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  • As hundreds of newspapers plan editorials to denounce Trump’s war on the press, Fox hosts attack the newspapers

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Fox News and Fox Business hosts are slamming hundreds of newspapers as “anti-Trump” and “fake news” for coordinating to publish editorials on August 16 denouncing President Donald Trump’s war on the press.

    Trump and his administration publicly attacked news organizations and specific journalists hundreds of times in just his first year in office. Though he routinely attacked news organizations during his presidential campaign and the transition period between his election and inauguration, Trump’s anti-press rhetoric reached a new low in February 2017, when he began calling news organizations “the enemy of the American people”:

    Trump repeated his comments multiple times, though he eventually added the disclaimer that only “fake news” is “the enemy of the people” -- a bogus claim because he’s spent years labeling a broad range of mainstream news outlets and journalists as “fake news.”

    Many newspapers have decided that they’ve had enough and are pushing back. Led by The Boston Globe, more than 100 newspaper editorial boards around the country are reportedly planning to publish editorials on August 16 “on the dangers of the administration’s assault on the press.” Each newspaper will be writing its own editorial in this coordinated effort.

    Fox, which has both served as a platform for Trump’s attacks on the press and promoted his attacks on its own, is now criticizing the newspapers participating in this effort as anti-Trump and “fake news.” On August 13, five Fox News and Fox Business hosts took offense to the coordinated editorial release protesting Trump’s anti-press rhetoric. Fox & Friends First co-host Rob Schmitt said these newspapers are releasing editorials “attacking the president” and that “there is just kind of a mainstream, somewhat leftist bias coming from a lot of our media companies.” Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy commented that The Boston Globe “said essentially they’re going after the president.” Varney & Co. guest host Ashley Webster and Wall Street Journal editorial board member James Freeman both defended Trump’s rhetoric that the media are “the enemy of the people,” pushing Trump’s ridiculous claim that his critique applies only to “fake news.” Fox Business host Lou Dobbs referred to the planned editorials as “anti-Trump screeds” by “coordinated national left-wing fake news.” And Fox host Laura Ingraham, while criticizing media coverage of antifa actions against reporters, mocked the newspapers’ coordinated effort as “not collusion or anything.”

  • Report: White House is waiving ethics rules so former Fox co-President Bill Shine can talk to the network

    Blog ››› ››› GRACE BENNETT


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    An August 13 story in The Daily Beast reported that the Trump administration has chosen to waive ethics laws so that newly appointed Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications Bill Shine, who formerly served as co-president of Fox News, can communicate with his former colleagues at Fox. According to The Daily Beast, the administration claims that it is in “the public interest” for both Shine and economic adviser Larry Kudlow (who formerly worked at CNBC), to be “excused from provisions of the law, which seeks to prevent administration officials from advancing the financial interests of relatives or former employers.” The article continued:

    “The Administration has an interest in you interacting with Covered Organizations such as Fox News,” wrote White House counsel Don McGahn in a July 13 memo granting an ethics waivers to Shine, a former Fox executive. “[T]he need for your services outweighs the concern that a reasonable person may question the integrity of the White House Office’s programs and operations.”

    Kudlow, a former CNBC host, received a similar waiver allowing him to communicate with former colleagues.

    Including Shine and Kudlow, the White House has granted a total of 20 waivers to provisions of various federal ethics laws and the ethics pledge that President Trump instituted by executive order the week he took office. Federal agencies have granted many more such waivers.

    The Trump team’s decision to ignore ethics guidelines in favor of its latest Fox employee-turned-White House aide is entirely in keeping with the administration's history of dismissing ethics guidlines. It's also yet another example of the increasingly close relationship between Fox News and the Trump administration.

    Shine has a “professional history steeped in extremism,” and his tenure at Fox was marked by his enabling of widespread sexual abuse at the network, which often included starting smear campaigns against women who made accusations of harassment or pushing them to settle and sign nondisclosure agreements. Shine was also referenced in a racial discrimination and harassment lawsuit while at Fox. The suit claimed that Shine “demonstrated an obsession with race when it comes to discussions with [one of the plaintiffs], including regularly asking him, 'how do Black people react to you' and 'how do you think White viewers look at you?'"

     

  • Sean Hannity turned over his radio show to Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Jay Sekulow to undermine the Mueller probe

    Giuliani: "Even conspiracy is not a crime"

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Fox News host Sean Hannity allowed Rudy Giuliani and Jay Sekulow to guest host the entire broadcast of Hannity’s radio show on August 10. The duo, who both work as personal lawyers for President Donald Trump, devoted substantial time to lobbing wild attacks on special counsel Robert Mueller’s "hoax" investigation into Trump and his campaign.

    Sekulow and Giuliani are regular guests on both Hannity’s Fox News show and his radio show, where they assist Hannity in pushing pro-Trump propaganda.

    Despite the ongoing prolonged back-and-forth between Trump’s legal team and Mueller about whether Trump will allow himself to be interviewed by Mueller’s team -- and the fact that Trump himself has called for Mueller’s investigation to be summarily ended -- Giuliani and Sekulow argued on Hannity’s show that the White House has given “unprecedented cooperation” to Mueller’s investigation.

    Giuliani also advanced his false claim that allowing Mueller to question Trump about his decision to fire former FBI director James Comey would be an impermissible “perjury trap.”

    As Jonathan Chait explained at New York magazine, a perjury trap “describes when prosecutors lure a witness into giving false testimony, usually for reasons other than covering up a crime, knowing they can prove the claim was false, and then nail them for perjury. … Asking Trump about his attempt to manipulate his FBI director is not a perjury trap. The question is not extraneous to a crime, it is a crime.”

    During the show, Giuliani also channeled Trump in denigrating the investigation as “illegitimate,” a “witch hunt,” and a “hoax.”

    Perhaps the most absurd moment occurred when Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett joined the show’s third hour. During a discussion where Jarrett, Sekulow, and Giuliani claimed that collusion cannot be a crime as a matter of law (they are wrong), Giuliani said, “Even conspiracy is not a crime. It’s got to be a conspiracy to commit a crime,” to which Jarrett responded, “Right, we conspire every day to have lunch, or breakfast, or whatever, that’s not a crime.”

  • Video: There's a housing discrimination crisis in America -- and coverage of the issue should reflect that

    Blog ››› ››› DAYANITA RAMESH & MILES LE


    Dayanita Ramesh / Media Matters

    The Fair Housing Act was passed 50 years ago, but housing discrimination is still rampant, and media coverage of the issue is overly focused on President Donald Trump’s history of racism and discrimination in this arena. While his past is notable, it’s important for mainstream outlets to inform viewers about the widespread and complicated nature of housing discrimination by interviewing victims and highlighting fair housing research.

    The Fair Housing Act was supposed to protect the right to fair housing for all people. And yet the act is not fulfilling its goals, with unprecedented attacks from the Trump administration and continued discrimination by banks, lenders, landlords, and/or developers, against Black and Latinx people, the poor, the formerly incarcerated, LGBTQ people, people with disabilities, and single women who are looking to rent or buy a home. There were 28,181 reported complaints of housing discrimination in 2016, but according to the National Fair Housing Alliance, housing discrimination is seriously underreported. The organization estimates that there are actually over 4 million cases of housing discrimination each year in America.

    Mainstream television coverage of housing discrimination has been overly focused on Trump's personal history with discrimination. Mainstream news outlets are right to warn viewers about his history of racism and discrimination against Black people. However, mainstream outlets such as MSNBC and CNN should follow the lead of PBS and Democracy Now and use these opportunities to inform viewers about the issue, including by interviewing victims of housing discrimination and highlighting important fair housing research.

  • Fox is ignoring a health official’s testimony that the White House was warned separating families could hurt children 

    Blog ››› ››› GRACE BENNETT


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Fox News has yet to report on a public health official’s July 31 testimony to members of Congress that the Trump administration was warned that “any policy” involving the separation of immigrant families had the potential to cause  “traumatic psychological injury” to children. His testimony highlighted the administration’s willingness to separate families en mass despite official warnings about the consequences for children's health.

    The official, Cmdr. Jonathan White of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, testified that separating families “entails significant harm to children” and told lawmakers that he and the Office of Refugee Resettlement had raised that point with administration officials, who chose to pursue family separation anyway. As part of a “zero-tolerance” immigration policy, the administration separated nearly 3,000 children from their parents, and many of those children are already reportedly showing signs of psychological injury.

    Ignoring a story like this is typical of a network that serves essentially as a propaganda machine for President Donald Trump. Fox hosts and contributors rallied behind the administration’s cruel family separation policy; they joked about and downplayed child detention centers; they fearmongered about immigrants; they ignored stories that revealed the cruelty of the policy; and they demonstrated immense apathy toward the children, with one host, Brian Kilmeade, approving of the policy because, “these aren't our kids. ... It's not like [Trump] is doing this to the people of Idaho or Texas.” Fox even hosted a doctor to dismiss the health effects of keeping children separated from parents "in cages or in windowless rooms." Fox has repeatedly proved that its commitment to Trump outweighs its interest in humane policy, and its failure to report on the administration’s apathy toward the potential health effects of separation on kids is just the latest evidence.

    Methodology: Media Matters searched Snapstream for mentions of “injury,” “harm,” “children,” and “kids” on Fox News on July 31 and August 1 through the time of publication.