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James Rosen

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  • Sinclair is gearing up to compete with Fox -- by being even worse than Fox

    Blog ››› ››› PAM VOGEL

    Recent reports indicate that local TV news giant Sinclair Broadcast Group has met with a number of current and former Fox News employees and is gearing up to compete directly with the cable channel -- by attempting to beat Fox News in a race to the very bottom.

    On May 16, Politico’s Jason Schwartz reported that Sinclair executive chairman David Smith met “in the last few months” with the executive producer of Fox News’ Hannity. The producer, Porter Berry, is at least the second person with close ties to Sean Hannity to have reportedly met with Sinclair leadership recently; Schwartz earlier reported that Sinclair was attempting to recruit current Tribune programming executive Sean Compton, a “close friend” of Hannity’s.

    According to Schwartz’s sources, Smith is planning to set up Sinclair as a direct competitor with Fox News after the former’s massive acquisition of Tribune Media is finalized. Smith is said to be developing ideas for a “three-hour block of news-opinion programming” that could air on a cable network Sinclair already owns or another it would acquire in the Tribune deal.

    Sinclair’s apparent dream line-up for this nightly cable news programming amounts to a who’s who of Fox News liabilities and Trump sycophants. Not only has Smith reportedly met with executives close to Hannity, but he’s also been in talks with current Fox News host Jeanine Pirro as well as a handful of former Fox personalities: Greta Van Susteren, Eric Bolling, James Rosen, and (at least at one point) Bill O’Reilly.

    Of this group of six, half left Fox News in connection with sexual misconduct reports. Bolling parted ways with Fox last September amid an investigation into reports he had sent unsolicited pictures of male genitalia to multiple colleagues. Rosen reportedly departed the network around the new year following “increased scrutiny of his behavior” due to an “established pattern” of harassment. And O’Reilly, of course, was fired in April 2017 after reports came out that he had engaged in a decades-long pattern of harassment and that 21st Century Fox had failed to stop it.

    O’Reilly, Pirro, Van Susteren, and Hannity were all vocal defenders of late Fox chief Roger Ailes when he was named for serial sexual harassment in 2016. (Van Susteren later said she regretted defending Ailes.)

    In order to truly compete with Fox News, Sinclair has decided it must be willing to become a safe space for Fox News’ most toxic liabilities -- including powerful media men who have hurt others, created hostile and unsafe work environments, and done little to nothing to make it right. This shameful decision is the latest sign from Sinclair executives that the company simply does not care about the safety of its employees or the actual needs of its viewers.  

    Sinclair’s strategy for competing with Fox also seems to include seeking out top Trump sycophants like Pirro, who spends nearly every Saturday night on Fox yelling about the president’s alleged mistreatment by just about everyone (and who is also informally advising the president). Bolling, too, has been orbiting the Trump White House for months. And Sean Hannity -- perhaps the worst of them all -- has taken Fox prime time to impossibly new lows in the name of defending the president.

    Sinclair is already drastically changing the local news landscape, infecting TV stations across the country with a combination of blatant pro-Trump propaganda, fearmongering rhetoric, and uniform local news that barely counts as “local” at all. Its M.O. of drastic consolidation leaves its own journalists under-resourced and embarrassed by their employer, and it leaves local audiences with less access to the news they need.

    Sinclair is doing more than enough to make local news measurably worse. Will it now sink below even the Fox News fever swamp to bring more horrors -- and even less actual news -- to cable?

  • CNN: Fox News faces internal revolt over its embarrassing Russia coverage

    Fox employee: "Fox feels like an extension of the Trump White House"

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    Anonymous Fox News employees expressed to CNN their level of discomfort at Fox’s embarrassing coverage of the indictments of two senior Trump campaign staffers and a guilty plea by a Trump campaign foreign policy adviser.

    Early on October 30, news broke that a former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his interactions with people linked to the Russian government and that former Trump campaign officials Rick Gates and Paul Manafort had been indicted and surrendered themselves to the Justice Department. In response, Fox News anchors and personalities attempted to downplay the developments and even claimed the news was bad for the Democrats.

    Fox’s morning show, Fox & Friends, was on-air when the news broke, but the show devoted significantly less time to the story than its competitors and instead ran stories about Halloween candy, purported liberal media bias, and cheeseburger emojis. Fox’s new host Laura Ingraham called the arrests a “nothingburger,” host Sean Hannity said the guilty plea was insignificant because “I never heard of the guy,” and reporter James* Rosen lied about the time frame of Manafort’s indictment to claim it was “well before” Manafort’s association with the Trump campaign (Rosen later corrected his report). Tucker Carlson focused on the brother of Clinton associate John Podesta and displayed a chyron stating, “Russia Hysteria Backfires On Democrats” was displayed on the screen.

    CNN spoke with Fox News sources for its report who expressed embarrassment at their networks’ coverage, with one Fox News personality saying, “I want to quit,” and another saying Fox’s coverage “does the viewer a disservice and further divides the country.” From the October 31 CNN article:

    Some employees at Fox News were left embarrassed and humiliated by their network's coverage of the latest revelations in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election meddling, according to conversations CNN had with several individuals placed throughout the network.

    "I'm watching now and screaming," one Fox News personality said in a text message to CNN as the person watched their network's coverage. "I want to quit."

    "It is another blow to journalists at Fox who come in every day wanting to cover the news in a fair and objective way," one senior Fox News employee told CNN of their outlet's coverage, adding that there were "many eye rolls" in the newsroom over how the news was covered.

    [...]

    Fox News journalists took significant issue with their network's opinion hosts, who deflected from the news and, in Sean Hannity's case, characterized Mueller's investigation as a "witch hunt," a term Trump used on Sunday in a angry tweet to describe the probe.

    "That segment on Outnumbered [questioning Mueller's integrity] was absurd and deserves all the scorn it can get," a Fox News employee told CNN, referring to the network's noontime talk show.

    The person added that it was "laughable seeing Hannity and [Laura] Ingraham," two Fox News opinion hosts who are openly supportive of Trump, "tripping over themselves saying [Mueller's team has] found nothing thus far."

    *name corrected

  • Conservatives Deflect From Trump's Cover-Up By Calling Comey A Criminal

    ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT & JARED HOLT

    President Donald Trump’s conservative media allies are attacking former FBI Director James Comey and accusing him of wrongdoing for writing and keeping a memo about a February meeting with Trump. The memo reportedly revealed that Trump asked Comey to drop an investigation into former national security adviser Mike Flynn. Despite the outrage aimed at Comey by conservative media figures for not divulging the memo earlier, experts have explained that doing so could have interfered with the FBI’s investigation.

  • Fox Reporter Reduced Gun Violence Legal Advice From Attorney General To Ordering From "A Chinese Food Restaurant"

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    During the daily White House press briefing, Fox News reporter James Rosen compared President Obama consulting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch about the constitutionality of proposed executive action on gun violence to ordering food at a Chinese restaurant.

    In his first weekly address of the year, President Obama announced that he would be consulting with the attorney general to identify his legal options for reducing gun violence. 

    News reports indicate that he plans, via executive action, to expand background checks as well as tighten rules involving how lost or stolen guns are reported.

    White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told Rosen that President Obama had asked the attorney general to "play a leading role" in determining what legal authority the president has in producing executive guidance that could reduce gun violence.

    In response, Rosen asked if that process called "into question the independence of the attorney general if the president can simply call her up like a Chinese food restaurant and order what he wants off the menu and she serves it up?"

    Earnest went on to explain to Rosen that the Department of Justice actually has a role in advising the president on what legal avenues are available to him, and which are within the purview of Congress.

    In fact, as the Office of the Attorney General's website notes, the position "represents the United States in legal matters generally and gives advice and opinions to the President and to the heads of the executive departments of the Government when so requested," pursuant to the Judiciary Act of 1789. In 1934, the drafting of certain legal opinions of the attorney general was delegated to the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel, which "also is responsible for providing legal advice to the Executive Branch on all constitutional questions and reviewing pending legislation for constitutionality."

    Contrary to Rosen's characterization of the meeting as unorthodox or improper, such legal consultation has long been part of the attorney general's constitutional role to advise the executive branch on what, legally, is within their jurisdiction and what is not. It isn't a violation of the office's independence nor is it as simplistic as a food order.

  • How Cable News Covered Planned Parenthood Shooter Admitting "I'm Guilty"

    ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET & SHARON KANN

    Fox News and CNN virtually ignored reports that alleged Planned Parenthood shooter Robert L. Dear admitted "I'm guilty," and said "I'm a warrior for the babies" during his first courtroom appearance, where he is charged with killing three and wounding nine. A Media Matters analysis of MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News determined that Fox spent just 30 seconds covering Dear's statements--after leading the charge in frequently airing the phrase "baby parts," that the shooter reportedly used. CNN devoted less than 3 minutes of coverage to Dear's statements, while MSNBC spent over 21 minutes noting his admission of guilt and claim that he is "a warrior for the babies."

  • Fox's Report On Latest Benghazi Committee Testimonies Relies On Long Debunked Myths

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN & NICK FERNANDEZ

    Fox News' Fox & Friends seized on the latest testimonies of Hillary Clinton aides before the House Select Committee on Benghazi to push the long debunked myths that Obama administration officials altered talking points on the attack to cover up or alter the facts for political purposes, and falsely blamed an inflammatory anti-Islam video for inciting the attack. In reality, a bipartisan Senate review of the attack determined there was no effort by the Obama administration to alter their talking points for political purposes, and U.S. intelligence, suspected attackers, and witnesses have repeatedly linked the inflammatory video to the attack.