From the August 25 edition of MSNBC's MSNBC Live:
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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump reignited his on-again, off-again feud with Fox News by posting several attacks against anchor Megyn Kelly to his Twitter account. In response, Fox's anchors, hosts, and its chairman and CEO pushed back, and are now demanding an end to Trump's attacks and an apology in a new press release.
The first round of the Fox-Trump dispute came after the candidate criticized Kelly for what he characterized as hostile questions during the Fox Republican presidential debate, going so far as to accuse her of having "blood coming out of her wherever" during the event.
After that controversy, Fox head Roger Ailes issued a release stating that he and Trump "had a blunt but cordial conversation and the air has been cleared."
Trump continued to make disparaging marks about Kelly, however, claiming that Kelly was off-air during her vacation due to his initial clash with her. Fox denied the charge and called it a conspiracy theory.
On August 24, Trump once again returned to attacking Kelly, writing, "I liked The Kelly File much better without @megynkelly. Perhaps she could take another eleven day unscheduled vacation!" He added that Kelly "must have had a terrible vacation, she is really off her game," noting that she had "no clue on immigration" and criticizing her interview with Dr. Cornel West.
In response, many Fox personalities took Trump to task.
Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade called Trump's attacks "unwarranted-unacceptable;" America's Newsroom host Bill Hemmer tweeted, "Easy, Mr. Trump;" Fox senior meteorologist Janice Dean wrote that it was "unpresidential," and The Five co-host Dana Perino praised "the intelligence, class & grace" of Kelly.
Special Report host Bret Baier told Trump "this needs to stop," while Sean Hannity added, "Focus on Hillary, Putin, border, jobs, Iran China & leave @megynkelly alone." The network's senior political analyst Brit Hume asked if Trump was a "seven-year-old" for the tone of his comments.
These tweets were followed by an August 25 press release from Ailes:
"Donald Trump's surprise and unprovoked attack on Megyn Kelly during her show last night is as unacceptable as it is disturbing. Megyn Kelly represents the very best of American journalism and all of us at Fox News Channel reject the crude and irresponsible attempts to suggest otherwise," Ailes statement reads. "I could not be more proud of Megyn for her professionalism and class in the face of all of Mr. Trump's verbal assaults. Her questioning of Mr. Trump at the debate was tough but fair, and I fully support her as she continues to ask the probing and challenging questions that all presidential candidates may find difficult to answer," Ailes said. "Donald Trump rarely apologizes, although in this case, he should. We have never been deterred by politicians or anyone else attacking us for doing our job, much less allowed ourselves to be bullied by anyone and we're certainly not going to start now. All of our journalists will continue to report in the fair and balanced way that has made FOX News Channel the number one news network in the industry."
On the Fox daytime program Happening Now, anchor Jon Scott read the entire statement on-air.
Trump quickly replied:
"I totally disagree with the FOX statement. I do not think Megyn Kelly is a quality journalist. I think her questioning of me, despite all of the polls saying I won the debate, was very unfair. Hopefully in the future I will be proven wrong and she will be able to elevate her standards to a level of professionalism that a network such as FOX deserves. "
Former Fox contributor and editor of the Weekly Standard Bill Kristol had a different point of view. Appearing on Newsmax TV, Kristol said Trump's comments were "excessive" but Fox shouldn't be too "thin-skinned." He noted Trump was likely to "antagonize" Megyn Kelly fans who he would probably prefer to have on his side.
Despite the flare-ups, Fox and Trump have had a symbiotic relationship. His frequent appearances on the network, particularly on Fox & Friends, made the former reality TV star into a political figure, and since he decided to run for the presidency, Fox has featured him far more often than any other candidate.
We've raced past so many memorable markers already during the circus-like Summer of Trump, there's no indication this one will stand out upon reflection weeks or months from now. Nonetheless, when Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy tweeted out the news that Donald Trump would appear on the program this week, the announcement seemed worth remembering, if only to document the absurdity of the Republican primary:
FOX NEWS ALERT: watch
@foxandfriends Tuesday at 7am ET as GOP frontrunner @realDonaldTrump talks about his relationship with @FoxNews
Yes, Donald Trump, a Fox News political creation, was set to appear on Fox News to discuss his "relationship" with Fox News. But in the end, Fox hosts didn't even ask Trump about his suddenly newsworthy relationship with Fox. Despite Doocy opening the interview by telling Trump, "glad we're friends again" -- to which Trump responded by assuring him, "we've always been friends" -- there was no attempt to discuss Trump's recent feud with Megyn Kelly and the network. Huh? Were they under orders from Fox chief Roger Ailes to ignore the friction?
The day before the interview Trump tweeted:
Roger Ailes just called. He is a great guy & assures me that "Trump" will be treated fairly on
@FoxNews. His word is always good!
During an appearance on Hannity last night, Hannity kicked off the interview by saying, "Let's start with the elephant in the room. The Fox issue is resolved -- and how did that come about?" Trump explained he has a "great relationship with Roger Ailes" and that "Roger called me the other day and it's absolutely fine."
The head of a "news" organization was phoning up a presidential candidate in order to clear the air; to assure the Republican he'd get fair coverage. Welcome to the house of mirrors created by Ailes, and welcome to the Republican Party's Lost Summer of Trump, sponsored, of course, by Rupert Murdoch's cable channel.
Fox News has not only eaten the Republican primary season -- consumed it whole in recent weeks with the help of Donald Trump -- it's now burping it up all over cable television. That's how bad it's gotten. And indications are that the slow-motion fiasco is only going to get much, much worse for Republicans.
Who benefits from this unfolding media spectacle? Fox News' ratings and Donald Trump's campaign. (And yes, Democrats.) The unequivocal losers are the remaining Republican candidates, as well as the GOP as a whole, which can forget about its planned outreach to Hispanic voters.
Watching this weird public bromance play out between Ailes and Trump, you get the feeling the two are in on some elaborate inside joke as they create the most unlikely piece of performance art imaginable.
Remember two months ago when some Republicans aired concerns that Trump's run would serve as a "distraction" and take attention away from deserving Republican candidates? That limited apprehension seems quaint in retrospect. We are obviously so far beyond the point of Trump being a "distraction." Instead, he's virtually hijacked the entire Republican primary season, to the point where the other candidates have become nearly invisible, and some former frontrunners such as Jeb Bush have suffered sizeable declines in the polls.
Today, Republicans likely long for the days when Trump was going to be a mere "distraction." Instead, given his current popularity, there's little reason to believe he won't be featured in some way at the GOP convention next summer. That is if he doesn't splinter off and run a third-party candidacy, which would likely prove disastrous for Republicans.
"The Tasmanian Devil candidate," as Daily Beast's Michael Tomasky calls Trump, has upended not only the entire Republican campaign season, but also Fox News itself, which appears to be torn over the bullying candidate's name calling, even when his targets are on the Fox News payroll.
What's so astonishing about the freak show now unfolding, and how Fox has manufactured the growing Trump crisis for Republicans, is that everyone saw the preview coming in 2012. In that grand experiment, the goal was to marry a political movement with a cable TV channel in an effort to oust a sitting president. Despite loud predictions about a "landslide" Republican victory, Fox News and Mitt Romney came up well short on Election Day. In fact, Romney failed in large part precisely because he adopted so much of Fox News' loopy rhetoric and its groundless allegations about President Obama.
But rather than learn from that failed experiment, the GOP handed over even more clout to Fox News in preparation of 2016. To be fair, on the surface it looked like a great deal for Republicans:
Those are astonishing numbers, as Fox News essentially handed over huge chunks of its programming to Republican hopefuls who were in search of voters (and donors).
But Ailes' Fox wasn't content with turning its studio into a revolving door for the Republican National Committee. Ailes wanted much more. So there in his second-floor conference room last week, Ailes and his lieutenants met in private to decide which candidates to invite to the GOP's first prime-time debate of the campaign season, and who to relegate to the "JV" debate. This, after nervous super PACs poured millions of dollars into advertising on Fox News in an effort to boost the polling position of their favorite candidate and to make sure they made it onto Fox's main debate stage.
In other words, Fox's control continues to expand. And it's by design. Fox and Ailes have grabbed whatever they wanted as their own and the party has been powerless to stop them. Although there has been little indication the GOP ever wanted to interfere with Fox.
Perhaps until now.
Until Republicans realized Ailes wasn't creating a campaign masterpiece, he was creating a monster.
Reviewing the recent dust-up between Fox News and Donald Trump over sexist comments, Roger Ailes biographer Gabriel Sherman noted that the Fox News chief "is like Trump" in that both have a history of misogyny. Indeed, as Sherman laid out in his book The Loudest Voice in the Room, Ailes' professional career is marred by a pattern of blatant sexism.
At last week's Republican primary debate, Fox host Megyn Kelly challenged Trump on his history of derogatory remarks towards women. In a CNN interview following the debate, Trump lashed out at Kelly, claiming "you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever."
Fox News and Trump are currently in the process of patching up their historically friendly relationship in the wake of widespread outrage over Trump's comments. Ailes reportedly called Trump yesterday, during which the two "had a blunt but cordial conversation and the air has been cleared."
During an appearance on CNN this morning, Trump hailed Ailes as an "amazing executive" and a "very good friend of mine."
As Sherman pointed out on Twitter on August 10, it's "important to note: Ailes once got in trouble at NBC in 90s when he made misogynist comments in Imus interview. Ailes is like Trump." During the incident in question, Ailes reportedly attacked two of his female employees at the time -- then-CNBC hosts Mary Matalin and Jane Wallace -- saying they were akin to "girls who if you went into a bar around seven, you wouldn't pay a lot of attention, but [they] get to be tens around closing time."
Below are several of the allegations about Ailes' sexism that Sherman reported in Loudest Voice, which Media Matters first highlighted in 2014:
Sherman relayed an anecdote of Ailes regarding former Fox News reporter Kiran Chetry: "Anchor Bob Sellers remembered Ailes once calling the control booth. 'I was doing the weekend show with Kiran Chetry. He called up and said, 'Move that damn laptop, I can't see her legs!'"
Sherman reports that Ailes "had admiration for [former Fox host Catherine Crier's] legs" and was livid when she appeared on-air wearing pants:
"Be more opinionated," he told Crier in one meeting. "The guests are there as a foil for you." He also disagreed with her dress. "He had admiration for her legs," a senior executive said. In one meeting, Ailes barked, "Tell Catherine I did not spend x-number of dollars on a glass desk for her to wear pant suits." [The Loudest Voice in the Room, pg 238]
Elsewhere in the book, discussing Megyn Kelly's famous walk through the newsroom on election night in 2012, Sherman quotes a Fox employee saying, "This is Fox News, so anytime there's a chance to show off Megyn Kelly's legs they'll go for it."
Sherman wrote of Ailes' inspiration for the afternoon Fox News program The Five:
Years later at Fox News, Ailes would talk fondly about his theatrical experience. "Whenever he can, he gets into the conversation that he produced Hot l Baltimore," a senior Fox executive said. Creating the Fox News afternoon show The Five, Ailes found his inspiration on the stage. "He said, 'I've always wanted to do an ensemble concept,'" a close friend said. "He said, 'I wanted a Falstaff, and that's Bob Beckel. I need a leading man, and it's Eric Bolling. I need a serious lead and that's Dana Perino. I need a court jester and it's Greg [Gutfeld], and I need the leg. That's Andrea Tantaros." [The Loudest Voice in the Room, pg 95-96]
Sherman reports that while interviewing a prospective employee for NBC's Tomorrow, a show he was producing, Ailes "posed romantically suggestive questions and made flirtatious comments" to a woman, who told him it made her feel "uncomfortable":
Unbeknownst to Harrison, Shelley Ross, a former newspaper reporter turned television producer, experienced an interview in which Ailes posed romantically suggestive questions and made flirtatious comments about her appearance. "This is making me uncomfortable," Ross recalled telling Ailes. She had worked with [John] Huddy at The Miami Herald and he had recommended her for the Tomorrow job. In a follow-up telephone interview, she told Ailes that she would never date a boss. Ailes's reaction was, according to Ross, "Don't you know I'm single?" When Ross said she was no longer interested in the position, Ailes began apologizing profusely. "This must be middle-aged crazy. I'm so sorry," he said. "If you come to work for me, you know, we're not going to have any problems." Ross eventually accepted the offer and had a positive experience working for Ailes. When asked by a reporter in the mid-1990s about the comments he made to Ross in the interview, Ailes called her "crazy" and a "militant feminist." [The Loudest Voice in the Room, pg 115]
In 1994, Ailes appeared on the radio show of shock jock and former Fox Business host Don Imus and made sexual and sexist remarks about two of his female hosts.
Before it was over, Ailes skewered his own employees. He joked that Mary Matalin and Jane Wallace, hosts of CNBC's Equal Time, were like "girls who if you went into a bar around seven, you wouldn't pay a lot of attention, but [they] get to be tens around closing time."
Jane Wallace didn't appear in any news stories defending Ailes. "He had no right to say something like that," she later said. "He was our boss. It was completely sexist. It was disgusting. It was outrageous. I thought it was a hideously awful thing to say." But she, too, didn't make it an issue with Ailes. "I didn't say so out loud, I was working for the guy." A few weeks later, however, Wallace quit to host her own show on FX, the start-up cable network owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. [The Loudest Voice in the Room, pg 153]
Sherman reports that in 2009 -- around the time Ailes hired Don Imus to try to inject life into the flagging Fox Business Network -- he also considered hiring CNBC anchor Maria Bartiromo. Sherman quotes an executive involved in the negotiations saying that Ailes was disappointed Bartiromo had "gained so much weight":
Around this time, he also considered poaching CNBC star Maria Bartiromo. "Roger passed on her," one executive involved in the talks said. "He wished she hadn't gained so much weight. He said she went from looking like Sophia Loren to Mamma Leone. He felt he was being used to get more money from CNBC. He told us her agent should give him part of the commission, because the talks were worth another million dollars." (In November 2013, Bartiromo jumped from CNBC to Fox Business.) [The Loudest Voice in the Room, pg 388]
Ailes' temper features prominently in the book, with Sherman explaining that Ailes "vented constantly about his talent":
No one was spared from Ailes's eruptions. He vented constantly about his talent. He complained about The Five co-host Andrea Tantaros, who was a former political consultant. "She's pretty, but did she ever get anyone elected, even a dog catcher?" When Gretchen Carlson's name came up, Ailes pointed out she was once Miss America, then added, "It must not have been a good year." Her co-host, Brian Kilmeade, was a "soccer coach from Long Island." Bill O'Reilly was a "book salesman with a TV show." [The Loudest Voice in the Room, pg 389]
From the August 11 edition of CNN's New Day:
Fox News has reportedly been making moves to get back in the good graces of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump after he attacked anchor Megyn Kelly.
According to two sources who spoke to New York magazine's Gabriel Sherman, network chairman and CEO Roger Ailes reached out to Trump due to "increasing concern inside Fox News that Trump could damage the network."
He reports that after last week's Republican presidential debate, Fox was "deluged" with emails that a source says were "virtually 100-percent" against Megyn Kelly, in light of her questions to Trump during the event.
The source added, "Roger was not happy. Most of the Fox viewers were taking Trump's side."
Another source told Sherman that Trump told Fox host Sean Hannity that "he was never doing Fox again," while a Fox personality told the reporter that the networks producers have given orders to on-air talent not to bring up Trump's post-debate remark that Kelly had "blood coming out of her wherever."
Ailes apparently felt he needed to address the push back from Trump fans.
Sherman's report is just the latest in what seems to be a series of strategic back and forth exchanges between the candidate and Fox News, which has been tirelessly promoting him.
UPDATE: Roger Ailes released a statement about his call with Donald Trump. From CNNMoney:
"Donald Trump and I spoke today," Ailes said in a statement obtained by CNNMoney. "We discussed our concerns, and I again expressed my confidence in Megyn Kelly. She is a brilliant journalist and I support her 100 percent."
Ailes continued: "I assured him that we will continue to cover this campaign with fairness & balance. We had a blunt but cordial conversation and the air has been cleared."
A Fox News spokeswoman said Kelly will "acknowledge" the controversy on her 9 p.m. program.
At the 2016 Republican primary debate last night, the Fox News moderators appeared reasonable, effective, and pointed in their questions to the candidates. And that was the point of the whole charade.
Fox did exactly what Media Matters predicted they would. Moderators Megyn Kelly, Bret Baier, and Chris Wallace took advantage of the low expectations mainstream journalists and many Americans have of their network. They knew millions of people who don't watch Fox as obsessively as we do would be tuning in, many of them expecting to see the brand of Fox they've heard so much about, full of conservative bias and incoherent arguments. And they knew how much power rested in surprising those viewers -- in convincing even just a handful of mainstream journalists that Fox can be legitimate.
The strategy worked. Because the moderators managed to look like real journalists for a little over two hours, they're getting intense praise from mainstream media outlets, such as Politico (emphasis added):
For more than two hours, the trio that won widespread praise in 2012 for hard-hitting questions once again demonstrated that Fox News would offer no safe harbor for Republican candidates.
And the New York Times (emphasis added):
There was more than just good television at stake. For the journalists of Fox News, the debate offered a potentially defining moment in front of millions of people, during one of the most anticipated political events of the year. This was an opportunity to demonstrate that their network is not, as its critics have charged, a blindly loyal propaganda division of the Republican Party, that Fox journalists can be as unsparing toward conservatives as they are with liberals, and that they can eviscerate with equal opportunity if they choose.
But that last clause from the Times is crucial: "if they choose." Because the other 364 days a year, Fox News does not choose to hold Republicans accountable for their extreme and misinformed positions on women's rights or welfare or immigration; instead they do create that "safe harbor" for Republicans to come up with their wild misconceptions and hateful rhetoric -- the same misconceptions they "choose" to blast those same Republicans for last night.
Fox has two fundamental goals: make lots of money by broadcasting entertaining television, and bolster the Republican Party. Last night, they succeeded in doing both, even in the moments where it might have seemed like they had no patience for the Republican candidates' pandering.
Because Fox chief Roger Ailes knows that the best way for Fox to bolster the Republican Party in the long-term is for mainstream journalists to trust Fox -- for the "blindly loyal propaganda division" to appear, even just for one night, as credible. Propaganda doesn't work, after all, if you know it's propaganda.
So even if many of their questions actually did reinforce Republican orthodoxy (such as claiming that deceitful videos attacking Planned Parenthood shed "new light on abortion practices"), the Fox moderators made sure they spent most of their time looking like attack dogs ready to take on the Republican candidates.
But it's worth looking closely at how that played out, and what exactly mainstream media outlets are now praising. Getting the most attention is perhaps one of the biggest of the so-called "Megyn Moments" of the night, in which Kelly momentarily appears out-of-step with Fox rhetoric and calls out a bit of right-wing nonsense. Her tendency to do this every once in a while successfully distracts from her standard misinformation, and helps feed the exact narrative about Fox's potential for credibility that they were desperate to encourage last night.
"Mr. Trump, one of the things people love about you is you speak your mind and you don't use a politician's filter," she began. "However, that is not without its downsides, in particular, when it comes to women. You've called women you don't like 'fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals.'"
Quickly dismissing Trump's attempt to shrug these comments off with a crude joke, she beat on: "Your Twitter account has several disparaging comments about women's looks. You once told a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees. Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president, and how will you answer the charge from Hillary Clinton, who was likely to be the Democratic nominee, that you are part of the war on women?"
To be clear, it is definitely remarkable to hear a Fox News host even mention the "war on women," something the network and the Republican Party have worked hard to minimize. And Trump deserves to be held accountable for these comments.
But it's not exactly an act of remarkable journalism to ask such a question -- pointing out Trump's raging sexism is something any competent journalist should be expected to do.
Moreover, Fox has had ample time to hold him accountable for these comments before. Trump has been winning the "Fox News Primary" for the last three months, appearing on the network more times than any other Republican candidate in the race.
Yet his sexism has certainly not been a regular topic of the fawning interviews he typically receives on the network. Instead, Fox has worked very, very hard to promote Trump, and the fact that he was standing at center stage last night due to his soaring poll numbers was certainly aided by the network.
While network figures have criticized Trump in the past, Fox's shift during the debate to fully acknowledging Trump's nasty side is notable. But it once again says more about Fox's calculus for the evening and our own low expectations than it does about Trump himself.
In his review of the evening, Ailes biographer Gabriel Sherman explained that according to his sources, key to that calculus was Fox's fear that the winner of the night would be Trump, at the expense of the network's moderators:
During a meeting at Fox late last week, according to a source, senior Fox executives discussed a more worrisome scenario: What would happen if Trump won over the audience and moved the crowd to boo moderators Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly, and Chris Wallace on live television? What if Trump was able to direct his base of supporters to stop watching Fox? To prevent that from happening, Ailes needed a way to keep the audience firmly on the side of his moderators.
The questions posed last night to all of the candidates were carefully considered, and key to the strategy behind those questions was keeping the audience on Fox's side, not on the side of the actual candidates running for president. That isn't a strategy for good journalism, or for aiding a thoughtful electoral process. That's a strategy of control.
Fox may have realized they can no longer control Trump; but they're definitely trying to maintain full control over the mainstream narrative about their "credibility," and thus the Republican primary.
Fox News CEO Roger Ailes reportedly told network host Eric Bolling to defend Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on air. Bolling has repeatedly gone to bat for Trump, praising him as someone who "means business" and defending his controversial remarks.
New York magazine reports that Fox News' rules for the upcoming Republican presidential debate are generating considerable controversy among staffers at the network.
Fox News has previously announced that the top 10 performers in national polls will qualify for the first debate, but the network has yet to provide clarity on which polls will be included in its tally.
Fox has described their debate as the "Cleveland Primary." Supporters of candidates near the cutoff have been buying ad time on the network to reportedly increase their likelihood of qualifying for the debate.
Gabriel Sherman writes in New York that "inside Fox, the debate is generating controversy among Ailes's senior ranks. "A Fox personality told the reporter that there is "total confusion" about the debate process, and accused Ailes and other executives of "making it up as they go along." Another personality described it as "crazy stuff" where "you have a TV executive deciding who is in -- and out -- of a debate."
According to Sherman, advisers for Gov. John Kasich and Gov. Rick Perry "have taken to lobbying Ailes and Fox executives to use polls that put their guy over the line." A source close to the Perry campaign said that "GOP fund-raiser and Ailes friend Georgette Mosbacher recently called Ailes" on his behalf. Sherman notes that "Ailes is certainly hoping to produce the best television, which would give the unpredictable Perry the advantage."
In recent days, Perry has been attacking current front-runner Donald Trump, who has benefited from Fox News promoting him. On-air personalities like Eric Bolling have reportedly been instructed by Ailes to defend the reality TV star despite the misgivings of network owner Rupert Murdoch.
A Kasich adviser told Sherman, "We don't know what methodology they're going to use. We've been asking the question and they haven't shared."
A "Fox insider" told him that "Roger likes Kasich," who used to host a show on the network, and "knows it'll look awful if the sitting governor isn't on that stage."
While Fox News continues to promote and defend Donald Trump's presidential campaign, other parts of Rupert Murdoch's media empire and Murdoch himself have criticized the candidate in what appears to be an internal proxy war.
New York magazine's Gabriel Sherman reports that the divergent tone in coverage of Trump's campaign may be evidence of a split between Murdoch and Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, who recently signed a new contract that will extend his tenure beyond the 2016 election.
Sherman reports that Fox "insiders" say Ailes "is pushing Fox to defend Trump's most outlandish comments." Trump has called Mexican immigrants "rapists" and criminals, and attacked Sen. John McCain's military record -- remarks that many on Fox have defended. Sherman also reports that Ailes told his senior executives that Murdoch asked him to "back off the Trump coverage" and that in response Ailes told his superior that he would cover Trump "the way he wanted to."
A Sherman source indicated that "Ailes has instructed The Five co-host Eric Bolling to defend Trump on air." Bolling recently called companies boycotting Trump for his racist remarks "economic terrorists," and attacked conservative pundits who criticized Trump. Fox News contributor Pat Caddell is also reportedly helping Trump behind the scenes. Sherman notes, "According to a source with direct knowledge, Caddell has been speaking to Trump 'almost every day' about his campaign."
A New York Times article reported that Murdoch personally does not like Trump, and the feeling is mutual. The Times reports that Murdoch "often described" Trump as a "phony" to his friends, and disagrees with him on immigration. Murdoch said Trump was "wrong" to characterize Mexican immigrants as "rapists," and tweeted after his anti-McCain remarks, "When is Donald Trump going to stop embarrassing his friends, let alone the whole country?"
The Times reports that despite his past feuds with Murdoch, Trump has "set his sights" on "wooing" Ailes. They note, "his treatment by Fox News is much more crucial because of the influence the channel wields among the Republican Party's base."
Associates of Ailes told the Times they believe that promoting Trump could be a win-win for Ailes, since "it could buy time for other Republican contenders to hone their messages and become more seasoned campaigners" while Fox ratings benefit from covering the ongoing spectacle of Trump's campaign.
Murdoch's other media properties have gone after Trump in recent days.
The Wall Street Journal wrote an editorial calling Trump a "catastrophe" and noted, "His only discernible principle is the promotion of his personal brand." The Journal even said, "The conservative media who applaud him are hurting the cause." But they didn't mention Fox News.
Trump pushed back against the Journal by writing, "Look how small the pages have become @WSJ. Looks like a tabloid--saving money I assume!" Trump also said, "The ever dwindling @WSJ which is worth about 1/10 of what it was purchased for, is always hitting me politically. Who cares!"
The Murdoch-owned New York Post covered the McCain story with a front page that said Trump was "toast," adding, "DON VOYAGE!"
Trump has used his Twitter account to amplify criticism from his supporters targeting Fox News, including one tweet directed at the network that read, "tell your owner Murdoch we are turning Fox off if he keeps belittling @realDonaldTrump. No Fox!" Another post he promoted accused Fox of trying to "push Jeb on their viewers."
Overall, Trump's relationship with Fox has been a positive one. He reportedly privately met with Ailes and tops the network for most time given to the 2016 Republican presidential candidates. At a recent campaign event, he praised Fox & Friends, calling co-hosts Brian Kilmeade, Steve Doocy, and Elisabeth Hasselbeck "great people."
Conservative media appear to be drafting Donald Trump's talking points.
It's been one month since the real estate mogul officially entered the Republican primary, after years of using regular Fox News appearances to promote previously-elusive presidential ambitions and push absurd conspiracies. In that time, Trump has already managed to prominently trumpet at least four right-wing media myths to explain his positions on the economy, immigration, gun safety, and the presidency, launching the long-debunked claims back into the spotlight.
Trump exaggerated the nation's unemployment rate by nearly 800 percent during a Fox News appearance on July 15, telling Sean Hannity that unemployed, impoverished Americans are "very important," and declaring: "Somebody actually last week said we have a 40 percentunemployment, so I've been saying 19 - 21 percent, but somebody actually came out last week and said we have a 40 percent, and they might very well be right."
Just a couple weeks ago, Rush Limbaugh repeatedly claimed that "the actual unemployment rate in the United States of America is not 5.5 percent ... It is 42.9 percent," citing a blog written by former Reagan official David Stockman.
According to the Bureau Of Labor Statistics, notably, June's unemployment rate stood at 5.3 percent.
Last week, Trump tripled the U.S.' undocumented immigrant population during a July 8 interview on CNN's The Lead, claiming, "We have 34 million [undocumented immigrants] in the country. I used to hear 11, now I hear it's 34 million." The real number of undocumented immigrants is nearly 20 million less -- experts confirm that the number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. actually hovers around 11 million, according to a Washington Post analysis that compared Census, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and Pew Research Center data.
Trump appears to have relied on a year-old, long-debunked report from conservative website Breitbart.com. In 2014, Breitbart.com misrepresented a contracting bid the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for card stock to print a maximum of 34 million green cards and work authorization cards over a five year period, spinning the listing to claim the Obama administration was preparing a massive "executive amnesty." Neither of these cards are specific to undocumented immigrants. And as The Hill explained at the time, not only is such a contracting bid "typical," these cards are for use by immigrants who have been legally granted permanent residency and "a single recipient could receive up to five work permits over the life of the contract." Because this is not, in fact, an estimate of the undocumented population, both the White House and USCIS called suggestions that it was a "precursor" to the president's executive action on immigration "crazy" and "too clever."
Discussing his views on gun safety regulations in a July 7 interview with Ammoland.com, Trump revived conservative media's false claim that former President Bill Clinton banned guns on military bases. He asserted that "President Clinton never should have passed a ban on soldiers being able to protect themselves on bases."
Trump's misinformation originated from conservative media's attempt to blame Clinton for the 2013 mass shooting at Washington D.C.'s Navy Yard facility, seizing on a March 1993 Army regulation they claimed banned the carrying of guns on military bases. In fact, the 1993 regulation came from a 1992 directive issued under former President George H.W. Bush -- which actually allows guns to be carried on military bases under a substantial number of circumstances. Military experts have said more permissive gun carrying rules are a bad idea.
Trump is even still pushing perhaps the most infamous conservative media myth of the Obama presidency -- birtherism. "I really don't know" where President Obama was born, Trump declared in a July 9 interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper, an accusation that follows years of the candidate teaming up with Fox News to push the absurd conspiracy theories that Obama had not released a valid birth certificate and may have been hiding the fact that he was not born in America.
The pervasiveness of right-wing media talking points in Trump's positions is not surprising given that he's been a Fox News fixture for years. He reportedly met with Fox president Roger Ailes before announcing his presidential candidacy, and since then, the network has only increased his exposure. In Media Matters' most recent study of appearances by likely and declared Republican presidential candidates on the network, Trump topped the entire field in airtime. During the month of June, Trump appeared on Fox 10 times, racking up 1 hour and 48 minutes of airtime, 23 minutes more than his nearest competitor, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Since the beginning of May, Trump has the most airtime of any of the candidates.
Donald Trump reportedly met with Fox News president Roger Ailes before announcing his presidential candidacy.
According to New York magazine's Gabriel Sherman, "multiple sources" told him that before Trump announced his candidacy, he had a "'2-3 hour' private lunch with Ailes."
For years, Trump has been a fixture on Fox News, and had a regular segment commenting on the news on Fox & Friends. Since he became a presidential candidate, his exposure on the network has only increased. In Media Matters' most recent study of appearances by likely and declared Republican presidential candidates on the network, Trump topped the entire field. During the month of June, Trump appeared on Fox 10 times, racking up 1 hour and 48 minutes of airtime, 23 minutes more than his nearest competitor, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Since the beginning of May, Trump also has the most airtime of any of the candidates.
After Trump made remarks calling Mexican immigrants criminals and "rapists," several Fox figures jumped to his defense.
As part of the "Fox Primary," Republican candidates have been vying for a spot at the debate hosted by the network, while they have reportedly timed campaign announcements to coincide with the network's coverage. CNN's Brian Stelter has noted, "there really is no disputing Fox's power in influencing the GOP."
Trump isn't the first 2016 candidate to meet with Ailes. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) reportedly met with Ailes and Rupert Murdoch in 2013 as part of an effort to "smooth concerns among Republicans and influencers about whether he shares his famous libertarian father's views on issues like national security."
The aura of invincibility that Roger Ailes quickly tried to create at Fox News last week after news broke about Rupert Murdoch's executive succession plans has now evaporated. The implications may be long lasting, not only for the cable channel, but also for the Republican Party.
Since its inception nearly 20 years ago, Ailes has ruled the Fox News fiefdom within Murdoch's sprawling 21st Century Fox media empire and built it into a hugely influential moneymaker. The Ailes programming fingerprint has always been omnipresent at Fox.
But now as Murdoch signals his eventual withdrawal from corporate leadership and hands the reigns over his sons, James and Lachlan, Ailes is suddenly left without his key ally and now faces a somewhat uncertain future. (Fox's contract with Ailes, who is 75, expires next year.) The Fox boss now has to report to Murdoch's children, both of whom he has sparred with in the past and who have reportedly signaled their distaste for Ailes' brand of toxic programming. In previous corporate scuffles, Ailes always emerged victorious because he had Rupert's final support.
"For Ailes, it was a stinging smack-down and effectively a demotion," wrote Ailes biographer Gabriel Sherman in New York. "Roger Ailes Burned By Murdoch Sons In Fox News Power Shift," read the Talking Points Memo headline. (Also note that Ailes is losing another longtime corporate ally, Chase Carey, who's resigning as chief operating officer.)
For the Republican Party, the swirling questions inside Fox News mean this campaign season might be the last one Ailes pilots as the head of Fox News, or at least as the head of Fox News as we currently recognize it. (If the Murdoch sons eventually set out to alter the network, will Ailes have the power to stop them?)
Having seamlessly turned Fox News into the marketing and 'policy' wing of the Republican Party, the current campaign season could mark the end of an era if Ailes' internal power is eroded. Some inside the Republican Party and conservative movement might actually be wondering if that's a good thing.
How fitting is it that the same week Ailes struggles to maintain his power base, Donald Trump's looming presidential campaign emerges into full view? A longtime Fox favorite, Trump, who personifies the often tasteless brand of divisive rhetoric that Ailes helped hallmark, is poised to unleash a presidential push that could do deep damage to the Republican Party.
If forced to pick a Republican candidate to endorse, Trump likely would not be Ailes' choice. (The Fox boss prefers to side with possible winners.) But the content of Trump's message is undeniably Ailes-esque. Trump's a cartoonish nativist birther who thinks climate change is a hoax. He's loud, offensive and ill informed, which means Trump functions as the Fox News id. He's the guttural roar of Fox's aging, white audience.
"Trump is what Ailes did to the GOP," tweeted Sherman.
A report from New York magazine indicates that Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes is leaning towards Gov. Scott Walker for the Republican presidential nomination, while personally involving himself in the network's attacks on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
The report, from media writer Gabriel Sherman, is tied to the recent shakeup in the corporate leadership of Fox News parent 21st Century Fox. Rupert Murdoch is stepping down from 21st Century and installing his son James, who presided over publications involved in the phone hacking scandal in England, as the company's new CEO. But Ailes will reportedly continue to report directly to Rupert Murdoch, and not to James, who he reportedly once described as a "fucking dope."
Sherman reports that Fox insiders say that Ailes -- a long time conservative activist who worked on Richard Nixon's presidential campaign -- "simply isn't dazzled by any of the GOP contenders" for president "so far" and has even personally clashed with Jeb Bush and Chris Christie, chiding Christie for appearing with President Obama during Hurricane Sandy as "the fat kid in high school chasing the popular kid" (At the time of the hurricane Murdoch said that Christie had to "take blame" if Obama was re-elected).
Yet Ailes is "said to like" Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who is "a ready-made Fox hero" for his Midwestern roots and union-busting agenda. Sherman also notes that Walker's "hard-line" immigration position is "in sync with Fox's." Fox has been a reliable ally for Walker in his fights against public sector labor unions, and on-air hosts have described the governor as a "sexy guy" and someone who makes "my toes curl." In turn, Walker advised fellow Republicans to use Fox to get their "message out."
Media Matters has extensively documented the "Fox News primary" in which Republican presidential candidates vie against each other for the network's attention in order to build a following and campaign funds from the network's heavily conservative audience. Some of the current candidates, like Mike Huckabee and Ben Carson, were Fox News employees. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who is considering a run, also worked for Fox.
Fox's role as kingmaker of the Republican field is more pronounced in this cycle as the network is determining who qualifies to participate in the first official television debate in what some at Fox have described as "Fox's Cleveland primary." Sherman notes that after the failed 2012 election, "many GOPers privately blamed Fox for turning debates into a reality-show spectacle."
Sherman also reports that Ailes is eager to tell the story of "Hillary Clinton as Über-villain" in the 2016 election, harkening back to a 1994 interview in which Ailes accused Clinton of a "suicide cover-up - possible murder." An associate of Ailes told Sherman that it would be "Freddy Krueger time" at the White House if Clinton is elected.
According to Sherman, Ailes "helped edit" Fox's prime time special promoting author Peter Schweizer's error-riddled and dishonest book, Clinton Cash. A Media Matters analysis showed that the network gave Clinton Cash $107 million in free publicity over five days, despite the numerous false and inaccurate claims in it.