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The MRC's Leading Liar

Nicholas Fondacaro uses his Media Research Center perch to spread falsehoods -- and then refuses to correct the record when those lies are called out.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 3/14/2024

Nicholas Fondacaro

The Media Research Center’s Nicholas Fondacaro is a very prolific liar — something for which the MRC pays him handsomely to do, given that he remains employed there and he has not been made to correct and apologize for his lies. Indeed, ConWebWatch has caught Fondacaro spreading numerous falsehoods over the years. More recently, he was busted falsely claiming that CNN scripted questions at a town hall on gun violence then refused to correct the record when he was proven wrong, as well as repeatedly insisting that TV network news outlets reported that Border Patrol agents were "whipping" migrants -- despite offering no evidence whatsoever that this was the case.

Last fall, though, Fondacaro spread a veritable torrent of lies. He began an Oct. 18 post this way:

The incendiary language from MSNBC host Rachel Maddow was one of the things that inspired James T. Hodgkinson’s attempted assassination of multiple congressional Republicans at a baseball practice in 2017.

Fondacaro is lying. He cited absolutely no instance of “incendiary language” by Maddow that “inspired” Hodgkinson — or any “incendiary language” at all. His purported proof of this was a CNN article that noted only that Hodgkinson claimed to have watched Maddow’s show on social media — which, of course, is proof of nothing, and certainly not the incitement Fondacaro is claiming.

The rest of Fondacaro’s post was whining that Maddow wrote about warning about a likely fascist state if Donald Trump is re-elected:

Maddow was on The View to hawk her new book Prequel: An American Fight Against Fascism (tying the American right to parallels with the rise of European fascism) and to discuss the topics of the day, including the 2024 presidential election. According to her, if you really listened to what Trump was saying, he was pitching an America ruled by him with no elections ever again:
I mean, the Republican Party right now has to make a decision and it’s their decision to make. We have party processes for a reason, but ultimately if you listen to what Trump is saying; you don’t sort of regard him as a spectacle but listen to what he’s saying. He’s basically portraying a future for America, if he is put back in the White House, in which we don’t have another election after that.
Of course, her unsupported claims and doomsaying got the approval from the entire case including faux conservative Alyssa Farah Griffin.

The conversation spurred on co-host Sara Haines to assert that Trump would “cancel the news.” “Like, the news, you’re done,” she said. Maddow agreed and added: “He wants to put MSNBC on trial for treason so that he can execute us.”

She provided no evidence for that disturbing accusation.

As far as “unsupported claims and doomsaying,” that’s all presumably in her book, which Fondacaro apparently can’t be bothered to read. As far as MSNBC goes, a month later Trump made a post to his ersatz Twitter clone whining that MSNBC “is nothing but a 24 hour hit job on Donald J. Trump and the Republican Party for purposes of ELECTION INTERFERENCE” and that the government “should come down hard on them and make them pay for their illegal political activity.” So, yes, Trump does want to punish any critic of him (note that he did not demand that Fox News suffer the same fate even though it does arguably the same thing, but on Trump’s behalf).

Fondacaro concluded by huffing that “Farah Griffin also called Maddow’s book 'phenomenal' and bragged that she 'tried to be consistent in calling out right-wing moves towards fascism and extremism.' She failed to ask Maddow about how she inspired Hodgkinson’s anti-Republican extremism and attempted assassinations.” Again, Fondacaro refused to cite a single instance of Maddow having “inspired” Hodgkinson — which means that he’s lying again. But, again, lying is what the MRC pays him to do.

(Farah Griffin is a top Heathering target of Fondacaro and the MRC for no longer being as right-wing as they are.)

Palestinian 'crisis actor' lie

Fondacaro launched another falsehood in a Nov. 10 post:

In the same week that four other major American news outlets had to answer for utilizing dubious sources with connections to Hamas for their reporting on the Israel-Hamas war, MSNBC seemingly tried to one-up the rest by promoting a video put out by Saleh Aljafarawi, a known Hamas-linked propagandist and crisis actor. On her eponymous show Friday afternoon, Chris Jansing treated him as though he was an innocent civilian brutalized by Israel.

Aljafarawi has been dubbed “Mr. FAFO” and “Mr. Pallywood” (a combination of Palestinian and Hollywood) on social media by those who call him out. He posts his propaganda videos to his Instagram account which has over three million followers. He’s pretended to be a Hamas fighter in a music video, a radiology tech in a hospital, a foster father, a member of the press, and a rescue worker, among other roles. He even put out a video of himself praising Hamas rockets that were launched at Israeli civilians.

But that didn’t stop Jansing from elevating a video of him purportedly at the al-Shifa hospital running around with “blood” on his hand.


MSNBC regular Malcolm Nancy [sic] was among the first to call out the network for promoting Aljafarawi’s propaganda. “I LITERALLY JUST SAW @MSNBC JUST FEATURE THIS SAME GUY AT AL-SHIFA HOSPITAL SCREAMING WITH BLOODY HANDS. PRODUCERS! FFS CHECK YOUR SOURCES. HE IS FAKE!!! #PunkedAgain,” he wrote in all-caps on X (formerly Twitter).

“‘Content creator/Actor’ Yes for HAMAS,” he scolded one of his commenters. “People are so ridiculously ready to excuse a dedicated HAMAS propaganda player they refuse to believe their own eyes.”

But as commentator Matt Binder documented, Aljafarawi is not a “crisis actor,” nor has he pretended to be one; he’s just a prolific poster on Instagram. Binder pointed out that Aljafarawi appears to be in many different places in Gaza because Gaza isn’t that big — and also that videos that have been claimed online to be Aljafarawi being a “crisis actor” aren’t him at all. Others have pointed out that a collage of images purporting to be of Aljafarawi are doctored, taken out of context or lack evidence to back the claims.

In other words, Nance is lying and Fondacaro chose to repeat his lie without bothering to fact-check first. But Fondacaro is so committed to the lie that he repeated it a few hours later:

If you’re on X (formerly known as Twitter) and follow the Israel-Hamas War, you’re likely aware of the man we’re about to speak of. Saleh Aljafarawi, dubbed “Mr. FAFO” and “Mr. Pallywood,” is a KNOWN Hamas-linked social media influencer and crisis actor. But those easily researchable facts were of no interest to ABC’s World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, and NBC Nightly News on Friday as they all, much like MSNBC did, treated his content as though it was a legitimate source of news from Gaza.


CBS was the most brazen in flaunting the video. Correspondent Debora Patta used the part of the video that featured Aljafarawi. “Reeling in stunned disbelief, this man shouts, ‘They bombed the hospitals,'” she breathlessly translated for him. “Nearby, a young girl breaks down hysterically, ‘my mom, my father, my brother.’”

“Their one place of refuse, now a blood-soaked battleground,” she lamented. Meanwhile, it was yet another Gaza-launched rocket that fell short.

Over on ABC and NBC, correspondents Matt Gutman and Keir Simmons (respectively) both used arguably deceptively edited versions of Aljafarawi’s video. They edited down the video to take him out of it completely and only used the portion with the little girl.

Aljafarawi was very much a highly recognizable figure that had emerged from the conflict, so it’s suspicious that they used the part he was not visible in.

Note Fondacaro’s lie that Aljafarawi is a “KNOWN ... crisis actor.” If Fondacaro had bothered to do any research at all before posting,he would have KNOWN that Aljafarawi is NOT, in fact, a “crisis actor.”

Alex Christy parroted Fondacaro’s “known crisis actor” lie in a Nov. 11 post: “Just on Friday, ABC, NBC, CBS, and MSNBC got caught using footage from a Palestinian propagandist and known crisis actor.” Curtis Houck also repeated the lie in touting a right-wing congressman spouting Fondacaro’s falsehood in a Nov. 14 post:

On Monday’s edition of Senator Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) podcast The Verdict, Cruz and co-host Ben Ferguson had a lengthy segment praising the work of NewsBusters and associate editor Nick Fondacaro for exposing the “big three” networks of ABC, CBS, NBC for using dubious footage from a known pro-Hamas crisis actor named Saleh Aljafarawi.

“I want to show part of this propaganda. NewsBusters found that ABC, CBS, and NBC elevated a Gaza video from a known propagandist influencer. This guy — we’re going to show you all the different jobs that he has,” Ferguson began just prior to the 25-minute mark.

Cruz and Ferguson then played the full video that the networks would use Friday night and, on a second view, Cruz walked viewers (and listeners on the audio-only side) through the video, including multiple people with “red liquid” that they want to portray as blood, but there’s “no visible wounds” on Aljafarawi or a young girl.


Ferguson then read from Fondacaro’s piece about who Aljafarawi really is before the co-hosts put on-screen a collage of the roles Aljafarawi has played over the course of the war:

Meanwhile, PolitiFact pointed out that there’s no actual evidence to prove this particular video was faked. Remember, the MRC doesn’t care about the truth; they care much more that their narratives get traction in right-wing media.

Perhaps realizing he had been caught spreading a lie, Fondacaro hilariously de-escalated things a bit in another Nov. 14 post:

During an appearance at the Global Women’s Summit put on by The Washington Post on Tuesday, CBS News president Ingrid Ciprian-Matthews boasted about her organization’s new fact-checking unit “CBS News Confirmed” which was allegedly supposed to be able to identify and call out images and video that were meant to misinform the public. But as NewsBusters reported just last week, CBS Evening News promoted a video out of Gaza created by a known Hamas-linked propagandist and alleged crisis actor.


But as NewsBusters reported, CBS was the most brazen evening newscast last Friday in flaunting a video from Saleh Aljafarawi, a known Hamas-linked social media influencer and alleged crisis actor, who was dubbed “Mr. FAFO” and “Mr. Pallywood” online.

But who was the person who “alleged” that Aljafarawi is a “crisis actor”? Fondacaro. Did he apologize for his lie? Of course not.

Luis Cornelio complained that YouTube called out Cruz’s parroting of Fondacaro’s lie in a Nov. 21 post:

Anti-free speech YouTube targeted a video from Sen. Ted Cruz’s popular podcast where the lawmaker praised a report from MRC’s NewsBusters about fake videos depicting alleged victims in the Gaza Strip.

YouTube placed a contentious age restriction banner on the Nov. 14 episode of The Verdict podcast. During the show, Cruz and co-host Ben Ferguson highlighted a study by NewsBusters that exposed ABC, CBS and NBC for using dubious footage from Saleh Aljafarawi who has gone viral over accusations of being a crisis actor in the Hamas-governed Gaza Strip. “This video may be inappropriate for some users,” YouTube inexplicably warns potential viewers, before asking users to log in and “confirm” their age—but wait, there’s more.
Yes, Cornelio is actually claiming that YouTube putting an age restriction on Cruz’s video is “censorship.” Needless to say, Cornelio refused to admit that his co-worker is a liar.

(Catherine Salgado put this on her Dec. 5 list of the “WORST Censorship of November,” despite the fact that only the most deluded partisans think an age restriction on a video is “censorship.” She also claimed that Aljafarawi was “accused of being a crisis actor in the Hamas-governed Gaza Strip” while not disclosing that those making the accusation are her co-workers.)

As Fondacaro’s “crisis actor” fizzled with people continuing to debunk it, he devoted a Dec. 2 post to bashing PolitiFact’s debunking, weirdly headlined “PolitiFact Comes to the Defense of THAT Hamas Influencer You’ve Seen:”

You might not know his name but you’ve probably seen his face. Saleh Aljafarawi is a known Hamas-linked influencer who has been all over social media where he praises Hamas, pretends to be a journalist, hospital worker, and pretty much anything to get sympathy for Palestinians. But despite what was known about Aljafarawi, PolitiFact came to his defense on Thursday to quibble over his being described as a “crisis actor” by those who know his connection to Hamas.

PolitiFact decided to assign “Spanish misinformation reporter” Marta Campabadal Graus the task of aiding Aljafarawi because Gaza influencers were totally in the Spanish media sphere. And she gave the accusations that he was a “crisis actor” a “false” rating.

“PolitiFact’s review of Aljafarawi’s social media accounts and background did not reveal evidence of him being a ‘crisis actor’ or faking the scene at the hospital,” she proclaimed, ignoring his connection to Hamas and without providing evidence that the hospital scene was real.

It’s not a “quibble” to get basic facts right, of course. Fondacaro made clear, declarative claims about Aljafarawi that were proven false, as well as a claim about a video of his that are unproven at best. So rather than admit he lied and correct the record, Fondacaro hastily tried to change the narrative to assert that Aljafarawi is a “Hamas propagandist”:

But while Campabadal explored his social media accounts, she didn’t make the obvious connection that he’s a Hamas propagandist. “The ‘freedom fighter’ image of Aljafarawi with a gun was taken from a music video that was deleted a few weeks ago. In the music video, he was posing as a singing Hamas fighter,” she admitted.

But the fact of the matter was that he would have needed to get all the gear and weapon he was wearing in the video from Hamas since they controlled that kind of stuff.

As Soch Fact Check noted, that video was first posted in July — three months before the war started. (It has now been deleted from Aljafarawi’s account.) That means Fondacaro is lying again by suggesting it was posted after the war started.

This is the way the MRC works — spread a lie, don’t acknowledge that the lie has been debunked, then move on to the next lie. Fondacaro has learned well from his employer.

Journalists-embedded-with-Hamas lie

A couple days before he started that lie, he repeated another one in a Nov. 8 post:

On Wednesday, HonestReporting drew attention to what they described as “ethical questions” stemming from the fact that local Gazan photojournalists affiliated with the Associated Press, CNN, the New York Times, and Reuters followed Hamas terrorists through their breaches in the border fence and into Israel during the October 7 terrorist attack. This led to accusations that these journalists were “embedded” with the terrorists and that they were given advanced notice of the attack.

In the subsection titled “AP: Photojournalists or Infiltrators?,” HonestReporting identified four photojournalists with various ties to Western liberal media outlets who somehow found themselves among the chaos of the invasion of Israel that was a shock to everyone but those who planned it. The reporters of note were “Hassan Eslaiah, Yousef Masoud, Ali Mahmud, and Hatem Ali.”

“What were they doing there so early on what would ordinarily have been a quiet Saturday morning? Was it coordinated with Hamas?” HonestReporting wondered. “Did the respectable wire services, which published their photos, approve of their presence inside enemy territory, together with the terrorist infiltrators? Did the photojournalists who freelance for other media, like CNN and The New York Times, notify these outlets?”

The answer was obvious to Free Beacon contributor Noah Pollak, who posted on X (formerly Twitter): “Important expose by @honestreporting: Photographers working for AP, CNN, NYT, and Reuters were EMBEDDED with Hamas on 10/7 and accompanied the terrorist group into Israel. They knew the attack was coming, and participated in it.”

Fondacaro followed up with a post the next day noting that the media outlets in question denied having any advance knowledge of Hamas’ attack. But he didn’t tell readers the truth: that the allegation was a lie.

The Associated Press reported that HonestReporting admitted it never had any evidence to back up its claims of embedding; it insisted it was merely asking “legitimate questions” and that despite its name, “we don’t claim to be a news organization.” But because the lie serves the MRC’s anti-media narratives, not only did it stay silent about the lie being exposed, it chose to perpetuate the lie. Curtis Houck ranted about the lie being called out in a Nov. 10 post:

On Thursday night, CNN sent out its cartoonishly pathetic senior media reporter Oliver Darcy to do what he dubbed “Shooting Down a Smear” in the wake of HonestReporting’s bombshell alleging Gaza freelance journalists for CNN and The New York Times as well as Associated Press and Reuters embedded with Hamas terrorists during the group’s animalistic October 7 terror attack.


Touting the outlets “strongly pushing back against the report from the staunchly pro-Israel media watchdog, HonestReporting, that claimed photographers for the news outlets were present during the initial attack,” Darcy insinuated there’s nothing further to see since the AP and CNN “severed ties with the freelance photographer Hassan Eslaiah”.

The former conservative reporter pointed to an AP story doing damage control and doing what the liberal media do when targeted, which is try to smear and maim those who criticize them:

When Darcy cited the AP takedown of the lie, Houck whined without evidence that “Darcy and the AP were a tad misleading”:

HonestReporting published a statement Friday morning that, while they “unequivocally condemn calls for violence or death threats aimed at bona fide media workers” and disagree with arguments that there’s no distinction between terrorists and journalists, “HonestReporting stands behind the legitimate questions we asked media outlets in our recent expose.”

Back to CNN from the night prior, the "dictatorial dweeb bemoaned that “the damage had already been done” in that “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu...used HonestReporting’s story to give credence to the false notion that newsrooms were aware of the terror attack prior to it taking place” with a member of his war cabinet saying terrorists and those who stood as “idle bystanders...are no different”.

Actually, Houck is the one who’s being a tad misleading here, having deliberately omitted the fact that HonestReporting admitted it never had any evidence to back up its claims. And his hanging the juvenile "dictatorial dweeb" smear on Darcy doesn't his credibility.

Houck promoted the lie again in another Nov. 10 post promoting an interview NewsNation host Leland Vittert (a former Fox News personality) did with IDF spokesman Jonathan Conricus:

After alluding to the HonestReporting bombshell about Gaza freelancers, he asked Conricus for his reaction whenever he “see[s]...that the stories that Israel puts out and then the...same validity given to information coming from Hamas in American media.”

Conricus acknowledged journalists shouldn’t be threatened before hitting the nail on the head that Gaza journalists “report what Hamas allows them to report...and, if they don’t prove correctly, according to the Hamas message page, then they” and their families “face consequences.”

He even called them “compromised”:


Vittert spoke from experience on that issue: “I dealt with it myself. I mean, I — I worked with stringers in Gaza as well. And you had to — you had to sort of — ba — try — try and figure out what was Hamas propaganda and what were they really trying to tell you.”

Houck did not indicate whether Vittert and Conricus discussed whether journalists who cooperated with the IDF are “compromised” because they report only what the IDF allows them to report.

This also spread to an interview MRC executive Dan Schneider did with far-right writer Sara Carter, as detailed in a Nov. 10 post by Tom Olohan:

Liberal media photojournalists employed by CNN, Reuters, The New York Times and The Associated Press have been accused of embedding with Hamas during the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks against the nation of Israel. According to NewsBusters, on Nov. 8, The Associated Press, CNN, The New York Times and Reuters have all responded to HonestReporting’s story with reactions ranging from cutting ties with the photojournalists in question to defending their work. You can read NewsBusters’ reporting on their statements here.

Schneider commented on these atrocities in his interview with Carter. “[T]these photojournalists were embedded with the Hamas terrorists before the attack began,” Schneider explained. “They knew the attack was going to commence. They did not warn anybody that the attack was going to commence.” 

Schneider also predicted that there will be consequences for the journalists involved in attacks. “I think we’re going to see big lawsuits by the families of the murdered victims and the injured victims against AP, CNN, [The] New York Times and Reuters at a minimum for paying these, their own photojournalists kept silent about what was about to happen,” said Schneider[.]

Carter agreed, also calling for lawsuits. “I certainly hope so. I hope every single family that is connected and has lost a loved one or has a loved one who has been taken, or who was harmed in any way shape or form or had to flee their home or has family in the United States, I hope there are multiple lawsuits across the board, targeting these news agencies,” Carter said.

No mention, of course, that the story was a lie. The narrative, however bogus, is more important than the truth, remember?

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