Media Structures & Regulations

Issues ››› Media Structures & Regulations
  • Wash. Post Media Columnist: CNN’s Hiring Of Lewandowski Plunges The Network “Into A Sea Of Muck”

    Margaret Sullivan: “An Astonishing Reward For Behavior That Should Cause Him To Be Shunned By Respectable Journalistic Organizations”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan slammed CNN’s hiring of former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski in an article published June 28.

    Sullivan wrote that even in the “highly competitive, ratings-mad” cable news market, networks can cross a “bridge too far” and that CNN “ran blithely across that bridge and plunged into a sea of muck” by hiring Lewandowski to give political commentary on his former boss.

    Sullivan wrote, “Bringing Lewandowski onboard is an astonishing reward for behavior that should cause him to be shunned by respectable journalistic organizations,” and she called into question the value of hiring someone with a non-disclosure agreement that prohibits him from “uttering a negative word about his former boss on air.” These problems became more evident in Lewandowski’s “milquetoast commentary” on Trump’s June 28 speech, in which he spent five minutes campaigning for Trump. From Sullivan’s June 28 column:

    Even in the highly competitive, ratings-mad, hardball-playing world of cable television, there should be a bridge too far.

    In hiring Donald Trump’s fired campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, CNN ran blithely across that bridge and plunged into a sea of muck.

    Bringing Lewandowski onboard is an astonishing reward for behavior that should cause him to be shunned by respectable journalistic organizations.

    [...]

    In a deeply reported profile in March, Politico depicted Lewandowski as a bully who once called a female colleague a “c---” in front of co-workers at the Washington advocacy group where he once worked. (Lewandowski would not comment to Politico on the altercation with his female colleague.)

    The profile reported that he was “rough with reporters and sexually suggestive with female journalists, while profanely berating conservative officials and co-workers he deemed to be challenging his authority.”

    [...]

    As campaign manager, Lewandowski banned news organizations from rallies and maintained Trump’s media blacklist, which includes The Washington Post, as well as BuzzFeed, the Huffington Post, Politico, the Des Moines Register and many others. His hostility included CNN at least once. Noah Gray, a CNN producer covering Trump, tweeted last November that as he filmed the crowd’s reaction to a protester at a rally, Lewandowski ordered him “inside the pen or I’ll pull your credentials.”

  • CNN And Fox News’ Sunday Media Criticism Shows Note Ethical Issues With CNN’s Lewandowski Hire

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Media figures on CNN’s Reliable Sources and Fox News’ MediaBuzz criticized CNN’s decision to hire Corey Lewandowski, former campaign manager for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Hosts and guests on the two media criticism programs highlighted the various “ethical” and “controversial” issues surrounding Lewandowski’s hiring, including Lewandowski’s history of aggressively handling the press and the ambiguity surrounding his possible non-disparagement agreements with Trump.

    On June 23, CNN hired Lewandowski as a salaried political commentator days after he had been fired as Trump’s campaign manager. CNN employees and other reporters immediately raised concerns over the various potential ethical problems associated with Lewandowski’s hiring.

    There are still several unknowns about Lewandowski's new position: whether he signed a non-disparagement agreement with Trump, which would preclude Lewandowski from criticizing his former boss; whether Lewandowski’s history of aggressive behavior toward journalists was taken into account during the hiring process; and whether an ongoing defamation suit against Trump and Lewandowski is a conflict of interest for CNN.

    CNN’s Brian Stelter, host of CNN’s media criticism program Reliable Sources, said on June 26 that Lewandowski is “the most controversial addition to CNN in several years,” noting that his “hostile” behavior toward reporters and the uncertainty regarding any non-disparagement agreements raise “ethical questions.”

    Baltimore Sun’s David Zurawik shamed CNN on Reliable Sources for hiring a “weasel to tell you about” “what’s going on inside the Trump campaign,” and told CNN to “give your money back.”

    Fox News’ media critic Howard Kurtz also slammed CNN on his program MediaBuzz, calling the decision a “sad move” that doesn’t help “CNN’s credibility in covering Donald Trump.” Kurtz specifically noted Lewandowski’s non-disclosure agreement and “rough relations with some reporters.”

    CNN’s own staff have heavily criticized Lewandowski for his “inexcusable” and “unprofessional” behavior. Media Matters has noted, though, that Lewandowski’s hire is at odds with how the network has responded to previous attacks on employees: in February, Trump ally Roger Stone was banned from the network after he wrote a series of offensive, incendiary tweets attacking CNN media figures.

  • Wash. Post’s Wemple Highlights Yet Another Conflict Of Interest In CNN’s Hiring Of Trump’s Former Campaign Manager

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple highlighted that, among the various ethical concerns with CNN’s hiring of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, an ongoing defamation lawsuit involving Trump and Lewandowski could pose “another conflict of interest” for CNN’s new hire. Wemple wrote that Lewandowski’s hiring has “reduced” CNN to a “pitiful reality” in which they must warn viewers “that everything they’re about to hear is fatally compromised.”

    On June 23, CNN hired Lewandowski as a “salaried” political commentator days after he had been fired as Trump’s campaign manager. CNN employees and other reporters immediately raised concerns both over potential ethical problems associated with Lewandowski’s hiring and the way Lewandowski has aggressively handled the press in the past.

    Wemple noted possible conflicts of interest in a June 24 Washington Post article writing that an ongoing defamation suit against Trump and Lewandowski by a Republican consultant could be another “possible [source] of taint” for CNN’s arrangement. Wemple highlighted questions which have arisen about whether Trump is “footing the bill” for the both of them, noting how the “entanglement could inhibit Lewandowski’s umpirely duty” to provide analysis about Trump. Wemple added that this concern, among several others, is forcing other CNN employees interviewing Lewandowski “to gore an interviewee not to bring accountability to a campaign, but rather to properly warn CNN viewers that everything they’re about to hear is fatally compromised.” Wemple ultimately wrote that “Trump is dragging down a network’s standards before viewers’ very eyes”:

    In his first appearance as a CNN contributor, former Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski showed an unsurprising reverence for his ex-boss. Appearing last night with host Erin Burnett, Lewandowski was careful to refer to “Mr. Trump,” the proper honorific for the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. He leveled no criticisms of the candidate. And he said this, too: “I am fully committed in my private time with my family and my friends and telling everybody that I know that Donald Trump is the only person that is going to save this country for my children and hopefully their children someday.”

    [...]

    The hiring of Lewandowski, accordingly, has reduced CNN to this pitiful reality: A true journalist like Burnett is forced to gore an interviewee not to bring accountability to a campaign, but rather to properly warn CNN viewers that everything they’re about to hear is fatally compromised. Trump is dragging down a network’s standards before viewers’ very eyes.

    Yet there are other possible sources of taint for Lewandowski and his former boss. These two fellows worked together on a presidential campaign for a year, gathering some enemies along the way. One of them is Cheri Jacobus, a Republican consultant and PR adviser.

    [...]

    A defamation suit filed by Jacobus in New York County claims that those representations are false. It was the Trump camp, contends Jacobus’s complaint, that wooed her. She’s seeking $4 million in damages, just for starters.

    Why mention this suit in the context of Lewandowski’s work for CNN? Because both he and Trump are named as defendants in the civil action. And according to court documents, a single law firm — LaRocca Hornik Rosen Greenberg & Blaha — is representing both of these men. Defending a defamation suit can cost significant sums. This blog has asked the Trump campaign as well as Lewandowski how the pay arrangements are proceeding. Is Trump footing the bill? Is Lewandowski? Have there been any changes in how the costs are handled since Lewandowski left the campaign?

    Inquiries to Lewandowski, the Trump campaign, CNN and the law firm haven’t yet fetched a single response.

    Little extrapolation is required to appreciate how this entanglement could inhibit Lewandowski’s umpirely duty to call balls and strikes on CNN. If Trump is paying for legal representation, for instance, why would Lewandowski call a bunch of balls and imperil the arrangement?

    Those considerations stand apart, of course, from another set of considerations: That Lewandowski, with a big assist from his boss, slimed someone who dared to criticize Trump — and comes away with the reward of a CNN contributor gig.

  • Wash. Post Columnist Has Four Questions For CNN Following Hiring Of Former Trump Campaign Manager

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Washington Post columnist Eric Wemple posed four questions about CNN’s hire of recently fired Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski that emphasize the ethical and journalistic problems the network faces while paying him to provide political commentary.

    Reporters widely criticized CNN’s hire of former Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, highlighting Lewandowski’s alleged physical assault of former Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields and prior reports of the Trump campaigns hostility to press under Lewandowski’s direction. CNN staff had previously slammed Lewandowski’s behavior as “inexcusable” and called for Trump to fire him from his position as campaign manager..

    CNN reported earlier this week that Lewandowski was likely required to sign a non-disparagement agreement, which would prevent him from criticizing the campaign in any way. When asked about this by CNN’s Erin Burnett, Lewandowski dodged the question by stating “I’m a guy who calls balls and strikes.”

    In his June 23 column, Wemple poses four questions that confront problems within CNN’s newest hire and ask “Is there any dignity or occupational pride at CNN?” From The Washington Post:

    Now we know how to view Corey Lewandowski’s interview with CNN’s Dana Bash on Monday after he was fired from the campaign of Donald Trump: As an audition.

    [...]

    The setup raises a number of questions:

    1) How many Trumpites does CNN need? When the political talk turns to Trump, as it always does, CNN has two political commentators to provide analysis: Jeffrey Lord, a former Reagan political director prone to ridiculous invocations of history to defend Trump, and Kayleigh McEnany, whose defenses of the candidate tend to be more conventional, though no more convincing. 

    [...]

    2) How will CNN deal with a clear conflict of interest? In his interview with Bash, Lewandowski said something that should have given pause to CNN executives: He will still serve as the chair of the New Hampshire delegation to the Republican convention. 

    [...]

    3) Openness? Though Lewandowski maintained his composure under questioning by Bash, he didn’t provide a great deal of insight. 

    [...]

    4) Is there any dignity or occupational pride at CNN? Corey Lewandowski is the fellow who grabbed the arm of reporter Michelle Fields and later claimed that she was “delusional” for having claimed as much. Corey Lewandowski is the fellow who yelled at CNN staffer Noah Gray to stay in his media pen or suffer the consequences. Corey Lewandowski also allegedly pushed Gray in a separate dustup. Yet CNN says, Give that man a contract!
     

  • CNN’s Corey Lewandowski Struggles To Defend Trump From Newest Financial Report Irregularities

    Former Trump Campaign Manager And Newest CNN Contributor Blames Paul Manafort For Mysterious Payment To Company

    Blog ››› ››› THOMAS BISHOP

    In his first interview as a CNN contributor, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski attempted to defend Donald Trump against allegations of wrongdoing after the Washington Post reported that the campaign paid over $700,000 to a company called Left Hand Enterprises LLC.

    The Washington Post reported on June 23 that a company called Left Hand Enterprises LLC, which was to print and send direct mail advertisements, “received two big payments” totaling “$730,637 over five days.” The first payment was made to the company just three days after it was formed, raising questions about what the company actually did for the campaign:

    On April 25, a new company called Left Hand Enterprises LLC was formed in Delaware, listing its address at an incorporation service provider in Wilmington.

    A few days later, the firm received two big payments totaling $503,133 from Donald Trump's presidential campaign to print and send a major shipment of direct mail. The campaign cut another $227,504 check to Left Hand Enterprises on May 2, new campaign finance filings show.

    The rapid series of payments — $730,637 over five days — made Left Hand the 10th biggest vendor to the Trump campaign for the entire election cycle. But why it was hired, and what work it provided, remains a mystery even to some top Trump aides.

    […]

    The first two payments to Left Hand were made on April 28 and April 29 — just days before the crucial May 3 Indiana primary, where Sen. Ted Cruz made his last unsuccessful stand against Trump. Since direct mail firms usually require payment before sending out a shipment, Left Hand would have had very little time to get leaflets to mailboxes in Indiana before voters went to the polls, according to people who work in the industry.

    Lewandowski told CNN’s Erin Burnett that he was not responsible for the payments to Left Hand, but defended Trump claiming that “if there is anything that has not been appropriate, Mr. Trump will find it and fix it.” Burnett challenged Lewandowski asking whether it was he or Paul Manafort who managed the Left Hand payment. Lewandowski blamed Manafort:

    Lewandowski’s defense of his former boss came during the same interview in which he declined to say whether or not he had signed a document that would forbid him from criticizing Trump. Since CNN announced the hiring of Lewandowski as a contributor, the network has received heavy criticism from media figures, including “grumbling” from CNN staffers.

  • Reporters Savage CNN For Hiring Former Trump Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Media figures across the political spectrum are ripping CNN after the network hired former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski to be a political commentator on the network.

    CNN’s new employee allegedly manhandled a reporter, and news outlets have reported he’s made “unwanted romantic advances” and “sexual comments about female journalists.” He was also “accused of pushing a CNN reporter.”

    Here’s what some media figures are saying about the hire:

  • Congressional Black Caucus Demands Bill O’Reilly Apologize For Saying He Wants To “Slap” Rep. Jim Clyburn

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Congressional Black Caucus has demanded a public apology from Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, after O’Reilly stated he wanted to “slap” Rep. Jim Clyburn for his push to strengthen gun safety laws.

    The Congressional Black Caucus’ call for an apology comes after O’Reilly’s June 16 appearance on Fox News’ Fox & Friends, where O’Reilly attacked Clyburn’s call for stronger gun legislation, saying “I just want to slap him, with all due respect.” O’Reilly continued, asking “What is it going to take? Do the ISIS people have to come to your backyard, do they have to put you in a cage?”

    Politico reported that the Congressional Black Caucus Chairman G.K. Butterfield stated “The Congressional Black Caucus is absolutely outraged” at O’Reilly, calling on O’Reilly to “disavow the statement and apologize” to Clyburn:

    The Congressional Black Caucus wants Fox News host Bill O'Reilly to disavow and apologize for remarks he made earlier Thursday on the network in which he said that he wanted to "slap" Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) "with all due respect" for focusing on gun control over terrorism in the wake of the Orlando attack.

    "The Congressional Black Caucus is absolutely outraged," Chairman G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) told POLITICO, adding that the caucus is calling "upon [O'Reilly] to disavow the statement and apologize" to Clyburn.

    [...]

    "It's reminiscent of the reckless statements that are being made by the Republican nominee," Butterfield said.

    This is not the first time has O’Reilly faced backlash from congressional lawmakers for his attacks. O’Reilly has previously drawn criticism for his racial attacks on minority members of Congress, including Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI), Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), and Rep. Yvette Clarke (C-NY). Lee has previously condemned O’Reilly’s description of her as a “race hustler,” describing his attacks as “disgusting and divisive,” a “thinly veiled racial attack,” concluding comments similar to O’Reilly “should never be accepted in our national discourse.” Rep. Hanabusa has called for O’Reilly’s public apology after “insulting” comments on Asian-Americans, after O’Reilly claimed “Asian people are not liberal, you know, by nature. They’re usually more industrious and hard-working.” O’Reilly has additionally accused CBC members Rep. Charles Rangel and Rep. Yvette Clarke of wanting to “divide the country along racial lines, because that’s good for business.”

  • Trump Suddenly Encounters Media Attention He Doesn’t Want

    Citing “Sensationalism,” Trump’s Lawyers Fight To Keep Trump U. Videos Away From Media

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    A media coalition is pushing for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to release video of his depositions in lawsuits against Trump University, his now-defunct real estate seminar business, but the candidate’s lawyers have expressed concern that the footage would be “used by media and others in connection with the presidential campaign.”

    On June 11, a coalition of media organizations filed a motion seeking the public release of video footage from Trump’s taped depositions connected to two of the three lawsuits Trump University currently faces. The coalition included all major television networks, aside from Fox News, and several major newspaper publishers. Fox News joined the effort yesterday.

    In response, Trump’s lawyers in the two related class-action lawsuits presided over by Judge Gonzalo Curiel -- whom Trump himself has attacked with racist remarks -- argued that media and rival groups would use the video footage out of context to smear Trump. As Politico reported:

    In a court filing late Wednesday night, Trump's attorneys argued explicitly for the first time that the deposition videos should be kept under wraps because they would become weapons in the ongoing presidential contest.

    "Undoubtedly, these videos...will be used by the media and others in connection with the presidential campaign," Trump's attorneys wrote in a motion filed with U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel in San Diego.

    "'[V]ideotapes are subject to a higher degree of potential abuse than transcripts. They can be cut and spliced and used as "soundbites" on the evening news or sports shows....' And unlike in other cases where it was unclear that 'out of context snippets' would be broadcast because the 'media frenzy' around the case had died down...the 'media frenzy' surrounding this case is certain to continue through the election," Trump's legal team added, quoting cases from federal trial courts in Indiana and New York.

    [...]

    "The need to prevent such 'sensationalism' is particularly acute here because of Mr. Trump’s unique circumstances in running for President of the United States," wrote Trump attorneys Daniel Petrocelli and David Kirman of law firm O'Melveny & Myers and in-house Trump lawyer Jill Martin. They cited a federal appeals court ruling rejecting a media bid for access to videos of President Bill Clinton's testimony played in court during a criminal case related to the Whitewater affair.

    This is a notable shift from the Trump campaign’s previous attitude about the huge amount of media attention he receives. In March, The New York Times released a study showing that Trump had racked up $2 billion worth of free earned media throughout his presidential campaign to that point, and the paper stated that “he is far better than any other candidate -- maybe than any candidate ever -- at earning media.” Trump won the Fox Primary, doubling any other Republican presidential primary candidate in airtime on the news channel. Trump’s campaign has bragged about all the free media he has received, and it reportedly plans to “just use earned media to compete on the airwaves” instead of raising money for ads. But perhaps what Trump truly wants is only adulation, not actual scrutiny from the media.

     
  • Univision News Journalists Pen Open Letter To Trump Campaign In Support Of The Washington Post

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LOPEZ

    More than a hundred Univision News journalists have signed an open letter to presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump condemning his “unprecedented and dangerous” revocation of press credentials for The Washington Post.

    Trump revoked the Post’s press credentials after the paper published an article highlighting comments Trump had made linking President Obama to the June 12 massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, FL. Univision News reacted with an open letter to the candidate on June 14, echoing the sentiments of several other media outlets and journalists by condemning what the letter’s signatories describe as an “unprecedented and dangerous” action:

    Your action is unprecedented and dangerous. Mainstream press organizations in the United States are always granted access to presidential candidates events. Never before have so many of them been denied this access.

    Candidates for public office in the United States have always accepted that some of the news coverage they receive will be critical. Candidates often answer unfavorable coverage, arguing that it was inaccurate or unfair. What they don't do – not in the United States – is attempt to obstruct coverage by denying press organizations access to campaign events. There are too many places in the world where political figures use whatever is at their disposal to punish and silence unfavorable news coverage. The U.S. is not one of those places

    Hispanic media has a reason to be concerned about threats to free press. Such threats -- whether by criminal organizations or public authorities -- have been on the rise in Latin America. According to Freedom House, “criminal gangs and overweening authorities” were major threats to media in Latin America in 2015. While interviewing The Washington Post’s executive editor, Marty Baron, back in May, Univision’s Enrique Acevedo asked whether he had any concerns that “during a Trump administration” there would be “issues related to freedom of the press in this country.” Baron responded, “I am concerned,”, noting that Trump was “sounding a lot like Hugo Chavez in Venezuela on the issue of the press:”

     

     

    Baron is not the only journalist to liken Trump’s battles with news media and blacklisting of reporters to the anti-free-press antics of dictatorial regimes. After he was booted from a Trump press conference in August, Univision’s Jorge Ramos drew a parallel between Trump and Fidel Castro’s treatment of the press, saying: “I thought that was impossible that I would ever see something like that in the United States, which is a direct attack on freedom of the press.”