Andrew Lawrence

Author ››› Andrew Lawrence
  • John McCain Speaks Out Against Torture As Fox News Praises Trump For Waterboarding Comments

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    Senator John McCain (R-AZ), former POW and survivor of torture, denounced the use of torture as ineffective and counterproductive after Donald Trump advocated waterboarding and “much worse” to fight terrorism. Fox News figures praised Trump’s advocacy of illegal interrogation and pushed for President Obama to adopt similar strategies.

    During a June 28 campaign rally at Ohio University Eastern Campus, Trump called for the United States to “fight so viciously and violently” against terrorists and “fight fire with fire.” Trump also advocated for the use of waterboarding and “much worse” against enemy combatants.

    Trump had previously advocated for techniques “tougher than waterboarding” as well as proposing the killing of innocent family members of enemy combatants. In May, Trump attempted to walk back those comments by acknowledging “that the United States is bound by laws and treaties,” but has since returned to proposing policy that he once recognized would force a “military officer to disobey the law.”  

    Fox News hosts largely supported Trump’s plans for the illegal techniques. Fox’s Peter Hegseth argued that the United States “can maintain our values while still ruthlessly going after ISIS,” and Fox host Eric Bolling downplayed torture, saying “God forbid we pour water on terrorists’ faces.”

    But on June 29, Senator McCain joined Fox’s On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, where host Greta Van Susteren asked McCain about Trump’s advocacy for torture. McCain pointed out that numerous military leaders have said “that it not only doesn’t work, but it is counter-productive because you get bad information.” Furthermore, McCain argued that “it’s about us, not about them,” making the point that torturing enemy combatants is a contradiction of American values:

     

     

    On October 26, 1967, McCain, then a Navy pilot, was shot down over Vietnam, and captured by the North Vietnamese. McCain was subjected to torture by his captors, explaining that, he “was beaten every two or three hours by different guards,” and after four days agreed to write a confession. 

  • Sean Hannity Devotes Full Hour On Fox To Discredited Book Full Of Clinton Smears

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    Fox News host and Trump supporter Sean Hannity devoted the full hour of his Fox News show to hyping claims presented in the discredited book Crisis of Character written by former Secret Service agent Gary Byrne.

    Hannity interviewed Byrne on the first half of the June 27 edition of Fox’s Hannity, providing the author with an uncritical platform allowing him to peddle his discredited claims and attacks against Hillary Clinton. During the second half of the show, Hannity devoted a panel discussion to Byrnes' comments and attacks on Clinton. In what Fox News described as an “expose” with the “blacklisted” Byrne, claims such as cocaine use in the White House, fits of rage by former First Lady Hillary Clinton, and the disposal of towels covered in “bodily fluids” were pushed by Hannity and repeated by Byrne.

    At no point did Hannity question Byrnes’ dubious claims or bring up the numerous contradictions that he’s made over the years in regards to these claims, including while under sworn testimony.

    On June 20, Buzzfeed reported that while Byrne claims in his book to have disposed of towels covered in “translucent and white, half gooey” substance that would be easily recognizable to “any boy lucky enough to live past his high school years,” a 1998 deposition given by Byrne directly contradicts those claims:

    Byrne testified that he saw Nelvis cleaning up the Oval Office study, holding towels, when the steward said, “I’m tired of having to clean up this crap, or this something, you know, to that effect.” Byrne went on to say that he drew his “own conclusion that there was…some kind of possible physical contact between them and the president” and got the impression that Nelvis felt it was not right. Nelvis, he further recalled, said “something about lipstick,” and he “assumed that, that it was on these towels,” though the steward didn’t say it. Byrne told the investigators that he did not personally see lipstick or other stains on the towels.

    As for their disposal, Byrne said that he advised Nelvis “to get rid of it; in other words, to throw it out” so that the people who did the laundry wouldn’t see it. After that, he said of Nelvis, “I just remember him kind of walking away, and that was it. I don’t know what he did with them. That was the end of the thing.”

    Furthermore, the Association of Former Agents of the U.S. Secret Service has denounced Byrne and his assertions as false, and accused him of having a political agenda focused on smearing Clinton. Politico reported:

    People familiar with West Wing security laugh at the idea that Byrne or any uniformed officer ever would have walked in on Bill Clinton anywhere, whether in a meeting or, as a New York Post article over the weekend claims, in the middle of a make-out session in the Map Room with the late daughter of former Vice President Walter Mondale. The Secret Service presidential detail would have stopped him.

    […]

    And if Byrne or any uniformed officer had been posted near a room the president entered, he would have been moved at least 15 yards away, to the outer edges of the security bubble — not quite what Byrne describes in his book: “I stood guard, pistol at my hip, outside the Oval Office, the last barrier before anyone saw Bill Clinton,” according to the Post, which has been teasing excerpts of the book.

    “Operationally, one who has the working knowledge of how things are done there would realize that certain of those statements do not coincide with the operational plan,” said Jan Gilhooly, AFAUSSS president and a 29-year Secret Service veteran.

    When contacted by Buzzfeed about the contradictions in his book, Byrnes’ publicist said that he would explain himself on his book tour. Fortunately for Byrne, Sean Hannity did not ask him to explain any of these issues.

  • Fox News Praises Trump’s Widely Panned Brexit Response Because He Was “In The Right Place”

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    Fox News’ John Roberts praised Donald Trump’s widely mocked response to the United Kingdom’s vote to exit the European Union, known as “Brexit,” claiming that Trump was “at exactly the right place, at the right time, on the right side of the issue.”

    Following the UK vote which caused worldwide economic turmoil, Trump gave a “bizarre” speech that focused on his new golf course in Scotland instead of the Brexit results. When Trump finally spoke on the referendum after being pressed by reporters, he praised the vote and welcomed the historic crash of the British currency for potentially having a positive financial effect on his Scottish golf course:

    Visiting the golf course he owns in Scotland, he praised the referendum vote, saying the British had chosen to “take their country back,” but only after he touted the sprinkler system, the drains and the luxury suites at his Turnberry resort.

    Even as his campaign sent out a fundraising email hailing the British vote as a “brave stand for freedom and independence,” he seemed at one point to welcome the crash of the British currency that threatened to undermine financial markets, noting that he might gain from it.

    “When the pound goes down, more people are coming to Turnberry,” he said.

    Trump’s response was immediately panned throughout the media. MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace said she was “gobsmacked” at Trump’s response, noting that it highlighted the way Trump has been using his presidential bid to further his business interests. CNN’s John Avalon described Trump’s response as “completely insane,” and The Washington Post called it “a widely broadcast infomercial.”

    But on the June 26 edition of Fox News’ Special Report, Fox’s senior national correspondent John Roberts had a different view of Trump’s speech, claiming that the referendum offered Trump “the opportunity to say he has his finger on the pulse of national populism” and praised Trump for being “at exactly the right place, at the right time, on the right side of the issue”:

     

    CHRIS WALLACE: Donald Trump seemed to be at the right place at the right time, but some say HRC’s response could have been sharper.

    [...]

    JOHN ROBERTS: Donald Trump’s trip to Scotland was supposed to be all about business, but it quickly became all about politics in a way that may give him a boost back home. It was a trip that was giving Republican leaders fits, ill-timed and unnecessary, they said. Yet in true fashion, Trump found himself at exactly the right place, at the right time, on the right side of the issue.

  • O’Reilly Ignores The Most Embarrassing Aspects Of Trump FEC Report

    Trump Paid His Family Owned Businesses With Campaign Funds

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    Bill O’Reilly ignored the fact that Donald Trump's campaign May financial report showed the campaign paid his own businesses and family for campaign events, instead choosing to debunk a controversy regarding a payment to what some initially believed to be a fictitious advertising firm.

    During a June 22 discussion with Fox contributor Martha MacCallum, O’Reilly focused on a $35,000 advertising  payment to New Hampshire ad firm Draper Sterling. The payment drew scrutiny because the company’s name was similar to lead characters in a fictitious television series about an ad agency, Mad Men.

    Media outlets have confirmed that Draper Sterling appears to be a real ad firm, although as ThinkProgress noted, it remains unclear what work the company actually did for the Trump campaign.  

    But O’Reilly ignored the most scandalous aspects of Trump’s May FEC report. New York Magazine explained that the “embarrassingly bad” report showed that Trump raised just $3.1 million in May but paid out $6.7 million. Furthermore, roughly 20 percent of the money spent by the Trump campaign in May went to either companies owned by Trump and his family, or to travel reimbursements for his children. The Trump campaign also spent more than $900,000 on T-shirts, hats, mugs and signs. CNBC reported:

    About 20 percent of May spending went to Trump companies or reimbursements for his children. That includes a roughly $423,000 payment to the Trump Organization's Mar-a-Lago club.

    […]

    Trump's campaign also spent a solid portion of its May haul on "collateral," like T-shirts, hats, mugs and signs. It spent more than $900,000 on those categories, more than 13 percent of its total spending.

    "Trump's failure to develop an effective fundraising operation has his campaign at this point without the resources to scale up its staffing, build a field organization, or begin advertising in crucial states," said Anthony Corrado, a professor of government at Colby College and campaign finance expert. "His campaign spending is largely devoted to the costs of personal paraphernalia, such as hats and mugs, which can be sold or distributed by the campaign as a means of raising small sums of money."

  • Fox News Joins Media Coalition Asking For Release Of Trump U. Depositions

    Fox’s Move Ensures Right-Wing Media Spin Of Trump Deposition

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    Fox News joined a media coalition asking the judge in the Trump U. fraud case to release videos of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump being questioned over the real estate program. The move by Fox comes after defending Trump from allegations of fraud surrounding the Trump U. controversy.

    On June 11 Politico reported that a number of media organizations asked Judge Gonzalo Curiel to release video of Trump’s testimony in the Trump U. case. Lawyers for the media coalition argued that the lawsuit “has become a prominent election issue” and that Trump himself had cited Trump U. “as an example of his business success.” The initial coalition included all major TV news networks except for Fox News, as well as newspaper publishers from The New York Times, Washington Post, and Tribune Publishing.

    On June 15, Politico reported that Fox News joined the effort, stating that they were not aware of the request and became interested in joining as soon as they learned of the move:

    Fox News is joining a media coalition seeking to obtain full access to depositions presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump gave in a class-action lawsuit over his Trump University real estate seminar program.

    When an array of news organizations moved last week to loosen restrictions on the deposition transcripts and videos, all the major news networks were part of the effort, except for Fox. Also on board were the New York Times, the Washington Post and Tribune Co., publisher of the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune.

    In a filing Wednesday with U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel in San Diego, lawyers for the media coalition said Fox was joining the consortium supporting the drive to remove confidential designations on parts of Trump's testimony. If those restrictions are lifted, either side in the case would be free to release the transcripts in their entirety and likely the videos of the depositions as well.

    Fox News’ decision to join the media coalition now ensures that right-wing media can continue their struggle to defend Trump by selectively using any video released.

  • O'Reilly: It's "Not My Job" To Defend Megyn Kelly From Trump Attacks

    O'Reilly Brushes Off Fox Colleague After She Said She Wished The Popular Host Had Defended Her From Trump's Vicious Attacks

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    Months after Megyn Kelly expressed her disappointment that fellow Fox News host Bill O’Reilly refused to defend her following a string of attacks from presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, O’Reilly has responded by stating “It was not my job” to defend Kelly from Trump.

    Donald Trump repeatedly attacked Fox host Megyn Kelly after the August 2015 Fox News primary debate calling her “crazy” and “unwatchable.” Trump faced widespread criticism after his attacks by journalists and media outlets, including a statement criticizing Trump allegedly written by Fox CEO Roger Ailes.

    But Fox host Bill O’Reilly, remained silent throughout the controversy, instead pleading with Trump not to pull out of the next Fox News GOP primary debate.

    In a March interview for More magazine, Kelly spoke out about the January interview O’Reilly held with Trump in which Trump spoke about having “zero respect” for Kelly and described her as “highly overrated.” Kelly told the magazine, “I do wish that O’Reilly had defended me more in his interview with Trump. I would have defended him more.” Trump responded to Kelly’s critique by describing her as “crazy” and criticizing her “bad show”:

     

    On June 8, Talking Points Memo noted that O'Reilly had broken his silence on the Trump and Kelly feud, declaring "It was not my job" to defend Kelly from Trump's attacks:

    Fox News' Bill O’Reilly doesn’t think it was his “job” to defend his colleague Megyn Kelly from a barrage of attacks by presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump.

    “It was not my job to intrude on the Fox News Channel hierarchy, which was handling the controversy,” O’Reilly said in a Q&A with the Hollywood Reporter published Wednesday. “Why am I going to get in the middle of that? [Chairman] Roger Ailes is a genius at handling this stuff. I am not going to make his life harder by putting my big mouth in the middle of this thing.”

    […]

    Trump, who had spent months calling Kelly a “bimbo,” accelerated his attacks after Kelly's interview with More was published, tweeting that she was “crazy” and “highly overrated.”

    O’Reilly’s comments come amidst reports of a brewing feud between Kelly and O’Reilly.  A February report from CNN’s Brian Stelter on the “animosity between O’Reilly and Kelly” cited O’Reilly’s Trump interview as a visible example of the “strained relationship.” More recently, Kelly blasted “pundits” demanding the judge in the Trump U. case step down after Trump attacked the judge for being Latino. Her comments came immediately after O’Reilly called for the judge to recuse himself.

  • Hannity Answers Trump’s Call To Attack Detractors Of His Racist Attacks On Federal Judge

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    A day after presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump ordered his surrogates to “go after” critics of his racist attacks against the federal overhearing the Trump U. case, Fox News host Sean Hannity took to his radio show and attacked Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) for their “willingness” to go criticize Trump, but being “too weak, too timid, too afraid” to criticize President Obama.

    On June 6, Bloomberg Politics reported that during a conference call, Trump instructed his surrogates to “go at” the people criticizing his racist attacks on Judge Gonzalo Curiel, and described his detractors as “racists.”

    The following day, on the June 7 edition of The Sean Hannity Show, Hannity defended Trump by attacking Republicans who have criticized Trump’s racist attacks:

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): How do you explain Hillary saying that Robert "the former Klansman" Byrd was her mentor? Or that J. William Fulbright, a known segregationist, was Bill Clinton's mentor. Oh, we can ignore those little happenings in the past, why shouldn’t we, that's not textbook. We got Hillary's brother in law on tape, Roger Clinton, using the N word 15 times.

    [...]

    OK I don't want to hear it, I can't stand hearing people that are ignorant like that. I just can't. So, there's a lot of political conflicts galore here. You got a judge, anyway, the federal judge here who actually takes this thing to class action, this is a judge that probably should have recused himself. This is a judge who is part of a radical, or at least associated with the radical wing of La Raza and I think Trump's mistake was making it not about what it was, which was politics. I think that’s what it should have been about from the beginning. And he pretty much said as much and it’s time to move on. But not in the minds of Republicans. Republicans want to hit the self-destruct button. Republicans want to teach we, you, the people a lesson because you didn't vote for any of the candidates of their choice. So they’re just jumping on the bandwagon, admitting as quickly as possible things they'd never do against Obama.

    [...]

    I see more willingness to fight Trump by Republican leaders than I do in their willingness , in any of the eight years Obama has been in office now, to fight and stop Obama’s radical agenda. Starting with the campaign in ‘07 and ‘08. They were too timid, and too weak, too afraid to bring up anything involving Obama's radical past. Well, you know what? What's worse? Trump's comments about this judge, which was obviously inarticulate, I didn't hear Paul Ryan talk about Reverend Wright being racist, I didn’t hear Paul Ryan making the case that somebody that hangs out with, gave speeches with,sits on boards with and starts his political career in the home of a domestic -- unrepentant domestic terrorist isn't fit for the job. I didn’t hear Lindsey Graham make that case either and it was his buddy John McCain running at the time.

    Anything that they can do; I didn’t see the stuff in his two books Audacity of Hope or Dreams of My Father, “white man’s greed runs the world in need” Obama said? Is that worse than Trump’s comments? Everybody’s got selective moral outrage. Everybody’s all offended by words but it only depends on who utters the words that offends them. Because they’ll make all sorts of excuses, time and time again, if they don't want to pick that particular political fight.

    Hannity’s reputation as a Trump sycophant has been widely criticized and mocked, with media outlets calling out Hannity’s “unapologetic advocacy” for Trump,  including Hannity telling Trump during an interview that he was a supporter of his and stating that “I don’t hold back that I’ll be voting for Donald Trump.”

  • Exodus Of Minority Staffers Continue At RNC As GOP Embraces Trump

    Head Of Hispanic Media Relations Resigns Amid Trump's Latest Attacks On Latinos

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    The head of Hispanic media relations at the Republican National Committee, Ruth Guerra, announced her resignation amid reports that she was “uncomfortable working for Mr. Trump.” The announcement comes after a week in which presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump repeatedly attacked  the ethnic background of a U.S. District Court Judge, and criticized the first Latina governor in U.S. history, Susana Martinez.

    Trump has made insulting Hispanics a cornerstone of his presidential bid, including describing Latino immigrants as “rapists,”claiming that the Mexican government was intentionally sending criminals to the US, suggesting that Jeb Bush’s immigration views were shaped by his Mexican born wife, chalking up the beating of a Hispanic man by his supporters as them being “passionate,” and declaring “I love Hispanics” by tweeting out a picture of a taco bowl.

    Guerra’s resignation also comes a month after two high ranking African American’s resigned from the RNC. On March 31 NBC News reported that the RNC’s Director of African American outreach was leaving which was preceded by the resignation of the RNC’s Communications Director of Black Media.

    The New York Times reports:

    The head of Hispanic media relations at the Republican National Committee is resigning this month in what appears to be another indication of the lingering discomfort some party officials have about working to elect Donald J. Trump president.

    […]

    Ms. Guerra told colleagues this year that she was uncomfortable working for Mr. Trump, according two R.N.C. aides who requested anonymity to speak candidly about the difficulties surrounding the party’s presumptive standard-bearer.

    It is relatively rare for party staff members to leave the national committee in the midst of a presidential campaign unless they are going to work directly for the nominee.

  • CNN Criticizes Clinton Wealth While Ignoring Trump’s Shady Financial History

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    A segment on CNN’s OutFront criticized Hillary Clinton, claiming that she “avoids drawing attention to the vast wealth she and her husband have accumulated,” while ignoring the controversial business practices and wealth accumulated by presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump. Ironically, the CNN segment collected their information from tax returns released by the Clinton campaign, but failed to note Trump’s reluctance to release his own tax returns after repeatedly saying he would do so.

    CNN national correspondent Sunlen Serfaty highlighted Clinton’s “posh properties” and “luxurious vacations” after Bill Clinton left the White House. And while Serfaty admitted that the Clintons were millions in debt following Bill’s presidency, she argued that “the speaking circuit” allowed the Clintons to “cash in on their political fame.”

    The segment mirrors attacks lobbed at Hillary Clinton during her 2014 book tour, where media outlets painted Clinton as “out of touch with average Americans,” despite polls finding that most Americans believe Clinton understands the problems of everyday Americans.

    Despite the segment’s focus on the financial status of the Democratic frontrunner, Donald Trump’s lavish lifestyle and financials were completely ignored. Trump has failed to release his previous tax returns, claiming he will only release them after IRS audit is complete. But in 2012, Donald Trump criticized Mitt Romney’s reluctance to release his tax returns that “It is disqualifying for a modern-day presidential nominee to refuse to release tax returns to the voters, especially one who has not been subject to public scrutiny in either military or public service.” This came after Trump had promised in February that he would release his taxes “over the next three, four months.”

    Furthermore, while media has shown a fascination with Clinton’s financial history, Trump’s reportedly shady dealings have received relatively little attention. Trump is also currently facing a fraud lawsuit alleging that he scammed students out of $40 million, has received millions in tax deductions by donating land that he valued between 13 and 50 times what he paid for it, and has been accused of running a nutritional supplement scam that he billed as a “recession-proof” venture that bilked people out of thousands of dollars. Trump also took advantage of a government program meant to help small businesses hurt by 9/11, a move that netted him $150,000. None of this was mentioned in CNN’s Segment.

  • Fox Host Says Trump Would Never Back Down From A Debate, But He Has Repeatedly

    Fox’s Eric Bolling: “You Want To Be President Of The United States? ... Donald Trump Wouldn't Back Down From A Debate"

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    Fox News co-hosts argued that unlike presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton “would never” agree to a debate on Fox, forgetting that Trump has repeatedly backed out of debates during the GOP primaries -- including a debate on Fox News.

    During a discussion on the possibility of conducting a Democratic debate hosted by Fox News on the May 18 edition of Fox’s The Five, co-host Eric Bolling, argued that someone who wants to be president of the United States would not back down from a debate on Fox News, adding, “Donald Trump wouldn’t back down from a debate like this”:

     

    But Donald Trump did back down from a Fox News debate in January, citing unfair questions from moderator Megyn Kelly and a “wise-guy press release” from Fox News:

    Trump long has objected to the participation of Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly as one of the three moderators, claiming she has treated him unfairly with both her questioning of him at last August’s debate and her commentary since then.

    Trump also said that a “wise-guy press release” that the network issued earlier on Tuesday belittling him was inappropriately antagonistic and childish.

    Trump has also threatened to pull out of a CNN debate citing “one-sided and unfair reporting” from the network. Furthermore, a NBC debate was cancelled in March, after Trump said he would not attend because “I think we’ve had enough debates,” and following critical editorials of Trump, ABC News dropped The New Hampshire Union Leader as a co-sponsor from a February Republican debate, which Trump took credit for.

    Additionally, The Five co-host Meghan McCain claimed that Clinton wouldn’t agree to a debate on Fox because she is scared to take questions from Fox host Bret Baier, claiming “she knows that Bret Baier ain’t Rachel Maddow, honey. She’s going to have to answer some real questions and a lot of times she gets a lot of passes from the media.”

    But Hillary Clinton did take questions from Bret Baier during a Fox News presidential town hall event in March in which Baier asked Clinton eight separate questions about her private email server.