Media Structures & Regulations

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  • 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.

  • Google Announces Steps To Ban Fake News From Using Its Ad Service, Bolder Steps Needed For Facebook

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The New York Times reports “Google announced it would ban websites that peddle fake news from using its online advertising service, a decision that comes as concerns mount over the impact online hoaxes may have had on the presidential election.” Facebook has also faced criticism over the proliferation of fake news on the site, but will need to take larger steps to address their problem.

    According to the Times, Google decided to “extend its ban on misrepresentative content to the websites its advertisements run on.”

    Google announced it would ban websites that peddle fake news from using its online advertising service, a decision that comes as concerns mount over the impact online hoaxes may have had on the presidential election.

    The decision relates to the Google AdSense system that independent web publishers use to display advertising on their sites, generating revenue when ads are seen or clicked on. The advertisers pay Google, and Google pays a portion of those proceeds to the publishers. More than two million publishers use Google’s advertising network.

    For some time, Google has had policies in place prohibiting misleading advertisements from its system, including promotions for counterfeit goods and weight-loss scams. Google’s new policy, which it said would go into effect “imminently,” will extend its ban on misrepresentative content to the websites its advertisements run on.

    [...]

    Facebook has been at the epicenter of that debate, accused by some commentators of swinging some voters in favor of President-elect Donald J. Trump through misleading and outright false stories that spread quickly via the social network. One such false story claimed that Pope Francis had endorsed Mr. Trump.

    [...]

    Google, too, faced criticism after last week’s election for giving prominence to false news stories. On Sunday, the site Mediaite reported that the top result on a Google search for the words “final election vote count 2016” was a link to a story on a website called 70News that falsely stated that Mr. Trump, who won the Electoral College, was ahead of his Democratic challenger, Hillary Clinton, in the popular vote.

    By Monday evening, the fake story had fallen to the No. 2 position in a search for those terms.

    Facebook also announced that it will ban “fake news sites form using the company’s advertising network to generate revenue,” after facing intense criticism following election of Trump because of the fake right-wing news that spread on the site throughout the campaign. But Facebook still allows fake news to be spread on users’ feeds where they can still generate revenue. Facebook officials even admit that the site could have updated their News Feed feature which would have identified fake news stories but claimed it would have “disproportionately impacted right-wing news sites by downgrading or removing that content from people’s feeds.”

    Join Media Matters in calling for Facebook to fix their fake news problem.

  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Is Too Scared Of Being Accused Of “Bias” By Conservatives To Address Fake Stories

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    Tens of millions of Americans get their news from Facebook and an increasing amount of that news is fake. 

    In May, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg met with right-wing media personalities over concerns that “many conservatives don’t trust that [Facebook] surfaces content without a political bias.” Following the meeting, Zuckerberg noted how important conservative engagement was to Facebook by stating, “Donald Trump has more fans on Facebook than any other presidential candidate. And Fox News drives more interactions in its Facebook page than any other news outlet in the world. It’s not even close.”

    Following the outcry by conservatives of political bias, Facebook adopted revised guidelines on its Trending Topics, promised its reviewers would undergo new training “that emphasized content decisions may not be made on the basis of politics or ideology,” and fired the 18 human editors it used to write descriptions of trending topics and ensure their accuracy.

    Facebook's response to the cries of “political bias” backfired on the company after just 72 hours when fake stories began trending, including a story about Fox News host (and Trump agitator) Megyn Kelly being fired from the network.

    The response from Facebook over conservatives’ concerns of “political bias” stand in contrast to the company’s response to reports that fake stories and hoaxes have taken over the News Feed of the platform, which according to the Pew Research Center, 61 percent of web-using Millennials and 39 percent of Baby Boomers use to get their political news.

    A recent study by Buzzfeed found “hyperpartisan political Facebook pages and websites are consistently feeding their millions of followers false and misleading information,” with one of the most egregious examples being a group of pro-Trump websites originating in Macedonia which were “playing a significant role in propagating” false and misleading pro-Trump articles. One of the Macedonians contacted for the story, a 17-year-old, said, “I started the site for a easy way to make money.”

    Zuckerberg initially downplayed the widespread problem of fake news on Facebook and its effect on the election, saying “it’s a very small amount of the content,” and calling it a “crazy idea” that the hoaxes influenced the election. Zuckerberg has since acknowledged that his platform has a problem with false stories, but rather than meeting with journalists to discuss solutions as he did with conservatives in May, Zuckerberg offered up the excuse that “identifying the truth is complicated,” and once again expressed concern that Facebook “find ways for our community to tell us what content is most meaningful.” Gizmodo reported that Facebook executives recently conducted a review of the News Feed process that would have eliminated fake and hoax stories, but that the plan was set aside due to concern that removing false stories would upset conservatives:

    According to two sources with direct knowledge of the company’s decision-making, Facebook executives conducted a wide-ranging review of products and policies earlier this year, with the goal of eliminating any appearance of political bias. One source said high-ranking officials were briefed on a planned News Feed update that would have identified fake or hoax news stories, but disproportionately impacted right-wing news sites by downgrading or removing that content from people’s feeds. According to the source, the update was shelved and never released to the public. It’s unclear if the update had other deficiencies that caused it to be scrubbed.

    “They absolutely have the tools to shut down fake news,” said the source, who asked to remain anonymous citing fear of retribution from the company. The source added, “there was a lot of fear about upsetting conservatives after Trending Topics,” and that “a lot of product decisions got caught up in that.”

    Recently Buzzfeed reported that despite fear of losing their jobs for and being warned about speaking to the press, “dozens” of Facebook employees have formed “an unofficial task force” to address the company’s role in spreading misinformation.

    Join Media Matters in asking Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook to fix their fake news problem by signing our petition.