As reported by Politico, The New York Times has responded to Donald Trump's recent mockery of one of its reporters who helped debunk the presidential candidate's false claim that he saw "thousands and thousands" of Arab-Americans cheering as the World Trade Center collapsed under the attacks of September 11, 2001.
Defending his claim at a campaign rally, Trump chose to mock the disability of New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski, who covered the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and has recently added to the definitive debunking of the presidential candidate's smear. As reported by Politico, "'We think it's outrageous that he would ridicule the appearance of one of our reporters,' said a spokeswoman for the Times."
Trump can be seen mocking Kovaleski in this clip from Morning Joe:
During a defense of his widely debunked claim that thousands of people in parts of New Jersey with large Arab populations celebrated the collapse of the World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, 2001, Trump performed a derisive impression of New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski -- who suffers from a chronic condition that has limited the movement of his arms -- at a rally in South Carolina on Tuesday night.
Citing a 2001 article written by Kovaleski that referred to people allegedly seen celebrating the attacks, Trump said it was "Written by a nice reporter."
Trump went on, "Now the poor guy -- you ought to see the guy: 'Uhh I don't know what I said. I don't remember.' He's going, 'I don't remember. Maybe that's what I said.'" As he spoke, Trump launched into an impression which involved gyrating his arms wildly and imitating the unusual angle at which Kovaleski's hand sometimes rests.
"We think it's outrageous that he would ridicule the appearance of one of our reporters," said a spokeswoman for the Times. The article cited by Trump was written by Kovaleski when he worked for The Washington Post and stated that in the aftermath of Sept. 11, "Law enforcement authorities detained and questioned a number of people who were allegedly seen celebrating the attacks and holding tailgate-style parties on rooftops while they watched the devastation on the other side of the river."
On Tuesday, after Trump's supporters began citing the article as evidence for the candidate's claim, Kovaleski told CNN, "We did a lot of shoe leather reporting in and around Jersey City and talked to a lot of residents and officials for the broader story. Much of that has, indeed, faded from memory ... I do not recall anyone saying there were thousands, or even hundreds, of people celebrating. That was not the case, as best as I can remember."
Kovaleski suffers from arthrogryposis, a congenital condition that limits the movement of the joints and weakens the muscles around them. As a reporter at the New York Daily News in the late 1980s and early '90s, he covered Trump's business exploits and met with the developer on several occasions.
On November 24, the editorial board of The New York Times called on the media to hold Trump accountable for his "racist lies," adding "[h]istory teaches that failing to hold a demagogue to account is a dangerous act. It's no easy task for journalists to interrupt Mr. Trump with the facts, but it's an important one."
Trump's actions are reminiscent of Rush Limbaugh's mockery of Michael J. Fox's Parkinson's in 2006. Limbaugh at the time accused the actor of "exaggerating the effects" of the disease in an ad, and later suggested that Fox had intentionally over-medicated himself "so you would really, really hate Republicans." Fox News host Sean Hannity defended Limbaugh, saying Fox "[has] a right to speak up, but he also has a right to be criticized. He is a guy that is very political."
From the November 25 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:
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Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is asking supporters for money so he can put Rush Limbaugh's praise of him "in front of millions of Republican primary voters."
During the November 22 edition of Fox News Sunday, Limbaugh was asked for his opinion about the Texas senator. He replied: "Brilliant, just absolutely brilliant. And conservative through and through. Trustworthy, strong, confident, leader, and somebody in whom you can totally depend."
Cruz sent a fundraising email to supporters today touting Limbaugh's praise and asking for money so he can get his remarks out to voters. From Cruz's email:
Nationally renowned radio host Rush Limbaugh just made a huge move of support for my campaign...even going as far as to defend me on national television!
I can't thank Rush enough for his supportive comments.
Rush defended me against the mainstream media -- will you help me get Rush's defense in front of millions of Republican primary voters in the next seven days by making a EMERGENCY contribution today?
Limbaugh has repeatedly praised Cruz, both before and after he launched his presidential campaign, even once suggesting he "might be the smartest man in Congress." Cruz recently lobbied for a Republican presidential debate "moderated by Sean Hannity and Mark Levin and Rush Limbaugh."
Cruz has also drawn recent praise from right-wing figures like Fox's Sean Hannity, radio host Mark Levin, Iowa pundit Steve Deace, gun activist Larry Pratt, Texas-based radio host Michael Berry, and anti-choice extremist Troy Newman, among others.
A recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that the "most avid conservative talk-radio listeners ranked retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson as their top pick, followed by celebrity businessman Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Just 3% gave the nod to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush."
On November 24, CNN's Chris Cuomo interviewed Trump Organization executive and Trump campaign surrogate Michael Cohen regarding Republican presidential front runner Donald Trump's false claim that "thousands" of Arab-Americans cheered in the streets following the 9/11 attacks and the candidate's seeming endorsement of the alleged assault of a protester who disrupted a recent campaign rally. Trump's claim that "thousands" of people took to the streets in Jersey City, New Jersey to celebrate the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks has been debunked and widely criticized. PolitiFact tore apart Trump's statement, saying that it "defies basic logic," and that "[i]f thousands and thousands of people were celebrating the 9/11 attacks on American soil, many people beyond Trump would remember it. And in the 21st century, there would be video or visual evidence." From the November 24 edition of CNN's New Day:
CHRIS CUOMO (HOST): Let's take these one by one. 9/11 happens. Horrible by anybody's reckoning. The idea of celebrating that is inhumane. Donald Trump says he saw it. He believed it. Thousands and thousands. People say no, it's not true. He says, yes it is. Why make a point of something like this?
MICHAEL COHEN: Well, I think what he's doing is he's comparing it now to what-- the terrible tragedy that took place in Paris and what's going on all around the world with ISIS. They are really a group of thugs. They are terrorists. And they're changing the way the world sees Islam.
CUOMO: Bad guys. Anybody who would celebrate something like that, no matter what their faith is, bad people. But, why exaggerate it? Why say --
COHEN: Well why would you that say he's exaggerating it?
CUOMO: Because he said "thousands and thousands."
COHEN: You know, whether it's "thousands and thousands" or a thousand people or even just one person, it's irrelevant. To celebrate this tragedy, this killing of innocent people, that went to what? To work, right? Trying to enjoy the American dream to earn a dollar. It's wrong and Mr. Trump is making his point. Now, many people have criticized and said well, it's not true. It didn't happen. Washington Post, on September 18th of 2001, did a pretty in-depth story on this exact position and they acknowledge -- Mr. Trump also has millions and millions of followers, as you know, on social media. I can't tell you the number of people that have responded and said I'm from Jersey and I've seen it.
CUOMO: Yes, here's the thing. I know other people have said it. They say it to me on social media. One, that Washington Post article, that was one paragraph in the whole story, the author walked it back, they said the FBI investigated allegations of it, they never substantiated a claim of thousands. The reason it's relevant is the guy may be president of the United States and what Donald Trump says has to be as accurate as it can be, and thousands and thousands is, at best, a gross exaggeration. And if you're going to be president of the United States, don't you have to say it right?
COHEN: The exact number, I don't think anybody can say. If Mr. Trump said thousands, I have to --
CUOMO: "Thousands and thousands."
COHEN: And I would have to turn around and say that he's probably right.
CUOMO: Probably right?
COHEN: He's probably right.
CUOMO: No, he's probably wrong.
COHEN: No, he's probably right.
CUOMO: There is no way to substantiate "thousands and thousands."
COHEN: And there's no way to say that it wasn't there. The problem that you have --
CUOMO: Sure there is. They don't have the reports. They don't have any video.
Later in the segment, Cuomo asked Cohen about an incident at a Trump campaign rally in Birmingham, Alabama where a Black Lives Matter protester was allegedly attacked by Trump supporters. A day after the altercation, Trump was interviewed on Fox News' Fox & Friends and attempted to justify his supporters' reaction to the protester, saying "maybe he should have been roughed up." From the November 24 edition of CNN's New Day:
CUOMO: Another point of this that became a flash point, and it's always great to get your head on it, is this guy comes, he protests at the event. Nobody likes when that happens, but that's part of the process, right? He gets beat down at the event. Donald Trump says well, maybe he deserved it? He was doing something terrible --
COHEN: The guy's a professional agitator. Supposedly -- rumors are out there -- of course the internet and social media, the guy's been tazed, what? 30 times. He goes to these various different rallies and he creates all sorts of problems. You know what? It happened. Obviously, nobody wants to see anybody get injured. Nobody wants to see --
CUOMO: That's not what he said, he said "maybe he deserved it."
COHEN: Well, maybe he did. Maybe he did. He went there to cause a problem. He went there to start a fight. This is nothing to do with Black Lives Matter. This is a guy that's looking for media attention on his own.
CUOMO: I haven't even said the phrase. I'm saying white, black, green, yellow, the guy comes to your event and gets beat up. You should be against the people that beat him up.
COHEN: I agree, nobody wants to see anybody get beaten up. But if the guy goes there for the purpose of creating an issue, he wants to be an agitator at what was a great, you know, great event for Mr. Trump, 14,000 plus people, you know what? That's between the individual who wants to be an agitator and the people that are there to listen to Mr. Trump and to try to see America become great again.
CUOMO: What about their leader? Doesn't he want to inspire people to be their best selves? Or does he want to inspire them to be like whatever the worst agitator that they have come at him?
COHEN: You know what? The guy's an agitator, the guy's looking for a problem. It's like the guy who walks into a bar and he wants to start a fight with somebody and he ends up getting beaten up. You know what --
CUOMO: And as a bartender, you know what I used to do? I used to be like "whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa. Take him outside. Keep your hands off him."
COHEN: Beat him up outside?
CUOMO: No, because you want people to be better than what's coming at them.
COHEN: Well, every now and then an agitator deserves it.
From the November 24 edition of CNN's New Day:
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Fox host Bill O'Reilly defended Donald Trump, claiming he's never seen the GOP presidential hopeful show any racism, while correcting Trump's insensitive and wildly inaccurate tweet that falsely claimed that African-Americans are responsible for more than 80 percent of murders against whites. FBI crime data shows that the majority of murders are committed by members of the same race.
On the November 13 edition of his show, O'Reilly interviewed Trump, who claimed he was "probably the least racist person on Earth." O'Reilly agreed with him, commenting "I never saw any racism from you," then immediately criticized Trump's racist tweet, explaining to him that the statistic is "totally wrong":
O'REILLY (HOST): Are you aware that the liberal media and the Democratic Party in general are trying to paint you as a racist? Are you aware of that?
TRUMP: I think so. But I think people know better than that. I'm probably the least racist person on Earth.
O'REILLY: Well I have known you a long time --
TRUMP: I think people know better than that.
O'REILLY: -- I never saw any racism from you. However, when you tweet out a thing, and this bothered me, I got to tell you. You tweeted out that whites killed by blacks -- these are statistics you picked up from somewhere -- at a rate of 81 percent. And that's totally wrong. Whites killed by blacks is 15 percent, yet you tweeted it was 81 percent.
TRUMP: Bill, I didn't tweet. I retweeted somebody that was supposedly an expert and also a radio show.
O'REILLY: Yeah, but you don't want to be -- why do you want to be in that zone?
TRUMP: Bill. Bill. Am I going to check every statistic? I get millions and millions of people @realdonaldtrump by the way.
O'REILLY: You got to. You are a presidential contender you got to check it.
TRUMP: I have millions of people. You know what, fine, but this came out of radio shows and everything else.
O'REILLY: Oh come on, radio shows?
TRUMP: Excuse me. All it was is a retweet. It wasn't from me. And it did. It came out of radio show and other places, because you see all the names --
O'REILLY: Look, you know I'm looking out for you, right? You know that? That I'm looking out for you? I look out for every honest politician, I don't care what party they are in. Don't do this. Don't put your name on stuff like this. Because it makes the other side, it gives them stuff to tell the ill-informed voter that you are a racist. I mean, you just handed them a platter.
According to 2014 FBI data, approximately 82 percent of white Americans were killed by other white Americans in murders where the race of both the victim and offender were known. Additionally, Trump's graphic was sourced to the "Crime Statistics Bureau - San Francisco," which does not exist.
Trump has made numerous xenophobic and racially-charged comments that were defended and praised by right-wing media. In July, Trump called Mexican immigrants "criminals" and "rapists," and later cited an "unabashedly racist" deportation plan created during the Eisenhower presidency, dubbed "Operation Wetback," as an example for his deportation policy. Recently, Trump inaccurately claimed that thousands of Muslim-Americans cheered when the World Trade Center buildings fell, and when asked about a Black Lives Matter protester who was beaten at one of his rallies, Trump responded that, "Maybe he should have been roughed up."
From the November 23 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
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From the November 23 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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From the November 23 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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In a November 23 post for the Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire blog, Patrick O'Connor highlighted how the "anti-establishment" views of conservative talk radio hosts such as Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, and Mark Levin "are informing the race for the Republican presidential nomination" as polls have found that "roughly a third of Republican primary voters strongly identify with conservative talk radio."
Right-wing radio hosts have repeatedly attacked 2016 Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, leading many in the media to assert that Bush has a "serious talk radio problem," and O'Connor noted that accordingly just 3% of "the most avid conservative talk-radio listeners" would vote for him. Conversely, O'Connor said right-wing talk radio listeners ranked Ben Carson and Donald Trump as their top choices, which is unsurprising given that the hosts have repeatedly supported the two candidates. Rush Limbaugh has praised Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric, while Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham have praised him as "refreshing" for being "willing to say things that no one else is saying." Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity have all repeatedly defended Carson amid the candidate's controversial remarks and inconsistencies in his autobiographical claims.
Despite the fact that Republicans once "touted conservative talk radio as a foolproof medium to communicate directly with their most ardent supporters," O'Connor explained that "Republican leaders in Washington are under siege from their own activists." From O'Connor's post (emphasis added):
Consider the folks who regularly tune in to conservative talk radio. These listeners expect a steady diet of Obama-bashing, so it's hardly surprising that not one surveyed for a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll in late October approved of the job Barack Obama is doing as president.
That anger translates to how these Americans view the country as a whole. Some 98% think the country is headed in the wrong direction, a view regularly reinforced on the airwaves by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin and other talk-radio hosts who don't have much nice to say about GOP leaders in Washington, either.
A decade ago, Republicans touted conservative talk radio as a foolproof medium to communicate directly with their most ardent supporters. Democrats and liberal groups tried to replicate that success by building their own left-leaning television and radio stations, with far less success.
Now, the tables have turned. Republican leaders in Washington are under siege from their own activists, in part, because conservative radio hosts are almost as likely to rail against the party brass in Congress as they are to lament Mr. Obama's failings in the Oval Office.
The most avid conservative talk-radio listeners ranked retired neurosurgeon Ben Carsonas their top pick, followed by celebrity businessman Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Just 3% gave the nod to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the heir to the party's longest-standing political dynasty, and only a third of these voters said they were even open to voting for Mr. Bush, down from half in September.
Republican presidential contenders would be unwise to write off this bloc; roughly a third of Republican primary voters strongly identify with conservative talk radio, about 10 percentage points higher than the share of GOP primary voters who consider themselves moderate or liberal, according to the survey conducted by the Democrats at Hart Research Associates and the Republicans at Public Opinion Research.
Media outlets condemned Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for "catering to the worst sort of racism" by retweeting "racist and wildly inaccurate" statistics about murder and race in the United States from an organization that "does not exist."
It was déjà vu all over again recently when some in the press rushed to announce that current events suddenly threatened to derail Donald Trump's unorthodox campaign.
The first supposed hurdle came in the form of Trump's bizarre, 95-minute rant in Iowa where he belittled and insulted one of his opponents, Ben Carson. The New York Times reported, "some Republicans believe that his scathing attacks on Mr. Carson -- and voters who support him -- will backfire." The Boston Globe highlighted "some observers" who argued that "Trump may have finally gone too far, hurting his standing at the top of most polls and also adding to worries among Republicans about their field this season."
Then in the wake of the Paris terror attack, The Wall Street Journal suggested the killings, "could shake up the 2016 presidential race, reminding voters of the high stakes and potentially boosting candidates who put their governing experience front and center."
The Times twice last week stressed that GOP voters might turn away from Trump in favor of "more sober-minded candidates"; that they'll take "a more sober measure of who is prepared to serve as commander in chief."
Sober-minded candidates? Have these people been watching the spectacle that is the Republican campaign season for the last six months?
There was no backlash -- quite the opposite. Trump and his xenophobic campaign continue to soar in the GOP polls as he unfurls an endless stream of outrageous proposals. (Bring back U.S.-sanctioned torture! The government needs to close down some American mosques!)
Fact: Trump really has emerged as the perfect Fox News era candidate. He's a bigoted nativist. And he's a bullying, congenital liar who wallows in misinformation. In the process, he's winning over the demagoguery wing of the Republican Party that's been feasting off far-right media hate rhetoric for years.
Now, by successfully neutralizing enough members of the press, Trump's created space for himself to maneuver while espousing jaw-dropping rhetoric that in the past would have been considered disqualifying for any candidate.
After months and months of predicting the "beginning of the end" of Trump's run, the press ought to forthrightly concede he could represent the GOP next November, while at the same time aggressively chronicle the unprecedented extremism that's propelling his run.
Instead, the campaign press today seems poorly equipped to handle what's happening to the Republican Party, and especially over the last ten days since the Paris attack. That signature press timidity seems to spring from a larger reluctance to face the reality of today's GOP.
Desperate to keep alive a long-outdated, asymmetrical model that suggests partisan battles in Washington, D.C., are fought between center-left Democrats and center-right Republicans, the press simply doesn't want to acknowledge the GOP's radical right turn. But it's that defining lurch that's opened the door for a possible Trump win.
Meaning, you can't understand Trump's surge without understanding that the GOP has dismantled the guardrails; that it's now anything goes.
"There is a party center that two decades ago would have been considered the bedrock right, and a new right that is off the old charts," wrote Norm Ornstein, one of the few mainstream media observers who for years has been forcefully clear about the Titanic shifts within the Republican Party in response to Barack Obama's presidency.
To be fair, some of the he's-peaked coverage and commentary has been driven by so-called Republican "elites" who continue to cling to the dream that a "moderate" Prince Charming will magically emerge and save the party from Trump's possible electoral ruin.
Still, there appears to be large overlap between the GOP establishment and the Beltway media in terms of a deeply held belief that Trump doesn't really represent today's Republican Party, and that someone as garish and ill-informed as him could never been selected as the party's nominee.
"For months, the GOP professional class assumed Trump and [Ben] Carson would fizzle with time," reported the Washington Post. In truth, you could replace the phrase "GOP professional class" with "Beltway journalists" from that sentence and it would still be just as accurate.
And it's not just Trump who's wallowing in outrageous rhetoric or radical initiatives. After the Paris terror attack, Ted Cruz claimed Obama "does not wish to defend this country." Ben Carson suggested refugees should be screened as they might be "rabid dogs." Gov. Christie warned against the looming dangers of orphaned toddlers. And Jeb Bush proposed a religious test for refugees from Syria.
Meanwhile, Marco Rubio suggested it's about more than closing down some mosques in America (Trump's idea): "It's about closing down any place, whether it's a cafe, a diner, an internet site, any place where radicals are being inspired."
Collectively, and covering the span of just a few days, the GOP's post-Paris outburst represented some of the most extreme campaign rhetoric heard in many, many years. But you wouldn't necessarily know it from the often-unsure coverage.
That faulty coverage extends beyond the hot-button refugee coverage. At a Saturday Trump rally in Birmingham, Alabama, a Black Lives Matter protester interrupted the Republican's speech and was quickly attacked by Trump supporters who pushed the man to the ground and pummeled him.
Look at how CBS News reported on the event:
Really, a "fight" broke out? Like a back-and-forth physical confrontation between two sides? Not quite. All available evidence suggests a black protester who interrupted Trump's speech was quickly jumped and then beaten, kicked, and choked by a crowd of white Trump supporters. (Though his campaign originally said they did not "condone this behavior," the next day, Trump suggested the protester deserved to get "roughed up.")
We've never seen a campaign like Trump's in modern American history. We've never seen a candidate soar to the front of the pack for months on end while espousing such divisive and often bigoted rhetoric. That's why it's long past time for the press to take off any lingering blinders: Fox favorite Trump is a truly radical candidate and he represents today's truly radical Republican Party.
Daily News writer Shaun King called a graphic shared by Donald Trump on Twitter that falsely claimed 81 percent of white murder victims are killed by African-Americans "bogus," "racist," and "from a source that does not exist."
On November 22, the Republican presidential candidate and current front-runner shared the following image:
King reacted to Trump's graphic on Twitter, writing, "this bogus/racist graphic from @RealDonaldTrump - the LEADING Republican candidate, is from a source that does not exist":
According to data from the FBI, in 2014 approximately 82 percent of whites were killed by other whites, in murders where the race of both the victim and offender are known. And the "Crime Statistics Bureau - San Francisco" does not appear to exist.
Trump's sharing of the graphic was also criticized by ThinkProgress and The New Republic, and was sent as controversy swirled over the reported beating of an African-American protester during a November 21 Trump rally in Birmingham, Alabama. Trump appeared on Fox News on November 22 and said of the incident, "this guy started screaming by himself and they -- I don't know, rough up, he should have been -- maybe he should have been roughed up because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing."
During the Sunday news shows on November 22, Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, and John Kasich were all challenged by hosts over the fact that under current federal law, people who are on the FBI's consolidated terror watch list are not legally prohibited from buying guns. The questions over what is known as the "terror gap" followed widespread media discussion of legislation in Congress -- opposed by the National Rifle Association -- that would prohibit people on terror watch lists from buying guns.
From the November 22 edition of NBC's Meet the Press:
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