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  • Fox News’ Sham Effort To Prove Donald Trump Isn’t Lying About Iraq

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    There is no Donald Trump lie better-documented than his constantly repeated falsehood that he opposed the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. During last night’s debate, he was pummeled on the issue by moderator Lester Holt and numerous fact-checkers. Dutifully doing damage control for the Republican nominee, Fox News is now trying to obscure the record, claiming that “history backs The Donald.”

    As numerous fact-checkers have noted, contrary to his claims that he was “totally against the war in Iraq” from the beginning, in 2002, more than six months before the invasion of Iraq, Trump was asked by radio host Howard Stern if he was “for invading Iraq.” He responded, “Yeah, I guess so. You know, I wish the first time it was done correctly.”

    Trump struggled to explain why he keeps lying about this during the September 26 debate as Holt repeatedly pointed out that he had originally supported the war. At one point, Trump claimed that he had done “an interview with [Fox News anchor] Neil Cavuto” which he claimed vindicated him.

    But the Cavuto interview in question has been reviewed by numerous fact-checkers that concluded it did not support his claims to be against the war. Fox News, on the other hand, is ready and willing to use the interview to clear Trump of a months-long campaign of lies.

    An unbylined FoxNews.com article claimed Trump was right, reporting that the January 2003 interview “backs up Trump on Iraq War opposition”:

    After all the clamor for moderators to fact-check the candidates during Monday night's presidential debate, Donald Trump flipped the script on Lester Holt by rejecting his assertion Trump backed the war in Iraq - and history backs The Donald.

    [...]

    Cavuto himself picked up the thread post-debate on Fox Business Network, unearthing the clip Trump referenced, from January 28, 2003 – Nearly two months before the Iraq War began on March 20. In the video, Cavuto asks Trump how much time President Bush should spend on the economy vs. on Iraq.

    “Well, I’m starting to think that people are much more focused now on the economy,” Trump said. “They’re getting a little bit tired of hearing ‘We’re going in, we’re not going in.’ Whatever happened to the days of Douglas MacArthur? Either do it or don’t do it.”

    Trump continued: “Perhaps he shouldn’t be doing it yet. And perhaps we should be waiting for the United Nations.”

    Fox’s article ignores that Trump’s comments came three months after the war was authorized; that Trump did not explicitly say he opposed the invasion during that interview; or that Trump again did not say that he opposed the invasion in a subsequent interview with Cavuto in March 2003, after the war began, when he said that it “looks like a tremendous success from a military standpoint.”

    BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski called the Fox article “embarrassing” and “complete bullshit,” noting that fact-checkers had reviewed the “unearth[ed]” clip and concluded that it did not support Trump’s claims, while Fox had framed it “exactly how Trump wanted you to.” Indeed:

    • CNN has reported that Trump “never said [the war] should not be undertaken” during the Cavuto interview, adding, “It wasn't until August 2004 -- 17 months after the invasion began and the war was being widely criticized -- that Trump came out fully against the war.” CNN concluded that Trump had lied about being against the war from the start.

    • Factcheck.org noted that Trump “offers no opinion on what Bush should do” during the January 2003 Cavuto interview, concluding that there is “no evidence” Trump fought against the invasion.

    • The Washington Post FactChecker blog has repeatedly referenced the Cavuto quote, noting that Trump did not take a position on the invasion during that interview and frequently criticizing Trump’s claims about opposing the war from the beginning as “bogus.”

    • PolitiFact pointed out that Trump “didn’t speak against going to war” during the Cavuto interview, concluding that Trump’s claims about opposing the war are false.

    Only Fox News is willing to claim that the Cavuto interview “backs The Donald.” That’s not surprising given their months-long campaign in support of Trump.

  • Online Polls Are “Garbage,” But Fox News Still Cites Them

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Fox News and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump hyped online post-debate polls to claim that Trump won the debate, saying that “every poll” showed that he “did better” than Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. But online polls involve “a self-selecting group of respondents,” and journalists and polling experts generally view them as unreliable -- “garbage” even.

  • Following Widespread Derision Of Debate Performance, Trump Returns To Fox Cocoon While Surrogates Do Real Interviews

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump retreated to Fox News’ Fox & Friends for a friendly interview following widespread criticism of his September 26 presidential debate performance which was deemed a loss for Trump, while his campaign surrogates took real interviews on other cable and broadcast news networks.

    Journalists across the political spectrum lambasted Trump’s September 26 presidential debate performance, criticizing the false statements he made -- and that debate moderator Lester Holt repeatedly challenged -- on numerous issues including the Iraq War, birtherism, and his tax returns.  Reporters noted that Trump spent much of the debate on the defensive regarding those issues and that he repeatedly interrupted both Holt and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Other media figures slammed Trump for bragging that he got President Obama to release his long-form birth certificate and for his false claim that Clinton’s 2008 campaign started the racist birther conspiracy theories about Obama’s birthplace. Voters and commentators proclaimed that Trump had lost the debate to Clinton, with some calling the performance “an unmitigated disaster” and a “terrible night” for Trump.

    The following day, Trump retreated to Fox News to discuss the debate with the hosts of Fox & Friends. The show has a history of buddying up with Trump, giving him a platform to push false claims including that President Obama was not born in the United States, and Trump has lauded the show’s hosts in return. The show’s September 27 interview with Trump continued its softball history with the candidate. Rather than challenging Trump on any of his false statements, the hosts asked questions such as, “So how do you think it went last night?” and, “Do you feel that Lester Holt asked Hillary Clinton an equal number of hostile questions?” The hosts joined Trump in criticizing Holt, with co-host Steve Doocy claiming he “leaned a little over into the left lane” in contrast to Matt Lauer’s “fair and balanced” performance at NBC’s Commander-in-Chief Forum (for which Lauer has been widely criticized). Co-host Ainsley Earhardt even praised Trump for his response to Clinton’s accurate claim that the federal government had sued him for housing discrimination, saying, “I did like how you responded to that, though, because when they throw those things at you, and you’re -- being in the audience, I didn't know about that. And then when you explain it, then you’re like, ‘Oh, OK, well that makes sense.’” The hosts also gave Trump space to attack, without any pushback, a former Miss Universe winner and to insult her weight.

    In contrast with Trump’s cocoon on Fox’s morning show, Trump surrogates took harder interviews at other networks. Hosts on NBC’s Today and CBS This Morning challenged Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R), about why Trump took credit for spurring President Obama to release his birth certificate, about whether Trump “lie[d]” when he falsely claimed he never said climate change was a hoax, and why Trump bragged about possibly not paying taxes. On CNN’s New Day and MSNBC’s Morning Joe, the hosts pressed Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway over whether Trump’s birther answer was appropriate and whether he would apologize for his birther campaign. They also asked about Trump’s climate change stance and the quality of Trump’s debate performance overall.

    Trump’s retreat to Fox News continues a recent trend. Fox media reporter Howard Kurtz reported in June that Trump was scaling back on interviews with networks other than Fox. A Media Matters analysis found that between September 7, when Trump appeared on NBC’s Commander-in-Chief Forum, and September 22, Trump gave seven interviews to Fox News, totaling more than 1 hour and 40 minutes of airtime. During the same time frame, he had not appeared on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, or MSNBC. Given Trump’s withdrawal to a network that repeatedly delivers softball interviews, it perhaps is not surprising that he struggled when he was actually fact-checked by a journalist at the debate. Responding to CNN host Carol Costello’s observation that Trump’s Fox & Friends interview did not include “difficult questions,” CNN media correspondent Brian Stelter noted that Trump had “mostly sheltered himself within conservative media” and said that he had “doubts about whether it's a winning strategy now.” And as The New York Times’ Alex Burns noted of the Fox & Friends interview, “[T]his is how you end up unprepared for real questions and real heat in a debate.”

  • Fox's Alternate Reality On New York City's Murder Rate

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Fox News used a misleading chart featuring incomplete data to defend Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s false claim made during the first presidential debate that “murders are up” in New York City. Fox’s chart used data from 2014 to 2015 to demonstrate a rise in murder rates, but did not include complete data showing that murder rates in New York City are down in 2016 from the same point last year.

  • Trump Can’t Make Up His Mind On Lester Holt’s Debate Performance 

    Trump Reverses Course On Praise Of Holt After Right-Wing Media Find Fault

    ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    Less than 12 hours after Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his campaign praised NBC’s Lester Holt for asking “very fair” questions during the first presidential debate, Trump walked back his support of Holt, stating that he asked “very unfair questions at the end” of the debate. Trump’s reversal echoed right-wing media figures who claimed Holt was tougher on Trump than Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and argued that Holt should have brought up Clinton’s emails and the Clinton Foundation. 

  • Right-Wing Media Criticize Lester Holt For Interrupting Trump, Even Though Trump Interrupted Clinton 51 Times

    ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

    Right-wing media figures criticized presidential debate moderator Lester Holt for interrupting Republican nominee Donald Trump more than Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Yet Trump interrupted Clinton 51 times -- three times as often as Clinton interrupted Trump -- and repeatedly went over his allotted time and made numerous factually inaccurate statements.

  • Former Miss Universe Alicia Machado Told Univision In May That Trump Treated Her Terribly

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    During the first presidential debate, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton pointed to Republican nominee Donald Trump’s record of mistreating women, highlighting his attacks on former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, whom he referred to as “Miss Piggy.” Trump, who owned the Miss Universe pageant from 1996 to 2015, doubled down the morning after the debate on the September 27 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, saying Machado had “gained a massive amount of weight and it was a real problem.”

    Machado appeared on Univision’s Al Punto in May after a New York Times report about Trump’s treatment of women in private described the insults and humiliation Trump subjected her to during her time as Miss Universe. Machado told host Jorge Ramos that Trump had treated her terribly and had mocked her appearance, calling her “Miss Piggy” and “Miss Housekeeping” and saying she was an “eating machine.” She also said the experience had caused her “huge emotional pain.” From the May 22 edition of Univision’s Al Punto:

     

    Translated transcript:

    JORGE RAMOS (HOST): What happened? What happened when you win Miss Universe in 1996, you were 18 years old, and then the New York Times report says you had gained weight after. Enter Donald Trump; what happened?

    ALICIA MACHADO: Well, first I want to take advantage of this opportunity to talk to the Hispanic community, with all the love I’ve always had for it in the past 20 years, to tell them that all of what’s happening with my voice is not something I have sought out. It’s something that has come to me. The people from The New York Times have come to me and asked me to speak for this report, along with other women who’ve had the opportunity or had the experience of being close to Trump, women of different socioeconomic status and careers.

    RAMOS: And how did Donald Trump treat you?

    MACHADO: Terribly, and this isn't something new for me to say. I’ve been saying this for 20 years, what I lived through in that year, how that affected me as a person, I suffered a lot of psychological violence.

    RAMOS: We’re going to show a video of you, when you get there, and you told this story to the NYT, you get to the gym--

    MACHADO: Yes and I had no idea any of this was going to happen.

    RAMOS: You didn’t know there was going to be media?

    MACHADO: No, I didn’t know anything at all. All that I can say about Trump is something I can prove, it’s all documented, I’m not making anything up.

    RAMOS: These reporters, you didn't know they would be there.

    MACHADO: No, I didn’t know they were going to be there. This happened about four months -- yes, I think it was around December or November, because I remember it was really cold in New York. And I had won in May, so it wasn’t like I gained weight immediately. I won the best body in Miss Universe that year, I lifted a lot of weights. It was the time where fit bodies were starting to become trendy, “light” things were trendy.

    RAMOS: How did all of this affect you?

    MACHADO: A lot. I'm going to tell you quickly, I went to the company and asked them for help, I went to their office in Los Angeles. I told them I had gained weight, I don't feel happy, if you put me with a nutritionist I can lose this weight quickly. They told me pack your bags you're going to New York. I said great, I go to New York, and the next day they tell me we’re going to a gym, to set me up with a personal trainer, and a diet. And when I arrived at the gym, I find all this [media] circus. And I tell him I don’t want to do it, that I was embarrassed. And he said, "I don't care, I pay you for this, smile.”

    RAMOS: You have a big social media presence. One of your followers asked, "Why did it take you so long to denounce this?"

    MACHADO: Because he wasn't running for president before, I think -- he's not going to run a casino, he's going to run a great nation, the United States. I also had to overcome a huge emotional pain that even now when I remember it I am upset about it --

    RAMOS: You responded saying, "I didn't think he could ever be a presidential candidate and when I was 18 I was afraid [of speaking out]. Without fear." You were scared of Donald Trump?

    MACHADO: Of course. Very afraid, I was very afraid of him. How could I not be, if was coming from a city at 18 years old as a beauty queen, I didn't have a multimillionaire family that could support me against such a powerful man. So I want to take the opportunity to tell voters in this election -- this country and the world does not need a man who can just do business. I also think we need a good human being, a person with a good heart, and I am totally and absolutely convinced that Donald Trump is not a person that has a good heart.

    RAMOS: You will become a citizen of the United States soon?

    MACHADO: Yes, I want to be able to vote, to have the moral authority to be able to fight for the well-being of this country. I forgave Trump for this episode and other things that happened in that time --

    RAMOS: What else did you see, in Donald Trump and his treatment of other people?

    MACHADO: I'm just going to be talking about my own experience. What I lived was not pleasant, it was humiliating. He's a cold, calculating person, he’s a man that has very little consideration for anyone he thinks is inferior.

    RAMOS: He called you Miss Piggy once?

    MACHADO: He called me Miss Piggy, he called me Miss Housekeeping, he called me an eating machine. And I would argue with him saying that I'm Latina and have a little bit more than others.

    RAMOS: You considered in an insult at that time?

    MACHADO: Yes of course, and it was also how he said it. It’s not just what they say to you, it’s also how they say it.