Thomas Bishop

Author ››› Thomas Bishop
  • Pentagon Criticizes Benghazi Committee For Straining DOD Resources, Partly Over “Speculation”

    Right-Wing Media Has Hyped False Claims And Speculation Into Benghazi That Continue To Fuel The GOP Investigation

    Blog ››› ››› THOMAS BISHOP

    The Department of Defense criticized the investigation of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, saying repeated requests for documents and information have strained DOD resources and that they’re often based on, as Politico put it, “speculative or hypothetical” queries. Right-wing media have created many of the baseless conspiracy theories that helped create and fuel the Benghazi committee.

    In an April 28 letter to the House Select Committee on Benghazi, Assistant Secretary of Defense Stephen Hedger explained the strain the House investigation has had on the DOD, which has spent “millions of dollars on Benghazi-specific Congressional compliance, including reviews by four other committees.” Hedger specifically took issue with the ever-expanding investigation -- and its speculative nature -- noting that “DoD interviewees have been asked repeatedly to speculate or engage in discussing on the record hypotheticals posed by Committee Members and staff.” Politico reported on the letter:

    The Pentagon is pushing back against the House Benghazi Committee, saying its repeated requests for documents and interviews are straining the department's resources — and, to make matters worse, many of the queries are speculative or hypothetical.

    Assistant Secretary of Defense Stephen Hedger complained in a letter to the committee on Thursday about its continued demands for information, and implied that the panel is grasping to make assertions based on theory rather than facts.

    “[W]hile I understand your stated intent is to conduct the most comprehensive review of the attack and response, Congress has as much of an obligation as the executive branch to use federal resources and taxpayer dollars effectively and efficiently,” the letter reads. “The Department has spent millions of dollars on Benghazi-specific Congressional compliance, including reviews by four other committees, which have diligently reviewed the military’s response in particular.”

    Hedger also complained that Defense Department interviewees “have been asked repeatedly to speculate or engage in discussing on the record hypotheticals.”

    “This type of questioning poses the risk that your final report may be based on speculation rather than a fact-based analysis of what a military officer did do or could have done given his or her knowledge at the time of the attacks,” he wrote.

    Fox News was central to the launch and perpetuation of false information that led to the establishment of the Benghazi Select Committee. By May 2, 2014 -- 20 months after the attack -- Fox had devoted 1,098 segments to Benghazi, with 97 percent of its congressional and administration interviews featuring Republicans. In fact, House Select Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) repeatedly used Fox News as a platform to push speculation and false claims about Benghazi. And Fox chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge bragged that Fox News helped spur the House investigation.

    Right-wing media have repeatedly pushed conspiracy theories in order to scandalize the Obama administration’s response to the Benghazi attacks. Conservative media have claimed to have uncovered multiple “smoking gun[s]” proving that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration committed wrongdoing in responding to the attacks. By May 2, 2014, Fox had compared Benghazi to Iran-Contra, Watergate, and other controversial actions by the Nixon administration 120 times.  And conservatives continue to promote the false claim that the Obama administration issued a “stand down” order to soldiers responding to the Benghazi attacks.

    Right-wing media continue to fuel the Benghazi dumpster fire in an effort to hurt Hillary Clinton, and conservative Republicans seem all too happy to use the Benghazi Select Committee to investigate the right-wing media’s theories.

  • This False And Sloppy Smear Links Hillary Clinton To The Sandy Hook Massacre

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ & THOMAS BISHOP

    Hillary Clinton

    UPDATE: IBT has changed its headline to remove the reference to 2012 and updated its article to mention the State Department's statutory authority to review arms deals under the Arms Export Control Act. 

    In an effort to challenge Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's progressive position on gun violence prevention, the International Business Times baselessly linked her to the 2012 murder of 20 children and six staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School, but the publication misread the documents it used to claim the connection.

    IBT’s tenuous and bizarre argument is that the State Department’s role in approving military arms sales to foreign governments somehow undermines Clinton’s support for allowing families of victims to sue companies that sell military-style firearms to civilians who subsequently use them in mass shootings. Specifically, the outlet reported that when Clinton was secretary of state, the State Department “helped approve” a $4.2 million arms contract between Remington Arms Company, whose subsidiary Bushmaster manufactured the gun used by Adam Lanza in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting, and the government of Afghanistan.

    IBT did not explain precisely how the State Department “helped approve” the contract, citing only a Defense Department report. Moreover, in order to draw the connection between Clinton and the massacre, IBT claims in its headline, “Hillary Clinton State Department Approved Weapons Sales In 2012 For Company That Made Sandy Hook Rifle.” But the sale in question did not occur in 2012.

    The April 18 article criticized Clinton for “present[ing] herself as a tough advocate for gun control” and supporting “laws that could hold gun manufacturers liable for mass shootings.” It suggested that those positions are undercut because during Clinton’s tenure, the State Department “helped approve more than $100 million in weapons sales for a handful of companies — including the manufacturer of the AR-15 semi-automatic that Adam Lanza used to kill 20 children in Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.” The article continued:

    The sales to foreign nations, noted in Defense Department documents, include $4.2 million in receipts from the Remington Arms Co., which was sued by families of the Sandy Hook victims. They argued that the company was culpable because it marketed military-grade weapons to civilians.

    It is not explained in the article what the connection is between the contract and the State Department, as IBT links only to documents related to a reporting requirement of the Department of Defense. The State Department does in fact have certain authority to control the export of U.S. munitions and other defense articles and services under the Arms Export Control Act, but IBT cites an annual report of Defense, not State.

    Additionally, a review of the Defense Department document reveals that IBT’s claim that the Remington sale occurred in 2012 -- the same year as the Sandy Hook shooting -- is inaccurate. The report was issued May 17, 2012 -- seven months before the shooting -- but it details sales that occurred in fiscal year 2011, which runs from October 2010 through September 2011.

  • Rupert Murdoch’s NY Post Joins National Enquirer And Paper Owned By Trump’s Son-In-Law In Endorsing Trump

    New York Post Editorial Board: “Trump Is Now An Imperfect Messenger Carrying A Vital Message”

    Blog ››› ››› THOMAS BISHOP

    Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post endorsed GOP candidate Donald Trump in the Republican race for the White House, joining The National Enquirer and The New York Observer as the only publications to endorse Trump in the Republican primary.

    Ahead of the April 19 New York GOP primary contest, the New York Post editorial board released a statement endorsing Trump as “an imperfect messenger carrying a vital message.” The Post ignored what it called Trump’s “amateurish, divisive — and downright coarse” rhetoric to praise his “political incorrectness”:

    Trump’s language, too, has too often been amateurish, divisive — and downright coarse.

    But what else to expect from someone who’s never been a professional politician and reflects common-man passions?

    Indeed, his political incorrectness is one of his great attractions — it proves he’s not one of “them.” He’s challenging the victim culture that has turned into a victimizing culture.

    In the general election, we’d expect Trump to stay true to his voters — while reaching out to those he hasn’t won yet.

    Trump is now an imperfect messenger carrying a vital message. But he reflects the best of “New York values” — and offers the best hope for all Americans who rightly feel betrayed by the political class.

    He has the potential — the skills, the know-how, the values — to live up to his campaign slogan: to make America great again.

    For those reasons, The Post today endorses Donald Trump in the GOP primary.

    Rupert Murdoch, chairman of the Post and the executive chairman of the Post’s parent company, News Corp. has supported Trump throughout the primary and called for GOP candidates to “close ranks to fight the real enemy.” News Corp. is also the parent company of Fox News, which has given Trump a disproportionate amount of media coverage and favorable interviews.

    The Post joins the The National Enquirer and The New York Observer as the only publications to endorse Trump in the election. The endorsements both received scrutiny due to the relationships Trump shares with both publications. Trump’s son-in-law is the publisher of The Observer and it has been reported that Trump is close friends with David Pecker, the CEO of The Enquirer’s publisher American Media, Inc.

  • Fox Pushes Conspiracy That Obama Is Protecting Clinton On Emails Due To “Personal Conflict”

    Blog ››› ››› THOMAS BISHOP

    After months of a coordinated smear campaign against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email account during her tenure at the State Department, Fox News is now suggesting that President Obama may be protecting Clinton from criminal charges due to a “personal conflict” because he exchanged emails with her over her private server. Fox asserted that Obama was protecting Clinton while admitting that the investigation has found that none of the emails between the two contained classified information.

    On the April 11 edition of The Kelly File, Fox chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge conducted a supposed “fact-check” of Obama’s comment, “I continue to believe [Hillary Clinton] has not jeopardized America’s national security,” which he made during an April 10 interview on Fox News Sunday. Herridge scandalized Obama’s remarks by suggesting that the president should have declined to comment on the investigation and questioning whether Obama may have “a personal conflict” due to reports that he exchanged as many as 19 emails with Clinton.

    In Herridge’s report, she admitted that the emails between the president and Clinton “don’t contain classified information,” but she also included commentary from former Bush administration Assistant Attorney General Thomas Dupree, who suggested that Obama has a “personal conflict” in the investigation.

    Fox News has been on the offensive since the beginning of the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server during her time as secretary of state, baselessly claiming that her private email use constituted a crime and that she negligently transmitted top secret information that put lives at risk.

    Legal experts have consistently explained that “there doesn't seem to be a legitimate basis for any sort of criminal charge against” Clinton. In a March 20 column for the American Prospect, University of Michigan law and sociology professor and former Department of Homeland Security classification expert Richard Lempert explained that after analyzing Clinton’s conduct and “[b]ased on what has been revealed so far, there is no reason to think that Clinton committed any crimes with respect to the use of her email server, including her handling of classified information.” 

    In addition to the lack of evidence of criminal wrongdoing by then-Secretary of State Clinton, a thorough State Department investigation concluded that past secretaries of state -- including Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice -- and their immediate staff also "handled classified material on unclassified email systems."

    Herridge has also repeatedly reported unreliable information provided by unnamed sources in order to attack Clinton. In January, Herridge boosted the reportedly false claim that up to 150 FBI agents were assigned to the investigation on Clinton’s server. On March 29, The Washington Post issued a correction for its own report that nearly 150 agents were involved, noting that there is actually less than 50. NBC News later reported that the number of agents assigned to the case was “about 12,” with a former FBI official quoted as saying, "You need an act of terrorism to get 50 agents working on something." Herridge also cited anonymous sources who accused Clinton of gross negligence and violation of the espionage statutes in her handling of purportedly “classified” or “top secret” information, a claim experts have repeatedly called into question. 

     

  • Washington Post Corrects Faulty Report That Nearly 150 FBI Agents Are Investigating Clinton Emails

    The Post Now Reports "The Number Of FBI Personnel Involved Is Fewer Than 50"

    Blog ››› ››› THOMAS BISHOP

    The Washington Post has retracted its anonymously sourced claim that 147 FBI agents are detailed to the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server, and is now reporting that the real number is fewer than 50. Media outlets trumpeted the Post's report of the supposedly "staggering" number of FBI agents working the investigation as bad news for Clinton.

    On March 27, the Post published a 5,000-word article detailing the FBI's investigation into Clinton's use of a private email and personal Blackberry device during her time as secretary of state. The original story reported: "One hundred forty-seven FBI agents have been deployed to run down leads, according to a lawmaker briefed by FBI Director James B. Comey."

    The Post's claim spread throughout the media, with outlets frequently highlighting the 147 figure in their headlines and some using the report to attack Clinton. National Review termed the figure "a staggering deployment of manpower," while Breitbart News celebrated the "FBI recently kick[ing] its investigation into high gear." The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza highlighted the "eye-popping" 147 figure by commenting, "W-H-A-T?", adding that the reported number of agents seemed "like a ton for a story that Clinton has always insisted was really, at heart, a right-wing Republican creation," while MSNBC's Joe Scarborough called the number the "worst kept secret in DC for months." The story was also highlighted in several segments on Fox News.

    But the next day, Politico reported that the Post's story might be inaccurate. According to Politico, an official close to the investigation refuted the Post's report, saying that "The FBI does not have close to 150 agents working the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's email server" and that the Post's "number is greatly exaggerated."

    The Washington Post issued a correction to both their initial story on March 29, explaining that they incorrectly reported "that 147 FBI agents had been detailed to the investigation" and that multiple U.S. law enforcement officials "have since told The Washington Post that figure is too high" and the actual number of "FBI personnel involved in the case is fewer than 50":

    CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly said that Clinton used two different email addresses, sometimes interchangeably, as secretary of state. She used only hdr22@clintonemail.com as secretary of state.  Also, an earlier version of this article reported that 147 FBI agents had been detailed to the investigation, according to a lawmaker briefed by FBI Director James B. Comey. Two U.S. law enforcement officials have since told The Washington Post that figure is too high. The FBI will not provide an exact figure, but the officials say the number of FBI personnel involved is fewer than 50.

    Cillizza issued an update to his post, changing his headline but not the text of his piece to reflect the Post's correction and stating, "I apologize for the error."

    The Washington Post joins other media outlets that have been forced to issue embarrassing corrections after publishing faulty claims on Clinton's emails based on anonymous sources. The New York Times issued two corrections on stories claiming Clinton was the subject of a "criminal probe," based in part on unnamed "Capitol Hill" sources.  

    The media continues to scandalize Hillary Clinton during the FBI's probe, even though legal experts have repeatedly explained that Clinton is unlikely to face prosecution and have termed an indictment "ridiculous."

  • Anderson Cooper Says CNN Aired Entire Trump News Conference Because No Other Candidate Was Speaking; Hillary Clinton Was

    Hillary Clinton's Speech Was Ignored By CNN And Other Networks During Trump's News Conference

    Blog ››› ››› THOMAS BISHOP

    CNN host Anderson Cooper claimed that his network aired GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump's full March 8, election night news conference because no other candidate was speaking at that time. In fact, Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton gave a speech in the same hour that all three major cable news networks ignored.

    On the March 10 edition of Anderson Cooper 360, Cooper spoke with former GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, who recently endorsed presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). During the segment Fiorina criticized all three cable networks, including CNN for airing Trump's entire Tuesday news conference, where Trump was given a free platform to attack other candidates, and brag about his steaks, wine, vodka, and magazines. Cooper responded by arguing that CNN broadcasted the entire speech "because no other candidates were actually speaking at that point."

    CARLY FIORINA: I don't really know why Donald Trump gets away with half the stuff he gets away with. I guess it's [be]cause it's entertaining. I guess that's why every network, including your own, broadcast his entire press conference, if that's what you can call it. It was more like a QVC commercial for a full hour without commercial break. I don't know what that is, but it doesn't actually help Americans understand the solutions to real problems in their lives. 

    ANDERSON COOPER (HOST): Well, I think -- 

    FIORINA: Having been out there on the campaign trail for a long time, I think citizens are concerned and they want solutions. 

    COOPER: I just for the record, I think we broadcast it because no other candidates were actually speaking at that point. And particularly your candidate [Ted Cruz] had stopped speaking at 5 o'clock that afternoon, and no other comments were being made. And he is the Republican front-runner.

    In fact, all three cable news networks aired Trump's speech uninterrupted and ignored the victory speech given by Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton at the same time. MSNBC aired Clinton's speech immediately after Trump's nearly hour-long news conference, while CNN only provided the speech in its entirety on the network's website, and Fox News ignored Clinton's speech.

    Trump has recently faced criticism for the tactics his campaign uses to control the media, including banning journalists from news conferences, corralling reporters at his events, and manipulating networks to give him phone interviews instead of live video interviews.

    Trump also continues to receive disproportionate coverage by news networks that openly cheer his ability to bring in advertising dollars.

  • NY Times Reporter: Sean Hannity Proposed We Merge Ted Cruz/Donald Trump Foreign Policy And "Carpet Bomb The Shit Out Of ISIS"

    NY Times Reporter: Hannity Calls For Merging Foreign Policy Plans Of Ted Cruz And Donald Trump

    Blog ››› ››› THOMAS BISHOP

    New York Times reporter Matt Flegenheimer wrote that Fox News host Sean Hannity proposed combining the foreign policy proposals of Republican presidential candidates Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Donald Trump by "carpet bomb[ing] the s--t out of ISIS."

    In a February 18 tweet, Flegenheimer reported that during a South Carolina forum, "Hannity propose[d] combining Cruz and Trump foreign policy: "We're going to carpet-bomb the s--t out of ISIS":

    Foreign policy experts and mainstream media have roundly criticized these indiscriminate bombings as illegal, "unrealistic, and counterproductive."

    Fox News hosts and personalities have a history of advocating indiscriminate bombing of militants and civilians. In November 2015, Fox host Eric Bolling advocated the U.S. carpet bomb Syria, regardless of "dumb" civilians in the area. Fox's Ralph Peters criticized Obama for using nighttime airstrikes to avoid civilian casualties. And in January of this year Hannity suggested President Obama "bomb the living crap" out of Iran to secure the release of U.S. sailors.

  • Fox News Erroneously Insists It Was Illegal For Hillary Clinton To Discuss NY Times Articles In Emails

    ››› ››› THOMAS BISHOP

    Fox News' chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge hyped claims from an anonymous source that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's personal email "discussed [an] Afghan national's CIA ties" to allege that Clinton violated a 2009 executive order clarifying classification procedures. But Clinton's emails reportedly discussed already published articles by the New York Times, which are not automatically classified under the executive order.

  • National Review Launches Conservative War On Donald Trump

    National Review And 22 Conservative Media Personalities Call Trump A "Philosophically Unmoored Political Opportunist"

    ››› ››› THOMAS BISHOP, ANDREW LAWRENCE, BRENDAN KARET, BRENNAN SUEN & DAYANITA RAMESH

    The conservative National Review Online (NRO) released a comprehensive feature of conservatives attacking current GOP front runner Donald Trump, highlighting the divisive 2016 Republican primary season. National Review editors and right-wing personalities such as Glenn Beck, Bill Kristol, and Erick Erickson criticized Trump as a "philosophically unmoored political opportunist" and "the very epitome of vulgarity."

  • Reporter Says Trump's Campaign Made Journalists Pledge Not To Speak To His Supporters

    Sean Hannity Laughs Off The Claim, Calls It "Hilarious"

    Blog ››› ››› THOMAS BISHOP

    WSB Radio reporter Jaime Dupree reported that officials for Donald Trump's presidential campaign made reporters promise not to speak to any of the GOP candidate's supporters at a campaign event that once again was interrupted by protests and marked by the physical ejection of demonstrators. While Dupree explained that he has never experienced this type of restriction from a campaign, conservative radio host Sean Hannity laughed off the story as "highly entertaining." 

    During an interview on the December 15 edition of the Sean Hannity Show, Dupree alleged that he and other news reporters were required to "pledge" that they would not speak to attendees at a December 14 rally event for the candidate after Trump supporters made death threats to Black Lives Matter protesters and one supporter yelled "Sieg heil" -- a Nazi salute. Radio host Sean Hannity shrugged off the reporter's comments, calling the story "hilarious." Although the fact that the Trump campaign is cordoning off journalists from attendees has been reported, Dupree added that this restriction on speaking to supporters as a condition for leaving the penned off area is the first time he's experienced this type of "overly aggressive" tactic by a campaign.

    JAIME DUPREE (REPORTER): Now one other quick story. Last night when we were at the Trump rally, we were in this media area, they roped us off, and we were not allowed to go out and interview Trump supporters during the event. But after it was over, the Trump people refused to let us out. It was forty-five minutes after the event had ended and we were still not being allowed to leave.

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): Was that just the media people?

    DUPREE: Yeah, the news reporters, unless we promised that we would not try to interview any Donald Trump supporters at the event. First time I've ever seen anything like that. It was very odd.

    HANNITY: Actually I find that highly entertaining because, you know what, the media is not exactly held in high esteem anymore in this country, that's hilarious.

    DUPREE: I know, but the thing is, literally I had to pledge that I was going to walk to the door because I wanted to go back to my hotel to write my stories.

    HANNITY: Right.

    DUPREE: When all I had to do was walk out that door and there were about three hundred Donald Trump supporters out there that I could have interviewed if I wanted to, but there's a real sort of behind-the-scenes battle going on between the Trump people who are being overly aggressive with shutting down the news media.

    Trump received criticism in June for allegedly using paid actors "to cheer for him at his 2016 presidential-campaign announcement in New York City." In November, Trump supporters beat up a black protester and yelled racial slurs at the protester in Birmingham, Alabama.