Right Wing Watch

Right Wing Watch Celebrates 10-Year Anniversary, Launches New Website

Today, People For the American Way’s Right Wing Watch celebrates its 10-year anniversary. PFAW first launched the site after more than two previous decades of monitoring the Right to expose and counter—in real time—the extreme right-wing activists and organizations that were having an outsized impact on our politics. Right Wing Watch has tracked fringe right-wing figures who have suddenly risen to national prominence, reported on the absurd and bigoted statements of politicians who thought no one would listen to what they said on a far-right radio show, and tracked the continued rise of the Religious Right when, year after year, countless others declared it dead.

“Right Wing Watch has spent the last ten years covering those who seek to undermine fundamental constitutional values and distort the American Way,” said PFAW President Michael Keegan. “Through our team’s expert reporting, we analyze and uncover the far-right and hold accountable the politicians who stand by them, uplift their voices, and perpetuate their lies. And we do this in a way that no other organization does. Right Wing Watch has built up its authority not by taking right-wing figures out of context or twisting anyone’s words, but simply by shining a spotlight on what they say and believe.”

“Right Wing Watch has always had a clear mission: to expose what right-wing leaders are saying when they think that no one is listening,” said PFAW Communications Director Drew Courtney. “Over the last decade, Right Wing Watch has collected and shared an enormous amount of information about the far-right movement in this country, and again and again that’s allowed us to hold politicians accountable when they pander to extremism. We’ve shown that politicians who try to score short term benefits from throwing in with bigotry will pay a long term political cost.”

As part of the 10-year anniversary, PFAW today launched a new Right Wing Watch website, featuring our just-published report on the extremist anti-choice movement’s return to Wichita, KS. You can see the new site at www.RightWingWatch.org.

To schedule an interview with a Right Wing Watch researcher on our work, what it’s like to cover the Right, and/or how the Right has changed over the last ten years, please email media@pfaw.org.

Right Wing Watch Highlights: 2006-2016

Top Right Wing Watch highlights this election cycle:

  • While listening to conservative talk radio host Dana Loesch, Right Wing Watch was the first to report that then-presidential candidate Gov. Scott Walker referred to medically unnecessary, mandatory ultrasounds as a “cool thing out there.”
  • Right Wing Watch has reported on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones since 2012—our first post detailed an interview he did where his guest speculated that President Obama was behind the Aurora movie theater shooting—so when Trump and his allies started appearing on his show, we tracked the conspiracy theories that arose from the show and made it to the campaign stump. For example, we reported on Jones and Trump ally Roger Stone discussing the idea that the 2016 election will be “rigged” the day before Trump made the suggestion at a campaign rally.
  • Right Wing Watch was the first to report that three GOP presidential candidates were scheduled to appear at an event in Iowa organized by radical Colorado pastor Kevin Swanson. Right Wing Watch monitored the conference, revealing that the candidates were appearing alongside those calling for the death penalty for gay people and other radical measures. The controversy dogged one of the candidates, Sen. Ted Cruz, for months.
  • After then-presidential candidate Ted Cruz welcomed the endorsement of anti-choice leader Troy Newman, Right Wing Watch was the first to report on the endorsement and lay out the extremism of Newman, which includes calling for the government to execute abortion providers.
  • At the 2016 Values Voter Summit, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin said that the election of Hillary Clinton would result in the shedding of blood of “patriots” and “tyrants.” Of all the reporters in the room, RWW’s Peter Montgomery was the one to notice the story and make sure Bevin was held accountable for his outrageous remarks. The Washington Post’s Dave Weigel wrote: “Bevin's speech made no immediate impact…[But] Right Wing Watch, a project of People for the American Way, did hear a story. Peter Montgomery, PFAW's tireless correspondent at conservative conferences, wrote up the Bevin remarks for a Monday blog post. Hours later, the Lexington Herald-Leader's Daniel Desrochers chased the story and got an explanation from Bevin.”

Top Right Wing Watch highlights from the last ten years:

  • As Mike Huckabee became the Religious Right’s candidate of choice in the 2008 presidential election, Right Wing Watch unearthed comments that Huckabee had made in a failed 1992 Senate campaign in which he called for quarantining HIV patients. The remarks dogged him throughout his campaign.
  • In 2009, Right Wing Watch filmed a press conference at which former Operation Rescue leader Randall Terry said that assassinated abortion provider George Tiller “reaped what he sowed.” The video was widely distributed and exhibited the extremism of Terry’s wing of the anti-choice movement.
  • In 2010, news organizations reported that Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall had declared that disabled children are God’s “special punishment” for women who have had abortions. Marshall tried to claim that his comments had been misconstrued, but Right Wing Watch dug up a video proving that he had indeed clearly made those comments.
  • In 2011, Mitt Romney was scheduled to speak at the Values Voter Summit immediately before Bryan Fischer, a rabidly anti-gay spokesman for the American Family Association who also made a habit of insulting people of other faiths, particularly Mormons. Using Right Wing Watch’s research on Fischer, People For the American Way called on Romney to denounce Fischer’s bigotry—and, in his speech, Romney did just that, further marginalizing one of the most divisive figures on the Right.
  • In 2011, then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry launched his presidential bid with a stadium prayer rally hosted by extremist groups and featuring a number of proponents of “dominionism,” the idea that conservative Christians must take control of all parts of society, including the government. Right Wing Watch exposed the extremism of the event, which ended up dominating news coverage of the launch of Perry’s campaign.
  • In 2013, famed televangelist Pat Robertson claimed on his daily “The 700 Club” program that gay people deliberately infect others with AIDS by wearing special rings that cut people whom they shake hands with. Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network edited the remark from its recording of the program, but Right Wing Watch had been recording it live. Right Wing Watch resisted several attempts by Robertson to quash the video, ensuring that he couldn’t cover over his extremism.
  • In 2013, Right Wing Watch was the first to reveal that Brian Brown, the head of the National Organization for Marriage, had traveled to Russia to testify in favor of anti-LGBT laws before the nation’s parliament just days after the body had passed an infamous bill banning “propaganda” about homosexuality. Right Wing Watch’s discovery highlighted the fact that Brown and his organization were interested in far more than stopping marriage equality in the U.S.
  • In 2013, Right Wing Watch was the first to draw attention to Rep. Steve King’s comments on a small conservative cable network that the majority of DREAM Act recipients have “calves the size of cantaloupes because they’ve been hauling 75 pounds of marijuana a across the desert.” After RWW highlighted the video, King’s comments drew national attention and helped to define the immigration debate that was raging at the time in Congress.
  • History Bonus: Right Wing Watch launched online 10 years ago, but PFAW’s research department has existed since the organization’s founding in 1981. In 2001, it was PFAW that was recording Pat Robertson’s television program when he and Jerry Falwell blamed the Sept. 11 attacks on “the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way.”


New PFAW Report Examines Groups Fighting to Block SCOTUS Confirmation

Today, People For the American Way released a new report examining the role of right-wing groups pushing GOP senators to refuse giving fair consideration to President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, no matter who the nominee may be.

The report profiles four of the most influential groups representing the Religious Right and business interests who have come together to mount a public pressure campaign to convince senators to block whomever President Obama nominates.

  • The Judicial Crisis Network was founded during the George W. Bush administration as the Judicial Confirmation Network with the goal of pushing through the nominations and confirmations of far-right judges to the federal bench.
  • The American Center for Law & Justice, founded by televangelist Pat Robertson often acts as a legal arm for the Religious Right’s attempts to deny liberties to LGBT people, Muslim Americans and others.
  • The Heritage Foundation and Heritage Action have become forces for obstructionism as they pressure Republicans to abandon any attempt at bipartisan cooperation or simple governance.
  • The Family Research Council is working to turn back the clock on social advances for women, LGBT people and religious minorities — something that it hopes a friendly Supreme Court will accelerate.

“Americans expect their senators to do their job and give fair consideration to President Obama’s nominee,” said Marge Baker, Executive Vice President at People For the American Way. “Instead, we’re seeing GOP senators follow the lead of right-wing groups and politicians like Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. That might win favor with Republicans’ right-wing base, but it also highlights the party’s campaign of obstruction and gridlock.”

Read the report here.

For questions about the report or to schedule an interview, please contact Laura Epstein (lepstein@pfaw.org).

People For the American Way is a progressive advocacy organization founded to fight right-wing extremism and defend constitutional values including free expression, religious liberty, equal justice under the law, and the right to meaningfully participate in our democracy.



Video: PFAW's Drew Courtney Discusses Right Wing Conspiracy Theories on Politics Nation with Al Sharpton

Monday afternoon, Right Wing Watch reported on conspiracy theories by conservative talking heads Bernard Goldberg and Rush Limbaugh who claim that the shoe-throwing incident in Las Vegas was staged by Hillary Clinton so she could seem more presidential. Similarly, Mark Blitz told WorldNetDaily yesterday that the “blood moon” from Monday night was a divine warning to President Obama about his plans to use executive action and his bully pulpit in the face of GOP obstruction.

Last night, PFAW Director of Communications Drew Courtney joined Rev. Al Sharpton on Politics Nation to discuss these outrageous conspiracy theories and what they say about the GOP and the political process today:


Cory Booker Hits Back At Lonegan's Bizarre Attacks

This week, we’ve learned what issues Republican candidate Steve Lonegan considers most important in the New Jersey Senate race: that maybe Cory Booker could be gay, and that Steve Lonegan does not enjoy manicures, thank you very much.

In a recent interview with the Washington Post, Cory Booker addressed the rumors that he’s gay in an extremely classy manner:

“And people who think I’m gay, some part of me thinks it’s wonderful. Because I want to challenge people on their homophobia. I love seeing on Twitter when someone says I’m gay, and I say, ‘So what does it matter if I am? So be it. I hope you are not voting for me because you are making the presumption that I’m straight.’” (emphasis ours)

Republican Senate candidate Steve Lonegan responded to these tasteful and measured remarks by hitting back with playground insults and, frankly, some pretty strange thoughts of his own, in a Newsmax interview discovered by Right Wing Watch:

"It's kind of weird. As a guy, I personally like being a guy. I don't know if you saw the stories last year. They've been out for quite a bit about how he likes to go out at three o'clock in the morning for a manicure and a pedicure."

Doubling down on these thinly-veiled insinuations about Booker’s sexuality, he continued to obsess over what Booker’s “fetish” might be:

"I don't like going out in the middle of the night, or any time of the day, for a manicure and pedicure. It was described as his peculiar fetish. I have a more peculiar fetish. I like a good Scotch and a cigar. That's my fetish but we'll just compare the two."

Not much can be said about that, other than: what? (Also, where can I find one of these late-night pedicures? They sound super fun.)

Today, Booker responded to Lonegan’s pathetic attacks:

“’It's just disheartening to hear somebody, in this day and age, in the United States of America, say basically ... that gay men are not men, they're not guys,’ he said in an interview with HuffPost Live, referring to remarks made by Republican Senate candidate Steve Lonegan. ‘It's shocking to one's conscience in this country, where we believe that the content of one's character, the courage in one's heart, the strength of one's sense of purpose, the love that one has for others and their service, is what defines them. And instead he's challenging the masculinity of millions of Americans.’” 

If it was encouraging to see Booker refuse to engage in the childish and irrelevant rumor-mill politics that led to these questions in the first place, it’s absolutely fantastic to see that he isn’t backing down after Lonegan’s bizarre, homophobic and embarrassing rant. Hopefully, it’s a sign that we’re moving away from this nasty politics of hate—to a place where these types of comments are enough to sink a campaign. But please, Steve, do tell us more about your fetishes. 


Maddow Applauds PFAW's Work Monitoring the Right Wing

Rachel Maddow gave an appreciative nod to People for the American Way’s work monitoring the Right Wing.

What the Right Got Wrong About Marriage Equality

People For the American Way’s Right Wing Watch has been closely following the Right Wing’s reaction to this week’s marriage equality arguments at the Supreme Court – which ranges from awkward homophobic discussions to outright threats of revolution.

Last night, our director of communications, Drew Courtney, went on PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton to discuss the Right’s reaction to the marriage cases. Watch it here:

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Trent Franks Beyond the Pale: Representing the Extremist Wing of the Republican Party

From: Marge Baker, Executive Vice President, People For the American Way
To: Interested Parties
Date: March 31, 2011
Re: Trent Franks Beyond the Pale: Representing the Extremist Wing of the Republican Party

Bryan Fischer: Two Minutes of Hate

PFAW's RightWingWatch.org put together this video featuring Bryan Fischer's bigotry in action.
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