On This Week, Rudy Giuliani: “This is the reason you don’t let the president testify, our recollection keeps changing”
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When ABC News was caught in a disclosure scandal, Hannity went nuts
Sean Hannity is the perfectly crystallized representation of Trump-era punditry. Much like the president he slavishly devotes his entire programming schedule to deifying, Hannity is aggressively dishonest, unencumbered by anything remotely resembling a principle, and eager to rigorously impose harsh standards of conduct on his enemies that he would never dream of applying to his allies or himself. And, as with Trump, Hannity thrives despite his toxic, corrupt behavior because he operates within the poisonous world of conservative politics where the myopic pursuit of power and wealth are the only things that matter.
That brings us to yesterday’s revelation that Hannity was the mystery client of Trump attorney Michael Cohen, who is currently under criminal investigation by federal prosecutors in New York. Hannity never disclosed his relationship with Cohen, even as he railed against the FBI raids on Cohen’s home and office last week, calling them a declaration of “legal war on the president” and part of an “overreaching witch hunt.”
This lack of disclosure comes nowhere close to being the worst abuse Hannity has committed, but it does help illustrate how Hannity exploits his utter lack of accountability and holds himself to a far laxer standard of conduct than he holds other media figures to.
For example, in May 2015, the conservative Washington Free Beacon reported that ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos had donated money to the Clinton Foundation and “had not previously disclosed it to ABC viewers, despite taking part in on-air discussions about the Clinton Foundation and its controversial relationship with foreign donors.” ABC News and Stephanopoulos recognized this as a breach of journalistic ethics (made all the more thorny by Stephanopoulos’ previous work as a Clinton campaign and White House staffer) and it was covered as such by the media. Stephanopoulos made a public apology to viewers, and the network acknowledged that he had broken rules about charitable giving by “failing to disclose it when covering the recent reports about the foundation.”
Hannity went wild with this story. “A major scandal developing tonight surrounding ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos who was forced to apologize earlier today over a huge conflict of interest after it was revealed that he donated $75,000 to the Clinton Foundation from 2012 to 2014,” Hannity crowed at the opening of his May 14, 2015, show. After quoting the “embattled anchor’s” apology for failing to disclose his donations on air, Hannity responded with a snide: “Gee, George, you think?”
Hannity interviewed the Free Beacon reporter who broke the story, kicking off his questioning by calling Stephanopoulos “such a hack” and asking: “How could he possibly have not known that he should reveal this? Do you believe that?” Hannity questioned whether ABC News “really did an investigation” and suggested that “George Stephanopoulos coordinated perhaps with the Clinton campaign here.”
“He didn't think to disclose this? I don't buy it for one minute!” Hannity continued later in the program. “I think he thought he'd get away with it and didn't disclose it. And I think ABC News is going to take a credibility hit,” he said, adding: “This goes to the credibility of a news organization.” Hannity closed the show by asking viewers: “Should George Stephanopoulos be punished by ABC News, and if so, what should that punishment be?”
Now let’s contrast the mocking attacks on Stephanopoulos’ lack of disclosure (and the attendant claims that the credibility of Stephanopoulos’ employer rested on how harshly it treated him) with Hannity’s self-serving and determinedly opaque explanation for why he neglected to disclose his own relationship with Michael Cohen.
“For hours and hours, the media has been absolutely apoplectic and hyperventilating over some breaking news that I was listed in court today as a client for longtime Trump attorney Michael Cohen,” Hannity said at the beginning of his April 16 show, offering himself as the wrongly maligned victim. When his own guest, lawyer Alan Dershowitz, lightly chided Hannity for not disclosing his ties to Cohen “when you talked about him on this show,” Hannity refused to hear it. “If you understand the nature of it, professor -- I’m going to deal with this later in the show,” he shot back. “I have the right to privacy. … It was such a minor relationship.”
When he finally did roll around to addressing the Cohen situation (at the end of the program) Hannity was by turns defensive and evasive, and he offered as little information as he possibly could. After once again slapping the media for its “wild speculation” and for going “absolutely insane” and providing “wall-to-wall, hour-by-hour coverage of yours truly,” Hannity claimed that he’d never paid Cohen and had only “occasional brief conversations with Michael Cohen … about legal questions I had, or I was looking for input and perspective.” Despite his earlier claim that he had in fact paid Cohen because he “definitely wanted attorney-client privilege,” Hannity insisted that “my discussions with Michael Cohen never rose to any level that I needed to tell anyone that I was asking him questions.”
That was it: a vague excuse that offered no concrete details as to the extent of their relationship (Hannity said he sought Cohen’s advice on real estate-related matters) packaged in a wounded attack on the media for even covering it. Hannity, meanwhile, is as deeply immersed in Trump’s world as one can be without actually being a Trump employee and/or family member, but all those unseemly (and unethical) ties to the president apparently have no significance to this supposed non-story.
Fox News (which, by Hannity’s standard, has its credibility on the line) has been silent on the Cohen issue, and there’s little reason to believe it will take any action against Hannity given that the network has already let him get away with stoking insane murder conspiracy theories. Network executives seem to be perfectly content to let Hannity tell whatever story he wants, and if it turns out later on that he lied, they won’t care about that either. Hannity, like Trump, thrives on lies, flagrant hypocrisy, corruption, and the promise of never facing serious consequences for anything he does.
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Loesch also misleads about lawsuit NRA supported that inhibited background check system
National Rifle Association (NRA) spokeswoman Dana Loesch on ABC’s This Week falsely claimed that, the NRA “created” the current gun background check system and whitewashed the NRA's role inhibiting the national background check system.
Discussing the Parkland, FL, shooting with ABC host George Stephanopolous, Loesch recycled the NRA lie that the organization “created” the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). In reality, the NRA fiercely opposed the 1993 Brady background check bill, which created NICS, and continued to lobby against it after its passage. Loesch also misled about Printz v. United States, an NRA-supported lawsuit that strongly inhibited NICS after the Supreme Court ruled for the NRA’s position. From the February 25 edition of ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOLOUS (HOST): Almost all Americans believe that background checks for all gun purchases make a huge difference. Recent poll from Quinnipiac. Ninety-seven percent of Americans support that. The NRA opposes it. We’ve seen all these NRA members I just cited and are now calling --
DANA LOESCH: Well, and I want to point out the question for that poll, by the way, was do you support background checks if it prevents those who are dangerous and terrorists et cetera from getting firearms and I think --
STEPHANOPOLOUS: So you think they just don’t work?
LOESCH: I think everybody supports background checks. And I want to point out that it was the NRA that created the NICS [National Instant Criminal Background Check System] system.
As it stands right now, only 38 states are reporting less than 80 percent of these convictions to the NICS system. That’s huge.
STEPHANOPOLOUS: And Dana, you know perfectly well the reason states aren’t mandated to go through that system is because of a lawsuit the NRA filed.
LOESCH: That's actually a grotesque misunderstanding. I’m sorry to say that in Printz vs. the United States -- that’s what you’re talking about -- that case that you’re specifically referring to, George, actually was a case where the federal government was trying to force states to implement and administer a federal program at the state level. However, that case that you’re citing, the one that the NRA contributed an amicus brief to, says that that case did not do anything to stop states from reporting dangerous people who have been criminally convicted to the federal government.
STEPHANOPOLOUS: Dana, as you know, the NRA has consistently sought to defund the background checks system, has fought against the background checks system. But I just want to ask a broader --
LOESCH: That’s not true, George. That’s not true. That’s not true. We created the NICS system, and we’re the ones for over 25 years who have been saying that these states need to report these dangerous [people].
Broadcast TV news neglected many critical climate change stories in 2017 while devoting most of its climate coverage to President Donald Trump. Seventy-nine percent of climate change coverage on the major corporate broadcast TV networks last year focused on statements or actions by the Trump administration, with heavy attention given to the president's decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement and to whether he accepts that human-caused climate change is a scientific reality. But the networks undercovered or ignored the ways that climate change had real-life impacts on people, the economy, national security, and the year’s extreme weather events -- a major oversight in a year when weather disasters killed hundreds of Americans, displaced hundreds of thousands more, and cost the economy in excess of $300 billion.
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The longest mention was a meager 20 seconds on NBC’s Meet The Press. Other shows were worse.
The day after the start of the second annual series of Women’s Marches all over the world, the major Sunday political talk shows were nearly silent on the historic protests, only briefly mentioning the topic across all five shows.
On January 20 and 21, one year after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, hundreds of thousands of protesters turned out in hundreds of marches and other events in the U.S. and worldwide to unite to support women’s rights. The protests emphasized encouraging women to engage in the political process and expressing shared disdain for the oppressive policies of the Trump administration. According to Politico, there were an estimated 600,000 attendees at the Los Angeles march alone. One of the March’s main events, called #PowerToThePolls, took place in Las Vegas, NV, on January 21 and aimed to register one million voters.The Women’s March described the effort as targeting “swing states to register new voters, engage impacted communities, harness our collective energy to advocate for policies and candidates that reflect our values, and collaborate with our partners to elect more women and progressives candidates to office.”
Despite the worldwide impact of the marches, the major Sunday political talk shows -- which include CNN’s State of the Union, ABC’s This Week, CBS’ Face the Nation, NBC’s Meet the Press, and Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday -- were nearly silent on the topic. These shows often set the tone and priorities for media coverage for the rest of the week.
On ABC’s This Week, host George Stephanopoulos briefly acknowledged the “Women’s Marches in hundreds of cities all across the country” in his opening monologue, and later in the show, panelist Karen Finney mentioned “all the people who were marching in the streets yesterday.” No one responded directly to her comments about the marches. On CBS’ Face The Nation, conservative outlet The Federalist’s publisher Ben Domenech noted the “pro-life March For Life that happens every year, followed by the Women’s March on the other side” while discussing Trump’s first year in office.
The only significant discussion, defined as a back-and-forth exchange between two or more people, of the weekend’s marches was on NBC’s Meet the Press, where panelists remarked on the event in a meager 20-second exchange. Host Chuck Todd also mentioned the “hundreds of thousands of women march[ing] across the country protesting the president, many with an eye towards more women winning office this November” in his opening monologue.
ABC invites sexist Fox News host to spout nonsense about Russian collusion, and they failed to confront him about sexual harassment
Fox host Brian Kilmeade appeared on a panel discussion during the October 29 edition of ABC’s This Week, where he was invited to spout falsehoods about the Trump-Russia dossier. Kilmeade was not, however, included in This Week's discussion of sexual harassment, despite his network -- and his own show's -- high-profile culture of sexual harassment.
Kilmeade has a history of not-so-smart commentary; but, more importantly, he's a Trump sycophant with an affinity toward pro-Trump propaganda. So it’s no surprise that Kilmeade used his appearance to attempt to scandalize reports that the Clinton campaign retained an opposition research firm for the partly verified Trump-Russia dossier. Right-wing media, including Kilmeade's show Fox & Friends, have worked to try to discredit special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, which, it was recently reported, has filed the first charges in connection with his team’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
In addition to being a Trump shill with a disinterest in facts, Kilmeade is also a toxic misogynist at a network with an infrastructure that enables serial sexual harassment and who has a pervasive history of degrading women on air. In 2014 Kilmeade said of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice assaulting his wife on an elevator, “The message is, take the stairs.” During another broadcast in 2014, Kilmeade introduced his female colleagues by saying, "Let's see if the girls have clothes on.” He continued: "If you're wearing something, please get naked. That goes for you too ladies." Kilmeade last year defended Trump against allegations of sexual harassment, falsely claiming that “none of” his accusers “are vetted.” And, notably, Kilmeade's former co-host Gretchen Carlson experienced extensive harassment and sexism during her time on Fox & Friends, including when in 2012, she walked off the set after Kilmeade remarked, “Women are everywhere. We’re letting them play golf and tennis now.” From Bloomberg Politics:
Kilmeade’s appearance comes amid mounting allegations of sexual harassment by women in Hollywood, Congress, and the news media (including his employer Fox News). ABC’s This Week even featured a panel discussion of these developments, but Kilmeade was not a participant on that panel. Just yesterday, Media Matters explained the importance of confronting Kilmeade over his employer’s toxic culture of sexual harassment.
Kilmeade isn’t the first misogynistic Fox News host to appear on This Week. Earlier this year, ABC scheduled noted racist and sexist Eric Bolling for a panel discussion. Bolling, formerly a co-host of The Five and The Specialists, left the network in September for reportedly sending unsolicited explicit pictures of himself to multiple female colleagues. Media Matters warned ABC about Bolling’s history before his appearance as well.
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Kilmeade routinely says dumb things and has a long history of misogyny
Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade, who has a history of making inept and degrading commentary, has inexplicably been invited to appear on ABC’s This Week on Sunday. The only defense for this invitation would be if the show is planning to discuss the culture of sexual harassment rampant in the media, particularly within Fox News, during the segment. Instead, the interview appears to be a part of the promotional tour for a book Kilmeade co-authored about a 45-minute battle during the War of 1812.
Explosive reports of sexual harassment in Hollywood and at major news networks have dominated the news cycle this month. Just in the past few days, new revelations have surfaced about Kilmeade’s employer, Fox News, attempting to cover up allegations of sexual harassment against former Fox host Bill O’Reilly and bully women who spoke out against him. Fox has spent only minutes addressing the issue on air.
There is no excuse to not ask Kilmeade about the toxic culture of sexual harassment that plagues the network that employs him, and in which he has personally participated. Kilmeade has a history of degrading women on Fox & Friends, a show he currently co-hosts with Steve Doocy and Ainsley Earhardt. Additionally, Kilmeade co-hosted Fox & Friends with former Fox host Gretchen Carlson who said in a complaint that co-host Steve Doocy "created a hostile work environment" and "engaged in a pattern and practice of severe and pervasive sexual harassment."
Kilmeade is a misogynist and an embarrassment to the television news industry. Rather than give him an opportunity to advertise his book for free, ABC has a responsibility to ask Kilmeade tough questions about his participation in the culture of sexual harassment and sexism Fox News appears committed to preserving.
ABC’s This Week, CBS’ Face the Nation, CNN’s State of the Union, Fox’s Fox News Sunday, and NBC’s Meet the Press all failed to mention Jared Kushner and other Trump officials used private email accounts
The October 1 editions of all the Sunday political talk shows failed to discuss the news that several White House officials in the Trump administration used private email accounts to conduct official government business, making themselves vulnerable to espionage from foreign entities.
On September 25, The New York Times reported that at least six White House advisors, including Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus, had used personal email accounts to conduct official government business. The Times’ story followed a Politico report that Jared Kushner, a senior advisor and President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, had used a private email account to conduct correspondence related to White House matters. Even though the story that White House advisors used personal email accounts for official business was reported several days ago, ABC’s This Week, CBS’ Face the Nation, CNN’s State of the Union, Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday, and NBC’s Meet the Press all failed to discuss it during their Sunday morning broadcasts.
As the Times notes, “Officials are supposed to use government emails for their official duties so their conversations are available to the public and those conducting oversight.” According to Politico, the National Security Agency (NSA) had “warned senior White House officials in classified briefings” against the “improper use of personal cellphones and email,” as it “could make them vulnerable to espionage” by foreign entities. By failing to discuss the news of the officials’ use of private accounts, Sunday political talk shows ignored a significant story and failed to inform their audiences of yet another example of the lack of transparency that has been an endemic in the Trump administration. The Sunday shows’ failure to report on officials’ use of personal email accounts is particularly shocking given the media’s obsessive focus on Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her time as Secretary of State throughout the 2016 election.
Methodology: Media Matters searched SnapStream for mentions of “emails,” “private email server,” “personal email,” and “private server” on the October 1 editions of ABC’s This Week, CBS’ Face the Nation, CNN’s State of the Union, Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday, and NBC’s Meet the Press.
NBC finally addressed connection in Irma coverage, after failing during Harvey, while ABC made only a cursory mention
After failing to note the impact of climate change on hurricanes in their coverage of Hurricane Harvey, ABC and NBC both discussed the link while covering Irma, Media Matters has found in a new analysis of coverage of the more recent storm. But NBC did a better job: It ran a segment that featured a scientist explaining the climate-hurricane connection, while ABC’s sole mention of climate change was cursory and failed to provide viewers with much information.
Media Matters also analyzed weekday prime-time cable news coverage of Irma and found that Fox News continued its pattern of dismissing climate change, while MSNBC provided extensive coverage of the link between climate change and hurricanes.
This new analysis of Irma coverage builds on a recent Media Matters study that looked at broadcast and cable news coverage of Hurricane Harvey.
Climate scientists have explained how climate change exacerbates some of the worst impacts of hurricanes like Harvey and Irma: Rising sea levels lead to worse storm surges; warmer temperatures increase the amount of moisture in the atmosphere and lead to more rainfall; and warmer ocean waters make the storms more intense.
Media Matters found that during Hurricane Harvey coverage from August 23 to September 7, ABC and NBC completely failed to discuss the link between climate change and hurricanes on any of their morning, nightly, or Sunday news shows. NBC did notably better during its coverage of Hurricane Irma, while ABC made only slight improvement, according to a new analysis of coverage from September 4 -- two days before Irma reached Puerto Rico -- to September 13.
On September 9, an NBC Nightly News segment featured an interview with Oscar Schofield, chair of the Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University, who explained, “The ocean is going to continue to warm, and the predictions from a lot of the climate scientists are that we're going to get more and more of these extreme events.” On that same day's episode of NBC's Today, correspondent Kerry Sanders introduced a segment about sea level rise by saying, “Whether you accept or don't what scientists say that global warming is raising our world's oceans, there's an undeniable fact here on Miami Beach: They’ve had to raise the sidewalks and roads … [because] much of Miami Beach goes under water.”
On the other hand, ABC’s sole mention of climate change during Irma coverage was brief and uninformative. After ABC meteorologist Ginger Zee answered viewer questions about Irma on the September 11 episode of Good Morning America, host George Stephanopoulos said, “I want to throw out one more question, because a lot of people look at these two back-to-back hurricanes -- two powerful hurricanes back-to-back -- and think there must be some connection to climate change.” Zee responded, “And I think it’s irresponsible not to talk about the warmth of the earth, and you have to get that," but then she went on to another subject and said nothing about how climate change influences storms.
In Irma coverage on the other broadcast networks, CBS aired two segments discussing the impact of climate change on hurricanes on CBS This Morning, while PBS aired none (though it did discuss how climate change worsens storm surges in a September 4 segment on flooding in Bangladesh on PBS NewsHour). During their coverage of Hurricane Harvey, CBS and PBS each aired three segments highlighting climate change’s impact on hurricanes.
Media Matters’ analysis of Hurricane Harvey coverage on the major cable networks’ prime-time weekday shows found that MSNBC and CNN each aired five segments noting climate change’s impact on hurricanes. A follow-up analysis of the prime-time cable news networks’ Hurricane Irma coverage found that MSNBC aired more segments discussing the climate-hurricane link and CNN aired fewer.
From September 4 to September 13, MSNBC aired 13 prime-time segments that discussed climate change’s impact on hurricanes, in some cases including multiple discussions of climate change in a one-hour block. For instance, on September 8, the 8 p.m. broadcast of MSNBC Live on featured three segments in which host Chris Hayes brought up climate change with guests, and the 10 p.m. broadcast featured two instances of host Ali Velshi raising the topic of climate change. MSNBC hosts also brought up the climate-hurricane link on the September 6 and September 11 episodes of All In with Chris Hayes; the September 7, September 8, and September 13 episodes of Hardball with Chris Matthews; the September 13 episode of The Beat with Ari Melber; and the September 8 and September 12 episodes of MTP Daily.
CNN's prime-time weekday Irma coverage featured two segments about the relationship between climate change and hurricanes from September 4 to September 13. Erin Burnett discussed the Trump administration’s refusal to talk about climate change in the wake of the hurricanes on the September 13 episode of Erin Burnett OutFront. The same topic came up on the September 12 episode of CNN Tonight during Don Lemon’s interview with Bob Inglis of RepublicEN and climate denier Myron Ebell, who dismissed the link between climate change and hurricanes by citing an overblown statistic about the lack of major hurricanes to make landfall in the U.S. since 2005.
Fox News' prime-time Irma coverage included four mentions of climate change, but they were not informative. The network's hosts discussed the climate-hurricane link the same way they did during Harvey coverage: by criticizing those who raised the issue. The September 11 and September 13 episodes of Fox's The Five both featured lengthy discussions in which hosts accused people who brought up climate change’s impact on Hurricane Irma of behaving inappropriately, saying that they were making claims based on “anecdotal evidence,” acting out of liberal “guilt,” and attempting to shame people. The five-minute group rant on the September 11 episode ended with co-host Dana Perino claiming that actress Jennifer Lawrence had blamed Donald Trump for the hurricanes -- a mischaracterization of her actual statement. Fox ran another misleading segment about Lawrence’s comments on the September 8 episode of Tucker Carlson Tonight. According to The Daily Beast, Lawrence’s comments also came up on four other occasions during Fox's weekend coverage of Irma.
Fox's final prime-time mention of the link between climate change and Hurricane Irma came during the September 13 episode of The Story with Martha MacCullum, in which MacCullum said “things got political” during a celebrity telethon for hurricane relief when Stevie Wonder brought up climate change.
Media Matters ran the search terms “Irma AND (climate OR warming OR emission! OR carbon OR CO2 OR greenhouse gas!)” in Nexis and searched for “climate change” and “global warming” in SnapStream to identify segments between September 4 and September 13 that mentioned both the hurricane and climate change.
On the broadcast networks, we examined the morning, evening, and Sunday news shows on ABC, CBS, and NBC, as well as PBS NewsHour, the only PBS program archived in Nexis. For CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News, we examined the networks’ prime-time shows that air on weekdays from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
We counted instances of network hosts, anchors, correspondents, and recurring guest panelists mentioning climate change but excluded instances when other guests brought up climate change unprompted.
The White House is pushing for legal action against fired FBI Director James Comey as “something that certainly should be looked at,” claiming that Comey provided “false testimony” in his appearance before Congress. On his radio show with President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Jay Sekulow as a guest, Fox News personality Sean Hannity celebrated this recent push that was indicated from the White House briefing room on September 11, saying that press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders repeated “pretty much everything I've been saying and I think [Sekulow has] been saying as it relates to Comey.” Since June, Sekulow has regularly appeared on Fox News and Hannity’s radio show to demand that legal action be taken against Comey.
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