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  • CNN’s Dylan Byers Highlights Sean Hannity’s “Unapologetic Advocacy” For Donald Trump

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    In an article for CNN.com detailing Fox News host Sean Hannity’s role as a “Republican shill” and pro-Trump advocate, CNN’s Dylan Byers highlighted Hannity’s softball interviews with Trump and his admission that he is offering a safe space for Republican candidates on his television and radio shows.

    The May 2 article highlights how Hannity’s softball interviews with Trump start with Hannity citing “areas where he agrees with Trump, or where he thinks Trump was right about something, then asks him to expand on it.” Byers explained that Hannity “often ignores or defends Trump from criticism,” never asking Trump about not disavowing the Klu Klux Klan and arguing that criticism of Trump is “extraordinarily unfair.”

    Byers also pointed out the support Trump has received from numerous Fox personalities including host Bill O’Reilly and the hosts of Fox & Friends, but argued that Hannity is the only host to admit his a pro-Trump characterization – making him “the most honest opinion host”:

    In his interviews, Hannity frequently cites areas where he agrees with Trump, or where he thinks Trump was right about something, then asks him to expand on it. Many questions function as a set-up for Trump to discuss anything he wants: "If you win Florida and Ohio, you are well on your way to the nomination to be the Republican nominee for president," Hannity said during a March interview. "How would that make you feel?"

    Hannity often ignores or defends Trump from criticism. When he interviewed Trump in the heat of the controversy over of his failure to disavow the Klu Klux Klan, he never asked Trump about it. After the CNBC debate, Hannity said to Trump: "I felt [moderator] John Harwood was extraordinarily unfair to you and attacking you... I've got to imagine that that's pretty aggravating for you. What's your reaction to it?"

    Hannity thinks his critics cherry pick these examples, but there are many cherries to pick. On terrorism: "I'm sure you wish you were wrong, Mr. Trump, but you were right. What did you see that maybe others didn't see about what was happening in Brussels and Belgium?" Hannity once told Trump: "You can tell me whatever you want. You're Donald Trump. You can say anything you want."

    Hannity's unapologetic advocacy has won him the support of Trump's base, a vocal coalition that loathes most members of the media. While he is hardly the only pro-Trump pundit, no other has the immense platform that is Fox News. In the first three months of 2016, Hannity averaged 1.88 million viewers a night, and his radio show is the second most-listened-to talk show in the country after Rush Limbaugh's.

    […]

    Jonah Goldberg, of the conservative National Review, recently argued that Hannity, Greta Van Susteren, Eric Bolling, Bill O'Reilly and the majority of hosts on "Fox & Friends," "The Five" and "Outnumbered" are "all more pro-Trump than anti."

    Several of the aforementioned hosts would likely disagree with that characterization. Hannity no longer troubles himself with such protests. In a way, that might just make him the most honest opinion host in all of cable news.

  • Donald Trump Praises The Media After A Nearly Year-Long Attack On The Press

    Blog ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

    Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump praised the media in his victory speech and in morning show interviews after sweeping all five April 26 GOP primaries, a sharp shift in his campaign’s history of attacking journalists and news outlets.

    During an April 26 victory speech, Trump said, “I want to thank the media. The media’s really covered me very fair for the last two hours.” Trump continued, “They’ve been really very fair over the last few weeks.” The following morning, Trump made the morning news show circuit, telling the hosts of MSNBC’s Morning Joe that the show's coverage of him has been "great." (Morning Joe has previously been widely criticized by other members of the media for their soft Trump coverage.) Trump added that hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski had given him a "hard time" in some cases, to which Brzezinski responded, "We gave you a hard time on things we disagreed with, but we always thought your candidacy was successful." On CNN’s New Day, Trump asserted that “CNN’s doing a very good job" of covering the election.

    During the morning of April 27, ABC, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC all allowed Trump to phone in for interviews. Networks' unprecedented practice of allowing Trump to regularly do phone interviews rather than make in person or satellite appearances offers Trump an advantage against probing and hard-hitting interviews.

    Trump’s tone towards the media is markedly different from his consistent attacks on the press throughout the entirety of his nearly year-long campaign. Trump’s history of attacking journalists and news outlets includes blacklisting multiple reporters from his events, kicking Univision anchor Jorge Ramos out of a news conference, and mocking a reporter’s disability after receiving supposedly unfavorable coverage. Multiple reporters and photographers have been reportedly threatened or injured by Trump campaign officials and security. Trump’s favorable comments to CNN directly contrast with his threats last month to skip a March 29 CNN town hall, where he cited “one-sided and unfair reporting” from the network.

    Trump infamously attacked Fox News host Megyn Kelly for months after she asked a question about his history of sexism during the August 6 Fox Republican presidential debate, culminating in his boycott of Fox's January 28 debate. In an interview after the August 6 debate, Trump said that Kelly had “blood coming out of her wherever” during the debate, later retweeted a comment calling Kelly a “bimbo,” and called her “Crazy Megyn.”

    During a February 26 press conference, Trump promised to sue the media for negative stories about him if he’s elected president, saying he would “open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money." The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple called those statements a “threat to American democracy” and a “logical extension” of Trump’s attacks on the press.

    In recent weeks several media figures have fallen for claims that Trump has evolved to demonstrate a more "presidential" tone, while other journalists have urged their colleagues not to forget his history of insulting and extreme statements.

  • Morning Shows Grant Trump Phone Privileges Following Primary Wins

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    The morning news programs on ABC, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC all allowed Donald Trump to phone in for interviews following his victories in the April 26 Republican primaries. Journalists and media critics have called out cable and broadcast news shows for allowing Trump this “shocking” “advantage,” and several programs have banned the practice.

    In March, the six major broadcast and cable news networks allowed Trump to phone in for 39 of his 63 interviews. On ABC, NBC, MSNBC, and Fox News, more than half of Trump's interviews were conducted by phone.

    The Associated Press has explained how television media’s unprecedented practice of allowing Trump to regularly call in gives him an advantage:

    Except in news emergencies, producers usually avoid phoners because television is a visual medium -- a face-to-face discussion between a newsmaker and questioner is preferable to a picture of an anchor listening to a disembodied voice.

    It's easy to see why Trump likes them. There's no travel or TV makeup involved; if he wishes to, Trump can talk to Matt Lauer without changing out of his pajamas. They often put an interviewer at a disadvantage, since it's harder to interrupt or ask follow-up questions, and impossible to tell if a subject is being coached.

    Face-to-face interviews let viewers see a candidate physically react to a tough question and think on his feet, said Chris Licht, executive producer of "CBS This Morning." Sometimes that's as important as what is being said.

    Several prominent journalists and media critics have panned the media’s willingness to grant Trump phone interviews. CBS This Morning, NBC’s Meet The Press, and Fox News Sunday have all banned the practice, requiring Trump to appear in person or via satellite.

    To sign Media Matters’ petition calling on media outlets to take away Trump’s special phone privilege, click here.

  • “A Republican Munich”: Conservative Media React To Cruz-Kasich Alliance To Stop Trump

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Republican presidential candidates Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) announced a plan to mutually shift resources in upcoming contests to increase the odds of denying front-runner Donald Trump a majority of delegates before the GOP convention. Some conservative media figures have criticized the candidates' decision, calling it “unreal” and "the equivalent of a Republican Munich."

  • STUDY: CNN Viewers See Far More Fossil Fuel Advertising Than Climate Change Reporting

    Following Temperature Record Announcements, Oil Industry Ads Outpaced Climate-Related Coverage By Almost 5-To-1

    ››› ››› KEVIN KALHOEFER

    CNN aired almost five times as much oil industry advertising as climate change-related coverage in the one-week periods following the announcements that 2015 was the hottest year on record and February 2016 was the most abnormally hot month on record. Specifically, CNN aired 23.5 minutes of American Petroleum Institute ads during its morning, afternoon, and primetime coverage over those two weeks, compared to just five minutes of coverage about climate change or the temperature records. That disparity does not even account for dozens of Koch Industries ads that also ran on CNN, which were not energy-focused but did serve to boost the image of the oil billionaire Koch brothers’ primary corporation.

  • STUDY: Cable And Broadcast News Try To Cover The Economy Without Economists

    Economists Made Up 1 Percent Of Guests In The First Quarter Of 2016, While Shows Focused On Campaigns, Inequality

    ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON & ALEX MORASH

    Expertise from economists was almost completely absent from television news coverage of the economy in the first quarter of 2016, which focused largely on the tax and economic policy platforms of this year’s presidential candidates. Coverage of economic inequality spiked during the period -- tying an all-time high -- driven in part by messaging from candidates on both sides of the aisle, but gender diversity in guests during economic news segments remained low.

  • Here Are The Media Figures Calling Out Trump's Sham Reinvention

    Carl Bernstein: “We Talk About The New Trump The Same Way We Talked About A New Nixon”

    ››› ››› CRISTINA LOPEZ & BOBBY LEWIS

    After Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump began persuading some in the media that he will start acting more “presidential,” others in the media have expressed skepticism of Trump’s attempt to change his image and are warning their colleagues to not forget his insulting and extreme statements.