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  • Wall Street Journal Virtually Alone In Defending Trump’s Pick For Labor Secretary

    Even Breitbart Opposes Fast-Food CEO Andy Puzder Running The Department Of Labor

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    The Wall Street Journal editorial board stands virtually alone in defense of President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of labor, Andy Puzder, a notoriously anti-worker fast-food CEO and frequent right-wing op-ed contributor to the Journal.

    The Journal’s editorial board published a defense of Puzder on December 8, praising his opposition to raising the federal minimum wage, expanding Obamacare, and strengthening overtime protections for workers. The editorial board continued that they hoped Puzder would roll back other progressive advances for working-class Americans, including reversing an executive order mandating paid sick leave for federal contractors and undoing the Labor Department’s fiduciary rulerequiring investment brokers to act in a client's best interests. From the Journal:

    Donald Trump’s selection of CKE CEO Andy Puzder to lead his Labor Department has incited a tantrum on the left, which is a good sign. The burger maven once told us that he often picked up litter around his restaurants, and departing chief Tom Perez is leaving plenty to clean up.

    [...]

    He is also the rare executive who promotes free markets rather than merely his narrow business interests. Mr. Puzder has expounded in these pages on the unintended consequences of ObamaCare’s mandates and a $15 minimum wage. He’s also detailed how the Obama Administration has contributed to the shrinking labor force and large number of underemployed workers.

    The Journal was one of the few voices to speak in support of Puzder’s nomination for secretary of labor. During a December 9 segment on Fox Business, host Stuart Varney used the controversy surrounding the nomination as “an excuse to run those racy ads” objectifying women, which Puzder’s company has become known for.

    One of the only other defenders of Puzder is Stephen Moore -- a discredited economist, Trump economic adviser, and a former Journal editorial board member -- who, while defending his boss’ pick, attacked Media Matters and “the big unions” for what he called “a loud and libelous campaign” to damage Puzder’s nomination.

    Controversy has been mounting over Puzder’s nomination after initial reporting failed to note the many right-wing media myths he has pushed to support his anti-worker agenda. The New York Times blasted Puzder in an editorial on December 8 titled “Andrew Puzder Is The Wrong Choice For Labor Secretary” for his stances on worker rights, and for Puzder’s companies' -- Carl's Jr. and Hardee’s -- record of labor law violations. From The New York Times:

    Here is the record at those restaurants. When the Obama Labor Department looked at thousands of complaints involving fast-food workers, it found labor law violations in 60 percent of the investigations at Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, usually for failure to pay the minimum wage or time and a half for overtime.

    MSNBC’s Morning Joe mocked Puzder on December 9 for his statement to Business Insider that machines are preferable to workers, and co-host Mika Brzezinski reported that opposition to Puzder came from both the left and from the alt-right website Breitbart News, which had been instrumental in helping Trump get elected.

    Puzder has a history supporting anti-worker policies and had claimed that replacing people with machines would be preferable because machines “never take a vacation” or complain when discriminated against. Puzder opposes new overtime rules proposed by the Department of Labor that would extend guaranteed overtime pay to millions of American workers. Puzder has also misleadingly claimed that stronger wages and benefits actually hurt workers, frequently attacking the push to raise the minimum wage, and Obamacare’s health insurance expansion.

    Finally, as Gary Legum pointed out in a column published by Salon, if Puzder is confirmed, he may be the “least qualified labor secretary” since the early 1980s, when the Reagan administration appointed construction magnate Raymond Donovan to the same post.

  • When NBC Dumped Trump Because He Violated Their Core Values

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    The announcement that President-elect Donald Trump will remain an executive producer on NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice opens up a series of conflicts of interest for both Trump and NBC News. It also defies NBC’s previous claim that they did not want to be associated with Trump because his bigoted statements had defied the network’s core values.

    Trump began his presidential campaign with a blistering, widely-denounced attack on Mexican immigrants. In his June 16, 2015, presidential announcement speech, he claimed that “when Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” instead claiming that most immigrants were rapists or drug dealers.

    Two weeks after that speech, NBC announced that they were “ending its business relationship” with Trump due to what it termed his “derogatory statements” about immigrants. The network announced that they would no longer air the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, which were part of a joint venture between the network and Trump and were scheduled to run during the presidential election. According to the statement, “At NBC, respect and dignity for all people are cornerstones of our values.”

    At the time, the network stated that Celebrity Apprentice “is licensed from Mark Burnett's United Artists Media Group and that relationship will continue.” But NBC News reported that this was because “Trump ceased his involvement with the reality show during the presidential bid.” Now, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway is suggesting that Trump might actively work on the show as president in his “spare time.”

    In any case, since NBC released their statement cutting ties with Trump, he has not demonstrated that he shows “respect and dignity for all people.” Instead, he has continued to denigrate people of color, immigrants, Muslims, and women. In fact, NBC fired Billy Bush over the former Access Hollywood host’s role in an open mic tape that featured Trump admitting to sexual assault. NBC didn’t want a business relationship with someone who laughed at such comments, but apparently has no qualms with the man who said them.

    It certainly raises questions about what NBC really considers “cornerstones of our values.”

    Tell NBC: Dump Trump

  • One Month Later, Press Failing Trump Transition Test

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    In a December 2 tweet that rattled embassies on the other side of the world, President-elect Donald Trump shredded nearly four decades of U.S. diplomatic protocol when he announced he had accepted a congratulatory call from Taiwan’s president. Seen as a public slight to China, which views Taiwan as a breakaway province, Trump’s move set off a flurry of international speculation and concern about America’s relationship with China, which boasts one of the most important economies in the world.

    The next day, The New York Times heralded the news on the front page: “Trump Muddies China Relations With Taiwan Call.” What was so odd about the article -- yet what’s become such a hallmark of Trump transition coverage to date -- was that the Times was unable to provide any insight into why the president-elect had made such a baffling move. “Mr. Trump's motives in taking the call, which lasted more than 10 minutes, were not clear,” the paper conceded.

    The Times didn’t publish a single quote, either on or off the record, from any Trump aides or advisers shedding light on the diplomatic controversy. Instead, the Times was left to quote Trump’s tweets on the topic of Taiwan tweets which, of course, are public and anyone can read.

    That’s extraordinary. Yet sadly it’s also become the norm during the one month since Election Day. It wasn’t as if the Trump team, by its own standards, was being unusually secretive about Taiwan. It’s simply been unusually secretive about everything, leaving the press with few avenues of information. (Remember the time, days after the election, when the caught-in-the-dark press corps didn’t know where Trump was?)

    Recall the Times’ front page on November 22, when the paper touted as the day’s biggest news offering a newly released YouTube clip from Trump in which he discussed the goals of his first 100 days. There again, locked out from any advisers with insights, reporters were reduced to transcribing the two-and-a-half-minute infomercial and treating it as breaking news (i.e. “Mr. Trump offered what he called an update on his transition”).

    Question: Isn’t that more how monarchs and figureheads are covered, not presidents of the United States? I kept asking myself that question last Wednesday when CNN’s daytime coverage for hours revolved around the image of Trump’s plane sitting on a runway in preparation for his trip to Ohio. Is the nation that eager to catch a glimpse of Trump, who lost the popular vote in November and boasts a miserable favorable rating for a newly elected president?

    Soon after the election, I warned that if journalists’ game plan in dealing with Trump was wishing and hoping that he’d change, then they’d be doomed, and so would news consumers. One month after the election, the doomsday appears to be looming larger.

    And yes, the stakes are that high. “The Trump transition has put in stark relief the very foundations of the profession of journalism in modern America,” writes historian Rick Perlstein.

    From Politico, here’s a quick reminder about how Trump openly disrespected the press this year, and will likely continue to do so:

    He did not allow the press to travel with him on his plane, which meant they were not in his motorcade and often, because of travel snafus, were left behind. He’s banned outlets for months at a time and called out specific reporters he didn’t like. And despite the years of tradition that the White House allows journalists into the building, has them travel with the president in a protective pool and that the press secretary holds a daily briefing, none of that is guaranteed in any sort of law. It is just tradition, and not many believe a Trump White House will keep that going.

    And don't forget, Trump hasn't held a press conference since late July.

    Instead of Trump’s historic lack of access prompting the press to be even more aggressive and vigilant in its coverage, we seem to be entering Stockholm Syndrome territory, where too many battered journalists seem to think that if they’re nice to Trump and paint him as a success -- as taking on big business and scoring a big Carrier jobs victory -- that he’ll stop bullying them. They hope he’ll grant them access and won’t shred all White House press protocols starting next year.

    But that ship has sailed, my friends. The best way for journalists to cover Trump moving forward is to assume they’ll never have any access. That means news organizations can, and should, stop fretting about possibly offending Trump. That opens up possibilities for detailed reporting on his sprawling web of conflicts. (Even if it arrives a bit late.)

    And they should stop dancing around the fact that he constantly tells bald-faced lies. When Trump pushed out his fantasy that if it weren’t for “millions” of people who voted “illegally” he would’ve won the popular vote, way too many news outlets simply typed up the assertions without properly stressing that Trump’s claim was categorically false. (Even Trump’s attorneys don’t believe it.)

    If the press can’t swiftly and collectively knock down this nonsense, journalists are opening the door to every conceivable crackpot claim in the near future. Is the press really prepared to play he said/he said with Trump and his surrogates about whether the earth is flat, or the moon is made of cheese? Because that’s the direction we’re heading in if Trump’s team is allowed to advance its preferred “post-truth” presidency, where there’s “no such thing” as facts.

    Meanwhile, the timid press corps really needs to stop normalizing the outlier and radical nature of Trump’s transition and the people he’s appointing. During the first month of transition coverage, when not erroneously tapping Trump adviser and white nationalist Steven Bannon as a feel-good “populist,” journalists for weeks turned away from the dark, hateful rhetoric of retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who has been tapped to become Trump’s national security adviser.

    One week before Election Day, Flynn, a high-profile Trump surrogate in the press, tweeted out a fake news article claiming Hillary Clinton was linked to “sex crimes with children.” That, of course, is insanely irresponsible behavior for any adult, let alone a retired general, let alone Trump’s soon-to-be national security advisor.

    But for weeks, while profiling Flynn, the press politely looked away from the specific instance of him hyping a rancid allegation about Clinton. Instead, in long articles about Flynn, news consumers were told about Flynn’s “outspokenness,”  his “fiery temperament,” how he throws “sharp elbows,” and isn’t afraid to “ruffle feathers.” Those were some ways that The Washington Post, CNN, the Times and NPR categorized Flynn’s erratic behavior. Yet none of those profiles mentioned his "sex crimes with children" tweet, which seems like a glaringly obviously example of Flynn's at-times shocking behavior.

    Right after the election, the Post’s Margaret Sullivan rightfully urged her colleagues “to keep doing our jobs of truth-telling, challenging power and holding those in power accountable.”

    Raise your hand if, over the last four weeks, you’ve been awed by the Beltway media’s tireless drive to hold Trump accountable.

    Not me.

  • NBC Should Address Conflict Of Interest Concerns Following Report That Trump Will Remain On Celebrity Apprentice Payroll

    NBC Will Have A Financial Relationship With President Trump As Long As Celebrity Apprentice Is On The Air

    Blog ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET


    Variety
    managing editor Cynthia Littleton reported “Donald Trump will remain an exec producer on NBC’s ‘Celebrity Apprentice,’” creating a conflict of interest for NBC’s ability to provide unbiased coverage of Trump while promoting a show built on Trump’s reputation.

    On December 8, Variety reported “Trump’s fees will be paid through MGM, the production entity on the show, not NBC,” but “the fact that a sitting president will be on the payroll of a current TV show is another example of the thicket of potential conflicts of interest raised by Trump’s segue from a private businessman and TV star to commander-in-chief.”

    Donald Trump will remain an exec producer on NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice,” which is returning Jan. 2 after a two-year hiatus with new host Arnold Schwarzenegger.

    [...]

    The larger issue for MGM, NBC, and the White House is the payment that Trump will receive for the series. It’s unclear what his per-episode fee is, but it is likely to be in the low five-figures, at minimum. NBC has ordered eight episodes of “The New Celebrity Apprentice.” Trump’s fees will be paid through MGM, the production entity on the show, not NBC. MGM declined to comment on the financial terms of Trump’s deal. A spokeswoman for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment. NBC declined to comment.

    [...]

    The fact that a sitting president will be on the payroll of a current TV show is another example of the thicket of potential conflicts of interest raised by Trump’s segue from private businessman and TV star to commander-in-chief. However, past presidents have published books during their time in the White House, so there is precedent for a president earning royalties while in office. In the case of President Obama’s 2010 book “Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters,” his profits from the Alfred A. Knopf publication were donated to a charity supporting the children of disabled veterans.

    In continuing their financial relationship with Trump, NBC will invite skepticism into how NBC and MSNBC can fairly cover the sitting president when there is a financial incentive to protect his reputation and the ratings of the Celebrity Apprentice. Furthermore, Trump and NBC should address the conflict of interest concerns raised by the fact advertisers may help to personally enrich President-elect Donald Trump by purchasing ads during Celebrity Apprentice.

    NBC should move to address concerns raised by Variety’s reporting, and publicly state how it will balance its financial relationship with Trump while maintaining the network’s journalistic legitimacy.

  • Gateway Pundit Attacks Obama For Defending "Patriotic Muslims" With Photo Of Obama In Somali Garb

    Gateway Pundit Has Been Repeatedly Cited By President-Elect Trump

    Blog ››› ››› THOMAS BISHOP

    Following President Obama urging Americans not to stigmatize patriotic Muslims, The Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft claimed “Lame-Duck Obama Defends Islam – Blames Americans for Feeding ‘Terrorist Narrative’” and included a photo of Obama wearing traditional Somali dress in his piece.

    Hoft attacked Obama’s December 6 remarks on his administration’s approach to counterterrorism where Obama spoke about the need for American’s not to “stigmatize good, patriotic Muslims” because “that just feeds the terrorists’ narrative”:

    If we stigmatize good, patriotic Muslims, that just feeds the terrorists’ narrative. It fuels the same false grievances that they use to motivate people to kill. If we act like this is a war between the United States and Islam, we're not just going to lose more Americans to terrorist attacks, but we’ll also lose sight of the very principles we claim to defend.

    Hoft responded by claiming Obama “blamed Americans for feeding the terrorist narrative,” and posted an unrelated photo of Obama wearing traditional Somali attire while on a 2006 trip to Kenya:

    Obama traveled to MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida this week to address the military for the last time.

    Obama defended his policies that resulted in the rise of the Islamic State.

    The lame-duck president also defended Islam and blamed Americans for feeding the terrorist narrative.

    Good grief.

    obama muslim

    This smear tactic has been used by right-wing media to attack President Obama throughout his presidency to claim he has an “emotional attachment to the Muslim world.”

    The Gateway Pundit has been a go-to site for President-elect Donald Trump who has linked to the website 23 times on Twitter and used the information attack and smear President Obama. 

    CORRECTION: This post originally stated that Hoft featured an image of Obama wearing traditional Muslim clothing at his brother's wedding. While Fox's Bill O'Reilly recently used such an image to smear Obama on the same grounds, the image Hoft highlighted showed Obama in traditional Somali garb during a 2006 trip to Kenya. 

  • Fox Host Claims Obama Didn't Visit Victims Of Tragedies In 8 Years; She's Wrong

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Fox News co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle ignored recent history when she lauded President-elect Donald Trump for visiting victims of the Ohio State University attack and slammed President Obama, claiming the current president has never made these types of visits.

    Trump visited victims of the attack at OSU, which injured 11, as well as the officer who killed the attacker and spoke with the university president. During his visit, Trump called the victims “really brave people, amazing people” and called the meeting “an honor.”

    Fox News’ The Five reported on the meeting in a laudatory segment praising Trump, in which co-host Kimberly said “this is what leadership looks like” and added President Obama has never gone “directly to the source”:

    KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE (CO-HOST): [Trump] doesn’t sit there and talk about ideas, he actually goes out and meets the people, and sees the situation, asses it, talks to them, shakes the hand of the man who was able to save the people at the Ohio State University. This is what leadership looks like. The reason why it seems so shocking is because we didn’t see it in this past 8 years, going directly to the source and taking it to the people.

    JUAN WILLIAMS (CO-HOST): Wow, holy smokes you mean President Obama, President [George W.] Bush didn’t go to meet with victims of terror?

    GUILFOYLE: I did not say anything about President Bush, I said past eight years.

    But President Obama has met with numerous victims both of gun violence and natural disasters, during his eight years in office. Two days after the mass shooting in a Newtown, CT elementary school in December 2012, Obama attended an interfaith vigil and met with both the victims' families and the first responders. In July of 2012, the president flew to Aurora, CO to speak with “each family who had lost someone as well as survivors struggling to recover” after a mass shooting in a movie theater killed 12 and injured 58. More recently, the president visited the flood victims in Baton Rouge, LA, the victims’ families and first responders after the San Bernardino, CA attack, and the victims and survivors of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, FL.

    Fox and right-wing media have a history of attacking Obama after a national tragedy claiming that the president hasn't visited quickly enough or claimed that his visit was politicizing the event.

  • Major Newspapers Fail To Grasp Severity Of Putting Andy Puzder In Charge Of Labor Department

    Blog ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    Initial reporting on the president-elect’s selection of fast-food CEO Andy Puzder to replace Tom Perez as the next secretary of labor depicted Puzder as a “vocal” critic of Obama administration policies while failing to note the conservative media-fueled inaccuracies that inform the incoming secretary’s anti-worker views.

    On December 8, The Wall Street Journal was first to report that President-elect Donald Trump planned to name Puzder -- the CEO of CKE Restaurants, which owns the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s burger chains -- as the incoming labor secretary in his administration. The Journal’s report, and subsequent reporting from The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and USA Today, focused mostly on Puzder’s opposition to specific economic initiatives from the Obama administration -- raising the minimum wage, expanding overtime protections, and extending the scope of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) -- while failing to mention that Puzder’s arguments against each have been widely discredited:

    • The Journal reported that Puzder is a “vocal advocate for cutting back regulations,” which he claims “have stifled growth in the restaurant industry,” and concluded with the acknowledgment that Puzder has used the Journal’s own opinion pages to discuss “topics such as the negative effects of President Obama’s health-care law and of broad increase in minimum wage.”
    • The Times noted that Puzder believes “large minimum wage increases hurt small business and lead to job loss among low-skilled workers,” adding that he believes the ACA created a so-called “restaurant recession” by reducing disposable incomes that American workers would otherwise “spend dining out.”
    • The LA Times claimed that Puzder opposes raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour “because he thinks that would cost many low-wage workers their jobs,” and quoted a Forbes op-ed published by Puzder on May 18 that alleged the Obama administration had created an “extensive regulatory maze” with overtime and health care reforms that drive up labor costs and “reduced opportunities, bonuses, benefits, perks and promotions” for workers.
    • USA Today’s synopsis was much less extensive, merely labeling Puzder as “a major critic of what he calls unnecessary federal regulations, including a proposed hike in the federal minimum wage” before moving on to other rumored Trump appointments.

    Despite amplifying Puzder’s criticism of progressive economic policies, none of the outlets saw fit to mention that his arguments are wrong.

    First, Obama-era regulations have not “stifled growth in the restaurant industry” or created a “restaurant recession.” According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment in the restaurant industry is up more than 20 percent since Obama took office in January 2009:

    Second, while it is true that Puzder is an ardent opponent of increased minimum wages -- he once argued that modest wage increases actually encourage low-wage workers to game the system so they can stay in poverty -- it is important to note that his arguments are unfounded. Puzder and other right-wing media personalities have waged a campaign of misinformation against raising the minimum wage, claiming that it hurts businesses and kills jobs. In reality, reliable professional studies of the minimum wage consistently find a negligible relationship between the minimum wage and employment activity.

    As is the case with Puzder’s opposition to living wages, the incoming labor secretary’s antagonism toward the ACA is also not based in facts. Right-wing media outlets and allied politicians have spent years claiming that President Obama’s signature health care reform law is hurting the economy and stymieing the job market despite all evidence to the contrary. In reality, Obamacare has reduced the uninsured rate to historic lows, has reduced medical debt and benefited public health outcomes while strengthening the economic security of low-income families.

    Finally, Puzder’s opposition to expanded overtime protections amounts to little more than retooled talking points generated by right-wing media. Conservative media outlets opposed President Obama’s proposed overtime expansion before they even knew the details, claiming it threatened to undermine American work ethic and turn the country into Greece. Puzder’s claim that a “regulatory maze,” which includes overtime expansion, has “reduced opportunities, bonuses, benefits, perks and promotions” ignores the obvious economic benefits of paying millions of American workers for the hours they actually work and that the overtime threshold “has the advantage of simplicity” that makes it efficient for employers to implement.

    Media Matters outlined the many ways media should approach his troubled relationship with the truth. If coverage today is any indication, major outlets still have a lot to learn.

  • CNN Anchor Denies That Trump EPA Pick Scott Pruitt Has “Denied Global Warming”

    CNN’s Alisyn Camerota Claims Pruitt “Sees Nuance,” But Pruitt Actually Denies Scientific Consensus Of Human-Caused Warming

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW SEIFTER

    On the December 8 edition of CNN’s New Day, anchor Alisyn Camerota falsely claimed that President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for EPA administrator, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, “hasn’t denied global warming.”

    According to Camerota, when Pruitt and other Republicans say that the science of climate change is “far from settled,” they are referring only to “the predictions and the forecasts” of future climate impacts. But that’s simply not true. Like many other Republicans, Pruitt has refused to accept the consensus of the world’s leading scientific institutions that human activities such as burning fossil fuels are the main cause of global warming. In a May op-ed published in National Review and Tulsa World, Pruitt and Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange claimed, “Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind.”

    As Camerota wrongly absolved Pruitt of climate denial, CNN’s on-screen text read: “Climate Change Denier Scott Pruitt To Lead EPA.” Co-anchor Chris Cuomo also pushed back on Camerota, stating that Pruitt “says it’s ‘far from settled.’ That means he’s not accepting the science.” Camerota replied that Pruitt “sees nuance where you see black and white.”

    Camerota was also off base when she claimed that Pruitt is justified in disputing climate science because climate “predictions” and “forecasts” are unreliable.

    Camerota cited one specific example to back up this argument: “People thought the Antarctic ice would be gone by now. It increased in 2014. This is what people hang their hat on when they say that the forecasts are not settled. They fluctuate.” Although it’s true that the increase in Antarctic sea ice has surprised climate scientists, a team of NASA-led researchers was recently able to explain why it is happening, as InsideClimate News reported:

    While Arctic ice is melting at a record pace, a team of NASA-led researchers say they can explain why Antarctic sea ice has been edging in the opposite direction. That paradox has puzzled scientists for years and given climate-change deniers fodder to dispute global warming.

    The group found that the icy winds blowing off Antarctica, as well as a powerful ocean current that circles the frozen continent, are much larger factors in the formation and persistence of Antarctic sea ice than changes in temperature.

    And overall, climate models have been very accurate when it comes to the core task of projecting the rate of global warming. As The Guardian’s Dana Nuccitelli has noted, the 2014 United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report showed that “observed global surface temperature changes have been within the range of climate model simulations,” and a 2015 study that accounts for the discrepancy between air and sea surface temperatures “shows that the models were even more accurate than previously thought.” The nonprofit science education organization Skeptical Science has also explained the accuracy of climate models in predicting global temperature changes.

    Watch Camerota deny Pruitt’s climate science denial:

  • Right-Wing Civil War: Megyn Kelly Trades Barbs With Breitbart Editor-At-Large Over Dangers Of Empowering "Alt-Right"

    Blog ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET

    Fox News host Megyn Kelly and Breitbart editor-at-large Joel Pollak traded attacks about the "alt-right’s" “potentially dangerous” influence in media and their role in the 2016 presidential campaign.

    In a December 7 interview on NPR’s Fresh Air, host Terry Gross discussed the misogynistic attacks and threats from Trump supporters which made it necessary for Kelly to use security for the entire year. Kelly also spoke about the dangers of empowering the "alt-right," and noted the problems one young woman had with Breitbart.com and their "alt-right" supporters when she dared “to say something about the fact that Corey Lewandowski laid hands on her.“ Kelly praised Breitbart’s founder Andrew Breitbart, but said, “if you look at what’s happened to Breitbart over the past three years, it’s shocking:”

    TERRY GROSS (HOST): This is an example of how the “alt-right” -- and the “alt-right” is a rebranding of white nationalists and people who are misogynist, racist -- so, the alt-right has kind of gone after you, ever since your dust-up with Trump at the debate. Are you concerned that president-elect Trump seems to have empowered these people?

    MEGYN KELLY: Well, I do think they are a potentially dangerous force. And you know, even when it comes to the book review -- look, I have a powerful platform. I can come talk to Terry Gross for an hour, but a lot of authors who are on the wrong side of Trump -- take Michelle Fields, right? The one who alleged that Corey Lewandowski had physically assaulted her, Trump’s old campaign manager, she had a book. She doesn’t have the powerful platform.

    She worked for Breitbart, and left when they failed to defend her, and she got targeted by these folks on Amazon, and they killed her book, and that’s not okay. Alright? This woman hasn’t done anything wrong, anything, other than find herself on the wrong end of these folks, for whom she used to work. But even that wasn’t enough to engender any loyalty, or affection for her, because she decided to say something about the fact that Corey Lewandowski laid hands on her. This is a man who threatened me explicitly as well.

    And look, Trump’s got bigger things to worry about than this particular group, but it is also a dangerous game to empower them, as clearly has happened. I mean, Steve Bannon is -- he’s chief advisor to our president-elect. And I understand the argument that he’s just a provocateur, and he comes up with these crazy headlines, and they want clicks, but if you look at what's happened to Breitbart [News] over the past three years, it's shocking.

    I knew Andrew Breitbart very well and he was great. I loved him. He was a true provocateur who would be fun about it, you know. He'd show up at a democratic protest and engage with the protesters and then he'd go have a beer with them. This is something else entirely, and I don't know that Trump can stop it. I don't know who, if anyone, can stop it.

    GROSS: How do you see your role as a journalist in covering the “alt-right?”

    KELLY: It’s precarious, because they will come after you. I mean, they will target you, and they will be relentless about it. But -- so I, again, have this great platform, and I have this powerful company behind me, and I’m lucky to have a company that can look at it with that perspective. I think other organizations need to keep that in mind, that it doesn’t -- when I say you’re going to have to steel your spine, you know, to cover this White House and deal with some of Trump’s supporters, I mean it could affect your pocketbook as a news organization.

    [...]

    KELLY: Look at my case, Terry. If somebody gets targeted by this group physically, and they have death threats, how much money can a news organization expend to provide that person with a bodyguard? At some point, real dollars get involved here in these decisions. And, you know, that’s -- that’s when these news organizations are going to have to find their inner strength.

    In response to Kelly’s criticism of Breitbart and its elevation of “alt-right” white nationalist movement, Breitbart editor-at-large Joel Pollak tweeted Kelly “bashes Breitbart. I’ve never been a critic. Until now, maybe. Would she dare let me defend? I doubt it.”

    The conflict between Megyn Kelly and Breitbart revives long-standing tensions between the Fox News host and the far-right outlet. In March, Kelly invited Michelle Fields, a former Breitbart employee who spoke out against Breitbart leadership’s attempts at “smearing” her reputation. In return, Breitbart has run articles with headlines such as “Steve Bannon: I Warned Roger Ailes That Megyn Kelly Would Turn On Him,” and described Newt Gingrich’s insult-laden rant against Kelly as “Gingrich Slams Megyn Kelly For Treatment Of Trump -- ‘You Are Fascinated With Sex And You Don’t Care About Public Policy.”

  • New York Times: Alleged Pizzagate Gunman Listens To Trump Ally And Conspiracy Theorist Alex Jones

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The New York Times interviewed Edgar Welch, the alleged armed gunman who went to Washington, D.C’s Comet Ping-Pong pizzeria in a self-described attempt to investigate the false “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory repeatedly pushed by Donald Trump ally and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

    Jones has been described as “more responsible than any other person for the spread of ‘Pizzagate,’” and has bragged about his private conversations with Trump and their close ideological beliefs. In the Times interview, Welch admitted to being a listener to Alex Jones and claimed that “he touches on some issues that are viable,” but even the alleged gunman admitted that sometimes Jones “goes off the deep end.” 

    He said he did not believe in conspiracy theories, but then added that the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks needed to be re-examined. He has listened to Alex Jones, whose radio show traffics in conspiracy theories and who once said that Mrs. Clinton “has personally murdered and chopped up” children. “He’s a bit eccentric,” Mr. Welch said. “He touches on some issues that are viable but goes off the deep end on some things.”