Matt Gertz

Author ››› Matt Gertz
  • Fox News’ Sham Effort To Prove Donald Trump Isn’t Lying About Iraq

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    There is no Donald Trump lie better-documented than his constantly repeated falsehood that he opposed the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. During last night’s debate, he was pummeled on the issue by moderator Lester Holt and numerous fact-checkers. Dutifully doing damage control for the Republican nominee, Fox News is now trying to obscure the record, claiming that “history backs The Donald.”

    As numerous fact-checkers have noted, contrary to his claims that he was “totally against the war in Iraq” from the beginning, in 2002, more than six months before the invasion of Iraq, Trump was asked by radio host Howard Stern if he was “for invading Iraq.” He responded, “Yeah, I guess so. You know, I wish the first time it was done correctly.”

    Trump struggled to explain why he keeps lying about this during the September 26 debate as Holt repeatedly pointed out that he had originally supported the war. At one point, Trump claimed that he had done “an interview with [Fox News anchor] Neil Cavuto” which he claimed vindicated him.

    But the Cavuto interview in question has been reviewed by numerous fact-checkers that concluded it did not support his claims to be against the war. Fox News, on the other hand, is ready and willing to use the interview to clear Trump of a months-long campaign of lies.

    An unbylined FoxNews.com article claimed Trump was right, reporting that the January 2003 interview “backs up Trump on Iraq War opposition”:

    After all the clamor for moderators to fact-check the candidates during Monday night's presidential debate, Donald Trump flipped the script on Lester Holt by rejecting his assertion Trump backed the war in Iraq - and history backs The Donald.

    [...]

    Cavuto himself picked up the thread post-debate on Fox Business Network, unearthing the clip Trump referenced, from January 28, 2003 – Nearly two months before the Iraq War began on March 20. In the video, Cavuto asks Trump how much time President Bush should spend on the economy vs. on Iraq.

    “Well, I’m starting to think that people are much more focused now on the economy,” Trump said. “They’re getting a little bit tired of hearing ‘We’re going in, we’re not going in.’ Whatever happened to the days of Douglas MacArthur? Either do it or don’t do it.”

    Trump continued: “Perhaps he shouldn’t be doing it yet. And perhaps we should be waiting for the United Nations.”

    Fox’s article ignores that Trump’s comments came three months after the war was authorized; that Trump did not explicitly say he opposed the invasion during that interview; or that Trump again did not say that he opposed the invasion in a subsequent interview with Cavuto in March 2003, after the war began, when he said that it “looks like a tremendous success from a military standpoint.”

    BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski called the Fox article “embarrassing” and “complete bullshit,” noting that fact-checkers had reviewed the “unearth[ed]” clip and concluded that it did not support Trump’s claims, while Fox had framed it “exactly how Trump wanted you to.” Indeed:

    • CNN has reported that Trump “never said [the war] should not be undertaken” during the Cavuto interview, adding, “It wasn't until August 2004 -- 17 months after the invasion began and the war was being widely criticized -- that Trump came out fully against the war.” CNN concluded that Trump had lied about being against the war from the start.

    • Factcheck.org noted that Trump “offers no opinion on what Bush should do” during the January 2003 Cavuto interview, concluding that there is “no evidence” Trump fought against the invasion.

    • The Washington Post FactChecker blog has repeatedly referenced the Cavuto quote, noting that Trump did not take a position on the invasion during that interview and frequently criticizing Trump’s claims about opposing the war from the beginning as “bogus.”

    • PolitiFact pointed out that Trump “didn’t speak against going to war” during the Cavuto interview, concluding that Trump’s claims about opposing the war are false.

    Only Fox News is willing to claim that the Cavuto interview “backs The Donald.” That’s not surprising given their months-long campaign in support of Trump.

    UPDATE: As Kaczynski and Post Fact Checker reporter Michelle Ye Hee Lee have pointed out, Cavuto aired the same January 2003 interview clip in February. But at the time, Cavuto said that Trump's January 2003 comments  "could have left you with a different impression" than Trump's false claim that he had always opposed the war. Cavuto added that Trump was "not bashing the president ... nor is he fully endorsing Iraq, but he's saying some clear decision is required."
     
  • Polls Show Americans Want Moderators To Fact-Check During The Debates

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    A strong majority of Americans want the moderators of the presidential debates to fact-check the candidates, according to two new polls. The will of the voters comes contrary to that of Republican nominee Donald Trump (who journalists note has engaged in an unprecedented campaign of lies), his supporters in the media, and the moderator of the third presidential debate, Fox News’ Chris Wallace.

    Media Matters has joined numerous journalists in calling on the presidential debate moderators to fact-check the candidates in real time to ensure that viewers are not left with a “he said-she said” version of the facts. That effort is more important than ever given Trump’s unprecedented willingness to lie.

    Trump and his team have pushed back against suggestions that the moderators should call out candidates when they don't tell the truth, with Trump saying, “I think that the candidates should police themselves.” Trump’s allies at Fox News have also claimed “it’s not the job” of moderators to fact-check candidates, with Wallace saying they should not serve as a “truth squad.”

    Americans disagree.

    According to a Monmouth University poll released today, “Most voters (60%) believe one of the duties of the moderators is to fact check candidates who state false information during the debates. Only 31% say the moderators should leave it to the candidates to point out any false statements by their opponent.”

    Reuters similarly reported today, “In a strong signal that most viewers will also be hoping the debates bring clarity, some 72 percent of respondents said they want to see moderators point out when a candidate says something that is untrue.”

    A voter explained to Reuters why this is so important:

    "It helps the audience, particularly me, to recognize what’s bull crap and what’s real," said Harvey Leven, 63, a teacher from Farmington Hills, Michigan. "It’s easy for the candidates to quote a statistic and people accept it."

    According to both polls, Trump supporters were less likely than backers of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton to support a fact-checking moderator.

  • CNN Shouldn’t Suspend Corey Lewandowski. The Network Should Fire Him.

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    It’s long past time for CNN to cut ties with former Donald Trump campaign manager and current Trump advisor Corey Lewandowski.

    Earlier today, Mediaite reported that according to its sources, CNN had suspended Lewandowski. A CNN spokesperson has told media reporters that this is not true, though some CNN staff apparently believed that it was.

    CNN’s decision to hire Lewandowski has been widely criticized as an ethical morass from the start. Media ethicists and journalists have been condemning CNN for months.​

    Here’s what we know is happening right now:

    Corey Lewandowski is getting paid by Donald Trump.

    Corey Lewandowski is advising Donald Trump.

    Corey Lewandowski is getting paid by CNN to talk about Donald Trump.

    CNN and the Trump campaign both refer to the payments Lewandowski continues to receive from the Republican presidential nominee as “severance” rather than payment for “services rendered.” But according to the Trump campaign’s own filings, the payments are for “strategy consulting,” and Trump’s spokesperson says they will continue through the election.

    As of yesterday, CNN’s president was still defending this stain on CNN’s reputation.

    This is unacceptable.

    CNN should cut ties with Lewandowski immediately.

  • There Is No Evidence Terror Attacks Help Donald Trump

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza is claiming that terror attacks like the weekend’s explosions in New York and New Jersey and stabbings in a Minnesota mall will benefit Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump because they are “external events [that] affirm his diagnosis of the current state of politics,” and thus his message “hits home” under those circumstances. But Cillizza presents no actual evidence of his claim, and polling following terror attacks in San Bernardino, CA; Paris, France; Orlando, FL; and Nice, France undermine his claims.

    Cillizza writes that Trump’s message is “politicians are failures,” and that “To get voters to sign onto that message and, more challengingly, that messenger, Trump needs external events to affirm his diagnosis of the current state of politics — that it is an utter failure and, not only that, but that the failures of politicians have made the average person less safe.” He concludes in his September 19 post:

    Most people — Democrats and Republicans — share Trump's alienation from politics and politicians. They are convinced, as Trump is, that politics is broken, and none of the people in office right now have any idea how to fix it. Given that, when they turn on the news and are presented with the chaos we have seen over the past three days, the Trump message — "We have to make a change. No choice." — hits home in a way that it wouldn't if most people feel safe and secure.

    The most basic dynamic of this race is [Hillary] Clinton as safe, capable and status quo, and Trump as risky, unpredictable and change. The more chaos people see in the country and the world, the more they are willing to throw over Clinton's experience and swallow their doubts about Trump's readiness for office. He truly is the chaos candidate.

    Cillizza cites no polling data to support this contention; he is simply dressing up his gut opinion as savvy analysis. A review of actual data shows no evidence to back his suggestion that Trump does better than Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton following unpredictable events such as terrorist attacks.

    Here's the RealClearPolitics poll average for the two weeks after the June 12 terrorist shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando. Trump’s support was static while Clinton’s increased:

    Here’s the poll average for the two weeks after the December 2 mass shooting in San Bernardino. Trump’s support fell slightly while Clinton’s increased by several points:

    The RealClearPolitics average showed almost no movement in the two weeks after the November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris:

    And while the average shows an increase in Trump’s support following the July 14 attacks in Nice, that period overlapped with the Republican National Convention:

    If Cillizza had consulted data, rather than trying to tell a story that validates his own opinions, he would have found that terror attacks are at worst a wash for Clinton and that they may actually improve her standing with voters.

  • Seven Reasons The Media Shouldn’t Let Trump Move On From Birtherism

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    The Trump campaign released a lie-filled statement that sought to put to rest criticism of Donald Trump for building his political image on racist, conspiratorial claims that President Obama was not born in the United States. The media has a responsibility to debunk Trump’s lies and not let him get away with whitewashing his role in promoting a campaign to delegitimize the first black president.

    Trump’s birtherism wasn’t just a fleeting comment; it helped lay the groundwork for his current presidential run. His sustained campaign in the spring of 2011 questioning the president’s birthplace endeared him to both fringe conservative media outlets that are now supporting his presidential bid and to Fox News, which devoted dozens of segments to helping him push the conspiracy.

    Last night’s statement from the campaign claimed that Trump “was finally able to bring this ugly incident to its conclusion” in 2011 by “compelling President Obama to release his birth certificate.” The statement further asserted, “Having successfully obtained President Obama’s birth certificate when others could not, Mr. Trump believes that President Obama was born in the United States.” He also blamed “Hillary Clinton’s campaign” for first “rais[ing] this issue.”

    None of this is true, but some reporters are already letting Trump off the hook.

    The only way Trump will be able to put his shameful birtherism 'to bed' is if the media fails to hold him accountable in the coming days. Here’s why.

    President Obama released his birth certificate in 2008, years before Trump started talking about it.

    The campaign statement suggests Trump is the hero of the birth certificate story because he “was finally able to bring this ugly incident to its conclusion” in 2011 by “compelling President Obama to release his birth certificate.” In fact, Obama’s campaign released his certificate of live birth in June 2008. It was published by FactCheck.org and other media outlets and verified as authentic. The next year, Dr. Chiyome Fukino, director of the Hawaii State Department of Health, certified that she had personally seen Obama's birth certificate in the original records maintained by the Hawaii government.

    In other words, at the time Trump raised the birther issue in 2011, the president’s place of birth was questioned only by conspiracy theorists. It was Trump who brought that racist conspiracy out of the shadows, leading to President Obama releasing his long-form birth certificate in 2011.

    When President Obama released his long-form, Trump suggested it was fake.

    The Trump campaign statement suggests that the Republican nominee’s skepticism about Obama’s birthplace ended when he released his long-form birth certificate in 2011. But immediately after the release of that document, Trump told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that “a lot of people don’t agree with that birth certificate” because they “do not think it was an authentic certificate.” He added, “You won’t report it, Wolf, but many people do not think it was authentic.”

    Trump told Jerome Corsi, a leader of the birther movement and the author of Where’s the Birth Certificate, that the birth certificate was forged.

    According to birther site WND, “During their conversation, Trump told Corsi his own computer expert told him at the release that it was a computer-generated document.”

    Trump spent the next several years promoting birth certificate conspiracies on Twitter.

    Trump repeatedly used his Twitter account in the years following the release of Obama’s long-form birth certificate to cast doubt upon its authenticity. In 2012, Trump claimed that “An ‘extremely credible source’ has called my office and told me that @BarackObama’s birth certificate is a fraud.” In 2013, he wrote, “How amazing, the State Health Director who verified copies of Obama’s ‘birth certificate’ died in plane crash today. All others lived.” In 2014, he retweeted someone who wrote that “Obama also fabricated his own birth certificate after being pressured to produce one” by Trump. There are many, many more examples.

    Via The Daily Beast’s Gideon Resnick:

    Trump also continued to claim the birth certificate was fake in interviews.

    For years, Trump would respond to interviewers who asked about his birtherism by claiming there were still legitimate questions about the document. In October 2012, he told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren that he “wasn’t satisfied” with the long-form birth certificate, adding “I never said I was satisfied.” He also suggested that contemporaneous birth announcements that appeared in Hawaii newspapers had been faked.

    In 2013, Trump told ABC’s Jon Karl, “I have no idea” if the president was born in the United States. He added, “Was it a birth certificate? You tell me. Some people say that was not his birth certificate. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't. I’m saying I don’t know. Nobody knows. And you don’t know either, Jonathan.”

    In 2014, Trump questioned the birth certificate's authenticity in an interview with Irish TV, as BuzzFeed reported:

    In one 2014 exchange with Irish TV, for instance, he defended his birtherism at length.

    “You questioned his citizenship during his campaign, and you said afterwards if he produced that long-form birth certificate, you’d produce your tax returns. But you didn’t do it, did you?” asked Ireland TV3’s Colette Fitzpatrick in May 2014.

    “Well, I don’t know — did he do it?” Trump said. “If I decide to run for office I’ll produce my tax returns. Absolutely. I would love to do that. I did produce a financial statement even though I wasn’t even running. I did produce a financial statement and it was shocking to some because it was so much higher than people thought possible.”

    [...]

    “But he is a citizen and he produced that long form birth certificate,” host Fitzpatrick said.

    “Well, a lot of people don’t agree with you and a lot of people feel it wasn’t a proper certificate,” Trump said.

    Earlier this year, Trump claimed he was planning to write a book about his theory of Obama’s citizenship.

    Trump was casting doubt on the president’s birth certificate as recently as January.

    Asked about whether Obama is a natural-born citizen during a January 6 interview with CNN’s Blitzer, Trump responded, “Who knows? Who cares right now? We're talking about something else, OK?" He continued: "I mean, I have my own theory on Obama. Someday I'll write a book. I'll do another book. It'll do very successfully.”

    Trump’s campaign surrogates have defended his birtherism.

    Before the Trump campaign released its September 15 statement, his campaign surrogates have defended him in a variety of ways. They have claimed that the issue is “completely irrelevant” so Trump “has said that he does not talk about that anymore”; doubled-down on birther claims; said that there was “nothing wrong” with his birther claims; and refused to say if Trump should apologize for his statements.

    Trump is lying, Clinton’s campaign didn’t raise the birther issue.

    According to the statement, “Hillary Clinton’s campaign first raised this issue to smear then-candidate Barack Obama” during her 2008 campaign for president. As FactCheck.org, Politifact.com, and The Washington Post, among others, have documented, this is false. Trump began pushing this lie last year in order to try to shed responsibility for his actions.

  • New Fox Chief Who Allegedly Covered Up Ailes’ Sexual Harassment Signs Multi-Year Deal

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Fox News

    Fox News announced today that co-president Bill Shine has signed a new multi-year contract. Shine reportedly “played an integral role in the cover up” of sexual harassment allegations against former chief Roger Ailes, which led critics to point out that Ailes departure did not indicate a change in culture at the network following Shine’s promotion.

    Rupert Murdoch announced the new Shine contract in a September 14 press release in which he praised Shine for his role in the Fox’s “continued dominance in the ratings and historic earnings performance” and said that the deal ensured “stability and leadership to guide the network for years to come.”

    Former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson recently settled after suing Ailes last month for sexual harassment. Her lawsuit spurred numerous other women to come forward with similar claims against Ailes and an internal investigation of Ailes’ actions that led to his resignation but reportedly did not examine “the broader culture of Fox News.”

    New York magazine writer Gabriel Sherman -- the leading source on the Ailes scandal -- previously reported that Shine “played an integral role in the cover up of these sexual harassment claims,” including “play[ing] a role in rallying the women to speak out against Roger Ailes’ accusers.” Sherman also reported that Shine played a key role in the silencing and “smearing” of “Rudi Bakhtiar, who says she was fired from Fox News after complaining about sexual harassment.” Shine also reportedly played a role in the handling of Laurie Luhn, a former booker who reportedly received a $3.15 million severance agreement and was allegedly “sexually harassed and ‘psychologically tortured’ by Roger Ailes for more than 20 years.”

    Former Fox host Andrea Tantaros also filed a lawsuit last month alleging sexual harassment and retaliation against Shine, Fox News, and Ailes. According to the complaint, when Tantaros met with Shine seeking “relief from Ailes’s sexual harassment and [Fox News publicist Irena] Briganti’s retaliatory media vendetta against her," Shine “told Tantaros that Ailes was a ‘very powerful man’ and that Tantaros ‘needed to let this one go.’”

    Media Matters President Bradley Beychok released the following statement last month after Fox News announced that the network was promoting Shine to co-president:

    "Fox News has an obligation to take allegations of sexual harassment seriously--  for the sake of its staff, and also for its audience. That is why Media Matters launched a petition calling on the network to release the findings of its internal review. The announcement that Bill Shine, who multiple reporters have linked to Ailes' harassment, will serve as co-president of Fox News is a disappointing signal that 21st Century Fox may not be ready to take serious the allegations and to end its culture of sexism and misogyny."

     
  • There’s A DC Political Reporter Who Might Vote For Trump “To See What Happens”

    Opposing View: This Election Is Not A Game, Its Result Will Impact People's Lives

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Donald Trump

    Somewhere in Washington, DC, there is a political reporter who hates Hillary Clinton so much that they are considering voting for Donald Trump because they think his administration would be a “dumpster fire” that would be more fun to cover and just “to see what happens.”

    This election is really happening. The person who wins will be the president. The results will have actual consequences, if not for the anonymous journalist, then for hundreds of millions of other Americans. The president of the United States is the leader of the free world and wields the most powerful armed forces in the history of mankind, as well as a nuclear arsenal that can reduce nations to ashes.

    But for this one reporter, it’s all kind of a joke, a game whose result matters only insofar as it impacts their future reporting endeavors.

    Identified by GQ only as “Politics reporter, 42, Washington, D.C.” for a feature titled “Inside the Mind of the Undecided Voter,” this unknown journalist says they “cannot stomach” Clinton because they “find so much of her world hypocritical, reprehensible.” In particular, the reporter is offended by the “huge” story about her emails. The reporter could be convinced to support her if she had a “really convincing and honest come-to-Jesus with the media. A real press conference.”

    By contrast, the reporter likes Trump because “I believe that sometimes you just have to blow shit up to build it again, and I think that a Trump presidency would do that,” but is held back because of Trump’s tendencies to say offensive things (they give no indication they are worried about the policy implications for actual human beings of either those offensive comments or Trump "blow[ing] shit up").

    The reporter’s statement concludes:

    I cover this stuff every day. So for me, four years of Trump, selfishly, sounds a lot more enticing, just because it's going to be a dumpster fire. And a Clinton administration would be more of what we're seeing now, which is carefully orchestrated speeches, behind-the-scenes Wealthy McWealthysons going in and out of the White House, and really horrible transparency with the press.

    Gun to my head, I would probably vote Trump because of my feelings about Hillary, and my—I just want to see what happens. But if I were to talk to you tomorrow, I'd be like, "Ugh! I've gotta vote for Hillary!"

    GQ gives no indication that their article is a work of parody, though it is difficult to understand how such a nihilistic opinion could be held by an actual person.

  • Anatomy Of A Terrible Clinton Foundation Article

    Wall Street Journal Scandalizes Hillary Clinton's Attendance At Her Husband's Birthday Party

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    A new report from The Wall Street Journal provides an excellent example of the media’s tendency to suggest malfeasance around events related to Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation, even when they have found no evidence to support that impression. Based on documents and spin from a right-wing organization, the story actually scandalizes Clinton’s attendance at her husband’s birthday party.

    Publication bias -- the tendency to publish stories regardless of whether they prove the premise the reporters set out to investigate -- is one of the most pernicious aspects of press coverage of Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation. As Vox’s Matt Yglesias has put it, “Journalists need to admit when we’ve struck out” in order to avoid providing readers “a distorted picture of reality simply because everyone is trying to be interesting.”

    Here’s a sentence-by-sentence breakdown of how that played out in a September 6 Journal report headlined “Calendar Shows Hillary Clinton Meetings With Foundation Donors.”

    Hillary Clinton as secretary of state attended high-profile events and functions where donors to her family’s charitable foundation were in attendance, calendar records show.

    The story opens with an over-promise suggesting that it will contain a number of conflicts of interest regarding Clinton and her foundation. As we will see, that does not occur.

    Records for a six-month stretch in 2011 show her attending a foundation plenary session in New York in September, when she was interviewed by her daughter, Chelsea.

    This isn’t news -- the 2011 interview at the Clinton Global Initiative’s annual meeting was covered at the time by ABC, NBC, CNN, and The Associated Press. None of those outlets suggested there was anything untoward about the appearance. You can watch video of the event here.

    Three weeks later, she attended what was billed as a Clinton Foundation dinner in Los Angeles.

    The dinner occurred at a concert that “doubled as Bill Clinton’s 65th birthday party,” according to a contemporaneous 2011 Los Angeles Times report.

    The following day, she was scheduled to attend a brunch at the home of media billionaire Haim Saban, whose family foundation has given more than $10 million to the Clinton Foundation.

    The calendar says she and her husband were to “mix and mingle with guests.”

    The Journal’s analysis reduces Saban to nothing more than a Clinton Foundation donor; mentioning Clinton’s attendance at a brunch at Saban’s home makes sense in this article only under that frame. In reality, Saban has known and supported the Clintons since Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign. Drawing a line from the Clinton Foundation donation to the brunch appearance is nonsensical.

    The records were provided by Citizens United, a conservative group that obtained them through a public-records lawsuit against the State Department. David Bossie, president of Citizens United, said last week he would take a leave of absence to join the Trump campaign.

    This is an acknowledgment that the contents of this article are based on documents provided by a right-wing organization that has been attacking the Clintons for decades. Journalists are less likely to continue to receive access to such documents if they report that the documents show nothing shady occurred (one might call that a bit of a journalistic quid pro quo).

    Mrs. Clinton has faced questions about the family foundation and whether donors received access to her top deputies at the State Department. In an interview to air Tuesday on ABC, Mrs. Clinton said, “What I made a decision based on was what was good for the United States, what was good for our values, our interests, and our security.”

    Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian and history professor at Rice University, said that “a lot of politics is perception” and that the Clinton Foundation’s “endless tangle of relationships” have amounted to a drag on her candidacy.

    These paragraphs put the article’s supposed revelations in the context of “questions” Clinton has faced about purported play-to-play surrounding the foundation, notwithstanding the article’s failure to identify such a case.

    The calendar shows that on Sept. 16, 2011, Mrs. Clinton convened a summit in San Francisco, where she gave a speech on empowering women. Before the speech, according to her calendar, Mrs. Clinton met with nine executives from Wal-Mart Stores Inc., for which she once served on the board.

    A Wal-Mart spokesman declined to comment about the meeting, which included Doug McMillon, now the company’s CEO. The Clinton campaign said the meeting related to a company initiative aimed at boosting women-owned businesses.

    In the spring of the next year, Wal-Mart pledged to help women in Latin America with a $1.5 million donation in grants to 55,000 women entrepreneurs through a public-private partnership Mrs. Clinton created at the State Department. Wal-Mart also gave $500,000 for Vital Voices, a charity she co-founded.

    Later in 2012, Mrs. Clinton visited India and made an argument to loosen the nation’s restrictions on big-box retailers.

    A Clinton representative has said she was advocating on behalf of American companies in general.

    As secretary of state, Clinton promoted women-owned businesses abroad, including through public-private partnerships, and advocated for U.S. companies in foreign countries. In other words, she did her job. But the article scandalizes these typical job responsibilities by placing them in the context of “questions” raised about the foundation. Vital Voices is a nonprofit that grew out of a U.S. government program Clinton and then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright founded in 1997 to “promote the advancement of women as a U.S. foreign policy goal.”

    “The idea that attending her husband’s birthday party, being interviewed by her daughter on live TV or meeting with a company announcing a major global initiative to help empower women economically—all of which was covered in the press at the time—is somehow now retroactively scandalous is absurd,” said Josh Schwerin, Clinton campaign spokesman.

    The last paragraph of the article is a statement from a Clinton campaign spokesman explaining why the piece’s premise makes no sense and why it shouldn’t have been published.

     
  • Here’s The Real “Question” Raised By The NY Times' Latest Clinton Foundation Flop

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    The New York Times is reporting that the latest emails released by a right-wing anti-Clinton organization “raise new questions” about “whether people tied to the Clinton Foundation received special access at” Hillary Clinton’s State Department. But the information revealed in the article completely debunks that interpretation of events, showing that the people seeking “special access” were actually involved in Bill Clinton’s successful 2009 mission to North Korea that resulted in the freeing of two captive U.S. reporters, and their request for a special passport was never granted.

    The Times is credulously reporting on “510 pages of new State Department documents” released by Judicial Watch, a conservative activist group with a history of engaging in dishonest activism, promoting conspiracy theories, and pushing false or misleading narratives that have driven the media narrative on Hillary Clinton’s emails. According to the story’s headline, the “Emails Raise New Questions About Clinton Foundation Ties to State Dept.”

    Here’s what the article actually shows:

    1. Douglas J. Band, an adviser to Bill Clinton who also played a role with the Clinton Foundation, reached out to top State Department aide Huma Abedin on July 27, 2009, seeking diplomatic passports for himself and two other people.

    2. The State Department did not issue the passports.

    3. Band sought the passports because he was about to accompany Bill Clinton on a secret trip to North Korea which resulted in the successful release of two U.S. journalists.

    4. At about the same time, Abedin told Hillary Clinton’s scheduler that Bill Clinton wanted her to meet with Andrew Liveris, the chief executive of Dow Chemical, at an event the next night. Judicial Watch suggested that this was because Dow Chemical was a major Clinton Foundation donor.

    5. Liveris was the head of the US-China Business Council and was about to let Bill Clinton use his private plane for the secret trip to North Korea.

    So, a top aide to Bill Clinton sought but did not receive diplomatic passports for aides accompanying Clinton on a trip to save American journalists from captivity in a brutal dictatorship, and a corporate executive who was providing the plane for the mission got a few minutes of facetime with the secretary of state.

    As The Boston Globe’s Michael Cohen noted, “This is literally a story about how those at the Clinton Foundation DID NOT RECEIVE SPECIAL ACCESS.” It’s hard to see how this is a story about the Clinton Foundation at all. But to the Times, this raises “new questions.”

    This is an excellent example of what Vox’s Matt Yglesias has termed the media’s tendency to depict Hillary Clinton as “a uniquely corrupt specimen” due to “editorial decisions by the managers of major news organizations to dedicate resources to running down every possible Clinton email lead” and presenting them as evidence of corruption regardless of context.

    By contrast, The Washington Post also reported on the emails, but presented them as a case of clear overreach by Judicial Watch.

    If the Times report raises any question, it is Cohen’s: “Is there some kind of a deal with Judicial Watch where respected news outlets must print their partisan spin in return for [Clinton Foundation] emails?”

     
  • White Nationalist Media Cheers Trump’s “Almost Perfect” Immigration Speech

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Donald Trump’s August 31 immigration speech was an angry, hateful rant that sought to fearmonger over the purported dangers immigrants pose to the United States. Trump’s white nationalist media supporters loved it.

    Trump’s disturbing courtship with and widespread support from white nationalists is unprecedented for a major party nominee in recent history. Stephen Bannon, the chief executive of the "alt-right" publication Breitbart News, recently became chief executive of Trump's campaign.

    During and after Trump’s speech, white nationalists weighed in with glowing testimonials.

    Jared Taylor, publisher of the white nationalist publication American Renaissance:

    David Duke, radio host and former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan:

    Richard Spencer, white nationalist writer and founder of the “alt-right”:

    Creative Commons image via Gage Skidmore