Media Structures & Regulations

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  • Fox News Media Critic Has The Worst Take On Trump Being Normalized

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Fox News media critic Howard Kurtz lambasted the media for failing to “normalize” President-elect Donald Trump, but nothing about Trump’s campaign or his transition is normal -- nor should the media consider it as such. 

    Kurtz’s November 20 column on FoxNews.com criticized “many in the media, mostly on the liberal side,” who say Trump “should not be normalized,” which Kurtz incorrectly interpreted as a denial of the validity of the presidential election results. To back up this assertion, Kurtz wildly claimed that the media's valid questions about many of Trump’s actions are akin to the racist attacks that began about President Obama's faith and birthplace after he was elected, many on Kurtz’s own network. Kurtz’s strawman argument ignores the conduct that demands Trump not be normalized: his campaign of bigotry and division and his cabinet appointees rumored and actual who despise the press, have long histories of hatred, and, in one case, support white nationalist ideology.

    Trump’s policies and behavior are not normal and should not be treated as such, and it is media’s role to hold elected officials accountable. Trump’s team has already soft-pitched internment camps as “precedent” for a Muslim registry, and Kurtz’s Fox News colleagues are already defending the fundamentally anti-American idea. Not only that, but Trump’s transition has raised eyebrows about “mind-boggling” conflicts of interest with the Trump Organization, potential self-enrichment by Trump’s children, and Trump’s extremely disturbing habit of ditching the press as president-elect to maneuver in secrecy, which Kurtz already said is not a problem. This is not normal.

    Trump’s cabinet is similarly filling up with people who espouse horrific beliefs. His appointees so far includes a national security adviser who shares fake news and tells people “fear of Muslims is rational,” a chief strategist who is described as a “white nationalist” by opponents and supporters alike, and an attorney general who was once denied a federal judgeship for being too racist, a fact that Kurtz’s Fox colleagues repeatedly dismissed. Other potential appointees include a bigoted press secretary who hates the press, a commerce secretary who wants to know “what’s with all the hoods in the hizzy,” and a homeland security secretary who calls civil rights activists “primitive,” “unmanageable misfits.” This is not normal.

    When media outlets resist “normalizing” Trump, they are resisting the normalization of racism, Islamophobia, sexism, homophobia, and other types of division and discrimination present in his growing administration. Many outlets, however, are already failing this test. When Trump’s hostilities toward women and minorities are paired with his regular threats against the free press, the media’s role in naming bigotry wherever it is found -- even in the White House -- is more important than ever.

  • Will Fox News Hold Eric Bolling To The Same Standard They Had For Other On-Air Personalities?

    Bolling Refuses To Answer If He's In Consideration For A Position In A Trump Administration

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Fox News co-host Eric Bolling refused to answer when asked if he has “been asked to visit Trump Tower to get a job,” stating “I wouldn’t tell you that one way or the other.” Fox, which has a long history of suspending or ending contracts with on-air talent that take political positions, should take swift action to address these concerns.

    Politico reported Bolling “has discussed the possibility of taking a position in Donald Trump’s administration” in the Department of Commerce, but neither Bolling nor Fox would comment on the report. Bolling told Politico “at this time I can’t confirm anything” and “A Fox News spokesperson said they did not have anything further to add.”

    The network has a long history of parting ways with on-air talent when it is clear they are taking on new political roles. Fox News previously suspended Newt Gingrich’s contributor position “effective immediately” after speculation Gingrich could become Trump’s running mate, and terminated Scott Brown’s contributor contract when Brown told the network he was planning a New Hampshire Senate run. Rick Santorum also lost his paid Fox commentator contract for 60 days after he announced he would run for president in 2011.

    If Bolling refuses to address the controversy, Fox News should. From the November 21 edition of Fox News' The Five:

    KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE (CO-HOST): Let's talk about hop alongs and the transition.

    GERALDO RIVERA (GUEST CO-HOST): Why don't you ask -- why don't you ask Bolling if he's been asked to visit Trump Tower to get a job yet?

    GUILFOYLE: I believe you just did.

    ERIC BOLLING (CO-HOST): I've been to Trump Tower, I talked to all my friends over there, very close friends over there, and there's --

    RIVERA: Can you tell us for the record whether they offered you a job? Or --

    DANA PERINO (CO-HOST): Why are you doing that to your co-host?

    BOLLING: I wouldn't tell you that one way or the other. I would just tell you that they are good friends of mine, and I love my job, and I have every intention to stay right here for as long as Fox will have me sitting next to you, Geraldo.

    RIVERA: Oh, well that sounded a little equivocal.

    GUILFOYLE: Make Fox News great again, from the center seat.

  • Trump Receives Celebrity Treatment In Fox News' "OBJECTified" Special With TMZ's Harvey Levin

    Blog ››› ››› THOMAS BISHOP

    Fox News will air "OBJECTified: Donald Trump" on November 18, featuring TMZ's Harvey Levin interviewing the president-elect about his most prized possessions and the stories behind them. The special is poised to be another softball interview, contributing to the media's tendency to normalize Trump.

    The one-hour special will feature host Levin -- a longtime friend of Trump’s -- getting a tour of Trump’s home, with Trump recounting the stories behind his "cherished keepsakes," according to Politico. He also tells Levin stories during the interview, which was shot in September, including sharing the "decades-old advice from a former president that planted the seeds for his presidential campaign":

    The one-hour special, called “OBJECTified: Donald Trump”, will air Friday evening at 10 p.m. The special will feature an interview with President-elect Trump filmed in September, when he gave Levin a tour of his home and offered “stories behind each memento” there.

    “The special will feature a side of President-elect Donald Trump that has rarely been seen before,” Fox said in its announcement. “Trump recounts the stories behind photos, letters, trophies and other cherished keepsakes he’s acquired throughout his life.”

    Some of the stories will include how Trump had an “unfulfilled dream of becoming a Hollywood movie mogul, and the decades old advice from a former President that planted the seeds for his presidential campaign.”

    In an interview on Fox News' Hannity previewing the special, host Sean Hannity praised Levin, saying that he wasn’t "playing gotcha [with Trump], you were asking real questions in a[n] intimate environment. He brought you in his inner sanctum, in a way, and it ended up giving us a side of Trump that I don't think most Americans know."

    Fox’s special follows the lead set by CBS in its attempt to normalize Trump, despite the racist and bigoted comments and policies the president-elect continues to advocate. On November 13, Lesley Stahl of CBS' 60 Minutes interviewed Trump after his election win to reintroduce him to the American people. During the interview, Stahl allowed Trump to whitewash his extreme positions, which she claimed were "not meant to be taken literally, but as opening bids for negotiation.”

    But given Trump’s first steps as president-elect -- his appointment of former Breitbart News CEO Steven Bannon, who bragged about his site serving as a platform for the “alt-right”; his renewed vow to build a wall on the southern border of the country; and his pledge to create some sort of registry for Muslim immigrants -- it is clear Trump will push for the extreme policies he proposed during the campaign.

    Donald Trump has praised the interview on Twitter, saying it "features a side of me 'that has rarely been seen before.'"

  • CBS Evening News Provides Platform For White Nationalist To Spin, Without Pressing Him On Racist Views

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF


    CBS News provided alt-right white nationalist Richard Spencer with a platform to normalize his racist political movement and praise President-elect Trump without pressing him on his racists comments and stances.

    After noting Twitter’s recent suspension of several prominent white nationalist accounts associated with hate speech, CBS News correspondent Jericka Duncan asked Richard Spencer if he was “an advocate for an all-white United States of America,” and allowed Spencer to respond “No, I don’t think that is going to happen,” without offering a follow-up question or pressing him on his past racist comments. From the November 17 edition of CBS' CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley:

    JOHN DICKERSON (GUEST HOST): In Germany today, President Obama called the spread of fake news online a threat to democracy. Facebook and other social media sites are being criticized for not doing enough to stop bogus stories that seem to dominate the election cycle. Jericka Duncan has more on this.

    JERICKA DUNCAN: When a satirical web site headlined a story "Pope Francis shocked the world, backs Trump," the fake news went viral. Waves of false headlines on social media have turned readers into believers. This week, social media giants Facebook and Google said they will go after hoax websites by restricting ad revenue. Facebook is also planning to launch a program allowing users to flag fake news. Journalism professor Jeff Jarvis.

    JEFF JARVIS: The slope is very slick if we try the make Facebook and Google and company into censors. You can't fight a position that just because somebody doesn't like it and doesn't trust it, it gets killed, it would be very dangerous to have blacklists and to ban sites, I think.

    DUNCAN: Twitter is taking a different approach. A new feature rolling out this week allows users to mute key words, phrases and even entire conversations. Tuesday, it suspended several accounts supported by white nationalists, including Richard Spencer's, a leader of the alt-right movement which is based on white identity.

    Are you an advocate for an all-white United States of America?

    RICHARD SPENCER: No. I don't think that is going to happen. I want to first raise consciousness of who we are amongst Europeans in the United States, and second, I want to promote policies that really have a realistic chance of being implemented by the Donald Trump administration.

    DUNCAN: Twitter's rules prohibit violent threats, harassment and hateful conduct. A spokesperson from Twitter says they don't comment on accounts they've suspended for privacy and security reasons. John?

    The Associated Press has reported however that Spencer has “matter-of-factly called for removing African-Americans, Hispanics, and Jews from the United States,” declaring “We’ll help them go somewhere else.”

    Duncan’s failure to press Spencer helped normalize a bigot that founded the white nationalist website Alternative Right, where one contributor wrote that “low-IQ Mexican immigration is the greatest threat to America,” and that “we should be heartened that white teenage girls aren’t passing themselves around in black neighborhoods.”

     

  • Sean Hannity Encourages Trump To Continue His Media Blackout As Fox Announces Trump Protest

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Fox Host Sean Hannity encouraged president-elect Donald Trump to “transcend the media” because “he doesn’t need them anymore” hours after Hannity’s Fox colleague Shepard Smith said Fox News would not be using promotional material from Trump’s meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe “in protest of the media lockout” Trump has effectively instituted.

    Hannity, in an interview with Breitbart News' Joel Pollak, commented that “if [he] were on the transition team,” he would advise Trump to “transcend the media” because mainstream outlets are allegedly biased against him. Hannity said Trump should “go in Instagram” and other social media accounts to reach the American people because Trump “doesn’t need [the mainstream media] anymore.” From the November 17 edition of Premiere Radio Networks’ The Sean Hannity Show:

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): Remember when Dan Quayle was appointed as Vice President, they went on their infamous Quayle hunt, and their goal was to smear and slander this guy? By the way, very decent man, hard-working, successful, but they didn’t want to hear it. So, you know, it’s very funny, because this little pipsqueak over at CNN, Brian Stelter, you know, he tweets out and sends a message: "media accessibility was a winning strategy for Trump in the primaries, how about trying it again now as president-elect?" And I tweeted back, I said, “Hey pipsqueak, why should @realDonaldTrump ever go on CNN again? CNN gave @HillaryClinton debate questions and they colluded with the DNC about what questions to ask Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Carly Fiorina.”

    Now if I’m Donald Trump’s campaign, or now president-elect Trump’s transition team, I’m looking at the revelations of The New York Times, I’m looking at the revelations about CNN, and CNBC, and NBC, and MSNBC, and The Boston Globe and basically every other major media outlet, and my attitude is why should he? He should transcend the media; do what he did during the election. Go on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter; go on shows that will actually allow him to give a full answer. And, you know, he doesn’t need these people anymore. The world has been transformed. There is a media revolution going on before their eyes and they’re just not in tune to it, apparently.

    However, hours before on Fox News, Hannity’s colleague Shepard Smith said that “the Trump team is not allowing photo journalists” to attend his meeting with Abe, continuing “a freezeout of media coverage of the president-elect’s events” of Trump’s transition. Smith added that though the Trump team was providing “a staff photo” of the event, “Fox News will not be using it in protest of the president-elect’s media lockout.” From the November 17 edition of Fox News’ Shepard Smith Reporting:

    SHEPARD SMITH (HOST): Extending a trend, the Trump team is not allowing photojournalists to attend the meeting with Prime Minister Abe. This continues the freezeout of media coverage of the president-elect’s events. The Trump team reports it will release a staff photo; Fox News will not be using it in protest of the president-elect’s media lockout.

  • Bloomberg Announces The End Of Mark Halperin’s Daily TV Show

    Bonafide Trump Apologist Mark Halperin Defied His Own Journalistic Standards When Covering Trump

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    Mark Halperin and John Heilemann’s Bloomberg politics show, With All Due Respect, will end daily broadcasts on December 2. Halperin used his platform on Bloomberg, which was re-broadcast daily by MSNBC, to defend then-candidate Donald Trump.

    The Huffington Post reports that a staff memo announced the show’s cancellation on December 2, but the two will host a four-hour special previewing Trump’s Inauguration on January 20. Both co-hosts are reportedly in discussions to “play a role at Bloomberg” as contributors and columnists.

    Mark Halperin and John Heilemann’s afternoon politics show on Bloomberg TV, “With All Due Respect,” will end following coverage of Donald Trump’s inauguration, according to a staff memo.

    Halperin and Heilemann, who joined in May 2014 and served as co-managing editors of Bloomberg Politics, will continue to host the show daily until Dec. 2. Bloomberg will produce four hourlong specials previewing Trump’s presidency and then cover the event on Jan. 20.

    The two journalists will cease day-to-day roles with the company, but according to the memo are in discussions to “play a role at Bloomberg as contributors and columnists.”

    Halperin joined Bloomberg in May 2014 for reportedly $1 million and has come under intense scrutiny throughout the 2016 election cycle for his role as a bonafide Trump apologist. Halperin’s embarrassing shilling for Trump included his insistence that Trump’s racist attacks on the American judge of Mexican descent weren’t actually racist because “Mexico isn’t a race,” criticizing The New York Times for responding to Trump’s threat to take legal action against them, and brushing off Trump’s reluctance to accept the election results as a concern of “elites.” Halperin even praised the “impressive resume” of Trump adviser and white nationalist ally Stephen Bannon. Heilemann and Halperin also conducted an interview with Trump on a Zamboni where they asked him how much bacon he eats and whether or not he knows how to skate and during a campaign trip to Iowa, Halperin received helicopter ride from Trump:

    More recently, Halperin failed to live up to the standards he had set for other journalists by giving Trump a shameless softball interview in which he failed to ask him about his hidden tax returns – an issue that Halperin had previously said journalists were “obligated” to ask Trump about every chance they got. The interview, described as “truly laughable,” looked even worse in hindsight when several days later Halperin challenged the press “to do a lot of soul-searching about its failure to pursue a lot of these Trump stories.”

    In 2006, Halperin claimed that the best economic model to ensure a TV show’s survival is to follow the Fox News model and “make sure conservatives find your product appealing.” That model seems to be working for Halperin who despite losing his show, has received movie deals, book deals, and continues to be one of the most visible political commentators in America.