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  • Trump's Other Putin-Praising, Anti-Muslim National Security Pick K.T. McFarland Has Supported Torture And War With Iran

    McFarland Is The Latest Fox News Personality To Be Named To New Trump Administration

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    President-elect Donald Trump has named Fox News analyst K.T. McFarland as his pick for deputy national security adviser, joining frequent Fox guest and fellow anti-Muslim Putin fan retired Gen. Michael Flynn on Trump’s White House national security team. McFarland has repeatedly advocated for war with Iran and misled about its nuclear program, expressed support for torture, and has made bizarre and incendiary statements about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other topics.

    McFarland’s Praise Of Russia’s Putin

    McFarland: “Vladimir Putin Is The One Who Really Deserves That Nobel Peace Prize.” In a September 10, 2013, FoxNews.com column, K.T. McFarland credited Putin with offering Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry "a way out of the mess they'd created" with a proposal to place Syria's chemical weapons under international control. McFarland went on to say "the world knows that Vladimir Putin is the one who really deserves that Nobel Peace Prize" for saving "the world from near-certain disaster." [Media Matters, 9/10/13]

    McFarland Lauded Putin For Seizing Ukraine’s Crimea: “Winners Write History.”

    McFarland’s Support For Profiling Muslims

    McFarland Blamed Charlie Hebdo Terror Attack On "Political Correctness," Called For More Profiling To Prevent Future Attacks.

    McFarland’s Response To Brussels Terror Attack: “Political Correctness” By Not Discriminating Against Muslims “Is Getting Us Killed.”

    New York’s Muslim Surveillance Program Failure Shows Profiling American Muslims Doesn’t Work. An April 2014 New York Times report on the shuttering of the NYPD's Muslim surveillance program admitted that after years of collecting information on Muslims in the city, "the police acknowledged that it never generated a lead." The extensive program had police mapping “communities inside and outside the city, logging where customers in traditional Islamic clothes ate meals and documenting their lunch-counter conversations.” [Media Matters, 11/19/15]

    McFarland’s Support For War Against Iran And Opposition To Nuclear Deal

    Since 2008, McFarland Repeatedly Claimed Iran Is A Year Or Two Away From Nuclear Weapons. In December 2008, McFarland claimed “Iran is probably two years away from a nuclear weapon.” In April 2010, McFarland said, “In a couple of months time -- 6 months, 9 months -- we're going to be faced with this choice: bombing Iran or letting Iran get the bomb." And in June 2012, McFarland said Iran is “on the verge of getting nuclear weapons." [Media Matters, 2/21/12; 6/6/12]

    McFarland In 2012: “Either Bomb Iran, Or Let Iran Get The Bomb."

    McFarland: “The Military Option Should Not Be Off The Table” For Dealing With Iran. On the October 11, 2011, edition of Fox News’ America Live, McFarland said:

    MEGYN KELLY (HOST): I want to pick up on your point then that if this is, or can be considered, an act of war, what is that mean? Is that a decision that our government will make, whether to use that terminology, and if they do, does that not raise the stakes?

    McFARLAND: It raises the stakes enormously. What are things that we might do other than sanctions? I mean, we can scold them, but that's not very effective. We could put a blockade around Iran. You know, it's certainly -- if Iran continues with its nuclear weapons program and sort of thumbs its nose at the world, it lends credibility to the idea that the military option should not be off the table, for example. [Media Matters, 10/14/11]

    Numerous Nuclear And Military Experts Supported Nuclear Deal With Iran. In August 2015, the nonpartisan Arms Control Association released a statement from nuclear nonproliferation specialists backing the Obama administration’s deal with Iran over its nuclear program, calling the agreement "a net-plus for nonproliferation." The statement, which was signed by 75 experts, called the agreement "strong, long-term, and verifiable" and noted that it "advances the security interests" of the United States and its allies. Many retired generals and admirals also released an open letter in August 2015 in support of the deal, which they described as “the most effective means currently available to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons." [Media Matters, 8/18/15]

    McFarland’s Support Of Torture

    McFarland Defends Waterboarding: "Even If It's Torture, It's Probably Worth Doing"

    McFarland Criticized Senate’s Publication Of Torture Report: It “Was Completely Political.”

    Click here for the testimonies of numerous experts regarding how techniques like waterboarding are ineffective.

    McFarland’s History Of Incendiary And Bizarre Comments

    McFarland Said Of Hillary Clinton: You Have “Blood On Your Hands” From Benghazi Attack.

    McFarland Claimed Obama Administration Made “Political Decision Not To Rescue” Americans Killed In Benghazi. [Media Matters, 10/10/12]

    McFarland: Saudi Arabia Was Hiding Opposition To Iran Nuclear Deal Because “They’re Arabs” And Thus Dishonest.

    McFarland: "We Should Eventually Take Our Troops Out Of Europe And Put Them On The Mexican Border."

    McFarland Claimed During 2006 Senate Run That Clinton “Had Helicopters Flying Over My House.” TPM Media’s Josh Marshall noted that during her 2006 attempt to run against Clinton for Senate in New York, “McFarland claimed that Clinton was so worried about her candidacy that she sent secret helicopters to spy on her house in the Hamptons and also cased her apartment Manhattan. ‘Hillary Clinton is really worried about me, and is so worried, in fact, that she had helicopters flying over my house in Southampton today taking pictures.’" [TPM Media, 11/25/16]

    McFarland Fell For Obviously Fake Rudy Giuliani Twitter Account.

  • Now That The Trump Foundation Has Admitted To Illegal Activity, Will Fox News Still Ignore President-Elect’s Self-Dealing?

    Blog ››› ››› PAM VOGEL

    A new report from The Washington Post cites recent IRS filings to confirm previous allegations that President-elect Donald Trump’s private charitable foundation engaged in illegal “self-dealing” activities, a story Fox News originally ignored when Trump was the Republican presidential candidate.

    On November 22, The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold reported that the Trump Foundation’s newly available tax filings confirm earlier reports that the foundation had engaged in illegal “self-dealing.”

    Fahrenthold wrote that the foundation’s 2015 filings -- which were made publicly available on the evening of November 21 -- reveal that the foundation had “transferred ‘income or assets’ to a disqualified person,” which could be Trump himself “or a member of his family or a Trump-owned business.” Another section of the filing also revealed that the foundation had checked “yes” to indicate it had “engaged in any acts of self-dealing in prior years.”

    As explained by the Post’s report, these transfers violate “a legal prohibition against ‘self-dealing,’ which bars nonprofit leaders from using their charity’s money to help themselves, their businesses or their families.”

    Fahrenthold first reported on this suspected illegal activity in September. As explained when Fahrenthold originally broke the story, Trump spent $258,000 from the Trump Foundation -- to which he has not personally donated since 2009 -- to settle legal issues involving his for-profit businesses, which Fahrenthold noted on CNN “is against the law.”

    At the time, the Trump campaign denied the allegations, claiming that Fahrenthold’s report was “peppered with inaccuracies and omissions” and that “there was not, and could not be, any intent or motive for the Trump Foundation to make improper payments.” (The statement offered no examples of any inaccuracies in Fahrenthold’s reporting, nor did subsequent surrogates who claimed the reporting was “debunked”.)

    In the day following this breaking story, Fox News devoted a total of just under three minutes to the report, substantially trailing CNN and MSNBC in total coverage. Its flagship evening program, Special Report with Bret Baier, led the network’s race to the bottom in terms of covering the story, devoting just 12 seconds to reporting on the alleged “self-dealing.”

    A Media Matters analysis found that Fox News’ segments on the Post report also offered few details on the investigation. The longest segment Fox devoted to the report was one minute and 41 seconds on The O’Reilly Factor, in which guest host Bret Baier allowed Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway to dismiss the report uninterrupted for a full minute.

  • “Nixonian”: Journalists React To Trump’s Declaration That As President, He “Can’t Have A Conflict Of Interest”

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    During an on-the-record meeting with The New York Times staff, President-elect Donald Trump declared that there is no legal need for him to free himself of his international business affairs to avoid conflicts of interest, flatly saying that presidents “can’t have a conflict of interest.” Journalists responded to Trump’s declaration by calling it “Nixonian,” referencing former President Richard Nixon’s comment to journalist David Frost that “when the president does it, that means it is not illegal.”

    Times reporters live-tweeted the meeting between Trump and newspaper staff, where he was asked about the numerous conflicts of interest he is facing with his business ties and his plans to turn over his businesses to his children while simultaneously involving them in his White House transition. In his replies, Trump said it’s not necessary for him to put his businesses in any kind of trust and that, as president, he “can’t have a conflict of interest” -- echoing an argument made by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani that financial conflict-of-interest laws don’t apply to the presidency.

    Journalists responded to Trump’s declaration by calling it “Nixonian” in nature, a reference to President Richard Nixon telling David Frost in a May 1977 interview that “when the president does it, that means it is not illegal”:

    In fact, legal experts across the political spectrum have warned that presidential conflicts of interest of this type “could violate a crucial constitutional protection against corruption and influence by other governments,” specifically the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution -- “essentially an antibribery rule, which forbids public servants from accepting anything of value from foreign powers without explicit congressional approval.”

  • Trump’s Ongoing Contempt For The Press Requires Journalists To Step Up

    Blog ››› ››› KATIE SULLIVAN

    Journalists and news organizations are facing an unprecedented level of hostility from President-elect Donald Trump as he attempts to establish a status quo for his presidency of limited press access and only coverage that he deems "fair." Trump has dodged questions from media across the political spectrum about his conflicts of interest, and his limited interactions with the media since the election have been used primarily to scold the press for what he perceives to be negative reporting.

    So far during his transition period, Trump has violated the norms of any president or president-elect when it comes to his relations with the media. Trump has not allowed a press pool to follow him nor has he held a press conference since he was elected two weeks ago, which, according to Politico, is the "longest" such gap "of any incoming president since at least 1976.” Continuing the trend of showing disdain for the media, on November 21 Trump met with senior executives and reporters for the major TV news networks and reportedly “criticized the executives and correspondents for their election coverage” and “complained about some of the postelection coverage as well.” The president-elect canceled a scheduled meeting with The New York Times in a tweet in which he reportedly lied that the “terms and conditions of the meeting were changed at the last minute.” The Times’ Eileen Murphy responded, saying they “did not change the rules at all and made no attempt to,” but that the Trump team “tried to yesterday -- asking for only a private meeting and no on-the-record segment”:

    We were unaware that the meeting was canceled until we saw the president-elect’s tweet this morning. We did not change the ground rules at all and made no attempt to. They tried to yesterday — asking for only a private meeting and no on-the-record segment, which we refused to agree to. In the end, we concluded with them that we would go back to the original plan of a small off-the-record session and a larger on-the-record session with reporters and columnists.

    The meeting was later rescheduled and was slated to have the original conditions as laid out by the Times.

    Meanwhile, in just the last week, there have been several stories about the president-elect and his businesses that merited coverage, many of them involving his children, who will be running the Trump Organization during Trump’s presidency and are part of his transition team:

    • Trump agreed to settle a fraud lawsuit against his real estate seminar business Trump University for $25 million.
    • His daughter Ivanka was present for Trump’s meeting with the prime minister of Japan.
    • Ivanka was also included on Trump’s phone call with Argentine President Mauricio Macri, during which Trump reportedly “urged [Macri] to clear the way for a stalled office building development.” The report has since been denied by both Trump and Macri.
    • Trump met with his business partners in an Indian luxury apartment complex deal at Trump Tower in New York.
    • According to The New York Times, Trump met with Nigel Farage, a British politician who supported Trump during the campaign, and “encouraged Mr. Farage and his entourage to oppose the kind of offshore wind farms that Mr. Trump believes will mar the pristine view from one of his two Scottish golf courses.” Trump has tweeted, “Many people would like to see [Farage] represent Great Britain as their Ambassador to the United States.”
    • The Washington Post reported that “about 100 foreign diplomats, from Brazil to Turkey, gathered at the Trump International Hotel this week to sip Trump-branded champagne, dine on sliders and hear a sales pitch about the U.S. president-elect’s newest hotel.” The article noted that venues owned by Trump offer “a chance to curry favor or access with the next president” and quoted “one Middle Eastern diplomat” who said, “Believe me, all the delegations will go there.”

    Media -- particularly broadcast news outlets -- failed to rigorously report on Trump’s conflicts of interest before the election. Now, as they scramble to catch up, they have struggled to report on Trump’s business dealings because of his refusal to give them adequate access. While several outlets have reported on his conflicts, it has become increasingly common for American journalists to rely on foreign media for details surrounding Trump’s meetings and calls with foreign leaders. Numerous stories revealing the overlapping nature of Trump’s international business dealings and his status as president-elect have come from foreign news outlets, including the pieces about Trump’s meeting with his Indian business partners and Ivanka’s inclusion in his call with the Argentine president.

    As the press struggles to get access and information, Trump and his team are attempting to frame reporting they don’t like as unfair. The Washington Post’s Mark Berman counted 13 public complaints from Trump about the media since the election. And when The New York Times’ Jeremy Peters tried to get information about the legality of Trump’s business dealings from his aide Kellyanne Conway, she responded that he was being "negative."

    Holding public officials accountable is a specific job of the media. Fox News media critic Howard Kurtz dismissed concerns that Trump’s press restrictions will continue into his presidency, but Trump’s post-campaign actions show no sign that he is willing to be anything less than hostile to the fourth estate. In the face of Trump’s opacity, journalists need to take a stand before these restrictions and behaviors are codified in his administration.

  • How Fake News Articles Fabricated A Child Trafficking Story And Led To Death Threats For A Pizzeria

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    The New York Times highlights the case of Comet Ping Pong, a pizzeria based in Washington, D.C., that was the subject of several fake news stories online.

    These stories falsely alleged that the restaurant was a hub for child trafficking after Comet was mentioned in the hacked emails from Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta that were released by WikiLeaks.

    As the Times reports, “The articles appeared on Facebook and on websites such as The New Nationalist and The Vigilant Citizen, with one headline blaring: ‘Pizzagate: How 4Chan Uncovered the Sick World of Washington’s Occult Elite.’”

    As a result, the owner of the restaurant and the staff started receiving a torrent of threats via social media, including one message that said, “I will kill you personally.”

    After Media Matters launched a petition asking Facebook to take action to address the rampant problem of fake news circulated via its service, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has publicly committed to working on the problem at the social media giant.

    From The New York Times:

    Fake news online has been at the center of a furious debate for the past few weeks over how it may have influenced voters in the presidential election. President Obama warned last week that we are “in an age where there’s so much active misinformation and it’s packaged very well” on social media sites. The criticism has buffeted web companies such as Google and Facebook, whose chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, has promised to work on technology tools to slow the gusher of false digital information.

    But Mr. [James] Alefantis’s experience shows it is not just politicians and internet companies that are grappling with the fake news fallout. He, his staff and friends have become a new kind of private citizen bull’s-eye for the purveyors of false articles and their believers.

    For more than two weeks, they have struggled to deal with the abusive social media comments and to protect photos of their own children, which were used in the false articles as evidence that the pizza restaurant was running a pedophilia ring. One person even visited Comet Ping Pong to investigate the allegations for himself.

  • Broadcast Morning Shows Mostly Ignore New Reports Detailing Trump’s Potential Conflicts Of Interests

    Blog ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ & CYDNEY HARGIS

    Broadcast morning news shows mostly ignored multiple new reports highlighting potential conflicts of interests involving President-elect Donald Trump. In doing so, broadcast news outlets are continuing a pattern of ignoring important revelations about Trump’s business practices.

    On November 21, multiple stories broke detailing “new questions about Mr. Trump’s willingness to use the power of the presidency to advance his business interests.” The New York Times noted that experts in legal ethics claim Trump’s business “arrangements could easily run afoul of” a constitutional clause that protects against conflicts of interest “if [the arrangements] continue after Mr. Trump takes office.” The Times and The Hill both detailed specific incidents during Trump’s transition to the presidency that have “raised concerns about conflicts of interest between his future White House and his private enterprises,” but broadcast news outlets have chosen to ignore the new reports by and large.

    Media Matters searched video and transcripts of the November 22 broadcast morning news shows -- ABC’s Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, and CBS’ CBS This Morning -- for reports on Trump’s conflicts of interest and found that the shows devoted less than two minutes combined to the newest reports of the president-elect’s business dealings overseas. NBC’s Today did not mention the potential conflicts of interest at all, while CBS This Morning had only 23 seconds worth of coverage, and ABC’s Good Morning America spent one minute and 31 seconds on the issue.

    Inadequate reporting of Trump’s inherent conflicts of interest has been a consistent problem, despite concerns that his business entanglements will be a “national security nightmare.” News networks for the most part sidelined reporting on Trump’s conflicts of interest until after his election. Between September 14 and Election Day, the networks aired approximately seven minutes of stories about or at least mentioning Trump’s various conflicts of interest, and in the week after the election, they aired approximately 14 minutes of coverage about conflicts ranging from Trump’s foreign business ties to Ivanka Trump’s company pushing a $10,000-plus bracelet that she wore in a recent 60 Minutes interview.

    Trump’s lack of transparency when it comes to divulging his business dealings makes it imperative that network news shows raise awareness about these conflicts of interest -- but so far, they’re failing.

  • Fox News Media Critic Has The Worst Take On Trump Being Normalized

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Fox News media critic Howard Kurtz lambasted the media for failing to “normalize” President-elect Donald Trump, but nothing about Trump’s campaign or his transition is normal -- nor should the media consider it as such. 

    Kurtz’s November 20 column on FoxNews.com criticized “many in the media, mostly on the liberal side,” who say Trump “should not be normalized,” which Kurtz incorrectly interpreted as a denial of the validity of the presidential election results. To back up this assertion, Kurtz wildly claimed that the media's valid questions about many of Trump’s actions are akin to the racist attacks that began about President Obama's faith and birthplace after he was elected, many on Kurtz’s own network. Kurtz’s strawman argument ignores the conduct that demands Trump not be normalized: his campaign of bigotry and division and his cabinet appointees rumored and actual who despise the press, have long histories of hatred, and, in one case, support white nationalist ideology.

    Trump’s policies and behavior are not normal and should not be treated as such, and it is media’s role to hold elected officials accountable. Trump’s team has already soft-pitched internment camps as “precedent” for a Muslim registry, and Kurtz’s Fox News colleagues are already defending the fundamentally anti-American idea. Not only that, but Trump’s transition has raised eyebrows about “mind-boggling” conflicts of interest with the Trump Organization, potential self-enrichment by Trump’s children, and Trump’s extremely disturbing habit of ditching the press as president-elect to maneuver in secrecy, which Kurtz already said is not a problem. This is not normal.

    Trump’s cabinet is similarly filling up with people who espouse horrific beliefs. His appointees so far includes a national security adviser who shares fake news and tells people “fear of Muslims is rational,” a chief strategist who is described as a “white nationalist” by opponents and supporters alike, and an attorney general who was once denied a federal judgeship for being too racist, a fact that Kurtz’s Fox colleagues repeatedly dismissed. Other potential appointees include a bigoted press secretary who hates the press, a commerce secretary who wants to know “what’s with all the hoods in the hizzy,” and a homeland security secretary who calls civil rights activists “primitive,” “unmanageable misfits.” This is not normal.

    When media outlets resist “normalizing” Trump, they are resisting the normalization of racism, Islamophobia, sexism, homophobia, and other types of division and discrimination present in his growing administration. Many outlets, however, are already failing this test. When Trump’s hostilities toward women and minorities are paired with his regular threats against the free press, the media’s role in naming bigotry wherever it is found -- even in the White House -- is more important than ever.

  • Will Fox News Hold Eric Bolling To The Same Standard They Had For Other On-Air Personalities?

    Bolling Refuses To Answer If He's In Consideration For A Position In A Trump Administration

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Fox News co-host Eric Bolling refused to answer when asked if he has “been asked to visit Trump Tower to get a job,” stating “I wouldn’t tell you that one way or the other.” Fox, which has a long history of suspending or ending contracts with on-air talent that take political positions, should take swift action to address these concerns.

    Politico reported Bolling “has discussed the possibility of taking a position in Donald Trump’s administration” in the Department of Commerce, but neither Bolling nor Fox would comment on the report. Bolling told Politico “at this time I can’t confirm anything” and “A Fox News spokesperson said they did not have anything further to add.”

    The network has a long history of parting ways with on-air talent when it is clear they are taking on new political roles. Fox News previously suspended Newt Gingrich’s contributor position “effective immediately” after speculation Gingrich could become Trump’s running mate, and terminated Scott Brown’s contributor contract when Brown told the network he was planning a New Hampshire Senate run. Rick Santorum also lost his paid Fox commentator contract for 60 days after he announced he would run for president in 2011.

    If Bolling refuses to address the controversy, Fox News should. From the November 21 edition of Fox News' The Five:

    KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE (CO-HOST): Let's talk about hop alongs and the transition.

    GERALDO RIVERA (GUEST CO-HOST): Why don't you ask -- why don't you ask Bolling if he's been asked to visit Trump Tower to get a job yet?

    GUILFOYLE: I believe you just did.

    ERIC BOLLING (CO-HOST): I've been to Trump Tower, I talked to all my friends over there, very close friends over there, and there's --

    RIVERA: Can you tell us for the record whether they offered you a job? Or --

    DANA PERINO (CO-HOST): Why are you doing that to your co-host?

    BOLLING: I wouldn't tell you that one way or the other. I would just tell you that they are good friends of mine, and I love my job, and I have every intention to stay right here for as long as Fox will have me sitting next to you, Geraldo.

    RIVERA: Oh, well that sounded a little equivocal.

    GUILFOYLE: Make Fox News great again, from the center seat.

  • News Networks Sidelined Trump's Conflicts Of Interest Until His Election

    Blog ››› ››› ROB SAVILLO

    The broadcast networks’ flagship evening news programs failed to inform their viewers about the inherent conflicts of interest a potential Donald Trump presidency would bring in the months leading up to Election Day, and have not given the subject the urgency it deserves in the wake of his election, according to a Media Matters review.

    Between September 14 and Election Day, the networks only aired approximately seven minutes of stories about or at least mentioning a conflict of interest. In the week after the election, they aired approximately 14 minutes -- but only half of that explicitly called the issues “conflicts.”

    Trump has said throughout his campaign and following his election that he intends for his children to run his business empire while he is president. But on September 14, Newsweek reported that if Trump and his family don’t cut ties to the family’s business conglomerate, Trump would “be the most conflicted president in American history, one whose business interests will constantly jeopardize the security of the United States” due to the Trump Organization’s relationships and financial entanglements with foreign interests.” Responding to that story, Richard Painter, the former chief ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush, told Media Matters that the only way to avoid serious conflicts of interest would be for Trump and his family to sell all of their holdings in the Trump Organization. Painter also stressed that the issue was a “serious problem” that warrants increased media attention.

    Painter sounded some of the earliest alarms about Trump’s conflicts. Speaking with Mother Jones in June, he explained that the idea of a sitting president holding any debt owed to an entity that the government regulates should disturb the public: “[H]aving a president who owes a lot of money to banks, particularly when it's on negotiable terms -- it puts them at the mercy of the banks and the banks are at the mercy of regulators.”

    The flood of potential and actual conflicts of interest have been made manifest following Trump’s election. A Washington Post investigation recently revealed a sprawling, globe-trotting Trump empire, showing that the president-elect’s real estate, management, and branding companies have business interests in at least 18 countries or territories. The Post also reported over the weekend that foreign diplomats had flocked to an event at the Trump International Hotel, located just a few blocks from the White House, seeking “to curry favor or access with the next president.”

    The New York Times reported that developers of Trump Towers Pune, located in Pune, India, flew to New York last week to meet with the Trumps during the president-elect’s initial stages of his transition to the White House. Pranav R. Bhakta, a consultant who helped Trump establish a foothold in the Indian market five years ago, told the Times, “To say, ‘I have a Trump flat or residence’ -- it’s president-elect branded. It’s that recall value. If they didn’t know Trump before, they definitely know him now.”

    These recent events should have come as no surprise, yet the network news hardly mentioned the conflicts of interest inherent in Trump’s global business ties before or after the election.

    Media Matters looked at ABC’s World News Tonight with David Muir, CBS’ Evening News with Scott Pelley, and NBC’s Nightly News with Lester Holt for reports on Trump’s conflicts of interest -- including the Trump Organization’s ties to foreign governments or businesses, Trump promoting his own businesses through the presidency, plans for Trump’s children taking over the Trump Organization through a “blind” trust or attempting to access security clearances, and Trump’s children using their access to the president-elect to promote their own businesses -- starting from Newsweek’s September 14 article.

    From then until Election Day, the networks spent approximately seven minutes on stories about or at least mentioning a conflict of interest. NBC aired a three-minute segment, and ABC aired a three-and-a-half-minute segment. Both were about Trump using his campaign to promote his own businesses; however, neither explicitly pointed to potential upcoming conflicts of interest should Trump win the election. NBC briefly mentioned the Newsweek report in a segment about corruption in the Trump Foundation, and the night before the election, the network again briefly mentioned the conflict of interest of Trump’s business ties for about eight seconds.

    In the week after the election, the networks have devoted more coverage to these conflicts of interest, but it hasn’t been enough. From November 9 to 16, the networks spent approximately 14 minutes on stories about or at least mentioning a conflict of interest, but only half of those explicitly called them conflicts. They spent a total of about seven minutes on Trump’s foreign business ties, six minutes on Trump’s children helping with the president-elect’s transition or vying for security clearances, and two minutes on Ivanka Trump using a photo of herself in Trump’s recent 60 Minutes interview to sell a bracelet that retails for over $10,000.

    Methodology

    Media Matters searched news transcripts from the Nexis database for mentions of any variations of “conflict,” “corrupt,” “organization,” “trust,” “business,” “interest,” “cabinet,” “transition,” or “divest” within the same paragraph as “Trump” for ABC’s World News Tonight with David Muir, CBS’ Evening News with Scott Pelley, and NBC’s Nightly News with Lester Holt from September 14 through November 16. We reviewed video to determine length of coverage.

  • Fox’s Tucker Carlson Is A Putin Apologist

    Blog ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    In the first full week of his own Fox News prime-time show, host Tucker Carlson failed to mention the post-election revelation that the Russian Foreign Ministry had “contacts” with President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign throughout the 2016 election. Carlson’s silence comes after the Fox host spent the final month of the 2016 presidential campaign denying claims from the United States intelligence community that the Russian government was “trying to influence the outcome of” the presidential election. Now, with his own prime-time show, will Carlson continue to spin for the Russian Federation?

    On October 7, during the final month of the 2016 presidential campaign, President Obama and his administration “officially accused Russia of attempting to interfere in the 2016 elections,” according to The Washington Post. But while appearing on Fox News in the ensuing weeks Carlson called the Clinton campaign’s claim that Russia was trying to influence the election “a lie” that might have a “political motivation behind” it. In fact, Carlson made a point of repeatedly and unequivocally insisting that the U.S. intelligence community was pushing “an utterly unsubstantiated claim from the Clinton campaign that” the cyberattacks on American political institutions are “a Russian propaganda effort,” adding that the U.S. intelligence community doesn’t “know that that’s true; they’re just throwing it out there.”

    Following the election, “a senior Russian diplomat” confirmed that “Russian government officials conferred with members of Donald Trump’s campaign team” during the campaign, a revelation that Carlson failed to mention in his first week hosting his new prime-time show. Media Matters reviewed transcripts and video of the first week of Carlson's new Fox News program, Tucker Carlson Tonight, and found no substantive mentions of the reports that Russian officials were in contact with Trump’s team before Election Day. Carlson’s only substantive discussion or American-Russian relations during the first week of his show began with Carlson asking Garry Kasparov, an activist who opposes Russian President Vladimir Putin, “Why should human rights abuses within Russia dictate our posture toward Russia?”

    Carlson’s personal disinformation campaign regarding Russia’s confirmed role in the presidential election is consistent with his positive characterization of Russia’s actions in Syria. Carlson has praised Putin for “riding to President Obama's rescue” in the Syrian civil war. Moreover, while the State Department and humanitarian monitors note that in many ways Russia is hindering progress in Syria, Carlson has also repeatedly asserted that "Putin is fighting ISIS" in Syria and that "the Assad regime” -- a close ally of Russia’s -- “is also fighting ISIS.” But, as experts note, “Assad's government has done little to counter the rise of IS, instead focusing on its fight against rebel forces.”

    Carlson’s admiration of Putin and Russia is not new. In 2011, Carlson tweeted a link to a Daily Caller article about Putin and proclaimed that the “Tiger fighter” and “bad ass” would be “our greatest hope when Aliens finally attack.”

    Carlson’s first week at the prime-time helm seemed a perfect opportunity to correct his repeated and false claims -- and certainly to mention the Russian government’s admission that it was in contact with the Trump team throughout the election. It seems that instead, he’ll continue to use his platform on Fox News to spin for an American adversary.