Trump Sexual Assault Allegations | Media Matters for America

Trump Sexual Assault Allegations

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  • Alex Jones is hawking pro-Trump children’s book that indoctrinates them to white nationalism

    The book also teaches kids that sexually assaulting women isn’t a big deal

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is selling a “limited edition” of a children’s book that depicts President Donald Trump as a cartoon bunny named Thump. The book promotes white nationalist imagery and makes light of the video of Trump admitting to sexually assaulting women and the national outrage that followed.

    The book, called Thump: The First Bundred Days, was written by a group of co-authors including Brett R. Smith, the creative director of the Steve Bannon-backed Clinton Cash: A Graphic Novel, and Timothy Lim, who has worked with Marvel, Lucasfilm, and Hasbro. The book is published by Post Hill Press, whose books are distributed by Simon and Schuster. 

    The online store of Jones’ conspiracy theory outlet Infowars is selling the book with an exclusive poster showing Jones and Thump and describes the product as “the perfect book for teaching your kids or reading through it for yourself!”

    Jones hosted Smith for a promotional interview on January 3, and flipped through the book, revealing some of its disturbing content.

    On one page that Jones showed, the text read, “Thump found friends in strange places and in all shapes and sizes. Such as the frogs that croaked ‘KEK!’ They were full of surprises!”

    The line is a reference to Pepe the Frog, an originally innocuous cartoon that was transformed into a talisman for white nationalism during the 2016 presidential campaign.

    The book also references a video released in October 2016 that showed Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women. Thump reads, “Thump was caught talking of grabbing all things pusillanimous. Protesters even made pink hats: their ire was unanimous.”

    Although pusillanimous is a synonym for cowardly, it’s a reference to Trump saying that he grabbed women “by the pussy.”

    During segments of the broadcast, which also featured far-right troll and “Pizzagate” conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec, Smith explained, “We really wanted to come out with something fun and light, something that kids and adults, all Trump supporters could enjoy.”

    Jones lavished praise on the book, suggesting people donate copies to their local libraries (after purchasing them from Infowars), and saying, “This is genius.” Smith added that what’s “great about Thump as well is that parents can use Thump to talk to their kids about Trump, and they can say, ‘No, Thump is a good guy, he’s the hero that we need.’”

    Trump appeared on Jones’ show in 2015 to praise the conspiracy theorist’s “amazing” reputation. Since then, Jones has been a sycophantic supporter of Trump. He’s said he communicates with Trump and writes him memos, and most recently defended the president’s penis.

  • Cable news networks forgot Trump sexually assaulted women, until the Harvey Weinstein stories broke

    Evening programming on Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC all devoted much more time to the allegations against Trump after The New York Times reported on Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    By and large, 2017 was a year of reckoning for men who have sexually harassed and assaulted women. But 2017 was also the year evening programming on cable news forgot about the women who said President Donald Trump sexually assaulted them.

    Over the past year, we’ve seen powerful men lose their jobs and reputations after women and men came forward telling their stories of harassment and assault. One man whose reckoning has yet to come, however, is the president of the United States. By October 2016, at least 20 women had said then-candidate Trump engaged in sexual misconduct, including 12 nonconsensual physical encounters. The accusations largely came after a video clip emerged of Trump admitting to sexual assault in 2005.

    A Media Matters analysis found that the stories these women told about Trump’s alleged -- and admitted -- sexual misconduct were largely forgotten by evening cable news hosts and guests in 2017, especially on Fox News. Moreover, the overwhelming majority of coverage came only after The New York Times initially reported on Harvey Weinstein’s history of sexual harassment and assault, which precipitated a wave of coverage about dozens of men who now stand credibly accused of sexual misconduct.

    This study found:

    Fox News spent less than 40 minutes on Trump's sexual misconduct in 2017

    Between January 1 and December 15, 2017, evening Fox News programs spent a total of 37 minutes and 21 seconds on the women who said Trump assaulted or harassed them.


    John Whitehouse / Media Matters

    In contrast, CNN spent 2 hours, 53 minutes, and 22 seconds on the allegations, while MSNBC spent 2 hours and 16 minutes discussing them.


    John Whitehouse / Media Matters

    While many shows ignored and minimized the allegations against Trump, some of his most ardent defenders on Fox faced them head-on to merely dismiss them out of hand.

    On the December 13 edition of Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle, host Laura Ingraham attempted to discredit the allegations against Trump, asking, “If someone accused of you something from 20 years ago and you denied it ... would it be fair for people to say, God, he’s accused?"

    And on the November 16 edition of Fox News’ Hannity, host Sean Hannity alleged that the women who spoke out against Trump said they were “taken out of context purposely by The New York Times.”

    Most of the discussions of Trump's sexual misconduct took place after reporting about Harvey Weinstein’s history of sexual harassment and assault

    The vast majority of the reporting on the accusations made against Trump on evening cable news took place after The New York Times reported on October 5 about Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s history of sexual harassment and assault. The so-called “Harvey effect” spurred women to come forward to discuss their experiences of sexual violence. In turn, the reporting on Weinstein also appeared to create an opening for cable news to bring up the allegations made against the president. In the nine months before The New York Times reported on Weinstein, evening cable news spent less than an hour discussing the allegations made against Trump. However, in about 2 1/2 months after the Times reported on Weinstein, evening cable news devoted nearly five hours to reporting on the accusations against Trump.


    John Whitehouse / Media Matters

    For many survivors across the country, it’s nearly impossible to forget that 20 women have reported sexual harassment and assault committed by our president, who has admitted to such behavior. Cable news shouldn’t forget about it, either.

    Methodology

    Media Matters searched Nexis for mentions of “Trump” within 50 words of all permutations of “assault,” “rape,” “harass,” “grope,” “grab,” “sexual,” or “allege” that took place on evening ( 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.) programs on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News between January 1 and December 15, 2017. For inclusion in this study, segments had to feature a significant discussion of the allegations made against Trump.

    We defined a “significant discussion” as one of the following:

    • a segment where the allegations against Trump were the stated topic of discussion;

    • a segment in which two or more speakers discussed the allegations; or

    • a host monologue during which the allegations were the stated topic of discussion.

    Qualifying segments were then timed using iQ media. Repeated segments were not counted. Teasers for upcoming segments were also not counted.

    * Due to substantial reorganization of Fox News’ programming during the study period, programs that were either added or removed from the network during the study period are marked with an asterisk.

  • CNN and MSNBC highlighted Trump's selective outrage about sexual assault while Fox News defended him

    Blog ››› ››› NINA MAST

    During the 11 a.m. hour of news shows on CNN and MSNBC, hosts highlighted President Donald Trump’s selective outrage about recent reports of sexual assault by politicians amid long-standing accusations against him. Meanwhile, Fox News used the same hour to defend Trump’s failure to comment on accusations against Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, despite the president’s statements about Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), who is also facing a report of sexual harassment.

    After a report came out Thursday in which a woman said Franken sexually assaulted her and showed photographic proof, Trump was quick to condemn the Democrat, calling the photo of Franken groping the accuser “really bad” on Twitter. But both Trump and his press secretary have avoided commenting on the allegations against Moore, even though the White House has said Trump supports the Republican National Committee’s decision to pull financial support from Moore.

    While Fox News defended Trump’s silence on Moore, CNN and MSNBC, in particular, reminded their viewers of Trump’s own past reported behavior by detailing the numerous sexual assault reports that he faces, his repeated denial of the allegations, and his attacks on the women who have come forward. 

    From the November 17 edition of MSNBC Live with Velshi and Ruhle:

    STEPHANIE RUHLE (CO-HOST): Now let's look back at some of the women who have come forward with allegations against President Trump leading up to the election. We'll start with former Miss Finland, Ninni Laaksonen, who told a Finnish newspaper that Trump groped her before an appearance on The Late Show With David Letterman back in 2006. Then there's Jessica Drake. She said Trump invited her to his hotel room and tried to kiss her and her friends without permission. She claims he later offered her 10,000 bucks and a chance to use his private jet if she went to dinner with him. Karen Virginia said Trump walked up, grabbed her arm, and then touched the inside of her breast at the 1998 U.S. Open. Cathy Heller told The Guardian some 20 years ago Trump grabbed her, tried to kiss her, and grew angry when she twisted away. Summer Zervos claimed Trump groped her in 2007. She brought a defamation suit against him after he called her and other accusers "liars." Kristin Anderson described an incident to The Washington Post where a finger slid under her miniskirt, moved up her inner thigh, and touched her vagina through her underwear at a crowded Manhattan night spot in the '90s. She fled the area and turned to take a look at the man who did it. Anderson said she recognized him. It was Donald Trump. Jessica Leeds told The New York Times she was on a plane with Trump in the early '80s when he grabbed her breasts and reached his hand up her skirt. Rachel Crooks told The New York Times she was assaulted by Trump in an elevator in Trump Tower in 2005. Mindy McGillivray told The Palm Beach Post Trump groped her while she was attending a concert at Mar-a-Lago in 2003. Natasha Stoynoff wrote in People magazine that Trump pushed her against a wall and jammed his tongue down her throat at Mar-a-Lago in what is now seeming a busy 2005. Jennifer Murphy, another contestant on The Apprentice, told a fashion magazine Trump kissed her on the lips after a job interview in 2005. Yahoo News reported Cassandra Searles wrote in a Facebook comment that Trump grabbed her butt and invited her to his hotel room. Former Miss Utah Temple Taggart told The New York Times Trump kissed her directly on the lips the first time she met him back in '97. Jill Harth alleged in The New York Times Trump pushed her against a wall, tried to kiss her, put his hands up her skirt, and touched her crotch at a dinner one night.

    And, finally -- and I need to take a drink on this one, I'm so tired from all of these -- the multiple reports from beauty pageant contestants in a BuzzFeed article, including -- wait for it -- teen beauty pageant contestants -- alleging that Donald Trump had walked in on them while he was changing -- they were changing, excuse me. So how did the president respond to all of these allegations? Let's remember. All of them, a huge amount of allegations. He called some of them, quote, "vicious claims and totally and absolutely false" at a rally one month before the 2016 election. 

    From the November 17 edition of CNN's At This Hour with Kate Bolduan:

    KATE BOLDUAN (HOST): So can we get real for a moment? This is no longer a ‘Can you believe the president said that?’ kind of a moment. This has officially become a ‘The president doesn't get to do this’ moment. He doesn't get to question [Sen.] Al Franken [(D-MN)] and stay silent on Roy Moore. And no one should allow it. It's playing politics with a discussion that should rise above that. So no, Mr. President, join the full conversation going on around you, or don't -- you don't get to be part of any of it. Is the concern over there really about being dragged into the topic of sexual assault and harassment once again? Too bad. That should have been considered in how you responded to your accusers during the campaign. And that should have been considered before your campaign brought Bill Clinton's accusers to one of the presidential debates. So, too bad. You don't get to pick and choose when this issue matters and when it doesn't. You don't.

    From the November 17 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:

    JULIE BANDERAS (CO-HOST): OK, but, Katie, let's not forget, President Trump originally did support [Sen.] Luther Strange [(R-AL)] in the special election, while [Breitbart chairman] Steve Bannon backed [Republican Senate candidate Roy] Moore. And so far President Trump has refused to comment on Moore. But you have to understand that politics are going to play a role here. I mean, maybe he's waiting for, perhaps, the local GOP in Alabama to come up with another candidate. Could that be the reason why President Trump is trying to stay out of this? Because a lot is riding on the GOP not to screw it up in Alabama.

  • Sean Hannity's extensive history of undermining women who report sexual misconduct and defending the men accused

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE, JULIE ALDERMAN & DINA RADTKE


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Fox News host Sean Hannity has become a reliable ally for powerful men accused of sexual assault and harassment, regularly using his platform to discredit women who report sexual misconduct and cast doubt on their complaints. Here is a look back on the ways Hannity has attempted to undermine these women and defend the men who have been reported.

    Roy Moore

    Eight women have said Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, a former judge of Alabama Supreme Court, sexually harassed or assaulted them, or had relations with them, when they were teenagers. The Washington Post first reported on November 9 that Leigh Corfman was 14 years old when Moore made sexual advancements toward her, and a number of women have since come forward with similar claims.

    Hannity: Many women who report sexual harassment “will lie to make money.” [Media Matters, 11/9/17]

    Hannity: “Then you have false allegations that are made, and -- how do you determine? It's ‘He said, she [said].’" [Media Matters, 11/9/17]

    Hannity: “How do you know if it's true? How do we -- what's true? What's not true? How do you ascertain the truth?” [Media Matters, 11/9/17]

    Hannity: “We do have Ten Commandments. One of the commandments is ‘Thou shalt not bear false witness.’ We know human beings break, with regularity, the other nine commandments. Did they break this one?” [Media Matters, 11/9/17]

    Hannity: “But then also, are there false allegations? And when it's ‘he said, she said’ or whatever, how do you tell the difference?” [Premiere Radio Networks, Media Matters, 11/9/17]

    Hannity invoked the Duke Lacrosse team case; Michael Brown, who was shot by a white cop in Ferguson, MO; George Zimmerman, who fatally shot Trayvon Martin; and Freddie Gray, who was killed in police custody to suggest there’s a history of accusers lying. [Media Matters, 11/9/17]

    Hannity: The “swamp,” “the sewer,” and the “establishment” are out to get Moore. [Media Matters, 11/9/17]

    Hannity: The Wash. Post “hates anything Republican, anything conservative.” [Media Matters, 11/9/17]

    Roger Ailes

    In July 2016, former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit against Roger Ailes, the now-deceased former Fox News CEO, alleging sexual harassment and retaliation against her when she would not have “a sexual relationship with him.” An additional 25 women also came forward with similar accusations. Reports later detailed startling revelations of Ailes’ attempts to cover up his sexual misconduct by spying on employees and silencing his accusers.

    Hannity to Carlson: “Why did you stay after such ‘harassment’ asking for more airtime?” [Twitter, 7/13/16]

    Hannity about Carlson: “Why did [Carlson] send handwritten notes with smiley faces asking for more airtime after the ‘alleged’ traumatic incident?” [Twitter, 7/13/16]

    Hannity attacked accusations levied by Carlson as coming from a “publicity seeking” attorney. [Twitter, 7/9/16]

    Hannity: “Hundreds of woman (sic) at Fox that I talked to” said all allegations against Ailes are “BS.” [Twitter, 7/9/16]

    Hannity: “I have spoken to many woman (sic) who work at Fox that have the most amazing stories of how kind Roger is to them.” [Twitter, 7/9/16]

    Hannity to Gabriel Sherman who reported on Ailes: “U r an Ailes and Fox stalker.” [Twitter, 7/13/16]

    Donald Trump

    In 2016, at least 20 women accused then-candidate Donald Trump of sexual misconduct, including 12 nonconsensual physical encounters. In October 2016, The Washington Post reported on a video clip in which a hot microphone caught Trump bragging to Billy Bush, then of Access Hollywood, “in vulgar terms about kissing, groping and trying to have sex with women.”

    Hannity shrugged off accusations against Trump, arguing, “King David had 500 concubines for crying out loud!” [Fox News, Hannity, 10/7/16]

    Hannity suggested that one of Trump’s accusers may have “welcome[d]” the sexual assault.  [Media Matters, 10/13/16]

    Hannity mocked one of Trump's accusers: “Donald Trump groped me on a plane. It was all right for the first 15 minutes, but then he went too far.” [Media Matters, 10/14/17]

    Hannity on Trump accusers: “Just saying ‘help’ would solve the problem.” [Media Matters, 10/20/17]

    Hannity called accusations of sexual assault against Trump “an attempt to neutralize the WikiLeaks revelations,” referring to the stories generated from hacked Democratic emails.  [Media Matters, 10/13/16]

    Bill O’Reilly

    On April 1, The New York Times reported that former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly and 21st Century Fox, Fox News’ parent company, paid out at least $13 million in settlements with five women who said O’Reilly harassed them.

    Hannity gave O’Reilly a platform on his shows multiple times to attack the women who reported him. [Media Matters, 9/26/17, 10/5/17]

    Hannity hosted disgraced former Fox host O’Reilly after he was fired from the network. [Media Matters, 9/25/17]

    Clarence Thomas

    In 1991, Anita Hill, who worked as a former aide to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas during his time at the Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “submitted a confidential statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee alleging that Thomas had sexually harassed her 10 years earlier,” according to CBS News. At least two other women also accused Thomas of sexual assault.

    While interviewing Thomas, Hannity referred to his accusers as “those that systematically went about destroying you.” [FoxNews.com, 10/3/07]

    Hannity implied that Thomas was “an innocent man” who had had “his reputation destroyed forever.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 11/10/17]

    Hannity has praised Thomas for “giving one of the most powerful defenses” against sexual assault accusations. [Fox News, Hannity, 11/10/17]

    Herman Cain

    In 2011, at least two women reported that Herman Cain, who was at the time a candidate in the Republican presidential primaries, had sexually harased them during his tenure as the head of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s.

    Under a screen graphic that read “Herman hysteria,” Hannity questioned whether the charges were “politically motivated,” and badgered an accuser for “staying in the car” with Cain after she says she was harassed. [Media Matters, 11/11/11]

    Hannity sought to discredit accusations against Cain and Justice Clarence Thomas, parroting their characterization of the charges as a “high-tech lynching.” [Politico, 11/10/11]

    Hannity on Cain’s press conference denying sexual harassment accusations: “You would think this is going to end it.” [Media Matters 11/9/11]

    Bill Shine

    After Ailes was ousted in August 2016 amid mounting sexual harassment allegations, Fox News promoted Bill Shine to co-president of the network. As senior executive vice president, Shine had reportedly “played an integral role” in covering up sexual harassment claims, including those against Ailes. Shine had a role in pushing “women into confidential mediation [and into] signing nondisclosure agreements in exchange for their contracts to be paid” as well as in establishing a “counter-narrative” to discredit Carlson. He later resigned after reports surfaced that he was cited “in at least four lawsuits” that accused him of ignoring, dismissing, and even concealing sexual harassment allegations against Ailes.

    Hannity: “Somebody HIGH UP AND INSIDE FNC is trying to get an innocent person fired.” [Twitter, 4/27/16]

    Hannity: If Shine is fired, “that’s the total end of the FNC as we know it.” [Twitter, 4/27/16]

    Hannity: “#Istandwithshine.” [Twitter, 4/27/16]