Oliver Willis

Author ››› Oliver Willis
  • A Timeline Of The AP’s Flawed Clinton Foundation Reporting

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN & OLIVER WILLIS

    The Associated Press has been criticized for an August 23 report and tweet that claimed more than half of the people outside government that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton met with while secretary of state gave to the Clinton Foundation. Some media figures claimed the report was “arguably misleading” and “took some interesting information they gathered and spun it into something it wasn’t,” and there was “near unanimous agreement” among journalists that the AP’s tweet was incorrect. Despite criticism and AP’s own admission that the tweet was “sloppy,” the AP has stood by the report and refused to take down the tweet.

  • What Is The “Alt-Right”? A Guide To The White Nationalist Movement Now Leading Conservative Media

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    Over the last few months, the so-called “alt-right” has become one of the most prominent factions of the conservative media. The movement’s leading outlet is Breitbart News, whose chairman, Stephen Bannon, has just become the CEO of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

    In many ways the “alt-right” is a rebranding of classic white nationalism for the 21st century. As BuzzFeed described the movement: “In short, it’s white supremacy perfectly tailored for our times: 4chan-esque racist rhetoric combined with a tinge of Silicon Valley–flavored philosophizing, all riding on the coattails of the Trump boom.”

    The “alt-right” opposes diversity and immigration, arguing that those policies are a form of “white genocide.” It embraces racism, sexism, anti-Muslim bigotry, and anti-Semitism and sees its goal as usurping the traditional conservative movement, which it views as feckless and weak, in favor of a brand of nationalism.

    With the ascension of Trump, the “alt-right’s” chosen candidate, as the nominee of the Republican Party, its mission is all but accomplished.

    The following is a survey of the key concepts of the “alt-right,” the major figures and media outlets in the movement, and reaction to the "alt-right."

     

    Key Concepts

    “White Genocide”

    “Cuckservatives”

     

    Key Players

    Richard Spencer, The “Alt-Right’s” Racist Founder

    Stephen Bannon And Breitbart News

    Milo Yiannopoulos

    American Renaissance

    VDare.com

    The Daily Stormer

    The Political Cesspool

    The Right Stuff

    Mike Cernovich

     

    Reactions To The “Alt-Right”

    Traditional Conservative Pushback And Support

    Mainstreaming The “Alt-Right”

     

    Key Concepts

    “White Genocide”

    A popular concept with the "alt-right" is the idea of “white genocide,” a conspiracy theory claiming that efforts to increase diversity (often via immigration) are actually attempts to decrease the white population. The Anti-Defamation League notes that the alt-right favors “propaganda on subjects such as immigration and ‘black crime’ as ‘evidence’ of this ostensible ethnic cleansing of whites.”

    Conservative columnist Ann Coulter, a leading Trump supporter, has invoked this notion on her Twitter account, writing, “‘Diversity’ = nonwhite; ‘White supremacist’ = Not anti-white.” Coulter has also cited the work of the white nationalist site VDare.com and its editor, Peter Brimelow, in her anti-immigration book Adios America. The book has been praised and promoted by Trump.

    In January, Trump retweeted a post from a Twitter account with the handle “WhiteGenocideTM” and a feed that CNN.com described as “largely a collection of retweets about violence allegedly committed by African-American suspects and anti-Arab posts.” It was one of several instances of the candidate reposting material from white supremacists.

    The alt-right also launched a hashtag campaign on social media, #BoycottStarWarsVII, protesting the casting of African-American and female actors in the lead roles of the latest film in the George Lucas franchise. One Twitter user wrote, “#BoycottStarWarsVII because it is anti-white propaganda promoting #whitegenocide.” “The Force Awakens” went on to become the highest grossing domestic film of all time.

    Mother Jones noted that The Investigative Fund, a nonprofit that supports investigative reporting, conducted a Twitter analysis and found that “While only 5 percent of key influencers using the supremacist hashtag #whitegenocide follow the National Review, and 10 percent follow the Daily Caller, 31 percent follow Breitbart.”

    “Cuckservatives”

    The alt-right has branded conservatives who deviate from their racist and sexist message as “cuckservatives,” a melding of the words conservative and cuckold (the husband of an unfaithful wife). The New Republic explained, “The term has emerged out of the white supremacist movement as a term of abuse for white conservatives deemed race traitors unwilling to forthrightly defend the interests of white America.”

    National Review writer David French was attacked by alt-right supporters for having adopted an Ethiopian child. He notes that he was given a “‘Cucky’ award for adopting a black child.”

    Breitbart News defended “cuckservative” as “a gloriously effective insult,” while conservative radio host Erick Erickson said, “The people who use the term ‘cuckservative’ are racists, not conservative, and not Christian.”

    Key Players

    Richard Spencer, The Alt-Right’s Racist Founder

    The New Yorker reported that the term “alt-right” was coined by white nationalist Richard Spencer, who “described the movement in December as ‘an ideology around identity, European identity.’” The Anti-Defamation League described Spencer as “a symbol of a new generation of intellectual white supremacists” who “runs a variety of ventures that promote racist ideology.”

    Spencer has said, “There are races who, on average, are going to be superior.”

    Spencer is also the president of the National Policy Institute, a white nationalist “think tank” that held an event at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C., this March focused on Trump. He told the local CBS affiliate that Trump is “energizing” the white nationalist movement and argued, “He's fighting for us. He's saying we're going to be great again. We're going to win again. And there's this implicit identity to this. There's this implicit nationalism.”

    Spencer founded the white nationalist websites Alternative Right and Radix Journal. One writer at Alternative Right wrote that “low-IQ Mexican immigration is the greatest threat to America,” and that “we should be heartened that white teenage girls aren’t passing themselves around in black neighborhoods.”

    Stephen Bannon And Breitbart News

    Spencer said Breitbart News “has elective affinities with the Alt Right, and the Alt Right has clearly influenced Breitbart” and described the site as a “gateway” to that movement’s “ideas and writers.” He described Bannon’s new role in the Trump campaign as “a good thing” for white nationalists.

    Bannon told Mother Jones that Breitbart News is “the platform for the alt-right.”

    Bannon took over as chairman of Breitbart News after the death of founder Andrew Breitbart. The site has taken a rabidly anti-immigrant tone, often hyping “reports about crime involving immigrants, with headlines that sound like they came from tabloids” and attacking Republicans who favor immigration reform. Vox notes that “Breitbart essentially functioned as an anti-immigration pressure group, signaling to Republican leaders that any deviation on immigration would earn them the wrath of the base.”

    The site has also pushed a white nationalist viewpoint in articles on race and religion. It described the shooting of a white reporter and her white cameraman as a “race murder” and published an article titled “Political Correctness Protects Muslim Rape Culture.”

    Bannon wrote a column on the site accusing the “left” of engaging in a “plot to take down America” by focusing on police shootings of African-Americans. Breitbart also attacked Pope Francis for supporting refugee migration by invoking Camp of the Saints, a book described by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as a novel that “depicts an invasion of France and the white Western world by a fleet of starving, dark-skinned refugees, characterized as horrific and uncivilized ‘monsters’ who will stop at nothing to greedily and violently seize what rightfully belongs to the white man.” SPLC notes that the novel is “a popular book in Alt-Right circles.”

    Milo Yiannopoulos

    Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos has made his mark as a stridently anti-feminist provocateur. He declared his birthday to be “World Patriarchy Day” and encouraged his followers to “cat-call at least five women” and to tell a woman, “This isn’t going to suck itself.” He attended a protest against sexual assault and held a sign that said, “'Rape culture' and Harry Potter. Both fantasy.”

    In a Breitbart piece on the "alt-right” he praised the movement for its “youthful energy and jarring, taboo-defying rhetoric that have boosted its membership and made it impossible to ignore.” He dismissed the movement’s racial undertones, writing, “the alt-right's young meme brigades shock older generations with outrageous caricatures, from the Jewish 'Shlomo Shekelburg' to 'Remove Kebab,' an internet in-joke about the Bosnian genocide.”

    Discussing Islam, Yiannopoulos said, “There is a structural problem with this religion that is preventing its followers from assimilating properly into Western culture. There is something profoundly antithetical to our values about this particular religion.”

    In July, Twitter permanently suspended Yiannopoulos’ account after he led a harassment campaign against actress Leslie Jones, who is African-American. As BuzzFeed reported, many of the tweets “decried Jones for being black and a woman.”

    American Renaissance

    American Renaissance is a white nationalist online magazine, published by Jared Taylor. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Taylor “believes black people are genetically predisposed to lower IQs” than white peoples and that black peoples “are sexually promiscuous because of hyperactive sex drives.” Taylor has appeared on talk shows to attack the legacy of civil rights pioneer Martin Luther King Jr.

    Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center describes Taylor as “the guy who is providing the intellectual heft, in effect, to modern-day Klansmen.”

    Taylor described himself as a Trump supporter and told ABC News, “Sending home all illegals -- the huge majority of whom are nonwhites -- and putting even a temporary halt on Muslim immigration are in the interests of whites, whether Trump thinks in those terms or not.” Taylor also recorded a pro-Trump robocall for a white nationalist super PAC. 

    American Renaissance also hosts conferences that have featured speakers including Richard Spencer and that are attended by white supremacists like former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke.

    VDare.com

    VDare.com is described by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as “an anti-immigration hate website” with a white nationalist ideology. SPLC adds that the site “regularly publishes articles by prominent white nationalists, race scientists and anti-Semites.” The site was founded by Peter Brimelow, who argued that his contributors are “not white supremacists” but “aim to defend the interests of American whites.” He also is the president of the VDare Foundation, “a nonprofit that warns against the polluting of America by non-whites, Catholics, and Spanish-speaking immigrants.”

    SPLC has pointed out that “Brimelow spent much of 2009 pounding the white nationalists message that the Republican Party would do better to spend its time attracting white voters rather than by reaching out to minorities.”

    Jared Taylor has contributed to VDare.com, where he wrote, “Our rulers and elites welcome replacement by aliens, they vilify our ancestors and their own, they sacrifice our interests to those of favored minorities, and they treat the entire history of the West as if it were a global plague of rapine and exploitation. This is a disease that is killing us, and we must fight it head on.”

    VDare.com was featured at the Republican National Convention when a tweet from the outlet was put on screen in the arena during the roll call vote for Trump’s presidential nomination.

    The Daily Stormer

    The neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer, headed by Andrew Anglin, describes itself as “the world’s most visited alt-right web site.” The website regularly defends Adolf Hitler, attacks “kikes,” and has a section documenting the purported “Jewish Problem.”

    Anglin attacked a GQ reporter for a piece he deemed unfair to Melania Trump, telling his followers to “go ahead and send [the reporter] a tweet and let her know what you think of her dirty kike trickery.” She then received a barrage of anti-Semitic messages and death threats, which she described as “the most obscene, anti-Semitic stuff I have frankly ever seen directed at me in my life.”

    The Political Cesspool”

    “The Political Cesspool” is a white nationalist radio program hosted by James Edwards that wishes “to revive the White birthrate above replacement level fertility.” The show was given press credentials by Trump’s campaign for a Tennessee campaign rally and was given “all-access” credentials to the Republican National Convention, where the show interviewed a Trump adviser and Republican congressmen. Edwards also interviewed Trump’s son, Donald Trump, Jr., who  agreed with Edwards’ contention that the media is “the enforcer of political correctness.”

    The Right Stuff

    The Right Stuff is an anti-Semitic blog with an affiliated podcast called The Daily Shoah. The site is run by Mike Enoch, who has said the core principle of the “alt-right” is “ethno-nationalism, meaning that nations should be as ethnically and racially homogeneous as possible.”

    The site created a meme called the “parenthesis meme” in which Jewish names are surrounded by parentheses, often in order to target them for online abuse on social media: “(((name)))”

    According to the Right Stuff’s editors, this was done because “all Jewish surnames echo throughout history.” They add: “The inner parenthesis represent the Jews' subversion of the home [and] destruction of the family through mass-media degeneracy. The next [parenthesis] represents the destruction of the nation through mass immigration, and the outer [parenthesis] represents international Jewry and world Zionism."

    The Anti-Defamation League has added the symbol to its online database of hate symbols. According to CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, “The echo symbol is the online equivalent of tagging a building with anti-Semitic graffiti or taunting someone verbally.”

    Enoch said Breitbart “is the closest thing to sympathetic to our position that is out there in the mainstream.”

    Mike Cernovich

    Mike Cernovich is an “alt-right” activist who operates the website Danger & Play.

    The site publishes numerous articles, essays, and audio recordings that attack feminists, "SJWs," (social justice warriors) and disputes the validity of date rape claims. Some headlines from Danger & Play include "Matriarchy has Created a False Rape Culture" and "Feminists Don't Care About Rape."

    On his Twitter accounts, Cernovich has dismissed the possibility of date rape, writing, “the hotter the sex, the more closely it resembles rape,” “the only rape culture is Muslim rape culture,” and asking “why should I care when women are raped?”

    Cernovich has promoted the false rumor that Hillary Clinton is suffering from health problems and also promoted a long-debunked conspiracy theory that Clinton aide Huma Abedin is affiliated with Islamic radicals.

    Reactions To The “Alt-Right”

    Traditional Conservative Pushback And Support

    Traditional conservative outlets and figures have pushed back some on the “alt-right” movement.

    Conservative New York Times columnist Ross Douthat described the “alt-right” as “racist pro-Trump Twitter accounts and anti-P.C. provocateurs.” The Federalist wrote that it’s “a mix of old bigotries and new identity and victimhood politics adapted for the straight white male.” In National Review, David French wrote of the “alt-right”: “Many of them are unapologetically white-nationalists, hate interracial adoption and other ‘race-mixing’ practices, and think about the issue of immigration primarily, if not exclusively, in racial terms.”

    A contributor to Spencer’s Alternative Right site, Jason Richwine, co-authored an immigration report at the conservative Heritage Foundation, which later disavowed him when writings he had made mocking the IQs of Latinos surfaced. Breitbart has recently highlighted Richwine’s work, and Bannon praised him on his radio show.

    The alt-right has also found some support from mainstream conservative outlets. After conservative writer Ben Shapiro described the “alt-right” as a “national, populist movement that is shot through with white supremacism” and "anti-Semitism," Fox News correspondent Doug McKelway defended the movement by claiming it’s “much more” than that.

    Similarly, last year Rush Limbaugh told a caller who spoke about the “alt-right” movement in Europe, “There is a thriving youthful conservative emergence happening in this country. They may be borrowing from what’s going on in Europe.”

    Mainstreaming The “Alt-Right”

    The cumulative effect of the rising popularity of “alt-right” media on the right, along with Bannon’s position leading the Trump campaign, means that a movement that was recently on the fringe is becoming central to conservative politics.

    The Washington Post reports that Trump’s decision to hire Bannon was the latest sign for white nationalists that “their worldview was gaining popularity and that the old Republican Party was coming to an end.” The paper added  that Trump’s electoral “strategy now resembles the alt-right dream of maximizing the white vote — even as polling shows his standing with white voters falls short of Mitt Romney’s in 2012.”

  • Sean Hannity Has Given Donald Trump $31 Million In Free Publicity

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS, CARLOS MAZA & BEN DIMIERO

    Fox News host Sean Hannity, who has been informally advising Donald Trump’s presidential campaign while serving as its primary media cheerleader, has effectively turned his nightly prime-time show into Trump’s second campaign headquarters. According to a Media Matters analysis, Hannity’s program has given Trump what amounts to more than $31 million in free advertising in the form of dozens of fawning interviews with the candidate since Trump declared his candidacy in June 2015.

    Hannity has devoted just over 22 hours of airtime to broadcasting interviews with Trump since the launch of Trump’s campaign. That airtime is worth more than $31 million according to advertising value calculated by media monitoring service iQ Media. That coverage includes 51 original interviews and over a dozen re-airings of previously aired interviews. This year alone, Hannity has aired thirteen and a half hours of Trump interviews, four and a half hours of which have come since Ted Cruz and John Kasich dropped out of the Republican primary in early May, effectively ending the race.

    IQ Media uses Nielsen data to determine the viewership of a given program and price data for advertising from Sqad to come up with an equivalent advertising rate.

    These numbers only count the amount of time Hannity spent airing interviews featuring Donald Trump -- they do not include the countless time Hannity spends carrying the Trump campaign's water without the candidate present, including similarly fawning interviews with Trump family members, surrogates, and supporters.

    Hannity has repeatedly faced criticism for his obsequious Trump coverage, including from conservatives who have mocked Hannity for his “slavish” Trump cheerleading and accused him of hosting a “nightly infomercial” for Trump’s campaign.

    According to a previous Media Matters study, Hannity devoted far more airtime to interviews with Trump than with any of his 16 Republican presidential primary opponents. Just before dropping out of the race, Cruz complained that Rupert Murdoch and former network head Roger Ailes had “turned Fox News into the Donald Trump network.”

    New York Times media columnist Jim Rutenberg recently reported that, in addition to serving as “Trump’s biggest media booster,” Hannity has “for months peppered Mr. Trump, his family members and advisers with suggestions on strategy and messaging.” Hannity defended himself by telling the Times that he’s “never claimed to be a journalist” and that he is “not hiding the fact that I want Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States.”

    Hannity’s efforts to promote Trump's candidacy aren't ending anytime soon -- he’s slated to host the second half of a two-hour Trump town hall tonight.

    Methodology

    Media Matters used iQ Media to ascertain the monetary value of Donald Trump's appearances on Hannity from May 1, 2015-August 23, 2016. The study includes all original appearances in Hannity’s usual 10 p.m. EST time slot -- repeat and reaired appearances were counted if they aired on a new day between 6 a.m. and midnight (overnight reairings of Hannity were not included). Trump interviews during early morning post-debate Hannity specials were counted. Interviews with Hannity guest hosts and guest interviewers were included if they aired on the program.

    Graphic by Sarah Wasko.

  • Why Is C-SPAN Giving Roger Stone A Platform To Peddle Conspiracy Theories?

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    C-SPAN is set to air a Newsmakers interview with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s longtime ally Roger Stone that gives Stone a friendly platform to promote Trump’s candidacy and float his conspiracy theory that the election may be “rigged” in favor of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

    C-SPAN is elevating Stone despite his long history of pushing conspiracy theories and making incendiary comments. In just the past two weeks, Stone has alleged that the Clintons orchestrated the recent murders of several people and claimed that Clinton aide Huma Abedin is a “terrorist agent” who married a Jewish man (Anthony Weiner) as “cover.”

    Wall Street Journal reporter Monica Langley, Politico’s Alex Isenstadt, and C-SPAN host Greta Wodele Brawner spoke to Stone on C-SPAN’s Newsmakers in an interview that C-SPAN posted online ahead of its August 21 airing.

    In the course of the interview, the journalists asked Stone about several issues surrounding the campaign, including campaign strategy, Trump’s approach toward the presidential debates, the candidate’s leadership style, and Stone’s repeated criticism of former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.

    Langley asked Stone, “One thing that Trump and you have alleged frequently is that this election could be ‘rigged.’ Why do you say that, and do you think that’s a dangerous thing to be saying for a democracy?” Stone responded, “Actually, it’s a dangerous thing to not be saying.” He then suggested that polls are currently being intentionally “inflate[d]” to favor Clinton in order to lay the groundwork for electronic voting machines to be rigged to “reflect that outcome.” After Stone proffered his conspiracy theory, the questioners just shifted to discussing recent changes in Trump’s campaign staff.  

    Stone’s other conspiracy theories were not referenced at all. Along with his claim that the Clintons are responsible for multiple murders (including John F. Kennedy, Jr.), he has argued that Lyndon Johnson had John F. Kennedy killed, and that the Bush family tried to have President Ronald Reagan assassinated.

    Newsmakers also ignored the series of racist and sexist tweets that spurred CNN and MSNBC to ban Stone from appearing on air. The interviewers also did not bring up his tweets advocating the execution of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and former Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

  • Manafort Departure Leaves Roger Stone With Egg On His Face

    Stone On Wednesday: “Manafort’s Not Going Anywhere”

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    Roger Stone, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s longtime friend and adviser, repeatedly lashed out at media outlets for reporting that recent campaign hires amounted to a “shake-up” that might have an impact on chairman Paul Manafort’s role with the campaign. Stone said earlier this week that “Manafort’s not going anywhere," but Manafort, who is Stone’s friend and former business partner, announced his resignation from the campaign this morning.

    On Wednesday, the Trump campaign announced that Steve Bannon had been hired as the campaign CEO and Kellyanne Conway would take on the role of campaign manager. Numerous media outlets reported on the move as a “shake-up” of the campaign’s leadership

    The New York Times reported of Manafort's resignation:

    Mr. Manafort left nearly a week after a New York Times report about problems within the Republican presidential nominee’s campaign helped precipitate a leadership shake-up. His departure reflects repeated efforts to steady a campaign that has been frequently roiled by the unpredictable behavior of its tempestuous first-time candidate.

    Mr. Manafort was also dogged by reports about secretive efforts he made to help the former pro-Russian government in Ukraine, where he has worked on and off over several years.

    Prior to Manafort’s departure, Stone was lashing out at media outlets like The New York Times for describing the new hires as a “shake-up,” claiming that reporters were being spun by former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. 

    For example, in an appearance on WIOD’s Fernand Amandi Show on Wednesday, Stone said that claims that Manafort had been demoted “may be the Corey Lewandowski spin, but it’s just not accurate. Manafort’s not going anywhere. Spoke to him this morning, he’s very pleased with this expansion.”

    On Newsmax TV’s Steve Malzberg Show, Stone said, “The mainstream media interpretation that this is somehow a demotion for Paul Manafort -- that was actually removed from the later editions of the New York Times story because it isn’t true. I recognize that the ousted and now disgraced campaign manager Corey Lewandowski – really an advance man – continues to spin this. But I don’t understand why he thinks that is helpful to the campaign.”

    After calling Lewandowski a “loser,” who was replaced by “an adult,” Stone added, “I see this as an expansion of the campaign. I don’t think anybody was demoted, and it’s not a ‘shake-up’ because shake-up means that someone lost their job, and no one has lost their job. The team remains intact. [Paul] Manafort, [Tony] Fabrizio, [Kellyanne] Conway, [Steve] Bannon. This is an all-star lineup.”

    Appearing on The Alex Jones Show, Stone said Bannon was “not replacing Paul Manafort,” adding, “This isn’t a shake-up, it’s an expansion.” Jones agreed and said Bannon was “augmenting things.” After news of Manafort’s departure broke, Stone reportedly told Mic, “There is an easy explanation for this: Manafort became concerned that the contrived and unfounded attacks by him, all peddled by the Clinton spin machine, would become a distraction and fuel the whole Russia-Trump-Putin-Manafort narrative of the Clintons.” He added, "Manafort did what Corey Lewandowski should have done when he was accused of manhandling a woman: He stepped aside. That's a pro."

  • 186 Times Donald Trump Shared Breitbart News Articles On Social Media

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    Donald Trump has used his Twitter and Facebook accounts to promote Breitbart News articles at least 186 times -- often sharing stories that fawned over him and his presidential campaign. Trump recently hired Stephen Bannon, the chairman of Breitbart News, to be the CEO of his campaign.

    Prior to Bannon’s hiring by the campaign, Breitbart News and Trump had long engaged in a mutually beneficial relationship. Under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart became embarrassingly pro-Trump during the Republican presidential primary, leading to objections by several now-former staffers. (Former Breitbart editor at large Ben Shapiro accused Bannon of turning the site into “Trump’s personal Pravda.”)

    Breitbart’s obsequious Trump coverage was so over-the-top that several staffers reportedly alleged the candidate had paid the site in exchange for friendly treatment, which Bannon denied.

    Regardless of any pay-for-play allegations, the relationship was definitely a two-way street. Trump helped boost the site, granting numerous “exclusive” interviews with Breitbart reporters and making several appearances on Bannon’s Breitbart News Daily radio program.

    Trump also promoted Breitbart articles at least 186 times on social media in recent years, where he enjoys a massive following. He has 11 million followers on Twitter and over 10 million “likes” on Facebook, so a single Trump link would most likely lead to thousands (at least) of people visiting the site.

    Trump began to promote Breitbart News in January of 2012, linking to several articles attacking the Obama administration with the site’s signature mix of bigotry and conspiracy theories. As of this month, he continues to link to the site’s coverage of his campaign.

    He used Breitbart News to bolster his birther conspiracy theory:

    Setting himself up as a political mind, Trump highlighted a series of Breitbart News articles highlighting attacks he made in 2013 against Republican operative Karl Rove.

    Trump’s appearance at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference was one of his first major endeavors as a political figure. Trump used Breitbart News to amplify his appearance. First he linked to a Breitbart News article with the news that he was on the speaking schedule, followed that up with articles documenting his speech (as well as Breitbart News video of the speech), and then promoted articles documenting his response to criticism of his speech.

    Trump used Breitbart News articles to push his stance on immigration, and highlighted Breitbart News immigration stories and their write-ups of his speeches and comments on the topic. Trump also wrote an editorial at Breitbart News in which he complained that “a country that cannot protect its borders will not last.” He of course promoted his writing on Twitter.

    As Trump launched his presidential campaign, Breitbart News documented his every utterance, and he was sure to promote those stories. That included video clips of interviews, “exclusive” interviews with Breitbart News, or friendly write-ups of his campaign speeches.

    Trump’s favorite Breitbart News stories to promote are stories about polling. During the Republican primaries, Trump linked to Breitbart News stories month after month after month highlighting his dominance over the rest of the Republican presidential field. Similarly, Trump shared a Breitbart News write-up of the ratings when he guest hosted Saturday Night Live on NBC.

    He also used Breitbart News as a way to push back against media critiques. Trump posted a link to a Breitbart News attack on a New York Times news report about him with the note thanking Breitbart News for the coverage:

    Trump said CNN “should apologize” as he pushed a Breitbart News piece defending him after a negative fact check on the network, and most recently used a Breitbart News critique of CNN’s convention coverage to add fuel to his existing campaign against them.

    The Trump account on Facebook was also used to push Breitbart News critiques of CNN, branding them the “Clinton News Network” on multiple occasions.

    Trump also cited a Breitbart News story that bolstered his claim (rated “pants on fire” by PolitiFact) that Muslims were celebrating on roofs in New Jersey on September 11, 2001.

  • Trump’s Kitchen Cabinet, Continued: What The Media Needs To Know About The Nominee’s Top Advisers And Supporters

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    Donald Trump has allied himself with a cast of characters and hangers-on who, should he win the presidency, would likely have his ear. Below is an updated guide -- first published in May -- to the people the Republican presidential nominee has chosen to surround himself with.

    Stephen Bannon

    Bannon

    The Trump Connection

    Breitbart News chairman Stephen Bannon was named as the chief executive of the Trump campaign.

    What You Need To Know

    Under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart News has recently made a “noticeable shift toward embracing ideas on the extremist fringe of the conservative right. Racist ideas. Anti-Muslim and anti-Immigrant ideas,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

    Several anonymous Breitbart staffers alleged that “the company’s top management was allowing Trump to turn Breitbart into his own fan website” and claimed the candidate paid the site in exchange for favorable coverage. (Bannon denied the allegation.)

    After news surfaced that then-Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields had allegedly been manhandled by Trump’s campaign manager, Bannon sided with the campaign over his employee, leading to the defection of several staffers.

    Several former Bannon employees have spoken out about his hiring by the campaign. Former Breitbart editor at large Ben Shapiro called Bannon a “legitimately sinister figure” who has led Breitbart News to embrace the “white supremacist alt-right.” Former Breitbart News spokesperson Kurt Bardella told Media Matters that Bannon is a “pathological liar” whose hiring signals a “dangerous" shift by the campaign.

    Kellyanne Conway

    Conway

    The Trump Connection

    Kellyanne Conway served as a senior adviser and pollster for the Trump campaign, and was recently named campaign manager.

    What You Need To Know

    Conway has long been involved in conservative politics, mostly as a pollster working with conservative groups like the NRA, Family Research Council and Republican candidates like Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann.

    Conway once said that people “don’t want their kids looking at a cartoon with a bunch of lesbian mothers” and suggested the representation of same-sex parents in children’s programming was a “corrupting” influence.” She also once argued that “political correctness” could create a situation where there were “air traffic controllers who don’t speak great English” leading to “two planes crashing in the sky.”

    She also argued that “revulsion towards men” is “part and parcel of the feminist movement” and that “baby girls [are] being killed just because they’re girls” in America.

    Paul Manafort

    Manafort

    The Trump Connection

    Republican strategist Paul Manafort was hired by Trump as a senior aide to his political campaign. Manafort was later promoted to campaign chairman and chief strategist.

    What You Need To Know

    Manafort was partners with Roger Stone in the lobbying and consulting firm Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly. After a congressional investigation, Manafort admitted that the work he performed after receiving consulting fees was “influence peddling.”

    Manafort and his firms have worked with several unsavory clients including “a business group tied to Ferdinand Marcos, the dictator of the Philippines; Viktor Yanukovych, the ousted Ukrainian president and ally of Vladimir Putin; and Lynden Pindling, the former Bahamian prime minister who was accused of ties to drug traffickers.”

    During the Republican primaries, Manafort accused Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign of engaging in “Gestapo tactics” in order to win over convention delegates.

    Manafort’s consulting work on behalf of a Ukrainian political party has come under scrutiny as a result of his role in the Trump campaign.

    The Associated Press reported that Manafort “helped a pro-Russian governing party in Ukraine secretly route at least $2.2 million in payments to two prominent Washington lobbying firms in 2012, and did so in a way that effectively obscured the foreign political party's efforts to influence U.S. policy.”

    The New York Times reported that “handwritten ledgers show $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments designated for Mr. Manafort” by the pro-Russian political party he consulted for in Ukraine.

    Roger Stone

    Stone

    The Trump Connection

    Republican dirty trickster Roger Stone is a longtime Trump ally. Stone worked on his campaign until August of 2015, continues to serve as a prominent advocate for Trump’s candidacy, and regularly speaks with Trump, including recommending top aide Paul Manafort to the campaign.

    What You Need To Know

    In addition to his political dirty tricks, Stone has an extensive history of violent, racist, and sexist comments. He started an anti-Hillary Clinton group in 2008 with the acronym “C.U.N.T.,” and has called for her to be executed. He called cable news commentators a “stupid negro” and “Mandingo,” and he promotes conspiracy theories about the Clinton and Bush families murdering dozens of people. His next book is about how the Clintons purportedly murdered JFK Jr. “because he was in the way.”

    Stone’s racist and sexist tweets resulted in him being banned from appearing on CNN and MSNBC.

    While advocating for Trump, Stone has peddled several outlandish conspiracy theories. He accused the Clintons of murdering several more people, argued that the 2016 election will be “rigged” via the manipulation of voting machines, and alleged that a top Clinton campaign aide was connected to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Stone also attacked the family of Captain Humayun Khan, who was killed in Iraq in 2004.

    Alex Jones

    Jones

    The Trump Connection

    Conspiracy theorist radio host Alex Jones has been one of Trump’s loudest and most passionate supporters. And the feeling is apparently mutual. In addition to promoting Trump on his show incessantly, Jones hosted Trump for an interview, praised him as a “George Washington” figure, and encouraged listeners to donate to his campaign. (During the appearance, Trump praised Jones for his “amazing” reputation and promised, “I will not let you down.”) Trump confidant Roger Stone has also become a regular on Jones’ show, and the two worked together to organize protests on Trump’s behalf at the Republican convention. After Trump essentially clinched the nomination, Stone went on Jones’ show and told the host, “Trump himself told me that he has seen so many of your supporters and listeners at his rallies,” adding, “I’m certain that he is grateful for your support.”

    What You Need To Know

    Alex Jones is a self-described “founding father” of the “9/11 truth movement” who believes that the terrorist attacks were a “false flag.” Jones also has promoted conspiracy theories alleging that events like the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, the Boston Marathon bombing, and the Aurora movie theater shooting were all government-orchestrated attacks.

    Jones publicly asked Trump to raise the conspiracy of the general election being “rigged,” which the candidate did days later. He praised Trump as being “totally synced” with the conspiracy theory movement and said it is “surreal to talk about issues here on air and then word-for-word hear Trump say it two days later.”

    General Michael Flynn

    Flynn

    The Trump Connection

    Retired Army Lt. General Michael Flynn, former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, is reportedly “a trusted Trump adviser and go-to man on intelligence and national security.”

    What You Need To Know

    Flynn was forced out of his position in 2014 after clashing with senior officials. He has complained that “‘political correctness’ has prevented the U.S. from confronting violent extremism, which he sees as a ‘cancerous idea that exists inside of the Islamic religion.’” Flynn accuses the U.S. government of concealing “the actions of terrorists like bin Laden and groups like ISIS, and the role of Iran in the rise of radical Islam.”

    Flynn has publicly supported Trump’s idea that the families of terrorist suspects should be killed, and he also backs Trump’s proposal for a ban on Muslim travel to the United States. Flynn has written that “fear of Muslims is RATIONAL.”

    In 2015, Flynn flew to Moscow and was filmed having a formal dinner with Vladimir Putin. The Daily Beast reported that “Pentagon brass were taken by surprise that he didn’t notify the department.”

    Flynn was paid by the state-funded Russian television network RT for his appearance at the network’s anniversary gala.

    Flynn spoke on Trump’s behalf at the Republican National Convention, saying that “war is not about bathrooms” in reference to controversy over anti-transgender laws. He also retweeted an anti-Semitic pro-Trump message which read in part, “Not anymore, Jews. Not anymore.” He later described the incident as “a mistake.”

    Rudy Giuliani

    Giuliani

    The Trump Connection

    Trump told Fox News that former New York City mayor and failed presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani might be his choice to head up a commission to review his proposal for a temporary Muslim ban.

    What You Need To Know

    Giuliani has a long history of anti-Muslim comments and statements. He argued in favor of Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) idea that one way to fight terrorism is to “patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods,” said sexual assault in Germany proved that “these [Syrian] refugees are inherently a problem,” and praised Rep. Peter King (R-NY) for holding anti-Muslim hearings in Congress.

    Speaking before Trump at a campaign rally, Giuliani said, “Under those eight years before Obama came along, we didn’t have any successful radical Islamic terrorist attack in the United States,” omitting the September 11, 2001, attacks. PolitiFact rated this claim “false.”

    Ed Klein

    Klein

    The Trump Connection

    Disgraced journalist Ed Klein said he has known Trump for 35 years and claimed, “I understand him better than most people outside his immediate family.” Klein recently had lunch with Trump as he campaigned in Indiana. Trump has repeatedly promoted Klein’s books on his Twitter account.

    What You Need To Know

    Journalists have described Klein’s columns and books attacking the Clintons and Obamas as “fan fiction” and “smut.” He has launched numerous unfounded smears, including the claim that Chelsea Clinton was conceived when Bill Clinton raped Hillary (he later walked back the allegation). Publisher HarperCollins reportedly dropped Klein’s Blood Feud because it “did not pass a vetting by in-house lawyers.” Klein has repeatedly distorted quotes in his work, and even conservative figures have expressed skepticism about the veracity of his reporting.

    Jeffrey Lord

    Lord

    The Trump Connection

    Lord, a contributor to the conservative American Spectator, has been a big booster of Trump’s candidacy. CNN hired Lord to present a pro-Trump point of view. According to Lord, Trump helped land him the gig. ThePatriot-News reported last year, “Lord said Trump complained to CNN execs that the network only featured commentators who didn't get him, so CNN asked The Donald who in the world of conservative media he would suggest, and he said Jeffrey Lord.”

    What You Need To Know

    Lord infamously tried to prove that a black man who was beaten to death was not technically lynched, a position that was even condemned by his colleagues at the Spectator. During his CNN appearances, Lord has defended Trump’s attack on Mexican immigrants as criminals and rapists, excused Trump’s failure to disavow the KKK, and described the Klan as a “leftist terrorist organization.”

    Lord blamed the pro-choice movement for gun violence and attacked the family of deceased Army Captain Humayun Khan for speaking at the Democratic National Convention. He also echoed the Trump campaign by promoting the conspiracy theory that the election “could be stolen.”

    Ben Carson

    Carson

    The Trump Connection

    Carson endorsed Trump after he dropped his presidential bid and was then tasked with being Trump’s liaison between his campaign and Speaker Paul Ryan. Carson also apparently had some role in Trump’s vice presidential selection team.

    What You Need To Know

    Carson has caused controversy with a series of bizarre and offensive comments as an author, a Fox News contributor, and during his short-lived presidential campaign. During a Fox News appearance, Carson infamously compared marriage equality supporters to those who would advocate bestiality and pedophilia, and argued in his 2012 book that marriage equality could destroy America “like the fall of the Roman Empire.” Carson also claimed that the Egyptian pyramids were built to store grain, said being gay was a “choice,”described Obamacare as “the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery,” and argued that Jewish people could have prevented the Holocaust if they had guns.

    Speaking on stage at the Republican National Convention, Carson compared Hillary Clinton to “Lucifer.”

    Michael Savage

    Savage

    The Trump Connection

    Radio host Michael Savage was an early backer of Trump in the conservative media who has describedhimself as “the architect of Trump’s messaging." Trump has appeared on his program multiple times -- in one appearance, Savage offered himself up to head the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a suggestion that Trump described as “common sense.”

    What You Need To Know

    Savage has a long history of outrageous and violent rhetoric. In 2008, he warned, “I fear that Obama will stir up a race war … in order to seize absolute power.”

    Savage also claimed that President Obama “wants to infect the nation with Ebola” and is gearing up the government to “fight a war against white people.” Savage accused Obama of engaging in “genocide” against the white race.

    Savage has described PTSD and depression sufferers as “weak” and “narcissistic” “losers.” Referencing military veterans suffering from PTSD, Savage said, “no wonder ISIS can defeat our military.”

    Additionally, Savage has called for a “revolution” in response to multiculturalism, said “I’d hang every lawyer who went down toto Guantanamo” Bay, accused President Obama of being the “new Mao,” theorized that Democrats would declare martial law, and said “the radical left and the radical Muslims are natural blood brothers.”

    Savage and Trump swapped notes on the conspiracy theory that Justice Antonin Scalia was murdered.

    Ann Coulter

    Coulter

    The Trump Connection

    Conservative columnist Ann Coulter has repeatedly promoted Trump’s candidacy. Trump called Coulter’s anti-immigrant book, Adios, America! “a great read.” In return, Coulter said she believes that Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric was inspired by her.

    What You Need To Know

    Coulter has developed a reputation over the years for making hateful and disgusting public comments, often with a bigoted message that even conservatives have recoiled from. The conservative National Review dropped her column when, after 9/11, she said America should “invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.”

    Coulter’s book was apparently modeled on the rhetoric of white nationalists and other anti-immigrant extremists, and she credited white nationalist Peter Brimelow as an “intellectual influence” on her work.

    While defending Trump, Coulter called South Carolina-born Governor Nikki Haley an “immigrant” who “does not understand America’s history,” and made derogatory attacks on Jews while complaining about Trump’s rivals in a primary debate.

    She has also regularly offered bigoted anti-immigrant rhetoric, including the claim that “immigrants are more dangerous than ISIS” and “‘real’ Hispanics are on welfare.”

    Laura Ingraham

    Ingraham

    The Trump Connection

    Radio host Laura Ingraham has been a staunch supporter of Trump’s candidacy and has praised his anti-immigrant rhetoric. She once compared Trump to Abraham Lincoln.

    What You Need To Know

    Ingraham has often used her show to demonize and attack immigrants. Ingraham said Mexicans “have come here to murder and rape our people,” called the children of undocumented immigrants “anchor fetuses,” andsuggested that deported immigrants attempting to re-enter the country should be “shot.”

    Speaking at the Republican National Convention, Ingraham demanded that Trump’s primary rivals “honor your pledge” and “support Donald Trump now.”

    Chris Christie

    Chris Christie

    The Trump Connection

    New Jersey governor Chris Christie endorsed Trump after he dropped out of the campaign and has served as a leading surrogate for the candidate

    What You Need To Know

    Christie has become infamous for his public arguments with voters and other figures. He told a critical voter he was “a real big shot shooting your mouth off,” called a reporter “a complete idiot,” and told a resident asking about stalled rebuilding efforts after Superstorm Sandy to “sit down and shut up.”

    In addition to his demeanor, Christie’s administration was involved in the Bridgegate scandal, where his subordinates conspired to block traffic on the George Washington Bridge as payback for political slights against the governor.

    Larry Kudlow

    Kudlow

    The Trump Connection

    Larry Kudlow was part of the Office of Management and Budget in Reagan’s first term, and is now a columnist and on-air personality for CNBC. Trump enlisted Kudlow (along with Stephen Moore) to work on changes to his economic plans.

    What You Need To Know

    Kudlow was a big supporter of George W. Bush’s economic policies and was infamous for missing the warning signs of the coming economic meltdown.

    Kudlow dismissed people concerned about the real estate bubble in the mid-2000s as “bubbleheads who expect housing-price crashes.” In December 2007, as the National Bureau of Economic Research marked the beginning of the Great Recession, Kudlow wrote, “there’s no recession coming.”

    Stephen Moore

    Moore

    The Trump Connection

    Conservative economic columnist Stephen Moore was enlisted, along with Larry Kudlow, to tweak Trump’s economic policy in the general election.

    What You Need To Know

    Like Kudlow, Moore has a terrible track record when predicting the effect of both conservative and progressive policies on the economy. He also regularly makes false claims to attack policies like taxes, regulation, the minimum wage, and Obamacare.

    The editorial page director of the Kansas City Star declared she “won’t be running anything else from Stephen Moore” after he used false employment numbers in a column attacking economist Paul Krugman.

    In a column promoting Trump's candidacy, Moore wrote, "It is striking that Trump is the anti-Obama in every way."

    Scottie Nell Hughes

    http://cloudfront.mediamatters.org/static/uploader/image/2016/05/23/kitchen-hughes.jpg

    The Trump Connection

    Scottie Nell Hughes is a cable news pundit and CNN contributor who has often spoken in defense of Donald Trump. Glamour notes she “has been on the front line for Trump campaign since she introduced him at a September mega rally in Dallas.”

    What You Need To Know

    Hughes was previously the news director for the “Tea Party News Network.” She uses odd logic to launch defenses of Trump’s actions.

    When some called for riots at the Republican convention in defense of Trump, Hughes told CNN “it’s not riots as in a negative thing.” Hughes said that Trump’s statement that women should be punished for abortions had been “misconstrued,” and that the media paying attention to Trump’s sexist tweets is unfair.

    Hughes lamented that Democratic vice-presidential nominee Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) uses Spanish in his speeches, saying, “I’m hoping I’m not going to have to kind of start brushing up back on my Dora the Explorer to understand some of the speeches given” during the Democratic convention.

    She also claimed that Hillary Clinton’s presidential nomination is “tearing down men.”

  • Seeking “Balance,” The Hill Gives Conspiracy Theorist Roger Stone A Platform To Claim Election Could Be Rigged

    Hill Partners With Dirty Trickster Who Calls People “Stupid Negro,” “Elitist C*nt,” And “Horse-Faced Liberal Bitch” And Said He Would “Kick In” Money To Watch Hillary Clinton Kill Herself

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    In a ludicrous effort to provide “balance” to its readers, The Hill has published a column by informal Donald Trump adviser, conspiracy theorist, and racist Roger Stone allowing him to promote the baseless allegation that the presidential election will be “rigged” in favor of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

    In addition to giving a conspiracy theorist a platform to sow seeds of doubt about the outcome of the election, The Hill -- which identifies Stone as a “contributor” -- has also associated their brand with a man who regularly promotes conspiracy theories and has an extensive history of making racist, sexist, and bigoted comments.

    Asked why they would choose to publish Stone’s piece given his record, a spokesperson for The Hill explained that they provide “a platform for contributors, encompassing politics and policy, from all points of the political compass, including those with provocative voices about the candidates and the electoral process.” The spokesperson claimed that Stone’s allegation that the election will be rigged by Clinton shows how the paper “is always providing and seeking balance among the points of view that we present,” noting that “last week we published a column pressing the argument that in the nation’s history ‘systemic election fraud’ is non-existent.”

    The response appears to confirm that The Hill’s willingness to promote “points of view” is limited by neither their extremeness nor their factual accuracy.

    Indeed, Stone bases much of his column on the claim that “A recent study by Stanford University proved that Hillary Clinton’s campaign rigged the system to steal the nomination from Bernie Sanders.” The document  in question is not a Stanford University “study.” It is a research paper written by two graduate students at Stanford University and Tilburg University.

    The fact-checking site Snopes reports that the authors of the paper “acknowledged their claims and research methodology had not been subject to any form of peer review or academic scrutiny.” For much of its argument claiming that exit polling indicates that the Democratic primary was rigged, the paper relies on a figure named Richard Charnin who Snopes points out “appears to expend much of his focus on conspiracy theories related to the JFK assassination.” Stone refers to Charnin as a “mathematician and voting statistic expert” in his column and describes his work as “compelling.”

    Using such an absurd document as a basis for his vote-rigging thesis is in line with Stone’s predilection for promoting and creating conspiracy theories. The former Republican Party operative with a long history of dirty tricks has published a book in which he alleges that the Bush family “tried to kill” President Ronald Reagan, while another of his books is entitled The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ.

    Stone also believes that the Clintons are “plausibly responsible” for the deaths of roughly 40 people and that John F. Kennedy Jr. was “murdered by the Clintons because he was in the way.” He recently alleged that the Clintons had four (more) people murdered.

    Stone has engaged in racist, sexist, and incendiary commentary on his Twitter account that has resulted in him being banned from the airwaves of both CNN and MSNBC.

    He called then-CNN commentator Roland Martin a “stupid negro and a “fat negro,” called Herman Cain “mandingo” and described former Rep. Allen West (R-FL) as an “arrogant know-it-all negro.” He also said Al Sharpton was a “professional negro” who likes fried chicken and asked if Ben Carson was an “Uncle Tom.”

    Stone said CNN political commentator Ana Navarro and Martin were “quota hires” because they are “so dumb and unqualified that one can reach no other conclusion." He also said of Navarro, “black beans and rice didn’t miss her.”

    He said New York Times columnist Gail Collins was an “elitist c*nt” and referred to MSNBC host Rachel Maddow as “Rachel the muff-diver.”

    Stone has also called for violence against several figures. He said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is a “Soviet Agent” who “should be arrested for treason and shot.” He also said he would “kick in” money to see Hillary Clinton kill herself.

    As Trump has encountered trouble in his presidential campaign leading to lower ratings in opinion polls, Stone and his partner, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, have been peddling the notion that the election will be rigged in favor of Clinton. They have now enlisted The Hill in their campaign.

    Previously reporters for The Hill said publishing their material alongside serial liar and conservative “laughingstock” Dick Morris affected the publication’s brand. Roger Stone is worse. Much worse.

    The full statement from The Hill spokesperson to Media Matters’ Joe Strupp follows:

    The Hill has a platform for contributors, encompassing politics and policy, from all points of the political compass, including those with provocative voices about the candidates and the electoral process. Roger Stone is certainly among those. We have of course run many columns, as well, by opponents of Trump.

    Stone has been a vocal backer and consultant to the campaign of Donald Trump, and we have run several columns by him as a way of understanding the points of views of Trump backers.

    In addition, today’s column about election fraud follows a line of attack by Trump himself on what he sees as the likelihood that the election will be “rigged.”

    And to show how The Hill is always providing and seeking balance among the points of view that we present, last week we published a column pressing the argument that in the nation’s history “systemic election fraud” is non-existent.

    The Hill welcomes  all points of view in its coverage of politics and policy and will continue to do so.

  • Hannity Responds To Trump Campaign Troubles With Clinton Health Conspiracy Parade

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    Hannity

    Over the last week, as Donald Trump faced disappointing poll numbers and continued to spawn a series of never-ending controversies on the campaign trail, Fox News’ Sean Hannity -- who has perhaps been Trump’s biggest cheerleader in the media -- has devoted large chunks of his Fox News program to engaging in baseless conspiracies that Hillary Clinton is in ill health.

    Hannity, Drudge and conspiracy media like Alex Jones’ Infowars are part of a steady, months-long drumbeat consistently pushing baseless claims that Clinton has serious health problems.

    As CNN’s Brian Stelter pointed out, Hannity’s crusade is an example of “how this ecosystem exists, where something starts, in this case on pro-trump Twitter accounts, and it makes its way all the way up to some of the top shows on cable television, even though it's really rooted in a conspiracy theory.”

    Monday: “Some Said It's Like A Mini-Seizure”

    On Monday, Hannity hosted neurologist Dr. David Samadi and Dr. Marc Seigel to assess whether Clinton “could be experiencing a serious undisclosed medical condition.” During the segment, Hannity referenced a misleading Drudge-promoted photo of Clinton slipping on icy stairs to kick off a segment in which he questioned his guests on whether Clinton had suffered “a mini-seizure” or had a “mini-stroke.”

    The transcript of the exchange, via Nexis:

    HANNITY: And welcome back to HANNITY. So an image of Hillary Clinton recently posted to the Web site "The American Mirror" is sparking new controversy for the Clinton campaign. The picture, which shows Hillary Clinton apparently needing assistance to climb a flight of stairs at a campaign stop back in February, was picked up by "The Drudge Report," which posted this headline over the weekend detailing Hillary Clinton's history with falls and speculating that the former secretary of state could be experiencing a serious undisclosed medical condition.

    Earlier today we reached out to the Clinton campaign for a statement, and a spokesman told us that "The Drudge Report" is shameful, and anyone who buys into that vitriol, including yours truly, is shameful as well. So shameful we are.

    Anyway, what was noticeably missing from the statement is any reference or rebuttal to the health issues that were alleged by Drudge and others.

    Joining us now with analysis, from the FOX News medical A-Team we have FOX News medical correspondent Dr. Marc Siegel and Dr. David Samadi is with us. It's in "The Daily Mail," are Hillary Clinton's health problems more severe than thought? A new book is coming out that claims that. The Gateway Pundit had today, "Hillary's handler carrying a diazepam pen for patients who experience recurrent seizures. When you look at her history, Dr. Siegel, of falling, concussions, the blood clots, et cetera, and then this other video that has emerged, what are your thoughts?

    DR. MARC SIEGEL, FOX NEWS MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think the public has the right to know. Number one, we're talking in 2008, Sean, I looked over 1,000 pages of John McCain's records because of a melanoma he had 10 years before. What about Hillary? In 2009, a severe fall, she breaks an elbow. In 2011 she boards a plane, falls. In 2012 she has a severe concussion which Bill Clinton says it took her six months to recover from.

    Then she ends up with a blood clot on the brain. She's on lifetime blood thinners. Just to point alone, if she's prone to falling, and you see from our picture up there that it looks like she can barely get upstairs without two people carrying her. If she falls and hits her head she'll get a blood clot in her brain.

    HANNITY: Just out of fairness, I don't want to show the video. But I've asked both of you to look at the video where she seems like, some said it's like a mini-seizure. What does it look like to you.

    SIEGEL: I'm also concerned about this concussion she had in 2012. It could be post-concussion syndrome. Your balance is off. You're dizzy all the time. Your memory is off. You're not thinking clearly. Maybe that is what she meant this week when talked about that click she had with Chris Wallace. Maybe she just can't think.

    HANNITY: She says she short circuited. Also, it's not just that. She doesn't give a lot of press conferences. She doesn't want to seem to put herself in high pressure situations.

    SIEGEL: I want to know what her neurologist says. I've reached out to her neurologist at Columbia after she had that fall. No comment. I want to know what her neurological records show.

    HANNITY: You think as you have done with John McCain and other presidential candidates, obviously John McCain is older, do you think it's fair game, especially if people see that something seems a little off?

    SIEGEL: Not just fair game. Just the point alone that she's on blood thinners and seems to be prone to fall, if she falls when she's in the White House --

    HANNITY: Is there a possibility she had a mini-stroke, a TIA? What do you think?

    DR. DAVID SAMADI, FOX NEWS MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: The picture that you showed as she's going up the stairs speaks a million words. Is he really fatigued? Is she dehydrated? One of the main reasons why she fell in 2012 and had the concussion was severe dehydration. They're holding her and going up the stairs so she may be really dehydrated, she may have arthritis, she may have back pain. She may have fallen again. We don't know. So there are a lot more questions that are unanswered. What we know today is that she's on thyroid medication. She suffers from hypothyroid or low thyroid that can cause some fatigue and gaining weight and all of that.

    Tuesday: “What About Some Of The Weird Pauses She Has”

    On Tuesday, Hannity had neurologist Dr. Daniel Kassicieh and Dr. Marc Seigel on and again brought up the photos from the Drudge Report. He asked, “Is it possible she had a stroke, or do you really believe it was a head injury, traumatic brain injury?”

    He also pondered, “What about some of the weird pauses she has, the coughing fits she has? There are moments when I'm literally watching her and I'm thinking, OK, the facial expressions are odd. They seem off.”

    The transcript of the exchange, via Nexis:

    HANNITY: So last time on this program we spoke about an image that was being circulated online of Hillary Clinton. The picture shows the Democratic nominee being helped a flight of stairs by her staffers. This was back in February. "The Drudge Report" picked it up and speculated about her health.

    So should Hillary have to reveal her medical condition as well as give us maybe those Wall Street speeches, maybe those big bank speeches? And joining us now with reaction is board-certified neurologist and headache specialist Dr. Daniel Kassicieh and from the FOX News Medical A-Team is Dr. Mark Seigel. Dr. Siegel, good to see you again.

    Daniel, let me start with you. Doctor, let me ask you, what do you see in her condition and some of these images where she keeps getting flustered or the coughing fits or you hear about the blood clots. What is your interpretation?

    DR. DANIEL KASSICIEH, BOARD CERTIFIED NEUROLOGIST: My concern is going back to her concussion when she fell back in December of 2012 and she had a reported blood clot. The blood clot cleared up quickly with the blood thinners, but Bill Clinton actually reported that it took six months of hard work for Hillary to recover from her head injury.

    HANNITY: Is it possible she had a stroke, or do you really believe it was a head injury, traumatic brain injury?

    KASSICIEH: I believe that she had a concussion with a possible brain injury. Of course, I haven't seen medical records, but the blood clot once it cleared up was no longer an issue. It was the latent effects of the concussion that I would be concerned about.

    HANNITY: By the way, I'm glad you're a headache expert because any time she or any liberal speaks, I get a headache. Dr. Siegel?

    DR. MARC SIEGEL, FOX NEWS MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Sean, this is a year when we're looking into the long term effects of concussion and we're finding that we're underestimating this, that someone who has a severe blow to the head can have affects later on that even an MRI doesn't show. So at the very least I want to see her medical records.

    HANNITY: What about some of the weird pauses she has, the coughing fits she has? There are moments when I'm literally watching her and I'm thinking, OK, the facial expressions are odd. They seem off.

    SIEGEL: I don't know this because I'm only looking at a video. But I saw the same video you saw and I'm wondering about a word called "aphasia" where you're searching for words, you suddenly lose those words, and that can be the sign, again, of some kind of traumatic brain injury or the after effects of a concussion.

    I'm not satisfied to just get a letter from Dr. Bardack who is her primary and say she's fit to be president. That is like getting a letter from an accountant, the taxes are OK. I want to see what a neurologist wrote about her.

    Hannity similarly promoted the conspiracy theory that Clinton had a stroke on his syndicated radio show on Tuesday, claiming, “one doctor friend of mine was really convinced she had a stroke.”

    Wednesday: “It Almost Seems Seizure-Esque To Me”

    On Wednesday, Hannity hosted Dr. Marc Siegel and Dr. Fiona Gupta, claiming that “questions continue to swirl about Hillary Clinton's health and if she is fit to serve as president of the United States.”

    The transcript of the exchange, via Nexis:

    HANNITY: Look at this video right here. Watch her reaction, because I'm not -- it almost seems seizure-esque to me.

    GUPTA: There are different types of seizures, local seizures that sometimes can cause just one body part, but it would be very rare. I mean, typically seizures will generalize, so I can't say that's a seizure.

    HANNITY: Aren't there many seizures like that, Dr. Siegel?

    DR. MARC SIEGEL, FOX NEWS MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: I'm not a neurologist, and I don't think that necessarily looks like a seizure, but I will say this --

    HANNITY: Let's re-rack this. What do you think this is?

    SIEGEL: I'll tell you what I think it is. I think that we've seen enough there, especially in someone who has a long medical history and who's approaching 70 years old for me to be able to say here that both of our candidates need to release their medical information. Sean, the whole idea --

    HANNITY: It looks like violent, out of control movements on her part.

    SIEGEL: And it could be, and I say could be, related to previous head trauma she's had. It's possible. That's why I need to see the records. That's why a neurologist needs to come forward and give a press conference and say this is what is going on with her. She may very well be completely fit, but we want to know.

    Thursday: “You've Got This Sort Of Twitching Thing That She Does”

    On Thursday, Hannity hosted Drs. Marc Siegel and David Samadi, along with former Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson to discuss “speculation” about Clinton’s health in a segment he introduced by asking, “Why won't the mainstream media talk about this story?”

    Hannity asked the panel to comment on video supposedly showing Clinton engaging in “violent, violent, repetitive jerking of the head,” and wondered about “this sort of twitching thing that she does.”

    The transcript of the exchange, via Nexis:

    HANNITY: Dr. Carson, I'll show you the different examples. She's falling. You've got this sort of twitching thing that she does in front of reporters that was really bad. There's been a number of incidents and reports that she fell. And then she had this really long incident where she was out of commission for quite a while, recovering, her husband said. She's on anti- coagulants.

    Number one, do we have a right to know? And number two, what do you make of this twitching thing that she keeps doing? I'll run it again.

    HANNITY: Why are you laughing? You're the brain surgeon here. I'm just a humble little host.

    (LAUGHTER)

    CARSON: Oh, it just looks funny. You know, certainly as a person gets older, you know, the number of medical conditions that we have to watch for increases, which is one of the reasons that we strongly suggest, as you get older, that you have at least an annual examination. If you're going into a very important position like this, it's critical.

  • “Totally Synced”: How Donald Trump And Alex Jones’ Conspiracy Theory Movement Speaks With One Voice

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    Alex Jones announced on his radio show this week that it has been “surreal to talk about issues here on air and then word-for-word hear [Donald] Trump say it two days later. It is amazing.” Indeed, as MSNBC’s Chris Hayes pointed out, it has been “completely surreal” to watch the Republican nominee for President of the United States echo the nation’s most prominent conspiracy theorist; but he’s done just that, repeatedly.

    During the campaign, Trump has echoed Jones’ conspiracy theories on several topics, including the leadership of ISIS, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, and the possibility of a “rigged” general election.

    Jones’ website Infowars.com has described him as “one of the very first founding fathers of the 9-11 Truth Movement.” The movement believes that the U.S. government was behind the September 11, 2001, attacks. Jones also has promoted conspiracy theories about government involvement in the Oklahoma City bombing, the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, the Boston Marathon bombing, and several mass shootings.

    Trump appeared on Jones’ show in December and praised the host for his “amazing” reputation, promising him that “I will not let you down.” In return, Jones called Trump “a true maverick” and described his presidential campaign as “epic” and “George Washington level.”

    Over the last year, Trump has frequently spoken about issues of importance to Jones and the conspiracy theory movement he leads, often in the same language and within days of those issues being raised on Jones’ program.

    Jones reportedly received “special guest” credentials to attend the Republican National Convention and praised Trump’s acceptance speech as “totally synced” with the conspiracy theory movement, saying that Trump’s attack on the concept of “globalism” -- a frequent target of the conspiracy movement -- “sent absolute lightning bolts of fear into their guts in the New World Order.”

    Jones has also often hosted Trump friend and adviser Roger Stone, who maintains close contact with the candidate. Trump and Stone coordinated a rally in favor of Trump at the convention and have given out instructions on how to donate to Trump’s campaign.

    In February, a senior Trump adviser gave an interview to Jones' website and urged Jones' fans to vote in the South Carolina and New Hampshire Republican primaries.

    Days after Jones posted a video entitled “An Emergency Message to Donald Trump” asking the candidate to start pushing a narrative that the general election would be “rigged,” Trump began to echo the host. He told a rally audience that Clinton is “going to try and steal the general election,” adding, “I’m afraid the election is going to be rigged, I have to be honest.” (Stone had also been urging Trump to raise the issue.)

    At a campaign rally in Florida this week, Trump said that President Obama is “the founder of ISIS,” and added, “I would say the co-founder would be crooked Hillary Clinton.” (Trump has since tried to claim he was using “sarcasm.”)

    That reflects a position that has been promoted by Jones for some time. His website alleges “there is concrete evidence that the Obama administration has been backing ISIS since the beginning.” Jones has also said Clinton was “like the commanding general of Al-Qaeda and ISIS” and said she and Obama are “the ones running ISIS.” Jones also claims that “ISIS is Obama’s proxy army.”

    Trump and Jones have also been in lockstep on other conspiracies.

    Jones has often promoted the birther conspiracy that President Obama was not born in the United States, a nonsense theory that Trump has eagerly pushed.

    Infowars promoted the idea that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia had been killed around the same time Trump floated the theory in an appearance on Michael Savage’s radio show.

    And when Trump argued, without evidence, that Ted Cruz’s father Rafael Cruz was involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy, he was echoing a claim that had already been made on Jones’ website.