Media Structures & Regulations

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  • VIDEO: Megyn Kelly Repackaged A Year’s Worth Of Fox Interview Questions To Trump

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY, COLEMAN LOWNDES & JOHN KERR

    Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly’s widely panned interview with presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump failed to bolster her carefully crafted image as a hard-hitting journalist. Indeed, Kelly recycled a series of softball questions her fellow Fox personalities have previously asked Trump.

    Kelly’s May 17 interview was promoted as an exclusive, hard-hitting exchange and reconciliation between the presumptive nominee and Fox’s primetime anchor after the months-long public feud between Trump and the network over Kelly’s questioning of the candidate. Kelly herself said her goal for the interview was an “interesting, compelling exchange.”

    But the interview not only featured a series of fuzzy, softball questions -- “Has anyone ever hurt you emotionally?,” “Are you going to stop [combatively tweeting] as president?” -- it also mirrored the way other Fox News hosts have engaged with Trump on air, shattering the illusion that Kelly is somehow different than her colleagues. A series of questions that Kelly tossed to Trump last night sounded conspicuously familiar, and for a good reason: they echoed questions that her colleagues have asked the presumptive GOP nominee over the past year.

    Take Bill O’Reilly back in March, asking Trump:

    BILL O’REILLY: Donald Trump now is not speaking as the Art of the Deal guy or The Apprentice guy. You’re not speaking anymore on that level. Now you are speaking for the United States. You may be president. I mean, so your rhetoric means so much more than it used to mean. You know, you’re in a different place. A place you have never been in. I'm just wondering how much you’ve thought about all that.

    And compare with Megyn Kelly last night:

    MEGYN KELLY: You're no longer just Donald Trump, businessman, or Donald Trump, host of Celebrity Apprentice. Now you're steps away from the presidency. Have you given any thought, in this position, to the power that your messaging has on the lives of the people you target and on the millions of people who take their cue from you?

    Megyn Kelly has spent years cultivating a reputation as an unbiased journalist, which has been boosted by a number of laudatory profiles that have largely ignored that her show “is made up largely of the kind of stories you'd find on many other Fox News shows at any other time" and that “her talent for fearmongering may be even more insidious than Trump's own.” 

  • Report: Rupert Murdoch And Fox News All In On Donald Trump

    New York Magazine’s Sherman: Fox Has “Thrown In The Towel” And Won’t “Go After Trump”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    In a New York magazine article, Gabriel Sherman reported that Rupert Murdoch, executive co-chairman of Fox News' parent company, “has signaled he plans to fully back Trump in the general election against Hillary Clinton” in “a sharp reversal from the hostile view he held over much of the past year.”

    Sherman noted that Murdoch’s “flip flop” on Trump follows the presumptive Republican nominee’s months-long feud with Fox News in which Trump boycotted a network presidential debate, referred to Fox anchor Megyn Kelly as a “crazy” and “overrated anchor,” and even boycotted the network (for a week). Fox responded to Trump’s actions by openly mocking the candidate and accusing him of having a “sick obsession” with Megyn Kelly. It was also reported in the early days of Trump’s campaign that Murdoch and Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes were fighting over the network’s coverage of the candidate.

    According to Sherman, the network has reportedly “thrown in the towel” and will “go easy on Trump.” Sherman explained “That Murdoch flip flopped on Trump shouldn’t be all that surprising” because he’s repeatedly “sacrificed core principles to forge political alliances that advance his media empire’s interests” and "it’s clear Trump is good for business.” From the May 17 report:

    Call it the media equivalent of Bobby Riggs vs. Billie Jean King: Tonight, Donald Trump finally sits down with his Fox News nemesis Megyn Kelly. The battle between Trump and Fox’s biggest star has been one of the most compelling story lines of the 2016 election, and the subject of much discussion in the run-up to Kelly’s prime-time broadcast special with the GOP frontrunner. But in all the coverage of the Trump-Kelly détente, a more important development has been overlooked: Trump has made peace with Kelly’s boss’s boss, Rupert Murdoch.

    According to a half dozen sources familiar with Murdoch’s thinking, the media mogul has signaled he plans to fully back Trump in the general election against Hillary Clinton. Murdoch’s embrace of Trump is a sharp reversal from the hostile view he held over much of the past year. In fact, according to one high-level Fox source, it was Murdoch himself who directed Kelly to hammer Trump during the debut GOP debate, in Cleveland, that sparked the feud in the first place. “Rupert told her to do that,” the source said.

    [...]
    That Murdoch flip-flopped on Trump shouldn’t be all that surprising. Yes, Trump’s stances on immigration and trade clash with Murdoch’s more moderate views (he's for comprehensive reform and trade deals). But throughout Murdoch’s career, he’s sacrificed core principles to forge political alliances that advance his media empire’s interests (after all, he backed both Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair in the U.K.).

    And it’s clear Trump is good for business. According to one Fox News producer, the channel's ratings dip whenever an anti-Trump segment airs. A Fox anchor told me that the message from Roger Ailes's executives is they need to go easy on Trump. “It’s, ‘Make sure we don't go after Trump,’” the anchor said. “We’ve thrown in the towel.” Similarly, the New York Post has staked out a pro-Trump position in the marketplace while its rival the Daily News remains one of Trump’s loudest critics. The Post endorsed Trump last month and dubbed him “King Don!” after he won the New York primary. (The outlier among Murdoch’s properties is The Wall Street Journal. “They’re stupid people,” Trump told me back in March).

    Murdoch's strategy seems to be a win-win. If Trump gets into the White House, Murdoch will likely have an open line to the new administration (at least as open as anyone can have with Trump). And, if Trump loses to Hillary Clinton, then Murdoch's right-wing outlets have a ready-made enemy to beat up on for the next four years. That's a deal Trump can surely respect.

  • WSJ Publishes Pro-Trump Op-Ed Without Disclosing Its Author Works For Trump Campaign

    Blog ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

    The Wall Street Journal published a pro-Donald Trump op-ed without disclosing that its author, Anthony Scaramucci, works as part of the Trump campaign’s national finance committee. 

    The Journal wrote that Scaramucci is “the founder and co-managing partner of SkyBridge Capital,” failing to mention that he joined  the Trump campaign  as part of Trump’s “nascent national finance committee.” According to The Washington Post, Scaramucci was “one of the first traditional bundlers to join the Trump campaign.”

    In his May 15 op-ed, titled, “The Entrepreneur’s Case For Trump,” Scaramucci hyped Trump as a “pragmatic entrepreneur,” “team builder,” and a candidate with “empathy” who can win. Scaramucci concluded his piece urging his “fellow Republicans to listen to the will of people” and “unite not only for the good of the party, but for the good of the nation”.

    Trump responded to Scaramucci’s op-ed, tweeting, “Thank you, Anthony Scaramucci”:

    During the 2012 presidential campaign, the Journal repeatedly failed to disclose op-eds written by advisers to then-GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. A Media Matters study found that 70 percent of the Journal’s op-eds written by Romney advisers lacked disclosure.

  • Sean Hannity Endorses Trump, Lashes Out At Paul Ryan For "Sabotage"

    Hannity: Paul Ryan Is Leading A "Circular Firing Squad" In The Republican Party

    Blog ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET

    In a series of tweets on May 5, Sean Hannity endorsed Donald Trump and attacked House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), after Ryan told CNN's Jake Tapper he is "just not ready" to endorse presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump over the eventual Democratic nominee in the general election.

    [Twitter, 5/5/16]

    [Twitter, 5/5/16]

    Responding to Ryan's refusal to endorse Trump, Hannity tweeted "You have to be kidding me” and called Ryan's statement "pathetic."

    [Twitter, 5/5/16]

    Hannity continued to attack Ryan, writing "The Hell with what the voters think. Circular firing squad now led by @SpeakerRyan," and additionally characterized National Review Online's criticism of Trump as "Elitist BS."

    [Twitter, 5/5/16]

    [Twitter, 5/5/16]

    Hannity's criticism of House Speaker Paul Ryan highlights his reputation of attacking critics of Donald Trump while also being called out for his softball interviews of the Republican presidential nominee. Hannity has previously attacked Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) as a "pawn of the establishment" trying to take down Trump, and rebuked commentators who critiqued his contentious interview with Ted Cruz.

  • Trump Kicks Off General Campaign With Phone Interviews

    Blog ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

    Donald Trump phoned in to the morning news programs on ABC, MSNBC, NBC, and Fox News for interviews following his victory in the May 3 Indiana primary, which cemented his role as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee for the general election. Journalists and media critics have called out cable and broadcast news shows for allowing Trump this “shocking” “advantage,” and several programs -- including CBS’s morning show -- have banned the practice.

    Trump’s most recent round of phone interviews is only the latest example of a newly common type of media malpractice unique to the candidate. The practice of letting a presidential candidate largely eschew on-camera interviews in favor of phoning in is unprecedented in American politics. News networks have overwhelmingly allowed Trump -- and Trump only -- to call in to Sunday morning political talk shows. In total, Trump conducted 69 phone interviews on news programs in the first 69 days of 2016.

    In March, CBS This Morning and NBC’s Meet The Press announced they would no longer allow Trump to phone in for interviews, joining Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday. During that same month, the six major broadcast and cable news networks allowed Trump to phone in for 39 of his 63 interviews. On ABC, NBC, MSNBC, and Fox News, more than half of Trump's interviews were conducted by phone.

    Media critics and prominent journalists have criticized the media’s willingness to grant Trump phone interviews, noting that the practice "is a signal of the extent to which the television cable networks contort themselves to accommodate Trump." Trump’s phone interviews have given him an obvious advantage over his rivals, allowing him to ignore hosts' visual cues and body language, dodge or shout over interviewers' questions, and avoid awkward confrontations.

    To sign Media Matters’ petition calling on media outlets to take away Trump’s special phone privilege, click here.