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  • Roger Stone: Trump Paid Kathleen Willey So She Could Trash Clintons

    Media Matters Releases Video Of Trump Insider Boasting About Trump Giving Willey Money

    ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    The media is highlighting a new web video from Donald Trump’s presidential campaign that features former White House aide Kathleen Willey accusing Bill Clinton of sexually assaulting her in the 1990s. In video obtained by Media Matters -- published here for the first time -- close Trump ally Roger Stone says Trump himself gave money to Willey so she would be able to attack the Clintons during Hillary Clinton’s current presidential run. The Office of the Independent Counsel reviewed Willey’s allegations but declined to press charges after determining that Willey repeatedly shifted her story, lied to the FBI, and urged a friend to falsely support her story. She subsequently suggested that the Clintons had murdered her husband in the same way they supposedly murdered former White House aide Vince Foster.

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

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    [...]

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

  • Fox News Figures Back Contributor Newt Gingrich As Trump’s Running Mate

    ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Fox News figures are praising network contributor Newt Gingrich as a “great choice” for Donald Trump’s running mate. They have touted Gingrich -- the first speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives to be punished by the House for ethics violations -- as “a genius,” “a conservative with bona fides,” and someone who would “bring tremendous stability, tremendous gravitas, incredible intellect,” and “judgment experience.”  

  • Latest Accounts Of Trump Misogyny Allege Unlawful Behavior, But Media Don't Notice

    Blog ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Media coverage of The New York Times’ report detailing allegations of misogyny and sexual harassment on the part of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump virtually ignored allegations of possible illegal behavior and focused instead on one of the women in the report who claimed the Times “spun” her words.

    On May 14, The New York Times published a front-page story titled “Crossing the Line: How Donald Trump Behaved With Women in Private.” The article, based on over 50 interviews, “reveal[ed] unwelcome romantic advances, unending commentary on the female form, a shrewd reliance on ambitious women, and unsettling workplace conduct” by Trump, according to the Times.

    Two of the people the Times referenced in the report were Jill Harth and her former boyfriend George Houraney, who had both “worked with Mr. Trump on a beauty pageant in Atlantic City and later accused Mr. Trump of inappropriate behavior toward Ms. Harth during their business dealings.” The Boston Globe detailed Harth and Houraney's accounts extensively in April, which included accusations of sexual harassment by the candidate against his reported business partner in the pageant, Ms. Harth:

    After a few weeks of negotiating, they came to terms on many aspects of a deal. It was time to celebrate. Trump invited the American Dream executive team, along with at least nine past and present calendar models, to a party at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach in January 1993.

    During dinner, Harth alleged, Trump demanded that she sit next to him.

    “When we got to the dinner table, Donald started right in on the groping under the table, to tell you the truth,” Harth said in her deposition.

    Some of the salacious charges about what happened later that night, based on Harth’s assertions, were reported in 1997 in New York tabloids and the National Enquirer. Trump took her into an empty bedroom — the one normally used by daughter Ivanka, who at the time was 11. Trump forcibly “kissed, fondled, and restrained” her from leaving, according to Harth’s suit.

    [...]

    Several weeks later, Harth again went to Mar-a-Lago for a meeting to discuss the competition. After some of Trump’s business associates left, Harth alleges that Trump forced her into a bedroom, made “unwanted sexual advances,” and began touching her “private parts” and “uttering Svengali-type proclamations of love.”

    Harth said in the lawsuit that she immediately “became nauseated and vomited profusely.”

    A Media Matters analysis found that Harth’s account of sexual harassment was not examined by media on morning, daytime, or evening news programs on CNN, Fox News, ABC, NBC, or CBS, and was mentioned only once on MSNBC in a report on All in with Chris Hayes. But the Times report suggests that Harth’s story is part of a pattern of “unsettling workplace conduct,” which could constitute allegations of what is legally known as the creation of hostile work environments through unlawful sexual harassment.

    Only one show made this connection about the gravity of the allegations -- ABC’s The View on May 16 -- but co-host Joy Behar didn’t go into more detail beyond saying, “That is called sexual harassment.”

    By contrast, media outlets mentioned Rowanne Brewer Lane’s allegations that the Times “spun” her words at least 40 times. According to the Times, Brewer Lane alleged that Trump had “asked her to change out of her clothes” and “to put on a swimsuit.” Since the publication of the report, Brewer Lane has labeled the account “a hit piece.”

    Methodology: Media Matters searched Nexis and Snapstream transcripts for coverage between May 14 and May 22 on MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, ABC, CBS, and NBC using the terms "Jill Harth," "Harth," "Sexual harassment AND Trump," “Trump AND Harth,” "Sexual assault AND Trump,'" and “Brewer Lane.” A supplemental search was conducted using alternate spellings including the terms: “Trump and har” “Trump and herth,” “herth,” “harf,” and “Trump and harf.”

  • How Megyn Kelly’s Softball Interview With Trump Signaled Fox News’ Complete Surrender

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Fox News’ combustible feud with Donald Trump began with a bang last August when Megyn Kelly pressed the candidate on his ugly history of misogynistic language. The hostilities ended with a whimper though, when Kelly last week obediently walked Trump through the now-infamous softball (or “airball”) interview as part of her first Fox Broadcast special.

    Media observers have been lining up to describe just how awful and boring and disappointing Kelly’s sit-down with Trump was, especially after she had made the media rounds promoting herself as a strong, independent journalist who wasn’t going to be intimidated by Trump.

    Instead, she practically bowed in Trump’s presence and produced the kind of “journalism” that Fox News is famous for -- The New Yorker called the interview “a useless exercise, except, perhaps, for those watching from one group: Republicans looking for a script for how to surrender to Donald Trump.”

    Professionally, Kelly’s wilting performance may have set back her dream of becoming the next Oprah or Barbara Walters; of breaking out of the Fox News conservative media word and establishing herself as a TV brand that can appeal to huge swaths of viewers. And maybe bank $20 million annually.

    Based on how the special flopped, she may not have that appeal. Ratings for Kelly’s first primetime television special were meh: she drew approximately five million viewers. The only real buzz the show created was the public mocking of Kelly’s inept interviewing style. (“A carefully modulated kindergarten-teacher demeanor.”)

    While Kelly huddles with her manager and agent and tries to figure out what went wrong after a long-running media love fest, the larger story that’s come into focus is how Fox News, led by Kelly’s genuflection to Trump, has signaled its institutional surrender to the presumptive GOP nominee. Fox News has been bullied and beaten into submission by a Republican front-runner who had the audacity to pick a fight with Roger Ailes and the mass media mouthpiece of the Republican Party.

    Sure, holdouts like Charles KrauthammerStephen Hayes and Greg Gutfeld remain staples on the Fox News lineup; holdouts who have dismissed Trump as a conservative joke for months. But their numbers, and certainly their sway, seem to be shrinking as the cable channel clumsily and belatedly maneuvers itself into its traditional campaign role: a cheerleader for, and ferocious defender of, the RNC.

    Like much of the Republican Party, as well as large portions of the conservative movement, Fox News is fumbling its way onto the “acceptance” mark as it comes to the final stages of its weird grieving process over the Trump nomination. Eight in 10 Republican voters now want party leaders to rally behind Trump, according to the latest New York Times/CBS poll.

    On paper, Trump and Fox seem like a perfect fit since both celebrate bigotry and embrace a kind of divisiveness-on-steroids approach to attack politics. But Fox isn’t used to being pushed around by politicians, let alone by the presumptive Republican Party nominee.

    And the conservative in-fighting led to major branding woes for Fox News:

    By mid February, [Fox’s] perception by Republican adults 18 and over had reached its lowest point in more than three years, and has declined by approximately 50% since January of this year. Coinciding with Trump’s rise to front-runner in the GOP presidential race, Fox News Channel has seen its perception by Republicans slide.

    Today we look at the capitulation landscape and think, well of course Fox News was going to surrender to Trump, right? Fox always backs the GOP front-runner. That logic makes sense today. But how quickly we forget the unprecedented brawl that played out for the last nine months, as Fox routinely found itself stumbling and bumbling; one moment supporting Trump and the next moment angrily lashing out at him.

    Here’s a stroll down the civil war memory lane. We may never see anything quite like it again in conservative politics: 

    2015:

    Rupert Murdoch reportedly orders Kelly to attack Trump at first GOP debate.

    Trump tweet-storms Kelly following the debate.

    Trump and Ailes reportedly smooth over their differences during private conversation.

    Trump launches a personal boycott Fox News.

    Trump drops his boycott.

    Trump spends New Year's Eve palling around with Fox News.

    2016:

    Trump threatens to be a no-show for a Fox News GOP debate.

    Fox releases a scathing statement about Trump skipping the debate.

    Trump calls Kelly “crazy” and “unwatchable.”

    During a post-debate interview, Trump suggests Bill O’Reilly go see a psychiatrist.

    Fox denounces Trump’s “sick obsession” with Kelly.

    Trump calls Kelly an "overrated anchor."

    Kelly meets in private with Trump to request an interview; asks him to stop insulting her.

    Fox airs Kelly’s puff piece interview with Trump. 

    And scene.

    We’re done here folks. Pack up your spectacles because the show is over. All’s that left on stage now are Ailes and Kelly, searching for their pride.