The Sunday shows on Fox Broadcasting Co. and CBS failed to mention new allegations of sexual misconduct against casino mogul and former finance chair of the Republican National Committee (RNC) Steve Wynn.
On January 26, The Wall Street Journal reported on allegations of sexual misconduct by Wynn from dozens of his employees and others at Wynn Resorts spanning decades. According to the Journal, people who have worked at for Wynn “described him pressuring employees to perform sex acts.” In one case, Wynn paid a $7.5 million settlement to a manicurist who “told a colleague Mr. Wynn had forced her to have sex.”
Wynn, who President Donald Trump has called “a great friend,” has “donated millions to Republicans” and became the RNC’s finance chair after the 2016 election. He has also donated far smaller amounts to some Democrats in the past. Wynn resigned from his position at the RNC following these reports.
Despite the serious nature of the allegations and the growing attention to sexual misconduct issues in the workplace brought by the #MeToo campaign, the January 28 editions of Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday and CBS’s Face the Nation ignored the reports altogether.
Right-wing media have been relying on debunked myths and partisan spin in order to defend the Republican tax overhaul efforts, which have passed in the House of Representatives and advanced in the Senate. Conservative media figures are pushing falsehoods about the corporate tax rate and the impact the proposals would have on the wealthiest Americans while downplaying the negative impacts of repealing the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate.
Gorka has deep ties to the far-right, recently floated the idea of executing Hillary Clinton, and was fired by the FBI for “over-the-top Islamophobic rhetoric”
On Wednesday, Sean Hannity announced that former White House national security aide Sebastian Gorka would be joining Fox News as a national security strategist. Experts have repeatedly questioned Gorka’s supposed national security expertise. He has apparent ties to a Nazi-allied Hungarian group and has a long history of using incendiary, conspiratorial, and racist rhetoric. Here is what you need to know about Fox News’ newest hire.
New reports raise questions about Anthony Scaramucci’s promise that his financial portfolio would be “totally cleansed”
According to Politico, Anthony Scaramucci “still stands to profit” from his ownership stake in a hedge fund he founded in 2005 despite his assertion that his financial portfolio would be “totally cleansed” of conflicts of interest before he assumed a full-time role as communications director at the White House.
During a July 21 press conference in which Scaramucci announced his new role in the Trump administration, he claimed that the position would not be encumbered by conflicts of interest tied to his previous business dealings. However, according to a July 26 report from Politico, Scaramucci “still stands to profit from an ownership stake in his investment firm SkyBridge Capital.” The Office of Government Ethics (OGE) stipulates that federal employees “may be directed to divest” from certain stock or property holdings in order to resolve possible conflicts of interest, but Scaramucci was still listed as SkyBridge’s managing partner as of July 27 and, according to a financial disclosure form published by Politico, Scaramucci still expects to receive significant returns from the upcoming sale of his SkyBridge assets:
According to a July 25 report from Bloomberg citing “people familiar with Scaramucci’s recent thinking,” the incoming communications director “was eager to take another government post” in part so he could benefit from an agreement with the IRS that allows appointees to defer some capital gains taxes when they are forced to liquidate private business relationships in order to assume federal government roles. However, several ethics experts contacted by Bloomberg believe Scaramucci should be disqualified from that tax arrangement because the terms of the sale of his company pre-dated his assumption of a federal government role by several months.
CNBC reported last week that Scaramucci’s ongoing attempt to close the sale of SkyBridge Capital “delayed his appointment” to the Trump administration earlier this year, but he has technically been an employee of the federal government since joining the Export-Import Bank last month while the SkyBridge deal remained unfinished.
The SkyBridge deal itself is increasingly raising questions. Bloomberg reported in January that the Chinese government linked foreign conglomerate lined up to purchase SkyBridge is paying significantly more for the firm than it seems to be worth. On July 24, Business Insider described the purchase agreement for the sale of SkyBridge as “a $180 million conflict of interest hanging over [Scaramucci’s] head” because the sale will eventually have to be approved by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, with whom Scaramucci will work closely in his new role as a senior adviser in the Trump administration. (Rumors that Scaramucci may be in line to replace Reince Priebus as the president’s chief of staff may further exacerbate the financial conflict.)
Given the Trump team’s extraordinary penchant for misleading the press, reporters should continue digging for proof of Scaramucci’s compliance with ethics regulations routinely flouted by the Trump family and other members of the administration.
President Donald Trump announced via Twitter on July 26 that the United States will not “accept or allow” transgender people to serve in the military. Media outlets have praised Trump in the past for being “pro-gay rights” and “LGBT-friendly.”
Fox News host Sean Hannity attracted widespread condemnation for pushing conspiracy theories about a murdered Democratic National Committee staffer, but it wasn’t his first time promoting or entertaining such wild claims on air. From claiming that the NFL’s Colin Kaepernick protested the national anthem because he “may have converted to Islam” to implying that former President Barack Obama is a terrorist sympathizer, here are some examples of Hannity embracing conspiracy theories.
Similar Media Support Helped Enable Iraq War
After President Donald Trump launched airstrikes against Syria in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack in that country, media figures from across the political spectrum praised his “beautiful” attack, with many also linking the action to the growing threat that another country -- North Korea -- poses to the United States. Effusive media support of military conflict was a key precursor to the Iraq War; the danger of such uncritically hawkish commentary has multiplied under Trump, who sources policy ideas -- and defenses for his conduct -- directly from media.
Independent Journal Review (IJR) chief content officer Benny Johnson and two other IJR employees were indefinitely suspended after writing and publishing a baseless conspiracy theory -- originally pushed by “alt-right” fringe media -- which suggested that former President Barack Obama’s visit to Hawaii played a role in a ruling by a federal judge based there that froze President Donald Trump’s revised Muslim ban.
On March 16, under Johnson’s direction, IJR published, then retracted, an article that attempted to “point out the timing and the opportunity” presented by Obama’s presence in Hawaii days before the judge’s ruling. The conspiracy theory was originally pushed by fringe and “alt-right” outlets such as Infowars and The Gateway Pundit, and it seemed to originate from a thread on the online anonymous message board Reddit. The outlandish theory even made its way to Donald Trump Jr., who retweeted a Twitter post that tied the judge to Obama.
According to reports from Politico and Business Insider, after IJR investigated the publication of the baseless story, the site suspended Johnson and editors Kyle Becker and Becca Lower. In a statement, IJR founder Alex Skatell wrote that “we got it wrong and ultimately deserve all the criticism.” Business Insider noted that Johnson, who has been accused of plagiarism multiple times and has previously pushed false claims, “had been warned earlier that the story about Obama was an unfounded conspiracy theory, but he assigned it to Becker anyway.”
This is the second recent occasion in which a right-wing media figure has been disciplined for spreading unsubstantiated allegations and conspiracy theories about Obama. IJR’s actions came a day after reports emerged that Fox News’ Andrew Napolitano was being taken off the air “indefinitely” for promoting the false claim that Obama used the British government to spy on Trump.
“Alt-Right” Figure Who Claimed That “Jews Control The News” And Regularly Tweets About “White Genocide” Insists He Is Not A White Nationalist
Warning: This post contains content that is not safe for work.
Tim Treadstone, an “alt-right” white nationalist who calls himself “Baked Alaska” on the internet and frequently tweets about “white genocide,” attacked Business Insider’s Kate Taylor for an article she wrote about pro-Trump boycotts of Starbucks that linked Treadstone to white supremacy.
In her January 30 report, Taylor wrote that Treadstone “encouraged” his followers to protest Starbucks “in an effort to ‘normalize Trump’ and the white-supremacist alt-right movement.” In response, Treadstone directed his Twitter followers to attack Taylor for what he called “falsely smear[ing] me as a white supremacist,” and also called her a “fat feminist fake news ‘journalist.’” Treadstone’s following complied with hundreds of threatening tweets, including sexually explicit comments:
— LenientScrutiny (@LenientScrutiny) January 31, 2017
— MicroMagicWand™ (@WDFx2EU55) January 31, 2017
snarkily trying to 'own it' will never make up for the fact that no man will ever find you attractive.
— Future ICE Agent (@grandpawasanazi) January 31, 2017
— Pumba 2.0 (@AmazingSploosh) January 31, 2017
— Elections 2018 (@sp1ritharambe) January 31, 2017
Treadstone, who has been featured on the "alt-right" platform Breitbart, regularly indulges an apparent obsession with “white genocide.” He has said that changes made to the eye colors of Apple emojis meant that the company must “want white genocide” and that he would illegally download Rogue One: A Star Wars Story rather than pay for a ticket because “they support white genocide.” Treadstone also asked, “If White Genocide isn’t real, why are we criticized for providing solutions to increase our declining birth-rate?”
Apple's new update has changed all the eye emojis to brown... I guess green & blue eyes scare them & they want white genocide
— Based Alaska (@bakedalaska) December 14, 2016
Can't wait to see the new Star Wars movie !!! After I illegally torrent it because they support white genocide.
— Based Alaska (@bakedalaska) December 14, 2016
Treadstone is a friend of fellow white nationalist Richard Spencer and sparked a rift among the “alt-right" white nationalist movement over numerous anti-Semitic comments. He repeatedly said that “Jews control the News” and dismissed comparisons of “alt-right” figures to Nazis by calling the identifier “the new boogeyman ‘ur racist’ from the left.”
Some figures in the movement tried to sanitize Treadstone’s blatant anti-Semitism by eliminating overt displays of white supremacy, such as Nazi salutes, and Treadstone was ultimately banned from the “alt-right” Trump inauguration event known as The DeploraBall, which featured a number of neo-Nazis and white nationalists without Treadstone’s presence.
In response to being banned from the DeploraBall, Treadstone retweeted a photoshopped anti-semitic meme showing a knife bearing the Star of David stuck in his back, and a link to an article on the white nationalist website Daily Stormer, titled “Full Cucklapse: Thernovich Bans Baked Alaska from DeploraBall -- Invites Kike MILO Instead!”
Treadstone’s abuse of Twitter to attack journalists for doing their job is part of the ugly face of the “alt-right’s” international abuse of the Internet to spread misinformation and sideline the truth.
Fox & Friends hosts falsely speculated that billionaire and Democratic Party donor George Soros is manipulating voting machines that they claimed he owns in order to rig the 2016 elections and push his “agenda.” In fact, Soros does not have any ownership in the company he is alleged to control voting machines through, and the company’s voting machines are not even being used in the 2016 election.
Business Insider reported that the Fox News vice president for public-opinion research sent an internal memo “reminding television producers and the politics team that unscientific online polls ‘do not meet our editorial standards.’”
After the September 26 presidential debate, Fox News hosts and contributors repeatedly cited online polls, which largely favored Republican nominee Donald Trump, to defend Trump’s widely panned performance. Fox & Friends continued to hype online polls on September 28, the day after the internal Fox memo was sent, with co-host Brian Kilmeade stating that “the online polls show [Trump] winning an overwhelming margin.” In fact, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton dominated in scientific polls.
The September 27 memo, sent by Dana Blanton, Fox News’ vice president of public-opinion research, noted that “quick vote items posted on the web are nonsense, not true measures of public opinion.” Blanton wrote that "the sample obviously can't be representative of the electorate because they only reflect the views of those Internet users who have chosen to participate.” From the September 28 Business Insider article:
A Fox News executive sent a memo Tuesday afternoon reminding television producers and the politics team that unscientific online polls "do not meet our editorial standards."
Dana Blanton, the vice president of public-opinion research at Fox News, explained in the memo obtained by Business Insider that "online 'polls' like the one on Drudge, Time, etc. where people can opt-in or self-select … are really just for fun."
"As most of the publications themselves clearly state, the sample obviously can't be representative of the electorate because they only reflect the views of those Internet users who have chosen to participate," Blanton wrote.
As the Fox News executive pointed out, users who participate in such polls must have internet access, be online at the time of the poll, be fans of the website in question, and self-select to participate.
"Another problem — we know some campaigns/groups of supporters encourage people to vote in online polls and flood the results," she wrote. "These quickie click items do not meet our editorial standards."
At least three Fox News hosts cited unscientific online polls in the hours following Monday's presidential debate to suggest Donald Trump emerged as the winner of the political showdown.
While Trump did, in fact, come out ahead in a slew of online polls, the polls were all unscientific, meaning the sample of participants did not accurately reflect the sample of viewers who watched the debate. Such polls are almost always discounted by professional pollsters and analysts.
The only scientific survey conducted in the immediate aftermath was the CNN/ORC instant poll, which showed viewers thought Hillary Clinton handily defeated Trump. Respondents to a Morning Consult poll released Wednesday also said, by a 49% to 26% margin, that Clinton bested Trump in the debate.
"News networks and other organizations go to great effort and rigor to conduct scientific polls — for good reason," Blanton wrote in the memo. "They know quick vote items posted on the web are nonsense, not true measures of public opinion."
Media figures blasted Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s August 8 economic speech for being “detail-devoid” and “ridden with more of the same empty tropes” characteristic of his past economic policy speeches.
Over the course of the 2016 presidential primary, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has laid forth a series of problematic policy proposals and statements -- ranging from his plan to ban Muslims from entering the United States to his suggestion that the United States default on debt -- that media have warned to be “dangerous,” “fact-free,” “unconstitutional,” “contradictory,” “racist,” and “xenophobic.” Media Matters compiled an extensive list of Trump’s widely panned policy plans thus far along with the debunks and criticism from media figures, experts and fact-checkers that go along with them.
Follow-Up Questions Catch Presumptive Republican Nominee Backpedaling On Debt Reduction Plans
Donald Trump called in to CNBC and outlined a plan to partially default on the United States’ outstanding sovereign debt obligations in hopes of eventually negotiating lower rates of repayment -- an action that would likely lead to a global financial crisis. Four days later, Trump claimed in a phone interview on CNN that the media had “misrepresented” his statement and that the United States would never default because the government could “print the money” needed to pay down the national debt. Printing away sovereign debt is theoretically possible, but members of the media have been quick to point out this supposed solution would also harm the economy and may even cause runaway inflation.