The Daily Caller

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  • How Trump Embodies The Right-Wing Media’s Caricature Of Obama: Lazy, Secretive, And Corrupt

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    During Barack Obama’s presidency, perhaps no conservative media outlet lamented as loudly about the frequency of the president's golf games as Tucker Carlson's Daily Caller.

    Year after year, a parade of Daily Caller staffers lined up to feed the phony outrage machine by detailing the supposedly mountainous taxpayer costs associated with the excursions. The headlines often stressed that Obama’s golf trips took place against the backdrop of grim news events, suggesting the president was pampered and out of touch:

    Milwaukee Burns, Louisiana Floods, Obama Golfs” (August 15)

    As Suspected Terror Rages In Berlin, Obama Hits Hawaiian Golf Course” (December 19)

    For eight years, the “Obama golfs too much” narrative served as shorthand for the right-wing press to denigrate the president as lazy, not serious, and tone deaf.

    And then came President Donald Trump.

    His relentless trips to the links and to his Florida resort have quickly turned any previous complaints about Obama into a punchline.

    Overall, the taxpayer expenses for Trump’s domestic travels, including his golf trips to Florida, have been staggering: $20 million in less than three months, a clip that would add up to $80 million a year.

    As CNN recently reported, Trump's outings are "putting the president on pace in his first year of office to surpass former President Barack Obama's spending on travel for his entire eight years.” 

    All of this family travel and the colossal, unprecedented costs paid by taxpayers make the conservative media look completely absurd. Why? The Daily Caller once complained about two Obama golf trips that cost an estimated $1,031,685 and $804,870. Today, that’s in the ballpark of what it costs every time Trump goes to Mar-a-Lago -- and he’s already been seven times this year.

    Last month, The Daily Caller at least conceded that Trump had previously criticized Obama for playing golf as president and was now playing ever more himself. But like so many in the conservative media, The Daily Caller refused to acknowledge its own, years-long hypocrisy on the issue. Instead, the Caller is now framing Trump's golf outings as helpful for diplomacy

    For conservative media, it’s not just the golfing hypocrisy that’s been driven off the charts this year. Instead, it’s becoming clear that many of the unlikable traits that the far-right press desperately tried to assign to Obama -- he’s lazy, he’s secretive, he’s a bully, he’s corrupt -- are all now being proudly embodied by Trump.

    For eight years, right-wing media invented an unflattering image of Obama that never fit the reality. But now it fits Trump perfectly, and the conservative press is too embarrassed to admit it.

    Recall that so few of the far right's relentless attacks on Obama were based on policy. Instead, they were personality driven. But confronted by a mainstream, center-left Democrat who eschewed drama and displays of pure partisanship, far-right press critics simply invented a villainous figure with obnoxious traits that would fit their narrative.

    Today, Trump perfectly mirrors that figure.

    On Friday, the Trump administration announced that the White House visitor logs would not be released to the public, ensuring that the administration would work in secret. The decision directly contradicted the transparent protocols used by the Obama White House, which released nearly 6 million White House visitor records. “Mr. Trump has rejected other basic standards of presidential disclosures, like the release of his tax returns,” noted The New York Times.

    Of course, right-wing media spent years hammering Obama for being secretive and trying to hide his true agenda from the public. In fact, Obama’s press critics routinely weaponized the White House visitor logs, which were released to the public, in order to concoct bogus claims of scandal and corruption. (No, Bertha M. Lewis, the CEO of ACORN, did not visit the White House in 2009. Yes, according to the visitor log, a “Bertha E. Lewis” did go on the White House tour while Obama was president.)

    And don’t forget that conservative media famously implied Obama was hiding his personal history and claimed he was secretly a Muslim born outside the United States. He wasn’t being transparent!

    Today, those same media critics turn away as the Trump White House retreats behind a wall of secrecy and refuses to even acknowledge who’s visiting the White House. 

    And the visitor log issue isn’t just about optics either. It’s related to an ongoing investigation into possible White House malfeasance. From The Washington Post:

    The existence of the visitor logs burst back into the news last month when House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) went to the White House to review intelligence reports on which he later briefed the president. Nunes and White House officials declined to say whom Nunes had visited and who had cleared him onto the grounds, information that is typically contained in the logs, along with the length of the stay.

    What else did the far-right press love to hit Obama on? Corruption, naturally. (Note that unlike some of Obama's predecessors, during his two terms "there were no grand juries investigating his aides. There were no impeachments. There were neither convictions of White House staffers, nor pardons to protect government officials.") 

    Today, while Trump and his family obliterate all the norms for White House corruption and self-enrichment, the same critics remain mostly mute.

    Trump now seems to embody everything the right-wing press complained about regarding Obama. And suddenly they’re fine with it.

    Image via the Obama White House Flickr account.

  • Right-Wing Media Commemorate Equal Pay Day By Recycling Misleading Attacks On Progressives

    Fox News Joins Chorus Accusing Elizabeth Warren Of Hypocrisy On Pay Equity

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Equal Pay Day, which fell on April 4, “symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year,” according to the National Committee on Pay Equity. Right-wing media outlets, which have long denied the very existence of a gender pay gap, used the annual commemoration as an excuse to attack progressives as hypocrites on the need for pay equity, airing recycled and debunked talking points previously used against President Barack Obama and former presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

    On April 4, the right-wing Washington Free Beacon commemorated Equal Pay Day by misleadingly claiming that the “gender pay gap” experienced by female staffers working for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is “nearly 10 percent wider than the national average,” according to its own review of Senate salary data. The article claimed that “median annual earnings” for women working in Warren’s office for the entirety of 2016 were “more than $20,000 less than the median annual earnings for men” while “average salaries rather than median” showed a roughly “31 percent” pay gap. The article slammed Warren for paying five men larger salaries than that of her highest-paid woman staffer and concluded by noting several prominent Democratic politicians who supposedly “pay women less than men,” including Clinton and Obama:

    Warren is far from the only politician who pays women less than men.

    Most notable on the list is failed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who paid women less than men first as a senator, then as secretary of state, and as a presidential candidate. Her campaign viewed her tendency to pay women less than men as a campaign vulnerability.

    Former President Barack Obama regularly spoke out about the gender pay gap, but women working at the White House were paid less than men.

    The Free Beacon’s misleading analysis of Warren was picked up by other right-wing outlets, including The Daily Caller and The Washington Times. The April 4 edition of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight also featured the report during a segment wherein the host mocked Warren as “a fake Native American” and Townhall editor Katie Pavlich claimed the news proved Warren “is not a champion for women”:

    The attacks right-wing media used against Warren rely on the exact same debunked “analysis” they have used to smear progressive elected officials on equal pay before: On February 23, 2015, the Free Beacon claimed that Hillary Clinton, as senator, paid female staffers “72 cents for each dollar paid to men” in a piece titled “Hillary Clinton’s War On Women.” Fox host Sean Hannity echoed the claim, saying the article proved Clinton “paid female staffers a lot less than men.” Fox host Greg Gutfeld hyped a similarly deceptive claim in 2012, saying that women who work in the Obama White House generally earn less than men. In reality, PolitiFact debunked the Free Beacon/Hannity claim, rating it as “Mostly False” and noting that Hannity’s analysis “ignores critical facts.” Gutfeld was proven wrong as well: American Prospect columnist Paul Waldman reported that the data on Obama staff pay indicated that “men, on average, are occupying higher-paying jobs in the White House ... not that women are being paid less for doing the same job.” (At no point in this years-long charade have right-wing media acknowledged the systemic problem of men being overrepresented in leadership roles.)

    As has always been the case, Fox News and other right-wing outlets seem to care about the pay gap women face in the workplace only when it’s politically advantageous to do so. When they aren’t cherry-picking statistics to malign progressives, Fox personalities frequently dismiss pay inequality as “an absolute myth” and attribute it “to women’s choices” rather than discrimination. Yet, the real myth is that the pay gap is caused by women choosing lower-paying jobs. As CNN analyst Christine Romans explained on the April 4 edition of New Day, women face a pay gap because “even in the same job categories, men make more”:

    Despite continued efforts to make pay in the United States more equitable, the gender pay gap persists. According to the Center for American Progress, women still earn only 79 cents for every dollar a man makes and the pay gap is even wider for women of color. April 4 marked the day when working women finally caught up to the earnings men accrued in 2016, but all Fox and the right-wing chorus wanted to do to commemorate the occasion was push tired and recycled myths.

  • Daily Caller Editor Suggests She Wants To “Run Over” Native Nations Protesters

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Daily Caller News Foundation editor and producer Katie Frates tweeted -- then deleted -- that she wanted to “run over” Native Nations Rise activists protesting President Donald Trump’s support of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

    Members of indigenous tribes are protesting today in Washington, D.C., against the pipeline in the Native Nations March on Washington. Frates responded to the march by speculating about how many protesters she could run over before she “got arrested”:

    Frates later deleted the tweet, but only after repeatedly defending it on Twitter, claiming that she gets “equally annoyed at anyone who cause unnecessary traffic.” Daily Beast senior editor Andrew Kirell, who noted the tweet and its deletion, wrote to Frates: “Curious why you deleted it, @TheWorldsFrates, because your replies seem to indicate no remorse or reconsideration.”

  • Five Things Media Figures Demanded Obama Attorneys General Resign Over That Are Less Serious Than Lying Under Oath

    And Trump’s Chief Of Staff Twice Called For Eric Holder’s Resignation

    ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    Lawmakers began calling for Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ resignation after news reports published on March 1 revealed that he had spoken to Russia’s ambassador to the United States during the 2016 election, when he was serving as a campaign surrogate for then-candidate Donald Trump. The reports contradict sworn testimony Sessions provided during his confirmation hearing, when he said he “did not have communications with the Russians.” During the Obama administration, conservative media figures and Republicans demanded that his attorneys general resign or be fired for supposed outrages far less damaging than lying to Congress, none of which were criminal in nature, and were in many cases completely phony.

  • Trump's Bogus Immigration Claims Come Straight From Nativist Groups And Fringe Right-Wing Media

    ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    President Donald Trump spent part of his February 28 speech to Congress fearmongering about immigrants. His claims that today’s immigration system threatens jobs and lowers wages, drains government benefits, and makes communities less safe come straight from nativist groups and fringe right-wing media outlets that present distorted research as fact and discredit credible studies that undercut their anti-immigrant agenda.

  • Daily Caller Mocks Anti-Semitic Graffiti: "FINALLY! The First Poop Swastika Of 2017"

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL PERCELAY

    Pro-Trump right-wing web outlet The Daily Caller mocked an incident in which a swastika drawn with human feces was found in a gender-neutral bathroom at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), posting a piece with the headline “FINALLY! The First Poop Swastika Of 2017 Appears On An American College Campus.”

    The vandalism was found in a gender-neutral dorm bathroom over the weekend of February 18. The school’s public safety officials said that they are investigating the incident as “both an act of vandalism and potentially a crime of hate.” The anti-Semitic and possibly anti-LGBTQ incident came during a continuing national surge in anti-Semitic threats and hate crimes. Some RISD students also told local outlet NBC 10 that this is the latest in “a string of incidents with feces.”

    Notoriously anti-LGBTQ and misogynist Daily Caller reporter Eric Owens mocked the anti-Semitic vandalism in a February 27 article headlined “FINALLY! The First Poop Swastika Of 2017 Appears On An American College Campus.” Owens repeatedly referred to the feces as “poop,” writing that RISD students were “unsure about the meaning of the poop swastika.” Owens connected RISD’s anti-Semitic crime with a similar incident in October 2015, when a swastika drawn in feces was found in a dorm bathroom at the University of Missouri during a period of racial tension and protest on campus. The Daily Caller had repeatedly mocked the University of Missouri vandalism, using the tag “poop swastika” and running articles like “Who Is The Poop Nazi?” accompanied by an image of the infamous “Soup Nazi” from NBC’s Seinfeld.

    From the February 27 Daily Caller article: 

    A swastika created out of human feces appeared in a gender-neutral bathroom at a residence hall at Rhode Island School of Design last week.

    Officials at the highly selective art school just down the street from Brown University notified students that the swastika was, in fact, composed of human waste, according to local NBC affiliate WJAR.

    “It’s pretty shocking because I think everybody is wondering, you know, who it is,” Rhode Island School of Design student Cooper Thompson told WJAR.

    Students on the RISD campus were unsure about the meaning of the poop swastika.

    “You don’t know if it’s somebody who actually has a mental illness or you don’t know if it’s somebody who’s just trying to play a prank or they actually are anti-Semitic,” one student, Afi Goncalves, told the station.

    A third student, Rory Hernandez, noted that unauthorized poop art has become a trend at RISD lately.

    [...]

    America’s last campus poop swastika kerfuffle occurred in October 2015 on the campus of the University of Missouri.

    [...]

    Partly in response to the Gateway Hall poop swastika, a days-long protest ensued on Mizzou’s Columbia, Mo. campus.

    The protests centered on a group called Concerned Students 1950 and Jonathan Butler, a twentysomething graduate student and the son of a millionaire railroad executive, who went on a six-day hunger strike in November 2015.

    Previously: 

    Why Did The New York Times Call The Daily Caller “Moderate”?

    Campbell Brown's "Non-Partisan" News Site Hires Contributor With Long Anti-LGBT History

    Daily Caller Mocks Transgender Students "Running For Homecoming King, Queen, Whatever"

  • The Nativist Group That Is Going All Out To Sell Trump's Border Wall Proposal

    Right-Wing Media And CIS Are Behind A Major Push For The Wall

    ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    Nativist group Center for Immigration Studies and right-wing media outlets touted a deeply flawed and misleading study in order to corroborate top Trump adviser Stephen Miller’s claim that President Donald Trump’s proposal for the construction of a wall along the U.S. southern border would “pay for itself.” Right-wing media's promotion of the flawed study was an attempt to legitimize the Trump administration’s misinformation about undocumented immigrants while also lifting up an anti-immigrant nativist group.

  • Trump Calls On Only Right-Wing Outlets, Again Avoiding Questions About A Top Adviser Possibly Breaking Federal Law

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    For his second straight press conference, President Donald Trump called on only conservative reporters, this time during a joint presser with the Canadian prime minister. By responding solely to friendly press, Trump avoided answering any questions about reports that national security adviser Michael Flynn may have violated federal law.

    Reporters have been questioning whether Flynn can retain his job after multiple current and former American officials told The New York Times that he discussed lifting Russian sanctions with the country’s ambassador prior to Trump’s inauguration -- a potential violation of the Logan Act, “which prohibits private citizens from negotiating with foreign governments in disputes involving the American government.” Vice President Mike Pence previously denied that Flynn had discussed this topic, but his assurance relied solely on Flynn’s recollection of the conversation.

    During Trump’s February 13 press conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, reporters had a chance to ask the president about this pressing issue, but Trump skirted that possibility by calling on only reporters for conservative outlets friendly to Trump -- Scott Thuman of the conservative Sinclair Broadcasting Group’s WJLA, the Washington, D.C., affiliate of ABC, and Kaitlan Collins of The Daily Caller, a pro-Trump outlet founded by Trump shill Tucker Carlson.

    During the election, Sinclair reportedly struck a deal with the Trump campaign to “secure better media coverage” in exchange for “more access to Trump and the campaign.” Thuman, who is also a political correspondent for conspiracy theorist Sharyl Attkisson’s Full Measure, asked Trump about how his philosophical differences with Trudeau would affect cooperation on trade and terrorism:

    The next question came from Collins, who also failed to ask about Flynn but did question Canada’s security measures surrounding refugees. Her previous work on refugees includes an article about Syrian refugees who she dubbed “Syria-sly hot,” suggesting governors opposed to allowing refugees into the country would change their minds if they saw these women:

    Many journalists criticized the selection of these reporters. Even Fox News’ national security correspondent, Jennifer Griffin, asked if the queries were “planted questions”:

    On CNN, Wolf Blitzer immediately followed the end of the presser by highlighting the lack of questions about Flynn’s future, explaining, “Presumably that’s what the White House wanted.” CNN’s Gloria Borger also questioned whether “they arranged that in advance.”

    The press conference with Trudeau followed a similar one from February 10 featuring Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, where Trump also took questions from only two reporters representing a couple of conservative media tycoon Rupert Murdoch’s media outlets, the New York Post and Fox Business Network. Those reporters likewise avoided asking about Flynn, even though the reporting on his possible violation of the Logan Act had come out the previous day.

  • Bogus Daily Mail Story Spearheads Latest Right-Wing Assault On Climate Change Science

    ››› ››› KEVIN KALHOEFER

    A story by David Rose of the British tabloid Daily Mail falsely alleged that researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) “manipulated global warming data” in order to “dupe” world leaders into agreeing to provisions of the 2015 Paris climate agreement. In reality, the NOAA report’s finding that there was no slowdown in the rate of global warming has since been independently verified by other experts, and it’s the Daily Mail story -- and the GOP politicians and right-wing media outlets like Breitbart News championing it -- that are  distorting climate science to score political points.

  • When Right-Wing Media Was In Love With Paid Protesting

    Current False Accusations Of Paid Protesters Don’t Match Up With Tea Party Adoration

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Many right-wing media figures have accused anti-Trump protesters of being “paid” on a widespread basis to demonstrate against President Donald Trump. Not only do these allegations lack any evidence of a systematic effort, they also ignore the fact that the conservative tea party protests of the early 2010s were “astroturfed” -- heavily supported and organized by large, outside groups.

    Evidence-free claims and suggestions of paid protesters driving anti-Trump sentiment have circulated throughout right-wing media for years but have increased since the inauguration of Donald Trump. Both Trump himself and White House press secretary Sean Spicer have repeated the claim that anti-Trump protests are, in Spicer’s words, a “very paid astroturf-type movement.” Rush Limbaugh warned that the airport protests against Trump’s Muslim ban were “bought and paid for by George Soros, prearranged. … and waiting for the moment to be cued to action.” The Daily Caller wrote that protests directed against a vocal Trump supporter at the University of California, Berkeley were “backed by a progressive charity that is in turn funded by George Soros, the city of Tucson, a major labor union and several large companies.” The claims have also circulated among fake news purveyors and state-owned Russian propaganda

    Despite the charge being leveled at nearly every anti-Trump protest, there is no proof that they protesters were systematically paid by any group. Recently, claims that a group called Demand Protest was paying people $2,500 a month to protest Trump nationwide were exposed as a hoax, much like a viral claim during the election season of craigslist ads offering $3,500 to protest Trump, which ended up being a lie created by a fake news writer to generate profit.

    Right-wing media’s concerns about supposed liberal paid protesters also conveniently forgets times when they were enamored by protesters who were financially supported by outside groups.

    During the 2016 presidential race, Trump ally Alex Jones’ website offered a cash reward to protesters that interrupted Hillary Clinton rallies, an open attempt to pay protesters. Even more significant, right-wing media was also an ally of the Tea Party movement during the first term of former President Barack Obama, which was widely documented to be backed by big money donors.

    The Tea Party, described as “the biggest Astroturf operation in history,” was heavily financed and supported by billionaires, most prominently Charles and David Koch. In addition to financial support from conservative billionaires, the Tea Party enjoyed glowing coverage across right-wing media, most prominently on Fox News, which encouraged its viewers to head to the “conservative Woodstock.” “Party on!” Fox hosts, such as Sean Hannity, attached themselves to and tried to boost the protests, and Tea Party activists even thanked the network for its assistance in spreading their message. 

  • Fake News Purveyors Run With Bigoted Attacks On Women’s March Organizer And Google Helps Them Profit

    Blog ››› ››› PAM VOGEL

    The dangerous ecosystem of fabricated news stories and hyperpartisan sites and social media accounts once again capitalized on anti-Muslim fearmongering to spread disinformation about and attacks on activist Linda Sarsour. And Google is still letting these fake news purveyors cash in on the hate.

    Sarsour, a Palestinian-American activist and organizer born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, was one of four lead organizers of the record-breaking January 21 Women’s March held in Washington, D.C., and in sister cities internationally. She is the executive director of the nonprofit Arab American Association of New York and co-founder of Muslims for Ferguson, and she was recognized by the Obama White House for her roles in intersectional civil rights and racial justice organizing on the national level for years. Sarsour is also a practicing Muslim who wears a hijab.

    Predictably and painfully, hyperpartisan political blogs seized on Sarsour’s religion in an attempt to devalue the success of the march and stoke anti-Muslim sentiment among readers. The poorly sourced attacks on Sarsour stemming from the conservative blogosphere -- quintessential fearmongering common in post-9/11 right-wing news -- coalesced with complete fabrications pushed by an entire network of unaccountable websites and social media pages catering more openly to an anti-Muslim audience.

    Sarsour was “relentlessly trolled on Twitter since the Washington march,” but has now drawn support from thousands who fought back against this concerted anti-Muslim disinformation campaign against her. Even as the attacks on Sarsour appear to wind down, though, Google and other advertising networks are still allowing fake news purveyors to make money from their hateful fake news stories about Sarsour.

    Attack: Sarsour “Met” An “Ex-Hamas Operative”

    On January 21, the hyperpartisan right-wing site The Daily Caller -- “an outlet for opposition research paid for by the donor class” -- published a confusing report alleging that Sarsour “has family ties to terror group” Hamas and “recently met” an “ex-Hamas operative.” The outlet’s evidence for the latter claim appears to be a single photo of Sarsour posing with a group at a large-scale Muslim civics convention where she spoke. Among those pictured is a man named Salah Sarsour (no relation to Linda, as The Daily Caller even sort of acknowledges), who was identified as an alleged financier for Hamas in the 1990s, based on several statements made by his brother at the time. And that’s it. That’s the evidence.

    The other “ties” referenced in the article’s headline hinge on Sarsour’s work with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim advocacy group frequently attacked by conservative media, and a 2012 New York Times article in which Sarsour explicitly “denies having any contact with Hamas or other radical groups.” The 2012 article detailed a rise in anti-Muslim attacks spurred by the conservative tea party, including calls for Sarsour to resign from her Brooklyn neighborhood advisory panel because some “members of her family had been arrested on accusations of supporting Hamas.” Additional articles, which The Daily Caller did not cite, indicate that two distant relatives and a family friend of Sarsour’s were serving long sentences in Israeli jails. The writer of the 2012 Times piece explained, “Though she had several times denied any connections to radical Islamic groups, some people argue she should be held accountable for her relatives’ activities and views.”

    The Gateway Pundit, a right-wing blog notorious for hapless and irresponsible reporting that has pushed complete fabrications in the past, seized on this shoddy report from The Daily Caller  -- along with two of Sarsour’s tweets from May 2015 that joked about widespread conservative fearmongering around sharia law -- to make the additional claim that “Sarsour is pro-Sharia law with ties to Hamas.”

    Social media analytics site BuzzSumo shows that the Daily Caller article has been shared 170,000 times on various social media platforms since January 21. The Gateway Pundit post has been shared more than 405,000 times. The Daily Caller piece was also cross-posted at the Alex Jones website Infowars.

    Attack: Sarsour Pictured “Promoting The ISIS Unity Finger Sign”

    On January 22, a Twitter user posted a 2015 picture of Sarsour holding up a single finger, next to two unrelated pictures seemingly of unidentified ISIS members. The tweet asked whether “pro-Sharia” Sarsour was “promoting the ISIS unity finger sign.” 

    The January 22 tweet was retweeted less than 1,000 times, but it appears to have served as the primary evidence backing several posts from sites known for pushing fake news. The Gateway Pundit, most notably, cited the tweet in a January 23 post titled “Organizer For DC Women’s March Against Trump Pictured Flashing The ISIS Sign.” According to BuzzSumo, the post has already been shared nearly 40,000 times on social media since it was posted yesterday.

    Missing from the original tweet, the Gateway Pundit post, and the countless subsequent posts about Sarsour’s allegedly pro-ISIS stance was the context of the original photo, which was part of a social media campaign meant to show solidarity with students who had been attacked by anti-Muslim blogger Pamela Geller for also simply holding up their index fingers. Here is the caption Sarsour wrote for the photo:

    Pamela Geller recently was given a platform to spew hate and misinformation at Brooklyn College, thankfully booed off the stage. After the event, she circulated a picture of Muslim Brooklyn College students holding up their index fingers and associated them with terrorists. As a result of her outrageous claims, these young people have felt targeted and threatened. For me, it meant you are #1, cause you had the courage to stand up to her! I stand in solidarity with them and want them to know that they should never let an evil woman like Geller make them feel less than. Stay proud, stay strong. We got your back. #PamHates #indexfingers#OneLove #UnityAtBC #takeonhate

    Fake News Stories Combined The Baseless Attacks And Harnessed Facebook For Smear Campaign

    An avalanche of unaccountable websites pushing fake news stories, boosted by active Facebook pages drumming up shares and likes, have copied or co-opted the claims from The Daily Caller and The Gateway Pundit to spread dangerous disinformation about Sarsour across the internet. Many are lifting each other’s text directly, adding some deceptive sheen of proper citation or reporting, to fearmonger among their audiences and validate bigotry -- and they’re harnessing Facebook’s algorithm to boost clickbait headlines, misleading photos, and fabricated information. The following examples come from fake news purveying sites that rely heavily on Facebook to drive traffic to their pages, and tend to share dozens of posts per day on the social media site to generate maximum Facebook audience engagement and click-throughs to their websites.

    From fake news purveyor TruthFeed, these two posts received a combined nearly 59,000 social media engagements since they were posted on January 22 and 23:

    From fake news purveyor World Politicus (shared 13,000 times):

    And from fake news purveyor The Angry Patriot (shared 11,000 times):

    Google And Other Advertising Platforms Allow Fake News Purveyors To Profit From The Hate

    Purveyors of fake news stories not only churn out increasingly unadulterated bigotry using the power of Facebook; they also harness advertising networks -- like Google AdSense -- to profit from it. The stories highlighted above, for example, all featured Google AdSense advertising accompanying the posts about Sarsour.

    As TechCrunch explained, while mainstream outlets “may be held accountable for exaggeration,” fake news purveyors “can focus on short-term traffic and ad revenue,” which “incentivize(s) misinformation.” Google turns billions in profits by allowing advertisers to use its advertising service on third-party websites, thereby also allowing the sites that host ads to also profit.

    The Washington Post’s Abby Ohlheiser detailed how fake news writers make money, with one interviewee telling her he makes “$10,000 a month from AdSense.” David Carroll, an expert in advertising technology and professor at the New School, estimated that one fake-news share from a person within the Trump campaign “could earn the lucky hoaxer as much as $10,000 in extra revenue” and called it a “‘huge economic incentive to create stories that they want to distribute.’”

    Google AdSense is not the only advertising network to place ads directly next to bigoted fake news stories like the ones smearing Linda Sarsour; these sites are often plastered in ads placed by multiple networks including Revcontent, Taboola, and Criteo. But this latest example is further proof that -- months after Google added and then quietly deleted new language to their AdSense policy that would theoretically crack down on fake news -- Google’s still willing to let fake news purveyors profit from spreading hateful lies.

  • Right-Wing Media's Latest Conspiracy: CNN Wants Trump Assassinated

    CNN Has Been Reporting On The 'Designated Survivor' For Years

    ››› ››› NINA MAST

    Right-wing media outlets have concocted the conspiracy theory that a CNN report on the protocol of a “designated presidential survivor” -- in which one cabinet member does not attend the presidential inauguration in the event that a tragedy killed the president and others in the line of succession -- is evidence that CNN figures hope President-elect Donald Trump is assassinated on Inauguration Day in order to keep the Obama administration in power. CNN has reported on the designated survivor during both President Obama’s and President Bush’s presidencies.

  • The Media Keep Failing To Publish Accurate Headlines About Trump: An Updated List

    ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Before and since the election, media outlets have repeatedly failed to write headlines that adequately contextualize President Donald Trump’s lies. Simply echoing his statements normalizes his behavior and can spread disinformation, particularly given the high proportion of people who read only headlines. Below is an ongoing list documenting the media’s failure to contextualize Trump’s actions in headlines and sometimes on social media. Some of the initial versions were subsequently altered (and these are marked with an asterisk), but many of the updates still failed to adequately contextualize Trump’s remarks.

  • Anti-LGBTQ Junk Science And Fake News Are Poised To Harm the Future of LGBTQ Equality

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL PERCELAY

    Pseudoscience and lies have long been the favorite tactics of anti-LGBTQ extremists, but now that the incoming U.S. president is highly influenced by hate groups, fake news purveyors, and far-right publications that peddle such misinformation, these smoke and mirror tactics are well-positioned to harm LGBTQ equality.

    Right-Wing Sites Regularly Peddle Anti-LGBTQ Junk Science

    For decades, junk science has been used to attack LGBTQ people as unhealthy and dangerous. Longtime LGBTQ advocate and journalist Claude Summers recently defined the purpose of anti-LGBTQ junk science as “not to persuade the scholarly community, which will immediately note its sloppy methodology,” but to “provide naïve readers some quasi-respectable justifications for their prejudices and to fuel social conservative political chatter.”

    After scientific consensus rejected the “sickness theories” of homosexuality in the 1970s, “anti-LGBT professionals retreated from mainstream scientific organizations and formed their own groups,” Summers explained. These fringe splinter groups, like the deceptively named American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds) -- an anti-LGBTQ hate group with about 500 members whose name is meant to be confused with the 60,000-member American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) -- funnel debunked “research” to anti-LGBTQ extremist organizations like the Family Research Council (FRC), also a designated hate group. FRC and its allies peddle this misinformation as widely as possible to be used as ammunition in the fight against equality.

    Right-wing outlets like Breitbart and The Daily Caller are the go-to platforms for anti-LGBTQ activists looking to push hateful lies and myths. Breitbart in particular regularly pushes pseudoscientific attacks on transgender people. Since March 2016, Breitbart authors have cited ACPeds to falsely claim that affirming transgender youths’ gender identity is a “form of child abuse” in at least 19 different articles. The talking point originated from an American College of Pediatricians “report,” which was quickly touted in other right-wing outlets like The Blaze and The Daily Caller. As The Daily Beast’s Samantha Allen highlighted, right-wing journalists published ACPed’s “child abuse” claim “without contrasting their primary source with the AAP.”

    This type of anti-LGBTQ pseudoscience isn’t confined to right-wing web outlets. On Fox News, “Medical A Team” member Dr. Keith Ablow frequently pushes harmful anti-transgender misinformation. In April, Ablow speculated wildly about medical care for transgender youth, and proposed his own harmful “treatments,” akin to conversion therapy, that go against scientific evidence and professional standards from mainstream medical associations.

    Even mainstream outlets like The Associated Press and NPR have allowed well-known purveyors of junk science to attack LGBTQ people.

    Fake News Reinforces Myths Pushed By Anti-LGBTQ Hate Groups

    The potential real-life impact of fake news was starting to become apparent several months before it took center stage in the 2016 election. In May, BuzzFeed spotlighted a slew of anti-transgender fake news stories that had gone viral. These fake news stories spiked largely in response to increased media coverage of so-called “bathroom bills” and North Carolina’s anti-LGBTQ law (HB 2). The measure broadly bans transgender people from using bathrooms that align with their gender identity in publicly run facilities and schools.

    Many of the fake stories BuzzFeed profiled -- like an “article” about a transgender women getting caught taking pictures of underage girls at Target -- stem from the anti-LGBTQ “bathroom predator” myth, which purports that sexual predators will pretend to be transgender in order to exploit nondiscrimination laws and sneak into women’s restrooms. Fake news preys on long-standing misconceptions and stereotypes and exploits them to confirm unsubstantiated fears. BuzzFeed interviewed the owner of several fake news sites, who said the stories are a way to make “easy money” by capitalizing off of “the political polarization and anti-LGBT stance at the heart of HB 2.”

    In the past, anti-LGBTQ hate groups were the ones spreading fake “bathroom predator” stories -- and outlets like Fox News fell for it. But now, the sheer profitability of clickbait fake news means that even if hate groups aren’t peddling these stories themselves, fake news is helping to buttress anti-LGBTQ talking points by relying on misconceptions and controversy for their content. A recent BuzzFeed News survey found that fake news headlines “fool American adults about 75% of the time” --meaning that all of these fabricated stories and fact-free science could have a real-life impact on public opinion about LGBTQ people.

    Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, voiced her concern that these lies -- one of which ended with a vigilante shooting a transgender woman -- could fuel anti-transgender violence. Whether because of these fake news stories or not, 2016 has been the deadliest year on record for transgender people.

    The Trump Administration Is Stocked With Purveyors Of Right-Wing Media’s Anti-LGBTQ Myths And Pseudoscience

    While pseudoscience and lies have long been staple tools of anti-LGBTQ extremist organization, the two tactics are now more likely than ever to be employed to justify anti-LGBTQ policies, given the incoming Trump administration. FRC -- the hate group with years of experience peddling anti-LGBTQ junk science -- has a growing influence on Trump’s transition team.

    FRC president Tony Perkins played a pivotal role in Trump’s campaign and helped shape the Republican Party platform. During the Republican National Convention, he was successful in adding support for “ex-gay” conversion therapy, a discredited, harmful practice that falsely claims to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, and has been denounced by every major medical organization. Since the election, some of Perkins’ FRC affiliates have won spots in Trump’s transition team. Wired’s Emma Ellis spotlighted the hate group’s growing influence on the Trump administration, which includes the following members affiliated with FRC:

    In addition to FRC’s influence on the administration, Breitbart’s brand of anti-LGBTQ pseudoscience has a champion in Stephen Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist and senior counselor. Bannon led Breitbart from 2012 through August of this year, when he became the chief executive of Trump’s campaign. In addition to peddling anti-gay junk science, under Bannon’s leadership the site made a “noticeable shift toward embracing ideas on the extremist fringe of the conservative right. Racist ideas. Anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant ideas -- all key tenets making up an emerging racist ideology known as the ‘Alt-Right,’” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

    Trump’s nominees for cabinet positions also have a history of pushing harmful myths about LGBTQ people. Combined with FRC and Breitbart, individual anti-LGBTQ extremists are well-poised to gin up junk science attacks and use them to influence policy making throughout the Trump administration. LGBTQ advocates and journalists have already documented some of their fears about the potential consequences of the resurgence of anti-LGBTQ pseudoscience, including:

    • a comeback of “ex-gay” conversion therapy programs;
    • revocation of the Obama administration’s recommendation to treat transgender students in accordance with their gender identity;
    • repeal of the Affordable Care Act and its health care protections for LGBTQ people; and
    • passage of the so-called “First Amendment Defense Act,” federal “religious freedom” legislation that would permit discrimination against LGBTQ people.

    Junk science can be easily debunked, as long as reporters are armed with the facts. Journalists should be prepared to counter the false narratives behind the coming attacks on LGBTQ equality.