All In With Chris Hayes

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  • 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.”

  • Television News’ Silence On Jill Harth's Sexual Assault Allegations Against Trump May Finally End

    Blog ››› ››› PAM VOGEL

    Former Donald Trump business associate Jill Harth’s past allegations of sexual assault and harassment against the Republican presidential nominee have resurfaced this year in The Boston Globe, The New York Times, and most recently The Guardian. Television news, however, has remained nearly silent on these serious allegations of illegal and possibly criminal misconduct facing Trump. Following a October 7 Nicholas Kristof column in the Times detailing a new interview with Harth about her sexual assault allegations and The Washington Post’s explosive report on a 2005 recording of Trump bragging about the exact type of behavior Harth described, will major news networks’ virtual silence about the story continue?

    Harth first brought a sexual harassment lawsuit against Trump in 1997, which was later dropped as a condition for settling a separate contract dispute with Trump. In the original complaint and subsequent accounts, Harth described several alleged instances in which Trump sexually harassed and groped her, as well as one instance of attempted rape, when they were business partners in the 1990s. Her accusations were included in comprehensive reporting on Trump’s dangerous misogyny and behavior with women by The Boston Globe in April and The New York Times in May.

    In the weeks after the Times front-page story featuring Harth, television news largely ignored the accusations of unlawful conduct, aside from one report on MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes.

    After several more months of news network silence, Harth and her lawyer, Lisa Bloom, gave interviews in July further detailing the allegations, which could at a minimum constitute illegal sexual harassment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. In an exclusive interview posted on July 18 with ABC News legal affairs anchor and LawNewz founder Dan Abrams, Harth reiterated her accusations and demanded an apology from Trump.

    LawNewz later reported that “about 8 minutes” after the Abrams interview was posted, the Trump campaign and then the candidate himself contacted LawNewz in the middle of the Republican National Convention to deny the allegations, saying in a phone call, “If you look in the National Enquirer, there was a story in there that she was in love with me. The woman has real problems…It’s ridiculous, I’ve never touched this woman.”

    Two days later, The Guardian published an interview in which Harth described not only her allegations from the 1990s, but also her experience coming to terms with Trump’s presidential run and her decision to speak out once again. In August, Harth spoke to WNYC about the allegations, and the outlet published a copy of her original 1997 complaint as well as documents sent from the Trump legal team in an attempt to discredit her.

    A new Media Matters analysis found that television news has still remained virtually silent on Harth’s specific allegations of illegal sexual harassment and assault since her July 18 LawNewz interview. A search of available transcripts for ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC from July 19 through October 6 --  the day before the Kristof column was published -- revealed that Harth’s allegations were mentioned only four times across all six networks. Bloom was a guest for three of the four segments mentioning either Harth’s accusations specifically or allegations of sexual assault or harassment against Trump in general. Harth was mentioned once by name in the available Nexis transcripts for all six major networks -- in an August 2 segment, again on All In. Bloom, also an NBC legal analyst and CNN commentator, appeared as a guest to discuss Trump’s behavior with women and relationship with accused serial sexual harasser Roger Ailes.

    The relative television media silence on Harth’s allegations has persisted since July in spite of at least four major news stories related to Trump and sexual assault or harassment. Numerous segments across the networks tackled the Trump campaign’s threats to discuss Bill Clinton's past, Trump’s relationship with ousted Fox News chairman and accused serial sexual harasser Roger Ailes, and Trump’s comments about workplace sexual harassment and sexual assault in the military, without mentioning Harth’s alleged harassment and assault.

    On October 8, MSNBC’s AM Joy began its Saturday morning coverage reporting the release of the Trump recording and its aftermath and hosted Lisa Bloom to discuss Trump’s relationship with women, and Harth specifically, in detail. Bloom again reiterated Harth’s allegations against Trump and excoriated media for ignoring Harth’s case for so long. Host Joy Reid noted that the “hot mic” recording of Trump from 2005 “seemed to corroborate” what Harth has been alleging for years, a sentiment Kristof repeated in his column. Perhaps Bloom’s appearance on AM Joy and Kristof’s conclusion that Harth is “telling the truth” after interviewing her and “reviewing the lawsuits and depositions from the time” will signal to others that the time has come to report on these disturbing allegations against the presidential nominee in full.


    For the time period between July 19 and October 6, Media Matters searched Nexis transcripts for coverage on MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, ABC, CBS, and NBC for any mentions of the terms “Jill Harth” and “Harth,” as well as any mentions of the phrases “sexual assault” or “sexual harassment” within 50 words of “Trump.” Nexis transcripts include all-day programming on CNN, evening programming on MSNBC and Fox News, and morning, evening, and Sunday news shows on the broadcast networks. 

  • The Bar Gets Lower: Media Reinforce Double Standard For Trump Ahead Of First Debate

    ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    As the first presidential debate approaches, media figures across the political spectrum are actively lowering the bar for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, both by setting lower standards themselves and by pushing the lower-standard narrative. Yet at the same time, many media figures are acknowledging that the press is employing a double standard in its treatment of Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

  • Trump Campaign Statement Clashes With Recent Birther Claims Made By Trump And Surrogates To The Media


    Donald Trump’s campaign released a statement claiming Trump now admits President Obama was born in the United States, and “was finally able to bring this ugly incident to its conclusion” in 2011. In fact, Trump has pushed racist birther attacks on President Obama after 2011, and campaign surrogates have repeatedly defended his birtherism in the media.

  • Media Finally Admit The Bar Is Lower For Trump. But Can They Fix It?

    Blog ››› ››› JARED HOLT

    Memo to the media: You cannot have it both ways on the double standard applied to presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

    After NBC’s Commander in Chief Forum, reporters and pundits proclaimed that media have held the two presidential nominees to different standards of knowledge and conduct, yet these media figures have also perpetuated the double standard by excusing Trump’s behavior and applauding him any time he shows a veneer of conventionality.

    Numerous media figures criticized Matt Lauer, host of the September 7 forum, for employing different questioning toward Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Lauer allowed Trump to lie about opposing the Iraq war, yet he used eight of his first nine questions for Clinton to grill her over her emails. Several media figures said Lauer’s line of questioning embodied the “double standard” that reporters across the board use to analyze the two candidates.

    If Media Figures Note The Double Standard ... 

    • MSNBC's Mike Barnicle: Trump Is The "Continued Beneficiary Of A Huge Double Standard." The morning after the forum, MSNBC’s Mike Barnicle told Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough that Lauer interviewed Trump “as if he were the co-host or the host of The Apprentice,” rather than a presidential candidate, noting, “Syria wasn’t mentioned. Aleppo wasn’t mentioned. The refugee crisis wasn’t mentioned.” He noted that the forum showed Trump is the “continued beneficiary of a huge double standard.”
    • Wash. Post Contributor Paul Waldman: “Hillary Clinton Gets Examined In A Very Different Way Than Donald Trump Does.” Following the forum, Washington Post contributor Paul Waldman explained that Clinton “gets examined in a very different way than Trump does” by the media. Speaking on the September 7 edition of MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes, Waldman faulted media for taking an “all hands on deck mentality” when reporting Clinton news -- saying that “everybody will investigate every nook and cranny to see if there’s anything there that looks untoward. And even if there isn’t, it becomes this story that drags out over the course of days and even weeks” -- as opposed to “strings of issues” about Trump that are reported once and then forgotten.
    • Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin: “Trump Is Being Held To A Less High Standard.” ” Prior to the forum, Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin told co-host John Heilemann that “the Clinton campaign is right” that “Trump is being held to a less high standard” by reporters and that “the press is just not holding him accountable.” Halperin continued, “Trump is doing things that if Clinton did, she would be hit a lot harder,” and he urged media to “work on fixing that.” Co-host John Heilemann agreed with Halperin, despite having defended the double standard the week prior, when he said that “sometimes … you have to set the bar low” for Trump.
    • NY Times' Maggie Haberman: "The Bar Has Been Lowered For Trump Repeatedly." New York Times political correspondent Maggie Haberman said on CNN’s New Day leading up to the forum that Trump “keeps getting graded on a curve” and “the bar has been lowered for Trump repeatedly.” Haberman criticized media figures who assess Trump by asking, “Does he merely pass?” And then if he does, they record it as Trump “did very well.”
    • NY Times’ James Poniewozik Slams Lauer For Questioning Trump On A Curve. New York Times TV critic James Poniewozik scolded Lauer for treating Clinton “like someone running for president” but Trump “like someone running to figure out how to be president, eventually.” Poniewozik wrote that after grilling Clinton on her private email server, Lauer pitched Trump “the kind of whiffle ball job-interview” questions “you ask the boss’s nephew you know you have to hire anyway.”
    • CNN’s Brian Stelter: “It Is True That Trump Is Held To A Different Standard Than Clinton.” The day after the forum, CNN media reporter Brian Stelter told CNN host Ashleigh Banfield that “it is true that Trump is held to a different standard than Clinton” and said that “no doubt, at the forum, there was different treatment for Trump versus Clinton.”

    ... But Have Perpetuated It ...

    Despite all this commentary, media figures have consistently perpetuated the double standard, holding Trump to a lower bar than they do Clinton in terms of behavioral and ethical conduct -- and in measures of veracity. Most recently, when a report came out that Trump paid a fine to the IRS for making an illegal $25,000 donation to the 2013 re-election campaign of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, broadcast news networks devoted a third as much as time to the matter as they provided to a flawed Associated Press story on the Clinton Foundation that proved no ethics breaches.

    Media figures have previously repeatedly pardoned Trump’s widely criticized rhetoric, policy flip-flops, and divisive comments because he’s “not a politician” and is “learning as he goes”:

    • Fox Hosts Excused Trump's Abortion Comments Because "He's Learning As He Goes." Hosts of Fox News’ Fox & Friends excused Trump’s statement in March that there should be some kind of punishment for women who obtain abortions, suggesting that Trump should not be expected to answer questions about abortion because they’re usually reserved for more experienced politicians. Co-host Steve Doocy excused Trump, saying, “He only became a politician about six or seven months ago.”
    • CNN’s Mark Preston: “You Have To Expect” Trump Will Abandon His Positions; He Can’t Be Thought Of In “Conventional Terms.” CNN political executive editor Mark Preston told New Day host Chris Cuomo in May that he was not surprised the presumptive nominee “took a half-step back” on banning Muslim immigrants because he can't be thought of in “conventional terms,” but rather “in Donald Trump terms.”
    • The Daily Beast’s Jackie Kucinich: “Consistency Should Be An Argument Against Donald Trump,” But Trump “Isn’t A Normal Candidate.” Daily Beast Washington bureau chief Jackie Kucinich claimed in May that while “consistency should be an argument against” Trump “in a normal political system,” Trump is “not a normal candidate” and thus his policy reversals might not affect him.

    Media have also absurdly applauded Trump any time he has appeared to assume even the slightest veneer of conventional, tempered behavior:

    • Reading A Speech From A Teleprompter: Media figures praised Trump as “presidential” in early June for delivering one speech with the aid of a teleprompter. Fox anchor Megyn Kelly praised Trump for being “a little bit more controlled using the teleprompter, which is something we almost never see him do, staying on message.”
    • Delivering One Speech Devoid Of Racist Attacks: Following the same speech, media figures also praised Trump as “presidential” for refraining from launching racist attacks against the federal judge presiding over Trump University lawsuits, which Trump had done for multiple days prior. CNN host Don Lemon said the “new, more presidential Donald Trump” is what “people in Washington wanted to see.”
    • Rebutting A Joke About His Penis Size: Fox doctor Keith Ablow praised Donald Trump for “show[ing] an incredible degree of psychological strength” in responding to a joke about the size of his hands by referencing the size of his penis.
    • Not Calling Then-Opponent Ted Cruz “Lyin’ Ted”: Following Trump’s April victory in the New York primary, Fox’s Megyn Kelly and ABC’s Tom Llamas said Trump was becoming “more presidential” and “trying out a more presidential style” because he did not call his opponent, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), “Lyin’ Ted.” Trump returned to using the phrase the next day.

    ... Will They Change? 

    Now that political media have admitted their own shortcomings in the cautionary tale of Lauer, will they level the playing field between Clinton and Trump?

    Researcher Tyler Cherry contributed research to this post.