• Mark Halperin’s Donald Trump Interview Even Fails The Mark Halperin Test

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Mark Halperin’s widely panned interview with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump was obsequious and didn’t yield any news, as many critics have pointed out. But it also failed Halperin’s own requirement that journalists who interview Trump ask him about his unprecedented refusal to release his tax returns in order to pressure him to follow presidential election norms.

    Halperin, the host of Bloomberg News’ With All Due Respect (which also airs on MSNBC) and Showtime’s The Circus, interviewed Trump following the candidate’s October 26 publicity event for his new hotel in Washington, D.C. After portions of the interview aired on his Bloomberg show, critics called Halperin’s questions “truly laughable,” compared him unfavorably to Sean Hannity, and suggested he was seeking a job on Trump TV.

    The full interview, later published on the YouTube channel for The Circus, does nothing to bolster that initial assessment. Halperin had a rare opportunity, for a mainstream journalist, to ask tough questions of the GOP nominee. Instead, questions included:

    • “But how does a building connect to your presidential aspirations and your qualities?”

    • “You’d be surprised to hear that Hillary Clinton’s already criticized the hotel?”

    • “But people who say this was a great Trump speech, as far as you’re concerned, they’re all great or?”

    • “You’ve redefined how candidates talk about polls. Some polls now you’re winning, some you’re behind. We’ve got a new poll where you’re up in Florida. What’s your general sense of where you are in the battleground states?”



    Halperin’s questions not only fail as journalism, but they also fail the standard that Halperin himself has laid down for Trump interviews.

    In May, Halperin declared that journalists are “obligated” to keep pushing Trump until he releases his “full [tax] returns” just like every nominee has done for decades. He specifically stated that “we have to all keep asking, as many of us have asked. I've asked him several times about it -- he gives roughly the same answer. He's going to have to put out the returns, I’m almost certain, and we should demand full returns, not just the summary.” His co-host John Heilemann has also suggested that journalists “try every time we sit in front of him make it clear to him that it's not OK that he violate what has become a norm in American elections over the past 30 or 40 years.”

    The New York Times on October 1 produced three pages from Trump’s 1995 tax returns, which showed that he had declared a $916 million loss that “could have allowed him to legally avoid paying any federal income taxes for up to 18 years.” Yet Trump has continued to offer a series of excuses for why he won’t release any tax returns.

    Halperin had the opportunity to follow his own standard and press Trump on his refusal to follow a decades-old requirement for presidential nominees. Instead, he asked the candidate if he agreed with the “people” who supposedly said that “this was a great Trump speech.”

  • Right-Wing Media Fail Occam’s Razor Test In Continued Push To Scandalize McAuliffe PAC Donation

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    After initially failing to scandalize a Wall Street Journal story about political donations made by Clinton ally and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s (D) political action committee (PAC) to the wife of an FBI official, conservative media are trying to revive the story. Now they’re trying to hype flawed, speculative allegations of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s alleged role in the fundraising for McAuliffe’s PAC in hopes of undermining the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s emails.

    In an October 23 article titled “Clinton Ally Aided Campaign of FBI Official’s Wife,” the Journal reported, “The political organization of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, an influential Democrat with longstanding ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton, gave nearly $500,000 to the election campaign of the wife of an official at the Federal Bureau of Investigation who later helped oversee the investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s email use.” The piece implied that the McAuliffe PAC’s donation may have influenced FBI official Andrew McCabe, who is married to the donation’s recipient, Jill McCabe, in his later investigation of Clinton’s email use.

    Not only did journalists deride the piece’s flimsy, “embarrassing” claim, but the Journal’s own reporting also failed to support the idea that there was any impropriety by McAuliffe or McCabe. Indeed, other media outlets noted that “there’s literally nothing” to the story, both because “the timing is complicated if you’re trying to prove a Clinton email connection” and because “McAuliffe’s support of Jill McCabe was part of a much broader effort at the time to try to win back a Democratic majority in the state Senate.”

    That didn’t stop right-wing media figures from hyping the “appearance of impropriety” and claiming that McAuliffe “acted as a bag man to pay off people sniffing around Hillary’s emails.”

    After briefly piercing into the mainstream media current, the toothless story seemed to fade away, until the Daily Mail reported on October 28 that “Clinton headlined a major fundraiser” for McAuliffe’s PAC “before the group steered nearly $500,000 to” Jill McCabe. The paper suggested that Clinton’s involvement in the fundraiser again “raise[s] questions about the impartiality of the FBI's investigation.”

    But just as the initial Journal story fell apart under scrutiny of the timeline -- Andrew McCabe didn’t become involved in the FBI investigation until several months after McAuliffe’s donation to Jill McCabe -- so too does the Daily Mail’s bizarre and complicated suggestion that Clinton headlined a fundraiser because she was able to foresee that resulting donations would months later go to the wife of a man who would later be promoted twice to play a lead role in an investigation that did not yet exist.

    After organizing a timeline of the fundraiser, donation, and investigation -- and lightly suggesting the optics don’t look good (a common media technique employed when investigating many of Clinton's nonscandals) -- Slate’s Ben Mathis-Lilley wrote:

    What hasn't been proven is that Hillary Clinton did anything improper. Clinton would have had to be a pretty advanced political chessmaster to do a June 2015 fundraiser with the knowledge that, in October 2015, it would benefit the wife of an FBI official who would be promoted to an oversight position into her email investigation the next February. And McAuliffe would have to be an even savvier operator to have recruited Jill McCabe to run for office in March 2015 in the hopes that, sometime down the line, her husband would get promoted to the point of overseeing an investigation that didn't yet exist. There's also no evidence Andrew McCabe actually influenced the email investigation in a way that benefited Clinton. For all we know, he could've been pushing for her prosecution only to be overruled by Comey.

    Indeed, perhaps a much simpler explanation for Clinton’s fundraising appearance and the McAuliffe PAC’s donation is that a leading Democrat raised money for the Virginia state party and the governor's PAC to try to swing the legislature to benefit the Democratic governor -- who is also an old friend -- during one of the few major off-year elections in the country.

    Yet, even though almost nothing about the story has changed, right-wing media are now hyping the Daily Mail’s “exclusive” to suggest impropriety by Clinton and McAuliffe and a compromised FBI investigation. Fox News’ Tucker Carlson said the situation was “sleazy,” and the pro-Trump Breitbart News suggested the donations are “unusual” and raise questions, despite the continued lack of evidence of any wrongdoing.

  • NY Times Executive Editor: CNN And Fox Campaign Coverage Is “Bad For Democracy And Those Institutions”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet condemned U.S. cable news -- particularly CNN and Fox News -- for their “ridiculous” presidential campaign coverage in an interview with the Financial Times, accusing the networks of, as the paper described it, “blurring the line between entertainment and news and pandering to partisan viewers.”

    In the interview, Baquet criticized CNN’s hiring of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, saying, “I’m sorry, that is outrageous. I cannot fathom that,” and calling Lewandowski “a political shill.” CNN created an ethical nightmare for the network when it hired Lewandowski, who still advises the Trump campaign, probably cannot legally disparage his former boss, and was paid simultaneously by CNN and the Trump campaign for months. CNN has also paid surrogates to go on air and defend Trump’s many false and offensive statements at almost any length.

    Baquet was “most critical of Fox News” in his interview, the Financial Times reported, noting that the network “‘at its heart is not a journalistic institution.’” Baquet described Fox’s coverage as “‘some weird mix of a little bit of journalism, a little bit of entertainment, a little bit of pandering to a particular audience.’” Fox served as a safe space for Trump for weeks before the first presidential debate as he managed to almost entirely avoid being interviewed on other networks, and during the Republican primaries, Fox gave Trump more than double the airtime of any other Republican candidate. In addition, Fox prime-time host Sean Hannity endorsed Trump following the primaries, has given Trump more than $31 million in free publicity, serves as an informal adviser to Trump, and has defended his softball coverage of Trump by asserting that he’s “not a journalist.”

    Baquet concluded that the two networks’ conduct is “in the long run, bad for democracy and those institutions,” noting that Trump is “a product of that world.” From the October 28 Financial Times interview:

    US cable news networks have played a “ridiculous” role in the presidential campaign by blurring the line between entertainment and news and pandering to partisan viewers, Dean Baquet, executive editor of the New York Times, has said.

    Mr Baquet said CNN had been wrong to hire Corey Lewandowski, former campaign manager for Donald Trump, as a commentator and was in danger of damaging both itself and democracy. “I’m sorry, that is outrageous. I cannot fathom that,” he said of Mr Lewandowski’s onscreen role, describing him as “a political shill”.

    Mr Baquet, in an interview in London to mark the New York Times’ digital expansion internationally, was most critical of Fox News, the rightwing news network owned by 21st Century Fox, and its former chairman Roger Ailes. Mr Ailes resigned in July following accusations that he sexually harassed female staff, which he denies.

    “Fox News at its heart is not a journalistic institution. Megyn Kelly [a Fox presenter] is a great journalist, Chris Wallace is a great journalist, but it is some weird mix of a little bit of journalism, a little bit of entertainment, a little bit of pandering to a particular audience … I don’t think Roger Ailes will go down as one of the great journalists of his time.”

    Mr Baquet described the conduct of Fox News and CNN as “in the long run, bad for democracy and those institutions … This mix of entertainment and news, and news masquerading as entertainment, is kind of funny except that we now have a guy who is a product of that world nominated as Republican presidential candidate.” 

  • Conspiracy Theorist Matt Drudge Thinks He Knows More About Hurricanes Than Hurricane Experts Do

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW SEIFTER

    Earlier this month, Matt Drudge, proprietor of the highly trafficked Drudge Report, drew widespread criticism when he irresponsibly alleged that the federal government’s National Hurricane Center (NHC) was “lying” about the strength of Hurricane Matthew in order to “make [an] exaggerated point on climate [change].” The storm ultimately killed over 1,000 people, but Drudge is still sticking to his conspiracy theory, even as two hurricane experts provided a detailed explanation of why he was wrong to dispute government data relating to Matthew’s wind speeds.

    In an October 26 column for The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang blog, University of Miami senior research associate Brian McNoldy and Colorado State meteorologist Phil Klotzbach dissected Drudge’s claims. In particular, McNoldy and Klotzbach noted that Drudge had questioned the NHC’s statement that Hurricane Matthew had produced 165 mph gusts. In an October 6 tweet, Drudge declared: “Nassau ground measurements DID NOT match statements!” (emphasis original).

    In response to that claim, McNoldy and Klotzbach wrote:

    Drudge argued the point based on data from Caribbean weather stations and buoys that were not reporting winds as strong as what the National Hurricane Center used in its advisories. But the National Hurricane Center uses a lot of different methods to determine a hurricane’s actual peak intensity, and there are some serious issues with relying simply on weather stations and buoys.

    McNoldy and Klotzbach went on to explain some of the “serious issues” that cause buoys and weather stations to underestimate hurricane wind speeds. These include that buoys use a longer “wind averaging time” than NHC measurement devices; buoys are “sheltered from the strongest winds” when they are in the trough of a wave; weather stations often “wash away” before the strongest winds come ashore; and the “small region” of a storm containing its strongest winds will not typically reach a weather station.

    McNoldy and Klotzbach concluded: “Matthew’s strongest winds would likely not have been measured by a weather station. The National Hurricane Center provides the best analysis that science can offer.”

    The best analysis science can offer, however, is apparently not good enough to convince Drudge. On October 27, the front page of the Drudge Report included the following headlines:

    Both headlines linked to the Post column by McNoldy and Klotzbach.

    So even though two actual hurricane experts say surface stations are not adequate to measure the maximum wind speeds of a hurricane, self-styled hurricane expert Matt Drudge begs to differ.

  • 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.”