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  • Media Matters’ Angelo Carusone Explains How Donald Trump Consumes Conspiracy Theories “Directly” From Alex Jones

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Media Matters executive vice president Angelo Carusone explained how conspiracy theories travel “directly” from Trump ally Alex Jones’ radio show to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in an interview with the Austin American-Statesman.

    Jones, the host of the nationally radio program The Alex Jones Show, is a self-identified founder of the 9/11 Truth movement and promotes numerous conspiracy theories, including claiming that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and other national tragedies were events staged by the government.

    Despite this background, Trump has appeared on Jones’ program and praised his “amazing” reputation. Jones has taken credit for policy positions advanced by Trump and has marveled at how “it is surreal to talk about issues here on air and then word-for-word hear Trump say it two days later.”

    Conspiracy theories and attacks that have jumped from Jones’ show to the Trump campaign include claims that election will be rigged, calls for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to be jailed, conspiracy theories about Clinton’s health, and the claim Clinton used an earpiece during a debate.

    A profile of Jones in the Austin American-Statesman explained how many conspiracy theories prevalent in the 2016 election make their way from Jones to the Trump campaign. Describing the phenomenon, Carusone told the American-Statesman that there used to be “two, three, four, five steps” between Jones and Trump, but in part because of the promotion of Jones by conservative website The Drudge Report, “It’s not working its way up the food chain any more. Donald Trump is consuming it directly.”

    From the American-Statesman’s October 21 article:

    But, as the 2016 campaign draws to a close, it’s becoming plain that Austin’s Alex Jones -- a right-wing broadcast personality and conspiracy theorist extraordinaire who until recently flew under the mainstream radar -- might as well be the voice in Donald Trump’s head.


    Hillary for Prison. That’s Alex Jones. Obama founded ISIS. That’s Jones. The election is rigged. Again from Jones. Hillary Clinton is at death’s doorstep. Jones. And only drugs keep her going. Jones. Bill Clinton as rapist and Hillary his enabling enforcer. Jones.


    [Trump adviser Roger] Stone saw how ripe Jones’ anti-globalist audience was for Trump’s nationalist appeal.

    “The majority of them are under 50, and they are all engaged. They are part of this digital sharing economy. They are willing to get out on the streets and do stuff,” said Angelo Carusone, executive vice president of Media Matters for America, a not-for-profit progressive media watchdog group.


    What few saw coming was a Republican presidential candidate with a weakness for conspiratorial thinking who prized the reporting of the National Enquirer and had his news consumption curated by Matt Drudge, who in the last five years switched his allegiance for political news of the weird from Glenn Beck to Jones.

    “Drudge gave Jones a whole new audience and access to a whole new group of thought leaders, like Donald Trump,” Carusone said.

    It used to be that there were “two, three, four, five steps” between Jones spinning a conspiracy theory and it gaining broader traction. But now, Carusone said, “It’s not working its way up the food chain any more. Donald Trump is consuming it directly.”

  • Fox’s Brit Hume Attacks Latest Trump Accuser’s Claim Because She “Has Sex On Camera For” Money

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume attacked the latest woman to accuse Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump of sexual misconduct, writing on Twitter, “Woman who has sex on camera for $ says Trump propositioned her. ‘This is not acceptable behavior.’ Please.”

    During an October 22 press conference Jessica Drake, who directs and performs in adult films, accused Trump of “inappropriate sexual contact” at a charity golf tournament where she alleges he kissed and touched her without her permission. Drake also says that Trump also propositioned her with a $10,000 offer, which she declined. “This is not acceptable behavior for anyone -- much less a presidential candidate,” she told the press.

    Hume responded to Drake’s allegations by suggesting that Drake could not be offended by Trump’s alleged proposition because of her line of work.

    From Hume’s Twitter account:



    Hume previously cast doubt on the claim of a woman who told The New York Times that Trump groped her by after lifting the armrest between her and Trump while the two were on an airplane flight during the early 1980s. Hume said on Fox News’ On the Record, “The kinds of armrests that I'm accustomed to seeing in those airplanes don't mysteriously disappear. … So it could be that the Trump camp has a point about the impracticability of such an assault.”

    Hume also sought to diminish the credibility of former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson after she sued former Fox News CEO and chairman Roger Ailes for sexual harassment in July. Commenting on the fact that Carlson filed her suit after her Fox News contract was not extended, Hume wrote on Twitter, “Here's another suggestion. Why didn't she quit & sue instead of suing only after she got fired?”

    Fox News later paid Carlson $20 million to settle her claims and released a statement that read, in part, “We sincerely regret and apologize for the fact that Gretchen was not treated with the respect and dignity that she and all of our colleagues deserve.”

  • BuzzFeed: Supposedly “Apolitical” Media Group Tried To Place Right-Wing Stories In Black Newspapers Before Election

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    BuzzFeed reports that the American Media Institute (AMI) “proposed an 11th-hour effort to place news articles critical of Hillary Clinton and other Democrats in black newspapers in the runup to the November election.”

    AMI bills itself as an “independent source of exclusive in-depth investigative journalism,” but the non-profit is largely funded by right-wing donors and is headed by Richard Miniter, a conservative author and journalist with a long history at right-wing publications. 

    In recent months AMI has placed “investigations” with a right-wing tilt in mainstream outlets including Fusion, Politico Magazine, and U.S. News & World Report. AMI’s 2014 tax filings indicate that it is largely funded through Donors Trust, a right-wing group that has been called “the dark-money ATM of the conservative movement.”

    Buzzfeed reported that AMI “approached Republican donors to finance” articles attacking Clinton to be distributed through AMI’s Urban News Service. A source told Buzzfeed that the plan “looks like voter suppression” intended to decrease Democratic turnout:

    A right-leaning nonprofit has proposed an 11th-hour effort to place news articles critical of HIllary (sic) Clinton and other Democrats in black newspapers in the runup to the November election, BuzzFeed News has learned.

    The American Media Institute has approached Republican donors to finance the articles, three sources said. They were to run in a nominally apolitical black wire service that serves the black press, the sources said.

    One source shared details of the plan with BuzzFeed News out of concern that the proposal “looks like voter suppression,” the source said. The group’s founder, Richard Miniter, adamantly denied that charge. It is also unclear whether any donors have committed to financing the project in the election’s final weeks.

    Miniter, a former Washington Times editorial page editor who is CEO and founder of the American Media Institute, has told associates that the that the stories would be distributed by the nonprofit’s Urban News Service, adding that the articles would include attacks on Obamacare and on the Clintons’ failures regarding people of color.

    Miniter’s pitch, according to a source closely familiar with its details, centers on the prospect of reaching black voters through news articles, rather than obvious opinion pieces or advertisements.

  • Journalists Mock Trump’s "Grievanceburg Address" At Gettysburg


    Journalists mocked Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s October 22 speech in Gettysburg, PA, which his campaign had said would outline his first 100 days in office if elected president and had compared to President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Reporters said the speech was more “like the Grievanceburg Address,” “a personal revenge tour,” and was full of “conspiracy theories & racial animus.”

  • Breitbart News Claims Paul Ryan Wants To Elect Clinton And Shares Her “Globalist Worldview”

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    Breitbart News accused House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) of conducting a “months-long campaign” to elect Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. The attack echoes Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric and escalates the website’s war on Ryan, which had been pushed by Breitbart chief executive and current Trump campaign CEO Steve Bannon.

    The October 21 Breitbart News article, written by Julia Hahn, is headlined “He’s With Her: Inside Paul Ryan’s Months-Long Campaign To Elect Hillary Clinton President.” Hahn wrote, "Both Ryan and Clinton share a progressive, globalist worldview, which is at odds with Trump’s ‘America first’ approach,” adding that Clinton and Ryan “see themselves as representatives not only for American citizens, but also for foreign nationals and foreign interests.” She later states that “Both Clinton and Ryan view being American as an intellectual ‘idea’ rather than a national identity, and both support the donor-class’s agenda of open borders.”

    The article ramps up Breitbart’s years-long campaign against Ryan, which was pushed by Bannon. The website in particular boosted the unsuccessful campaign of Ryan’s opponent in the Republican primary earlier this year, calling Ryan a “double agent,” claiming he supports an “open borders agenda,” accusing him of running “misleading television ads,” and describing him as a “saboteur” who is “betray[ing] America.”

    Breitbart staffers have also said that Bannon directed them to “destroy” Ryan, telling them in December 2015 that the “long game” was for Ryan to be “gone” by spring of the following year. One Breitbart staffer told The Hill that Bannon “thinks Paul Ryan is part of a conspiracy with [billionaires] George Soros and Paul Singer, in which elitists want to bring one world government.”

    Bannon’s conflict with Ryan has continued through Trump’s campaign (Bannon has taken a leave of absence from Breitbart to help lead the campaign). Ryan recently irritated Trump by disinviting him from a campaign event after a video of Trump bragging about assaulting women was released, and then Ryan announced he would no longer defend Trump and would focus on preserving the Republican majority in the House. In response, Trump has called Ryan a “very weak and ineffective leader” who is giving him “zero support.” The Breitbart article also is similar to Trump’s expressed doubt that Ryan wants him to win. After ABC News asked Trump whether he thought Ryan was rooting for him to win, he responded, “Well, maybe not, because maybe he wants to run in four years or maybe he doesn’t know how to win.”

    Breitbart’s article may also be a preview of what’s to come. According to The Hill’s Jonathan Swan, Bannon is “only going to escalate” the conflict with Ryan, who may seek reelection to the speakership in January, regardless of the 2016 election results.

  • After Saying He Would Be An “Uncompensated” “Volunteer,” Roger Stone Pockets Pro-Trump Super PAC Money

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Roger Stone received $12,000 from his pro-Trump super PAC despite previously bragging that he was working for the group as an “uncompensated” “volunteer.”

    Stone is a longtime ally and adviser to the Republican presidential nominee. In December 2015, he announced that he was joining the Committee To Restore America’s Greatness to support Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

    After Stone joined the super PAC, he reportedly “said ‘it would probably be wise’ for him to cease conversations with Trump about the campaign due to conflict of interest rules which bar coordination between the two entities.” Stone has nonetheless continued to talk regularly with Trump throughout the campaign and informally advises his campaign on strategy.

    When Stone made the move from the campaign to the super PAC, he dismissed the idea that he was trying to cash in on his Trump connections and emphasized on Twitter: “I am a volunteer and uncompensated as a matter of fact.”

    Stone has apparently changed his mind about taking contributor money, according to the Committee To Restore America’s Greatness’ recently filed Federal Election Commission report covering July 1 through September 30 of this year. The super PAC paid $12,000 in July to Drake Ventures for “consulting.” Stone owns Drake Ventures and used the LLC when he worked as a consultant for Trump’s presidential campaign last year. (The business registration is now technically inactive as it was revoked in September 2015 because of a failure to file an annual report, according to the Florida Department of State's website database).

    The Committee to Restore America’s Greatness' activities include spending $32,000 on its “Super Trump” advertisement   in Florida and the non-swing state of New York.

    Stone also heads the connected 527 group Stop the Steal, which aims “to stop the Democrats from stealing the election from Donald Trump.” The Guardian noted that Stone claims he has “around 1,300 volunteers” who will conduct “their own crowd-funded exit polling on election day, ostensibly due to fears that electronic voting machines in certain areas may have been ‘rigged.’” However, election experts told the newspaper that the tactic “could intimidate voters” and “exit polls in particular were a dangerously inaccurate way to gauge the legitimacy of an election.”

    Stop the Steal’s third quarterly report to the IRS stated that the group received only $7,162 during that period and transferred $63,000 to the Committee to Restore America's Greatness to “provide for programs of Stop the Steal.” (The committee gave Stop the Steal $50,000 in April.) Both Stop the Steal and the Committee to Restore America's Greatness share the same address and contact person.

    Stop the Steal’s website is currently signing up volunteers to be “vote protectors.” Its website also features headlines from conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ website and a bizarre “exit polls” map:

  • Right-Wing Media Figures Conflate “Voter Fraud” With Voter Registration Inaccuracies

    Fox News Host: “That's Troubling. I Only Know Of One Person That Has Risen From The Dead, So 20, That's A Problem”


    Right-wing media have baselessly stoked fears of widespread voter fraud based on out-of-date or inaccurate voter registration rolls to defend Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s claims that “dead people” and “illegal aliens” are voting. But in doing so they’ve falsely conflated possible registration fraud with the practice of in-person voter fraud; both types are rare, and the latter is virtually nonexistent.