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  • Stone Backtracks On Claim That Trump Paid Willey, Raises New Questions

    Roger Stone Tells Alex Jones That He "Was Told" Trump Paid Willey, Does Not Say Who Told Him

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    Stone

    Roger Stone is now backing away from his claim that Donald Trump gave Kathleen Willey money so she could attack the Clintons. While he said in February that Trump had donated to a fund to help Willey pay off her mortgage, Stone today claimed that “at one time I was told that Donald Trump made an online contribution to the fund” set up to help Willey, but “in retrospect he did not.”

    Stone also told Jones today that, “I, along with others did set up a GoFundMe account to raise money to try to pay off her mortgage.” Despite his apparent role in initially setting up the account, Stone did not explain who originally told him about the alleged donation or how he came to the conclusion that Trump had not donated.

    Yesterday, the Trump campaign released a web video highlighting Willey’s allegation that Bill Clinton sexually assaulted her in 1993. (Willey’s claim was later investigated by the Office of the Independent Counsel.)

    As Media Matters reported, during a February interview with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, Stone assured Jones that Trump had contributed money to help pay off Willey’s mortgage “so she can hit the road and start speaking out on Hillary.” While soliciting donations to Willey’s mortgage fund from Jones’ audience, Stone claimed at the time, “We have raised a substantial amount of money. Trump is himself a contributor -- I’m not ready to disclose what he has given.”

    Asked by Fox News about Stone’s comments, the Trump campaign said there was “no truth” to the claim. Stone also responded by tweeting, “A bald face Lie- @realDonaldTrump has not paid @kathleenwilley mortgage.”

    Stone is a longtime associate of Trump who says that he speaks regularly with the candidate, including a phone call this morning to congratulate him on the Willey web video.

    He has for decades been involved in conservative politics, orchestrating political dirty tricks and spouting racist, sexist, violent rhetoric while publishing numerous conspiracy theories about the Clintons.

  • Rush Limbaugh Silent After Politico Piece Details His Business Woes

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LOPEZ

    Rush Limbaugh responded with uncharacteristic silence to the Politico Magazine piece that detailed the business woes of his long-running radio program.

    Limbaugh completely ignored the contents of the May 24 article during the three hours of his show that aired on the same date. According to Politico, Limbaugh also ignored “multiple interview requests” before the piece was published.

    The news items of the day that he did feel compelled to rant about included a tropical storm forecast piece. The host signed off of his May 24 show saying there had been “absolutely nothing in the news.”

    Politico Magazine says Limbaugh’s radio show is, “as a business proposition, … on shaky ground” because of the ongoing advertiser boycott largely pushed by the Media Matters campaign “Flush Rush,” which came as a response to the radio host’s infamous tirade in which he referred to then-Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke as a “slut.” Because Limbaugh has been branded with a “scarlet letter among national brand advertisers,” as talk radio consultant Holland Cooke told Politico, major radio stations have dropped The Rush Limbaugh Show from their lineup in the past year.

  • The Danger Of Giving Anti-Choice Misinformation Equal Weight As Medical Consensus

    Rewire Explains False Equivalencies In Media Coverage Of Abortion Access

     

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    In a May 23 article, Rewire president and Editor-in-Chief Jodi Jacobson criticized journalists for creating false equivalencies between anti-choice extremists and medical experts to seemingly “represent both sides” of the debate over abortion access.

    Jacobson’s criticism centered on a May 18 article from the Associated Press about a bill passed by the South Carolina legislature to ban abortion after 19 weeks based on the false premise that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks post-fertilization. She noted that although AP fairly covered the bill’s political context it failed to accurately represent the most important part: “the medical accuracy of claims underlying such bans.”

    Jacobson wrote that the groups supporting 20-week abortion bans include a number of anti-choice organizations such as Americans United for Life, the National Right to Life Committee, and the Susan B. Anthony List -- all of which rely on “false science and unfounded claims of ‘fetal pain’ to pass legislation.” In contrast, “every relevant, respected, and recognized medical body in the world opposes such bans.” Jacobson argued that by reducing coverage of abortion access to a conversation between “supporters versus opponents” it gives false credibility to “a group of people with absolutely no legitimacy making and passing legislation rejected by the weight of the international medical and public health communities.”

    She concluded that given the importance of access to abortion and other basic reproductive health care, “The media’s reliance on false equivalencies has to stop. People’s lives are at risk, and we can’t afford it.”

    From Rewire’s May 23 article:

    Using false equivalencies effectively means giving equal time to those who spread misinformation and, in many cases, outright lies, abrogating the ethical responsibilities of journalists to be accurate and fair. And this is exactly what the Associated Press did last week when it published an article on 20-week abortion bans that epitomized the worst of reporting on abortion.

    [...]

    “Supporters” of 20-week abortion bans (and many other such laws) include groups like Americans United for Life and the National Right to Life Committee (both of which have drafted model legislation for these bans), as well as others such as the Susan B. Anthony List. Each of these groups uses false science and unfounded claims of “fetal pain” to pass legislation that threatens access to critical reproductive health care; the anti-choice movement’s self-important “pro-life” designation elides the fact that women’s health and lives are in grave danger wherever such care is unavailable.

    Who are the “opponents” of 20-week abortion bans? These include the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, and a range of international bodies such as the World Health Organization and the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics. In other words, every relevant, respected, and recognized medical body in the world opposes such bans.

    [...]

    Is it “fair and accurate” to posit the assertions of anti-choice groups, which base their claims on ideology and contrived “evidence,” as equal to medical and public health experts? Is it in the public interest to suggest that an issue that is fundamental to both human rights and public health be decided by reducing a vast body of evidence to equal that of organizations with an overriding political agenda? Is it good journalism by any standard?

    There is only one answer to all of these questions, and it is “no.” AP’s piece was irresponsible, but it also reflects that current state of reporting on reproductive health care by many outlets, including NPR, the Washington Post, and others.

    No matter how strong the backlash from the small but loud contingent of people within the anti-choice movement, it is the media’s job to report fairly and responsibly. Making the claims of anti-choice “supporters” of abortion bans equivalent to the consensus of the medical and public health community not only abrogates the public trust, it puts all of us in danger.

  • How Coverage Of Transgender Issues In Hispanic Media Is Improving

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    Univision and Telemundo, the biggest players in Spanish-language media, are making notable strides in their coverage of transgender issues, a topic in need of improved visibility among Hispanic audiences. 

    During the first third of 2016, a Media Matters guest demographic study showed transgender voices were absent from Spanish-language Sunday shows. But recently, Univision and Telemundo have both included transgender voices -- Univision on their nightly news show and Telemundo on their Sunday show -- in their reporting on the recent slew of  anti-LGBT bathroom bills, which bar transgender people from using facilities that correspond to their gender identity. On the May 22 edition of their Sunday show Enfoque, Telemundo brought on a transgender teenager to talk about discrimination:

    Latinos and Latinas face extra hurdles compared to other LGBT folks in the form of family structure and religion that may often suppress their ability to be open about their gender and/or sexuality. When Hispanic media gives transgender people a platform to tell their own stories, it helps educate viewers and debunk myths and stereotypes about transgender people.

    In the past, Spanish-language news networks have aired stories that include inaccurate and dehumanizing language about transgender people. Last year, networks also failed to cover a wave of deadly violence against  transgender women of color. National news networks have a history of irresponsible and inaccurate journalism when it comes to transgender issues, but Spanish-language networks are taking a much-needed step in the right direction.

  • The NRA’s Endorsement Of Donald Trump Is Premised On A Lie

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The NRA supported its endorsement of presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump at the group’s annual meeting by repeatedly telling the lie that likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton opposes gun ownership and would confiscate guns as president.

    The NRA lying to its members -- and anyone else observing the annual meeting -- is anathema to the group’s 2016 election messaging, which is centered on the claim that the NRA “doesn’t lie” but that instead Americans are constantly lied to by “the political and media elites at the highest levels.”

    Moments before the NRA endorsed Donald Trump at its annual meeting on May 20, the NRA’s two top members of leadership, executive vice president Wayne LaPierre, and Chris Cox, the group’s top lobbyist who also runs the NRA’s political efforts, told a series of lies about Clinton’s position on guns.

    According to repeated campaign trail statements, Clinton has expressed support for both people being allowed to own guns and for regulations on firearms, such as expanded background checks. PolitiFact found there is “no evidence” for the claim Clinton wants to abolish the Second Amendment and that Clinton’s position on whether the Second Amendment confers an individual right to gun ownership is “more or less in line with the George W. Bush administration’s position” on the landmark Second Amendment decision District of Columbia v. Heller.

    In his remarks, Cox claimed that Clinton thinks it’s “wrong” that “the Supreme Court said you have a right to protect your life against a murderer in your own home.” (Clinton actually believes Heller was “wrongly decided” because it “may open the door to overturning thoughtful, common sense safety measures in the future” such as a child access provision that was struck down in the ruling, not because she opposes firearm ownership for lawful self-defense.)

    Cox continued, claiming Clinton “wants us to surrender our firearms,” “to live in a place where only law enforcement has guns,” and made repeated references to his claim Clinton wants “to take our guns.”

    Then, moments before the NRA’s formal endorsement of Trump, LaPierre took the stage to claim that “if she could, Hillary would ban every gun” and that Clinton “craves” gun confiscation. The next day at the official meeting of members, LaPierre grouped in Clinton with other entities the NRA claims don’t support self-defense, saying, “We will not give up our God-given right to defend ourselves, our families, to the elites, to Obama, to the media, and sure as hell not to another Clinton.”

    None of these claims are true. Yet, the NRA has increasingly positioned itself as a truth-teller about the 2016 elections. In an article in the March edition of the NRA’s magazine America’s 1st Freedom that attacked the honesty of Clinton and President Obama, the NRA wrote, “Let’s get something straight: The NRA doesn’t lie. The NRA tells the truth, no matter how unpopular, how politically incorrect or how much the truth might offend those who fear or hate freedom.”

    LaPierre made similar remarks during his March 3 speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, claiming, “At a time when all of us are bombarded with media agenda, their web of spin and political conniving, the very best, most effective and surest way to defend freedom is found in those four little words: Thou Shalt Not Lie” and that “History proves that if you give the American people the straight truth, they will choose honest freedom every time. That is why, for decades, the NRA has been the guiding light for American gun owners and those who treasure our constitutional freedom. … We’ve been exposing the liars about our freedom for decades, telling the truth that most Americans know in their hearts to be right.” In sum, LaPierre referenced “the truth” 11 times during his speech.

    LaPierre spoke on the same theme during a March 23 address to Liberty University, claiming, “The lies go on and on, an epidemic of untruth at the highest levels of our country. Everybody spins a fabric of lies, and the American public sits out there and goes, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s got to stop!’ Yet when someone does tell the truth, they get clobbered. It’s all upside-down. Lies seem normal and the truth seems like bizarre, crazy talk.”

    What the NRA has said about its endorsement of Trump also speaks to the organization’s dishonesty.

    While the NRA’s endorsement of Trump -- given his willingness to adopt the NRA’s extreme agenda -- makes sense, NRA top lobbyist Cox attempted to sugarcoat the endorsement for members, calling the decision “easy” and claiming “show me a Republican presidential nominee in our lifetimes, or for that matter, in the past 100 years, who has spoken so forcefully about not only the right to own a gun, but the right to use it to defend yourself.”

     

     

    This is the same presumptive nominee who said after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre that NRA nemesis President Obama “spoke for me and every American in his remarks in [Newtown] Connecticut” -- remarks that sent the NRA into a still-ongoing fury.

     

     

  • BEDLAM: Trump Campaign Suggests Top Ally Stone Lied About Willey Payments

    Trump Campaign Responds To Media Matters Report

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Trump and Stone

    Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is reportedly denying a claim from his top ally Roger Stone that Trump gave Kathleen Willey money so she could attack the Clintons.

    Yesterday Media Matters reported exclusively that in a February radio interview, Stone said that Trump had contributed an undisclosed amount to help pay off Willey’s mortgage “so she can hit the road and start speaking out on Hillary.” Stone urged listeners to join Trump in sending money to Willey, citing a GoFundMe page and unidentified “numerous receptacles” through which donors could give.

    Willey’s accusation that Bill Clinton sexually assaulted her in 1993 -- which was investigated by the Office of the Independent Counsel -- was the subject of a web video Trump’s campaign released yesterday.

    Fox News’ John Roberts, who highlighted Stone’s comments earlier today, reported that the Trump campaign said “there’s no truth” to the assertion that Trump “contributed to [the] Willey mortgage GoFundMe campaign.”

    It is unclear whether Trump contributed through one of the other “receptacles” Stone cited in the interview, or if Stone was lying.

    Stone is a longtime friend and ally of Trump who says he speaks regularly with the candidate. He has a decades-long history of dirty political tricks, and regularly spouts violent, racist, and sexist rhetoric and conspiracy theories about the Clintons.

  • Dayton Daily News Exposes Hypocritical Koch Ad

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Dayton Daily News demonstrated the vital role of the media during campaign ad season as the paper debunked a new ad produced by Freedom Partners Action fund, a super PAC funded by the billionaire Koch brothers. The ad in question attacked former Democratic Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, who is currently seeking to replace Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH).

    With billions of dollars expected to fund a torrent of political ads in 2016, media outlets play a crucial role in fact-checking claims made by candidates and the super PACs running ads on their behalf. In states with highly contested Senate races such as Ohio, outside funders like the Koch brothers have begun spending millions to reserve ad space through groups like Freedom Partners.

    The Daily News’ May 20 article took a closer look at Freedom Partners’ latest ad, which featured a local businessman claiming the former governor “had to be doing something wrong” as “Ohio lost over 350,000 jobs under Ted Strickland.”

    However, the Daily News found that the same businessman had praised the economic shape of the state in the newspaper in 2011 when Strickland was governor. From the Daily News:

    A Tipp City businessman is featured in a new political action committee ad criticizing former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, the Democrat running to unseat U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio.

    Keith Kingrey, vice president of  SK Mold & Tool Co., a  Tipp City company owned by his family, says that Ohio lost 350,000 jobs during Strickland’s time as Ohio governor.

    “Ted Strickland had to be doing something wrong for all these jobs to leave Ohio,” Kingrey said in the ad.

    Strickland was governor from 2007-2010 and oversaw the state during the U.S. Great Recession. He was unseated after one term by John Kasich in a 2010 campaign that focused on laying the blame for Ohio’s lost jobs on Strickland. Kasich took office in January 2011.

    In a June 2011 Dayton Daily News article Kingrey said positive things about his company’s economic outlook, saying that business had been picking up. The company had expanded in 2008 with the purchase of Sun Machine and Tool Corp. in Troy, according to a Dayton Daily News article.

    “It started picking up in 2010 pretty good. Last year was a pretty decent year,” Kingrey said. “This year every quarter, it continues to get better and better.”

    Freedom Partners Action Fund is a conservative PAC. Federal Elections Commission documents show one of its chief contributors is conservative Charles G. Koch, a businessmen who, with his brother, David H. Koch, is major contributor to conservative causes.

    “Even the person used by the Koch Brothers in this ad previously praised the economy under Ted Strickland and said what newspapers and fact checkers have confirmed: Ohio’s economic recovery began under Ted,” said Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Daniel van Hoogstraten. “It’s no surprise that wealthy, shadowy special interests like the Kochs are propping up their puppet Rob Portman — because at every turn, Portman is pushing their agenda at the expense of Ohio’s working families.”

    h/t Daily Kos

     

  • Politico Magazine: “Limbaugh’s Show Is On Shaky Ground”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Politico Magazine reports that due to an ongoing advertiser boycott organized in part by Media Matters, the business side of Rush Limbaugh’s long-running radio program “is on shaky ground,” crediting the efforts of “Flush Rush” as “the rare boycott that actually worked."

    In a piece for Politico Magazine, Ethan Epstein highlights how in the wake of ongoing fallout over his tirade attacking then-Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke as a “slut,” Limbaugh has been dumped by “some very powerful” affiliates in major markets like New York, Boston, and Los Angeles. Epstein explains that even though it’s been four years since Limbaugh’s infamous Fluke comments, “reams of advertisers still won’t touch him” thanks to a successful boycott campaign that Media Matters and independent organizers helped spearhead.

    Limbaugh’s broadcast woes follow a 2015 Wall Street Journal report that cited Limbaugh's Fluke comments to explain increasing reluctance from national advertisers to place ads on talk radio programming, causing the rates for these ads to precipitously drop in recent years while damaging stations’ ad revenues.

    Epstein quotes a talk radio consultant noting that Limbaugh, whose massive $400 million contract expires this summer, now suffers from a “scarlet letter among national brand advertisers.”  

    From Politico Magazine:

    And yet, there are signs that all is not well in the Limbaugh radio empire. Because even as his influence is sky high and his dominance at the top of talk radio remains unchallenged, as a business proposition, Limbaugh’s show is on shaky ground. In recent years, Limbaugh has been dropped by several of his long-time affiliates, including some very powerful ones: He’s gone from WABC in New York, WRKO in Boston and KFI in Los Angeles, for example, and has in many cases been moved onto smaller stations with much weaker signals that cover smaller areas.

    Why? Because four years after Limbaugh called Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke a “slut” on air, spurring a major boycott movement, reams of advertisers still won’t touch him. He suffers from what talk radio consultant Holland Cooke calls a “scarlet letter among national brand advertisers.” And for someone who has said that “confiscatory ad rates” are a key pillar of his business, that spells trouble. (Limbaugh ignored multiple interview requests.)

    […]

    And most consequentially, David Brock’s liberal watchdog Media Matters for America launched a $100,000 (at least) campaign calling for advertisers to refuse to buy time on Limbaugh’s show and for local affiliates to jettison it. The anti-Limbaugh faction came up with the social media-friendly slogan “Flush Rush.” The group’s efforts met considerable success in the months that followed. Dozens of companies, including Netflix, JCPenney and Sears, announced they would boycott Limbaugh’s show. Most have yet to return. And the increasing popularity of platforms like Twitter, which can be used to stoke outrage and promote boycotts, makes it highly unlikely they ever will.

    The Sandra Fluke incident “did a lot of harm to talk radio,” Darryl Parks says. “Thirty-eight percent of revenue disappeared overnight.” And the damage was not limited to Limbaugh; he hurt all of talk radio, including even some liberal hosts. Certain programs—Michael Savage, for example, and in an earlier era, Bob Grant—had always been considered “toxic” by some advertisers, but after the Fluke incident, entire stations—or indeed, the entire format of talk radio—were deemed no-go zones by blue chip brands.

    Advertisers continue to leave and stay away thanks to a dedicated group of independent organizers in the Flush Rush and #StopRush communities. Their participation matters and is having a big effect.

    Onward!

  • Former Bush Aide: Trump’s Campaign Is Fueled By “Conspiratorial Nonsense”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Michael Gerson, syndicated columnist and former aide to President George W. Bush, explained in The Washington Post that presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump’s candidacy is “fueled by conspiracy.”

    Trump has peddled numerous conspiracy theories, including leading the charge in questioning the validity of President Obama’s birth certificate, and claiming vaccines cause autism, that the government lied about the dangers of Ebola, that Muslims cheered on 9/11, and that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia may have been murdered, among others. Trump regularly surrounds himself with and lauds known conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones, an infamous 9/11 truther, and Roger Stone, a notorious dirty trickster who alleges the Clintons are murderers.

    In a May 23 opinion piece for the Post, Gerson wrote Trump “is not flirting with the fringes” by pushing “conspiratorial nonsense,” but “is French-kissing them.” Gerson explained that “Trump emerged in conservative circles by questioning Barack Obama’s citizenship, and thus the legality of his presidency,” and has since peddled numerous conspiracy theories and has “succeeded by appealing to stereotypes and ugly hatreds.” Gerson warned “every Republican official endorsing Trump” that the conspiratorial “company he keeps … is the company you now keep.” From the May 23 Washington Post opinion piece:

    But it was Donald Trump who led the opposition. He tweeted: “The U.S. must immediately stop all flights from EBOLA infected countries or the plague will start and spread inside our ‘borders.’ Act fast!” And: “Ebola is much easier to transmit than the CDC and government representatives are admitting.”

    Health officials were not lying. Travel to and from West Africa was essential for medical personnel and aid workers to defeat the disease at its point of origin. Trump’s ban would have made Ebola materially more likely to spread beyond control.

    What kind of politics is ascendant in the United States? A distrust of institutions that borders on conspiratorial. Here is Trump again: “Healthy young child goes to doctor, gets pumped with massive shot of many vaccines, doesn’t feel good and changes — AUTISM.” And: “I am being proven right about massive vaccinations — the doctors lied.” And: “So many people who have children with autism have thanked me — amazing response. They know far better than fudged up reports!”

    Lying doctors. Fudged reports. It would all be disturbing — if it were not conspiratorial nonsense. No connection has ever been demonstrated between vaccinations and autism. And this particular nonsense is potentially deadly. Trump is undermining a consensus for vaccination that builds up “herd immunity” and saves the lives of children.

    [...]

    Does Trump really believe that liberals may have ordered a hit on a Supreme Court justice? Who knows? We do know he finds such ideas useful. Trump emerged in conservative circles by questioning Barack Obama’s citizenship, and thus the legality of his presidency. This required the existence of a conspiracy to hide the circumstances of Obama’s birth. “They cannot believe what they’re finding,” he said of “people that have been studying it.” Having actually discovered nothing, Trump doubled down on a deception.

    As a leader, Trump has succeeded by appealing to stereotypes and ugly hatreds that most American leaders have struggled to repress and contain. His political universe consists of deceptive experts, of scheming, of criminal Mexicans, of lying politicians and bureaucrats and of disloyal Muslims. Asked to repudiate David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan, Trump hesitated, later claiming a “bad earpiece.” Asked to repudiate the vicious anti-Semitism of some of his followers, Trump responded, “I don’t have a message to the fans.” Wouldn’t want to offend “the fans.”

    This is not flirting with the fringes; it is French-kissing them. Every Republican official endorsing Trump should know: This is the company he keeps. This is the company you now keep.

  • WaPo’s The Fix Highlights Journalists “Counseling” Trump Through Interviews

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Washington Post’s The Fix highlighted CNN anchor Chris Cuomo’s observation that journalists are “counseling [Trump] through interviews,” suggesting answers “instead of asking wide-open questions that force the presumptive Republican nominee to clarify all on his own.”

    Cuomo has noted that during interviews with Donald Trump, interviewers ask questions framed to push him toward a better answer, saying that journalists suggest to Trump, “When you say this, you know, so you mean like you would just kind of do it this way?” instead of asking open-ended questions. Other journalists such as CNN’s Brian Stelter have criticized media for not pressing Trump hard enough. Stelter said that “we have to address” Trump’s misinformation “head-on as journalists."

    Trump has benefited from countless softball interviews. For example, on Fox News’ Fox & Friends, the hosts asked Trump questions such as “Were you right?” following the Brussels terrorist attack. In addition, Fox anchor Megyn Kelly came under fire for her “fluff” interview with Trump on her Fox Broadcasting special, Megyn Kelly Presents. A May 22 panel on CNN’s Reliable Sources criticized her “softball” interview, repeatedly noting that “she didn’t press him” on a number of issues. Many of her questions directly echoed queries that her colleagues at Fox had asked Trump over the past year.

    In The Washington Post’s The Fix blog, politics and media reporter Callum Borchers highlighted Cuomo’s critique of the way Trump is interviewed and asserted that journalists play an additional role in vetting Donald Trump: “counselors.” Borchers noted that “interviewers do Trump’s job for him -- suggesting what he must have really meant, instead of asking wide-open questions.” After an analysis of Trump’s interviews on controversial subjects, Borchers said, “Cuomo has a point. Whether they mean to or not, journalists often nudge the billionaire toward safer ground when he ventures down what looks like a politically dangerous path.” From the May 23 article (emphasis original):

    It's the media's job to vet presidential candidates, so journalists often serve as critics, pointing out inconsistencies and potential weaknesses voters should know about.

    But with Donald Trump, they also play another role, according to CNN's Chris Cuomo: counselors.

    Discussing media coverage on Trump with former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer on Friday, the "New Day" co-host observed what he called "the dynamic of kind of counseling [Trump] through interviews." Cuomo offered a generic example of the kinds questions he's talking about: "Like, when you say this, you know, so you mean like you would just kind of do it this way?"

    Cuomo's observation is that his fellow interviewers do Trump's job for him — suggesting what he must have really meant, instead of asking wide-open questions that force the presumptive Republican nominee to clarify all on his own.

    A review of Trump interviews on controversial subjects suggests Cuomo has a point. Whether they mean to or not, journalists often nudge the billionaire toward safer ground when he ventures down what looks like a politically dangerous path.

    Trump, of course, doesn't always take the hint or doesn't care. And it's possible — or perhaps even likely — that reporters aren't so much trying to protect him as simply reacting with disbelief to the often-unprecedented and surprising things he's saying.

    Whatever the cause, the result is that questions to Trump often come with the "right" answer built in. And this habit of throwing him a line could help explain why some voters believe the media have been too soft on the real estate magnate.

    [...]

    The challenge for journalists is to suppress their shock and let Trump speak for himself. Are you endorsing internment camps? Was the Heidi Cruz retweet a mistake? Do you want the KKK's support?