Blog

  • Megyn Kelly Airs Three Minute Anti-Hillary Clinton Movie Trailer By Discredited Conservative Conspiracy Theorist

    Blog ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Fox’s Megyn Kelly hyped an anti-Hillary Clinton movie trailer created by discredited conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza for his movie Hillary’s America.

    On the May 31 edition of her Fox News show, host Megyn Kelly ran a three minute movie trailer, previewing D’Souza’s film that, will allegedly “expose Hillary Clinton’s motives by examining what [D’Souza] says is the history of her progressive politics.”

    Kelly also interviewed D’Souza who claimed the film will “focus on the whole history of progressivism and the Democratic Party.”  

    D’Souza is a discredited conservative media smear artist who has previously compared President Obama’s father to Ebola, compared Ferguson protesters to ISIS, and produced a movie titled 2016: Obama’s America, a shoddy "documentary" he made smearing the president as "anti-American."

    D’Souza was indicted in 2014 for arranging excessive campaign contributions to the Senate campaign of his friend Wendy Long. After spending several months protesting the charges and claiming he was being unfairly targeted for his political beliefs, D'Souza pled guilty in May 2014.

  • O’Reilly’s Dishonest Attempt To Shield Trump From Media Scrutiny Over Vague Veteran Donations

    Many Veterans Organizations Report They Didn’t Get Money Until After Washington Post Report Criticized Trump’s Lack Of Disclosure

    Blog ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET

    Fox host Bill O'Reilly defended presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump from criticism about the transparency of his donations to veterans groups after multiple Washington Post reports revealed that Trump had not donated the alleged $6 million to veterans organizations in the months following a fundraising event on January 28th.

    Donald Trump announced on May 31 that he had donated $5.6 million raised in a televised benefit for veterans charities. During his announcement Trump attacked the media for pressuring him to disclose his donations:

    “I wasn’t looking for the credit, but I had no choice but to do this because the press was saying I didn’t raise any money for them,” Trump said.

    The donations Trump announced on Tuesday were related to a Jan. 28 fundraiser for veterans that he held in Des Moines, on a night when Trump skipped a GOP debate due to a feud with its host, Fox News. That night, Trump said he'd raised $6 million. Most of it came from other donors, but Trump said he would give $1 million of his own.

    Later that evening Bill O’Reilly defended Trump on the May 31 edition of The O’Reilly Factor. During the show, O’Reilly argued that "there was no data" proving Donald Trump "didn't give the money," and argued that media scrutiny directed at Trump's fundraiser was "basically a supposition, fabricated by anti-Trump people in the press."

    But according to reports,Trump had not donated all of the money he raised for veterans until after his campaign received scrutiny from journalist, and could not provide a total accounting of how much money was raised or which organizations it had been donated to.

    On May 21, The Washington Post’s David Farenthold reported that Trump’s campaign manager revealed that Trumps fundraiser “actually netted about $4.5 million, or 75 percent of the total that Trump announced” for veterans groups:

    Lewandowski blamed the shortfall on Trump’s own wealthy acquaintances. He said some of them had promised big donations that Trump was counting on when he said he had raised $6 million. But Lewandowski said those donors backed out and gave nothing.

    “There were some individuals who he’d spoken to, who were going to write large checks, [who] for whatever reason . . . didn’t do it,” Lewandowski said in a telephone interview. “I can’t tell you who.”

    Lewandowski also said he did not know whether a $1 million pledge from Trump himself was counted as part of the $4.5 million total. He said Trump has given that amount, but he declined to identify any recipients.

    [...]

    Even with the lower total, Trump’s fundraiser brought in millions of dollars for veterans’ charities. The Washington Post’s accounting, based on interviews with charities, has found at least $3.1 million in donations to veterans groups.

    The Washington Post also reported that 4 months after his initial pledge, Trump gave his own $1 million donation only after he received scrutiny from the press:

    Almost four months after promising $1 million of his own money to veterans’ causes, Donald Trump moved to fulfill that pledge Monday evening — promising the entire sum to a single charity as he came under intense media scrutiny.

    Trump, now the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, organized a nationally televised fundraiser for veterans’ causes in Des Moines on Jan. 28. That night, Trump said he had raised $6 million, including the gift from his own pocket.

    “Donald Trump gave $1 million,” he said then.

    As recently as last week, Trump’s campaign manager had insisted that the mogul had already given that money away. But that was false: Trump had not.

    And CBS News reported that much of the money that was donated was dated “May 24, the day The Washington Post published the story questioning whether he had distributed all of the money."

  • Anti-LGBT National Review Writer Reportedly Being Drafted To Run For President

    Blog ››› ››› CARLOS MAZA

    Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol is reportedly considering drafting David French -- a staff writer at National Review -- to run for president as an independent candidate. French has repeatedly demonized the LGBT community in his writing and worked as a lawyer at a right-wing legal group that has defended laws criminalizing homosexuality.

    According to Bloomberg, Kristol -- who has been trying to kickstart a “never Trump” movement among Republicans -- has recently focused his search for an independent candidate on French:

    Two Republicans intimately familiar with Bill Kristol’s efforts to recruit an independent presidential candidate to challenge Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have told Bloomberg Politics that the person Kristol has in mind is David French -- whose name the editor of the Weekly Standard floated in the current issue of the magazine.

    [...]

    Reached in Israel late Tuesday afternoon, Kristol declined to comment on his efforts to induce French to run. The two Republicans confirmed that French is open to launching a bid, but that he has not made a final decision. One of the Republicans added that French has not lined up a vice-presidential running mate or significant financial support. However, according to this person, some conservative donors look favorably on the prospect of French entering the fray.

    At National Review, French has written extensively against LGBT equality and women’s access to abortion. He announced in 2010 that he had changed his mind and decided to oppose marriage equality, later warning that America was “racing off on our own cultural experiment.” He’s written multiple pieces attacking the transgender community, lamented “transgender entitlement,” described a young transgender woman as a “man” who is “on the verge of mutilating himself,” and argued that states should reject federal education funding rather than prohibit discrimination against transgender students.

    French previously served as a lawyer for the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) -- formerly known as the Alliance Defense Fund -- from 2006 to 2010. He also offered legal advice to anti-abortion activist Lila Rose.

    Both before and after French’s tenure there, ADF worked to defend domestic and international anti-sodomy laws that criminalize homosexual behavior. ADF is also the group behind the recent wave of anti-LGBT “religious freedom” laws and anti-transgender “bathroom bills.” The group has a history of fighting to limit access to reproductive healthcare, including testifying against Planned Parenthood and taking part in the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby case.

  • TPM's Josh Marshall: Media Must Pressure Trump Over His "Openly Racist" Remarks About Judge In Trump U. Lawsuits

    Marshall: Any Reporter Who Does Not Ask Trump About His”Dangerous” Attacks Is “Not Doing His Or Her Job”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Following presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s latest remarks attacking the federal judge presiding over two lawsuits pending against his now-defunct Trump University real estate seminar business, Talking Points Memo editor Josh Marshall highlighted the “unprecedented” personal attacks and “openly racist argument” Trump has launched against Judge Gonzalo Curiel over the last several months.

    Trump has identified Curiel as a “Mexican” and “Hispanic” while criticizing his actions in the case, suggesting that Curiel is treating Trump unfairly and with hostility because of Curiel’s heritage and Trump’s position on immigration.

    Marshall implored media to hold Trump accountable for the repeated, “dangerous” racialized remarks the candidate has made about Curiel, arguing that, “any reporter who gets a chance to ask Trump to justify his actions and doesn’t is not doing his or her job.”

    From Marshall’s May 31 blog post:

    It is unprecedented for a presidential candidate to personally attack and even threaten a federal judge. (To be fair, I'm not sure there's been a nominee being sued for fraud during the presidential campaign.) But here we have Trump making an openly racist argument against a federal judge, arguing that Curiel is pursuing a vendetta against him because Trump is, he says, "I'm very, very strong on the border."

    [...]

    The press routinely goes into paroxysms - often rightly so - about innuendos or phrasings that might in some way be racist or suggest racial animus. Here we have it in the open, repeated and showing itself as basically Trump's first line of attack when he is in anyway threatened. That's infinitely more dangerous than most things that routinely focus all the media's attention. Any reporter who gets a chance to ask Trump to justify his actions and doesn't is not doing his or her job. Few cases show more vividly how dangerous a person Trump is.

  • How Donald Trump Dodged A Media Discussion Over Trump University

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Trump

    Donald Trump used a press conference about millions of dollars in donations he says he raised for veterans’ groups to hijack the cable news discussion and largely avoid coverage of an anticipated document release today as part of  a lawsuit alleging misrepresentation by his now-defunct Trump University business. CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News devoted more than five hours to previewing, airing, and discussing Trump’s press conference between 6 am and 4 pm, compared to less than one hour of discussion of the Trump University lawsuit.

    After intense and admirable pressure from the press, Trump last week finally took steps toward personally donating $1 million to a veterans’ charity, four months after he falsely claimed he had done so. Trump had organized a January 28 nationally televised fundraiser as a substitute for appearing at a debate moderated by Fox News, which Trump was feuding with at the time. That night, he claimed to have raised $6 million, including his own gift. He subsequently avoided repeated questions about where the donations had gone.

    Trump’s campaign originally scheduled a press conference for May 30 to discuss the donations. But on May 29, he moved the appearance to today.

    It’s not hard to see why. On May 27, a federal judge ordered the release this week of internal documents from Trump University, a Trump-owned real estate seminar business that is facing several pending fraud and misrepresentation lawsuits brought by former students and by the state of New York. CNN reported that the documents would begin coming out today.

    Donald Trump does not want the media talking about whether he defrauded thousands of people who trusted his company to give them good business advice. By moving his veterans event to today, Trump was able to use what The New York Times has termed his “unrivaled ability to hijack a news cycle,” ensuring that the media would spend the day focusing on his comments rather than coming back from the holiday weekend with a focus on the contents of the pending Trump University lawsuits.

    All three cable news networks broadcast the entirety of Trump’s 40-minute press conference live, and devoted substantial time afterwards discussing his comments, which included both a detailed list of donations he had channeled to veterans and attacks on the press. As Politico noted, Trump “game[d] the media, again.”

    While the cable news coverage of the Trump event was by no means universally flattering, with many journalists criticizing the candidate’s attacks on the press, it did move the subject of that coverage to Trump’s preferred topic. As CNN’s Ashleigh Banfield noted after one such segment, “The question needs to be asked: what about this news conference and what happened, and is it overshadowing another case?”

    It did. While both CNN and MSNBC devoted segments to discussing Trump University -- and CNN’s Jim Acosta used a question during the press conference itself to ask Trump about the lawsuits -- all three networks devoted significantly more time to discussing Trump’s veterans event. (Acosta’s question and Trump’s response during the press conference, and a single 11-second tease on Fox News’ America’s Newsroom, represented the entirety of that network’s coverage of Trump University.)

    And that’s exactly what Trump wanted to see happen.

    Research by Rob Savillo and Cydney Hargis, graph by Sarah Wasko.

    Methodology. Media Matters​ reviewed our internal video archive for discussion of Trump's press conference about raising money to donate to veterans’ organizations and discussion of the allegations against Trump University. We reviewed all mentions of "Trump" for these two topics between 6:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. on CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC, and we then timed the relevant discussion. Trump's press conference was included in the data, with all discussion related to veterans during the event coded as time devoted to the Trump Veterans Presser and all discussion of Trump University during the event coded as time devoted to Trump University.

  • Trump's Economic Policy Team Spreads Right-Wing Media Lie Tying Clintons To Housing Crisis

    Larry Kudlow And Stephen Moore Attempt To Distract Media Scrutiny Of Trump’s Statement On Housing Crisis By Attacking Clintons

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Right-wing economic pundits Larry Kudlow and Stephen Moore claimed that Bill and Hillary Clinton are partly to blame for the housing crisis that rocked the economy during the Bush administration because of their support of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), a program intended to expand American home ownership. Kudlow and Moore, who both have served as economic policy advisers to presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, pushed this repeatedly debunked myth while attempting to deflect attention from Trump's 2006 statement relishing the potential profits he could reap during a housing and financial crisis.

    Kudlow and Moore falsely claimed Hillary Clinton was partly responsible for the housing crash in a May 29 op-ed in The Washington Times, adding that she has no right to lambast Trump for stating in 2006 that he had hoped the housing market crashes so he could buy properties cheaply. Trump has faced continued scrutiny over this statement. New York magazine even called it “a new, lurid reason why he should never be president” and media interest only grew after Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) called the GOP front-runner “a small insecure money grubber who doesn’t care who gets hurt so long as he makes money off it.” From Kudlow and Moore’s Washington Times piece:

    It turns out that Donald Trump has been very good at buying low and selling high, and it helps account for his amazing business success.

    Now Hillary Clinton seems to think it’s a crime. Campaigning in California last week she’s wailed that Mr. Trump “actually said he was hoping for the crash that caused hard working families in California and across America to lose their homes, all because he thought he could take advantage of it to make some money for himself.” She’s assailing Mr. Trump for being a good businessman — something she would know almost nothing about because she’s never actually run a business, though she did miraculously turn $1,000 into $1 million in the cattle futures market many years ago.

    [...]

    What is so hypocritical about the Clinton attacks is that it wasn’t Trump, but Hillary, her husband, and many of her biggest supporters who were the real culprits here.

    Kudlow and Moore’s anti-Clinton attack is based on their claim that expanding access to mortgages to help low-income Americans buy homes was part of the catalyst for the housing crisis. The two also claimed that then-Sen. Hillary Clinton “went to bat for the housing industry” -- ignoring that Clinton actually pushed for tougher regulations on the financial industry in 2007.

    Top economists reject the idea that President Clinton and his policies are to blame for the financial crisis -- including the current and former Federal Reserve chairs from Republican and Democratic administrations. Former Fed chairman Ben Bernanke disputed this myth in a November 2008 statement demonstrating that after studying the CRA for over 30 years the Federal Reserve's findings “runs counter to the charge that CRA was at the root of ... current mortgage difficulties." Current Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen found that the CRA did not cause problems but instead the CRA increased “responsible lending” in a March 2008 speech when she was the president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

    Kudlow and Moore have a long and well-documented history of distorting facts on the economy. Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, who has spent years documenting Moore's repeated failures in economic policy, recently slammed the right-wing commentator’s "impressive lack of even minimal technical competence." Kudlow has made many statements berating Americans and even lectured single parents about poverty at an appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) -- even though he admitted to having "virtually no knowledge in this field."

  • Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Highlights “Sinister” Effect Of Super PAC Ads On Voter Turnout

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial board stressed the negative impact super PAC ads have on voter turnout as outside money targeting the presidential and Senate races begins coming into play across the country. Research highlighted by the Post-Gazette showed that the negative ads run by super PACs can discourage voter turnout, a result the board called “sinister and profoundly anti-democratic.”

    The May 30 editorial cited research from the Ohio Media Project -- “a consortium of radio and television stations and the largest newspapers in the state” --  which found that negative campaign ads like the ones often funded by super PACs “are designed to suppress voter turnout as much as they are to persuade voters to support one candidate over another.”

    The Post-Gazette underscored that while super PAC spending occurs in support of both Democratic and Republican candidates, the 2012 presidential election saw “$424.4 million [spent] supporting Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and $145 million supporting Democratic President Barack Obama.” The editorial named the billionaire Koch brothers -- who have committed at least $30 million for ads aimed at influencing Senate races in the 2016 --  as a major supporters of super PACs behind negative ads. From the Post-Gazette:

    Researchers found that only about 1 percent of voters, primarily independents, are moved from one camp to another because of negative ads, but in swing states, like Ohio, sometimes elections are decided by 1 percent or less. But the researchers also found that, “especially with moderate voters, you get a demobilization effect, where they just kind of turn off, ‘This is a nasty campaign, I just want to stay home.’ ”

    That is truly sinister and profoundly anti-democratic.

    Equally disturbing as the attack ads and their intent is the answer to this question. Who is paying for this garbage? In the 2012 presidential election, independent spending — by groups not connected with either political party — came to $424.4 million supporting Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and $145 million supporting Democratic President Barack Obama.

    The sources of that money, often called “dark money,” are being kept secret, and that is wrong.

    [...]

    The super PAC Americans for Prosperity is a good example. Look up its 2012 expenditures in opensecrets.org and the only line that comes up is: $33,542,051 spent against President Obama’s re-election.

    The Center for Responsive Politics identified AFP’s biggest contributor as Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, which is controlled by billionaire industrialists David and Charles Koch. But the FEC did not require this disclosure.

  • WaPo Editorial Board Blasts Trump's "Dangerous, Nonsensical Energy Plan"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Washington Post’s editorial board lambasted the energy proposals put forth by presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump as “illogical” and “dangerous,” adding that his vow to undue environmental protections will cause future generations to “suffer.”

    After Trump gave a speech about energy issues at an oil conference last week, media figures quickly ripped apart his comments as “utter nonsense” demonstrating a “lack of basic knowledge” about the energy industry. Industry experts later questioned the feasibility of Trump’s energy-related pledges in The New York Times, in part by pointing out that his vow to restore coal jobs contradicts his pledge to expand the natural gas industry, which according to Harvard economics professor Robert N. Stavins “would actually have the effect of lowering demand for coal, causing more mines to close.”

    The Post added to the criticism by pointing out that Trump’s promise to achieve energy independence is misguided because the “best way to insulate the country from oil price volatility would be to make the economy less dependent on oil, but Mr. Trump has no interest in doing so.” The Post also argued that Trump’s pledge to kill the U.S.’s major climate policy and “cancel” the Paris climate agreement would be a “massive blow against climate change,” concluding that if he succeeds, “[f]uture generations will suffer.”

    From the May 29 editorial:

    Last week’s Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows that voters think Donald Trump would handle the economy better than would Hillary Clinton. But from his destructive tax proposals to the illogical energy plan he detailed on Thursday, there is little basis for that belief.

    [...]

    Setting “energy independence” as an overriding policy goal is a policy mistake of long standing in Washington. In fact it is far less risky to participate in the global market than to erect barriers to energy imports or ban them entirely. If you rely only on yourself for your oil, you put all of your eggs in one supply basket. Disruptions due to a natural disaster or anything else that would be relatively localized in a global oil market would cause major volatility in a closed domestic one. The best way to insulate the country from oil price volatility would be to make the economy less dependent on oil, but Mr. Trump has no interest in doing so.

    Mr. Trump’s error reflects a deeper contradiction in his thinking. He praises the unencumbered free market, insisting that, “the government should not pick winners and losers” and that he would “remove obstacles” in the way of private enterprises. At the same time, he promises energy independence, a renaissance for the coal industry and other goals that would require government interference in the market. The decline of coal, for example, has occurred in large part because under the Obama administration natural gas drilling has boomed, lowering the price of gas and spurring utilities to move away from coal.

    Mr. Trump’s plan is dangerous as well as incoherent. In his zeal to revoke environmental regulations, Mr. Trump promises to kill the Environmental Protection Agency’s carbon dioxide rules and pull the country out of the Paris climate agreement. He also promised “clean air and clean water,” but over the past half-century, it has been government regulation, sometimes market-based, that has helped clear up the nation’s air and water. Mr. Trump’s plan would lead to dirtier air and water — and to a massive blow to the global fight against climate change. With great care and difficulty, President Obama persuaded major polluting countries such as China to listen to scientists and move with the United States toward cuts in emissions.

    Future generations will suffer if Mr. Trump succeeds in reversing that progress.

  • La Opinión Blasts Trump Yelling About Heritage Of Judge Overseeing Trump University Case

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    La Opinión’s editorial board criticized presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump for pointing to the Mexican heritage of the federal judge who ordered records unsealed in the multi-million dollar lawsuit against Trump University.

    On May 27, U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel ordered the release of documents related to Trump University after The Washington Post requested they be made public. In response, Trump devoted 12 minutes to attacking Curiel during a rally in San Diego, saying that Curiel, “a hater of Donald Trump” and a “Mexican,” was biased against him. A Trump surrogate followed up on CNN, criticizing Curiel’s membership in a Latino lawyer association. Polling data indicates Latinos will be one of the most challenging voter groups for Trump to win over, since more than 70 percent view the candidate unfavorably.

    According to the May 30 editorial in La Opinión, “Trump said that Curiel’s supposed animosity comes from being ‘Mexican.’” As the board pointed out, “In his ignorance and irresponsibility, Trump’s attack is carried out against a Mexican-American,” showing that, regardless of immigration status, anyone with a “Hispanic last name and disagreement with Trump” is “in his eyes, suspicious of deliberately antagonizing him.” From La Opinión’s May 30 editorial:

    Students who paid tens of thousands of dollars to study at Trump University must have suspected something was wrong when they were offered to take a picture with a cardboard figure of the mogul instead of with the real man. This is only one of the irregularities cited in the lawsuit for multi-million dollar fraud filed by former students. Still, Donald Trump believes that he is being accused because the judge is “a Mexican.”

    [...]

    The response of the presumptive Republican nominee was to say that Curiel is “a hater of Donald Trump,” adding that the judge – nominated by President Obama – must leave the case, citing bias. Trump said that Curiel’s supposed animosity comes from being “Mexican.” Spewed from the podium, the claim rouses a crowd of followers who feverishly wants to “build that wall,” this time to prevent judges from attacking the candidate.

    In his ignorance and irresponsibility, Trump’s attack is carried out against a Mexican-American born in Chicago, not an immigrant. His criticism is no longer directed to undocumented people or foreigners but includes dozens of millions of people born in the U.S. whose Hispanic last name and disagreement with Trump makes them, in his eyes, suspicious of deliberately antagonizing him.

  • Washington Post: “It’s Time To Shut Down The Special Panel On Fetal Tissue Research”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Washington Posts editorial board wrote that the congressional investigative panel created in the wake of the smear campaign against Planned Parenthood should be “shut down” because there is “no legitimate reason” for the panel’s existence. The Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives was established by Republicans in Congress following the release of videos made by the discredited anti-choice group Center for Medical Progress which baselessly allege fetal tissue was being illegally sold. The Washington Post's editorial board noted “as we now know, those videos are bunk, neither accurate nor reliable,” and multiple investigations have found no wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood. However, the Republican-led select panel has continued to rely upon so-called evidence collected by anti-choice activists and has “issued indiscriminate subpoenas [and] intimidated witnesses” as well as potentially put individuals at risk for targeting by anti-choice extremists by not safeguarding their names. Without a “legitimate reason” for the panel’s work, the Post wrote, Speaker Paul Ryan should “should put an end to these sordid proceedings.”

    From The Washington Post’s May 27 editorial:

    Any doubt about the kind of investigation into fetal tissue research that would be conducted by a special House panel was erased at its first hearing, when one of the witnesses called by Republicans drew comparisons between this life-saving medical work and the experiments of Nazi war criminal Josef Mengele. And the panel has gone downhill since.

    The committee has issued indiscriminate subpoenas, intimidated witnesses and relied on misleading information. It is abusing power at taxpayer expense, and Democrats are right to demand its shutdown.

    […]

    There is no legitimate reason for this inquiry. Individuals and organizations are being unfairly targeted and placed at risk. [House Speaker Paul] Ryan, who took office with talk of wanting to change how the House does business, should put an end to these sordid proceedings.