Howard Kurtz

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  • “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.

  • Fox’s Howard Kurtz Carries Roger Ailes’ Water In Report On Sexual Harassment Allegations

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    Kurtz

    Fox News media analyst Howard Kurtz was the first reporter at the network to file a story on former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson’s allegations that network head Roger Ailes repeatedly sexually harassed her and derailed her career after she rejected his advances. Kurtz’s story leaned heavily on Ailes’ statement denying the allegation.

    Carlson's lawsuit, filed in a New Jersey civil court, also alleges that she repeatedly complained to Ailes that her colleagues on Fox & Friends (specifically co-host Steve Doocy) had created a sexist atmosphere, and he responded by dismissing her complaints and demoting her from the morning show to a daytime position.

    Her allegations follow a pattern of sexist programming on Fox News and a long reported history of sexist behavior by Ailes.

    Kurtz’s piece is headlined “Ailes denies allegations in Gretchen Carlson harassment suit as Fox News launches investigation,” and the bulk of the story takes the same tone.

    Kurtz begins by citing Ailes’ denial, before establishing the facts about the allegations he’s denying in the first place.

    Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes responded forcefully Wednesday night to a lawsuit filed by Gretchen Carlson after her contract was not renewed as a daytime host at the network, calling the allegations “false” and “offensive.”

    Kurtz later notes, “While the lawsuit is based in part on alleged comments by Ailes in private conversations with Carlson, it provides no e-mail, texts or voice mail as evidence.”

    In his statement, Ailes claims that Carlson’s contract wasn’t renewed due to her ratings. Kurtz echoes this point, writing, “In describing her success, Carlson says in the suit that her daytime show consistently ranked first in its time slot. But it is also true that she lost to CNN more often than any other Fox News program.”

    Kurtz also publishes past praise that Carlson has given Ailes:

    In her book “Getting Real,” published last year, Carlson called Ailes “the most accessible boss I’ve ever worked for,” and said “he saw Fox as a big family, and he cared about everything we did.” She said he had even urged her to speak occasionally about having been Miss America in 1989.

    Carlson’s lawyers explained the praise in a statement released after Kurtz’s story was posted: “Ailes does not allow his employees to speak to the press or publish anything without prior approval. Gretchen was chastised for answering a question from a hometown newspaper about her favorite Minnesota State Fair food. In her book Gretchen told her story while trying to keep her job - knowing that Ailes had to approve what she said.”

    Kurtz’s report is the only significant mention of the case on Fox so far, and it only appeared online. Fox & Friends, whose co-hosts are a key part of the allegations, ignored the story. By contrast, the Carlson allegations have been covered on NBC, ABC, CBS and CNN.

    Since joining Fox News, Kurtz has often ignored or downplayed media controversies that paint the network in a bad light, while defending his employers from criticism.

    When Kurtz was at CNN, he criticized Fox News for underplaying coverage of a scandal involving Rupert Murdoch, who owns Fox News’ parent company. He said, “What you're signaling to viewers is there's a double standard. We're only aggressive when some other organization is in trouble. And I think that can undermine your credibility.”

    In contrast, Brian Stelter, who took over from Kurtz as the host of CNN’s Reliable Sources, has shown that it is possible to cast a critical eye on one’s employer.

    Stelter, while reporting on his network’s controversial hiring of former Donald Trump operative Corey Lewandowski, recently noted he was “the most controversial addition to CNN in several years” and that he had a history of “hostile” behavior toward reporters. Stelter even noted that the possible existence of non-disparagement agreements between Trump and Lewandowski raised “ethical questions” about CNN’s decision making.

  • CNN And Fox News’ Sunday Media Criticism Shows Note Ethical Issues With CNN’s Lewandowski Hire

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Media figures on CNN’s Reliable Sources and Fox News’ MediaBuzz criticized CNN’s decision to hire Corey Lewandowski, former campaign manager for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Hosts and guests on the two media criticism programs highlighted the various “ethical” and “controversial” issues surrounding Lewandowski’s hiring, including Lewandowski’s history of aggressively handling the press and the ambiguity surrounding his possible non-disparagement agreements with Trump.

    On June 23, CNN hired Lewandowski as a salaried political commentator days after he had been fired as Trump’s campaign manager. CNN employees and other reporters immediately raised concerns over the various potential ethical problems associated with Lewandowski’s hiring.

    There are still several unknowns about Lewandowski's new position: whether he signed a non-disparagement agreement with Trump, which would preclude Lewandowski from criticizing his former boss; whether Lewandowski’s history of aggressive behavior toward journalists was taken into account during the hiring process; and whether an ongoing defamation suit against Trump and Lewandowski is a conflict of interest for CNN.

    CNN’s Brian Stelter, host of CNN’s media criticism program Reliable Sources, said on June 26 that Lewandowski is “the most controversial addition to CNN in several years,” noting that his “hostile” behavior toward reporters and the uncertainty regarding any non-disparagement agreements raise “ethical questions.”

    Baltimore Sun’s David Zurawik shamed CNN on Reliable Sources for hiring a “weasel to tell you about” “what’s going on inside the Trump campaign,” and told CNN to “give your money back.”

    Fox News’ media critic Howard Kurtz also slammed CNN on his program MediaBuzz, calling the decision a “sad move” that doesn’t help “CNN’s credibility in covering Donald Trump.” Kurtz specifically noted Lewandowski’s non-disclosure agreement and “rough relations with some reporters.”

    CNN’s own staff have heavily criticized Lewandowski for his “inexcusable” and “unprofessional” behavior. Media Matters has noted, though, that Lewandowski’s hire is at odds with how the network has responded to previous attacks on employees: in February, Trump ally Roger Stone was banned from the network after he wrote a series of offensive, incendiary tweets attacking CNN media figures.

  • After Trump Says Obama May Sympathize With Terrorists, Howard Kurtz Worries About The Press Being Too Harsh On Trump

    ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    Fox News media critic Howard Kurtz defended presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump from criticism after The Washington Post accurately reported incendiary remarks made by the candidate during an appearance on Fox & Friends. Trump used a phone-in interview about the June 12 mass shooting at an Orlando gay nightclub as an excuse to attack President Obama, and suggest the president sympathized with terrorists.