On August 15 between 6 a.m. and 1 p.m., Fox News offered virtually no coverage of the August 14 New York Times report that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort allegedly received “$12.7 million in undisclosed payments” from former Ukrainian President Viktor “Yanukovych’s pro-Russian political party from 2007 to 2012.” CNN has reported extensively on the story. National security experts and foreign affairs and national security journalists are calling the Times’ report “serious” and “staggering,” with one going so far as to say, “This article alone should finish the Trump campaign.”
The New York Times Reports That Trump Campaign Chairman Received Cash Payment From Pro-Russia Politicians In Ukraine
The New York Times: “Handwritten Ledgers Show $12.7 Million In Undisclosed Cash Payments Designated For” Paul Manafort From Pro-Kremlin, Ruling Political Party. In an August 14 article, The New York Times reported that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort received “$12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments” from former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s “pro-Russian political party from 2007 to 2012, according to Ukraine’s newly formed National Anti-Corruption Bureau.” According to the Times, “Investigators assert that the disbursements were part of an illegal off-the-books system whose recipients also included election officials.” From The New York Times’ August 14 report:
Handwritten ledgers show $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments designated for Mr. Manafort from Mr. Yanukovych’s pro-Russian political party from 2007 to 2012, according to Ukraine’s newly formed National Anti-Corruption Bureau. Investigators assert that the disbursements were part of an illegal off-the-books system whose recipients also included election officials.
In addition, criminal prosecutors are investigating a group of offshore shell companies that helped members of Mr. Yanukovych’s inner circle finance their lavish lifestyles, including a palatial presidential residence with a private zoo, golf course and tennis court. Among the hundreds of murky transactions these companies engaged in was an $18 million deal to sell Ukrainian cable television assets to a partnership put together by Mr. Manafort and a Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, a close ally of President Vladimir V. Putin.
Mr. Manafort’s involvement with moneyed interests in Russia and Ukraine had previously come to light. But as American relationships there become a rising issue in the presidential campaign — from Mr. Trump’s favorable statements about Mr. Putin and his annexation of Crimea to the suspected Russian hacking of Democrats’ emails — an examination of Mr. Manafort’s activities offers new details of how he mixed politics and business out of public view and benefited from powerful interests now under scrutiny by the new government in Kiev.
Anti-corruption officials there say the payments earmarked for Mr. Manafort, previously unreported, are a focus of their investigation, though they have yet to determine if he actually received the cash. While Mr. Manafort is not a target in the separate inquiry of offshore activities, prosecutors say he must have realized the implications of his financial dealings. [The New York Times, 8/14/16]
CNN Covered The Times Report In Several Segments, Including Hosting One Of The Report’s Authors
CNN Dedicated Several Segments Throughout The Morning To Covering The Times’ Report. According to a Media Matters analysis, CNN covered the Times report in several segments on at least three different shows between 6 a.m. and 1 p.m. on August 15. [CNN, At This Hour, 8/15/16; CNN, Legal View with Ashleigh Banfield, 8/15/16; CNN, New Day, 8/15/16]
CNN Hosted NY Times’ Andrew Kramer Who Explained: Ukraine’s “Investigative Anti-Corruption Bureau Has Discovered 22 Instances In A Ledger Of Off-The-Books Accounting That Mentioned Manafort’s Name.” CNN host Kate Bolduan interviewed one of the three contributors to the Times report, Andrew Kramer, who stated that Ukraine’s anti-corruption agency “is continuing to investigate where exactly this money went and what it means that this ledger includes his name.” Kramer added that “Ukraine's a very poor country” and that “this is on a level that is disgusted in Ukraine,” so “they're eager to get to the bottom of this and find out why this large payment was made.” From the August 15 edition of CNN’s At This Hour with Berman and Bolduan:
KATE BOLDUAN (HOST): After Donald Trump's weekend tirade against the media, and specifically hitting The New York Times particularly hard, this morning's front page of The New York Times probably didn't sit too well with Donald Trump during his breakfast. The headline is this, “Secret Ledger in Ukraine Lists Cash for Donald Trump's Campaign Chief.” The report says that a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine designated millions of dollars for Trump's campaign chairman Paul Manafort, this during a period of time Manafort was a consultant to that political party in Ukraine. Manafort denies the report. The Clinton campaign, not surprisingly, immediately jumped on the news, demanding that Trump disclose any campaign ties to Russia. With me now, one of the lead reporters on this piece, on this investigation, Andrew Kramer, he's a Moscow correspondent for The New York Times. Andrew, thanks for joining me. CNN just confirmed actually that Paul Manafort is now under investigation in Ukraine for receiving illegal payments. This goes directly to what you were investigating. What led you to this investigation, what led you to this handwritten ledger?
ANDREW KRAMER: Well, thank you very much for having me on the show. Before Manafort was manager of a Republican Party campaign in the United States, he had another job. That job was adviser to the pro-Russian political party, the Party of Regions in Ukraine. I covered the revolution in Ukraine two years ago, and a curious document surfaced. One of hundreds thousands of documents that came out of the government and released and stored in various locations in Kiev, and the thinking was that if there was mention of Manafort in some of these documents that had been released, there was likely to be more. So we set about investigating Manafort's business activities and political activities in Ukraine, based upon this evidence which had come to light during the revolution.
BOLDUAN: Paul Manafort, he says that he has never received any money, the millions of dollars described in your piece especially. Let me read for our viewers part of the statement. It was pretty rough. This is what he also said. “I've never received a single off-the-books cash payment. As falsely,” in his words “reported by The New York Times. Nor I have ever done work for the governments of Ukraine or Russia. Further, all of the political payments directed to me were for my entire political team: campaign staff (local and international), polling and research, election integrity and television advertising. The suggestion,” Manafort says, “that I accepted cash payments is unfounded, silly and nonsensical.” Clearly, he is flat-out denying this, Andrew, what do you say to this?
KRAMER: Not really. He says that payments were directed to him, and at the same time he says he didn't receive payments as described. In the story, he denies working for the Ukrainian and Russian governments, which we never asserted. Now, what we reported is that a Ukrainian investigative agency, the Investigative Anti-Corruption Bureau, has discovered 22 instances in a ledger of off-the-books accounting that mentioned Manafort's name. They say they can't be certain that he received the money that was included on these line items in the accounting document, but they're investigating, and that he received money and it went to other purposes other than his salary is not really the issue.
BOLDUAN: That actually is an important point. Millions of dollars on a handwritten ledger designated for Paul Manafort, which you uncovered, and Manafort saying that he never received the money. Both of those things can be accurate.
KRAMER: They can. And he doesn't say he never received the money, according to the statement. He says that he didn't receive it in this manner and that the money went to pay expenses. So as I said, the Ukrainian agency is continuing to investigate where exactly this money went and what it means that this ledger includes his name.
BOLDUAN: And that's, I think, the important thing that everyone kind of is wondering, what is this handwritten ledger, what does it mean, Paul Manafort's name on it regardless? Did you have an opportunity to find that others that were named on this handwritten ledger, that they had received cash payments, what it all meant?
KRAMER: Right. Well, I did speak with somebody who had received cash payments through the system. It was a former senior leader of the Party of Regions, the number three official in that party. And he, for example, received money for travel expenses in cash from party headquarters, and signed documents resembling this ledger. The expenditures, some of them were released in Ukrainian media. They went for legitimate expenses like advertising and consulting, but also there were recipients in the electoral committee of Ukraine, suggesting the slush fund here had bribed electoral officials to rig elections. And then out of the same source of money, you have payments for Paul Manafort according to the Ukrainian investigators.
BOLDUAN: Andrew, real quick, just on Paul Manafort's statement, do you think he's being artful with his language? You don't see this as a denial, you just think that he's trying to explain it away.
KRAMER: I think that the Ukrainian investigators have now, to me and others, including apparently your news organization, confirmed they're investigating these payments. And they have said that the signatures beside the line items may not be Paul Manafort's. They might, for example, be an aide who picked up the money and then deposited it or, in other ways, transferred it to the Davis-Manafort International Company that was operating in Ukraine. So in Ukraine, at least, they're continuing to investigate. It's important to remember that Ukraine's a very poor country. People there struggle to get by. Average salaries might be around $100 a month, and that this money was either extorted from businesses or it was undocumented donations to a political party, it was was highly corrupt and is widely regarded as highly corrupt now, that this money was taken out of the country possibly by a fellow American is upsetting and this is on a level that is disgusted in Ukraine, they're eager to get to the bottom of this and find out why this large payment was made. [CNN, At This Hour with Berman and Bolduan, 8/15/16]
But Fox News Only Mentioned The Report Once In Passing
Fox News Mentioned Times Report Only Once In Passing. A Media Matters analysis found that between 6 a.m. and 1 p.m. on August 15, Fox News only mentioned the Times report once in passing, during a segment on Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign by correspondent Jennifer Griffin, who mentioned the “story broken by The New York Times.” Griffin said to “expect” the Clinton campaign “to jab at Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort.” From the August 15 edition of Fox News’ Happening Now:
JENNIFER GRIFFIN: So, again, we expect to hear from Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden not long from now. Expect them to take some hits at Trump, as well as his campaign. Expect them to jab at Trump's campaign manager Paul Manafort, who allegedly received $12.7 million from pro-Putin Ukrainian politicians who he advised in that country's election, that story broken by The New York Times over the weekend. So, again, Hillary Clinton on stage now with Joe Biden. Both of their families here from Scranton, let's listen in to them. [Fox News, Happening Now, 8/15/16]
Experts And National Security Journalists Agree Report Is “Serious” And “Staggering”
The Daily Beast’s Michael Weiss: “This Article Alone Should Finish The Trump Campaign.”
This article alone should finish the Trump campaign: https://t.co/ACVlykubNm
— Michael Weiss (@michaeldweiss) August 15, 2016
MSNBC Terror Analyst Malcolm Nance: “Mulling Over Significance Of Manafort [New York Times] Article. I’m Terrified That This Is Tip Of A Serious Intelligence & National Security Iceberg.”
Mulling over significance of Manafort @NYT article. I'm terrified that this is tip of a serious intelligence & national security iceberg.
— Malcolm Nance (@MalcolmNance) August 15, 2016
— Malcolm Nance (@MalcolmNance) August 15, 2016
BuzzFeed Foreign Correspondent Mike Giglio: “The Alleged Ties Of Trump’s Campaign Manager To Pro-Russia Political Corruption In Ukraine Are Staggering.”
the alleged ties of Trump's campaign manager to pro-Russia political corruption in Ukraine are staggering https://t.co/Pd9PzHULRH
— Mike Giglio (@mike_giglio) August 15, 2016
CNN Senior International Correspondent Clarissa Ward: “Well, This Appears To be Damning- $12.7 Million In Cash From Yanukovych To Manafort (Trump Campaign Manager).”
Well, this appears to be damning- $12.7 million in cash from Yanukovych to Manafort (Trump campaign manager)https://t.co/IEOuavyRUy
— Clarissa Ward (@clarissaward) August 15, 2016
Methodology: Media Matters searched Snapstream transcripts for coverage on August 15 between 6 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Fox News and CNN using the search terms “Manafort or Ukraine.”