Matt Gertz

Author ››› Matt Gertz
  • Muhammad Yunus Is A Decades-Long Clinton Friend And A Nobel Prize Winner. Donations Aren't Why She Met With Him.

    The "Scandal" Requires Reducing International Business And Non-Profit Leaders To "Clinton Foundation Donors"

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    The Associated Press is reporting that “more than half the people outside the government who met with Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state gave money - either personally or through companies or groups - to the Clinton Foundation” and scandalizing the information as “an extraordinary proportion indicating her possible ethics challenges if elected president.” That report is currently rocketing through the media.

    This level of media hysteria would make sense if favors were being granted to individuals because they were donors. But that speculation falls apart when the story gets down to specific cases, because many Clinton Foundation donors are internationally prominent figures in the business or non-profit worlds – the very sort of people one would expect to be meeting with a secretary of state in any administration.

    According to the AP’s review of State Department calendars released to the organization so far, covering roughly half of Clinton’s tenure at State, “[a]t least 85 of 154 people from private interests who met or had phone conversations scheduled with Clinton while she led the State Department donated to her family charity or pledged commitments to its international programs.”

    So who are these Clinton Foundation donors that the AP  notes met with Clinton? Famed Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus is one, and eleven paragraphs of the AP story detail meetings and interactions between the internationally known figure and Clinton and her staff over assistance he sought that was first reported last October.

    Yes, Yunus-controlled organizations have donated between $125,000 and $300,000 to the Clinton Foundation, mostly as annual fees to attend Clinton Global Initiative meetings. But it’s completely absurd to suggest that “Clinton Foundation donor” is a major part of Yunus’ identity, or the reason why he might command attention from the secretary of state.

    As the AP notes, Yunus “won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for pioneering low-interest ‘microcredit’ for poor business owners.” He is a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He is incredibly well-credentialed and almost universally celebrated. According to the Financial Times, beginning in 2007, tensions began between Yunus and Bangladesh’s government when Yunus “suggested he might establish his own political party to clean up Bangladesh’s public life.” Yunus was ultimately forced out of his managing director position at Grameen Bank in 2011 just months after the prime minister publicly denigrated microlenders as “bloodsuckers of the poor.” During that period, Clinton repeatedly received requests for help from Yunus, spoke with him on the phone, and after he was ousted met with him and publicly urged the government to halt their efforts to “seize control of Grameen Bank's effort to find new leaders.”

    And this wasn’t Clinton’s first encounter with Yunus - the Clintons have ties to the economist that go back decades before the foundation even existed. They brought Yunus to Arkansas in 1983 to learn more about how microfinance could be used in the state, and Bill Clinton talked about his work during his 1992 presidential campaign.

    Politico’s Blake Hounshell pointed out the oddity of portraying Yunus as a “Clinton crony” rather than a victim deserving of Clinton’s aid:

    In addition to Yunus, here are the other people who met with Clinton detailed in the report:

    • S. Daniel Abraham, the “billionaire behind the Slim-Fast diet and founder of the Center for Middle East Peace.”
    • Stephen Schwarzman, chairman of the Blackstone Group, one of the largest private equity companies in the world, with a massive charitable giving arm to match.
    • Nancy Mahon “of the MAC AIDS, the charitable arm of MAC Cosmetics, which is owned by Estee Lauder,” whom the AP suggests met with Clinton to discuss “a State Department partnership to raise money to finance AIDS education and prevention.”
    • Estee Lauder CEO Fabrizio Freda, whose “company made a commitment to CGI in 2013 with four other organizations to help survivors of sexual slavery in Cambodia.”

    All are Clinton Foundation donors or work for organizations that have donated to the Clinton Foundation. But they are also exactly the sort of people you would expect to meet with any secretary of state. The suggestion of malfeasance only makes sense if you ignore any reason Clinton could have to meet with these individuals other than their status as donors to an international charity.

  • The Incredibly Sexist Interview Andrea Tantaros Discusses In Her Lawsuit Against Roger Ailes

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros alleges in a sexual harassment lawsuit that after she rebuffed advances from then-Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, the network denied requests from “prominent and credible media outlets to interview Tantaros” but arranged for her participation in an interview with “a website reportedly controlled by Ailes” where the interviewer humiliated her with questions about her breasts and other “outrageous” queries.

    The website’s resulting write-up of that interview discussed Tantaros’ “physical attractiveness” repeatedly and in detail and mentioned that the interviewer asked her questions about “frequent” online descriptions of her regarding “her physical attributes.”

    Tantaros’ August 22 lawsuit says that after she rejected repeated unwanted advances from Ailes in 2014, she was given permission by Fox’s media relations department to participate in only a single interview, with “a website reportedly controlled by Ailes,” during which she says she was “humiliated by the interviewer,” who asked her about “her breasts -- all while a Fox News media relations staffer” observed the interview “but did not object.”

    Ailes was forced to resign from Fox in July after dozens of women accused him of sexual harassment. Tantaros’ lawsuit makes similar allegations against Ailes. She also alleges that she was sexually harassed by Fox host Bill O’Reilly and contributor Scott Brown, and that Fox executive Bill Shine, who is also a defendant in the lawsuit, urged her to “let this one go” when she brought her harassment by Ailes to his attention. Shine was promoted to co-president of Fox News parent company 21st Century Fox following Ailes’ resignation.

    Tantaros further alleges that after she rebuffed his advances, Ailes retaliated by turning “Fox News’s widely-reported, vindictive media relations department” against her. She cites as one example of this conduct:

    Only arranging for, and giving, Tantaros permission to participate in a single interview -- one with Headline and Global News, a website reportedly controlled by Ailes. At this interview, Tantaros was humiliated by the interviewer, who asked outrageous questions concerning, inter alia, her breasts -- all while a Fox News media relations staffer stood by and made no effort to intercede or stop these entirely inappropriate questions.

    Tantaros’ lawsuit alleges that following the interview, she told Shine that she “believed the interview was a ‘set up’ engineered by Ailes” to “paint her as sex object rather than as a serious journalist.” The lawsuit further states that during that meeting, Tantaros detailed past instances in which she said Ailes had sexually harassed her. At a follow-up meeting a few days later, the lawsuit alleges, Shine suggested to Tantaros that Fox PR boss Irena Briganti had been behind the incident and that Ailes is “a very powerful man” and Tantaros should not “fight this.”

    Headlines & Global News president and editorial director Michael Q. Bullerdick conducted the interview, which was published as a 3,500-word profile on May 4, 2015. While the interview gives no indication that Bullerdick asked Tantaros about her breasts, it does include the following disturbing passages focused on Tantaros’ physical appearance.

    An Extensive Discussion Of Tantaros’ “Curve-Hugging” Outfit:

    TANTAROS IS TELLING me all this on the set of her hit daily Fox News talk show "Outnumbered." Although we met off stage we do the interview seated on the familiar crescent white couch. She is resplendent in a curve-hugging and subtly textured white dress that stops around the knees. This is a departure from the bold colors, particularly rich blues, we're used to seeing her wear. But it contrasts fantastically with her deeper complexion and inky black hair. Tan stilettos boasting a subtle cheetah pattern (or is it giraffe?) round out the day's look, and make her seem taller than I remember from a chance meeting several months ago at a publishing party.

    Bullerdick Saying He Wants To Be “One Of Those ‘Lucky Guys’”:

    The set is empty and she can sit anywhere but she instinctively takes her usual place on my right - one of the two "leg seats," as they're known. I'm a seat's width away in the middle spot normally reserved for each day's male guest host, the one the show has branded "one lucky guy." Later when I tell her how well it seems to suit me and hint that I'd love to be one of those "lucky guys," she ribs me about having a typical male ego.

    Tantaros Passing The “Litmus Test” Of “Being Easy On The Eyes”:

    Being relatable - or "likable" as Fox News network genius Roger Ailes has frequently termed it - is the litmus test his hosts must pass if they are to advance at the network. The other test, no doubt, is being easy on the eyes. If my own pair, along with the outsized Internet inventory of her physical appearance are to be believed, Tantaros has passed that test too.

    Bullerdick Quizzing Tantaros About “The Frequent Description Of Her Online” Regarding “Her Physical Attributes”:

    She laughs politely at first when I run off a list of Google key words associated with a search of her name - ones that include "hot," "legs," and "bikini" (The latter is a hoax so don't bother looking). But she tenses and frowns slightly when I follow that up by mentioning the frequent description of her online as a "Greek goddess" and the pages and pages of Internet threads spooling out of control about her physical attributes and posing questions like "Does she have a boyfriend, husband or is she divorced?" And others like, "Tantaros or Guilfoyle - who's the hotter Fox brunette?"

    "Oh my God," she says, taking a long pause.

    The point in bringing it all up is not to rankle her, which it certainly seems to be doing. It's to determine whether, as a professional who happens to be a woman, she's peeved that - on the Internet at least - her accomplishments from a distinguished, multifaceted career are lagging grossly behind all the attention paid to her physical attractiveness.

    The Claim That Ailes “Mined Broadcast Gold” By Hiring “Beautiful Women” Like Tantaros:

    Granted, answering it is somewhat of a delicate balancing act for her. After all, FNC's mega-success is grounded on a nod to research indicating that while viewers indeed want fair and balanced news along with informative and timely analysis, they prefer it delivered by sublimely good-looking people - in particular, beautiful women.

    Ailes wasn't the first to capitalize on the research that also indicates female viewers are just as captivated by attractive women as their male counterparts. But by institutionalizing the formula and assembling what's come to be known as that bevy of "Fox News Babes," he's mined broadcast gold. This is stating the obvious, of course, even if acknowledging it aloud at the network is frowned upon, say insiders.

  • Breitbart News Chief Now In Command Of Trump Campaign

    After More Than A Year Of Shilling For The Candidate, Bannon Makes It Official

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Bannon Trump

    Stephen Bannon is taking a leave of absence from his role as the executive chairman of Breitbart News LLC to become chief executive for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Under his tenure, Breitbart News has been known for its sycophantic devotion to Trump, its whitewashing of racist and anti-semitic elements of the Republican Party, and its complete lack of care for facts or standards of journalistic integrity.

    Bannon has reportedly been counseling the candidate to “run more fully” as an “unabashed nationalist.” His ascension should permanently end the media’s fixation with a potential Trump pivot.

    From The Wall Street Journal, which broke the news of Bannon’s hiring:

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is bringing two new managers to the top of his campaign in a bid to recover ground he has lost in recent weeks.

    Stephen Bannon, executive chairman of Breitbart News LLC, an outspoken Trump supporter and a former Goldman Sachs banker, will assume the new position of campaign chief executive. At the same time, Mr. Trump also is promoting Kellyanne Conway, a veteran GOP pollster and strategist, to become campaign manager. Ms. Conway has been a campaign adviser for several weeks.

  • How To Faceplant While Reporting On The Clinton Tax Returns

    Seeking Scandal, Conservative Outlet Mixes Up Clinton Foundations -- Will Others Follow Suit?

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    An embarrassing misreading of Hillary and Bill Clinton’s 2015 tax returns led The Daily Caller to publish an entire article based on the false premise that the couple had given almost all their charitable donations to the Clinton Foundation.

    The August 12 article, inaccurately headlined “96 Percent Of Hillary’s Charitable Donations In 2015 Went To Clinton Foundation,” claimed that while the Clintons’ tax returns indicate they gave more than $1 million to charity in 2015, “the contributions can hardly be seen as altruistic, since the money flowed back to an entity they control.” The article went on to claim that the donations went to the “Clinton Foundation," which has purportedly "been at the center of several controversies that have hobbled Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign by eroding trust in the former secretary of state,” and highlighted several trumped-up scandals related to that organization.

    Unfortunately for The Daily Caller, the Clintons’ tax returns indicate that they gave that money not to the well-known Clinton Foundation but to the Clinton Family Foundation, an entirely separate entity, which in fact distributes its funds to a variety of other charitable and nonprofit organizations.

    As we noted when conservative outlets mixed up the two entities last year:

    As Nonprofit Quarterly explained, the Clinton Family Foundation acts "a clearinghouse for the family's personal philanthropy." According to the Family Foundation's 2014 tax filing, Hillary and Bill Clinton are the only donors, and the Family Foundation distributes their money to various charities and nonprofits, including New York Public Radio, the American Nurses Foundation, the American Heart Association -- and the separate William J. Clinton Foundation.

    The William J. Clinton Foundation -- which was recently renamed the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation -- is the highly-respected international charity that has garnered significant media attention since Clinton announced her run for president. It is the foundation that helps AIDS/HIV sufferers around the world get better medicine, and battles global health crises, economic inequality, childhood obesity, and climate change.

    While there would be nothing suspicious about the Clintons donating to Clinton Foundation given their obvious commitment to its good works, the fact remains that the $1 million donation in question wasn’t directed there.

    UPDATE: The Daily Caller corrected its article, explaining that the $1 million donation was given to the Clinton Family Foundation, and not the Clinton Foundation as originally claimed:

    (Correction: This article initially identified the Clinton non-profit that received the bulk of the Clintons’ charitable donations as the Clinton Foundation. The $1 million contribution actually went to the Clinton Family Foundation. The Clintons control the entity, but it is separate from the Clinton Foundation.)

  • The Seddique Mateen Conspiracy Theories Do Not Make Sense On Any Level Whatsoever

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Roger Stone

    On Monday, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton delivered a speech in Kissimmee, FL, in which she paid tribute to the victims of the June mass shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in nearby Orlando, and detailed her economic message. But controversy erupted after the local NBC affiliate noticed that Seddique Mateen, who is the father of the Pulse shooter and has his own history of anti-gay and extremist comments, had been seated directly behind Clinton during the event.

    The Clinton campaign has disavowed Mateen’s support and explained that the rally was an open event with minimal screening and that campaign officials were unaware that Mateen had attended until after it had concluded. But the conservative conspiracy machine is already going into overdrive.

    Here are two possible explanations for how Mateen ending up standing behind Clinton during the speech:

    1. It was an accident. A low-level staffer grabbed Mateen from the crowd and put him in that position without realizing that Mateen was the father of the Pulse shooter, positioning him as part of what “a longtime Republican presidential campaign advance staffer described as a ‘tapestry’ -- an area where a diverse group would be seated to reflect wide-ranging support for the candidate.”

    2. For some nefarious purpose, the Clinton campaign made a conscious, deliberate decision to highlight the support of Mateen during a speech in which Clinton paid tribute to his son’s victims.

    Occam’s razor destroys that second explanation. It makes no sense for the Clinton campaign to intentionally associate itself with a man who has a history of anti-gay comments and whose son killed dozens of gay people. That is completely illogical.

    So of course that’s what Trump’s media allies are going with.

    Trump ally Roger Stone, who has accused the Clintons of involvement in dozens of murders, claimed yesterday on NewsmaxTV that this was a “set-up dirty trick” in which Media Matters chairman David Brock paid Mateen to appear in the crowd (note: This did not happen). While floating this absurd conspiracy, Stone admitted that he didn’t see the logic in it, commenting, “Having a murderer’s father in the crowd is suppose to get them votes where? I’m not quite understanding, but it’s despicable that they would elevate this kid’s actions, in essence.”

    Sean Hannity yesterday hosted on his radio show former special operations sniper and American Grit reality show contestant Nick Irving, who claimed that Mateen had been “hand-picked” to sit behind Clinton and was “a plant just to do what we’re doing today, which is to talk about this and get away from, you know, the fact that Hillary Clinton, herself, is a criminal.”

    Fox & Friends gave a platform this morning to Tom Harb, the co-chair of the American Middle Eastern Coalition for Donald Trump, to claim that Mateen’s appearance was “an engineered, orchestrated move -- I believe by the Muslim Brotherhood and their affiliates in the United States, where they are embedded within the campaign.” Host Steve Doocy concluded that “the campaign says he was not invited, although I think to get seated in camera view back there, somebody from the staff has to place you there. I'm sure somebody has some explaining to do there.”

    And on CNN’s New Day, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski suggested that Clinton’s “honesty” was in question because “yesterday, in Florida, Hillary Clinton had the father of a mass shooter sitting behind her at a campaign rally where she is talking about praising the police and the emergency response individuals who helped at that nightclub, and the father of the perpetrator is sitting behind her. And the campaign says, ‘Well, we knew nothing about this.’”

    Even for a conservative conspiracy theory about Hillary Clinton, this just doesn’t add up.

  • After Conservative Media Attacked Khizr Khan, He Started To Receive "Hateful Messages"

    ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Conservative media outlets highlighted a section of Khizr Khan’s website that stated he specialized in immigration law to suggest that the real “incentive” for the Gold Star father’s speech criticizing Republicans presidential nominee Donald Trump at the Democratic National Convention was that his livelihood could be threatened under a Trump presidency. Khan subsequently told The New York Times that he had received “hateful messages” in the wake of “insinuations… that he was involved in shady immigration cases,” but that he had no immigration clients.

  • Jim Hoft Also Uses Picture Of Cleveland's NBA Title Parade To Brag About The Size Of A Trump Rally

    Yesterday Breitbart Issued A Correction After Making The Same Mistake With A Different Photo

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Here’s conservative blogger Jim Hoft’s report on the “MASSIVE LINE” outside today’s Donald Trump rally in Maine:

    Hoft

    Here’s Cleveland.com’s report on the championship parade following the Cleveland Cavaliers’ NBA Finals victory:

    Cavs

    Yesterday Breitbart.com attempted to pass off a different photo of the Cavs championship parade as an image of a Trump rally, subsequently blaming the error on credulously taking the image from social media without confirming it was actually of the rally.

    (h/t Charles Johnson)

    UPDATE: Following the publication of this post, Hoft updated his report, replacing the image from the Cavs parade.

  • Trump’s Convention Speech Will Include A Dog-Whistle To Conspiracy Theorist Alex Jones’ Fans

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Donald Trump’s prepared remarks accepting the Republican Party’s nomination for the presidency include a dog-whistle to the fans of Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist radio host and 9/11 Truth leader who continues to be courted by Trump’s campaign.

    During his speech tonight, Trump will declare that “The most important difference between our plan and that of our opponents is that our plan will put America First. Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo.”

    Jones frequently invokes “globalists” as the villains behind the various conspiracy theories he discusses on his radio show. He believes that a New World Order of global elites is working behind the scenes to rule the world through an authoritarian government and eliminate 80 percent of the world’s population.

    Jones also helped launch the conspiracy that the 9/11 attacks were an “inside job” by the U.S. government He has also pushed conspiracies of government involvement in the Oklahoma City bombing as several mass shootings.

    Trump has courted Jones and his audience, appearing on Jones’ show in December and praising his “amazing” reputation. Key Trump ally Roger Stone regularly appears on Jones’ program. In turn, Jones has heavily promoted Trump’s campaign. Jones spoke at Stone’s July 18 “America First Unity Rally,” which was attended by Jones fans who noted the radio host’s key role in bringing them to support the GOP nominee.

    Jones reportedly has a “special guest” pass that has allowed him to attend the Republican National Convention.

     
  • 9/11 Conspiracy Theorist Alex Jones Reportedly Received “Special Guest” Credential At RNC

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist radio host and 9/11 Truth leader who has been courted by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, has reportedly been awarded with a “special guest” credential at the Republican National Convention.

    Mother Jones’ David Corn spotted Jones entering the arena:

    Jones helped launch the conspiracy that the 9/11 attacks were an “inside job” by the U.S. government and has also claimed that the government was involved in the Oklahoma City bombing, and the mass shootings in Aurora, CO, and Sandy Hook Elementary School, among other tragedies.

    Trump has courted Jones and his audience, appearing on Jones’ show in December and praising his “amazing” reputation. Key Trump ally Roger Stone regularly appears on Jones’ program. In turn, Jones has heavily promoted Trump’s campaign; most recently, Jones spoke at Stone’s July 18 ““America First Unity Rally,” which was attended by Jones fans who noted the radio host’s key role in bringing them to support the GOP nominee.

  • The Trump Campaign Dares The Press To Call Them Liars

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Paul Manafort

    During her speech to the Republican National Convention last night, Melania Trump plagiarized sections of Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech to the Democratic National Convention nearly word for word. This is not a close call. This is not subject to debate. It happened.

    When asked by reporters about this obvious instance of plagiarism, the Trump campaign has repeatedly denied that the speech contained plagiarism, with campaign chairman Paul Manafort saying “no cribbing” occurred and suggesting that it happened is “crazy.” This is obviously untrue. Since the Trump campaign officials have to realize this is obviously false, they are lying.

    The Trump campaign, which has made untruths a cornerstone of its communications effort, is daring reporters to call its surrogates out for lying. And some are answering the challenge, like CNN’s Chris Cuomo. There’s little doubt that the campaign’s next move will be attacking the press for pointing out the plagiarism while continuing to deny that it happened.

    Reporters have a choice: They can report that the paragraphs sure seem similar but the Trump campaign denies plagiarism, or they can acknowledge outright that the Trump campaign is lying.