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  • Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald Highlights Another, Previously Unreported Trump Lie

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    In advance of the first presidential debate, Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald highlighted a previously unreported lie from Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in a primary debate regarding Trump’s attempt to get the Florida government to approve gambling in the state in 2007. In light of Trump’s penchant for lying, it is important that debate moderators fact-check the candidates’ claims.

    Eichenwald noted that during a Republican presidential primary debate, Trump challenged opponent Jeb Bush’s claim that Trump donated money to him because he “wanted casino gambling in Florida,” saying that the charge was “Totally false.” But, as Eichenwald explained, in a 2007 deposition that was part of a lawsuit pertaining to Trump’s attempted “expansion of his casino business into Florida,” Trump stated that he “spoke with Governor-Elect Bush; I had a big fundraiser for Governor-Elect Bush” and that he “thought [Bush] could be convinced” to allow gambling in Florida. The conflicting accounts led Eichenwald to conclude that “One of these stories is a lie.” From the September 23 Newsweek article (bolds original):

    Donald Trump committed perjury. Or he looked into the faces of the Republican faithful and knowingly lied. There is no third option.

    [...]

    Trump had been boasting for weeks at his rallies that he knew the political system better than anyone, because he had essentially bought off politicians for decades by giving them campaign contributions when he wanted something. He also proclaimed that only he—as an outsider who had participated in such corruption of American democracy at a high level—could clean it up. During the September 2015 debate, one of Trump’s rivals, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, verified Trump’s claim, saying the billionaire had tried to buy him off with favors and contributions when he was Florida’s governor.

    "The one guy that had some special interests that I know of that tried to get me to change my views on something—that was generous and gave me money—was Donald Trump,” Bush said. “He wanted casino gambling in Florida."

    Trump interrupted Bush:

    Trump: I didn’t—

    Bush: Yes, you did.

    Trump: Totally false.

    Bush: You wanted it, and you didn’t get it, because I was opposed to—

    Trump: I would have gotten it.

    Bush: Casino gambling before—

    Trump: I promise, I would have gotten it.

    [...]

    If Trump was telling the truth that night, so be it. But if he was lying, what was his purpose? His “If I wanted it, I would have gotten it,” line may be a hint. Contrary to his many vague stories on the campaign trail about being a cash-doling political puppet master, this story has a name, a specific goal and ends in failure. If Bush was telling the truth, then Trump would have had to admit he lost a round and, as he assured the audience, that would not have happened. When he wants something, he gets it.

    [...]

    But that wasn’t the point he needed to make in 2007. The deposition was part of a lawsuit he’d filed against Richard Fields, who Trump had hired to manage the expansion of his casino business into Florida. In the suit, Trump claimed that Fields had quit and taken all of the information he obtained while working for Trump to another company. Under oath, Trump said he did want to get into casino gambling in Florida but didn’t because he had been cheated by Fields.

    [...]

    Trump must be called upon to answer the troubling questions raised by the episode regarding Bush and gambling in Florida: Is the Republican nominee a perjurer or just a liar? If he refuses to answer—just as he has refused to address almost every other question about his character and background—Trump supporters must carefully consider whether they want to vote for a man who at best has treated them like fools over the past year, and who at worst, committed a crime.

  • STUDY: Trump's "Retreat" To Fox News, By The Numbers

    Blog ››› ››› BEN DIMIERO & ROB SAVILLO

    As the first presidential debate approaches, Republican nominee Donald Trump has almost entirely avoided potentially critical and challenging interviews on the broadcast networks and the major cable news channels in favor of being lobbed softballs by his friends at Fox News.

    CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter noted this week that Trump has recently been “retreat[ing]” to “friendly media ground.” Stelter explained, “Trump is saying ‘yes’ to Fox News almost every day but saying ‘no’ to most other major networks and news organizations -- a highly unusual strategy for a presidential nominee,” adding, “If nothing else, it limits the candidate's exposure to hard-hitting questions.”

    Indeed, according to a Media Matters analysis, since NBC’s Commander-in-Chief Forum on September 7, Trump has given seven interviews to Fox News, totaling more than 1 hour and 40 minutes of airtime. During the same time frame, he has not appeared on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, or MSNBC. (Trump has appeared on the friendly CNBC show Squawk Box and on Trump supporter Lou Dobbs’ Fox Business program during this time period, but appearances on CNBC and rival Fox Business Network are not included in this analysis.)

    Trump was last interviewed by CNN on August 25, in a discussion with Anderson Cooper that ran under 15 minutes. Following that interview, Trump has given 13 interviews to Fox News totaling over 4 hours and 16 minutes of airtime. (Trump's Fox News interview airtime totals include his multiple townhalls with Trump cheerleader Sean Hannity.) Other than his appearance at the NBC forum -- which was moderated by Matt Lauer, who has since been harshly criticized for going easy on Trump -- and a 6 and a half minute interview with ABC’s David Muir on September 6, Trump has not given any interviews to the broadcast networks or Fox News’ cable rivals CNN and MSNBC following his appearance with Cooper. 

    Trump’s total interview time on Fox News would be even greater if a planned town hall scheduled to air on Hannity this week had not been postponed. A previous Media Matters study found that the roughly 22 hours of airtime Hannity devoted to airing interviews with Trump between when Trump declared his candidacy in June 2015 and August 23, 2016, was worth more than $31 million in free publicity.

    Trump’s attempt to avoid being subjected to rigorous fact-checking extends to his (and his campaign’s) attempts to work the refs in advance of the debates. While numerous media figures have highlighted the need for moderators to fact-check the candidates, Trump and his allies have argued the opposite. Trump has lashed out about the debates being “rigged” and incorrectly claimed all of the moderators are Democrats.

    Trump has also not given a press conference in nearly two months.

    Methodology

    From August 25 through September 22, Media Matters tracked every interview of Donald Trump on the three cable networks from 6 a.m. through midnight and tracked interviews on ABC's Good Morning America, World News Tonight with David Muir, 20/20, and This Week with George Stephanopoulos; CBS' CBS This Morning, CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley, 60 Minutes, and Face the Nation with John Dickerson; and NBC's Today, Nightly News with Lester Holt, Dateline, and Meet the Press with Chuck Todd. We included all original interviews only. Interviews were timed from the moment the guest was introduced to the moment the guest left the show. Trump’s recent interviews with the syndicated Dr. Oz Show and The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon were not included in this study.

  • What The Media Needs To Know About Donald Trump’s Debate Prep Team

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's inner circle is filled with conspiracy theorists and disreputable political operatives. According to reports, many of these same people have been taking the lead in preparing him for Monday's first presidential debate at Hofstra University.

    (Note: Some of these bios were previously included in a round-up of Trump’s kitchen cabinet).

    Roger Ailes

    Ailes

    Role In Debate Prep

    Roger Ailes is the founder and former chairman and CEO of Fox News and the Fox Television Stations Group. He has reportedly been an influential part of Trump’s debate preparation, advising the candidate on how to “get his message out in a smart, cogent way while also maintaining his air of authenticity,” according to CNNMoney, and helping “Trump come up with memorable one-liners that will stay in voters' minds, drive headlines, and perhaps even turn the tide in Trump's favor.”

    What You Need To Know

    Ailes was forced out at Fox News after former anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit against him alleging sexual harassment and retaliation. Other women also came forward, alleging a decades-long pattern of harassment by Ailes. (Carlson’s suit was settled for a reported $20 million, and Fox News’ parent company issued a public apology to Carlson, saying she was not “treated with the respect and dignity that she and all of our colleagues deserve.”) . Even though Ailes was publicly disgraced, Trump has repeatedly expressed support for him..

    The network Ailes created has for years functioned as the communications arm of the Republican Party, disguised as a “news” network. Fox was instrumental in the rise and eventual triumph of Trump in the 2016 Republican primaries, featuring him far more than any other candidate, which translated into millions of dollars worth of free exposure.

    At Fox, Ailes pushed programming with themes of misogyny, racism, and Islamophobia. Ailes was once an operative for President Richard Nixon, and he used race-baiting in his work for Nixon as well.

    Corey Lewandowski

    Lewandowski

    Role In Debate Prep

    Former Trump campaign manager and current CNN contributor Corey Lewandowski is involved in “preparing Donald Trump for the debates,” according to the conservative site Heat Street.

    What You Need To Know

    While he was in charge of Trump’s campaign, Lewandowski had hostile interactions with the press corps covering Trump. He was caught on video grabbing Michelle Fields, then a reporter for Breitbart News. Florida prosecutors said they believed there was probable cause to arrest Lewandowski, but decided against prosecuting him.

    In a separate incident, Lewandowski was seen grabbing a protester “by the collar,” and “yanking him backwards.” When asked about it, Trump said, “I give him credit for having spirit.”

    Lewandowski continues to receive what are described as “severance” payments from the Trump campaign while commenting on the election in a paid position for CNN. On air he has been a reliable Trump defender, promoting the racist birther conspiracy theory, smearing journalists who report on the nominee, and lying about Trump’s history of using undocumented workers.

    Stephen Bannon

    Bannon

    Role In Debate Prep

    Stephen Bannon is the chairman of Breitbart News but is currently on leave to serve as the chief executive of the Trump campaign. The Washington Post reported that he is part of the unofficial Trump debate team that met with the candidate at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, NJ, in August.

    What You Need To Know

    Under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart News has recently made a “noticeable shift toward embracing ideas on the extremist fringe of the conservative right. Racist ideas. Anti-Muslim and anti-Immigrant ideas,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

    Several anonymous Breitbart staffers alleged, according to BuzzFeed, that “the company’s top management was allowing Trump to turn Breitbart into his own fan website” and claimed the candidate paid the site in exchange for favorable coverage. (Bannon denied the allegation.)

    After news surfaced that Trump’s then-campaign manager had allegedly manhandled Michelle Fields, who was working at the time as a Breitbart reporter, Bannon sided with the campaign over his employee, leading to the defection of several staffers.

    Several former Bannon employees have spoken out about his hiring by the campaign. Former Breitbart editor-at-large Ben Shapiro called Bannon a “legitimately sinister figure” who has led Breitbart News to embrace the “white supremacist alt-right.” Former Breitbart News spokesperson Kurt Bardella told Media Matters that Bannon is a “pathological liar” whose hiring signals a “dangerous" shift by the campaign.

    Rudy Giuliani

    Giuliani

    Role In Debate Prep

    Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani has served as a campaign surrogate for the Trump campaign and was identified as a “longtime friend” of the candidate who is involved in debate preparations.

    What You Need To Know

    Giuliani has a long history of making anti-Muslim statements. He argued in favor of Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) comment that one way to fight terrorism is to “patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods,” said sexual assault in Germany proved that “these [Syrian] refugees are inherently a problem,” and praised Rep. Peter King (R-NY) for holding anti-Muslim hearings in Congress.

    Speaking before Trump at a campaign rally, Giuliani said, “Under those eight years before Obama came along, we didn’t have any successful radical Islamic terrorist attack in the United States,” omitting the 9/11 attacks. PolitiFact rated this claim “false.”

    Laura Ingraham

    Ingraham

    Role In Debate Prep

    Radio host Laura Ingraham has been a staunch supporter of Trump’s candidacy and has praised his anti-immigrant rhetoric. Ingraham spoke at the Republican National Convention and urged Trump’s former rivals to “honor your pledge” and “support Donald Trump now.” She has been described as one of Trump’s “informal band of counselors” who are helping him to “test out zingers” ahead of the debate.

    What You Need To Know

    Ingraham has often used her show to demonize and attack immigrants. Ingraham said Mexicans “have come here to murder and rape our people,” called the American children of undocumented immigrants “anchor fetuses,” and suggested that deported immigrants attempting to re-enter the country should be “shot.”

    Chris Christie

    Christie

    Role In Debate Prep

    New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie endorsed Trump after he dropped out of the campaign and has served as a leading surrogate for the candidate. He is the head of Trump’s transition team and is reportedly helping with debate preparations.

    What You Need To Know

    Christie has become infamous for his public arguments with voters and other figures. He told a voter who criticized them that he was “a real big shot shooting your mouth off,” called a reporter “a complete idiot,” and told a resident asking about stalled rebuilding efforts after Superstorm Sandy to “sit down and shut up.”

    Another mark against Christie has been the Bridgegate scandal, in which his subordinates conspired to block traffic on the George Washington Bridge as payback for political slights against the governor.

    David Bossie

    Bossie

    Role In Debate Prep

    Conservative activist David Bossie has taken a leave of absence from his job as president of the advocacy group Citizens United to be Trump’s deputy campaign manager. He is reportedly part of the debate preparation team.

    What You Need To Know

    In 1992, then-President George H.W. Bush condemned Bossie and Citizens United for using what he called “filthy campaign tactics” against the Clintons during the 1992 presidential campaign. Following President Clinton’s election, Bossie used his role as Citizens United’s political director to operate “an information factory” that produced “a steady stream of tips, tidbits, documents, factoids, suspicions, and story ideas for the nation's press and for Republicans on Capitol Hill,” according to Columbia Journalism Review. Bossie resigned from his position as an investigator for the House Government and Reform Committee after it was revealed that he played a role in releasing selectively edited transcripts in order to smear Hillary Clinton.

    Bossie has been president of Citizens United since 2000. The group’s film Hillary: The Movie prompted the Supreme Court case Citizens United v. FEC, which resulted in the 5-4 decision that has led to nearly unlimited campaign spending in elections. Citizens United has pushed for the release of Hillary Clinton’s communications from the State Department when she was secretary of state, and the organization is a party in several lawsuits demanding Clinton-related materials from the agency. In the course of making those requests, Citizens United has often insinuated -- without evidence -- that wrongdoing took place.

    Roger Stone

    Roger Stone

    Role In Debate Prep

    Republican dirty trickster Roger Stone is a longtime Trump ally. Stone worked on Trump’s campaign until August of 2015, continues to serve as a prominent advocate for Trump’s candidacy, and regularly speaks with Trump. Stone advised Trump on debate negotiations and helped Trump with debate prep during the primaries.

    What You Need To Know

    In addition to his political dirty tricks, Stone has an extensive history of making violent, racist, and sexist comments. He started an anti-Hillary Clinton group in 2008 with the acronym “C.U.N.T.” and has called for her to be executed. He called cable news commentators a “stupid negro” and “Mandingo,” and he promotes conspiracy theories about the Clinton and Bush families murdering dozens of people. His next book is about how the Clintons purportedly murdered JFK Jr. “because he was in the way.”

    Stone’s racist and sexist tweets resulted in him being banned from appearing on CNN and MSNBC.

    While advocating for Trump, Stone has peddled several outlandish conspiracy theories. He accused the Clintons of murdering several more people, argued that the 2016 election will be “rigged” via the manipulation of voting machines, and alleged that a top Clinton campaign aide was connected to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Stone also attacked the family of Capt. Humayun Khan, who was killed in Iraq in 2004.

    Kellyanne Conway

    Conway

    Role In Debate Prep

    Kellyanne Conway served as a senior adviser and pollster for the Trump campaign, and she is currently serving as the campaign manager. Conway has been part of the core team preparing Trump for the debate.

    What You Need To Know

    Conway has long been involved in conservative politics, mostly as a pollster working with conservative groups including the NRA and Family Research Council and Republican candidates including Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann.

    Conway once said that people “don’t want their kids looking at a cartoon with a bunch of lesbian mothers” and suggested the representation of same-sex parents in children’s programming was a “corrupting” influence. She also once argued that “political correctness” could create a situation where there were “air traffic controllers who don’t speak great English,” leading to “two planes crashing in the sky.”

    She also argued that “revulsion towards men” is “part and parcel of the feminist movement” and that “baby girls [are] being killed just because they’re girls” in America.

    Michael Flynn

    Flynn

    Role In Debate Prep

    Retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, is a Trump adviser and campaign surrogate. Flynn is part of the national security team preparing Trump for the debate.

    What You Need To Know

    Flynn left his position at the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014 after clashing with senior officials. He has complained that “‘political correctness’ has prevented the U.S. from confronting violent extremism, which he sees as a ‘cancerous idea that exists inside of the Islamic religion.’” In his book The Field of Flight, Flynn accuses the U.S. government of concealing “the actions of terrorists like bin Laden and groups like ISIS, and the role of Iran in the rise of radical Islam.”

    Flynn has publicly supported Trump’s idea that the families of terrorist suspects should be killed, and he also backs Trump’s proposal for a ban on Muslim travel to the United States. Flynn has written that “fear of Muslims is RATIONAL.”

    In 2015, Flynn flew to Moscow and was filmed having a formal dinner with Vladimir Putin. The Daily Beast reported that “Pentagon brass were taken by surprise that he didn’t notify the department.”

    Flynn was paid by the state-funded Russian television network RT for his appearance at the network’s anniversary gala.

    Flynn spoke on Trump’s behalf at the Republican National Convention, saying that “war is not about bathrooms,” a reference to controversy over anti-transgender laws. He also retweeted an anti-Semitic pro-Trump message that read in part, “Not anymore, Jews. Not anymore.” He later described the incident as “a mistake.”

  • La Opinión Reports On Exclusion Of Latinos In The Media

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    La Opinión reported on a Media Matters study that found that Latinos made up only a small fraction of guests invited on cable news shows to discuss Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s attacks on Judge Gonzalo Curiel’s Mexican heritage. The article featured input from Media Matters Hispanic media researcher Cristina López, who explained that this finding is representative of a larger tendency in the media to marginalize the Latino perspective in their reporting, which could have serious “negative effects” and “perpetuate damaging stereotypes” about Latinos.

    The September 21 report focused on a Media Matters quantitative study of guest diversity on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC that found that only 11.5 percent of guests discussing Trump’s racist attacks against a Latino judge were Hispanic, while the majority of those discussing the topic -- 88.5 percent -- were non-Hispanic. The article cited previous Media Matters studies that confirmed the media’s “broader pattern” of marginalizing Latinos’ voices “even when the [Latino] community is attacked” and often relegating them to the single issue of immigration.

    Media MattersCristina López pointed out that a failure to effectively include the Latino perspective on issues that affect them “can have negative effects on the narratives that come out of news shows” and explained that “without the inclusion of Latino voices in the discussion of topics of the day, including those that most affect them, we run the risk of having imprecise information that perpetuates damaging stereotypes.” Translated from the September 21 article (emphasis original):

    Latinos are the largest minority in the country and even when the community is attacked, they do not have a voice on cable news networks [to comment] on the electoral bloc’s most pressing topics, according to what a "Media Matters" study reported this Wednesday.

    [...]

    In statements to this newspaper, researcher Cristina López explained that the low representation of Latinos “can have negative effects on the narrative that come out of news shows.”

    “Without the inclusion of Latino voices in the discussion of topics of the day, including those that most affect them, we run the risk of having imprecise information that perpetuates damaging stereotypes” about Hispanics, she said.

    For López, it’s urgent that TV producers and executives improve the participation of Latinos and other minorities, especially in a hostile environment in which racist attacks have changed the current of the national dialogue.

    “Latinos have demonstrated, with campaigns like #AskMeMás, that they are anxious and capable of discussing issues that affect them most and being part of broader conversations. The ball is in the court of the news channels,” López stated.

    According to Media Matters, the lack of inclusion of Latino voices on national programs is not isolated but rather makes up a part of a broader pattern: after the massacre in a gay club in Orlando (Florida), none of the major cable channels included a significant number of Hispanic guests, despite the fact that 90% of the victims were of Latino origin.

    And an analysis of Sunday shows, in English and Spanish, left proof that Latinos are only sought out to comment about immigration issues, ignoring the diversity of opinions about other topics of life nationally.

    Although much is spoken about the importance of the Latino vote in this election year, the cable channels “rarely include Hispanics” in their news shows, Media Matters said.

  • Chicago Tribune Compares Teachers Union’s Strike Vote To Rigged Elections Of Infamous Dictators

    Blog ››› ››› PAM VOGEL

    The Chicago Tribune’s editorial board -- which has a long history of launching absurd, misinformed attacks on the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and its leadership -- targeted its latest editorial against the union’s vote to reauthorize a potential strike should current contract negotiations break down. The board accused union leaders of “intimidat[ing]” members into voting in favor of a strike, comparing the vote by petition to rigged elections of dictators Saddam Hussein and Kim Jung Un.

    The September 21 editorial, headlined “The Chicago Teachers Union’s vote charade,” attacked CTU leadership for conducting a strike reauthorization vote among its members by petition, claiming that the voting approach “falls into the See?-Everyone-Voted-For-Me school of electioneering.”

    The petition vote is actually a reauthorization measure that was designed, the union president explained, to “reinforce the democratic sentiment [the] union made last December when members voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike.” The December vote, which was conducted by secret ballot under stalled contract negotiation circumstances that have since changed little, showed that 88 percent of union members approved of striking. The current petition vote is mostly meant to re-energize members and fend off potential legal action from city or state officials by reinforcing the results of the initial vote, the union explained. The petition approach, which is significantly less costly than a secret ballot measure, was originally proposed by a rules committee of rank-and-file members and is in line with past union voting methods.

    These facts did not factor into the editorial board’s extreme criticism, which included citing “some famous examples” of what it called CTU’s “Big-Brother approach” to voting: 

    • In 1995, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein swept to victory with 99.96 percent of votes cast. (We shudder to think of what happened to the recalcitrant .04 percent.)
    • In 2014, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un reportedly notched an even more convincing victory — 100 percent — to confirm his leadership in the Supreme People's Assembly. No other name appeared on the ballot. Voters who (bravely or foolishly) sought to reject Kim would have had to do so in an open booth so everyone could see.
    • Even more convincing was the 1927 Liberian presidential triumph of Charles D.B. King with about 240,000 votes. The impressive part: Liberia only had about 15,000 registered voters.

    Suggesting that authorizing a teachers strike in Chicago would be akin to electing dictators and war criminals in rigged elections is irresponsible, illogical, and offensive. It is also just the latest in a years-long editorial smear campaign by the Tribune against CTU.

    The Tribune has repeatedly attacked the union’s members for organizing actions to push for a fair contract in what is now a nearly 18-month-long negotiation process centered around fair pay and adequate funding and resources for Chicago public schools. Since CTU’s long-expired contract was originally negotiated in 2012, the Chicago Tribune has frequently mocked union officials and bizarrely accused educators of undervaluing classroom time and throwing selfishtantrums” that hurt children.

    Image at top via Flickr user Spencer Tweedy using a Creative Commons License.

  • WATCH: Three Minutes Of Race Baiting From CNN’s Paid “Law Enforcement Analyst” Harry Houck

    "Where Is The Crime? African American Neighborhoods. Hispanic Neighborhoods."

    Blog ››› ››› CARLOS MAZA

    On September 22, CNN’s law enforcement analyst Harry Houck attempted to defend the police shooting of Terence Crutcher, the unarmed black man who was killed in Tulsa, OK, after his car broke down on the road. Houck argued Crutcher was being uncooperative and might have been making a “furtive move” for a weapon in his car. Prior to that appearance, Houck accused critics of the shooting of “playing [the] race card,” describing outrage over Crutcher’s death as part of “the war on police.”

    Since being hired as CNN’s law enforcement analyst in May 2015, Houck has used his national platform to defend police officers accused of violence and other misconduct by peddling racist tropes about black criminality, demonizing the Black Lives Matter movement, and blaming black victims of police violence.

    One month after the death of Freddie Gray -- as cable news networks debated racial bias in the criminal justice system -- CNN hired former New York Police Department Detective Harry Houck as a “law enforcement analyst.” During one of his first appearances on the network as a paid analyst, Houck specifically thanked anchor Anderson Cooper for helping get him the job, saying, “This man is responsible for this occurrence.”

    Houck appeared on CNN 204 times between May 18, 2015, and August 1, 2016. And while he’s often invited to discuss crime stories like active shooter situations, Houck is best known for his absurd defenses of police officers accused of mistreating African-Americans. In dozens of segments, Houck has found ways to blame black victims of police violence, deny the existence of racial profiling in law enforcement, and peddle racist tropes about black criminality.

    Race Baiting And Black Criminality

    Houck has repeatedly suggested that African-American and Hispanic communities are policed more aggressively than white communities because “they’re not behaving.” He frequently echoes the racist myth that people of color are more likely to commit crimes, prompting pushback from other CNN guests who have repeatedly had to respond to his race-baiting remarks. During the July 11, 2016, edition of New Day, when asked by a fellow guest if he was suggesting that black people are “prone to criminality,” Houck responded, “They are!”

    Houck also downplays the reality of racial profiling in the criminal justice system, calling it “something that somebody made up.” He regularly dismisses evidence showing unequal treatment for minorities in the criminal justice system, mocking comprehensive studies and academic research showing that African-Americans are disproportionately targeted by law enforcement. In Houck’s view, African-Americans are targeted by law enforcement because they’re the ones committing crime.

    On Twitter, Houck is even less subtle about his race baiting. He regularly tweets about the threat posed by “black thugs,” decries what he calls “black thug privilage” (sic), and even tweeted a link to a white supremacist website. In July, Houck posted a link to a video from “men’s rights” activist Tommy Sotomayor calling on President Obama to “ban niggas.”

    Victim Blaming

    Houck has also used his CNN platform to blame high-profile African-American victims of police violence, going to absurd lengths to defend police officers while denying the existence of racial bias. Houck consistently finds ways to blame black victims for their mistreatment by police -- in his view, Eric Garner was resisting arrest, Sandra Bland was being “arrogant” and “uncooperative,” and Alton Sterling wasn’t complying with officers. He defended the police killing of Tamir Rice, saying officers “didn’t have a choice” but to shoot the 12-year-old boy. He defended a police officer who grabbed a South Carolina high school student and yanked her from her classroom desk, claiming the student “probably has no respect at home or on the street.”

    Houck’s victim-blaming often leads him to make blatantly false statements about these incidents on national television, like falsely claiming Bland refused to identify herself to police, and falsely claiming an officer informed a pregnant California woman she was being arrested before attempting to arrest her.

    Criticizing Black Lives Matter

    Houck has also used his CNN platform to demonize the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. Houck has described the movement as part of the progressive “war on police,” claiming that “the left does not give a damn about police officers’ lives.” During the August 30, 2015, edition of CNN Newsroom, Houck compared BLM to hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan. Houck also blames the murder of police officers on protests against police brutality. After the December 2014 killing of two NYPD police officers, Houck went on CNN and declared, “Two dead police officers, and I guess Al Sharpton got what he wanted.”

    Houck has also used Twitter to attack BLM, describing it as a “thug group” and a movement to “turn criminals into victims and cops into criminals.” On August 15, 2016, Houck retweeted an image calling BLM “the new KKK.”

    Petition To Drop Houck

    CNN’s decision to continue employing Houck has been criticized by the group ColorOfChange, which launched a petition in October 2015 asking CNN to stop hosting him. ColorOfChange criticized Houck’s “character assassination” of the black 16-year-old South Carolina student who was thrown from her desk by a police officer, also noting Houck’s “blind hero worshiping of the officer.”

    In July 2016, following Houck’s comments about black criminality, ColorOfChange again asked the network to stop inviting him to discuss racial bias in law enforcement, writing:

    Racist statements like this drive the attitudes and stereotypes that lead police officers to regularly commit brutal acts of violence that result in Black people like Alton Sterling and Philando Sterling being killed.

    We are sick of CNN contributor and ex-NYPD detective Harry Houck’s one-man crusade against Black victims of law enforcement violence. Houck’s blind support of police abuse and reinforcement of racist stereotypes is dangerous.

    The group’s petition has garnered over 70,000 signatures, but that hasn’t stopped CNN from continuing to employ Houck as the network’s “law enforcement analyst.”

    Methodology

    Media Matters used iQ media and Nexis to search CNN transcripts for the name “Houck” between May 18, 2015 -- Houck’s first appearance as a network “law enforcement analyst” -- and August 1, 2016. Reruns and snippets from pre-recorded interviews were excluded. For blocks of ongoing coverage of active shooter situations, segments were counted only when the host would begin by introducing and identifying Houck for the audience.

    Top image created by Sarah Wasko.

  • Trump Backtracks And Tells Fox & Friends Only “Chicago Needs Stop And Frisk” (Chicago Already Has Stop And Frisk)

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    On Fox & Friends, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump continued his defense of stop-and-frisk policing, stating it’s “quite unbelievable” that it’s not being used in Chicago. Neither Trump nor the hosts evidently realized that the Chicago Police Department already employs the tactic. 

    Right-wing media have long misrepresented the common American policing practice of stop and frisk, conflating it with New York City’s past version of stop and frisk that was not only ineffective but also found to be unconstitutional, due to the racially discriminatory manner in which it was carried out. 

    In fact, after a federal court in August 2013 struck down New York City’s specific application of the practice, the Chicago police superintendent explained that “stop and frisk is a tactic that every department in the country uses” in reporting that the ruling wouldn’t necessarily affect police operations in Chicago. Currently, Chicago is trying to bring its stop-and-frisk policies into constitutional compliance as New York City did, as Chicago’s ABC7 reported in February. 

    But in a Fox & Friends interview, both Trump and host Steve Doocy falsely suggested Chicago does not have stop and frisk at all. They tried to walk back Trump’s earlier calls for a nationwide application of the unconstitutional New York version, with Trump claiming that he “was really referring to Chicago with stop and frisk.” From the September 22 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

    STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): I read a report that apparently there, in that black church in Cleveland, you were asked what you would do about black-on-black crime, and you said maybe it’s time to bring back stop and frisk. And I saw that you sent out a tweet, “Stop and frisk works. Instead of criticizing New York police chief Ray Kelly, New Yorkers should thank him for keeping New York safe.” Why do you think stop and frisk would work?

    DONALD TRUMP: Well Ray Kelly did a great job, and New York was not in a Chicago situation, but it was really in trouble. It was in bad shape, crime-wise. And with all the shootings and everything in it, it really, they -- Rudy Giuliani did a great job as mayor, and they really straightened things out with stop and frisk, and it was used further by the next mayor, Bloomberg. Now, they just -- recently, not so recently, but fairly recently they stopped it. But stop and frisk worked. We had tremendous shootings, numbers of shootings. Now Chicago is out of control. I was really referring to Chicago with stop and frisk. They asked me about Chicago and I was talking about stop and frisk for Chicago, where you had 3,000 shootings so far. 3,000 from January 1. Obviously you can’t let the system go the way it's going, but I suggested stop and frisk and some people think that’s a great idea and some people probably don't like it, but when you have 3,000 people shot and so many people dying, it's worse than some of the places we're hearing about like Afghanistan, you know, the war-torn nations. It's more dangerous. 

    DOOCY: It does sound, Mr. Trump, like Chicago's going to add I think I read 1,000 new police officers. So you’ve got more cops on the street, but unless you give them the tools, what are they going to do?

    TRUMP: I think Chicago needs stop and frisk. People can criticize me for that or people can say whatever they want, but they asked me about Chicago and I think stop and frisk with good, strong law and order, but you have to do something, can’t continue the way it’s going.

    [...]

    How it's not being used in Chicago is -- to be honest with you, it's quite unbelievable, and you know the police, the local police, they know who has a gun who shouldn't be having a gun. They understand that. 

    DOOCY: Sure, stop and frisk for the most part is where you give cops more power to quiz passersby if there is reasonable suspicion. 

    TRUMP: Absolutely. In New York, it took them -- the numbers were unbelievably changed. I don’t mean just a little bit. It was massively changed, and it became a safe city. It went from an unsafe city to a safe city. 

  • CNN Law Enforcement Analyst: Outrage Over Terence Crutcher Shooting Is Part Of "The War On Police"

    Blog ››› ››› CARLOS MAZA

    CNN law enforcement analyst Harry Houck accused Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton of playing the “race card for black votes” following her comments about the police shooting of Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, OK, describing the comments as part of "the war on police."

    On September 20, Clinton commented on several recent police shootings of black men, including Crutcher, who was unarmed when he was killed. Clinton lamented the shootings, calling Crutcher’s death “unbearable” and saying the country must “tackle systemic racism.”

    Following Clinton’s remarks, Houck took to Twitter to accuse her of playing the “race card for black votes”:

    Houck’s comments came shortly before he appeared on the September 22 edition of CNN’s New Day to discuss Crutcher’s death. During the segment, Houck argued that Crutcher wasn’t being compliant with the officer and that he might have been making a “furtive move” for a weapon -- continuing Houck’s long history of blaming black victims of police violence:

    On Twitter, Houck also attempted to defend the Tulsa officer’s decision to shoot Crutcher, writing:

    If there was a gun in the car, and he was reaching for it, and the officers waited until they saw it, then an officer might be dead right now. This is why you must comply with officer’s commands.

    Houck also appeared on Newsmax TV, where he defended the shooting of Crutcher as well as the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, a black man who was killed by police in Charlotte, N.C. “This is a disgusting display of alleged leadership,” Houck said of Clinton’s comments, adding, “This is all part of the war on police that I always talk about”:

    Houck has been a constant source of race baiting and police apologism on CNN, repeatedly suggesting that black people are prone to criminality and blaming victims of police brutality for their own mistreatment.

    In July 2015, the group ColorOfChange launched a petition asking CNN to “Drop Harry Houck.”

  • Why Won't CNN Answer These Questions About Corey Lewandowski?

    Blog ››› ››› SALVATORE COLLELUORI

    CNN and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign are unsuccessfully attempting to defuse the explosive new details surrounding ongoing payments from the campaign to former campaign manager and current CNN commentator Corey Lewandowski.

    As reported by The Washington Post, Trump’s recent campaign filing disclosed that Lewandowski “was paid $20,000 in August by the campaign for what it described as ‘strategy consulting’” through his firm Green Monster Consulting. The Post also reported that “CNN has said previously that Trump’s payments to Lewandowski and his consulting firm were ‘severance’ for his employment by Trump.” However, as explained by the Post, “the description used by Trump’s campaign in the filing -- ‘strategy consulting’ -- also suggested that Lewandowski is playing a more active and current role in the campaign than ‘severance’ would suggest.” Responding to the allegations, campaign spokesperson Hope Hicks maintained that Lewandowski is “no longer involved in the campaign [and] continues to receive monthly severance payments.”

    Hicks’ statements on Lewandowski’s role and CNN’s ongoing employment of someone who is still being paid in some form by the campaign leave several unanswered questions: Where is the money for severance documented, given that the Trump campaign filings call payments to Lewandowski “strategy consulting,” the same term that they used to describe his work while he was employed by the campaign for the last year and a half? Has Lewandowski been double dipping -- i.e. taking money from the Trump campaign for work while also receiving severance? Was CNN aware that Lewandowski was still receiving "strategy consulting" payments from the campaign? Most significantly, why hasn’t CNN suspended Lewandowski already -- or, better yet, fired him?

    As The New York Times noted, the fact that in its most recent FEC filing the Trump campaign listed the August payment “as ‘strategy consulting’” raises “questions about whether [CNN] in effect has a Trump campaign strategist on its payroll.” Politico’s Ken Vogel pointed out a similar issue on Twitter, writing that Trump’s payments to Lewandowski “in AUGUST” appears to be “awfully long after his firing for him to be collecting old fees” and that he couldn’t “remember any [other campaigns] paying severance to fired staff.” The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple also raises the question of why Lewandowski is still receiving severance months after being let go from the campaign. Wemple quotes an employment lawyer suggesting the payments may be spread out as a way to “muzzle or control” Lewandowski:

    A look at the timeline reveals that Lewandowski’s firing from Camp Trump occurred on June 20, or nearly three months ago. That’s a protracted severance-paying period, no?

    It sure is, says employment lawyer Debra Katz of Katz, Marshall & Banks, LLP. “The vast majority of severance agreements that we’ve negotiated are lump-sum payments,” says Katz, especially if the firms have the financial wherewithal to pay them. So structuring the severance payments over a number of months could be the approach of a cash-starved organization.

    There’s another motive, however. “It is not uncommon to string them out as a way to muzzle or control the person who’s receiving the funds,” says Katz.

    It's not just the recent filings in which Lewandowski was paid for “strategy consulting." According to Trump's FCC filings, Lewandowski has received the same type of payment for “strategy consulting” since April 1, 2015 -- before and after he was reportedly fired by the campaign and before and after he began his employment with CNN. It appears Lewandowski has never been paid directly by the Trump campaign, but instead those uninterrupted funds went to the firm registered to him.

    As reported by the Post in August, this isn’t the first time the Trump campaign’s FEC filings did not seem to match how CNN explained -- and justified -- Lewandowski’s employment and the continued payments he was receiving from the campaign. On August 21, the Post noted in passing that FEC filings showed “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.”

    But the Post’s new report based on the new FEC filings highlights something different -- and far more damning.

    The July 6 disbursement to Lewandowski’s firm reported by the Post in August was a payment for the 2016 primary -- and could technically be for campaign work done in June, before he was a CNN employee. The newly discovered August 11 payment to Lewandowski is a “strategy consulting” disbursement for the 2016 general election, while Lewandowski was being paid by CNN to shill for Trump -- almost a full two months after he was supposedly fired by the candidate.

    So is Lewandowski being paid three times? Twice by the campaign, once by CNN, and all for the same job?

    Lewandowski will reportedly be on CNN later today. If neither the network nor the campaign can explain these discrepancies and answer basic questions about this ridiculous conflict of interest, maybe he will.

  • Before Lewandowski, CNN Said Contributors Getting “Paid” By A Campaign “Would Not Be Permitted”

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    CNN’s decision to continue employing Corey Lewandowski, who is being simultaneously paid by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign, clashes with its own years-long stated policies. The network has previously said that a person being "paid" by a campaign “would not be permitted to be a CNN contributor.”

    Trump’s recently filed Federal Elections Commission report revealed that Lewandowski received $20,000 for “strategy consulting” in August through his company Green Monster Consulting LLC. CNN hired Lewandowski as a paid contributor in late June after he was fired from the Trump campaign. The new payment from Trump renewed criticism of CNN for continuing to employ the Trump insider, who is reportedly still advising the Republican nominee.

    The Trump campaign has claimed the disbursements are for “monthly severance payments,” but a spokesperson did not respond to a New York Times question about “why the payments were not described as severance to the F.E.C.”

    CNN’s defense of its Lewandowski employment clashes with its own stated policies toward contributors over the years.

    In 2011, the New York Daily News raised questions about whether Democratic pollster Cornell Belcher could simultaneously work for President Obama’s campaign and CNN. The news network responded by stating that if a contributor gets “paid” by a campaign, that person “would not be permitted to be a CNN contributor”:

    Belcher did not respond to requests for comment, but a CNN spokeswoman tells us the pollster is currently "not being paid by the Obama campaign. If he were," she added, "he would not be permitted to be a CNN contributor."

    Presumably, Belcher will cease to appear on CNN when his work for Obama's campaign begins.

    In 2010, Media Matters documented that the Republican National Committee paid $12,000 to CNN contributor Alex Castellanos for “consulting.” Castellanos said he returned the payment because it went against “CNN's preference and policy.”

    In October 15, 2009, the Republican National Committee paid $12,000 to CNN contributor Alex Castellanos, a payment that apparently violated CNN's stated policy. When contacted last week by Media Matters, Castellanos said he was initially unaware of the payment and returned it last year when he "found out."

    "I was not aware of the payment because ours is a large business and an employee who handles and processes payments for me dealt with the RNC transaction," Castellanos said.

    "CNN's preference and policy is that I don't work for the RNC or political candidates. When I found out that I was being paid by the RNC, I returned it," Castellanos said. "I wish I could keep it. I would like to add to the economic recovery."

    The New York Times reported at the time that CNN said contributors could continue working for the network as long as they weren’t getting paid by candidates or political parties:

    Mr. Castellanos, who previously drew criticism from Democrats for owning a firm that produced advertisements for the Chamber of Commerce and health insurance companies, was named this week as an image consultant for the Republican National Committee.

    On Tuesday, a CNN spokeswoman said the appointment would not disqualify Mr. Castellanos for working as a paid commentator because his job for the R.N.C. was an unpaid position. The spokeswoman, Edie Emery, said CNN had allowed Democratic political advisers like Paul Begala to continue working as long as the jobs they did for the party or candidates were unpaid.

    In July, CNN temporarily suspended its contributor contract with Donna Brazile after she became the interim chair of the Democratic National Committee. Brazile is reportedly being compensated by the DNC for serving as interim chair.

    CNN is overturning years of precedent by employing Lewandowski -- yet another reason the network should cut ties with him immediately.