2016 Elections

Tags ››› 2016 Elections
  • Alicia Machado Didn’t Kill Anyone, But Don King Did

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    CNN political commentator and former Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski attempted to smear former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, by claiming that she “has been part of a murder.” While no charges were brought against Machado and she long ago denied involvement, Lewandowski ignored the role of Don King in Trump’s campaign -- the former boxing promoter who was “found guilty of second-degree murder for killing a gambling associate who owed him $600.”

    Lewandowski attempted to deflect from the criticism over Trump’s public shaming of Machado by smearing her on the September 29 edition of CNN’s New Day, asserting that “The Clinton campaign took a person and brought her into a debate who has been part of a murder.”

    While Machado “was accused of being an accomplice to an attempted murder” in 1998, according to a Los Angeles Times report, “A judge later said there was insufficient evidence to arrest her and ordered only her boyfriend’s arrest.” New Day co-host Alisyn Camerota explained to Lewandowski that Machado was “never charged, never indicted,” and “never convicted” of the accusations, facts reported by The New York Times as well.

    In his attack on Machado, Lewandowski ignored that Trump has leaned on Don King in efforts to court minority voters, who in 1966 was found guilty of murder for reportedly stomping his employee to death. King also shot and killed a man in 1954 (later ruled a “justifiable homicide”) who, according to ESPN.com, “tried to rob one of his gambling houses.” King’s 1966 murder charges were reduced by the judge at sentencing to manslaughter, and King was later pardoned in 1983.

    Lewandowski’s attempt to smear Machado while ignoring the role of King in Trump’s campaign isn’t surprising given his sycophantic support for Trump. Despite being a paid CNN contributor, Lewandowski is still very much involved in the Trump campaign. Lewandowski’s company Green Monster Consulting LLC received $20,000 for “strategy consulting” for the Trump campaign in August, which the campaign claimed was “severance.” Lewandowski announced September 29 that he is no longer receiving payments from the Trump campaign and it is reported that “the campaign paid off the remainder of his contract in one lump sum.” Lewandowski’s claim cannot be confirmed until future rounds of FEC filings.

    Lewandowski has also traveled with Trump on the campaign trail and was reportedly involved in preparing the Republican nominee for the first presidential debate.

  • Neo-Nazi Writer: “Virtually Every Alt-Right Nazi I Know Is Volunteering For The Trump Campaign”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Los Angeles Times is highlighting how Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s candidacy continues to draw “white supremacists into" the "political mainstream.”

    Trump and his campaign have engaged in an ongoing and unprecedented courtship with the white nationalist movement. White nationalists have donated to Trump’s campaign, endorsed him, and repeatedly cheered his policy proposals and racist comments. The candidate has on multiple occasions retweeted white supremacists on Twitter, and Trump surrogates -- including his son, Donald Jr., who has become a hero to neo-Nazis -- have given interviews to white nationalist media. In turn, the white nationalist movement has used Trump’s candidacy to fundraise and boost their organizations and media outlets.

    In a September 29 article, LA Times reporter Lisa Mascaro highlights how “Trump’s surprise rise to become the GOP presidential nominee, built largely on a willingness to openly criticize minority groups and tap into long-simmering racial divisions, has reenergized white supremacist groups and drawn them into mainstream American politics like nothing seen in decades.”

    In addition to Trump’s candidacy leading to “a sharp rise in traffic and visitors” for white nationalist websites, Mascaro writes that members of the movement have been “showing up at his rallies, knocking on doors to get out the vote and organizing debate-watching parties.”

    According to neo-Nazi writer Andrew Anglin, who heads the pro-Hitler and rabidly anti-Semitic and racist website Daily Stormer, “Trump had me at ‘build a wall’ … Virtually every alt-right Nazi I know is volunteering for the Trump campaign.”

    From the LA Times:

    White supremacists are active on social media and their websites report a sharp rise in traffic and visitors, particularly when posting stories and chat forums about the New York businessman.

    Stormfront, already one of the oldest and largest white nationalist websites, reported a 600% increase in readership since President Obama’s election, and now has more than one in five threads devoted to Trump. It reportedly had to upgrade its servers recently due to the increased traffic.

    “Before Trump, our identity ideas, national ideas, they had no place to go,” said Richard Spencer, president of the National Policy Institute, a white nationalist think tank based in Arlington, Va.

    Not since Southern segregationist George Wallace’s failed presidential bids in 1968 and 1972 have white nationalists been so motivated to participate in a presidential election.

    Andrew Anglin, editor of the Daily Stormer website and an emerging leader of a new generation of millennial extremists, said he had “zero interest” in the 2012 general election and viewed presidential politics as “pointless.” That is, until he heard Trump.

    “Trump had me at ‘build a wall,’” Anglin said. “Virtually every alt-right Nazi I know is volunteering for the Trump campaign.”

  • Trump's Debunked Google-Clinton Conspiracy Theory Comes Straight From Conservative And Russian Media

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    In prepared remarks, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump pushed the debunked claim that Google is “suppressing” negative information about Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in its search results. The claim, which has been debunked by mainstream outlets and experts as “utter nonsense,” originated in right-wing media and was also pushed by a Russian pro-Kremlin news site and the website of Trump’s campaign CEO.

  • CNN Says Corey Lewandowski Is No Longer Receiving Trump Severance, But He's Still An Ethical Disaster

    Blog ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    After months of simultaneously receiving payments from the Trump campaign for his continued involvement and strategic advice while employed as a CNN political commentator, Corey Lewandowski now claims he has stopped receiving severance payments from the Trump campaign, more than three months after being fired from his position as campaign manager. But Lewandowski’s claim that he has stopped receiving severance payments does not negate the ethical disaster CNN has on its hands by employing Lewandowski in the first place.

    On the September 29 edition of CNN’s New Day host Alisyn Camerota announced that it is “no longer the case” that Lewandowski is still receiving severance payments from the Trump campaign. Lewandowski confirmed Camerota’s statement, calling the news “amazing” and sarcastically adding, “40 days to go in the election, and now this is the breaking news of the day.”

    ALISYN CAMEROTA (CO-HOST): CNN political commentator and former Donald Trump campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski. Now, in previous appearances, we have told you that Corey was still receiving severance from the Trump campaign, but that is no longer the case we are told. Are you done with those payments, Corey?

    COREY LEWANDOWSKI: Amazing, right? Everything comes to an end. Everything comes to an end.

    CAMEROTA: I didn't think those would ever run out.

    LEWANDOWSKI: 40 days to go in the election, and now this is the breaking news of the day.

    CAMEROTA: But you're not getting any more payments from the campaign?

    LEWANDOWSKI: Correct.

    But Lewandowski’s employment at CNN is still an ethical debacle. Trump “campaign officials” admitted less than a week ago that Lewandowski “will continue receiving his $20,000 monthly pay as severance until the end of the year,” a contradiction to Lewandowski’s statement this morning. Lewandowski’s continued involvement with the Trump campaign, his likely non-disparagement agreement with Trump, and his penchant for pushing Trump talking points on air all continue to raise serious questions about his continued employment at CNN.

    Still, CNN refuses to answer basic questions about Lewandowski’s apparent simultaneous relationship with the cable network and the Trump campaign. It is known that CNN CEO Jeff Zucker was aware that Lewandowski was receiving severance payments from the Trump campaign while CNN was paying him for his analysis, but still defended Lewandowski’s employment, saying he has “done a really nice job” with the network. CNN’s decision to continue employing Corey Lewandowski clashes with its own years-long stated policy that a person being "paid" by a campaign “would not be permitted to be a CNN contributor.”

    Sign Media Matters’ petition and tell CNN to cut ties with Corey Lewandowski immediately.

    UPDATE:

    Politico reported on September 29 that a CNN source confirmed Lewandowski “is no longer receiving monthly severance payments from the campaign” because “the campaign paid off the remainder of his contract in one lump sum.”

    This post has been update with additional information

  • In Fox News Tradition, O’Reilly And Megyn Kelly Smear Police Shooting Victim Keith Lamont Scott As A Criminal

    Fox Has A Long History Of Dehumanizing Black Victims

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Fox hosts Bill O’Reilly and Megyn Kelly unsurprisingly smeared Keith Lamont Scott, the latest high-profile black victim of police brutality, using his prior criminal record to deride protests in North Carolina over his death and call into question whether his killing was justified.

    On his September 28 show, O’Reilly listed prior criminal offenses on Scott’s record to ask whether “protesters once again jump[ed] to false conclusions,” suggesting that Scott’s alleged “violent history” was a factor in whether police were justified in killing him.

     

     

    Similarly, Kelly, as well as Fox correspondent Trace Gallagher and Fox contributor Mark Fuhrman, all smeared Scott by bringing up his criminal record on The Kelly File.

     

     

    The chorus of Fox figures smearing Scott is in keeping with Fox News’ long history of race-baiting and victim-blaming when it comes to police brutality.

    Sean Hannity, perhaps the worst offender, has slandered Freddie Gray as the “lowest scum parasite in the world,” was adamant that his prior “arrest record” mattered, because he was “not a pillar of the community,” and blamed Gray for his own death, because he “[ran] at 8:30 in the morning.” Hannity has also smeared Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Samuel DuBose, and Philando Castille.

    Likewise, Kelly is notorious for shaming and blaming black victims of police brutality. Kelly suggested that Sandra Bland's death could be due in part to her failure to obey the police officer, arguing that her death could have been averted if she had just "compl[ied] and complain[ed] later." Kelly also interjected that the black teenage girl manhandled by a McKinney police officer "was no saint either," after bemoaning that people had "made this into a race thing.”

    Fox’s smear campaign against black victims of police brutality extends beyond the cable network’s primetime lineup: contributors, guests, and other hosts are all part of the network’s long-running effort to dehumanize black victims, discredit nationwide protests over police brutality, and deflect any blame away from those who should be held accountable.

  • Right-Wing “Porn Star” Attack On Former Miss Universe Falls Apart

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Conservative media figures are responding to former Miss Universe Alicia Machado’s statements that Donald Trump called her “Miss Piggy” and publicly humiliated her for gaining weight by accusing her of being a “porn star.” It is unclear why Trump’s behavior would be mitigated by Machado later performing in adult films, but those claims nonetheless appear to be false.

    During the first presidential debate, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton pointed to Trump’s record of mistreating women, specifically highlighting his attacks Machado. Trump, who owned the Miss Universe pageant from 1996 to 2015, doubled down the morning after the debate on the September 27 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, saying Machado had “gained a massive amount of weight and it was a real problem.” Trump supporters have sought to explain away Trump’s actions by seeking to undermine Machado’s character.

    In a September 27 article headlined, “Porn Star Campaigns For Hillary Clinton,” the Daily Caller falsely reported that “Snippets of an adult film starring Machado are available on multiple free porn websites.” While the headline remains the same, that language has been removed from the article, which now states that she “is in a sextape” that was released in 2005.

    The article features the correction, “The star of Apprentass 4 was Angel Dark, not Alicia Machado.” While the correction is nonspecific, it appears that the Caller based the entire premise of their claim that Machado is a “porn star” on the incorrect belief that she was featured in that film. According to The Daily Beast, which reported on conservatives’ smear effort against Machado, “there does not appear to be any evidence suggesting the existence of professionally made pornography starring Machado.”

    While the article no longer cites an example of her appearing in an adult film, it still baselessly claims that Machado made an “appearance in porn” and has a “background in pornography.”

    The apparently unsubstantiated claim that Machado appeared in adult films rocketed through Trump’s supporters in the right-wing media. Rush Limbaugh opened his September 28 radio show by describing Machado as the “porn star Miss Piggy.” Fox News’ Sean Hannity claimed on his radio show “that she may have starred in an adult film, and available apparently on multiple free porn websites according to the Daily Caller.” He also said that Machado is “in all these porn videos” during an interview with Eric Trump. And CNN’s Jeffrey Lord repeatedly described Machado as a “porn star” in an American Spectator article headlined “Hillary’s Bad Judgement: Exploits Porn Star Surrogate.”

    This effort to shame Machado into silence would be despicable even if it were true. But it appears that the entire smear campaign is also completely false.

  • Nine Ways Fox News Tried To Rehabilitate Trump After His Disastrous Debate

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Following the first 2016 presidential debate, Fox News defended Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s poor debate performance with an array of excuses and misinformation including misleading charts, “unscientific” online polling, and attacks on moderator Lester Holt. The network also offered Trump an immediate post-debate refuge with host Sean Hannity.

  • How The Trump Campaign Is Embracing Dirty Trickster Roger Stone’s Playbook

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    Trump, Stone

    Donald Trump and his campaign are signaling a shift toward an election strategy laid out by conspiracy theorist, dirty trickster, and informal Trump adviser Roger Stone.

    For months, Stone has pushed for Trump to invoke the Clintons’ supposed “war on women,” and both the candidate and campaign staffers have been making the rounds this week indicating that they plan to do so.

    Stone heads a pro-Trump super PAC and previously served as a paid consultant to Trump’s campaign. He has been a key promoter of Trump’s candidacy in the media, particularly on the radio and internet program of 9/11 conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

    Stone himself is an ardent conspiracy theorist. He recently floated the theory that the Clintons had four people murdered over the summer, which dovetails with his previously stated claim that the couple is “plausibly responsible” for the deaths of roughly 40 people. Stone has also alleged that the Bush family “tried to kill” President Ronald Reagan, that President Lyndon Johnson was behind the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and that the father of Senator Ted Cruz was involved in the killing as well – a theory that was pushed by Donald Trump.

    Stone said he had doubts that Clinton would have the stamina to do an entire 90-minute debate and claimed she was wearing an earpiece during NBC's candidate forum because she “clearly has no memory.” He also claimed Clinton was placed on an oxygen tank immediately after the recent presidential debate and “has some advanced form of epilepsy.”

    Former Trump adviser Michael Caputo, guest hosting on the September 25 edition of WBEN’s Hardline, said he “heard more than one time Donald Trump say” that Stone’s book The Clintons’ War on Women “is his opposition research on the Clintons.” He added that  Trump “has it on his desk.”

    The book, co-authored by fellow conspiracy theorist Robert Morrow, describes itself as a guide to “how Bill and Hillary Clinton systematically abused women and others -- sexually, physically, and psychologically -- in their scramble for power and wealth.”

    Morrow is also a discredited researcher. He has a history of bizarre sexual writings about Hillary Clinton and the Clinton family. Morrow also relishes tweeting the slur “nigger” and was ousted as the chair of the Travis County, TX, Republican Party by “party officials who found him a perpetual embarrassment.”

    Previously, Trump has promoted Morrow and Stone’s book on his Twitter account. In January, after claiming that Bill Clinton was “one of the great woman abusers of all time," Trump cited Stone’s book for his claim that Hillary Clinton "went after the women very, very strongly and very viciously, according to the women and according to other sources."

    Following his poorly received performance in Monday night’s debate, Trump appears ready to again follow Stone’s advice. Politico reported that “threats emanated from Trump Tower on Tuesday that the Republican nominee was preparing to name-check Bill Clinton’s mistresses — alleged or otherwise.”

    Immediately after the debate, Trump told the media, “I'm really happy I was able to hold back on the indiscretions in respect to Bill Clinton. Because I have a lot of respect for Chelsea Clinton.” He added, “Maybe I'll tell you at the next debate. We'll see. But I'm very happy.”

    Top Trump campaign surrogate and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said, “The president of the United States, her husband, disgraced this country with what he did in the Oval Office and she didn’t just stand by him, she attacked Monica Lewinsky. And after being married to Bill Clinton for 20 years, if you didn’t know the moment Monica Lewinsky said that Bill Clinton violated her that she was telling the truth, then you’re too stupid to be president.”

    Trump deputy campaign manager David Bossie appeared on Fox & Friends and said, “I think that if you look at Hillary Clinton's background and if you look at her being an enabler, really, in the '90s and really attacking these women, it goes against everything that she now tries to spout as a candidate for president.”

    Eric Trump, the nominee’s son, lauded his father’s “courage” for not bringing up Lewinsky during the debate during a radio appearance.

    The Stone-influenced strategy comes at the same time the Trump campaign is also reportedly receiving advice from Fox News founder and former chairman Roger Ailes, who was ousted from the network after former anchor Gretchen Carlson accused him of sexual harassment and sued him. Soon after, at least 25 women came forward, making very similar allegations about Ailes’ behavior over multiple decades. Recent reports indicate that after the debate debacle, Ailes’ role with the Trump campaign may be expanded.

  • Trump Is Trying To Divert The Media From His Disastrous Debate, And CNN Just Admitted It’s Working

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has tried to divert media attention from his poor debate performance, claiming that he “eased up” on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and suggesting that he would use personal indiscretions of former President Bill Clinton to attack her in the future. By attempting to change the media conversation, Trump seeks to deflect attention from not only his performance, but also from issues raised during the debate such as his taxes, his birtherism, and his attacks on a former Miss Universe.

    And news outlets have fallen for his manipulation, a media misstep that a CNN panel acknowledged while discussing the matter.

    Trump’s September 26 debate performance has been widely panned, with some calling it “an unmitigated disaster” and saying Trump had a “terrible night.” Trump since then has tried to offer excuses for his performance by criticizing moderator Lester Holt and complaining about his debate microphone. During an interview on September 27 with Fox News' Fox & Friends, Trump put out another attempted distraction, claiming he had “eased up” on Clinton during the debate because of her feelings and saying he would have mentioned “the many affairs that Bill Clinton had” if their daughter Chelsea Clinton had not been in the room. The following day, also speaking to Fox, Trump deputy campaign manager David Bossie accused Clinton of being “an enabler” of her husband’s infidelities, saying, “If you look at Hillary Clinton's background and if you look at her being an enabler, really, in the '90s and really attacking these women, it goes against everything that she now tries to spout as a candidate for president.”

    Various media outlets have played right into Trump’s plan by sharing the remarks, reporting that Trump said he “held back” by not bringing up Bill Clinton’s past, repeating Bossie’s claim, and devoting time to the claims on cable news shows. When journalists report on what Trump didn’t do during the debate, they play into Trump’s plan to avoid additional scrutiny of his answers on “not paying his taxes or stiffing his workers,” as Jon Favreau pointed out.

    Discussing Trump and Bossie’s remarks in a roundtable discussion on CNN’s At This Hour with Berman and Bolduan on September 28, co-host Kate Bolduan asked whether Trump was “just changing the subject from he didn’t have a good debate,” and New York Times reporter Alex Burns responded that “this is the version of changing the subject … that worked for Trump so well” before. Additionally, Democratic strategist Edward Espinoza pointed out that the Trump campaign was injecting the subject of Bill Clinton’s personal indiscretions into the campaign by having his surrogates bring it up in media, and that it was working because “we’re talking about it right now”:

    EDWARD ESPINOZA: This is not a new issue for them. So for Donald [Trump] to bring something like this up -- and by the way, his surrogates bringing it up in the media right now is their way of getting it out without him having to get it out. We’re talking about it right now. But they’re prepared --

    KATE BOLDUAN (CO-HOST): Is it getting out or just changing the subject from he didn’t have a good debate? Because we’ve seen kind of this tactic in the past.

    ALEX BURNS: This is the version of changing the subject that Trump -- that worked for Trump so well when he ended up down 12 points in August, right? That when you careen from one fight that's charged with issues of race and gender from the next all summer, that's not what he's been doing for the last few weeks when he has drawn closer in the polls. And a return to that just because it sort of changes the subject and feels good in the short term, the people who see him as having made progress in the race badly do not want him to go there.

    CNN’s panel was playing into exactly what the Trump campaign wanted -- and Espinoza admitted it. The panelists were discussing Bill Clinton’s indiscretions without forcing Trump to be part of the conversation, while also helping Trump in “changing the subject” from his debate performance.

    Throughout his presidential campaign, Trump has been able to manipulate the press to cover what he wants in the way he wants and to ignore issues he has not wanted covered. In May, he held a press conference on his alleged donations to veterans groups, hijacking cable news discussions and largely avoiding coverage of an update regarding the lawsuit against Trump University. Earlier in September, Trump got free live cable news coverage of his Washington, D.C., hotel by teasing a “major announcement” on his birther campaign. The Washington Post’s Dave Weigel has also noted that Trump has released “less policy detail than any candidate for president in my lifetime,” but because he “never fail[s] to offer enough detail to fit in a headline or cable news chyron,” he’s been able to “get credit — and the headline, and the chyron — for what other candidates would consider less than a bare minimum.” And as Rolling Stone’s Tim Dickinson noted earlier this year, “Trump can mainline his latest hot take into the mainstream media, basically any time of night or day” through his use of Twitter.