Zachary Pleat

Author ››› Zachary Pleat
  • The Huge Media Failure Behind The Latest Clinton Global Initiative Pseudo-Scandal

    Despite Reporting, Bahraini Crown Prince Didn’t Give $32 Million To CGI

    ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    Numerous media outlets covering released State Department emails pushed by the conservative group Judicial Watch falsely claimed that Crown Prince Salman of Bahrain gave the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) tens of millions of dollars, which they suggested was linked to him meeting with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In fact, none of the money in question went to the Clinton Global Initiative -- the crown prince made a “Commitment to Action” to fund the scholarship program at a Clinton Global Initiative event, and the money raised from business donors in Bahrain and elsewhere went to the crown prince’s scholarship program to educate Bahraini students.

  • Fox’s Sunday Shows Ignore Reports That Former Chief Roger Ailes Is Advising Trump

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    Fox News Sunday and MediaBuzz failed to cover new reporting that Fox News’ former chairman and CEO Roger Ailes has assumed an advisory role in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. According to The New York Times, Ailes successfully urged Trump to change his campaign’s leadership and offered guidance on his first series of television campaign ads.

    On August 19, the Times reported that an irate Trump “hastily convened” a group “of paid and unpaid advisers including the pollster Kellyanne Conway, Roger Ailes, the ousted Fox News Chairman, and Stephen K. Bannon, the chairman of Breitbart News” to address concerns the candidate had with then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort. The report, which detailed Manafort’s ouster from the “chaotic presidential campaign,” noted that during the August 14 meeting, Ailes “urged Mr. Trump to reconfigure the campaign’s leadership.” Bannon and Conway formally joined the campaign as its chief executive and manager, respectively, on August 17, and Manafort exited just two days later.

    The Trump campaign had previously denied Ailes’ advisory role after reports that Ailes was assisting Trump with preparation for the upcoming presidential debates, and Conway told CNN’s Dana Bash this morning that Ailes “has no formal or informal role with the campaign,” but acknowledged that Trump “speaks to many different people.”

    But while CNN’s State of the Union host asked Conway directly about Ailes’ role in the campaign, and CNN’s Reliable Sources also discussed Ailes’ burgeoning role, Fox News’ Sunday shows ignored this development concerning their departed chairman and CEO. A Fox News Sunday panel discussion, and two MediaBuzz segments, all discussing the shake-up in Trump’s campaign leadership team, failed to even mention Ailes. A SnapStream transcript search of Fox News for “Ailes” showed no results from any other shows on the network from today.

  • Report: The Trump Campaign Paid The Firm Of CNN's Corey Lewandowski $20,000 In July

    Washington Post Reports Paid CNN Contributor Is Still Receiving “His Regular $20,000 Monthly Fee” From Trump Campaign

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    CNN, which has repeatedly defended its hire of former Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski as a paid contributor, will soon have to explain why he is still receiving his regular salary from the Trump campaign.

    As Media Matters has documented, Lewandowski’s hiring by the network on June 23 prompted widespread criticism from media experts who called the relationship “profoundly disturbing,” “problematic,” and a “sea of muck.” Last month, Media Matters president Bradley Beychok sent a letter to CNN president Jeff Zucker detailing the numerous ethical concerns surrounding Lewandowski, including questions about the reported non-disparagement agreement he has with the Trump campaign, and the disclosure by the network in early July that he was “still receiving severance from the Trump campaign” while working for CNN. After all of this, Zucker defended the hire, saying Lewandowksi had “done a really nice job.”

    On August 3, it was reported that Lewandowski returned to advising Trump despite his paid commentary position with CNN. A Washington Post report on August 21 seems to confirm that Lewandowski is still actually on the Trump campaign payroll:

    While Trump’s payroll remained a fraction of Clinton’s last month, he continued to pay one former staffer: ousted campaign manager Corey Lewandowski received his regular $20,000 monthly fee on July 6 – two weeks after he was jettisoned and had been hired by CNN as a political commentator. Trump has continued to call on Lewandowski for advice since his departure, a dynamic that contributed to friction with campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who resigned last week.

    It remains to be seen how CNN will react to this latest development in its ongoing ethics disaster.

  • Fox News Plays Benghazi Commercial Over Khizr Khan's Anti-Trump Speech At The Democratic National Convention

    Fox News Plays Katy Perry Song After Khan Leaves Stage

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    Fox News ignored a speech by the father of U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan, who was killed in 2004 in the Iraq war, instead opting to air commercials during the speech. Fox later went live to a song by pop singer Katy Perry after the speech.

    During the final night of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, PA, Khizr Khan spoke about the honor he felt to be present at the convention with his wife, “as patriotic American Muslims with undivided loyalty to our country.” Khan’s speech was preceded by a video that showed Hillary Clinton calling Captain Khan “the best of America” and explaining the circumstances of his death, for which he was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

    The Washington Post reported that Khizr Khan turned his attention toward GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump:

    "If it was up to Donald Trump, [Humayun] never would have been in America," Khan said. "Donald Trump consistently smears the character of Muslims. He disrespects other minorities, women, judges, even his own party leadership. He vows to build walls and ban us from this country."

    "Donald Trump," he said, "you are asking Americans to trust you with our future. Let me ask you: Have you even read the U.S. Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy." He pulled a copy of the Constitution from his pocket. "In this document, look for the words 'liberty' and 'equal protection of law.'"

    [...]

    "Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery? Go look at the graves of the brave patriots who died defending America — you will see all faiths, genders, and ethnicities," Khan said.

    "You have sacrificed nothing. And no one."

    While CNN and MSNBC aired the video and Khan’s speech in full, Fox News’ The Kelly File instead continued with its regular commentary featuring Brit Hume, then went to commercial as the speech began, showing slightly more than two minutes of the speech in a small window as commercials -- including a Benghazi attack ad -- overplayed it. Watch:

    And at the end of her show, Kelly cut off her panelists’ commentary to instead air several minutes of a Katy Perry performance at the convention.  

  • Chris Hayes: Conservatives’ Climate Denial Explained By “The Alex Jonesification Of The GOP”

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    MSNBC host Chris Hayes explained in a series of tweets how conservatives’ denial of the evidence of human-caused climate change exemplifies “the rot in the conservative movement” and the Republican Party.

    USA Today reported on July 26 that according to the federal government’s Climate Prediction Center, “for the first time on record, every square inch of all 50 states is forecast to see above-average temperatures for the next three months.”

    Hayes cited this report in explaining the GOP’s refusal to acknowledge the existence of human-caused climate change. Hayes went on to say the conservative movement’s climate change denial represents “breathtaking epistemic nihilism” and that the three-decade-long “conspiracy theory” that climate change is a hoax is the embodiment of “the Alex Jonesification of the GOP.” (Alex Jones is a notorious conspiracy theorist and 9/11 truther who received special guest credentials at the Republican National Convention):

    Fossil fuel giants like ExxonMobil have known for nearly three decades that fossil fuel emissions harm the climate, but have been working to “deceive the public,” according to a report from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). An earlier UCS report explained that MSNBC’s climate coverage has been overwhelmingly accurate, especially when compared to conservative cable news channel Fox News.

  • “NATO RIP”: Journalists Horrified By Trump Waffling On Security Guarantees

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    Media figures across the political spectrum reacted with dismay and disbelief after The New York Times reported that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump “called into question whether, as president, he would automatically extend the security guarantees” to members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) if they were attacked by Russia.

    In a July 20 interview with the Times, Trump “said that he would press the theme of ‘America First,’ his rallying cry for the past four months, and that he was prepared to scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada if he could not negotiate radically better terms.” Trump also suggested that he would not honor America’s treaty obligations to defend members of NATO from attack:

    He even called into question whether, as president, he would automatically extend the security guarantees that give the 28 members of NATO the assurance that the full force of the United States military has their back.

    For example, asked about Russia’s threatening activities that have unnerved the small Baltic States that are the most recent entrants into NATO, Mr. Trump said that if Russia attacked them, he would decide whether to come to their aid only after reviewing whether those nations “have fulfilled their obligations to us.”

    Several journalists have documented the close ties and apparent affinity between Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin.

    On Twitter, liberal, nonideological, and conservative media figures alike reacted with horror and disbelief at Trump’s comments:

  • White Nationalist Website’s Tweet Featured Inside RNC Convention Hall

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    The Republican National Convention featured a tweet from the white nationalist website VDARE.com during the roll call vote following Donald Trump’s nomination for president. White nationalist groups and media have long supported Trump’s campaign.

    Weekly Standard web producer Alice Lloyd tweeted a photo of a tweet ticker inside the RNC convention hall in Cleveland, Ohio, showing a tweet from VDARE.com’s Twitter account praising a speech Rep. Chris Collins’ (R-NY) gave at the convention in support of Donald Trump’s nomination:

    VDARE.com’s Twitter account also tweeted a photo of the ticker as its tweet appeared:

    Trump’s campaign has long received support from white nationalist individuals and media outlets. VDARE.com is described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “an anti-immigration hate website” with a white nationalist ideology that “regularly publishes articles by prominent white nationalists, race scientists and anti-Semites.”

    VDARE.com has bragged that Trump’s rise brought its “ideas … firmly in the mainstream,” and used this claim to solicit funds for its website. The site has praised Trump’s plan to halt Muslims from the United States and supported Trump’s racist attacks against Judge Gonzalo Curiel.

  • Conservatives Ridicule Gingrich’s “Kooky” And “Embarrassing” Plan To Test American Muslims’ Faith

    ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    Conservative media figures ridiculed Trump vice presidential finalist and former Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich’s call on Fox News to “test every person” in America “of a Muslim background” to see if they “believe in Sharia,” stating that the proposal is “unconstitutional,” “embarrassing,” and “kooky.”