In his writings and television appearances, Pat Buchanan has a long history of bigotry. Buchanan's efforts have found a fan base with a certain fringe segment of the country: white nationalists. A Media Matters review of some of the largest white nationalist groups shows that Buchanan's work is frequently cited and praised.
Buchanan's support isn't a one-way street. In addition to his bigoted rhetoric, Buchanan has appeared on a leading "pro-white" radio program twice; supported a prominent member of a leading white supremacist group; and has cited research from white nationalists in his work.
Buchanan's backing among fringe racists previously surfaced as an issue in his presidential campaigns. Buchanan ran for the GOP nomination for president in 1992 and 1996 and was the Reform Party's 2000 presidential nominee. Since that time, however, Buchanan has remained in the spotlight thanks to his nationally syndicated column, regular books, and regular appearances on TV. Buchanan is a political analyst for MSNBC, where he frequently discusses issues of race, immigration and culture.
As the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission review the proposed merger of telecom giants AT&T and T-Mobile, the two companies are sinking millions of dollars into their lobbying shops. Recently filed disclosure reports show that AT&T spent $4.9 million on lobbying in the second quarter of 2011, an increase of 58 percent from the same time period last year. Similarly, T-Mobile increased its lobbying expenditures from $602,000 in the second quarter of 2010 to $1 million in second quarter of 2011. All told, the two telecom companies have spent about $14 million on lobbying this year alone.
These numbers, however, offer an incomplete look at the AT&T/T-Mobile lobbying blitz. In the second quarter of this year the two companies spent about $1.3 million on outside lobbying firms that worked to boost government support for the merger. And those outside firms boast some heavy hitters who are going to bat for the increasingly controversial telecom deal. All told, AT&T and T-Mobile have no fewer than six former members of Congress, and a bevy of former congressional staffers, lobbying the federal government to approve the merger.
Ted Nugent would rather talk about his 'I Still Believe' concert tour than his history of controversial rhetoric.
But as anyone familiar with both his concerts and his views knows, the two are strongly intertwined. In fact, the name of his current tour is also the name of his seminar at the National Rifle Association conference.
So when Nugent's tour was set to come to New Jersey, where I live, last week I sought to set up an interview.
I wanted to ask the NRA board member about: his view that health care reform supporters are pigs; calling the Muslim community "rude and stupid"; and his statement that those who even say "gun control" should go to jail.
And of course his comments during a 2007 concert that described then-Senator Barack Obama as a "piece of shit" and referred to then-Senator Hillary Clinton as a "worthless bitch."
But after initially agreeing to an e-mail interview, his publicist rejected our questions, claiming in an e-mail:
Unfortunately due to the nature of the questions in your e-interview with Ted Nugent, management has declined commentary from our client in an effort to ensure the press surrounding the date is focused on the music and not political statements.
It all began two weeks ago when his assistant, via e-mail, responded to my initial request for a live or phone interview with this e-mail:
Ted is conducting print interview via email
at this time. I have attached background to assist,
and will be sending hi res art.
You are welcome to submit your questions to
Assistant to Mr. Nugent
Fox Television's demand for affiliates to pay retransmission fees has forced at least one broadcast chain to begin cutting its Fox ties this year.
Nexstar Broadcasting of Texas owns and operates 36 television stations in 16 states. At the beginning of 2011, 15 of the stations were Fox affiliates.
But since May, three of the Nexstar Fox affiliates dropped their Fox affiliation and became independent, with a fourth becoming an ABC affiliate. A Nexstar spokesman said the company would not pay the fees Fox demanded.
"Nexstar and Fox could not come to terms on Nexstar remitting to Fox some portion of the station's retransmission compensation," said Nexstar Spokesman Joe Jaffoni. "Fox believed they were entitled to some portion; that is sort of their mantra."
Local cable and satellite providers pay most affiliates a fee for use of their programming on their pay systems.
Each major broadcast network beginning last year began demanding a portion of those fees from their affiliates, with Fox's fees higher than any others, according to media journalists who said only Fox has lost affiliates because of the new requests.
Fox announced in 2010 it would require affiliate retransmission fees in 2011. The proposed fee schedule sought retransmission fees of 25 cents per subscriber per month in 2011, 35 cents per month in 2012, 42 cents per month in 2013, and 50 cents per month in 2014, according to those involved in the talks.
"It is a very big deal, in this day and age, when you are trying to save money, you are risking losing affiliations," Marc Berman, Adweek's longtime media writer, said about Fox's demand.
He added that Fox can hurt itself, too, if it drives away affiliates: "Particularly the way the prime time climate is now, you can lose audience and that can hurt your stations in the long run. If you are a station with viewers who are used to watching Fox on a certain channel, and you switch, that can be a problem."
The first Nexstar station to drop its Fox affiliation because of the fees was WTVW-TV in Evansville, Ind., which made the move in mid-May to be independent.
Roll Call has hired Daily Caller reporter Jonathan Strong to cover the House. Strong previously worked as a congressional aide to House Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA), and more recently drew criticism for his reporting on Michele Bachmann's migraines.
According to House data compiled by LegiStorm, Strong served as a staff assistant and legislative correspondent for Lungren from August 2006 and August 2008. During his time at the Daily Caller, Strong reported on and provided friendly coverage of the congressman.
When asked by Media Matters if Strong would cover Lungren or legislative activity he's involved with, a Roll Call spokesperson said the details of his House assignment have yet to be finalized but they're "excited to bring" him aboard.
"As with many of our talented journalists, they have a distinguished work history that accompanies them to our newspaper," said Rebecca Gale, Roll Call's Director of Promotions, in an email. "We have not finalized details of Jonathan's reporting, but we expect he will continue to report on Capitol Hill with the highest integrity and ethics that Roll Call is known for."
In a staffing note, Roll Call suggested that Strong was hired, in part, because of his ability to break news. In the memo, posted on FishbowlDC, Roll Call editors noted some of Strong's stories, including "the recent excitement over Michele Bachmann's migraines? Jonathan broke that story." While some reporters defended him, Strong's story drew criticisms for sexism from conservatives and liberals (including Media Matters.)
Strong was also the reporter who spearheaded the Daily Caller's series on the JournoList archives, which purported to show liberal journalists conspiring together. The reporting however, resulted in a seemingly endless series of misleading write-ups about JournoList. The Columbia Journalism Review's Joel Meares wrote that "the controversial reports left many prominent Washington press types, Left and Right, cold."
Strong has devoted friendly coverage to Lungren in The Daily Caller (Strong's site biography notes that he worked for Lungren). On April 26, 2010, for instance, Strong published an article with the headline, "Lungren introduces bill to repeal hidden Obamacare tax authority." From the article:
Pat Buchanan wrote in his recent syndicated column that accused Norway mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik may be "evil," but when it comes to his reported belief that there's a coming "climactic conflict between a once-Christian West and an Islamic world ... Breivik may be right." Buchanan, who also serves as an MSNBC analyst, has a long history marred by bigotry and hostility toward non-whites.
A North Carolina newspaper that often runs Pat Buchanan's work declined to publish his July 25 column that sought to give credence to the views of Norway mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik.
"It was just radioactive I thought. I don't think it really moves the ball forward in this discussion," said Jim Buchanan, editorial page editor of the Asheville Citizen-Times. "Pat kind of circled back around and tried to pin this on immigration. His reasoning seemed to be flawed in this column. Pat's blaming the victim here."
In the column, Buchanan (no relation to the editor) stated:
As for a climactic conflict between a once-Christian West and an Islamic world that is growing in numbers and advancing inexorably into Europe for the third time in 14 centuries, on this one, Breivik may be right.
The editor said his paper runs about one out of three Buchanan columns, but did not run this one because of the content.
"This guy was an opponent of multiculturalism," he added. "And Pat is seeming to say multiculturalism is the problem."
Also declining to run the column is Opinions Editor J.J. Guidry of The Tampa Tribune, which often publishes Buchanan's work. Asked about this column, Guidry e-mailed the folllowing:
We did not run the column and do not plan to. Buchanan's view of multiculturalism is something we would publish, but despite Buchanan's efforts to take care, the discussion here, immediately after the murders, could be misinterpreted by some readers as a rationalization or even justification for the massacre. Some surely would find it offensive. I'd think it would be better addressed at another time.
Glenn Beck is asking members of Congress and the leaders of other organizations to lend their support to his Restoring Courage rally slated to take place in Jerusalem in August, according to documents obtained by Media Matters.
In an email to a congressional office, Beck staffer Natalie Costantino insists that the event will be "non-partisan, non-political, and non-denominational" and writes that "Glenn would like to invite" the member "personally to support the country, whether it be joining us in Israel or supporting in spirit."
We are asking supporters to participate in two things that will help strengthen the message of Restoring Courage:
First, we are asking if [Member of Congress' name redacted] could write a support letter on official letterhead to be posted online. An archive of letters will be created to help encourage others to take the courageous step of standing with Israel. Please note that your letter of support may be posted on glennbeck.com, theblaze.com, GBTV, our Restoring Courage Facebook page and Glenn may talk about your organization's support on TV or radio.
Secondly, please visit www.facebook.com/824restoringcourage and like our page! Reciprocally, we will add your page to our likes.
Attached to the email is a "concept letter" stating that the event is "apolitical, non-partisan and will not promote any particular religion but focus on the need for individuals to have the courage of their convictions and take a stand with Israel."
While the rally may indeed be nondenominational, Beck's focus on Israel is fueled -- at least in part -- by an interest in End Times theology. As we have documented extensively, both Beck and his chosen religious "experts" have repeatedly suggested that Israel is especially important at this point in time due to its role in End Times prophecies and the possibly impending Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
During the monologue on his radio program announcing the Israel rally in May, Beck evoked Ezekiel and the End Times. As he often does when suggesting we may be living in the End Times, he was sure to clarify that he personally has "no idea if these are the times":
BECK: There will be people who will say, 'oh, you are crazy - that's not gonna happen. People have been saying that this is Ezekiel for five thousand years. Yada Yada Yada." I have no idea if these are the times, I just know that the old hatreds are starting up, and as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, said, 'God will not hold us blameless.'"I choose to stand and be counted.
Currently featured at Glenn Beck's GBTV website is a video titled "Understanding the Holy Land," wherein a series of religious experts present a brief history of Israel. Among these experts are several frequent Beck guests that believe the End Times could be imminent, including Left Behind author Tim LaHaye, Joel Rosenberg, and Joel Richardson.
The documentary repeatedly references the potentially imminent End Times, and at one point portrays the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 as especially important due to its fulfillment of the "one major prophecy that was yet to be fulfilled" about "the end of the world."
In the video, Rosenberg explains why it is uniquely important for people to support Israel at this point in time by pointing to a "prophecy that doesn't get much attention" from the Book of Joel indicating that God is going to "judge all the nations who have divided his land" when "history comes to an end."
FoxNews.com has stopped posting videos for Fox News Watch's "Behind the Breaks" segments, which featured panelists' discussions during the program's commercial breaks.
The online-only segment seemed to only gain attention when it embarrassed Fox News. Indeed, FoxNews.com's last update - for its July 9 program - featured panelists admitting they weren't going "to touch" the hacking scandal involving their parent company News Corp. The video drew notice here and overseas as Fox's coverage of the controversy about its parent company drew scrutiny (perhaps due to the attention, Fox News Watch subsequently covered the story).
Since the notice over its "Behind the Breaks" video about the hacking scandal, however, FoxNews.com hasn't posted any further videos. Fox News Watch's website used to feature a section for the videos (under the "Most Recent Video" tab):
In a regular segment for his 700 Club program, Pat Robertson answers viewer questions about "what it means to be a Christian." In them, Robertson regularly urges viewers to avoid entertainment "glorifying" the "occult" like Harry Potter, television shows like Medium and Ouija boards.
During a May "Bring It On" segment, a viewer wrote that "my pastor says we shouldn't read the 'Harry Potter' series because it contains magic. But how is that different from the Narnia series, which contain the same?"
"Well, Narnia is different. It's not glorifying magic and the occult," Robertson replied. "The lady who wrote Harry Potter [J.K. Rowling], I understand, was deeply involved in some of the occult things."
"You don't need to involve yourself in witchcraft, and the occult," Robertson later added. "It's dangerous. It will - it is seductive. It is seductive."
Robertson offered a similar response in 2007. When a viewer asked if people were being "exposed to evil" by partaking in the Harry Potter craze, Robertson said that Rowling is a "very fine author but she was deeply engaged in various type of white magic, or that kind of thing, the occult. And the book takes from that sort of background."
"I think it's leading us down the wrong way," Robertson concluded.
Fox has repeatedly featured reports on controversial oil shale ventures that Rupert Murdoch -- the chairman and CEO of Fox's parent company -- is a prominent investor in and adviser to without disclosing the conflict of interest.
Last year, Murdoch joined the "strategic advisory board" of Genie Energy and purchased an equity stake in Genie Oil and Gas, which consists of Genie Energy's interests in oil shale initiatives on federal land in Western Colorado and in Israel's Elah Valley.
Genie Energy -- which is a division of IDT Corporation, a global telecommunications company -- has attracted several other high-profile advisers and investors, including former Vice President Dick Cheney, Lord Jacob Rothschild, and Michael Steinhardt, a prominent hedge fund investor and philanthropist.
Genie Energy clearly sees value in its association with Murdoch. It touted the "vast experience and immeasurable value" Murdoch would bring to the board when he joined it last September. This week, the company stood by Murdoch, calling him a "valued member of Genie Energy's Strategic Advisory Board" even as public outrage grew over allegations that his British tabloids illegally hacked the voicemails of thousands of people and bribed the police.
In May, Media Matters reported that on three consecutive days in April, Fox Business Network promoted Genie Energy's oil shale project in Israel -- known as Israel Energy Initiatives (IEI) -- yet never disclosed Murdoch's financial stake in it.
This week, Fox News aired reports on domestic oil shale production that featured Genie's shale project in Western Colorado -- American Shale Oil -- but didn't disclose Murdoch is a prominent investor and adviser.
An oil shale company that counts Rupert Murdoch as both a key investor and member of its "strategic advisory board" is standing by the embattled News Corp. chairman as public outrage grows over allegations that his British tabloids illegally hacked the voicemails of thousands of people and bribed the police.
"Rupert Murdoch is a valued member of Genie Energy's Strategic Advisory Board, and we hope and expect that he will continue in that capacity," Genie Energy chairman Howard Jonas told Media Matters in an emailed statement today.
Hollywood stars, according to Reuters, have been "largely silent" on Rupert Murdoch's widening News of the World phone-hacking scandal in part because "few American stars appear to have been targeted" and -- perhaps more significantly -- because many have ties to the Murdoch empire.
An anonymous "industry source" reportedly told Reuters: "'Murdoch touches everybody in some way, so nobody is standing up' to speak publicly."
As celebrities and politicians in the U.K. have already learned, this is a dangerous game to play. For years, investigations into News of the World's illegal activities there were slow-walked, and people of influence remained "largely silent." But after the Guardian broke the news earlier this month that Murdoch's tabloid apparently hacked the voicemails of a teen murder victim, it became impossible to look the other way.
A top broadcast labor union that represents many BSkyB employees is criticizing the British government's handling of News Corp.'s bid to take over the company and blasting News Corp. for engaging in "unethical practices on a grand scale."
BECTU, an independent media labor union, also expressed concerns about how News Corp. might treat BSkyB employees in the wake of News Corp.'s decision to abruptly shut down News of the World. News Corp. has continued to employ Rebekah Brooks, who was News of the World's editor during part of the hacking scandal, and Les Hinton, who was Brooks' boss.
"I think it's safe to say that neither News International nor News Corp will be winning any prizes for fostering good industrial relations given their decision last week to close the News of the World," Sharon Elliott, BECTU communications officer, said in an e-mail Tuesday. "Our experience is that any company which is part of the Murdoch empire is wholly pragmatic; they operate in terms of the best interests of the business and not of their people."
In the past, BECTU had unsuccessfully urged Conservative culture and media secretary Jeremy Hunt to refer the News Corp./BSkyB deal to the Competition Commission for review -- an action that would have considerably slowed down approval of the deal. After the latest phone-hacking revelations, however, News Corp. itself forced the issue to be referred to the Competition Commission, a move apparently aimed at preventing the government from blocking the deal altogether.
"This is what BECTU called for from the outset, but the [referral to the Competition Commission] now in the face of the seismic developments of last week appear more focused on helping the government to save face given its previous complacency on these critical issues," Elliott told Media Matters in another e-mail Tuesday. "Murdoch too would appear to see the [referral] as a way of keeping the bid alive given the exposure of unethical practices on a grand scale which make the preferred, more cosy arrangement with the UK government a non-runner."
BECTU does not formally represent staffers at the non-union BSkyB for purposes of collective bargaining. But Elliott said British law allows staffers to seek representation from the union for grievances and labor-related issues on an individual bases.
BECTU has opposed the News Corp. takeover of BSkyB for months with several strong statements and actions aimed at stopping the effort and warning of its potential effects.
A few days ago, right-wing blogger John Hinderaker enthusiastically endorsed a "slick" new video released by a group called Senate Accountability Watch attacking Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) for wanting to "regulate your internet use." It features a military family, two video game-playing schlubs, and an elderly woman all using the internet to enrich their lives until a faceless "Al Franken" pushes the huge red "REGULATE INTERNET" button on his desk and shuts off their internet access.
The message of the video is, as Hinderaker puts it, that net neutrality "is a bad idea because it is being promoted by Al Franken," and the implication is that net neutrality legislation would allow government officials to restrict access to the internet (net neutrality is actually aimed at preventing governments and internet service providers from doing that). The message isn't exactly new or compelling, Hinderaker's endorsement notwithstanding. Far more interesting is the brief, sordid history of Senate Accountability Watch -- an organization founded by a controversial Republican operative for the sole purpose of harassing Al Franken.
Senate Accountability Watch was founded in August 2010 by Jeff Larson, a direct marketing tycoon who worked closely with former Sen. Norm Coleman, whom Franken narrowly defeated in the drawn-out 2008 Minnesota Senate election. Larson just recently signed on as the Republican National Committee's chief of staff. In September 2010, Senate Accountability Watch filed a complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee over an email Franken's campaign committee sent out promoting Franken's role in supporting net neutrality. Larsen filed another complaint with the Federal Election Committee in December claiming that Franken's PAC and other Democratic groups had violated election laws by accepting donations from a "foreign national," British comedian Eddie Izzard.
Neither complaint succeeded. The Senate Ethics Committee dismissed Larson's allegations, saying they "do not merit further review," and Larson actually petitioned to withdraw his FEC complaint when he learned that Izzard is a legal resident of the United States and thus entitled to make political donations. The FEC later dismissed the complaint.
Senate Accountability Watch's failed ethics complaints are only the most recent of Jeff Larson's political misadventures.
Larson earned a considerable amount of notoriety during the 2000 South Carolina Republican primary when his direct marketing firm, FLS, conducted a series of robocalls on behalf of George W. Bush smearing Sen. John McCain. Eight years later, McCain hired FLS to conduct robocalls tying Barack Obama to William Ayers.
Larson was also at the center of two political controversies in the 2008 election cycle. In June 2008, National Journal revealed that Sen. Norm Coleman had been renting a Capitol Hill apartment from Larson at the extremely low price of $600 per month. Larson was a longtime ally and client of Coleman's; FLS billed the senator for $1.6 million in services going back to 2001. The Washington, DC-based ethics group CREW filed an ethics complaint against Coleman, claiming he had "violated the Senate gifts rule by accepting lodging from Republican operative Jeff Larson."
In October 2008, Larson found himself in the spotlight again when it was revealed that the Republican National Committee had reimbursed him for $130,000 in clothing he purchased for then-vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
Thus far there doesn't seem to be any indication that Larson's anti-net neutrality video will air on television, and it hasn't earned much notice beyond Hinderaker's blog.