Zachary Pleat

Author ››› Zachary Pleat
  • First Amendment Watch: November 2016

    Trump Ditched His Press Pool And Repeatedly Bashed NY Times And CNN On Twitter

    ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    During his 2016 campaign for president, Donald Trump launched an unprecedented war on the press. Since his election, Media Matters has tracked his and his team’s continuing attacks on the media as well as his breaking of presidential norms regarding press access, a dangerous threat to our First Amendment freedoms. Following is a list of President-elect Donald Trump’s attacks on the media -- and demonstrations of disregard for the press -- from Election Day through the end of November.

  • Monica Crowley, Possible Trump Press Secretary, Regularly Pushes Conspiracies On Fox News

    Crowley Routinely Attacks Journalists As "Corrupt" And "Leftist"

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    President-elect Donald Trump is reportedly considering Fox News contributor Monica Crowley for White House press secretary. Crowley has long derided journalists as “corrupt” and “leftist,” and has pushed numerous conspiracy theories concerning President Obama’s race, religion, parentage, and birthplace; former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s health; and various progressive pieces of legislation and administrative actions.

    With the recent reporting on Trump’s potential corruption, it may be surprising that Crowley would want to serve in a Trump administration, given this declaration she made in 2012:

    But Crowley shares Trump’s disdain for journalism, and she praised Trump for trolling of reporters by calling a phony news conference to supposedly put his birther claims to rest, calling Trump’s actions a “masterstroke.” She also defended Trump from the numerous sexual harassment and assault allegations against him during the presidential campaign, claiming they were “a classic political hit job.”

    Crowley Regularly Disparages The Press As Corrupt And “Leftist”

    Crowley Has Often Tarred The Media As “Corrupt.”

    Crowley: “Obama Has Gotten Away [With] Bloody Murder,” “Literally,” With “The Protection Of The Press.”

    Crowley Accused Media Of Running “Mafia-Like Protection Racket” On Behalf Of President Obama.

    Crowley Frequently Derides Media As “Leftist.”

    Crowley Is A Conspiracy Theorist

    Crowley Supported Trump’s Birtherism And Pushed Other Conspiracy Theories About President Obama’s Race, Faith, And “Real Father”

    Crowley: Trump’s Birtherism “Gaining Traction” Because Obama Has “Adopted Some Policies That Are Seriously Antithetical To American Values.”

    Crowley: Trump’s Questions About Obama’s Birth Certificate And Educational History Are “Very Legitimate.”

    Crowley: “Issues About [Obama’s] Origins … Have Traction” Because He Does "Un-American" Things That Give Impression He's "Not One Of Us."

    Crowley Questioned Whether Obama Is A “Natural-Born Citizen” And Eligible To Be President.

    Crowley Enthusiastically Endorsed “Dynamite” Conspiracy Theory Film Alleging Obama’s Real Father Is Communist Frank Marshall Davis. [Media Matters, 10/25/12]

    Crowley Claimed Obama Is An Arab, Not Black, And That He’s Lying By Presenting Himself As African-American. [Media Matters, 6/26/08]

    Crowley Pushed Myth That Obama Is Muslim By Falsely Claiming His Half-Brother Told The Jerusalem Post That “Obama’s Got A Really Solid Muslim Background.” [Media Matters, 6/20/08]

    Crowley Pushed Clinton Health Conspiracy Theories

    Crowley Pushed Conspiracy Theory That Clinton Faked Illness And Concussion To Avoid Benghazi Testimony.

    Crowley Helped Push Conspiracy Theory About Clinton’s Health During Presidential Campaign By Highlighting “Major Coughing Fits.”

    Crowley Routinely Pushes Claims Of Democratic Takeover Of Americans’ Daily Lives Through Legislation And Administrative Action

    Crowley: 2009 Cap And Trade Legislation Was “Really About … The Government Taking More And More Control Over Your Life.”

    Crowley On Health Care Reform Debate In 2009: “We’re Talking About Nationalizing … Health Care.”

    Crowley: Obama Was Trying To “Indoctrinate Our Children” With 2009 Education Speech; “This Is What Chairman Mao Did.”

    Crowley Pushed Conspiracy Theory That ATF’s Fast & Furious Operation Was Meant To Create Conditions For Passing Stronger Gun Laws.

    Crowley: The Social Safety Net’s Purpose Is To Create A "Cult Of Victimhood And Dependency."

    Crowley: Obama’s “Whole Objective Is To ... Get People Dependent On Government."

    Crowley Has Made Inflammatory And Offensive Statements About The LGBTQ Community, President Obama, And Others

    Crowley: Justice Sonia Sotomayor Was “Basically Alexander Hamilton In Drag” During 2009 Senate Confirmation Hearing.

    Crowley: Justice Department’s Decision Not To Defend DOMA Is A “Form Of Dictatorship From “Mubarak Obama.”

    Crowley Insinuated Sandra Fluke Was Gay And Later Apologized After Outcry.

    Crowley Said Obama And Accused Murderers Have A Similarly Negative Influence On Children.

    Crowley: “From A Conservative Perspective,” Obama’s Re-Election “Was A National Suicide.”

    Crowley Called 2011 Shooting Of Rep. Gabby Giffords A “Personal Tragedy … Not A National Tragedy,” Dismissed Memorial Service For Slain As An Obama Campaign Rally.

    Crowley: Syrian Refugee Crisis “Is Not A Migrant Crisis. This Is An Invasion.”

  • Trump's Other Putin-Praising, Anti-Muslim National Security Pick K.T. McFarland Has Supported Torture And War With Iran

    McFarland Is The Latest Fox News Personality To Be Named To New Trump Administration

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    President-elect Donald Trump has named Fox News analyst K.T. McFarland as his pick for deputy national security adviser, joining frequent Fox guest and fellow anti-Muslim Putin fan retired Gen. Michael Flynn on Trump’s White House national security team. McFarland has repeatedly advocated for war with Iran and misled about its nuclear program, expressed support for torture, and has made bizarre and incendiary statements about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other topics.

    McFarland’s Praise Of Russia’s Putin

    McFarland: “Vladimir Putin Is The One Who Really Deserves That Nobel Peace Prize.” In a September 10, 2013, FoxNews.com column, K.T. McFarland credited Putin with offering Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry "a way out of the mess they'd created" with a proposal to place Syria's chemical weapons under international control. McFarland went on to say "the world knows that Vladimir Putin is the one who really deserves that Nobel Peace Prize" for saving "the world from near-certain disaster." [Media Matters, 9/10/13]

    McFarland Lauded Putin For Seizing Ukraine’s Crimea: “Winners Write History.”

    McFarland’s Support For Profiling Muslims

    McFarland Blamed Charlie Hebdo Terror Attack On "Political Correctness," Called For More Profiling To Prevent Future Attacks.

    McFarland’s Response To Brussels Terror Attack: “Political Correctness” By Not Discriminating Against Muslims “Is Getting Us Killed.”

    New York’s Muslim Surveillance Program Failure Shows Profiling American Muslims Doesn’t Work. An April 2014 New York Times report on the shuttering of the NYPD's Muslim surveillance program admitted that after years of collecting information on Muslims in the city, "the police acknowledged that it never generated a lead." The extensive program had police mapping “communities inside and outside the city, logging where customers in traditional Islamic clothes ate meals and documenting their lunch-counter conversations.” [Media Matters, 11/19/15]

    McFarland’s Support For War Against Iran And Opposition To Nuclear Deal

    Since 2008, McFarland Repeatedly Claimed Iran Is A Year Or Two Away From Nuclear Weapons. In December 2008, McFarland claimed “Iran is probably two years away from a nuclear weapon.” In April 2010, McFarland said, “In a couple of months time -- 6 months, 9 months -- we're going to be faced with this choice: bombing Iran or letting Iran get the bomb." And in June 2012, McFarland said Iran is “on the verge of getting nuclear weapons." [Media Matters, 2/21/12; 6/6/12]

    McFarland In 2012: “Either Bomb Iran, Or Let Iran Get The Bomb."

    McFarland: “The Military Option Should Not Be Off The Table” For Dealing With Iran. On the October 11, 2011, edition of Fox News’ America Live, McFarland said:

    MEGYN KELLY (HOST): I want to pick up on your point then that if this is, or can be considered, an act of war, what is that mean? Is that a decision that our government will make, whether to use that terminology, and if they do, does that not raise the stakes?

    McFARLAND: It raises the stakes enormously. What are things that we might do other than sanctions? I mean, we can scold them, but that's not very effective. We could put a blockade around Iran. You know, it's certainly -- if Iran continues with its nuclear weapons program and sort of thumbs its nose at the world, it lends credibility to the idea that the military option should not be off the table, for example. [Media Matters, 10/14/11]

    Numerous Nuclear And Military Experts Supported Nuclear Deal With Iran. In August 2015, the nonpartisan Arms Control Association released a statement from nuclear nonproliferation specialists backing the Obama administration’s deal with Iran over its nuclear program, calling the agreement "a net-plus for nonproliferation." The statement, which was signed by 75 experts, called the agreement "strong, long-term, and verifiable" and noted that it "advances the security interests" of the United States and its allies. Many retired generals and admirals also released an open letter in August 2015 in support of the deal, which they described as “the most effective means currently available to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons." [Media Matters, 8/18/15]

    McFarland’s Support Of Torture

    McFarland Defends Waterboarding: "Even If It's Torture, It's Probably Worth Doing"

    McFarland Criticized Senate’s Publication Of Torture Report: It “Was Completely Political.”

    Click here for the testimonies of numerous experts regarding how techniques like waterboarding are ineffective.

    McFarland’s History Of Incendiary And Bizarre Comments

    McFarland Said Of Hillary Clinton: You Have “Blood On Your Hands” From Benghazi Attack.

    McFarland Claimed Obama Administration Made “Political Decision Not To Rescue” Americans Killed In Benghazi. [Media Matters, 10/10/12]

    McFarland: Saudi Arabia Was Hiding Opposition To Iran Nuclear Deal Because “They’re Arabs” And Thus Dishonest.

    McFarland: "We Should Eventually Take Our Troops Out Of Europe And Put Them On The Mexican Border."

    McFarland Claimed During 2006 Senate Run That Clinton “Had Helicopters Flying Over My House.” TPM Media’s Josh Marshall noted that during her 2006 attempt to run against Clinton for Senate in New York, “McFarland claimed that Clinton was so worried about her candidacy that she sent secret helicopters to spy on her house in the Hamptons and also cased her apartment Manhattan. ‘Hillary Clinton is really worried about me, and is so worried, in fact, that she had helicopters flying over my house in Southampton today taking pictures.’" [TPM Media, 11/25/16]

    McFarland Fell For Obviously Fake Rudy Giuliani Twitter Account.

  • “Nixonian”: Journalists React To Trump’s Declaration That As President, He “Can’t Have A Conflict Of Interest”

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    During an on-the-record meeting with The New York Times staff, President-elect Donald Trump declared that there is no legal need for him to free himself of his international business affairs to avoid conflicts of interest, flatly saying that presidents “can’t have a conflict of interest.” Journalists responded to Trump’s declaration by calling it “Nixonian,” referencing former President Richard Nixon’s comment to journalist David Frost that “when the president does it, that means it is not illegal.”

    Times reporters live-tweeted the meeting between Trump and newspaper staff, where he was asked about the numerous conflicts of interest he is facing with his business ties and his plans to turn over his businesses to his children while simultaneously involving them in his White House transition. In his replies, Trump said it’s not necessary for him to put his businesses in any kind of trust and that, as president, he “can’t have a conflict of interest” -- echoing an argument made by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani that financial conflict-of-interest laws don’t apply to the presidency.

    Journalists responded to Trump’s declaration by calling it “Nixonian” in nature, a reference to President Richard Nixon telling David Frost in a May 1977 interview that “when the president does it, that means it is not illegal”:

    In fact, legal experts across the political spectrum have warned that presidential conflicts of interest of this type “could violate a crucial constitutional protection against corruption and influence by other governments,” specifically the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution -- “essentially an antibribery rule, which forbids public servants from accepting anything of value from foreign powers without explicit congressional approval.”

  • Trump Fanboy And Possible Administration Hire Eric Bolling’s Bigotry And Conspiracy Theories

    At Fox News, Bolling Has Pushed Racism, Anti-Muslim Views, Conspiracy Theories, And More

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT & JARED HOLT

    Fox News host Eric Bolling is reportedly in discussion to take a position in the Department of Commerce in the upcoming Donald Trump administration. During his employment by Fox News -- where the self-described Trump “fan” was one of the loudest pro-Trump voices on a pro-Trump network -- Bolling has trafficked in racist stereotypes, spread fear of Muslims in America, and engaged in conspiracy theories, including the birtherism made famous by Trump.

    Bolling’s Race Problem

    Bolling: "I Don't Think There's Racism," Because We Have A Black President And Black Entertainment Channels.

    Bolling: Rappers Should Be Happy White People Are Buying “The Black” Music And “Financing Their Lifestyles.”

    Bolling: El Chapo Is "The One Mexican We Want, We Can't Get."

    Bolling Calls Obama, Holder "Race Merchants" For Defending Voting Rights Act.

    Fox's Bolling: "In America, We Create, We Make iPhones," Whereas The Chinese Make "Finger Trap[s]."

    Bolling Tweet: President Obama Is "Chugging 40's" In Ireland "While Tornadoes Ravage MO."

    [Twitter, 5/23/11; Facebook, 5/23/11]

    Bolling: "What's With All The Hoods In The Hizzy?" During the June 10, 2011, edition of his Fox Business show, Bolling teased a segment about President Barack Obama hosting Ali Bongo Ondimba, 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." In a subsequent tease, Bolling said, "Smile for the birdie," while footage of a smiling Bongo with a flashing tooth, apparently made to resemble a gold-plated tooth, was shown on-air. Bolling continued: "Our president's sitting with one of Africa's most wanted. It's not the first time he's had a hood in the big crib." Footage of rapper Common appeared on air as Bolling spoke. Bolling began the actual segment by saying: "So what's with all the hoods in the hizzy?"

    Bolling: "There's No Racial Aspect Of Profiling."

    Bolling’s Anti-Muslim Record

    Fox's Eric Bolling: "Every Terrorist On American Soil Has Been A Muslim."

    Bolling: Downtown NYC Islamic Center "May Be A Meeting Place For Some Of The Scariest Minds -- Some Of The Biggest Terrorist Minds."

    Bolling: "The People Who Flew Planes Into [The Twin Towers] Are Going To Be Represented 500 Feet Away" At The Downtown NYC Islamic Center.

    Bolling Defended GOP Presidential Candidate Ben Carson’s Objection To A Muslim Being President. On the September 21, 2015, edition of Fox News’ The Five, Bolling said, “unless you're willing to denounce Sharia law as the governing law over yourself, and anyone you oversee, I wouldn't vote for a Muslim either.”

    Bolling Defended Trump Lie About U.S. Muslims Celebrating 9/11: "I Know There Were Muslims" In The U.S. "Who Were Happy That The World Trade Center Came Down."

    Bolling Claimed The Obama Administration "Answers To The Quran First And The Constitution Second." On the September 17, 2012 edition of Fox News’ The Five, Bolling said, “the Obama administration, through all this appeasement and apologizing, answers to the Quran first and to the Constitution second.” Later in the show, Bolling said, “I have to clarify something very quickly. You remember when I said Obama, he answers to the Quran before the Constitution? What I meant was, rather than appeasing the Muslims, he should worry about free speech first. That's it. I'm done with it, and I don't want to hear about it."

    Bolling’s Conspiracy Theories

    Bolling: Border On Obama’s Long-Form Birth Certificate "Had To Be Photoshopped In." Following the release of Obama's long-form birth certificate, Bolling claimed that the birth certificate's "green border … had to be Photoshopped in." Bolling also suggested Obama's birth certificate wasn't authentic because the doctor "who signed it" didn't tell his family he had helped deliver baby Obama. [Fox Business, Follow the Money, 4/27/11]

    Bolling Repeatedly Suggested That Obama "Let" The Deepwater Horizon Rig Leak So He Could Limit Offshore Drilling. Following the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, Bolling suggested on the May 3, 2010, edition of Fox & Friends that the Obama administration might have "let" the rig leak before "address[ing] it." On the May 27, 2010, edition of Happy Hour, Bolling again speculated about whether Obama "let" the rig leak so he "could renege on his promise ... to allow some offshore drilling." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/3/10; Fox Business, Happy Hour, 5/27/10]

    Bolling Allowed Ann Coulter To Bring Lie That Obama “Attended Madrassas”Onto Fox News. While serving as a guest host for The O'Reilly Factor on December 28, 2009, and for Fox News' Glenn Beck on December 30, 2009, Bolling hosted conservative author Ann Coulter, who falsely claimed Obama "attended madrassas" or Islamic schools. As previously reported by Media Matters, Bolling did not challenge Coulter's claims on either show. [Media Matters, 12/31/09]

    Bolling Floats Conspiracy Theory That DNC Staffer Murdered In DC “Was A Hit.” As guest host on the August 10 edition of The O’Reilly Factor, Bolling and frequent Fox News contributor Monica Crowley floated the idea that a Democratic National Committee staff murdered in Washington, D.C, was the victim of a “hit” and that there was “something more here” than what the official reports of the murder stated. “Where there is smoke, there is fire,” Bolling said. “Lots of smoke right now.” [Fox News, The O’Reilly Factor, 8/10/16]

    Bolling Claimed United Nations Was Working To Achieve "Centralized Control Over All Of Human Life On Planet Earth." Bolling adopted conservative commentator Glenn Beck’s conspiracy theory that President Obama's White House Rural Council was evidence that he was implementing a United Nations plan aimed at achieving "centralized control over all of human life on planet Earth" and then creating a new "One World Order." [Media Matters, 6/25/11]

    Bolling Thought Obama Would Conduct A Military Strike In Libya To Benefit His Re-Election. During the 2012 presidential campaign, Bolling spun a conspiracy theory that claimed that when Obama mentioned a “bump in the road,” he was talking about American deaths in Libya, and that he might conduct a military strike in retaliation for those deaths -- but really for the benefit of his own re-election. Bolling said Obama should use a military strike “for the right reasons” instead of as “a campaign event.” [Media Matters, 9/26/12]

    Bolling Claimed The Muppets Was “Brainwashing” Children With A Liberal Agenda. In 2011, Bolling speculated that the writers of the movie The Muppets were trying to “brainwash” children with an anti-oil-industry liberal agenda, asking, “Is there any Occupy Wall Street muppets?” [Fox Business, Follow the Money, 12/2/2011]

    Bolling Thought Obama Was Trying To "Bring People Closer To The Cities" To Keep An Eye On Them. In 2012, Bolling claimed that “a lot of people” think the Obama administration is conducting “a whole social engineering thing” to bring people “closer to the cities” where there are “a lot more eyeballs they can keep on them.” [Fox News, The Five, 6/1/12]

    Bolling: "Did [Soros] Know? Does He Know" About $2 Billion Petrobras Deal? During a guest appearance on Fox News' Fox & Friends, Bolling revived the false conspiracy theory that Obama arranged for an Export-Import Bank of the United States loan to a Brazilian oil company in order to enrich billionaire philanthropist George Soros at the expense of the United States. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/24/11]

    Bolling Admitted Being A “Fan” Of Trump Throughout Presidential Campaign

    Daily Beast Reported That Bolling’s Colleagues Described Him As A “Trump Apologist.” The Daily Beast reported in a March 7 article that Bolling was “an unabashed Trump fan” whose colleagues have described him “as a Trump ‘apologist’ who ‘Trumpsplains’ the candidate's various offenses”:

    [Eric] Bolling himself is an unabashed Trump fan.

    The self-described "friend of [the] Trump family" has been described by his own colleagues as a Trump "apologist" who "Trumpsplains" the candidate's various offenses. Bolling's special guest for the network's New Year's Eve was none other than The Donald; and his interviews with the GOP frontrunner are games of slow-pitch softball. [The Daily Beast, 3/17/16]

    Bolling: "I'm A Fan" Of Trump. When discussing Trump's decision to sue Univision on the July 1, 2015, edition of The Five, Bolling said, "Donald Trump is just being Donald Trump on and off the campaign trail. I'm a fan." [Fox News, The Five, 7/1/15, via Nexis]

    Bolling Agrees With Greg Gutfeld's Assertion That Bolling "Love[s] Talking About Trump." On the July 24, 2015, edition of The Five, co-host Greg Gutfeld said, "You love talking about Trump." Bolling responded by saying, "No, no, I do":

    ERIC BOLLING: And so this is Friday, right? And now we're talking about this. And Martin O'Malley said, did mention this on Sunglass Sunday, right?

    [...]

    BOLLING: Five days later, because of the big Trump announcement, the big Trump hoopla that the media that's been following Donald Trump around everywhere, this was something we started to talk about on Monday.

    GREG GUTFELD: But you love talking about Trump.

    BOLLING: No, no, I do.

    GUTFELD: That's what's you talked about. [Fox News, The Five, 7/24/15, via Nexis]

    Bolling Praised Trump In Interview: "I Like What Donald Trump Is Saying. I Like What He's Doing." During an interview with Trump on the August 1, 2015, edition of Fox News' Cashin' In, host Eric Bolling praised the then-candidate, saying:

    ERIC BOLLING: Yeah, so I've come out and said I like what Donald Trump is saying, I like what he's doing. I have a lot of -- a lot of my fans supports him, my fan base says I like Donald because he says what he means, means what he says, and it's refreshing to hear it. But I get beat up, even from some people in my own tent at times, for defending some of the things you're saying. [Fox News, Cashin' In, 8/1/15]

    Bolling: Trump Is Making The Rest Of Republican Presidential Field Better. On the June 17 edition of The Five, Bolling said Trump “is making the rest of the field better because he's speaking his mind" and "he's got the rest of the field thinking":

    [ERIC] BOLLING: Well. Look, I'm not done Donald Trump's spokesperson, but I will tell you I understand where he's coming from. We need to get tough with China. We need to get tough with all the other countries that are dumping their goods into America without any fees, but if we try to sell into Brazil, we try to sell into China, Japan, some of the other developed and developing countries, they charge us a fee, a tax. So it's like this unfair trade balance that goes on. I get it. He says get tough with them.

    With regards to the southern border, we talked about it yesterday. And I had no idea what his plan was, but I suggested maybe -- I don't know, maybe telling Mexico we're going to pay you $2 less per barrel of oil. Every barrel we buy from you, all the millions of barrels per day that we buy from you and spend the money securing the border. Whether it's a fence, whether it's a moat, whatever you do. Even if it's not even a fence, even if it's a border patrol, pay the border patrol through that. Look, here's the thing. Donald Trump is making the rest of the field better because he's speaking his mind. He's talking to people who have ideas and who are angry about the way politics have been for the last 20, 30, 40 or 50 years. And then finally, someone's willing to step up and have some other ideas. Let's at least try them. Let's at least think about them. See whether or not you like Donald, but you think he can be your president or not, he's got the rest of the field thinking. I think that's a good thing. [Fox News, The Five, 6/17/15, via Nexis]

    Bolling Gushes Over Trump Family: "When The Kids Talk, It's Just, It's Amazing." On the July 18 edition of Fox News’ The Five, Bolling showered the Trump for raising “kids like that who love him the way they do” and who are “amazing” when they speak. Bolling also said Trump’s marriage seemed like “a great relationship all the way around.” [Fox News, The Five, 7/18/16s]

    Bolling Describes Himself As “A Friend Of Trump Family” In a Tweet.

    [Twitter.com, 10/2/15]

    Bolling: People Calling For Boycotts Of Trump Products Are "Economic Terrorists." On the July 2 edition of The Five, Bolling criticized those calling for boycotts of Trump's products as "economic terrorists." [Fox News, The Five, 7/2/15]

    Bolling Defended Trump After He Attacked John McCain's War Heroism. On the July 20 edition of The Five, Bolling defended Trump's remark that Senator John McCain wasn't a war hero, suggesting "it just kind of fell out of his mouth" and that Trump "wished he could take it back":

    BOLLING: Geraldo, do you really think that Donald Trump has disrespect or doesn't think that someone who is captured by the enemy and spent five years in captivity isn't a war hero? Do you honestly think that.

    RIVERA: I think.

    BOLLING: Do you think it just kind of fell out of his mouth and he, you know, he would wished he could take it back. Don't forget, the context of this was someone asked him about John McCain's service to the veterans and he said John McCain who dropped the ball as far as the veteran's administration. [Fox News, The Five, 7/20/15, via Nexis]

    Bolling Has Been Forced To Apologize For Other Inappropriate Remarks

    Bolling Had To Apologize For Asking If The First Female UAE Pilot Who Bombed Islamic State “Would Be Considered Boobs On The Ground.” Bolling had to apologize for asking if the first female pilot leading the United Arab Emirates who conducted bombing against Islamic State terrorists “would be considered boobs on the ground.” Bolling said he “got home” and “got the look” from his wife and “realized some people didn’t think it was funny at all.” [Fox News, The Five, 9/25/14]

    Bolling Forced To Apologize For Claiming Obama Was A Drug Dealer.

    [Twitter.com, 5/11/12]

  • ABC’s Martha Raddatz Falls Into The Trap Of Normalizing Trump’s Anti-Muslim National Security Adviser Pick

    Raddatz Briefly Mentions Michael Flynn’s Anti-Islam Views At The Beginning Of This Week, But By The End Ignores Them Entirely

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    ABC chief global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz demonstrated how easily journalists can normalize bigotry while hosting ABC’s This Week. Raddatz noted the anti-Muslim views of retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn at the beginning of This Week, but in subsequent discussions of Flynn she refrained from mentioning them at all.

    President-elect Donald Trump has named Flynn, the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, as his pick for national security adviser on Friday. In addition to holding international conflicts of interest, Flynn is also explicitly anti-Muslim. Flynn has said that “fear of Muslims is rational,” is a board member of the anti-Muslim hate group ACT! For America, defended Trump’s proposed Muslim ban during the presidential campaign, compared Islam to cancer, and denied that Islam is a religion.

    During her guest hosting of the November 20 edition of This Week, Raddatz briefly referenced some of Flynn’s anti-Islam comments while reviewing who Trump has selected to serve in his administration so far. When highlighting at the top of her show the criticism that some of Trump’s picks have drawn, Raddatz noted that Flynn “is under fire for calling Islam a cancer and his tweet that ‘fear of Muslims is rational.’”

    Next, when interviewing Trump’s incoming chief of staff Reince Priebus, Raddatz said Flynn “has a history of controversial views about Islam,” noting that Flynn has said that “Islam is not a real religion, but a political ideology masked behind a religion.” When asked if Trump shares that view, Priebus answered, “I think so,” but “phrasing can always be done differently.”

    Later, when leading into an interview with former National Security Agency director Michael Hayden, Raddatz merely said Flynn is known “for his controversial views on Islam.”

    During her interview with Hayden, Raddatz said Flynn was “praised for his intelligence gathering” and asked about his qualifications as national security adviser -- but made no mention of Flynn’s anti-Muslim bigotry.

    And during a panel discussion near the end of the show, Raddatz lumped Flynn in with other retired military personnel, framing him as just someone with military experience, and made no mention of his anti-Muslim bigotry.

    The media’s coverage of Trump -- including his policies, rhetoric, and hires -- will set the tone for the national political dialogue about his presidency. 60 Minutes showed what not to do in Trump’s first sit-down interview after the election, allowing him to reintroduce his most criticized positions as reasonable while glossing over the most dangerous features and promises of his campaign. There has also been a concerted effort in conservative media to rehabilitate Stephen Bannon, Trump’s chief adviser who until recently ran Breitbart News, the “platform of the alt-right.”

    One pitfall media has run into is describing the bigoted rhetoric and draconian positions of Trump -- and the people he surrounds himself with -- as “controversial.” Media use neutral-sounding words like controversial to avoid making what they consider editorial judgments about Trump’s rhetoric and policies, but doing so ultimately treats bigotry as a valid political belief.

    Over the course of one show, Raddatz described Flynn as “controversial” and painted him as highly respected, while essentially disappearing his anti-Muslim bigotry. In doing so, Raddatz helped normalize Trump and the bigots he is choosing to staff his incoming administration with.

  • An Anti-LGBTQ Birther Who Leads An Anti-Muslim Hate Group Reportedly Advising Trump's Transition

    Center For Security Policy’s Frank Gaffney Reportedly Advising Trump’s Transition Team On National Security Issues

    ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    Anti-Muslim hate group leader Frank Gaffney is reportedly giving President-elect Donald Trump national security advice for his transition to the White House. Gaffney has a long history of vile statements about Muslims, has embraced white nationalists, flirted with birtherism, and has stridently opposed allowing LGBTQ Americans to openly serve in the military.

  • Ethics Authorities Raise Corruption Concerns Over Trump’s Children Running His Businesses And Transition

    ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    Media are reporting on concerns raised by watchdogs and government-ethics experts that President-elect Donald Trump is creating avenues for corruption by failing to put his business dealings in a true blind trust. Instead, Trump says he will hand over those business dealings to his children -- but his children are also serving on Trump’s White House transition team, where, experts note, they are in a position to choose the people who make regulatory decisions impacting the businesses.

  • A White Nationalist Who Hates Jews Will Be Trump's Right-Hand Man In The White House

    Stephen Bannon, Head Of White Nationalist “Alt-Right” Website Breitbart News, Becomes Trump’s Senior Counselor

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    President-elect Donald Trump’s first White House hire tells you everything you need to know about his commitment to his campaign’s bigoted message. Stephen Bannon, an anti-Semite who ran the white nationalist “alt-right” website Breitbart News before taking a leave of absence to become the Trump campaign CEO, will be Trump’s chief strategist and senior counselor.

    On November 13, Trump released a statement announcing Bannon’s hiring. The same statement noted that Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus would become Trump’s chief of staff. While White House chief of staff is typically the most senior position in the White House, the press release named Bannon first and described the two as “equal partners” in the Trump administration.

    Bannon has been a key figure in leveraging this bigotry to aid Trump’s rise to power. Bannon bragged during the Republican Convention to nominate Trump that Breitbart News had become home to the “alt-right” -- which is just a racist code word for white nationalists. Under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart News has featured racism, misogyny, anti-Semitism, and anti-LGBT rhetoric. The site recently made a “noticeable shift toward embracing ideas on the extremist fringe of the conservative right. Racist ideas. Anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant ideas -- all key tenets making up an emerging racist ideology known as the ‘Alt-Right’” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Before he died, Andrew Breitbart himself reportedly called Bannon “the Leni Riefenstahl of the tea party movement.”

    Bannon’s Breitbart News especially has come under fire for its rampant anti-Semitism. In May, contributor David Horowitz wrote a piece calling The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol a “renegade Jew.” In September, Breitbart News writer Matthew Tyrmand called Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum a “political revisionist” who was “on the warpath against the rising populist forces doing electoral damage to her establishment friends and allies across the world,” adding, “hell hath no fury like a Polish, Jewish, American elitist scorned.” In August, former Breitbart News writer Ben Shapiro accused the website of embracing “a movement shot through with racism and anti-Semitism.” Bannon’s anti-Semitism goes deeper than just Breitbart. As CNN’s Jake Tapper noted on Twitter after today’s announcement, Bannon’s ex-wife swore in court that “he said he doesn’t like Jews” and didn’t want his children to go to school with Jews. Indeed, Esquire politics contributor Charles Pierce even compared Bannon with David Duke

    Republican strategist John Weaver agreed, adding:

    There are also significant issues with how Bannon ran Breitbart News. Breitbart News staffers alleged that Trump -- with the cooperation of Bannon and other top management -- paid the website for favorable news coverage and to turn it into “his own fan website.” Former spokesman Kurt Bardella told Media Matters that Bannon is a ““pathological liar who has a temperament that governs by bullying and intimidation and functions very much like a dictator at Breitbart.”

    Recently, Bannon has characterized the rise of Trump as part of a global nationalist movement, telling the radio show Breitbart News Daily on November 2, that “people want more control of their country. … They want sovereignty. It’s not just a thing that’s happening in any one geographic space.” His website has promoted Trump-style far-right political parties across Europe. In the past week, Bannon has reached out to France’s right-wing Nationalist Front movement, and according to The Daily Beast, he is “right now the direct line between the European far-right and Donald J. Trump.”

    The hires of Bannon and Priebus together signal that Trump’s White House will combine the traditional Republicanism of Priebus with Bannon’s brand of ethno-nationalism. Prominent Republican figures like Speaker Paul Ryan are signaling that they will allow the normalization of such a figure, openly praising Priebus’ hiring while ignoring Bannon rather than speaking out against him. Just today on CNN, Paul Ryan said he had never met Bannon, had no comment on him serving in Trump’s White House, but declared that he “trusted” Trump. Ryan’s agnosticism about Bannon beggars belief: Breitbart News under Bannon had led a multi-year campaign against Ryan, including declaring Ryan a Clinton supporter who shares her “globalist worldview” just weeks ago.

    Less than a week after Trump’s electoral victory, many reporters still seem confused about just what will come from a Trump administration. If they want to know what Trump truly has in mind for the country, they need to look at Bannon and his bigoted website.

  • Potential Press Secretary Laura Ingraham Is Disgusted By Press Who Report Anything She Deems Negative About Trump

    ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    President-elect Donald Trump is reportedly seriously considering Fox News contributor and talk radio host Laura Ingraham as his White House press secretary. Ingraham’s selection would cement Trump’s war on the press within his administration, as she has railed against “elite,” “biased,” “post-American” journalists for years, even calling for them to be put “on trial.” During the presidential campaign Ingraham viciously attacked those she deemed overly critical of Trump’s explicit bigotry. Ingraham has a particular contempt for “toxic” Spanish-language outlets, which she claims “revile the American experience.”