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  • Former Miss Universe Alicia Machado Told Univision In May That Trump Treated Her Terribly

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    During the first presidential debate, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton pointed to Republican nominee Donald Trump’s record of mistreating women, highlighting his attacks on former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, whom he referred to as “Miss Piggy.” Trump, who owned the Miss Universe pageant from 1996 to 2015, doubled down the morning after the debate on the September 27 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, saying Machado had “gained a massive amount of weight and it was a real problem.”

    Machado appeared on Univision’s Al Punto in May after a New York Times report about Trump’s treatment of women in private described the insults and humiliation Trump subjected her to during her time as Miss Universe. Machado told host Jorge Ramos that Trump had treated her terribly and had mocked her appearance, calling her “Miss Piggy” and “Miss Housekeeping” and saying she was an “eating machine.” She also said the experience had caused her “huge emotional pain.” From the May 22 edition of Univision’s Al Punto:

     

    Translated transcript:

    JORGE RAMOS (HOST): What happened? What happened when you win Miss Universe in 1996, you were 18 years old, and then the New York Times report says you had gained weight after. Enter Donald Trump; what happened?

    ALICIA MACHADO: Well, first I want to take advantage of this opportunity to talk to the Hispanic community, with all the love I’ve always had for it in the past 20 years, to tell them that all of what’s happening with my voice is not something I have sought out. It’s something that has come to me. The people from The New York Times have come to me and asked me to speak for this report, along with other women who’ve had the opportunity or had the experience of being close to Trump, women of different socioeconomic status and careers.

    RAMOS: And how did Donald Trump treat you?

    MACHADO: Terribly, and this isn't something new for me to say. I’ve been saying this for 20 years, what I lived through in that year, how that affected me as a person, I suffered a lot of psychological violence.

    RAMOS: We’re going to show a video of you, when you get there, and you told this story to the NYT, you get to the gym--

    MACHADO: Yes and I had no idea any of this was going to happen.

    RAMOS: You didn’t know there was going to be media?

    MACHADO: No, I didn’t know anything at all. All that I can say about Trump is something I can prove, it’s all documented, I’m not making anything up.

    RAMOS: These reporters, you didn't know they would be there.

    MACHADO: No, I didn’t know they were going to be there. This happened about four months -- yes, I think it was around December or November, because I remember it was really cold in New York. And I had won in May, so it wasn’t like I gained weight immediately. I won the best body in Miss Universe that year, I lifted a lot of weights. It was the time where fit bodies were starting to become trendy, “light” things were trendy.

    RAMOS: How did all of this affect you?

    MACHADO: A lot. I'm going to tell you quickly, I went to the company and asked them for help, I went to their office in Los Angeles. I told them I had gained weight, I don't feel happy, if you put me with a nutritionist I can lose this weight quickly. They told me pack your bags you're going to New York. I said great, I go to New York, and the next day they tell me we’re going to a gym, to set me up with a personal trainer, and a diet. And when I arrived at the gym, I find all this [media] circus. And I tell him I don’t want to do it, that I was embarrassed. And he said, "I don't care, I pay you for this, smile.”

    RAMOS: You have a big social media presence. One of your followers asked, "Why did it take you so long to denounce this?"

    MACHADO: Because he wasn't running for president before, I think -- he's not going to run a casino, he's going to run a great nation, the United States. I also had to overcome a huge emotional pain that even now when I remember it I am upset about it --

    RAMOS: You responded saying, "I didn't think he could ever be a presidential candidate and when I was 18 I was afraid [of speaking out]. Without fear." You were scared of Donald Trump?

    MACHADO: Of course. Very afraid, I was very afraid of him. How could I not be, if was coming from a city at 18 years old as a beauty queen, I didn't have a multimillionaire family that could support me against such a powerful man. So I want to take the opportunity to tell voters in this election -- this country and the world does not need a man who can just do business. I also think we need a good human being, a person with a good heart, and I am totally and absolutely convinced that Donald Trump is not a person that has a good heart.

    RAMOS: You will become a citizen of the United States soon?

    MACHADO: Yes, I want to be able to vote, to have the moral authority to be able to fight for the well-being of this country. I forgave Trump for this episode and other things that happened in that time --

    RAMOS: What else did you see, in Donald Trump and his treatment of other people?

    MACHADO: I'm just going to be talking about my own experience. What I lived was not pleasant, it was humiliating. He's a cold, calculating person, he’s a man that has very little consideration for anyone he thinks is inferior.

    RAMOS: He called you Miss Piggy once?

    MACHADO: He called me Miss Piggy, he called me Miss Housekeeping, he called me an eating machine. And I would argue with him saying that I'm Latina and have a little bit more than others.

    RAMOS: You considered in an insult at that time?

    MACHADO: Yes of course, and it was also how he said it. It’s not just what they say to you, it’s also how they say it.

  • VIDEO: Lester Holt Proved We Need Fact-Checking In Debates

    Blog ››› ››› CARLOS MAZA & COLEMAN LOWNDES

    Lester Holt challenged Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on claims he made during the first presidential debate, highlighting the value of having moderators who are willing to fact-check false claims in real-time.

    During the September 26 presidential debate, moderator Holt challenged Trump on inaccurate claims the candidate made about releasing his tax returns, promoting the birther conspiracy, and supporting the war in Iraq:

    Holt stayed out of much of the debate, but intervened when Trump made glaring factual errors about his own record. Holt’s restraint made his fact-checks more powerful, drawing significant attention to Trump’s falsehoods, and tripping up the candidate before he could turn those lies into attacks on his opponent.

    Holt’s fact-checking likely had a significant impact on the millions of voters for whom the debate was a first hard look at the candidates. But it’s just one battle in the larger struggle over whether moderators should fact-check the candidates in real-time. Both campaigns have argued over the issue, with Trump’s campaign predictably arguing that moderators should stay out of factual disputes during the debates.

    That argument has gained some notable supporters -- NBC’s Matt Lauer was harshly criticized for failing to fact-check Trump’s claims about opposing the Iraq War during this month’s presidential forum. Fox News’ Chris Wallace, who will moderate the final presidential debate, has already said he doesn’t believe it’s job to be a “truth squad.” Even the executive director of the Commission on Presidential Debates told CNN recently that moderators shouldn’t be fact-checkers.

    But leaving the fact-checking to the candidates, rather than the moderators, can contribute to spreading misinformation among voters. Research suggests that audiences that watch this kind of “he said/she said” debate end up feeling less capable of figuring out the truth, causing some to give up trying to resolve factual disputes altogether. Moderators who can carefully choose to intervene during important factual disputes offer a powerful antidote to that kind of passive misinformation.

    Lester Holt’s performance set a powerful example of the value that measured fact-checks can have in keeping candidate’s honest. If the other debate moderators follow his lead, they’ll be doing voters, and the whole of campaign journalism, a real service.

  • ABC’s Tom Llamas Lets Trump Lie About Loan His Father Gave To Him

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    ABC’s Tom Llamas failed to fact-check Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s lies that his father loaned him a “small amount of money” to start his business and that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s statement that the loan from Trump’s father was actually $14 million was “wrong.” Indeed, “Clinton is right about Trump’s … $14 million loan,” according to Politico.

    During the September 26 presidential debate, Clinton claimed that Trump “started his business with $14 million, borrowed from his father.” Trump responded that Clinton was wrong, saying, “My father gave me a very small loan in 1975 and I built it into a company that's worth many, many billions of dollars.”

    A real-time Politico fact check found Clinton’s claim to be true. Politico linked to The Wall Street Journal, which “tracked down a 1985 casino-license disclosure that showed Trump’s father lent him $14 million.”

    Yet when Llamas interviewed Trump after the debate, he let Trump falsely claim that “the number [that Clinton said during the debate] was actually the wrong number”:

    TOM LLAMAS: Mr. Trump, [Hillary Clinton] attacked that loan you got, received from your father and then she also attacked some of the things you said about women. Do you feel that was fair for this presidential debate or were those cheap shots?

    DONALD TRUMP: I thought it was very cheap. You know, first of all, my father gave me a very small amount of money, relative to what I built. I built a massive company and a great company. But I learned so much from my father. I learned tremendous from my father Fred, who was my best friend. But the number was actually the wrong number, number one, and number two -- and it wasn't -- even that wasn't a big number compared to what I did. But I thought that was fair, except the number was wrong.

    Trump has a startling penchant for lying, and fact-checking is a must for journalists and reporters covering him.

  • Journalists Are Calling Out Trump's Debate Lies

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has unleashed a torrent of falsehoods during his campaign, spanning a wide range of issues. His disregard for the facts is again on display during the first presidential debate at Hofstra University, and journalists and media outlets are calling him out on Twitter:

    Trump On Ford Leaving The U.S.

    Trump's Claim He Received A "Small Loan" From His Father

    Trump Denied Calling Climate Change A "Hoax"

    Trump's Refusal To Release His Tax Returns

    Trump's Advocacy For Stop-And-Frisk

    Trump's Years-Long Promotion Of Birther Conspiracies​

    Trump's Iraq War Support

    Trump's Remarks About Women​

    Trump On Ford Leaving The U.S.

    Trump's Claim He Received A "Small Loan" From His Father

    Trump Denied Calling Climate Change A "Hoax"

    Trump's Refusal To Release His Tax Returns

    Trump's Advocacy For Stop-And-Frisk

    Trump's Years-Long Promotion Of Birther Conspiracies

    Trump's Iraq War Support

    Trump's Remarks About Women

  • The Lowest Possible Bar: Politico Declares “Just By Showing Up, Trump Has Already Kind Of Won”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Nearly three hours prior to the first presidential debate, a Politico reporter posed the question, “Has [Donald] Trump already won?” The reporter concluded that “just by showing up, Trump has already kind of won” because he “could have a bad night” due to his lack of “intimate knowledge” of domestic or foreign policy, but he still won his party’s nomination. Politico’s question underscores the common theme among the media of setting different bars for Hillary Clinton and Trump to meet in order to judge their performance at the debate a success. From the September 26 Politico live blog:

    Donald Trump -- the reality TV star who announced his candidacy after awkwardly gliding down an escalator, and then proceeded to call Mexican immigrant rapists and criminals -- is about to stand on the debate stage next to Hillary Clinton, the first female nominee of a major party, a woman who has been at the pinnacle of American public life for three decades.

    And that alone is a victory. Trump overcame long odds to get here, breaking all the rules of politics and offending a lot of people along the way.

    […]

    So, yeah -- of course Trump could have a bad night. He’s not likely to impress voters with his intimate knowledge of entitlement programs or Syrian rebel groups. And Clinton is an experienced and canny debater who knows domestic and foreign policy backwards and forwards. But just by showing up, Trump has already kind of won.

  • Polls Show Americans Want Moderators To Fact-Check During The Debates

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    A strong majority of Americans want the moderators of the presidential debates to fact-check the candidates, according to two new polls. The will of the voters comes contrary to that of Republican nominee Donald Trump (who journalists note has engaged in an unprecedented campaign of lies), his supporters in the media, and the moderator of the third presidential debate, Fox News’ Chris Wallace.

    Media Matters has joined numerous journalists in calling on the presidential debate moderators to fact-check the candidates in real time to ensure that viewers are not left with a “he said-she said” version of the facts. That effort is more important than ever given Trump’s unprecedented willingness to lie.

    Trump and his team have pushed back against suggestions that the moderators should call out candidates when they don't tell the truth, with Trump saying, “I think that the candidates should police themselves.” Trump’s allies at Fox News have also claimed “it’s not the job” of moderators to fact-check candidates, with Wallace saying they should not serve as a “truth squad.”

    Americans disagree.

    According to a Monmouth University poll released today, “Most voters (60%) believe one of the duties of the moderators is to fact check candidates who state false information during the debates. Only 31% say the moderators should leave it to the candidates to point out any false statements by their opponent.”

    Reuters similarly reported today, “In a strong signal that most viewers will also be hoping the debates bring clarity, some 72 percent of respondents said they want to see moderators point out when a candidate says something that is untrue.”

    A voter explained to Reuters why this is so important:

    "It helps the audience, particularly me, to recognize what’s bull crap and what’s real," said Harvey Leven, 63, a teacher from Farmington Hills, Michigan. "It’s easy for the candidates to quote a statistic and people accept it."

    According to both polls, Trump supporters were less likely than backers of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton to support a fact-checking moderator.

  • BuzzFeed News: Roger Ailes “Is Playing A Much Larger Backstage Role” In Trump’s Campaign Than Most Realize 

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    BuzzFeed News’ McKay Coppins reported that former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes -- who was ousted from the network after a sexual harassment lawsuit was filed against him, followed by a slew of other sexual harassment allegations -- “is playing a much larger backstage role in handling Trump than most people realize.”

    The disgraced ex-Fox head has reportedly joined the Trump campaign as an informal adviser, taking on an influential role in Trump’s debate preparation and offering guidance on leadership and advertising decisions for the campaign. Ailes’ involvement follows his departure from Fox in the wake of “shocking allegations” of sexual harassment made by multiple women in and outside of Fox News. 

    In a September 26 article, Coppins wrote that, while Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway has been given credit for the campaign’s “recent turnaround,” her “‘Trump-whisperer’ status is more made-for-TV myth than reality.” Instead, Coppins reported, Ailes “is playing a much larger backstage role” in advising Trump than most anticipated and “is said to be actively advising the candidate ahead of Monday night’s debate.” Coppins noted a Republican source who said that “Trump doesn’t listen to anyone … But he does listen to Roger sometimes”:

    No one has gotten more credit (or blame) for the recent turnaround at the Trump campaign than Kellyanne Conway, the always-on-TV Republican pollster who was promoted last month to campaign manager.

    [...]

    It’s a meme that’s only likely to grow if, as many predict, Trump uses Monday’s presidential debate stage to debut a newly chivalrous persona — but some insiders question how much influence Conway actually has over the candidate.

    Interviews this week with more than half a dozen GOP sources close to the campaign suggest her “Trump-whisperer” status is more made-for-TV myth than reality.

    [...]

    Meanwhile, two sources close to Roger Ailes said the former Fox News chief is playing a much larger backstage role in handling Trump than most people realize. More than anyone, they said, it is Ailes — a master of political communications and media — that has succeeded in getting Trump to stay on script and soften his tone.

    One source predicted that Ailes would get plenty of ink in the various post-2016 insider campaign books, but said he was “happy for now having his role downplayed.” Though Ailes is not on the campaign’s payroll, he is said to be actively advising the candidate ahead of Monday night’s debate.

    “Trump doesn’t listen to anyone,” said a Republican close to Ailes. “But he does listen to Roger sometimes.”

  • Report: Bloomberg TV Comes Forward As Only Network To Fact-Check Candidates During Debate

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Bloomberg TV told Politico it would run on-screen fact checks during the September 26 presidential debate between Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

    In deciding to fact-check candidates with on-screen graphics, Bloomberg breaks ranks with all other major cable news outlets, which have widely rejected on-screen fact-checking during the debate, despite having repeatedly used live fact checks to debunk false information in the past. Bloomberg TV's announcement follows Media Matters' call for the debate moderators to use on-screen text and graphics to fact-check the candidates in real-time in our "Do's and Don'ts" for moderators.

    The New York Times, The Washington Post and Politico have published independent reports that amplified the importance of fact-checking candidates during the debates. They reviewed one week of Trump’s “blizzard of falsehoods, exaggerations and outright lies,” and found that Trump “averaged about one falsehood every three minutes and 15 seconds.” 

    Politico’s Kelsey Sutton reported September 26 that Bloomberg TV said it would “conduct on-screen fact checks” during its presidential debate coverage. Sutton reported that the decision “sets Bloomberg apart from the other major TV networks,” which have chosen not to fact-check during the debate, claiming it would be “hard to execute in real-time.” Other networks’ decision not to correct lies, Sutton reported, “leaves the real-time fact-checking up to NBC’s Lester Holt, the debate moderator, or Clinton herself.” Sutton wrote:

    Bloomberg TV will conduct on-screen fact checks of statements made by both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton during Monday night’s debate, POLITICO has confirmed.

    The channel’s decision to conduct an on-screen fact-check sets Bloomberg apart from the other major TV networks, none of whom have committed to doing on-screen fact checks during the debate. Most will leave the fact-checking to segments in the post-debate analysis coverage.

    [...]

    Spokespeople for the networks told POLITICO that on-screen fact checks would be hard to execute in real-time, which is why they were opting out. That leaves the real-time fact-checking up to NBC’s Lester Holt, the debate moderator, or Clinton herself.

  • Near Absence Of Trump Campaign’s Latest Russia Problem From Sunday Shows Follows A Familiar Pattern

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    CNN’s Jake Tapper was the only Sunday show host on September 25 to discuss a report that American intelligence officials are probing Russian government ties to a man Trump has identified as a foreign policy adviser, Carter Page. This latest revelation is yet another missed opportunity by the Sunday political talk shows to feature investigative stories about Trump and his campaign over the past month.

    On September 23, Yahoo! News’ Michael Isikoff reported that “U.S. intelligence officials are seeking to determine whether an American businessman identified by Donald Trump as one of his foreign policy advisers has opened up private communications with senior Russian officials.” Among the problematic contacts Page has reportedly had with aides to Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, is Igor Diveykin, who “is believed by U.S. officials to have responsibility for intelligence collected by Russian agencies about the U.S. election.” The article also quoted a Trump spokesperson calling Page an “‘informal foreign adviser’” to Trump.

    In an interview with Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway on CNN’s State of the Union, Tapper cited the Yahoo! News article and questioned Conway if the campaign had talked to Page about his meetings with Russian officials. Conway denied that Page was part of the Trump campaign at this time and said that he was not authorized to talk to Russia on the campaign’s behalf.

    The other Sunday hosts -- NBC’s Chuck Todd, CBS’ John Dickerson, Fox’s Chris Wallace, and ABC’s George Stephanopoulos -- who interviewed Trump adviser Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump’s running mate Mike Pence, and Conway, respectively -- all failed to question their Trump surrogate guests about the report. The only other mentions of the report on the Sunday shows were from Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s surrogates, with Clinton running mate Tim Kaine alluding to the “news of this past week [that] shows us a whole series of very serious questions about Donald Trump’s ties to Russia” on CBS’ Face the Nation, and Clinton’s press secretary Brian Fallon mentioning Page on CNN’s Reliable Sources.

    The near blackout of this story from the Sunday shows is turning into a familiar pattern regarding investigative reports on Trump. Over the past month, the Sunday political talk shows have repeatedly failed to feature new reporting that reflects poorly on Trump. On September 4, just days after The Washington Post broke the story that Trump’s foundation illegally gave a political donation in 2013 and that Trump paid the IRS a penalty for it, only CBS’ Dickerson brought it up; on other shows, guests were forced to mention it. The next week, as they were all covering the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, every Sunday show completely ignored the New York Daily News’ investigation that revealed Trump unethically accepted $150,000 in government aid after the attacks and that Trump bragged that one of his buildings was now the largest in the area just hours after the 9/11 attacks. And just last week, the Sunday shows again mostly omitted new reporting on Trump, specifically the news that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was investigating Trump’s charitable foundation over concerns of impropriety and Kurt Eichenwald’s Newsweek report that detailed the “serious conflicts of interest and ethical quagmires” that would be present in the foreign policy of a President Trump due to his deep business ties to foreign countries and businesspeople.

    The report on Page also follows Trump’s repeated praise of Putin, who he has called “highly respected within his own country and beyond,” later adding that if Putin “says great things about me, I’m going to say great things about him.” Journalists have slammed Trump for his remarks, noting the country has targeted and murdered journalists.

  • New Roundups Of Trump’s Lies Prove Why Fact-Checking Is Vital During Presidential Debates

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Politico all independently published on September 24 and 25 reviews of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s “blizzard of falsehoods, exaggerations and outright lies” in just the last week. Given that Trump’s “mishandling of facts and propensity for exaggeration” is so “frequent,” these reports of Trump’s “untruths” bolster the case for debate moderators to fact-check the candidates during the presidential debates.

    Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton are set to debate on September 26 in the first of three meetings. Given that Trump has a startling penchant for lying and that Trump’s debate prep team is filled with conspiracy theorists and disreputable political operatives, journalists and veteran debate moderators have called on the moderators to hold the candidates to a high level of truth-telling and fact-check their inaccurate statements.

    Media Matters has also called on the debate moderators to fact-check the candidates in real-time, so a debate over settled fact does not become a “‘he said, she said’” situation. Failing to fact-check Trump’s lies during the debate will also feed into the growing media tendency to lower the bar for Trump and hold the two candidates to different standards.

    Those calls for asking “tough follow-up questions” have been given even more importance with these new studies. Trump, according to a five-day Politico analysis of his most recent remarks, “averaged about one falsehood every three minutes and 15 seconds.” The Politico analysis found 87 different lies of Trump’s, including on issues such as the economy, health care, national security, immigration, and Clinton, among others. The study also noted Trump’s September 16 lie that “he was not the person responsible for the birtherism campaign to delegitimize Barack Obama’s presidency.” 

    The New York Times also “closely tracked Mr. Trump’s public statements from Sept. 15-21, and assembled a list of his 31 biggest whoppers, many of them uttered repeatedly.” The Times spotlighted Trump’s “most consistent falsehood he tells about himself” -- “that he opposed the war in Iraq from the start” -- which the “evidence shows otherwise.” The Times also highlighted Trump’s “unfounded claims about critics and the news media,” “inaccurate claims about Clinton,” and “stump speech falsehoods.”

    The Washington Post similarly examined “one week of Trump’s speeches, tweets and interviews” and found that Trump “continues to rely heavily on thinly sourced or entirely unsubstantiated claims.” The Post’s roundup of Trump’s recent “false or questionable claims” and “controversial and debunked statements” included his erroneous assertion that the black community is “in the worst shape that they’ve ever been in before, ever, ever, ever” and his false claim that law enforcement cannot question a person suspected of carrying an explosive.

    Though print media outlets are becoming increasingly comfortable spotlighting Trump’s compulsive lying, his habit is not new: PolitiFact found that 70 percent of Trump’s assertions throughout his campaign have been “mostly false,” “false,” or “pants on fire.” The Times, Post, and Politico’s roundups of Trump’s lying just in the past week show how crucial it is for debate moderators to be vigilant fact-checkers during the debate.