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Trump U. Is Currently Under Fire For Misrepresentation And Predatory Business Tactics
In an on-air poll, Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren asked viewers whether Donald Trump “should … reopen Trump University,” even though the shuttered “university” is currently facing numerous pending fraud and misrepresentation lawsuits.
On the June 2 edition of On The Record, host Greta Van Susteren interviewed honorary co-chair of Trump’s New York state campaign team and failed New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, who argued that Trump U. “could give a lot of kids an opportunity which they didn’t have otherwise” and that Trump himself “looked at” Trump U. “as a civic service.”
Later, Van Susteren asked her audience to respond to an on-air poll that asked viewers, “Should Donald Trump reopen Trump University?”
Van Susteren’s segment and Twitter poll comes as Trump U. faces scrutiny from fact-checkers and several pending fraud and misrepresentation lawsuits.
Though most media outlets have been heavily critical of Trump’s real estate seminar business, Fox News has provided the Republican nominee plenty of cover by allowing Trump to use its airtime to lie about the scandal-ridden business long before he became a presidential candidate.
Fox’s evening news programs routinely misinform viewers on reproductive rights issues, disproportionately relying on extreme anti-choice figures and deceptive smear campaigns to deliver their message, according to a new Media Matters study. During a recent 14-month period, Fox News’ guests, hosts, and network correspondents all helped propagate the false claims that Planned Parenthood sold fetal tissue and used government funds to illegally pay for abortions, and that a series of deceptively edited videos produced by the anti-choice Center for Medical Progress (CMP) were accurate.
Media Matters analyzed 14 months of Fox News’ evening programs, looking at discussions of abortion-related topics on the shows Special Report with Bret Baier, On The Record with Greta Van Susteren, The O’Reilly Factor, The Kelly File, and Hannity. Since July 15, 2015, Fox’s evening news programs have repeatedly spread CMP’s false allegations that Planned Parenthood was breaking laws in its handling of fetal tissue. Media Matters, a federal judge, an independent analysis, and numerous media outlets have found that CMP’s videos were deceptively edited (CMP was named Media Matters’ Misinformer of Year); 13 states and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have investigated the allegations and cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing; and CMP’s founder and an associate were indicted for the fraudulent actions they took in making the videos.
Nevertheless, Fox’s evening news programs have repeated CMP’s false claims as though they were true and falsely claimed that the videos were accurate.
From July 15, 2015, through March 6, 2016, Fox News evening show hosts, guests, and correspondents made 384 statements or claims that Planned Parenthood was “harvesting,” or “profiting” from the sale of, fetal tissue and 378 statements or claims that CMP’s videos or work were accurate, even going as far as to refer to the discredited smear campaign as “journalism.” In contrast, Fox’s hosts, guests, and correspondents made only 55 statements or claims that Planned Parenthood was not, in fact, selling fetal tissue and 84 statements or claims that CMP’s videos weren’t accurate.
Fox News helped CMP not only by repeatedly reporting on, replaying, or commenting on 11 of CMP’s deceptively edited videos, but also by hosting the person responsible for the entire smear campaign, David Daleiden, seven times from July 15 through September 4, including in an hour-long Fox News Special, “Hidden Harvest,” which was devoted to the group’s baseless allegations. Daleiden appeared seven times on Fox’s evening news programs during the course of the study, and he has also made additional appearances since the study ended in March.
And Daleiden wasn’t the only self-identified anti-choice person featured on the network. Fox’s evening news programs overwhelmingly favored those who identify as anti-choice versus those who identify as pro-choice. In segments on Fox’s evening news programs that discussed abortion or abortion-related topics, people who self-identify as anti-choice made up 36 percent of appearances, whereas people who self-identify as pro-choice comprised only 6 percent.
Media Matters also ran a secondary analysis on whether individuals who didn’t explicitly identify as anti-choice more often cited statements containing accurate or inaccurate information about four types of prevalent misinformation about abortion, Planned Parenthood or the Center for Medical Progress. We found that those who consistently cited anti-choice statements accounted for 9 percent of appearances and those who mostly cited anti-choice statements accounted for 25 percent of appearances. All combined, 70 percent of appearances on Fox News evening programs were made by people who either self-identified as anti-choice or consistently or mostly made anti-choice statements, compared to the combined 5 percent of appearances by either pro-choice-identified or pro-choice-leaning people.
Overall, Fox also shared nearly two dozen times the false claim that Planned Parenthood uses Medicaid funding to pay for abortions outside of the legal limitations, spreading the claim (without countering it in equal measure) on Hannity and The O’Reilly Factor. Additionally, any time a person on a Fox evening news program asserted -- or cited a claim -- that some kinds of birth control act as abortifacients, no speaker in the segment challenged those statements or discussed the medical community’s consensus that no contraceptive device or medication currently available is equivalent to an abortion.
Anti-Choice Speakers And Misinformation Dominate Abortion Coverage On Evening Cable News
A Media Matters study of 14 months of evening cable news programs found that discussions of abortion were weighted toward anti-choice speakers, which resulted in widespread misinformation on the topic. Of the three networks, Fox News aired the largest number of inaccurate statements about the most prevalent abortion-related myths, and MSNBC was the most accurate.
On May 26, Fox News aired an hour-long special, Meet The Trumps, in which On The Record host Greta Van Susteren spent the hour asking flattering questions of presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump and his immediate family. Multiple critics compared the special to the state-run media of a dictatorship.
This is what the special looks like when you remove Trump and his family's answers:
Media figures lambasted Fox News host Greta Van Susteren's hour-long special, Meet The Trumps, describing the broadcast as "something you'd see on a state-run television somewhere."
Media figures criticized Donald Trump’s response to the EgyptAir crash saying that it was “totally irresponsible” and “bad practice” for Trump to blame the crash on terrorism despite having no information at the time. Meanwhile, Fox News defended Trump’s “strong statement,” and praised him for saying “exactly what’s on everyone’s mind.”
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A CNN report revealed that presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has previously released tax returns while being audited by the IRS, undermining his and Fox figures’ defense that a current, ongoing IRS audit of Trump’s taxes precludes him from having to release his tax returns.
Several conservative media figures criticized the U.S. Treasury Department’s announcement that Harriet Tubman would replace Andrew Jackson on the front of the $20 bill, calling the change “dumb" and a “travesty.”
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Fox News is criticizing Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump's decision to boycott its upcoming presidential debate due to the network's refusal to meet Trump's demands over one of its moderators. However, in October 2015, Fox praised Trump's negotiating prowess after he convinced CNBC to "cave" to his demands for the network's presidential debate format by threatening to boycott.
Fox News' Oliver North suggested that the Obama administration's State Department is holding "secret auction[s] to the high bidder" for countries willing to take Guantanamo Bay detainees.
On the January 21 edition of On The Record with Greta Van Susteren, Oliver North speculated that the Obama administration and Secretary of State John Kerry engaged in a "quid pro quo" scheme with the country of Oman, who he claimed agreed to take Guantanamo Bay detainees in exchange for weapons:
OLIVER NORTH: Unfortunately, this president in his campaign promise way back in 2008, he made the campaign promise that he was going to close Gitmo within a year of taking office. Well, that didn't happen for very good reasons. Even his own investigation sent down there to go to Camp Delta there were no people there that were harmless goat herders, these were terrorists. These were bad people who tried to kill Americans and in some cases succeeded. Think about this. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11/01 attack on the United States, and with four airliners fly into buildings and killed nearly 3,000 people. He is one of the last to go. Where will he go? Think about what just happened with Oman. Ten detainees here are released to Oman and a week later Oman gets --
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN (HOST): A weapons deal.
NORTH: Yes, a $51 million weapons deal that they've been asking for, for years.
VAN SUSTEREN: It's incredible. Said it's a coincidence. Obama administration says it's a coincidence. We're not that stupid.
NORTH: Think about this. Is the Kerry State Department holding a secret auction to the high bidder, secret sealed bids on who will take Khalid Sheikh Mohammed? Think about it. I mean, if you look at what's happening with this administration, there is no concern for the safety of American troops or American citizens. This administration ought to be held accountable.
NORTH: I'll give you a prediction. Within six months of the new administration in Washington there will be an investigation that finds quid pro quo and things were provided to these governments for taking these incredibly bad people.
Van Susteren invited North to push his baseless conspiracy theory without disclosing North's own relationship with illegally selling weapons in the Iran-Contra affair in 1985. North, then a Lieutenant Colonel, was fired after it was discovered that he" had been diverting funds from the arms sales [with Iran] to the Contras," anti-communist rebels in Nicaragua.
In 1985, while Iran and Iraq were at war, Iran made a secret request to buy weapons from the United States. McFarlane sought Reagan's approval, in spite of the embargo against selling arms to Iran.
With the backing of the president, the plan progressed. By the time the sales were discovered, more than 1,500 missiles had been shipped to Iran. Three hostages had been released, only to be replaced with three more, in what Secretary of State George Shultz called "a hostage bazaar."
While probing the question of the arms-for-hostages deal, Attorney General Edwin Meese discovered that only $12 million of the $30 million the Iranians reportedly paid had reached government coffers. Then-unknown Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North of the National Security Council explained the discrepancy: he had been diverting funds from the arms sales to the Contras, with the full knowledge of National Security Adviser Admiral John Poindexter and with the unspoken blessing, he assumed, of President Reagan.
Poindexter resigned, and North was fired.
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