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  • CNN’s Corey Lewandowski Claims Donald Trump's Alleged Solicitations To Foreign Nationals Are “Perfectly Legal”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Amid allegations that presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign is illegally soliciting donations from foreign nationals, new CNN political commentator and former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski claimed that it was actually “perfectly legal”  because the individuals had "opted into" Trump’s email list. Lewandowski’s explanation suggests either he is misleading CNN's audience in order to defend Trump or he is ignorant on the issue.

    Talking Points Memo reported on June 29 that elected officials from the U.K., Australia, Iceland, Denmark, and Finland have complained about receiving fundraising emails from Trump’s campaign. Talking Points Memo also reported that two watchdog groups announced they would be filing a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) alleging “that the Donald Trump campaign has broken federal law by sending fundraising emails to foreign elected officials.”

    CNN host Alisyn Camerota asked Lewandowski about the allegations and the FEC complaint on the July 1 edition of New Day, noting it’s “illegal to be soliciting donations from foreign leaders or foreigners.” Lewandowski claimed that it was “perfectly legal” because those who received a fundraising email “opted into” the campaign’s “email system.”

    CNN has drawn extensive criticism for hiring Lewandowski as a political commentator after he was fired from the Trump campaign, due in part to questions over whether Lewandowski had signed a nondisclosure agreement before he left the campaign, which could prohibit him from criticizing the presumptive Republican nominee.

  • Wash. Post Reporter: CNN’s Lewandowski “Has Not Yet Transitioned Out Of His Role As A Trump Employee”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    In an article in The Washington Post, politics and media reporter Callum Borchers said recently fired Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who was recently hired as a political contributor to CNN, “has not yet transitioned out of his role as a Trump employee.” According to Borchers, “Lewandowski's failure to contribute meaningful insight and analysis — even from a pro-Trump perspective” — in his appearances on CNN “makes his performances truly underwhelming,” and CNN’s “hosts have appeared frustrated, at times, by their inability to get anything useful out of Lewandowski.”

    CNN has faced criticism and “ethical questions” from numerous media experts and analysts. Even Fox News media analyst Howard Kurtz called CNN’s choice to bring Lewandowski on as political contributor “a sad move” that doesn’t help “CNN’s credibility in covering Donald Trump.” Moreover, Lewandowski recently lost a book deal with publishing company HarperCollins because of “concerns about Lewandowski’s nondisclosure agreement” with the Trump campaign, a document CNN had reported on prior to hiring Lewandowski.

    Now, in an article titled “Corey Lewandowski’s first week on CNN was just as bad as everyone expected,” Borchers wrote that in his appearances on CNN, Lewandowski often changed “the subject to predetermined talking points” and that he “remains prone to spouting fiction and doesn't stay on-topic, grinding segments to a halt as CNN hosts have to correct his misinformation or interject to steer the conversation back to the point.” From The Washington Post’s July 1 article (emphasis original):

    A week isn't very long to learn a new job, so it's possible Corey Lewandowski will improve in his role as a CNN commentator. But so far, Donald Trump's recently fired campaign manager is just plain bad — and not only for the reasons many anticipated.

    [...]

    Yet it is Lewandowski's failure to contribute meaningful insight and analysis — even from a pro-Trump perspective — that makes his performances truly underwhelming. Here's a representative exchange from "New Day" in which host Alisyn Camerota asked Lewandowski and former New York City Council speaker Christine Quinn, a Hillary Clinton supporter, about Trump's recent trip to Scotland.

    [...]

    Lewandowski deflected and pivoted to other subjects, knocking Clinton for a campaign ad and praising Trump for supporting his son's work on a golf course project. By the end, he had somehow invented a scenario in which the question was about criticism of Trump, rather than criticism by Trump.

    This is what a spokesman might do — changing the subject to predetermined talking points. But Lewandowski doesn't work for Trump anymore; he works for CNN. He needs to at least talk about whatever CNN wants to talk about and not try to hijack the conversation. His employer asked him a question and wanted his analysis of it, and he didn't deliver.

    The cable channel's hosts have appeared frustrated, at times, by their inability to get anything useful out of Lewandowski.

    [...]

    For the most part, however, Lewandowski is bad television. He remains prone to spouting fiction and doesn't stay on-topic, grinding segments to a halt as CNN hosts have to correct his misinformation or interject to steer the conversation back to the point.

    In short, Lewandowski has not yet transitioned out of his role as a Trump employee, and it has already reportedly cost him one post-campaign payday. Politico reported this week that HarperCollins rescinded a $1.2 million book offer over concerns that Lewandowski would not provide much insight, partly because of his nondisclosure agreement and partly because he was fired more than four months before Election Day.

    CNN is more willing to give Lewandowski a shot. But right now, he's not enhancing their coverage in the least.

  • Right-Wing Media Abandon Facts To Support Trump’s Call For Waterboarding

    ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    Several right-wing media figures defended presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s reiterated call for waterboarding and “much worse” techniques to combat terror after terrorists carried out an attack on Istanbul’s largest airport. Journalists and others well-versed in national security, terrorism, and interrogation tactics have called waterboarding ineffective and chided Trump for proposing we “stoop to [terrorists’] level” of using brutal tactics.

  • Washington Post Highlights Trump’s Empty Progressive Promises On Jobs, Trade

    The Economic Policy Institute Wants Nothing To Do With Trump's "Scam"

    Blog ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    According to The Washington Post, the progressive economic think tank Donald Trump repeatedly cited during a recent speech on his trade policy agenda is slamming the presumptive Republican presidential nominee for distorting the facts and ignoring other initiatives that would boost the economy -- all in an attempt to “scam” hard-working Americans.

    During a June 28 speech at a metal recycling facility in Monessen, PA, Trump outlined a trade and manufacturing policy agenda that draws heavily from research performed by the progressive Economic Policy Institute (EPI). Washington Post reporter Greg Sargent was first to report that EPI president Lawrence Mishel rebuked Trump’s agenda for misleading the public on globalization and wage stagnation -- by blaming our trade policies for flat wages and fewer jobs -- while ignoring progressive initiatives like lifting the minimum wage, expanding overtime protections, and increasing union membership (emphasis added):

    So it’s worth noting that the EPI — in a lengthy statement sent my way — now says that Trump’s account of what has happened to American workers in recent decades is simplistic in the extreme; that Trump is actually a lot more friendly to GOP economic orthodoxy than most observers have noted; and that Trump’s actual prescriptions fall laughably short of what needs to be done to help those workers.

    Trump boasted in his speech that “under a Trump presidency, the American worker will finally have a president who will protect them and fight for them,” and repeatedly accused Clinton and other politicians supported by financial elites of “betraying” American workers by prioritizing globalization over their interests.

    But Lawrence Mishel, the president of the EPI, sent me a critique of the speech. Mishel noted that Trump’s account suggests that only government officials — particularly the Clinton administration and Democrats who supported trade deals such as NAFTA — are to blame for flat wages. He argued that Trump conspicuously left out the role of Republicans in this whole tale, as well as the business community’s use of its power to keep wages down and erode countervailing power on the part of labor.

    As Sargent and Mishel note, Trump has appropriated a populist tone on international free trade agreements, but his other stated positions on tax and economic policy decidedly favor the corporatist right wing. The incongruity of Trump’s positions led Mishel to conclude his response by labeling Trump’s speech for what it was: “a scam.”

    For months, Media Matters has documented how media have tended to gloss over Trump’s extremist positions with a misleading “populist” veneer. According to reports, his top economic policy advisers are discredited right-wing pundits Stephen Moore and Larry Kudlow -- known for their strict adherence to trickle-down economics, their willingness to distort reality for political gain, and their rank professional incompetence. Last September, right-wing media falsely labeled Trump’s tax reform plans a “populist” agenda when it was actually a budget-busting giveaway to the rich that wilted upon closer inspection. In April, experts slammed Trump’s proposal to eliminate the national debt in just eight years as “impossible” and “psychotic.” In May, Trump was criticized for his “insane” plan to default on U.S. federal debt, and then for his “disastrous” suggestion that the U.S. could solve its long-term debt problems by printing money.

    Even in the case of free trade, Trump’s rhetoric may be populist, but experts and media critics argue that his positions are untenable. As CNN’s Ali Velshi pointed on during the June 29 edition of New Day, Trump’s attempt to solely blame the Clinton administration for jobs lost to globalization was “highly dishonest.” On the May 6 edition of New Day, CNN analyst Rana Foroohar slammed Trump’s nascent trade agenda as being “either a bad idea, or impossible.” (Furthermore, Trump’s penchant for comparing trade deals to the horrifying violence of “rape” leaves him far outside the rational mainstream of political discourse.)

    As Sargent noted, Trump’s June 28 policy speech seemed to be an attempt “to stake out positions on trade and wages that are … perhaps even to the left of Hillary Clinton and Democrats.” MSNBC political reporter Benjy Sarlin and Fortune politics writer Ben Geier both argued in June 29 articles that the speech was an overt attempt by the GOP front-runner to court supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the runner-up in the Democratic presidential primary. Trump even quoted a common refrain from Sanders’ own stump speeches during a series of attacks on Clinton, saying she “voted for virtually every trade agreement that has cost the workers of this country millions, millions of jobs” -- a claim that PolitiFact labels as “half true” at best.

    Given his previous extremist economic positions, Trump’s statements on trade -- which were chided by both the right-leaning U.S. Chamber of Commerce and left-leaning labor unions including the AFL-CIO -- seem to be born not of conviction, but rather of expedience.

  • Media Fell For Bogus “New Information” Spin In GOP Benghazi Report

    ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Several media outlets falsely reported that the final report released by Republicans on the House Select Committee on Benghazi contained “new information,” when in fact all of the “key findings” in the report had been previously reported. Committee Republicans reportedly released “embargoed ‘exclusives’” strategically to manipulate reporters into presenting details in the releases as new information.

  • Politico: HarperCollins Backed Away From Lewandowski Book Because Of Concerns About Nondisclosure Agreement

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Politico reported that former Trump campaign manager “Corey Lewandowski had a $1.2-million offer from HarperCollins to write a book chronicling his time running Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, but the publishing giant backed away from the deal amid concerns about Lewandowski’s nondisclosure agreement, according to two sources familiar with the talks.”

    The reported action by HarperCollins, which is a subsidiary of News Corporation, is in contrast to CNN’s much-criticized hiring of Lewandowski. Politico reported that a “Republican operative familiar with the talks said that HarperCollins officials were concerned about being subjected to criticism similar to that which CNN faced when it signed Lewandowski as an on-air political analyst under a contract that one CNN source suggested was worth somewhere in the low six figures.”

    From Politico:

    The sources said HarperCollins asked to review a copy of the nondisclosure agreement Lewandowski signed as a precondition of his employment with Trump in order to assess whether the candidate or his campaign would be able to exercise control over anything in the book.

    Lewandowski declined to do so, ultimately leading HarperCollins to decide not to renew its initial offer, according to the sources.

    The Republican operative familiar with the talks said that HarperCollins officials were concerned about being subjected to criticism similar to that which CNN faced when it signed Lewandowski as an on-air political analyst under a contract that one CNN source suggested was worth somewhere in the low six figures.

    Many in the media and political spheres questioned whether Lewandowski would be able to add any analysis that sheds actual light on the Trump campaign because of his nondisclosure agreement. New York Times television critic James Poniewozik called Lewandowski’s hire “dubious,” on Twitter adding “if he’s signed an NDA, it’s indefensible.”

  • Wash. Post Media Columnist: CNN’s Hiring Of Lewandowski Plunges The Network “Into A Sea Of Muck”

    Margaret Sullivan: “An Astonishing Reward For Behavior That Should Cause Him To Be Shunned By Respectable Journalistic Organizations”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan slammed CNN’s hiring of former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski in an article published June 28.

    Sullivan wrote that even in the “highly competitive, ratings-mad” cable news market, networks can cross a “bridge too far” and that CNN “ran blithely across that bridge and plunged into a sea of muck” by hiring Lewandowski to give political commentary on his former boss.

    Sullivan wrote, “Bringing Lewandowski onboard is an astonishing reward for behavior that should cause him to be shunned by respectable journalistic organizations,” and she called into question the value of hiring someone with a non-disclosure agreement that prohibits him from “uttering a negative word about his former boss on air.” These problems became more evident in Lewandowski’s “milquetoast commentary” on Trump’s June 28 speech, in which he spent five minutes campaigning for Trump. From Sullivan’s June 28 column:

    Even in the highly competitive, ratings-mad, hardball-playing world of cable television, there should be a bridge too far.

    In hiring Donald Trump’s fired campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, CNN ran blithely across that bridge and plunged into a sea of muck.

    Bringing Lewandowski onboard is an astonishing reward for behavior that should cause him to be shunned by respectable journalistic organizations.

    [...]

    In a deeply reported profile in March, Politico depicted Lewandowski as a bully who once called a female colleague a “c---” in front of co-workers at the Washington advocacy group where he once worked. (Lewandowski would not comment to Politico on the altercation with his female colleague.)

    The profile reported that he was “rough with reporters and sexually suggestive with female journalists, while profanely berating conservative officials and co-workers he deemed to be challenging his authority.”

    [...]

    As campaign manager, Lewandowski banned news organizations from rallies and maintained Trump’s media blacklist, which includes The Washington Post, as well as BuzzFeed, the Huffington Post, Politico, the Des Moines Register and many others. His hostility included CNN at least once. Noah Gray, a CNN producer covering Trump, tweeted last November that as he filmed the crowd’s reaction to a protester at a rally, Lewandowski ordered him “inside the pen or I’ll pull your credentials.”