Ethics

Issues ››› Ethics
  • The Trump Campaign Is Paying A Fox News Analyst $13,000 A Month

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Fox News continues to employ contributor Walid Phares while Donald Trump's campaign pays him $13,000 a month. Phares regularly appears on the network to boost Trump on foreign policy issues.

    Two weeks ago, Fox News suspended the contributor contract of Newt Gingrich “due to the intense media speculation about Gingrich’s potential selection” as Trump’s running mate and “to avoid all conflicts of interest that may arise.” It does not appear to be concerned with any “conflicts of interest that may arise” with Phares.

    Fox News states on Phares' biography page that he “joined Fox News in January 2007 and serves as Middle East and terrorism expert.” Trump’s monthly Federal Election Commission report shows that the campaign paid Phares $13,000 in both May and June for “policy consulting.”

    Phares frequently appears on Fox News, where he is introduced as a Fox News analyst and Trump adviser.

    “The Obama administration, unfortunately, has not accepted the principle that we're fighting an ideology,” Phares said on the July 14 broadcast of On the Record with Greta Van Susteren (via Nexis). “That is what Mr. Trump is talking about. Now, to find a policy he needs to be in government not just a candidate.”

    During a June 17 appearance on Hannity, Phares called for an investigation into the Clinton Foundation’s finances and said Clinton’s foreign policy “concerns me.” While guesting on the June 23 edition of Fox Business’ Varney & Co., Phares responded to developing news about a German theater attack by claiming that if the shooting was “politically motivated terrorism,” it will benefit Trump because it will prove that “terrorism is active in Europe.”

    Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski is still receiving severance from the Trump campaign while serving as a CNN analyst. While Lewandowski no longer holds an official spot with the campaign, he “has been pitching his own super PAC to donors,” he has served as a Trump New Hampshire delegate, and he is reportedly still giving advice to Trump. Media ethicists have harshly criticized CNN over Lewandowski’s hiring.

  • PolitiFact Debunks Trump’s “Dead Wrong” Smear Of Tim Kaine

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    PolitiFact’s Warren Fiske corrected Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump after he erroneously claimed that Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine took more undisclosed personal gifts than former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.

    McDonnell and his wife were convicted in 2014 on 11 counts of corruption after being accused of taking “undisclosed” gifts from businessman Jonnie Williams in exchange for connecting him to state officials, including $120,000 in loans, a Rolex watch and the use of Williams’ vacation home. The Supreme Court later overturned the conviction, saying it was unclear that McDonnell had acted inappropriately on Williams’ behalf. Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine also took gifts from several companies, including Barr Pharmaceuticals, Dominion Resources and McCandlish Holton PC, but CNN’s Chris Frates explained that Kaine complied with the state law and “disclosed his gifts” while McDonnell did not.   

    PolitiFact noted that, contrary to Trump’s claim, McDonnell actually accepted almost three times as much in gifts as Kaine and that all of Kaine’s gifts were “disclosed as required by state law.” Fiske called Trump’s remark “dead wrong” and gave him PolitiFact’s highest rating of “Pants on Fire.” From the July 24 fact check:  

    Donald Trump welcomed U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., to the Democratic presidential ticket on Sunday by assailing the presumptive vice presidential nominee’s ethics.

    Appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press, Trump said Kaine accepted more political gifts than former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.

    That’s a big claim, because McDonnell, a Republican, stood trial for accepting $177,000 in undisclosed personal gifts from an entrepreneur who was seeking business with the state. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned McDonnell’s bribery convictions in June.

    "Bob McDonnell took a fraction of what Kaine took," said Trump, the GOP presidential nominee. "And I think, to me, it’s a big problem. Now, how do you take all these gifts? Hundreds of thousands of dollars."

    We wondered whether McDonnell’s gift-taking was, in fact, "a fraction" of Kaine’s. Trump’s campaign did not respond to our request for proof. So we set out on our own, comparing gifts Kaine received as lieutenant governor and governor from 2002 to 2010 to those McDonnell accepted as attorney general from 2006 to 2009 and as governor from 2010 to 2014.

    [...]

    Trump, speaking about gift-taking, said, "Bob McDonnell took a fraction of what (Tim) Kaine took."

    Kaine accepted $162,083 in gifts as lieutenant governor and governor, all of which was disclosed as required by state law.

    McDonnell disclosed accepting $275,707 in gifts as attorney general and governor. And there was another $177,000 that he didn’t disclose. That comes to a total of $452,707 in gifts - almost three times Kaine’s total.

    Trump has got this one dead wrong. We rate his statement Pants on Fire.

     
  • Fox Figures React To Roger Ailes Resignation Amid Sexual Harassment Allegations With “Tears”

    Blog ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Following reports that Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes had resigned amid allegations of sexual harassment, Fox News figures reacted with disbelief, “tears,” and calling the decision an example of “the grotesque unfairness of life.”

    In a July 21 statement from Fox News’ parent company 21st Century Fox, it was announced that Ailes “has resigned from his role effective immediately,” and that Executive Chairman of 21st Century Fox “Rupert Murdoch will assume the role of Chairman and acting CEO of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network.” 

    Previously multiple Fox figures came out in support of Ailes and attacked his accuser. Following the news of Ailes’ resignation, Fox personalities responded with support for Ailes:

  • Journalists At The RNC: The Trump Campaign’s Press Treatment Raises “Serious Questions” About How President Trump Would Treat The Media

    Blog ››› ››› JOE STRUPP

    Journalists at this week’s Republican National Convention warn that the Trump campaign’s treatment of the press raises serious questions about how his administration would treat the media, with one calling the Republican nominee a “dictator-in-waiting.”

    The Republican nominee and his campaign have waged a long-running war on the press, including banning critical outlets from events, promising to “open up our libel laws” if Trump is elected, and regularly personally insulting reporters.

    In interviews with Media Matters at the RNC, several journalists criticized Trump's approach to the media. 

    “He’s a dictator-in-waiting, it doesn’t surprise me the way he is,” Foreign Policy Initiative fellow and former New Republic reporter James Kirchick said. 

    Kriston Capps, a writer for The Atlantic, said Trump “despises [the press], but he can’t break an addiction to the press.” He added, “I think it would be a huge change in tone for the United States; to have a president calling people liars for doing their jobs would be unprecedented.”

    Trump’s press treatment has been the subject of widespread criticism, including from journalism rights groups that have warned a Trump presidency could curtail press freedom and former White House press secretaries who think Trump might poison White House press relations.

    “My assumption is that a Trump presidency will see the same kind of behavior that we have seen in the past 10 months and 10 years,” said Jeff Greenfield, an Emmy Award-winning journalist. “It becomes very difficult [to continue that behavior] when you are the chief executive of the United States, that’s when you get some very serious questions.”

    Jim Payne, a news anchor for WESH, NBC’s Orlando, FL, affiliate, argued that Trump “demonizes the media and blames us for not getting the message out the way he wants it.” He added, “But he needs the media. Most of what he is proposing goes against the constitution anyway.”

    Philadelphia Sunday Sun journalist Denise Clay said: “In order to be an effective president, it would help if you knew how the Constitution works. When Mr. Trump made the remark that he would make it easier to sue [reporters] and make it harder for reporters to do their job, he doesn’t know the First Amendment.”

  • The Trump Campaign Dares The Press To Call Them Liars

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Paul Manafort

    During her speech to the Republican National Convention last night, Melania Trump plagiarized sections of Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech to the Democratic National Convention nearly word for word. This is not a close call. This is not subject to debate. It happened.

    When asked by reporters about this obvious instance of plagiarism, the Trump campaign has repeatedly denied that the speech contained plagiarism, with campaign chairman Paul Manafort saying “no cribbing” occurred and suggesting that it happened is “crazy.” This is obviously untrue. Since the Trump campaign officials have to realize this is obviously false, they are lying.

    The Trump campaign, which has made untruths a cornerstone of its communications effort, is daring reporters to call its surrogates out for lying. And some are answering the challenge, like CNN’s Chris Cuomo. There’s little doubt that the campaign’s next move will be attacking the press for pointing out the plagiarism while continuing to deny that it happened.

    Reporters have a choice: They can report that the paragraphs sure seem similar but the Trump campaign denies plagiarism, or they can acknowledge outright that the Trump campaign is lying.

  • Roger Stone Being Featured At Politico Event A Day After Claiming Clinton Involvement In Vince Foster Conspiracy

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    Roger Stone

    Longtime Donald Trump adviser and notorious “dirty trickster” Roger Stone is scheduled to appear as part of Politico’s “Playbook Breakfast at the RNC” event one day after smearing Hillary Clinton as a “mentally unbalanced criminal” and suggesting she was involved in a conspiracy surrounding the death of former White House aide Vince Foster.

    Stone has a long history of violent, sexist, and racist rhetoric, including calling for the killing of several public figures. Stone is listed on Politico’s website as a guest for the July 19 event. NBC News managing editor of politics Dafna Linzer and CNN politics executive editor Mark Preston are scheduled to appear before Stone. Stone is currently banned from appearing on both of those networks due to his incendiary commentary.

    On July 18, appearing as the “co-host” of the “America First Unity Rally 2016,” Stone described Hillary Clinton as “a short-tempered, foul-mouthed, greedy, bipolar, mentally unbalanced criminal” and pushed the conspiracy theory that she had White House aide Vince Foster’s body moved from his office to Fort Marcy Park.

    Stone is an informal advisor to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, and at the rally said he was delayed due to “meetings" with members of "the Trump staff.”

    Stone’s rally comments are in line with his history of incendiary and false statements.

    He had several tweets that referred to African-American figures as “stupid negro,” “fat negro,” Uncle Tom,” “Mandingo” and “house negro.” Additionally he referred to African-American and Latina commentators as “quota hires.” Stone also made misogynistic comments on his Twitter account.

    Stone has called for the execution of Hillary Clinton and George Soros, and argued that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) should be “shot” for “treason.”

    Stone has also targeted Politico staffers on his Twitter account. He tweeted in May, “Fact- more people watching Newsmax TV than reading the shit cranked out by dishonest 'reporter' @kenvogel at Clintonite POLITICO.” In a since-deleted tweet, Stone once asked, “Which female Politico Reporter goes commando regularly.”

  • Wash. Post Highlights How Ailes And O'Reilly Save Each Other During Scandals

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple highlighted how Fox News host Bill O’Reilly and chairman and CEO Roger Ailes have defended each other during scandals, with O’Reilly defending Ailes against sexual harassment allegations by former Fox host Gretchen Carlson.

    In 2015, Media Matters reported on numerous inconsistent and false stories told by O’Reilly, including his claim that he witnessed a “firefight” in El Salvador and that he heard a shotgun blast that killed a figure in the investigation into the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Veteran war reporters asserted that his misleading reports that he covered a riot where “many were killed” during the 1982 Falklands War violated “Journalism 101.” O’Reilly responded to these allegations by claiming that Fox News was under attack for political reasons.

    In a July 13 appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers, O’Reilly called Ailes “a target” and called Carlson’s lawsuit -- which alleged that Ailes suggested that Carlson have a “sexual relationship” with him and made “frequent sexually-charged comments” -- a “frivolous lawsuit.”

    Wemple explained that Ailes similarly defended O’Reilly against allegations that he “either embellished or told falsehoods or outright lied about various reporting exploits” uncovered by Media Matters and Mother Jones. As O’Reilly’s past statements were being scrutinized, Ailes issued a statement that he “and all senior management are in full support of Bill O’Reilly”:

    [O’Reilly] was saddened by the misfortune of the true victim here: “I’ve worked for Roger Ailes for 20 years. Best boss I’ve ever had. Straight shooter. Always honest with me. And I believe that over the years — he’s been in the business for 50 years — 95 percent of the people who have worked for Roger Ailes would say exactly the same thing I just told you,” said O’Reilly, leaving unanswered just what that other 5 percent might say. “In this country, every famous, powerful or wealthy person is a target. You’re a target,” he said to Meyers. “I’m a target. Anytime somebody could come out and sue us, attack us, go to the press or anything like that. Until America — and that’s a deplorable situation….adopts the English system of civil law whereby if you file a frivolous lawsuit and you lose, the judge has a right to make you pay all court costs. Until we adopt that very fair proposition, we’re going to have this out-of-control tabloid society that is tremendously destructive. I stand behind Roger 100 percent.”

    [...]

    It was just last year that O’Reilly’s own career appeared in doubt, as outlets like Mother Jones (disclosure: the wife of the Erik Wemple Blog works there as a staff writer) and Media Matters, among others, documented how O’Reilly had either embellished or told falsehoods or outright lied about various reporting exploits from his extensive career in journalism. The King of Cable News, it turned out, had a knack for placing himself closer to the action than his peers and colleagues recollected. The discrepancies were substantive, serial and damaging.

    Not within Fox News, however. Whereas other network bosses might have fired up an internal investigation and declared that we take these allegations seriously, Ailes plied a different course. “Fox News Chairman & CEO Roger Ailes and all senior management are in full support of Bill O’Reilly,” asserted a statement from the network.  Behind such defiance — not to mention angry and absurd denials by O’Reilly himself — the network waited out the siege. Media reporters eventually moved on to other topics. O’Reilly stayed in his seat, thanks to Ailes.

    Now, on late-night television, he returns the favor. This is loyalty, Fox News style.

  • Donald Trump Defends Roger Ailes Against Allegations Of Sexual Harassment

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump defended Fox News CEO Roger Ailes against allegations that he sexually harassed multiple women and fired former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson in retaliation for denying his sexual advances.

    Former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit against Ailes, alleging he fired Carlson “after she rebuffed Mr. Ailes’ sexual advances” and challenged “what she felt was unequal treatment of her in the newsroom by some of her male colleagues.” Several other women have come forward with complaints or contacted Carlson’s law firm to report similar experiences of mistreatment. Multiple reporters have detailed Ailes’ longstanding track-record of sexism and allegations of sexual harassment against him, including his obsession with displaying female anchors’ legs on Fox programs, and numerous sexist remarks to employees.

    Trump also has a reported history of degrading and inappropriate behavior toward women including “unwelcome romantic advances, unending commentary on the female form, a shrewd reliance on ambitious women, and unsettling workplace conduct.”

    In a July 14 article, Washington Examiner reported that the presumptive nominee believed allegations against Ailes were “unfounded ... totally unfounded.” From the Washington Examiner’s report:

    Republican nominee Donald Trump is defending his friend Fox News CEO Roger Ailes from accusations that he sexually harassed female employees.

    In an interview Thursday with the Washington Examiner, Trump said he doesn't believe the allegations recently leveled against the 76-year-old Fox News chief executive.

    "I think they are unfounded just based on what I've read," said Trump. "Totally unfounded, based on what I read."

    Former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson last week announced her lawsuit against Ailes, which alleged that he declined to renew her contract after she complained of unwanted sexual advances from Ailes, and also alleged sexist behavior from some of her other male colleagues.
     

  • Report: Roger Ailes Accuser Tried To Make Her Sexual Harassment Claim Against Him Decades Ago

    One Of Ailes’ Accusers Reportedly Made Claim To LA Weekly In 1990s, Which Received No Clear Denial From Ailes

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Chicago Reader’s Michael Miner reported that one of the women alleging Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes sexually harassed her “tried to tell the world” about her harassment “decades ago” and that Ailes didn’t “clear[ly] den[y]” the allegation at the time.

    On July 6, former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson filed a “sexual harassment/retaliation” lawsuit against Ailes, alleging that he fired her “after she rebuffed Mr. Ailes’ sexual advances and also tried to challenge what she felt was unequal treatment of her in the newsroom by some of her male colleagues.” Since Carlson filed her lawsuit, New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman reported six more women have come forward alleging Ailes harassed them. Ailes’ lawyer called the women’s allegations “all 30 to 50 years old” and “false.” 

    In a July 14 article, Miner wrote that he has personally known one of the women who spoke to New York magazine since childhood, and that she told him "about her encounter with Roger Ailes decades ago and—more to the point—she tried to tell the world too.” Miner claimed that the woman, using the pseudonym “Susan,” tried to tell the newspaper LA Weekly about her incident in 1992, and that according to the editor of the Weekly, Ailes “‘didn't really make any clear denial’” when asked about the charge, but instead “‘was fumbling around in self-pity.’” From Miner’s article:

    New York magazine interviewed some of the women who'd contacted Carlson's lawyer, and last weekend posted "Six More Women Allege That Roger Ailes Sexually Harassed Them." One of these women was "Susan."

    [...]

    So I write here to put something on the record: I've known Susan, not her real name, since we were both children. She did not just come out of the woodwork. She told me about her encounter with Roger Ailes decades ago and—more to the point—she tried to tell the world too.

    In 1988 she saw Ailes rise to national prominence as the media svengali in Bush's come-from-behind victory over Michael Dukakis, the artisan of negativity chiefly responsible for Bush's devastating "revolving door" TV attack ad. Four years later Bush ran for reelection, and Susan expected more of the same from Ailes. (Ultimately, he had no formal role in Bush's 1992 campaign.) Susan typed up an account of the Mike Douglas Show encounter and sent it to the primary alternative newspaper in what was by then her home town, LA Weekly. "Roger, You Made Me a Democrat," she called her story, and went on to say that, pre-Ailes, she'd been a "Goldwater Girl," her mother a Republican committeewoman.

    The story she submitted in 1992 was a more detailed version of the account just published by New York Magazine. Jay Levin, the editor of LA Weekly at the time, remembers it. Levin assigned a staff writer, Ron Curran, to call Ailes. "We had expected the usual 'She’s lying and I will sue you,'" says Levin; "Instead, Curran said he got a kind of mumbling self-pity from Ailes. So I decided I needed to hear him myself."

    Levin got the same. "To the best of my memory," he says, "Ailes repeated something about being in a bad place in his past life. He didn't make any threats and he didn't really make any clear denial. He was fumbling around in self-pity. I said, 'OK, to be clear, are you denying this or not? Are you saying she's a liar? I don't hear a clear denial.' He said, weakly, 'Yes, I'm denying it,' and he wanted to know what we were going to do."

    Levin said he didn't know, and in the end LA Weekly didn't publish Susan's account—for reasons I understand. This was a story requiring strong corroboration, and Levin had no other names. Furthermore, Ailes was in the east, and following up would have meant hiring a reporter there to spend weeks tracking down women who'd worked for him. There was the obvious risk of a lawsuit. And Ailes wasn't then who he is now—one of the most powerful men in American media. "Going after him," says Levin, "would be a misallocation of resources."

    [...]

    When I read about Carlson suing Ailes, I sent Susan an e-mail that said, "Isn't this your guy?" Susan told me she'd already called Carlson's lawyers.