Brian Stelter

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  • CNN Reports Trump And Ailes Have “Counseled Each Other In Multiple Phone Calls This Week”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and former Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes have “counseled each other in multiple phone calls this week,” according to CNN, a week marked by Ailes’ resignation as head of Fox and Trump’s nomination at the Republican National Convention.

    Roger Ailes resigned as chairman of Fox News on July 21 amid allegations of sexual harassment by current and former Fox employees, the same day Trump is slated to accept the nomination as the Republican candidate for president.  

    Ailes and Trump have a long and inexorably linked history together, and media figures have noted that Ailes and Fox News “created space that Trump filled.” Fox has provided Trump an unprecedented platform during his candidacy, giving Trump endless free airtime, talking points, and defenses of his actions and rhetoric. In return, Trump defended Ailes against the sexual harassment allegations.

    CNN’s Brian Stelter reported that amid the fallout from the sexual harassment allegations, Ailes and Trump “counseled each other in multiple phone calls,” and that “even as [Ailes] was negotiating the end of his time leading Fox News, [he] was still talking with” Trump. CNN also reported that “there was immediate speculation … that Ailes might seek to advise Trump in a formal capacity now that he is no longer with Fox News.” The report noted that “Ailes and Trump have had a friendly relationship for decades.” From the July 21 CNN.com report:

    Even as he was negotiating the end of his time leading Fox News, Roger Ailes was still talking with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

    The two counseled each other in multiple phone calls this week, two Trump aides told CNNMoney.

    [...]

    There was immediate speculation -- even among some Fox staffers -- that Ailes might seek to advise Trump in a formal capacity now that he is no longer with Fox News.

    [...]

    Ailes and Trump have had a friendly relationship for decades.

    After Ailes was sued by ex-anchor Gretchen Carlson earlier this month, Trump expressed support for him. When asked about the allegations by the Washington Examiner, Trump said, "I think they are unfounded just based on what I've read. "Totally unfounded, based on what I read."

  • Here's Who's Defending Melania Trump's Plagiarized Speech And Who's Calling It Out

    ››› ››› NINA MAST & CYDNEY HARGIS

    Media figures, including some in right-wing media, criticized the Trump campaign following revelations that Melania Trump’s Republican National Convention speech plagiarized parts of Michelle Obama’s 2008 Democratic National Convention speech. However, several conservative media figures still defended the speech, claiming that “nobody owns” those words and that the speech “actually applies to her life.”

  • CNN Explores Implications Of Carlson Sexual Harassment Suit, Fox Merely Repeats Ailes' Own Defense (Again)

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Cable news giants Fox News and CNN displayed markedly different approaches to the bombshell allegations of sexual harassment brought by former Fox host Gretchen Carlson against Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes. While CNN began investigating the claims made by Carlson and other women previously employed by Fox, the network itself simply reiterated Ailes’ own self-defense before launching a predictable campaign to discredit his accusers.

    On July 6, Carlson announced a “sexual harassment/retaliation lawsuit” against Ailes. Carlson claims that Ailes refused to renew her contract after she rebuffed multiple unwanted sexual advances from him over several years. Ailes is notorious for his sexist behavior and vulgar treatment of women at the network, and six more current and former Fox employees have reportedly contacted Carlson’s law firm alleging they were also sexually harassed by Ailes.

    On July 10, CNN’s Reliable Sources devoted the first half of the hour-long program to discussing the lawsuit and its implications for the future of Ailes and Fox News. Host Brian Stelter interviewed New York magazine correspondent Gabriel Sherman, author of the 2014 Fox exposé The Loudest Voice In The Room, about harassment allegations he uncovered while researching for his book, as well as the veracity of six new allegations against Ailes, which Sherman contended “fit a pattern of behavior” from the Fox News chief. Sherman also predicted that “Fox News’ PR machine” will work to “discredit” Carlson and any other accusers for Ailes, as they have in the past.

    Stelter also hosted NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik to discuss how News Corp executive chairman Rupert Murdoch and his sons, Lachlan and James, are responding to the allegations against Ailes “a little differently” than they have with prior harassment claims against Fox personalities. Folkenflik noted that the Murdochs “have not denied reports that they are hiring outside counsel” to handle the suit, as opposed to past cases involving Fox News host Bill O’Reilly and New York Post editor-in-chief Col Allan, where “they did not appoint an outside counsel” to deal with the complaints. Folkenflik concluded that this move may be tied to “the Murdoch sons' desire for their company to be truly a 21st century company, as opposed to run with the mores of the Don Draper era.”

    Meanwhile, on Fox News’ MediaBuzz, host Howard Kurtz mentioned his former colleague’s lawsuit in a brief, three-minute segment devoted to defending Ailes and attacking Carlson. Kurtz simply read Ailes’ personal statement in response to the lawsuit (as Fox News anchor Shepard Smith already had three days prior), mentioned that Ailes tried to move the suit into internal arbitration, and attacked Gretchen Carlson’s ratings as the real excuse for her termination. Kurtz pointedly refused to cover the story beyond that, dismissing other outlets’ coverage as simply “quoting anonymous sources” in a veiled shot at CNN and New York magazine. 

    Kurtz was the first Fox News reporter to come to Ailes’ defense against the harassment allegations made by Carlson. In the past, Kurtz has attacked Hillary Clinton for acknowledging media treatment that was “petty, sensationalist, often unfair and sometimes mean,” and he defended Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) when the then presidential candidate mocked and shushed CNBC’s Kelly Evans during a critical line of questioning in which he told her to “calm down.” In addition to his long track record of excusing sexist and bullying behavior toward women in the media, Kurtz has his own history of boorish behavior toward women.

  • Fox News’ Parent Company Launches Investigation Into Sexual Harassment Charges Against Roger Ailes

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    Fox News’ parent company, 21st Century Fox, has initiated an internal investigation into claims made by former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson in a lawsuit against Fox News CEO Roger Ailes alleging sexual harassment and gender discrimination.

    On July 6, Carlson filed a complaint in the Superior Court of New Jersey in which she claimed Ailes had routinely made sexually charged comments to her as well as “demands for sex as a way to improve her job standing.”

    CNN’s Brian Stelter reported that 21st Century Fox announced that they have initiated an internal investigation into the claims:

     

    In announcing the internal review, 21st Century Fox praised Ailes and Fox host Steve Doocy, who was also named in Carlson’s lawsuit. The announcement declared “full confidence” in Ailes and Doocy and praised the duo as being “brilliant”:

    21st Century Fox released a statement on Wednesday, saying: "The Company has seen the allegations against Mr. Ailes and Mr. Doocy. We take these matters seriously. While we have full confidence in Mr. Ailes and Mr. Doocy, who have served the company brilliantly for over two decades, we have commenced an internal review of the matter."

    Ailes has also responded to the allegations which he described as “false” and “retaliatory” for the decision not to renew Carlson’s contract. Ailes’ statement included criticism of Carlson for “disappointingly low ratings that dragged down the afternoon lineup,” and described her lawsuit as “offensive.”

  • 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.