There is no doubt that the media played a critical role in aiding Republican President-elect Donald Trump’s rise to the White House.
A study conducted by progressive media watchdog Media Matters for America found that during the Republican presidential primary from May to December 2015, Fox News gave the candidate a stunning 22 hours and 46 minutes of free air time—more than twice as much time as any other candidate.
Those minutes on screen added up to millions upon millions in free advertising for Trump. Though his primary campaign had a miniscule budget compared to many of his Republican presidential primary competitors, Trump was nevertheless able to capitalize on the air time offered by media outlets like Fox News to cut back on his own costs, often just by calling in. An analysis by the New York Times found that by March of this year, Trump had effectively already received $2 billion worth of publicity from the media without paying a dime.
It was long clear that many (with some exceptions) of the conservative media network’s staff were relentless champions of Trump—after all, Roger Ailes began advising him ahead of the presidential debates almost immediately after being ousted as Fox News’ CEO, amid multiple allegations that he had sexually harassed women at the network. But in the aftermath of the election, the connection between Trump and the network is more clear than ever.
Sex. Abortion. Parenthood. Power.
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As Trump selects who will join him in his cabinet, the names being floated have remarkable crossover with Fox’s roster of hosts, contributors, analysts, and frequent guests. And at a network known for mainstreaming inflammatory and racist rhetoric, the consequences of that could be dire.
Here are some of Fox News’ favorite voices reported to be in line for positions in Trump’s administration:
Fox News contributor and Iraq War architect John Bolton is reportedly in consideration for deputy secretary of state. The former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations was previously under consideration for secretary of state.
Bolton has a long history of pushing outright lies and misinformation on Fox News. He falsely claimed in 2012 that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had faked a concussion to avoid testifying about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. “This is a diplomatic illness to beat the band,” he said.
Recently, Bolton has been making headlines for following Trump’s lead in his refusal to accept the conclusions drawn by intelligence and national security experts that Russia attempted to interfere with the U.S. presidential elections. Appearing on Fox News on Sunday, Bolton claimed that the hacking may have been “a false flag operation.”
In a 2013 interview with the conservative National Review Online, Bolton voiced his opposition for abortion, telling the outlet that “on abortion, I’m about the same as Reagan; I’m against it except in the cases of rape, incest, or the life of the mother.”
Fox News analyst Monica Crowley has been an ardent Trump supporter, even defending the Republican amid numerous allegations that he had sexually assaulted and harassed women. She is now reportedly expected to be picked for a spot as senior director of strategic communications for the National Security Council in the Trump administration.
Crowley is stridently anti-choice and has wholeheartedly embraced conservative misinformation on the topic. Appearing on Fox News’ O’Reilly Factor in July 2015, she pushed falsehoods about anti-choice front group Center for Medical Progress’ (CMP) debunked videos, claiming Planned Parenthood “has been a bad outfit since its inception” and encouraged Republicans to defund the health-care provider and pass the Unborn Child Protection Act, a 20-week abortion ban based on the false claim that a fetus can feel pain at this point in a pregnancy. The next month on the show, she criticized “the supposed pro-life party, the Republicans” for not doing enough to restrict Planned Parenthood in the wake of the deceptively edited videos.
While in a 2013 appearance on Fox New’s Kelly File discussing Wendy Davis’ filibuster of Texas’ extreme omnibus anti-choice bill banning abortion after 20 weeks and levying unnecessary restrictions on clinics, Crowley mocked pro-choice advocates who pointed out that the measures would mean women would have to travel long distances in order to access abortion care, and dismissed the claims as “hyperbole.” “It’s all ridiculous,” said Crowley. “Everything in this bill is completely reasonable,” she continued, specifying that this included the provisions on abortion doctors and clinics. The U.S. Supreme Court, however, eventually ruled that provisions such as these “constitute an undue burden on abortion access.”
Crowley has also used her column at the conservative Washington Times to push baseless conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton, stoke xenophobia, and encourage Republicans to continue their unprecedented obstruction of President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nomination.
Conservative radio host Laura Ingraham was seemingly one of the first people Trump told that he no longer supported abortion ahead of that year’s Conservative Political Action Conference in 2011. Now she is reportedly in consideration for White House press secretary.
Ingraham, who is also a Fox News contributor, is notorious for her anti-immigrant and xenophobic points of view. In March, she defended Trump’s false claim that Mexico was sending rapists and drug dealers to the United States by suggesting that Mexicans “have come here to murder and rape our people.” The comments are par for the course on Ingraham’s radio show, where she has also claimed that deported immigrants who attempt to re-enter the country should be shot, mocked migrant children fleeing violence in their own country, claimed that Spanish-language media outlets “revile the American experience,” and suggested “wall[ing] off Detroit” should immigrants move there.
During her time in conservative media, Ingraham has also employed dangerous, inflammatory, and outright false rhetoric about reproductive health and rights. In one 2009 segment for the O’Reilly Factor, Ingraham’s on-air graphics depicted a Planned Parenthood logo in what appeared to be the crosshairs of a gun. In August 2015, she also referred to Planned Parenthood as “heinous, Hitlerian freaks.”
She has falsely claimed that “Planned Parenthood makes most of its money from the abortion procedure” and “without the abortion services, Planned Parenthood is basically out of business,” despite the fact that abortion makes up just 3 percent of the health-care provider’s services. In the midst of the Republican presidential primary, Ingraham allowed Trump to use her radio show as a platform to push falsehoods about Planned Parenthood in the wake of the release of CMP’s debunked videos.
Ben Carson didn’t just regularly appear on Fox News during his doomed run for the Republican nomination. The retired anti-choice neurosurgeon also had a stint as a network contributor. Trump announced in early December that Carson was the president-elect’s selection for the top spot at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
As Rewire previously reported, Carson “spent much of his time on the campaign trail this past year inexplicably comparing abortion to slavery. He has said he would like to see Roe v. Wade overturned and does not support abortion ban exceptions for cases of rape and incest.”
“The mother is the protector of that baby and we’ve distorted things to the point where people believe that if the mother can’t kill the baby, then anybody who is advocating that is an enemy of women,” said Carson in one August appearance on the Kelly File. In another appearance that month on the O’Reilly Factor, Carson falsely claimed that Planned Parenthood puts its clinics in Black neighborhoods as a “way to control the population.”
Fox News security analyst K.T. McFarland was selected by Trump last week to serve as a deputy national security adviser. Just after Trump won the election, McFarland said she would be a “foot soldier” for him in his coming administration.
According to NBC News, McFarland has “experience working in the Ford and Reagan administrations in national security and defense positions.” McFarland mounted an unsuccessful challenge as a Republican candidate to then-Sen. Hillary Clinton (D) in New York in 2006. Her campaign website from the time pushed her support for “stricter lobbying rules in Washington,” and “alternative energy technologies to make America self-sufficient, environmentally cleaner and more secure from foreign influence.” Though she told the Times Union in 2006 that she supported a “woman’s right to choose,” she also voiced her support for restrictions such as parental notification laws and a “partial-birth abortion” ban.
She dropped out of the race before the end of the Republican primary.
By 2015, McFarland was mocking President Barack Obama for working to address climate change, though experts say it poses a “significant risk” to national security. “Here we have ISIS, who are attacking with suicide vests and Kalashnikovs and potentially chemical weapons in the French water supply,” said McFarland on Fox News’ Your World With Neil Cavuto. “What are we doing? We’re going to fight ISIS. We’re going to have windmills, we’re going to have solar panels. We’re going to show them.”
“All it does is it gives encouragement to the terrorists who feel that they have been selected and chosen by Allah to establish the caliphate and kill everybody who disagrees with them,” she continued. “They now look at this,” she said, “and they are laughing.”
McFarland has often used her platform at Fox News to advocate for going to war with Iran; promote the use of torture; and stoke fears that “political correctness” contributes to acts of terrorism. She once claimed Russian President Vladimir Putin should have won Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize.
Trump met with Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke in late November amid reports that he was in the running to lead the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), though retired Gen. John Kelly was eventually picked for the job. If chosen, he would have led the agency that houses, among other things, Citizenship and Immigration Services, Customs and Border Protection, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Clarke, a frequent guest on Fox News, has made a name for himself bashing the Black Lives Matter movement. He also hosts his own podcast for Glenn Beck’s network TheBlaze on which he discusses “racial issues,” and during one episode claimed that Black people “sell drugs and involve themselves in criminal behavior … because they’re uneducated, they’re lazy, and they’re morally bankrupt.”
Among the many other extreme and often racist comments made by the sheriff are his comparison of Beyoncé’s Super Bowl performance, which included an apparent reference to the Black Panthers, to the KKK; his reported allegations that Planned Parenthood is “what I call ‘Planned Genocide'”; his label of the Black Lives Matter movement as “vile, vulgar, [and] slimy”; and his claims that those protesting in North Carolina after the death of Keith Lamont Scott, an unarmed Black man killed by police, were acting in a “primitive” and “subhuman” manner. Clarke has even gone as far as to tweet about the movement that “before long, Black Lies Matter will join forces with ISIS to being [sic] down our legal constituted republic.”
Hardly one to be quiet about the national security work he believes should be prioritized, Clarke reportedly called for an overhaul of the U.S. homeland security program in his upcoming book Cop Under Fire. “Authorities, he writes, should treat American citizens suspected of being terrorists as ‘enemy combatants’ who can be questioned without an attorney, arrested by authorities and held indefinitely,” according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which received an advanced copy of the book.
Edward Fallone, an associate professor at Marquette University Law School and a constitutional law expert, told the Journal Sentinel that the sheriff’s plan demonstrated an “apparent disregard for the U.S. Constitution” and due process.
Clarke also once “suggested that any person who posts pro-terrorist sentiments on social media be arrested, deprived of the constitutional protection against unlawful imprisonment (known as habeas corpus), and sent to Guantanamo Bay indefinitely,” during a 2015 appearance on TheBlaze, according to a report published last week by Mother Jones. He estimated that could mean imprisoning up to one million people.
Like Trump, Clarke has appeared on fringe conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ radio show, where Jones claimed in 2013 that “the Obama Marxist types want to start a civil war in this country” by taking away guns. “I believe that if somebody tried to enforce something of that magnitude you would see the second coming of an American Revolution, the likes of which would make the first revolution pale by comparison,” said Clarke in response.
Though Clarke spends much of his time enjoying the national spotlight, he has also been the subject of troubling allegations in regards to his actual job. A lawyer filed a lawsuit in November on behalf of a former inmate at the Milwaukee County Jail, which Clarke oversees, to hold the jail staff responsible for the death of her infant after she was allegedly denied care while giving birth in a jail cell in July. Clarke’s office claims the inmate never notified anybody she was in labor and Clarke has refused to comment on the lawsuit. It is one of several deaths to have occurred in facilities overseen by Clarke since he took his position, including an instance of someone dying of thirst.