CNN has hired Jeffrey Lord as a political commentator. Lord has a history of pushing fringe rhetoric and misinformation. He engaged in a "profoundly ahistorical" crusade to deny the lynching of a black man, pushed bogus conspiracies about Democrats, compared his political opponents to Nazis and the KKK, and defended Donald Trump's anti-immigrant remarks.
New CNN political commentator Jeffrey Lord accused Donald Trump's critics of engaging in a "Goebbelsesque Big Lie technique" by attacking Trump's recent "blood" remarks about Fox News debate moderator Megyn Kelly. CNN has heavily covered the story and criticized Trump for his misogynistic remarks.
In an August 10 column headlined "The Disgusting Big Lie About Donald Trump," Lord discussed Trump's August 7 remarks on CNN that Kelly was a bad moderator and "you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever" -- which many interpreted as a reference to Kelly's menstrual cycle. Lord compared those who had that interpretation to Nazis, writing that what followed Trump's comments was "the most disgusting pieces of political analyses I have ever heard in my life. A plu-perfect example of the insight of Hitler's Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels":
What has followed has been 48-hours of the most disgusting pieces of political analyses I have ever heard in my life. A plu-perfect example of the insight of Hitler's Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels: "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it." There was not a word said, not a hint, not a suggestion, that Donald Trump ever said Megyn Kelly asked her lead question of him because she was menstruating. Say again... not... a... word. Not one. This is -- there is no other word for it -- a Goebbels-esque lie.
Lord continued by attacking Republicans, RedState blogger Erick Erickson, and the media, again comparing them to Nazis: "In a stunning convergence of the Goebbelsesque Big Lie technique with today's left-wing political correctness, Erickson, the Republican Establishment -- of which Erickson is decidedly not a member -- and many in the media have made it a point to endlessly repeat Erickson's slander."
Lord, a writer for NewsBusters and the American Spectator, announced he was hired by CNN on August 6. CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota stated that day: "Joining us is the newest member of our CNN family, CNN political commentator Jeffrey Lord ... Welcome to the family."
According to his definition, Lord's new employer and his CNN colleagues are apparently acting like Nazis. A Nexis search of transcripts reveals that CNN devoted numerous segments to Trump's blood remarks.
Lord appeared on CNN over the weekend to defend Trump's attack. During one exchange, New Day Saturday host Christi Paul stated that Trump "took on a woman claiming that it was hormonal" and "did it in a sexist way, did he not?" Lord complained: "We have serious problems in this country. And this is what we are talking about?" Fellow conservative CNN commentator Ben Ferguson criticized Trump, saying: "It is absolutely sexist to say that it had to do with hormones of a woman." Lord responded: "This is what political correctness is all about and it's terribly wrong!"
During Reliable Sources, host Brian Stelter responded to Trump's claim that "only a sick person would even think" he was referring to menstruation by replying: "I guess I am a sick person."
CNN senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny cast doubt on Trump's explanation, stating on Inside Politics: "If this was out of character for him perhaps we could take him at his word but I think, you know, there's a long string of things -- a long string of his comments over the years."
Lord also claimed that critics of the remark are "sexist." He said: "I would submit to you, it's because this is sexist. They're coming to the defense of a little lady as it were, which is unbelievably sexist. Megyn Kelly, I like her as I said. I think she's a supremely confident, a great reporter. And, you know, clearly, she's being treated by a different standard by a lot of these Republicans."
Fox News Radio host Todd Starnes wasn't a fan of Fox's August 6 debate. Starnes repeatedly trashed the debate as having "disgusting" and "gotcha" questions, at one point exclaiming, "Sweet Lord Almighty, people."
The New York Times reported that Fox News moderators "spent weeks writing (and rewriting) about 100 potential questions, roughly half of which will actually be asked" and consulted with top executives like Roger Ailes, Fox News' chairman and CEO.
On social media, Starnes complained bitterly about "the gay marriage gotcha section," former Fox News contributor Ben Carson not getting enough time, and "That abortion question -- disgusting" -- among other perceived problems.
Here is a sampling of his reactions:
Megyn Kelly: "Would you really let a mother die rather than have an abortion?" Are you freaking kidding me? #GOPDebate-- toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) August 7, 2015
That abortion question -- disgusting. #GOPDebate-- toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) August 7, 2015
How about asking Ben Carson a question? #GOPDebate-- toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) August 7, 2015
And now Ben Carson is being asked questions about water boarding? Sweet Lord Almighty, people. #GOPDebate-- toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) August 7, 2015
So this isn't a "Bash Trump" debate. This is a "Destroy Trump" debate. But Trump is still standing. #GOPDebate-- toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) August 7, 2015
And here comes the gay marriage gotcha section....#GOPDebate-- toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) August 7, 2015
Hey conservatives - you have a friend at the Fox News Corner of the World. #GOPDebate-- toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) August 7, 2015
Fox News repeatedly failed to disclose that its debate analyst Marc Thiessen has worked for debate participant Scott Walker. During his Fox appearances, Thiessen praised Walker as one of the "obvious winners" and singled him out as having a "great" debate moment.
During an August 6 appearance shortly after the debate, Thiessen said "Bush and Walker I think did very well." Thiessen also said Christie fared well. He criticized Trump as having a "really, really tough night."
Host Megyn Kelly, who moderated the debate, identified Thiessen as "the former chief presidential speechwriter for President George W. Bush and a Fox News contributor."
Thiessen also heavily praised Walker during an August 7 appearance on America's Newsroom, claiming that "the obvious winners are Bush and Walker because they were in the lead so they didn't need to hit home runs, and they both put in strong performances, especially Walker, I think, had a great moment when he took on -- jumped in and took on Hillary Clinton, which, I think, there was not enough of that in the debate last night."
Fox News host Bill Hemmer identified Thiessen as a Washington Post columnist and Fox News contributor. Like Kelly, he did not identify Thiessen's conflict of interest.
The Washington Post, where Thiessen works as a columnist, reported on March 6 that "Walker is also seeking counsel from several hawks from George W. Bush's administration -- including Abrams, Bush's deputy national security adviser, and Marc A. Thiessen, a Post columnist and former Bush speechwriter known for his staunch defense of waterboarding and other interrogation tactics barred by President Obama. Walker selected Thiessen to co-write his 2013 book, 'Unintimidated,' and the two men became confidants during hours of Skype conversations each weekend."
Politico reported in February that Walker "said he sat down for three-and-a-half hours of foreign policy meetings" including with Thiessen.
New York Daily News Washington Bureau reporter Cameron Joseph criticized Fox News on Twitter, writing: "Curious how Marc Thiessen can be on Fox right now analyzing the debate. He co-wrote Scott Walker's book, and they don't even ID him as such."
Hosting the first debate of the 2016 presidential cycle -- and limiting the participants based on national polling -- has solidified Fox News' role as the Republican Party's gatekeeper. Here is Media Matters' comprehensive report on the money, airtime, and backlash behind the debate process media observers have called a "sham."
UPDATE (8/5): Under attack, paid Donald Trump adviser Roger Stone is defending his attacks against commentators Roland Martin and Ana Navarro as "quota hires." Stone fired off a series of tweets claiming, among other things, that "If u have and heard Ana Nararro and Roland Martin they are so dumb and unqualified that one can reach no other conclusion."
Fox News personality Geraldo Rivera also called on Trump to dump Stone, tweeting that Martin and Navarro "have twice the intellect and integrity of @RogerStone. @realDonaldTrump doesn't need thugs like him." That tweet led to the following exchange between Stone and Rivera:
@RogerJStoneJr when I see you around Fox News I'm going to kick your racist ass punk-- Geraldo Rivera (@GeraldoRivera) August 5, 2015
Stone wrote in a July 28 tweet:
He also asked on July 12 whether Navarro is a "quota" hire:
Martin is an African-American commentator who works as a syndicated columnist and as the host and managing editor of TV One's NewsOne Now. He was previously a CNN contributor. Navarro is a Hispanic CNN political commentator and Republican strategist. She is a longtime friend and former employee of former Gov. Jeb Bush and worked for him in Florida.
Trump's presidential campaign paid Stone's company, Drake Ventures, a total of $30,000 in April and May, according to Trump's most recent campaign filing. Stone has a long history of advising Trump, and is reportedly "among the team advising Trump on messaging for" the August 6 Fox News debate.
The Trump campaign recently fired political adviser Sam Nunberg "after racially charged Facebook posts he allegedly wrote were uncovered." Nunberg, CNN and others noted, is "an associate of political strategist and former Richard Nixon aide Roger Stone."
Stone is a professional dirty trickster who once formed an anti-Hillary Clinton group with the acronym "C.U.N.T." after he tried "to come up with words for B.I.T.C.H. and just couldn't do it." He's also endorsed birther smears against President Obama and the smear that Michelle Obama is on tape calling white people "whiteys."
Stone's recent tweets include harsh attacks against the Bush family. He wrote, "I'd rather drink my own piss than see spoiled ,elitist crook Jeb Bush in the White House"; claimed Barbara Bush "was stinking drunk at Jeb's announcement #blotto #bombed #shit-faced"; and tweeted that the "The Bush Crime Famiy" has "a history of privilege, money, fraud, drugs, murder and ambition."
Chris Wallace, one of Fox News' three moderators for its August 6 debate, has repeatedly criticized Donald Trump and expressed "skepticism" about his candidacy. He has criticized Trump's anti-Mexican remarks as unfair, said his anti-John McCain remarks are "pretty tough to defend," and expressed "skepticism" about why someone would vote for Trump when he's an "amateur" who has "never had any experience" in politics.
Numerous Republican presidential candidates are attending the 2015 RedState Gathering hosted by conservative pundit Erick Erickson. Erickson has said males should be "dominant" over females, claimed women should be "at home" while men bring "home the bacon," labeled Michelle Obama a "marxist harpy wife" and Justice David Souter a "goat fucking child molester," argued LGBT people are "on the road to hell," and wondered when Americans would raid legislators' houses and beat them to "a bloody pulp."
The New York Times was forced to issue two corrections after relying on Capitol Hill anonymous sourcing for its flawed report on emails from former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. The Clinton debacle is the latest example of why the media should be careful when relying on leaks from partisan congressional sources -- this is far from the first time journalists who did have been burned.
Republican insiders are complaining that the right-wing media "is shaping the party's agenda in ways that are impeding Republicans' ability to govern and to win presidential elections," according to a new Harvard report.
New York Times reporter Jackie Calmes, a Joan Shorenstein fellow at Harvard's Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, spent nearly four months researching how the conservative media is increasingly influencing the Republican Party. She found "unanimity among establishment Republicans -- many of them conservatives by the definition of anyone but purists -- that rightwing media has become a big problem for the party, and their readiness to talk about it, was something of a surprise to this reporter of three decades' experience in Washington."
Since its founding in 2004, Media Matters has documented the increasingly extreme rhetoric and policy positions of conservative media. But party Republicans are now complaining that conservative commentators, many of whom are lining their pockets with big salaries, are making it difficult for Republicans to govern and win national elections.
Dave Schnittger, a longtime former top aide to House Republican leaders, told Calmes that conservative media are loudest in opposing actions "that leaders have to get done as part of governing," such as meeting basic fiscal deadlines.
Another top Republican aide, who asked for anonymity, complained of the conservative media: "There's no money, ratings or clicks in everyone going along to get along." Calmes added, "Asked whether he could offer examples of legislative outcomes affected by conservative media, this Republican all but snapped, 'Sure. All of 'em.' Does he worry more broadly then about the small-d democratic process? 'Yeah, absolutely. Because the loudest voices drown out the sensible ones and there's no real space to have serious discussions.'"
When it comes to national issues, Republicans fret that the conservative media has pushed the party "far to the anti-government, anti-compromise ideological right." Republicans pointed to the conservative media being "on the wrong side of history" and at odds with public opinion on "gay rights, insurance for contraceptives, climate change, and budget policy." They also complained that right-wing pundits have destroyed Republicans' ability to help pass comprehensive immigration reform.
One Republican Senate aide claimed that it's "the conservative media pushing us to take these positions, these extremist positions. And of course there are those who are more than willing to take them because it gets them press. It's a vicious cycle: The shows want ratings -- they're a business. The members want publicity. So it's just this unholy alliance."
The conservative media's influence on the Republican Party has become a key story during the 2016 presidential primary season. Fox News has an unprecedented media role in the process, as it is hosting the first Republican debate and using polling to cap the number of debate participants at 10. Candidates competing to get into the debates are now frequently appearing on the network's airwaves, and their allies are spending big money on advertising to reach Fox's conservative audience.
Perhaps one of the most disruptive forces in the primary, Donald Trump, has enjoyed a cozy relationship with Fox News. Fox has promoted Trump's antics so much that Fox News founder Rupert Murdoch has reportedly fought with chairman and CEO Roger Ailes over the channel's coverage of the divisive Republican candidate.