The Fox News Channel has more competition for its conservative audience, this time from one of its own employees.
Sarah Palin is launching the Sarah Palin Channel, an online "news channel" that will "cut through the media's politically correct filter" and address "the issues that the mainstream media won't talk about." Rupert Murdoch launched his Fox News Channel in similar fashion by decrying the alleged liberal bias of the media, and targeting his channel to a disaffected audience.
Palin is a Fox News contributor who has a rocky history with her employer. Earlier this month she called for President Obama's impeachment in an op-ed for Breitbart News. This came in apparent violation of her Fox contract, which reportedly "guarantees the cable-news leader exclusive rights to her work on television and on the Internet." The Daily Beast's Lloyd Grove reported that Palin's contract "allowed her to make a side deal for digital TV."*
The Sarah Palin Channel is backed by TAPP, a company building "niche" digital channels and founded by former NBCU executive Jeff Gaspin and former CNN executive Jon Klein.
Palin's "news channel" joins an already crowded universe of networks attempting to whittle away at Fox News' Republican audience.
Fox News chief political correspondent Carl Cameron will speak at a fundraiser benefiting a group run by former Republican Party officials and linked to controversial industrialists Charles and David Koch.
Cameron is a speaker at The Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy's (JBC) annual Libertas Dinner on July 23. The event will also feature former Gov. Steve Merrill (R-NH) and honor Joe McQuaid, publisher of the Union Leader and "GOP Kingmaker in New Hampshire." Sponsorship levels run from $100 to $10,000.
In an email to Media Matters, JBC president Charles M. Arlinghaus said that Cameron isn't being paid for his appearance and was asked to speak because of Cameron's connections to him and McQuaid.
"I wanted Carl partly because I've known Carl for more than 20 years and love him. He's a local guy and one of the nicest, most decent people I've interacted with in a profession that doesn't always include a lot of people you can say that about so I wanted to jump at an opportunity to be on a podium with him," Arlinghaus wrote.
"Second, he's perfect for Joe. The primary purpose of the event is to honor Joe and because Carl has known Joe for so long and in such an interesting way (different types of journalism, organizations that have had complementary and sometimes rival purposes) I think he sets off Joe perfectly. I think Carl talking about Joe will be the combination of history, nostalgia, and a sort of backstage look at the radio/TV/newspaper relationship that turns the event from a boring cattle call into a fun evening."
Cameron joined Fox News in 1996 and serves as its chief political correspondent. His duties include reporting on political campaigns, including from New Hampshire. He was previously the political director for New Hampshire's WMUR-TV.
JBC describes itself as a non-partisan organization dedicated to "individual freedom and responsibility, limited and accountable government, and an appreciation of the role of the free enterprise system." The group was co-founded by Emily Mead, who worked as a policy adviser for President George H.W. Bush. Its board is chaired by former Republican congressional candidate Richard Ashooh, and its directors include former NH Senate President Tom Eaton (R), former New Hampshire Republican State Committee executive director Anna Barbara Hantz, Republican consultant James Sununu, and former Republican NH Gov. John H. Sununu. Arlinghaus previously worked for the New Hampshire Republican Party and Republican National Committee.
Fox News contributor Allen West is claiming that President Obama is "purposefully creating drama globally" like the recent Malaysia Airlines M17 crash.
In a post on his website headlined, "298 souls on MH17 have paid the price for Obama's 'flexibility,'" West referenced a 2012 video of Obama telling then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev he would have "flexibility" after his re-election, writing:
Sadly, hundreds of Ukrainians and 298 souls on MH17 have paid the price for the weakness and abject cowardice of Obama's "flexibility."
And here in America we quibble over a lawsuit against this charlatan.
The blood on Vladimir Putin's hands was poured by Barack Obama who is indirectly responsible, accountable accountable [sic] and no different than Neville Chamberlain's weakness in the face of the 20th Century maniacal dictator Adolf Hitler.
He concluded: "So much for no drama Obama. He is purposefully creating drama globally." West did not expand on why he thinks Obama is "purposely creating" "drama" like the Malaysia crash.
Fox News host Greta Van Susteren sharply criticized Fox News correspondent Todd Starnes for "very bad taste" over tweeting petty attacks on the president in response to the deadly crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.
Starnes has tweeted that Obama isn't "interested" in the crash because it doesn't involve "beer or golf," "Russia bracing for a severe hash tag from the Obama Administration," and "Obama won't comment on Malaysian jetliner crash until he's had a chance to read tomorrow's paper."
In a post on her blog headlined, "NOTE TO FNC's TODD STARNES: THIS IS VERY BAD TASTE, 295 PEOPLE DIED," Van Susteren wrote: "I was just sent a Mediaite article with these tweets on it. I don't know Todd Starnes (he works in NYC), but I do know he works at Fox News Channel and so do I. I don't like his tweets. They are very bad taste. This is not the time to be snarky or some pathetic attempt at humor. Let me repeat... 295 people died."
Conservative media are pushing the conspiracy theory that the Obama administration deliberately created the humanitarian immigration crisis on the Southern border for political reasons. The rhetoric echoes claims from Republican politicians, most notably Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who said he didn't want "to be conspiratorial," but the administration may be "in on this somehow."
Child migrants have surged across the border in recent months to flee violence in Central America. President Obama has asked Congress for $3.7 billion to respond to the crisis, as the mass migration has overwhelmed existing detention facilities and border resources.
The president has publicly discouraged the migration, stating in an ABC News interview on June 27: "That is our direct message to the families in Central America: Do not send your children to the borders. If they do make it, they'll get sent back. More importantly, they may not make it." PolitiFact called the claim that Obama planned the border crisis "pants on fire" false, writing: "Many of the factors behind the surge of children lie outside the control of the administration. No expert we reached gave any credence to the idea that the administration planned this crisis on the border."
Gov. Perry has responded to the humanitarian crisis by suggesting the Obama administration is secretly coordinating the effort. In a June 17 Fox News interview with Sean Hannity, Perry said: "We're doing our part to make sure we can keep our citizens as safe as we can. But the federal government is just absolutely failing. We either have an incredibly inept administration or they're in on this somehow or another. I hate to be conspiratorial, but how do you move that many people from Central America across Mexico and into the United States without there being a fairly coordinated effort?"
Fox News contributor Allen West didn't dispute an audience member who falsely claimed that "Obama is a Muslim," responding that he's "not going to get into that" but the president "has an Eastern orientation, I'll put it that way."
During the event's question and answer segment, an attendee told West: "I personally believe that Obama is a Muslim. I believe he has a corrupt administration. And I believe that he is doing everything in his power to bring this country down."
West agreed that Obama is bringing down the country, and then moved on to the Muslim claim by stating: "Now the point about him being a Muslim or not, you know, I'm not going to get into that. But this is what I will tell you. The formative years of your life have an incredible impact upon your worldview and your perspective. Okay? My years from zero to ten, I was learning all the SEC football fight songs. I was going to Atlanta Braves, you know, baseball games."
By contrast, West said, "The president has an Eastern orientation, I'll put it that way. You go back and you look at the speech he gave at the Turkish general assembly and also the speech he gave in Cairo, Egypt, in 2009. That defines his perspective. Anybody that allows Muslim Brotherhood affiliated individuals to be advisers in your, in his administration -- I got a problem with that. Okay? And I will tell you, that's an impeachable offense, folks."
He concluded: "Don't care whether or not he's a Muslim. I care about his orientation. And his association. But you're absolutely right. One thing I'll tell you -- he has told us exactly what he wants to do."
At least 15 Fox News hosts and contributors have recently campaigned with two political organizations created and heavily funded by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch. Many of those same Fox News personalities have also defended the Kochs from attacks and praised their political efforts on-air.
The controversial conservative brothers founded the 501(c)(4) group Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and its 501(c)(3) sister group the Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFPF) in 2004. David Koch has called AFP the group he feels "most closely attached to and most proud of" and chairs AFPF's board. (The Washington Post notes of the IRS code distinction: "A 501(c)(4) is allowed to do considerably more issue advocacy work than a 501(C)(3), however. Neither group has to disclose the identity of its donors or the amounts of money those contributors have given.")
Politico's Ken Vogel reported that AFP "intends to spend more than $125 million this year on an aggressive ground, air and data operation benefiting conservatives, according to a memo distributed to major donors and sources familiar with the group." The Washington Post wrote that with a paid staff of 240, split between 32 states, AFP "may be America's third-biggest political party." In 2012, "More than $44 million of the $140 million the organization raised in that election cycle came from Koch-linked feeder funds."
AFP and AFPF are part of a massive $400 million network of political groups spearheaded by the Kochs. The Huffington Post's Paul Blumenthal noted, "It is the electoral focus of the Koch nonprofits and their sophisticated efforts to shield donors' identities -- plus the vast sums of money they move -- that has brought them the unwanted attention of both Democratic Senate leadership and reporters. There exists no outside network or organization supporting Democratic Party candidates in elections, while not disclosing its donors, that spends money in comparable amounts."
AFP states that it "mobilizes citizens to effectively make their voices heard in public policy issue campaigns" and "educates citizens about where their elected officials stand on our issues." AFP campaigns have included false attacks about health care reform, clean energy, economic issues, and elected Democrats like President Obama.
Fox News personalities are the public face of many AFP/AFPF events. Promotional materials heavily tout the speakers' affiliation with Fox News to increase attendance. According to a Media Matters review, the following Fox News personalities have participated in AFP and AFPF events since 2012: Guy Benson, Tucker Carlson, Monica Crowley, Jonah Goldberg, Greg Gutfeld, Mary Katharine Ham, Mike Huckabee, Laura Ingraham, Andrew Napolitano, Sarah Palin, Charles Payne, Dana Perino, John Stossel, Cal Thomas, and Juan Williams.
The Koch/Fox News events are aimed at rallying attendees to support conservative causes and fight progressive initiatives. For example, an invitation for a May event featuring Tucker Carlson stated the rally will "send a message to the Left that we know the truth and support free market solutions." Information for a November 2013 rally with Monica Crowley said participants will "learn how you can fight back against government restrictions, taxes, and out-of-control spending." And an October 2012 event with John Stossel was a "Hands Off My Health Care Rally" which sought "to fully repeal Obama's deeply flawed health care bill."
Media Matters previously documented how numerous Fox News personalities campaigned for Republican candidates and organizations during the 2011-2012 election cycle.
In a letter released today, Media Matters chairman David Brock cautioned the media against relying on The Washington Free Beacon for accurate information, noting among other concerns that the site has hired a Republican research firm to obtain information for anti-Hillary Clinton stories. The firm, M Street Insight, has numerous Republican clients this cycle.
From Brock's letter:
On June 21, Business Insider reported on how The Free Beacon obtained tapes from the University of Arkansas library, which The Free Beacon used to publish articles attacking Hillary Clinton, under the byline of Alana Goodman. According to Business Insider, it was not the reporter but one Shawn Reinschmiedt who requested and received the tapes on which The Free Beacon articles were based.
Goldfarb told Business Insider that Reinschmiedt "runs a firm that has been working with the Beacon since we launched." But Goldfarb did not explain the identity of that firm or its character.
In fact, Reinschmiedt, the former research director of the Republican National Committee, is a founding partner in the Republican opposition research firm M Street Insight. According to Form 990 disclosures filed by The Free Beacon's parent organization, The Center for American Freedom, The Center paid the firm M Street Insight $150,000 for "research consulting" in 2012.
The Free Beacon's "reporting" fails to disclose that The Free Beacon paid a Republican opposition research firm for the information it falsely published as its own journalistic work from the University of Arkansas tapes.
Reinschmiedt and Dan Comstock founded M Street Insight LLC in 2011. The two previously worked together for the Republican National Committee (RNC) and unsuccessful California Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman. Evan Yost, who previously worked on campaigns for Mitt Romney and John McCain, joined the firm as a principal in 2013.
In a 2011 interview about the firm's founding, Reinschmiedt said he founded the firm to give clients "research in the style that the RNC does it."
M Street clients this campaign cycle include numerous Republicans, including John Chapman for Congress (MA), Liz Cheney for Senate (WY), Sen. John Cornyn (TX), Rep. Doug Lamborn (CO), Rep. Mike Simpson (ID), and the Republican Governors Association.
Fox News contributor Allen West dismissed the recent capture of Benghazi terrorist suspect Ahmed Abu Khattala as a "smoke and mirrors" ploy and questioned whether Abu Khattala was really the "mastermind" behind the attacks or "the Obama administration's fall guy." Yet West just months ago co-signed a letter calling for Khattala's capture because he was the "ringleader of the attack."
During an appearance today on Fox News Radio, West said that Abu Khattala has been "seen out in public and everything, and now all of a sudden the American people are supposed to believe that he is the mastermind?" He added: "He ends up being the Obama administration's fall guy. Just the same as the poor guy who produced the quote, unquote, anti-Islamic video," a reference to Innocence of Muslims filmmaker Nakoula Basseley Nakoula.
On January 6, West co-signed a letter to House Speaker John Boehner demanding a Benghazi select committee and calling for the capture of Abu Khattala. The letter, which is posted on West's website, states:
Not a single terrorist in this well-planned and executed military attack by radical Islamists has been apprehended. Ahmed Abu Khattala, a ringleader of the attack, granted long interviews to reporters in Benghazi cafes, while the Obama administration -- and you -- have done nothing. Nearly 16 months after the terrorist attack, American public has no accountability and no plan of action from House leadership.
On the radio, West also bizarrely claimed that the attention on Benghazi was distraction from matters such as Iraq and immigration, stating: "This is all smoke and mirrors. This all distraction. This all wag the dog stuff coming out of the Obama administration while we have a serious situation going on in Baghdad, while we have a serious situation going in on our southern border." (To "wag the dog" means to "purposely divert attention from what would otherwise be of greater importance, to something else of lesser significance.") West similarly wrote on his website yesterday that Abu Khattala was "conveniently captured to deflect attention from all the other nightmares."
Listen to West's comments from the June 18 edition of Fox News Radio's Kilmeade & Friends:
Just days after Rep. Eric Cantor was ousted in a Republican primary, right-wing media are outraged at the ideological credentials of his likely replacement as House majority leader. Conservatives are calling Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) "dimwitted," "pro-amnesty," and "just another in a long line of big spenders who thinks the Democrats in charge of government are the problem, not government itself."
The Washington Post reported that McCarthy is the "overwhelming front-runner" to be the majority leader after he "appeared to have consolidated ranks in almost every corner of the House GOP caucus and seemed well positioned to win next week's snap election to succeed Rep. Eric Cantor." The Los Angeles Times similarly reported McCarthy "is all but assured of becoming the next House majority leader."
Cantor has endorsed his "dear friend" McCarthy, stating: "He'd make an outstanding majority leader, and I will be backing him with my full support."
But the prospect of McCarthy replacing Cantor has drawn strong condemnation from conservative pundits, including radio hosts Mark Levin and Laura Ingraham, who campaigned against Cantor.