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Fox News Employees Revolt Over Russia Coverage

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.

 

Anonymous Fox News employees expressed to CNN their level of discomfort at Fox’s embarrassing coverage of the indictments of two senior Trump campaign staffers and a guilty plea by a Trump campaign foreign policy adviser.

Early on October 30, news broke that a former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his interactions with people linked to the Russian government and that former Trump campaign officials Rick Gates and Paul Manafort had been indicted and surrendered themselves to the Justice Department. In response, Fox News anchors and personalities attempted to downplay the developments and even claimed the news was bad for the Democrats.

Fox’s morning show, Fox & Friends, was on-air when the news broke, but the show devoted significantly less time to the story than its competitors and instead ran stories about Halloween candy, purported liberal media bias, and cheeseburger emojis. Fox’s new host Laura Ingraham called the arrests a “nothingburger,” host Sean Hannity said the guilty plea was insignificant because “I never heard of the guy,” and reporter James* Rosen lied about the time frame of Manafort’s indictment to claim it was “well before” Manafort’s association with the Trump campaign (Rosen later corrected his report). Tucker Carlson focused on the brother of Clinton associate John Podesta and displayed a chyron stating, “Russia Hysteria Backfires On Democrats” was displayed on the screen.

CNN spoke with Fox News sources for its report who expressed embarrassment at their networks’ coverage, with one Fox News personality saying, “I want to quit,” and another saying Fox’s coverage “does the viewer a disservice and further divides the country.” From the October 31 CNN article:

Some employees at Fox News were left embarrassed and humiliated by their network’s coverage of the latest revelations in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election meddling, according to conversations CNN had with several individuals placed throughout the network.

“I’m watching now and screaming,” one Fox News personality said in a text message to CNN as the person watched their network’s coverage. “I want to quit.”

“It is another blow to journalists at Fox who come in every day wanting to cover the news in a fair and objective way,” one senior Fox News employee told CNN of their outlet’s coverage, adding that there were “many eye rolls” in the newsroom over how the news was covered.

[…]

Fox News journalists took significant issue with their network’s opinion hosts, who deflected from the news and, in Sean Hannity’s case, characterized Mueller’s investigation as a “witch hunt,” a term Trump used on Sunday in a angry tweet to describe the probe.

“That segment on Outnumbered [questioning Mueller’s integrity] was absurd and deserves all the scorn it can get,” a Fox News employee told CNN, referring to the network’s noontime talk show.

The person added that it was “laughable seeing Hannity and [Laura] Ingraham,” two Fox News opinion hosts who are openly supportive of Trump, “tripping over themselves saying [Mueller’s team has] found nothing thus far.”

*name corrected

Header image by Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

 

Paid CNN Commentator Corey Lewandowski Is Still Advising The Trump Campaign

Published with permission from Media Matters for America.

Donald Trump “has increasingly been back in regular contact” with his former campaign manager and current paid CNN commentator Corey Lewandowski, according to U.S. News & World Report. The news comes amid reports of a Trump campaign implosion and CNN coming under increasing criticism for their hiring of Lewandowski.

As stories have surfaced of turmoil inside the Trump campaign, including reports of an “intervention” to take place between Trump and leading members of the Republican Party, “suicidal” staff members and Campaign Chair Paul Manafort “mailing it in,” Donald Trump is reportedly relying on his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski for advice.

On August 3 U.S. News & World Report wrote that Trump had “gone rogue” and turned to Lewandowski once again for advice:

The Republican operative familiar with the Trump operation tells U.S. News that Trump has increasingly been back in regular contact with his former campaign manager turned CNN commentator, Corey Lewandowski.

Lewandowski was ousted in June at the behest of Trump’s children, who viewed him as lacking the sophisticated judgment needed to assist their wayward father. A major difference between the reigns of Lewandowski and Manafort is that Lewandowski traveled constantly with Trump, earning his trust and bending his ear. Manafort rarely hits the road and has followed a more typical template by holing up in an office with a phone to his ear and his fingers on a keyboard.

The Manafort model has its advantages, but it also has created a distance from Trump that has stalled decisions and left the candidate without a reliable rudder when things go awry.

“He’s not satisfied with what he’s getting,” the Trump staffer says. “So he’s basically gone rogue.”

Lewandowski immediately came under fire after becoming a CNN commentator on June 23, with media observers calling the hire “astonishing,” “totally compromised,” and a “sad move.” Lewandowski also faced criticism from CNN staff who questioned his employment, calling Lewandowski’s behavior while Trump campaign manager “inexcusable” and “unprofessional.”

Since joining CNN, Lewandowski has used his platform to defend Trump and attack his rivals at every opportunity. Most recently, the former campaign manager rehashed Trump’s racist birther attack on President Obama asking whether the president got into Harvard “as a U.S. citizen, or was he brought into Harvard University as a citizen who wasn’t from this country?”

The reports of Lewandowski’s close relationship Trump while being paid by CNN to give his analysis of the campaign confirms the ongoing ethical problems with his employment at the network. On July 1 Lewandowski admitted that he was still doing “the same thing I’ve always been able to do” as an adviser to Trump. Reports surfaced on July 1 that Lewandowski “has not yet transitioned out of his role as a Trump employee, and on July 17 it was reported that Lewandowski was still advising the Republican nominee.

The disclosure that the Trump campaign was paying Lewandowski “severance” on July 13 led to more criticism and ethical questions for CNN. Further questions have been raised over whether or not Lewandowski is even allowed to criticize Trump as a result of non-disparagement agreements reportedly signed by all Trump campaign staffers. When asked by CNN’s Erin Burnett if he had signed such an agreement, Lewandowski dodged the question and refused to answer.

Despite the criticism and apparent conflict of interest, CNN has stood behind Lewandowski as a paid CNN contributor, with CNN President Jeff Zucker saying on August 2 that Lewandowski has “done a really nice job.”

PhotoL Corey Lewandowski, campaign manager for Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump, exits following a meeting of Trump’s national finance team at the Four Seasons Hotel in New York City, U.S. on June 9, 2016.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

Fox News Joins Media Coalition Asking For Release Of Trump U. Depositions

Published with permission from Media Matters for America.

Fox News joined a media coalition asking the judge in the Trump U. fraud case to release videos of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump being questioned over the real estate program. The move by Fox comes after defending Trump from allegations of fraud surrounding the Trump U. controversy.

On June 11 Politico reported that a number of media organizations asked Judge Gonzalo Curiel to release video of Trump’s testimony in the Trump U. case. Lawyers for the media coalition argued that the lawsuit “has become a prominent election issue” and that Trump himself had cited Trump U. “as an example of his business success.” The initial coalition included all major TV news networks except for Fox News, as well as newspaper publishers from The New York TimesWashington Post, and Tribune Publishing.

On June 15, Politico reported that Fox News joined the effort, stating that they were not aware of the request and became interested in joining as soon as they learned of the move:

Fox News is joining a media coalition seeking to obtain full access to depositions presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump gave in a class-action lawsuit over his Trump University real estate seminar program.

When an array of news organizations moved last week to loosen restrictions on the deposition transcripts and videos, all the major news networks were part of the effort, except for Fox. Also on board were the New York Times, the Washington Post and Tribune Co., publisher of the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune.

In a filing Wednesday with U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel in San Diego, lawyers for the media coalition said Fox was joining the consortium supporting the drive to remove confidential designations on parts of Trump’s testimony. If those restrictions are lifted, either side in the case would be free to release the transcripts in their entirety and likely the videos of the depositions as well.

Fox News’ decision to join the media coalition now ensures that right-wing media can continue their struggle to defend Trump by selectively using any video released.