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  • Newsmax CEO Embarrasses Himself While Denying Newsmax Reported On Trump Meeting With Russian Ambassador

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    MSNBC host Chris Matthews pressed Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy about a Newsmax report on President Donald Trump meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in April 2016. Ruddy repeatedly attempted downplay his own outlets report, claiming that the Newsmax report was probably a “wire report” republished on Newsmax. 

    Matthews pushed back on Ruddy’s denials by showing the article in question, which was titled “Putin pleased with Trump,” on screen and pointing out that it was “a byline piece, not a wire.” From the March 3 edition of MSNBC’s Hardball:

    CHRIS MATTHEWS (HOST): What is your reporting at Newsmax tell you about Trump's relationship with the Russians during the campaign? What do you have?

    CHRISTOPHER RUDDY: Well, you know, you and I both know, we’ve covered a lot of campaigns --

    MATTHEWS: He says he’s had no contacts. Well, you’ve covered it. What contacts has he had with the Russians during the campaign according to your news organization?

    RUDDY: Well, look, when he gave his foreign policy speech in Washington the Russian ambassador sat in the front row. This is not unusual for a political campaign to have dealings with foreign diplomats and officials. It happens all the time. He was very open about that he wanted to reset the relationship with Russia.

    MATTHEWS: Sure, but he said that -- look at a couple of things here.

    According to a report in your Newsmax Trump met with the Russian ambassador during the presidential campaign. According to Newsmax, your organization, Trump met with Sergey Kislyak himself, the Russian ambassador to the United States at a VIP reception along with three other foreign ambassadors.  Newsmax reports that the meeting came during the foreign policy speech, as you said he gave in April. What do you make of his denial he had no relations with the Russians at all? He’s given a blanket denial.

    RUDDY: Well, again, he gave a speech where the Russian ambassador showed up so it’s a little hard to say that he had --

    MATTHEWS: You said meeting.

    RUDDY: Well, I don’t believe, and again --

    MATTHEWS: Well your reporting was that it’s a meeting.

    RUDDY: Do you know, we both have been in politics, you know how many hundreds or thousands of people you meet in a political campaign.

    MATTHEWS: No, no, no, no. You said it was a meeting. I’m just asking you was it a meeting or wasn’t a meeting? If it was a meeting, why has Trump denied it?

    [...]

    There's a conflict there between your reporting of a meeting and him saying it's a ruse.

    RUDDY: We pick up a lot of wire stories at Newsmax and there’s a lot of reports on Newsmax, so if there was an official meeting with the Trump campaign, I don’t believe we’ve ever reported that.

    MATTHEWS: We just read your wire -- I know what you reported, we just read it. Does that conflict with what Trump just said there?

    [...]

    I want you to tell me what your news agencies reported, and whether it’s true or not. Was there a meeting between Trump and the Russian ambassador Kislyak or wasn't there? Because Trump denies it.

    RUDDY: Well, you should ask his campaign. MSNBC has reporters at the White House. Go ask them tomorrow about it. I'm not representing the Trump campaign. I don't see anything wrong if he did have the meeting. He wanted to reset the relationship, I think that's a positive thing.

    MATTHEWS: Then why is he acting like he didn’t? I agree with you. By the way, I don't think it proves anything that he met with the Russians. The question out there, in everybody’s mind is we know the Russians were involved in helping him win the election, because they wanted to beat Hillary. We understand that. That's a fact and there have been a series of meetings that have been disclosed between his people and the Russian ambassador which they never told us about until we dug it up.So there’s a reasonable progression here of information and it’s not coming from Trump, or from you, but it did come, ironically, from your news agency when you reported about a meeting last April between Trump and the Russian ambassador. And now you're pulling away from what you reported in April.

    [...]

    The byline piece in Newsmax, which we all read of course, was written by Sandy Fitzgerald, and it was a byline piece not a wire. Just want to make that clear. That was in April.

    RUDDY: It was probably a wire story that we probably picked up.

  • Trump Parties Over Presidents’ Day Weekend With Bigoted Conspiracy Theorist Who Called For Killing 100 Million Muslims

    Trump Attends Closed Event With Michael Savage And Newsmax CEO Who Criticized Reince Priebus For "Weakness"

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    President Donald Trump spent time over the Presidents’ Day weekend in the company of right-wing media figures who have a history of pushing anti-Muslim bigotry and conspiracy theories.

    At a private event at his Florida property, Mar-a-Lago, on February 18, Trump met with Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy and radio host Michael Savage. Savage, whose wife Janet Weiner is a member of Mar-a-Lago, tweeted a photo of the get-together, writing, “PRES. TRUMP THANKS SAVAGE FOR VICTORY! W/ CHRIS RUDDY NEWSMAX! Mar-a-Lago.”

    Savage, a conspiracy theorist with an extensive history of bigotry, was an early backer of Trump’s campaign and said last February that he was “the architect of Trump’s messaging.” In 2006, Savage called for “kill[ing] 100 million” Muslims. Following the terrorist attacks in Brussels, Belgium, in March 2016, Savage asked Trump to consider “closing the radical mosques in America.” In December, Savage mocked Muslim-Americans worried about Trump’s election, suggested Muslim immigrants came here “to stab people in the street, jump the curb with a car and run them over,” and argued that if you “interpret” the Quran “literally, you'll wind up cutting everyone's throat, blowing things up, and killing children.” Savage was also a birther, like Trump, who said Obama’s birth certificate was not valid, and claimed that Obama was gearing up to “fight a war against white people” and that Obama was engaging in “genocide” against white people. He has demanded a “revolution” in response to multiculturalism.

    Savage regularly hosted Trump on his program throughout his campaign, and Trump has thanked him for being “amazing,” “really nice,” and “so loyal.” Last year after Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died, Trump went on Savage’s show and questioned whether Scalia had been murdered. Savage claimed that Scalia "was found dead under suspicious circumstances,” and Trump said that "they found a pillow on his face, which is a pretty unusual place to find a pillow.”

    In 2008, Savage claimed that autism was “a fraud” because “in 99 percent of the cases, it's a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out.” Savage also has claimed that former President Barack Obama wanted “to infect the nation with Ebola,” attacked those with PTSD as “weak” and “narcissistic” “losers,” claimed lesbians are “jealous that they don't have an AIDS epidemic that they can cash in on,” and suggested that seltzer water and its “little bubbles of carbon dioxide” have driven liberals to “insanity.” More recently, Savage said in December that homeless people were “bums” and that the word “homeless” was “a construct of the radical left.” Trump has said that America would get “common sense” if Savage headed the National Institutes of Health (NIH). 

    Ruddy, a longtime personal friend of Trump’s and the CEO of Newsmax, said in 2011 that Media Matters was “right” that Newsmax was an “early and enthusiastic promoter of Trump's presidential ambitions.” The website also repeatedly pushed the false claim that Obama’s birth certificate was not real. Ruddy himself said in 2009 that while there was “no evidence" Obama wasn't born in the United States, "there's some legitimate issues involving the birth certificate." Earlier this month, Ruddy criticized Trump’s chief of staff, Reince Priebus, saying there’s “a lot of weakness coming out of the chief of staff."

    Another radio host, Laura Ingraham, who also was in Florida with Trump, shared the same photo on Twitter of the Mar-a-Lago event as Savage. Ingraham, a staunch supporter of Trump and one of Trump’s initial considerations for press secretary, has a history of using xenophobic rhetoric, such as claiming that Mexicans “have come here to murder and rape our people,” suggesting that northern Virginia is “a problem” because of an “illegal immigrant population” and “mosques going up,” and saying that she doesn’t “think of Jewish people as minorities because they're so successful.” Earlier this month, she speculated about whether former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s resignation, which came after he lied about discussing Russian sanctions with a Russian ambassador, was due to a “setup” by “neoconservatives.”

  • The Eight Things Media Should Know About The “Scientifically Dubious” Dr. Oz

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Dr. Mehmet Oz, host of ABC’s The Dr. Oz Show, hosted Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to purportedly discuss the results of a recent physical exam and go through “a full review of [Trump’s] systems.” Media organizations should be aware that Oz is infamous for “dubious medical advice” unsupported by evidence, that he has promoted discredited “ex-gay” therapy, and that he is a registered Republican who “donated handsomely” to GOP candidates.

  • A Comprehensive Guide To The Right-Wing Media Conspiracy Theorists That Have Influenced Trump’s Campaign

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump counts among his allies a stable of fringe right-wing conspiracy theorists who’ve made a name for themselves advancing conspiracy theories that include the myth that President Obama is a secret Kenyan Muslim, Lyndon Johnson assassinated John F. Kennedy, and the CIA is paying Beyonce to create mayhem. Trump’s conspiracy theorist allies also regularly wish violence upon political and media figures who they disagree with.

    Warning: This post contains graphic language and sexual content.

  • How Conservative Media Enabled Trump’s Outrageous Lies

    ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS & JARED HOLT

    Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump and conservative media figures repeatedly enabled each other to spread baseless smears and outright lies throughout the Republican presidential primary election cycle. Voices in conservative media repeatedly legitimized Trump’s debunked conspiracies, policy proposals, and statistics, some of which echoed longtime narratives from prominent right-wing media figures.

  • Conservative Media Keep Relying On Shoddy Research From This Anti-Immigrant Group To Push Xenophobic Agenda

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.

    Fox News and numerous other conservative media outlets uncritically presented the misleading conclusions of a May 2016 report by the anti-immigrant Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), which claimed that immigrant-headed households consume more welfare than households headed by native-born people. Right-wing media have ignored criticism from experts pointing out the report’s methodological flaws and exaggerations in order to present immigrants as a fiscal burden.

    Right-wing outlets including Breitbart, Newsmax, and The Daily Caller hyped the May 9 CIS report claiming that immigrant-headed households receive more welfare than households headed by native-borns. On May 12, Fox correspondent Eric Shawn presented the study’s claims uncritically during the “Truth Serum” segment of Fox’s The O’Reilly Factor. Host Bill O’Reilly introduced the segment by announcing the story was about “tax money going to support illegal aliens”:

    Experts have already leveled criticism at the report. Immigration policy analyst Alex Nowrasteh wrote that “The CIS headline result … lacks any kind of reasonable statistical controls” and that “CIS’ buried results undermine their own headline findings.” The American Immigration Council called the report “fundamentally flawed” and criticized its methodology as “creative accounting”:

    The biggest shortcoming of both reports is that they count the public benefits utilized by U.S.-born children as costs incurred by the “immigrant-headed households” of which they are a part—at least until those children turn 18, that is, at which point they are counted as “natives.”

    The problem with this kind of creative accounting is that all children are “costly” when they are young because they consume educational and health services without contributing any tax revenue. However, that situation reverses when they are working-age adults who, in a sense, “pay back” in taxes what they consumed as children. So it is disingenuous to count them as a “cost of immigration” one minute, and then as native-born taxpayers the next minute.

    According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), CIS has ties to hate groups in the nativist lobby and “has never found any aspect of immigration that it liked, and it has frequently manipulated data to achieve the results it seeks.” CIS has repeatedly been criticized for publishing shoddy research work that includes the “misinterpretation and manipulation of data” and methodologies that are “deeply flawed.”

    These criticisms of the new report received no mention on right-wing media reports on the study. Previous equally flawed CIS studies have been similarly promoted by conservative media, indicating a pattern: CIS publishes a study with anti-immigrant conclusions, and right-wing media ignore facts to report it uncritically, despite expert criticisms pointing to methodological flaws, nuances, or controls that undermine the study’s conclusion. This cycle joins other dishonest strategies from the immigrant smearing playbook that have been repeatedly employed by right-wing media.

  • Conservatives Have Been Praising Merrick Garland For Years

    ››› ››› PAM VOGEL

    On March 16, President Obama announced his nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the United States Supreme Court. Garland has faced misleading and false attacks, as well as a concerted push for continued obstruction of any Supreme Court nominee chosen by Obama. However, some of the same conservative officials and pundits have previously lavished Garland with praise arguing that he would be a "consensus nominee" representing "the best scenario" for bipartisan support.

  • Conservative Media Run With Misleading Report That Bill Clinton Slammed Obama

    ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    Right-wing media repeatedly cited a misleading Tennessee newspaper report that took former President Bill Clinton out of context to claim that he criticized President Obama during a campaign speech for not doing enough to effect change in the country. In fact, full video of Clinton's remarks reveals that he repeatedly praised Obama's accomplishments and explicitly criticized those who claim that Obama didn't accomplish enough.

  • Conservative Media Use Trey Gowdy Interview To Push Debunked Benghazi "Stand Down" Claim

    ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    Conservative media are seizing on comments made by Congressman Trey Gowdy (R-SC), chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi in order to repeat debunked claims that American military forces were ordered to "stand down" and not help rescue those attacked on September 11, 2012 in Benghazi, Libya. In fact, numerous congressional investigations found that no such order was given to American military forces.

  • NASA Scientist Warned Deniers Would Distort His Antarctic Ice Study -- That's Exactly What They Did

    ››› ››› DENISE ROBBINS

    A new NASA study found that there has been a net increase in land ice in Antarctica in recent years, despite a decline in some parts of the continent. The study's lead author astutely predicted that climate science deniers would distort the study, even though it does nothing to contradict the scientific consensus on climate change or the fact that sea levels will continue to rise.

  • Right-Wing Media Praise "Populist" Trump Tax Plan That's Anything But

    Critics Detail How It Overwhelmingly Benefits The Wealthy And Corporations

    ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON & ALEX MORASH

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump unveiled a tax reform plan that he claimed will "cost [him] a fortune" and that right-wing media touted as "populist." In fact, like many of his Republican rivals, Trump has offered a tax plan that amounts to a victory for the rich.