Fox News contributor Richard Grenell and his public relations firm have been coordinating interviews for soldiers criticizing the actions of recently-released Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl.
Those critics have said that Bergdahl, who had been imprisoned by the Taliban since 2009, risked the lives of soldiers who tried to find him after he reportedly walked off his Afghanistan base.
Several media outlets have reported on these soldiers and their concerns, including Fox News, The New York Times, Time, The Los Angeles Times, The Daily Mail, and The Daily Beast. According to a report in Buzzfeed, Fox News contributor Richard Grenell and his firm Capitol Media have “played a key role in publicizing” these critics.
Grenell served as a spokesman for former U.N. ambassador (and current Fox News contributor) John Bolton in the George W. Bush administration, and also worked for a short time on the Romney 2012 campaign.
The New York Times reported on June 2 that “Republican strategists” arranged for the paper to interview soldiers who served with Bergdahl and have animosity towards him because they believe he is a deserter.
One of the soldiers quoted in the article, Cody Full, sent out a tweet thanking Grenell “for helping get our platoon’s story out.”
Buzzfeed reported that Grenell’s partner at his firm, Brad Chase, confirmed that they were behind the public relations campaign (Grenell also sent out a tweet explaining his firm offered “pro bono services” to the soldiers). Chase disputed the Times’ characterization of his firm as “Republican strategists” because he is not a Republican.
But a radio producer who booked one of the soldiers told Buzzfeed that Grenell was their point of contact for the appearance. Two other reporters confirmed to Media Matters that Grenell put them in contact with the soldiers.
David Zucchino of the Los Angeles Times, who posted an article late Monday quoting Bergdahl’s critics, said he had reached out to Grenell, who personally helped him contact Evan Buetow, a member of Bergdahl’s platoon.
The New York Times' Helene Cooper, whose article identified the source of her interview subjects as “Republican strategists,” said she was contacted on Sunday with information on former platoonmates of Bergdahl who wanted to talk to the paper.
Since word spread about three weeks ago that the neo-Confederate League of the South (LOS) was coming to middle Tennessee this weekend to protest immigration and refugee resettlement, local anti-racists have been working hard to make sure the group’s stay is as uncomfortable as possible.
"We are completely non-violent,” Darlene Neal of the Tennessee Anti Racist Network told Hatewatch. “But we want to disrupt the League’s process, because their process is one of hate mongering and creating divisiveness in communities wherever they go.”
So far, so good.
The League has scheduled a two-hour rally in Murfreesboro for Saturday, the latest stop on the hate group’s “Southern demographic displacement” tour – a white supremacist version of a traveling pity-party. The League is also planning a second rally in Shelbyville, about 25 miles south of Murfreesboro. But after being contacted by members of the Anti Racist Network and told about the League’s pro-secessionist, white nationalist, anti-immigrant philosophy, two area hotels canceled the League’s block reservations and group rate.
As the Network says on its website, “Racism: ignore it and it won’t go away.”
Neal also sent an E-mail to the mayor of Murfreesboro, Tommy Bragg, alerting him to the League’s use of the city logo on its website, advertising the rally. She urged the mayor to ask the League to remove the logo.
State police are also investigating a voicemail left for Rep. Kate Brophy McGee, a Phoenix Republican who supports the Medicaid expansion. She appeared visibly shaken Thursday as she described the message on the House floor and asked lawmakers to tell their constituents to be civil.
"The voice was a male who left a long rambling message with derogatory remarks aimed at Governor Brewer for Representative McGee," Bart Graves, a spokesman with the Department of Public Safety, said in an email Friday. "She felt there was a threatening undertone."
Lawmakers said they have received dozens of messages from supporters and opponents of the proposed expansion containing varying layers of vitriol.
"Sadly, the tone has been quite intense. People are emotional," said Republican Rep. Ethan Orr, of Tucson, who supports the Medicaid plan and received the email but said it did not make him feel threatened. "I wish people would have a more civil and respectful tone, but I understand why this is so important to them
…because when you’re a right-wing extremist, with more pride than sense, dignity or compassion, you threaten the gubmint wit guns when the dang gubmint doesn’t do what you want it to