Eric Boehlert

Author ››› Eric Boehlert
  • The Press Struggles To Finally Break Its “Populist” Habit For Trump

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Like smokers trying to quit a pack-a-day habit, some journalists are finally trying to drop the long-running practice of portraying President Donald Trump as a “populist.” 

    Sparked specifically by Trump’s blatant economic flip-flops this month regarding trade deals, currency policy concerning China, and the Export-Import Bank, more members of the press seem willing to concede that Trump’s attempt to govern as a populist has quickly ended.  

    Los Angeles Times columnist Doyle McManus announced that Trump’s “populist revolution” is “already over -- at least for now.” The Week agreed that Trump is “beating a hasty retreat from populism.” And even The New York Times, which has been an aggressive promoter of the “populist” meme, recently noted that Trump, “has stocked his administration with billionaires and lobbyists while turning over his economic program to a Wall Street banker.”

    But like any stubborn habit, the “populist” one won’t be easy to quit. Note that while that Times article detailed Trump's obviously non-populist agenda, Times reporters regularly use the label to describe him in other pieces.

    This month alone, the Times has referenced Trump’s “populist appeal,” credited a “populist economic message” for his political rise, grouped him with “fellow populist Marine Le Pen,” and described both him and Turkey’s president as “populist leaders.”

    And the Times isn’t alone in clinging to the narrative. The Christian Science Monitor last week reported, “Trump the populist is back.”

    Reminder: Populism represents a political struggle on behalf of regular people against elite economic forces. Today, Trump’s brand of pro-corporate, anti-worker politics represents the exact opposite.

    The clues have not been hard to find, as Trump quickly stacked his administration with a cavalcade of pro-business multimillionaires and billionaires. But that was just the beginning.

    The president and his Republican allies have spent much of this year trying to repeal health care for 20 million Americans, pass massive new tax cuts for the wealthy, eliminate a State Department program “which sends food to poor countries hit by war or natural disasters,” greatly expand the Pentagon’s budget, potentially block overtime pay for workers making less than $47,000 a year, defund Planned Parenthood, defund public broadcasting, abolish the government block grant program that helps fund Meals on Wheels for the elderly, and roll back rules protecting net neutrality.

    So no, Trump’s not a “populist,” even if he has “styled himself as a man of the people.” (Trump’s residence in New York City, where the first lady currently lives, is an apartment that’s decorated in 24-karat gold.)

    The whole Trump’s-a-populist trope has been a media mess for more than a year now.

    And why “populist”? Why is that almost always the catch phrase journalists reach for when “white nationalist,” “nativist,” and “authoritarian” are likely more accurate descriptions of Trump?

    The truth is, “populist” serves as a crutch. And when it’s still used today, the identifier represents a lazy shorthand used to describe Trump’s grab bag of often contradictory political positions.

    Last year, the narrative served as a campaign mirage: the Brigadoon of American politics. Trump’s “populism” enticed the press and provided journalists with an acceptable, nonthreatening way to address his primary and general election successes. It was a way to downplay white nationalism, race-baiting, and sexism as the driving forces of his campaign. Yes, Trump cynically embraced populist rhetoric. But journalists ought to be able to see beyond campaign ploys like that.

    To this day, the concept allows journalists to engage in more "both sides" analysis, comparing and contrasting Trump’s “populism” with the approach of Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders, who actually does promote a populist, pro-people agenda.  

    Sanders’ signature political crusade revolves around making sure all American have access to health care. By contrast, Trump continues to plot the overthrow of the Affordable Care Act, which would cause millions of Americans to lose their insurance coverage.

    How does any working journalist look at those two sets of facts and conclude, yeah, Trump and Sanders are both populists?

    Even more troubling have been the press pronouncements that some of Trump’s deeply nativist proposals are somehow populist.

    As The New York Times wrote [emphasis added]:

    For the first two months of Mr. Trump's presidency, Mr. Bannon occupied an unassailable perch at the president's side -- ramming through key elements of his eclectic and hard-edge populist agenda, including two executive orders on freezing immigration from several predominantly Muslim countries.

    This is especially upsetting. Trump's goal of banning people from Muslim countries from entering the United States, and his scheme to build a $20 billion wall to fix a nonexistent immigration crisis, have very little to do with “populism.” But they do have a lot to do with nativism and the idea that white America is under siege and that the federal government must take unprecedented action to protect its fragile sovereignty.

    Portraying that as “populism” -- as Trump sticking up for the little guy -- is dangerous and deeply misguided.

  • Rupert Murdoch’s Disturbing Corporate Legacy: Chronic Sexual Harassment In US, Rampant Lawbreaking In UK

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Bill O’Reilly may be gone at Fox News, but Rupert Murdoch’s festering Fox News mess isn’t going away anytime soon.

    Murdoch cut ties with the host last week after multiple women's reports of sexual harassment became public. Since then, seven black Fox News employees indicated that they plan to join a racial discrimination suit filed last month by two colleagues, according to New York magazine, and three former Fox employees -- Margaret Hoover, Alisyn Camerota, and Kirsten Powers -- said on CNN that the culture of sexual harassment at Fox News is deeply ingrained. "The culture ... is still there because the executives are still there," said Hoover.

    Then on Monday, former Fox host Andrea Tantaros filed a new lawsuit against the company in federal court, which alleges, “A person working for Fox News was responsible for hacking Ms. Tantaros’s computer so that she could be spied upon.” (Last year, Tantaros sued Fox News for $30 million, claiming sexual harassment.)

    Murdoch, his sons James and Lachlan, and 21st Century Fox -- which they control and which owns Fox News -- are still facing numerous corporate challenges, which might still be raging on July 6.

    That date will mark the one-year anniversary of Gretchen Carlson filing her sexual harassment lawsuit against former Fox News boss Roger Ailes, which triggered numerous other reports of harassment from women working at Fox News. “As a direct and proximate result of Carlson refusing Ailes’ sexual advances, and retaliation for Carlson’s complaints about discrimination and harassment, Ailes terminated her employment, causing her significant economic, emotional and professional harm,” Carlson stated in her filing. (She later reportedly settled the suit for $20 million.)

    It's quite possible that 52 weeks later, Fox News and the Murdoch family will still be mired in the mess.

    Yet I get a sense that the media mogul and his sons are getting something of a pass in the press in the wake of the reports about O'Reilly and Ailes, which followed Murdoch’s ugly wiretapping chapter in the U.K.

    How many strikes do they get?

    As the media grappled with the reports about O'Reilly last week, Murdoch was portrayed as a “pragmatist” and a “savvy political observer.” And driving the Murdoch sons? They're determined to steer “the family ship far into a new century, with new standards of workplace behavior,” according to The New York Times. Additionally, the Times stressed that the sons “seem determined to rid the company of its roguish, old-guard internal culture and tilt operations toward the digital future.”

    Somehow Murdoch, a famously active manager, has been portrayed as a distant player who was oddly not culpable for what has transpired at the highest levels of Fox News.

    And that’s absurd.

    If Murdoch were a “pragmatist” who was actually concerned with cleaning up the rotten culture at Fox News, he would have thoroughly addressed the raging problem last summer when the reports of Ailes harassing female employees were making headlines.

    Instead of addressing the huge problem, Murdoch and his sons consciously chose to paper it over by simply dismissing Ailes, while actually promoting a top Ailes deputy, Bill Shine, even though he’d been accused of helping to cover up claims against both Ailes and O’Reilly. Those don’t sound like executives concerned with ridding the company of an “old-guard internal culture,” as the Times claims.

    Then, months later, Murdoch renewed O’Reilly’s contract despite the fact that O’Reilly and Fox News had settled five harassment suits.

    That’s not the Murdochs being pragmatic. That’s them being wildly cavalier and irresponsible.

    Yet some journalists seem to be viewing the latest issues within Murdoch’s corporate empire through a soda straw and not seeing the entire, unsettling picture. They’re treating last week’s firing of O’Reilly as strictly a Fox News problem, instead of as part of a larger culture of criminality that Murdoch has fostered for years at his media companies.

    Recall that in the 2011 phone-hacking scandal, reporters at Murdoch’s British newspapers illegally tapped into the voicemails of celebrities, politicians, and even a murdered teenager, Milly Dowler.

    As Vanity Fair noted at the time (emphasis added): “The hacking story has confirmed the fears of those who see the hand of Murdoch everywhere: the News of the World was hacking into thousands of people’s private voice mails. The paper was paying off the police.”

    By 2015, it was estimated that the scandal had cost Murdoch’s company more than $500 million, which included “paying out some 377 legal settlements to victims of voicemail interception and a further 341 payouts through a voluntary compensation scheme, which was set up as an alternative to litigation.”

    The hacking was thought to represent Murdoch’s professional low point. But now come the revelations of Fox News’ apparent disregard for workers' rights.

    British regulators are currently deciding whether Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox would qualify as “fit and proper” to purchase satellite TV giant Sky. Attorney Lisa Bloom, who represents several women who say O’Reilly sexually harassed them, recently stressed to British officials, “The similarities between the current harassment scandal and the phone-hacking scandal reveal the company’s approach to business and management – a lack of oversight, intervention, and decency.”

    Note that in recent years, Murdoch employees have been accused of not only hacking into phones, computers, and emails, but also of paying off news sources. And today, Fox News is reportedly under federal investigation for allegedly try to hide the mountainous payments the company has made to women claiming sexual harassment.

    Rupert Murdoch’s not a savvy pragmatist committed to cleaning up the harassment culture at Fox News. He’s been a profound enabler who placed profits above workplace decency. He deserves no gentle treatment from the press.

  • How Bill O’Reilly Defined The On-Air Jerk Culture At Fox News

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    “He seems to be kind of a pathological guy.” -- Bill O’Reilly biographer Marvin Kitman.

    Fox News should have fired Bill O’Reilly a long time ago.

    Clearly, O'Reilly should have been ousted over his years-long reported pattern of sexual harassment, which the network spent years enabling and covering up until it was forced to take action this week.

    But O'Reilly also deserved to be booted from his lofty prime-time perch for shredding any semblance of ethics in journalism.

    I’m thinking specifically about two years ago, when O’Reilly was caught fabricating his resume by claiming to be have been a war correspondent who had a courageous knack for popping up at dangerous hot spots around the world where he witnessed killings firsthand.

    Remember? He supposedly risked it all during the Falklands War in a “war zone.” He watched as those four American churchwomen were gunned down in El Salvador in 1981. And he nearly got killed by bricks while covering the bloody 1992 L.A. riots, and witnessed first hand the trauma of an urban civil war in Northern Ireland.

    Or something.

    Turns out those life-threatening “combat” claims were made up.

    Like a modern-day Walter Mitty, O’Reilly just concocted the tall tales in order to make his life seem more compelling and make himself seem more accomplished. It seems the closest O’Reilly ever came to combat duty was filing dispatches from the channel’s never-ending War on Christmas.

    The 2015 controversy represented a humiliating and very public undressing. But Fox News didn’t seem to care, and neither did O’Reilly. (He even lied that the media firestorm had boosted his ratings.)

    “In a way, it's impossible to win a debate with O'Reilly because he is not bound by reality,” noted Mother Jones’ David Corn, who broke the story about O’Reilly’s fabrications.

    And that’s been the secure bubble O’Reilly built for himself at Fox: He wasn't bound by reality and neither were his producers or viewers, which meant all bets were off.

    In 2011, Glenn Beck lost his highly rated show on Fox when advertisers fled after he called President Barack Obama a racist. That was a big deal because it pulled back the curtain of invincibility and showed that the cable news ratings giant was susceptible to online activism; that boundaries of acceptable behavior could, occasionally, be applied to Fox.

    Then last summer, Fox founder and architect Roger Ailes was fired after numerous women reported that the Fox chief had harassed them.  

    Neither of those sackings compare to the media bombshell that went off when O’Reilly, the most-watched and highest-paid man in cable television news, was fired this week. O’Reilly’s unceremonious sacking is, hands down, the most important personnel move in Fox’s 21 years on the air.

    And that’s because, in addition to being part of a seemingly systemic culture of sexual harassment at the network, O’Reilly shaped the Fox News persona. O’Reilly’s bitter, bullying, and self-pitying DNA is the same DNA that defined the channel's jerk culture for two decades.

    Yes, O’Reilly’s a liar and a nativist and a bully (to guests and staffers) who has polluted the public dialogue without remorse. But what also defined O’Reilly, and what helped define Fox News for much of the last 20 years, was an ingrained sense of self-aggrandizement coupled with bottomless victimization. That became Fox’s hallmark pathology, suggesting that (wealthy) white middle-aged Christian men in America face an obstacle course full of cultural and political barriers that make life unbearable.  

    It’s a feel-bad fantasy that revolves around the idea that powerful and often-unseen forces are working against Everyday Joes. And O’Reilly has led that gloomy parade as a kind of Eeyore figure, constantly bemoaning the state of affairs and most often blaming others, usually the less powerful.

    That’s been O’Reilly's M.O.: self-puffery fueled by narcissism and self-pity, coupled with a deeply flawed view of his own abilities. And that’s basically been the Fox News on-air model for two decades: Be brash, make stuff up, tell guests to shut up, and smear people.

    And it worked. Propelled by the impeachment of Bill Clinton, followed by the Florida recount in 2000 and the relentless on-air flag waving of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, O’Reilly’s ratings at Fox News soared as he and his cohorts both delivered an openly partisan take on the news and morphed into the marketing wing of the Republican Party.

    O’Reilly patented the jerk model and forged a connection with his angry viewers to the point where they didn't care, for instance, if he fabricated his resume and lied to them about his “combat” reporting from years past.

    He was a jerk. But he was their Irish, Long Island-born jerk. The one who told his aging white viewers that together they could stand at the barricades of cultural and political change.

    “In a business where there are a lot of reprehensible people, he stood out as particularly dishonest, obnoxious, self-centered,” is how one former colleague described working with O’Reilly.

    He was a “pompous jerk,” added Rory O’Connor, who went to high school with O’Reilly and then worked with him at Channel 5 in Boston. O'Connor told Boston magazine that O'Reilly “was despised in the newsroom --  but he didn't care.”

    Marvin Kitman, who interviewed O'Reilly more than two dozen times for the biography he wrote about the broadcaster, told Media Matters in a 2015 interview, “He’s a pretty lousy human being.”

    But don’t take their word for it. Take it from the man who gave O’Reilly his Fox News perch, Roger Ailes:

    I said Bill, you’re authentic. You’re an authentic prick. It’s just not on the air. Like, you’re a prick to your staff, you’re a prick to management. You’re a prick to your family. You’re authentic. You’re actually a prick. And that has allowed you to become very successful.

    But it allowed him to become successful only because Fox News embraced O’Reilly’s persona and built a cable channel around it. And then it spent years looking the other way and enabling its top-rated host despite numerous incidents of reported harassment -- because he made the network money.

    Today, Fox is belatedly trying to clean house. But the culture runs deep.

  • How Trump Embodies The Right-Wing Media’s Caricature Of Obama: Lazy, Secretive, And Corrupt

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    During Barack Obama’s presidency, perhaps no conservative media outlet lamented as loudly about the frequency of the president's golf games as Tucker Carlson's Daily Caller.

    Year after year, a parade of Daily Caller staffers lined up to feed the phony outrage machine by detailing the supposedly mountainous taxpayer costs associated with the excursions. The headlines often stressed that Obama’s golf trips took place against the backdrop of grim news events, suggesting the president was pampered and out of touch:

    Milwaukee Burns, Louisiana Floods, Obama Golfs” (August 15)

    As Suspected Terror Rages In Berlin, Obama Hits Hawaiian Golf Course” (December 19)

    For eight years, the “Obama golfs too much” narrative served as shorthand for the right-wing press to denigrate the president as lazy, not serious, and tone deaf.

    And then came President Donald Trump.

    His relentless trips to the links and to his Florida resort have quickly turned any previous complaints about Obama into a punchline.

    Overall, the taxpayer expenses for Trump’s domestic travels, including his golf trips to Florida, have been staggering: $20 million in less than three months, a clip that would add up to $80 million a year.

    As CNN recently reported, Trump's outings are "putting the president on pace in his first year of office to surpass former President Barack Obama's spending on travel for his entire eight years.” 

    All of this family travel and the colossal, unprecedented costs paid by taxpayers make the conservative media look completely absurd. Why? The Daily Caller once complained about two Obama golf trips that cost an estimated $1,031,685 and $804,870. Today, that’s in the ballpark of what it costs every time Trump goes to Mar-a-Lago -- and he’s already been seven times this year.

    Last month, The Daily Caller at least conceded that Trump had previously criticized Obama for playing golf as president and was now playing ever more himself. But like so many in the conservative media, The Daily Caller refused to acknowledge its own, years-long hypocrisy on the issue. Instead, the Caller is now framing Trump's golf outings as helpful for diplomacy

    For conservative media, it’s not just the golfing hypocrisy that’s been driven off the charts this year. Instead, it’s becoming clear that many of the unlikable traits that the far-right press desperately tried to assign to Obama -- he’s lazy, he’s secretive, he’s a bully, he’s corrupt -- are all now being proudly embodied by Trump.

    For eight years, right-wing media invented an unflattering image of Obama that never fit the reality. But now it fits Trump perfectly, and the conservative press is too embarrassed to admit it.

    Recall that so few of the far right's relentless attacks on Obama were based on policy. Instead, they were personality driven. But confronted by a mainstream, center-left Democrat who eschewed drama and displays of pure partisanship, far-right press critics simply invented a villainous figure with obnoxious traits that would fit their narrative.

    Today, Trump perfectly mirrors that figure.

    On Friday, the Trump administration announced that the White House visitor logs would not be released to the public, ensuring that the administration would work in secret. The decision directly contradicted the transparent protocols used by the Obama White House, which released nearly 6 million White House visitor records. “Mr. Trump has rejected other basic standards of presidential disclosures, like the release of his tax returns,” noted The New York Times.

    Of course, right-wing media spent years hammering Obama for being secretive and trying to hide his true agenda from the public. In fact, Obama’s press critics routinely weaponized the White House visitor logs, which were released to the public, in order to concoct bogus claims of scandal and corruption. (No, Bertha M. Lewis, the CEO of ACORN, did not visit the White House in 2009. Yes, according to the visitor log, a “Bertha E. Lewis” did go on the White House tour while Obama was president.)

    And don’t forget that conservative media famously implied Obama was hiding his personal history and claimed he was secretly a Muslim born outside the United States. He wasn’t being transparent!

    Today, those same media critics turn away as the Trump White House retreats behind a wall of secrecy and refuses to even acknowledge who’s visiting the White House. 

    And the visitor log issue isn’t just about optics either. It’s related to an ongoing investigation into possible White House malfeasance. From The Washington Post:

    The existence of the visitor logs burst back into the news last month when House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) went to the White House to review intelligence reports on which he later briefed the president. Nunes and White House officials declined to say whom Nunes had visited and who had cleared him onto the grounds, information that is typically contained in the logs, along with the length of the stay.

    What else did the far-right press love to hit Obama on? Corruption, naturally. (Note that unlike some of Obama's predecessors, during his two terms "there were no grand juries investigating his aides. There were no impeachments. There were neither convictions of White House staffers, nor pardons to protect government officials.") 

    Today, while Trump and his family obliterate all the norms for White House corruption and self-enrichment, the same critics remain mostly mute.

    Trump now seems to embody everything the right-wing press complained about regarding Obama. And suddenly they’re fine with it.

    Image via the Obama White House Flickr account.

  • The Media’s Eternal Search For A “Presidential” Trump

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Like Captain Ahab spotting a breaching Moby Dick in the distance, there seemed to be palpable pundit excitement last week about the prospect of the elusive “presidential” Donald Trump finally being sighted in the wake of the United States’ bombing mission in Syria.

    Eager to bestow a mantle of seriousness and normalcy upon him, some commentators rushed to proclaim the U.S. military strike on an airfield to be a defining moment for the still-new president; to stress how the bombardment meant that Trump had elevated himself in stature and was now conducting himself in a somber, statesmanlike manner.

    We’ve seen this excited commentary regularly with Trump, perhaps most notably when a portion of the pundit class was eager to announce that a serious, “presidential” Trump had finally emerged following his address to a joint session of Congress in February. (It was yet another false sighting.)

    Media declarations late last week about how Trump "became President Of The United States” with the Syria attack and "turned the page" on his troubled presidency presented the brief military incursion as a sweeping demarcation line for Trump’s presidency in terms of grading his seriousness.

    We were told Trump had experienced an epiphany of sorts and suddenly understood how to use Oval Office power for good around the world. Indeed, Trump led with his “heart,” The New York Times announced in the wake of the strikes.

    But the “presidential” spin isn’t based on fact. It’s well-established that Trump is an Olympic liar who pushes falsehoods about topics large and small alike. So why would journalists suddenly assume that Trump’s telling the truth about the motivation for the bombing attack on Syria?

    The “presidential” narrative seems more like it’s the media projecting into the news cycle how they think the President of the United States should act during a time of crisis. But Trump is not normal, and his relentlessly strange behavior cannot be explained away, let alone normalized.

    In its page-one analysis of the Syria bombing, the Times stressed Trump had been moved to action out of sympathy for Syrian victims of a chemical attack that authorities believe was ordered by President Bashar al-Assad.

    Suddenly able to read Trump’s mind and peer into his heart (or listening intently to White House spin), the Times claimed unequivocally that the bombing raid was “an emotional act by a man suddenly aware that the world’s problems were now his -- and that turning away, to him, was not an option.” (The Times also excitedly concluded the one-day bombing raid would “change the course” of Trump’s presidency.)

    The Associated Press stressed that “the weight of world's problems” had sunk in and forced Trump to act. Like the Times, the AP tried to read Trump’s mind and concluded that there’s “a growing awareness that an American president -- even an unconventional one like him -- is looked to as [a] defender of human rights and a barometer of when nations have violated international norms.”

    The Washington Post suggested, “The Syrian chemical weapons attack seemed to awaken Trump’s sense of moral responsibility as leader of the world’s sole remaining superpower.”

    But other than launching some missles at an airfield, where’s the evidence that Trump did any of those things? Where was the evidence he had suddenly transformed himself into a “defender of human rights,” or that a “moral responsibility” seemed to “awaken” in him?

    If, according to one preferred media telling, the gruesome pictures of children being gassed to death last week represented an epiphany of sorts for Trump, why didn’t Trump simultaneously lift his proposed travel ban and welcome suffering Syrian refugees into America?

    Trump relentlessly used the victims of the Syrian civil war as political punching bags during the presidential campaign. Yet parts of the Syria bombing coverage last week politely set that aside in order to suggest Trump had become more “heartfelt” and “presidential.”

    He can’t have it both ways.

    And this has been part of the on-going riddle for the press: How to treat seriously someone like Trump who is categorically un-serious. And how to treat seriously a president who seems to be profoundly uninterested in the details of policy. Or telling the truth.

    This is why the pursuit of “presidential” Trump often seems like wishful thinking: Journalists desperately want Trump to meet them halfway. Lots of journalists seem completely willing, if not eager, to uniformly lower the bar for Trump in terms of acceptable behavior for a sitting president. They’re willing to rewrite the rules for him, which includes consciously looking away for very long periods of time in order to pretend he falls within the mainstream of American politics and our history of Oval Office inhabitants.

    But if they’re going to craft new rules for Trump, the least he could do is alter, or improve, his behavior and meet them halfway.

    But Trump’s going to keep doing what he wants to do, which is to often act abhorrently.

    Still, when there appears to be even the slightest glimmer of normalcy emanating from this president, journalists overreact and pronounce that The Change, or The Pivot, has finally occurred and Trump is now ready and willing to act like an adult while serving as president.

    He’s not, and he hasn’t. Yet the media’s “presidential” pursuit continues.

  • O’Reilly, Trump, And Ailes: The Culture Of Predatory Harassment Dominating The Conservative Movement 

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    With each new disturbing allegation, it’s become increasingly clear that a toxic atmosphere has flourished at Fox News, where powerful men have allegedly harassed and assaulted women for years.

    The latest lawsuit to tumble out arrived on Monday, when Fox News contributor Julie Roginsky filed suit in court and claimed that former Fox News chief Roger Ailes had made unwanted sexual advances to her and implied he would reward her with a big promotion if she agreed.  

    This, of course, comes eight months after the Fox News founder and CEO was ousted following an avalanche of ugly allegations about sexual harassment.

    It's all disturbingly reminiscent of the cascade of accusations that tumbled forth last summer about then-President-elect Donald Trump, whose disregard for women was also caught in a recording of his boasts of sexual assault made in 2005 on the set of Access Hollywood.

    Some of the allegations at Fox News were similar: We learned that men who have worked in positions of power at Fox News allegedly groped women, kissed them against their will, made inappropriate sexual comments, asked about female employees’ sex lives, promised promotions in exchange for sex, cut short careers of women who took offense, and scheduled “phone sex in the office.” (That’s when they weren’t demanding oral sex from female subordinates.)

    And oh yeah, federal prosecutors are now investigating whether Fox News’ parent company “made insufficient disclosures to its investors about settlements of sexual-harassment claims.”

    The new Roginsky suit arrives just days after a New York Times investigation revealed that Fox and anchor Bill O’Reilly have spent approximately $13 million to pay off female colleagues who have accused O’Reilly of abusive behavior. (O’Reilly reportedly makes about $18 million a year at Fox News.)

    Of course, the problem of sexual harassment and assault is by no means limited to only “conservative” workplaces, but it’s telling that three of the most powerful men in Republican politics over the past few decades -- Trump, O’Reilly, and Ailes -- have all repeatedly been accused of systemic harassment of female employees and predatory behavior.

    And that’s why Fox News and Trump are inexorably linked -- not just politically, but culturally, as their hallmark misogyny seems to flow with the same urgency.

    That’s why Fox News figures, including O’Reilly, reflexively defended Trump and dismissed and belittled those who brought allegations against him.

    Now, as the burgeoning O’Reilly crisis grows reignites, the sexual harassment and assaults allegedly perpetrated by Fox figures and Trump have returned to the spotlight.

    O’Reilly, Ailes, and Trump are putting a particularly disturbing face on the conservative movement: that of a triumvirate of wealthy, elderly, and powerful men towing behind them a list of public accusers stretching back decades. These three men unequivocally helped shape the Republican Party and right-wing media in recent years. And all three have repeatedly been accused of predatory behavior toward women. (Do conservatives even care that the movement is synonymous with misogyny? Amanda Marcotte at Salon argues they do not.)

    For now, Fox News bosses have to switch gears back to sexual harassment crisis management mode, the kind that defined their 2016 summer. But those executives can’t say people didn’t try to warn them.

    They can’t say that when the tawdry Ailes sex scandal exploded in plain view that people didn’t encourage Rupert Murdoch and his family to take honest stock of the disturbing, predatory work environment that had been enshrined at Fox News for years.

    Last summer, I urged James and Lachlan Murdoch to do the right thing and divorce Fox News from Ailes’ decades-old culture harassment and assault:

    [A]re they going to simply remove Ailes, read an outside investigation about rampant sexual harassment allegations, shelve the lecherous findings, and carry on without any kind of radical shift in leadership? It doesn’t seem possible that just one man was responsible for that much alleged harassment.

    Meaning, if James and Lachlan make no concerted effort to fix the widespread problems facing the women working at Fox News, that means James and Lachlan will soon own that problem and that stigma.

    Today, the Murdochs own the stigma because they did almost nothing to try to eradicate it last year. Yes, they commissioned an independent investigation into Ailes, hiring the law firm Paul, Weiss. But they apparently tailored a very narrow inquiry and seemed determined not to uncover the larger rot at the root of the cable channel. (Fox seemed about as interested in owning up to its dark harassment past as Trump did on the campaign trail last year.)

    “Paul, Weiss, according to a source close to the investigation, never expanded to look deeply into phone and e-mail records throughout the company to unearth evidence of a culture of sexual harassment,” writes Sarah Ellison at Vanity Fair this week.

    How un-serious was the Murdochs’ house-cleaning? Fox News’ Bill Shine, who has specifically been accused of covering up harassment for years, was promoted and made co-president of the channel. Fast forward seven months and yes, once again Shine is accused of covering for Fox News’ serial harassers.

    Reporting on the latest Ailes lawsuit, NPR reported:

    "Shine retaliated against plaintiff because of her complaints of harassment and retaliation [against Ailes]," the lawsuit reads, "and because of plaintiff's refusal to malign Gretchen Carlson and join 'Team Roger' when Carlson sued Ailes ... Shine also aided and abetted Ailes' acts of retaliation and harassment."

    In other words, the company’s idea of cleaning up the rancid culture inside Fox News is to help craft multimillion-dollar settlements for accusers and to make sure not to remove many of the people regularly accused of harassment or of facilitating the cover-ups.

     I'm sure Trump approves.

  • Mass Shootings Still Happen All The Time, So Why Does The Press Look Away?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    The argument, first at a gas station and then outside a home, started over missing car keys.

    In the early hours of Monday morning, police stepped in to quell the dispute between Allen Cashe and his girlfriend, Latina Herring, at a Sanford, FL, gas station. Then hours later they responded to a 911 call for an "aggravated battery" and found Cashe arguing with Herring outside on the front yard of her home, WFTV 9 reported.   

    Just after 6 a.m. that day, the police were summoned once again, but this time they found a blood bath. "The scene was one of the worst scenes our investigators have ever walked into," Sanford police spokeswoman Bianca Gillett told reporters. "It was horrific."

    Police say Cashe had shown up that morning armed with an AK-47-style assault weapon, kicked down the door and shot and killed Herring. He then shot her father and her two sons, 7 and 8 years old, who were sleeping on the couch. The 8-year-old subsequently died. Fleeing the scene, Cashe opened fire on two strangers, including an 18-year-old high school student waiting at a nearby bus stop.

    That was Monday. One day before, in Cincinnati, OH, 17 people were shot at the Cameo nightclub when a “mini brawl” sparked gunmen to open fire on a crowd of approximately 200 revelers, according to WCPO Cincinnati. It marked the bloodiest shooting in the nation so far this year, according to Cincinnati.com and the Gun Violence Archive.

    “The hospital was so crowded, all the seats were taken in the emergency room,” one local pastor told The Cincinnati Enquirer. “The emergency room was literally standing room only." The city’s mayor said the gun rampage marked “one of the worst days in the history of Cincinnati.”

    Here’s what was so strange about the media coverage for the mass shootings that unfolded within one day of each other, and which involved 23 shooting victims: There wasn’t very much news coverage at all, outside of the local press attention.  

    For instance, The New York Times did not cover either gun rampage this week, according to search via Nexis. (Two AP articles were aggregated on the Times' website.)

    Broadcast news coverage of the Cincinnati nightclub mass shooting and Sanford shooting was equally light, according to a review of transcripts in Nexis and Snapstream for the terms "Cincinnati" or "nightclub" and "Sanford." The Florida shooting was mentioned on broadcast news just once, on ABC World News Tonight on Monday. CBS mentioned the nightclub tragedy just three times, including during Sunday's evening news broadcast and again Monday morning during CBS This Morning and CBS Morning News. ABC ran two segments on Sunday on the shows Good Morning America and World News Sunday, while NBC mentioned the shooting on its Sunday and Monday editions of Today. The outlets appear to have moved on from 2017's highest victim shooting as of Monday morning.

    The timid coverage of these shootings reminds us the extent to which horrific news, and specifically horrific gun-related news, gets quietly tabled and pushed aside.

    Gun violence in America represents a raging health epidemic, but you’d never know it based on the news coverage.

    That’s important because how can a nation have a debate about gun violence when even mass shootings aren't thoroughly covered as big news?

    And please note this: Virtually all of the 23 victims in both the Florida and Ohio gun rampages were people of color. Is it possible the national news media would have devoted more time and resources to the Cincinnati gun rampage if it had occurred at a mostly white nightclub on a college campus? I certainly think it’s likely.

    Meanwhile, what else would have triggered wildly different media responses to the Sanford and Cincinnati killings? Answer: any hint of a terrorism angle.

    On that front, news consumers know the drill: When a mass shooting involves the possibility of terrorism, media outlets compete to see who can produce more reports and, usually, who can produce the most heated analysis. For instance, it sure seemed to me like cable news interest in the mass shooting at the Fort Lauderdale, FL, airport in January dropped when it became clear that the gun massacre was committed by a homegrown shooter unrelated to jihad terror. 

    There’s obviously been a normalization over the years for mass shootings, as the lacking coverage from Sanford and Cincinnati indicates. And who benefits from that normalization? The National Rifle Association and the Republican Party, which supports the gun group’s every radical initiative.

    Of course the NRA and the GOP don’t want the press to treat gun violence as the health crisis that it is. And of course the NRA and the GOP do want to the press to casually look away as mass shootings unfold with random deadliness. The conservative movement is in favor of normalizing gun violence and of the media omitting context about the epidemic.

    Many conservatives don’t want the press to constantly connect the dots between American gun rampages, or to chronically mention that roughly 100,000 people are shot in America each year. Or that each week, approximately 1,565 patients are treated in emergency rooms for firearm-related injuries. Or that among the world's 23 wealthiest countries, 87 percent of all children killed by guns are American children.

    Interestingly, just days before the deadly Florida and Ohio shootings, CNN.com did what more news outlets ought to be doing: It published a comprehensive piece that put American gun violence in perspective by detailing the extraordinary economic cost the country pays each year to treat our gun epidemic.

    Note that the death toll is likely to rise in coming years because “patients are now more likely to die from a gunshot wound than they were even 10 years ago,” presumably thanks to the increasingly powerful and sophisticated guns being manufactured and sold in the U.S. 

    “To be blunt, instead of a 2-centimeter hole, you are seeing a 3-centimeter hole with more damage. And there are more wounds, so the team has to repair more damage," the study’s author told CNN.

    Following the shootout in Cincinnati, where panicked clubgoers were forced to flee rampaging gunmen, the Cincinnati Enquirer stepped forward with a truth-telling editorial (emphasis added):

    We hear a lot from politicians these days about the threat of a foreign enemy, yet terrorism happens every day on city streets around the country. This madness has to stop. Too many lives are lost every year in Cincinnati and nationwide to savage, mindless and inhuman gun violence. Mass shootings in America, tragically, are becoming too commonplace.

    One way to address the madness is for the press to see the country’s gun violence for what it is -- a uniquely American epidemic.

  • Media Must Choose: If Trump's Not A Liar, He's Delusional 

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    While President Donald Trump continues to rip apart the seams of honest discourse with his ceaseless collection of lies and falsehoods, some journalists remain reluctant to call him a liar. By resisting, the Beltway press continues to shy away from its primary task: truth telling.

    Additionally, by avoiding the “liar” label, journalists really leave themselves with only one other option in terms of describing Trump’s erratic behavior: “delusional.”

    The latest attempt to provide this odd cover for Trump came from Time Managing Editor Nancy Gibbs. Writing a preface to the magazine’s recent Trump-inspired cover story -- “Is Truth Dead?” -- Gibbs addressed the looming crisis in confidence by noting, “Like many newsrooms, we at TIME have wrestled with when to say someone is lying.”

    Gibbs stressed that the magazine is hesitant to use the term in conjunction with Trump because it’s hard to deduce the president’s motivations when he spreads falsehoods. Meaning, journalists need evidence that Trump purposefully misleads people with his comments and allegations.

    This continues the media’s unnecessary debate over whether it’s OK to call Trump a liar. “I’d be careful about using the word ‘lie,’” Wall Street Journal Editor-in-Chief Gerard Baker cautioned in January. “‘Lie’ implies much more than just saying something that’s false. It implies a deliberate intent to mislead.”

    But then Gibbs added an additional layer to the argument when she wrote of Trump’s lies, “What does he actually believe? Does it count as lying if he believes what he says?”

    Appearing on CNN’s Reliable Sources, Gibbs expounded (emphasis added):

    But to say that they are lying requires an additional level of knowledge that's very difficult to have of what their intention was. And the reason I think it's important is because in the case of President Trump -- and this came through with our interview with him over and over again -- some of the things that he says that have been disputed and completely disproven, it seems very clear he continues to believe.

    And so there's these sort of -- there's almost the philosophical, theological question of, if you believe what you're saying, even if it's not true, is that still a lie? I will leave that to the academics.

    So that brings us back into George Costanza territory: “It’s not a lie … if you believe it.”

    In other words, when Trump spreads falsehoods, he might actually believe them, therefore he might not qualify as a liar. Or, the press shouldn’t call him one because that’s more of a “philosophical, theological question.”

    That rationale rings hollow to me.

    As the most powerful public leader in the world, the president of the United States shouldn’t benefit from a media debate about whether he believes the dishonesty he pushes. He ought to be as honest as possible, as often as possible. Presidents before him have tried to adhere to that standard for over two centuries. Trump should, too. And if not, it’s not the job of the press to come up with excuses for why he cannot.

    And for the record, I don’t entirely buy the premise for this avoidance. Instead, I think pockets of the D.C. press are simply reluctant to call a prominent Republican, and especially America’s most famous Republican, a liar. They’re afraid and timid, and I’m convinced they would be neither if a leading national Democrat decided to habitually and unapologetically lie, and to do so without remorse.

    Nonetheless, if some journalists persist and cling to the idea that Trump’s not a deliberate fabricator because he believes all the misinformation he spouts, then that leaves journalists with only one option: to announce that Trump’s simply delusional.

    If, as Gibbs suggests, Trump is quietly convinced America is suffering through a historic crime spree, the unemployment rate last year was rigged, Mexico is going to pay for the border wall, the U.S. media deliberately ignores terror attacks, and millions of people voted illegally last year, that means Trump doesn’t function cognitively like most normal adults.

    Keep in mind that in conjunction with Time’s cover story, Trump participated in a Q&A with the magazine on the topic of falsehoods in which he lied, by one account, 14 different times. (Trump seems especially obsessed with claiming credit for having predicted that Brexit would pass, even though he did no such thing.)

    If journalists don’t want to call Trump a liar, are they willing to call him unstable?

    As Newsweek senior writer Kurt Eichenwald noted, “That leaves two possibilities: Trump intentionally dispenses falsehoods any smart person knows will be detected as lies, or worse, he cannot discern between reality and what he wishes was true.”

    Moving forward, news outlets have a choice. They can accurately label Trump a liar, or they can portray him as unhinged and unbalanced, based on the assumption that Trump believes the constant falsehoods that he spreads.  

    Or it’s possible there’s a third option: He’s both.

  • Conservative Media Cracking Under The Pressure Of Trump Era

    Internal Divisions Flare Up At Fox, Breitbart, The Blaze, IJR

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Peering into his laptop camera while filming a fidgety monologue for his Periscope audience last week, Breitbart.com investigative reporter Lee Stranahan spelled out an internal crisis that was unfolding at the "alt-right," pro-Trump media hub.

    Convinced he was sitting on "the biggest political story in the world," Stranahan announced that his boss, Washington political editor Matthew Boyle, had ordered him to stay away from future White House briefings, which meant Stranahan couldn’t ask press secretary Sean Spicer about the supposed blockbuster. (Short version: Stranahan has strung together a conspiracy theory that would suggest the Russian hacking narrative is a complete fabrication by so-called deep state actors and a firm called Crowdstrike.)

    “I’m probably going to lose my job,” Stranahan lamented during his televised update, noting “I have five kids to feed. … But I’m not going to let this story get killed.”

    Indeed, by week's end, Stranahan was gone from Breitbart. He said he will now team up with The Gateway Pundit, the hyper-dishonest “alt-right” site that now boasts a White House press pass and commits itself to trolling journalists on the presidential beat.

    The weird public Stranahan meltdown was just the latest example of far-right media outlets seemingly cracking under the strain of the Trump era. Along with at Breitbart, internal dramas have recently played out publicly at Fox News, TheBlaze and Independent Journal Review, as right-wing media sources struggle to find their footing with Trump now in charge, and with the attention that comes with that.

    Accustomed to robotically blaming Democrats for all the supposed evils in the world, conservatives now have to deal with a political landscape where Republicans control the White House, the Senate, the House, and, possibly soon, the Supreme Court.

    Is dissent allowed? Or is the new role to simply cheer whatever Republicans do, and serve as a convenient shield for the administration?

    “For years, conservatives breathlessly accused the media of being too easy on President Barack Obama and acting like a bunch of sycophantic boot-lickers for his administration. Turns out, some only wanted the chance to try it out for themselves once a Republican was in office,” conservative commentator Amanda Carpenter wrote in Politico. “Some of those who used to be the conservative movement’s most loyal government watchdogs are nothing but lapdogs now for Trump.”

    At Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze, popular conservative host Tomi Lahren was temporarily suspended after she went on The View and made comments critical of anti-abortion activists. (Lahren: “I can’t sit here and be a hypocrite and say I’m for limited government but I think that the government should decide what women do with their bodies.”)

    In an usual display of newsroom friendly fire,  Lahren’s comment was immediately condemned by her own colleagues at TheBlaze:

    Soon after Lahren’s tweet, a reporter at The Blaze, Kate Scanlon, tweeted, “There is no ‘my truth.’ There is only the truth.”

    Another reporter at The Blaze, Kaitlyn Schallhorn, tweeted soon after: “Even Hillary Clinton didn’t call pro-life conservatives hypocrites.”

    Beck himself soon joined the pile-on. “It takes intellectual honesty, and it takes a willingness to actually think these things through and to do more than just read Twitter or Facebook to get your news and your political opinions,” Beck said on his radio show while denouncing Lahren, according to The Daily Caller.

    Beck has now reportedly fired the host. “Glenn is reminding the world of his conservative principles by sidelining Tomi after she insulted conservatives by calling them hypocrites,” one Beck "insider" told the New York Post.

    Over at Fox News, executives were recently left scrambling when the White House pointed to Fox senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano as a source for the inexplicable claim that former President Barack Obama had asked British intelligence to spy on Trump during the campaign. It was part of the White House’s larger failed attempt to support Trump’s baseless claim that Obama wiretapped Trump Tower during the 2016 presidential election.

    The claim of British involvement sparked an international incident.

    Initially, a Fox News spokeswoman reported that Napolitano “stands by his report on FOX & Friends,” but then the full-on retreat began. By March 20, Fox had taken the extraordinary step of yanking Napolitano off the air “indefinitely.”

    Vanity Fair's Sarah Ellison spoke with a "Fox News insider" who told her: “The key thing Judge Napolitano did was to say ‘Fox News is reporting that ... ,’ and he can’t say that.' That breaks the trust, and you saw what it cost him. He is not a reporter and knows he's not a reporter." The source claimed that Napolitano’s comments, and Trump’s championing of them, had created what Ellison described as "an internal headache" for Fox News: “It’s a disaster," said the source. "It’s a nightmare.”

    Speaking of headaches, Independent Journal Review (IJR) handed out suspensions last week after the GOP-friendly news site published a bizarre column suggesting Obama might have pressured the federal judge in Hawaii whose ruling halted Trump’s latest attempt to establish a travel ban for six Muslim-majority countries. (IJR column headline: "Fmr President Obama Made 'Surprise Visit' to Hawaii, Days Before Judge Issued Travel Ban Ruling.")

    IJR editors later apologized for and retracted the story, but not before one staffer reportedly quit over the embarrassing episode. The site then suspended its chief content officer and two editors. (On March 27, Politico’s Hadas Gold reported that IJR video producer Colin Chocola also reportedly quit, citing issues he had with the “direction” of IJR that predated the Hawaii conspiracy theory flap.)

    The dust-up was significant because the conservative-leaning IJR, founded in 2012 by former Republican operative Alex Skatell, was the only media outlet allowed to accompany Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on his recent trip to Asia -- a trip that yielded a laudatory puff piece published by IJR.

    The move to invite IJR was "part of an effort to include a broader representation of U.S. media,” according to the State Department.

    “If willingness to tar a former president with conspiratorial garbage constitutes an element of media diversity, then the State Department succeeded,” quipped Erik Wemple at The Washington Post, after IJR published its conspiratorial column about Obama.

    Last week, Business Insider provided a detailed look at the internal dissension swirling within IJR since Trump’s election, as editorial factions battle over how far to the right the site should tilt. “It's basically becoming a giant native ad for the Trump administration," one former IJR staffer complained.

    For eight years, Obama bashing largely unified the right-wing media in America. Now without that security blanket to cling to, they’re finding life in the spotlight’s much more complicated.

  • The Press Seemed Amazed By Trump’s Wiretapping Lie, But Trump Lies About Everything

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    What was the tipping point for The Wall Street Journal’s conservative editorial page in terms of dealing with President Donald Trump’s increasingly sketchy behavior? We now know: It’s the demonstrable lie Trump told about President Barack Obama having wiretapped Trump Tower.

    Lamenting “the damage that Mr. Trump is doing to his Presidency with his seemingly endless stream of exaggerations, evidence-free accusations, implausible denials and other falsehoods,” the Journal on Tuesday night belittled Trump for being “his own worst political enemy.”

    Claiming that “the President clings to his assertion like a drunk to an empty gin bottle,” the Journal relentlessly mocked Trump’s evidence-free wiretapping claim, using the type of biting rhetoric the page usually reserved for attacking President Barack Obama or the Clintons.

    The public undressing represents a clear demarcation line that has extended throughout the Beltway media in recent weeks, as pundits and reporters have drilled down deep on the wiretapping lie and demanded answers, day after day. With none forthcoming, Trump’s team continues to be battered by the story. Even more bizarre, the White House stubbornly refuses to move off its scripted talking points about there being imaginary evidence of the nonexistent Obama-driven wiretapping scheme.

    For a presidency that has been defined by falsehoods, it’s the wiretapping lie that seems to be causing the most damage for Trump, mostly because the press remains keenly focused on it.

    That hyper focus only intensified yesterday after House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) took the extraordinary step of going to the White House to brief Trump on an investigation before discussing the information with ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA). Trump and his media loyalists immediately insisted that Nunes’ vague claims of incidental intelligence gathering involving officials on the Trump transition team bolstered the president’s wiretapping claim against Obama. But it does no such thing. (Nunes himself "reiterated" that he "had no evidence of" Trump's wiretapping claim, according to Politico.) All of which means Trump’s still stuck pushing a signature, hollow allegation.

    Here's the key: The kind of focus on the White House’s wiretapping charade should be extended to the rest of the Trump’s fabrications. Trump lies about everything. And Trump’s surrogates lie about everything. So if journalists are going to relentlessly call out the White House for its wiretapping smear -- and they definitely should -- they ought to be equally aggressive in calling out all of Trump’s casual deceits, which now tumble out on a daily basis. (In a new interview with Time about falsehoods, Trump laced his comments with at least 14 falsehoods.)

    In other words, the press is giving Trump a hard time about the Obama wiretap lie, but the media is still too slow and timid about calling out Trump's often more substantial, policy-based lies.

    What journalists continue to struggle with is the obvious realization that not only does Trump lie constantly, but that he doesn’t care that people know it. Trump doesn’t care when his claims are swiftly fact-checked. It gives him no pause. And that represents the burgeoning challenge the press faces in covering the Trump White House, based on its almost chronic attempts to fabricate information, followed by no expression of remorse for the wild dissembling.

    Ten days into Trump’s term, I cautioned that journalists shouldn’t believe anything the White House tells them – ever. And that journalists needed to rip up the old rules in covering this new president, simply because we’ve never had a White House staffed with so many dishonest people embracing so many “alternative facts.”

    Note this exchange from MSNBC on Monday night, as Politico’s Michael Crowley and MSNBC’s Katy Tur analyzed that day’s hearing in the House Intelligence Committee on ties between Russia and Trump, as well as the hollow allegation of Obama wiretapping:

    MICHAEL CROWLEY: Over and over again, Sean Spicer and people around Trump are just making these implausible assertions about the scale of this story. And if they would just give a little ground they would have so much more credibility. If they would take the underlying issue seriously, if they would speak accurately and honestly about the players and the factors involved. But when you get this kind of wild overcompensation you have to ask, what are you afraid of? And what are you hiding? It’s just very strange and it begs more questions.

    KATY TUR: Or are you working on behalf of a president who is so erratic that you don’t know where solid ground is.

    All of that is accurate. But here’s the thing: That critique applies to virtually every topic that the White House tackles. “He lies in ways that no American politician ever has before,” wrote David Leonhardt of The New York Times this week.

    And that really needs to be the prism through which journalists view the president. They need push past the idea that it’s mean or “biased” to call Trump a liar. Just like when the White House unveiled its extremist budget proposal last week. If Trump is going to advocate radical positions, then journalists shouldn’t shy away from detailing his radical positions.

    The same is true for Trump’s lies. His bizarre one about Obama committing a felony in order to listen in on Trump’s phone calls has caught the media’s imagination. But all of Trump’s bogus claims should be highlighted and ridiculed. Yes, Trump rolls out endless falsehoods, and there's a suspicion that he does so on purpose so the press can't keep up. But they have to. It's now a paramount responsibility.

    Whether the lies are about the travel ban, crime statistics, Obama’s birthplace, Jersey City Muslims on 9/11, the unemployment rate, Mexico paying for the border wall, health care for “everybody,” the U.S. murder rate, IRS audits, news coverage of terror attacks, the Electoral College, or voter fraud.

    The press should apply the same relentless attention and detail to those lies as that it has to Trump’s wiretapping lie.