Happening Now

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  • Fox News’ Reaction To Trump’s Birtherism Was Predictably Terrible

    MSNBC And CNN Debunked Trump’s Lies, Explained How Trump Mainstreamed Birtherism, And Condemned His Manipulation Of The Press

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.

    Fox News championed Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s latest statement that he believes “President Obama was born in the U.S.” as “political media genius” while CNN and MSNBC noted that Trump’s latest statement follows years of mainstreaming racist birther conspiracy theories, debunked the candidate’s attempt to blame the birther lies on Hillary Clinton, and decried his manipulation of the press.

    After Donald Trump in a September 15 interview with The Washington Post “refused to say whether he believes Obama was born in Hawaii,” the Trump campaign released a falsehood-laden statement saying “Mr. Trump believes that President Obama was born in the United States,” and “was finally able to bring this ugly incident to its conclusion” in 2011.

    The next day Trump announced he’d deliver a “major statement” at his new Washington, D.C. hotel regarding whether he’d acknowledge Obama as an American. Reporters speculated that the Trump campaign’s strategy behind the much-anticipated September 16 event was to put to rest scrutiny about Trump’s years-long birther enthusiasm and to “remove the last vestiges of an issue Clinton campaign could attack on.”

    The major cable news networks provided wall-to-wall coverage of Trump’s event, in which his seconds-long statement that “President Obama was born in the United States” came at the very end of a lengthy campaign event featuring military members endorsing Trump, and it included the false claims that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton started the birther conspiracy and that he ended it. Immediately after the statement, anchors on CNN and MSNBC called the candidate out for manipulating the press and for pushing falsehoods. On CNN, Ashleigh Banfield slammed the stunt and excoriated Trump’s “birther crap.” John King on At This Hour with Berman and Bolduan acknowledged the media “got played,” debunked Trump’s false accusation against Clinton, and condemned Trump for the “four or five years of leading a fraudulent, reckless campaign against the legitimacy of the United States president.” MSNBC used an on-screen graphic to single out Trump’s lie that Clinton started the birther movement, and during The Place for Politics, host Peter Alexander pointed out that Trump continued to give oxygen to birtherism even after President Obama released his birth certificate, saying “it’s not like he put this thing to rest” in 2011.

    In contrast, Fox News dove head first into the trap set by the Trump campaign. Happening Now host Jenna Lee declared Trump gave “the media what everyone was waiting for, his definitive comments about the quote, unquote ‘birther issue.’” Lee’s co-host Gregg Jarrett commended Trump for being “very precise, and direct and disciplined.” Fox guest Glenn Hall, a Wall Street Journal editor who set the stage before the event by praising Trump for “pivoting” away from birtherism, added that Trump “handled that pretty well.”

    Later, an Outnumbered on-screen graphic drew false equivalences claiming that Trump and Clinton were “blam[ing] each other” on the matter. Co-host Melissa Francis opined “nobody cares about these issues” and raved that Trump’s stunt was “political media genius,” while co-host Harris Faulkner dismissed the racist nature of birtherism by questioning “why is it racist” to question legitimacy “with Barack Obama and not with Ted Cruz?”:

    And on Shepard Smith Reporting, Chris Wallace, host of Fox News Sunday who was tapped to moderate the third presidential debate, said that unlike with some of his other outrageous incidents, “This one, in less than 24 hours, he cut it off.” Wallace’s determination that Trump’s statement shut the door on the birther issue flatly omitted any mention of Trump’s years of leading the charge in promoting such conspiracy theories.

    By declaring that Trump can put years of birtherism to rest by just saying he believes Obama is American, Fox News comes full circle. The network enthusiastically echoed Trump’s years-long, racist crusade to raise doubts about President Obama’s legitimacy, and provided Trump with a friendly platform to promote his birther beliefs. The press cannot allow the Trump campaign to play revisionist history with its candidate’s embrace of birtherism despite his intentions to put it behind him before the presidential debates.

  • Fox Ignores Trump Foundation’s Illegal Campaign Contribution, Obsesses Over Clinton’s Cough

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Fox News failed to cover the Trump Foundation’s illegal campaign contribution according to a Media Matters analysis. Despite multiple media outlets scrutinizing the illegal contribution from Trump’s charitable foundation, Fox focused on Clinton’s coughing every hour from 6 a.m. though 1 p.m. instead of the illegal Trump donation.

    In March, The Washington Post reported that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s charitable foundation, The Donald J. Trump Foundation, illegally donated $25,000 to the political committee And Justice For All, supporting Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s re-election campaign. The donation
    “came as Bondi was reviewing whether to investigate fraud allegations against Trump University,” though she never took any action against Trump U. In response to the charge that this was an illegal donation meant to stop Bondi from investigating Trump U, The Trump Foundation chalked the illegal contribution up to a “clerical error.” In its filings with the IRS, the foundation listed its donation to “an unrelated group with a similar name, Justice For All.” On September 1, the Post reported that Trump paid a $2,500 fine to the IRS for the improper donation which “violated tax laws.”

    On September 5, Trump dismissed questions about the improper contribution, claiming “I never spoke to her.” News outlets have started to pick up on the story in the past week, with CNN’s Jeff Zeleny suggesting there is “more smoke here” than in other campaign controversies. The Huffington Post reported the donation as “ethically questionable,” and The Hill ran an article titled “Donald Trump’s $25,000 Pam Bondi problem.”

    Fox News, on the other hand, has yet to cover the Bondi donation story and instead spent Tuesday obsessing over Hillary Clinton coughing during a rally, bringing it up at least once every hour and raising unsubstantiated questions about the Democratic presidential nominee’s health. Fox hosts called it a “hacking fit,” “a really uncomfortable moment,” baselessly linked it to her 2012 concussion and questioned whether it could “impact voters.”

    According to a Media Matters analysis Fox News didn’t devote a single segment to the Bondi story during its 6 a.m through 1 p.m September 6 programming, with the only mention coming from guest David Goodfriend, a Clinton supporter, who briefly brought up the story during a segment about Bill Clinton’s role as an honorary chair at a for-profit college.

    The Trump Foundation’s illegal donation is just the latest in several controversies surrounding the Trump campaign that Fox has failed to report on. In September, 2015, Fox ignored the assault of a Hispanic man in Boston after the attackers cited Donald Trump as their inspiration.” Fox also ignored the report that Roger Ailes is acting as an adviser to Trump after being ousted as the network's CEO amid sexual harassment allegations. In June, Fox’s Bill O’Reilly ignored the most embarrassing aspects of the candidate’s FEC report, and most recently in August, the network failed to mention a Mother Jones report revealing that Trump’s modeling agency, Trump Model Management, “profited from using foreign models who came to the United States on tourist visas that did not permit them to work here.

    Methodology: Media Matters searched the Snapstream transcript database separately for the terms “Cough,” “Bondi,” and “Florida Attorney General” on Fox News Channel from 6 a.m. through1 p.m. on September 6.

  • Fox News Virtually Silent On NY Times Report Detailing Trump Campaign Chairman’s Ties To Pro-Russian Ukrainian Politicians

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    On August 15 between 6 a.m. and 1 p.m., Fox News offered virtually no coverage of the August 14 New York Times report that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort allegedly received “$12.7 million in undisclosed payments” from former Ukrainian President Viktor “Yanukovych’s pro-Russian political party from 2007 to 2012.” CNN has reported extensively on the story. National security experts and foreign affairs and national security journalists are calling the Times’ report “serious” and “staggering,” with one going so far as to say, “This article alone should finish the Trump campaign.”