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Robert Costa

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  • NY Times, Washington Post Hide Racism Of Trump Source They Frequently Quote

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    Roger Stone

    The New York Times and Washington Post have frequently quoted Republican dirty trickster and top Trump ally Roger Stone without informing their readers of Stone’s racist and sexist comments that have gotten him banned from appearing on at least two cable news networks.

    The Times and Post quote Stone, who previously served as a paid Trump campaign adviser and who has been an informal political adviser to him for decades. When they have done so, both outlets have routinely not explained to readers that Stone authored a series of tweets attacking others in a racist and sexist manner (including about Times reporters).

    The Times and Post have quoted Stone in over 20 stories since June 2016 in which the papers did not reveal to their readers the racial animus motivating him. The Times reported on Stone’s racial slurs and the cable news fallout in May, while the Post noted them in an April story.

    Among the descriptions the Times used with Stone were “Republican strategist and Trump confidant,” “veteran political operative,” “the longest-serving Trump adviser,” and “an informal adviser to Mr. Trump over many years.” The Post called him a “Nixon-era political trickster,” “sometime-Trump adviser,” “longtime Trump associate,” and “on-again, off-again Trump adviser.”

    Stone called commentator Roland Martin a “stupid negro” and “fat negro.” He referred to commentator Herman Cain as “mandingo” and called former Rep. Allen West (R-FL) an “arrogant know-it-all negro.” He also called commentator Al Sharpton a “professional negro” who likes fried chicken and asked if former Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson was an “Uncle Tom.”

    Stone referred to Martin and CNN political commentator Ana Navarro (who is Latina) as “quota hires.” He said of Navarro: “Black beans and rice didn’t miss her,” described her as a “diva bitch” and called Martin a “token.”

    He also called New York Times columnist Gail Collins an "elitist c*nt" and tweeted "DIE BITCH" at former Times executive editor Jill Abramson. Stone formed the anti-Clinton group “C.U.N.T.” in 2008.

    After Stone’s comments came to light, CNN said he “will no longer appear” on the network. MSNBC told The Washington Post, “Roger Stone will not be a guest on MSNBC because of his now very well-known offensive comments.” Stone has also not recently appeared on Fox News, and Stone said, “I’m banned at Fox because I kick their ass.”

    Stone has been a frequent guest and is now a contributor to conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ radio/internet show, and reportedly facilitated a line of communication between Jones and Trump. Stone has written several conspiracy theory books, and has made several false claims: the Clintons are “plausibly responsible” for the deaths of about 40 people, the Bush family “tried to kill” Ronald Reagan, and that Lyndon Johnson was involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

    But as recently as December 9, The New York Times, in an article by Maggie Haberman, quoted Stone and did not tell readers his toxic background (she simply referred to him as “a long-serving informal adviser to Mr. Trump”). On December 8, a Washington Post article by Jenna Johnson also quoted Stone, and hid his background from readers as well (only describing him as a “longtime friend” of Trump).

    It is possible that the desire to quote Stone comes from a dearth of media contacts between the Trump team and the press, but it does a disservice to readers to obscure his problematic background in this manner.

    Additionally, the following articles in both publications over the last six months quoted Stone, but did not tell readers about his racist comments or the repercussions from CNN or MSNBC:

    New York Times

    “Investigating Donald Trump, F.B.I. Sees No Clear Link to Russia” by Eric Lichtblau and Steven Lee Myers

    • Described Stone as “Republican strategist and Trump confidant.”

    “In Donald Trump, Conspiracy Fans Find a Campaign to Believe In” by Campbell Robertson

    • Called Stone “veteran political operative and longtime confidant of Donald J. Trump.”

    “Will Donald Trump Play Infidelity Card at Debate? Clinton Camp Girds” by Maggie Haberman and Amy Chozick

    • Referred to Stone as “the longest-serving Trump adviser.”

    “Donald Trump’s Campaign Hires Ex-Christie Aide to Bolster Political Operation” by Maggie Haberman and Kate Zernike

    • Called Stone “an informal adviser to Mr. Trump over many years.”

    “Donald Trump's Journey: From Crashing a Party to Controlling Its Future” by Adam Nagourney and Alexander Burns

    • Said Stone was “a longtime adviser to Mr. Trump.”

    “Donald Trump May Break the Mold, but He Fits a Pattern, Too” by Alexander Burns

    • Called him “a political strategist who has advised Mr. Trump since the 1980s.”

    “Would Donald Trump Quit if He Wins the Election? He Doesn’t Rule It Out” by Jason Horowitz

    • Described Stone as “Mr. Trump’s longtime political adviser.”

    “What Donald Trump Learned From Joseph McCarthy’s Right-Hand Man” by Jonathan Mahler and Matt Flegenheimer

    • Called Stone a “roguish former Nixon adviser and master of the political dark arts.”

    Washington Post

    “How Alex Jones, conspiracy theorist extraordinaire, got Donald Trump’s ear” by Manuel Roig-Franzia

    • Called Stone a “Nixon-era political trickster.”

    “Is Trump’s new chief strategist a racist? Critics say so.” by David Weigel

    • Referred to Stone as “sometime-Trump adviser.”

    “Democrats sue Trump, Republicans in four states and allege ‘campaign of vigilante voter intimidation’” by Mark Berman and William Wan

    • Described him as “Trump supporter.”

    “As race tightens, Clinton campaign is counting on minority support” by David Weigel

    • Called him a “Trump supporter.”

    “Election officials brace for fallout from Trump’s claims of a ‘rigged’ vote” by Sean Sullivan and Philip Rucker

    • Referred to Stone as “a longtime Trump associate.”

    “Trump claims election is ‘rigged’ and seems to suggest Clinton was on drugs at debate” by Jose A. DeReal and Sean Sullivan

    • Noted Stone was a “longtime ally” of Trump.

    “Trump backers realize they’ve been played as WikiLeaks fails to deliver October surprise” by Griff Witte

    • Called him a “longtime Trump associate.”

    “An image linking Trump to the alt-right is shared by the candidate’s son” by David Weigel

    • Called Stone an “on-again, off-again Trump adviser.”

    “Inside debate prep: Clinton’s careful case vs. Trump’s ‘WrestleMania’” by Philip Rucker, Robert Costa and Anne Gearan

    • Called Stone “a controversial bon vivant and self-proclaimed political dirty-trickster.”

    “Inside Donald Trump’s new strategy to counter the view of many that he is ‘racist’” by Philip Rucker, Robert Costa and Jenna Johnson

    • Referred to Stone as “a longtime Trump confidant.”

    “For Trump, a new ‘rigged’ system: The election itself” by David Weigel

    • Called Stone an “off-again, on-again adviser.”

    “Donald Trump’s long history of clashes with Native Americans” by Shawn Boburg

    • Described Stone as Trump’s “longtime lobbyist and adviser.”

    “Racial tensions and shootings sharpen contrasts between Clinton and Trump” by Jenna Johnson and Abby Phillip

    • Referred to Stone as “a former Nixon staffer and one of Trump’s longtime advisers who has no formal role with the campaign.”

    “This is Trumpism: A personality-fueled run that resonates in an anxious era” by Karen Tumulty and Robert Costa

    • Referenced Stone as someone “who last year parted ways with Trump’s campaign but remains close to the candidate.”

    It is unusual for a political figure to be barred from appearing on at least two cable news networks, particularly for racist and sexist commentary. If the Times and Post -- and others -- continue to quote Stone, they should inform their readers about the background of who they’re quoting, or decline to do so.

  • Wash Post: Breitbart News, InfoWars Are "Ready To Claim" The GOP's Future

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Though the presidential election is barreling toward its end, the “axis of furious conservative activists and hard-right media that spawned Trump’s nationalist and conspiratorial campaign is determined to complete its hostile takeover of the GOP, win or lose,” writes The Washington Post’s Robert Costa. According to Costa, conservative media figures like Breitbart News’ Stephen Bannon, InfoWars’ Alex Jones, and Fox News’ Sean Hannity have spawned a “grievance movement” seeking “to claim the [GOP’s] future as its own,” whose likely “first post-election target” will be House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI).

    Trump and far-right media have been in lockstep throughout his presidential campaign: Bannon, the former head of Breitbart News, is Trump’s campaign chairman; Jones, a 9/11 truther who leads the conspiracy website InfoWars, feeds Trump conspiracy theories for campaign speeches; and Hannity, the far-right prime-time pundit on Fox, has gone to all lengths possible to defend and praise Trump. Trump’s engagement with hard-right, conspiratorial media figures has elevated and mainstreamed them, offering them a platform that has long been out of reach.

    On October 20, Costa reported in the Post that “the fringes of the GOP [are] now managing the Republican nominee” and that the party’s “Donald Trump-driven divisions will not cease on election night.” Costa wrote that the conservative media network -- which has seen “high-minded journals and Fox News … supplanted by a galaxy of websites such as Infowars” -- “stands ready to claim the party’s future as its own,” setting the stage for an intra-party showdown “that will haunt Republicans for months and years to come.” From the October 20 Washington Post article: 

    The axis of furious conservative activists and hard-right media that spawned Trump’s nationalist and conspiratorial campaign is determined to complete its hostile takeover of the GOP, win or lose.

    [...]

    The first post-election target for the grievance movement is likely to be House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), who has drawn Trump’s wrath for not supporting him more fully. Trump’s backers, both inside the House Republican caucus and out, are already talking about a takedown.

    Fox News host and Trump ally Sean Hannity said in an interview after the debate that Ryan was a “saboteur” and “needed to be called out and replaced.” Hannity said he would actively urge hard-line conservatives to launch bids against Ryan.

    [...]

    At the fore of this conglomeration is Stephen K. Bannon, the former head of Breitbart who has become Trump’s most influential confidant. Bannon encouraged the candidate’s claims of voter fraud and references to a deeply corrupt global conspiracy of international banks and corporate-friendly politicians.

    Bannon has been a prominent backer of political assaults against Ryan and other Republican leaders over the past decade from the party’s fringes — boosting primary challengers against Ryan and others, and warning against compromise on hot-button issues such as immigration. But with the fringes of the GOP now managing the Republican nominee, a retreat is far from likely.

    Bannon’s friends say that he has become emboldened during his time with Trump, and that they expect him to work with his network of allies, super PACs and websites to battle Ryan and the Republican establishment throughout 2017 as that wing of the party tries to rebuild the GOP brand.

    [...]

    It is not just Breitbart that stands ready to claim the party’s future as its own. The conservative media, once dominated by high-minded journals and Fox News, has been supplanted by a galaxy of websites such as Infowars, which is led by Alex Jones, who calls the 9/11 terrorists attacks an inside job.

    Articles on those outlets have found their way into Trump’s speeches and been spread widely across platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, often building into a frenzy that leaves traditional GOP messengers unable to shape the consensus within their own party.

  • “Movement Afoot” To Expand Roger Ailes’ Role In The Trump Campaign  

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    “There is a movement afoot” to bring ousted Fox News CEO and alleged sexual harasser Roger Ailes “more into the process” of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign, according to Washington Post reporter Robert Costa. Ailes, who currently serves as an informal but influential adviser to Trump, reportedly helped the GOP nominee prepare for the first presidential debate.

    After Trump’s disastrous debate performance on September 26, Costa tweeted that “top [Republicans] … wonder who, if anyone, can get Trump to fully [prepare] for the [second] debate.” He subsequently tweeted, “There is a movement afoot by at least 2 Trump allies to bring Ailes more into the process.”

    BuzzFeed News’ McKay Coppins reported before the debate that Ailes “is playing a much larger backstage role in handling Trump than most people realize.” Other media outlets have highlighted the influential role Ailes is playing in Trump’s debate prep.

    After allegations of harassment by more than two dozen women, Ailes settled a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit for $20 million which was paid by Fox News’ parent company, 21st Century Fox. Following his firing from Fox News, which included a $40 million severance package, Ailes transitioned almost immediately into the role of informal Trump adviser. The two reportedly “counseled each other in multiple phone calls” during the fallout over Ailes’ alleged sexual harassment, and Trump has said he “would think about” hiring his “friend” Ailes as a campaign consultant, though Ailes is already reportedly offering Trump advertising and leadership guidance.

  • Trump Flies To Mexico, Trump's Traveling Press Corps Left Behind In America

    Trump's Campaign Manager Used The Trip To Bash Clinton's Accessibility To The Press

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Media figures criticized Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's "distressing" decision to leave his traveling press corps in the United States as he travels to Mexico to meet with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. Trump's "alarming" treatment of the press throughout his presidential campaign has included revoking entire outlets' press credentials, taunting and insulting the press at campaign rallies, and promising to "open up our libel laws" if elected.

    The Trump campaign's decision to leave their press behind is inconsistent with campaign manager Kellyanne Conway's claim that a joint press conference she said Trump would hold with Peña Nieto during the trip should be looked at "in direct contrast" to Hillary Clinton. (It was later reported that Trump was "not expected to take questions in Mexico, despite his campaign manager insisting this morning he would.)"

    According to Politico's Hadas Gold, "reporters were 'seething'" on a call with the Trump campaign because "the campaign is leaving the press behind on its big trip to Mexico on Wednesday":

    Just one day after a traveling print pool was put in place for Donald Trump's campaign, the campaign is leaving the press behind on its big trip to Mexico on Wednesday.

    The last-minute trip to meet with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto was announced on Tuesday. And while there is a charter plane for the press traveling with Trump, their plane was directed to Phoenix where Trump will later give an immigration speech.

    [...]

    On the daily call with Trump communications director Jason Miller, reporters were "seething," one source on the call, who asked not to be named because the call is off the record, told POLITICO. According to the source, the campaign only told the five-network television pool about the opportunity to cover the meeting around 3 a.m. While some reporters were weighing chartering their own plane to Mexico, they decided against it partly because the campaign did not indicate there would be a press availability until Conway's comments this morning.

    This post has been updated.

  • “Insanity”: Media Appalled After Trump Campaign Hires Breitbart Executive And Political Commentator

    ››› ››› JARED HOLT

    Media figures across the political spectrum expressed shock after reports that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump hired Breitbart News executive Stephen Bannon and political commentator Kellyanne Conway to head his campaign. Media said the hire makes the relationship between Trump and Breitbart “official” and labeled the move “insanity.”