People For the American Way

PFAW’s Right Wing Watch and the Mike Pompeo Confirmation Fight

News and Analysis
PFAW’s Right Wing Watch and the Mike Pompeo Confirmation Fight

PFAW’s Right Wing Watch is playing a unique role in the fight to stop the confirmation of Trump’s secretary of state nominee Mike Pompeo.

The Radical Right is in full-court press mode, doing everything they can to get Pompeo confirmed. But our Right Wing Watch team of experts is busy putting out exposés about how the Religious Right is trying to distract from Pompeo’s extreme and bigoted record with bogus claims of “religious persecution,” debunking Pompeo’s absurd arguments in defense of his record in his Senate confirmation hearing, and providing ongoing coverage of Pompeo’s ties to radical anti-Muslim groups.

Beyond all that Right Wing Watch is doing right now, the long-term impact of the Right Wing Watch MODEL is on full display in how our reporting on key far-right figures going back years has influenced media coverage of the Pompeo nomination and even played a part in last week’s committee hearing.

Journalists and advocates writing about Pompeo’s nomination have been making a lot of use of our archives, not only on Pompeo, but on Frank Gaffney and Brigitte Gabriel, two anti-Muslim activists who he has worked with extensively.

One example: In Pompeo’s confirmation hearing, Senator Cory Booker grilled Pompeo about his relationship with Gaffney and Gabriel, and used as an example Gaffney’s claim that Muslims who try to adhere to religious law in their own lives should be tried for sedition. Those remarks by Gaffney were first reported by Right Wing Watch in 2011.

Another example: In a story on Pompeo’s relationships with anti-Muslim groups, The New York Times linked to our report on an interview that Pompeo gave to Gaffney in 2015, which we were the only ones to report on at the time.

Those are just two examples of the ways that RWW’s ongoing reporting has influenced this story — and the value of tracking extremists even when nobody else is paying attention to them. Many Radical Right leaders who seem confined to the fringes of the Right Wing movement often wield far more influence than people realize, and sometimes rise to become even more influential over time — especially in the age of Donald Trump.

In addition to Right Wing Watch’s work on Pompeo, we continue to mobilize or supporters and activists to stop his confirmation and generate targeted grassroots pressure on key senators on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.