Fox Ignores Trump Foundation’s Illegal Campaign Contribution, Obsesses Over Clinton’s Cough

Fox News failed to cover the Trump Foundation’s illegal campaign contribution according to a Media Matters analysis. Despite multiple media outlets scrutinizing the illegal contribution from Trump’s charitable foundation, Fox focused on Clinton’s coughing every hour from 6 a.m. though 1 p.m. instead of the illegal Trump donation.

In March, The Washington Post reported that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s charitable foundation, The Donald J. Trump Foundation, illegally donated $25,000 to the political committee And Justice For All, supporting Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s re-election campaign. The donation
“came as Bondi was reviewing whether to investigate fraud allegations against Trump University,” though she never took any action against Trump U. In response to the charge that this was an illegal donation meant to stop Bondi from investigating Trump U, The Trump Foundation chalked the illegal contribution up to a “clerical error.” In its filings with the IRS, the foundation listed its donation to “an unrelated group with a similar name, Justice For All.” On September 1, the Post reported that Trump paid a $2,500 fine to the IRS for the improper donation which “violated tax laws.”

On September 5, Trump dismissed questions about the improper contribution, claiming “I never spoke to her.” News outlets have started to pick up on the story in the past week, with CNN’s Jeff Zeleny suggesting there is “more smoke here” than in other campaign controversies. The Huffington Post reported the donation as “ethically questionable,” and The Hill ran an article titled “Donald Trump’s $25,000 Pam Bondi problem.”

Fox News, on the other hand, has yet to cover the Bondi donation story and instead spent Tuesday obsessing over Hillary Clinton coughing during a rally, bringing it up at least once every hour and raising unsubstantiated questions about the Democratic presidential nominee’s health. Fox hosts called it a “hacking fit,” “a really uncomfortable moment,” baselessly linked it to her 2012 concussion and questioned whether it could “impact voters.”

According to a Media Matters analysis Fox News didn’t devote a single segment to the Bondi story during its 6 a.m through 1 p.m September 6 programming, with the only mention coming from guest David Goodfriend, a Clinton supporter, who briefly brought up the story during a segment about Bill Clinton’s role as an honorary chair at a for-profit college.

The Trump Foundation’s illegal donation is just the latest in several controversies surrounding the Trump campaign that Fox has failed to report on. In September, 2015, Fox ignored the assault of a Hispanic man in Boston after the attackers cited Donald Trump as their inspiration.” Fox also ignored the report that Roger Ailes is acting as an adviser to Trump after being ousted as the network's CEO amid sexual harassment allegations. In June, Fox’s Bill O’Reilly ignored the most embarrassing aspects of the candidate’s FEC report, and most recently in August, the network failed to mention a Mother Jones report revealing that Trump’s modeling agency, Trump Model Management, “profited from using foreign models who came to the United States on tourist visas that did not permit them to work here.

Methodology: Media Matters searched the Snapstream transcript database separately for the terms “Cough,” “Bondi,” and “Florida Attorney General” on Fox News Channel from 6 a.m. through1 p.m. on September 6.