Issues ››› Gender
  • Right-Wing Media Bolster Trump’s Campaign Strategy Of Baselessly Painting Hillary Clinton As “An Enabler Of Sexual Violence”

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Right-wing media have bolstered Donald Trump’s campaign strategy of falsely claiming that Hillary Clinton has targeted women who have accused her husband, former President Bill Clinton, of sexual misconduct, in order to distract from numerous reports that Trump sexually assaulted several women. Multiple independent fact-checkers and media organizations have debunked the claims as unsubstantiated, calling them an “exaggeration too far.”

  • Pro-Trump Spin On Cable News Goes Off The Rails

    ››› ››› PAM VOGEL

    Following several new reports of women alleging Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump had sexually harassed or sexually assaulted them, Trump campaign surrogates’ defenses took a bizarre turn. Here’s what Trump’s surrogates and media allies had to say during news appearances in the last day, which included dismissing the realities of sexual assault and attempting to pivot to old, debunked “scandals.”

  • NRA Risks Complete Disaster Following Unprecedented Spending On Trump

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The NRA has gone out on a limb for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, but the candidate is in the process of sawing it off as his campaign flails amid a rapidly increasing number of new sexual assault allegations.

    While other outside groups that traditionally spend a lot on elections have taken a more measured approach in backing Trump, the NRA has already spent nearly twice as much on independent expenditures in this presidential race as it did in 2012, when it attempted to elect Mitt Romney.

    The NRA’s outsized promotion of Trump began during its May 2016 annual meeting. Previewing the group’s endorsement of Trump, NRA executive vice president and CEO Wayne LaPierre told a roaring crowd, “The revolution to take America back starts here, it starts on this day, and by God we will elect our next president, we will save our freedom, and America truly will be great again.” Moments later Trump joined the stage to receive the NRA’s official endorsement from NRA top lobbyist Chris Cox.

    Such an early endorsement of a presidential candidate was “virtually unprecedented” for the NRA, which did not endorse John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012 until October.

    The NRA has backed its enthusiasm for Trump with massive spending -- even as other conservative groups have backed off. In August, The New York Times reported that “Donald J. Trump’s candidacy has driven away throngs of Republican elected officials, donors and policy experts. But not the National Rifle Association.” Calling the NRA “the institution on the right most aggressively committed to his candidacy, except for the Republican National Committee itself,” the Times reported, “The association has spent millions of dollars on television commercials for Mr. Trump, even as other Republican groups have kept their checkbooks closed and Mr. Trump’s campaign has not run any ads of its own.”

    Indeed, according to FEC filings viewed on October 13, the NRA has spent the second most of any organization on independent expenditures opposing Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and supporting Trump, behind only pro-Trump super PACs:

    Because the NRA spends with two committees -- the NRA Institute for Legislative Action and the NRA Political Victory Fund -- the figures above do not even represent total NRA spending on the 2016 presidential race. According to NBC News, the committees have spent a combined $21 million so far attempting to elect Trump. In contrast, the NRA spent  $12 million trying to elect Romney in 2012 in a spending campaign the gun group termed “all in.”  

    The largest pro-Trump NRA ad buy to date -- reportedly worth $6.5 million -- could not have come at a worse time. On October 5, the NRA released an ad that falsely claimed Hillary Clinton opposed the notion that “every woman has a right to defend herself with a gun if she chooses.” The ad featured a woman who defended herself with a gun against a violent attacker.

    On October 6, the NRA predicted the ad would give Trump a “big boost” in an article in its online magazine, touting “the largest advertising push to date for the National Rifle Association’s support of the Trump campaign":

    The next day, The Washington Post released a video of Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women, sending his campaign into a free fall. Following the release of that tape, numerous women have come forward accusing Trump of more sexual assaults.

    Following these revelations, it is unclear what the NRA will do, having already invested so much money into the race and already touted themselves as "the key" to delivering the election for Trump. According to the NRA’s upcoming election edition of its magazine America’s 1st Freedom, the gun group shows no sign of backing down, with the group’s leadership setting Trump up as necessary to “save our freedom”:

  • Fox News Plays Defense For Trump By Ignoring Michelle Obama’s Powerful Speech

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    CNN and MSNBC aired a powerful speech from first lady Michelle Obama condemning Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's "painful," "demeaning" attacks on women, which include allegations of sexual assault and video evidence that he "has bragged about sexually assaulting women." But Fox News completely ignored the appearance, instead playing interference for Trump by discussing political strategy with Trump ally and Fox contributor Newt Gingrich.

    On October 13, Michelle Obama torched Trump for his verbal attacks on women and for the allegations that Trump sexually assaulted several women, calling his "sexually predatory behavior" not "something that we can ignore." The first lady said Trump's alleged behavior has "shaken me to my core in a way that I couldn't have predicted."

    Both CNN and MSNBC aired the full, heartrending remarks.

    On Fox News -- an outlet that has called into question the legitimacy of Trump's accusers, has an ugly history of sexual harassment in its own building, and has long worked to discredit and victim-blame sexual assault survivors -- the appearance went unaired. Instead, the network aired a discussion with Trump ally Newt Gingrich, who offered his advice for Trump to handle the fallout from the sexual assault allegations.

    Fox has a pattern of ignoring appearances that cut against its own narrative, including several of the speeches made during the Democratic National Convention.

  • Hannity’s Trump Defense Is Dead. What Will He Do Now?

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    For the last three nights, Fox News’ Sean Hannity has defended Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who was caught on a hot mic bragging about sexual assault, by saying that while the comments were shameful, they were only “words,” compared to the “actions” of the Clintons.

    What will he do now that numerous women have come forward to accuse Trump of assaulting them in the exact fashion the nominee boasted about?

    Hannity’s response to the release of a tape of Trump bragging in 2005 that he can “grab” women against their consent because he is a “star” has been to concede that the comments are indefensible, but to argue that they are just  “words.” After making this initial dismissal, the Fox host pivots to contrasting the Trump tape with accusations of sexual assault that Bill Clinton has faced. Here’s what he said on his October 10 show:

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): So going into last night's presidential showdown, there was a media firestorm over comments that Donald Trump made over 11 years ago. Look, nobody is going to defend what Donald Trump said. They shouldn't.

    But here's the thing. Last night, we watched the debate, and those moderators needled and repeatedly pressed Donald Trump over his words from over a decade ago while completely ignoring the actions of Hillary Clinton and her husband against women that accused the president, the former president, of rape, sexual harassment and public shaming.

    Now, here's the difference in all of this. Trump said offensive things, and he apologized, said he was sorry and embarrassed, while the Clintons actually did them and never apologized.

    Hannity made similar, but briefer, comments on his October 11 and October 12 broadcasts.

    Trump already had a lengthy history of engaging in sexual harassment, and he had been accused of assault before  -- which Hannity’s comments ignored. But last night, several women came forward and reported that they had been sexual assaulted by Trump, triggering a firestorm of coverage that Hannity will not be able to avoid. And Trump’s campaign has responded to these accusations by seeking to undermine the women’s stories -- stories about the very sorts of “actions” Hannity has accused the Clintons of perpetrating.

    Tonight, Hannity is scheduled to interview three of Bill Clinton’s accusers. He was also scheduled to interview Trump himself, but apparently the campaign canceled that meeting.

    Now that Hannity’s Trump defense has dissolved, what will he do? Have we finally reached a point where even Hannity is no longer capable of defending Trump?

  • Pundits Who Question The Timing Of Sexual Assault Allegations Against Trump Are Just Stigmatizing The Victims

    Blog ››› ››› KATIE SULLIVAN

    Several right-wing media figures are lending credence to attempts by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign and surrogates to undermine accusations from a growing number of women that the candidate sexually assaulted them by calling into question the timing of the stories. Some right-wing media figures are calling the timing “fishy” and saying that “it’s good to be skeptical,” but the reports all explain the timing: Trump’s denial at the second presidential debate that he had committed sexual assault was the catalyst for the women to come forward. The Trump campaign’s false timing talking point also ignores the many valid reasons women don’t report sexual assault.

    On October 12, three newspapers published accounts from four women who say Trump sexually assaulted them The New York Times told the stories of two women who say Trump “touched them inappropriately,” one of them reporting that he groped her on a plane, and the other saying he kissed her without her consent. A People magazine writer recounted Trump “pushing [her] against the wall and forcing his tongue down [her] throat.” And a fourth woman told The Palm Beach Post that she was “groped by Trump at Mar-a-Lago.”

    These reports came just days after Trump, during the October 9 presidential debate told CNN’s Anderson Cooper “No, I have not” assaulted women as he described in a recently released 2005 Access Hollywood video. In the video, Trump bragged about kissing and grabbing women and said, “I don’t even wait. … When you’re a star, they let you do anything.”

    Trump’s campaign has denied the accusations, calling the Times report a “coordinated character assassination” and claiming that to “reach back decades in an attempt to smear Mr. Trump trivializes sexual assault.” Numerous right-wing media figures are helping to carry water for these claims. On the October 13 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade asked Trump surrogate Ben Carson, “You’re wondering why now, the timing?” and Carson claimed, “There's an atmosphere that's been created by The New York Times and others that says, look, if you’re willing to come out and say something, we'll give you fame, we'll give you whatever you need.” CNN commentator Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s former campaign manager who is still a campaign adviser, also questioned the timing of the reports, saying, “What I do find very interesting is the timing of this. … They wait until 25 days before an election to bring out an incident.”

    Other right-wing media figures and outlets have picked up this line as well. MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough argued that “it’s good to be skeptical when you have stories that are 30 years old that come out days before an election.” He added that, while he’s “not skeptical of the stories,” “if this had happened to me 30 years ago, I would say, ‘This would be a really good time for me to come forward.’ Right? Right? Instead of now.” Fox’s Howard Kurtz said, “I think it’s fair to question why is this coming out now. ... It does sort of raise questions about the timing.” The right-wing blog HotAir asked, “Are we simply going to ignore the awfully convenient timing of this batch of accusations in defiance of reason and the normal rules of engagement in political warfare?” And Townhall’s Matt Vespa wrote that the timing of the reports “sounds like a coordinated effort by the Democrat-media complex,” adding that “there’s something incredibly fishy about all of these incidents coming out now as opposed to over a year ago” during the primaries or after the Republican National Convention when Trump’s campaign was struggling.

    This defense of Trump reflects tactics used to defend former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes -- who is currently advising Trump -- after former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against him. Carlson alleged that she was fired from Fox “because she refused to sleep with” Ailes. Defenders of Ailes attacked Carlson’s account by suggesting it was suspicious that her allegations came after she was terminated.

    All of the reports giving voices to Trump’s accusers explained that the Access Hollywood video and Trump’s denial at the presidential debate were the trigger for the women coming forward. According to the Times, a friend of one of the women, Jessica Leeds, “encouraged her to tell her story to the news media. Ms. Leeds had resisted until Sunday’s debate, which she watched with Ms. Ross.” And People’s Natasha Stoynoff explained in her personal account why she did not come forward at the time and hasn’t spoken publicly until now:

    But, like many women, I was ashamed and blamed myself for his transgression. I minimized it (“It’s not like he raped me…”); I doubted my recollection and my reaction. I was afraid that a famous, powerful, wealthy man could and would discredit and destroy me, especially if I got his coveted PEOPLE feature killed


    Now he’s running for president of our country. The other day, I listened to him talk about how he treats women on the Access Hollywood tape. I felt a strong mix of emotions, but shock wasn’t one of them.

    I was relieved. I finally understood for sure that I was not to blame for his inappropriate behavior. I had not been singled out. As he explained to Billy Bush, it was his usual modus operandi with women. I felt deep regret for not speaking out at the time. What if he had done worse to other female reporters at the magazine since then because I hadn’t warned them?

    And lastly, I felt violated and muzzled all over again.

    During the presidential debate, Donald Trump lied about kissing women without their consent. I should know. His actions made me feel bad for a very long time.

    They still do.

    CNN’s New Day modeled how media must reject Trump’s defense -- which is based on disparaging the victims’ characters -- while reporting on these stories: The Daily Beast’s Jackie Kucinich pointed out that the women who came forward all explained that Trump’s debate answer motivated them to do so, and co-host Alisyn Camerota noted that women often do not report sexual assault because they are “embarrassed and humiliated.”

    CHRIS CUOMO (CO-HOST): Jackie, the big pushback from the campaign thus far -- other than we're going to sue, this is all a lie -- is why now? Why did they wait so long to come forward? Conveniently timed to hurt our campaign here towards the end of the election. What do you make of that?

    JACKIE KUCINICH: Well, in the New York Times story, what these women said was that after they heard Donald Trump make that denial during the debate is when they felt like they were compelled to come forward. So, that seems to be the answer to that question. And, if women were calling different news outlets, there's a story in The Palm Beach Post, there’s the People magazine story. Once you’re seeing that, it does seem to be triggered by what Donald Trump said in the debate.

    ALISYN CAMEROTA (CO-HOST): And there’s another reason, and that is that women are afraid to come forward -- not afraid, women are embarrassed, women are humiliated. This is an experience that you do not relish ever telling in public and that is what this same entertainment reporter from People magazine writes about.

  • Trump Campaign Responds To Sexual Assault Allegations By Warning The New York Times And Accusers To “Lawyer Up”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    On October 12, The New York Times published an article featuring two women accusing Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump of sexual assault. The Times article was soon followed by more new allegations of Trump sexually assaulting women, on top of the release of a 2005 tape of Trump boasting that his celebrity let him do whatever he wanted, including sexual assault, to women. 

    In response to the October 12 Times article, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway confirmed to NPR’s Sarah McCammon that the “campaign is drafting a defamation suit” against The New York Times “in response to today’s article.” According to CNN, a “high-ranking Trump campaign source” also threatened that the Times and Trump’s accusers had “better lawyer up.

  • People Writer Accuses Donald Trump Of 2005 Sexual Assault

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Amid numerous media reports of women alleging nonconsensual sexual contact and advances by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, People writer Natasha Stoynoff wrote about her own attack at the hands of Trump.

    On October 12, Stonyoff published an article on People titled, “Physically Attacked by Donald Trump -- A People Writer’s Own Harrowing Story.” In the article, she alleges a December 2005 sexual assault by Trump at his Mar-a-Lago property while she was there to interview Trump and his wife Melania about their marriage. From the article:

    We walked into that room alone, and Trump shut the door behind us. I turned around, and within seconds, he was pushing me against the wall, and forcing his tongue down my throat.

    Now, I’m a tall, strapping girl who grew up wrestling two giant brothers. I even once sparred with Mike Tyson. It takes a lot to push me. But Trump is much bigger—a looming figure—and he was fast, taking me by surprise, and throwing me off balance.
    I was stunned. And I was grateful when Trump’s longtime butler burst into the room a minute later, as I tried to unpin myself.

    The butler informed us that Melania would be down momentarily, and it was time to resume the interview. I was still in shock, and remained speechless as we both followed him to an outdoor patio overlooking the grounds. In those few minutes alone with Trump, my self-esteem crashed to zero. How could the actions of one man make feel so utterly violated?  I’d been interviewing A-list celebrities for over 20 years, but what he’d done was a first. Did he think I’d be flattered?

    I tried to act normal. I had a job to do, and I was determined to do it. I sat in a chair that faced Trump, who waited for his wife on a loveseat. The butler left us, and I fumbled with my tape recorder. Trump smiled and leaned forward.

    “You know we’re going to have an affair, don’t you?” he declared, in the same confident tone he uses when he says he’s going to make America great again. “Have you ever been to Peter Luger’s for steaks? I’ll take you. We’re going to have an affair, I’m telling you.” He also referenced the infamous cover of the New York Post during his affair with Marla Maples. “You remember,” he said. “Best Sex I Ever Had.”

    Melania walked in just then, serene and glowing. Donald instantly reverted back to doting husband mode, as if nothing had happened, and we continued our interview about their wedded bliss. I nodded at his hollow words and smiled at his jokes, but I was nauseated. It didn’t seem to register to him in the slightest that what he’d done might have hurt or offended me, or his wife.