Media Structures & Regulations

Issues ››› Media Structures & Regulations
  • Despite Widespread Condemnation From Jewish Leaders, Curt Schilling Continues To Defend His Bigoted Statements

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    In an October 27 appearance on Newsmax’s America Talks Live, newly-hired Breitbart radio host Curt Schilling refused to apologize for asking CNN’s Jake Tapper to account for Jewish Americans' support of the “so clearly anti-Jewish Israel” Democratic Party.

    After the Anti-Defamation League and other Jewish leaders criticized Breitbart radio host Curt Schilling for his “bigoted” and “tone-deaf” questioning of CNN’s Jake Tapper, who is of Jewish heritage, Schilling agreed with Newsmax host Steve Malzberg’s claim he “didn’t say anything wrong to Tapper.”

    Defending his widely criticized remarks, Schilling blamed the media, claiming “the narrative’s getting skewed” and “the media has no accountability”:

    STEVE MALZBERG (HOST): You've come under fire also from some Jewish groups -- now, I'm Jewish, and I saw the interview you did with Jake Tapper, and all you said to him is what people say to me all the time, and Curt, what I say to my Jewish friends all the time -- "How the heck could you, as a Jew, support Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party?"

    And you would have thought, you know, you -- you were praising Hitler. They're all after you now. Why?

    CURT SCHILLING: First of all, I don't say "Jew." Saying "Jew" makes me feel uncomfortable. I asked Jake Tapper "As a man of Jewish faith, why in his" -- and he clearly made it clear to me that he doesn't vote in the presidential elections, which I didn't know, but I always have found -- I have a neighbor who lives right down the street, who's a brilliantly smart guy.

    And I asked -- I talked to him a lot about the history of the Jewish state, and the history, the plight of the Jewish people, and I like to understand why things happen, so instead of relying on a media which is clearly askew and in the tank for liberal ideas and liberal narratives, I felt like asking someone of the Jewish faith why -- why they vote -- why they have voted considerably more Democrat.

    And it's been forever, I didn't realize it was as huge of a lean as it was, number one, and how long it's been that Jewish people -- people of Jewish faith -- because the Democratic Party is, you know -- this is the party that founded the KKK. they are anti-Israel. This administration, the only real reason I feel like they've done anything with Israel is because there were agreements in place before Obama got in, because I don't think he would have carried out any of that, had he not already been kind of handcuffed to it.

    But this -- this party has been anti-Israel, you know they call it ISIL, the Levant of ISIL. The L in ISIL is Levant, includes Israel which is why they say it. It's a -- I think it's a slight at Israel to begin with.

    [...]

    MALZBERG: So you were -- Curt, Curt so you don't get this though, do you? I mean, you don't -- you didn't say anything wrong to Tapper. I don't think you did.

    SCHILLING: No, no no no, and here's the thing, any time you start to become something in the media that you're not, you realize the narrative's getting skewed. I'm starting to understand and feel a little bit of what it might be like to run for political office.

    The media has no accountability, they get to say and do whatever they feel like saying and -- listen, how many times have you heard Ivanka Trump had to answer for her father's comments? And on the other flip -- on the other side of the coin, how many times have you heard Chelsea Clinton been asked about her father being a rapist, or a sexual assaulter?

    MALZBERG: Never. Never, never, never, never, never.

    SCHILLING: Because that's not how the game works for them.

    Schilling had previously defended his questioning of Tapper by telling MSNBC’s Chris Matthews that “I’m not going to play the victim game because I’m a white male Christian, which apparently makes me a racist.”

    Schilling’s continued defense of his widely condemned remarks continue his tradition of bigoted social media posts, and fits Breitbart News’ history of promoting anti-semitic speech within the confines of its media outlets.

  • Report: Trump's Campaign Resources Could Help Him Launch A Media Outlet "To Carry On His Movement"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    A Bloomberg Businessweek report brought to light the possibility that if Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump loses the election, he could capitalize on his campaign resources and partner with Breitbart News to launch a Trump TV network using his list of supporters to “gain a platform from which to carry on his movement” and strengthen the global “cross-pollination of right-wing populist media and politics.”  

    Trump’s campaign has constantly lashed out against the media, even Fox News, despite his retreat to the network and their efforts to rehabilitate his image. The Trump campaign also announced proposals to “break up” media companies that Trump disapproves of, and “open up our libel laws” to make it easier to sue outlets and journalists. At the same time, Trump has also parroted anti-Semitic talking points from white nationalist “alt-right” media, including Breitbart News, which is the website of his campaign CEO Stephen Bannon. Recently, the Trump campaign launched a nightly Facebook Live show “to circumvent mainstream media,” an effort many journalists understood as “a Trump TV dry run.”

    The October 27 Bloomberg Businessweek article explained that Trump is uniquely positioned to launch his own TV network -- which reportedly began as a threat to Fox News’ Roger Ailes to gain more favorable coverage of the candidate -- given his readymade audience of the campaign supporters he paid for, who will “buy into his claim that the election was rigged and stolen from him.” As the report noted,  “the easiest move would be for Trump to partner with Bannon’s global Breitbart News Network” to launch “a platform from which to carry on his movement.” The report  also noted that “this cross-pollination of right-wing populist media and politics” is already happening in Great Britain, where Raheem Kassam -- editor-in-chief of Bannon’s Breitbart London -- is a candidate to become the leader of the UK Independence Party, with the slogan “Make UKIP Great Again.” From the article:

    According to a source close to Trump, the idea of a Trump TV network originated during the Republican primaries as a threat [Trump’s son-in-law Jared] Kushner issued to Roger Ailes when Trump’s inner circle was unhappy with the tenor of Fox News’s coverage. The warring factions eventually reconciled. But Trump became enamored by the power of his draw after five media companies expressed interest. “One thing Jared always tells Donald is that if the New York Times and cable news mattered, he would be at 1 percent in the polls,” says the source. “Trump supporters really don’t have a media outlet where they feel they’re represented—CNN has gone fully against Trump, MSNBC is assumed to be against Trump, and Fox is somewhere in the middle. What we found is that our people have organized incredibly well on the web. Reddit literally had to change their rules because it was becoming all Trump. Growing the digital footprint has really allowed us to take his message directly to the people.”

    It’s not clear how much of this digital audience will remain in Trump’s thrall if he loses. But the number should be substantial. “Trump will get 40 percent of the vote, and half that number at least will buy into his claim that the election was rigged and stolen from him,” says Steve Schmidt, John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign chief and an outspoken Trump critic. “That is more than enough people to support a multibillion-dollar media business and a powerful presence in American politics.”

    Digital strategists typically value contact lists at $3 to $8 per e-mail, which would price Trump’s list of supporters anywhere from $36 million to $112 million. The Trump enterprise could benefit from it in any number of ways. The easiest move would be for Trump to partner with Bannon’s global Breitbart News Network, which already has a grip on the rising generation of populist Republicans. Along with a new venture, Trump would gain a platform from which to carry on his movement, built upon the millions of names housed in Project Alamo. “This is the pipe that makes the connection between Trump and the people,” says Bannon. “He has an apparatus that connects him to an ever-expanding audience of followers.”

    As it happens, this cross-pollination of right-wing populist media and politics is already occurring overseas—and Trump’s influence on it is unmistakable. In early October, the editor-in-chief of Breitbart London, Raheem Kassam, a former adviser to Nigel Farage, announced he would run for leader of UKIP. His slogan: “Make UKIP Great Again.”

  • Will Media Be Fooled By Another Trump Hotel Event?

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    When Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump fooled media into giving him free airtime to tout his new hotel by promising a major address on his racist birther crusade (a promise he didn’t deliver on), the derision directed at cable news was swift and embarrassing. Now, as Trump takes a break from the campaign trail less than two weeks before Election Day to host a ribbon cutting ceremony for his hotel in Washington, D.C., will media once again be duped?

    Last month, Trump promised to hold a major address about his role in the birther conspiracy against President Obama at his new hotel in Washington, D.C., on September 16, leading to high-intensity punditry all morning about what Trump might say to “put it to bed” and “move on.” Yet once all the cable news feeds began broadcasting the event, Trump pulled a striking bait and switch, instead showcasing a series of endorsements and plugging his new hotel. The shame directed at cable news by print reporters and other political commentators was widespread, with even cable hosts admitting after the event that they “got played -- again” by Trump: 

     

    On October 26, Trump will again return to his hotel -- which is already underperforming even before the grand opening -- to host a “ribbon cutting event.” Media can request access to the event on Trump’s campaign website.

    According to The New York Times’ Michael Barbaro, Trump long ago “figured out that media attention was free advertising for his new hotels and golf courses." Media have showered Trump with an unprecedented amount of free airtime for campaign events, but there is nothing to suggest that his ribbon cutting ceremony is related to the election. Thus there is seemingly no reason for cable news outlets to affix their cameras on Pennsylvania Avenue to broadcast his event.

    Given the ubiquitous ridicule cable news networks drew for essentially “taking the Trump hotel commercial live” a month ago, will producers draw on those lessons and resist the urge to air Trump’s non-campaign event?

    UPDATE: Cable news networks did not cover Trump's October 26 speech live. CNN's Kate Bolduan noted that CNN would only “be listening ... for any campaign news," and will cover accordingly "if that happens." According to Media Matters' analysis, the speech was not broadcast live on ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, or Fox News.

  • Media Critics: CNN’s Use Of Pro-Trump Surrogates Undercuts The Network’s Journalism

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    Media critics say CNN’s use of paid pro-Trump surrogates has undercut the network’s journalism and the “goal of informing its audience.”

    After the third and final presidential debate, Trump surrogates scrambled to spin Donald Trump’s statement that he may not accept the results of the election, putting forward a litany of absurd claims. On CNN, that role was filled by the network’s roster of paid contributors who were specifically hired for their willingness to defend Trump.

    New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen criticized the “candidate surrogate” system CNN invested in during this campaign cycle, explaining that CNN’s “Surrogates are unwilling to defend Trump, so they change him into a man more defensible.” He added that because CNN’s Trump surrogates frequently attempt to mislead the network’s audience, CNN has “wasted our time, undermined the work of their journalists, and made the election-year discussion more opaque [than] it would have been if they had never invited these people on set.”

    The Columbia Journalism Review’s David Uberti similarly wrote that having the Trump surrogates on-air to spin the widely condemned remarks made by Trump during the debate “overstepped CNN’s reporting and undercut its purported goal of informing its audience”:

    The consensus headline from the third and final presidential debate was Republican candidate Donald Trump’s refusal to commit to accepting the 2016 election results. It was a stunning rebuke of American political norms from the nominee of a major political party, and it quickly dominated coverage online Wednesday night and in major print newspapers Thursday morning.The Associated Press’ lede said Trump is “threatening to upend a fundamental pillar of American democracy.”

    At CNN, however, confusion initially reigned. The network’s journalists expressed shock at Trump’s comments within seconds of the debate’s conclusion. “One of the most stunning things I’ve ever heard in a presidential debate, ever,” said Jake Tapper, the network’s chief Washington correspondent.

    […]

    But pro-Trump contributors attempted to muddle this point during a panel discussion after the debate, when viewership was likely highest. Their baseless speculation that the election might somehow be rigged overstepped CNN’s reporting and undercut its purported goal of informing its audience. The comments, which drew stern rebuttals from other CNN on-air talent, highlight how the network’s pursuit of the appearance of objectivity in 2016 has distorted its final product on television. It also provides a clear example of how the channel’s model puts CNN journalists in the awkward position of fact-checking CNN contributors in real time.

    Uberti concluded: “CNN pays pro-Trump contributors to provide it with a shinier veneer of objectivity. But it’s become all too clear in recent months that this mission actively harms its journalists’ pursuit of the truth. The news organization must clarify where its real priorities lie.”

    CNN’s reliance on Trump surrogates to provide defense for a “candidate who doesn’t exist” has come under increased scrutiny over recent weeks, with their decision to hire former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who was still receiving payment from the Trump campaign, as a paid political analyst.

    Media Matters’ Carlos Maza highlighted CNN’s Trump surrogate problem, noting how surrogates refuse to answer legitimate questions about Trump’s positions and controversies and instead point unrelated discussions that devolve into personal attacks.

     

  • Wash Post: Breitbart News, InfoWars Are "Ready To Claim" The GOP's Future

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Though the presidential election is barreling toward its end, the “axis of furious conservative activists and hard-right media that spawned Trump’s nationalist and conspiratorial campaign is determined to complete its hostile takeover of the GOP, win or lose,” writes The Washington Post’s Robert Costa. According to Costa, conservative media figures like Breitbart News’ Stephen Bannon, InfoWars’ Alex Jones, and Fox News’ Sean Hannity have spawned a “grievance movement” seeking “to claim the [GOP’s] future as its own,” whose likely “first post-election target” will be House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI).

    Trump and far-right media have been in lockstep throughout his presidential campaign: Bannon, the former head of Breitbart News, is Trump’s campaign chairman; Jones, a 9/11 truther who leads the conspiracy website InfoWars, feeds Trump conspiracy theories for campaign speeches; and Hannity, the far-right prime-time pundit on Fox, has gone to all lengths possible to defend and praise Trump. Trump’s engagement with hard-right, conspiratorial media figures has elevated and mainstreamed them, offering them a platform that has long been out of reach.

    On October 20, Costa reported in the Post that “the fringes of the GOP [are] now managing the Republican nominee” and that the party’s “Donald Trump-driven divisions will not cease on election night.” Costa wrote that the conservative media network -- which has seen “high-minded journals and Fox News … supplanted by a galaxy of websites such as Infowars” -- “stands ready to claim the party’s future as its own,” setting the stage for an intra-party showdown “that will haunt Republicans for months and years to come.” From the October 20 Washington Post article: 

    The axis of furious conservative activists and hard-right media that spawned Trump’s nationalist and conspiratorial campaign is determined to complete its hostile takeover of the GOP, win or lose.

    [...]

    The first post-election target for the grievance movement is likely to be House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), who has drawn Trump’s wrath for not supporting him more fully. Trump’s backers, both inside the House Republican caucus and out, are already talking about a takedown.

    Fox News host and Trump ally Sean Hannity said in an interview after the debate that Ryan was a “saboteur” and “needed to be called out and replaced.” Hannity said he would actively urge hard-line conservatives to launch bids against Ryan.

    [...]

    At the fore of this conglomeration is Stephen K. Bannon, the former head of Breitbart who has become Trump’s most influential confidant. Bannon encouraged the candidate’s claims of voter fraud and references to a deeply corrupt global conspiracy of international banks and corporate-friendly politicians.

    Bannon has been a prominent backer of political assaults against Ryan and other Republican leaders over the past decade from the party’s fringes — boosting primary challengers against Ryan and others, and warning against compromise on hot-button issues such as immigration. But with the fringes of the GOP now managing the Republican nominee, a retreat is far from likely.

    Bannon’s friends say that he has become emboldened during his time with Trump, and that they expect him to work with his network of allies, super PACs and websites to battle Ryan and the Republican establishment throughout 2017 as that wing of the party tries to rebuild the GOP brand.

    [...]

    It is not just Breitbart that stands ready to claim the party’s future as its own. The conservative media, once dominated by high-minded journals and Fox News, has been supplanted by a galaxy of websites such as Infowars, which is led by Alex Jones, who calls the 9/11 terrorists attacks an inside job.

    Articles on those outlets have found their way into Trump’s speeches and been spread widely across platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, often building into a frenzy that leaves traditional GOP messengers unable to shape the consensus within their own party.

  • After Previously Ignoring Crucial Stories, Mainstream Media Finally Giving Trump Scrutiny

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is claiming that the media is “rigging the election” in response to increased scrutiny and an influx of investigative reporting on Trump’s business dealings, his taxes, his rhetoric about sexual assault, and accusations of sexual assault against the nominee. But the media scrutiny of Trump is a drastic change from the overwhelming and positive coverage Trump received throughout the primaries, and his claims ignore the way the press, particularly television news, has often ignored -- or downplayed reporting on -- Trump’s improprieties. Veteran reporters have called this lack of initial vetting “bad journalism.”