Andrew Lawrence

Author ››› Andrew Lawrence
  • Fox News Ignores Contributor Nigel Farage’s Mysterious Trip To Ecuadorian Embassy

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    Fox News hasn’t mentioned the mysterious visit to the Ecuadorian embassy, home of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, by Donald Trump-ally and Fox contributor Nigel Farage. Farage has refused to explain why he visited the embassy and whether he spoke to Assange during the visit.

    According to BuzzFeed, on March 9 Farage visited the Ecuadorian embassy “where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been living since he claimed asylum in 2012.” When asked about his visit  Farage claimed he couldn’t remember why he visited the embassy adding, “I never discuss where I go or who I see.” Farage’s visit came after WikiLeaks released what they claimed were documents showing the CIA’s ability to hack into everyday technology such as smartphones and smart TV’s. The most recent WikiLeaks release appears to be an attempt to defend Trump’s “indefensible” lie that President Barack Obama ordered Trump Tower and the Trump presidential campaign to be hacked:

    It is significant, therefore, that one of the major storylines to emerge from the latest WikiLeaks release is that the CIA supposedly has a program to reuse computer codes from foreign hackers, thus disguising CIA fingerprints on a hacking operation. Never mind that there is no evidence that the codes used to break into the DNC were part of this CIA database. Right-wing outlets are nevertheless trumpeting these revelations with headlines such as this one on Breitbart: “WikiLeaks: CIA Uses ‘Stolen’ Malware to ‘Attribute’ Cyberattacks to Nations Like Russia.” Russian-controlled Internet “bots” are also said to be playing up these claims online.

    The implication is clear. Trump was a victim of a “false flag” operation wherein CIA hackers broke into the DNC and blamed the Russians. This may be nutty, but it’s eminently believable to an audience conditioned to believe that 9/11 was an inside job and that the Sandy Hook massacre was staged — favorite tropes of the radio talk-show host Alex Jones, whose work Trump has praised. Other WikiLeaks revelations — for instance, that the CIA can use Samsung smart TVs as listening devices — lend further credence to Trump’s charge that he was secretly wiretapped.

    Fox News hasn’t reported on Farage's visit and Farage has not been on the network to discuss his meeting despite being a paid contributor to the network since January. According to an analysis by Media Matters, the only time Farage’s name showed up on Fox News on March 9 was during live coverage of the daily press briefing when press secretary Sean Spicer was asked about Farage’s meeting:

    VIVIAN SALAMA (AP REPORTER): Thank you. And second thing is, Nigel Ffarage was at the Ecuadorian embassy in London today where Julian Assange happens to be staying. Don't know if they met or not. Was he there? He's a close ally of President Trump. Was he there in any capacity?

    SEAN SPICER: I don't keep his schedule.

    SALAMA: Was he delivering a message?

    SPICER: I have no idea. I have my own concerns here keeping track of what everyone is doing. I generally don't worry about what's going on across the pond. Jonathan?

    SALAMA: You already gave me a little bit, but just to follow up --

    SPICER: Wow. All right.

    JONATHAN KARL (ABC CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT): But on the -- the question is not what but can you tell us he wasn't there on behalf of the white house?

    SPICER: Sure. I don't -- he is not -- I am not. This is silly. I don't think asking where random foreign leaders are and whether they are there -- I'm sure he was there doing whatever on I understand that. But I. Don't keep his schedule.

    Even after the press briefing, Fox News continued to ignore the story on their website, Twitter, and cable networks. 

  • Deceptive Editing And Actors: Tucker Carlson’s Underhanded Practices Exposed

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    Tucker Carlson’s credibility sunk to new lows after several reports surfaced about the deceptive practices used by the host on his prime-time Fox News show.

    On February 21, The Washington Post reported on a segment  from Carlson’s show about the “incredible surge of refugee violence” in Sweden. During the segment, Carlson showed an interview between filmmaker Ami Horowitz with two Swedish police officers about the supposed surge in refugee violence in the country. The interview used by Carlson was even referenced by President Donald Trump during a Florida rally, but as the Post reported, the officers were “shocked” by the deceptive editing of the interview and claimed they were not asked about migration or immigration at all:

    The two Swedish officers whose interview provided the basis for the report spoke out Monday and claimed that their testimony had been taken out of context. One of them, Anders Göranzon, said that the interview was about areas with high crime rates and that “there wasn’t any focus on migration or immigration.”

    “We don’t stand behind it. It shocked us. He has edited the answers,” Göranzon said, “We were answering completely different questions in the interview. This is bad journalism.”

    Horowitz defended his work to the Guardian newspaper, saying he was “pretty sure” that he told the officers what the segment was going to be about and implying that the officers' disavowal was made under pressure from their superiors.

    Carlson invited Horowitz again to his Fox News show on Monday to rebut the officers’ claims, saying instead that they were pressured by their bosses to disavow the interview because they were scared of being labeled racists.

    Later in the same show, Carlson hosted Shane Saunders who was identified as a “Not My President’s Day Protestor” by Carlson and by the Tucker Carlson Tonight chyron. But, as The Daily Beast reported, Saunders was not affiliated in any way with the rallies, but is “a Los Angeles-based actor and casting agent.”

    Fox News’ Tucker Carlson had a hard time booking Olga Lexell, the creator and co-organizer of the nationwide Not My President’s Day protests on Monday.

    So, after repeated refusals, Carlson’s show instead booked Shane Saunders, a Los Angeles-based actor and casting agent, who Lexell said, “was not affiliated in any way with our rallies and was not an organizer.”

    In the five-minute segment, Saunders was referred to as an “organizer” by an on-screen graphic and Carlson himself, who also asked Saunders about why “your protest is going to make a difference.”

    Following the interview, Olga Lexell, the creator and co-organizer of the nationwide Not My President’s Day protests emailed the producers of the show, saying, “that guy who you got on the show isn’t affiliated with our even and didn’t even attend any of the protests.”

    An executive producer of Tucker Carlson Tonight responded to The Daily Beast report, admitting that “the program incorrectly identified a Los Angeles based protest participant as a ‘protest organizer’ in a graphic during Monday night’s telecast. While he was correctly identified in the introduction to the segment, we regret the graphic didn’t accurately reflect his role throughout the entire segment.”

  • Internet Trolls Unleash Attacks On Washington Post Reporter Following Completely Made Up Right-Wing Media Smear

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    A false right-wing media report targeting The Washington Post’s Doris Truong has resulted in what she described as her “own personal Pizzagate” in which she was erroneously identified as being at Rex Tillerson’s confirmation hearing and surreptitiously taking photos of pieces of paper he left behind.

    Following Tillerson’s January 11 confirmation hearing for his nomination to serve as the next secretary of state, a photo of an unidentified woman seemingly taking photos of notes left behind at Tillerson’s empty seat began circulating on Twitter. Notoriously dishonest, and consistently wrong, right-wing blogger Jim Hoft then posted the photo and a video of the incident identifying the woman as Truong. Hoft has since updated his post and admitted that the woman pictured was not Truong, but the URL still reads “sick-wapo-reporter-caught-sneaking-photos,” a reference to Hoft’s original misleading headline. From there, the false claim was pushed by other right-wing media personalities like former Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin and linked to by The Drudge Report, driving even more traffic to the story and leading to widespread harassment of Truong at the hands of internet trolls.

    From Truong’s January 12 account of the episode published by The Washington Post:

    By the time I woke up, trolls had commented on social media channels besides Twitter. My Facebook feed had dozens of angry messages from people I didn’t know, as did comments on my Instagram account. Even my rarely used YouTube channel attracted attention. My emails and my voicemail included messages calling me “pathetic” and a “sneaky thief.”

    A lot of the comments also focused on my Chinese heritage, implying — or outright stating — that I must be spying for China. Some called for an FBI investigation of what they deemed illegal behavior.

    […]

    Even more bizarrely, one Twitter user insisted that “facial software on the video” led to the “almost positive” conclusion that the woman was me.

    But even if people believed that the person at the hearing wasn’t me, they wanted to know who she was. And that’s what’s particularly alarming about this time in our society: Why are people so quick to look for someone to condemn? And during the confusion about the woman’s identity, why is it presumed that she is a journalist? Or that taking pictures of notes in an open hearing is illegal? Or, for that matter, that she was even taking pictures of Tillerson’s notes?

    Despite his admission that he has no idea who the woman is, Hoft is still identifying her as a “reporter” and pushing the unsubstantiated claim that she was “sneaking photos” without any supporting evidence.

    Truong’s encounter with the far-right online fringe shares startling similarities with so-called “Pizzagate,” a fake news conspiracy theory perpetuated by Trump ally and right-wing radio host Alex Jones that eventually led one alt-right adherent to shoot inside a pizzeria in Washington, D.C. and engage in an armed standoff with police. In fact, Jim Hoft credited one of the leaders of the “pizzagate” fake news conspiracy in his original attack on Truong; right-wing blogger and sexual assault apologist Mike Cernovich, who recently directed an online harassment campaign against political satirist and video editor Vic Berger.

    As was the case with “pizzagate,” wherein an armed conspiracy theorist held up a pizza parlor while he “investigated” the veracity of absurd claims he read online, many of Truong’s online harassers are demanding that she get to the bottom of this story, and identify the woman herself, before they’ll accept that it wasn’t her.

  • News Outlet Owned By Trump Son In-Law Posts Op-Ed Calling For FBI Investigation Of Anti-Trump Protests

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    The Observer, a news site owned by President-elect Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, posted an op-ed calling for an FBI investigation into the “political thuggery” of anti-Trump protests taking place in the wake of the presidential election.

    Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump threatened and criticized protesters during campaign events, saying of one that he’d like to “punch him in the face” and reminiscing of the “good old days” when protesters would be “carried out on a stretcher.” Trump even threatened to “start pressing charges” against protesters after demonstrations during a Chicago campaign rally caused the event to be postponed after fights broke out between demonstrators and Trump supporters. Now Trump supporters want an FBI investigation of of anti-Trump protests.

    On December 2, the Observer posted an op-ed written by University of Texas in Austin adjunct professor Austin Bay, which called for FBI Director James Comey to conduct a “detailed investigation” into the anti-Trump protests taking place across the country. To make his point, Bay invokes “Kristallnacht,” a 1938 incident in which Nazis burned synagogues, vandalized Jewish-owned businesses and homes, and resulted in 30,000 Jewish men being sent to concentration camps. Bay even cites notorious conspiracy theorist Jim Hoft’s blog post claiming anti-Trump protesters were paid to protest, a claim that gained traction based on a fake news story.

    The posting of the op-ed is extremely concerning given the influence Kushner has on his father-in-law. In July, The New York Times reported that Kushner had “become involved in virtually every facet of the Trump presidential operation” and wrote that many viewed him as the “de facto campaign manager.” Following the election, Kushner also explored legal loopholes that would allow him to bypass federal nepotism laws and join the Trump administration in an official capacity:

    Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of President-elect Donald J. Trump, has spoken to a lawyer about the possibility of joining the new administration, a move that could violate federal anti-nepotism law and risk legal challenges and political backlash.

    […]

    Mr. Trump is urging his son-in-law to join him in the White House, according to one of the people briefed. The president-elect’s sentiment is shared by Stephen K. Bannon, the chief strategist for the White House, and Reince Priebus, who was named chief of staff. Mr. Kushner accompanied Mr. Trump to the White House on Thursday, when the president-elect held his first in-person meeting with President Obama.

  • Bloomberg Announces The End Of Mark Halperin’s Daily TV Show

    Bonafide Trump Apologist Mark Halperin Defied His Own Journalistic Standards When Covering Trump

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    Mark Halperin and John Heilemann’s Bloomberg politics show, With All Due Respect, will end daily broadcasts on December 2. Halperin used his platform on Bloomberg, which was re-broadcast daily by MSNBC, to defend then-candidate Donald Trump.

    The Huffington Post reports that a staff memo announced the show’s cancellation on December 2, but the two will host a four-hour special previewing Trump’s Inauguration on January 20. Both co-hosts are reportedly in discussions to “play a role at Bloomberg” as contributors and columnists.

    Mark Halperin and John Heilemann’s afternoon politics show on Bloomberg TV, “With All Due Respect,” will end following coverage of Donald Trump’s inauguration, according to a staff memo.

    Halperin and Heilemann, who joined in May 2014 and served as co-managing editors of Bloomberg Politics, will continue to host the show daily until Dec. 2. Bloomberg will produce four hourlong specials previewing Trump’s presidency and then cover the event on Jan. 20.

    The two journalists will cease day-to-day roles with the company, but according to the memo are in discussions to “play a role at Bloomberg as contributors and columnists.”

    Halperin joined Bloomberg in May 2014 for reportedly $1 million and has come under intense scrutiny throughout the 2016 election cycle for his role as a bonafide Trump apologist. Halperin’s embarrassing shilling for Trump included his insistence that Trump’s racist attacks on the American judge of Mexican descent weren’t actually racist because “Mexico isn’t a race,” criticizing The New York Times for responding to Trump’s threat to take legal action against them, and brushing off Trump’s reluctance to accept the election results as a concern of “elites.” Halperin even praised the “impressive resume” of Trump adviser and white nationalist ally Stephen Bannon. Heilemann and Halperin also conducted an interview with Trump on a Zamboni where they asked him how much bacon he eats and whether or not he knows how to skate and during a campaign trip to Iowa, Halperin received helicopter ride from Trump:

    More recently, Halperin failed to live up to the standards he had set for other journalists by giving Trump a shameless softball interview in which he failed to ask him about his hidden tax returns – an issue that Halperin had previously said journalists were “obligated” to ask Trump about every chance they got. The interview, described as “truly laughable,” looked even worse in hindsight when several days later Halperin challenged the press “to do a lot of soul-searching about its failure to pursue a lot of these Trump stories.”

    In 2006, Halperin claimed that the best economic model to ensure a TV show’s survival is to follow the Fox News model and “make sure conservatives find your product appealing.” That model seems to be working for Halperin who despite losing his show, has received movie deals, book deals, and continues to be one of the most visible political commentators in America.

  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Is Too Scared Of Being Accused Of “Bias” By Conservatives To Address Fake Stories

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    Tens of millions of Americans get their news from Facebook and an increasing amount of that news is fake. 

    In May, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg met with right-wing media personalities over concerns that “many conservatives don’t trust that [Facebook] surfaces content without a political bias.” Following the meeting, Zuckerberg noted how important conservative engagement was to Facebook by stating, “Donald Trump has more fans on Facebook than any other presidential candidate. And Fox News drives more interactions in its Facebook page than any other news outlet in the world. It’s not even close.”

    Following the outcry by conservatives of political bias, Facebook adopted revised guidelines on its Trending Topics, promised its reviewers would undergo new training “that emphasized content decisions may not be made on the basis of politics or ideology,” and fired the 18 human editors it used to write descriptions of trending topics and ensure their accuracy.

    Facebook's response to the cries of “political bias” backfired on the company after just 72 hours when fake stories began trending, including a story about Fox News host (and Trump agitator) Megyn Kelly being fired from the network.

    The response from Facebook over conservatives’ concerns of “political bias” stand in contrast to the company’s response to reports that fake stories and hoaxes have taken over the News Feed of the platform, which according to the Pew Research Center, 61 percent of web-using Millennials and 39 percent of Baby Boomers use to get their political news.

    A recent study by Buzzfeed found “hyperpartisan political Facebook pages and websites are consistently feeding their millions of followers false and misleading information,” with one of the most egregious examples being a group of pro-Trump websites originating in Macedonia which were “playing a significant role in propagating” false and misleading pro-Trump articles. One of the Macedonians contacted for the story, a 17-year-old, said, “I started the site for a easy way to make money.”

    Zuckerberg initially downplayed the widespread problem of fake news on Facebook and its effect on the election, saying “it’s a very small amount of the content,” and calling it a “crazy idea” that the hoaxes influenced the election. Zuckerberg has since acknowledged that his platform has a problem with false stories, but rather than meeting with journalists to discuss solutions as he did with conservatives in May, Zuckerberg offered up the excuse that “identifying the truth is complicated,” and once again expressed concern that Facebook “find ways for our community to tell us what content is most meaningful.” Gizmodo reported that Facebook executives recently conducted a review of the News Feed process that would have eliminated fake and hoax stories, but that the plan was set aside due to concern that removing false stories would upset conservatives:

    According to two sources with direct knowledge of the company’s decision-making, Facebook executives conducted a wide-ranging review of products and policies earlier this year, with the goal of eliminating any appearance of political bias. One source said high-ranking officials were briefed on a planned News Feed update that would have identified fake or hoax news stories, but disproportionately impacted right-wing news sites by downgrading or removing that content from people’s feeds. According to the source, the update was shelved and never released to the public. It’s unclear if the update had other deficiencies that caused it to be scrubbed.

    “They absolutely have the tools to shut down fake news,” said the source, who asked to remain anonymous citing fear of retribution from the company. The source added, “there was a lot of fear about upsetting conservatives after Trending Topics,” and that “a lot of product decisions got caught up in that.”

    Recently Buzzfeed reported that despite fear of losing their jobs for and being warned about speaking to the press, “dozens” of Facebook employees have formed “an unofficial task force” to address the company’s role in spreading misinformation.

    Join Media Matters in asking Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook to fix their fake news problem by signing our petition.

  • Journalists Condemn CNN's Lewandowski Embarrassment After Trump Campaign Manager's "#teamwork" Tweet

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    CNN’s ethical dilemma over its employment of Corey Lewandowski, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, as a political analyst was on display once again when current campaign manager Kellyanne Conway tweeted a picture of her and Lewandowski with the caption “#teamwork #NH.”

    CNN’s use of on-air Trump surrogates has drawn widespread condemnation, with media critics pointing out that the practice has undercut the “work of [CNN’s] journalists.” Despite these concerns, CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker has stood by the network’s decision to give Trump surrogates a platform to spread lies and derogatory rhetoric, claiming that CNN has a responsibility “to represent those 13-14 million voters who have voted for” Trump, rather than to provide viewers with accurate analysis.

    Lewandowski has been at the center of CNN’s ethical dilemma, with many criticizing the network for employing him as an analyst while he was still receiving payments from the Trump campaign, advising the Trump campaign, working on debate prep for the Trump campaign, traveling with the Trump campaign, and campaigning with Trump.

    A week after calling on the “@CNN Dream Team” of Trump surrogates to “stay strong,” on November 4, current Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway tweeted a picture of her, press secretary Hope Hicks, and Lewandowski, captioning the tweet “#teamwork.” The tweet spurred criticism from members of the media, with The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple saying it “should shame everyone at CNN” and noting that “now we know that officially and unequivocally, the Trump campaign regards a paid CNN commentator as part of the team.” Others called the tweet -- and what it signifies about the relationship between a CNN analyst and the Trump campaign -- “totally inappropriate.”

    Sign Media Matters petition and tell CNN to cut ties with Corey Lewandowski immediately.

  • Fox Report On Low African-American Turnout In North Carolina Ignores GOP Voter Suppression

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    Fox News’ Shannon Bream reported on the low early vote totals of the “crucial Democratic voter bloc” of African-Americans in North Carolina but ignored the voter suppression efforts of the Republican Party in North Carolina that include a reduction in early vote hours and fewer polling locations.

    A November 3 report by Shannon Bream during Fox News’ On The Record with Brit Hume highlighted the lower voter turnout by African-Americans in North Carolina so far in 2016 compared to 2012 and 2008. Bream reported the number of African-Americans early voting had fallen by 16 percent.

    But Bream’s report failed to mention the ongoing effort by Republicans in the state to systematically purge voter rolls of African-American voters while also reducing the total number of hours for early voting, cutting the number of polling locations, and reducing the hours available to vote on weekends and evenings.

    A November 3 report from Reuters highlighted the efforts of the North Carolina GOP to suppress Democratic voters by state and county Republican officials who “lobbied members of at least 17 county election boards to keep early-voting sites open for shorter hours on weekends and in evenings – times that usually see disproportionately high turnout by Democratic voters.” Furthermore, Reuters revealed a concerted effort by Republican officials to close polling locations on Sundays, a move that would hamper the North Carolina “Souls to the Polls” efforts in which African-American churchgoers early vote following Sunday services.

    North Carolina residents have also had their voter registrations challenged just weeks before the election due to mail being returned from their addresses as undelivered. In Beaufort County, North Carolina, 138 residents had their registrations challenged – 92 were black and registered Democrats while only 17 were Republicans. The Guardian reported that Democratic-leaning Guilford County, North Carolina, had a 60 percent increase in African-American voters following the opening of additional polling locations last week:

    In Democratic-leaning Guilford County, the state's third largest, a county board of elections meeting on Aug. 8 attracted about 75 people after word spread that the board was planning to halve the number of early voting sites, from 24 in 2012.

    The Rev. Nelson Johnson said in an interview that the proposal by the board's Republican chairwoman would "prevent voting especially by people who can't easily take time off" and said it "absolutely" had a racial intent. Johnson, who is African American, leads a community center in Greensboro, North Carolina.

    […]

    Guilford's plan also included one restriction that particularly angered Democrats. In the first week of early voting in 2012, residents could vote at 16 sites. This year, that has been reduced to one.

    Mary Cranford, 52, a registered Republican, was fourth in line on the first day of early voting in Guilford. She was able to vote but said she was upset that only one site was open for the first week. She said she voted for Clinton this year.

    "I can't believe what's been done to keep some people from voting in this state," she said.

    Just 7,916 people voted in the first week of early voting in Guilford this year, compared to 60,732 in 2012, according to state elections board records.

    The general counsel for Clinton's campaign and other plaintiffs filed a court motion on Oct. 1 demanding Guilford and four other North Carolina counties expand their early voting opportunities. The court denied it, saying that changing the early voting plans “would create logistical difficulties.”

  • Mark Halperin’s “Truly Laughable” Interview With Donald Trump

    Halperin’s Interview Fails The Standards He And His Co-Host Set For Other Journalists

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    Bloomberg’s With All Due Respect host Mark Halperin previewed an interview with Donald Trump scheduled to air Sunday on Showtime’s The Circus. The interview has been roundly criticized in the media for Halperin’s soft questioning of Trump.

    Halperin appeared with Trump following a publicity event for his new hotel in Washington, D.C. and asked Trump questions like “For people who say this was a great Trump speech, as far as you’re concerned, do you think they’re all great,” and “What’s your general sense of where you are in the battleground states?”

    The preview ignored recent controversies surrounding Trump’s candidacy, including Trump adviser Newt Gingrich’s sexually charged attack on Fox News’ Megyn Kelly which Trump praised as “amazing” during the same speech that Halperin categorized in his interview as “great.”

    The Daily Beast described Halperin’s interview as “truly laughable” while highlighting some of the more ridiculous questions:

    How do you get Donald Trump to talk to you with less than two weeks to go before Election Day? Tell him exactly what he wants to hear. That’s been the approach by Fox News’ Sean Hannity and radio host Rush Limbaugh.

    And now we can add Mark Halperin to that list.

    The co-host of Bloomberg Politics’ With All Due Respect (which also airs on MSNBC) and Showtime’s The Circus approached Trump after he delivered a ribbon-cutting speech to open his new Washington, D.C. hotel on Wednesday and asked some truly laughable questions of the Republican nominee.

    For instance, “People who say this was a great Trump speech, as far as you’re concerned, do you think they’re all great?” Yes, he does, but this one wasn’t enough in the “Make America Great Again” spirit to rile up his rally crowds.

    Then there was this one: “You’ve redefined how candidates talk about polls. Some polls you’re winning, some you’re behind. We have a new poll where you are up in Florida. What’s your general sense of where you are in the battleground states?”

    Halperin’s interview even fell below his own journalistic standard given the pressure that he and his co-host John Heilemann have placed on journalists to question Trump about his failure to release his tax returns. Previously, Halperin called it “one hundred percent” the media’s obligation to continue asking Trump about his tax returns while challenging the media “to all keep asking” Trump about it. Heilemann even called on the media to question Trump about his returns “every time we sit in front of him,” and declaring it the responsibility of anyone who interviews Trump to “make it clear to him that it’s not okay that he violate what has become a norm in American elections.”

    Halperin has come under intense criticism during this election season for acting as a bonafide Trump apologist, including brushing off Trump’s reluctance to accept the election results as a concern of “elites,” criticizing The New York Times for responding to Trump’s threat to take legal action against them, portraying Trump’s request of Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails as bad behavior by Clinton and Trump, and defending Trump’s racist attacks against American judge of Mexican descent, Judge Gonzalo Curiel, by declaring “Mexico isn’t a race.”

  • Media Critics: CNN’s Use Of Pro-Trump Surrogates Undercuts The Network’s Journalism

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    Media critics say CNN’s use of paid pro-Trump surrogates has undercut the network’s journalism and the “goal of informing its audience.”

    After the third and final presidential debate, Trump surrogates scrambled to spin Donald Trump’s statement that he may not accept the results of the election, putting forward a litany of absurd claims. On CNN, that role was filled by the network’s roster of paid contributors who were specifically hired for their willingness to defend Trump.

    New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen criticized the “candidate surrogate” system CNN invested in during this campaign cycle, explaining that CNN’s “Surrogates are unwilling to defend Trump, so they change him into a man more defensible.” He added that because CNN’s Trump surrogates frequently attempt to mislead the network’s audience, CNN has “wasted our time, undermined the work of their journalists, and made the election-year discussion more opaque [than] it would have been if they had never invited these people on set.”

    The Columbia Journalism Review’s David Uberti similarly wrote that having the Trump surrogates on-air to spin the widely condemned remarks made by Trump during the debate “overstepped CNN’s reporting and undercut its purported goal of informing its audience”:

    The consensus headline from the third and final presidential debate was Republican candidate Donald Trump’s refusal to commit to accepting the 2016 election results. It was a stunning rebuke of American political norms from the nominee of a major political party, and it quickly dominated coverage online Wednesday night and in major print newspapers Thursday morning.The Associated Press’ lede said Trump is “threatening to upend a fundamental pillar of American democracy.”

    At CNN, however, confusion initially reigned. The network’s journalists expressed shock at Trump’s comments within seconds of the debate’s conclusion. “One of the most stunning things I’ve ever heard in a presidential debate, ever,” said Jake Tapper, the network’s chief Washington correspondent.

    […]

    But pro-Trump contributors attempted to muddle this point during a panel discussion after the debate, when viewership was likely highest. Their baseless speculation that the election might somehow be rigged overstepped CNN’s reporting and undercut its purported goal of informing its audience. The comments, which drew stern rebuttals from other CNN on-air talent, highlight how the network’s pursuit of the appearance of objectivity in 2016 has distorted its final product on television. It also provides a clear example of how the channel’s model puts CNN journalists in the awkward position of fact-checking CNN contributors in real time.

    Uberti concluded: “CNN pays pro-Trump contributors to provide it with a shinier veneer of objectivity. But it’s become all too clear in recent months that this mission actively harms its journalists’ pursuit of the truth. The news organization must clarify where its real priorities lie.”

    CNN’s reliance on Trump surrogates to provide defense for a “candidate who doesn’t exist” has come under increased scrutiny over recent weeks, with their decision to hire former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who was still receiving payment from the Trump campaign, as a paid political analyst.

    Media Matters’ Carlos Maza highlighted CNN’s Trump surrogate problem, noting how surrogates refuse to answer legitimate questions about Trump’s positions and controversies and instead point unrelated discussions that devolve into personal attacks.