New York Magazine

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  • NY Magazine Explains Why “Donald Trump’s New Anti-Abortion Letter Should Terrify You”

    Rebecca Traister: New Letter Proves “Donald Trump Would Like To Return Us To A Nation Of Forced Births, With Women’s Bodies As The Vessels.”

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    On September 16, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump released a letter announcing a new “pro-life coalition” meant to appeal to anti-choice voters. In response, New York magazine’s Rebecca Traister explained that Trump’s “promises about what he’ll do on abortion” as outlined in his “anti-abortion letter should terrify you.”

    In her article, Traister warned that Trump’s announcement was troubling not only for the extreme policies he endorsed, but also because of the news that he has begun recruiting well-known anti-abortion activists to rally voters.

    Trump’s letter set out four anti-choice policy priorities: a commitment to uphold the Hyde Amendment, a ban on the allocation of taxpayer funds to abortion services; an assurance that he would nominate “pro-life justices to the U.S. Supreme Court”; a promise to sign “the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” which means a ban on abortion after 20 weeks; and a pledge of “defunding Planned Parenthood as long as they continue to perform abortions.” 

    Trump’s announcement also included the news that he had appointed Marjorie Dannenfelser, a longtime anti-abortion leader and president of the anti-choice group Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List), to lead the recruitment efforts for his new coalition. As Traister noted, SBA List is an extreme anti-abortion group that “not only opposes abortion in all circumstances, but also several forms of contraception.”

    In a press release, NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue repeated these concerns about Dannenfelser and SBA List: “Let’s be clear: just like Donald Trump, Susan B. Anthony List hasn’t done a thing to empower women and everything to advance an extreme agenda that aims to entirely end women’s access to abortion in America, often even for survivors of rape, incest, and women whose health is endangered.”

    Traister warned that Trump’s commitments to anti-abortion policy could not “safely be considered electoral posturing” because if elected, Trump would likely have “a Republican congress and Supreme Court seats to fill.” She concluded: Trump “could do every single one of the things he’s promising anti-abortion activists,” and that would make it impossible for women to make decisions “about whether or when to bear children based on their health, their economic, or familial status, or the condition of the fetuses they carry.”

    From New York magazine:

    Today’s news has been dominated by the story of the man who spent years hyping racist lies to delegitimize this country’s first black president now betting that a pliable press will congratulate him on distancing himself from himself.

    But while this moronic sideshow is going down, a report in the Hill today brings a much more important story: Donald Trump took time out of his busy schedule of conspiracy promotion and disavowal to write a letter to America’s anti-abortion leaders, making some new firm promises about what he’ll do on abortion should he be elected president in 53 days. The missive, dated “September 2016,” was released by the anti-abortion nonprofit Susan B. Anthony List, an organization that not only opposes abortion in all circumstances, but also several forms of contraception, including emergency contraception and copper IUDs (which it has described as causing “early abortions”). The letter begins with Trump’s announcement that he has enlisted longtime anti-abortion leader Marjorie Dannenfelser, SBA List president, as the leader of his campaign’s “Pro-Life Coalition.”

    [...]

    So this is what he is promising if he becomes president: a court stacked with “pro-life justices” that will make abortion — and judging by the direction of his party, possibly several forms of contraception — illegal; the concretization of a law that makes full access to health care and control over reproduction unavailable to poor Americans; a 20-week rule that would make abortion illegal before the point in gestation at which many fetal abnormalities are diagnosed.

    This cannot safely be considered electoral posturing or some wacky new skirmish in a culture war. If Donald Trump is elected president, it will likely be with a Republican congress and Supreme Court seats to fill. He could do every single one of the things he’s promising anti-abortion activists he will do. And those things would return women, in a very real way — in a way that is already happening in state and local jurisdictions around the country — to their secondary status: unable to exert full control over their bodies; barred from making choices about whether or when to bear children based on their health, their economic, or familial status, or the condition of the fetuses they carry.

    Donald Trump would like to return us to a nation of forced births, with women’s bodies as the vessels. But by all means, let’s keep yukking it up over his funny orange hair.

  • New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman: “Murdoch Blamed Ailes For Laying The Groundwork For Trump’s Candidacy”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    New York magazine's Gabriel Sherman shed light on the tensions between former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch, the head of Fox's parent company 21st Century Fox, that resulted from Ailes “putting Fox so squarely behind the candidacy of Donald Trump.” The revelation was part of a report detailing Ailes’ ouster from Fox News after former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson filed asexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes.

    Under Ailes, Fox News facilitated the rise of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, giving him double the airtime of any other candidate during the GOP primary and nearly $30 million worth of free airtime from May to December 2015. Several Fox personalities became Trump cheerleaders and defenders, including Fox’s morning show Fox & Friends, which Trump had been calling into since 2011, the network’s star Bill O’Reilly, and Sean Hannity, who has emerged as the chairman of Trump’s fan club. Despite a feud between Trump and the network after Megyn Kelly asked the candidate about his past statements about women at the first GOP debate, the relationship has remained strong, with Fox figures frequently helping to explain and defend Trump’s outrageous statements and proposals. Numerous media outlets blamed Fox News for creating “the Trump Monster,” as Trump predominantly relies on their coverage.

    In the September 2 article, Sherman explained that “the relationship between Murdoch and Ailes [became] strained” because “Murdoch blamed Ailes for laying the groundwork for Trump’s candidacy.” According to Sherman, “Murdoch didn’t like that Ailes was putting Fox so squarely behind the candidacy of Donald Trump” and that he “was not a fan of Trump’s and especially did not like his stance on immigration.” Sherman added, “Murdoch told Ailes he wanted Fox’s debate moderators… to hammer Trump,” resulting in Ailes becoming “caught between his friend Trump, his boss Murdoch, and his star [Megyn] Kelly”: 

    According to a person close to the Murdochs, Rupert’s first instinct was to protect Ailes, who had worked for him for two decades. The elder Murdoch can be extremely loyal to executives who run his companies, even when they cross the line. (The most famous example of this is Sun editor Rebekah Brooks, whom he kept in the fold after the U.K. phone-hacking scandal.) Also, Ailes has made the Murdochs a lot of ­money — Fox News generates more than $1 billion annually, which accounts for 20 percent of 21st Century Fox’s profits — and Rupert worried that perhaps only Ailes could run the network so successfully. “Rupert is in the clouds; he didn’t appreciate how toxic an environment it was that Ailes created,” a person close to the Murdochs said. “If the money hadn’t been so good, then maybe they would have asked questions.”

    Beyond the James and Lachlan factor, the relationship between Murdoch and Ailes was becoming strained: Murdoch didn’t like that Ailes was putting Fox so squarely behind the candidacy of Donald Trump. And he had begun to worry less about whether Fox could endure without its creator. (In recent years, Ailes had taken extended health leaves from Fox and the ratings held.) Now Ailes had made himself a true liability: More than two dozen Fox News women told the Paul, Weiss lawyers about their harassment in graphic terms. The most significant of the accusers was Megyn Kelly, who is in contract negotiations with Fox and is considered by the Murdochs to be the future of the network. So important to Fox is Kelly that Lachlan personally approved her reported $6 million book advance from Murdoch-­controlled publisher HarperCollins, according to two sources.

    [..]

    According to Fox sources, Murdoch blamed Ailes for laying the groundwork for Trump’s candidacy. Ailes had given Trump, his longtime friend, a weekly call-in segment on Fox & Friends to sound off on political issues. (Trump used Fox News to mainstream the birther conspiracy theory.) Ailes also had lunch with Trump days before he launched his presidential campaign and continued to feed him political advice throughout the primaries, according to sources close to Trump and Ailes. (And in the days after Carlson filed her lawsuit, Trump advised Ailes on navigating the crisis, even recommending a lawyer.)

    Murdoch was not a fan of Trump’s and especially did not like his stance on immigration. (The antipathy was mutual: “Murdoch’s been very bad to me,” Trump told me in March.) A few days before the first GOP debate on Fox in August 2015, Murdoch called Ailes at home. “This has gone on long enough,” Murdoch said, according to a person briefed on the conversation. Murdoch told Ailes he wanted Fox’s debate moderators — Kelly, Bret Baier, and Chris Wallace — to hammer Trump on a variety of issues. Ailes, understanding the GOP electorate better than most at that point, likely thought it was a bad idea. “Donald Trump is going to be the Republican nominee,” Ailes told a colleague around this time. But he didn’t fight Murdoch on the debate directive.

    On the night of August 6, in front of 24 million people, the Fox moderators peppered Trump with harder-hitting questions. But it was Kelly’s question regarding Trump’s history of crude comments about women that created a media sensation. He seemed personally wounded by her suggestion that this spoke to a temperament that might not be suited for the presidency. “I’ve been very nice to you, though I could probably maybe not be based on the way you have treated me,” he said pointedly.

    After the debate, Trump called Ailes and screamed about Kelly. “How could you do this?” he said, according to a person briefed on the call. Ailes was caught between his friend Trump, his boss Murdoch, and his star Kelly. “Roger lost control of Megyn and Trump,” a Fox anchor said.

  • Media Matters President Bradley Beychok Responds To Report That Fox Sought Our Reporter’s Phone Records

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Fox News sought the phone records of Media Matters senior reporter Joe Strupp through “legally questionable means” in order to identify his anonymous network sources, according to a new report.

    New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman reported in his September 2 cover story on the fall of Fox News chairman Roger Ailes:

    Fox News also obtained the phone records of journalists, by legally questionable means. According to two sources with direct knowledge of the incident, Brandi, Fox’s general counsel, hired a private investigator in late 2010 to obtain the personal home- and cell-phone records of Joe Strupp, a reporter for the liberal watchdog group Media Matters. (Through a spokesperson, Brandi denied this.) In the fall of that year, Strupp had written several articles quoting anonymous Fox sources, and the network wanted to determine who was talking to him. “This was the culture. Getting phone records doesn’t make anybody blink,” one Fox executive told me.

    Media Matters president Bradley Beychok responded to the report:

    From what we witnessed with Rupert Murdoch and News Corp's prior phone hacking scandal, it's critical for an immediate investigation of Roger Ailes and any other current or former Fox News employees who may have been involved in this illegal practice.

    Roger Ailes and Fox News broke the law by hacking into the phone records of Media Matters employees. Anyone involved in the illegal hacking should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and we are considering all legal options.

  • New Research Debunks Right-Wing Media Myths About Effects Of Paid Leave

    Research Suggests Paid Sick Leave Improves Public Health

    ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Several media outlets highlighted new research that found workers that had access to paid sick leave are less likely to come to work when contagious -- thus slowing the spread of diseases and improving overall public health. While this may seem like an obvious conclusion, right-wing media have criticized paid sick time and other forms of earned leave as unnecessary “giveaways” for low-wage workers.

  • Report: Roger Ailes Used Fox News’ Budget To Target Journalists In Smear Campaigns

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes used “portions of the Fox budget” to “hire consultants, political operatives, and private detectives” to conduct “surveillance campaigns” against perceived enemies, including journalists critical of Fox and Ailes, according to a report from New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman.

    Parent company 21st Century Fox announced in July that Ailes would be resigning following allegations of sexual harassment from former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson and at least 25 other women. Subsequent reports have indicated Ailes was only part of a decades-long culture of sexual harassment at Fox. 

    Sherman reported that Ailes used revenue from Fox’s budget to hire consultants, operatives, and detectives that “reported only to him” and would work in a special “Black Room” to conduct operations “against people he targeted both inside and outside the company.” Sherman wrote that “Targets of the campaigns included journalists” such as Sherman himself and reporters from Gawker. He also wrote that multiple Fox employees participated in these operations, including Fox contributor and Ailes lawyer Peter Johnson Jr. and Fox contributor Bo Diehl, and that Fox’s CFO “approved budget expenditures throughout this period,” along with Fox’s general counsel.

    Sherman reported in his 2014 Ailes biography that Ailes had masterminded the creation of a blog called "The Cable Game” which was used to attack Fox rivals and critics and was authored in part by Fox contributor Jim Pinkerton.

    From the August 7 article:

    But with Ailes gone, Fox executives are now looking closely at how Ailes spent Fox money. And what they are discovering is that, beyond the sexual harassment claims, Ailes was also able to use portions of the Fox budget to hire consultants, political operatives, and private detectives that reported only to him, according to a senior Fox source. Last week, according to the source, Fox News dismissed five consultants whom Ailes had hired to do work that was more about advancing his own agenda than Fox’s. One of the consultants, Bert Solivan, ran negative PR campaigns against Ailes’s personal and political enemies out of Fox News headquarters, a source said.

    [...]

    According to one highly-placed source, Solivan worked out of what Fox insiders called “the Black Room,” an operation Ailes established around 2011 to conduct PR and surveillance campaigns against people he targeted both inside and outside the company. The “Black Room” was located on the 14th floor of the News Corp building at 1211 Avenue of the Americas, a quiet part of the office that housed Fox News Latino and some marketing and promotions employees. Fox employees Ken LaCorte and Jim Pinkerton, veteran political operatives who’ve worked with Ailes since the 1980s, also worked with Solivan, the source said, adding that Ailes’s personal lawyer, and Fox contributor, Peter Johnson Jr. advised the team. (In an email, Peter Johnson denied any involvement in “Black Room” campaigns, saying, “The only online campaign I’m aware of is yours attempting to create a truth from a fiction with this account.”)

    Targets of the campaigns included journalists John Cook and Hamilton Nolan, who have aggressively covered Ailes for Gawker. According to one source, private detectives followed Cook around his Brooklyn neighborhood and Fox operatives prepared a report on him with information they intended to leak to blogs. (According to the source, one proposed line of attack claimed that Cook — whose wife, Slate news director Allison Benedikt, is Jewish — was anti-Semitic.)

    [...]

    I was also the target of an operation, a highly-placed source told me: In 2012, while I was researching a biography of Ailes, Fox operatives set up web pages to attack my reputation, and Fox funds paid for Google search ads against my name that linked to the sites. One source also said private investigators employed by Fox contributor Bo Dietl were instructed to follow me and my wife.

    [...]

    The allegations about Ailes’s questionable use of Fox resources raise the issue of how much other high-ranking officials knew about his activities. Fox News CFO Mark Kranz, for instance, approved budget expenditures throughout this period, and general counsel Dianne Brandi approved contracts. Through a spokesperson, both Kranz and Brandi said they had no knowledge of expenditures for surveillance and online attacks.

  • Donald And Eric Trumps’ Sexual Harassment Victim-Blaming Is A Staple In Right-Wing Media

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Donald and Eric Trump’s victim-blaming responses to questions about sexual harassment were condemned in the media, but they echoed right-wing media’s long history of putting the onus on the victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault. Right-wing media figures have suggested that being a sexual assault survivor is a “coveted status,” that victims should “make better decisions,” and that “women need to take some responsibility.”

  • Four Times Media Highlighted The Importance Of Repealing The Hyde Amendment

    The Hyde Amendment Has Long Stymied Abortion Access -- And Media Are Taking Note That It’s Time For A Change

    ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    During its national convention, the Democratic Party adopted a platform explicitly calling for the repeal of the Hyde Amendment -- a long-standing budgetary rider blocking the use of federal Medicaid funds to cover abortion care except in cases of rape or incest or to save the life of the mother. Here are four times media highlighted the importance of repealing the Hyde Amendment and removing economic barriers to abortion access.

  • Media Condemn Trump's "Reckless Conspiracy Theory” About Obama’s Body Language

    ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS & NINA MAST

    Media figures castigated presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump for claiming that “there’s something going on” with President  Obama’s “body language,” calling the comments “another … reckless conspiracy theory” and noting this shows that Trump is “not ready to let go” of his “tinfoil hat-type” thinking. Trump was also roundly condemned for using the same line to question Obama’s response to the attack at a gay nightclub in Orlando in June.

  • Report: Trump Campaign Sources Say CNN Contributor Corey Lewandowski Is Still Advising Trump 

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    New York magazine reported that sources inside presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign are concerned that former Trump campaign manager turned CNN contributor Corey Lewandowski “will give Trump hard-edged advice that goes against the campaign’s stated plan to soften and humanize the candidate.” Advisers and allies of Trump are reportedly also concerned Lewandowski “could play a wild-card role” during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

    Last month, CNN hired Lewandowski as a contributor days after he was fired from Trump’s campaign. The move drew sharp criticism from media experts, who questioned the network’s ethical solitude after hiring the former campaign manager who was reported to have a hostile and inappropriate relationship with reporters.

    CNN has failed to answer additional ethical questions surrounding Lewandowski’s hire, declining to address the fact that Lewandowski was simultaneously receiving both severance pay from Trump’s campaign and a salary from the network while appearing on-air to campaign for and defend Trump from media criticism. In an open letter to CNN president Jeff Zucker, Media Matters president Bradley Beychok called on Zucker to publicly address questions regarding the hiring of Lewandowski or suspend him from the network.

    In a July 17 article, New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman reported that Trump’s “advisers and allies” have grown more concerned about Lewandowski’s role in the campaign. Sherman reported that “although Trump fired Lewandowski last month,” he has continued to lobby and advise Trump, pushing for the Trump to maintain his “off-the-cuff style” and instructing him not to apologize for a widely criticized tweet depicting Hillary Clinton and the Star of David -- a tweet Lewandowski defended using his CNN platform. From New York magazine's report:

    As the Republican Convention gets underway, advisers and allies of Donald Trump are increasingly concerned that ousted campaign-manager-turned-CNN-pundit Corey Lewandowski could play a wild-card role in Cleveland. Their principal worry: Lewandowski will give Trump hard-edged advice that goes against the campaign’s stated plan to soften and humanize the candidate. “He'll be trying to undermine the campaign leadership by giving Trump bad advice,” longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone said. Another source said, “Corey will be working the convention rivalries into a froth.”

    Although Trump fired Lewandowski last month, the power struggle between Lewandowski and campaign chairman Paul Manafort continues, sources close to the campaign say. Lewandowski is said to have lobbied hard for Trump to pick Chris Christie for vice-president. (Manafort’s choice was Mike Pence.) Lewandowski also told Trump not to hire Manafort’s choice for senior communications adviser, Jason Miller, because “he’s a Cruz guy” and would take power away. 

  • Sexual Harassment Charge “Could Be Curtains For Ailes” At Fox News

    New York Mag’s Gabriel Sherman: Hiring Of Independent Investigator To Review Sexual Harassment Allegations Against Ailes Could Signal Bad News For Fox CEO

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman reported that the sexual harassment/retaliation lawsuit filed by former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson against Fox News CEO Roger Ailes could give 21st Century Fox executives, Lachlan and James Murdoch (sons of Rupert Murdoch)  a way to oust Ailes.

    Sherman quotes executives who believe 21st Century Fox’s hiring of outside counsel to investigate the allegations made against Ailes indicate “a coup” inside the network and that “this could be curtains for Ailes.” Sherman reports that “there are signs that the 76 year-old’s luck may have finally expired”:

    [I]n the wake of Gretchen Carlson’s shocking sexual-harassment lawsuit against Ailes, there are signs that the 76 year-old’s luck may have finally expired.

    On Wednesday, Fox’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, released a terse statement saying it took the allegations “seriously” and is conducting an “internal review of the matter.” The wording and timing of the press release — Ailes had yet to issue his own response, which, when it came, described the lawsuit as “retaliatory” (Carlson was just dropped from Fox) and claimed it would be “vigorously defended” — signal that Ailes’s standing with the Murdochs is precarious.  According to one highly placed Fox source, Murdoch and his sons, Lachlan and James, approved the hiring of an outside lawyer to conduct the independent investigation. While it’s common for large companies to bring in outside counsel to conduct inquiries during public scandals, the move is a radical one for Murdoch. “Unprecedented,” one former senior executive told me. “It’s not Rupert’s style to investigate internal issues.”

    Executives I spoke with over the past 24 hours said the hiring of an outside lawyer is also an indication that Murdoch’s sons may be capitalizing on the Carlson scandal to achieve a long-held goal: forcing Ailes out. “It’s a coup,” one person close to the company told me. If the investigation into Ailes’s management confirms Carlson’s account, or turns up additional episodes of harassment with other Fox women, it stands to reason the Murdoch children would have the leverage they need to push Ailes aside and install a less-right-wing chief. “This could be curtains for Ailes,” another person close to the company said. Indeed, several months after NBC hired an outside counsel in 1995 to investigate Ailes’s alleged anti-Semitic slur, he left NBC.