Michael Smerconish | Media Matters for America

Michael Smerconish

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  • CNN is sending the wrong message by hosting Bill O'Reilly

    Seriously CNN, what the fuck?

    Blog ››› ››› PAM VOGEL

    Update: According to The Hollywood Reporter, Smerconish said on his radio show that "Bill O’Reilly called me yesterday, and although complimentary toward me personally, regarding me as a straight shooter and so on and so forth, said that because of his history with my network, he just wasn’t comfortable in coming on, at least at not at this time." 

    Less than four months after reported serial workplace sexual harasser Bill O’Reilly was forced out at Fox News, he’s returning to cable airwaves on CNN to promote his latest weird amateur history book. 

    CNN’s Tom Kludt reported on August 10 -- less than four months after O’Reilly was allowed to leave behind 21st Century Fox with up to $25 million in hand after several women reported him for sexual harassment -- that O’Reilly will soon sit down for an interview with CNN’s Michael Smerconish.

    It’s hard to think of another move by CNN that would be as wholly unnecessary and deeply insulting to its audience as this.

    After O’Reilly and 21st Century Fox, Fox News’ parent company, paid out at least $13 million in settlements with five women reporting sexual harassment by O’Reilly, and after weeks of relentless activism from progressive organizers including Media Matters and Color of Change, of advertisers pulling their ads from the O’Reilly Factor time slot, of more courageous women coming forward to share their own reports of misconduct by O’Reilly, of hundreds of sexual violence survivors asking Fox to do better, O’Reilly was finally deemed too toxic -- even for Fox.

    He has spent the months since his firing broadcasting his unsolicited thoughts about the news from his office, via  an independent podcast and, now, a video show available on his website for paying members. He was relegated to the sidelines, as ought to be the case for individuals who have shown repeatedly that they take advantage of the spotlight to reportedly harass and demean women. So why the fuck is CNN bringing him back on air?

    Unless O’Reilly will be sitting for several questions exclusively about the widespread reports that he sexually harassed at least five women, there is no legitimate reason for this interview. Instead, it actually seems like O’Reilly will be promoting his new history book about the American Revolution, which is dropping in September. It says as much in the CNN Money report yesterday. Who asked for this? Who is the audience for this interview?

    O’Reilly’s opinion on literally anything, including but not limited to the Revolutionary War, is not in demand. It’s remarkable that CNN is comfortable giving this man airtime at all.

    By booking and airing this interview, CNN is telling O’Reilly that he has a chance to make a comeback, and that his reported treatment of women -- for which he has shown no remorse -- can be forgotten. CNN is also telling its employees and its viewers that the network cares more about Bill O’Reilly’s history book and ratings than it does about the safety of women.

    Good news, though, CNN: It’s not too late to change your priorities.

  • What Spanish-Language Media Can Teach CNN About Immigration Coverage

    Cut Out The Punditry, Bring In The Experts

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.

    CNN’s immigration coverage could really use an upgrade if it is serious about informing audiences, especially those whose futures depend on the immigration policies President-elect Donald Trump’s administration ends up implementing. CNN could learn from Spanish-language networks Univision and Telemundo, whose segments on Trump’s immigration policies have featured experts on the issue and immigrants who are intimately knowledgeable about the topic, as opposed to panels featuring political pundits.

    One of the issues that came out of Trump’s softball interview with CBS’s 60 minutes, was media speculation of a “softer” tone on immigration, since on CBS Trump seemed to diverge from his campaign promise of deporting all undocumented immigrants. To report on this apparent “softening” and its implications, the November 14 editions of Telemundo’s and Univision’s news shows featured immigration experts, like Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) executive director Angélica Salas and immigration attorney Ezequiel Hernández, as well as Lucia A Quiej, an undocumented immigrant who explained her fears regarding Trump’s uncertain plans. Univision also responsibly underlined that all discussions at the moment are only preliminary and that more will certainly be known after Trump’s inauguration takes place in January.

    With the exception of an immigration attorney who wasn’t identified but appeared briefly on Early Start to talk to Brynn Gingras about anti-Trump protests, CNN’s coverage of the same topic on November 14 featured pundits and the network’s own political commentators, such as CNN’s Eugene Scott, Dana Bash, Errol Louis, Michael Smerconish, Maria Cardona, and Jeffrey Toobin. Other guests talking about the topic included The Daily Beast’s Patricia Murphy, Boston Globe’s Matt Viser, Trump supporter André Bauer, and The New York Times’ Alex Burns, none of whom provided a specialized opinion.

    Trump ran a campaign based on extreme anti-immigrant promises. For a significant segment of this country’s population, information about this issue goes beyond political entertainment; it is a tool they need to plan out their futures. They’re waiting for information and listening to every news report on the issue that might determine their destinies. They’re better served by news networks giving their platform to experts who can add some value and produce informed discussions as opposed to well-meaning opinions.

    Images by Sarah Wasko.

  • 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.

  • When The Trump Bar Is Set So Low, He’s A Success Even When He Threatens To Imprison Hillary Clinton

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVIA KITTEL

    Conservative media figures have succeeded in setting the bar so low for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump that they were astonishingly able to champion his October 9 debate performance as a success despite his threat to “jail” Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, his admission that he evaded paying federal income taxes and that he hasn’t spoken with his running mate on crucial foreign policy issues, and his claim that his caught-on-tape sexual assault boasts were just “locker room” banter.

    Many right-wing media figures have spent the entire election aiding the Trump campaign by lowering the bar for Trump to declare success -- saying that so long as he doesn’t “vomit all over himself and [he gives] a decent” performance, he’ll succeed.

    The October 9 debate at Washington University in St. Louis, MO, was no exception. Right-wing media figures declared Trump’s debate performance a “win” despite numerous low points:

    It's not just right-wing pundits. Even CNN’s Jake Tapper called the debate “a wash” immediately afterwards, saying that Clinton won on policy and temperament while Trump was “erratic,” and CNN’s Michael Smerconish asserted that “the night belongs to Donald Trump” because “he was able to pivot away” from the tape of him boasting about committing sexual assault and was “barely controlled.” Fox News media critic Howard Kurtz said that “when you consider the sheer media hell that Donald Trump has been through in the last 48 hours, [his debate performance] has to be considered at least a moral victory.”  

    Several conservative media figures championed Trump for “exceed[ing] expectations” of a “crash and burn,” saying he won because he “stayed alive,” and “did well enough to not drop out”: