Megyn Kelly is using her prime time Fox News show to re-mainstream conservative conspiracy theorist Glenn Beck, despite her previous admission that complaints about the former Fox host's inaccurate theories "may have foundation."
Since the launch of her show, The Kelly File, in 2013, Kelly has claimed that her show is "a news program, a breaking news program, not an opinion program" that would "present both sides of the view." As expected, the actual content of Kelly's program has demonstrated that this most decidedly isn't the case, and repeatedly hosting Beck is more evidence against this claim.
Kelly herself is on the record pointing out the problematic nature of Beck's brew of right-wing misinformation and conspiracy theorizing. In a 2010 interview Kelly admitted to GQ that complaints about Beck spreading misinformation "may have foundation."
That was at a time when Beck was describing President Obama as a "racist" and "Marxist" who was central to numerous byzantine plots designed to hurt the United States and usher in some sort of socialist or communist system. Fox ended Beck's show on the network in 2011 after the network lost sponsors for the program due to controversy over its bizarre and extreme content. Since then he has streamed his show online and over satellite television as part of his website/network "The Blaze."
Kelly has hosted Beck four times between October 27 and December 16. And in some of those appearances (October 27, November 17) Beck appeared in two separate segments on the program.
In his most recent appearance Beck attacked Republican presidential front runner Donald Trump, telling Kelly that Trump is "a giant progressive" who, if nominated, would make the Republican Party go "the way of the Whigs." In a previous appearance by Beck on The Kelly File, Beck compared Trump's proposed ban on travel by Muslims to the policies of Adolph Hitler.
Appearing earlier in December with Kelly to discuss the program to aid Syrian war refugees, Beck promoted the theory that "these refugees that are being jammed down everybody's throat in the west" are a "Trojan horse."
In a November appearance, Beck used his chalkboard -- a staple of his conspiratorial monologues during his time at Fox -- to illustrate his argument that "all of the decisions that the president has championed" led to the terrorist attacks on Paris.
Beck also claimed in November that the Black Lives Matter movement is a "revolution" which is being "seeded" in universities. He told Kelly, "We have got to find our way to each other in universities because I really truly believe, 2016 is going to look an awful lot like 1968." Kelly responded, "Glenn, thank you."
Kelly's promotion of Beck isn't a new phenomenon. Last year she credited Beck with accurately predicting the rise of a caliphate in the Middle East, but in reality Beck's prediction was as far off as his previous prognostication that the economy would collapse in a "Weimar moment" or that progressives would be involved in a "summer of rage."
In November, Kelly File was the second highest rated program on Fox News, and number one in the key 25-54 demographic. In case those viewers missed Glenn Beck's conspiracies the first time they aired on Fox, they're seeing them now thanks to Megyn Kelly.
A Washington Post fact check agreed with Sen. Marco Rubio's claim that reforms to gun laws would not have prevented any of the recent mass shootings in the U.S. But both Rubio and the Post are wrong: the assault weapons ban proposed after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School would have limited the availability of the guns used in at least two recent high-profile mass shootings. And the Post downplayed or ignored other relevant gun violence prevention legislation that could have prevented -- or at least mitigated -- other recent tragedies.
During a December 4 interview on CBS, Rubio asserted that "None of the major shootings that have occurred in this country over the last few months or years that have outraged us, would gun laws have prevented them." Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler highlighted Rubio's claim in a December 10 piece, noting that a colleague had flagged the comment for a potential fact check under the assumption that "it was almost certainly incorrect." Kessler, however, awarded Rubio's claim "a rare Gepetto Checkmark," arguing that it "stands up to scrutiny."
In several instances of mass shootings cited as evidence for why gun laws wouldn't work, Kessler gave an incomplete account of the role gun laws could have played in preventing or reducing the amount of deaths.
For example, Kessler claimed that the sale of a handgun to Dylann Roof, who shot and killed nine people at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, was an "example of an existing law that apparently failed." Roof was allowed to purchase a gun because a clerical error resulted in the examiner not seeing a charge resulting from Roof possessing the drug Suboxone without a prescription, even though the seller knew an arrest record existed.
But Roof was able to purchase the gun due to a loophole in the gun law. A "default proceed" sale allows the purchase of a firearm at the discretion of the merchant, thanks to an NRA-backed amendment added to the 1993 Brady bill that created the background check system. In October, two Democratic senators introduced a bill to close the default proceed loophole.
While Kessler originally asserted that "some analysts believe Roof actually would have passed the background check if it had been done correctly" and that the FBI had "incorrectly referred to a felony drug charge" in its statement, he updated to note that the FBI still says Roof "would have been denied a gun based on an 'inference of current use.'" (This update alone arguably debunks the entire premise of giving Rubio a "Gepetto checkmark.")
Kessler acknowledged that the proposed assault weapons ban of 2013 would have stamped out the availability of the Bushmaster XM-15 rifle that was used by Adam Lanza in the Newtown massacre, but wrote that "gun-control proposals would not have prevented Lanza's theft of his mother's legally obtained firearms."
While the ban would not have affected the Savage Mark II rifle that Lanza used to kill his mother and the handguns and shotguns that were found in his car, the main weapon he used to kill 26 people would not have been available. The high capacity magazines that Lanza used - capable of holding 30 rounds - would also not have been available thanks to a law passed by Connecticut after the tragedy.
Kessler also wrote that California's gun laws "did not thwart" Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik when they shot and killed 14 in San Bernardino, California.
But again, a federal assault weapons ban would have cut off -- or at the very least, limited -- the availability of the AR-15 rifles and high capacity magazines used in the crime.
While he claimed "the Fact Checker obviously takes no position on proposed gun-control laws," Kessler nonetheless cited discredited gun advocate John Lott Jr. to bolster his conclusion that an assault weapons ban would not have had an impact the gun crimes in question. Lott, author of the book More Guns Less Crime, has often been the go-to source for downplaying the problems caused by gun violence. He has repeatedly produced unscientific research and made factual distortions in order to make his case, and has even been accused of completely fabricating evidence.
Kessler also cited Gary Kleck, who has repeatedly been cited in the right-wing media based on his research that increased availability of firearms makes people safer. But Kleck's most-cited study -- which asserts that guns are used defensively roughly 2.5 million times per year -- has been criticized for having "serious methodological difficulties." In a 1997 paper, Harvard Injury Control Research Center Director David Hemenway explained how Kleck's data is implausible:
[I]n 34% of the times a gun was used for self-defense, the offender was allegedly committing a burglary. In other words, guns were reportedly used by defenders for self-defense in approximately 845,000 burglaries. From sophisticated victimization surveys, however, we know that there were fewer than 6 million burglaries in the year of the survey and in only 22% of those cases was someone certainly at home (1.3 million burglaries). Since only 42% of U.S. households own firearms, and since victims in two thirds of the occupied dwellings were asleep, the 2.5 million figure requires us to believe that burglary victims use their guns in self-defense more than 100% of the time. [emphasis added]
In several of the other mass shootings cited by Kessler, he acknowledged the use of assault weapons in the commission of the crime but dismissed the idea that a proposed federal ban would have prevented the mass killings, or at least reduced the amount of deaths.
Kessler also claimed that the evidence that a ban on high capacity magazines would reduce the amount of dead in shootings is "heavily disputed," but studies have shown that weapons utilizing high capacity magazines are involved in a disproportionate amount of mass shooting incidents. In the Sandy Hook shooting, for example, several children were reportedly able to escape while Lanza paused to reload. Nicole Hockley, whose son was killed at the school, has argued, "We ask ourselves every day -- every minute -- if those magazines had held 10 rounds, forcing the shooter to reload at least six more times, would our children be alive today?" (The 2011 mass shooting in Tucson, which falls outside the time period assessed by Kessler, was stopped when shooter Jared Loughner paused to reload his gun.)
Kessler nods to, but dismisses, the idea that banning high-capacity magazines might reduce gun deaths in mass shootings, claiming, "It is possible that some gun-control proposals, such as a ban on large-capacity magazines, would reduce the number of dead in a future shooting, though the evidence for that is heavily disputed."
In his fact check, Kessler fails to mention the Isla Vista attack, where Elliot Rodger killed six people before killing himself. Following Rodger's rampage, California passed legislation "allowing the temporary seizure of guns from people determined by the courts to be a threat to themselves or others." The legislation could have stopped Rodger from carrying out his plan - as the LA Times notes, the massacre took place "even though the family of Elliot Rodger had sought help because of concerns about his strange behavior before the shootings."
Similar legislation has been introduced in Congress. Laws like this could feasibly help prevent shootings where the gunman's family or associates knew they were disturbed but were powerless to prevent them from accessing guns.
Again and again throughout his piece, Kessler chose to play up the gun advocate position in each case without acknowledging the practical effect of gun laws and remedies that have been opposed by groups like the NRA and elected officials like Senator Rubio.
Defending criticism of Donald Trump's plan to ban Muslim travel to the United States, Rush Limbaugh ended up putting Hamas on the same side as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
On his December 9 program, Limbaugh discussed Trump's widely slammed proposal "for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on.
Limbaugh noted that Hamas had condemned it and said, "Hamas is a terror group, do you know Hamas came out in opposition to Trump's statement? That puts the Republican Party, the Democrat Party and everybody else in the establishment and Obama on the same side Hamas is on."
Limbaugh's broad brush would now seem to implicate Prime Minister Netanyahu, who in advance of a planned meeting with Trump issued a statement rebuking his remarks on Muslims.
In a press release, the Prime Minister's Office said, "Prime Minister Netanyahu rejects Donald Trump's recent remarks about Muslims. The State of Israel respects all religions and strictly guarantees the rights of all its citizens. At the same time, Israel is fighting against militant Islam that targets Muslims, Christians and Jews alike and threatens the entire world."
Netanyahu has previously described Hamas as similar to ISIS and the Nazis and that he considered them "branches of the same poisonous tree."
Fox Business will host the fourth Republican presidential debate tonight. Unlike its sister network Fox News, many are unfamiliar with the low-rated Fox Business. But Media Matters has been watching since the network's debut in 2007. Here are 35 of the worst things to appear on the "business" network.
ERIC BOLLING: I need to know this. You see this fold. This has clearly been photocopied from a book. You see that? It kind of folds back to, like, almost like a binding of a book. And then for some reason, there's a green border around it that had to be Photoshopped in. Trying to figure out why they would do that.
PAMELA GELLER: Well, this whole border is suspect. I mean, if you're taking a scan of something, it would, to your point, it would be white. Why is this the color of the same --
BOLLING: Note this - note this, you guys, April 25, 2011 -- two days ago -- is when this was requested from the state registrar, Alvin Onaka. So we'll keep our eye on it. We'll keep digging. Hey, listen. It may or may not be, but certainly opens up the can of worms that there are at least questions for it.
OK, Pam. Hang on. Let me bring in the rest of our all-star panel. On the left, we have Fox News contributor Tamara Holder; on the right, Dr. Ablow rejoins us, along with Fox News contributor Monica Crowley.
I'm looking at you over there, Tamara. I'm looking at you smirking a little bit. What's wrong? I mean, at least it's certainly -- you have to ask the question, has this been Photoshopped?
ANDREW NAPOLITANO: Do you believe he's dead, or do you want some more evidence? A photograph, a testimony of an eyewitness? Something other than the words of a president whose words we have doubted before?
MICHAEL SCHEUER: Well, Judge, I think what I go with is the men and women on the ground. If they didn't get him, they would admit it. The really, the success story here is not the president who did the right thing at last, but the true story is the young men and women who serve the United States in the military and the intelligence services. They risked their lives, they did their job. And if he's not dead, they'll never be able to keep that a secret.
NAPOLITANO: All right, but the intelligence services of which you were once a part want as much closure to this as the American public does. So with the body gone, or sleeping with the fishes, won't there always be that lingering doubt amongst Americans: "Well, where is the body? How do we know he's dead? Why isn't there a picture of it? Why didn't we see it before they shipped it off to sea?"
SCHEUER: I think much more than just a likelihood, Judge, I think we're already in it. The conspiracy people are going to spin this up to a very high degree and even if they release the pictures they claim they have, with Photoshop and other programs, you can doctor any, any photograph to make it look however you want. So I think it perhaps might have been wiser to keep the body or at least show the body before they buried it.
Fox host Neil Cavuto devoted much of his two-hour Fox Business show to criticizing President Obama's decision to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Over the course of his show, Cavuto questioned whether climate change is man-made, suggested Keystone XL would have been "one of the cleanest pipelines ever made," likened pipeline opponents to protesters in London who "got pretty violent," mocked Obama for rejecting the pipeline to appease "the French," claimed Russian President Vladimir Putin "must be liking this," and told coal company CEO Robert Murray that Obama is "kind of sticking a knife in you guys."
ERIC BOLLING: [N]ow, tornadoes devastating the heartland, killing scores, and leveling just about every building in Joplin, Missouri -- Mr. Obama, you've decided that chugging a few 40's and rediscovering you're Irish is more important than a presidential visit to a community trying to figure out what just hit them. Leadership, Mr. Obama, leadership; it's about choices and you seem to be fresh out of the right ones.
During the December 2, 2011, edition of Fox Business' Follow the Money, host Eric Bolling discussed the plot to the Muppets movie with Media Research Center's Dan Gainor. Noting that the antagonist of the film is an oil tycoon named "Tex Richman," Bolling asked, "Is liberal Hollywood using class warfare to kind of brainwash our kids?" Gainor responded by saying: "Yeah, absolutely. And they've been doing it for decades." During the segment, on-screen text asked, "Are liberals trying to brainwash your kids against capitalism?"
Eric Bolling teased a segment about the White House hosting the president of Gabon by saying, "Guess who's coming to dinner? A dictator. Mr. Obama shares a laugh with one of Africa's kleptocrats. It's not the first time he's had a hoodlum in the hizzouse."
ANDREW NAPOLITANO: Before I let you go, tell me about your new series. What's the next conspiracy you're investigating?
JESSE VENTURA: Well, we open up with Plum Island, just down the road from here a little bit. We will do water, we will do 9-11 again, looking specifically at the Penta - the alleged Pentagon plane that hit there. We do J.F.K., which I'm thoroughly thrilled over because as I said you will get the first confession to the murder of John F. Kennedy on Jesse Ventura's Conspiracy Theory.
NAPOLITANO: Did Lee Harvey Oswald kill John F. Kennedy on the lawn?
VENTURA: I don't believe so, not at all.
NAPOLITANO: Governor, it's a pleasure. Thanks very much for joining us.
VENTURA: Alright, thank you judge, appreciate it.
NAPOLITANO: We'll be watching that show.
ANDREW NAPOLITANO: I am sighing because the Holy Father is a challenge for traditionalist Roman Catholics, of which I am one. Particularly, traditionalists who came of age under John Paul II and then under Benedict XVI. Who, though they had impulses that were not exactly Ayn Rand on capitalism, were far more into philosophy and theology, and far less into the economy ... This particular Pope, who has proclaimed himself a Peronist, is somewhere between a communist with a lowercase "c" and a Marxist with an uppercase "M." At the same time he is trying to be a Roman Catholic -- uppercase "R," uppercase "C."
The Pope is infallible on faith in morals. Thank God it is just limited to faith and morals because he is, he is -- he sounds like a left-wing professor at the London School of Economics when he blames the mass migration on economic inequality.
ANDREA TANTAROS: I should try it because, do you know how fabulous I'd look. I'd be so skinny. I mean, the camera adds ten pounds.
A Fox Business host said he got a "big smile" when he heard that Australia backed out of its previous pledge to send aid to developing nations coping with climate change. His response comes as an official from the Philippines tearfully called for developed nations to make good on their promises to the climate fund in the wake of Super Typhoon Haiyan.
On November 13, Stuart Varney, host of Varney & Co., celebrated Australia's decision, saying he "do[esn't] want to pay" to help the Philippines and other developing nations adapt to a rapidly changing climate.
During a news update on Fox Business' Mornings with Maria Bartiromo, contributor Cheryl Casone said the rule was being called "frankly, a job killer." On Varney & Co., host Stuart Varney complained that President Obama was attempting to lift wages "by fiat," and claimed that the overtime rule would harm "the assistant managers of this world, who will no longer become assistant managers." On Cavuto: Coast to Coast, host Neil Cavuto quoted Rep. Tim Walberg's (R-MI) opposition to overtime protections, adding that "you can't fathom" why the Labor Department would act to expand overtime.
Neil Cavuto and Dagen McDowell made light of Jenner's transition on Fox Business' Cavuto: Coast to Coast, asking, "What the hell is going on?" and calling her outfit "very Playboy bunny-esque" before introducing guest Charles Payne as "Charlene Payne."
The Wall Street Journal, Fox News, and Fox Business are aggressively criticizing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for accidentally spilling toxic wastewater into Colorado's Animas River while attempting to treat pollution from an abandoned gold mine. But over the years, these same conservative media outlets have almost completely ignored pollution that was caused by the fossil fuel industry, devoting more attention to the EPA spill than to seven recent cases of industry-caused pollution combined.
Fox Business Network invited Jan Morgan, the owner of a gun range in Arkansas that bans Muslim customers, to fearmonger that the Obama administration's plan to accept 10,000 refugees from civil war-torn Syria "is an open door to an enemy invasion." Calling for Islam to be "reclassified as a terrorist organization," Morgan suggested that when refugees are admitted into the U.S., Americans may have to use their "right to bear arms to defend life."
LOU DOBBS: Erick, your thoughts on this study and what it portends?
ERICK ERICKSON: Lou, I'm so used to liberals telling conservatives that they're anti-science. But this is -- liberals who defend this and say it's not a bad thing are very anti-science.
When you look at biology, look at the natural world, the roles of a male and female in society, and the other animals, the male typically is the dominant role. The female, it's not antithesis, or it's not competing, it's a complementary role. We as people in a smart society have lost the ability to have complimentary relationships in nuclear families, and it's tearing us apart.
And what I find interesting in the survey is that three-quarters of the people surveyed recognize that having moms as the primary breadwinner is bad for kids and bad for marriage, and reality shows us that's the truth.
MARIA BARTIROMO: Let me move on to some policy issues, because Hillary Clinton, Al Gore -- you know what's coming here -- more than 40 of the country's leading environmental and social justice groups are demanding a federal investigation of ExxonMobil, accusing the company of deceiving the American public, basically, about the risks of climate change to protect profits. What do you say to it?
REX TILLERSON: Well, the charges are pretty unfounded, you know, without any substance at all, and they're dealing with a period of time that happened decades ago, so there's a lot I could say about it. I'm not sure how helpful it would be for me to talk about it, particularly as we're leading up to some very important meetings that are going to occur in Paris, here in just a few weeks. I don't want to be a distraction, I really don't want this to be a distraction, there's some serious issues that need to be talked about at that -- at that convention. I think, as -- all I would say is that we were very open during that period of time with all the research we were doing, we were spending a lot of time trying to understand this issue in the early days. We were very open with the work we were doing, most of it was done in collaboration with academic institutions and many government agencies, for us to understand this better, and I think as we began to understand that then people began to think about policy choices, we had a view on policy choices, which has not changed very much over the years, and we've been very open about that, so --
BARTIROMO: We should point out that you actually helped finance accurate scientific research about climate change, and yet Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Al Gore -- they're basically saying you and your industry are hiding the risks of climate change, just like the tobacco companies hid the risks of smoking.
TILLERSON: Well, nothing could be further from the truth. Again, as you point out, we've been very active participants in supporting scientific discovery. We funded some of the very early attempts to model the climate.
BARTIROMO: Right, I know that.
TILLERSON: And still do. At MIT we were the only major oil company that has been a participant in the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC, since its inception, and we still are a participant. Our scientists have peer reviewed the work done by the IPCC, we have authored many of the IPCC's reports and have published more than 50 of our own reports on subject, so we're hardly hiding from the issue.
ANN COULTER: I'm a student of American history, so I'm appalled by -- though I would really like to like Nikki Haley since she is a Republican. On the other hand, she is an immigrant and does not understand America's history. The flag we're talking about --
KENNEDY: You think immigrants can't understand the history?
COULTER: Well, she doesn't. The Confederate flag we're talking about never flew over an official Confederate building. It was a battle flag. It is to honor Robert E. Lee. And anyone who knows the first thing about military history, knows that there is no greater army that ever took the field than the Confederate Army.
In a story discussing how the truth is "starting to look deeply out of fashion" during the 2016 presidential campaign, The New York Times bent over backwards to create the impression of a "bipartisan" trend by equating unambiguous falsehoods from several Republican candidates with incomplete retellings of stories about Hillary Clinton and false statements made by Democratic candidates decades ago.
The Times noted Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina's false debate claim attacking Planned Parenthood has been "roundly disputed" by media fact-checkers yet the candidate has refused to admit she exaggerated when pressed about its veracity.
The article also described the current controversy around Ben Carson and the authenticity of several stories in his autobiography, including claims that he was offered a scholarship to the U.S. Military Academy, and that he attempted to stab a childhood friend. The story goes on to relate several verifiably false claims Donald Trump has made on the campaign trail, conceding that he "utters plenty of refutable claims," and "has set the tone for the embroidery" by "generat[ing] an entirely new category of overstatement in American politics."
Yet the paper claimed that "the tendency to bend facts is bipartisan."
As evidence, the Times cited falsehoods told by presidential candidates Bill Clinton, Gary Hart, and Joe Biden more than two decades ago.
The stories the Times cited as evidence of current falsehoods from a Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, are specious examples and simply not on par with what they detailed about the Republicans.
First the paper reported that "Hillary Rodham Clinton has said that all of her grandparents were immigrants, even though her paternal grandmother was born in Pennsylvania."
But that story is more complex than its presentation by the Times. Clinton's grandfather, but not grandmother, was an immigrant. When this was pointed out, the campaign told Buzzfeed, "Her grandparents always spoke about the immigrant experience and, as a result she has always thought of them as immigrants" adding, "As has been correctly pointed out, while her grandfather was an immigrant, it appears that Hillary's grandmother was born shortly after her parents and siblings arrived in the U.S. in the early 1880s."
The Times also refers to Clinton's private email server:
Mrs. Clinton has rationalized her reliance on a private server for both her personal and State Department emails by saying she preferred using a single electronic device, even though she used multiple devices, like an iPad, to read and send email.
But Clinton using an iPad to access her email does not make her earlier statement a falsehood. When Clinton first set up her email in 2009, the iPad did not exist. It was not released until 2010, a year after Clinton became secretary of state. According to her campaign, "Clinton relied on her Blackberry for emailing. This was easiest for her. When the iPad came out in 2010, she was as curious as others and found it great for shopping, browsing, and reading articles when she traveled. She also had access to her email account on her iPad and sometimes used it for that too."
The two examples are very different from the straight-out falsehoods being used by the Republican campaigns. And the concession from the Clinton campaign is very different from the Fiorina campaign's response to disparities in her past statements about Hewlett-Packard, in which the Times noted "Mrs. Fiorina's campaign aides seemed unperturbed by the discrepancies and declined to make the candidate available for comment."
Rather than report on the phenomenon of falsehoods from Republican candidates and how those campaigns are responding to reporting and fact checking of those stories, the Times instead chose to create a false equivalence and pretend that the problem is "bipartisan."
Political journalists responded critically to the Republican National Committee's decision to suspend their partnership with NBC News during the February 26 presidential debate, which was the only scheduled GOP debate with a Spanish-language media partner, NBC Universal's Telemundo.
After President Obama and congressional Republicans announced a tentative budget deal which would fund the government for two years, conservative media figures attacked the deal and described it as capitulation to Obama.
Citizens United is a conservative activist group with a long history of promoting discredited smears and attacks. Along with fellow right-wing group Judicial Watch, they have been one of the driving forces behind the mainstream media narrative about Hillary Clinton's emails.
A Media Matters survey of media coverage of the email story in the Nexis database found that Citizens United has been cited or quoted in reports about Clinton's use of private email in multiple major outlets, including ABC News, Fox News, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.
Just last week, The Wall Street Journal based an October 15 story on emails parceled out to the newspaper by Citizens United, in a continuation of a pattern utilized by the organization and its leader David Bossie of selectively leaking partial information to news outlets in order to attack Democrats. The story later made the leap to Fox News.
The emails, which show Clinton aides experienced occasional IT problems when working with Clinton's private server (similar to many agencies, organizations, and businesses), are described by Bossie in the Journal story as "another troubling revelation." Bossie has also been calling for a "special counsel" to investigate the emails.
This is the type of scandal-mongering that Citizens United has done for years in order to further conservative crusades against prominent progressives. Bossie himself has been targeting the Clintons for more than two decades. In 1998, he was fired from a job with the House Oversight Committee for his role in releasing selectively-edited transcripts that smeared Hillary Clinton.
Citizens United has been pushing for the release of Clinton communications from the State Department, and is a party in several lawsuits demanding Clinton-related materials from the agency. In the course of those requests, Citizens United has often insinuated -- without evidence -- that wrongdoing took place. Citizens United President David Bossie told Politico after a recent hearing, "If it weren't for our FOIAs and subsequent lawsuits, these records would remain exactly where Hillary Clinton wants them -- in the shadows."
One set of emails released to Citizens United and then doled out to mainstream news organizations supposedly revealed a "tangled web" between the State Department and the Clinton Foundation, Bossie told the Washington Post. In fact, the emails mostly showed mundane communications amongst Clinton's team, including arrangements to organize a dinner.
Citizens United was created in 1988 by conservative activist Floyd Brown. Early on, the organization ran political campaigns promoting the Supreme Court nomination of Clarence Thomas, as well as campaigns against Democratic presidential candidates like Michael Dukakis and Bill Clinton.
Brown was behind the infamous race-baiting Willie Horton political ad that was used to attack Dukakis in the 1988 presidential campaign. He was chairman of Citizens United until 2006, a position former congressional investigator and anti-Clinton activist David Bossie now holds.
Since leaving Citizens United, Brown has promoted the birther conspiracy that President Obama was not born in the United States, and demanded his removal from the White House for trying to construct a "totalitarian regime." Brown also ran political attack ads falsely claiming that President Obama is Muslim.
In 2008, Citizens United produced an anti-Clinton film called Hillary: The Movie. After the group was barred from advertising the film due to its political content and possible influence on the election, the resulting 2010 Supreme Court case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, opened the floodgate of money now influencing elections.
In addition to Hillary: The Movie, the organization has produced films attacking the left and promoting the right. These include Occupy Unmasked, Battle for America with Dick Morris, and Hype: The Obama Effect.
Citizens United also has an affiliated political action committee, Citizens United Political Victory Fund, that spent hundreds of thousands of dollars between 2006 and 2014 to support Republican candidates and attack Democrats. They also have a super PAC, Citizens United Super PAC, which has already spent $128,199 so far in the 2016 election cycle.
CBS reported in 1992 that as part of an "unusually brazen dirty-tricks operation," Brown sent his agents, including David Bossie, to prove a conspiracy theory that a woman named Susann Coleman had committed suicide after an affair with Bill Clinton. In order to do so, Bossie followed Coleman's mother to an Army hospital in Georgia, where she was visiting her husband who was recovering from a stroke. CBS said, according to a Nexis transcript, that Bossie and an accomplice "burst into the sick man's room and began questioning the shaken mother about her daughter's suicide." (The operation was not technically on behalf of Citizens United -- Brown at the time was heading a group called the "Presidential Victory Committee.")
Brown also called Coleman's sister and harassed her about the affair. The calls were recorded. On the tape, Brown told her, "If there's any truth to this proposed story, I want to be very private. I want to basically have my lawyers approach Clinton's lawyers and tell him that we want him out of the race because he's not morally qualified to be president."
CBS said that George H.W. Bush's re-election campaign "disclaims any connection with Floyd Brown and describes his anti-Clinton tactics as despicable."
Bossie has served as the president of Citizens United since 2000 (and chairman since 2006). Before that, he was chief investigator for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, a position he was fired from for releasing selectively-edited transcripts of interviews with former Clinton administration official Webster Hubbell in order to leave the false impression that then-first lady Hillary Clinton was involved in wrongdoing.
At the time, then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich told Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN), the chairman of the committee, "I'm embarrassed for you, I'm embarrassed for myself, and I'm embarrassed for the [House Republican] conference at the circus that went on at your committee." (The Washington Post reported at the time, "While Burton defended his senior investigator publicly and said Bossie was leaving of his own accord, Gingrich told the conference yesterday that Bossie, who had survived repeated previous attempts, had been fired.")
During the 1992 Clinton-Bush election, Bossie was involved in the production of a campaign ad featuring apparently doctored tape-recorded conversations, which was then repudiated by George W. Bush on behalf of his father, President George H.W. Bush. The younger Bush reportedly "even sent out a letter to 85,000 Republican contributors encouraging them not to contribute to" Bossie's campaign effort.
Bossie kept up his behavior at Citizens United, coordinating a campaign of leaks and misinformation designed to hurt the Clinton administration and the first lady:
Bossie, the twenty-eight-year-old political director for Citizens United, a conservative Republican operation, runs an information factory whose Whitewater production lines turn out a steady stream of tips, tidbits, documents, factoids, suspicions, and story ideas for the nation's press and for Republicans on Capitol Hill. Journalists and Hill Republicans have recycled much of the information provided by Citizens United into stories that have cast a shadow on the Clinton presidency.
A 1994 Chicago Tribune profile reported that Bossie was part of the campaign to use the Whitewater controversy to attack President Bill Clinton, pointing out that he "harvests tales of alleged wrongdoings from a network of Clinton enemies, then peddles them to Capitol Hill and media contacts in hopes of prompting scandalous stories."
Bossie is still doing the same, but now he's on the Clinton-email beat.
Fox's Bill O'Reilly described a meeting of Reagan advisers over concerns about President Ronald Reagan's mental fitness for office as the "linchpin" of his book Killing Reagan, but the story was originally published in 1988.
Bradley F. Podliska, a major in the Air Force Reserve who worked as an investigator for the House Select Committee on Benghazi is accusing the committee of focusing their investigation solely on Hillary Clinton, rather than the entirety of the Benghazi incident, and unlawfully firing him for taking leave to go on active duty.
From an October 10 New York Times report:
A former investigator for the Republicans on the House Select Committee on Benghazi plans to file a complaint in federal court next month alleging that he was fired unlawfully in part because his superiors opposed his efforts to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the 2012 attack on the American diplomatic mission in the Libyan city. Instead, they focused primarily on the role of the State Department and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, he said.
The former investigator, Bradley F. Podliska, a major in the Air Force Reserve who is on active duty in Germany, also claims that the committee's majority staff retaliated against him for taking leave for several weeks to go on active duty. If true, the retaliation would violate the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994, which Major Podliska plans to invoke in his complaint, according to a draft that was made available to The New York Times.
Podliska was also interviewed by CNN's Jake Tapper. In the October 11 interview on State of the Union, Podliska claimed the "partisan investigation" shifted focus to almost exclusively focus on Clinton after it was reported that she utilized a private email server. Podliska told Tapper, "The victims' families are not going to get the truth and that's the most unfortunate thing about this."
Media Matters has extensively documented that Fox News and the conservative media have been one of the driving forces behind the creation of the House Benghazi Committee, particularly its focus on Clinton.