Fox News Radio host Todd Starnes wrote that "Record-breaking floods have inundated Washington, D.C. just days after the Supreme Court decided they knew better than God" and wondered, "Anybody got an ark?"
Starnes, the host of Fox News & Commentary, has issued dire warnings to his followers after the June 26 Supreme Court marriage equality decision.
After the decision, Starnes tweeted: "If you thought the cultural purge over the Confederate flag was breathtaking -- wait until you see what LGBT activists do with Christians." He wrote on Facebook: "Friends, it is imperative that you prepare yourselves, your families and your congregations for the coming persecution ... These are troubling days - and we must be willing to defend religious liberty." (In reality, such religious liberty concerns are bunk.)
His assessment veered toward end times territory in a June 28 Facebook post where he wrote: "Record-breaking floods have inundated Washington, D.C. just days after the Supreme Court decided they knew better than God. I seem to remember another time in history when there was a record-breaking flood." He added: "God painted the sky with rainbow colors after that flood. This go-around - Obama painted the White House with rainbow colors. Anybody got an ark?"
Starnes' remarks are so ridiculous that it sometimes seems like a parody of an intolerant conservative pundit. Indeed, The Daily Beast's Asawin Suebsaeng wrote of "the Worst Man on Cable News": "Todd Starnes did not respond to The Daily Beast's request for comment regarding whether he actually believes the shit he says, or if he is just forever trolling."
The Washington Post is allowing George Will to engage in an "out-and-out conflict of interest" by promoting the work of a conservative advocacy group that's connected to him through financial grants.
Will wrote a June 25 Post piece attacking Chief Justice John Roberts and the Supreme Court's recent decision on the Affordable Care Act. For support, Will cited a lawyer for the Institute for Justice (IJ), who claimed that the United States is becoming "a country in which all the branches of government work in tandem to achieve policy outcomes, instead of checking one another to protect individual rights. Besides violating the separation of powers, this approach raises serious issues about whether litigants before the courts are receiving the process that is due to them under the Constitution."
Will and the Post did not disclose that the Institute for Justice is funded by the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, where Will is a member of the board of directors. The foundation notes on its website that it "substantially supports IJ." The Bradley Foundation directly gave IJ over $500,000 from 2011-2013 (the most recent year available), according to its annual reports. It awarded IJ's president, William H. "Chip" Mellor, a 2012 "Bradley Prize" along with a stipend of $250,000. The foundation states that board members are responsible for grant-making decisions.
The lack of disclosure is perplexing given that the Post previously noted Will's financial connections to IJ. A Nexis search for "Institute for Justice" and "Bradley Foundation" in the Post did not return any results except for an August 21, 2009, correction about Will's ties ("he is a board member of the Bradley Foundation, which has contributed funding to the Institute for Justice").
Washington Post writer Erik Wemple has criticized his colleague's "out-and-out conflict of interest" in previously promoting Bradley Foundation recipients, explaining:
Here, Will touted an outlet funded generously by a group he helps to lead. And thanks to the columnist's kind words, WILL [Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty] may have an easier time finding funders outside of the Bradley Foundation. All very cozy, synergistic and, as media critics might say, an out-and-out conflict of interest -- an offense of which Will has been accused before.
Will defended himself regarding his lack of disclosure last year, claiming, in part, that "I see no reason -- no service to readers -- to disclose my several degrees of separation from the program: My tenuous connection has no bearing on what I think about what they do. There comes a point when disclosure of this and that becomes clutter, leaving readers to wonder what the disclosed information has to do with anything."
Media ethicists and journalism veterans have criticized Will for the practice, calling it a breach of journalistic ethics. As Media Matters has documented, Will has a long history of ethical misfires despite being long employed by a leading national newspaper.
Fox News has parted ways with Sarah Palin. The former contributor spent her time at the network throwing incendiary jabs at progressives, feuding with her Fox News bosses, and declining into irrelevancy among her fellow Republicans.
Palin had a rocky history with Fox, which she joined in 2010 after her widely-ridiculed vice presidential run. During her roughly five years at the network, Palin sank from being a "hot" commodity to a marginal presence at Fox. At one point during the 2012 Republican convention, Palin resorted to "complaining on Facebook ... that the network had canceled her appearances."
According to Fox's Howard Kurtz, Palin left the network in 2013 after her "star had faded" and the network offered "only a fraction of the million-dollar-a-year salary" she once enjoyed. She eventually returned to Fox in the summer of 2013.
In 2014, Palin called for President Obama's impeachment in an op-ed for Breitbart News. This came in apparent violation of her Fox contract, which reportedly guaranteed "the cable-news leader exclusive rights to her work on television and on the Internet." This year she complained about "quasi-conservative" Fox personalities like Bill O'Reilly who panned her 2016 chances as a "reality show."
Sean Hannity promoted the concealed carrying of handguns during his Fox News interviews with Jeb Bush and Scott Walker. Hannity is a paid spokesman for the United States Concealed Carry Association (USCCA), a financial relationship he repeatedly failed to disclose.
During his February 26 program, Hannity asked Walker: "Let's talk about guns. Should law-abiding citizens -- for example, it's very hard to get a carry permit in a state like New York. Should they be allowed to carry weapons if they're law-abiding citizens?" Walker replied, "Absolutely."
Hannity asked Bush during his June 16 Fox News interview: "Should citizens if they are law-abiding, no records, have the right to carry a weapon?" To applause from the audience, Bush replied that people should "absolutely" have that right.
But Hannity's interest in concealed carrying of guns isn't just political -- it's financial.
The United States Concealed Carry Association claims it is "the first & largest member-owned association dedicated to educating, training, and insuring responsibly armed Americans." Hannity is heavily involved with USCCA. The front page of the organization's website features Hannity's endorsement and a "training package" for his fans.
The website HannityForUSCCA.com includes a prominent quote from Hannity professing that he has "peace of mind knowing that if I ever have to use my weapon to save the life of my loved one, they will be in my corner." The Hannity training package features materials with "critical, life-saving information that will better prepare you and your loved ones for a home invasion or violent encounter."
An ad for USCCA featuring Hannity aired during his June 16 radio program -- the day of his Bush interview -- according to a search of TVEyes.com. Hannity stated in the ad that he's a "proud member of the United States Concealed Carry Association" and he's "been working closely with them" to create a "special" training package for his fans.
This isn't the first time Hannity has promoted the interests of his radio sponsors. Last year, Hannity used his Fox News program to promote the fundraising efforts of the Tea Party Patriots.
Hannity is a favorite destination for Republican candidates who have just announced they're officially running for president. Hannity's website has even adopted Politico reporter Dylan Byers' description of him as the "conservative kingmaker" in the Republican primary.
UPDATE: Hannity again pushed concealed carry during his June 17 Fox News interview with Donald Trump. Hannity complained that it's "almost impossible" to get a concealed carry permit in New York City. Trump replied that he's "a huge Second Amendment person."
Real estate mogul and reality show host Donald Trump has officially entered the presidential race. For years, Trump has made regular media appearances (particularly on Fox News) to promote his previously-elusive presidential ambitions and push absurd conspiracies, including repeatedly questioning the validity of President Obama's birth certificate.
One of Trump's media platforms is likely in jeopardy due to his announcement -- NBC is reportedly planning to "re-evaluate Trump's role as host of 'Celebrity Apprentice' should it become necessary."
Some of Trump's worst media commentary is below:
Trump Spent Months In 2011 Teaming Up With Fox News To Push Birther Conspiracies. In early 2011, as he was supposedly weighing his own presidential run, Trump breathed new life into the conspiracy theory that President Obama had not released a valid birth certificate and may have been hiding the fact that he was not born in America. Fox News gave Trump a platform on the network to forward his crusade and repeatedly defended him from attacks from other media outlets. After Obama embarrassed Trump by publicly releasing the long-form version of his birth certificate, several conservative media figures somehow decided the entire ordeal was a win for Trump.
Trump Suggested Obama's Long-Form Birth Certificate Was Forged. During an interview with Greta Van Susteren more than a year after the release of Obama's long-form birth certificate, Trump pointed to the "many, many people" questioning the validity of the document. (Trump had previously reportedly told conspiracy website WND that he thought the birth certificate was a forgery.) After Van Susteren pointed to the existence of a birth announcement for the president in a Hawaii newspaper, Trump claimed that report may have been planted:
A few months ago, during an appearance at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, Trump reiterated that he is not sure whether Obama released "a real certificate."
Trump: Obama Didn't Write His Own Memoir. Borrowing an obscure conspiracy from WND columnist Jack Cashill, Trump repeatedly claimed in 2011 and 2012 that President Obama didn't write his memoir, instead suggesting that the book was actually written by Bill Ayers.
During a 2012 appearance on Greta Van Susteren's show, Trump said, "Who really penned that book, it would be an interesting question for people to figure out ... I think somebody else had a lot to do with that book. I think he wrote the second book, which was certainly not a masterpiece. I'm very good at books, and it certainly wasn't a masterpiece."
Trump: Climate Change Is A "Hoax" Perpetrated By Scientists "Having A Lot Of Fun." During a rant pointing to cold winter temperatures around the country, Trump repeatedly labeled climate change a "hoax," adding, "I think the scientists are having a lot of fun."
As Mother Jones' Jeremy Schulman (formerly research director at Media Matters) notes, Trump has also repeatedly dismissed climate science on his Twitter account, decrying the "GLOBAL WARMING HOAX" and the "very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit."
Trump Repeatedly Linked Vaccines To Autism. Trump has frequently pushed the link between vaccines and autism despite scientific evidence to the contrary. He said on Fox News in April 2012 of vaccines: "I've seen people where they have a perfectly healthy child, and they go for the vaccinations, and a month later the child is no longer healthy." He later tweeted, "I am being proven right about massive vaccinations--the doctors lied," and "Healthy young child goes to doctor, gets pumped with massive shot of many vaccines, doesn't feel good and changes - AUTISM. Many such cases!
Trump Called For A "Revolution" After Obama's Re-election. In two tweets he later deleted, Trump called for a "revolution."
Trump: "There Is Something Seriously Wrong With President Obama's Mental Health." Trump questioned President Obama's mental health because he didn't cut off flights from countries with active Ebola cases in 2014 (The CDC stated doing so would actually hurt Ebola prevention efforts). Trump called Obama a "psycho" and said "There's something wrong, there's something going on."
Trump: Arianna Huffington Is "Unattractive," And "I Fully Understand Why Her Former Husband Left Her." In a 2012 tweet, Trump claimed that Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington "is unattractive both inside and out. I fully understand why her former husband left her for a man- he made a good decision."
Video by John Kerr.
Jeb Bush, who is expected to announce a run for president next week, has received withering criticism from prominent conservative radio hosts Glenn Beck, Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh, and Laura Ingraham. The conservative talkers have attacked Bush as "not a Republican," an "egomaniac," and someone who must "be fought" in the Republican primary.
Conservative media outlets are attacking Democratic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley for purportedly "taxing the rain" as governor of Maryland. But as The Baltimore Sun noted, the state did "not tax the rain." O'Malley approved an anti-pollution levy on certain property owners to comply with federal law protecting the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed.
The talking point that O'Malley allegedly "taxed the rain" has been frequently used by conservatives since his presidential announcement. For instance:
Fox News personalities believe the August 6 Fox News debate is supplanting Iowa and New Hampshire as the first Republican presidential contest. The debate's 10-candidate limit places Fox News in a gatekeeper role, with candidates jostling for airtime on the network to better their chances of making the debate stage.
Fox News announced in May that its Cleveland debate, the first of the presidential cycle, will only include candidates "in the top 10 of an average of the five most recent national polls." With the Republican field potentially reaching 16 or more candidates, the rules could mean the exclusion of several candidates.
The August debate has now become "Fox's Cleveland primary."
Fox News host Howard Kurtz wrote on May 26 that "Fox News has set a bar that will make it difficult for the also-rans to get political traction." He wrote that the rules "will help winnow the field" and "well before anyone makes it to Iowa, the Republican candidates will have to clear the bar for Fox's Cleveland primary."
A conservative pundit who regularly appeared on outlets like Fox News, Fox Business, and CNBC used his cable news appearances to defraud investors, according to a government investigation.
The News Journal reported that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sanctioned Todd Schoenberger after he admitted defrauding four investors of "a total of $130,000 after he told them he would invest it in a hedge fund that had $65 million under management." In reality, "the SEC said, his purported Onshore Fund was a limited partnership that never had any assets to its name. Schoenberger, it said, spent some of the funds investors gave him on a new house and living expenses."
The SEC stated in an order that "Schoenberger has been a frequent investment and stock market guest commentator on national cable television business news programs. He also served as an occasional business news columnist for a national newspaper and national news website. In soliciting investors, Schoenberger touted his appearances on cable news programs to bolster his credibility with investors, create around himself an aura of success, and entice investments in his scheme" (emphasis added).
Indeed, Schoenberger has made countless appearances on various cable news networks as a financial analyst:
Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina is asking supporters for money to help her qualify for Fox News' August 6 debate. Fiorina's appeals further cement the conservative network's gatekeeper role in the Republican presidential primary.
Fox News announced on May 20 that its debate, the first of the presidential cycle, will only include candidates "in the top 10 of an average of the five most recent national polls." That criteria could mean the exclusion of Republicans like Rick Santorum, John Kasich, Lindsey Graham and Fiorina.
The Los Angeles Times' Doyle McManus wrote that the debate rules make Fox a GOP primary gatekeeper. McManus added that according to Republican strategists, candidates on the qualification fringe "will be even more desperate to boost their name recognition -- by appearing on Fox News." A Media Matters study found that in May, Fiorina made five appearances on the network.