Roger Ailes

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  • How The Trump Campaign Is Embracing Dirty Trickster Roger Stone’s Playbook

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    Trump, Stone

    Donald Trump and his campaign are signaling a shift toward an election strategy laid out by conspiracy theorist, dirty trickster, and informal Trump adviser Roger Stone.

    For months, Stone has pushed for Trump to invoke the Clintons’ supposed “war on women,” and both the candidate and campaign staffers have been making the rounds this week indicating that they plan to do so.

    Stone heads a pro-Trump super PAC and previously served as a paid consultant to Trump’s campaign. He has been a key promoter of Trump’s candidacy in the media, particularly on the radio and internet program of 9/11 conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

    Stone himself is an ardent conspiracy theorist. He recently floated the theory that the Clintons had four people murdered over the summer, which dovetails with his previously stated claim that the couple is “plausibly responsible” for the deaths of roughly 40 people. Stone has also alleged that the Bush family “tried to kill” President Ronald Reagan, that President Lyndon Johnson was behind the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and that the father of Senator Ted Cruz was involved in the killing as well – a theory that was pushed by Donald Trump.

    Stone said he had doubts that Clinton would have the stamina to do an entire 90-minute debate and claimed she was wearing an earpiece during NBC's candidate forum because she “clearly has no memory.” He also claimed Clinton was placed on an oxygen tank immediately after the recent presidential debate and “has some advanced form of epilepsy.”

    Former Trump adviser Michael Caputo, guest hosting on the September 25 edition of WBEN’s Hardline, said he “heard more than one time Donald Trump say” that Stone’s book The Clintons’ War on Women “is his opposition research on the Clintons.” He added that  Trump “has it on his desk.”

    The book, co-authored by fellow conspiracy theorist Robert Morrow, describes itself as a guide to “how Bill and Hillary Clinton systematically abused women and others -- sexually, physically, and psychologically -- in their scramble for power and wealth.”

    Morrow is also a discredited researcher. He has a history of bizarre sexual writings about Hillary Clinton and the Clinton family. Morrow also relishes tweeting the slur “nigger” and was ousted as the chair of the Travis County, TX, Republican Party by “party officials who found him a perpetual embarrassment.”

    Previously, Trump has promoted Morrow and Stone’s book on his Twitter account. In January, after claiming that Bill Clinton was “one of the great woman abusers of all time," Trump cited Stone’s book for his claim that Hillary Clinton "went after the women very, very strongly and very viciously, according to the women and according to other sources."

    Following his poorly received performance in Monday night’s debate, Trump appears ready to again follow Stone’s advice. Politico reported that “threats emanated from Trump Tower on Tuesday that the Republican nominee was preparing to name-check Bill Clinton’s mistresses — alleged or otherwise.”

    Immediately after the debate, Trump told the media, “I'm really happy I was able to hold back on the indiscretions in respect to Bill Clinton. Because I have a lot of respect for Chelsea Clinton.” He added, “Maybe I'll tell you at the next debate. We'll see. But I'm very happy.”

    Top Trump campaign surrogate and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said, “The president of the United States, her husband, disgraced this country with what he did in the Oval Office and she didn’t just stand by him, she attacked Monica Lewinsky. And after being married to Bill Clinton for 20 years, if you didn’t know the moment Monica Lewinsky said that Bill Clinton violated her that she was telling the truth, then you’re too stupid to be president.”

    Trump deputy campaign manager David Bossie appeared on Fox & Friends and said, “I think that if you look at Hillary Clinton's background and if you look at her being an enabler, really, in the '90s and really attacking these women, it goes against everything that she now tries to spout as a candidate for president.”

    Eric Trump, the nominee’s son, lauded his father’s “courage” for not bringing up Lewinsky during the debate during a radio appearance.

    The Stone-influenced strategy comes at the same time the Trump campaign is also reportedly receiving advice from Fox News founder and former chairman Roger Ailes, who was ousted from the network after former anchor Gretchen Carlson accused him of sexual harassment and sued him. Soon after, at least 25 women came forward, making very similar allegations about Ailes’ behavior over multiple decades. Recent reports indicate that after the debate debacle, Ailes’ role with the Trump campaign may be expanded.

  • “Movement Afoot” To Expand Roger Ailes’ Role In The Trump Campaign  

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    “There is a movement afoot” to bring ousted Fox News CEO and alleged sexual harasser Roger Ailes “more into the process” of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign, according to Washington Post reporter Robert Costa. Ailes, who currently serves as an informal but influential adviser to Trump, reportedly helped the GOP nominee prepare for the first presidential debate.

    After Trump’s disastrous debate performance on September 26, Costa tweeted that “top [Republicans] … wonder who, if anyone, can get Trump to fully [prepare] for the [second] debate.” He subsequently tweeted, “There is a movement afoot by at least 2 Trump allies to bring Ailes more into the process.”

    BuzzFeed News’ McKay Coppins reported before the debate that Ailes “is playing a much larger backstage role in handling Trump than most people realize.” Other media outlets have highlighted the influential role Ailes is playing in Trump’s debate prep.

    After allegations of harassment by more than two dozen women, Ailes settled a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit for $20 million which was paid by Fox News’ parent company, 21st Century Fox. Following his firing from Fox News, which included a $40 million severance package, Ailes transitioned almost immediately into the role of informal Trump adviser. The two reportedly “counseled each other in multiple phone calls” during the fallout over Ailes’ alleged sexual harassment, and Trump has said he “would think about” hiring his “friend” Ailes as a campaign consultant, though Ailes is already reportedly offering Trump advertising and leadership guidance.

  • BuzzFeed News: Roger Ailes “Is Playing A Much Larger Backstage Role” In Trump’s Campaign Than Most Realize 

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    BuzzFeed News’ McKay Coppins reported that former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes -- who was ousted from the network after a sexual harassment lawsuit was filed against him, followed by a slew of other sexual harassment allegations -- “is playing a much larger backstage role in handling Trump than most people realize.”

    The disgraced ex-Fox head has reportedly joined the Trump campaign as an informal adviser, taking on an influential role in Trump’s debate preparation and offering guidance on leadership and advertising decisions for the campaign. Ailes’ involvement follows his departure from Fox in the wake of “shocking allegations” of sexual harassment made by multiple women in and outside of Fox News. 

    In a September 26 article, Coppins wrote that, while Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway has been given credit for the campaign’s “recent turnaround,” her “‘Trump-whisperer’ status is more made-for-TV myth than reality.” Instead, Coppins reported, Ailes “is playing a much larger backstage role” in advising Trump than most anticipated and “is said to be actively advising the candidate ahead of Monday night’s debate.” Coppins noted a Republican source who said that “Trump doesn’t listen to anyone … But he does listen to Roger sometimes”:

    No one has gotten more credit (or blame) for the recent turnaround at the Trump campaign than Kellyanne Conway, the always-on-TV Republican pollster who was promoted last month to campaign manager.

    [...]

    It’s a meme that’s only likely to grow if, as many predict, Trump uses Monday’s presidential debate stage to debut a newly chivalrous persona — but some insiders question how much influence Conway actually has over the candidate.

    Interviews this week with more than half a dozen GOP sources close to the campaign suggest her “Trump-whisperer” status is more made-for-TV myth than reality.

    [...]

    Meanwhile, two sources close to Roger Ailes said the former Fox News chief is playing a much larger backstage role in handling Trump than most people realize. More than anyone, they said, it is Ailes — a master of political communications and media — that has succeeded in getting Trump to stay on script and soften his tone.

    One source predicted that Ailes would get plenty of ink in the various post-2016 insider campaign books, but said he was “happy for now having his role downplayed.” Though Ailes is not on the campaign’s payroll, he is said to be actively advising the candidate ahead of Monday night’s debate.

    “Trump doesn’t listen to anyone,” said a Republican close to Ailes. “But he does listen to Roger sometimes.”

  • What The Media Needs To Know About Donald Trump’s Debate Prep Team

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's inner circle is filled with conspiracy theorists and disreputable political operatives. According to reports, many of these same people have been taking the lead in preparing him for Monday's first presidential debate at Hofstra University.

    (Note: Some of these bios were previously included in a round-up of Trump’s kitchen cabinet).

    Roger Ailes

    Ailes

    Role In Debate Prep

    Roger Ailes is the founder and former chairman and CEO of Fox News and the Fox Television Stations Group. He has reportedly been an influential part of Trump’s debate preparation, advising the candidate on how to “get his message out in a smart, cogent way while also maintaining his air of authenticity,” according to CNNMoney, and helping “Trump come up with memorable one-liners that will stay in voters' minds, drive headlines, and perhaps even turn the tide in Trump's favor.”

    What You Need To Know

    Ailes was forced out at Fox News after former anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit against him alleging sexual harassment and retaliation. Other women also came forward, alleging a decades-long pattern of harassment by Ailes. (Carlson’s suit was settled for a reported $20 million, and Fox News’ parent company issued a public apology to Carlson, saying she was not “treated with the respect and dignity that she and all of our colleagues deserve.”) . Even though Ailes was publicly disgraced, Trump has repeatedly expressed support for him..

    The network Ailes created has for years functioned as the communications arm of the Republican Party, disguised as a “news” network. Fox was instrumental in the rise and eventual triumph of Trump in the 2016 Republican primaries, featuring him far more than any other candidate, which translated into millions of dollars worth of free exposure.

    At Fox, Ailes pushed programming with themes of misogyny, racism, and Islamophobia. Ailes was once an operative for President Richard Nixon, and he used race-baiting in his work for Nixon as well.

    Corey Lewandowski

    Lewandowski

    Role In Debate Prep

    Former Trump campaign manager and current CNN contributor Corey Lewandowski is involved in “preparing Donald Trump for the debates,” according to the conservative site Heat Street.

    What You Need To Know

    While he was in charge of Trump’s campaign, Lewandowski had hostile interactions with the press corps covering Trump. He was caught on video grabbing Michelle Fields, then a reporter for Breitbart News. Florida prosecutors said they believed there was probable cause to arrest Lewandowski, but decided against prosecuting him.

    In a separate incident, Lewandowski was seen grabbing a protester “by the collar,” and “yanking him backwards.” When asked about it, Trump said, “I give him credit for having spirit.”

    Lewandowski continues to receive what are described as “severance” payments from the Trump campaign while commenting on the election in a paid position for CNN. On air he has been a reliable Trump defender, promoting the racist birther conspiracy theory, smearing journalists who report on the nominee, and lying about Trump’s history of using undocumented workers.

    Stephen Bannon

    Bannon

    Role In Debate Prep

    Stephen Bannon is the chairman of Breitbart News but is currently on leave to serve as the chief executive of the Trump campaign. The Washington Post reported that he is part of the unofficial Trump debate team that met with the candidate at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, NJ, in August.

    What You Need To Know

    Under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart News has recently made a “noticeable shift toward embracing ideas on the extremist fringe of the conservative right. Racist ideas. Anti-Muslim and anti-Immigrant ideas,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

    Several anonymous Breitbart staffers alleged, according to BuzzFeed, that “the company’s top management was allowing Trump to turn Breitbart into his own fan website” and claimed the candidate paid the site in exchange for favorable coverage. (Bannon denied the allegation.)

    After news surfaced that Trump’s then-campaign manager had allegedly manhandled Michelle Fields, who was working at the time as a Breitbart reporter, Bannon sided with the campaign over his employee, leading to the defection of several staffers.

    Several former Bannon employees have spoken out about his hiring by the campaign. Former Breitbart editor-at-large Ben Shapiro called Bannon a “legitimately sinister figure” who has led Breitbart News to embrace the “white supremacist alt-right.” Former Breitbart News spokesperson Kurt Bardella told Media Matters that Bannon is a “pathological liar” whose hiring signals a “dangerous" shift by the campaign.

    Rudy Giuliani

    Giuliani

    Role In Debate Prep

    Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani has served as a campaign surrogate for the Trump campaign and was identified as a “longtime friend” of the candidate who is involved in debate preparations.

    What You Need To Know

    Giuliani has a long history of making anti-Muslim statements. He argued in favor of Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) comment that one way to fight terrorism is to “patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods,” said sexual assault in Germany proved that “these [Syrian] refugees are inherently a problem,” and praised Rep. Peter King (R-NY) for holding anti-Muslim hearings in Congress.

    Speaking before Trump at a campaign rally, Giuliani said, “Under those eight years before Obama came along, we didn’t have any successful radical Islamic terrorist attack in the United States,” omitting the 9/11 attacks. PolitiFact rated this claim “false.”

    Laura Ingraham

    Ingraham

    Role In Debate Prep

    Radio host Laura Ingraham has been a staunch supporter of Trump’s candidacy and has praised his anti-immigrant rhetoric. Ingraham spoke at the Republican National Convention and urged Trump’s former rivals to “honor your pledge” and “support Donald Trump now.” She has been described as one of Trump’s “informal band of counselors” who are helping him to “test out zingers” ahead of the debate.

    What You Need To Know

    Ingraham has often used her show to demonize and attack immigrants. Ingraham said Mexicans “have come here to murder and rape our people,” called the American children of undocumented immigrants “anchor fetuses,” and suggested that deported immigrants attempting to re-enter the country should be “shot.”

    Chris Christie

    Christie

    Role In Debate Prep

    New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie endorsed Trump after he dropped out of the campaign and has served as a leading surrogate for the candidate. He is the head of Trump’s transition team and is reportedly helping with debate preparations.

    What You Need To Know

    Christie has become infamous for his public arguments with voters and other figures. He told a voter who criticized them that he was “a real big shot shooting your mouth off,” called a reporter “a complete idiot,” and told a resident asking about stalled rebuilding efforts after Superstorm Sandy to “sit down and shut up.”

    Another mark against Christie has been the Bridgegate scandal, in which his subordinates conspired to block traffic on the George Washington Bridge as payback for political slights against the governor.

    David Bossie

    Bossie

    Role In Debate Prep

    Conservative activist David Bossie has taken a leave of absence from his job as president of the advocacy group Citizens United to be Trump’s deputy campaign manager. He is reportedly part of the debate preparation team.

    What You Need To Know

    In 1992, then-President George H.W. Bush condemned Bossie and Citizens United for using what he called “filthy campaign tactics” against the Clintons during the 1992 presidential campaign. Following President Clinton’s election, Bossie used his role as Citizens United’s political director to operate “an information factory” that produced “a steady stream of tips, tidbits, documents, factoids, suspicions, and story ideas for the nation's press and for Republicans on Capitol Hill,” according to Columbia Journalism Review. Bossie resigned from his position as an investigator for the House Government and Reform Committee after it was revealed that he played a role in releasing selectively edited transcripts in order to smear Hillary Clinton.

    Bossie has been president of Citizens United since 2000. The group’s film Hillary: The Movie prompted the Supreme Court case Citizens United v. FEC, which resulted in the 5-4 decision that has led to nearly unlimited campaign spending in elections. Citizens United has pushed for the release of Hillary Clinton’s communications from the State Department when she was secretary of state, and the organization is a party in several lawsuits demanding Clinton-related materials from the agency. In the course of making those requests, Citizens United has often insinuated -- without evidence -- that wrongdoing took place.

    Roger Stone

    Roger Stone

    Role In Debate Prep

    Republican dirty trickster Roger Stone is a longtime Trump ally. Stone worked on Trump’s campaign until August of 2015, continues to serve as a prominent advocate for Trump’s candidacy, and regularly speaks with Trump. Stone advised Trump on debate negotiations and helped Trump with debate prep during the primaries.

    What You Need To Know

    In addition to his political dirty tricks, Stone has an extensive history of making violent, racist, and sexist comments. He started an anti-Hillary Clinton group in 2008 with the acronym “C.U.N.T.” and has called for her to be executed. He called cable news commentators a “stupid negro” and “Mandingo,” and he promotes conspiracy theories about the Clinton and Bush families murdering dozens of people. His next book is about how the Clintons purportedly murdered JFK Jr. “because he was in the way.”

    Stone’s racist and sexist tweets resulted in him being banned from appearing on CNN and MSNBC.

    While advocating for Trump, Stone has peddled several outlandish conspiracy theories. He accused the Clintons of murdering several more people, argued that the 2016 election will be “rigged” via the manipulation of voting machines, and alleged that a top Clinton campaign aide was connected to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Stone also attacked the family of Capt. Humayun Khan, who was killed in Iraq in 2004.

    Kellyanne Conway

    Conway

    Role In Debate Prep

    Kellyanne Conway served as a senior adviser and pollster for the Trump campaign, and she is currently serving as the campaign manager. Conway has been part of the core team preparing Trump for the debate.

    What You Need To Know

    Conway has long been involved in conservative politics, mostly as a pollster working with conservative groups including the NRA and Family Research Council and Republican candidates including Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann.

    Conway once said that people “don’t want their kids looking at a cartoon with a bunch of lesbian mothers” and suggested the representation of same-sex parents in children’s programming was a “corrupting” influence. She also once argued that “political correctness” could create a situation where there were “air traffic controllers who don’t speak great English,” leading to “two planes crashing in the sky.”

    She also argued that “revulsion towards men” is “part and parcel of the feminist movement” and that “baby girls [are] being killed just because they’re girls” in America.

    Michael Flynn

    Flynn

    Role In Debate Prep

    Retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, is a Trump adviser and campaign surrogate. Flynn is part of the national security team preparing Trump for the debate.

    What You Need To Know

    Flynn left his position at the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014 after clashing with senior officials. He has complained that “‘political correctness’ has prevented the U.S. from confronting violent extremism, which he sees as a ‘cancerous idea that exists inside of the Islamic religion.’” In his book The Field of Flight, Flynn accuses the U.S. government of concealing “the actions of terrorists like bin Laden and groups like ISIS, and the role of Iran in the rise of radical Islam.”

    Flynn has publicly supported Trump’s idea that the families of terrorist suspects should be killed, and he also backs Trump’s proposal for a ban on Muslim travel to the United States. Flynn has written that “fear of Muslims is RATIONAL.”

    In 2015, Flynn flew to Moscow and was filmed having a formal dinner with Vladimir Putin. The Daily Beast reported that “Pentagon brass were taken by surprise that he didn’t notify the department.”

    Flynn was paid by the state-funded Russian television network RT for his appearance at the network’s anniversary gala.

    Flynn spoke on Trump’s behalf at the Republican National Convention, saying that “war is not about bathrooms,” a reference to controversy over anti-transgender laws. He also retweeted an anti-Semitic pro-Trump message that read in part, “Not anymore, Jews. Not anymore.” He later described the incident as “a mistake.”

  • Fox Figures Step Up Participation In Trump's Campaign

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    The close-knit relationship between Fox News and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign has strengthened in recent days, as several Fox figures have stepped up their participation in Trump’s campaign. Fox’s intimacy with the Trump campaign has been central to the candidate’s overwhelming media presence and his propagation of lies.

    Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who rejoined Fox News as a contributor in August, introduced Trump at a September 19 campaign rally, lauding him as “someone who … can genuinely change history.” Gingrich has long had a foot in both camps, serving at one point as a Fox contributor while under consideration as Trump’s running mate. Gingrich currently serves as a close Trump ally and has been reportedly offered a job in Trump’s potential administration. 

    Fox host and avid Trump supporter Sean Hannity recently appeared in an ad for Trump, listing several reasons why “I’m supporting Donald Trump this year.” Hannity has been one of Trump’s biggest cheerleaders throughout the election, using his prime-time show to openly shill for Trump and advance his lies.

    Former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes wasted no time transitioning into the role of a top Trump adviser following his ouster, perhaps the most glaring example of the Fox-Trump lovefest. Ailes is reportedly advising Trump for the presidential debates, Trump has said he “would think about” hiring his “friend” Ailes as a campaign consultant, and the two reportedly “counseled each other in multiple phone calls” during the fallout over Ailes’ alleged sexual harassment. As part of his resignation deal, Ailes also serves as an adviser to Fox News chairman Rupert Murdoch. 

    Fox figures’ intimate involvement in the Trump campaign comes as the candidate has limited his media appearances to be almost exclusively on Fox. Trump has retreated “to friendly media ground” to “[limit] the candidate's exposure to hard-hitting questions,” writes CNN’s Brian Stelter:

    Donald Trump's reputation for being always available to reporters is way out of date.

    Trump is saying "yes" to Fox News almost every day but saying "no" to most other major networks and news organizations -- a highly unusual strategy for a presidential nominee.

    He called into "Fox & Friends" on Monday morning, he is booked on "The O'Reilly Factor" Monday night, and he has another town hall with Sean Hannity coming up on Wednesday.

    Even Fox’s media critic, Howard Kurtz, admitted that Trump is “refusing to appear on many television outlets” outside of Fox because those “interviews entail too much risk” for Trump to misstep. 

    The continued Fox-Trump relationship is in keeping with the network's role thus far as a mouthpiece for the Trump campaign: During the Republican primary, Fox gave Trump more than twice as much airtime as the other Republican candidates.

    UPDATE: In a statement to The Washington Post's Erik Wemple, a Fox spokesperson said, "We had no knowledge that Sean Hannity was participating in this" Trump ad "and he will not be doing anything along these lines for the remainder of the election.”

  • During Interview With Donald Trump, O'Reilly Ignores Ailes’ Role In Debate Preparation

    O'Reilly Attacks Debate Moderators Cooper And Raddatz As "Partisan People;" Praises Fox's Wallace As "Fair"

    Blog ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET


    While speaking to Donald Trump about upcoming presidential debates, Bill O’Reilly did not ask Trump about reports that former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes is helping Trump’s campaign with debate preparations.

    Over the course of an interview spanning more than 7 minutes, O’Reilly did not bring up the widely reported claim that Roger Ailes “is advising Donald J. Trump as he begins to prepare for the all-important presidential debates this fall.” Instead, O’Reilly urged Trump to attack upcoming debate moderators Lester Holt, Anderson Cooper, and Martha Raddatz, who he characterized as “kind of partisan people,” and prompted Trump to praise Fox host and debate moderator Chris Wallace:

    BILL O'REILLY (HOST): You have two kind of partisan people though. The next debate you have Martha Raddatz at ABC, who I worked with in Boston. Brilliant journalist, but she is a Democrat. And then Anderson Cooper, I think he does a decent job over there but he is a Democrat, OK? So, you have two Democrats, and you don't -- are you showing up for that, or what are you going to do?

    DONALD TRUMP: And by the way, Lester is a Democrat.

    O'REILLY: I didn't know that.

    TRUMP: Look, it's a phony system. Lester is a Democrat. I mean, they are all Democrats. Okay? It's a very unfair system. I -- look, I've worked pretty well within the system. I guess by a lot of polls I'm leading many of the polls, and most of the polls -- CNN just came out with a poll I'm leading nationwide by two. I'm leading a lot of the states. I'm leading Florida where I am now by three or four. Something just came out. A poll just came out. I'm leading it by three points or four points. And, you know, I think I'm doing well. Leading Ohio, leading in North Carolina. I think we are doing very well.

    O'REILLY: Alright, but after the debate things will change and you will see.

    TRUMP: And the system's a guest --

    O'REILLY: Raddatz and Cooper, you OK with them, or no?

    TRUMP: No, not really. I'm not okay with Anderson Cooper because I think he treats me very unfairly at CNN. I think he is very unfair on CNN. I think CNN, they call it the Clinton News Network that's why the ratings aren't doing very well.

    O'REILLY: Well, they have to compete with MSNBC, that's why they may be doing that. But you say you are not happy with it, but you will show up, you are not going to boycott it like you did the Fox thing.

    TRUMP: No, I will show up. I will show up, they're gaming the ref, that's what they are doing.

    O'REILLY: Right, and the last one is Chris Wallace. He is fair, right?

    TRUMP: He is fair, he is tough. He is fair, and I don't mind as long as he is fair. And I have done a lot of work with Chris, and I have never had a problem with him.

    O’Reilly’s decision to avoid pressing Trump on Ailes’ debate preparation continues Fox’s trend of ignoring Ailes’ role within the Trump campaign. Fox’s Sunday shows have previously ignored reports that Roger Ailes is advising Trump, and Fox News’ Brit Hume recently neglected to ask Trump adviser Newt Gingrich about Ailes’ role in debate preparations.

  • New Fox Chief Who Allegedly Covered Up Ailes’ Sexual Harassment Signs Multi-Year Deal

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Fox News

    Fox News announced today that co-president Bill Shine has signed a new multi-year contract. Shine reportedly “played an integral role in the cover up” of sexual harassment allegations against former chief Roger Ailes, which led critics to point out that Ailes departure did not indicate a change in culture at the network following Shine’s promotion.

    Rupert Murdoch announced the new Shine contract in a September 14 press release in which he praised Shine for his role in the Fox’s “continued dominance in the ratings and historic earnings performance” and said that the deal ensured “stability and leadership to guide the network for years to come.”

    Former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson recently settled after suing Ailes last month for sexual harassment. Her lawsuit spurred numerous other women to come forward with similar claims against Ailes and an internal investigation of Ailes’ actions that led to his resignation but reportedly did not examine “the broader culture of Fox News.”

    New York magazine writer Gabriel Sherman -- the leading source on the Ailes scandal -- previously reported that Shine “played an integral role in the cover up of these sexual harassment claims,” including “play[ing] a role in rallying the women to speak out against Roger Ailes’ accusers.” Sherman also reported that Shine played a key role in the silencing and “smearing” of “Rudi Bakhtiar, who says she was fired from Fox News after complaining about sexual harassment.” Shine also reportedly played a role in the handling of Laurie Luhn, a former booker who reportedly received a $3.15 million severance agreement and was allegedly “sexually harassed and ‘psychologically tortured’ by Roger Ailes for more than 20 years.”

    Former Fox host Andrea Tantaros also filed a lawsuit last month alleging sexual harassment and retaliation against Shine, Fox News, and Ailes. According to the complaint, when Tantaros met with Shine seeking “relief from Ailes’s sexual harassment and [Fox News publicist Irena] Briganti’s retaliatory media vendetta against her," Shine “told Tantaros that Ailes was a ‘very powerful man’ and that Tantaros ‘needed to let this one go.’”

    Media Matters President Bradley Beychok released the following statement last month after Fox News announced that the network was promoting Shine to co-president:

    "Fox News has an obligation to take allegations of sexual harassment seriously--  for the sake of its staff, and also for its audience. That is why Media Matters launched a petition calling on the network to release the findings of its internal review. The announcement that Bill Shine, who multiple reporters have linked to Ailes' harassment, will serve as co-president of Fox News is a disappointing signal that 21st Century Fox may not be ready to take serious the allegations and to end its culture of sexism and misogyny."

     
  • Media Matters Requests Fox Retain All Info Regarding Allegations Roger Ailes Sought Our Reporter’s Phone Records

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Huffington Post is reporting that Media Matters has requested Fox News executives and former CEO Roger Ailes “retain any information in their possession or control” that could be relevant  to the network allegedly obtaining the phone records of one of its journalists through “legally questionable means” in order to identify his anonymous sources at the network.

    New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman reported on September 2, that Fox News had “obtained the phone records of journalists, by legally questionable means,” including the home and cell phone records of Media Matters’ senior reporter Joe Strupp, in an effort to find Strupp’s anonymous sources at the network.

    Media Matters president Bradley Beychok responded to the egregious allegations and said that the organization is “considering all legal options” available and that “anyone involved in the illegal hacking should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

    According to the Huffington Post, Media Matters has sent letters to Fox News’ attorneys taking legal steps to ensure that any relevant information about Gabriel Sherman’s allegations is retained:

    Media Matters attorney Marc Elias sent letters Friday to attorneys representing Ailes and executives at Fox News and parent company 21st Century Fox, including executive chairman Rupert Murdoch and sons Lachlan and James Murdoch, who serve as executive chairman and chief executive, respectively.

    In the letters, Elias requested Ailes and executives at the media companies retain any information in their possession or control that would be relevant to allegations of surveilling Media Matters employees.

    Strupp reported in 2010 on Fox News management slanting Washington coverage to the right and cited anonymous sources at the network. Sherman wrote that Fox News wanted to find out who was speaking to Strupp. “This was the culture,” one Fox News executive told Sherman. “Getting phone records doesn’t make anybody blink.”

    In addition to Strupp, Elias also revealed in the letters that it “appears that Fox News Channel previously obtained telephone records of Media Matters founder David Brock in 1997.” Brock, a former Republican operative turned liberal Clinton booster, wrote a critical profile of Ailes that year for New York magazine. Brock started Media Matters in 2004 to combat what the group deemed conservative misinformation, with Fox News being one of its primary targets.

    “Media Matters takes these reports very seriously and is prepared to take all measures necessary to protect its rights, including initiating a lawsuit against Fox News Channel,” Elias wrote in a letter to the network. “We therefore demand that Fox News Channel take immediate action to preserve all information relating to the Media Matters Surveillance that is in the possession, custody, or control of Fox News Channel, including information held by third parties from whom Fox News Channel could obtain the information or over whom Fox News Channel exercises control.”

    Media Matters is similarly prepared to take legal action if necessary against Ailes and 21st Century Fox, according to the letters published in full below.

  • Ailes Biographer Gabriel Sherman Expects “Wholesale Housecleaning” At Fox News

    Blog ››› ››› JOE STRUPP

    Fox News’ forced exit of Roger Ailes in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal is just the beginning of what is expected to be a “wholesale housecleaning” of management in the coming months, according to Gabriel Sherman, the New York magazine writer and Ailes biographer who has been covering the network for the past six years.

    Sherman, who spoke at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism Thursday night, said he is still reporting on a “breaking news” story surrounding Fox and believes that major change are ahead.

    “From what I understand talking to people up and down the network is that it’s really in a holding pattern,” Sherman said. “They are looking for a permanent CEO and most likely there will be, after the November election, more of a wholesale housecleaning.”

    Sherman’s appearance followed his blockbuster cover story last week on Ailes that revealed insider accounts of the back story behind former anchor Gretchen Carlson's sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes, which she and Fox settled for $20 million earlier this week.

    He took questions from moderator Bill Grueskin, a Columbia journalism professor and a former Wall Street Journal editor, as well as both in-person and online audience members.

    “In the crush of daily headlines it can seem like the story has really played out, but I think we are still in the middle of what I think will be remembered as one of the seismic shifts in the American media landscape,” Sherman told the crowd. “It took just 15 days from when Gretchen Carlson filed her lawsuit for Roger Ailes to be pushed out the door of Fox News, an institution he built and shaped in his image and in the process remade American politics in his image.”

    Sherman also discussed his 2014 Ailes biography, The Loudest Voice in the Room, and how his reporting for that book and New York magazine was often both influential and frightening.

    He cited two women he interviewed for the book, Shelley Ross and Randi Harrison, who recounted their own claims that Ailes sexually harassed them in the 1980s when he produced the Tomorrow show on NBC.

    Sherman said their openness might have affected Gretchen Carlson’s decision to sue.

    “Having these women out there I think gave Gretchen Carlson and her lawyers confidence to file her lawsuit because this was not an isolated incident,” Sherman said. “We had already had on-the-record episodes of sexual harassment.”

    Asked about the revelations that Carlson had secretly recorded some of the most damaging comments by Ailes, Sheman said those audio files could someday be heard in court.

    “My understanding is that those tapes still exist,” Sherman said. “So if there is future litigation, if say another woman should file a lawsuit, they could be subpoenaed in court.”

    Grueskin brought up the 400-page dossier Fox News reportedly created on Sherman and a private investigator they had following him. Sherman said that was not the most frightening moment in his Ailes reporting over the years.

    “I think the scariest moment was at the end of 2012, it was Christmastime, when the website Breitbart, which now is famous for being aligned with Trump, splashed an article about me on the home page that I was being paid by George Soros, and I was, it labeled me a Soros-funded attack dog,” Sherman recounted. “We got a death threat at home, the phone rang and someone very scary on the phone said some very scary things. Ailes, this sort of right-wing machine does this to politicians, but they have security and all this; we don’t even have a doorman at home.”

    He said he filed a police report and had a trip out of town planned anyway, so he and his wife left New York.

    “It was the first time it internalized for me that Ailes is a very powerful man,” Sherman said. “He has access not only to a lot of money, but he had relationships across the media that he could then train and turn on me.”

    He said that kind of fear affected several of the sources he used for the recent New York piece, which included many anonymous voices.

    “I had sources who were so paranoid and scared they would call me from burner phones,” Sherman said of the disposable prepaid phones. “I had sources who would meet me in the strangest of places, in the most anonymous places in Manhattan because they didn’t even want to be talking to me on the telephone.”

    But, he added, “it is not going to deter me from covering what is still a breaking news story.”

    Although he says he has never interviewed Ailes, who has regularly declined, Sherman said if he had the chance to ask one question, it would be: “What are your regrets?”

    Sherman also said he has no interest in filing any legal action against Fox or Ailes for some of their intimidation methods: “The short answer is no. I have been in the trenches on a breaking news story.”

  • Media Matters Founder David Brock Calls For Reconsideration Of Fox News’ Chris Wallace As Debate Moderator

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Media Matters founder David Brock is calling on the Commission on Presidential Debates to reconsider the eligibility of Fox News’ Chris Wallace as moderator of the October 19 presidential debate. Brock writes that former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes’ position advising both Rupert Murdoch -- the head of Fox’s parent company -- and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump represents a “glaring conflict of interest” that infringes on the credibility of any Fox News moderator.

    Read the full text of his letter to the commission’s co-chairs, as first reported by Politico:

    Mr. Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr.
    Mr. Michael D. McCurry
    Commission on Presidential Debates
    1200 New Hampshire Ave NW #445 Washington, DC 20036
     

    Dear Co-Chairmen Fahrenkopf and McCurry:

    I am writing to request that you reconsider the eligibility of Chris Wallace as a debate moderator as a result of​ startling new public facts. I urge you to consider these facts and remove Mr. Wallace as the moderator of the third and final presidential debate.

    I was concerned to read a September 8 CNN report noting that “in recent weeks, [Roger] Ailes has become one of the most influential voices in the room as [Donald] Trump prepares” for the first presidential debate. According to the CNN report, Ailes and Trump “met in person several times between June 2015 and June 2016” and since late July, Ailes “has taken on a much more active role in Trump’s campaign.”

    Earlier this week on Good Morning America, Trump’s campaign manager ducked a question about whether it is appropriate for Ailes to be advising Trump. Simply put, the answer is no. It is a glaring conflict of interest that Roger Ailes, who resigned from Fox News in July, simultaneously provides advice to Donald Trump while serving as a paid adviser to Fox News chief Rupert Murdoch—debate moderator Chris Wallace’s boss.

    Also troubling is Chris Wallace’s explicit pronouncement that he doesn't intend to press the candidates to be truthful during the debate he moderates. When Wallace's Fox News colleague Howard Kurtz asked what Wallace would do if either candidate made "assertions that you know to be untrue," Wallace asserted, "That's not my job. I do not believe it is my job to be a truth squad. It's up to the other person to catch them on that." Ailes and Trump may already be unduly influencing Wallace to favor Trump in the debate. The New York Times' James Poniewozik was correct when he noted that Wallace's stated fact-free approach to debate moderating helps Trump the most. The Times noted that "the fact-checking website PolitiFact has found far more false statements from Mr. Trump than from Mrs. Clinton."

    I am disappointed that an organization that prides itself on being non-partisan would make such a selection. I would respectfully ask that you reconsider your selection of Chris Wallace -- or any current Fox News employee -- as a presidential debate moderator until Donald Trump and Rupert Murdoch cut ties with Roger Ailes.

    Sincerely,

    David Brock
    Founder, Media Matters for America
  • Trump’s Victim Blaming Shouldn’t Be A Surprise -- He’s Surrounded By Misogynist Media Advisers

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LOPEZ

    During NBC’s Commander-in-Chief Forum, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump defended comments he made in 2013 suggesting that the incorporation of women into the military was to blame for sexual assault in the military. Trump’s remarks highlighted the misogyny that is a feature, not a bug, of his campaign, which is being run and advised by conservative media figures who have been accused of sexual harassment and assaulting women.

    During the September 7 forum, moderator Matt Lauer confronted Trump with a tweet he wrote in 2013 suggesting that “26,000 unreported sexual assaults in the military” were the result of “put[ting] men & women together.” When Lauer offered Trump the chance to address the comment, Trump responded that it was “a correct tweet. There are many people that think that that’s absolutely correct.”

    Trump’s defense of his tone-deaf comments on sexual assault is emblematic of his tendency to default to victim-blaming in cases of sexual harassment and sexual assault. The candidate’s remarks on sexual assault are also unsurprising given the advisers he turns to and campaign staff he’s hired. Roger Ailes, Stephen Bannon, and Corey Lewandowski all currently work for or with Trump’s campaign and are all right-wing media figures who have been accused of sexual harassment or assaulting women.

    • Roger Ailes, the former Fox News CEO recently ousted following a sexual harassment lawsuit, laid the groundwork for Trump’s campaign and put Fox “squarely behind the candidacy of Donald Trump.” Since leaving Fox, Ailes has reportedly stepped in to help Trump with debate prep. Despite the campaign’s efforts to deny Ailes’ official involvement, multiple reports point out that “Ailes has become one of the most influential voices in the room” advising the Republican candidate as he prepares for debates. During his tenure as Fox chairman, Ailes allegedly perpetuated an environment of rampant misogyny at Fox News by promising women promotions in exchange for sex, asking about the sex lives of employees, and making wildly inappropriate sexual comments to female employees.

    • Steve Bannon, the Breitbart News executive chairman whom Trump brought in as campaign CEO, once referred to a woman who worked with him as a “bimbo,” and like Ailes, like Ailes, has been accused of sexual harassment. Additionally, in 1996 he was “charged with domestic violence and battery” against his ex-wife, and while the charges were eventually dropped, Vox notes that “police reports from the time detail a story of repeated mental and physical abuse by Bannon.”

    • Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s former campaign manager and a current CNN commentator, reportedly still advises the candidate, is helping prep Trump for the debates, travels with Trump to campaign stops, and continues to receive payments from Trump, all while receiving a salary from CNN. Lewandowski allegedly assaulted reporter Michelle Fields in March, and when Fields filed charges against Lewandowski, he verbally attacked her, calling her “totally delusional.”

    As Vanity Fair’s Emily Jane Fox pointed out in her August 26 article, one of the most concerning aspects of Trump’s association with Ailes, Bannon, and Lewandowski is that he “chooses not only to associate” with them, but that they “influence his campaign at the highest levels:”

    But Trump’s “woman problem” goes far deeper than his electoral appeal. The real problem is that Bannon, Ailes, and Lewandowski are the kinds of individuals Trump chooses not only to associate with, but to influence his campaign at the highest levels. It’s a troubling judgment call—one he’s made over and over again. People show you who they are the first time. The third and fourth and fifth time? That’s just showing off.