Andrew Lawrence

Author ››› Andrew Lawrence
  • Hannity’s Shameless Trump Town Hall Includes Lies That Trump Opposed Iraq And Opposed Troop Withdrawal

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    Sean Hannity’s town hall with Donald Trump included several lies about the war in Iraq that were repeated by Hannity throughout the night.

    In one of the first questions of his town hall, Hannity suggested that Trump opposed the war in Iraq initially but wanted troops to remain later in the war to keep the country stabilized, arguing that “even though you were opposed to [the war], you were opposed to leaving.”

     

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): Let me ask you this, I know it was being controversial when you said that the founder of ISIS is Obama and the co-founder is Hillary, but yesterday -- yesterday you went into a lot of detail. You and I, actually, I remember debating you, because I did support Iraq, but I didn't support leaving early without finishing the job. We had so many Americans bleed and die and risk their lives for Mosul, Baghdad, Fallujah, Ramadi, and Tikrit, they won those cities. And you talked about, even though you were opposed to it, you were opposed to leaving.

    DONALD TRUMP: Look, look, I said one thing right from the beginning, I wanted to get out. We should have never been there, and I wanted to get out and I've been against it ever since. You can look back to 2004, 2003. In fact, on Neil Cavuto's show before the war started, I said let's not do it, we have other things we have to do, including fix our economy, which was a mess, to put it mildly. The way we got out was ridiculously. But I've been saying something since I've known you, keep the oil. Have I said that?

    During the interview with Hannity, Trump cited a 2003 interview he gave to Fox News’ Neil Cavuto as proof that he opposed the war. But Trump did not say during that interview he opposed the war, instead he urged President George W. Bush to make a decision, saying “either you attack or you don’t attack.” Furthermore, during a 2002 interview with radio host Howard Stern, Trump said that he supported the invasion of Iraq.

    Trump also called for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq in 2007 saying  America should “declare victory and leave” Iraq, and in 2008 he said “I’d get out of Iraq right now.”

  • White Supremacists Love Trump’s New Hire

    Daily Beast: Bannon Turned Breitbart Into A “Safe Space For White Supremacists”

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    White nationalists and hate group leaders are praising Donald Trump’s hiring of Breitbart News CEO Steve Bannon as the new chief executive of his campaign, calling it “great news” and citing Bannon as someone who shares their views.

    An August 17 Daily Beast report detailed the disturbing list of white supremacists and hate group leaders praising the hiring of Bannon and his effort at Breitbart News to mainstream their views. White supremacist website VDARE.com editor Peter Brimelow called the hire “great news,” while white nationalist think tank leader Richard* Spencer lauded Bannon as someone whose website has shown “elective affinities” for his ideas.

    The Daily Beast further highlighted the turn Breitbart.com took towards bolstering white supremacy under Bannon’s leadership:

    Bannon didn’t just make Breitbart a safe space for white supremacists; he’s also welcomed a scholar blacklisted from the mainstream conservative movement for arguing there’s a connection between race and IQ. Breitbart frequently highlights the work of Jason Richwine, who resigned from the conservative Heritage Foundation when news broke that his Harvard dissertation argued in part that Hispanics have lower IQs than non-Hispanic whites.

    Bannon loves Richwine. On Jan. 6 of this year, when Richwine was a guest on the radio show, Bannon called him “one of the smartest brains out there on demographics, demography this whole issue of immigration, what it means to this country.”

    And, unsurprisingly, Bannon heaps praise on Pamela Geller, an activist in the counter-Jihad movement who warns about “creeping Sharia.” When she appeared on the SiriusXM Breitbart radio show that Bannon hosted, he called her “one of the leading experts in the country if not the world” on Islam.

    The white nationalist movement has been celebrating Trump throughout his campaign and used his candidacy to recruit followers, fundraise, and spread their message. The Trump campaign has frequently interacted with the white nationalist movement, providing access to their surrogates for white nationalist media, giving a white nationalist radio host press credentials, failing to condemn their support, and retweeting them.

    *name corrected

  • Paid CNN Commentator Corey Lewandowski Is Still Advising The Trump Campaign

    Rumors About Lewandowski's Continued Role With The Campaign Persist Despite His Employment At CNN

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    Donald Trump “has increasingly been back in regular contact” with his former campaign manager and current paid CNN commentator Corey Lewandowski, according to U.S. News & World Report. The news comes amid reports of a Trump campaign implosion and CNN coming under increasing criticism for their hiring of Lewandowski.

    As stories have surfaced of turmoil inside the Trump campaign, including reports of an “intervention” to take place between Trump and leading members of the Republican Party, “suicidal” staff members and Campaign Chair Paul Manafort “mailing it in,” Donald Trump is reportedly relying on his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski for advice.

    On August 3 U.S. News & World Report wrote that Trump had “gone rogue” and turned to Lewandowski once again for advice:

    The Republican operative familiar with the Trump operation tells U.S. News that Trump has increasingly been back in regular contact with his former campaign manager turned CNN commentator, Corey Lewandowski.

    Lewandowski was ousted in June at the behest of Trump's children, who viewed him as lacking the sophisticated judgment needed to assist their wayward father. A major difference between the reigns of Lewandowski and Manafort is that Lewandowski traveled constantly with Trump, earning his trust and bending his ear. Manafort rarely hits the road and has followed a more typical template by holing up in an office with a phone to his ear and his fingers on a keyboard.

    The Manafort model has its advantages, but it also has created a distance from Trump that has stalled decisions and left the candidate without a reliable rudder when things go awry.

    "He's not satisfied with what he's getting," the Trump staffer says. "So he's basically gone rogue."

    Lewandowski immediately came under fire after becoming a CNN commentator on June 23, with media observers calling the hire “astonishing,” “totally compromised,” and a “sad move.” Lewandowski also faced criticism from CNN staff who questioned his employment, calling Lewandowski’s behavior while Trump campaign manager “inexcusable” and “unprofessional.”

    Since joining CNN, Lewandowski has used his platform to defend Trump and attack his rivals at every opportunity. Most recently, the former campaign manager rehashed Trump’s racist birther attack on President Obama asking whether the president got into Harvard “as a U.S. citizen, or was he brought into Harvard University as a citizen who wasn't from this country?"

    The reports of Lewandowski’s close relationship Trump while being paid by CNN to give his analysis of the campaign confirms the ongoing ethical problems with his employment at the network. On July 1 Lewandowski admitted that he was still doing “the same thing I’ve always been able to do” as an adviser to Trump. Reports surfaced on July 1 that Lewandowski “has not yet transitioned out of his role as a Trump employee, and on July 17 it was reported that Lewandowski was still advising the Republican nominee.

    The disclosure that the Trump campaign was paying Lewandowski “severance” on July 13 led to more criticism and ethical questions for CNN. Further questions have been raised over whether or not Lewandowski is even allowed to criticize Trump as a result of non-disparagement agreements reportedly signed by all Trump campaign staffers. When asked by CNN’s Erin Burnett if he had signed such an agreement, Lewandowski dodged the question and refused to answer.

    Despite the criticism and apparent conflict of interest, CNN has stood behind Lewandowski as a paid CNN contributor, with CNN President Jeff Zucker saying on August 2 that Lewandowski has “done a really nice job.”

  • What’s Behind Donald Trump’s New Local TV Interview Strategy

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    With his campaign floundering, Donald Trump appears to be adopting a new media strategy: minimizing exposure from cable and national broadcast networks while still reaching millions of viewers by granting interviews to major local broadcast providers that will provide the footage to affiliates across the country.

    Since the beginning of the general election campaign in June, Trump’s campaign has deliberately reduced his appearances on national broadcast and cable news shows. The one exception has been Fox News, where the GOP nominee regularly appears for softball interviews. According to Fox News’ Howard Kurtz, the shift came because a faction of the Trump campaign was convinced that “constant rounds of interviews entail too much risk of the candidate making mistakes or fanning minor controversies.” Indeed, a rare interview on ABC’s This Week this past Sunday generated a wave of criticism after Trump attacked the parents of an American Muslim soldier killed fighting in Iraq.

    But a Fox-only strategy brings its own challenge: Trump is able to speak only to those who already support him. He needs a different strategy in order to reach the rest of the country while avoiding the pitfalls of national broadcast or cable interviewers.  

    On August 2, Trump sat for interviews with Sinclair Broadcast Group and Gray Television Group that will air on their local broadcast affiliates throughout the country. Sinclair Broadcast Group, which has come under fire in the past for their conservative slant and for ordering their stations in 2004 to preempt regular programming in order to air an anti-John Kerry ad, boasts on their website that they control 173 television stations in 81 markets. Gray Television Group claims “180 program streams” in 51 markets nationwide.

    Sinclair Broadcasting
    Sinclair Broadcast Group Station Map


    Gray Television Group Station Map

    Trump’s campaign has taken a dismal turn as Hillary Clinton opens a sizable lead in national polling amid a flurry of Trump controversies. In order to turn things around, he is seeking to skip the national media gatekeepers while still reaching a national audience.

  • Fox Host Attacks Media For Covering Chaotic Vote Over RNC Rules

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    As chaos erupted on the floor of the Republican National Convention following a voice vote over whether or not delegates would be free to vote on the conventions' rules, Fox News first ignored the uproar and then criticized other media outlets for reporting on it.

    In what was billed as the last stand for the “Stop Trump” movement, a voice vote was taken to adopt rules drafted by the RNC rules committee. Despite chaos on the floor, it was ruled that “the ayes have it and the resolution is agreed to,” a ruling which was denounced by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and other anti-Trump conservatives.

    While MSNBC and CNN were covering the scene from the RNC, Fox host Stuart Varney was attacking The Washington Post for its reporting on Fox host Neil Cavuto. When the network finally turned to the uproar, Varney used it to attack other media outlets for reporting on the “commotion,” saying “this convention will be treated by the establishment media as a series of confrontations, a series of crises. Very different from the expected media treatment of the Democrat convention next week”:

    STUART VARNEY (HOST): Now, we're bringing you this because there was some kind of commotion on the floor. Mike Lee, I believe, is trying to explain that commotion, whether it's a procedural thing, whether it involves those who oppose Donald Trump, that we're not quite sure of. The media, of course, is making the great play of some kind of commotion on the floor of the convention, which has already begun. We're trying to get our own James Rosen onboard to find out exactly what is going on down there. It's not a huge commotion by any means but Mike Lee, Republican senator from the state of Utah, is right there dealing with it. I'm not quite sure of his role in this commotion as I'm calling it. But that is what he is doing right now. Explaining to the media what just happened, why it happened, and what is going to happen next. That is Mike Lee on the floor of the convention. Now, the convention is barely been opened a fewer hours. Already we have contentious stuff happening on the floor. The media all over it, of course, as you just heard from Brent Bozell this convention will be treated by the establishment media as a series of confrontations, as a series of crises. Very different from the expected media treatment of the Democrat convention next week.

    Varney later repudiated claims that the convention had become a “car wreck,” saying that it should instead be described as “high drama.”

  • After Attack In France, Fox’s Van Susteren Allows Trump To Attack Obama With Lies  

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    After news broke of a possible terror attack in Nice, France, Fox News hosted Donald Trump for a phone interview in which host Greta Van Susteren allowed him to attack President Obama and Hillary Clinton with debunked lies about refugees fleeing the war-torn Middle East.

    At 5:44 PM ET time, Fox News reported a large truck had been driven through a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, France, killing dozens.

    At 7:20 PM ET time Donald Trump phoned into live coverage of the attack on Fox News. During the interview, Van Susteren allowed him to use falsehoods about Syrian refugees entering the United States to attack Obama and Clinton. 

    DONALD TRUMP: Hillary Clinton wants to allow 550 percent more than Obama and Obama is allowing a lot of people to come in. We have no idea who they are. They are from Syria, maybe. But they have no paperwork many times. They don't have documentation proper. I would make it -- I would not allow people to come in from terrorist nations. I would do extreme vetting. I would call it extreme vetting, too. And, you know, our country has tremendous problems. We don't need any more of the problems. Right now we have more investigations of this kind going on than we have ever had in the history of our country and we are going to allow thousands and tens of thousands of more people coming.

    Trump’s attack on Obama and Clinton over the refugee vetting process has been debunked numerous times, with PolitiFact writing:

    The vetting begins with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee, which determines who counts as a refugee, who should be resettled (about 1 percent) and which countries would take them. This alone can take four to 10 months.

    If the UNHCR refers refugees to the United States, they then face scrutiny from federal intelligence and security agencies.

    Their names, biographical information and fingerprints are run through federal terrorism and criminal databases. Meanwhile, the refugees are interviewed by Department of Homeland Security officials. If approved, they then undergo a medical screening, a match with sponsor agencies, "cultural orientation" classes and one final security clearance.

    Syrian refugees in particular must clear one additional hurdle. Their documents are placed under extra scrutiny and cross-referenced with classified and unclassified information.

    The process typically takes one to two years or longer and happens before a refuge ever steps onto American soil. Ultimately, says the State Department, about half are approved, and there’s no real precedent of a terrorist slipping in through the vetting system.

  • Fox’s Hannity Provided Gingrich With Private Jet For Trump VP Audition

    CNN: “Hannity Has Long Argued That He Is Not Subject To Journalistic Ethics Because He Is A Pundit”

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    CNN reported that Trump sycophant and Fox News host Sean Hannity provided former Fox contributor Newt Gingrich with a private jet for travel to a meeting with presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump during his search for a vice presidential pick.

    On July 13, CNN reported Hannity provided a private jet to Indianapolis for Gingrich as Trump “holds late-stage meetings with his VP finalists.” Trump had previously said he would consult with Hannity on his choice for running mate, and on July 12 Hannity said of the looming choice that, “I wouldn’t be happy with anyone but Newt.” CNN also reported that Trump has been consulting with Fox News CEO Roger Ailes and 21st Century Fox executive co-chairman Rupert Murdoch:

    Newt Gingrich, a finalist on Donald Trump's vice presidential shortlist, flew to Indianapolis to meet with Trump on a private jet provided by Fox News host Sean Hannity, two sources with knowledge of the situation told CNN.

    The Fox News host flew the former House speaker to Indianapolis early Wednesday morning to meet with the Republican nominee as he holds late-stage meetings with his VP finalists, the sources said.

    […]

    The Trump-Gingrich meeting came at the request of the former speaker. Trump has also held meetings and phone calls about the VP post with Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions.

    During this time, Trump has also consulted with both Roger Ailes, the chairman and CEO of Fox News, and Rupert Murdoch, the 21st Century Fox executive co-chairman.

    On July 12, Fox News announced it suspended Gingrich from his position as a network contributor given the “intense media speculation” surrounding Gingrich as a potential VP pick and to avoid the appearance of “conflicts of interest.” While Fox News cited a conflict of interest as the reason for Gingrich’s suspension, CNN noted that “Hannity has long argued that he is not subject to journalistic ethics because he is a pundit.” Hannity has also entertained the idea of serving in an official capacity in a potential Trump administration.

    UPDATE: Sean Hannity responded to the report on Twitter, stating "Whatever favors I do for my friends is my business."

     

     

     

  • Fox News’ Parent Company Launches Investigation Into Sexual Harassment Charges Against Roger Ailes

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    Fox News’ parent company, 21st Century Fox, has initiated an internal investigation into claims made by former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson in a lawsuit against Fox News CEO Roger Ailes alleging sexual harassment and gender discrimination.

    On July 6, Carlson filed a complaint in the Superior Court of New Jersey in which she claimed Ailes had routinely made sexually charged comments to her as well as “demands for sex as a way to improve her job standing.”

    CNN’s Brian Stelter reported that 21st Century Fox announced that they have initiated an internal investigation into the claims:

     

    In announcing the internal review, 21st Century Fox praised Ailes and Fox host Steve Doocy, who was also named in Carlson’s lawsuit. The announcement declared “full confidence” in Ailes and Doocy and praised the duo as being “brilliant”:

    21st Century Fox released a statement on Wednesday, saying: "The Company has seen the allegations against Mr. Ailes and Mr. Doocy. We take these matters seriously. While we have full confidence in Mr. Ailes and Mr. Doocy, who have served the company brilliantly for over two decades, we have commenced an internal review of the matter."

    Ailes has also responded to the allegations which he described as “false” and “retaliatory” for the decision not to renew Carlson’s contract. Ailes’ statement included criticism of Carlson for “disappointingly low ratings that dragged down the afternoon lineup,” and described her lawsuit as “offensive.”

  • John McCain Speaks Out Against Torture As Fox News Praises Trump For Waterboarding Comments

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    Senator John McCain (R-AZ), former POW and survivor of torture, denounced the use of torture as ineffective and counterproductive after Donald Trump advocated waterboarding and “much worse” to fight terrorism. Fox News figures praised Trump’s advocacy of illegal interrogation and pushed for President Obama to adopt similar strategies.

    During a June 28 campaign rally at Ohio University Eastern Campus, Trump called for the United States to “fight so viciously and violently” against terrorists and “fight fire with fire.” Trump also advocated for the use of waterboarding and “much worse” against enemy combatants.

    Trump had previously advocated for techniques “tougher than waterboarding” as well as proposing the killing of innocent family members of enemy combatants. In May, Trump attempted to walk back those comments by acknowledging “that the United States is bound by laws and treaties,” but has since returned to proposing policy that he once recognized would force a “military officer to disobey the law.”  

    Fox News hosts largely supported Trump’s plans for the illegal techniques. Fox’s Peter Hegseth argued that the United States “can maintain our values while still ruthlessly going after ISIS,” and Fox host Eric Bolling downplayed torture, saying “God forbid we pour water on terrorists’ faces.”

    But on June 29, Senator McCain joined Fox’s On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, where host Greta Van Susteren asked McCain about Trump’s advocacy for torture. McCain pointed out that numerous military leaders have said “that it not only doesn’t work, but it is counter-productive because you get bad information.” Furthermore, McCain argued that “it’s about us, not about them,” making the point that torturing enemy combatants is a contradiction of American values:

     

     

    On October 26, 1967, McCain, then a Navy pilot, was shot down over Vietnam, and captured by the North Vietnamese. McCain was subjected to torture by his captors, explaining that, he “was beaten every two or three hours by different guards,” and after four days agreed to write a confession. 

  • Sean Hannity Devotes Full Hour On Fox To Discredited Book Full Of Clinton Smears

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    Fox News host and Trump supporter Sean Hannity devoted the full hour of his Fox News show to hyping claims presented in the discredited book Crisis of Character written by former Secret Service agent Gary Byrne.

    Hannity interviewed Byrne on the first half of the June 27 edition of Fox’s Hannity, providing the author with an uncritical platform allowing him to peddle his discredited claims and attacks against Hillary Clinton. During the second half of the show, Hannity devoted a panel discussion to Byrnes' comments and attacks on Clinton. In what Fox News described as an “expose” with the “blacklisted” Byrne, claims such as cocaine use in the White House, fits of rage by former First Lady Hillary Clinton, and the disposal of towels covered in “bodily fluids” were pushed by Hannity and repeated by Byrne.

    At no point did Hannity question Byrnes’ dubious claims or bring up the numerous contradictions that he’s made over the years in regards to these claims, including while under sworn testimony.

    On June 20, Buzzfeed reported that while Byrne claims in his book to have disposed of towels covered in “translucent and white, half gooey” substance that would be easily recognizable to “any boy lucky enough to live past his high school years,” a 1998 deposition given by Byrne directly contradicts those claims:

    Byrne testified that he saw Nelvis cleaning up the Oval Office study, holding towels, when the steward said, “I’m tired of having to clean up this crap, or this something, you know, to that effect.” Byrne went on to say that he drew his “own conclusion that there was…some kind of possible physical contact between them and the president” and got the impression that Nelvis felt it was not right. Nelvis, he further recalled, said “something about lipstick,” and he “assumed that, that it was on these towels,” though the steward didn’t say it. Byrne told the investigators that he did not personally see lipstick or other stains on the towels.

    As for their disposal, Byrne said that he advised Nelvis “to get rid of it; in other words, to throw it out” so that the people who did the laundry wouldn’t see it. After that, he said of Nelvis, “I just remember him kind of walking away, and that was it. I don’t know what he did with them. That was the end of the thing.”

    Furthermore, the Association of Former Agents of the U.S. Secret Service has denounced Byrne and his assertions as false, and accused him of having a political agenda focused on smearing Clinton. Politico reported:

    People familiar with West Wing security laugh at the idea that Byrne or any uniformed officer ever would have walked in on Bill Clinton anywhere, whether in a meeting or, as a New York Post article over the weekend claims, in the middle of a make-out session in the Map Room with the late daughter of former Vice President Walter Mondale. The Secret Service presidential detail would have stopped him.

    […]

    And if Byrne or any uniformed officer had been posted near a room the president entered, he would have been moved at least 15 yards away, to the outer edges of the security bubble — not quite what Byrne describes in his book: “I stood guard, pistol at my hip, outside the Oval Office, the last barrier before anyone saw Bill Clinton,” according to the Post, which has been teasing excerpts of the book.

    “Operationally, one who has the working knowledge of how things are done there would realize that certain of those statements do not coincide with the operational plan,” said Jan Gilhooly, AFAUSSS president and a 29-year Secret Service veteran.

    When contacted by Buzzfeed about the contradictions in his book, Byrnes’ publicist said that he would explain himself on his book tour. Fortunately for Byrne, Sean Hannity did not ask him to explain any of these issues.