John Kerr

Author ››› John Kerr
  • VIDEO: How Right-Wing Lies Become Mainstream News

    The Fox Cycle, Explained


    The Fox Cycle is the process by which Fox News pushes right-wing fringe stories into the mainstream news. Fox distorts facts, spreads myths as truths and devotes heavy, one-sided coverage to make viewers believe in baseless, manufactured stories -- and, worse, to convince mainstream media outlets to cover these lies.

    The Fox Cycle occurs in six steps:

    1. Right-wing bloggers, talk radio hosts, and other conservative media outlets start promoting a fringe or false story.
    2. Fox News picks up the story and gives it heavy, one-sided coverage.
    3. Fox News and conservative media attack the "liberal media" for ignoring it.
    4. Mainstream media outlets eventually cover the story, echoing the right-wing distortions.
    5. Fox News receives credit for promoting the story.
    6. The story is later proved to be false or wildly misleading, long after damage is done.

    The Fox Cycle is the reason why some people believe that Planned Parenthood is in the business of selling fetal body parts, why some people still think the 2012 presidential election was rigged against Mitt Romney, why some people are convinced that voter ID laws prevent fraud and why climate denial is rampant. Even after the truth has emerged, proving the story false, there are still many people left with the impression that there’s some truth or credibility to the claims.

    While Fox News is mainly to blame for picking up these fringey stories in the first place, mainstream news outlets must be careful not to echo their right-wing manufactured distortions as truths. Fact checking and debunking misinformation is especially important this campaign season.

  • Fox News' Obscene And Ridiculous Trump Infomercial

    Blog ››› ››› JOHN KERR

    On May 26, Fox News aired an hour-long special, Meet The Trumps, in which On The Record host Greta Van Susteren spent the hour asking flattering questions of presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump and his immediate family. Multiple critics compared the special to the state-run media of a dictatorship.

    This is what the special looks like when you remove Trump and his family's answers:

  • VIDEO: Megyn Kelly Repackaged A Year’s Worth Of Fox Interview Questions To Trump


    Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly’s widely panned interview with presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump failed to bolster her carefully crafted image as a hard-hitting journalist. Indeed, Kelly recycled a series of softball questions her fellow Fox personalities have previously asked Trump.

    Kelly’s May 17 interview was promoted as an exclusive, hard-hitting exchange and reconciliation between the presumptive nominee and Fox’s primetime anchor after the months-long public feud between Trump and the network over Kelly’s questioning of the candidate. Kelly herself said her goal for the interview was an “interesting, compelling exchange.”

    But the interview not only featured a series of fuzzy, softball questions -- “Has anyone ever hurt you emotionally?,” “Are you going to stop [combatively tweeting] as president?” -- it also mirrored the way other Fox News hosts have engaged with Trump on air, shattering the illusion that Kelly is somehow different than her colleagues. A series of questions that Kelly tossed to Trump last night sounded conspicuously familiar, and for a good reason: they echoed questions that her colleagues have asked the presumptive GOP nominee over the past year.

    Take Bill O’Reilly back in March, asking Trump:

    BILL O’REILLY: Donald Trump now is not speaking as the Art of the Deal guy or The Apprentice guy. You’re not speaking anymore on that level. Now you are speaking for the United States. You may be president. I mean, so your rhetoric means so much more than it used to mean. You know, you’re in a different place. A place you have never been in. I'm just wondering how much you’ve thought about all that.

    And compare with Megyn Kelly last night:

    MEGYN KELLY: You're no longer just Donald Trump, businessman, or Donald Trump, host of Celebrity Apprentice. Now you're steps away from the presidency. Have you given any thought, in this position, to the power that your messaging has on the lives of the people you target and on the millions of people who take their cue from you?

    Megyn Kelly has spent years cultivating a reputation as an unbiased journalist, which has been boosted by a number of laudatory profiles that have largely ignored that her show “is made up largely of the kind of stories you'd find on many other Fox News shows at any other time" and that “her talent for fearmongering may be even more insidious than Trump's own.” 

  • VIDEO: Media Repeatedly Praise Donald Trump As "Presidential"


    As Donald Trump won the New York primary, media covering the news repeatedly said Trump sounds "more presidential" and "more disciplined," downplaying the bigoted, racist, and sexist things that the GOP front-runner has said throughout the course of his campaign.

    Later on primary night, Trump was caught pushing content from another white supremacist on Twitter.

  • The Extreme Radio Host Who Helped Ted Cruz Win The Iowa Caucuses


    Ted Cruz's victory in the Iowa Republican caucuses is due in part to the vocal support of Steve Deace -- an influential local radio host who spent the past few months urging his listeners to back Cruz in the nomination process. Deace has become a kind of kingmaker in Iowa Republican politics, and Cruz openly touted his endorsement in the lead up to caucus night.

    Deace is also one of the most extreme voices in right-wing media -- accusing Democrats of leading a "war on whites," warning of an army of jihadists coming to take over America to argue for a higher white birth rate, and claiming President Obama is a Marxist and not a Christian.

    Deace reserves his worst comments for the LGBT community. Deace calls homosexuality an "un-American and pagan ideology," a "sin orientation," and a "death sentence unto itself." He asserts the acceptance of homosexuality and marriage equality have created a slippery slope to pedophilia and has described gay activists as "homo-fascists" bent on promoting a "Rainbow Jihad." He argues gay people should be disqualified from serving as judges, and praised laws that criminalized homosexuality, which he wrote "punished evil" and protected civilization. He describes transgender people as "trannies" and mentally ill. He's even promoted an article that accused Obama of being secretly gay.

    If Cruz continues performing well in the GOP primary race, Deace will likely become a constant fixture in mainstream media's election coverage. It's up to media outlets to identify the right-wing extremism of the man who helped secure Cruz his first big victory in the presidential primary. 

  • VIDEO: Stop Blaming Students For America's Student Debt Crisis


    Student loan debt in America has reached a staggering $1.3 trillion, surpassing even credit card debt. But right-wing media figures have criticized efforts to combat student loan debt by pushing misinformation and blaming students for pursuing higher education.

    Conservative media have labeled higher education as a "privilege" and suggested students ought to choose fictional cheaper colleges. Some outlets have even defended schools that take advantage of students and leave them with significant debt. But research shows college matters now more than ever, and the cost to attend is rising across the board. The student debt crisis is especially damaging for poor students and students of color, who more frequently attend cheaper open-access and community colleges and are still forced to borrow in higher numbers to pay for their education.

    Blaming students for the student loan debt crisis ignores the facts and distracts from finding real solutions to America's skyrocketing student debt burden.


    Myths And Facts About The College Debt Crisis

  • VIDEO: Four Benghazi "Bombshells" That Turned Out To Be Duds

    Blog ››› ››› CARLOS MAZA & JOHN KERR

    This week's release of Michael Bay's 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi will likely reignite the right-wing misinformation campaign about the 2012 attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Libya. Conservative media, led by Fox News, have spent over three years trying to find evidence of a Benghazi "bombshell" - something scandalous about the way the Obama administration and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton responded to the attack.

    Conservatives have falsely accused the administration of lying about the cause of the attack, issuing a "stand down" order, failing to send aid to the facility, and dismissing the deaths of the victims. But every "bombshell" has turned out to be a dud. 13 Hours may give Fox News the highly dramatized Benghazi story it's been hoping for, but years of actual investigations have thoroughly deflated the right-wing Benghazi fantasy:

  • The Year in Media: 2015 (VIDEO)

    Blog ››› ››› JOHN KERR

    For over a decade, Media Matters has fought conservative misinformation in the media. As another year comes to an end, we take a look back to just some of the inanity we've seen this year: