Dylan Byers | Media Matters for America

Dylan Byers

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  • Right-Wing Media Criticize Lester Holt For Interrupting Trump, Even Though Trump Interrupted Clinton 51 Times

    ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

    Right-wing media figures criticized presidential debate moderator Lester Holt for interrupting Republican nominee Donald Trump more than Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Yet Trump interrupted Clinton 51 times -- three times as often as Clinton interrupted Trump -- and repeatedly went over his allotted time and made numerous factually inaccurate statements.

  • Cable Networks Were "Played Like A Fiddle" By Donald Trump’s “20-Second” Birther Statement

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    A slew of media critics and commentators shamed cable news networks for being “played” into providing free live coverage of a campaign event for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. After Trump teased a “major announcement,” cable news networks provided wall-to-wall coverage in anticipation that Trump would address criticism over his role in pushing conspiracy theories that President Obama was not born in the U.S. Trump’s mere seconds-long statement “came only after a lengthy campaign event featuring military officers and award winners who have endorsed him,” turning it into “a de facto commercial for the GOP candidate.”

  • Trump’s Efforts To Influence Debate Moderator Selection Seem To Have Paid Off

    Moderator Selections Don’t Include A Latino Journalist, But Do Include Someone From Fox News

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.

    Donald Trump’s accusations of media bias seem to have paid off as the Commission on Presidential Debates moderator selections for the 2016 presidential debates will include a moderator from Fox News for the first time, but will notably lack Latino representation. Trump had previously warned that he would object to moderators that he considered unfair, and given the selections, it seems that the Republican presidential nominee got his way.

    CNN reported on September 2 that the commission has chosen NBC’s Lester Holt, ABC’s Martha Raddatz, CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Fox News’ Chris Wallace to be moderators in the three presidential debates, while CBS News’ Elaine Quijano will moderate the debate between vice presidential candidates.

    It was previously reported that the commission was struggling to select moderators who wouldn’t be subjected to accusations of bias, a particular problem this election due to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s “aggressive attacks on the media and complaints about unfair treatment.” According to CNN’s Dylan Byers:

    The delay is due in part to an unprecedented challenge the bipartisan Commission faces in selecting individuals who are immune (or at least as immune as possible) to accusations of bias. While that is always a concern for the Commission, the sources said it is more challenging than ever this time around due to one factor: Donald Trump.

    The last thing the Commission wants is for the moderator to become part of the story about a debate. Yet Trump's aggressive attacks on the media and complaints about unfair treatment have effectively guaranteed that the moderators will come under scrutiny from conservatives.

    This has made the Commission even more cautious than usual in researching potential moderators, sources said. The Commission fears that Trump would use even the slightest whiff of a pro-Clinton bias to attack a moderator and undermine his or her credibility.

    With the commission taking into account Trump’s previously levied attacks, it’s not surprising that the commission didn’t include a Latino journalist in their selection of presidential debate moderators. After all, the candidate is on record saying he believes people with Hispanic heritage might not be objective when dealing with him because he has promised to build a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

    The exclusion of a Hispanic moderator comes as a loss for audiences who could’ve gotten the added perspective of someone with unique understanding of the second largest demographic in the country, a value Telemundo’s Maria Celeste Arrarás displayed when moderating the February 25 Republican presidential primary debate. Arrarás pressed the candidates on the nuances of issues that Latinos care most about, spotlighting the value of newsroom diversity.

    Trump had also previously hinted at who he thought would be acceptable and unacceptable as debate moderators, noting “he would ‘object to moderators who he considered to be ‘unfair.’” While discussing possible debate moderators Trump claimed that “certain moderators would be unacceptable,” while also noting that NBC’s Lester Holt, who the commission chose, “is a good guy.” .

    Another area in which it appears Trump got his way is the commission’s choice of Fox News’ Chris Wallace, marking the first time someone from Fox News had moderated a presidential debate and who some have argued presents a “massive conflict” of interest. Until recently, Wallace reported to Roger Ailes, the ousted head of Fox News, who is a close adviser to Trump and is reportedly helping him with debate preparation. Wallace “has been fiercely loyal to Ailes,” publicly defending him amid the sexual harassment allegations that led to his resignation, and his Sunday show has received praise from Trump himself.

    With the choice to include Wallace and to exclude Latinos, it seems like the commission let Trump dictate the conditions for the debates.

  • CNN Reports First High-Level Executive Leaves Fox News Only Days After Sexual Harassment Investigation Forced Out Roger Ailes

    Blog ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET

    CNN's Dylan Byers reports that former Fox News Executive Vice President Michael Clemente has left the network "days after Roger Ailes' departure from Fox News.”

    CNN reported that Clemente’s departure “was unrelated to the recent sexual harassment allegations surrounding Ailes,” which continues to plague the network, with new reports that sexual harassment may be widespread at Fox. Clemente’s number two, Peter Boyer, also left the network. CNN noted that Clemente "showed no signs of leaving the network prior to the scandal”:

    Michael Clemente, a longtime executive vice president of News at Fox who was effectively demoted earlier this year, has left the network, spokespeople confirmed. Peter Boyer, a former New Yorker writer who recently served as Clemente's number two, has also left.

    Clemente's departure, first reported by TVNewser, was approved by 21st Century Fox co-chairman Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch. Network insiders say the move was unrelated to the recent sexual harassment allegations surrounding Ailes, though it's also true that Clemente showed no signs of leaving the network prior to the scandal.

    Clemente's exit from Fox follows reports from New York magazine's Gabriel Sherman that Fox News executives had helped Ailes "cover up" sexual harassment allegations, as well as Good Morning America's report that there was a "culture inside Fox News" of sexual harassment.

  • CNN Highlights How Trump Is Driving Conservatives' "Anger Against Fox"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    CNN's Dylan Byers outlined how Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's decision to boycott the Fox News sponsored GOP primary debate illustrates a "shift in the political-media landscape," where "ultraconservatives" no longer "worship Fox News."  

    Trump has been a regular fixture on Fox News since 2011, but has recently become embroiled in a feud with the network, that has culminated in his decision to boycott Fox's January 28 Republican presidential primary debate.

    On January 28, CNN's Byers suggested that Trump's feud with the network illustrates a shift in Fox News' relationship with the Republican Party, noting that many conservative viewers don't believe that primetime hosts, including Bill O'Reilly and Megyn Kelly, are conservative enough. Byers wrote that this "rift" between the "ultraconservative" base and Fox News "has enabled Trump to wage war against the very network that has historically been one of the most influential players in the Republican primary contest": 

    Trump's six-month war with host Megyn Kelly, which turned nuclear when he pledged to skip the Fox News debate that she is co-moderating on Thursday, has exposed a significant shift in the political-media landscape: The growing divide between ultraconservatives and Roger Ailes' Manhattan-based network.

    Trump's attacks on the network -- like those he's made on Mexicans, Muslims, Sen. John McCain, and others -- are no random acts of emotion, conservative pundits and campaign strategists told CNN. Instead, they indicate calculated tactical moves designed to stoke support among a conservative base that no longer worships Fox News as it once did.

    In 2016, that conservative base is coming to believe that Fox News is more in line with the increasingly despised Republican establishment than with the ultraconservatives who support insurgent candidates like Trump and Ted Cruz.


    That rift has enabled Trump to wage war against the very network that has historically been one of the most influential players in the Republican primary contest.


    For his part, Trump insists the reason he is boycotting the Fox News debate is Kelly and the last straw -- what he viewed as an insulting press release about him issued by the network.

    "I don't like her. She doesn't treat me fairly. I'm not a big fan of hers at all," Trump said earlier this week. The next day, he posted an Instagram video in which he declared: "Megyn Kelly's really biased against me. She knows that, I know that, everybody knows that."

    Fox issued a statement saying in part about Trump, "We can't give in to terrorizations of any of our employees."

  • Why Is D.C. Media "Primed To Take Down Hillary Clinton"?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    It's official: Hillary Clinton now faces two looming campaign challengers, Republicans and their allies in the press. But don't take my word for it. The anti-Clinton press campaign is now an open secret in the media, and it marks a whole new chapter in campaign journalism.

    Election seasons always usher in debates about press coverage, with the assumption being coverage can affect electoral results. Which candidates are getting the most positive coverage? And which ones are being dogged by journalists?

    Journalists traditionally wave off any allegations of unfair treatment for particular candidates and insist the claims are nothing more than sour grapes, or partisan plots to boost the candidate's chances. Instead, scribes claim, they always play campaigns down the middle.

    But in a new twist, some members of the Beltway press corps are stepping forward to announce categorically that Hillary Clinton, despite her envious standing, is the obvious target of media derision. And that the press is actively trying to harm her campaign.

    "The national media has never been more primed to take down Hillary Clinton," Politico's Dylan Byers observed late last week, as he surveyed the unfolding campaign season.  The same press corps, he added, stands poised to "elevate a Republican candidate."

    That's a rather astonishing revelation from inside the Beltway media bubble, right? Openly taking down a Democrat, while elevating a Republican? Wow.

    The weird part was that campaign journalists didn't seem to object to the description. There was very little pushback regarding Byer's rather shocking claim; it barely caused a ripple. Journalists don't seem ashamed of that fact that Clinton faces a tougher press than her fellow candidates, or think it reflects poorly on the state of political journalism. More and more journalists are simply admitting the truth: The press is out to get Clinton. Period.

    • New York Times: "Clinton's Toughest Foe Appears to Be the News Media"
    • The Week: "The mainstream media hates Hillary Clinton."
    • NBC's Chuck Todd: "No matter what she says, she's not going to please Republicans and many members of the political press corps."

    How is it the likely Democratic Party nominee for president has become a constant target of press derision and that journalists admit the media's out to get her? Whatever happened to journalism's role of reporting on what happens in a campaign, and not trying to determine the outcome? 

    And could you imagine the seismic revolt that would unfold if reporters openly targeted Republicans? But don't hold your breath. When was the last time you read an article, or heard a single television discussion, in which Beltway media elites opined about how their media colleagues despise Gov. Scott Walker, are out to get former Gov. Jeb Bush, or want to take down Sen. Marco Rubio?

    That kind of talk could kill a journalist's career because it would ignite the right wing's Liberal Media Bias mob. But publicly admitting the press is "prime" to try to disrupt and dismantle the likely Democratic Party's presidential nominee seems to represent perfectly acceptable behavior.

    Talk about the Clinton Rules.

  • Pundits Vs. Nate Silver, Data Vs. "Gut"

    Blog ››› ››› SIMON MALOY

    Nate Silver has a computer model. Each day he plugs the data from the various national and swing state polls into that model, numbers are crunched, simulations are run, and he posts the results on his New York Times blog indicating who is more likely to win the presidential election: Barack Obama or Mitt Romney. (As of this posting, Silver's analysis has Obama winning in 74.6 percent of scenarios.) And for this, Silver is coming under attack from pundits who insist that their gut feeling tells them the race is a true toss-up.

    "Anybody that thinks that this race is anything but a tossup right now is such an ideologue, they should be kept away from typewriters, computers, laptops and microphones for the next 10 days, because they're jokes," complained Joe Scarborough on the October 29 Morning Joe.

    Complaints like Scarborough's are helped along by publications that have an interest in maintaining the view of a race that is essentially a flip of the coin, and in preserving the importance of their own roles as gatekeepers with access to critical insider information. Politico's Dylan Byers cited Scarborough's criticism along with that of New York Times columnist David Brooks in positing that Silver may be a "one-term celebrity."

    "If you tell me you think you can quantify an event that is about to happen that you don't expect, like the 47 percent comment or a debate performance, I think you think you are a wizard. That's not possible," Times columnist David Brooks, a moderate conservative, said on PBS earlier this month. "The pollsters tell us what's happening now. When they start projecting, they're getting into silly land."

    It makes sense that pundits like Scarborough and Brooks would have it out for a numbers guy like Silver. Their oeuvre is the intangible. They analyze based on gut feelings and nonspecifics. Their great trick is to transform the utterly unquantifiable into something approaching concrete certainty.