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  • Broadcast News Allow Trump To Drown His New Scandals With A Tweetstorm

    Network News Virtually Ignored Breaking Reports Into Illegal Practices By His Business And Foundation

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump successfully deflected the media’s attention away from damaging new investigative reports into illegal practices by his foundation and business with a late night tweetstorm continuing his denigration of former Miss Universe Alicia Machado.

    The September 29 and 30 editions of broadcast morning shows and nightly news programs -- NBC’s Today and Nightly News, ABC’s Good Morning America and World News Tonight, and CBS’ CBS This Morning and Evening News -- spent merely 2 minutes and 28 seconds on a Newsweek report explaining that “a company controlled by Donald Trump … secretly conducted business in Communist Cuba during Fidel Castro’s presidency despite strict American trade bans that made such undertakings illegal.” The same shows almost entirely ignored a Washington Post investigation that found that the Trump foundation illegally escaped an annual audit because it “never obtained the certification that New York requires before charities can solicit money from the public,” devoting only 27 seconds of coverage to it. In contrast, coverage of a series of tweets Trump sent early in the morning on September 30 criticizing former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, calling her “disgusting” and claiming that she has a “terrible” past, which includes a “sex tape,” amounted to 10 minutes and 39 seconds.

    In his much-criticized September 30 tweetstorm, Trump rehashed his false and sexist attacks on Machado, including the debunked right-wing media smear that she was involved in a “sex tape.” In his recent national media appearances -- almost all of which have taken place inside “the conservative media cocoon” of Fox News -- Trump has repeatedly tried to justify his attacks on Machado, claiming that “she gained a massive amount of weight, and it was a real problem.” Trump has had help from his conservative media allies, including Bill O’Reilly -- who asked if it was a “cheap shot” for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton to bring up his criticism of Machado’s body at the debate -- and Rush Limbaugh, who claimed that “this Alicia Machado thing was a set up … planned by the Clinton campaign.”

    The investigative reports that were cast aside by broadcast news offer new insights into how Trump ran his foundation as essentially a slush fund and tax evasion scheme, and ignored federal laws in his business operations. In his September 29 Newsweek report, reporter Kurt Eichenwald explained that a company on behalf of Donald Trump “spent a minimum of $68,000 for its 1998 foray into Cuba at a time when the corporate expenditure of even a penny in the Caribbean country was prohibited without U.S. government approval.” The report published correspondence between Trump and consulting firm Seven Arrows Investment and Development Corp. in which the firm “instructed senior officers with Trump’s company—then called Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts—how to make it appear legal by linking it after the fact to a charitable effort.” Additionally, the former Trump executive admitted that they had taken a trip to Cuba “to give Trump’s company a foothold should Washington loosen or lift the trade restrictions.” As Eichenwald explained, “the fact that Seven Arrows spent the money and then received reimbursement from Trump Hotels does not mitigate any potential corporate liability for violating the Cuban embargo.”

    In a September 29 investigation in The Washington Post, David Fahrenthold once again discovered that Trump’s charity had skirted the law, this time violating a New York state law which requires “any charity that solicits more than $25,000 a year from the public must obtain a special kind of registration beforehand.” In an appearance on CNN, Fahrenthold explained that if Trump “had done this the right way … he would have to get an audit” and accountants would ask if he was “spending the foundation’s money in ways that benefited himself.” Farenthold has previously reported that this was exactly what Trump did, revelations that have led the New York attorney general to open a new investigation into the foundation. Trump campaign surrogates floundered when asked about the report on cable news, and lashed out at Fahrenthold claiming that “he’s pretty much a Clinton surrogate at this point.” Only CBS covered Fahrenthold’s report, while NBC and ABC failed to mention it. (Conversely, CBS ignored the Cuba report that its competitors covered.)

    This is not the first time media has allowed Trump to drive the coverage, nor is it the first time media have ignored damaging investigations into Trump's scandals. Previously, Trump successfully hijacked the news cycle by appearing on The Dr. Oz Show to reveal bits and pieces of a report on his health. Trump also successfully dominated news coverage after he tweeted a picture of himself eating a taco bowl on Cinco de Mayo. While dedicating disproportionate coverage to the candidate’s antics, the media has undercovered:

    • A USA Today report that found that “Trump doesn’t pay his bills.”

    • Revelations about his illegal political donation to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.

    • Reports highlighting Trump lies and inappropriate comments about the Sept. 11 attacks.

    • Allegations that Trump’s modeling agency “profited from using foreign models who came to the United States on tourist visas that did not permit them to work here.”

    • The report that the Trump Foundation “may have violated laws against ‘self-dealing.’”

    • Trump’s former campaign chairman’s ties to pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians.

    Methodology: Media Matters searched SnapStream for mentions of Trump from the September 29 and 30 editions of ABC’s Good Morning America and World News Tonight, NBC’s Today and Nightly News, and CBS’ CBS This Morning and Evening News and counted the length of segments relating to Trump’s tweetstom, the Newsweek report into Trump’s business entanglements in Cuba, and the Washington Post report on the Trump Foundation’s lack of proper registration.

  • Spanish-Language News Shows Give Trump A Pass On Violation Of US Embargo Against Cuba

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    The two major Spanish-language news networks failed to accurately represent a Newsweek report indicating that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump violated the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba. On their daily news shows, both networks failed to debunk false claims that the Newsweek report is inconclusive despite the existence of definitive proof that Trump violated the embargo.

    In a September 29 article, Newsweek magazine reported that a company controlled by Donald Trump “spent a minimum of $68,000 for its 1998 foray into Cuba at a time when the corporate expenditure of even a penny in the Caribbean country was prohibited without U.S. government approval.” The report published correspondence between Trump and consulting firm Seven Arrows Investment and Development Corp. in which the firm “instructed senior officers with Trump’s company—then called Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts—how to make it appear legal by linking it after the fact to a charitable effort.” Additionally, the former Trump executive admitted that they had taken a trip to Cuba “to give Trump’s company a foothold should Washington loosen or lift the trade restrictions.” From the Newsweek report:

    The fact that Seven Arrows spent the money and then received reimbursement from Trump Hotels does not mitigate any potential corporate liability for violating the Cuban embargo. “The money that the Trump company paid to the consultant is money that a Cuban national has an interest in and was spent on an understanding it would be reimbursed,’’ Richard Matheny, chair of Goodwin’s national security and foreign trade regulation group said, based on a description of the events by Newsweek. “That would be illegal. If OFAC discovered this and found there was evidence of willful misconduct, they could have made a referral to the Department of Justice.”

    Newsweek pointed out that Trump blatantly lied to Cuban-Americans about this, recalling a luncheon hosted by the Cuban American National Foundation where “he proclaimed he wanted to maintain the American embargo and would not spend any money in Cuba so long as Fidel Castro remained in power.”

    Despite clear evidence that Trump acted in violation of the embargo, neither Telemundo nor Univision refuted statements made by Republican officials on their shows that the Newsweek report was inconclusive.

    On the September 29 edition of Telemundo’s Noticiero Telemundo, correspondent Angie Sandoval failed to debunk Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL)’s claim that the Newsweek report “doesn’t conclude” that “one of Donald Trump’s companies invested within the island”:

    REP. MARIO DIAZ-BALART: If one of Donald Trump's companies invested within the island, this would be absolutely unacceptable. But the report that says there was possibly a violation of the law, doesn't conclude that.

    Rep. Diaz-Balart also appeared on Univision’s Noticiero Univisión to murk the findings of the report, saying that “if he effectively did business or his company did business within the island, this would be a very serious thing,” implying that the Republican presidential candidate may not have violated the embargo. The Univision report also quoted Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), a Trump supporter, who called the Newsweek report “troubling” and said that he “will reserve judgment until we know all the facts and Donald has been given the opportunity to respond.” From the September 29 edition of Noticiero Univisión:

    VILMA TARAZONA (CORRESPONDENT): The Republican Cuban-American Senator Marco Rubio, who has said he will vote for Trump, said in a statement, “The article makes serious and troubling accusations. I will reserve judgment until we know all the facts and Donald has been given the opportunity to respond.”

    Univision correspondent Vilma Tarazona did not explain that the Newsweek report already provided all of the facts and that the Trump campaign had already responded to the accusations earlier that day when Kellyanne Conway conceded on The View that “they paid money,” inadvertently admitting that he violated the embargo.

    Trump has a history of putting his business before other considerations, given that he was rooting for the housing collapse of 2008 for his own profit, he has been charged with fraud for misleading aspiring real estate investors, and has stiffed many employees and small business owners he has contracted for their work.

  • Trump Ally Roger Stone’s Teleconference Was Full Of Lies And Smears

    Blog ››› ››› JARED HOLT

    Political trickster Roger Stone, a close confidant of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, used his biweekly open teleconference with the public to push numerous lies and smears in an effort to damage Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign

    Stone is a discredited author and a Republican political operative with a history of racism and sexism. He is an informal adviser to the candidate. He has previously peddled falsehoods about election rigging, 9/11, and the Clinton and Bush families committing murders, including of John F. Kennedy Jr., among other conspiracies. CNN and MSNBC have banned Stone from appearing on air because of his offensive rhetoric and disregard for truth. Even so, the Trump campaign’s recent shift in campaign strategy to focus on the Clintons’ personal affairs indicates it will follow an election strategy laid out by Stone.

    During his September 29 “Insider Teleconference,” Stone continued to spread conspiracy theories and smears about the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton, and billionaire George Soros.

    Stone Claimed Clinton Wore An Earpiece During Debate: “The Fix Was In”

    During the live teleconference, Stone falsely claimed Clinton was “quite clearly operating with an earpiece” to receive answers to questions during the September 26 presidential debate because “she can’t remember anything.”

    He also falsely alleged that Clinton “clearly had advance notice to the questions” at the debate and accused NBC of “some funny business,” including sending an intern to Clinton’s campaign headquarters ahead of the debate to help prepare. Stone added that it was “clear” that “the mainstream media fix was in,” and he attacked moderator Lester Holt. This conspiracy theory, also pushed by fellow Trump ally Newt Gingrich, originated from a fake news website.

    Stone Warned That Clinton Could Rig Voting Machines “For A Desired Result”

    Stone warned his listeners that Clinton may rig voting machines to defeat Trump. Stone said “there is no doubt” that voter machines are “easy to manipulate” and “program to have a desired result.” He baselessly claimed there was evidence showing voting machines were “rigged by Hillary to screw Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries,” and that “if Hillary will cheat Bernie, she’ll cheat Donald Trump and the American people.” Trump has also pushed the “rigged” claim, and numerous media figures have condemned it as “preposterous” and “irresponsible.”

    Stone leads the pro-Trump group Stop The Steal, which aims to “stop the Democrats from stealing the election from Donald Trump.” The group claims that it will “[d]emand inspection of the software used to program the voting machines in every jurisdiction prior to the beginning of voting by an independent and truly non-partisan third party” and “[c]onduct targeted EXIT-POLLING in targeted states and targeted localities that we believe the Democrats could manipulate.”

    Stone Called Billionaire George Soros A “Nazi War Criminal”

    Stone encouraged listeners to join his “Defend the Donald” blogging campaign aimed at fighting Trump criticism online. Stone also attacked Media Matters, which he claimed receives funding from billionaire political activist George Soros, who is Jewish and who Stone called a “Nazi war criminal.” The smear against Soros, who has donated to Media Matters in the past, has previously been debunked

    Stone tweeted in 2014 that Soros should be “detained, charged, tried, convicted and executed. He is a cancer on the body politic.”

    Stone Doubted CIA Reports On Russian Hackers And Claimed CIA Director Works For Clinton’s Campaign

    Stone also raised doubts about CIA Director John Brennan’s finding that the United States should be concerned about Russian cyberattacks and attempts to influence the 2016 election, calling such concerns “laughable.” Stone challenged Brennan to put forth evidence, said that the director “has been politicized,” and accused him of “reading the talking points from the Clinton campaign, presumably because he wants to keep his job.” Brennan’s warning came after security officials agreed that Russian hackers were most likely responsible for stealing email records from the Democratic National Committee over the summer and noted that there was evidence they were behind other hacking attempts.

    Stone also called concerns about Trump’s connections to Russia “the new McCarthyism” despite Trump’s numerous campaign connections to Russia and Trump’s support and praise for Russia’s president and policies.

  • The Men Behind Trump’s Attacks On Clinton Marriage Have A History Of Sexual Harassment, Spousal Abuse, And Marital Infidelity

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    Trump, Ailes, Gingrich

    Republican presidential nominee Donald  Trump’s campaign is circulating talking points that instruct his supporters and campaign surrogates to attack Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton over Bill Clinton’s marital infidelity. If the media is going to report on those claims they should also note that Trump and his closest advisers are profoundly poor messengers for those claims.

    According to CNN, one talking point says, “Hillary Clinton bullied and smeared women like Paula Jones, Gennifer Flowers and Monica Lewinsky.” Another reads, “Are you blaming Hillary for Bill's infidelities? No, however, she's been an active participant in trying to destroy the women who has (sic) come forward with a claim.”

    Politico reported that after the Republican nominee’s poor performance in the presidential debate, “threats emanated from Trump Tower on Tuesday that the Republican nominee was preparing to name-check Bill Clinton’s mistresses -- alleged or otherwise.”

    Yet Trump and several of his campaign’s top staffers, allies, and surrogates have episodes of marital infidelity, sexual harassment, and alleged spousal abuse in their pasts, making them hypocritical messengers for this particular type of attack.

    Trump and his allies have also directly attacked Clinton on this topic.

    Trump himself has previously described former President Clinton as “one of the great woman abusers of all time,” and he said Hillary Clinton “went after the women very, very strongly and very viciously.” He also praised himself for not referencing the topic during the September 26 presidential debate, claiming, “I'm really happy I was able to hold back on the indiscretions in respect to Bill Clinton. Because I have a lot of respect for Chelsea Clinton.”

    Newt Gingrich praised Trump for not bringing up the issue during the debate: “He thought about it, and I’m sure he said to himself, ‘a president of the United States shouldn’t attack somebody personally when their daughter is sitting in the audience.’” He added, “And he bit his tongue, and he was a gentleman, and I thought in many ways that was the most important moment of the whole evening. He proved that he had the discipline to remain as a decent guy even when she was disgusting.”

    Rudy Giuliani said, “The president of the United States, her husband, disgraced this country with what he did in the Oval Office and she didn’t just stand by him, she attacked Monica Lewinsky. And after being married to Bill Clinton for 20 years, if you didn’t know the moment Monica Lewinsky said that Bill Clinton violated her that she was telling the truth, then you’re too stupid to be president.”

    CNN’s Jake Tapper pointed out the problem with this line of attack on the September 29 edition of The Lead. “It doesn’t seem to me that Donald Trump, whose extramarital exploits filled tabloid after tabloid in the ‘80s and ‘90s and more has really that much of a moral high ground when it comes to the question of his rival’s husband’s infidelity.” Noting the role of Roger Ailes, Stephen Bannon, Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich in furthering the story, Tapper said Trump is “surrounded by a philanderer’s club,” and asked, “Why would any of these people have any leg to stand on when it comes to this sort of thing?”

    Donald Trump

    Trump

    Trump’s first wife, Ivana, filed for divorce after news surfaced that he was having an affair with Marla Maples. In court documents she accused Trump of “cruel and inhuman treatment.” Discussing the affair with Vanity Fair, Trump said, “When a man leaves a woman, especially when it was perceived that he has left for a piece of ass—a good one!—there are 50 percent of the population who will love the woman who was left.”

    Trump later married Maples, then they divorced four years later. He married his current wife, Melania, in 2005.

    Temple Taggart, a contestant in the Miss USA pageant that Trump owned, said he introduced himself to her by kissing her “directly on the lips,” adding, “I think there were a few other girls that he kissed on the mouth. I was like ‘Wow, that’s inappropriate.’”

    Jill Harth worked with Trump on a beauty pageant in the 1990s and later accused him of engaging in inappropriate sexual behavior in the course of doing business with her. She said when she first met Trump, he asked her boyfriend, “‘Are you sleeping with her?’ Meaning me. And George looked a little shocked and he said, ‘Well, yeah.’ And he goes, ‘Well, for the weekend or what?’”

    In a deposition, Harth said Trump groped her under a table, and she said, “This was a very traumatic thing working for him.”

    Executives at the Trump Organization told The New York Times that Trump “occasionally interrupted routine discussions of business to opine on women’s figures.” According to Barbara Res, who worked as Trump’s head of construction, he once told her out of the blue that women in Marina del Rey “take care of their asses.”

    Recently asked by USA Today columnist Kirsten Powers how he would feel if his daughter were subjected to sexual harassment at her place of business, he said, “I would like to think she would find another career or find another company if that was the case.”

    Roger Ailes

    Ailes

    Fox News founder and former chairman Roger Ailes has been advising the Trump campaign, and he helped prepare the candidate for the presidential debate.

    Ailes was forced out at Fox News after former anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the network, alleging that she was pushed out of Fox after rebuffing his advances. According to The New York Times, Carlson recorded conversations with Ailes over the course of a year and a half. Carlson told the Times that in “between six and 10” of those conversations, Ailes made inappropriate comments.

    Since Carlson’s lawsuit became public, at least 25 other women have come forward to accuse Ailes of sexually harassing them. The Washington Post reported, “Interviews with four of those women portray the 76-year-old television powerhouse as a man who could be routinely crude and inappropriate, ogling young women, commenting about their breasts and legs, and fostering a macho, insensitive culture.”

    21st Century Fox (the parent company of Fox News) eventually paid Carlson a settlement of $20 million and issued a statement that said, “We sincerely regret and apologize for the fact that Gretchen was not treated with the respect and dignity that she and all of our colleagues deserve.”

    Former Fox News director of booking Laurie Luhn told the law firm investigating the sexual harassment allegations against Ailes that he had harassed her for over 20 years. She described the experience as “psychological torture” to New York magazine, and she called Ailes “a predator.”

    Luhn recalled that after she met with Ailes about a position as an office manager, he took her to dinner and then as she drove him to the airport, “We pull up and I say, ‘Thank you so much for dinner.’ He leans over and slips me the tongue and kisses me.” Luhn said he then handed her a wad of cash.

    He put her on retainer to do what he described as “research,” then had her dress in lingerie and dance for him in a hotel room. Luhn said Ailes “asked her to perform oral sex,” then told her he would put a video recording of the encounter in a “safe-deposit box just so we understand each other.” Luhn said after that she regularly met Ailes in hotels for sexual encounters.

    He later hired Luhn at Fox News and she became what one colleague described to New York as a “protected person,” while others said it was known that Ailes -- who is married -- was involved with her.

    Luhn said she was instructed by Ailes to recruit young women for him, saying, “You’re going to find me ‘Roger’s Angels.’ You’re going to find me whores.”

    Luhn said she had a series of mental breakdowns that she attributes to her experience with Ailes and that she was even hospitalized for a time as a result.

    As her condition worsened, he moved her from Washington, D.C., to New York so he could monitor her. He demanded that she show him all of the emails she received and said he had to approve her outgoing messages after he would “dictate exactly” how she should respond.

    She eventually alleged sexual harassment and then left Fox after agreeing to a $3.15 million settlement. As part of the deal, she signed a nondisclosure agreement with the network that barred her from going to court against the network or speaking to government agencies like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the FBI.

    Stephen Bannon

    Bannon

    Stephen Bannon is the CEO of the Trump campaign and is on a leave of absence from his job as the chairman of the “alt-right” Breitbart News.

    In 1996, Bannon was charged with misdemeanor domestic violence, battery and dissuading a witness. Politico reported that a Santa Monica, CA, police report “says that Bannon’s then-wife claimed he pulled at her neck and wrist during an altercation over their finances, and an officer reported witnessing red marks on her neck and wrist to bolster her account.” The report also said Bannon “reportedly smashed the phone when she tried to call the police.”

    The police report also contained an allegation of past abuse from Bannon: “In the beginning of their relationship, she said they [had] 3 or 4 argument that became physical and they had been going to counseling.”

    The case ended when Bannon’s ex-wife did not appear in court and Bannon pleaded “not guilty” to the allegations. A few months after, she filed to dissolve their marriage.

    Rudy Giuliani

    Giuliani

    Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is a Trump campaign surrogate.

    In 2000, Giuliani announced that he was separating from his then-wife Donna Hanover and, as The New York Times reported, “Ms. Hanover, caught unaware, then said that the couple's troubles began years ago because of a previous relationship between the mayor and a member of his staff.”

    The Times reported that Hanover’s press secretary said the staff member was Cristyne Lategano-Nicholas, and “Friends of Ms. Hanover's said yesterday that she had described the relationship between her husband and Ms. Lategano-Nicholas as intimate while Ms. Lategano-Nicholas worked at City Hall.”

    That same year, the news broke that Giuliani was having an affair with Judith Nathan. At taxpayer expense, Nathan received chauffeur service from the New York Police Department, as well as police protection. Giuliani and Hanover filed for divorce, and he later married Nathan, who is his current wife.

    Newt Gingrich

    Gingrich

    Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA) is a Trump campaign surrogate.

    The New York Times reported that Gingrich said of his first wife, Jacqueline Battley, when filing for divorce, “She's not young enough or pretty enough to be the wife of a President. And besides, she has cancer.”

    The Times reported that after the divorce, despite the couple having children together, she “filed court papers saying he had not provided reasonable support for her living expenses and that some of her accounts were ‘two or three months past due.’”

    Gingrich remarried, and then had an affair with his congressional aide Callista Bisek, who is his current wife.

  • The Press Concocted A Clinton Caricature, But That’s Not Who Showed Up At The Debate

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Hillary Clinton sure didn’t look like an “awful” candidate up on the debate stage this week.

    “Awful” was how ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd derided the Democratic nominee over the summer on This Week. “She is an awful candidate. Everybody knows it,” he stressed.

    Dowd was hardly alone. The Beltway pundit class has relentlessly portrayed Clinton as someone who’s supremely uncomfortable in her own skin and ill-suited to be the Democratic nominee or the next president.

    But that’s not what 80-plus million viewers saw when they tuned into the debate. Poised, confident and in control, Clinton walked away with a clear victory, according to all scientific polling.

    So why the huge disconnect between the way the press portrays Clinton, often with a relentlessly caustic and cynical eye, and the reality of who Clinton is as a candidate, as seen during the debate? A large chunk of viewers, regardless of whether they support her or not, must have been genuinely confused by the person they watched for 90 minutes, and the person they’ve seen depicted in the press throughout this campaign.

    She certainly didn’t resemble the supposedly phony, unlikeable, calculating politician the press has been describing most of this year. She didn’t come across as the deeply secretive, distant, “scripted,” figure who can’t connect with voters. (Fact: Clinton accumulated more votes than any other candidate during the presidential primaries.)

    Aside from her agenda and her politics, the press has been nearly universal in the way they’ve described Clinton as a person and as a candidate. She’s “afraid to say what she thinks about anything for fear of alienating this or that constituency,” explained The Washington Post, while emphasizing, “She often comes across as inauthentic or lacking a basic core of beliefs.”

    Bottom line: Clinton is a deeply flawed candidate, and possibly a deeply flawed person.

    And that has been the nearly universal media theme since the beginning of this campaign. Last summer, The Wall Street Journal suggested Clinton sounds too "scripted and poll-tested," while Politico this year marked her victory in the Kentucky primary with the downer headline, “Hillary Clinton’s Joyless Victory.”

    But instead of that scheming Clinton caricature showing up at the debate, viewers saw a confident, at-ease candidate who at one point even shimmied with delight on the national stage.

    “[T]ens of millions of Americans saw the candidates in action, directly, without a media filter,” noted New York Times columnist Paul Krugman following the debate. “For many, the revelation wasn’t Mr. Trump’s performance, but Mrs. Clinton’s: The woman they saw bore little resemblance to the cold, joyless drone they’d been told to expect.”

    Indeed.

    Unfortunately, as Media Matters has been noting for years, there has existed over time an almost open contempt for Clinton from the press corps. Last year there was even talk about how journalists were primed to “take down” her campaign.

    Obsessive Clinton tormentor Maureen Dowd at the Times, for example, has spent years looking past what Clinton stands for (does Dowd even care?) in order to belittle her as a person. Over two decades, Dowd has robotically represented Clinton as an unlikeable, power-hungry, phony.

    Author Neal Gabler made this key point over the summer (emphasis added):

    Hillary Clinton has always been under a media microscope. They assess her pantsuits, her hairdos, her gestures, her expressions, her “grating” voice. They assume that there is always some ulterior motive or calculation to everything she says and does — as if there isn’t for any presidential candidate. Whether you like Hillary Clinton or not, she labors under the media’s presumption of guilt.

    And again, the most troubling aspect is that so much of the press pile-on regarding Clinton is oddly personal, and rarely revolves around her politics. (Except when it comes to her emails, which journalists have been weirdly obsessive about.) The press seems utterly determined to portray the nominee as a blemished individual.  

    And that’s one of the reasons why presidential debates are so important: They force the campaign press to get off the national stage for 90 minutes and allow candidates to speak directly to viewers, without a heavy-handed media filter and without journalists trying to fit everything into preferred narratives.

    Meanwhile, did you notice how few members of the Beltway media’s elite foresaw Clinton’s lopsided debate win?

    Think about all the hours and days of pre-debate commentary, all the analysis on radio, television and in print that commentators provided during the run up to the debate. Did you see, hear, or read many (any?) pundits confidently predict that Clinton would, as it turned out, easily win the debate and it wouldn’t even be a close call?

    Seemingly committed to the Clinton narrative that she’s a cautious, calculating pol who can’t connect with voters, lots of commentators seemed certain Trump would be able to equal her debate parries, even as they lowered the expectations for him to absurd depths.

    But even graded on an entirely different and gentler scale, Trump still wasn’t able to construct a coherent performance. With the media’s nasty Clinton caricature set aside for the duration of the debate, viewers were able to make up their own minds about the candidate.

  • Conservative Newspapers Explain Why They Refused To Endorse “Frightening” Trump

    Blog ››› ››› JOE STRUPP

    Opinion editors at three major newspapers that have routinely endorsed Republicans for president -- dating back more than a century in some cases -- tell Media Matters they endorsed Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton because Republican nominee Donald Trump is “frightening” and potentially “dangerous.”

    Political observers and veteran news experts, meanwhile, say such a dramatic move by longtime Republican-friendly publications could have a greater impact on the race than more expected endorsements.   

    “We have been traditionally considered a conservative newspaper, having endorsed Republicans for the last hundred years,” said Cindi Andrews, editorial page editor of the Cincinnati Enquirer, which endorsed Clinton on September 23. “For me personally, the two biggest concerns come down to temperament; how he would be on the world stage, his demeanor, his language he uses about citizens in our own country of different races and genders, as well as immigrants. It is fundamentally what we’re about as Americans.”

    The Enquirer, owned by Gannett Company, had last endorsed a Democrat in 1916 when it backed Woodrow Wilson. Andrews said the five-member editorial board was unanimous in their choice, adding that a non-endorsement was not an option.

    “We felt that fundamentally not endorsing in any race we are looking at is a pretty lame approach,” she said. “Because somebody has to decide who the next president is and voters have to make a decision, it felt a like a dereliction of duty.”

    The Enquirer wasn’t the first traditionally Republican paper to endorse Clinton. The Dallas Morning News ended 80 years of GOP presidential endorsements on September 7 when it backed Clinton.

    “We had recommended John Kasich in the primary and were disappointed that his campaign didn’t catch more fire,” said Keven Ann Willey, Morning News editorial page editor since 2002 and a member of the Pulitzer Prize Board. “Over that time Donald Trump just became more and more difficult to tolerate. The thought of him as the leader of our country just became anathema. On issues ranging from immigration to foreign relations to tax policy, it was hard to find much to align with him on. He is really not a conservative, he is a Republican of convenience.”

    Willey said the nine-member editorial board was unanimous in their choice of Clinton, another unusual occurrence.

    “It was a long and deliberative process,” she said, adding that opposition to Trump was based on many things such as his “name-calling of people and groups of people and the tone, the ramifications of that are just frightening.”

    The most recent and perhaps most surprising case was the Arizona Republic, which gave Clinton the nod this week. That marked the first time it had endorsed a Democrat in its history, which dates back to 1890 went it launched as the Arizona Republican.

    Editorial Page Editor Phil Boas said the nine-member editorial board began criticizing Trump nearly a year ago.

    For him, the tide started to turn against Trump when Trump supporters “started kicking and punching” a protester at a rally in Birmingham, AL, in November 2015 and Trump yelled, “get him the hell out of here.” Trump later doubled down on his rhetoric in an interview the same week, telling Fox News, “maybe he should have been roughed up.”

    “That’s when I sat down and wrote an editorial that these are sort of the ominous base notes of authoritarianism,” said Boas, an admitted lifelong conservative Republican. “It was a sign and alarm that this guy might be dangerous.”

    Since then, the paper has routinely criticized Trump, endorsing John Kasich in the Arizona primary and hitting the businessman in numerous editorials

    “Because this is probably the most unusual election in our lifetimes, the process was different than what I’m used to and for us,” Boas explained. “It really evolved over a year on our pages, a conversation with our readers. I don’t think any loyal reader of our editorial pages are that surprised that we endorse Clinton. For a year now we have been writing scalding editorials about Donald Trump.”

    Boas also cited Trump’s mocking of New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski’s disability. “I was just appalled by it,” he said. “He made fun of a disabled man, he mocked him. … To behave that way is disrespectful of the office. This became bigger than party, bigger than team.”

    Asked why they chose to endorse Clinton and not just decline to endorse a candidate, he said, “She conducts herself in a way that’s responsible, she is not going to scare off our allies and create an international incident.”

    While newspaper endorsements are seen as having less impact in recent years, political and newspaper observers said such sharp changes in these normally conservative publications could be influential.

    “This is hugely significant,” said Poynter Institute President Tim Franklin, a former editor and editorial board member of the Indianapolis StarThe Orlando Sentinel and Baltimore Sun. “Most newspapers develop a core set of beliefs and values and then they stick to those core beliefs and values for years. That is a covenant with the audience.”

    Citing the key undecided voters, Franklin added, “These endorsements could have an impact on what seems to be a very small undecided group.”

    Larry J. Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, also saw the potential for an impact if more conservative papers go with Clinton.

    “They are attracting lots of attention, for sure,” Sabato said via email. “If enough GOP papers endorse their first Democratic presidential candidate ever, that might cause some voters to ask a logical question: Why is this happening. The answer is obvious: Donald Trump.”

    Matt Dallek, associate professor at the George Washington University's Graduate School of Political Management, said the endorsement switch can be impactful. 

    “It is newsworthy that in some cases, like the Arizona Republic, it is the first time they haven’t endorsed a Republican and that I think generates additional stories, additional attention beyond the editorials themselves,” Dallek said. “Even voters who don’t necessarily see that headline, it gins up attention in subsequent stories and people hear about it.”

    He added, “These endorsements from these newspapers will likely have more impact than, say, Henry Paulson writing an Op-Ed saying he’s voting for Clinton. I’m not sure that really penetrates with people in places like Ohio like it does coming from the hometown paper.

    David Yepsen, former Des Moines Register political columnist, said, “One thing Trump has to do is get moderate and wavering Republicans to ‘come home.’ When Republican papers endorse Hillary Clinton, those endorsements become something that might continue to give those Republicans pause about him.”

    David Boardman, a former Seattle Times editor and currently dean of the School of Media and Communication at Temple University, said, “It reflects something about how most opinion journalists see this election, clearly their level of distaste for Trump is compelling them to take positions different from what they did in the past.”

    Among those known for a long history of Republican presidential support who have yet to offer their choice are The Indianapolis Star and The Orange County Register. The Wall Street Journal does not normally endorse in presidential races.

    USA Today, which has "never taken sides" in a presidential race before, declared Trump "unfit for the presidency" in an editorial this morning.

  • Hannity Spurns Fox Executives, Hypes Online Polls After After Internal Memo Says They Don't Meet Fox Standards

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Fox News host Sean Hannity cited post-debate online polls to show that people "vote so overwhelmingly for [Donald] Trump," just two days after Fox's vice president of public-opinion research sent an internal memo “reminding television producers and the politics team that unscientific online polls ‘do not meet our editorial standards.’” Scientific polls showed Clinton overwhelmingly won the debate, with the NBC/SurveyMonkey poll showing Trump came in third place in the two-person debate, finishing both behind Clinton and "neither." Hannity has gone to great lengths to shill for Trump, including recently appearing in a Trump campaign ad, which Fox executives were neither aware of nor happy about. From the September 29 edition of Fox News' Hannity

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): I know that people hate when I cite online polling. But when you see The Hill, and you see Slate, and Time.com, these are not mainstream conservative polling or websites. And when they vote after a debate so overwhelmingly for Trump, it's telling me something. It's more than Trump's base that I think people feel how bad things are and that's what they're voting on. 

  • Morning Joe Inaccurately Hypes Latino Support For Trump In Nevada With A Misleading Poll Report

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LOPEZ

    MSNBC’s Morning Joe hyped one poll to suggest 30 percent of Latino Nevada voters support Trump, but the survey’s participants who fit the description of Latino likely voters provided such a small sample size that Morning Joe’s blanket statement was likely inaccurate.

    On the September 29 edition of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, co-host Mika Brzezinski and correspondent Jacob Soboroff reported that an NBC News/WSJ/Marist poll found 30 percent of Latinos supported Trump. Soboroff, after referring to the results as “surprising” and “frankly puzzling,” went to see if “Latinos for Trump” were “a real thing” by interviewing callers on Jesus Marquez’s radio show on the Las Vegas station La Voz de Nevada.

    Marquez is one of the remaining members of Trump’s National Hispanic Advisory Council -- several of them quit, calling the group a “scam” and denouncing Trump’s August 31 anti-immigrant speech as “horrible,” “dishonest,” and “tone-deaf.” Marquez often makes media appearances as a Trump surrogate, so callers to his pro-Trump radio show aren’t likely to be the most representative sample of Latino voters in Nevada.

    The problem with MSNBC’s reporting was explained by Futuro Media Group’s Julio Ricardo Varela shortly after the report aired. In an article on NPR’s Latino USA, Varela explained that the poll MSNBC was citing did not contain a large enough sample of Latinos to be representative. Varela dug into the poll’s methodology to explain that the poll surveyed 1,090 adults, only 627 of whom were likely voters, and only 17 percent, or 107, were Latino. Varela laid out the significance of MSNBC’s botched reporting (which also aired on the September 28 edition of MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews, according to Nexis):

    This would mean that Morning Joe did not accurately represent the poll’s data and methodology, and no one at the table challenged the data. It also raises questions about whether a sample of 107 likely Latino voters in Nevada is even large enough to make a confident conclusion that Trump has 30% of the Latino vote in Nevada, especially when a national NBC News/Telemundo/WSJ poll has Trump’s Latino support in the high teens.

    One particularly misleading graphic, titled “Among Nevada Latino Likely Voters,” showed the breakdown of the 107 people the poll surveyed who fit that description, but at the bottom noted the total number of people polled, 1,090. The graphic could have left viewers with the impression that 1,090 Latino likely voters were surveyed, instead of 107:

    Later in the day, Soboroff acknowledged he was receiving “blowback” for his reporting, but instead of addressing the criticism, he doubled down. Soboroff said, “I actually got a lot of feedback, a lot of blowback online from folks saying that that 30 number percent looked high. That’s the number that we got in our NBC News poll here.”

    MSNBC is not the first network to fumble reports about the Latino vote: Earlier this year, Telemundo also based a report that Latinos could be warming to Trump on flawed polling. Given the lousy attempts that Trump has made at Latino outreach, his anti-immigrant rhetoric, and the fact that even his Latino supporters have admitted his Latino outreach is doomed -- as well as the media’s penchant for misrepresenting Latino voters-- a poll that shows a large number of Latinos supporting Trump should be met with skepticism.

    According to Stephen A. Nuño, an associate professor at Northern Arizona University, media reporting on the Latino vote can “often be contradictory, confusing, and outright nonsensical” because sloppy methodology is often used when polling Latinos. Nuño explained that sample sizes are often too small to be representative, polls are frequently not conducted bilingually, and polls are not representative of age, country of origin, and gender.

    In a June 10 guest appearance on NPR’s Latino USA, Nuño talked about the number of things that can go wrong when polling Latinos and interpreting the numbers:

  • NRA Once Again Uses Footage From Military Cemetery In Campaign Attack Ad

    VFW’s Response to Previous Ad: “Don't Use Our Dead To Score Political Points”

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    A new attack ad from the National Rifle Association targeting Florida Democratic Senate candidate Patrick Murphy features images of military graves at Alexandria National Cemetery.

    In a September 27 ad, the NRA attempts to link Murphy to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton over supposed malfeasance related to the 2012 terror attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya. (Without evidence, the ad claims Clinton “lied” about the attacks.) Murphy is facing Republican Sen. Marco Rubio in the race.

    The ad features several shots of Alexandria National Cemetery that the NRA filmed for a previous attack ad. It is a violation of U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs policy to film political ads at national cemeteries.

    From the ad:

    The footage from the ad comes from a June ad in which the NRA attacked Clinton over Benghazi in support of Republican nominee Donald Trump, whom the gun group has endorsed.

    Media Matters identified the cemetery in that ad as Alexandria National Cemetery in Virginia. The cemetery, which is primarily made up of Civil War-era graves, is located near Old Town, Alexandria, which is home to the headquarters for NRA News and an office of Ackerman McQueen, the NRA’s ad firm.

    At the time, veterans groups slammed the NRA for using a military cemetery in an ad. A national spokesperson for Veterans of Foreign Wars told Media Matters, “Don’t use our dead to score political points. We fought for everybody’s First Amendment rights and everything, but we don’t want any candidate using our dead to score political points.”

    Jon Soltz, an Iraq War veteran and chairman of VoteVets.org, responded with a statement that said, "This ad should be taken down immediately. It is insensitive to those buried at the cemetery -- most, if not all, of whom died before Benghazi, and many of whom may not have been NRA supporters. Further, it violates Veterans Affairs policy. It should be taken down."

    And yet the NRA continues to use the footage in its attack ads. In contrast, several  organizations other than the NRA that had aired images and footage from national cemeteries in political ads either altered or removed them. In 1999, Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) presidential campaign aired an ad featuring unauthorized footage filmed at Arlington National Cemetery, and  the campaign admitted fault and recut the ad to remove the footage. More recently, Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) pulled a 2014 ad that was filmed at a North Dakota veterans cemetery.

  • Rush Limbaugh Falsely Denies He Called Alicia Machado A Porn Star, Then Repeats The Claim

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Radio host Rush Limbaugh denied, then repeated, the false claim that former Miss Universe Alicia Machado is a “former porn star,” an accusation right-wing media have adopted to attack her.

    On the September 29 edition of Premiere Radio Networks’ The Rush Limbaugh Show, Limbaugh said that he “didn’t call [Machado] a porn star”:

    RUSH LIMBAUGH (HOST): And they say that "Rush Limbaugh the other day called her a porn [star]." I didn't call her a porn star. I was reading a news report in which she was referred to as a porn star. I don't watch porn. I don't know if she's done porn or not. I have no idea if she’s a -- I read what one of your colleagues in the drive-by media wrote about her. She's worse than a porn star. Because she's a woman and this and this is 2016 and women are getting bullied and raped on college campuses, ostensibly. You got to be very, very careful here.

    So Trump calls her Miss Piggy. There is a character called Miss Piggy, proudly called Miss Piggy. One of the Muppets. Looks like somebody in American politics today, I might add. If you can't figure it out, I'll leave it up to you at some point to see.

    However, on the September 28 edition of his radio show, Limbaugh did refer to Machado as “a porn star” and “the porn star Miss Piggy.” The claim -- which is actually false -- had been pushed by right-wing media outlets in order to delegitimize Machado after she reported that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump called her “Miss Piggy” and publicly humiliated her for gaining weight.

    Mere minutes after making his denial, Limbaugh resumed his name-calling, referring to her, once again, as a “former porn star”:

    RUSH LIMBAUGH (HOST): You would think if the [Clinton campaign] thought they won [the debate] hands-down, slam dunk, that they would start hammering Trump on any number of things that include issues. And instead they bring up this former porn star and this whole sordid thing that happened 20 years ago with the Miss [Universe] pageant.

    This is hardly the first time Limbaugh has resorted to slut-shaming to attack a woman. In 2012, he infamously attacked then-Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke, calling her a “slut” and a “prostitute” for testifying before Congress in favor of requiring that health insurance plans cover birth control. He also demanded that she post sex “videos online so we can all watch.” Limbaugh’s disgusting attacks, in that case, led to a decline in his affiliates, advertisers, and political influence.