Sara Murray | Media Matters for America

Sara Murray

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  • Five warning signs from new White House communications director Scaramucci's first press conference

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    1. He refused to commit to the return of regular on-camera press briefings.

    JON KARL: I see the cameras are back, will you commit now to holding regular on-camera briefings? 

    ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI: If [Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders] provides hair and makeup, I will consider it. But I need a lot of hair and makeup, Jon, OK? […] I am up here today only because I think it's the first day; we made a mutual decision that would make sense for me to come up here and try to answer as many questions as possible. But -- and the answer is we may. I have to talk to the president about that. I like consulting with the president before I make decisions like that.

    2. When asked if he’ll promise “accurate information and truth,” he responded "I sort of feel like I don't even have to answer that question," adding “I hope you can feel that from me, just from my body language.”

    KARL: There's been a question about credibility, some things that have been said in this room. Let me ask you a variation of what I asked Sean Spicer on his first day. Is it your commitment to, to the best of your ability, give accurate information and truth from that podium? 

    SCARAMUCCI: I sort of feel like I don't even have to answer that question. I hope you can feel that from me, just from my body language, that's the kind of person I am. I'm going to do the best I can.

    3. He deflected from a question about the Russia investigation by bragging about President Trump's supposed sports abilities.

    SARA MURRAY: Obviously we know the president has been feeling under siege with the Russia investigation, both from the Department of Justice but also on the Hill. Do you feel like he was feeling exposed? He didn't have people adequately coming to his defense? Is that part of the reason that we have you here today? 

    SCARAMUCCI: No, I don’t think so. So, one of the things that I’m doing today is – I sort of didn’t have my White House counsel briefing before I'm having the press briefing, so I want to limit my remarks related to the Russia situation and things like that. But here's what I'll tell you about the president: he's the most competitive person I've ever met, OK? I’ve seen this guy throw a dead spiral through a tire. I've seen him at Madison Square Garden with a topcoat on, he's standing in the key and he's hitting foul shots and swishing them, OK? He sinks three-foot putts. I don't see this guy as a guy that's ever under siege. This is a very, very competitive person. Obviously there's a lot of incoming that comes into the White House, but the president’s a winner, OK, and what we're going to do is we're going to do a lot of winning.

    4. He said “I sort of don’t like the fake news,” and claimed “there feels like there’s a little bit of media bias” out there. 

    MURRAY: One other question, in terms of the relationship that this press operation has had with news outlets, they've made a habit of calling these outlets they don't like "fake news," calling stories they don't like "fake news," calling errors that were then corrected -- using that as an example to call entire news outlets "fake news," is that the kind of relationship you want with media outlets? What kind of -- how do you envision that relationship?

    SCARAMUCCI: Again, I will speak for myself right now, because I don't -- it's my first day on the job, I've got to get familiar with everybody, get direction from the president, but I had a personal incident with your news organization and I thought I handled it well. You guys said something about me that was totally unfair and untrue, you retracted it and issued me an apology, and I accepted the apology immediately. For me, I've never been a journalist, but I have played a journalist on television. I used to host Wall Street Week for Fox Business, so I have empathy for journalists in terms of sometimes they're going to get stories wrong. But I sort of don't like the fake news, and if you said to me that there is some media bias out there – if you want me to be as candid as I would like to be with you guys -- there feels like there's a little bit of media bias, and so what we hope we can do is de-escalate that and turn that around and let’s let the message from the president get out there to the American people.

    5. He claimed there's "probably some level of truth" to the lie that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 general election "if the president says it."  

    REPORTER: Do you stand by some of the factual claims that have been contested, that have been made by this administration -- three million illegal votes cast for the president's opponent? Do you now, do you endorse all of those statements of fact [inaudible]? 

    SCARAMUCCI: So, a little bit of an unfair question because I'm not up to speed on all of that, so I just got to candidly tell you that. 

    REPORTER: The president said that three million people voted illegally and there is no evidence of that. Do you stand by that or not?

    SCARAMUCCI: OK, so if the president says it, OK, let me do more research on it. My guess is that there's probably some level of truth to that. I think what we have found sometimes, the president says stuff, some of you guys in the media think it's not true or isn't true, and it turns out it is closer to the truth than people think. So let me do more homework on that and I'll get back to you.

  • How Trump Manipulates Media Coverage Of His Immigration Policies

    ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    Leading up to his joint address to Congress, media outlets helped President Donald Trump misleadingly cast himself as sympathetic to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, known as “Dreamers,” and other immigrants. Trump’s manipulation tactics became evident again when media outlets uncritically parroted his claim that he was open to comprehensive immigration reform hours before he gave his address, which demonized immigrants as criminals and falsely claimed that they are a drain on the economy. As the Trump White House once again steps up its efforts to misrepresent its immigration stance, it is important media not be spun again.

  • CNN's Murray: Despite Trump’s Claim, Portion Of Wall Payment “Would Essentially Be Coming Out Of The US Budget”

    Murray: "While They May Spin That As Mexico Picking Up Part Of The Bill, That Would Essentially Be Coming Out Of The U.S. Budget"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    From the August 31 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:

    WOLF BLITZER (HOST): When you say a portion of [the wall], they're no longer talking about paying for the entire cost of the wall? Is that what you're hearing? 

    SARA MURRAY: Well, we are hearing that there's a way they could try to spin it to make it sound like Mexico is paying for the entire cost of the wall, but some of these other measures are essentially defunding sanctuary cities, or stripping what they say are benefits that undocumented immigrants are receiving from the U.S. Federal government. They say, by doing that, you fund a portion of it. And while they may spin that as Mexico picking up part of the bill, that would essentially be coming out of the U.S. Budget.

    Previously:

    Media Figures Mock Trump For Backing Off Previous Demand Mexico Pay For Border Wall

    Fox's Eric Bolling Suggests Mexico And America Work On Border Wall Together To Create Jobs

    Sean Hannity's Dream Died In Mexico City

  • Rudy Giuliani’s Latest Attack On Clinton’s Health Comes From Breitbart News And Sean Hannity’s Conspiracy Theories

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    When challenged by CNN to answer why he questions Hillary Clinton’s health, Trump surrogate Rudy Giuliani cited baseless smears reported by anti-Clinton Breitbart News and Fox News’ Sean Hannity. These smears have been repeatedly debunked.

    In an August 24 CNN report on the Trump campaign’s attacks against Hillary Clinton, Murray confronted former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani over his baseless “questioning” of Clinton’s health. Giuliani cited two examples of Clinton’s purported illness from Breitbart News and Fox News’ Sean Hannity -- Clinton’s late return to a debate stage last December and her head shaking in a recent interview -- as “rather bizarre” instances needing explanation. 

    SARA MURRAY: You don't see any problem with questioning the possibility of the Democratic nominee’s health based on no fact?

    RUDY GIULIANI: What do you mean not based on facts? There were rather bizarre things that happened, like that time that her head started shaking in the middle of an interview and the time she got off the stage for some period of time during a debate. 

    [...]

    This isn't based on no facts. Do those do those facts mean she's seriously ill? I don't know. 

    The two examples cited by Giuliani were circulated by Breitbart News and Sean Hannity as evidence that Clinton is in poor health. 

    In January, Breitbart news posted an article claiming Clinton’s “disappearance from the debate stage” during a commercial break was due to one of her “long-lasting symptoms stemming from a concussion and blood clot,” despite it being widely reported that Clinton’s late return was due to a restroom break. 

    Fox News’ Sean Hannity devoted a segment on his August 10 television show scandalizing Clinton’s “violent, out-of-control” and “seizure-esque” movements as evidence that she suffers from seizures. However AP reporter Lisa Lerer, who stood directly behind Clinton at the moment in question, wrote on August 12 that Clinton was "taken aback” by shouting and a bevy of questions by reporters during a campaign event and responded “with an exaggerated motion, shaking her head vigorously.” The AP reporter criticized Hannity for the “unfounded speculation” and using her to support his “conspiracy theory.”