• Despite Widespread Condemnation From Jewish Leaders, Curt Schilling Continues To Defend His Bigoted Statements

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    In an October 27 appearance on Newsmax’s America Talks Live, newly-hired Breitbart radio host Curt Schilling refused to apologize for asking CNN’s Jake Tapper to account for Jewish Americans' support of the “so clearly anti-Jewish Israel” Democratic Party.

    After the Anti-Defamation League and other Jewish leaders criticized Breitbart radio host Curt Schilling for his “bigoted” and “tone-deaf” questioning of CNN’s Jake Tapper, who is of Jewish heritage, Schilling agreed with Newsmax host Steve Malzberg’s claim he “didn’t say anything wrong to Tapper.”

    Defending his widely criticized remarks, Schilling blamed the media, claiming “the narrative’s getting skewed” and “the media has no accountability”:

    STEVE MALZBERG (HOST): You've come under fire also from some Jewish groups -- now, I'm Jewish, and I saw the interview you did with Jake Tapper, and all you said to him is what people say to me all the time, and Curt, what I say to my Jewish friends all the time -- "How the heck could you, as a Jew, support Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party?"

    And you would have thought, you know, you -- you were praising Hitler. They're all after you now. Why?

    CURT SCHILLING: First of all, I don't say "Jew." Saying "Jew" makes me feel uncomfortable. I asked Jake Tapper "As a man of Jewish faith, why in his" -- and he clearly made it clear to me that he doesn't vote in the presidential elections, which I didn't know, but I always have found -- I have a neighbor who lives right down the street, who's a brilliantly smart guy.

    And I asked -- I talked to him a lot about the history of the Jewish state, and the history, the plight of the Jewish people, and I like to understand why things happen, so instead of relying on a media which is clearly askew and in the tank for liberal ideas and liberal narratives, I felt like asking someone of the Jewish faith why -- why they vote -- why they have voted considerably more Democrat.

    And it's been forever, I didn't realize it was as huge of a lean as it was, number one, and how long it's been that Jewish people -- people of Jewish faith -- because the Democratic Party is, you know -- this is the party that founded the KKK. they are anti-Israel. This administration, the only real reason I feel like they've done anything with Israel is because there were agreements in place before Obama got in, because I don't think he would have carried out any of that, had he not already been kind of handcuffed to it.

    But this -- this party has been anti-Israel, you know they call it ISIL, the Levant of ISIL. The L in ISIL is Levant, includes Israel which is why they say it. It's a -- I think it's a slight at Israel to begin with.


    MALZBERG: So you were -- Curt, Curt so you don't get this though, do you? I mean, you don't -- you didn't say anything wrong to Tapper. I don't think you did.

    SCHILLING: No, no no no, and here's the thing, any time you start to become something in the media that you're not, you realize the narrative's getting skewed. I'm starting to understand and feel a little bit of what it might be like to run for political office.

    The media has no accountability, they get to say and do whatever they feel like saying and -- listen, how many times have you heard Ivanka Trump had to answer for her father's comments? And on the other flip -- on the other side of the coin, how many times have you heard Chelsea Clinton been asked about her father being a rapist, or a sexual assaulter?

    MALZBERG: Never. Never, never, never, never, never.

    SCHILLING: Because that's not how the game works for them.

    Schilling had previously defended his questioning of Tapper by telling MSNBC’s Chris Matthews that “I’m not going to play the victim game because I’m a white male Christian, which apparently makes me a racist.”

    Schilling’s continued defense of his widely condemned remarks continue his tradition of bigoted social media posts, and fits Breitbart News’ history of promoting anti-semitic speech within the confines of its media outlets.

  • NRATV Complains That Sexual Assault Allegations Against Trump Are Getting Too Much Attention

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    A new media effort from the National Rifle Association is attacking the press for covering allegations of sexual assault against Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

    During a broadcast of the recently launched NRATV, host Grant Stinchfield complained that national media were not talking about news stories where people defended themselves with a gun, but instead “they talk about Donald Trump's sexual allegations and all the like to get us to look some place else because they don't want to talk about the real issues that matter to America, because if those issues are talked about, there's no way Donald Trump loses.”

    The NRA, which has endorsed Trump, has spent more than $26 million on the presidential race, far surpassing the amount the group spent in 2012. The largest NRA ad buy of the election cycle featured a woman who defended herself against a male attacker with a gun, and the NRA has shown no signs of letting up in the wake of increasing allegations of misconduct against Trump.

    From the October 27 edition of NRATV:

    CAM EDWARDS (NRA NEWS HOST): We're going to be talking in our Hero of the Day segment today about an off-duty deputy in Massachusetts who is out to dinner with his wife when all of a sudden a guy runs in, he's got a knife, and he starts stabbing people in this restaurant. Nobody could have anticipated this attack. Thankfully that off duty deputy had his personal sidearm with him, and that off duty deputy was able to respond to that threat, was able to neutralize that threat, and save lives in the process. It's those types of stories, they never make the national news headlines, Grant, but they happen every day when you have citizens who are prepared to protect themselves, the people that they love, and those around them, if need be. 

    GRANT STINCHFIELD  (NRATV HOST): And instead what the media does, instead of talking about stories like that, because that is a story that affects women, gun ownership affects women, they talk about Donald Trump's sexual allegations and all the like to get us to look some place else because they don't want to talk about the real issues that matter to America, because if those issues are talked about, there's no way Donald Trump loses. 


    NRA Risks Complete Disaster Following Unprecedented Spending On Trump

    The NRA Is Trying To Reach Out To Women, But This Is How It Talks About Campus Sexual Assault

  • On Fox Business, Bigoted Lou Dobbs Claimed Trump Is Victim Of “Globalist” “Mormon Mafia”

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Lou Dobbs has claimed on his Fox Business show that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is the victim of a “globalist” conspiracy by the “Mormon mafia,” and he has derided former GOP nominee Mitt Romney for refusing to support Trump, saying maybe it’s because he is a Mormon and “getting visions.”

    Dobbs tweeted last night that Evan McMullin -- an independent candidate for president who is Mormon and polling strongly in Utah, which has a large Mormon population -- is “nothing but a Globalist, Romney and Mormon Mafia Tool.” Dobbs’ bigoted reference to a “Mormon Mafia” was widely derided.

    Dobbs hasn’t expressed such bigotry only on Twitter. He highlighted the “Mormon mafia” as one of the many foes Trump is “contending against” in his presidential run during the October 9 edition of his Fox Business show:

    During the August 11 edition of his Fox Business show, he claimed that “the Mormon church appears to be involved” in Trump’s weakness in Utah polls. He explained: “There is a globalist view, a perspective on the part of the Mormon church. Mitt Romney has addressed it, others. Again, now we've got an independent candidate who is himself a Mormon. These are not coincidences. These appear to be an organized and energetic effort to disrupt Donald Trump's candidacy.”

    During the segment, Fox contributor Eboni Williams claimed that in a speech, Trump had been “really not so thinly veiling a callout to kind of the Mormon mafia,” which Williams said included Romney and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT). Watch:

    On his May 26 broadcast, Dobbs referenced Romney’s refusal to support Trump and said, “What is wrong with this man? I mean, is he getting -- he's Mormon, right? ... I mean, is he getting visions or something that nobody else can dial up?”

    In 2006, Dobbs criticized “the Mormon church” for purportedly seeking to encourage “as many of Mexico's citizens as they possibly could attract to the state of Utah, irrespective of the cost to taxpayers,” drawing a denial from the church. Dobbs left CNN in 2009 following months of controversy over his promotion of the racist conspiracy that President Obama was not born in the United States, but he was hired by Fox Business soon after.  

    Dina Radtke contributed research to this piece.

  • Report: Trump's Campaign Resources Could Help Him Launch A Media Outlet "To Carry On His Movement"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    A Bloomberg Businessweek report brought to light the possibility that if Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump loses the election, he could capitalize on his campaign resources and partner with Breitbart News to launch a Trump TV network using his list of supporters to “gain a platform from which to carry on his movement” and strengthen the global “cross-pollination of right-wing populist media and politics.”  

    Trump’s campaign has constantly lashed out against the media, even Fox News, despite his retreat to the network and their efforts to rehabilitate his image. The Trump campaign also announced proposals to “break up” media companies that Trump disapproves of, and “open up our libel laws” to make it easier to sue outlets and journalists. At the same time, Trump has also parroted anti-Semitic talking points from white nationalist “alt-right” media, including Breitbart News, which is the website of his campaign CEO Stephen Bannon. Recently, the Trump campaign launched a nightly Facebook Live show “to circumvent mainstream media,” an effort many journalists understood as “a Trump TV dry run.”

    The October 27 Bloomberg Businessweek article explained that Trump is uniquely positioned to launch his own TV network -- which reportedly began as a threat to Fox News’ Roger Ailes to gain more favorable coverage of the candidate -- given his readymade audience of the campaign supporters he paid for, who will “buy into his claim that the election was rigged and stolen from him.” As the report noted,  “the easiest move would be for Trump to partner with Bannon’s global Breitbart News Network” to launch “a platform from which to carry on his movement.” The report  also noted that “this cross-pollination of right-wing populist media and politics” is already happening in Great Britain, where Raheem Kassam -- editor-in-chief of Bannon’s Breitbart London -- is a candidate to become the leader of the UK Independence Party, with the slogan “Make UKIP Great Again.” From the article:

    According to a source close to Trump, the idea of a Trump TV network originated during the Republican primaries as a threat [Trump’s son-in-law Jared] Kushner issued to Roger Ailes when Trump’s inner circle was unhappy with the tenor of Fox News’s coverage. The warring factions eventually reconciled. But Trump became enamored by the power of his draw after five media companies expressed interest. “One thing Jared always tells Donald is that if the New York Times and cable news mattered, he would be at 1 percent in the polls,” says the source. “Trump supporters really don’t have a media outlet where they feel they’re represented—CNN has gone fully against Trump, MSNBC is assumed to be against Trump, and Fox is somewhere in the middle. What we found is that our people have organized incredibly well on the web. Reddit literally had to change their rules because it was becoming all Trump. Growing the digital footprint has really allowed us to take his message directly to the people.”

    It’s not clear how much of this digital audience will remain in Trump’s thrall if he loses. But the number should be substantial. “Trump will get 40 percent of the vote, and half that number at least will buy into his claim that the election was rigged and stolen from him,” says Steve Schmidt, John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign chief and an outspoken Trump critic. “That is more than enough people to support a multibillion-dollar media business and a powerful presence in American politics.”

    Digital strategists typically value contact lists at $3 to $8 per e-mail, which would price Trump’s list of supporters anywhere from $36 million to $112 million. The Trump enterprise could benefit from it in any number of ways. The easiest move would be for Trump to partner with Bannon’s global Breitbart News Network, which already has a grip on the rising generation of populist Republicans. Along with a new venture, Trump would gain a platform from which to carry on his movement, built upon the millions of names housed in Project Alamo. “This is the pipe that makes the connection between Trump and the people,” says Bannon. “He has an apparatus that connects him to an ever-expanding audience of followers.”

    As it happens, this cross-pollination of right-wing populist media and politics is already occurring overseas—and Trump’s influence on it is unmistakable. In early October, the editor-in-chief of Breitbart London, Raheem Kassam, a former adviser to Nigel Farage, announced he would run for leader of UKIP. His slogan: “Make UKIP Great Again.”

  • Trump Campaign Manager Tells "Dream Team" Of Pro-Trump Paid CNN Contributors To "Stay Strong" 

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, tweeted out encouragement and praise to the campaign’s “dream team” of pro-Trump CNN contributors, underscoring CNN’s ongoing Trump surrogate problem.

    Over the course of the 2016 election, CNN hired four Trump supporters -- Kayleigh McEnany, Scottie Nell Hughes, Jeffrey Lord and former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski -- explicitly to defend Trump on air. While on CNN, Lord defended Trump’s attacks against a Gold Star family and turned a discussion of Trump’s hesitance to disavow David Duke into an argument about whether Democrats used to support the KKK. Lewandowski has revived Trump’s birther claims against President Obama and recommending that the Republican nominee sue The New York Times “into oblivion.” McEnany defended Trump’s claim that Obama is the “founder of ISIS,” Hughes attacked Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Tim Kaine’s use of Spanish, and both Hughes and McEnany have defended Trump against multiple sexual assault accusations.

    Lewandowski in particular has been an ethical nightmare for CNN; he likely has a non-disparagement agreement with the Trump campaign, was hired while he was still being paid severance by Trump’s campaign, has continued to do “consulting work” for Trump, and recently joined the campaign for events in Maine and New Jersey.

    Jeff Zucker, the network’s president, defend hiring Trump surrogates as paid CNN contributors, claiming they represent the “14 million people who voted for” Trump.


    On October 27, Conway praised the “members of our @CNN Dream Team” for “battling a daily deluge of spin & sophistry,” and urged them to “stay strong”:

  • Election Experts: Trump Ally Roger Stone’s Exit Polling Plan Smacks Of “Intimidation”

    Expert: "There Is Little Doubt That Any Such ‘Exit Polling’ Would Be Extremely Biased"

    Blog ››› ››› JOE STRUPP

    Election experts and polling veterans tell Media Matters that the plan by longtime Donald Trump adviser and friend Roger Stone to unleash hundreds of untrained “exit poll” watchers in search of vote theft on Election Day risks intimidating voters in the targeted communities. They also explain that unprofessional exit polling is a nonsensical way to discover alleged voter fraud and vote rigging, which is "extremely rare" in the first place.

    Stone, an ardent conspiracy theorist and devoted Trump ally, has for months been warning that Democrats are planning to “rig” and “steal” the election for Hillary Clinton. (Trump has echoed this warning in numerous campaign rallies.)

    Stone heads the 527 group Stop the Steal, which has announced plans to conduct “targeted EXIT-POLLING in targeted states and targeted localities that we believe the Democrats could manipulate based on their local control, to determine if the results of the vote have been skewed by manipulation.” The Guardian, in a piece that quoted several experts raising concerns about Stone’s proposal, noted that Stone and his group plan to “conduct exit polling in Cleveland, Detroit, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Milwaukee, Fort Lauderdale, Charlotte, Richmond and Fayetteville – all locations in pivotal swing states." Stone has been recruiting volunteers for the project from far-right sources like the audience of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones' radio program. 

    After the Huffington Post raised concerns about plans listed on Stop the Steal to have election-watchers wear official-looking ID badges and videotape inside polling places, Stone said he “ordered them taken down” from the site and stressed that he would “operate within the confines of election law.”

    But the underlying plan to conduct amateur exit polling is still extremely problematic, several election law experts and polling veterans told Media Matters.  

    “From what I’ve read about it, this doesn’t sound like exit polling of the traditional sense, it sounds to me as if there is a targeting of certain communities, primarily minority communities and we fear this is going to have an intimidating effect,” Ezra Rosenberg, co-director of the Voting Rights Project of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law said in an interview. “Voters are supposed to be free in their voting. This seems to be pointed in absolutely the wrong direction.”

    He later added, “We certainly do have a fear of intimidation when they focus on areas of disproportionately large minority populations. It is just wrong. It has an intimidating effect.”

    Alan Abramowitz, an Emory University political science professor and author of Voice of the People: Elections and Voting Behavior in the United States, said he was “very skeptical about the accuracy of any exit polling conducted by Mr. Stone and his allies. He is a well-known right-wing provocateur and there is little doubt that any such ‘exit polling’ would be extremely biased.”

    “The kind of vote fraud Trump and Stone have been warning about is, in fact, extremely rare. There are lots of real problems with the way elections are conducted in the U.S., but that is not one of them," Abramowitz said. 

    Rick Hasen, a professor and political campaign expert at the University of California, Irvine, School of Law, likened Stone’s plan to a “goon squad.”

    ”It does not sound like a sensible exit polling strategy,” he said. “Why target only these nine cities? Exit polling is best to get a snapshot of the electorate, not to ferret out supposed voter fraud. Impersonation fraud -- the kind of fraud Trump and his allies have been talking about -- is extremely rare and I can’t find evidence it has been used to try to sway an election at least since the 1980s.”

    Richard Benedetto, professor of journalism at American University School of Public Affairs, disputed that any of Stone’s methods could wind up helping a legal challenge of the election results.

    “It won’t be an admissible thing in court, you need to be able to prove real fraud, not hearsay stuff,” Benedetto said. “That the people who voted were not the actual people, you have to have evidence of that. There is a lot of exit polling that goes on and most of it is pretty bad, most of it is unscientific. You have to have a scientific sample.”

    Lorraine Minnite, a professor of public policy at Rutgers University, Camden, conducted exit polls in New York as a political science professor at Barnard College. She said Stone’s lack of credibility hurts any such effort by him to examine the voting.

    “It doesn’t sound like what they are doing is an exit poll,” she said in an interview. “He is not a credible person when it comes to elections and campaign tactics.”

    As for claims of voter fraud, she said, “That’s not factually accurate and there is no evidence to support a claim like that. It doesn’t make any sense. If what is happening is voter imposters, I don’t understand how somebody doing an exit poll is going to uncover that.” 

    Nate Persily is a Stanford Law School professor and elections expert who also served as the Senior Research Director for the Presidential Commission on Election Administration after the 2012 election. He called in person voter fraud “incredibly rare.”

    “In person voter fraud at polling places … is a terribly inefficient (and easily discoverable) way to rig an election,” Persily said via email. “It would require enlisting hordes of voters to go from polling place to polling place pretending to be someone they are not.”

  • Media Matters And Civil Rights Groups Release Media “Field Guide To Anti-Muslim Extremists”

    Blog ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

    Media Matters partnered with the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Center for New Community, and ReThink Media to release a journalist's guide to the network of anti-Muslim activists and surrogates spreading vitriolic rhetoric in the media and the best practices for countering these extremists’ misinformation.

    The report “profiles 15 prominent anti-Muslim extremists, many of whom are associated with organizations identified by the SPLC as hate groups,” who appear frequently in the media, “where they spread falsehoods that too often go untested.” Citing the “baseless” propaganda produced by these extremists who “have shamelessly exploited terrorist attacks and the Syrian refugee crisis, among other things, to demonize the entire Islamic faith,” the full report details the way television news networks and leading newspapers have allowed these extremists to “routinely espouse a wide range of utter falsehoods” about Muslims without providing any pushback. The report contends that the media have enabled these extremists to vilify American Muslims by accusing them of conspiring to “impose Shariah religious law,” thereby creating a false impression of the community and resulting in “hundreds of violent hate crime attacks” against them. From the October 26 report:

    Ever since the Al Qaeda massacre of Sept. 11, 2001, American Muslims have been under attack. They have been vilified as murderers, accused of conspiring to take over the United States and impose Shariah religious law, described as enemies of women, and subjected to hundreds of violent hate crime attacks. A major party presidential nominee has even suggested that America ban Muslim immigrants.

    Fueling this hatred has been the propaganda, the vast majority of it completely baseless, produced and popularized by a network of anti-Muslim extremists and their enablers. These men and women have shamelessly exploited terrorist attacks and the Syrian refugee crisis, among other things, to demonize the entire Islamic faith.

    Sadly, a shocking number of these extremists are seen regularly on television news programs and quoted in the pages of our leading newspapers. There, they routinely espouse a wide range of utter falsehoods, all designed to make Muslims appear as bloodthirsty terrorists or people intent on undermining American constitutional freedoms. More often than not, these claims go uncontested.


    This misinformation and hateful rhetoric have consequences. When huge numbers of Americans believe that a majority of Muslims are terrorists or terrorist sympathizers, it can hardly be a surprise that some percentage of them engage in hate crime attacks. After all, they learned of the threat they believe Muslims pose from sources who were presented by the media as authoritative experts.

    This country faces an array of complex and daunting problems, the threat of terrorism indisputably among them. Let’s not make them worse by allowing self-described “experts” to propagandize our fellow Americans with defamatory and frightening falsehoods. Our media, in particular, has the opportunity to present an objective picture that illuminates, rather than distorts, reality.

    The 15 anti-Muslim extremists profiled in the report are Ann Corcoran, Steven Emerson, Brigitte Gabriel, Frank Gaffney Jr., Pamela Geller, John Guandolo, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, David Horowitz, Ryan Mauro, Robert Muise, Maajid Nawaz, Daniel Pipes, Walid Shoebat, Robert Spencer, and David Yerushalmi. The report lists various false and extreme claims from the extremists and calls on the media to stop presenting the extremists as “authoritative experts” and allowing them to “propagandize our fellow Americans with defamatory and frightening falsehoods”:

    The anti-Muslim extremists profiled here have, between them, claimed that Islamic extremists have infiltrated the CIA, FBI, Pentagon and other agencies; asserted that there are “no-go zones” in Europe where non-Muslims including police are afraid to enter; suggested that there is a Muslim plot to impose Sharia religious law on U.S. courts; and claimed that President Obama is a secret Muslim. These claims, along with many others, have been shown conclusively to be false.

    According to the report, the media coverage of and interviews with these anti-Muslim extremists fail to contextualize their “defamatory and false rhetoric and their hate group associations” and thus don't tell their audiences that these extremists “are far outside the mainstream, and that their factual assertions are very often completely baseless.” The report includes best practices for media, noting that “too often, television networks, newspapers and other media organizations turn to these groups’ spokespeople as credible sources on national security, immigration and religious liberty, and valid counterpoints to real issue experts.”

    The report’s best practices include:

    1. Research the background of extremist spokespeople and consider other sources.

    2. If you do use anti-Muslim spokespeople, point out their extremism.

    3. Prepare to challenge hateful rhetoric and misinformation.

    4. Don’t rely on opposing guests to challenge extremists.

    To read the full report, click here.

  • Trump Surrogate Ted Nugent: Hillary Clinton Is A “Devilbitch,” “VOTE TRUMP!”

    Nugent, A Member Of The NRA’s Board, Has Called For Clinton To Be Hanged

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent called Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton a “devilbitch” moments after promoting a Donald Trump presidential campaign video that he appears in.

    In an October 27 post on his Facebook page, Nugent wrote of Clinton, “The devilbitch hates everything good about America! VOTE TRUMP!” while promoting an NRA attack on the Democratic nominee. The post came moments after Nugent shared a Trump campaign video, which he is featured in, that discusses hunting and the Second Amendment:

    In the Trump campaign video, which features a message from Trump and statements from a variety of gun regulation opponents, Nugent claims Clinton “will destroy the freedom that is uniquely American. Donald Trump will safeguard the things that make America the greatest place in the world.” Nugent has frequently called Clinton a bitch. Here is footage from an August concert where he said of Clinton, “That’s one toxic bitch, now why isn’t that bitch in jail?”:

    Earlier this year Nugent called for Clinton, as well as President Obama, to be hanged for treason. During primary season, Nugent promoted a fake video of Sen. Bernie Sanders graphically shooting Clinton, and added his own message, “I got your gun control right here bitch!” He has also called the former secretary of state a “toxic cunt.” In a 2007 concert video, an assault-rifle-wielding Nugent called Clinton a “worthless bitch” and said that she should "ride" on his machine gun.

    Nugent is associated with the Trump campaign despite his long history of making racist and inflammatory commentary. In 2016 alone, Nugent has promoted anti-Semitic content, used a racial slur against a Latino critic, promoted misogynist reasons why guns are better than women, and shared a racist meme advertising the fake moving company “2 niggers and a stolen truck.” In 2015, Nugent devoted an entire column to praising the use of the word “nigger,” even in a racist context.

    Nugent often uses his Facebook page to write testimonials for Trump that have sometimes included inflammatory commentary. For example, in an August post he called for “federal agents” to “coordinate the mass arrest they know they are sworn to make” -- presumably in reference to politicians he doesn’t favor -- and added, “When will America be America again? Trump November 2016 & WE THE PEOPLE raising hell onward!”

  • Mark Halperin’s “Truly Laughable” Interview With Donald Trump

    Halperin’s Interview Fails The Standards He And His Co-Host Set For Other Journalists

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    Bloomberg’s With All Due Respect host Mark Halperin previewed an interview with Donald Trump scheduled to air Sunday on Showtime’s The Circus. The interview has been roundly criticized in the media for Halperin’s soft questioning of Trump.

    Halperin appeared with Trump following a publicity event for his new hotel in Washington, D.C. and asked Trump questions like “For people who say this was a great Trump speech, as far as you’re concerned, do you think they’re all great,” and “What’s your general sense of where you are in the battleground states?”

    The preview ignored recent controversies surrounding Trump’s candidacy, including Trump adviser Newt Gingrich’s sexually charged attack on Fox News’ Megyn Kelly which Trump praised as “amazing” during the same speech that Halperin categorized in his interview as “great.”

    The Daily Beast described Halperin’s interview as “truly laughable” while highlighting some of the more ridiculous questions:

    How do you get Donald Trump to talk to you with less than two weeks to go before Election Day? Tell him exactly what he wants to hear. That’s been the approach by Fox News’ Sean Hannity and radio host Rush Limbaugh.

    And now we can add Mark Halperin to that list.

    The co-host of Bloomberg Politics’ With All Due Respect (which also airs on MSNBC) and Showtime’s The Circus approached Trump after he delivered a ribbon-cutting speech to open his new Washington, D.C. hotel on Wednesday and asked some truly laughable questions of the Republican nominee.

    For instance, “People who say this was a great Trump speech, as far as you’re concerned, do you think they’re all great?” Yes, he does, but this one wasn’t enough in the “Make America Great Again” spirit to rile up his rally crowds.

    Then there was this one: “You’ve redefined how candidates talk about polls. Some polls you’re winning, some you’re behind. We have a new poll where you are up in Florida. What’s your general sense of where you are in the battleground states?”

    Halperin’s interview even fell below his own journalistic standard given the pressure that he and his co-host John Heilemann have placed on journalists to question Trump about his failure to release his tax returns. Previously, Halperin called it “one hundred percent” the media’s obligation to continue asking Trump about his tax returns while challenging the media “to all keep asking” Trump about it. Heilemann even called on the media to question Trump about his returns “every time we sit in front of him,” and declaring it the responsibility of anyone who interviews Trump to “make it clear to him that it’s not okay that he violate what has become a norm in American elections.”

    Halperin has come under intense criticism during this election season for acting as a bonafide Trump apologist, including brushing off Trump’s reluctance to accept the election results as a concern of “elites,” criticizing The New York Times for responding to Trump’s threat to take legal action against them, portraying Trump’s request of Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails as bad behavior by Clinton and Trump, and defending Trump’s racist attacks against American judge of Mexican descent, Judge Gonzalo Curiel, by declaring “Mexico isn’t a race.”

  • Some Context To Trump's “Desperate, Last-Minute” Florida Cuban-American Outreach

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    Several Hispanic media reporters ridiculed Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s meager attempt at Hispanic outreach -- which consisted of meeting with Cuban-Americans in the key swing state of Florida -- and explained that he once again failed to reach beyond his solidified base of support. The reports also pointed out the irony in the candidate casting himself as a hard-liner against the U.S.-Cuba embargo, which is the catalyst driving older Cuban-Americans’ support for him, when questions about Trump’s potential violation of the embargo remain.

    An October 25 Univision article by David Adams, Jessica Weiss, and Lorena Arroyo reported that Trump spoke to “some 40 Bay of Pigs veterans” in Miami, FL, a voting bloc that has historically voted Republican, but he failed to spearhead further outreach within the Latino community. The report notes that although Miami’s Cuban-Americans were “once a bastion of Republican support,” they are now “evenly split 41-41 percent between Trump and Clinton.” Political analysts commented that “Trump’s Cuban American strategy is running counter to a changing demographic reality,” taking into account young Cuban-Americans who are “increasingly registering as Democrats and Independents,” a point that other reports confirm.

    Trump’s event with the Bay of Pigs veterans also “did not offer any details of a plan to free Cuba” even though Trump was specifically “invited ‘to explain to [them] his plan for Cuba’s freedom,’” Univision reported. The article noted that this lack of specifics “has been customary in the [Trump] campaign.”

    In an opinion piece for the Miami Herald, Florida journalist Fabiola Santiago also pointed out the irony of the interaction between the businessman and the Cuban-American veterans. Santiago recalled reports by Bloomberg and Newsweek documenting two occasions in which Trump “sent teams to Cuba to research business opportunities,” which was “most likely in violation of the U.S. embargo.” She opined that “Donald Trump’s campaign engaged the Bay of Pigs veterans because he’s falling behind in Florida, a must-win state where the Hispanic vote counts, and it’s massively favoring Hillary Clinton, Cuban-Americans included."

    But research about the Latino vote demonstrates that among the Hispanic community, “Cuban-Americans are, in many ways, a group apart. As a whole they are wealthier, better educated and more Republican than other Hispanics.” Therefore, Trump’s meeting with Cuban-Americans doesn’t help him breach the enormous gap between him and Clinton in polls of the Latino community, where he only has 17 percent support.

    The message of these Hispanic media reporters to the Trump campaign is clear: this “desperate, last-minute” attempt to reach out to Cuban-Americans will not make up for its ongoing rejection of the Hispanic community. Nevertheless, the approach isn’t surprising, as it’s in step with Trump’s overall campaign strategy of remaining within his comfort zone and ignoring groups that break with his radical proposals, particularly when it comes to Latino outreach.