New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan published a column examining the problems with the Times' error-riddled story about Hillary Clinton's emails. Sullivan strongly criticized the paper for running a "sensational" story before it was ready and for not being transparent with readers about revising it.
On July 23, the Times published a story by Michael S. Schmidt and Matt Apuzzo claiming that two federal inspectors general had requested a "criminal" referral about whether Clinton had sent classified information via a personal email server. Over the next few days, the paper revised the story numerous times, pulling back on several of its main allegations. In the most recent version of the story, the criminal allegation has been removed, as has the impression that Clinton herself was personally under a probe.
In her column, Sullivan says the paper's handling of the story was "to put it mildly, a mess." Citing the major allegations in the first version of the story, Sullivan notes that "you can't put stories like this back in the bottle - they ripple through the entire news system." At least one presidential candidate has echoed the incorrect statements in the Times story.
After speaking to reporters and editors at the Times who worked on the story, Sullivan concludes, "There are at least two major journalistic problems here, in my view. Competitive pressure and the desire for a scoop led to too much speed and not enough caution."
She says the Times should have chosen to report "a less sensational version of the story" without a headline including the word "criminal," or waited "until the next day to publish anything at all." She adds, "Losing the story to another news outlet would have been a far, far better outcome than publishing an unfair story and damaging The Times's reputation for accuracy."
Sullivan also takes the Times' lethargic and opaque corrections to task, noting, "Just revising the story, and figuring out the corrections later, doesn't cut it," and that the changes to the paper's inaccurate reporting "were handled as they came along, with little explanation to readers."
According to Sullivan, the paper should have a discussion not only about increasing transparency, but also about its use of anonymous sources, "Mr. Baquet and Mr. Purdy said that would happen, especially on the issue of transparency to readers. In my view, that discussion must also include the rampant use of anonymous sources, and the need to slow down and employ what might seem an excess of caution before publishing a political blockbuster based on shadowy sources."
The column concludes, "When things do go wrong, readers deserve a thorough, immediate explanation from the top. None of that happened here."
This is not the first time Sullivan has pointed out problems with the paper's Clinton coverage. She previously took note of "the oddly barbed tone" of some of its Clinton pieces.
Yet despite the trouble generated by rushing for the scoop on another Clinton story, executive editor Dean Baquet seems reluctant to fault the story's editors and reporters. Discussing the error over "criminal," Baquet reportedly told Sullivan, "you had the government confirming that it was a criminal referral," adding, "I'm not sure what they could have done differently on that."
As Washington Post writer Erik Wemple points out, Baquet's comment is effectively "an exoneration of New York Times staffers for perpetrating what can be described only as a gargantuan mistake."
While Fox News continues to promote and defend Donald Trump's presidential campaign, other parts of Rupert Murdoch's media empire and Murdoch himself have criticized the candidate in what appears to be an internal proxy war.
New York magazine's Gabriel Sherman reports that the divergent tone in coverage of Trump's campaign may be evidence of a split between Murdoch and Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, who recently signed a new contract that will extend his tenure beyond the 2016 election.
Sherman reports that Fox "insiders" say Ailes "is pushing Fox to defend Trump's most outlandish comments." Trump has called Mexican immigrants "rapists" and criminals, and attacked Sen. John McCain's military record -- remarks that many on Fox have defended. Sherman also reports that Ailes told his senior executives that Murdoch asked him to "back off the Trump coverage" and that in response Ailes told his superior that he would cover Trump "the way he wanted to."
A Sherman source indicated that "Ailes has instructed The Five co-host Eric Bolling to defend Trump on air." Bolling recently called companies boycotting Trump for his racist remarks "economic terrorists," and attacked conservative pundits who criticized Trump. Fox News contributor Pat Caddell is also reportedly helping Trump behind the scenes. Sherman notes, "According to a source with direct knowledge, Caddell has been speaking to Trump 'almost every day' about his campaign."
A New York Times article reported that Murdoch personally does not like Trump, and the feeling is mutual. The Times reports that Murdoch "often described" Trump as a "phony" to his friends, and disagrees with him on immigration. Murdoch said Trump was "wrong" to characterize Mexican immigrants as "rapists," and tweeted after his anti-McCain remarks, "When is Donald Trump going to stop embarrassing his friends, let alone the whole country?"
The Times reports that despite his past feuds with Murdoch, Trump has "set his sights" on "wooing" Ailes. They note, "his treatment by Fox News is much more crucial because of the influence the channel wields among the Republican Party's base."
Associates of Ailes told the Times they believe that promoting Trump could be a win-win for Ailes, since "it could buy time for other Republican contenders to hone their messages and become more seasoned campaigners" while Fox ratings benefit from covering the ongoing spectacle of Trump's campaign.
Murdoch's other media properties have gone after Trump in recent days.
The Wall Street Journal wrote an editorial calling Trump a "catastrophe" and noted, "His only discernible principle is the promotion of his personal brand." The Journal even said, "The conservative media who applaud him are hurting the cause." But they didn't mention Fox News.
Trump pushed back against the Journal by writing, "Look how small the pages have become @WSJ. Looks like a tabloid--saving money I assume!" Trump also said, "The ever dwindling @WSJ which is worth about 1/10 of what it was purchased for, is always hitting me politically. Who cares!"
The Murdoch-owned New York Post covered the McCain story with a front page that said Trump was "toast," adding, "DON VOYAGE!"
Trump has used his Twitter account to amplify criticism from his supporters targeting Fox News, including one tweet directed at the network that read, "tell your owner Murdoch we are turning Fox off if he keeps belittling @realDonaldTrump. No Fox!" Another post he promoted accused Fox of trying to "push Jeb on their viewers."
Overall, Trump's relationship with Fox has been a positive one. He reportedly privately met with Ailes and tops the network for most time given to the 2016 Republican presidential candidates. At a recent campaign event, he praised Fox & Friends, calling co-hosts Brian Kilmeade, Steve Doocy, and Elisabeth Hasselbeck "great people."
Since Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) announced his presidential campaign, the media has largely ignored the controversy over his attempt to gut Wisconsin's open records laws while continuing to obsess over Hillary Clinton's emails.
Walker, working with other Republicans in Wisconsin, inserted a measure in the proposed state budget that would, as the Associated Press reported, "shield nearly everything created by state and local government officials from Wisconsin's open records law, including drafts of legislation and staff communications." The provision was criticized by both Republicans and Democrats in the state, with one state senator, Robert Cowles (R - Green Bay), describing it as an "assault on democracy."
As the controversy grew, it became clear Walker's office was involved in drafting the provision. The Wisconsin State Journal noted the controversy began to heat up "barely a week before Walker was scheduled to announce a bid for the 2016 presidential nomination." The provision was then pulled.
Yet, national media largely ignored the story after months of coverage of Hillary Clinton's emails and the issue of transparency.
Around the time of Walker's July 13 presidential announcement, the open records controversy was barely mentioned. A USA Today op-ed from a Wisconsin Democrat noted it, as did the Washington Post, along with a short mention in a CNN report.
Fox's Sean Hannity interviewed Walker on the evening of his announcement, asking what he thought about "somebody that erases not only their e-mails and then their server" but never brought up Walker's open records problem or the bipartisan backlash.
At the same time, the media continued to bring up the Clinton email story - the New York Times, USA Today, Washington Post, Fox News during Special Report, Hannity, and The Kelly File, and MSNBC on Hardball. Often the Clinton emails were still being referenced despite the absence of any relevant news. The State Department disclosure of some of the emails produced anodyne highlights like inter-office discussions about the use of a fax machine and iced tea.
As they reported on these conversations, Walker's gambit barely registered with the national press despite the furor in Wisconsin.
The media has previously exhibited this double standard on covering transparency issues within the context of covering the 2016 presidential campaign. When disclosing his emails from his time as governor of Florida, Jeb Bush omitted emails he determined were not relevant to the public record - including emails related to "politics, fundraising and personal matters while he was governor."
Even when it became known that Bush had discussed security and troop deployments using his private email, the press barely noticed, still focusing on the Clinton story.
Fox News reported that an "ISIS-linked" Twitter account warned of today's shooting in Tennessee before it happened, but the tweet in question was sent after the attack had ended. The falsehood was propagated by anti-Islam blogger Pamela Geller before spreading through conservative media
Four Marines were killed when a shooter fired on two military sites in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Fox News reported that the attacks may be connected to ISIS because an ISIS supporter purportedly discussed the shooting on Twitter before it happened. Fox host Sean Hannity repeated the false claim on his radio show.
In fact, the tweet Fox News referenced was posted well after the shooting had already occurred. Mashable editor Brian Ries first pointed out the discrepancy.
On Your World, Fox's chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge reported, "the last investigative thread I would mention at this point is that we're taking a hard look at a Twitter account -- an ISIS-linked Twitter account -- that seemed to have foreknowledge of the shooting in Chattanooga. The tweet went out at 10:34 with the hashtag Chattanooga referring to American dogs and a likely shooting. This of course was about 15 minutes before the shooting took place."
On his radio show, Fox News host Sean Hannity also referenced the inaccurate information.
HANNITY: We have a report from Robert Spencer's Jihad Watch, that he's put together -- a timeline regarding today's, what they are now calling a domestic terrorist act in Chattanooga. We have four Marines that have been killed. By the way, our thoughts, our prayers are with the families and the entire military community there. According to the AP, the shooting started around 10:30, 10:45. The Islamic State tweeted a warning about the attack, posted at 10:34 a.m. The ISIS tweet specifically mentioned Chattanooga, which is an obvious reference to the attack. If it's true that ISIS was taking credit for the shooting at the exact same time, or maybe slightly before the shooting commenced, that would be pretty strong evidence of a connection. And Spencer reminds us the Islamic State has called on Muslims to murder American military personnel here in the U.S.
The source of the claim is conservative blogger Pamela Geller, who has a long history of anti-Muslim activism.
Geller made the claim on Twitter and on her blog, writing, "This morning an ISIS supporter tweeted this at 10:34 am -- the shooting started at 10:45." The report cited by Hannity from Jihad Watch cites Geller as the source. Spencer has often worked with Geller on anti-Muslim projects.
But the tweet was posted at 1:34 p.m. Eastern time, not 10:34 a.m., as Geller asserted. According to news reports, the shooting "unfolded at two sites over 30 minutes" and started "around 10:45 a.m. ET."
The image of the tweet she references on her blog appears to be stamped with the Western time zone -- Twitter time stamps are based on the user's time zone, not the time zone of the person who made the tweet.
Media Matters took this screenshot of the ISIS supporter's Twitter account at 5:13 p.m. ET, and it shows that the post was made 4 hours previously (near the 1 o'clock hour Eastern time).
Conservative blog Weasel Zippers also made the erroneous conclusion about the tweet in a post headlined, "Islamic State Account Tweets Warnings About Chattanooga Moments Before Shooting Began."
UPDATE: After this story was published, Fox News began to pull back on their allegation. From Special Report with Bret Baier:
BRET BAIER: Let me be careful about the tweet to the ISIS-related account. In Garland, Texas we know that it came out before the shooting, before that happened. In this case, the time stamp does say 10:34, but we don't know if that's Pacific time, Mountain time, Eastern time, so we have to be careful about it coming out before the shooting. Point is there are ISIS accounts that are pointing directly to this incident and touting it as one of own.
UPDATE #2: On The O'Reilly Factor, this story was addressed at least three more times.
At the top of the Factor, O'Reilly reported the "sensational" ISIS tweet story, even after admitting it wasn't "exactly clear whether it's accurate."
Midway through the show, Catherine Herridge reappeared and admitted that "there are now some questions about the time stamp on one of the ISIS tweets earlier today." When O'Reilly pressed her on how she learned about the tweet, she said, "I first saw it this afternoon, it was part of the social media that was circulating."
At the end of the Factor, Special Report anchor Bret Baier clarified the timing of the tweet, saying that "all indications now are that it came out after the attack." When O'Reilly asked if that meant the ISIS tweet story was "a bogus situation," Baier replied, "yeah."
Center for Medical Progress, the anti-choice group behind the deceptively edited video attacking Planned Parenthood, is run by an activist with ties to discredited conservative groups and a board member who believes killing abortion doctors is "legally justified."
The conservative group Cause of Action has reportedly filed a lawsuit regarding Hillary Clinton's emails as secretary of state. The group has received funding from the Koch brothers' financial network, and its executive director worked for Charles Koch and for the House Oversight Committee under Republican Rep. Darrell Issa.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign launch speech viciously denigrated Mexican immigrants and strongly split conservative media figures on his candidacy. While some argue Trump is a "rodeo clown," others think he is "saying things that need to be said." Several conservatives disagree with Trump's rhetoric but claim he's raising important issues.
Donald Trump reportedly met with Fox News president Roger Ailes before announcing his presidential candidacy.
According to New York magazine's Gabriel Sherman, "multiple sources" told him that before Trump announced his candidacy, he had a "'2-3 hour' private lunch with Ailes."
For years, Trump has been a fixture on Fox News, and had a regular segment commenting on the news on Fox & Friends. Since he became a presidential candidate, his exposure on the network has only increased. In Media Matters' most recent study of appearances by likely and declared Republican presidential candidates on the network, Trump topped the entire field. During the month of June, Trump appeared on Fox 10 times, racking up 1 hour and 48 minutes of airtime, 23 minutes more than his nearest competitor, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Since the beginning of May, Trump also has the most airtime of any of the candidates.
After Trump made remarks calling Mexican immigrants criminals and "rapists," several Fox figures jumped to his defense.
As part of the "Fox Primary," Republican candidates have been vying for a spot at the debate hosted by the network, while they have reportedly timed campaign announcements to coincide with the network's coverage. CNN's Brian Stelter has noted, "there really is no disputing Fox's power in influencing the GOP."
Trump isn't the first 2016 candidate to meet with Ailes. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) reportedly met with Ailes and Rupert Murdoch in 2013 as part of an effort to "smooth concerns among Republicans and influencers about whether he shares his famous libertarian father's views on issues like national security."
Fox News contributor Karl Rove denied a negative story appearing in a new book from presidential candidate and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), but Cruz has now produced an email from Rove that appears to back his version of events. This is just the latest exchange in an ongoing fight between Rove and the conservative movement.
In his new book A Time For Truth: Reigniting the Promise of America, Cruz wrote that Rove tried to bury a donation President George H.W. Bush made to Cruz for his 2009 Texas attorney general campaign.
Cruz explained that Rove was "in the process of helping raise money for the George W. Bush presidential library in Dallas" while "Texas donors were giving the Bushes tens of millions, including major donors who were supporting the Dallas state rep who wanted to run for attorney general." According to Cruz, those donors started "berating" Rove.
Rove denied the allegation, writing, "When Mr. Cruz and I talked in 2009, I was not raising money for the Bush Library," adding, "nor were any library donors 'berating' me."
Cruz's presidential campaign responded by releasing the details of the email exchange he had with Rove. In the email, Rove allegedly said, "[T]he distress you mention is not mine or 43 -- it is the people raising money for the library who are also [then-Texas Rep. Dan] Branch fans and will not understand why one part of the Bush family is for not-the-guy while they are raising money big bucks for library."
In the release, Cruz describes Rove's response to the story as "a straight-out falsehood" and an example of "why people are so cynical about politics, because too many people are willing to lie."
Rove's chief of staff told The Texas Tribune that Rove doesn't have a record or any recollection of the email.
Conservative radio host Mark Levin linked to the release on his Facebook page with the comment, "Ted Cruz sets the record straight with sleazy Karl Rove."
This is not Rove's first fight with the conservative movement.
In 2013, when Rove announced plans for "the Conservative Victory Project," an attempt to protect incumbent Republicans from Tea Party challengers, many in the movement condemned him.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee said the group was "repulsive" and guilty of "fratricide." Levin described Rove as a "propagandist" who is "despised" by the conservative grassroots. Donald Trump called Rove "a total loser" and said "money given to him might as well be thrown down the drain." In a recent Fox appearance, Rove said Republicans should ignore Trump, who is "not a serious candidate" for president.
Michelle Malkin declared "war" against "Rove and his big government band of elites."
A year later, Media Research Center's Brent Bozell said Rove "has never cared about conservatism and has spent his entire career opposing any Republican who might be successful in promoting or implementing a conservative agenda." He also urged conservatives to "make sure Karl Rove no longer has any influence on their party."
After Rove bemoaned the nomination of Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell in Delaware in 2010 (she would go on to lose the general election), conservatives pounced. Malkin described him as an "effete sore loser," Fox contributor Erick Erickson said he was "in full-on meltdown," while Rush Limbaugh said, "I've never heard Karl so animated against a Democrat as he was against Christine O'Donnell."
In 2010, Rove said that Sarah Palin appearing on a reality show would not help her in convincing voters that she was a viable presidential candidate. Palin said his comments were "quite negative and unnecessary," and Rove responded by saying he was "sorry if she took offense" but "I hope she's got a thicker skin than that." He later went on to do a negative impersonation of Palin during an interview with New York magazine:
When I bring up his statements about Palin during our interview, Rove says only that he wished he'd made his comments on Fox News instead--before going into a withering impersonation of Palin, recalling a scene from her TV show in which she's fishing.
"Did you see that?" he says, adopting a high, sniveling Palin accent: " 'Holy crap! That fish hit my thigh! It hurts!' "
"How does that make us comfortable seeing her in the Oval Office?" he asks, disgusted. "You know--'Holy crap, Putin said something ugly!' "
Right-wing media responded in disbelief and outrage to the Supreme Court's decision holding that state bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional.