Peter Johnson Jr.

Tags ››› Peter Johnson Jr.
  • Does Roger Ailes' Personal Attorney And On-Air “Mouthpiece” Still Work At Fox News?

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Peter Johnson Jr., a Fox News legal analyst and the personal lawyer and on-air “mouthpiece” of former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, has receded from Fox’s airwaves following Ailes’ resignation and allegations by numerous women that Ailes sexually harassed them.

    While Fox’s website still lists Johnson as an analyst, a Media Matters review found that Johnson has not appeared on Fox since July 12, when he discussed that day’s memorial for five fatally shot Dallas police officers. Johnson also has not tweeted since July 17.

    On July 6, former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes, triggering an investigation into those allegations. By the end of July, at least 25 other women had levied similar charges against him. Fox News’ parent company, 21st Century Fox, announced on July 21 that Ailes would resign.

    Since then, New York magazine has reported that while CEO, 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, and that Johnson was involved in those operations. The magazine has described Johnson as a key confidante for Ailes as well as his on-air "mouthpiece."

  • 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.

  • After Gingrich Leaves Fox, Network Figures Line Up To Cheer Him As VP Pick

    ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    After Fox News suspended Newt Gingrich’s contract with the network given  the possibility that he could be named the running mate to presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, Fox figures lauded Gingrich as a “smart campaign pick” and said a Trump-Gingrich ticket would be “ideal.” Fox figures have been pushing Gingrich for Trump’s vice president selection for months.

  • Five Times Comey Corrected Right-Wing Media Misinformation During His Congressional Testimony On Clinton Email Probe

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    During his July 7 testimony on Capitol Hill, FBI Director James Comey dismantled several right-wing media myths about Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she served as secretary of state. In his testimony about the FBI’s recommendation against pursuing criminal charges, Comey debunked flawed comparisons and corrected faulty definitions that right-wing media have repeatedly pushed.

  • The “Gross Negligence” Claim About Clinton Emails That The FBI Specifically Rejected

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    FBI Director James Comey announced that he would not recommend criminal charges be filed against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server. Right-wing media, echoing Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, soon baselessly accused Comey of excusing Clinton’s “gross negligence” in violation of the Espionage Act.

  • 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.

  • A Comprehensive Guide To Benghazi Myths And Facts

    ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN & OLIVIA KITTEL

    After nearly four years of right-wing myths about the September 2012 attack on an American diplomatic compound and CIA compound in Benghazi, Libya, and as Republicans and Democrats on the House Select Committee on the attacks release their reports, Media Matters has compiled a list of more than 50 myths and facts regarding the origin of the attack, the security surrounding the compounds, the Obama administration’s handling of the attack during and after its occurrence, attacks on then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and other lies and misinformation regarding the Benghazi attack.

  • Conservative Media Are Making Violent Anti-Trump Protests Clinton’s Responsibility

    Clinton Campaign Has Denounced Anti-Trump Violence, While Trump Himself Has Regularly Instigated Violence

    ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Right-wing media figures are calling on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to condemn violence that broke out at presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign rally, ignoring that her campaign denounced the violence the night of the protests. Conservative media figures previously defended Trump when violent protests broke out at his rallies, despite many major media outlets noting that Trump’s rhetoric has incited and encouraged the violence.

  • The Right-Wing Media Figures Praising Trump’s Attacks On Press

    Major Media Figures Slam Trump’s Attacks For “Showing Little Regard For Democratic Accountability.”  

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Mainstream media figures criticized presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump’s attacks on the press during a May 31 press conference as showing “a fundamental misunderstanding of reporters’ roles” and “little regard for … the legitimate role of a free press in a free society,” while right-wing media lauded the attacks as a “smart move” against the “corrupt media.”