Matt Gertz

Author ››› Matt Gertz
  • 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”:
     
     
  • Sean Hannity's Dream Died In Mexico City

    (He Won't Care)

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    What is Sean Hannity going to do tonight?

    Donald Trump went to Mexico, had a meeting with the nation’s president, and said at a subsequent press conference that he did not bring up the signature issue of his campaign: That he will build a wall along the Mexican border and make Mexico pay for it.

    Hannity doesn’t just support this aim; his fawning treatment of Trump has literally included doing call and response with his Trump town hall audiences about it.

    Seriously you would think this would be embarrassing for Trump.

    On his radio show this afternoon Hannity lauded Trump’s performance during his trip to Mexico City, saying that the Republican presidential nominee’s “strength caused [Mexico’s president] to reach out to him” and that “Trump didn’t back down an inch.” He did not bring up the fact that the presidential candidate apparently declined to let Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto know face-to-face that he is on the hook for Trump’s border wall.

    It’s that sort of naked hypocrisy that has conservatives berating Hannity’s “slavish” and “disgraceful” shilling for Trump.

    UPDATE: It gets worse for Hannity.

  • CNN's Calamity Worsens: Lewandowski Reportedly Prepping Trump For Debates

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Corey Lewandowski CNN contributor and former Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski is helping the Republican presidential nominee prepare for the upcoming debates, according to a new report. It’s the latest devastating evidence that the network’s ethical nightmare has become untenable.

    Conservative media website Heat Street is reporting that according to sources close to the campaign, Lewandowski is part of the team of conservative media stalwarts involved with “preparing Donald Trump for the debates.” Will CNN allow its political commentator to discuss debates for which he has prepared one of the candidates?

    The conservative news site further states, “If things get more dire for the struggling Presidential candidate, Corey may be at the top of the list of official re-hires,” meaning there may be even more issues with his CNN employment in the future.

    Lewandowski is still on the Trump campaign payroll, and CNN anchors frequently introduce him by noting that he continues to receive severance from his former employer. He reportedly speaks to Trump “almost every day” and has even traveled with the campaign.

    This is neither normal nor acceptable. Trump has effectively offloaded Lewandowski’s salary onto CNN, while gaining an on-air advocate willing to defend literally anything he says, no matter how absurd. That’s why media ethicists and journalists have been condemning CNN's hire for weeks.​

    It’s long past time for the network that claims to be the most trusted name in news to cut ties with Lewandowski.

  • After John McCain Told A Few Jokes, Politico Declared The Return Of The “Straight Talk Express”

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    John McCain

    Politico’s report on Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) re-election fight could not have been more flattering to the candidate if his press staff had authored it.

    Based on attending a single day of events with McCain, Politico published an August 23 story headlined “The return of ‘Straight Talk’ McCain” that claimed that, at least for that day, he was again “the loose, accessible, happy warrior of Straight Talk Express yesteryear” and was “at ease on the trail” while “running what might be his last campaign in vintage plainspoken style.”

    The fawning article relayed anecdotes from reporter Burgess Everett’s travel to a series of McCain campaign events that day. Readers learn that McCain told several jokes over the course of the day, that he was “relaxed enough to kid around about ethnic jokes” during one event and told a light joke at Everett’s expense at another. Everett also reported that McCain criticized Congress and President Obama, and that when asked about Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, the “straight-talker” first dodged the question before eventually saying,“I believe we should do everything we can as Republicans to steer Mr. Trump in the right direction.”

    Somehow the article never mentioned that McCain has endorsed Trump. And despite the paeans to the “plainspoken” McCain, it never found space to bring up how the senator hemmed and hawed his way through a stammering nonanswer after being asked earlier this month if he is comfortable with his choice for president of the United States controlling the nuclear arsenal:

    The Straight Talk Express is back! Congrats to the senator’s campaign press operation.

    Thanks to an intensive, decades-long effort to cultivate the press, McCain has received an unearned reputation from reporters as a maverick and a straight-talker, as detailed in Media Matters’ 2008 book, Free Ride: John McCain and the Media. Yet after his words and actions make clear that he is a Republican like any other, the press regularly finds ways to declare that the “old” McCain is “back.”

     
  • Muhammad Yunus Is A Decades-Long Clinton Friend And A Nobel Prize Winner. Donations Aren't Why She Met With Him.

    The "Scandal" Requires Reducing International Business And Non-Profit Leaders To "Clinton Foundation Donors"

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    The Associated Press is reporting that “more than half the people outside the government who met with Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state gave money - either personally or through companies or groups - to the Clinton Foundation” and scandalizing the information as “an extraordinary proportion indicating her possible ethics challenges if elected president.” That report is currently rocketing through the media.

    This level of media hysteria would make sense if favors were being granted to individuals because they were donors. But that speculation falls apart when the story gets down to specific cases, because many Clinton Foundation donors are internationally prominent figures in the business or non-profit worlds – the very sort of people one would expect to be meeting with a secretary of state in any administration.

    According to the AP’s review of State Department calendars released to the organization so far, covering roughly half of Clinton’s tenure at State, “[a]t least 85 of 154 people from private interests who met or had phone conversations scheduled with Clinton while she led the State Department donated to her family charity or pledged commitments to its international programs.”

    So who are these Clinton Foundation donors that the AP  notes met with Clinton? Famed Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus is one, and eleven paragraphs of the AP story detail meetings and interactions between the internationally known figure and Clinton and her staff over assistance he sought that was first reported last October.

    Yes, Yunus-controlled organizations have donated between $125,000 and $300,000 to the Clinton Foundation, mostly as annual fees to attend Clinton Global Initiative meetings. But it’s completely absurd to suggest that “Clinton Foundation donor” is a major part of Yunus’ identity, or the reason why he might command attention from the secretary of state.

    As the AP notes, Yunus “won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for pioneering low-interest ‘microcredit’ for poor business owners.” He is a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He is incredibly well-credentialed and almost universally celebrated. According to the Financial Times, beginning in 2007, tensions began between Yunus and Bangladesh’s government when Yunus “suggested he might establish his own political party to clean up Bangladesh’s public life.” Yunus was ultimately forced out of his managing director position at Grameen Bank in 2011 just months after the prime minister publicly denigrated microlenders as “bloodsuckers of the poor.” During that period, Clinton repeatedly received requests for help from Yunus, spoke with him on the phone, and after he was ousted met with him and publicly urged the government to halt their efforts to “seize control of Grameen Bank's effort to find new leaders.”

    And this wasn’t Clinton’s first encounter with Yunus - the Clintons have ties to the economist that go back decades before the foundation even existed. They brought Yunus to Arkansas in 1983 to learn more about how microfinance could be used in the state, and Bill Clinton talked about his work during his 1992 presidential campaign.

    Politico’s Blake Hounshell pointed out the oddity of portraying Yunus as a “Clinton crony” rather than a victim deserving of Clinton’s aid:

    In addition to Yunus, here are the other people who met with Clinton detailed in the report:

    • S. Daniel Abraham, the “billionaire behind the Slim-Fast diet and founder of the Center for Middle East Peace.”
    • Stephen Schwarzman, chairman of the Blackstone Group, one of the largest private equity companies in the world, with a massive charitable giving arm to match.
    • Nancy Mahon “of the MAC AIDS, the charitable arm of MAC Cosmetics, which is owned by Estee Lauder,” whom the AP suggests met with Clinton to discuss “a State Department partnership to raise money to finance AIDS education and prevention.”
    • Estee Lauder CEO Fabrizio Freda, whose “company made a commitment to CGI in 2013 with four other organizations to help survivors of sexual slavery in Cambodia.”

    All are Clinton Foundation donors or work for organizations that have donated to the Clinton Foundation. But they are also exactly the sort of people you would expect to meet with any secretary of state. The suggestion of malfeasance only makes sense if you ignore any reason Clinton could have to meet with these individuals other than their status as donors to an international charity.

  • The Incredibly Sexist Interview Andrea Tantaros Discusses In Her Lawsuit Against Roger Ailes

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros alleges in a sexual harassment lawsuit that after she rebuffed advances from then-Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, the network denied requests from “prominent and credible media outlets to interview Tantaros” but arranged for her participation in an interview with “a website reportedly controlled by Ailes” where the interviewer humiliated her with questions about her breasts and other “outrageous” queries.

    The website’s resulting write-up of that interview discussed Tantaros’ “physical attractiveness” repeatedly and in detail and mentioned that the interviewer asked her questions about “frequent” online descriptions of her regarding “her physical attributes.”

    Tantaros’ August 22 lawsuit says that after she rejected repeated unwanted advances from Ailes in 2014, she was given permission by Fox’s media relations department to participate in only a single interview, with “a website reportedly controlled by Ailes,” during which she says she was “humiliated by the interviewer,” who asked her about “her breasts -- all while a Fox News media relations staffer” observed the interview “but did not object.”

    Ailes was forced to resign from Fox in July after dozens of women accused him of sexual harassment. Tantaros’ lawsuit makes similar allegations against Ailes. She also alleges that she was sexually harassed by Fox host Bill O’Reilly and contributor Scott Brown, and that Fox executive Bill Shine, who is also a defendant in the lawsuit, urged her to “let this one go” when she brought her harassment by Ailes to his attention. Shine was promoted to co-president of Fox News parent company 21st Century Fox following Ailes’ resignation.

    Tantaros further alleges that after she rebuffed his advances, Ailes retaliated by turning “Fox News’s widely-reported, vindictive media relations department” against her. She cites as one example of this conduct:

    Only arranging for, and giving, Tantaros permission to participate in a single interview -- one with Headline and Global News, a website reportedly controlled by Ailes. At this interview, Tantaros was humiliated by the interviewer, who asked outrageous questions concerning, inter alia, her breasts -- all while a Fox News media relations staffer stood by and made no effort to intercede or stop these entirely inappropriate questions.

    Tantaros’ lawsuit alleges that following the interview, she told Shine that she “believed the interview was a ‘set up’ engineered by Ailes” to “paint her as sex object rather than as a serious journalist.” The lawsuit further states that during that meeting, Tantaros detailed past instances in which she said Ailes had sexually harassed her. At a follow-up meeting a few days later, the lawsuit alleges, Shine suggested to Tantaros that Fox PR boss Irena Briganti had been behind the incident and that Ailes is “a very powerful man” and Tantaros should not “fight this.”

    Headlines & Global News president and editorial director Michael Q. Bullerdick conducted the interview, which was published as a 3,500-word profile on May 4, 2015. While the interview gives no indication that Bullerdick asked Tantaros about her breasts, it does include the following disturbing passages focused on Tantaros’ physical appearance.

    An Extensive Discussion Of Tantaros’ “Curve-Hugging” Outfit:

    TANTAROS IS TELLING me all this on the set of her hit daily Fox News talk show "Outnumbered." Although we met off stage we do the interview seated on the familiar crescent white couch. She is resplendent in a curve-hugging and subtly textured white dress that stops around the knees. This is a departure from the bold colors, particularly rich blues, we're used to seeing her wear. But it contrasts fantastically with her deeper complexion and inky black hair. Tan stilettos boasting a subtle cheetah pattern (or is it giraffe?) round out the day's look, and make her seem taller than I remember from a chance meeting several months ago at a publishing party.

    Bullerdick Saying He Wants To Be “One Of Those ‘Lucky Guys’”:

    The set is empty and she can sit anywhere but she instinctively takes her usual place on my right - one of the two "leg seats," as they're known. I'm a seat's width away in the middle spot normally reserved for each day's male guest host, the one the show has branded "one lucky guy." Later when I tell her how well it seems to suit me and hint that I'd love to be one of those "lucky guys," she ribs me about having a typical male ego.

    Tantaros Passing The “Litmus Test” Of “Being Easy On The Eyes”:

    Being relatable - or "likable" as Fox News network genius Roger Ailes has frequently termed it - is the litmus test his hosts must pass if they are to advance at the network. The other test, no doubt, is being easy on the eyes. If my own pair, along with the outsized Internet inventory of her physical appearance are to be believed, Tantaros has passed that test too.

    Bullerdick Quizzing Tantaros About “The Frequent Description Of Her Online” Regarding “Her Physical Attributes”:

    She laughs politely at first when I run off a list of Google key words associated with a search of her name - ones that include "hot," "legs," and "bikini" (The latter is a hoax so don't bother looking). But she tenses and frowns slightly when I follow that up by mentioning the frequent description of her online as a "Greek goddess" and the pages and pages of Internet threads spooling out of control about her physical attributes and posing questions like "Does she have a boyfriend, husband or is she divorced?" And others like, "Tantaros or Guilfoyle - who's the hotter Fox brunette?"

    "Oh my God," she says, taking a long pause.

    The point in bringing it all up is not to rankle her, which it certainly seems to be doing. It's to determine whether, as a professional who happens to be a woman, she's peeved that - on the Internet at least - her accomplishments from a distinguished, multifaceted career are lagging grossly behind all the attention paid to her physical attractiveness.

    The Claim That Ailes “Mined Broadcast Gold” By Hiring “Beautiful Women” Like Tantaros:

    Granted, answering it is somewhat of a delicate balancing act for her. After all, FNC's mega-success is grounded on a nod to research indicating that while viewers indeed want fair and balanced news along with informative and timely analysis, they prefer it delivered by sublimely good-looking people - in particular, beautiful women.

    Ailes wasn't the first to capitalize on the research that also indicates female viewers are just as captivated by attractive women as their male counterparts. But by institutionalizing the formula and assembling what's come to be known as that bevy of "Fox News Babes," he's mined broadcast gold. This is stating the obvious, of course, even if acknowledging it aloud at the network is frowned upon, say insiders.

  • Breitbart News Chief Now In Command Of Trump Campaign

    After More Than A Year Of Shilling For The Candidate, Bannon Makes It Official

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Bannon Trump

    Stephen Bannon is taking a leave of absence from his role as the executive chairman of Breitbart News LLC to become chief executive for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Under his tenure, Breitbart News has been known for its sycophantic devotion to Trump, its whitewashing of racist and anti-semitic elements of the Republican Party, and its complete lack of care for facts or standards of journalistic integrity.

    Bannon has reportedly been counseling the candidate to “run more fully” as an “unabashed nationalist.” His ascension should permanently end the media’s fixation with a potential Trump pivot.

    From The Wall Street Journal, which broke the news of Bannon’s hiring:

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is bringing two new managers to the top of his campaign in a bid to recover ground he has lost in recent weeks.

    Stephen Bannon, executive chairman of Breitbart News LLC, an outspoken Trump supporter and a former Goldman Sachs banker, will assume the new position of campaign chief executive. At the same time, Mr. Trump also is promoting Kellyanne Conway, a veteran GOP pollster and strategist, to become campaign manager. Ms. Conway has been a campaign adviser for several weeks.

  • How To Faceplant While Reporting On The Clinton Tax Returns

    Seeking Scandal, Conservative Outlet Mixes Up Clinton Foundations -- Will Others Follow Suit?

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    An embarrassing misreading of Hillary and Bill Clinton’s 2015 tax returns led The Daily Caller to publish an entire article based on the false premise that the couple had given almost all their charitable donations to the Clinton Foundation.

    The August 12 article, inaccurately headlined “96 Percent Of Hillary’s Charitable Donations In 2015 Went To Clinton Foundation,” claimed that while the Clintons’ tax returns indicate they gave more than $1 million to charity in 2015, “the contributions can hardly be seen as altruistic, since the money flowed back to an entity they control.” The article went on to claim that the donations went to the “Clinton Foundation," which has purportedly "been at the center of several controversies that have hobbled Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign by eroding trust in the former secretary of state,” and highlighted several trumped-up scandals related to that organization.

    Unfortunately for The Daily Caller, the Clintons’ tax returns indicate that they gave that money not to the well-known Clinton Foundation but to the Clinton Family Foundation, an entirely separate entity, which in fact distributes its funds to a variety of other charitable and nonprofit organizations.

    As we noted when conservative outlets mixed up the two entities last year:

    As Nonprofit Quarterly explained, the Clinton Family Foundation acts "a clearinghouse for the family's personal philanthropy." According to the Family Foundation's 2014 tax filing, Hillary and Bill Clinton are the only donors, and the Family Foundation distributes their money to various charities and nonprofits, including New York Public Radio, the American Nurses Foundation, the American Heart Association -- and the separate William J. Clinton Foundation.

    The William J. Clinton Foundation -- which was recently renamed the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation -- is the highly-respected international charity that has garnered significant media attention since Clinton announced her run for president. It is the foundation that helps AIDS/HIV sufferers around the world get better medicine, and battles global health crises, economic inequality, childhood obesity, and climate change.

    While there would be nothing suspicious about the Clintons donating to Clinton Foundation given their obvious commitment to its good works, the fact remains that the $1 million donation in question wasn’t directed there.

    UPDATE: The Daily Caller corrected its article, explaining that the $1 million donation was given to the Clinton Family Foundation, and not the Clinton Foundation as originally claimed:

    (Correction: This article initially identified the Clinton non-profit that received the bulk of the Clintons’ charitable donations as the Clinton Foundation. The $1 million contribution actually went to the Clinton Family Foundation. The Clintons control the entity, but it is separate from the Clinton Foundation.)

  • The Seddique Mateen Conspiracy Theories Do Not Make Sense On Any Level Whatsoever

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Roger Stone

    On Monday, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton delivered a speech in Kissimmee, FL, in which she paid tribute to the victims of the June mass shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in nearby Orlando, and detailed her economic message. But controversy erupted after the local NBC affiliate noticed that Seddique Mateen, who is the father of the Pulse shooter and has his own history of anti-gay and extremist comments, had been seated directly behind Clinton during the event.

    The Clinton campaign has disavowed Mateen’s support and explained that the rally was an open event with minimal screening and that campaign officials were unaware that Mateen had attended until after it had concluded. But the conservative conspiracy machine is already going into overdrive.

    Here are two possible explanations for how Mateen ending up standing behind Clinton during the speech:

    1. It was an accident. A low-level staffer grabbed Mateen from the crowd and put him in that position without realizing that Mateen was the father of the Pulse shooter, positioning him as part of what “a longtime Republican presidential campaign advance staffer described as a ‘tapestry’ -- an area where a diverse group would be seated to reflect wide-ranging support for the candidate.”

    2. For some nefarious purpose, the Clinton campaign made a conscious, deliberate decision to highlight the support of Mateen during a speech in which Clinton paid tribute to his son’s victims.

    Occam’s razor destroys that second explanation. It makes no sense for the Clinton campaign to intentionally associate itself with a man who has a history of anti-gay comments and whose son killed dozens of gay people. That is completely illogical.

    So of course that’s what Trump’s media allies are going with.

    Trump ally Roger Stone, who has accused the Clintons of involvement in dozens of murders, claimed yesterday on NewsmaxTV that this was a “set-up dirty trick” in which Media Matters chairman David Brock paid Mateen to appear in the crowd (note: This did not happen). While floating this absurd conspiracy, Stone admitted that he didn’t see the logic in it, commenting, “Having a murderer’s father in the crowd is suppose to get them votes where? I’m not quite understanding, but it’s despicable that they would elevate this kid’s actions, in essence.”

    Sean Hannity yesterday hosted on his radio show former special operations sniper and American Grit reality show contestant Nick Irving, who claimed that Mateen had been “hand-picked” to sit behind Clinton and was “a plant just to do what we’re doing today, which is to talk about this and get away from, you know, the fact that Hillary Clinton, herself, is a criminal.”

    Fox & Friends gave a platform this morning to Tom Harb, the co-chair of the American Middle Eastern Coalition for Donald Trump, to claim that Mateen’s appearance was “an engineered, orchestrated move -- I believe by the Muslim Brotherhood and their affiliates in the United States, where they are embedded within the campaign.” Host Steve Doocy concluded that “the campaign says he was not invited, although I think to get seated in camera view back there, somebody from the staff has to place you there. I'm sure somebody has some explaining to do there.”

    And on CNN’s New Day, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski suggested that Clinton’s “honesty” was in question because “yesterday, in Florida, Hillary Clinton had the father of a mass shooter sitting behind her at a campaign rally where she is talking about praising the police and the emergency response individuals who helped at that nightclub, and the father of the perpetrator is sitting behind her. And the campaign says, ‘Well, we knew nothing about this.’”

    Even for a conservative conspiracy theory about Hillary Clinton, this just doesn’t add up.

  • After Conservative Media Attacked Khizr Khan, He Started To Receive "Hateful Messages"

    ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Conservative media outlets highlighted a section of Khizr Khan’s website that stated he specialized in immigration law to suggest that the real “incentive” for the Gold Star father’s speech criticizing Republicans presidential nominee Donald Trump at the Democratic National Convention was that his livelihood could be threatened under a Trump presidency. Khan subsequently told The New York Times that he had received “hateful messages” in the wake of “insinuations… that he was involved in shady immigration cases,” but that he had no immigration clients.