Issues ››› Ethics
  • 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.

  • Report: Roger Ailes Is Trying To Cover Up Widespread Sex Discrimination Claims

    NY Times Explains How Roger Ailes Is Keeping Pervasive Sexual Harassment Claims Secret, Out Of The Justice System And Into A Private, Pro-Corporate Court

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The New York Times explained that Gretchen Carlson’s Fox News contract -- which may bar the former network anchor from taking her sexual harassment lawsuit against Fox News CEO Roger Ailes to any federal court -- “could significantly impede [her]chances of prevailing.” 

    On July 6, former Fox News host Carlson filed a lawsuit against Fox CEO Roger 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.” Carlson also alleged that while she was a host of Fox & Friends, her co-host Steve Doocy “engaged in a pattern of severe and pervasive mistreatment” of Carlson. Carlson has been a witness to years of sexism from her male colleagues, plenty of it directed at her. Several other women have come forward with complaints or contacted Carlson’s law firm to report similar experiences of mistreatment.

    In a July 13 New York Times article, Noam Scheiber and Jessica Silver-Greenberg explained that Carlson’s “chances of prevailing” in her sexual harassment lawsuit could be significantly impeded because her Fox News employment contract requires employment disputes to be handled confidentially through arbitration, rather than in a federal court -- and “has much broader secrecy language than is common.” As the Times explained, arbitration “can obscure patterns of wrongdoing” because it is “conducted out of public view with no judge or jury.” Through arbitration clauses, employers like Ailes effectively “take[] away one of the few tools that workers have to fight harassment or discrimination.” The Times drew parallels between Carlson’s case and that of an American Apparel case, where a contractual arbitration agreement kept multiple sexual harassment allegations against former CEO Dov Charney “out of court” and “private,” to Charney’s legal advantage. 

    When Gretchen Carlson sought her day in court with a sexual harassment lawsuit against Roger Ailes, her former boss at Fox News, Mr. Ailes’s lawyers had a quick response: Move the case to arbitration.

    Experts and lawyers who have studied arbitration cases say that process, if enacted, could significantly impede Ms. Carlson’s chances of prevailing.

    While arbitration is normally a secretive process, a typical plaintiff involved in arbitration would at least be able to speak publicly about his or her case. But Ms. Carlson, a former anchor who was let go last month, had a contract that makes the process even more secret, stipulating that “all filings, evidence and testimony connected with the arbitration, and all relevant allegations and events leading up to the arbitration, shall be held in strict confidence.”

    “The clause has much broader secrecy language than is common in arbitration,” said F. Paul Bland Jr., an arbitration expert and executive director of the advocacy group Public Justice. “This clause explicitly put in gag-order language on all facts and evidence relating to these types of allegations.”

    The use of arbitration has proliferated over the last decade, as a soaring number of corporations have sought to keep employment disputes private. That is because arbitration in general is a private process, conducted out of public view with no judge or jury. By using the arbitration clauses to bar people from joining together as a group, employers, both large and small, have effectively taken away one of the few tools that workers have to fight harassment or discrimination.

    In a report issued just last week, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission noted that forced arbitration “can prevent employees from learning about similar concerns shared by others in their workplace.”

    Some regulators and civil rights experts also worry that arbitration clauses can obscure patterns of wrongdoing.


    In one example, American Apparel required many employees to agree to resolve disputes through arbitration, and to keep most of the details of the arbitration process completely private. Many employment contracts also included a confidentiality agreement that prohibited workers from publicly sharing personal details about Dov Charney, the company’s founder and former chief executive. Those who did, the contracts stipulated, could be required to pay damages of $1 million.

    Several cases in which female employees sued American Apparel and Mr. Charney for sexual harassment were pushed out of court and into arbitration, where details were kept private. (An employee who accused Mr. Charney of choking him and rubbing dirt in his face did win the right to pursue his case in court in 2013.) Mr. Charney’s board eventually let him go as chief executive in 2014.


    In arbitration, the rules tilt toward businesses, employment experts say. Instead of judges, cases are decided by arbitrators who sometimes consider the companies that routinely bring them business their clients, according to interviews with arbitrators.

  • Corey Lewandowski Defends The Indefensible As CNN Commentator

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Since joining CNN as a political commentator in June, former Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski has repeatedly defended the rhetoric and actions of Trump and his campaign, calling criticism of Trump’s Star of David tweet “egregious” and saying that Trump’s comment calling someone “my African-American” is “a term of endearment,” among others.

  • Trump's Confidentiality Agreement Likely Means CNN's Lewandowski Cannot Legally Disparage Former Boss

    Blog ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

    Buzzfeed News released a non-disclosure agreement “regularly used by the [Trump] campaign” that explicitly forbids former employees from “demean[ing] or disparag[ing]” Trump, his family, or any Trump assets. The agreement further calls into question CNN’s hiring of former Donald Trump campaign manager and now-CNN contributor Corey Lewandowski, who has acted more like a Trump sycophant than an unbiased political commentator since joining the network.

    Lewandowski joined CNN in June, asserting that he was “going to tell it like it is.” During his first interview on the network as a contributor, Lewandowski would not say whether he signed a non-disparagement agreement with the Trump campaign, although CNN’s Jeff Zeleny reported that it was likely he would have in his capacity as campaign manager.

    Buzzfeed News reported on a copy of a “regularly used” Trump campaign confidentiality agreement revealed as an exhibit in a lawsuit Trump filed against a former campaign consultant. In addition to barring employees from disclosing confidential information about the candidate on TV, films, the internet, or “otherwise, even if fictionalized,” the agreement also stated that employees are not allowed to “demean or disparage publicly the Company, Mr. Trump, any Trump Company, any Family Member, or any Family Member Company,” including after employment termination (emphasis original):

    No Disparagement. During the term of your service and at all times thereafter, you hereby promise and agree not to demean or disparage publicly the Company, Mr. Trump, any Trump Company, any Family Member, or any Family Member Company or any asset any of the foregoing own, or product or service any of the foregoing offer, in each case by or in any of the Restricted Means and Contexts.

    Journalists, including numerous CNN employees, heavily criticized CNN for hiring Lewandowski after numerous incidents of Lewandowski attacking the press, and his signing of a non-disparagement agreement makes it unlikely that he can legally provide honest, unbiased commentary on the Trump campaign. Tom Fiedler, former editor of The Miami Herald, said that if Lewandowski signed a non-disparagement agreement, “He must be perceived as being totally compromised in his commentary -- put bluntly, a Trump shill.”

    During Lewandowski’s appearances on the network since his employment, he has repeatedly used his platform on CNN as a paid contributor to campaign for and defend Trump. Washington Post politics and media reporter Callum Borchers asserted that Lewandowski “has not yet transitioned out of his role as a Trump employee” on CNN and has failed “to contribute meaningful insight and analysis -- even from a pro-Trump perspective.” In addition, new reports indicate that Lewandowski is simultaneously being paid by Trump and CNN as he receives severance from the Trump campaign and still advises Trump as a CNN contributor.

  • Fox’s Hannity Provided Gingrich With Private Jet For Trump VP Audition

    CNN: “Hannity Has Long Argued That He Is Not Subject To Journalistic Ethics Because He Is A Pundit”

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    CNN reported that Trump sycophant and Fox News host Sean Hannity provided former Fox contributor Newt Gingrich with a private jet for travel to a meeting with presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump during his search for a vice presidential pick.

    On July 13, CNN reported Hannity provided a private jet to Indianapolis for Gingrich as Trump “holds late-stage meetings with his VP finalists.” Trump had previously said he would consult with Hannity on his choice for running mate, and on July 12 Hannity said of the looming choice that, “I wouldn’t be happy with anyone but Newt.” CNN also reported that Trump has been consulting with Fox News CEO Roger Ailes and 21st Century Fox executive co-chairman Rupert Murdoch:

    Newt Gingrich, a finalist on Donald Trump's vice presidential shortlist, flew to Indianapolis to meet with Trump on a private jet provided by Fox News host Sean Hannity, two sources with knowledge of the situation told CNN.

    The Fox News host flew the former House speaker to Indianapolis early Wednesday morning to meet with the Republican nominee as he holds late-stage meetings with his VP finalists, the sources said.


    The Trump-Gingrich meeting came at the request of the former speaker. Trump has also held meetings and phone calls about the VP post with Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions.

    During this time, Trump has also consulted with both Roger Ailes, the chairman and CEO of Fox News, and Rupert Murdoch, the 21st Century Fox executive co-chairman.

    On July 12, Fox News announced it suspended Gingrich from his position as a network contributor given the “intense media speculation” surrounding Gingrich as a potential VP pick and to avoid the appearance of “conflicts of interest.” While Fox News cited a conflict of interest as the reason for Gingrich’s suspension, CNN noted that “Hannity has long argued that he is not subject to journalistic ethics because he is a pundit.” Hannity has also entertained the idea of serving in an official capacity in a potential Trump administration.

    UPDATE: Sean Hannity responded to the report on Twitter, stating "Whatever favors I do for my friends is my business."