FOX Broadcasting Company

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  • WaPo’s The Fix Highlights Journalists “Counseling” Trump Through Interviews

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Washington Post’s The Fix highlighted CNN anchor Chris Cuomo’s observation that journalists are “counseling [Trump] through interviews,” suggesting answers “instead of asking wide-open questions that force the presumptive Republican nominee to clarify all on his own.”

    Cuomo has noted that during interviews with Donald Trump, interviewers ask questions framed to push him toward a better answer, saying that journalists suggest to Trump, “When you say this, you know, so you mean like you would just kind of do it this way?” instead of asking open-ended questions. Other journalists such as CNN’s Brian Stelter have criticized media for not pressing Trump hard enough. Stelter said that “we have to address” Trump’s misinformation “head-on as journalists."

    Trump has benefited from countless softball interviews. For example, on Fox News’ Fox & Friends, the hosts asked Trump questions such as “Were you right?” following the Brussels terrorist attack. In addition, Fox anchor Megyn Kelly came under fire for her “fluff” interview with Trump on her Fox Broadcasting special, Megyn Kelly Presents. A May 22 panel on CNN’s Reliable Sources criticized her “softball” interview, repeatedly noting that “she didn’t press him” on a number of issues. Many of her questions directly echoed queries that her colleagues at Fox had asked Trump over the past year.

    In The Washington Post’s The Fix blog, politics and media reporter Callum Borchers highlighted Cuomo’s critique of the way Trump is interviewed and asserted that journalists play an additional role in vetting Donald Trump: “counselors.” Borchers noted that “interviewers do Trump’s job for him -- suggesting what he must have really meant, instead of asking wide-open questions.” After an analysis of Trump’s interviews on controversial subjects, Borchers said, “Cuomo has a point. Whether they mean to or not, journalists often nudge the billionaire toward safer ground when he ventures down what looks like a politically dangerous path.” From the May 23 article (emphasis original):

    It's the media's job to vet presidential candidates, so journalists often serve as critics, pointing out inconsistencies and potential weaknesses voters should know about.

    But with Donald Trump, they also play another role, according to CNN's Chris Cuomo: counselors.

    Discussing media coverage on Trump with former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer on Friday, the "New Day" co-host observed what he called "the dynamic of kind of counseling [Trump] through interviews." Cuomo offered a generic example of the kinds questions he's talking about: "Like, when you say this, you know, so you mean like you would just kind of do it this way?"

    Cuomo's observation is that his fellow interviewers do Trump's job for him — suggesting what he must have really meant, instead of asking wide-open questions that force the presumptive Republican nominee to clarify all on his own.

    A review of Trump interviews on controversial subjects suggests Cuomo has a point. Whether they mean to or not, journalists often nudge the billionaire toward safer ground when he ventures down what looks like a politically dangerous path.

    Trump, of course, doesn't always take the hint or doesn't care. And it's possible — or perhaps even likely — that reporters aren't so much trying to protect him as simply reacting with disbelief to the often-unprecedented and surprising things he's saying.

    Whatever the cause, the result is that questions to Trump often come with the "right" answer built in. And this habit of throwing him a line could help explain why some voters believe the media have been too soft on the real estate magnate.

    [...]

    The challenge for journalists is to suppress their shock and let Trump speak for himself. Are you endorsing internment camps? Was the Heidi Cruz retweet a mistake? Do you want the KKK's support?

  • VIDEO: Megyn Kelly Repackaged A Year’s Worth Of Fox Interview Questions To Trump

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY, COLEMAN LOWNDES & JOHN KERR

    Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly’s widely panned interview with presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump failed to bolster her carefully crafted image as a hard-hitting journalist. Indeed, Kelly recycled a series of softball questions her fellow Fox personalities have previously asked Trump.

    Kelly’s May 17 interview was promoted as an exclusive, hard-hitting exchange and reconciliation between the presumptive nominee and Fox’s primetime anchor after the months-long public feud between Trump and the network over Kelly’s questioning of the candidate. Kelly herself said her goal for the interview was an “interesting, compelling exchange.”

    But the interview not only featured a series of fuzzy, softball questions -- “Has anyone ever hurt you emotionally?,” “Are you going to stop [combatively tweeting] as president?” -- it also mirrored the way other Fox News hosts have engaged with Trump on air, shattering the illusion that Kelly is somehow different than her colleagues. A series of questions that Kelly tossed to Trump last night sounded conspicuously familiar, and for a good reason: they echoed questions that her colleagues have asked the presumptive GOP nominee over the past year.

    Take Bill O’Reilly back in March, asking Trump:

    BILL O’REILLY: Donald Trump now is not speaking as the Art of the Deal guy or The Apprentice guy. You’re not speaking anymore on that level. Now you are speaking for the United States. You may be president. I mean, so your rhetoric means so much more than it used to mean. You know, you’re in a different place. A place you have never been in. I'm just wondering how much you’ve thought about all that.

    And compare with Megyn Kelly last night:

    MEGYN KELLY: You're no longer just Donald Trump, businessman, or Donald Trump, host of Celebrity Apprentice. Now you're steps away from the presidency. Have you given any thought, in this position, to the power that your messaging has on the lives of the people you target and on the millions of people who take their cue from you?

    Megyn Kelly has spent years cultivating a reputation as an unbiased journalist, which has been boosted by a number of laudatory profiles that have largely ignored that her show “is made up largely of the kind of stories you'd find on many other Fox News shows at any other time" and that “her talent for fearmongering may be even more insidious than Trump's own.” 

  • The Megyn Kelly Con Should End With Trump’s Softball Interview

    The Interview Was Complete Garbage -- And Trump Loved It

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    For years, reporters have granted Fox News host Megyn Kelly glowing coverage praising her for providing dogged interviews and tough journalism. Tonight’s heavily-touted primetime sit-down with presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump should end that con.

    Donald Trump was never remotely fazed by the Fox host during their session, batting down her softball questions with aplomb. While Trump introduced the interview by saying that nothing was “off the table,” Trump’s history of violent and incendiary rhetoric, his rapidly-shifting and extreme policy positions, and his numerous lies were all either mentioned in passing or ignored altogether.

    Instead, Kelly devoted significant time with the man who may be the next leader of the free world discussing whether he had ever been bullied and if he had learned anything from his divorces. Trump's favorite movie and book and whether he had really boycotted her show all came up.

    Kelly framed the interview around Trump’s vicious, sexist, months-long campaign of attacks on her, asking him several questions about their feud. But even with those queries she largely provided him a platform to explain away his actions. They even laughed together about his tweeting technique.

    Megyn Kelly made Donald Trump look downright presidential, and he appreciated it. As the interview aired, he retweeted his followers praising their discussion ("best interview I have ever seen") and even denied that the questions had been soft.

    In short, it was an interview Sean Hannity could love.

    But Megyn Kelly is supposed to be more than Sean Hannity. While he is widely recognized as a GOP shill and conservative mouthpiece, she has sought to carve out a reputation as a real journalist with a "reputation for asking tough questions to anyone,” as one of the spate of laudatory profiles she has received over the past few years put it. A handful of video clips where Kelly actually challenged her network’s conservative narratives were regularly cited as the norm, with profilers largely ignoring her record of promoting misinformation and race-baiting.

    It has been a brilliantly-executed PR strategy. And the Trump interview exposes it as a lie.

    After Kelly asked Trump a tough question about his history of misogyny during Fox’s August GOP debate, he lashed out at her with a series of brutal, sexist attacks. Media observers rushed to Kelly’s defense, rightfully castigating Trump for his actions, but also praising Kelly as a tough journalist. A pause in hostilities led to the scheduling of Kelly’s interview, with many suggesting that Kelly would offer up a serious challenge for the GOP nominee.

    But Kelly herself tamped down those expectations, saying after she taped the interview that she doesn’t “feel any need to go in there and try to take down Trump” and calling her goal “to have an interesting, compelling exchange with him.” At the same time, Fox News has largely gotten behind the nominee, with New York magazine’s Gabe Sherman reporting today that Rupert Murdoch, executive co-chairman of Fox News' parent company, “has signaled he plans to fully back Trump in the general election against Hillary Clinton.” According to Sherman’s reporting, “the message from Roger Ailes's executives is they need to go easy on Trump.”

    Tonight’s interview certainly shows that Megyn Kelly got those marching orders.

    At least she got to plug her new book. She'll reveal the details of her experience being attacked by Trump -- after the election is over.

  • Gov. McCrory Forced To Admit That The Conservative Media "Bathroom Predator" Myth Is False

    Chris Wallace: "But If There's No Problem, Then Why Pass The Law In The First Place?" 

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) was forced to acknowledge that there has not been a single case in North Carolina in which transgender protections have been used to commit crimes in bathrooms, after Fox's Chris Wallace pressed him repeatedly.

    Previously, Gov. McCrory parroted the debunked conservative media myth that a "boy who thinks he's a girl" could go into a girls bathroom and pose a sexual assault threat. During a May 8 interview on Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace repeatedly asked the governor whether there had been any convictions in North Carolina for "using transgender protections to commit crimes in bathrooms." McCrory was forced to admit "Not that I'm aware of."

    Fox News has a history of stoking fears of sexual assault and misbehavior in restrooms to oppose equal access to public accommodations for transgender people, even promoting several fake stories about harassment in restrooms. From the May 8 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday:

    CHRIS WALLACE (HOST): How many cases have you had in North Carolina in the last year where people have been convicted of using transgender protections to commit crimes in bathrooms?

    GOV. PAT MCCRORY (R-NC): This wasn't a problem. That's the point I'm making. This is the Democratic Party and the left wing of the Democratic Party --

    WALLACE: But have there been any cases of this?

    MCCRORY: Not that I'm aware of.

    WALLACE: Have there been any cases in the last five years?

    MCCRORY: Why did the Democratic Party in Houston, Texas --

    WALLACE: But I guess the question is, forgive me, if I may, sir, why not just then let it go? If there's not a case of transgender people going in and molesting little girls?

    MCCRORY: I haven't used that at all. This is an issue of expectation --

    WALLACE : Well, you did say a boy who thinks he's a girl going into a girls bathroom.

    MCCRORY: And that's where there's an expectation of privacy. When you go into a restroom, or your wife goes into a restroom you assume the only other people going into that restroom or shower facility is going to be a person of the same gender. That's been an expectation of privacy that all of us have for years.

    WALLACE: But if there's no problem, then why pass the law in the first place?

    MCCRORY: There can be a problem, because the liberal Democrats are the ones pushing for bathroom laws. And now President Obama and one of my successors as mayor of Charlotte wants government to have bathroom rules. I’m not interested in that. We did not start this on the right. Who started it was the political left. In Houston, Texas, and Charlotte, North Carolina. And now, frankly, in Washington, D.C.

  • 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.

  • Bob Woodward Says Questions Remain Unanswered About Clinton's Email, Doesn't Say What Those Questions Are

    Despite Press Conferences, Presidential Debates, And Televised Congressional Testimony, Woodward Says Clinton Needs To Tell Voters, “I’m Going To Answer All The Questions” About Email

    ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN & ALEX MORASH

    Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward asserted on Fox News Sunday that Hillary Clinton still has questions to answer about her emails – despite Clinton holding multiple press conferences on the matter, supporting the release of more than 50,000 pages of emails to the public, facing email questions during several presidential debates, and answering more than 50 questions about her emails during 11 hours of televised testimony before the Republican-led Select Committee on Benghazi.

  • AP Highlights The Growing Backlash To Trump's Reliance On Phone Interviews

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Associated Press highlighted the backlash to Donald Trump's "fondness" for phone interviews, writing that the practice "is changing habits and causing consternation in newsrooms, while challenging political traditions."

    Media critics have called out news channels' new habit of granting phone interviews to Trump -- an advantage AP explains has not been granted by Sunday political talk shows to any other candidate -- arguing that the format "lacks the balance of a face-to-face exchange because the audience and the interviewer are not allowed to see Trump's expressions and reactions" and "is also more difficult to follow-up and put the subject on the spot to answer questions more directly." Bloomberg View columnist Al Hunt also pointed out that "a phone interview is a lot easier than an in-person interview, and Trump almost always does well in those situations." As AP reported, Media Matters and MomsRising have launched petitions to ask the media to end Trump's phone privilege.

    In a March 26 article, AP examined Trump's phone interview privileges with the media and the growing backlash to them, writing that the practice "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." AP also noted that Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace and Meet the Press' Chuck Todd are refusing to grant Trump phone interviews:

    In television news, a telephone interview is typically frowned upon. Donald Trump's fondness for them is changing habits and causing consternation in newsrooms, while challenging political traditions.

    Two organizations are circulating petitions to encourage Sunday morning political shows to hang up on Trump. Some prominent holdouts, like Fox's Chris Wallace, refuse to do on-air phoners. Others argue that a phone interview is better than no interview at all.

    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.

    Trump tends to take over phone interviews and can get his message out with little challenge, Wallace said.

    "The Sunday show, in the broadcast landscape, I feel is a gold standard for probing interviews," said Wallace, host of "Fox News Sunday." ''The idea that you would do a phone interview, not face-to-face or not by satellite, with a presidential candidate -- I'd never seen it before, and I was quite frankly shocked that my competitors were doing it."

    [...]

    Chuck Todd, host of NBC's "Meet the Press," has done phoners with Trump but now said he's decided to stick to in-person interviews on his Sunday show. He's no absolutist, though.

    "It's a much better viewer experience when it's in person," Todd said. "Satellite and phoners are a little harder, there's no doubt about it. But at the end of the day, you'll take something over nothing."

    [...]

    Since the campaign began, Trump has appeared for 29 phone interviews on the five Sunday political panel shows, according to the liberal watchdog Media Matters for America. Through last Sunday, ABC's "This Week" has done it 10 times, CBS' "Face the Nation" seven and six times each on "Meet the Press" and CNN's "State of the Union."

    None of these shows has done phoners with Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, said Media Matters, which is urging that the practice be discontinued.

    The activist group MomsRising said the disparity "sends the message that some candidates can play by different rules, without consequences, and that's just un-American."

  • "A Travesty Of Journalism": Experts React To Broadcast Networks' Decline In Climate Change Coverage

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW SEIFTER

    Networks climate

    It is nothing short of stunning that in 2015, a year that featured more newsworthy climate-related events than ever before, the broadcast networks' coverage of climate change declined. The networks have a responsibility to educate the public about the impacts that climate change is having on our security, our economy, and our health.

    In response to Media Matters' new analysis of climate change coverage on ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox in 2015, members of Congress, climate scientists, environmental advocates, and other experts criticized the networks for providing too little climate change coverage and too much climate science denial.

    Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI): "In a year when nearly 200 countries around the world collectively recognized the threat of climate change and the United States made historic commitments to cut carbon pollution, major networks actually cut their media coverage of climate change. In 2015, the network Sunday shows devoted just 73 minutes to climate change, a ten percent decrease from the year before. What makes these findings even more troubling is the fact that with the little time devoted to climate change, these Sunday shows continued to mislead their audiences by including climate denial as part of the discussion. The facts are clear. Scientists, governments, and major corporations around the world have accepted the facts about climate change and are having real debates on solutions. In this consequential election year, it's time for news broadcasters to do the same."

    Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY): "As the co-founder of the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition, I read Media Matters' new study and it's a wake up call to the news networks. The most important long term global and national issue shouldn't be getting short-thrift. People need more information, not less."

    Michael Mann, climate scientist at Penn State University: "It is unconscionable that so many purportedly mainstream media outlets continue to misinform the public when it comes to the matter of human-caused climate change. History will not look back kindly upon television news networks that had an opportunity to inform the public about this existential threat, and instead chose to serve as willing mouthpieces for denialist fossil fuel interests."

    Kevin Trenberth, climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research: "These results are disturbing. ... It is evident that the networks are gun shy about climate change, most likely because advertisers demand it.  It is a very sad state of affairs that the science of climate change and the continuing evidence about it is hidden from listeners.  What is done about the problem should be a separate matter entirely from whether we have a problem. Climate change is already with us and is causing mostly adverse effects every day, but the public is not well informed."

    Liz Perera, Sierra Club climate policy director: "This past year, we have seen unprecedented progress tackling the unprecedented danger that climate change poses to our families, yet the major networks seem to dedicate more time to covering the Kardashians than this public health crisis. Americans deserve to know the truth about how the climate crisis is affecting the world around us and how clean energy is helping solve the problem. Ignoring that reality only serves the interests of the big polluters and undermines the health and well-being of all American families."

    David Arkush, managing director of Public Citizen's climate program: "It is beyond shocking that broadcast network coverage of climate change declined in 2015. If we don't act quickly to mitigate climate change, it will cause devastating harm to our economy, our health, and our security. Last year's high temperatures shattered the previous record, set just one year earlier. At the same time, 2015 was probably the most momentous year in history on climate change, with a landmark Paris deal, the Obama Administration's rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline, the first-ever federal rules curbing carbon pollution from power plants, the Pope's encyclical, and more. The media should be covering climate change as if it were World War III, and they have plenty of material to work with. It's a travesty of journalism to commit such a small and declining amount of air time to the existential threat we face from runaway greenhouse gas emissions."

    Riley Dunlap, environmental sociologist at Oklahoma State University: "I am not surprised that there was more TV coverage of climate change denial in 2015, as historically there is a pattern of the 'denial machine' ramping up its efforts whenever the possibility of meaningful action on climate change seems imminent.  This began with the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, and has continued, so I'm not surprised to see more coverage of denialists last year because of the Paris [climate agreement].  The conservative think tanks and front groups behind the denial campaign, and the small number of contrarian scientists aligned with them, have great success in obtaining media exposure in general.  And they really go into overdrive when they fear that national legislation or an international treaty could be enacted.  The disappointing thing is that mainstream media still give them a forum."

  • Why Won't Interviewers Ask Trump About Campaign Manager's Alleged Assault Of Reporter?

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Sunday political talk shows on NBC, CNN, Fox, and CBS all failed to ask Donald Trump during interviews about the allegation that his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, roughed up Breitbart News reporter Michelle Fields.

    According to Fields, she was "grabbed" and "yanked" down while attempting to ask Trump a question as the GOP front-runner left a March 8 press conference. Audio of the incident obtained by Politico indicates that Fields told Washington Post reporter Ben Terris, "That was insane. You should have felt how hard he grabbed me," and that Terris identified Lewandowski as the assailant.

    Fields filed charges against Lewandowski but is encountering blowback from the Trump campaign, which denies the incident ever occurred, and from her own employer Breitbart News. Critics have noted that Breitbart News has an especially cozy relationship with the Trump campaign and have pointed out that the news organization has failed to strongly take Fields' side in the controversy.

    Although Sunday news shows Meet the Press, State of the Union, Fox News Sunday, and Face the Nation all asked Trump about his condoning of violence at his rallies during March 13 broadcasts, none of the shows asked Trump about Fields' assault allegation.

    By contrast, the two Sunday media criticism shows, CNN's Reliable Sources and Fox News' MediaBuzz, both mentioned the incident.

    On Reliable Sources, host Brian Stelter provided an update on the story, reporting Fields "is hiring an attorney, she's the Breitbart reporter who was roughed up by someone, possibly Trump's campaign manager, at a press conference earlier in the week. The campaign denied that the campaign manager was involved, suggesting she made it all up."

    While Fox's MediaBuzz did air a pre-recorded interview with Trump where host Howard Kurtz did not ask Trump about Fields, later in the show Kurtz brought the incident up during a panel discussion.

    During that discussion, The Daily Beast's Michael Tomasky slammed Breitbart News, saying, "I don't think, of the 25 years I've been doing this, I don't think I've ever heard a news organization not stand by its reporter in a situation like this. It's just an unbelievable thing to me. It makes them a not a news organization, it makes them a Trump organization, at least with respect to this incident. It's just unbelievable."