‘It Was a Mistake, and for That I’m Sorry’
Friday afternoonÂ Fox News Channel’s chief political anchor Bret Baier was forced to apologize for and retract a false report he had delivered nearly 48 hours earlier that had flooded conservative news and social media: Hillary Clinton was “likely” to be indicted after a lengthy FBI pay-to-play investigation into the Clinton Foundation.
As this report is being written, Donald Trump is in New Hampshire, a toss up state, currently referring toÂ the false Fox News story at a rally, as he has done since it aired on Fox News Channel’s “Special Report with Bret Baier” Wednesday at 6 PM EDT. The audience is right now repeatedly chanting “Lock her up!”
â€” CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) November 4, 2016
After Baier falsely reported the story, on Thursday he was forced to retract a portion of it, noting he had suggested the FBI would indict Clinton. The FBI does not hve the power to do so, only a federal prosecutor could, after reviewing evidence and determining if any laws were broken.
Baier Thursday called his characterization of his claim that the FBI was moving towards an indictment “inartful,” but insisted an indictment was still “likely.”
Donald Trump did not tell his supporters of the update.
Friday at noon, Baier again went on Fox News, to apologize and retract, saying, “we haveÂ also reported there is a splitÂ not only between the FBI and theÂ Department of Justice on this,Â but within the FBI.”
Baier’s sources are, as Media Matters noted, “anonymous” and “unvetted,” and Baier’s reporting is “uncritical.” He is using sources that are angry partisans who, according to multiple reports, appear to be feeding the Trump campaign information and trying to use the FBI as a wall to block Clinton’s election.
But back to Baier’s retraction. Here’s the video from today, and, via Media Matters, the transcript.
On Fox News today to discuss our reporting on the Hillary Clinton investigations and to clarify a few points made over the past few days.#SpecialReport
Posted by Bret Baier on Friday, November 4, 2016
“I was quoting from one sourceÂ about his certainty that theÂ server had been hacked by fiveÂ foreign intelligence agencies. AndÂ while others believe that isÂ probable because of theÂ confirmed hacking of emailÂ accounts Secretary ClintonÂ communicated with, as of todayÂ there are still no digitalÂ fingerprints of a breach no matter what the workingÂ assumption is within the bureau.Â All the time, but especially inÂ heated election on topic thisÂ explosive every word matters, noÂ matter how well-sourced,” he said.
“Which brings me to this.Â I explained a couple of timesÂ yesterday the phrasing of one ofÂ my answers to Brit Hume onÂ WednesdayÂ night, saying it wasÂ inartful, the way I answered theÂ last question about whether theÂ investigations would continueÂ after the election.Â And I answered that, yes, ourÂ sources said it would.Â They would continue to likely toÂ an indictment.”
“Well, that just wasn’t inartful, it was a mistake, and for thatÂ I’m sorry.Â I should have said, they willÂ continue to build their case.Â Indictment obviously is a veryÂ loaded word, Jon, especially inÂ this atmosphere and no one knowsÂ if there would or would not beÂ an indictment no matter howÂ strong investigators feel theirÂ evidence is.Â It is obviously a prosecutor who hasÂ to agree to take the case and make that case to aÂ grand jury.Â We stand by the sourcing, on theÂ ongoing active ClintonÂ Foundation investigation and areÂ working to get sources withÂ knowledge of the details on theÂ record, and on camera.”
As I wrote in an editorial Thursday evening, Baier’s “reporting” isÂ Fox News hackery at its finest.
Baier’s initial report sounded so damning, until you actually listen to how artfully he used key words that sound damning but then, you know, also just sound false.
So Fox News walks back its story, then retracts it, giving Donald Trump the tiny crumb of “credible journalism” he needs days before the election to literally paint Hillary Clinton as a criminal about to be indicted.
As I said: literally paint. Here’s the ad Trump released hours after the initial, false Fox News report:
That Fox News report, but not the walking back or the apology or the retraction have been flying around conservative media and on social media.Â
Thursday, ABC News (and other outlets) dismissed Bret Baier’s reporting as “inaccurate and without merit,” “false and ill-informed,” and showingÂ “no evidence of wrongdoing.”
But literally millionsÂ of conservatives, including undecided or even Clinton voters, have heard the lies from Fox News and Donald Trump, and will vote for him based on that one Fox News story that is a lie.
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RNC Taps Right Wing Extremists to Head Group Designed to Expand GOP Appeal in Wake of Midterm Losses
Embattled Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel is launching two advisory groups in an effort to expand the party’s appeal to voters and examine what went wrong in the wake of stunning, historic midterm election losses – and she’s turning to some of the right’s most extreme leaders to perform the investigations.
Political analysts on both sides of the aisle generally agree that Donald Trump, Trumpism, the party’s lurch to far right wing extremism including white nationalism, white supremacy, Christian nationalism, antisemitism, authoritarianism, fascism, and the “Big Lie” of stolen elections hurt, not helped candidates in the 2022 midterms.
McDaniel has now tapped some of the very purveyors of that failed extremism to lead the shrinking party’s efforts to broaden its outreach and correct its errors.
“The RNC is tapping nearly a dozen people to serve in what it’s calling a ‘Republican Party Advisory Council’ – a group that includes former Donald Trump White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, evangelical leader Tony Perkins and a pair of Senate candidates who ran this year,” Politico reports.
Tony Perkins is a far right wing religious extremist and anti-LGBTQ activist who decades ago reportedly had ties to white supremacist groups, which he has denied. For decades he has been president of the Family Research Council, which appears on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of anti-LGBTQ hate groups.
Deeply embedded in Republican theocratic politics, Perkins was appointed twice by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an independent federal government body that has a history of advancing the agenda of America’s Evangelical Christian movement.
He is also a past president of the highly-secretive far Christian right organization, Council for National Policy (CNP).
CNP’s members are believed to include far right activist and lobbyist Ginni Thomas, whose attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results have been the subject of numerous reports. Also, Charlie Kirk, the founder of Turning Point USA, which has faced allegations of racism, and far right conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi. Other members of the Council for National Policy include two other heads of organizations that appear on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of anti-LGBTQ hate groups: Mat Staver, the founder of Liberty Counsel; and Tim Wildmon, President of the American Family Association.
“The panel will also include former Arizona Senate candidate Blake Masters, who in the wake of his loss has called on the party to move on from ‘consultant one-size-fits-all strategies,'” Politico reports.
Masters is a “Big Lie” purveyor who has also promoted the white nationalist conspiracy theory of the “Great Replacement,” which falsely claims immigrants – people of color – are “replacing” white Americans.
Separately, Politico adds, the RNC is commissioning an investigation into what went wrong, commonly referred to as an “autopsy” to ensure in future elections the same decisions are not made. That work will be lead by current RNC members.
Questions Swirl Around Herschel Walker as New Report Shows His Georgia Residence Was Rented Out for Over a Decade
Where Herschel Walker lives has been a question since before he officially announced his candidacy as a Republican for a U.S. Senate seat in Georgia. Numerous reports have looked into claims he lives in Texas and not the Peach State, which some Georgia voters might find problematic, but new reporting exposes what could lead to tax or voting fraud investigations.
Walker’s Georgia home, according to reporting from The Daily Beast‘s Roger Sollenberger, is owned by his wife, who for years has rented it out.
When Walker announced his candidacy, after a strong push from Donald Trump, it “was widely known at the time that the Republican hopeful had been living in Texas for decades, though he has claimed to maintain a residence in Atlanta for ’17 years.’ Less widely known, however, was that Walker’s wife collected tens of thousands of dollars in rental income for that residence, according to his 2021 financial disclosure forms.”
While it is unclear if the home was rented out when Walker officially launched his Senate run, the “house doubled as the Walker campaign’s first official address when he launched his bid in August 2021. Fulton County tax and property records show the home is solely owned by Walker’s wife, Julie Blanchard, who also collected rental income from 2020 and 2021 ranging from $15,000 to $50,000, according to the disclosure—defining the asset as ‘Georgia residence.'”
CNN last week reported that “Republican Herschel Walker is getting a tax break intended only for a primary residence this year on his home in the Dallas, Texas, area, despite running for Senate in Georgia.”
“In Texas, homeowner regulations say you can only take the exemption on your ‘principal residence,'” CNN’s K-File reported. “Walker is listed to get a homestead tax exemption in Texas in 2022, saving the Senate candidate approximately $1,500 and potentially running afoul of both Texas tax rules and some Georgia rules on establishing residency for the purpose of voting or running for office.”
Even after he launched his campaign for the U.S. Senate Walker still filed for the Texas tax exemption.
The complaint alleges “Herschel Walker appears to have committed a felony in August 2021 when he registered to vote in Georgia,” and “Herschel Walker appears to have committed a felony when he voted in the 2022 Georgia primary and general elections.” These are allegations and have not been investigated by authorities.
When he announced is candidacy, “Walker’s main GOP rival challenged him to ‘move here, pay taxes here, register and vote in some elections’ before running,” The Journal-Constitution notes. “Warnock’s allies have taken a similar line of attack, framing the Republican as an out-of-state charlatan.”
Trumps Latest Tactic? Attacking Special Counsel’s Sister-in-Law
Donald Trump is going all-in on attacks against the family of special counsel Jack Smith. Instead of mounting a defense for his actions, Trump deployed one of his top tactics: attacking anyone trying to hold him accountable.
One of Trump’s right-wing allies posted a claim that Smith’s sister-in-law, who is allegedly a psychologist and whose patients were “crying” and “sobbing” over Trump’s 2016 election.
“And I’m supposed to get a fair shake from this person, who’s under tremendous pressure from his family, but he is actually worse than they are?” Trump rambled on his personal social media site. “Can Republicans, and fair-minded people, generally, allow this to happen? Jack Smith is nothing less than a hit man for Obama, his Attorney General Eric Holder, and Andrew Weissmann. Weaponization. Our Country is in big trouble, a real mess!”
Smith was hired by Trump’s administration to serve as an acting United States Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee during Trump’s first year in office, his biography states. During this same time, the new Trump Justice Department was firing most of the U.S. Attorneys hired under President Barack Obama’s administration. One of those biggest names was Preet Bharara, who helped Trump with the transition while serving as the U.S. Attorney Southern District of New York. He was fired the same month that Trump hired Smith in 2017.
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