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Corey Lewandowski

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  • Report: Trump Considering CNN’s Corey Lewandowski For RNC Chairman

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is reportedly considering CNN contributor and former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski for chairman of the Republican National Committee, highlighting CNN’s months-long ethical morass of employing Lewandowski while he was simultaneously working with the Trump campaign.

    According to a report from NBC News, if current chairman Reince Priebus decides not to stay on should Trump win the presidency, Trump’s transition team is “talking about former campaign manager and current CNN contributor Corey Lewandowski or current deputy campaign manager David Bossie as possible options.” The choice of Lewandowski, according to these advisers, “would send a message that Trump won't forget his base.”

    Many have criticized CNN for employing Lewandowski as an analyst while he was still receiving payments from the Trump campaign, advising the Trump campaign, working on debate prep for the Trump campaign, traveling with the Trump campaign, and campaigning with Trump. Illustrating Lewandowski’s continuing ties to Trump, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway on November 4 tweeted a photo of herself and Lewandowski, writing, “#teamwork.” Despite these concerns, CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker has stood by the network’s decision to employ Lewandowski, claiming that CNN has a responsibility “to represent those 13-14 million voters who have voted for” Trump, rather than to provide viewers with accurate analysis.

    Sign Media Matterspetition and tell CNN to cut ties with Corey Lewandowski immediately.

  • Journalists Condemn CNN's Lewandowski Embarrassment After Trump Campaign Manager's "#teamwork" Tweet

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    CNN’s ethical dilemma over its employment of Corey Lewandowski, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, as a political analyst was on display once again when current campaign manager Kellyanne Conway tweeted a picture of her and Lewandowski with the caption “#teamwork #NH.”

    CNN’s use of on-air Trump surrogates has drawn widespread condemnation, with media critics pointing out that the practice has undercut the “work of [CNN’s] journalists.” Despite these concerns, CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker has stood by the network’s decision to give Trump surrogates a platform to spread lies and derogatory rhetoric, claiming that CNN has a responsibility “to represent those 13-14 million voters who have voted for” Trump, rather than to provide viewers with accurate analysis.

    Lewandowski has been at the center of CNN’s ethical dilemma, with many criticizing the network for employing him as an analyst while he was still receiving payments from the Trump campaign, advising the Trump campaign, working on debate prep for the Trump campaign, traveling with the Trump campaign, and campaigning with Trump.

    A week after calling on the “@CNN Dream Team” of Trump surrogates to “stay strong,” on November 4, current Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway tweeted a picture of her, press secretary Hope Hicks, and Lewandowski, captioning the tweet “#teamwork.” The tweet spurred criticism from members of the media, with The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple saying it “should shame everyone at CNN” and noting that “now we know that officially and unequivocally, the Trump campaign regards a paid CNN commentator as part of the team.” Others called the tweet -- and what it signifies about the relationship between a CNN analyst and the Trump campaign -- “totally inappropriate.”

    Sign Media Matters petition and tell CNN to cut ties with Corey Lewandowski immediately.

  • NY Times Executive Editor: CNN And Fox Campaign Coverage Is “Bad For Democracy And Those Institutions”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet condemned U.S. cable news -- particularly CNN and Fox News -- for their “ridiculous” presidential campaign coverage in an interview with the Financial Times, accusing the networks of, as the paper described it, “blurring the line between entertainment and news and pandering to partisan viewers.”

    In the interview, Baquet criticized CNN’s hiring of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, saying, “I’m sorry, that is outrageous. I cannot fathom that,” and calling Lewandowski “a political shill.” CNN created an ethical nightmare for the network when it hired Lewandowski, who still advises the Trump campaign, probably cannot legally disparage his former boss, and was paid simultaneously by CNN and the Trump campaign for months. CNN has also paid surrogates to go on air and defend Trump’s many false and offensive statements at almost any length.

    Baquet was “most critical of Fox News” in his interview, the Financial Times reported, noting that the network “‘at its heart is not a journalistic institution.’” Baquet described Fox’s coverage as “‘some weird mix of a little bit of journalism, a little bit of entertainment, a little bit of pandering to a particular audience.’” Fox served as a safe space for Trump for weeks before the first presidential debate as he managed to almost entirely avoid being interviewed on other networks, and during the Republican primaries, Fox gave Trump more than double the airtime of any other Republican candidate. In addition, Fox prime-time host Sean Hannity endorsed Trump following the primaries, has given Trump more than $31 million in free publicity, serves as an informal adviser to Trump, and has defended his softball coverage of Trump by asserting that he’s “not a journalist.”

    Baquet concluded that the two networks’ conduct is “in the long run, bad for democracy and those institutions,” noting that Trump is “a product of that world.” From the October 28 Financial Times interview:

    US cable news networks have played a “ridiculous” role in the presidential campaign by blurring the line between entertainment and news and pandering to partisan viewers, Dean Baquet, executive editor of the New York Times, has said.

    Mr Baquet said CNN had been wrong to hire Corey Lewandowski, former campaign manager for Donald Trump, as a commentator and was in danger of damaging both itself and democracy. “I’m sorry, that is outrageous. I cannot fathom that,” he said of Mr Lewandowski’s onscreen role, describing him as “a political shill”.

    Mr Baquet, in an interview in London to mark the New York Times’ digital expansion internationally, was most critical of Fox News, the rightwing news network owned by 21st Century Fox, and its former chairman Roger Ailes. Mr Ailes resigned in July following accusations that he sexually harassed female staff, which he denies.

    “Fox News at its heart is not a journalistic institution. Megyn Kelly [a Fox presenter] is a great journalist, Chris Wallace is a great journalist, but it is some weird mix of a little bit of journalism, a little bit of entertainment, a little bit of pandering to a particular audience … I don’t think Roger Ailes will go down as one of the great journalists of his time.”

    Mr Baquet described the conduct of Fox News and CNN as “in the long run, bad for democracy and those institutions … This mix of entertainment and news, and news masquerading as entertainment, is kind of funny except that we now have a guy who is a product of that world nominated as Republican presidential candidate.” 

  • Trump Campaign Manager Tells "Dream Team" Of Pro-Trump Paid CNN Contributors To "Stay Strong" 

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, tweeted out encouragement and praise to the campaign’s “dream team” of pro-Trump CNN contributors, underscoring CNN’s ongoing Trump surrogate problem.

    Over the course of the 2016 election, CNN hired four Trump supporters -- Kayleigh McEnany, Scottie Nell Hughes, Jeffrey Lord and former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski -- explicitly to defend Trump on air. While on CNN, Lord defended Trump’s attacks against a Gold Star family and turned a discussion of Trump’s hesitance to disavow David Duke into an argument about whether Democrats used to support the KKK. Lewandowski has revived Trump’s birther claims against President Obama and recommending that the Republican nominee sue The New York Times “into oblivion.” McEnany defended Trump’s claim that Obama is the “founder of ISIS,” Hughes attacked Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Tim Kaine’s use of Spanish, and both Hughes and McEnany have defended Trump against multiple sexual assault accusations.

    Lewandowski in particular has been an ethical nightmare for CNN; he likely has a non-disparagement agreement with the Trump campaign, was hired while he was still being paid severance by Trump’s campaign, has continued to do “consulting work” for Trump, and recently joined the campaign for events in Maine and New Jersey.

    Jeff Zucker, the network’s president, defend hiring Trump surrogates as paid CNN contributors, claiming they represent the “14 million people who voted for” Trump.

     

    On October 27, Conway praised the “members of our @CNN Dream Team” for “battling a daily deluge of spin & sophistry,” and urged them to “stay strong”:

  • Media Critics: CNN’s Use Of Pro-Trump Surrogates Undercuts The Network’s Journalism

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    Media critics say CNN’s use of paid pro-Trump surrogates has undercut the network’s journalism and the “goal of informing its audience.”

    After the third and final presidential debate, Trump surrogates scrambled to spin Donald Trump’s statement that he may not accept the results of the election, putting forward a litany of absurd claims. On CNN, that role was filled by the network’s roster of paid contributors who were specifically hired for their willingness to defend Trump.

    New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen criticized the “candidate surrogate” system CNN invested in during this campaign cycle, explaining that CNN’s “Surrogates are unwilling to defend Trump, so they change him into a man more defensible.” He added that because CNN’s Trump surrogates frequently attempt to mislead the network’s audience, CNN has “wasted our time, undermined the work of their journalists, and made the election-year discussion more opaque [than] it would have been if they had never invited these people on set.”

    The Columbia Journalism Review’s David Uberti similarly wrote that having the Trump surrogates on-air to spin the widely condemned remarks made by Trump during the debate “overstepped CNN’s reporting and undercut its purported goal of informing its audience”:

    The consensus headline from the third and final presidential debate was Republican candidate Donald Trump’s refusal to commit to accepting the 2016 election results. It was a stunning rebuke of American political norms from the nominee of a major political party, and it quickly dominated coverage online Wednesday night and in major print newspapers Thursday morning.The Associated Press’ lede said Trump is “threatening to upend a fundamental pillar of American democracy.”

    At CNN, however, confusion initially reigned. The network’s journalists expressed shock at Trump’s comments within seconds of the debate’s conclusion. “One of the most stunning things I’ve ever heard in a presidential debate, ever,” said Jake Tapper, the network’s chief Washington correspondent.

    […]

    But pro-Trump contributors attempted to muddle this point during a panel discussion after the debate, when viewership was likely highest. Their baseless speculation that the election might somehow be rigged overstepped CNN’s reporting and undercut its purported goal of informing its audience. The comments, which drew stern rebuttals from other CNN on-air talent, highlight how the network’s pursuit of the appearance of objectivity in 2016 has distorted its final product on television. It also provides a clear example of how the channel’s model puts CNN journalists in the awkward position of fact-checking CNN contributors in real time.

    Uberti concluded: “CNN pays pro-Trump contributors to provide it with a shinier veneer of objectivity. But it’s become all too clear in recent months that this mission actively harms its journalists’ pursuit of the truth. The news organization must clarify where its real priorities lie.”

    CNN’s reliance on Trump surrogates to provide defense for a “candidate who doesn’t exist” has come under increased scrutiny over recent weeks, with their decision to hire former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who was still receiving payment from the Trump campaign, as a paid political analyst.

    Media Matters’ Carlos Maza highlighted CNN’s Trump surrogate problem, noting how surrogates refuse to answer legitimate questions about Trump’s positions and controversies and instead point unrelated discussions that devolve into personal attacks.

     

  • Journalist Who Covered 2000 Florida Election Recount: “No Comparison” With Trump’s “Rigged Election” Claim

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Jim Kuhnhenn, a journalist who covered the Florida recount in the 2000 presidential election for Knight Ridder newspapers, dismantled the spin from supporters of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump who cited the 2000 recount to defend Trump’s refusal at the third presidential debate to say that he would accept the results of the election.

    Trump has said the election may be “rigged” for months, a claim that comes straight from his conspiracy theorist allies. Trump’s claim -- which has been called “anti-American,” “dangerous,” and “a fundamental challenge to a pillar of democracy” -- has been bolstered by his surrogates and media allies like CNN’s Corey Lewandowski and Fox News’ Sean Hannity.

    On October 19, the night of the third presidential election, Kuhnhenn joined a number of other reporters who said that the comparison between Trump’s “rigged election” claim and former Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore not immediately conceding the 2000 election is inaccurate. Kuhnhenn explained that there is “no comparison” because “the dispute in Florida was about … whether votes had been properly counted. Not about fraud”:

  • The Washington Post: CNN’s Zucker Defends Corey Lewandowski And Ignores The Ethical Problems With His Employment

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple called out CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker for skirting the issue of hiring former Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski by offering a dishonest defense of the decision.

    CNN hired the Republican presidential nominee’s former campaign manager in June, a week after he was fired from the campaign for allegedly manhandling a reporter. Since joining the news organization, Lewandowski has echoed and defended Trump’s most questionable statements, including reviving Trump’s birther claims against President Obama and recommending that the Republican nominee sue The New York Times “into oblivion.”

    Jeff Zucker’s decision to hire Lewandowski came under fire after it was discovered that he was still being paid by the Trump campaign, which CNN said was severance pay. In August, Lewandowski announced on Twitter he was joining Donald Trump and his campaign in New Hampshire. In September, The Washington Post discovered Lewandowski was doing “consulting work” for Trump, and he recently joined the campaign for more events in Maine and New Jersey.

    Zucker defended hiring Corey Lewandowski during an October 14 interview at the Harvard Institute of Politics, claiming it is necessary to have someone who represents the “14 million people who voted for” Donald Trump, and that opposition to Lewandowski’s presence at CNN is “because they don’t like the idea of the Trump candidacy.” Wemple discounted Zucker’s defense, explaining that “the critical case against” employing Lewandowski “rests on ethical considerations.” From Wemple’s October 17 Washington Post blog post:      

    In an extensive interview on Friday at the Harvard Institute of Politics, CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker faced a question about the No. 1 ethical issue facing the 24/7 cable network over the course of campaign 2016. “What was your thought process in hiring [Donald] Trump’s former campaign manager and surrogates in general and where do you draw the line for CNN between reporting on the campaign and becoming a mouthpiece for the campaigns?” asked a member of the audience.

    No stranger to tough questions about CNN’s moves, Zucker, a Harvard graduate, took this one in stride. For months, critics of the channel have ripped the June decision to hire Corey Lewandowski just after he’d been fired from his job as Donald Trump’s campaign manager. As he broke into the CNN commentating lineup, he was asked about any nondisclosure and non disparagement clauses that might swamp his candor. His responses were unconvincing. Then CNN revealed that he was still receiving severance from the Trump campaign — payments that continued in July and August; a final pay-out occurred last month.

    [...]

    Speaking specifically to the Lewandowski situation, Zucker said this: “So, look, you know — the Trump surrogate voices, including Corey Lewandowski … are there to represent those 13-14 million voters who have voted for him. Now, I know that there’s are a lot of people who don’t like Corey Lewandowski or the other Trump surrogates that we have on staff,” he said. “I think a lot of that is because they don’t like the idea of the Trump candidacy and that’s just a projection of ‘How could you have those people on the set?’ Well, we have them on the set because somebody’s got to represent 14 million people who voted for the guy. I understand that there are people who might not like that, who might not like those people who are supporting him, but that’s what happened.”

    CNN is entitled to rejigger its lineup of commentators in reaction to political events. Such is its prerogative. What it may not do, however, is recast the controversy over Lewandowski’s employment as a matter of taste. Though some folks surely object to Lewandowski because they simply do not like him, the critical case against the move rests on ethical considerations. Lewandowski was hired fresh off the Trump campaign, and evidence is strong that he remains part of its inner circle, as both Politico and the New York Times reported last month.

    [...]

    Though many commentators have certain loyalties and affections, Lewandowski is all but prohibited from indulging in Trump-oriented skepticism while on CNN airwaves. That is the problem with Lewandowski. Not that certain people don’t like him.

  • CNN’s Corey Lewandowski Joined Trump For Campaign Events This Weekend

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    Campaign reporters spotted CNN contributor and former Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski joining the campaign’s motorcade and stepping off Trump’s plane as the Republican presidential nominee traveled to campaign events on Saturday, raising more questions for CNN about its decision to continue employing Lewandowski despite the obvious ethical problems in doing so.

    CNN’s decision to hire Lewandowski has been widely criticized as an ethical morass by media ethicists and journalists who have condemned the network for months. Lewandowski’s continued involvement with the Trump campaign, his likely non-disparagement agreement with Trump, and his penchant for pushing Trump talking points on air all raise serious questions about his continued employment at CNN. CNN’s employment of Lewandowski contradicts the network’s previous stance that contributors paid by a campaign “would not be permitted.”

    According to CNN, Lewandowski’s supposed severance pay ended in late September, as he was paid off “in one lump sum”; he had previously received monthly payments from the Trump campaign following his termination even while drawing a paycheck as a CNN contributor, a practice which was to continue for the rest of the year.

    In recent days, Lewandowski has been on CNN defending Trump’s bragging about committing sexual assault and attempting to discredit some of the women who have accused Trump of assaulting them. But after Trump’s arguably worst week of the campaign so far, several reporters covering the Trump campaign spotted Lewandowski traveling with Trump to campaign events in Maine and New Jersey on October 15:

    Sign Media Matterspetition and tell CNN to cut ties with Corey Lewandowski immediately.

  • CNN Is Paying For Pro-Trump Sexual Assault Apologism

    Blog ››› ››› CARLOS MAZA

    CNN’s on-staff Trump apologists have reacted to allegations about Trump’s history of sexual harassment and assault by smearing the accusers, downplaying the severity of Trump’s comments and alleged behavior, and trivializing the impact of sexual assault. And CNN is paying them to do it.

    For months, CNN has been criticized for its decision to hire and pay a number of professional Trump surrogates -- people the network puts on air to downplay and dismiss Trump’s frequent campaign controversies.

    Since The Washington Post published 2005 audio of Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women, CNN’s Trump surrogates -- Corey Lewandowski, Jeffrey Lord, Kayleigh McEnany, and Scottie Nell Hughes -- have been playing defense for their candidate by dismissing the comments as “locker room” talk, denying that Trump was talking about sexual assault, calling the controversy a “distraction,” blaming his comments on 50 Shades of Grey, accusing critics of being “politically motivated,” and generally downplaying the significance of a major party’s presidential candidate talking so flippantly about groping women without their consent. “Nobody cares,” announced Trump’s former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski.

    Those CNN surrogates were forced to change their message after multiple news outlets reported victims’ allegations of being sexually assaulted by Trump. Following their candidate’s lead, the network’s professional Trump apologists have repeatedly attacked the credibility of the accusers, claimed the media is ginning up the story to distract from Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, and attempted to derail segments about the accusations by bringing up bogus attacks on Clinton’s work as a court-appointed defense attorney in the 1970s.

    It goes without saying that the reaction of CNN’s Trump surrogates has been deplorable -- a train wreck of normalizing and making excuses for sexual assault. In their rush to protect Trump, CNN’s Trump surrogates have described talk of sexual assault as something mundane, ordinary, and even expected. “No woman woke up affected by these words,” declared CNN’s Scottie Nell Hughes, ignoring the tremendous harm inherent when men talk about women as sexual objects to be dominated or acted upon. The message to viewers is clear: talking about sexually assaulting women is fine, so long as you’re behind closed doors and don’t actually go through with it.

    Moreover, CNN’s surrogates are putting on a master class on why women who experience sexual assault frequently don’t come forward with their stories -- using their national platform to paint Trump’s accusers as liars, political operatives, and villains in the name of defending Trump. Admitting that you’ve been victimized by a major party’s presidential nominee is hard enough. Having to see your credibility repeatedly questioned on national TV is unimaginable.

    But what makes CNN’s situation so uniquely grotesque is that the network is paying these surrogates to be professional Trump attack dogs. And in this case, it’s the surrogates’ jobs to find any way to defend their candidate on national television, even if it means downplaying the problem of sexual violence or attacking Trump’s accusers. In other words, CNN is giving these surrogates a financial incentive -- and national platform -- to peddle some of the most damaging and harmful tropes about survivors of sexual assault.

    It’s one thing for Trump’s campaign to engage in the most toxic kind of sexual assault apologism. It’s quite another for a national news network to sponsor it.

  • VIDEO: CNN Has A Trump Surrogate Problem

    The Network Is Paying Professional Trump Supporters To Derail Negative Segments About Trump

    Blog ››› ››› CARLOS MAZA & COLEMAN LOWNDES

    CNN’s decision to hire and pay full-time Trump apologists -- supporters who are willing to go on air and defend Trump’s missteps -- has resulted in some of the most explosive and viral news segments of the election. But it’s also turned CNN’s election coverage into a series of ridiculous, uninformative screaming matches that mainstream bullshit in the name of “balance.”

    Over the course of the 2016 election, CNN hired four Trump supporters -- Kayleigh McEnany, Scottie Nell Hughes, Jeffrey Lord, and Corey Lewandowski -- to act as full-time Trump surrogates and defend their candidate on-air. CNN has defended its hirings by suggesting that surrogates like Lewandowski are needed to provide “balance,” especially after several of CNN’s traditional Republican commentators expressed their opposition to the GOP presidential nominee.

    CNN’s decision to hire professional Trump apologists has made for some fascinating -- if not excruciating -- television. Their appearances frequently result in screaming matches, with hosts and other panelists trying desperately (and fruitlessly) to deal with the surrogates’ barrage of talking points, misdirection, and blind stubbornness. The Trump surrogates do a masterful job of avoiding being pinned down -- they change the subject, argue in circles, make things up, and generally do whatever they can to sidetrack any negative discussion about Trump.

    So a segment about Trump’s hesitance to disavow David Duke turns into an absurd argument about whether Democrats used to support the KKK.

    A segment on Trump’s attacks on Alicia Machado’s weight becomes a debate about whether it’s actually offensive to be called an “eating machine.”

    And a segment about Trump’s recorded comments describing sexually assaulting women gets sidetracked into a decade-old smear about Hillary Clinton’s work as a court-appointed defense attorney in the 1970s..

    By the end of most segments, everyone else on the panel is yelling, in shock, or has been flustered to the point of giving up.

    This isn’t entirely the fault of the professional Trump surrogates. CNN pays them to be Trump apologists; their jobs depend on them defending their candidate regardless of how ridiculous it makes them sound. In other words, the network incentivizes them to be intractable.

    That’s especially true in the case of Lewandowski, who is still effectively working for -- and, until recently, being paid by -- the Trump campaign while being employed at CNN. Lewandowski likely signed a non-disparagement agreement with the Trump campaign, meaning he can’t speak ill of his former boss on CNN even if he wanted to.

    None of this is meant to suggest that Trump gets a free pass on the network. CNN’s Trump surrogates are regularly grilled and challenged, both by other panelists and by hosts.

    And it all makes for highly entertaining reality television.

    But for a news network, these segments are a disaster. These constant screaming matches offer nothing of substance to audiences who want to make sense of the election. Instead, they desensitize voters to bullshit -- elevating ridiculous and even blatantly dishonest defenses of Trump’s campaign into mainstream political debates. The presence of CNN’s Trump surrogates makes any segment they appear in more likely to devolve into the kind of absurdist bickering that makes many viewers tune out or give up on being politically engaged altogether.

    If CNN wants to feature pro-Trump voices in its election coverage, it can rely on guests who actually work for the campaign. But rewarding professional bullshit artists like Hughes, McEnany, Lord, and Lewandowski with CNN salaries and job titles sets a dangerous precedent for a news network: a move toward “balance” even when it comes at the cost of reasonable, useful coverage.

  • Pro-Trump Spin On Cable News Goes Off The Rails

    ››› ››› PAM VOGEL

    Following several new reports of women alleging Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump had sexually harassed or sexually assaulted them, Trump campaign surrogates’ defenses took a bizarre turn. Here’s what Trump’s surrogates and media allies had to say during news appearances in the last day, which included dismissing the realities of sexual assault and attempting to pivot to old, debunked “scandals.”

  • Pundits Who Question The Timing Of Sexual Assault Allegations Against Trump Are Just Stigmatizing The Victims

    Blog ››› ››› KATIE SULLIVAN

    Several right-wing media figures are lending credence to attempts by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign and surrogates to undermine accusations from a growing number of women that the candidate sexually assaulted them by calling into question the timing of the stories. Some right-wing media figures are calling the timing “fishy” and saying that “it’s good to be skeptical,” but the reports all explain the timing: Trump’s denial at the second presidential debate that he had committed sexual assault was the catalyst for the women to come forward. The Trump campaign’s false timing talking point also ignores the many valid reasons women don’t report sexual assault.

    On October 12, three newspapers published accounts from four women who say Trump sexually assaulted them The New York Times told the stories of two women who say Trump “touched them inappropriately,” one of them reporting that he groped her on a plane, and the other saying he kissed her without her consent. A People magazine writer recounted Trump “pushing [her] against the wall and forcing his tongue down [her] throat.” And a fourth woman told The Palm Beach Post that she was “groped by Trump at Mar-a-Lago.”

    These reports came just days after Trump, during the October 9 presidential debate told CNN’s Anderson Cooper “No, I have not” assaulted women as he described in a recently released 2005 Access Hollywood video. In the video, Trump bragged about kissing and grabbing women and said, “I don’t even wait. … When you’re a star, they let you do anything.”

    Trump’s campaign has denied the accusations, calling the Times report a “coordinated character assassination” and claiming that to “reach back decades in an attempt to smear Mr. Trump trivializes sexual assault.” Numerous right-wing media figures are helping to carry water for these claims. On the October 13 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade asked Trump surrogate Ben Carson, “You’re wondering why now, the timing?” and Carson claimed, “There's an atmosphere that's been created by The New York Times and others that says, look, if you’re willing to come out and say something, we'll give you fame, we'll give you whatever you need.” CNN commentator Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s former campaign manager who is still a campaign adviser, also questioned the timing of the reports, saying, “What I do find very interesting is the timing of this. … They wait until 25 days before an election to bring out an incident.”

    Other right-wing media figures and outlets have picked up this line as well. MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough argued that “it’s good to be skeptical when you have stories that are 30 years old that come out days before an election.” He added that, while he’s “not skeptical of the stories,” “if this had happened to me 30 years ago, I would say, ‘This would be a really good time for me to come forward.’ Right? Right? Instead of now.” Fox’s Howard Kurtz said, “I think it’s fair to question why is this coming out now. ... It does sort of raise questions about the timing.” The right-wing blog HotAir asked, “Are we simply going to ignore the awfully convenient timing of this batch of accusations in defiance of reason and the normal rules of engagement in political warfare?” And Townhall’s Matt Vespa wrote that the timing of the reports “sounds like a coordinated effort by the Democrat-media complex,” adding that “there’s something incredibly fishy about all of these incidents coming out now as opposed to over a year ago” during the primaries or after the Republican National Convention when Trump’s campaign was struggling.

    This defense of Trump reflects tactics used to defend former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes -- who is currently advising Trump -- after former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against him. Carlson alleged that she was fired from Fox “because she refused to sleep with” Ailes. Defenders of Ailes attacked Carlson’s account by suggesting it was suspicious that her allegations came after she was terminated.

    All of the reports giving voices to Trump’s accusers explained that the Access Hollywood video and Trump’s denial at the presidential debate were the trigger for the women coming forward. According to the Times, a friend of one of the women, Jessica Leeds, “encouraged her to tell her story to the news media. Ms. Leeds had resisted until Sunday’s debate, which she watched with Ms. Ross.” And People’s Natasha Stoynoff explained in her personal account why she did not come forward at the time and hasn’t spoken publicly until now:

    But, like many women, I was ashamed and blamed myself for his transgression. I minimized it (“It’s not like he raped me…”); I doubted my recollection and my reaction. I was afraid that a famous, powerful, wealthy man could and would discredit and destroy me, especially if I got his coveted PEOPLE feature killed

    [...]

    Now he’s running for president of our country. The other day, I listened to him talk about how he treats women on the Access Hollywood tape. I felt a strong mix of emotions, but shock wasn’t one of them.

    I was relieved. I finally understood for sure that I was not to blame for his inappropriate behavior. I had not been singled out. As he explained to Billy Bush, it was his usual modus operandi with women. I felt deep regret for not speaking out at the time. What if he had done worse to other female reporters at the magazine since then because I hadn’t warned them?

    And lastly, I felt violated and muzzled all over again.

    During the presidential debate, Donald Trump lied about kissing women without their consent. I should know. His actions made me feel bad for a very long time.

    They still do.

    CNN’s New Day modeled how media must reject Trump’s defense -- which is based on disparaging the victims’ characters -- while reporting on these stories: The Daily Beast’s Jackie Kucinich pointed out that the women who came forward all explained that Trump’s debate answer motivated them to do so, and co-host Alisyn Camerota noted that women often do not report sexual assault because they are “embarrassed and humiliated.”

    CHRIS CUOMO (CO-HOST): Jackie, the big pushback from the campaign thus far -- other than we're going to sue, this is all a lie -- is why now? Why did they wait so long to come forward? Conveniently timed to hurt our campaign here towards the end of the election. What do you make of that?

    JACKIE KUCINICH: Well, in the New York Times story, what these women said was that after they heard Donald Trump make that denial during the debate is when they felt like they were compelled to come forward. So, that seems to be the answer to that question. And, if women were calling different news outlets, there's a story in The Palm Beach Post, there’s the People magazine story. Once you’re seeing that, it does seem to be triggered by what Donald Trump said in the debate.

    ALISYN CAMEROTA (CO-HOST): And there’s another reason, and that is that women are afraid to come forward -- not afraid, women are embarrassed, women are humiliated. This is an experience that you do not relish ever telling in public and that is what this same entertainment reporter from People magazine writes about.