The Washington Post

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  • Media Take Note: Trump Is The Worst Possible Messenger On The Clintons’ Marriage

    ››› ››› CAT DUFFY

    When media report on Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s latest attacks on former President Bill Clinton’s history with women and Hillary Clinton’s responses to those women, they should also mention the immense hypocrisy of Trump levying those claims. Trump and several of his closest advisers have long histories of infidelity, workplace sexual harassment, and misogyny. And Trump himself previously said both that Clinton’s relationship with Monica Lewinsky was “totally unimportant” and that people would have been more “forgiving” if Clinton had a relationship “with a really beautiful woman.”

  • Nine Ways Fox News Tried To Rehabilitate Trump After His Disastrous Debate

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Following the first 2016 presidential debate, Fox News defended Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s poor debate performance with an array of excuses and misinformation including misleading charts, “unscientific” online polling, and attacks on moderator Lester Holt. The network also offered Trump an immediate post-debate refuge with host Sean Hannity.

  • “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.

  • Online Polls Are “Garbage,” But Fox News Still Cites Them

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Fox News and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump hyped online post-debate polls to claim that Trump won the debate, saying that “every poll” showed that he “did better” than Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. But online polls involve “a self-selecting group of respondents,” and journalists and polling experts generally view them as unreliable -- “garbage” even.

  • This Is How Moderators Can Debunk Trump's Excuses For His Iraq War Support

    ››› ››› NINA MAST

    Donald Trump has attempted, and media have often allowed him, to advance the false claim that he opposed the Iraq War from the beginning, but evidence Trump regularly cites as proof of his opposition occurred after the war’s authorization and after the war had already begun. Ahead of the first presidential debate, moderators should be aware of his chronologically impossible excuses and be prepared to debunk them, such as his citing of a 2004 Esquire interview where he opposed the war, claiming he said the war was “a mess” at a 2003 party, claiming he expressed some concern in a January 2003 Fox interview, and his excuse that he “was not a politician” when he made his original remarks supporting the war.

  • CNN's Lewandowski Set To Be Paid Half A Million Dollars By Trump Campaign

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Washington Post reported that Corey Lewandowski, paid CNN contributor and former campaign manager for Donald Trump, “is set to be paid nearly half a million dollars by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign by the end of the year.” CNN has stood by Lewandowski as a contributor despite his lucrative severance package and reports that he is still advising Trump. 

    CNN’s decision to hire Lewandowski has been widely criticized as an ethical morass by media ethicists and journalists condemning CNN for months. Lewandowski’s continued involvement with the Trump campaign, his likely non-disparagement agreement with Trump, and his penchant for pushing Trump talking points on air all raise serious questions about his continued employment at CNN. Given the clear conflict and CNN’s previous stance that contributors paid by a campaign “would not be permitted,” CNN should cut ties with Lewandowski immediately.

    The Washington Post article detailed the continued connection between the Trump campaign and Lewandowski, as he “is set to be paid nearly half a million dollars… with almost a quarter of his compensation coming after the controversial political operative was ousted” (emphasis added): 

    Corey Lewandowski is set to be paid nearly half a million dollars by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign by the end of the year, with almost a quarter of his compensation coming after the controversial political operative was ousted in June as campaign manager.

    Lewandowski, who is now a paid commentator on CNN, collected at least $415,000 in salary, bonuses and severance from the Trump campaign between April 2015 and August of this year, according to a Washington Post analysis of federal campaign finance filings. Campaign officials said he will continue receiving his $20,000 monthly pay as severance until the end of the year, which would give him a total of $495,000 over two years.

    His compensation appears to be higher than that of his counterparts, though a direct comparison is difficult because Lewandowski is paid a flat fee through a limited-liability company rather than a campaign paycheck.

    [...]

    CNN has faced criticism for giving Lewandowski a regular platform while he is drawing large severance from the Trump campaign. Network officials have said his payments are publicly disclosed when he appears on the air.

    Lewandowski said the severance does not conflict with his role at CNN, saying the arrangement has “been widely known.”

  • Myths & Facts: A Debate Guide To Donald Trump’s Most Common Lies About The Economy

    ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s penchant for promoting right-wing media myths and other misleading claims presents a unique challenge heading into the first presidential debate of the general election. If the September 26 debate is anything like the opening debates of 2008 and 2012, it will focus heavily on issues relating to the American economy, and both moderator and audience should be prepared for a torrent of misinformation from the GOP standard-bearer.

  • Here Are The Top Investigative Pieces Debate Moderators Should Read Before The Debates

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    In light of the upcoming presidential debates, here are some of the most important investigative pieces written about Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump -- which debate moderators should read as part of their preparation. The articles examine possible conflicts of interests Trump could face with his businesses if elected president; look into his potential misuse of charitable funds; investigate debts he owes, including to China, which he has criticized on the campaign trail; and consider how Trump would implement his policies as president.

  • Media Response To Latest Analysis Of Trump’s Tax Plan: It “Screws The Middle Class”

    ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump updated his tax reform plan in a September 15 speech, just over a month after his initial August 9 revision of the plan. The conservative-leaning Tax Foundation has now scored Trump’s latest tax plan and found it would still cost trillions of dollars in lost tax revenue and would overwhelmingly benefit higher-income earners. Mainstream media are using these findings to push back on Trump’s claims that he supports the middle class and to shine a spotlight on the contradicting statements about the economy his campaign has made.

  • Fox Continues To Ignore Investigative Reporting On The Trump Foundation’s Alleged Illegal Activity

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Fox News spent less than three minutes covering a Washington Post report detailing how Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump “spent more than a quarter-million dollars from his charitable foundation to settle lawsuits that involved the billionaire’s for-profit businesses.” By contrast, CNN spent over 23 minutes on the story, while MSNBC devoted nearly an hour of airtime to the report. Fox News has previously essentially ignored investigations into the Trump Foundation and his business dealings.

    The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold reported on September 20 that “Trump may have violated laws against ‘self-dealing’ — which prohibit nonprofit leaders from using charity money to benefit themselves or their businesses.” Trump spent $258,000 from the Trump Foundation -- to which he has not personally donated since 2008 -- to settle legal issues involving his for-profit businesses, which Fahrenthold noted on CNN “is against the law.”

    A Media Matters study found that from the time the story was published around 10:27 a.m. on September 20 through 9:00 a.m. on September 21, when the cable news morning shows ended, Fox News spent two minutes and 58 seconds on the report. CNN spent 23 minutes and 52 seconds on it, while MSNBC devoted 56 minutes and 12 seconds to the report. Fox’s flagship evening news program, Special Report, spent merely 12 seconds on the news.

    Fox News’ segments on the report offered few details on the investigation. The longest segment Fox devoted to the report was one minute and 41 seconds on The O’Reilly Factor, in which guest host Bret Baier allowed Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway to dispute the report.

    This is not the first time Fox News has omitted coverage of unflattering investigative reports into Trump’s foundation and business practices within a day or two of publication.

    • Fox News entirely ignored a report earlier this month that Trump has apparently broken both the law and IRS rules with his foundation, and he has not donated money to his own foundation since 2008. The report explained that Trump instead lies to other charities and the public by suggesting that the foundation’s donations are his own money. In addition, Trump has spent money from the foundation “to buy himself a gift” on two different occasions..

    • Fox News also failed to cover an illegal campaign contribution from the Trump Foundation to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, which “came as Bondi was reviewing whether to investigate fraud allegations against Trump University,” though she never took any action against Trump U.

    • Fox News also neglected to cover a report from Mother Jones revealing that Trump’s modeling agency, Trump Model Management, “profited from using foreign models who came to the United States on tourist visas that did not permit them to work here.”

    At the same time, Fox has scandalized reports about Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s associated foundation, claiming she engaged in “pay for play” as secretary of state, despite there being no evidence of wrongdoing. Fox’s own reporting has in fact undermined many of these claims.

    Methodology: Media Matters searched SnapStream for mentions of Trump and foundation or charity on Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN between 10:27 a.m. on September 20 to 9 a.m. on September 21, excluding all mentions that took place between 11 p.m. on September 20 and 5 a.m. on September 21.

  • Wash. Post Berates GOP-Led States Still “Irrationally Holding Out” On Medicaid Expansion

    Latest Census Data Reveal Lingering Impact Of Right-Wing Media’s Obstructionist Campaign Against Obamacare

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    The Washington Post editorial board used the latest Census data showing that the rate of U.S. residents without health insurance continues to drop as proof that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) -- commonly referred to as Obamacare -- is working. The paper also argued that Obamacare would help millions more Americans if Republican-led states accepted federal subsidies to expand Medicaid. Right-wing media outlets have spent years encouraging the ongoing obstruction of this key provision of health care reform.

    In a September 17 editorial, the Post highlighted the U.S. Census Bureau’s annual report on health insurance coverage, which showed that the percentage of people with health insurance had risen to 90.9 percent nationwide in 2015. The editorial board noted that the same report showed room for even more improvement in expanded health insurance coverage if the law were fully implemented at the state level. According to the Census data, the uninsured rate in states that did not accept Medicaid expansion under the ACA is still 12.3 percent, far above the national average and even further still from the 7.2 percent uninsured rate in states that have accepted the law’s allocation of funds for low-income Americans. In the Post’s view, the 19 states that continue to refuse Medicaid expansion are “irrationally holding out,” not only because their refusal of “huge amounts of federal money” has denied 4 to 5 million more Americans access to health care, but also because studies have shown that each state would receive vastly more money from the government than it would spend on expansion. From The Washington Post:

    But the overall number could be cut much lower, and quickly, if Obamacare were working as it was meant to. We are not referring to the recent, much-discussed exit of some major health insurers from the marketplaces the law created. We are talking about Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid, the state-federal health plan for the poor and near-poor. The Supreme Court in 2012 made the expansion optional for states, and a large chunk, including Virginia, have refused. The Census Bureau found that the uninsured rate was 7.2 percent in expansion states last year and 12.3 percent in non-expansion states. Five states have expanded since, but that still leaves 19, representing 4 million to 5 million people who would otherwise get coverage, irrationally holding out.

    Why irrationally? In their effort to hobble Obamacare, state Republican leaders have left huge amounts of federal money on the table. The federal government has offered to pay nearly the whole cost of the expansion, forever. Though states must pitch in a bit, they get a much lower uninsured rate, lower uncompensated care costs and other savings in return. The Urban Institute found last month that the 19 holdout states would get an average of $7.48 from the federal government for every dollar they spent on Medicaid expansion. Even those costs, meanwhile, would likely be further offset by savings elsewhere. States that have already expanded, in fact, have generally seen net revenue gains.

    The Post dinged “state Republican leaders” for “their effort to hobble Obamacare,” but continued obstruction to the law remains a feature of right-wing media coverage as well. For years, Fox News fueled obstructionist politicians by promoting myths that expanding Medicaid was costly for states; in reality, states that expanded Medicaid saw slower health care cost increases than non-expansion states, and August 2016 research from the Urban Institute shows that the remaining holdouts stand to benefit enormously from Medicaid expansion. After discouraging states from taking part in the law, Fox absolved itself (and Republicans) of responsibility for the resulting coverage gap, which it framed as as “another problem growing out of Obamacare.”

    Right-wing media have smeared Obamacare for years with baseless catastrophic predictions and falsehoods, and while their fearmongering has been stunningly wrong, it has continued unabated. Positive news about Obamacare -- like its role in reducing medical debt and increasing public health, or the record low uninsured rates driven by the law -- goes unmentioned by conservative outlets while they hype isolated program stumbles as the onset of a looming “death spiral” that will destroy the health care system.

  • Trump Is On A Crusade To Influence The Presidential Debate Moderators

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LOPEZ

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump continued his effort to manipulate the upcoming presidential debates, claiming on Fox News that they are “a rigged system” and thus debate moderators will be unfairly hard on him to avoid being “hammered” with criticism. Trump is attempting to ensure that either debate moderators fail to hold him accountable for his lies, bigotry, and conflicts of interest, or that if they do he can attack them as biased during or after the debates.

    On September 18, Trump phoned into Fox’s Sunday morning media criticism show, MediaBuzz, and complained to host Howard Kurtz that the debates are “a rigged system,” pointing to recent criticism of NBC’s Matt Lauer, who moderated the September 7 Commander-In-Chief Forum. Lauer was widely panned for his fact-challenged effort, in which he failed to challenge Trump on his lie about his position on the Iraq war. Trump told Kurtz that “they hammered Lauer” to “game the system” so that the presidential debate moderators will “go after Trump.” Trump’s solution, he told Kurtz, is to “not even have a host.” Asked by Kurtz if debate moderators Lester Holt of NBC News, Martha Raddatz of ABC News, Anderson Cooper of CNN, and Chris Wallace of Fox News are currently being “pressured into not being fair” to him, Trump replied “sure.”

    This is a textbook example of what The Washington Post’s Callum Borchers has explained as Trump “working the refs.” Trump previously went after Cooper in a September 15 interview with The Washington Post, accusing him of bias and saying “I don’t think he should be a moderator. CNN is the Clinton News Network and Anderson Cooper, I don’t think he can be fair.” Borchers explained that this is a deliberate strategy by Trump: by criticizing Cooper, Trump is trying to prevent tough questioning from the moderators:

    To understand why Donald Trump took a shot at Anderson Cooper in an interview with The Washington Post on Thursday, you have to go back to something he said three days earlier. Reflecting on last week's Commander-in-Chief Forum, moderated by NBC's Matt Lauer, Trump said Monday on CNBC that "everyone's saying that [Lauer] was soft on Trump" — which is pretty much true.

    Trump then explained what he thinks criticism of Lauer means for the upcoming presidential debates: "Now the new person is going to be really hard on Trump just to show the establishment what he can do."

    Clearly the Republican nominee is worried about the political equivalent of a make-up call in sports. He knows many journalists believe Lauer blew the call, so to speak, by failing to whistle Trump for claiming falsely that he opposed the invasion of Iraq. And he thinks Cooper and the other debate moderators — Lester Holt, Martha Raddatz and Chris Wallace — will overcompensate by being extra tough.

    Trump wants to prevent that from happening. So he's working the refs.

    Trump appears to have already managed to influence the Commission on Presidential Debates’ selection of moderators. The commission reportedly struggled to choose journalists because of Trump’s “aggressive attacks on the media and complaints about unfair treatment.” According to network news executives, NBC’s Holt and Fox’s Wallace -- who faces a massive conflict of interest due to his close relationship to Trump adviser Roger Ailes --  were chosen to “appease” Trump.

    Wallace has already announced he has no intention of calling out candidates if they lie during the debate. Trump, who expressed his support for Wallace’s decision not to do his job, is now trying to manipulate the other debate moderators into following Wallace’s lead.

  • Norm Ornstein Takes On The Media’s Election Coverage Failures

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    American Enterprise Institute scholar Norm Ornstein pointed to the flawed news judgment of political editors and cable news producers when it comes to election coverage in a series of email exchanges with The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza, stating that coverage of Hillary Clinton stories related to the Clinton Foundation and her private email server have been “way overdone” while too much of the coverage of Donald Trump has focused on “his campaign and its tactics” rather than following up on the GOP nominee’s “deep conflicts of interest.”

    Ornstein, long a prominent centrist intellectual, has since 2012 been a leading voice calling out the increasing radicalism of the Republican Party. He has been a harsh critic of the media’s coverage during this election cycle.

    Several Media Matters studies and reports support Ornstein’s contention that the press has devoted substantial resources to flawed but negative stories about Clinton while failing to follow through on investigations into Trump.

    In a series of exchanges with Cillizza, Ornstein criticized what he termed the “stupid” coverage of Clinton, which he said has focused too much on the Foundation and email stories to the exclusion of reporting on her tenure in government:

    I think the coverage of Clinton has been stupid — an obsessive focus on press conferences, on the Clinton Foundation, on emails, the latter legitimate stories but way overdone, with almost nothing on her major policy proposals. There, it is the Times and AP, who are the serious actors.

    [...]

    You and your colleagues make value judgments about what you want to cover, based often on the stories' importance (see "Spotlight") but also what brings readers and eyeballs and clicks, and what brings recognition and prizes, and on gut judgments. The coverage of Clinton emails and the Foundation, measured not just in number of stories but in placement, allocation of resources and column inches (again, not WaPo) and in lead stories, minutes on air, is in my view over the top. And the fact that many stories have been wrong, in some cases because of a reliance on leaks from Republican staffers and members of the Benghazi Committee, or a rip and read of a Judicial Watch press release, makes it much worse.

    [...]

    Yes, her performance as secretary of state is a good, perhaps the best, indicator of how she would govern. And somehow, you and your colleagues in the media have decided that the emails and the Clinton Foundation are the be-all and end-all of her judgment and the indication of how she would govern. Not how she ran the State Department, how she structured and dealt with the team of people around her, how she interacted with the president, the secretar(ies) of defense, the national security advisers, the DNI, etc. Not what she accomplished and did not accomplish. Not her judgments on policy or other leaders. I should add, not all of those stories would be flattering or laudatory. I don't have the time or resources to count up the column inches since the nominations were decided that have been devoted to email and the Foundation, compared to the other issues above, but I would wager the ratio is, as they say, huge. The Post has been better than its competitors, but as I recall, even you, for example, bit on the ridiculous AP story making something sinister out of the meeting with Mohammed Yunus. The need to go on the Web immediately, the new world of traditional print journalism, has its own pathologies built into it.

    He wrote that by contrast, coverage of Trump has disproportionately focused on his campaign’s strategy and tactics, to the exclusion of sustained reporting on his conflicts of interest and other important stories that would more directly speak to what his presidency would look like:

    On Trump, The Post is a model. I have no doubt that the fact that other outlets, from the Times and AP to the TV channels, network and cable, have largely ignored what Fahrenthold has done is the usual professional jealousy. But it is bad and unprofessional. When stories have been done about Trump's behavior as a businessman, or in cutting off the health coverage out of spite for his grand nephew with cerebral palsy, they tend to be one-offs, no follow up and no other outlets picking up on the story. Trump has gotten plenty of negative coverage, but it is different in nature and tone from that of Clinton. And so much of the coverage, including especially the nattering on cable news chat shows, has been about his campaign and its tactics. Now we have Kurt Eichenwald's deep and chilling piece about Trump's relations with Russia, China and others in his business empire, and the implications for his governance — and the nets, cable and most print people did nothing and focused on Dr. Oz and Clinton's health.

    [...]

    The stakes are really, really high. The relentless search for the pivot that will show [Trump] is presidential, behaving "normally," is classic horse-race nonsense and takes up much of the bandwidth of his coverage. The real traditional stories about his campaign, including bringing in Bannon — a celebrant and megaphone for the alt-right, including its anti-Semitism and white nationalism— and Ailes, his continued reliance on Roger Stone, get short shrift.

    [...]

    On Trump, we started this dialogue with my comment that "you guys," meaning the print and television world, were being played like a Stradivarius by Trump and his people, drawn like moths to the flame (excuse the mixed metaphors, I could add in Pavlovian dogs) to the back-and-forth machinations and pronouncements of Trumpland, using most of the bandwidth of coverage of Trump instead of covering two major stories about his fitness to be president: the corruption of the Trump Foundation, and even more, the insidious foreign dealings reported in Kurt Eichenwald's deep piece in Newsweek. Again, I give kudos to David Fahrenthold, the role model of this campaign, and leave out The Post from criticism on the Foundation story. But there has been almost nothing on Trump's deep conflicts of interest — and the reporting by Fahrenthold strongly suggests that if Trump were faced with a choice between pursuing America's national interest or protecting his family assets, he would go with the latter.

    Ornstein concludes that cable news and print editorial story selection and emphasis has been poor throughout the election and has led to readers and viewers receiving coverage that lacks proper context:

    On the latter point, cable news, which features a lot of print reporters (including The Post's) and which is on in many newsrooms around the clock, which is a major source of news and cues for our opinion leaders, does matter. It can skew news in a fashion that has lots of Americans believing something that is simply false — a good example, Fox News regulars believe that unemployment is up and the stock market is down since Obama became president. And the other cable networks can leave lots of viewers believing, for example, that scientists are evenly split on whether climate change is real, because most discussions pit a climate change believer against a denier.

    But I don't want to leave this as just a problem of cable news. There are major prestigious newspapers and other news sources that matter enormously. And they matter not just in what stories they run, but how much they cover more than one story, where the story is placed, how much emphasis they give, how careful they are at getting facts straight, how sensitive they are to where leaks are coming from and whether they are accurate or slanted. Here, by the way, I wish you and the Times, as examples, would announce that any anonymous source who gives you false or misleading information will be outed — the privilege of anonymity extends only to provision of accurate information.

    The real forces here are the editors, at the top and all the way down, deciding what to cover, what goes on the front page, what goes above the fold, what the headlines are, how to allocate scarce resources, how to respond to errors, how to deal with rumors. And I see increasing and troubling evidence, less in The Post than in others, of a rush to get stories out there because of the demand for eyeballs and clicks, fewer safeguards at the managing editor and below, less tolerance of criticism. The Post, the Times, the AP matter more than a slew of local papers, because they both set the standard and provide the feeds used across the country and abroad.

     

  • Flashback: How Fox News Promoted Trump's Birtherism

    ››› ››› NINA MAST

    As the Trump campaign attempts to put Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump’s racist, conspiratorial claims about President Obama's birthplace to rest, it’s important to remember that Fox News and Fox Business helped lay the groundwork for Trump’s birtherism by giving him a platform to promote his birther beliefs -- which some Fox hosts, analysts, and contributors embraced.