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Before House Republicans and President Donald Trump were forced to pull the American Health Care Act (AHCA), their ill-fated first attempt to gut health care reform and repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), media repeatedly trumpeted Trump's supposed ability to get the bill passed because of his mastery of the "Art of the Deal." Here's a look back at how they described the "great negotiator," which was "the whole point of Trump":
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The President Of The United States Has Made Fox & Friends' Lack Of Journalistic Standards A National Security Issue
“For the record,” a top Fox News executive explained to the network’s newsroom a decade ago, “seeing an item on a website does not mean it is right. Nor does it mean it is ready for air on FNC.”
John Moody, at the time Fox’s vice president for news, issued that missive after Fox & Friends co-hosts Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade highlighted for their millions of viewers a right-wing outlet’s quickly debunked report that then-Sen. Barack Obama had gone to school at an extremist Islamic madrassa as a child. “The hosts violated one of our general rules, which is know what you are talking about,” Moody told The New York Times. “They reported information from a publication whose accuracy we didn’t know.”
Ten years later, the denizens of the program’s curvy couch still frequently don’t know what they are talking about. But now, their conspiracy theories and bogus claims are repeated by the White House as if they were credible reports from distinguished journalists. Under the Trump administration, the hosts and guests of Fox & Friends are setting the national agenda, thanks to their biggest fan, the president of the United States.
Last week, Fox senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano stopped by the set of Fox & Friends and claimed that unnamed intelligence sources had told him that late last year, a British spy agency had surveilled now-President Donald Trump on behalf of then-President Barack Obama.
The incident was typical for Napolitano, a 9/11 truther who regularly uses his Fox airtime to push paranoid conspiracy theories. But the response from the Trump administration was remarkable.
Two days later, White House press secretary Sean Spicer cited Napolitano’s claim during a briefing. Since then:
The British intelligence service has denied the charge.
The Trump administration was forced to discuss the incidents with the British government.
When a reporter asked Trump about the incident during a press conference with a foreign leader, the president claimed that “all we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for saying that on television.”
Fox News admitted that it could not substantiate Napolitano’s claim.
Napolitano acknowledged that one of his sources was a well-known conspiracy theorist.
That conspiracy theorist said that Napolitano had botched the story.
A British newspaper owned by Fox chief executive Rupert Murdoch reported that the story may have been the result of a Russian intelligence operation.
The deputy director of the National Security Agency told BBC News that the charge was “arrant nonsense.”
“There was a time when a guy like Judge Andrew Napolitano could make some marginal remarks on Fox News, and only a large plume of non-White House officials would take him seriously,” The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple noted Friday. “Perhaps a website or two would pick up on them. Then everyone would move on to other matters. … Warning to Judge Napolitano: People in power are now listening to you. They’re case-building off of your reporting.”
If Trump can be said to treat Fox News personalities as his advisers, then the hosts of Fox & Friends are his kitchen cabinet. While the president regularly assails journalists as lying members of the “opposition party,” he praises Fox for producing “the most honest morning show” and calls its hosts “honorable people.”
Trump has said that he may owe his presidency to his years-long weekly interview segment on Fox & Friends, telling the show’s hosts earlier this year that “maybe without those call-ins, somebody else is sitting here.” Since becoming perhaps the most powerful person on the planet, Trump has continued to regularly watch the morning show, sometimes for hours at a time. He frequently tweets along with the program, commenting on the stories he sees and retweeting the broadcast’s feed. And those presidential comments set the news agenda for the rest of the press.
Given the president’s tendency to run with thinly sourced claims he gets from right-wing outlets, this is not a good sign.
Doocy and Kilmeade, who have hosted since the show’s debut in 1998, regularly expose themselves as bigoted misogynists. (Ainsley Earhardt, the program’s third co-host for the past year, provides run-of-the-mill conservative-inflected Fox commentary.)
Notably, Kilmeade has declared that “all terrorists are Muslims” (he later said he misspoke) and issued a shockingly racist rant about how Americans don’t have “pure genes” like the Swedes because “we keep marrying other species and other ethnics” (he subsequently apologized). Former Fox & Friends host Gretchen Carlson accused Doocy of engaging in “a pattern of severe and pervasive mistreatment” on and off air in her sexual harassment lawsuit against the network’s founder and chairman, Roger Ailes; while Ailes was pushed out, no public action was taken against Doocy.
They are also two of the dumbest people in the news business.
Lest you think I am exaggerating, please watch this clip of Trump’s favorite morning show hosts attempting to roast marshmallows over an open fire using a plastic spoon and their bare hands. Pay special attention to the look on Chris Wallace’s face as he observes the antics from a remote site with increasing disbelief, and eventually halts the segment to call them “dopes.”
The gullibility and stupidity of Fox’s morning hosts is now an issue of national import. They frequently push obviously false and easily debunked claims, often based on dubious reports from sources that lack credibility. Some past examples include:
The Time A Federal Judge Scolded Them For Credulously Reporting A Parody Story. In 2007, just a few months after the hosts’ madrassa commentary spurred the network executive to warn them not to believe everything they see on the internet, they reported that a middle school student had been suspended for leaving a ham sandwich on a lunch table near Muslim students. At one point during the segment, Kilmeade said, "I hope we're not being duped," to which Doocy replied, "We're not being duped. I've looked it up on a couple of different websites up there." They were being duped; their source was a fabricated story from the hoax website Associated Content. Doocy subsequently issued a retraction and apology. A federal judge later criticized the “gullible” hosts over the incident, saying their actions “should provide grist for journalism classes teaching research and professionalism standards in the Internet age.”
The Time Doocy Claimed Obama Fabricated An Earthquake (He Didn’t). In March 2010, Obama said a proposal to adjust Medicaid reimbursement rates for states affected by natural disasters "also affects Hawaii, which went through an earthquake." Doocy suggested that Obama had made the earthquake up, noting that previous Hawaiian earthquakes came in 1868 and 1975. His allegation came from Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft, the dumbest man on the Internet and, not surprisingly, a regular source of Fox & Friends stories; an earthquake struck Hawaii in 2006.
The Time Fox & Friends Investigated Whether A Terrorist Ghostwrote Obama’s Autobiography. In March 2011, the program hosted WorldNetDaily columnist and noted conspiracy theorist Jack Cashill to discuss his claim that Obama's first book, Dreams from My Father, was actually written by former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers.
The Time Doocy Told Trump That Obama "Could End It Simply -- Just Show [The Birth Certificate] To Us." In a series of segments in March and April 2011, the hosts supported Trump’s fact-free claims that Obama had not produced his birth certificate. During their regular interview segment, Doocy responded to Trump's false statement that President Obama "has not given a birth certificate" by saying, "He could end it simply -- just show it to us, and it'd be over."
The Time The Show Invented A TSA Program To Test Airline Passenger DNA. The program ran a March 2011 segment suggesting that the Transportation Security Administration would soon begin testing airline passengers' DNA at airports. Napolitano criticized the purported effort, saying it “offends the Constitution” and “feeds the government's voracious appetite to control people”; Kilmeade defended TSA for “trying to stop illegal human trafficking.” Arguments about civil liberties aside, the entire story was made up, as Doocy acknowledged when he apologized for the “error” the next day.
The Time Fox & Friends Claimed Obama Wanted To Apologize To Japan For Hiroshima. In October 2011, the hosts lashed out at Obama because he supposedly had wanted to apologize to Japan for the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima, but Japan had nixed the idea. The next day, Doocy sought to “clarify” the story by removing the portion of the story that had angered them, stating: “We want to be very clear. There was never a plan for President Obama to apologize to Japan. We should have been clear about that, and we're sorry for the confusion.”
The Time They Falsely Claimed Obama Met With A Pirate But Not Netanyahu. Channeling a story from The Drudge Report, the hosts claimed in September 2012 that Obama had time to meet with a man in a pirate costume for Talk Like a Pirate Day, but had been “too busy” to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In fact, the photo of Obama and the pirate that the White House had tweeted out the previous day had been taken three years earlier for use during that year's White House Correspondents' Dinner. Doocy and Fox & Friends subsequently acknowledged that fact on social media.
The Time They Pretended Obama Wanted To Take Kevlar Helmets Away From Cops. After a police officer survived the June 2016 mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, FL, because he had been wearing a Kevlar helmet, Doocy suggested that the Obama administration had been “pushing to take away life-saving armor” like the helmet through a ban on the federal government transferring military equipment to police departments. Kevlar helmets are not on the list of banned equipment, as Doocy acknowledged in a clarification the next day.
The Time Fox & Friends Pushed The Conspiracy Theory That Google Was Manipulating Search Results To Help Hillary Clinton. In June 2016, Kilmeade and Napolitano accused Google of “manipulating the search [results] for Hillary [Clinton] to bury the bad stuff.” Napolitano said that “we know” Google “has” manipulated search results relating to Clinton according to a "very extensive test," and that the result is an example of “the Google, Eric Schmidt [executive chairman of Google’s board of directors], President Obama, Democratic National Committee, West Wing circle that we all know exists.” But, according to CNNMoney, “Despite what you might have seen online, Google is not manipulating its search results to favor Hillary Clinton.”
The Time Doocy Pushed A Conspiracy Theory About A Murdered Democratic Staffer. In July 2016, Democratic National Committee (DNC) staffer Seth Rich was murdered while walking home in his Washington, D.C., neighborhood. Conservatives subsequently suggested that he may have been murdered because he had helped WikiLeaks gain access to the DNC’s email servers (his family condemned these conspiracy theories). Fox & Friends picked up the story, with Doocy stating on air, “Some on the internet are suggesting, wait a minute, was [Rich] the source of the WikiLeaks DNC leaks?”
Now when Doocy and Kilmeade run credulous reports based on something they saw "on the internet," the president is watching -- and taking them seriously.
President Donald Trump retweeted a segment from Fox News’ Fox & Friends that claimed “jihadis [are] using religious visa to enter US” just days after two federal judges temporarily halted his second attempt at a travel ban targeting a list of majority-Muslim countries. However, the Foxnews.com article the Fox & Friends segment was based on named no incidents of terrorism in the U.S. linked to Muslims here on the R-1 visa for religious workers, and a Media Matters search also found no such reports of terrorism linked to R-1 visas within the last ten years.
Spread By Infowars, Reddit, Breitbart, And Other Conspiracy Sites, The Wiretap Claim Goes Back To The Person Who Said There Was An Obama "Whitey" Tape
Fox News’ senior judicial analyst, Judge Andrew Napolitano, claimed that former President Barack Obama asked a British intelligence agency to spy on President Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign and the transition period and to provide the former president with transcripts of Trump's conversations. Napolitano’s claim can be traced in part back to an interview on the state-sponsored Russian network RT with a former CIA official who has accused John Kerry of war crimes, spread the 2008 rumor about a supposed recording of former first lady Michelle Obama “railing against ‘whitey,’” and now is floating "sedition" charges against former Obama officials.
In over 40 segments from March 11 through 13 that discussed President Donald Trump’s firing of Preet Bharara, who was U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Fox News failed to disclose that Bharara was investigating multiple potential crimes committed by the network, including allegedly hiding financial settlements paid to women who accused former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes of sexual harassment.
Fox News Spent Days Attempting To Discredit The CBO In Advance Of Its Report Outlining That Millions Will Lose Health Insurance Under GOP Plan
Fox News pushed White House talking points attacking the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) in an attempt to discredit the nonpartisan scorekeeper before it released today’s report projecting the effects of the Republican plan to repeal Obamacare -- the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The report’s devastating findings -- that up to 24 million people would lose their health insurance coverage over the next decade under the GOP health care plan -- are now public. Will Fox News continue to borrow White House talking points to carry water for the disastrous plan?
On March 13, the CBO reported that the number of Americans without health insurance would grow to a staggering 52 million people by 2026 under the GOP’s health care plan, AHCA, compared to an estimated 28 million who are projected to remain uninsured under current law. President Donald Trump’s administration and Republican leaders in Congress had tried to smear the CBO -- the nonpartisan research arm of Congress tasked with analysing the budgetary and economic impacts of legislative proposals -- in advance of the widely anticipated report, which many correctly predicted would find that the GOP plan will throw millions off their health insurance.
White House officials began a campaign to discredit the CBO on March 8 when during a press briefing White House press secretary -- and renowned liar -- Sean Spicer questioned the work of the nonpartisan researchers at CBO, telling reporters that “if you're looking at the CBO for accuracy, you're looking in the wrong place.” This was an about-face from what the director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Mick Mulvaney, stated on MSNBC’s Morning Joe earlier that day when he claimed “the only question” on the CBO scoring was whether it will it be “really good” or “great” for the Trump administration. Despite his initial optimism, Mulvaney too joined in on attacking the CBO on the March 12 edition of ABC’s This Week, downplaying the effectiveness of the office’s analysis and misleadingly claiming that the agency did not score the Affordable Care Act (ACA) -- also called Obamacare -- accurately. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, also blasted the CBO on the March 12 edition of NBC’s Meet The Press.
In the hours leading up to the CBO’s March 13 report release, Fox News figures attempted to discredit the organization with talking points straight from the Trump administration. Co-host Brian Kilmeade claimed on Fox and Friends that the CBO was tricked into scoring the ACA inaccurately because it did not score the mandate as a tax, adding that the CBO fell “hook, line, and sinker” for some sort of Democratic plan to bring about single-payer health care. On America’s Newsroom, Washington Examiner columnist Byron York claimed the Trump administration’s allegation that CBO had inaccurately scored the ACA years ago was “absolutely true.” On Outnumbered, co-host Melissa Francis claimed “the CBO does get everything wrong” and complained that the CBO underestimated the cost of Medicaid expansion under the ACA. On Fox Business’ Varney & Co., host Stuart Varney’s anti-CBO talking points were rebuffed by Harvard economist and former CBO director Douglas Elmendorf, who pointed out that the office correctly predicted that the number of uninsured would fall under ACA, it accurately projected premium increases under the law, and it actually overestimated the long-term cost of enacting Obamacare.
As soon as the CBO’s devastating report on the short- and long-term effects of repealing Obamacare and enacting the AHCA was released this afternoon, Fox News turned to discredited New York Post columnist, former Trump economic adviser, and serial health care misinformer Betsy McCaughey to double down on its campaign against the CBO. McCaughey slammed the report as “implausible” for finding that tens of millions would lose health insurance coverage under the Republican health care plan, but happily accepted the same report’s finding of marginal deficit reductions stemming from the repeal of health insurance subsidies to low-income Americans. From the March 13 edition of Fox’s Your World with Neil Cavuto:
According to an independent analysis of the CBO’s Affordable Care Act estimates from the Commonwealth Fund, the office’s health care policy analysis regarding the ACA actually “proved to be reasonably accurate” and was thrown off by Supreme Court decisions and GOP political obstruction that it had no way to forecast. Even James Capretta of the conservative American Enterprise Institute warned that it may “tempting for GOP leaders to say CBO is wrong” but it would be difficult to “make a credible case” that the repeal plan would not reduce the number of people with health insurance.
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It’s been a terrible few days for President Donald Trump.
After receiving an ill-earned round of media praise for his speech to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night, he was brought back to Earth the next evening by the news that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had twice met with the Russian ambassador last year, apparently contradicting statements he made during his confirmation hearing. On Thursday, Sessions announced he would recuse himself from all investigations involving the 2016 presidential campaign, apparently enraging Trump, who had just announced his full support for the attorney general.
Saturday morning saw Trump take to Twitter to claim that President Barack Obama had illegally tapped his phone lines prior to the election, apparently referencing a conspiratorial segment by radio host Mark Levin that had been written up by Breitbart.com. The next day, as baffled Republicans ran for cover, an increasingly besieged Trump was reportedly infuriated because “few Republicans were defending him on the Sunday political talk shows.” Last night brought the news that FBI director James Comey had asked the Justice Department to deny Trump’s statement because it “is false.”
Trump has received widespread criticism for -- seemingly cavalierly -- accusing the former president of lawbreaking. But if he spent the morning as he apparently usually does -- by watching the Fox News morning show Fox & Friends -- he received balm for his psychological wounds. Co-hosts Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt, and Brian Kilmeade rallied around the president, decrying what Doocy called “a coordinated effort by a former president and his team on a scale we have never seen before.”
Trump has access to a massive information-gathering apparatus. But rather than relying on federal agencies for information, Trump is a cable news junkie, reportedly watching several hours a day.
It’s unclear how he manages to find so much free time when he’s supposed to be running the most powerful nation on the planet, but his schedule apparently allows for it.
While in better days he typically channel-surfed between Fox & Friends, CNN’s New Day, and MSNBC’s Morning Joe, as his administration has floundered he has reportedly largely abandoned the latter networks in favor of the one that provides his administration with hagiographic propaganda. While Trump engages in what he calls a “running war with the media,” he has frequently praised the “honorable people” at Fox & Friends, who he says run “the most honest morning show.”
This morning the show’s hosts showed why Trump says they have “treated me very fairly.” Like their competitors, they devoted substantial time to Trump’s claim that Obama had ordered him to be wiretapped. But unlike the rest of the press, the Fox hosts abandoned all skepticism. They assumed that the president is clearly correct, praised his source Levin, and suggested that any who say otherwise -- Comey, former intelligence director James Clapper, the press -- are conspiring against Trump.
They downplayed or ignored the underlying question of whether federal agencies might have been investigating Trump and his associates because they may have broken the law. There was little interest in whether it was a good idea for Trump to drop wild, baseless accusations into his Twitter feed.
Certainly no one considered whether a theory that posits the FBI was acting on President Obama’s orders to stop Trump’s election really makes any sense at all. A reminder: This is what the front page of the paper of record looked like less than two weeks before Election Day:
Instead, the hosts spent the program stroking the grievances of their most powerful viewer.
“Why would Donald Trump feel this way?” asked Doocy during the show’s opening segment. “Keep in mind from day one it has appeared that his foes have been out to try get him. They have leaked damaging information to the press -- in some cases, broken the law.”
“I hope it’s a wake-up call,” Kilmeade added of reports that Trump has yelled at his staff. “He needs better people around him to do -- have either get together and work with him more efficiently because he is new at this.”
This narrative was briefly shattered when the hosts interviewed retired Gen. Michael Hayden, former head of the NSA and CIA under President George W. Bush, later that hour. “My instinct is no,” Hayden said when asked if the president was right to accuse Obama of wiretapping him. “And it looks as if the president -- just for a moment -- forgot that he was president. And why didn't he simply use the powers of the presidency to ask the acting director of national intelligence, the head of the FBI to confirm or deny the story he apparently read from Breitbart, the evening before?”
Hayden added that Obama would never have given such an order, and if he had, the intelligence services wouldn’t have complied.
But if Trump woke up late or took a bathroom break and missed that segment, Fox did its best to pretend it never happened. While the hosts typically replay and discuss their newsmaker interviews throughout the show, this one was promptly memory-holed.
Instead, in segment after segment, the hosts and their guests pushed Trump’s conspiracy and criticized his perceived enemies.
“The question is not if, if, if. The question is how much did the Obama administration work to sabotage the incoming administration to listen in on them,” The Daily Caller’s Christopher Bedford told the hosts later that hour.
According to Bedford, the “deep state leaks” coming out of the intelligence community are “shadows of a police state happening,” but the press doesn’t care because they have “Trump Derangement Syndrome.” “It's like Oliver Stone's worst nightmare is coming true, but instead of being outraged the people are excited and they’re celebrating it because it's Donald Trump as the target,” he added.
In a lengthy interview, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway also pointed her finger at the media, claiming that “we have this double standard for anonymous sources. The media love to use anonymous sources for anything and everything that could possibly be derogatory or negative for this president and his administration. Yet, they refuse to give any credibility to such sources when it may be something positive or exculpatory.”
The hosts had no problem with Conway explaining that Trump knows his phone was tapped because, as she said, “He has information and intelligence that the rest of us do not,” instead pivoting to discuss whether Trump’s staff is letting him down.
“It looks like a coordinated effort by a former president and his team on a scale we have never seen before,” Doocy eventually concluded.
If Trump was watching, he knows he has support in Congress. House Oversight Committee chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) took a seat on the curvy couch to riff with the hosts about the purported criminality of the Obama administration.
“I’m going to go into it eyes wide open. We’ve had experience, the Obama administration’s been notorious on this type of stuff, and we’re going to look hard at it,” he said.
The president of the United States may be a paranoid conspiracy theorist. But when he turns on Fox News between 6 and 9 a.m., he knows he can always count on support from his fans.
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The Trump administration's blacklisting of CNN continues, with Vice President Mike Pence skipping the network as he made the rounds the day after the president's address to Congress. This exclusion came days after CNN made moves to play nice with the administration, proving that "access journalism" means nothing under President Donald Trump.
Despite the glowing praise that Trump received from CNN, among other outlets, for his February 28 speech before a joint session of Congress, the network was the only one that Pence did not visit the next morning. Pence appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe , Fox News’ Fox & Friends, NBC’s Today, CBS’ CBS This Morning, and ABC’s Good Morning America. Pence also made appearances on conservative talk radio shows The Laura Ingraham Show and The Rush Limbaugh Show, and he will be appearing on Michael Savage’s A Savage Nation.
This isn’t the first time that CNN has been burned by Trump and his team. Trump has tried to make the network the punchline to every joke during his administration, in part as retaliation for CNN’s coverage of allegations that he and his campaign had ties to Russia. Trump has called CNN “fake news,” attempted to embarrass reporter Jim Acosta during a briefing, refused to send White House officials to appear on CNN’s Sunday show, and attacked anchor Don Lemon as “dumb” and a “lightweight.”And the latest move comes on the heels of a “ bait and switch” in which Trump told CNN and other television anchors in a private meeting that he was interested in creating a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, but then dropped the issue “when he was actually out there speaking to the American public.” The administration has admitted it “was a misdirection play,” according to CNN’s Sara Murray.
CNN was also one of the outlets that was denied entry during last week’s media gaggle, along with The New York Times, Politico, BuzzFeed News, and the Los Angeles Times, in favor of Trump-friendly outlets Breitbart, The Washington Times, and One America News Network.