Media Matters for America

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  1. Frequent Fox News guest tells Laura Ingraham "we are in a civil war;" suggests everyone buy guns to prepare for "total war" 

    JOE DIGENOVA (GUEST): We are in a civil war in this country. There's two standards of justice, one for Democrats one for Republicans. The press is all Democrat, all liberal, all progressive, all left - they hate Republicans, they hate Trump. So the suggestion that there's ever going to be civil discourse in this country for the foreseeable future in this country is over. It's not going to be. It's going to be total war. And as I say to my friends, I do two things - I vote and I buy guns.

    Previously:

    Laura Ingraham attacks critics of "I believe in white supremacy" quote from John Wayne in 1971 Playboy interview​

    Laura Ingraham says immigrant schoolchildren have led to a “diminished product” in schools​

    Laura Ingraham agrees with guest that "Operation Wetback" should be recreated to deport immigrants​

  2. CNN’s new political editor championed Jeff Sessions’ war on leaks


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    CNN’s decision to hire former Trump official, longtime Republican operative, and journalism neophyte Sarah Isgur as its new political editor is shaping up as quite a public relations disaster for the network. CNN executives are busily trying to explain to their staff why no one should be concerned that Isgur -- who has no journalism experience but reportedly did personally tell the sitting president that “she was on board with his agenda and would be honored to serve him” -- will occupy an editorial post where she will “play a coordinating role in our daily political coverage.” The network is facing internal criticism from staffers, and it had to mollify the Democratic National Committee by promising that Isgur won’t be involved with the 2020 Democratic presidential primary debates that CNN will host.

    Another problematic aspect of Isgur’s move to CNN is the fact that she was the chief spokesperson for the Department of Justice at a time when her boss, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, was implementing a harsh crackdown on leakers who fed information to journalists -- a campaign that was launched, at least in part, to shore up Sessions’ standing with President Donald Trump. In her role as a DOJ flack, Isgur defended the seizure of a journalist’s electronic records and cheered the department’s hunt for leakers.

    In June 2018, the Justice Department charged former Senate Intelligence Committee staffer James Wolfe with lying to the FBI as part of an investigation into whether he’d leaked classified information to journalists. As part of the investigation, the Justice Department obtained the phone and email records of New York Times reporter Ali Watkins, who was in a relationship with Wolfe, and informed Watkins that her data had been seized only after the fact. The Times and free press advocates slammed the Justice Department for its tactics. Isgur, who was then a DOJ spokesperson, defended the action, saying: “We fully complied with the department’s regulations.”

    Those regulations state that journalists “shall be given reasonable and timely notice of the Attorney General's determination before the use of the subpoena, court order, or warrant, unless the Attorney General determines that, for compelling reasons, such notice would pose a clear and substantial threat to the integrity of the investigation, risk grave harm to national security, or present an imminent risk of death or serious bodily harm.” DOJ sources later told The Washington Post that the department leaders opted not to inform Watkins before the seizure because they worried “she might tip off [Wolfe] … or take other steps that would upend the investigation.”

    In July 2017, short-lived White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci stirred a minor controversy after he obliquely accused former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus of leaking his financial disclosure information. In a since-deleted tweet, Scaramucci said he would contact the FBI and the Justice Department to investigate the leak. He then went on Fox News’ Hannity and praised Sessions for “going after the leaks” and accused “senior people” of “doing the leaking.”

    Scaramucci’s remarks drew a response from DOJ -- specifically, from Isgur, who chimed in to give Scaramucci an attaboy. “We agree with Anthony that these staggering number of leaks are undermining the ability of our government to function and to protect this country,” Isgur told Politico. “Like the Attorney General has said, 'whenever a case can be made, we will seek to put some people in jail,' and we will aggressively pursue leak cases wherever they may lead.”

    This same DOJ flack who cheered on the prosecution of leakers and defended the seizure of a reporter’s communications data will soon be “coordinating” the political coverage of a cable news network. The reporters and journalists who work with Isgur and who have confidential sources within the administration will have to reckon with the fact that their incoming political editor played a key public role in the Trump administration’s war on leakers.

  3. MSNBC guest: FBI often calls white supremacist violence "hate crimes" instead of "terrorism," diverting resources from enforcement 

    STEPHANIE RUHLE (CO-ANCHOR): How do these white supremacist groups work? How do they operate? I know you've infiltrated some. Give us a better picture of sort of the domestic terrorism network. 

    MICHAEL GERMAN (FELLOW, BRENNAN CENTER FOR JUSTICE): So it's much broader than I think people understand. I mean obviously, there's a lot of concern in this instance because here was somebody who was a Coast Guard officer who may have had these ideas or inclinations, and particularly that had actually written out a plan to do harm. But they're infiltrated throughout society. They're in corporate board rooms, they're everywhere. That was one of the things that surprised me when I was introduced to the movement as an undercover agent, to realize that these are everyday people you wouldn't really blink at if you passed them in the grocery store.

    And this ideology that they follow is actually very old. I mean it was really only, you know, 50, 60 years ago that a majority of white people believed a lot of what they believe. So, the philosophies and theologies that justify white supremacist ideas are actually quite old. They're the same ideas that justified slavery, that justified colonialism, that justified the Jim Crow laws. So this has been a pervasive part of our society for the entire existence of our society, and it's been suppressed since the civil rights movement. And unfortunately, we're seeing a resurgence of it, because we have a president who seems to speak to this audience. 

    ...

    GERMAN: Part of the problem that we identified in a report we published last year is that far-right terrorism is deprioritized within the counterterrorism world. It's behind what the government calls international terrorism, even though white supremacy didn't start in the United States, right? It's actually an international phenomenon. So there's this inappropriate degrading of white supremacist violence as a national security concern. And in fact, a lot of times it's downgraded to what they call hate crimes, which the language we use is important, but more important is that terrorism is the FBI's number one priority, counterterrorism. Civil rights violations like hate crimes are number five. So categorizing something that could be just as dangerous as an act of terrorism and meet the definition of an act of terrorism as a hate crime does have an impact as far as how many resources that are devoted to investigating and prosecuting that crime. 

    Related:

    Wash. Post: ‘I am dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on earth’: A self-proclaimed white nationalist planned a mass terrorist attack, the government says

    Brennan Center for Justice: What We Don’t Get About the Far Right

    Previously:

    What happens when the No. 1 cable news channel is steeped in white nationalist rhetoric?

    Rep. Rashida Tlaib cursing got 5 times more coverage on cable news than Rep. Steve King embracing white supremacy

    Tucker Carlson: "White supremacy is not ubiquitous in America, it's not a crisis. It's not even a meaningful category"

  4. Fox News has spent years promoting claims of a “coup” against Donald Trump

    Since Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election, Fox News has been airing dire warnings that the “deep state” is plotting a “coup” to “ruin” Trump’s administration. Fox personalities have warned that the FBI, the Department of Justice, the Democratic Party, and others “hate” Trump and are attempting to “overthrow the government” with a “bloodless coup,” “a political coup,” a “soft coup,” a “silent coup,” a “slow-motion coup,” and “the first attempted coup d'etat in American history.” Trump is now channeling Fox’s “coup” nonsense, and that could end badly.

    Here's a compilation of examples from December 2016 through this week:

  5. Fox guest: Intersectionality means "the more kind of minority points that you have ... the more privileged you are"

    STUART VARNEY (CO-HOST): I want to talk to you about Bernie Sanders. As you know, he's declared for the presidency. 24 hours -- within the first 24 hours, he'd gained $6 million from very small contributions. Does this mean millennials are still feeling the Bern? 

    ALLIE STUCKEY (BLAZETV HOST): Well, I think so. If we look at the past election, more millennials voted for Bernie Sanders than voted for Trump or Clinton combined. And so, while I thought at first, OK, he is kind of a has-been. He might've been the original democratic socialist that brought the party over to the left, but now you've got more, quote,"intersectional" candidates basically holding the same positions as him. But, you've got women, you've got people of color. And so maybe they have more points than he does. But look, in 24 hours, $6 million, that's more than any other presidential candidate out there. And so, it looks like his popularity is still there, is still surging and I do think millennials are probably feeling the Bern.

    VARNEY: You just used an expression which is kind of new. I'm not sure I understand it: "intersectional." Can you explain that one to us? 

    STUCKEY: Yes. Well, if you don't understand it, it's just because you're a logically thinking person, so you shouldn't feel too badly about yourself. But it's this idea that the more kind of minority points that you have -- so, based on your sexuality, based on your religion, based on the color of your skin and your gender -- then the more privileged you are, the more credible you are, the more likely you are on the Democratic side to be voted for. So, if you're a woman and a woman of color, you've got two points; so, that's Kamala Harris. If you're a woman, a woman of color, and also gay, then you have three points. The worst thing you can be in the world of intersectionality is a straight, white male, unless, of course, you're Bernie Sanders. 

    VARNEY: I know you've missed something out. A straight ,white male who happens to be an Episcopalian. That's about as bad as it gets. 

    STUCKEY: Oh that's the worst. 

    Previously

    Stuart Varney brings casual race-baiting to Fox's "news" hours

    Fox Business Host: "Is there something about the female brain that is a deterrent" to having female tech executives?

    Stuart Varney allows Rep. Louie Gohmert to spread anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about George Soros on Fox Business