From the January 26 edition of CNN's Erin Burnett OutFront:
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Donald Trump will "definitely" boycott Fox News' January 28 Republican primary debate due to the "conflict of interest and bias" moderator Megyn Kelly holds against him and the network's response to his criticism. After reportedly speaking with the Republican front-runner, Fox News and its leadership have stood behind Kelly -- a marked contrast to the network's response when Trump complained about Kelly after the August debate.
Conservative media figures criticized the indictment of anti-choice group Center for Medical Progress' (CMP) founder David Daleiden and another employee as "a travesty" and "a political hit job," questioning whether the prosecutor -- who is a Republican -- was trying to "send a message."
From the January 25 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File.
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From the January 25 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File:
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New York magazine's Gabriel Sherman highlighted how Fox News chief Roger Ailes has been "forced ... to make a choice between his audience and [Megyn] Kelly," since GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump has threatened to boycott the next Fox News Debate, unless Kelly is dropped as moderator.
Trump has been feuding with Fox host Megyn Kelly since the August 6, 2015 Republican debate, where Kelly, serving as a moderator, questioned Trump about past offensive statements about women. In an interview two days later, Trump attacked Kelly by saying that she had "blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever." He then later attacked Kelly on Twitter, saying "I liked The Kelly File much better without @megynkelly. Perhaps she could take another eleven day unscheduled vacation!" and retweeting a tweet calling her a "bimbo." And while Trump is a frequent guest on Fox, Fox News chief Roger Ailes and many Fox hosts came to Kelly's defense after Trump's attacks.
In his January 24 article, Gabriel Sherman highlighted Trump's latest salvo against Kelly, where he tweeted that Megyn Kelly's "conflict of interest and bias" should prevent her from moderating the next debate. With Trump's campaign threatening to "walk away from the debate if Fox won't exclude Kelly," Sherman wrote that while "Ailes's strategy in situations where his stars are attacked is to ... apply overwhelming force," Trump's popularity "has forced Ailes to make a choice between his audience and Kelly":
With just five days until Fox News airs the final GOP debate before the Iowa Caucuses, Donald Trump is reigniting his war with Megyn Kelly. "Based on Megyn Kelly's conflict of interest and bias she should not be allowed to be a moderator of the next debate," Trump tweeted while campaigning in Iowa on Saturday.
Trump's campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, indicated that Trump could walk away from the debate if Fox won't exclude Kelly. "Let's see what happens," he told me. "It's fair to say Mr. Trump is a significant ratings driver for these debates. If we aren't on stage for some reason, they wouldn't have the record 24 million viewers and would be back with 1-2 million people."
In a statement to reporters, Fox News spokesperson Irena Briganti said: "Megyn Kelly has no conflict of interest. Donald Trump is just trying to build up the audience for Thursday's debate, for which we thank him."
For Fox News chief Roger Ailes, Trump's threat of a debate boycott raises the stakes in a war that Ailes has struggled to develop a playbook for. Historically, Ailes's strategy in situations where his stars are attacked is to follow a version of the Powell Doctrine: Apply overwhelming force. But Trump's popularity with the GOP base - that is, Fox viewers - has forced Ailes to make a choice between his audience and Kelly. In the wake of the first debate, Ailes was said to be rattled by the volume of anti-Kelly emails Fox News received from Trump supporters. Kelly told people she was receiving death threats, and Fox did not have a ready response. Ailes, who is less of a presence at Fox, now has to make another choice, which could result in the GOP front runner walking away.
Lewandowski, Trump's campaign manager, told me Trump could stage his own televised town hall on Thursday night and let Fox's rivals air it. "That would be a great idea," he said.
Fox host Megyn Kelly hosted a group of conservative media personalities that have banded together against GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump. Dana Loesch, Katie Pavlich, and Brent Bozell have contributed to a special edition of the National Review, dedicated to questioning Trump's commitment to conservatism. From the January 21 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File:
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In recent weeks, Fox News has been aggressively promoting Michael Bay's myth-filled Benghazi movie in an effort to criticize the Obama administration and damage Hillary Clinton's presidential run. Megyn Kelly, the host that Fox News tries to position as more news-minded than the network's most opinionated personalities, has been leading the charge.
According to a Media Matters study, from January 4 through January 19, Fox News devoted more than 2 hours and 53 minutes to discussing Bay's 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. The Kelly File made up nearly half of that time, with more than 1 hour and 22 minutes of coverage. (By comparison, The Five, the show that devoted the second most time to promoting 13 Hours, spent less than 24 minutes on the movie.)
Kelly showed Fox's hand early, kicking off a segment about the movie on her January 4 program by touting an "exclusive" report on "the gripping new film that may pose a threat to Hillary Clinton's hopes for the White House." The idea that the film might have an impact on Clinton's presidential run was a regular feature of The Kelly File's coverage, coming up in seven segments.
The effort to use Bay's movie to hurt Clinton politically comes a few short months after the Republicans' House Select Committee on Benghazi hearing featuring hours of Clinton testimony fell "flat on its face." Though Hillary Clinton is not mentioned in Bay's movie, Kelly was nonetheless intent on making her 13 Hours coverage about Clinton.
The Kelly File revived the myth that Clinton dismissed the deaths of the four Americans killed in the Benghazi attack during a congressional hearing. In seven separate segments, Kelly or her guests raised the myth that Clinton and senior White House officials deliberately lied about the attackers' motives. Kelly's show also featured five segments promoting the myth that the Obama administration issued a "stand down" order during the attacks.
At times, Kelly sounded more like a paid spokeswomen for the film, rather than a news anchor. She introduced her January 18 hour-long special on the film by calling 13 Hours "a blockbuster movie ... that could change everything you thought you knew about Benghazi. And directly impact the 2016 race for the White House." She also called the movie "extraordinary" and "a dramatic, compelling, white knuckled experience," while advising her viewers "don't plan on getting popcorn, don't plan on needing to use the restroom, because you will not leave your seat for two hours."
As The Hollywood Reporter noted, Kelly's praise of the film was so strong that Paramount Pictures, the studio which released the film, "even inserted quotes from Kelly ('riveting') and Fox News contributor Stephen Hayes ('extraordinary') into a TV commercial for 13 Hours ... presumably because these two news personalities are more trusted by conservatives than are the movie critics who typically show up in such advertising." The studio also reportedly "supplied Fox News behind-the-scenes footage" that Kelly used on-air, and "arranged for Kelly to interview three of the real-life heroes portrayed in the film."
According to a Media Matters analysis, Kelly also promoted the movie more on her show from January 4 through January 19 than the syndicated entertainment news shows Extra!, Entertainment Tonight, and Access Hollywood combined. Those shows covered the movie for a total of 7 and a half minutes over the same period.
Kelly's dedication to promoting right-wing misinformation surrounding the Benghazi attack is unsurprising given her track record at the network. As an otherwise-glowing profile of Kelly in Vanity Fair highlighted earlier this month, despite Kelly's attempt to cast her show "as a 'news' show as opposed to an opinion show, like Hannity or The O'Reilly Factor, [it] is made up largely of the kind of stories you'd find on many other Fox News shows at any other time." As Media Matters noted in 2013 when Kelly's new time slot was announced, Kelly regularly uses her perceived journalistic bona fides to cast conservative misinformation as "news."
The Washington Post's Erik Wemple noted of the network's 13 Hours coverage: "Fox News, even after hyping the bona fide revelations in the book version of '13 Hours,' is promoting the Bay movie for its potential to revive Benghazi as a problem for Clinton. In so doing, Fox News isn't acting as a news organization, which reports events as they arise; it's acting as an advocacy organization, verily rooting for the movie to tilt the contemporary political debate."
Media Matters searched for the terms "Benghazi" and "13 Hours" in IQ Media from January 4, 2015 to January 19, 2015 in the shows, Extra!, Access Hollywood, and Entertainment Tonight. For the methodology for the original study, click here.
Fox News has devoted roughly three hours to promoting the release of Michael Bay's 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, a movie about the 2012 attacks on diplomatic facilities in Libya, praising the film, repeatedly characterizing the movie as a threat to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, and hyping several debunked myths about the Benghazi terror attacks. More than half of the network's 32 segments focused on falsehoods about the State Department and Obama administration's responses to the attacks, and nearly 60 percent of the segments linked the movie to Clinton's 2016 bid for the White House.
A California man was sentenced Tuesday to a year in jail and five years of probation for threatening to shoot employees of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) offices in San Diego and Washington, D.C. The lawyer for John Weissinger, 54, blamed alcohol, anxiety, depression, and Fox News coverage for his client's dangerous threats against CAIR.
According to San Diego's CBS News 8, Wessinger's lawyer attributed his threats to the Muslim advocacy group to "problems with alcohol, anxiety and depression and [having] just finished watching a week of Fox News coverage on the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris when he threatened the CAIR offices." Weissinger's threats directly referenced the Charlie Hebdo attack as reported by NBC San Diego:
"We're waiting for you. And you know what's going to happen? One day you're going to wake up and there's going to be a big, big incident," the voice on the recording states. The phone message was played in open court Tuesday.
"You're going to be in the news. It's going to be like Charlie Hebdo. Guess what? It's coming your way motherf--ers."
Fox has a long history of demonizing CAIR and Muslims. In November, Fox host Sean Hannity used a Pew Research poll titled "Views of ISIS Overwhelmingly Negative" to claim that a "significant" number of Muslims support ISIS, misleadingly claiming that the poll showed hundreds of millions of ISIS sympathizers. After the Charlie Hebdo massacre, Fox News ignored Muslim condemnation of the attacks and instead telling Muslims and groups like CAIR to keep "their mouth shut when things happen."
On numerous occasions, Fox News has likened CAIR to terrorist organizations. Fox personalities attacked the group after it condemned the December 2 terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California. Frequent Fox guest Dr. Zuhdi Jasser accused the group of seeing radicalization as "sort of normal behavior" and that it "inculcates those first steps of radicalization." In January, Megyn Kelly condemned Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and other Democrats for inviting representatives from CAIR to the State of the Union address.
Recently, CAIR has reported an increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes and according to TPM, "CAIR has faced a number of other threats in recent months, many of them in the immediate aftermath of terrorist attacks."
The Washington Post's Erik Wemple highlighted how Fox News' coverage of Michael Bay's 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi "is promoting the Bay movie for its potential to revive Benghazi as a problem for Clinton" during her presidential run, and how the network, in doing so, is "acting as an advocacy organization."
Fox News has hyped 13 Hours repeatedly, claiming that the film would "raise a lot of questions" about the 2012 attacks on a diplomatic post and nearby CIA annex in Benghazi. In addition to using the movie to push the debunked "stand down order" myth, Fox has argued that Bay's film could "pose a threat" to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. Fox's Andrea Tantaros argued, "if anyone sees this movie ... and then goes on to vote for Hillary Clinton, they're a criminal." Prime-time host Megyn Kelly, during a segment that pushed multiple Benghazi myths, said the movie "reintroduces Benghazi as a potential campaign issue that cannot be helpful to Mrs. Clinton." Kelly also attacked Wemple for a blog post that called out Kelly and her network's "obsession" with the Benghazi attacks and their potential political implications for Clinton.
In a January 19 piece for The Washington Post's Erik Wemple blog, Wemple explained again how 13 Hours "is giving the network a do-over opportunity" to "attempt to elevate the flick as a political watershed" and "revive Benghazi as a problem for Clinton." Wemple noted that by "rooting for the movie to tilt the contemporary political debate," Fox has failed at "acting as a news organization, which reports events as they arise." Wemple concluded that any movie that negatively highlighted the Obama administration "could surely bank on similar excitement from the country's No. 1 cable news outfit":
On her program, [Megyn] Kelly criticized the Erik Wemple Blog for a Jan. 5 post we'd written about the love affair of Fox News with the new Michael Bay movie "13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi." That movie is based on a book of similar title written by Boston University professor Mitchell Zuckoff and a team of security operators who were on the ground on the night of the tragic Benghazi, Libya, attacks of Sept. 11, 2012. The book carried a number of revelations -- including the claim of the security contractors that they were told to "stand down" before rushing to assist personnel at the besieged U.S. diplomatic outpost -- that made news upon its publication in 2014. Fox News was particularly aggressive in promoting the book.
"13 Hours" the movie is giving the network a do-over opportunity. The network is frequently running clips of the movie, interviewing the security operators -- particularly Mark "Oz" Geist, Kris "Tanto" Paronto and John "Tig" Tiegen -- and otherwise attempting to elevate the flick as a political watershed. On her Jan. 4 program, Kelly herself led into an interview with this trio by saying, "Breaking tonight a 'Kelly File' exclusive on the gripping new film that may pose a threat to Hillary Clinton's hopes for the White House." There was really nothing "breaking" that night -- just a rehash of the same news threads that had been aired at the time of the book's release.
On her program last night, Kelly disagreed with that point of view. "Wemple of the Washington Post seems to have an issue," said the host in a segment with Fox Newsers Chris Stirewalt and Howard Kurtz. "We did that interview with those three heroes and the feedback we received from the viewers was extraordinary. They wanted to know more. They wanted to know how they could help these guys. They couldn't wait to see this movie. Wemple has a different reaction, which was, '[dismissive sound effect] What did we learn that was new?' I've got news for you, Erik Wemple. You go and you sit through '13 Hours.' You sit there, white-knuckled. When you can't move at the end of it, and a tear comes to your eye, unless you're not human. And you tell me whether this is going to have no impact on the story of Benghazi, which is relevant in this 2016 presidential campaign."
Now to the heart of Kelly's criticism. She demands, "And you tell me whether this is going to have no impact on the story of Benghazi, which is relevant in this 2016 presidential campaign." We have no opinion or projection on whether or not the "13 Hours" movie will have an impact on the ongoing presidential race, nor whether it should have such an impact. Our point is narrower: That Fox News, even after hyping the bona fide revelations in the book version of "13 Hours," is promoting the Bay movie for its potential to revive Benghazi as a problem for Clinton. In so doing, Fox News isn't acting as a news organization, which reports events as they arise; it's acting as an advocacy organization, verily rooting for the movie to tilt the contemporary political debate. If Bay could only produce a Hollywood reenactment of Obamacare's lowest moments or of the failures of the president's Islamic State policy, he could surely bank on similar excitement from the country's No. 1 cable news outfit.
From the January 19 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File:
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From the January 12 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File:
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Fox News devoted numerous segments to reports of mass sexual assaults committed in Cologne, Germany on New Year's Eve by men "having a 'North African or Arabic' appearance," using the story to fearmonger about the "direct threat" posed by "how fast you allow ... Syrian refugees into this country." This reporting stands in contrast to Fox's history of downplaying sexual assaults when it doesn't fit their anti-refugee agenda.