Martha MacCallum

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  • Fox Personalities Respond To Gretchen Carlson's Sexual Harassment Lawsuit With Familiar Victim-Blaming

    Fox’s Response Serves As A PSA In How NOT To Cover Sexual Harassment Stories

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVIA KITTEL

    After Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Fox CEO Roger Ailes, Fox News personalities have rushed to defend Ailes while disparaging Carlson’s character, dismissing her allegations, and accusing her of having ulterior motives. Their response mirrors the false tropes the network hosts push in their sexual assault coverage.

    On July 6, former Fox News host Carlson filed a lawsuit against Fox CEO Roger Ailes, alleging that he fired her “after she rebuffed Mr. Ailes’ sexual advances and also tried to challenge what she felt was unequal treatment of her in the newsroom by some of her male colleagues.” Carlson also alleged that while she was a host of Fox & Friends, her co-host Steve Doocy “engaged in a pattern of severe and pervasive mistreatment” of Carlson. Carlson has been a witness to years of sexism from her male colleagues, plenty of it directed at her.

    Several other women have come forward with complaints or contacted Carlson’s law firm to report similar experiences of mistreatment.

    Numerous Fox figures have rallied to Ailes’ defense, falling back on the network’s long-held strategy of dismissing sexual harassment – and even sexual assault – allegations by blaming the victims, trying to discredit the allegations by disparaging the victims’ characters, and rushing to defend the character of the accused. Just as New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman predicted, the “Fox News PR machine” is fighting the sexual harassment allegations by “try[ing] to discredit Carlson’s claims and any of the other women’s claims who come forward.”

    Disparaging The Victim’s Character

    After Carlson filed her lawsuit, her former Fox colleagues defended Ailes by immediately disparaging her character, dismissing her allegations, and suggesting she may have had ulterior motives.

    Greta Van Susteren suggested Carlson may have falsely accused Ailes of sexual harassment because she was “unhappy that her contract wasn’t renewed.”

    In a flurry of tweets on July 12, Sean Hannity dismissed Carlson’s allegations, suggesting that if she had really been harassed, she would not have stayed, asked for more airtime, or written to Ailes:

    Brit Hume asked Carlson why she didn’t just quit following the alleged harassment:

    This behavior isn’t new for Fox figures. In the past, Andrea Tantaros has asked, “At what point do women need to take some responsibility” for sexual harassment. Hannity blamed a victim of sexual harassment for “staying in the car” with the accused offender after the alleged harassment. Greg Gutfeld claimed that victims allege sexual harassment “to safeguard future reputation-damaging things.”  

    The network’s victim-blaming isn’t limited to sexual harassment. Hosts have blamed victims of sexual assault for “wearing a miniskirt,” characterized victims as “bad girls … who like to be naughty,” and altogether disputed the prevalence of sexual assault.

    Defending The Character Of The Accused

    Fox figures also responded to Carlson’s lawsuit by touting Ailes’ character.  

    Jeanine Pirro called Carlson’s allegations “absurd” and called Ailes a “no-nonsense guy,” saying, “I just loved him.”

    Kimberly Guilfoyle claimed that of the women she’s talked to at Fox, “Nobody believed” Carlson’s allegations, adding that Ailes “is a man who champions women.”

    Bret Baier said that’s “not the Roger I know,” and added, “I can’t say enough good things about Roger.”

    Neil Cavuto called Carlson’s allegations “sick” and said they “don’t remotely resemble the Roger that I know” because Ailes “is ALL professional.”

    Ainsley Earhardt, Martha MacCallum, and Harris Faulkner have also vigorously defended Ailes, calling him a “father figure” and a “terrific boss.”

    By focusing on defending the character of the accused, reporters treat the accused offender as the victim. And it’s not just Ailes. Fox has a history of treating accused offenders as victims, including by claiming  that the focus on campus sexual assault amounts to “a war happening on boys” and dubiously hyping the frequency of false accusations of sexual assault against men, even though  false accusations are rare.  

  • Fox Damage Control: Network Sends Out Three More Female Staffers To Praise Ailes

    Blog ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

    Fox News has continued its campaign to defend the network’s chairman and CEO Roger Ailes from sexual harassment allegations, most recently reaching out to Mediaite to interview three female contributors who denied the allegations made by former host Gretchen Carlson.

    Former Fox News host Carlson filed a lawsuit against Ailes alleging that he fired her “after she rebuffed Mr. Ailes’ sexual advances and also tried to challenge what she felt was unequal treatment of her in the newsroom by some of her male colleagues.” Carlson also alleged that while a host of Fox & Friends, her co-host Steve Doocy “engaged in a pattern of severe and pervasive mistreatment” against Carlson. Incidents of sexism against Carlson have been well documented on live television, and Carlson has been a witness to years of on-air sexism from her male colleagues.

    While several other women have come forward with complaints or contacted Carlson’s law firm, numerous Fox figures have rallied to Ailes’ defense, including primetime hosts Greta Van Susteren and Sean Hannity. The Five host Kimberly Guilfoyle also responded to the allegations, asserting that “nobody believed” Carlson’s allegations.

    According to Mediaite, Fox News reached out to them, offering the outlet interviews with three women who work with Ailes in New York City. Fox’s Ainsley Earhardt, Martha MacCallum, and Harris Faulkner vigorously defended Ailes, calling him a “father figure,” a “terrific boss,” and claiming that Carlson’s lawsuit “brought people together” in support of Ailes:

    Faulkner praised him for his pep talks, his ability to follow up on every promise he makes, and, finally, his willingness to stand behind his employees, which Carlson claimed he never did for her. Faulkner, who is a woman of color, explained where her deep respect for Ailes came from like this:

    “Here’s what I know: My rise and success have been a direct result of the merits and fabulous opportunities from mentors, including Roger Ailes. Without him, my journey would be quite different. He has changed the arc of my career. He believed in me when people who looked like me were not in network news. He put me in primetime and included me in the process of developing Outnumbered. I am profoundly grateful for the opportunities he gave me and not once have I ever been ashamed to say these five words: Roger Ailes believes in me.”

    Earhardt called him a “father figure” not once, but twice. She also revealed that when Carlson’s lawsuit hit the headlines, she called her bosses and told them that if the need arose, she would be happy to speak out in support of Ailes because she simply believes in him that much. One reason for her ardent support of him is simple: Where most working women are afraid to tell their bosses they are pregnant and fear losing their jobs while away on maternity leave, Ailes gave Earhardt a promotion while she was gone on her leave.

    “Roger is such a terrific boss,” mused MacCallum. “I don’t like to see anything that reflects negatively on him. If anything, [Carlson’s lawsuit] sort of bonded us. It’s brought people together.”

    New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman predicted that the “Fox News PR machine” would fight the sexual harassment allegations, noting that Ailes and Fox “will try to discredit Carlson’s claims and any of the other women’s claims who come forward.” Sherman also reported that the charges “could be curtains for Ailes.”

    Fox has also downplayed the story on-air. Fox’s first report on the allegations only included Ailes’ statement denying the allegations and Fox’s MediaBuzz -- a show dedicated to coverage of the media world -- only dedicated a three-minute segment to the scandal and defended Ailes by attacking Carlson’s ratings.

  • Conservatives Lose Their Excuse To Question The Results Of The Clinton Email Investigation

    ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY, CYDNEY HARGIS & NICK FERNANDEZ

    Conservatives have just lost their excuse to question the results of the investigation relating to Hillary Clinton’s email server, which legal experts say lacks a “legitimate basis” to charge Clinton with crimes. Right-wing media figures have ignored those experts to suggest that if the investigation does not result in a Clinton indictment, it must be politically tainted. But Attorney General Loretta Lynch affirmed that she will “be accepting the recommendations” made by “career agents and investigators” and FBI Director James Comey in the case, and conservative media have spent months lauding Comey’s “impeccable integrity” and ability to impartially conduct the investigation.

  • O’Reilly Ignores The Most Embarrassing Aspects Of Trump FEC Report

    Trump Paid His Family Owned Businesses With Campaign Funds

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    Bill O’Reilly ignored the fact that Donald Trump's campaign May financial report showed the campaign paid his own businesses and family for campaign events, instead choosing to debunk a controversy regarding a payment to what some initially believed to be a fictitious advertising firm.

    During a June 22 discussion with Fox contributor Martha MacCallum, O’Reilly focused on a $35,000 advertising  payment to New Hampshire ad firm Draper Sterling. The payment drew scrutiny because the company’s name was similar to lead characters in a fictitious television series about an ad agency, Mad Men.

    Media outlets have confirmed that Draper Sterling appears to be a real ad firm, although as ThinkProgress noted, it remains unclear what work the company actually did for the Trump campaign.  

    But O’Reilly ignored the most scandalous aspects of Trump’s May FEC report. New York Magazine explained that the “embarrassingly bad” report showed that Trump raised just $3.1 million in May but paid out $6.7 million. Furthermore, roughly 20 percent of the money spent by the Trump campaign in May went to either companies owned by Trump and his family, or to travel reimbursements for his children. The Trump campaign also spent more than $900,000 on T-shirts, hats, mugs and signs. CNBC reported:

    About 20 percent of May spending went to Trump companies or reimbursements for his children. That includes a roughly $423,000 payment to the Trump Organization's Mar-a-Lago club.

    […]

    Trump's campaign also spent a solid portion of its May haul on "collateral," like T-shirts, hats, mugs and signs. It spent more than $900,000 on those categories, more than 13 percent of its total spending.

    "Trump's failure to develop an effective fundraising operation has his campaign at this point without the resources to scale up its staffing, build a field organization, or begin advertising in crucial states," said Anthony Corrado, a professor of government at Colby College and campaign finance expert. "His campaign spending is largely devoted to the costs of personal paraphernalia, such as hats and mugs, which can be sold or distributed by the campaign as a means of raising small sums of money."

  • Right-Wing Media Fearmonger Over Washington State’s New LGBT-Inclusive Curriculum

    ››› ››› JARED HOLT

    Conservative media are fearmongering over Washington state public schools’ new LGBT-inclusive education standards that aim to teach students “the importance of treating others with respect regarding gender identity.” Outlets are reporting that the state will soon begin to “teach transgenderism to kindergartners” and suggesting that Washington is promoting transgender “recruitment.” But education professionals and advocacy groups say students benefit from learning about gender identity at an early age.

  • Fox News Hyped Ohio AG’s False Claims About Planned Parenthood But Didn’t Report That They Cost The State Over $45,000

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL LARRIS

    In December 2015, when Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine argued that fetuses from Planned Parenthood were “steam-cooked and taken to a Kentucky landfill,” Fox News covered his baseless allegations. In contrast, no Fox News show followed up to note that Ohio taxpayers would cover $45,447 in legal fees Planned Parenthood incurred while fighting the attorney general’s misleading claims about its practices.

    On December 11, DeWine held a press conference in which he alleged that fetuses from Planned Parenthood were illegally “steam-cooked and taken to a Kentucky landfill.” DeWine issued his claims after the state conducted a five-month investigation into Planned Parenthood, spurred by allegations made by the now-discredited anti-choice group Center for Medical Progress (CMP) that abortion providers were illegally selling fetal tissue. While DeWine concluded that fetal tissue was not being sold, he said his office discovered that Planned Parenthood’s means of fetal tissue disposal violated state law requiring that fetal remains be “disposed of in a humane manner.”

    State media called into question DeWine’s so-called “investigation” findings. The Akron Beacon Journal wrote that “it is hard to overlook the political theater at work” in DeWine’s allegations. The Columbus Dispatch noted that no Ohio abortion clinic had ever been cited for improper handling of fetal remains. WBNS-10TV in Columbus, OH, also reported that the Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection said that no intact fetuses were buried there, that the disposal company and landfill have not been cited for any legal violations, and that nobody from the attorney general's office had contacted the Kentucky facilities to investigate.

    But while Ohio state media dug into the substance of DeWine’s remarks about Planned Parenthood, Fox News instead provided a platform for DeWine to further his baseless allegations. Fox News co-host Martha MacCallum interviewed DeWine during the December 15 edition of America’s Newsroom, where he reiterated his claims that fetal remains were “taken to a landfill in Kentucky and dumped in that landfill.” He went on to say that his office “think[s] [Planned Parenthood clinics] are in violation of the law.” MacCallum told DeWine: “It strikes me that what this story and what the investigation that you’ve done, it sheds more light on the realities of this process, which a lot of people just really, frankly, don’t want to know more about because it’s very difficult to even think about.”

    In addition to Fox News, other right-wing media sites piled on with headlines about “steam-cooked” fetuses being “illegally dump[ed]” into landfills. (And neither of those outlets reported on the resulting cost to taxpayers either.)

    Shortly after DeWine made his remarks, Planned Parenthood filed a federal lawsuit seeking to block any attempts by DeWine to impede access to abortion services. After a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order, DeWine ended the state’s legal actions with those claims. However, the process DeWine launched ended up costing Planned Parenthood $45,447 in legal fees, which Ohio state officials agreed to pay in a settlement -- meaning Ohio taxpayers ended up footing the bill for the attorney general’s unfounded claims, a consequence Fox News hasn’t covered. While Fox News has called for investigations based solely on CMP videos, the network doesn’t provide equal time when those investigations find no wrongdoing while costing taxpayers thousands of dollars.

    By amplifying the false allegations while not reporting on the consequences, right-wing media are spreading lies and distortions.

  • Fox's MacCallum Helps Eric Trump Dismiss Trump U. Fraud Allegations

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Following the release of unsealed court documents related to the ongoing fraud and misrepresentation lawsuits brought against presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's now-defunct Trump University real estate seminar business, Eric Trump joined Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum to defend the business' practices with more lies and misleading claims. 

    Trump appeared on the June 2 broadcast of Fox News' America's Newsroom to discuss several topics, among them the recently released documents pertaining to a pending class-action lawsuit against Trump U. Trump repeatedly pushed the already debunked claim that the business "had a 98 percent approval rating." A New York Times investigation found, however, that the survey process for determining this approval rating was itself, in fact, "a central component of a business model that, according to lawsuits and investigators, deceived consumers." 

    Trump also compared allegations of fraud against Trump University to student dissatisfaction at "Harvard" and "every major university around the world." MacCallum did not push back on these claims, only speaking once after her initial question about Trump U. to note that, "any time you have a business, you're going to have some customers, and even some employees, who are disgruntled or dissatisfied." 

    From the June 2 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:

     

     

    MARTHA MACCALLUM (host): Let's take a look at something else. This is a quote from somebody who worked for Trump University. I know this is a legal matter and it's being handled in the courts, but in terms of a political matter, take a look at this quote. Because I guarantee you, you are going to see and hear this on Hillary Clinton commercials going forward. "I believe Trump University was a fraudulent scheme, and that it preyed upon the elderly and uneducated to separate them from their money." This comes from a person who worked for Trump University. 

    ERIC TRUMP: You know, Trump University had a 98 percent approval rating. 98 percent, meaning at the end of taking the courses, people graded the university and they wrote a little report card about it. A 98 percent approval rating. We actually posted that on a website so, you have people that come back and buyers' remorse or whatever it is. You have people that come back after grading it an A-plus, I loved it, I learned so much for it, I brought this into my own personal life, it helped me develop as a person, it helped me start my first business, etcetera, etcetera. And then they come back and say that, so you know, I think we're going to win that case. I know we're going to win that case. We have every single one of those report cards, it just undermines quotes like that. I mean, the university did a great job. It did a great thing. It was highly, highly respected. 

    MACCALLUM: The good outweighs the bad essentially. That any time you have a business, you're going to have some customers, and even some employees, who are disgruntled or dissatisfied. 

    TRUMP: There's probably people that go to Harvard and say, listen I went to Harvard and I got a great education and I can't find a job, or I didn't become the success that I could have been. Sure, I mean you probably have that at every major university around the world. I mean, Trump University had a 98 percent approval rating, and I think that wins the day. 

  • Media Slam Trump's "Totally Irresponsible" Response To EgyptAir Crash, While Fox Defends It

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Media figures criticized Donald Trump’s response to the EgyptAir crash saying that it was “totally irresponsible” and “bad practice” for Trump to blame the crash on terrorism despite having no information at the time. Meanwhile, Fox News defended Trump’s “strong statement,” and praised him for saying “exactly what’s on everyone’s mind.”