Andrew Lawrence

Author ››› Andrew Lawrence
  • Donald Trump is fundraising off CNN "sting" video the White House admitted may not be accurate

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    Donald Trump is fundraising off of the latest “sting” video from dishonest conservative activist James O’Keefe. In a fundraising email from the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, the fundraising committee claims the video “raises questions” about “phony news stories” from CNN and that the network was attempting to “rile up their rabid liberal viewers, and take us down.”

    The video in question highlights comments made by a CNN staffer with no involvement in CNN’s political coverage engaged in a casual conversation in which he says a “smoking gun” has not been uncovered yet in the numerous investigations into allegations that Trump’s presidential campaign possibly coordinated with Russia's attempt to sway the election.

    The video, as well as a Russia story that CNN published and later retracted, was seized by the White House and their allies in an attempt to prove “the media can’t be trusted.” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders urged Americans “to take a look at” O’Keefe’s video despite admitting that she didn’t know if “it’s accurate or not.”

    In May 2015 the Trump Foundation, Donald Trump’s charitable organization, donated $10,000 to James O’Keefe and his organization, Project Veritas. Trump routinely used O’Keefe’s dishonest videos on the campaign trail, even mentioning the videos during a debate with Hillary Clinton.

    O’Keefe has been arrested for the illegal methods he uses to obtain his videos and he was ordered to pay a $100,000 fine to the subject of one of his videos after O’Keefe’s deceptively edited video smearing a former ACORN employee led to his firing. This is not the first time O’Keefe has attempted to sting CNN, as he also once tried to embarrass a CNN correspondent by luring her to a “palace of pleasure,” and planning to then videotaping her in the boat with sex props strewn about.

  • Fox host pushes raids on mosques based on no-go zone lie that previously caused network international embarrassment

    Eric Bolling claims we should "look into the mosques" in "Muslim no-go zones where local cops in France and in Great Britain don't go"

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    Fox News host Eric Bolling pushed the myth of “no-go” zones in England, a claim that previously caused international embarrassment for the network which they were forced to admit was a lie.

    In January 2015, two Fox News hosts were forced to apologize for pushing the myth of so-called “no-go zones” in Europe, “places where non-Muslims don’t go” that are governed by Sharia law. Fox’s baseless "no-go zone" claims led to international embarrassment for the network, with former British Prime Minister David Cameron saying the claims were made by a “complete idiot.” Jeanine Pirro and Julie Banderas apologized on-air for hyping the claim, with Julie Banderas admitting there was “no credible information to support the assertion.”

    Two years later, Eric Bolling is taking the lie one step further, claiming authorities should “look into the mosques” in “ Muslim no-go zones where local cops in France and in Great Britain don’t go into these neighborhoods and they let them actually practice Sharia law.” From the June 5 edition of Fox News’ The Specialists:

    ERIC BOLLING (HOST): A few years ago I was on a show and, about five or six years ago on The Five and a guest comes on, there was a terror attack, and the guest talks about the Muslim no-go zones in Europe. He got in a whole crap-load of trouble for saying it. To suggest that there was no-go zones. Now we are finding out in fact there are Muslim -- radical Islamic Muslim no-go zones where local cops in France and in Great Britain don't go into these neighborhoods and they let them actually practice Sharia law. Part of this is PC culture gone amok in Europe.

    […]

    How do you not step up and say, “no we're going to knock down doors in these no-go zones, and we’re going to pull people out, and we’re going to look into the mosques?

  • Fox News Downplayed Trump Revealing Classified Info, Focused On These Other Stories Instead

    The Romper For Men, Miss USA, Hillary's Emails, Michelle Obama's School Lunch Program, And "Media Hysteria"

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    The Washington Post reported that President Donald Trump revealed “highly classified” information to the Russian ambassador, Sergei Kislyak, and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during a meeting at the White House. While other networks covered the explosive story in detail throughout primetime, Fox News substituted discussions about Trump’s actions in favor of stories covering “rompers for men” and liberals on college campuses.

    According to The Washington Post the information provided was shared with the U.S. by a partner nation in an “intelligence-sharing arrangement” and the information was so sensitive it had not been shared with allies and the U.S. had not been given permission to share the material: 

    The information the president relayed had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government, officials said.

    The partner had not given the United States permission to share the material with Russia, and officials said Trump’s decision to do so endangers cooperation from an ally that has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State. After Trump’s meeting, senior White House officials took steps to contain the damage, placing calls to the CIA and the National Security Agency.

    While CNN and MSNBC provided wall to wall coverage of the breaking news, Fox News defended Trump before returning to coverage of such hard hitting stories as the “Romper for men,” Miss USA’s comments about healthcare, Michelle Obama’s comments about school lunches, “Media Hysteria,” and “leftists” on college campuses:

  • James Murdoch, CEO Of Fox News’ Parent Company, Reportedly Wants Bill O’Reilly Off The Air Permanently

    New York Magazine's Gabriel Sherman: "There's Talk Inside Fox News That Tonight's Show Could Be His Last"

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman is reporting that multiple Fox News sources are saying Fox News host Bill O’Reilly could be off the air permanently.

    Under pressure from advertisers and the network, O’Reilly announced on the April 4 edition of his show that he was taking a “vacation.” According to Sherman, James Murdoch the CEO of Fox News’ parent company 21st Century Fox, “would like O’Reilly to be permanently off the air.” James’ father Rupert, older brother Lachlan, and Fox News co-president Bill Shine are pushing for O’Reilly to remain on air:

    Embattled Fox News host Bill O’Reilly announced tonight that he is taking a vacation. O’Reilly’s decision to go off the air in the midst of a sexual harassment scandal and advertiser boycott arguably has the appearance of a suspension, but O’Reilly worked to dispel that notion. He announced that he’d scheduled his trip “last fall” — well before the New York Times reported he paid $13 million to settle harassment claims. A Fox News source told me O’Reilly plans to return to his show on April 24.

    But according to four network sources, there’s talk inside Fox News that tonight’s show could be his last. Lawyers for the law firm Paul, Weiss, hired last summer by 21st Century Fox to investigate Roger Ailes, are currently doing a “deep dive” investigation into O’Reilly’s behavior. They’re focused now on sexual harassment claims by O’Reilly guest Wendy Walsh after she reported her claims via the company’s anonymous hotline.

    Shine remaining in O’Reilly’s corner comes as no surprise. Shine was previously accused of coordinating a campaign to silence women who have reported sexual harassment at the network. In a complaint filed last year, former Fox host Andrea Tantaros claimed she met with Shine seeking “relief from” sexual harassment at Fox News, but he told her she “needed to let this one go.” Fox News contributor Julie Roginsky alleged that Shine retaliated against her after she refused to publicly attack an accuser of former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes and Sherman previously reported that Shine played a key role in “smearing” Rudi Bakhtiar, who claimed she was fired from Fox News after complaining about sexual harassment.

    The report of O’Reilly’s possible departure comes as Fox News continues to lose advertisers following a New York Times report that five women received payments totaling nearly $13 million from either O’Reilly or 21st Century Fox “in exchange for agreeing to not pursue litigation or speak about their” accounts of sexual harassment involving O’Reilly.

    Until it’s actually official, those participating in @StopOReilly effort as well as participants in groups like Sleeping Giants, should not take anything for granted and continue their work and effort.

  • Advertising Fallout Begins Following New Sexual Harassment Allegations Against Bill O'Reilly

    Mercedes-Benz: “Given The Importance Of Women In Every Aspect Of Our Business, We Don’t Feel This Is A Good Environment In Which To Advertise”

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    Following the latest revelations and allegations of sexual misconduct involving Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, Mercedes-Benz announced that they would no longer be advertising during The O’Reilly Factor time slot.

    On April 1, The New York Times reported that five women received payments totaling nearly $13 million from either O’Reilly or Fox News’ parent company 21st Century Fox “in exchange for agreeing to not pursue litigation or speak about their” allegations of sexual harassment involving O’Reilly. The allegations include “verbal abuse, lewd comments, unwanted advances and phone calls in which it sounded as if Mr. O’Reilly was masturbating.”

    Mercedes-Benz called the most recent allegations, “disturbing” and in a statement given to CNNMoney, the company said: “Given the importance of women in every aspect of our business, we don’t feel this is a good environment in which to advertise our products right now.”

    CNN reached out to more than 20 companies and brands that have previously run ads during O’Reilly’s show, but Mercedes-Benz was the only one to confirm they are pulling their advertising from the show. Lexus said they would “monitor the situation” while Jenny Craig refused to “publicly comment on our advertising strategy” and the dog food brand Nutrish refused to comment “on anything related to our media buy.” 

    O’Reilly has denied all the claims.

    UPDATE: On April 3, Claritin sponsored Bill O'Reilly's opening Talking Points Memo segment.

  • Fox News Ignores Contributor Nigel Farage’s Mysterious Trip To Ecuadorian Embassy

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    Fox News hasn’t mentioned the mysterious visit to the Ecuadorian embassy, home of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, by Donald Trump-ally and Fox contributor Nigel Farage. Farage has refused to explain why he visited the embassy and whether he spoke to Assange during the visit.

    According to BuzzFeed, on March 9 Farage visited the Ecuadorian embassy “where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been living since he claimed asylum in 2012.” When asked about his visit  Farage claimed he couldn’t remember why he visited the embassy adding, “I never discuss where I go or who I see.” Farage’s visit came after WikiLeaks released what they claimed were documents showing the CIA’s ability to hack into everyday technology such as smartphones and smart TV’s. The most recent WikiLeaks release appears to be an attempt to defend Trump’s “indefensible” lie that President Barack Obama ordered Trump Tower and the Trump presidential campaign to be hacked:

    It is significant, therefore, that one of the major storylines to emerge from the latest WikiLeaks release is that the CIA supposedly has a program to reuse computer codes from foreign hackers, thus disguising CIA fingerprints on a hacking operation. Never mind that there is no evidence that the codes used to break into the DNC were part of this CIA database. Right-wing outlets are nevertheless trumpeting these revelations with headlines such as this one on Breitbart: “WikiLeaks: CIA Uses ‘Stolen’ Malware to ‘Attribute’ Cyberattacks to Nations Like Russia.” Russian-controlled Internet “bots” are also said to be playing up these claims online.

    The implication is clear. Trump was a victim of a “false flag” operation wherein CIA hackers broke into the DNC and blamed the Russians. This may be nutty, but it’s eminently believable to an audience conditioned to believe that 9/11 was an inside job and that the Sandy Hook massacre was staged — favorite tropes of the radio talk-show host Alex Jones, whose work Trump has praised. Other WikiLeaks revelations — for instance, that the CIA can use Samsung smart TVs as listening devices — lend further credence to Trump’s charge that he was secretly wiretapped.

    Fox News hasn’t reported on Farage's visit and Farage has not been on the network to discuss his meeting despite being a paid contributor to the network since January. According to an analysis by Media Matters, the only time Farage’s name showed up on Fox News on March 9 was during live coverage of the daily press briefing when press secretary Sean Spicer was asked about Farage’s meeting:

    VIVIAN SALAMA (AP REPORTER): Thank you. And second thing is, Nigel Ffarage was at the Ecuadorian embassy in London today where Julian Assange happens to be staying. Don't know if they met or not. Was he there? He's a close ally of President Trump. Was he there in any capacity?

    SEAN SPICER: I don't keep his schedule.

    SALAMA: Was he delivering a message?

    SPICER: I have no idea. I have my own concerns here keeping track of what everyone is doing. I generally don't worry about what's going on across the pond. Jonathan?

    SALAMA: You already gave me a little bit, but just to follow up --

    SPICER: Wow. All right.

    JONATHAN KARL (ABC CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT): But on the -- the question is not what but can you tell us he wasn't there on behalf of the white house?

    SPICER: Sure. I don't -- he is not -- I am not. This is silly. I don't think asking where random foreign leaders are and whether they are there -- I'm sure he was there doing whatever on I understand that. But I. Don't keep his schedule.

    Even after the press briefing, Fox News continued to ignore the story on their website, Twitter, and cable networks. 

  • Deceptive Editing And Actors: Tucker Carlson’s Underhanded Practices Exposed

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    Tucker Carlson’s credibility sunk to new lows after several reports surfaced about the deceptive practices used by the host on his prime-time Fox News show.

    On February 21, The Washington Post reported on a segment  from Carlson’s show about the “incredible surge of refugee violence” in Sweden. During the segment, Carlson showed an interview between filmmaker Ami Horowitz with two Swedish police officers about the supposed surge in refugee violence in the country. The interview used by Carlson was even referenced by President Donald Trump during a Florida rally, but as the Post reported, the officers were “shocked” by the deceptive editing of the interview and claimed they were not asked about migration or immigration at all:

    The two Swedish officers whose interview provided the basis for the report spoke out Monday and claimed that their testimony had been taken out of context. One of them, Anders Göranzon, said that the interview was about areas with high crime rates and that “there wasn’t any focus on migration or immigration.”

    “We don’t stand behind it. It shocked us. He has edited the answers,” Göranzon said, “We were answering completely different questions in the interview. This is bad journalism.”

    Horowitz defended his work to the Guardian newspaper, saying he was “pretty sure” that he told the officers what the segment was going to be about and implying that the officers' disavowal was made under pressure from their superiors.

    Carlson invited Horowitz again to his Fox News show on Monday to rebut the officers’ claims, saying instead that they were pressured by their bosses to disavow the interview because they were scared of being labeled racists.

    Later in the same show, Carlson hosted Shane Saunders who was identified as a “Not My President’s Day Protestor” by Carlson and by the Tucker Carlson Tonight chyron. But, as The Daily Beast reported, Saunders was not affiliated in any way with the rallies, but is “a Los Angeles-based actor and casting agent.”

    Fox News’ Tucker Carlson had a hard time booking Olga Lexell, the creator and co-organizer of the nationwide Not My President’s Day protests on Monday.

    So, after repeated refusals, Carlson’s show instead booked Shane Saunders, a Los Angeles-based actor and casting agent, who Lexell said, “was not affiliated in any way with our rallies and was not an organizer.”

    In the five-minute segment, Saunders was referred to as an “organizer” by an on-screen graphic and Carlson himself, who also asked Saunders about why “your protest is going to make a difference.”

    Following the interview, Olga Lexell, the creator and co-organizer of the nationwide Not My President’s Day protests emailed the producers of the show, saying, “that guy who you got on the show isn’t affiliated with our even and didn’t even attend any of the protests.”

    An executive producer of Tucker Carlson Tonight responded to The Daily Beast report, admitting that “the program incorrectly identified a Los Angeles based protest participant as a ‘protest organizer’ in a graphic during Monday night’s telecast. While he was correctly identified in the introduction to the segment, we regret the graphic didn’t accurately reflect his role throughout the entire segment.”

  • Internet Trolls Unleash Attacks On Washington Post Reporter Following Completely Made Up Right-Wing Media Smear

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    A false right-wing media report targeting The Washington Post’s Doris Truong has resulted in what she described as her “own personal Pizzagate” in which she was erroneously identified as being at Rex Tillerson’s confirmation hearing and surreptitiously taking photos of pieces of paper he left behind.

    Following Tillerson’s January 11 confirmation hearing for his nomination to serve as the next secretary of state, a photo of an unidentified woman seemingly taking photos of notes left behind at Tillerson’s empty seat began circulating on Twitter. Notoriously dishonest, and consistently wrong, right-wing blogger Jim Hoft then posted the photo and a video of the incident identifying the woman as Truong. Hoft has since updated his post and admitted that the woman pictured was not Truong, but the URL still reads “sick-wapo-reporter-caught-sneaking-photos,” a reference to Hoft’s original misleading headline. From there, the false claim was pushed by other right-wing media personalities like former Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin and linked to by The Drudge Report, driving even more traffic to the story and leading to widespread harassment of Truong at the hands of internet trolls.

    From Truong’s January 12 account of the episode published by The Washington Post:

    By the time I woke up, trolls had commented on social media channels besides Twitter. My Facebook feed had dozens of angry messages from people I didn’t know, as did comments on my Instagram account. Even my rarely used YouTube channel attracted attention. My emails and my voicemail included messages calling me “pathetic” and a “sneaky thief.”

    A lot of the comments also focused on my Chinese heritage, implying — or outright stating — that I must be spying for China. Some called for an FBI investigation of what they deemed illegal behavior.

    […]

    Even more bizarrely, one Twitter user insisted that “facial software on the video” led to the “almost positive” conclusion that the woman was me.

    But even if people believed that the person at the hearing wasn’t me, they wanted to know who she was. And that’s what’s particularly alarming about this time in our society: Why are people so quick to look for someone to condemn? And during the confusion about the woman’s identity, why is it presumed that she is a journalist? Or that taking pictures of notes in an open hearing is illegal? Or, for that matter, that she was even taking pictures of Tillerson’s notes?

    Despite his admission that he has no idea who the woman is, Hoft is still identifying her as a “reporter” and pushing the unsubstantiated claim that she was “sneaking photos” without any supporting evidence.

    Truong’s encounter with the far-right online fringe shares startling similarities with so-called “Pizzagate,” a fake news conspiracy theory perpetuated by Trump ally and right-wing radio host Alex Jones that eventually led one alt-right adherent to shoot inside a pizzeria in Washington, D.C. and engage in an armed standoff with police. In fact, Jim Hoft credited one of the leaders of the “pizzagate” fake news conspiracy in his original attack on Truong; right-wing blogger and sexual assault apologist Mike Cernovich, who recently directed an online harassment campaign against political satirist and video editor Vic Berger.

    As was the case with “pizzagate,” wherein an armed conspiracy theorist held up a pizza parlor while he “investigated” the veracity of absurd claims he read online, many of Truong’s online harassers are demanding that she get to the bottom of this story, and identify the woman herself, before they’ll accept that it wasn’t her.

  • News Outlet Owned By Trump Son In-Law Posts Op-Ed Calling For FBI Investigation Of Anti-Trump Protests

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    The Observer, a news site owned by President-elect Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, posted an op-ed calling for an FBI investigation into the “political thuggery” of anti-Trump protests taking place in the wake of the presidential election.

    Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump threatened and criticized protesters during campaign events, saying of one that he’d like to “punch him in the face” and reminiscing of the “good old days” when protesters would be “carried out on a stretcher.” Trump even threatened to “start pressing charges” against protesters after demonstrations during a Chicago campaign rally caused the event to be postponed after fights broke out between demonstrators and Trump supporters. Now Trump supporters want an FBI investigation of of anti-Trump protests.

    On December 2, the Observer posted an op-ed written by University of Texas in Austin adjunct professor Austin Bay, which called for FBI Director James Comey to conduct a “detailed investigation” into the anti-Trump protests taking place across the country. To make his point, Bay invokes “Kristallnacht,” a 1938 incident in which Nazis burned synagogues, vandalized Jewish-owned businesses and homes, and resulted in 30,000 Jewish men being sent to concentration camps. Bay even cites notorious conspiracy theorist Jim Hoft’s blog post claiming anti-Trump protesters were paid to protest, a claim that gained traction based on a fake news story.

    The posting of the op-ed is extremely concerning given the influence Kushner has on his father-in-law. In July, The New York Times reported that Kushner had “become involved in virtually every facet of the Trump presidential operation” and wrote that many viewed him as the “de facto campaign manager.” Following the election, Kushner also explored legal loopholes that would allow him to bypass federal nepotism laws and join the Trump administration in an official capacity:

    Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of President-elect Donald J. Trump, has spoken to a lawyer about the possibility of joining the new administration, a move that could violate federal anti-nepotism law and risk legal challenges and political backlash.

    […]

    Mr. Trump is urging his son-in-law to join him in the White House, according to one of the people briefed. The president-elect’s sentiment is shared by Stephen K. Bannon, the chief strategist for the White House, and Reince Priebus, who was named chief of staff. Mr. Kushner accompanied Mr. Trump to the White House on Thursday, when the president-elect held his first in-person meeting with President Obama.

  • Bloomberg Announces The End Of Mark Halperin’s Daily TV Show

    Bonafide Trump Apologist Mark Halperin Defied His Own Journalistic Standards When Covering Trump

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    Mark Halperin and John Heilemann’s Bloomberg politics show, With All Due Respect, will end daily broadcasts on December 2. Halperin used his platform on Bloomberg, which was re-broadcast daily by MSNBC, to defend then-candidate Donald Trump.

    The Huffington Post reports that a staff memo announced the show’s cancellation on December 2, but the two will host a four-hour special previewing Trump’s Inauguration on January 20. Both co-hosts are reportedly in discussions to “play a role at Bloomberg” as contributors and columnists.

    Mark Halperin and John Heilemann’s afternoon politics show on Bloomberg TV, “With All Due Respect,” will end following coverage of Donald Trump’s inauguration, according to a staff memo.

    Halperin and Heilemann, who joined in May 2014 and served as co-managing editors of Bloomberg Politics, will continue to host the show daily until Dec. 2. Bloomberg will produce four hourlong specials previewing Trump’s presidency and then cover the event on Jan. 20.

    The two journalists will cease day-to-day roles with the company, but according to the memo are in discussions to “play a role at Bloomberg as contributors and columnists.”

    Halperin joined Bloomberg in May 2014 for reportedly $1 million and has come under intense scrutiny throughout the 2016 election cycle for his role as a bonafide Trump apologist. Halperin’s embarrassing shilling for Trump included his insistence that Trump’s racist attacks on the American judge of Mexican descent weren’t actually racist because “Mexico isn’t a race,” criticizing The New York Times for responding to Trump’s threat to take legal action against them, and brushing off Trump’s reluctance to accept the election results as a concern of “elites.” Halperin even praised the “impressive resume” of Trump adviser and white nationalist ally Stephen Bannon. Heilemann and Halperin also conducted an interview with Trump on a Zamboni where they asked him how much bacon he eats and whether or not he knows how to skate and during a campaign trip to Iowa, Halperin received helicopter ride from Trump:

    More recently, Halperin failed to live up to the standards he had set for other journalists by giving Trump a shameless softball interview in which he failed to ask him about his hidden tax returns – an issue that Halperin had previously said journalists were “obligated” to ask Trump about every chance they got. The interview, described as “truly laughable,” looked even worse in hindsight when several days later Halperin challenged the press “to do a lot of soul-searching about its failure to pursue a lot of these Trump stories.”

    In 2006, Halperin claimed that the best economic model to ensure a TV show’s survival is to follow the Fox News model and “make sure conservatives find your product appealing.” That model seems to be working for Halperin who despite losing his show, has received movie deals, book deals, and continues to be one of the most visible political commentators in America.