Harris Faulkner

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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 LOPEZ

    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 Salutes Trump Plan To "Listen To The Generals" Despite His Claim To Know More About ISIS

    Trump Has Also Mentioned A Secret Plan For ISIS That He’s Withholding In Order To Be "Unpredictable"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    After Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump delivered a foreign policy speech in which he promised to “ask the generals to present a plan within 30 days to defeat and destroy ISIS,” the hosts of Fox News’ Outnumbered took “a lot of comfort in the fact that he would say he’d listen to the generals.” But in the past, Trump has said, “I know more about ISIS than the generals do,” and he has claimed that he has a secret plan for defeating ISIS that he is keeping quiet so as to be “unpredictable.”

    This shift is both the latest of Donald Trump’s flip-flopping, “patently uninformed,” and “literally insane” foreign policy proposals and the most recent example of Fox News jumping to defend them. From the September 9 edition of Fox News’ Outnumbered:

    CHARLES HURT: The most important point on there is the first one, where he says that immediately after taking office, Mr. Trump will ask his generals to present a plan within 30 days to defeat and destroy ISIS. What he’s doing there, and I think that he did a very good job of this, is he’s saying that he’s going to trust his generals to go after ISIS in a very forceful way. Donald Trump has impeccable timing. He is very lucky in this respect. And that is that Hillary Clinton is running for Barack Obama's third term and as such he gets to run against her resumé, he gets to run against everything that’s going wrong in the world today. And as long as he stays there and just says, “I’m going to listen to my generals,” as long as he says that, he is going to beat her when it comes to military, foreign policy, and all that stuff.

    HARRIS FAULKNER (CO-HOST): Well it’s interesting too because you start there, that’s exactly where President Obama has had so much criticism, the questions about whether he listens to the people who are the experts militarily. What are your thoughts?

    MEGHAN MCCAIN (CO-HOST): My first thought was the best line was when he was talking about Hillary Clinton showing how vulnerable we are when it comes to cyberterrorism. Every foreign policy expert I’ve spoken to says this is the final frontier, this is what’s coming next. This woman has shown first and foremost that if you don’t follow the rules you can literally put our national security at risk and give our secrets to our enemies. So I thought that was very vulnerable -- or very powerful, excuse me. He wasn’t talking exactly about how we’re going to pay for everything, so I would like a little more policy specifics when it comes to that. But I think this is actually a really strong speech. A lot of us have been asking for him to start showcasing what he’s going to do, and I take a lot of comfort in the fact that he would say he’d listen to the generals in the first 30 days.

  • Fox Hosts Attack CNN’s Brian Stelter and Univision’s Jorge Ramos For Calling On Media To Improve Coverage Of Trump

    Harris Faulkner: “Everybody's Looking For Their Moment, And They're Going To Do It With A Series Of Gotcha Questions”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    From the August 31 edition of Fox News' Outnumbered:

    SANDRA SMITH (CO-HOST): So much for an impartial media. According to the Washington Examiner, several media figures actively lobbying their peers to challenge Donald Trump more aggressively when interviewing him or his surrogates. Univision anchor Jorge Ramos, who has had some high profile scrapes with Trump saying, quote, “I think in this case neutrality is really not an option. I think we have to take a stand and in this case, Donald Trump is a unique figure in American politics. We haven't seen this in decades since probably Senator Joe McCarthy.” And this from CNN media correspondent Brian Stelter, quote, “We can't just let it seep into the discourse like it's normal. We have to stop and fact check and contextualize. Right now it’s the Republican candidate for president who is trying to delegitimize our democratic process without proof. It is unpatriotic for any journalist or any interviewer to help him.” Harris, go to you first on this.

    HARRIS FAULKNER (CO-HOST): That makes me uncomfortable because it really tells me that, first of all, everybody's looking for their moment, and they're going to do it with a series of gotcha questions, which is exactly why the American public says that they don't trust journalists right now. They think that we're all cut from that cloth. But the other thing that’s really nasty about this whole thing is that they're not going to apply that to both sides. Like if they want that kind of -- I call it apoplectic, but I guess there's another word we could use that is nicer than that, but it just seems out of line -- then apply it equally. If they're going to do that, if they’re going to act -- 

    SMITH: Is there a double standard that exists? 

    GUY BENSON: There's always a double standard with Republicans and Democrats. It may be more pronounced this year for a number of reasons. And I'm all for the media very aggressively going after Trump and following up and holding him to account, but they have to do it to Hillary Clinton as well. 

    [...]

    RACHEL CAMPOS-DUFFY (CO-HOST): If you think it's bad on the English side of the media, let's talk about Spanish-language media. They are so ideologically liberal and they’re unapologetic.

    FAULKNER: You can hear it from Jorge.

    CAMPOS-DUFFY: You hear it from Jorge, who is really the spokesperson for all of Spanish media in a lot of ways. And let me tell you this, there's an opening -- at least on the English side of news, we have Fox News, which is fair and balanced, it gives people a different perspective. There's nothing like that on the Spanish side, and that is why not just Donald Trump but all Republicans have had a difficult moment.

    Previously:

    Jorge Ramos Urges Fellow Journalists Not To “Stay Silent On Donald Trump”

    After Jorge Ramos Makes Multiple Interview Requests, Trump Asks Him For Money

    Univision's Jorge Ramos Reminds Audiences That Trump Continues To Deny His Interview Requests

    Sean Hannity Attacks Jorge Ramos For Pointing Out Trump's Bigoted, Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric

  • Fox Personalities Respond To Gretchen Carlson's Sexual Harassment Lawsuit With Familiar Victim-Blaming

    Fox’s Response Serves As A PSA In How NOT To Cover Sexual Harassment Stories

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVIA KITTEL

    After Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Fox CEO Roger Ailes, Fox News personalities have rushed to defend Ailes while disparaging Carlson’s character, dismissing her allegations, and accusing her of having ulterior motives. Their response mirrors the false tropes the network hosts push in their sexual assault coverage.

    On July 6, former Fox News host Carlson filed a lawsuit against Fox CEO Roger Ailes, alleging that he fired her “after she rebuffed Mr. Ailes’ sexual advances and also tried to challenge what she felt was unequal treatment of her in the newsroom by some of her male colleagues.” Carlson also alleged that while she was a host of Fox & Friends, her co-host Steve Doocy “engaged in a pattern of severe and pervasive mistreatment” of Carlson. Carlson has been a witness to years of sexism from her male colleagues, plenty of it directed at her.

    Several other women have come forward with complaints or contacted Carlson’s law firm to report similar experiences of mistreatment.

    Numerous Fox figures have rallied to Ailes’ defense, falling back on the network’s long-held strategy of dismissing sexual harassment – and even sexual assault – allegations by blaming the victims, trying to discredit the allegations by disparaging the victims’ characters, and rushing to defend the character of the accused. Just as New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman predicted, the “Fox News PR machine” is fighting the sexual harassment allegations by “try[ing] to discredit Carlson’s claims and any of the other women’s claims who come forward.”

    Disparaging The Victim’s Character

    After Carlson filed her lawsuit, her former Fox colleagues defended Ailes by immediately disparaging her character, dismissing her allegations, and suggesting she may have had ulterior motives.

    Greta Van Susteren suggested Carlson may have falsely accused Ailes of sexual harassment because she was “unhappy that her contract wasn’t renewed.”

    In a flurry of tweets on July 12, Sean Hannity dismissed Carlson’s allegations, suggesting that if she had really been harassed, she would not have stayed, asked for more airtime, or written to Ailes:

    Brit Hume asked Carlson why she didn’t just quit following the alleged harassment:

    This behavior isn’t new for Fox figures. In the past, Andrea Tantaros has asked, “At what point do women need to take some responsibility” for sexual harassment. Hannity blamed a victim of sexual harassment for “staying in the car” with the accused offender after the alleged harassment. Greg Gutfeld claimed that victims allege sexual harassment “to safeguard future reputation-damaging things.”  

    The network’s victim-blaming isn’t limited to sexual harassment. Hosts have blamed victims of sexual assault for “wearing a miniskirt,” characterized victims as “bad girls … who like to be naughty,” and altogether disputed the prevalence of sexual assault.

    Defending The Character Of The Accused

    Fox figures also responded to Carlson’s lawsuit by touting Ailes’ character.  

    Jeanine Pirro called Carlson’s allegations “absurd” and called Ailes a “no-nonsense guy,” saying, “I just loved him.”

    Kimberly Guilfoyle claimed that of the women she’s talked to at Fox, “Nobody believed” Carlson’s allegations, adding that Ailes “is a man who champions women.”

    Bret Baier said that’s “not the Roger I know,” and added, “I can’t say enough good things about Roger.”

    Neil Cavuto called Carlson’s allegations “sick” and said they “don’t remotely resemble the Roger that I know” because Ailes “is ALL professional.”

    Ainsley Earhardt, Martha MacCallum, and Harris Faulkner have also vigorously defended Ailes, calling him a “father figure” and a “terrific boss.”

    By focusing on defending the character of the accused, reporters treat the accused offender as the victim. And it’s not just Ailes. Fox has a history of treating accused offenders as victims, including by claiming  that the focus on campus sexual assault amounts to “a war happening on boys” and dubiously hyping the frequency of false accusations of sexual assault against men, even though  false accusations are rare.  

  • Fox Damage Control: Network Sends Out Three More Female Staffers To Praise Ailes

    Blog ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

    Fox News has continued its campaign to defend the network’s chairman and CEO Roger Ailes from sexual harassment allegations, most recently reaching out to Mediaite to interview three female contributors who denied the allegations made by former host Gretchen Carlson.

    Former Fox News host Carlson filed a lawsuit against Ailes alleging that he fired her “after she rebuffed Mr. Ailes’ sexual advances and also tried to challenge what she felt was unequal treatment of her in the newsroom by some of her male colleagues.” Carlson also alleged that while a host of Fox & Friends, her co-host Steve Doocy “engaged in a pattern of severe and pervasive mistreatment” against Carlson. Incidents of sexism against Carlson have been well documented on live television, and Carlson has been a witness to years of on-air sexism from her male colleagues.

    While several other women have come forward with complaints or contacted Carlson’s law firm, numerous Fox figures have rallied to Ailes’ defense, including primetime hosts Greta Van Susteren and Sean Hannity. The Five host Kimberly Guilfoyle also responded to the allegations, asserting that “nobody believed” Carlson’s allegations.

    According to Mediaite, Fox News reached out to them, offering the outlet interviews with three women who work with Ailes in New York City. Fox’s Ainsley Earhardt, Martha MacCallum, and Harris Faulkner vigorously defended Ailes, calling him a “father figure,” a “terrific boss,” and claiming that Carlson’s lawsuit “brought people together” in support of Ailes:

    Faulkner praised him for his pep talks, his ability to follow up on every promise he makes, and, finally, his willingness to stand behind his employees, which Carlson claimed he never did for her. Faulkner, who is a woman of color, explained where her deep respect for Ailes came from like this:

    “Here’s what I know: My rise and success have been a direct result of the merits and fabulous opportunities from mentors, including Roger Ailes. Without him, my journey would be quite different. He has changed the arc of my career. He believed in me when people who looked like me were not in network news. He put me in primetime and included me in the process of developing Outnumbered. I am profoundly grateful for the opportunities he gave me and not once have I ever been ashamed to say these five words: Roger Ailes believes in me.”

    Earhardt called him a “father figure” not once, but twice. She also revealed that when Carlson’s lawsuit hit the headlines, she called her bosses and told them that if the need arose, she would be happy to speak out in support of Ailes because she simply believes in him that much. One reason for her ardent support of him is simple: Where most working women are afraid to tell their bosses they are pregnant and fear losing their jobs while away on maternity leave, Ailes gave Earhardt a promotion while she was gone on her leave.

    “Roger is such a terrific boss,” mused MacCallum. “I don’t like to see anything that reflects negatively on him. If anything, [Carlson’s lawsuit] sort of bonded us. It’s brought people together.”

    New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman predicted that the “Fox News PR machine” would fight the sexual harassment allegations, noting that Ailes and Fox “will try to discredit Carlson’s claims and any of the other women’s claims who come forward.” Sherman also reported that the charges “could be curtains for Ailes.”

    Fox has also downplayed the story on-air. Fox’s first report on the allegations only included Ailes’ statement denying the allegations and Fox’s MediaBuzz -- a show dedicated to coverage of the media world -- only dedicated a three-minute segment to the scandal and defended Ailes by attacking Carlson’s ratings.