GIFs using a Meryl Streep line from “A Cry in the Dark”: “A dingo ate my baby!”? Well, it sometimes feels like Fox News is eating my mother’s brain. My brother, a doctor working on the front lines of the crisis in San Francisco, called the misinformation “magical thinking and wishful ignorance” that persists because none of us ever wants to believe the worst. He finds it happens a lot when it comes to dire health information. “If Mom does not want coronavirus to be true, pablum from Fox News makes it easier,” he told me. “It’s classic propaganda.” It turns out, executives at Fox News HQ were more reasonable behind the scenes. The offices were Lysol-ed and sanitized and employees were given instructions to be safe. All while the network was doing quite the opposite: spraying viewers with far too much fake news contagion. As The Times media columnist Ben Smith wrote recently: “Fox failed its viewers and the broader public in ways both revealing and potentially lethal. In particular, Lachlan Murdoch failed to pry its most important voices away from their embrace of the president’s early line: that the virus was not a big threat in the United States.”

By Brian Stelter, CNN Business

(CNN Business) President Trump's go-to move in a crisis is always the same: to call Fox News. On Monday morning he called into "Fox & Friends," one of his most reliable sources of support, and praised his own response to the pandemic. It was Trump's third interview on Fox in the past week, and it was more of the same: He talked for 54 minutes with hardly a tough question or assertive follow-up. If the ratings-conscious president had wanted to reach a bigger audience, he would have called into the "Today" show or "Good Morning America." If he had wanted to be heard on the global stage, he would have granted an interview to CNN. His decision to stay on Fox suggest he wants to shore up his base — and avoid difficult questioning. To be fair, Trump has been participating in near-daily briefings at the White House with members of his coronavirus task force. He has quarreled with multiple reporters at the briefings and bristled when they pressed him about his handling of the crisis. But the briefing dynamic is different than a traditional interview. As the crisis has deepened and the death toll has risen, Trump's only national TV interviews have been with Fox News. He sat down for a "virtual town hall" with Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer at the White House on March 24. Fox anchor Harris Faulkner also participated remotely. Hemmer and Faulkner were widely criticized for letting Trump repeat falsehoods without fact-checking or follow-ups. Two days later, Trump called into Hannity's prime time show for a 40-minute chat. He claimed he postponed a phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping in order to talk with Hannity.

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