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Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has an extensive history of attacking the media, and his campaign and supporters have joined in the fight throughout the election. The nominee, his surrogates, and his supporters have called media outlets and reporters across the spectrum “dishonest,” “neurotic,” “dumb,” and a “waste of time,” and until recently, the campaign had a media blacklist of outlets that weren’t allowed into campaign events.
Glenn Beck falsely rewrote his frequent references to the Nazis as a prescient warning about the rise of the white nationalist “alt right” activists that support Donald Trump’s campaign. In fact, the former Fox News host used his media platform for years to smear progressives as Nazis and Democratic policies as fascism.
Beck appeared on the October 2 edition of NBC’s Meet the Press to talk about feeling disenfranchised by the current election season. But early in the segment, Beck complained he had been mocked for “bringing up Nazis,” which he claimed to have done to “warn about the rise of the uber right in Europe that would bleed into America, and it’s happening.”
This is an easily disprovable lie. Between 2009 and 2011, Beck regularly compared progressivism to Nazism on his Fox and radio shows. He likened former Vice President Al Gore and former Obama administration official Cass Sunstein to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels. He compared the auto bailouts in 2009 to “the early days of Adolf Hitler,” warned that the Troubled Asset Relef Program was “exactly what happened to the lead-up with Hitler,” and claimed the Democrats’ health care reform could lead to a Nazi-like eugenics program. He compared a Democratic proposal to expanded service programs like AmeriCorps to the SS. He suggested that Fox News and Tea Party activists were similar to Nazi Germany’s victims. And while criticizing comments President Obama made about health care reform, Beck begged his audience to “read Mein Kampf” and to “take this man for what he says,” unlike the German reaction to Hitler.
The mockery Beck complained about was richly deserved because he was citing Hitler and Nazi Germany to attack progressives so much that, as comedian Lewis Black highlighted on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, Beck had “Nazi tourette’s.” Here is the video of Black detailing Beck's Nazi analogies:
Beck also routinely used anti-Semitic stereotypes to attack progressives, especially George Soros -- who is Jewish. He lashed out against Jewish organizations that criticized him for his rhetoric and smears; he said the Anti-Defamation League would “destroy themselves,” and suggested the views of Jewish Funds for Justice would “lead to death camps.”
Any interviewer remotely familiar with Beck’s past rhetoric would have recognized his lie. But this is not the first time Chuck Todd has allowed Beck to reinvent himself on Meet the Press. On July 17, Todd gave Beck a platform to present himself as an opponent to Trump, but failed to disclose Beck’s history of being a racist, reckless conspiracy theorist.
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Sean Hannity: "He's Off The Rails Attacking Me Every Day, Blaming Me For Trump"
From the August 30 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show:
SEAN HANNITY (HOST): The "Never Trump" dead-enders, that's what I call them, now have actually taken it another step further and they've launched a TV ad campaign, they want to sabotage any chance Donald Trump has of beating Hillary Clinton and they want to help Hillary Clinton become president. And let me be clear: if you're a Republican conservative and you're not supporting Trump, you are helping to make Hillary Clinton president. Whether you want to hear that or not, that is a fact, it's irrefutable. If you're supporting Gary Johnson over Trump to send a message, you're helping Hillary. That's my answer, that's what I believe, and I have a certain fidelity to the truth to always be honest with my audience, and that is the truth. You want to vote for Gary Johnson, that's a half a vote for Hillary. You want to oppopse Trump, you want to stay home, that's a half a vote for Hillary.
Well let me just say to all of you -- and that includes the commentator class, that includes the Jonah Goldberg class, that includes radio hosts, you know, Glenn Beck, it's a holy war for him at this point. I mean, he's off the rails attacking me every day, blaming me for Trump. Well no, I was fair to everybody Glenn, whether you want to admit it or not. I know I was fair, my conscience is clear, and I, frankly, I'll proudly pull the lever for Donald Trump with a clear conscience.
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Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s new campaign chief Stephen Bannon is the executive chairman of conservative website Breitbart News, which has been embroiled in a civil war over the publication’s Trump support. Numerous conservative media figures have slammed Bannon -- who is taking a leave of absence to work for Trump -- and Breitbart News for destroying the legacy of the site’s founder Andrew Breitbart, who said in 2011 that Donald Trump is “not a conservative.”
Why is it so hard to create meaningful action on climate change? Discussion about global warming -- and many other critical issues -- has become “polluted” by toxic rhetoric, argues author and public relations specialist James Hoggan, which in turn “discourage[s] people from taking action.” In his new book, I’m Right and You’re an Idiot: The Toxic State of Public Discourse and How To Clean it Up, Hoggan examines why and how the public sphere has become “polluted” by “polarized rhetoric, propaganda and miscommunication,” and offers advice on how to clean it up.
In discussions with dozens of scholars and thought leaders, from NASA scientists to the 14th Dalai Lama, Hoggan details several factors that have degraded rhetoric around important political issues. Here are four ways that conservative media have played a key role:
Because science is not on the side of those who oppose acting on climate change, it is much easier for climate science deniers to vilify their opponents than to address the actual issue. Sociology professor Alex Himelfarb pointed out to Hoggan that there is an “increasing and effective use of a classic rhetorical ploy called ad hominem -- where attacks are aimed at a person’s character, not their line of reasoning,” a ploy that is frequently used against climate advocates.
Media Matters has documented this tactic countless times on Fox News and other right-wing media, where pundits have attempted to smear climate scientists as corrupted by money, falsely claimed the Paris climate conference had a large carbon footprint to paint its participants as hypocrites, and frequently mocked prominent climate activists Leonardo DiCaprio and Al Gore.
As Yale philosophy professor Jason Stanley explained to Hoggan, deniers “attack and undermine [their] opponents’ integrity while making them appear to have a vested interest” simply because they “can’t rely on [their] own credibility” and “the facts aren’t on [their] side.”
Conceptual frameworks “permeate everything we think and say, so the people who control language and set its frames have an inordinate amount of power,” argues Hoggan. He spoke with linguistics professor George Lakoff, who noted that “if you do a bad job of framing your story, someone else will likely do it for you.” Hoggan also spoke with social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, who noted that he heard right-wing radio host Glenn Beck say, “Climate change is not about the environment; it’s about control.” In this case, Beck re-framed the discussion about climate change action to be about empowering “the nanny state,” according to Haidt, who added that Beck “very skillfully pushed certain moral buttons that sowed profound doubt.”
As a case study, Hoggan pointed to the manufactured “Climategate” controversy, an “international campaign to discredit scientists” before the landmark international climate change summit in Copenhagen, according to DeSmogBlog. Fox News had a heavy hand in amplifying the phony controversy, even after official investigations proved -- six times over -- that there was no wrongdoing.
Hoggan wrote that he was “astonished to see how a group of legitimate climate scientists, with stacks of peer-reviewed evidence on their side, could lose debates to a group of people who had none -- all because of a lens created by mischief-makers.” But he noted that the scientific facts in this controversy were complicated, and the public was not equipped to analyze them on their face. Thus, “Climategate was a battle of frames versus facts, and the frames won.”
According to Yale professor Stanley, who wrote the book How Propaganda Works, right-wing media are less interested in reporting “accurate, well-researched stories” and more interested in “broadcasting noise so that it becomes difficult to hear the truth.” Stanley called out Fox News in particular, stating that its “fair and balanced” slogan is not only false, but intentionally so:
Fox engages in a kind of silencing tactic when describing itself as “fair and balanced,” especially to an audience that is perfectly aware that it is neither. The effect is to suggest there is no possibility of balanced news, only propaganda; this results in a silencing of all news sources by suggesting everyone is grossly insincere.
The complex science behind global warming, and the huge scale of actions needed to address it, can defy easy description -- a fact that conservative media often exploit. Hoggan cited psychologist and author of State of Confusion: Political Manipulation and the Assault on the American Mind Bryant Welch, who noted that in response to confusion, an “authoritative person who takes command -- ‘think of Fox News or Rush Limbaugh’ -- and spews strong feelings with absolutely certainty is appealing to a beleaguered mind.”
Welch has written about “gaslighting” -- the process of manipulating someone into questioning their sense of reality -- and he explained to Hoggan that the tactic is commonplace on Fox News. When “people begin to doubt their own perceptions and observations,” they “become less rational, less capable of thinking for themselves,” and “more and more beholden to Fox News.”
The easiest way to inhibit progress on climate change is to make it seem impossible, argues Hoggan -- to promote the “do-nothing stance.” He explains that to take action “requires an anti-gravity position, which is so-called because it takes energy, hard work and a real sense of the common good.” He said deniers “don’t have to convince the public that climate change isn’t real,” but instead can “exaggerat[e] the hazards of solutions to make them seem unbelievably risky.”
This tactic is common among fossil fuel front groups, which have employed baseless fearmongering and false attacks to attack key climate actions over and over -- and too often, conservative media take the bait, as Media Matters has documented. Dozens of front groups have attacked the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan, and many of these groups published bunk studies and reports falsely claiming that the landmark carbon pollution rule would hurt consumers or harm the economy (it won't). Conservative media also targeted a barrage of misleading attacks at the Paris climate agreement reached by 195 countries in December and recycled many of these attacks on Earth Day. This rhetoric has also made its way into mainstream media, with prominent Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson brazenly declaring that "we have no solution" for addressing climate change.
Hoggan argues that conversations about climate change should not focus solely on the negative, because doing so can lead to paralysis. Correspondingly, his book includes positive suggestions for the media to help improve public discourse and create “healthier dialogue” that moves people forward instead of exacerbating conflicts and creating divisions.
Here are some of his suggestions for media:
A Rutgers University study once found that The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times both frame climate action as ineffective more often than effective. Yet Hoggan argues that barraging people with facts about climate change that evoke feelings of fear and guilt is not going to inspire action. Instead, he writes, it is time to “build hope instead of fear, empathy instead of alienation, people’s sense of self-worth rather than their sense of inadequacy.” Harvard professor Marshall Ganz explained to Hoggan that stories that offer hope can become “an emotional dialogue that speaks about deeply held values, about an inspired future that is hopeful and steeped in those values.” Hoggan also explained:
Environmentalists must explain why every previous generation did what was necessary to secure the infrastructure and climate for people to succeed, and emphasize this generation’s obligation to do the same.
Studies have shown that while negative stories about climate change can turn readers into cynics, stories about successful political activism and individual actions can generate enthusiasm.
People need to know where most of the climate misinformation is coming from: fossil fuel corporations that want to protect their bottom line. As Hoggan pointed out, corporations are “furiously focused on creating shareholder value,” meaning “they can and must act in the interest of their shareholders.” And when something threatens their license to operate -- such as the knowledge that fossil fuels are disastrously changing the climate -- these big businesses are “motivated to become skilled at propaganda.”
That’s why it’s so important to disclose the fossil fuel funding behind front groups that claim to represent the best interest of citizens. It’s also why corporations work so hard to hide their support for these groups, through “astroturfing” -- creating fake grass-roots groups that Hoggan says “makes it almost impossible to distinguish between a legitimate groundswell and manufactured opinion.”
As a case in point, Hoggan details the “ethical oil” PR campaign, when oil companies used the front group EthicalOil.org to rebrand dirty tar sands oil in Canada as “ethical” and tar sands opponents as “foreign-funded radicals.” He also pointed out other industry-funded front groups, including Citizens for a Sound Economy, which pushed the myth of “clean coal.” In fact, there are dozens of fossil fuel industry front groups that are currently attacking environmental protections in the United States, but their industry ties often go unmentioned.
Media Matters analyses have shown that when discussing climate change, broadcast news networks have turned to politicians and media figures far more often than scientists. This may be why French scientist Bruno Latour argues that scientists should get more involved in the public debate about climate change -- “to stand up and fight, with full disclosure, full respect, scrupulous honesty, honoring of the democratic process.” As Hoggan explained:
We have long passed the point where we can talk about a fight between good, clean science and science that has been sullied and distorted by personal and public interests.
We need scientists to become more political because pure evidence -- facts, figures and flow charts -- cannot form an adequate basis for public debate. Why? Primarily because public is not equipped to get to the bottom of such a discussion or analyze all these facts.
There is much more to examine in the book, from pundits repeating false myths over and over to the Dalai Lama’s appeal for “warm-heartedness.” Improving public discourse begins with expanding knowledge, and reading I’m Right and You’re an Idiot is a good first step.
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NBC's Chuck Todd gave noted-conspiracy theorist Glenn Beck a national platform to re-mainstream himself on the July 17 edition of Meet The Press. Todd introduced Beck as "founder of the conservative website and TV network The Blaze" and a "vocal critic of Donald Trump right from the start."
During his appearance, Beck criticized presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his vice presidential running mate Indiana Gov. Mike Pence -- who Beck alleged has previously criticized Trump behind closed doors -- and lamented that "the problem is in our society that there's no authenticity. You can't trust anybody." Beck also criticized Republican officials, including RNC chairman Reince Priebus.
After the interview, Todd said he was “aghast” and there were “some times where I felt speechless” during Beck’s interview, but didn’t disclose during or after the interview that Glenn Beck is a noted conspiracy theorist. Beck’s Fox News show was cancelled in 2011 after the network lost sponsors for the program due to continuous controversy over its bizarre and extreme content.
Ranging from violent, racist, and anti-semitic rhetoric to outlandish conspiracy theories, Beck’s on-air track record includes accusing President Obama of being a "racist" with a "deep-seated hatred for white people," claiming that "all of the decisions that the president has championed" led to the terrorist attacks on Paris, and repeatedly invoking Nazis, Hitler, and the Holocaust to attack his political opponents.
Over the past year, Beck has been vocally critical of Trump, likening his Muslim ban proposal to the policies of Adolf Hitler. He also has called Trump a progressive and asserted that if Trump wins the GOP presidential nomination it will "bring an end to the Republican Party."
Beck has also threatened to quit the National Rifle Association (NRA) over the long-debunked conspiracy theory that NRA board member and conservative activist Grover Norquist is an agent of the Muslim Brotherhood. Beck's antics culminated in an NRA investigation and Norquist "voluntarily suspend[ing] his Board activities pending the outcome."
Right-Wing Media Falsely Claim That Settlement Payments From Institutions Responsible For The Financial Crisis Create “Liberal Slush Fund” For Progressive Groups
Right-wing media have spent years attacking the Department of Justice’s handling of multi-billion dollar settlements from financial institutions partly responsible for the housing and financial crisis in 2008 and 2009. Conservative outlets falsely allege that the DOJ used settlement payments to create a “liberal slush fund” to disburse millions of dollars to nonprofit organizations like the nonpartisan National Council of La Raza (NCLR), even though these groups are certified housing counseling agencies.
Media commentators are criticizing presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump for reviving the “absurd” and “kooky” conspiracy theory that the Clintons were involved in the death of former White House aide Vince Foster.
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