Media Ethics

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  • ABC's World News Tonight Ignores Stephen Bannon’s Extremism

    Blog ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET

    ABC’s World News Tonight ignored Steve Bannon’s long history of extremism and racism in their report on the Breitbart News CEO’s new job as chief executive for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.  

    ABC’s World News Tonight with David Muir characterized Bannon as “a onetime Goldman Sachs banker and film director, stepping down from his current job as head of ultra-conservative Breitbart News,” reporting Bannon had previously attempted to make sure Trump “would not be swayed by Republican leaders calling for a more moderate tone”:
     

    TOM LLAMAS: Today, at Trump Tower, cameras ushered in for what looked a lot like a Trump cabinet meeting. Donald Trump surrounded by his top advisers, and now, some fresh faces. There, at the end of the table, his new campaign CEO, Stephen Bannon, and new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway. Trump not saying much during this photo op, but his actions today, that campaign shakeup, sends a clear message: Trump is going back to his way of doing things. 

    [...]

    Bannon, a onetime Goldman Sachs banker and film director, stepping down from his current job as head of ultra-conservative Breitbart News. He's never worked on a campaign, but today, the Trump team touting in a press release a magazine article calling him "The Most Dangerous Political Operative In America." Trump, a guest on Bannon's radio show in May, Bannon making sure the candidate would not be swayed by Republican leaders calling for a more moderate tone.

    In contrast to ABC’s reporting, both CBSEvening News with Scott Pelley and NBC’s Nightly News with Lester Holt highlighted Bannon’s history of anti-immigrant and nationalist rhetoric. 

     

  • Cable News (Except Fox) Increasingly Using On-Air Graphics To Combat Trump’s Lies

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Media outlets have increasingly turned to chryons (or on-air graphics) to combat Donald Trump’s lies in real time. This media tactic has become an important tool given their inability to pushback on lies that are consistently repeated by the Trump campaign. 

    On the April 4 edition of MSNBC Live, MSNBC aired live footage from a Donald Trump rally where he claimed to have watched a videotape of the United States handing $400 million in “ransom money” to Iran. MSNBC debunked Trump’s claim using a chyron that read, “Trump Says He Watched (Nonexistent) Video Of Iran Receiving Cash.” 

    Later in the speech, when Trump again claimed to have seen “the video,” MSNBC used the same chyron to refute the false narrative. MSNBC later cut away from the speech and anchor Kate Snow invited NBC foreign correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin further debunk the narrative. 

    Previously, CNN earned considerable praise from the media after using its chyrons to fact check the Trump campaign’s lies.

    CNN’s and MSNBC’s decision to use on-air graphics to combat misinformation follows extensive criticism received by cable news for poorly pushing back against lies from Donald Trump and his campaign.

    According to Poynter, these types of fact checks have become increasingly important in a “post-fact world.”

    American television has been accused of not stepping up its game to combat misinformation in this election cycle.

    In many ways, the failure has been one of formats rather than content. When TV hosts have tried to correct the record they have sometimes done so by replaying long clips of the claim with no clear indication of its falsehood. In other occasions, they have not done enough homework to shut down a lie when the candidate hits back — even if they were entirely correct.

  • Roger Stone Being Featured At Politico Event A Day After Claiming Clinton Involvement In Vince Foster Conspiracy

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    Roger Stone

    Longtime Donald Trump adviser and notorious “dirty trickster” Roger Stone is scheduled to appear as part of Politico’s “Playbook Breakfast at the RNC” event one day after smearing Hillary Clinton as a “mentally unbalanced criminal” and suggesting she was involved in a conspiracy surrounding the death of former White House aide Vince Foster.

    Stone has a long history of violent, sexist, and racist rhetoric, including calling for the killing of several public figures. Stone is listed on Politico’s website as a guest for the July 19 event. NBC News managing editor of politics Dafna Linzer and CNN politics executive editor Mark Preston are scheduled to appear before Stone. Stone is currently banned from appearing on both of those networks due to his incendiary commentary.

    On July 18, appearing as the “co-host” of the “America First Unity Rally 2016,” Stone described Hillary Clinton as “a short-tempered, foul-mouthed, greedy, bipolar, mentally unbalanced criminal” and pushed the conspiracy theory that she had White House aide Vince Foster’s body moved from his office to Fort Marcy Park.

    Stone is an informal advisor to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, and at the rally said he was delayed due to “meetings" with members of "the Trump staff.”

    Stone’s rally comments are in line with his history of incendiary and false statements.

    He had several tweets that referred to African-American figures as “stupid negro,” “fat negro,” Uncle Tom,” “Mandingo” and “house negro.” Additionally he referred to African-American and Latina commentators as “quota hires.” Stone also made misogynistic comments on his Twitter account.

    Stone has called for the execution of Hillary Clinton and George Soros, and argued that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) should be “shot” for “treason.”

    Stone has also targeted Politico staffers on his Twitter account. He tweeted in May, “Fact- more people watching Newsmax TV than reading the shit cranked out by dishonest 'reporter' @kenvogel at Clintonite POLITICO.” In a since-deleted tweet, Stone once asked, “Which female Politico Reporter goes commando regularly.”

  • Report: Roger Ailes Accuser Tried To Make Her Sexual Harassment Claim Against Him Decades Ago

    One Of Ailes’ Accusers Reportedly Made Claim To LA Weekly In 1990s, Which Received No Clear Denial From Ailes

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Chicago Reader’s Michael Miner reported that one of the women alleging Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes sexually harassed her “tried to tell the world” about her harassment “decades ago” and that Ailes didn’t “clear[ly] den[y]” the allegation at the time.

    On July 6, former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson filed a “sexual harassment/retaliation” 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.” Since Carlson filed her lawsuit, New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman reported six more women have come forward alleging Ailes harassed them. Ailes’ lawyer called the women’s allegations “all 30 to 50 years old” and “false.” 

    In a July 14 article, Miner wrote that he has personally known one of the women who spoke to New York magazine since childhood, and that she told him "about her encounter with Roger Ailes decades ago and—more to the point—she tried to tell the world too.” Miner claimed that the woman, using the pseudonym “Susan,” tried to tell the newspaper LA Weekly about her incident in 1992, and that according to the editor of the Weekly, Ailes “‘didn't really make any clear denial’” when asked about the charge, but instead “‘was fumbling around in self-pity.’” From Miner’s article:

    New York magazine interviewed some of the women who'd contacted Carlson's lawyer, and last weekend posted "Six More Women Allege That Roger Ailes Sexually Harassed Them." One of these women was "Susan."

    [...]

    So I write here to put something on the record: I've known Susan, not her real name, since we were both children. She did not just come out of the woodwork. She told me about her encounter with Roger Ailes decades ago and—more to the point—she tried to tell the world too.

    In 1988 she saw Ailes rise to national prominence as the media svengali in Bush's come-from-behind victory over Michael Dukakis, the artisan of negativity chiefly responsible for Bush's devastating "revolving door" TV attack ad. Four years later Bush ran for reelection, and Susan expected more of the same from Ailes. (Ultimately, he had no formal role in Bush's 1992 campaign.) Susan typed up an account of the Mike Douglas Show encounter and sent it to the primary alternative newspaper in what was by then her home town, LA Weekly. "Roger, You Made Me a Democrat," she called her story, and went on to say that, pre-Ailes, she'd been a "Goldwater Girl," her mother a Republican committeewoman.

    The story she submitted in 1992 was a more detailed version of the account just published by New York Magazine. Jay Levin, the editor of LA Weekly at the time, remembers it. Levin assigned a staff writer, Ron Curran, to call Ailes. "We had expected the usual 'She’s lying and I will sue you,'" says Levin; "Instead, Curran said he got a kind of mumbling self-pity from Ailes. So I decided I needed to hear him myself."

    Levin got the same. "To the best of my memory," he says, "Ailes repeated something about being in a bad place in his past life. He didn't make any threats and he didn't really make any clear denial. He was fumbling around in self-pity. I said, 'OK, to be clear, are you denying this or not? Are you saying she's a liar? I don't hear a clear denial.' He said, weakly, 'Yes, I'm denying it,' and he wanted to know what we were going to do."

    Levin said he didn't know, and in the end LA Weekly didn't publish Susan's account—for reasons I understand. This was a story requiring strong corroboration, and Levin had no other names. Furthermore, Ailes was in the east, and following up would have meant hiring a reporter there to spend weeks tracking down women who'd worked for him. There was the obvious risk of a lawsuit. And Ailes wasn't then who he is now—one of the most powerful men in American media. "Going after him," says Levin, "would be a misallocation of resources."

    [...]

    When I read about Carlson suing Ailes, I sent Susan an e-mail that said, "Isn't this your guy?" Susan told me she'd already called Carlson's lawyers.