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.