Kurt Eichenwald | Media Matters for America

Kurt Eichenwald

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  • If you appear as a guest on Tucker Carlson Tonight, there's a good chance you'll be a target of online harassment

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    After appearing on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight, several guests have reported that they were subject to waves of harassment, usually from “alt-right” and white supremacist trolls. Tucker Carlson has become cable news’s most favored hosts among neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and those in the “alt-right.” 

  • Journalists Blast The FBI For Meddling In 2016 Election

    ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    Media outlets and journalists sharply criticized the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for interfering in the presidential election after Director James Comey violated precedent and policy by sending a letter to Congress saying the agency is reviewing newly discovered emails surrounding Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server as secretary of state. That announcement was followed by a series of additional leaks from the FBI.

  • The Guide To Donald Trump's War On The Press (So Far)

    ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has an extensive history of attacking the media, and his campaign and supporters have joined in the fight throughout the election. The nominee, his surrogates, and his supporters have called media outlets and reporters across the spectrum “dishonest,” “neurotic,” “dumb,” and a “waste of time,” and until recently, the campaign had a media blacklist of outlets that weren’t allowed into campaign events.

  • Trump’s Latest Lie Comes Straight From State-Owned Russian Media

    Russia’s Alleged Sidney Blumenthal Quote Actually From Newsweek Article Decrying “Show Trial” GOP Hearings

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    At an October 10 campaign rally, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump claimed Clinton family friend and adviser Sidney Blumenthal told Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, that “one important point has been universally acknowledged by nine previous reports about Benghazi: The attack was almost certainly preventable.” Trump alleged Blumenthal said that “if the GOP wants to raise that as a talking point against her, it is legitimate”:

    However, Newsweek reporter Kurt Eichenwald found the alleged Blumenthal comments “really, really familiar.” Eichenwald found the comments “so familiar” because, in fact, “they were something I wrote.”

    In an October 10 article, Eichenwald revealed that Sputnik, a news organization “established by the [Russian] government controlled news agency, Rossiya Segodnya,” discovered in a WikiLeaks dump of Podesta’s hacked emails “a purportedly incriminating email from Blumenthal” calling the Benghazi attacks a “legitimate” talking point against Clinton.

    In reality, Sputnik’s declared “‘October surprise’” quoted “two sentences from a 10,000 word piece” Eichenwald wrote for Newsweek “which apparently Blumenthal had emailed to Podesta.” Contrary to the lies from Sputnik and Trump, Eichenwald’s article is not about how the Benghazi attacks are Hillary Clinton’s fault, but rather “the obscene politicization of the assault that killed four Americans” and “the Republican Benghazi committee which was engaged in a political show trial disguised as a Congressional investigation.” 

    Even though “once they realized their error, Sputnik took the article down,” Trump continued to use Russian state media’s lie as a weapon against his political opponent. This fits Trump and his campaign’s pattern of questionable relations with Russia, including calls for the Kremlin to commit a cyberattack against Hillary Clinton. 

  • Here Are More Investigative Pieces Debate Moderators Should Read Before The Debates

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    In light of the upcoming second presidential debate, here are some of the most important new investigative pieces written about Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump -- which debate moderators should read as part of their preparation. The articles examine Trump’s nearly billion dollar loss which could have allowed him to not pay federal income taxes for 18 years, potential illegalities and improprieties stemming from Trump’s use of his charitable foundation, Trump’s sexism on his TV shows and in his businesses, Trump doing business with an Iranian bank involved in terrorism, and Trump violating the U.S. trade embargo with Cuba.

  • Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald Highlights Another, Previously Unreported Trump Lie

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    In advance of the first presidential debate, Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald highlighted a previously unreported lie from Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in a primary debate regarding Trump’s attempt to get the Florida government to approve gambling in the state in 2007. In light of Trump’s penchant for lying, it is important that debate moderators fact-check the candidates’ claims.

    Eichenwald noted that during a Republican presidential primary debate, Trump challenged opponent Jeb Bush’s claim that Trump donated money to him because he “wanted casino gambling in Florida,” saying that the charge was “Totally false.” But, as Eichenwald explained, in a 2007 deposition that was part of a lawsuit pertaining to Trump’s attempted “expansion of his casino business into Florida,” Trump stated that he “spoke with Governor-Elect Bush; I had a big fundraiser for Governor-Elect Bush” and that he “thought [Bush] could be convinced” to allow gambling in Florida. The conflicting accounts led Eichenwald to conclude that “One of these stories is a lie.” From the September 23 Newsweek article (bolds original):

    Donald Trump committed perjury. Or he looked into the faces of the Republican faithful and knowingly lied. There is no third option.

    [...]

    Trump had been boasting for weeks at his rallies that he knew the political system better than anyone, because he had essentially bought off politicians for decades by giving them campaign contributions when he wanted something. He also proclaimed that only he—as an outsider who had participated in such corruption of American democracy at a high level—could clean it up. During the September 2015 debate, one of Trump’s rivals, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, verified Trump’s claim, saying the billionaire had tried to buy him off with favors and contributions when he was Florida’s governor.

    "The one guy that had some special interests that I know of that tried to get me to change my views on something—that was generous and gave me money—was Donald Trump,” Bush said. “He wanted casino gambling in Florida."

    Trump interrupted Bush:

    Trump: I didn’t—

    Bush: Yes, you did.

    Trump: Totally false.

    Bush: You wanted it, and you didn’t get it, because I was opposed to—

    Trump: I would have gotten it.

    Bush: Casino gambling before—

    Trump: I promise, I would have gotten it.

    [...]

    If Trump was telling the truth that night, so be it. But if he was lying, what was his purpose? His “If I wanted it, I would have gotten it,” line may be a hint. Contrary to his many vague stories on the campaign trail about being a cash-doling political puppet master, this story has a name, a specific goal and ends in failure. If Bush was telling the truth, then Trump would have had to admit he lost a round and, as he assured the audience, that would not have happened. When he wants something, he gets it.

    [...]

    But that wasn’t the point he needed to make in 2007. The deposition was part of a lawsuit he’d filed against Richard Fields, who Trump had hired to manage the expansion of his casino business into Florida. In the suit, Trump claimed that Fields had quit and taken all of the information he obtained while working for Trump to another company. Under oath, Trump said he did want to get into casino gambling in Florida but didn’t because he had been cheated by Fields.

    [...]

    Trump must be called upon to answer the troubling questions raised by the episode regarding Bush and gambling in Florida: Is the Republican nominee a perjurer or just a liar? If he refuses to answer—just as he has refused to address almost every other question about his character and background—Trump supporters must carefully consider whether they want to vote for a man who at best has treated them like fools over the past year, and who at worst, committed a crime.

  • Here Are The Top Investigative Pieces Debate Moderators Should Read Before The Debates

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    In light of the upcoming presidential debates, here are some of the most important investigative pieces written about Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump -- which debate moderators should read as part of their preparation. The articles examine possible conflicts of interests Trump could face with his businesses if elected president; look into his potential misuse of charitable funds; investigate debts he owes, including to China, which he has criticized on the campaign trail; and consider how Trump would implement his policies as president.

  • Sunday News Shows Omit Coverage Of Trump Foundation Investigation, Conflicts Of Interest

    Blog ››› ››› JARED HOLT

    Sunday morning political news programs neglected two major news stories that raise ethical questions about Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s family charity and his business interests, including reports that Trump’s charitable foundation is under investigation by the New York Attorney General and the conflicts of interest the Trump Organization would raise in a Trump presidency.

    New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a September 13 CNN interview that his office is investigating Trump’s charitable foundation over concerns that it “engaged in some impropriety” as related to New York charity laws. The investigation launched amid reports from The Washington Post that Trump spent money from his charity on items meant to benefit himself, such as a $20,000 oil painting of himself and a $12,000 autographed football helmet, and also recycled others’ contributions “to make them appear to have come from him” although he “hasn’t given to the foundation since 2008.”

    In Newsweek’s September 23 cover story, Kurt Eichenwald reported that Trump’s business interests “will constantly jeopardize the security of the United States” if Trump wins the presidency and does not sever all connections to the Trump Organization. The Trump Organization, Eichenwald reported, has been “largely ignored” by media, yet would cause “serious conflicts of interest and ethical quagmires” in nearly all foreign policy decisions a president Trump would make. Eichenwald’s report explains that the Trump Organization’s enterprise includes “deep ties to global financiers, foreign politicians and even criminals,” and “reveals a web of contractual entanglements that could not be just canceled” which could conflict with major national security decisions and negotiations required by the presidential elect.

    Yet none of the Sunday morning political news shows dedicated substantial coverage to either report on September 18.

    NBC’s Meet The Press briefly alluded to reports that the Trump Organization could pose conflicts of interest without mentioning the Newsweek report directly. Host Chuck Todd asked Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway whether Trump would offer an “explanation of how he will wall off his business so that there are not even illusions or any sort of cloud that would hang over foreign policy decisions and his international business dealings.”

    But ABC’s This Week, CNN’s State of the Union, Fox Broadcasting’s Fox News Sunday, and CBS’ Face the Nation all completely ignored the stories about Trump’s foundation and business empire, even though each featured interviews with Trump surrogates who could have been asked about them. Meet the Press did not reference Trump’s foundation.

    Journalists have been criticized for the “double standard” in the ways they cover Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Earlier this month, cable news programs devoted 13 times more coverage to Clinton’s pneumonia diagnosis as The Washington Post’s reporting about the Trump Foundation. This week, both the Trump Foundation and Trump Organization stories were given short shrift by the broadcast news programs in favor of coverage of Donald Trump’s Dr. Oz stunt.

    Methodology:

    Media Matters conducted a SnapStream search for any coverage of both reports on Sunday morning political news shows including: ABC’s This Week, CBS’ Face The Nation, NBC’s Meet The Press, Fox Broadcasting’s Fox News Sunday, and CNN’s State of the Union. The search was conducted using search terms “Newsweek,” “Eichenwald,” “Trump Organization,” “Fahrenthold,” “Trump Foundation,” “Trump Charity,” and “Charity.” 

  • Trump’s Claim That His Kids Would Run His Business If He Wins The Election Is Another Attempt At Media Manipulation

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Donald Trump used a softball interview with Fox & Friends to try to deflect media criticism of the conflicts of interest he would have as president if his children were to take over his business.

    Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald wrote in a September 14 piece that Trump’s business conglomerate, the Trump Organization, is “an enterprise with deep ties to global financiers, foreign politicians and even criminals” in India, the Middle East, Russia, and Ukraine. Eichenwald noted that if “Trump moves into the White House and his family continues to receive any benefit from the company, during or even after his presidency, almost every foreign policy decision he makes will raise serious conflicts of interest and ethical quagmires.” Eichenwald found multiple Trump Organization interests and partnerships that, as he told CNN, “often go directly against the interests of American national security.”

    On the September 15 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade asked Trump by phone about Eichenwald’s article and whether “you and your family [will] permanently sever any connections to the Trump Organization while you're in office.” Trump said, “Well I will sever connections and I'll have my children and my executives run the company, and I won’t discuss it with them.” Later Kilmeade asked Trump if he would “hesitate” if “sanctions went on a country that would hurt your company or your hotels,” and Trump answered, “I would absolutely get out in some form” from those countries. The hosts did not question Trump’s claim -- perhaps unsurprisingly, given the show’s cozy history with Trump and Fox’s role as a place where Trump has taken refuge to avoid challenging interviews.

    Handing over his business to his children or putting it in some kind of blind trust, which he has previously suggested, would not be sufficient. As Eichenwald explained, “The Trump Organization cannot be placed into a blind trust, an arrangement used by many politicians to prevent them from knowing their financial interests; the Trump family is already aware of who their overseas partners are and could easily learn about any new ones.” Richard Painter, the former chief ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush, told Media Matters that “turning [the organization] over to his son -- and say his son is going to manage it, or his daughter -- … doesn’t solve the problem” because Trump “knows what’s there” and “which foreign governments and which organizations, which business consortiums he’s dependent on.”

    There are two ways media can react to Trump’s pledge. The right way, as demonstrated by CNN’s Chris Cuomo, is to note that what Trump is offering is not actually a solution: Cuomo explained, “When you put something in a blind trust, it's because you don't know what's in the trust. [Trump] would know exactly what's in the trust because it's his company.” The wrong way is exemplified by a Politico piece, misleadingly headlined “Trump vows to sever business ties as president,” which reported that “Trump reiterated that he would ‘absolutely sever’ ties and would have ‘nothing to do with my company’ as president” and that Trump “has previously indicated that he would place the businesses in a blind trust run by his children and executives.” NBC’s Benjy Sarlin reacted to the Politico article on Twitter, pointing out that “The next sentence” after “Trump vows to sever business ties as president” was that "he’ll put his children in charge, essentially refuting the headline.”

    Trump has previously had success shaping media coverage to his benefit. In May, he used a press conference on his alleged donations to veterans groups to hijack cable news discussion and largely avoid coverage of an update regarding the lawsuit against Trump University. The Washington Post’s Dave Weigel noted that Trump has released “less policy detail than any candidate for president in my lifetime,” but because he “never fail[s] to offer enough detail to fit in a headline or cable news chyron,” he’s been able to “get credit — and the headline, and the chyron — for what other candidates would consider less than a bare minimum.” And as Rolling Stone’s Tim Dickinson noted earlier this year, “Trump can mainline his latest hot take into the mainstream media, basically any time of night or day” through his use of Twitter.

    Media has previously been manipulated by Trump to ignore legitimate issues with his candidacy and his history, and the risk is that he will succeed in doing so again with his “solution” to his potential business conflicts of interest. If media fail to press Trump about how he will truly avoid those conflicts, they would be guilty of a double standard given how they covered the Clinton Foundation. Even though no one has found any wrongdoing by the foundation, media outlets have hyped allegations of some kind of pay for play, claiming activities at the State Department during Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s tenure looked “unseemly” and made for bad “optics.” Multiple columnists and editorials have demanded that the foundation be shut down or at least that the Clintons cut ties to the organization in order to prevent even the appearance of impropriety. It would be inconsistent for media to not make similar demands or be as similarly critical of the Trump Organization, a private business that enriches Trump personally, unlike the Clinton Foundation, a charity that has been praised by charity watchdogs.

    Trump’s insufficient promise in response to the Newsweek article is a bet he’s making that he can downplay the story, convincing the media to take his pledge at face value and move on. They shouldn’t take the bait.

  • Trump Hijacked The Media Narrative With His Dr. Oz Show Stunt

    Media Turned Away From Covering Damaging Reports About Trump’s Foundation And Business Entanglements

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump successfully deflected media’s attention away from damaging investigative reports about his foreign business practices and his charitable foundation by fashioning a publicity stunt out of an appearance on The Dr. Oz Show.

    On September 14, broadcast morning shows, including NBC’s Today, ABC’s Good Morning America, and CBS This Morning spent 14 minutes and 55 seconds on new developments surrounding possible illegal activity from the Trump Foundation. This reporting came the day after New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced that his office is investigating the Trump Foundation “to make sure it’s complying with the laws governing charities in New York.” Schneiderman’s investigation comes amid a series of reports from The Washington Post that examined how the foundation “collects and spends money in a very unusual manner.” Reporter David Fahrenthold found that, unlike with most personal foundations, “The Trump Foundation’s money doesn’t actually come from Trump’s own pocket.” In a September 14 report, Fahrenthold wrote that Trump “may have violated IRS rules against ‘self-dealing,’ which prohibit nonprofit leaders from spending charity money on themselves” when he spent $20,000 from his charity to buy a portrait of himself in 2007.

    The broadcast morning shows also devoted some time, albeit only 46 seconds, to a September 14 Newsweek report that detailed how Trump’s business entanglements have often intersected with unfriendly foreign governments. Reporter Kurt Eichenwald explained his piece on CNN, saying that “there has never been a president in the history of the United States who has had these kinds of conflicts of interest.” He added that Trump’s entanglements “often go directly against the interests of American national security.”

    But news outlets virtually ignored the damaging reports once Trump appeared for a September 14 taping of The Dr. Oz Show in which the “scientifically dubious” Dr. Mehmet Oz examined the results of the Republican nominee’s latest physical. The broadcast nightly news programs, including ABC’s World News Tonight, NBC’s Nightly News, and CBS’ Evening News, spent 7 minutes and 11 seconds on Trump’s publicity stunt. It caused the programs to cast aside the investigative reports, spending only 2minutes and 15 seconds on the reports about the Trump Foundation and 43 seconds on Eichenwald’s look into Trump’s foreign business entanglements.

    On September 15, the broadcast morning news programs all but forgot the reports, instead obsessing over Trump’s appearance with Dr. Oz, which garnered 12 minutes and 5 seconds of coverage between all three shows. Only Today continued to discuss the series of questions raised about the Trump Foundation, spending 2minutes and 48 seconds on the topic. However, that is less than half the time they spent on Trump’s Dr. Oz Show appearance, which accounted for 6 minutes and 30 seconds of airtime.

    By brushing aside the damaging investigative reporting about Trump in order to cover his gimmick with Dr. Oz, the broadcast news shows played right into the candidate’s hands. As CNN media critic Brian Stelter pointed out, Trump’s appearance on Oz’s show “wasn’t actual transparency” about his health -- “it was the appearance, the semblance of transparency.” Stelter added that it “shows Trump’s style, his media savvy” and noted that “we should know this was for show, and it was very effective.”

    Methodology: Media Matters searched SnapStream for mentions of Trump from the September 14 and 15 editions of ABC’s Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, and CBS This Morning as well as the September 14 editions of ABC’s World News Tonight, NBC’s Nightly News, and CBS’ Evening News and coded segments relating to new details surrounding Trump’s foundation, the Newsweek report on Trump’s business entanglements, and his appearance on Dr. Oz.