Savannah Guthrie

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  • Hyping Trump’s Latest “Discipline,” Pundits Whitewash His Recent Unhinged Days

    ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Media figures are once again hyping a “disciplined” Donald Trump in the final days of the presidential campaign, ignoring the Republican presidential nominee’s racist fearmongering, outlandish claims, and “new record” total of lies told in one day. The media has unremittingly sought a Trump “pivot,” which never actually materialized.

  • As Vintage Trump Pushes Conspiracy Theories And Uses Racial Slurs On CNBC, NBC Touts “A New Donald Trump”

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    NBC Today host Savannah Guthrie commended Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump for not attacking Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton over her recent pneumonia diagnosis, touting his so-called “restraint” as evidence of “a new Donald Trump.” Minutes later, the candidate engaged in vintage Trump behavior on NBC’s sister network CNBC, hurling racial slurs and outlandish conspiracy theories and once again flouting the media’s tendency to declare a Trump pivot.

    Trump and his surrogates plan “to refrain from commenting” on Clinton’s pneumonia diagnosis, as Bloomberg reported. For Guthrie, “this is a new Donald Trump.”

    NICOLLE WALLACE: Let me just say what I think the glaring, banner-worthy breaking news is this morning. Donald Trump hasn't tweeted about [Hillary Clinton's pneumonia diagnoses]. Donald Trump hasn't raged against her. Donald Trump hasn't called her a name. We are seeing, to me, the most dramatic 24-hour transformation of her opponent since he began running for president. I can't wait to see what his first comments are and if he's able to show restraint. That will mark, really to me, the most dramatic development in this campaign so far.

    SAVANNAH GUTHRIE (CO-HOST): Well, Nicolle, ask and ye shall receive. I've been told he did at an appearance this morning on another network and said, "I hope she gets well soon," and looks forward to seeing her at the debate. So Mark, this is a new Donald Trump.

    Right after Guthrie lapsed into the media’s persistent tendency of proclaiming a Trump “pivot,” the presidential candidate appeared on CNBC and lobbed his typical racial insults, speculated about corruption at the Federal Reserve, and suggested the presidential debates will be rigged, defying any semblance of a “new Donald Trump.” Here are a few examples of the vintage Donald Trump who appeared on CNBC just after NBC declared him “new”: 

    He Called Sen. Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas”

    Trump referred to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) as “Pocahontas,” a racist slur he has used repeatedly on the campaign trail. Right-wing media have adopted Trump’s line of attack against Warren.

    BECKY QUICK (CO-HOST): Just last week Senator Elizabeth Warren was working with a group called Fed Up where they’re trying to put constraints on the Fed and get their arms around it a little more. I wonder in a Trump administration would you be trying to put more constraints on the Fed as well?

    DONALD TRUMP: What I would want to do is have a policy -- I wouldn't go by what Pocahontas wants you to do, because her agenda is obvious. I mean, she's a disaster. She’s also one of the least effective senators in the United States Senate. Nobody really understands that, but she's done nothing.

    He Claimed Fed Chair Janet Yellen Is Manipulating Interest Rates “Because She’s Obviously Political”

    Trump baselessly accused Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet Yellen of keeping interest rates “at zero because she’s obviously political and she’s doing what [President] Obama wants her to do,” even though the Federal Reserve operates independently of the White House. 

    JOE KERNEN (CO-HOST): Did you come to the conclusion that maybe [interest rates] can't stay at zero forever, and what do you think [the Federal Reserve] should do in September?

    DONALD TRUMP: Well it's staying at zero because she's obviously political and she’s doing what [President] Obama wants her to do and I know that's not supposed to be the way it is. But that's why it's low, because as soon as they go up your stock market’s going to go way down most likely, or possibly. And don't forget, I called Brexit. I did a lot of calling and what they are doing is, I believe it's a false market. Because money is essentially free.

    [...]

    I think they are keeping them down and they will keep them down even longer and any increase at all will be a very, very small increase, Joe, because, you know, they want to keep the market up so that Obama goes out and let the new guy, whoever that new-- let's call it the new guy, you know, OK, because I like the sound of that much better. But that the new person becomes president, let him raise interest rates or her raise interest rates and watch what happens to the stock market when that happens, OK, because you have no choice. The people that were hurt the worst are people that saved their money all their lives and thought they were going to live off their interests and those people are getting just absolutely creamed. In other words, the ones that did it right, they saved their money, they cut down on their mortgages, they did all of the things they did everything exactly right, and now they are getting practically zero interest on the money that they worked so hard for over 40 years. I mean, those people have really been -- you can almost say discriminated against. Now the interest rates are kept down by President Obama. I have no doubt that that's the reason that they are being kept down.

    He Claimed Clinton Is “Gaming The System” And Rigging The Presidential Debates

    Trump speculated that Clinton and her allies are “gaming the system” to try to rig the presidential debates. He said they’re accusing Matt Lauer of being “nice” to Trump during a forum he hosted between the two candidates, so that “the new person is going to try and be really hard on Trump just to show the establishment what he can do.” Trump floated the idea that there should be “no moderator” for the debates, and instead it should be “just Hillary and I sitting there talking.” Trump has baselessly asserted several times that various aspects of the election are or will be rigged.

    JOE KERNEN: I want to talk about the debates and how you are prepping for those, whether you like the moderators that are selected.

    [...]

    DONALD TRUMP: As far as the debates are concerned, the system is being gamed because everybody said that I won the so-called forum that your group put on, but they all said I won and that Matt Lauer was easy on me. Well he wasn't. I thought he was very professional, I have to be honest. I think he has been treated very unfairly. But they all said that I won. And what they’re doing is they’re gaming the system, so that when I go into the debate I’m going to get -- be treated very, very unfairly by the moderators.

    [...]

    They are saying about how Matt Lauer was nice to Trump. He wasn’t nice to me. He was tough on me. He gave me tough. I answered them better than she did. The fact is that they are gaming the system, and I think maybe we should have no moderator. Let Hillary and I sit there and just debate. Because I think the system is being rigged so it's going to be a very unfair debate. And I can see it happening right now because everybody was saying that he was soft on Trump. Well now the new person is going to try and be really hard on Trump just to show the establishment what he can do. So I think it's very unfair what they are doing. So I think we should have a debate with no moderator, just Hillary and I sitting there talking. 

  • NBC’s Today Ignores Possible Lawbreaking In Interview With Trump Campaign Chairman

    Speechwriter Who Claims To Have Helped With Melania Trump’s Speech May Only Work For Trump Organization

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    NBC Today hosts Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie did not press Paul Manafort, chairman of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign, in an interview about whether the speechwriter who took responsibility for plagiarism in Melania Trump’s Republican National Convention speech was employed by the Trump campaign or the Trump Organization. If it’s the latter, that may be a violation of federal law.

    The Trump campaign has come under fire for the July 18 speech by the candidate’s wife, which plagiarized portions of Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech at the Democratic National Convention. The campaign and Manafort initially lied, claiming that “no cribbing” occurred and and to claim that it did is “crazy.” On July 20, the campaign released a statement in which an “in-house staff writer at the Trump Organization” named Meredith McIver took responsibility for the plagiarism and said she had offered her resignation but that Donald Trump did not accept it. The statement was also written on the letterhead of Trump’s conglomerate the Trump Organization, not the Trump campaign.

    According to The Washington Post, if Trump’s campaign “used corporate resources” to help with Melania Trump’s speech, “that could be illegal.” The Post quoted Lawrence Noble, general counsel for the nonprofit Campaign Legal Center, and reported, “If the campaign used corporate resources ‘willingly and knowingly,’ the offense is a criminal one.” The paper explained Noble’s rationale: “If she was working for the campaign,” it would have been legal, “but it seems clear that she offered to resign from her theoretically unrelated Trump Organization job.”

    Discussing the controversy during the July 21 edition of Today, Manafort conceded that McIver “was somebody who was not part of the campaign,” and Lauer noted she was “part of the Trump Organization.” Manafort added that he “didn't even know [McIver] was involved in the process” and “didn't even know of her existence.” Rather than pressing Manafort about the specific arrangement of McIver’s role in the campaign, Lauer transitioned to discussing Trump’s upcoming convention speech:

    MATT LAUER (CO-HOST): Let me just go back to something we talked to you about on Monday morning -- or Tuesday morning, excuse me, the morning after Melania Trump's speech where it was widely believed she had plagiarized portions of that speech. You came onto other shows and this show. You said, "No, there was no plagiarizing. There was no cribbing." You even went as far as to blame Hillary Clinton. We now know in the last 24 [hours] that yeah, it was a mistake on the part of a speechwriter. That person has taken the blame for it. So when you said, "When Hillary Clinton is threatened by a female, the first thing she does is try to destroy that person," would you offer Secretary Clinton an apology for blaming her?

    PAUL MANAFORT: First of all, you have to put the situation in context. It wasn't a speechwriter. This was somebody who was not a part of the campaign.

    LAUER: Part of the Trump Organization.

    MANAFORT: And I didn't even know she was involved in the process. When I spoke to Melania Trump, she said, and she believes and still does, that she did not put those words in there. She did not know that they were words from Michelle Obama, those specific words.

    [...]

    SAVANNAH GUTHRIE (CO-HOST): Sorry, but that statement says the exact opposite. And Trump told The New York Times he knew two days ago that in fact Melania had said the speech -- the question is really not about whether she did or she didn't. It's really a matter of candor and whether you knew that those words came from Michelle Obama's speech.

    MANAFORT: And I did not know. I was told by Mrs. Trump and I believe Mrs. Trump and I don't think Mrs. Trump still believes she personally put those words in that speech. And as far as Ms. [McIver's] concern, I didn't even know of her existence. I asked the speechwriters if they had done it. They said no. I asked Mrs. Trump. She said no. And as far as I was concerned, there was no one else in the process and so therefore that was my position.

    LAUER: Huge night for your candidate tonight. What’s he going to say, what do you want him to say?

  • Media Must Not Let Trump Reduce The Orlando Conversation To Semantics About “Radical Islam”

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Several media figures allowed presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to set the terms of the conversation following the terror attack at an Orlando gay nightclub, reducing the tragedy to a counterproductive conversation about “radical Islam” semantics, and eclipsing conversation about anti-LGBT violence, gun safety, and national security efforts at home and abroad.

    On June 12, a gunman stormed into an Orlando gay nightclub and murdered 49 people, leading to the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

    In the wake of this senseless but targeted attack, Trump immediately resorted to a routine right-wing media talking point in an attempt to undermine President Obama and drum up anti-Muslim fear: that Obama and others won’t use the phrase “radical Islam,” and that the failure to do so is crippling national security efforts. Trump repeated the talking point on Fox News to attack Hillary Clinton, telling Steve Doocy that her inability to “utter the words” radical Islamic terror is “just following [Obama’s] exact line,” and that “unless you know the words and unless you know what’s going on, you’re never going to solve the problem.”

    Following Trump’s Fox interview, media figures questioned Clinton on Trump’s critiques, effectively letting Trump dictate and distort the terms of the conversation about the shooting.

    On NBC’s Today, host Savannah Guthrie asked Clinton, “Donald Trump in particular called you out … for not using a certain term to describe the acts: the term radical Islam. The question is, why not?”

    Similarly, on CNN’s New Day, host Chris Cuomo asked Clinton, “you are now coming under scrutiny about what you will call this … Do you believe that this is radical Islamism or radical Islamic terror? Will you use those words?” Clinton said she was not opposed to using similar terms but would not demonize an entire religion.

    Foreign policy experts and other media figures have repeatedly criticized Trump for “feed[ing] into the ISIS narrative” with his rhetoric. And foreign policy experts and government officials have also noted that trumpeting the phrase “radical Islam” alienates allies and is counterproductive to defeating terrorism at home and abroad. Not only does the U.S. practice to refrain from using the phrase “radical Islam” extend back to the George W. Bush administration, but not conflating Islam and terror is also part of a global strategy to avoid dignifying terrorists

    CNN political commentator Errol Louis poured cold water on those elevating Trump's focus on "radical Islam," asserting that Trump's "baby talk" critiques are "not something that should be taken seriously or frankly even repeated. This is the kind of chitchat you hear on right-wing radio day and night, mostly night, but it doesn't belong on a presidential debate."

    Right-wing criticism of Obama, Clinton, and others for not using this one specific phrase is a frequent and tired ploy that whips up anti-Muslim sentiments and distracts from the myriad issues at hand. Instead of embracing Trump’s critiques as the standard for conversation about Orlando -- which reduces the tragedy to semantic particulars -- media must focus on pushing politicians to find solutions.