Andrew Lawrence

Author ››› Andrew Lawrence
  • Fox Host Attacks Media For Covering Chaotic Vote Over RNC Rules

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    As chaos erupted on the floor of the Republican National Convention following a voice vote over whether or not delegates would be free to vote on the conventions' rules, Fox News first ignored the uproar and then criticized other media outlets for reporting on it.

    In what was billed as the last stand for the “Stop Trump” movement, a voice vote was taken to adopt rules drafted by the RNC rules committee. Despite chaos on the floor, it was ruled that “the ayes have it and the resolution is agreed to,” a ruling which was denounced by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and other anti-Trump conservatives.

    While MSNBC and CNN were covering the scene from the RNC, Fox host Stuart Varney was attacking The Washington Post for its reporting on Fox host Neil Cavuto. When the network finally turned to the uproar, Varney used it to attack other media outlets for reporting on the “commotion,” saying “this convention will be treated by the establishment media as a series of confrontations, a series of crises. Very different from the expected media treatment of the Democrat convention next week”:

    STUART VARNEY (HOST): Now, we're bringing you this because there was some kind of commotion on the floor. Mike Lee, I believe, is trying to explain that commotion, whether it's a procedural thing, whether it involves those who oppose Donald Trump, that we're not quite sure of. The media, of course, is making the great play of some kind of commotion on the floor of the convention, which has already begun. We're trying to get our own James Rosen onboard to find out exactly what is going on down there. It's not a huge commotion by any means but Mike Lee, Republican senator from the state of Utah, is right there dealing with it. I'm not quite sure of his role in this commotion as I'm calling it. But that is what he is doing right now. Explaining to the media what just happened, why it happened, and what is going to happen next. That is Mike Lee on the floor of the convention. Now, the convention is barely been opened a fewer hours. Already we have contentious stuff happening on the floor. The media all over it, of course, as you just heard from Brent Bozell this convention will be treated by the establishment media as a series of confrontations, as a series of crises. Very different from the expected media treatment of the Democrat convention next week.

    Varney later repudiated claims that the convention had become a “car wreck,” saying that it should instead be described as “high drama.”

  • After Attack In France, Fox’s Van Susteren Allows Trump To Attack Obama With Lies  

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    After news broke of a possible terror attack in Nice, France, Fox News hosted Donald Trump for a phone interview in which host Greta Van Susteren allowed him to attack President Obama and Hillary Clinton with debunked lies about refugees fleeing the war-torn Middle East.

    At 5:44 PM ET time, Fox News reported a large truck had been driven through a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, France, killing dozens.

    At 7:20 PM ET time Donald Trump phoned into live coverage of the attack on Fox News. During the interview, Van Susteren allowed him to use falsehoods about Syrian refugees entering the United States to attack Obama and Clinton. 

    DONALD TRUMP: Hillary Clinton wants to allow 550 percent more than Obama and Obama is allowing a lot of people to come in. We have no idea who they are. They are from Syria, maybe. But they have no paperwork many times. They don't have documentation proper. I would make it -- I would not allow people to come in from terrorist nations. I would do extreme vetting. I would call it extreme vetting, too. And, you know, our country has tremendous problems. We don't need any more of the problems. Right now we have more investigations of this kind going on than we have ever had in the history of our country and we are going to allow thousands and tens of thousands of more people coming.

    Trump’s attack on Obama and Clinton over the refugee vetting process has been debunked numerous times, with PolitiFact writing:

    The vetting begins with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee, which determines who counts as a refugee, who should be resettled (about 1 percent) and which countries would take them. This alone can take four to 10 months.

    If the UNHCR refers refugees to the United States, they then face scrutiny from federal intelligence and security agencies.

    Their names, biographical information and fingerprints are run through federal terrorism and criminal databases. Meanwhile, the refugees are interviewed by Department of Homeland Security officials. If approved, they then undergo a medical screening, a match with sponsor agencies, "cultural orientation" classes and one final security clearance.

    Syrian refugees in particular must clear one additional hurdle. Their documents are placed under extra scrutiny and cross-referenced with classified and unclassified information.

    The process typically takes one to two years or longer and happens before a refuge ever steps onto American soil. Ultimately, says the State Department, about half are approved, and there’s no real precedent of a terrorist slipping in through the vetting system.

  • Fox’s Hannity Provided Gingrich With Private Jet For Trump VP Audition

    CNN: “Hannity Has Long Argued That He Is Not Subject To Journalistic Ethics Because He Is A Pundit”

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    CNN reported that Trump sycophant and Fox News host Sean Hannity provided former Fox contributor Newt Gingrich with a private jet for travel to a meeting with presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump during his search for a vice presidential pick.

    On July 13, CNN reported Hannity provided a private jet to Indianapolis for Gingrich as Trump “holds late-stage meetings with his VP finalists.” Trump had previously said he would consult with Hannity on his choice for running mate, and on July 12 Hannity said of the looming choice that, “I wouldn’t be happy with anyone but Newt.” CNN also reported that Trump has been consulting with Fox News CEO Roger Ailes and 21st Century Fox executive co-chairman Rupert Murdoch:

    Newt Gingrich, a finalist on Donald Trump's vice presidential shortlist, flew to Indianapolis to meet with Trump on a private jet provided by Fox News host Sean Hannity, two sources with knowledge of the situation told CNN.

    The Fox News host flew the former House speaker to Indianapolis early Wednesday morning to meet with the Republican nominee as he holds late-stage meetings with his VP finalists, the sources said.

    […]

    The Trump-Gingrich meeting came at the request of the former speaker. Trump has also held meetings and phone calls about the VP post with Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions.

    During this time, Trump has also consulted with both Roger Ailes, the chairman and CEO of Fox News, and Rupert Murdoch, the 21st Century Fox executive co-chairman.

    On July 12, Fox News announced it suspended Gingrich from his position as a network contributor given the “intense media speculation” surrounding Gingrich as a potential VP pick and to avoid the appearance of “conflicts of interest.” While Fox News cited a conflict of interest as the reason for Gingrich’s suspension, CNN noted that “Hannity has long argued that he is not subject to journalistic ethics because he is a pundit.” Hannity has also entertained the idea of serving in an official capacity in a potential Trump administration.

    UPDATE: Sean Hannity responded to the report on Twitter, stating "Whatever favors I do for my friends is my business."

     

     

     

  • Fox News’ Parent Company Launches Investigation Into Sexual Harassment Charges Against Roger Ailes

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    Fox News’ parent company, 21st Century Fox, has initiated an internal investigation into claims made by former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson in a lawsuit against Fox News CEO Roger Ailes alleging sexual harassment and gender discrimination.

    On July 6, Carlson filed a complaint in the Superior Court of New Jersey in which she claimed Ailes had routinely made sexually charged comments to her as well as “demands for sex as a way to improve her job standing.”

    CNN’s Brian Stelter reported that 21st Century Fox announced that they have initiated an internal investigation into the claims:

     

    In announcing the internal review, 21st Century Fox praised Ailes and Fox host Steve Doocy, who was also named in Carlson’s lawsuit. The announcement declared “full confidence” in Ailes and Doocy and praised the duo as being “brilliant”:

    21st Century Fox released a statement on Wednesday, saying: "The Company has seen the allegations against Mr. Ailes and Mr. Doocy. We take these matters seriously. While we have full confidence in Mr. Ailes and Mr. Doocy, who have served the company brilliantly for over two decades, we have commenced an internal review of the matter."

    Ailes has also responded to the allegations which he described as “false” and “retaliatory” for the decision not to renew Carlson’s contract. Ailes’ statement included criticism of Carlson for “disappointingly low ratings that dragged down the afternoon lineup,” and described her lawsuit as “offensive.”

  • 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.