Howard Kurtz

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  • Fox’s Sunday Shows Ignore Reports That Former Chief Roger Ailes Is Advising Trump

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    Fox News Sunday and MediaBuzz failed to cover new reporting that Fox News’ former chairman and CEO Roger Ailes has assumed an advisory role in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. According to The New York Times, Ailes successfully urged Trump to change his campaign’s leadership and offered guidance on his first series of television campaign ads.

    On August 19, the Times reported that an irate Trump “hastily convened” a group “of paid and unpaid advisers including the pollster Kellyanne Conway, Roger Ailes, the ousted Fox News Chairman, and Stephen K. Bannon, the chairman of Breitbart News” to address concerns the candidate had with then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort. The report, which detailed Manafort’s ouster from the “chaotic presidential campaign,” noted that during the August 14 meeting, Ailes “urged Mr. Trump to reconfigure the campaign’s leadership.” Bannon and Conway formally joined the campaign as its chief executive and manager, respectively, on August 17, and Manafort exited just two days later.

    The Trump campaign had previously denied Ailes’ advisory role after reports that Ailes was assisting Trump with preparation for the upcoming presidential debates, and Conway told CNN’s Dana Bash this morning that Ailes “has no formal or informal role with the campaign,” but acknowledged that Trump “speaks to many different people.”

    But while CNN’s State of the Union host asked Conway directly about Ailes’ role in the campaign, and CNN’s Reliable Sources also discussed Ailes’ burgeoning role, Fox News’ Sunday shows ignored this development concerning their departed chairman and CEO. A Fox News Sunday panel discussion, and two MediaBuzz segments, all discussing the shake-up in Trump’s campaign leadership team, failed to even mention Ailes. A SnapStream transcript search of Fox News for “Ailes” showed no results from any other shows on the network from today.

  • Fox Sunday Shows Baselessly Suggest Clinton Gave Favors To Foundation Donors

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Fox News’ Sunday shows continued to hype the claim by the conservative group Judicial Watch that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton gave favors to a Clinton Foundation donor when she was secretary of state. The Fox reports ignored that the emails provide no evidence of the donor seeking to benefit from the State Department and that the person the donor asked to meet has “never met nor spoken” with him.

  • Fox's Media Critic Wants The Press To Be Tough On Trump Until The Moment They Are

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Fox News media critic Howard Kurtz believes that if Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump “makes misstatements, if he gets involved in self-destructive fights, if he appears to be ignorant on certain issues,” then journalists should “go after that aggressively.” But recently Kurtz has criticized his media colleagues for doing just that.

    Kurtz railed against the "obvious distaste, bordering on disgust, that many journalists as well as commentators have for Donald Trump,” pointing to “the last 10 days” of allegedly negative news coverage of Trump as evidence that “it’s almost like the press put out a mob hit on Donald Trump.” He added that the “imbalance is so overwhelming on almost every media site and outlet that it can no longer be denied.” From the August 8 edition of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom:

    But Kurtz also conceded that “if Trump makes misstatements, if he gets involved in self-destructive fights, if he appears to be ignorant on certain issues, then you go after that aggressively.”

    Trump’s last 10 days have featured a number of stumbles and unforced errors that even conservatives have called out, including his multi-day feud with a Gold Star family, his suggestion that women who are sexually harassed at work should change jobs, and his claims that the 2016 election is “rigged.”

    Accordingly, media have, at least for now, dropped the typical “Both Sides” style of journalism that is often peppered with false equivalencies and instead have begun to routinely fact-check Trump and spotlight the disarray in his campaign.

    Though Kurtz said on August 7 that Trump “has made mistakes and those should be covered,” he nonetheless criticized journalists for Trump “getting hammered for just about everything.”

    On August 1, he highlighted the “enormous media attention” paid to Khizr Khan’s speech denouncing Trump, claiming that the media's negative attitude about Trump's proposed Muslim ban "seems to show in the coverage” of Khan's speech.

    And on Kurtz’ own August 7 show, he repeatedly referenced a “titanic tidal wave of negative coverage” and asked panelists if they saw a “flat-out media bias” in the coverage of Trump failing to endorse Paul Ryan, saying he always wanted a Purple Heart, and feuding with the Khan family.

    But if Kurtz believes that Trump’s “misstatements,” “self-destructive fights” and ignorance “on certain issues” warrant aggressive media coverage, why did he spend a week sneering at his media colleagues for providing just that sort of reporting?

  • Right-Wing Media Attempt To Hide Trump’s Attacks On Family Of Fallen Soldier With Bogus Benghazi Comparison

    ››› ››› JARED HOLT

    Right-wing media criticized the coverage Khizr Khan’s speech at the Democratic National Convention, comparing it to the lack of coverage  given to Patricia Smith’s speech at the Republican National Convention. But Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump directly attacked Khizr and Ghazala Khan with anti-Muslim and personal attacks, fueling widespread outrage and blacklash.

  • “Note The Contrast”: Pundits Point Out The Glaring Differences Between Clinton And Trump VP Announcements

    ››› ››› LIS POWER

    Media figures pointed out the “interesting contrast” in presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s introduction of her running mate Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) as opposed to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s introduction of his VP pick Indiana Gov. Mike Pence. Journalists noted that Clinton was “more familiar” with Kaine’s accomplishments and that Clinton “did the opposite” of Trump by talking about her running mate rather than herself. 

  • Former Fox Host Gretchen Carlson Speaks Publicly About Sexual Harassment Allegations Against Roger Ailes

    For First Time Publicly, Carlson Details Her Treatment By Ailes And Her Former Colleagues

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson spoke publicly for the first time since she filed a sexual harassment/retaliation lawsuit against Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, detailing the alleged harassment and recounting her experience working at Fox.

    On July 6 reports emerged that Carlson filed a sexual harassment/retaliation lawsuit against Roger Ailes. Following the report, Carlson’s law firm claimed that an additional 10 women contacted them in reference to their  treatment at Fox, and New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman interviewed an additional six women who detailed their claims of inappropriate behavior by Ailes.

    Fox News figures have vigorously defended their boss, with Fox’s Howard Kurtz attacking Carlson’s ratings, Sean Hannity going after reporters covering the story, and Fox News reaching out to media outlets offering interviews with women who have worked with Ailes and were willing to defend him.

    In a July 12 interview with The New York Times, Carlson reiterated her claims of harassment and spoke of “between six and 10” meetings with Ailes in which she made complaints of harassment and he talked about her body:

    In the interview, Ms. Carlson said she complained of harassment as early as 2009, when Steve Doocy, then her co-host on “Fox and Friends,” pulled her arm down while on the air to “quiet” her, Ms. Carlson said.

    She said in her complaint, and repeated on Tuesday, that she had several meetings with Mr. Ailes over the years in which her complaints of harassment went nowhere, and that he said demeaning things to her himself.

    “I think you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago, and then you’d be good and better and I’d be good and better,” Mr. Ailes told her, according to the lawsuit.

    Likewise, according to the suit, Mr. Ailes labeled her a “man hater,” and instructed her to “learn to ‘get along with the boys.’”

    That sort of language from Mr. Ailes, she said on Tuesday, was “continuous,” adding that she had “between six and 10” meetings with him in which he talked about her body and heard her complaints of harassment.

    When asked if there was ever a problem within the Fox News Culture, She said: “Everyone knew how powerful Roger Ailes was. I certainly felt intimidated by that.”

    She added, “The culture of ‘Fox and Friends’ was intimidating to me.”

  • Fox Figures Circle The Wagons Around Boss Roger Ailes Amid Sexual Harassment Allegations

    ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    Fox News personalities are training their fire on former colleague Gretchen Carlson after the former host filed a “sexual harassment/retaliation” lawsuit against Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes. Carlson’s suit comes after years of overt sexism by Fox guests and on-air personalities and stirred a flurry of new attention to Ailes’ notorious track record of vulgar conduct and sexist behavior toward women.

  • CNN Explores Implications Of Carlson Sexual Harassment Suit, Fox Merely Repeats Ailes' Own Defense (Again)

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Cable news giants Fox News and CNN displayed markedly different approaches to the bombshell allegations of sexual harassment brought by former Fox host Gretchen Carlson against Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes. While CNN began investigating the claims made by Carlson and other women previously employed by Fox, the network itself simply reiterated Ailes’ own self-defense before launching a predictable campaign to discredit his accusers.

    On July 6, Carlson announced a “sexual harassment/retaliation lawsuit” against Ailes. Carlson claims that Ailes refused to renew her contract after she rebuffed multiple unwanted sexual advances from him over several years. Ailes is notorious for his sexist behavior and vulgar treatment of women at the network, and six more current and former Fox employees have reportedly contacted Carlson’s law firm alleging they were also sexually harassed by Ailes.

    On July 10, CNN’s Reliable Sources devoted the first half of the hour-long program to discussing the lawsuit and its implications for the future of Ailes and Fox News. Host Brian Stelter interviewed New York magazine correspondent Gabriel Sherman, author of the 2014 Fox exposé The Loudest Voice In The Room, about harassment allegations he uncovered while researching for his book, as well as the veracity of six new allegations against Ailes, which Sherman contended “fit a pattern of behavior” from the Fox News chief. Sherman also predicted that “Fox News’ PR machine” will work to “discredit” Carlson and any other accusers for Ailes, as they have in the past.

    Stelter also hosted NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik to discuss how News Corp executive chairman Rupert Murdoch and his sons, Lachlan and James, are responding to the allegations against Ailes “a little differently” than they have with prior harassment claims against Fox personalities. Folkenflik noted that the Murdochs “have not denied reports that they are hiring outside counsel” to handle the suit, as opposed to past cases involving Fox News host Bill O’Reilly and New York Post editor-in-chief Col Allan, where “they did not appoint an outside counsel” to deal with the complaints. Folkenflik concluded that this move may be tied to “the Murdoch sons' desire for their company to be truly a 21st century company, as opposed to run with the mores of the Don Draper era.”

    Meanwhile, on Fox News’ MediaBuzz, host Howard Kurtz mentioned his former colleague’s lawsuit in a brief, three-minute segment devoted to defending Ailes and attacking Carlson. Kurtz simply read Ailes’ personal statement in response to the lawsuit (as Fox News anchor Shepard Smith already had three days prior), mentioned that Ailes tried to move the suit into internal arbitration, and attacked Gretchen Carlson’s ratings as the real excuse for her termination. Kurtz pointedly refused to cover the story beyond that, dismissing other outlets’ coverage as simply “quoting anonymous sources” in a veiled shot at CNN and New York magazine. 

    Kurtz was the first Fox News reporter to come to Ailes’ defense against the harassment allegations made by Carlson. In the past, Kurtz has attacked Hillary Clinton for acknowledging media treatment that was “petty, sensationalist, often unfair and sometimes mean,” and he defended Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) when the then presidential candidate mocked and shushed CNBC’s Kelly Evans during a critical line of questioning in which he told her to “calm down.” In addition to his long track record of excusing sexist and bullying behavior toward women in the media, Kurtz has his own history of boorish behavior toward women.