New Yorker under fire over latest Kavanaugh allegations

The New Yorker faced tough questions Monday about its report detailing a new set of allegations against Brett Kavanaugh, as conservatives used criticisms of the magazine’s story to dismiss the latest turmoil surrounding Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination.

Throughout Monday, TV interviewers pressed Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer, the authors of the piece, on the Sunday night story’s disclosure that the accuser, Deborah Ramirez, acknowledged holes in her memory of a dorm party she said occurred in Kavanaugh’s freshman year at Yale.

The pair also faced questions over their lack of corroborating eye-witnesses to support Ramirez’s recollection that Kavanaugh “thrust his penis in her face and caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away," though the story cited a classmate of Ramirez’s who said he heard about the incident shortly after it occurred and several others who attested to her character.

On ABC’s Good Morning Continue reading “New Yorker under fire over latest Kavanaugh allegations”

Conservatives claim media, Dems ignoring allegations against Ellison

Christine Blasey Ford’s accusation against Brett Kavanaugh is ricocheting back on a Democrat who has faced his own allegations but, ostensibly, has nothing to do with the Supreme Court fight: Rep. Keith Ellison, the candidate for Minnesota attorney general and deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee.

Led by opinion hosts on Fox News, conservative figures looking to call out liberal hypocrisy have seized on accusations by Ellison’s former girlfriend Karen Monahan that he emotionally abused her and, during a 2016 argument, yelled profanities at her and dragged her off a bed.

They claim that the national press, while giving ‘round the clock coverage to an allegation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted a woman when they were both in high school, has ignored Monahan’s more recent claims about Ellison — and so, they argue, has the Democratic Party.

“Guess what? Prominent Democrats line up in support, believe Kavanaugh’s accuser,” Fox News’ Continue reading “Conservatives claim media, Dems ignoring allegations against Ellison”

Cascade of media reports prompted California woman to go public with Kavanaugh allegations

Christine Blasey Ford, who on Sunday publicly accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her as a teenager, told The Washington Post that she did not want her identity to be known.

Then a uniquely 2018 blend of media pressure, leaks and aggressive reporting — all condensed into a warp-drive media cycle over a period of less than a week — conspired to change her mind.

Some Republicans have seized on the 11th hour timing of Ford’s allegations — which Kavanaugh has denied — in attempts to dismiss her story as a last-ditch attempt to sink President Donald Trump’s nominee to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Yet it appears the California resident became a public advocate as a result of a series of cascading reports from a news media that has grown experienced at chasing down #MeToo allegations against powerful men.

“From our reporting (like the Post’s) there’s Continue reading “Cascade of media reports prompted California woman to go public with Kavanaugh allegations”

CBS ousts ‘60 Minutes’ chief Jeff Fager amid harassment allegations

CBS announced on Wednesday that Jeff Fager, the longtime executive producer of “60 Minutes,” would be leaving the company amid allegations that he inappropriately touched female employees and condoned a toxic culture of sexual harassment inside the storied newsmagazine.

Fager’s departure comes just two days after CBS chief Les Moonves was ousted, following accusations from a dozen women in two Ronan Farrow exposés in The New Yorker that also included allegations against Fager.

In a memo to staff, CBS News President David Rhodes said that the action on Wednesday was not directly related to the allegations surfaced in news reports, and that those accusations would be investigated independently. Rhodes said, however, that Fager “violated company policy and it is our commitment to uphold those policies at every level.”

Through a representative, Fager sent a statement to POLITICO, saying that “the company’s decision had nothing to do with the false Continue reading “CBS ousts ‘60 Minutes’ chief Jeff Fager amid harassment allegations”

With anonymous op-ed, it’s Times vs. Times

President Donald Trump ripped Wednesday’s bombshell New York Times op-ed as “gutless” and demanded that the paper turn its author “over to government at once!” His press secretary called the unidentified senior administration official “a coward” and urged the person to resign.

Jim Dao, The Times’ op-ed editor, has a very different view. The official, he told POLITICO, clearly believes in a “sense of mission in being in government” and felt “quite strongly that they needed to speak out at an important moment in our history.”

The first-person opinion piece, “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration,” hit like a thunderclap in Washington — as well as in the Times newsroom, where reporters were blindsided. The op-ed raised a host of ethical and journalistic questions many have never considered before, including whether Times news reporters — who work independent of the editorial department, which Continue reading “With anonymous op-ed, it’s Times vs. Times”

Lanny Davis burns reporters. Should they still give him a megaphone?

Lanny Davis, in his role as lawyer and spokesman for Michael Cohen, has copped to misleading journalists, admitted he made false statements on national television and generally caused headaches for reporters who’ve used him as a source.

It’s the latest example of a perennial Washington question that seems to have become more pressing in the Donald Trump era: How should journalists handle sources who are in powerful news-maker positions, but who are also known to be dishonest?

In the case of Davis, the rare source who publicly admits to misleading reporters, the debate is even more fraught.

POLITICO reached out to CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and NBC News, ABC News and CBS News, but none would say whether they would continue to put Davis on air, nor would they articulate the scenarios in which they think it would be justified.

The networks have continued to invite back other Washingtonians who Continue reading “Lanny Davis burns reporters. Should they still give him a megaphone?”

Second Fox News reporter leaves amid objections to network

Another on-air reporter is leaving Fox News over frustrations with the direction and tone of the network, the second in the last three weeks to defect for those reasons.

Adam Housley, a Los Angeles-based reporter who joined Fox in 2001, felt there was diminished opportunity at the network for reporters and disapproved of tenor of its on-air discussion, according to two former Fox News employees with knowledge of his situation.

Housley believed that as the network’s focus on Trump has grown — and the number of talking-head panels during news shows proliferated — it had become difficult to get hard reporting on air, according to one of those former employees.

“He’s not doing the type of journalism he wants to be doing,” the former employee said. “And he is unhappy with the tone of the conversation of the channel.”

Housley’s objections to the Trump-era Fox News are widely shared Continue reading “Second Fox News reporter leaves amid objections to network”

Pentagon punishes reporters over tough coverage

The Pentagon’s top spokesperson was ostensibly seeking to make peace with the media when she headed down to the building’s press bullpen about three weeks ago for an off-the-record discussion on how to improve relations.

But the meeting quickly grew combative, according to three people who were in the room. When reporters raised issues like vanishing access to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and other top officials, Dana White pushed back by criticizing the accuracy of press corps members’ reporting.

She made clear, according to the reporters present, that she was watching what they wrote and put on-air — with the implication that there would be repercussions for stories she and her staff did not like.

White and the Pentagon’s press operation have already restricted access to briefings, interviews and travel with Mattis. But in recent weeks, several reporters said that they increasingly feel as though individual journalists are being retaliated Continue reading “Pentagon punishes reporters over tough coverage”

Media boost security as Trump ramps up ‘enemy’ rhetoric

Notebooks, mics, cameras, hairspray — those are all things TV reporters are used to having with them at political rallies. Now, in the age of President Donald Trump, they’ve added another: security guards.

The networks are employing them, according to reporters, at Trump’s high-octane political rallies, where the media often serves as the No. 1 rhetorical punching bag.

Last weekend, NBC News White House correspondent Geoff Bennett posted a picture on Instagram of himself with a member of the NBC security detail at Trump’s Ohio rally, commenting, “We need security guards when covering rallies hosted by the President of the United States. Let that sink in.” Meanwhile, ABC News reporter Tara Palmeri tweeted and wrote about covering the Ohio rally, “for the first time with a bodyguard.”

Networks deployed security at Trump events as far back as the 2016 campaign. But in the wake of the shooting in Continue reading “Media boost security as Trump ramps up ‘enemy’ rhetoric”

Fox News addresses host’s response to racist comments

It was not a drill. Saturday night on Jesse Watters’ show was the moment Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott had instructed her top producers to be prepared for, in hopes of stemming the damage caused by any obviously racist or offensive comments made on-air.

Watters was discussing the controversy that had developed around old tweets by a recent New York Times editorial board hire, Sarah Jeong, with his “Watters World” guest, the comedian and social commentator Terrence K. Williams. During the conversation, Williams made a series of racist comments, criticizing The Times and Jeong.

“I don’t know if this lady is Chinese, Japanese or crazy-nese,” Williams said. “Something is wrong with this woman and I can’t believe they would hire her.”

Watters appeared to laugh off the statement and continued the conversation.

Soon after, Williams said, “There is something wrong with them fortune cookies that Ling Ling’s eating. Continue reading “Fox News addresses host’s response to racist comments”

White House briefings grow rare under Trump

In July, President Donald Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin, floated a get-together with Iran’s leaders to discuss a new nuclear deal, bragged about strong economic growth and threatened to shut down the federal government.

In that time, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders held just three briefings for reporters to ask questions about the activity of a hectic administration.

As the calendar turned to August, Sanders did appear at the podium Wednesday — her first briefing in nine days — and the top issue on the docket was where she’d been lately.

“First, a quick note on behalf of the press corps: Last month, there were only three briefings with you, totaling under an hour,” said AP reporter Zeke Miller, a White House Correspondents’ Association board member, adding that reporters would appreciate having more. “There are a lot of issues we’d like to cover.”

Frustration over Continue reading “White House briefings grow rare under Trump”

Trump’s ‘fake news’ rhetoric crops up around the globe

Press freedom advocates highlighted fresh examples on Monday showing how they believe President Donald Trump’s anti-media rhetoric has given foreign dictators a framework to crack down on free expression.

Over the weekend, New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger said that he warned the U.S. leader about the effect of his “inflammatory language” abroad. The disclosure came after Trump tweeted about his July 20 meeting with Sulzberger, saying, “Spent much time talking about the vast amounts of Fake News being put out by the media & how that Fake News has morphed into phrase, “Enemy of the People.”

Sulzberger responded in the Times that he used the meeting to warn Trump that his rhetoric “is contributing to a rise in threats against journalists and will lead to violence,” particularly overseas.

Since Trump took office, foreign leaders have used “fake news” to justify suppressing speech they don’t like. Continue reading “Trump’s ‘fake news’ rhetoric crops up around the globe”

CBS investigating misconduct allegations against Leslie Moonves ahead of New Yorker story

CBS is investigating its longtime chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves, the company said in a statement on Friday, amid reports that The New Yorker is set to publish a story detailing allegations of sexual misconduct against him.

“All allegations of personal misconduct are to be taken seriously,” CBS said in a statement. “The Independent Directors of CBS have committed to investigating claims that violate the Company’s clear policies in that regard. Upon the conclusion of that investigation, which involves recently reported allegations that go back several decades, the Board will promptly review the findings and take appropriate action.”

The New Yorker article, by Ronan Farrow, the same writer whose reporting helped bring down Harvey Weinstein, has been rumored in media circles for months and—even before it’s published—has already sent CBS’s stock tumbling. Early Friday afternoon, CBS Corporation stock was down nearly 6 percent.

Moonves, who has helmed CBS since Continue reading “CBS investigating misconduct allegations against Leslie Moonves ahead of New Yorker story”

‘We are fighting for information about war’: Pentagon curbs media access

At a mid-July news conference at the Pentagon, AP reporter Lolita Baldor asked Gen. Mark Milley, the Army chief of staff, about an attack in Afghanistan that had led to the death of an American soldier. But before he could reply, a Defense Department press officer cut in to say that Milley and the three officials flanking him would be answering questions only about the intended topic for the news conference: the announcement of the location of a new command.

The next question went to Jennifer Griffin from Fox News. Over the previous two days, President Donald Trump had roiled the NATO summit in Brussels with verbal shots at the alliance’s members, so Griffin, after opening with a question about the new command, added, “I’m afraid I’m going to have to agree with Lita, we don’t have an opportunity to see you enough. Gen. Milley, have you reached out to Continue reading “‘We are fighting for information about war’: Pentagon curbs media access”

Rival networks see boost from Sinclair deal’s likely demise

After the Federal Communications Commission’s likely death blow to Sinclair Broadcasting Group’s $3.9 billion proposed merger with Tribune Media, there is at least one group of clear winners: rival conservative TV news outlets.

Newsmax and its CEO, Chris Ruddy, lobbied particularly hard against the deal, both in the news media and with the government, and One America News Network also actively opposed it. But if the Sinclair deal does go down, the biggest beneficiary will be Fox News and Rupert Murdoch, analysts and experts say.

For months, Sinclair has been laying the groundwork to launch a block of conservative TV programming, likely on WGN America, a Tribune cable network. The merger’s failure — made almost certain by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s announcement Monday that he would send the deal to review by an administrative law judge — would imperil those plans.

Ruddy, a friend of President Donald Trump, said Continue reading “Rival networks see boost from Sinclair deal’s likely demise”

Fox News hosts take Trump to task after Putin summit

President Donald Trump usually turns to Fox News and the Fox Business Network when he wants to hear pundits defend his policies and behavior, but he probably would not have liked what he saw on Monday following his joint press conference with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

Directly after the press conference, Fox Business host Neil Cavuto, who also hosts a daily show on Fox News, called Trump’s performance “disgusting.” Referring to Trump’s refusal to side with US intelligence agencies and his own Department of Justice over allegations that Putin ordered a Russian interference scheme in the 2016 elections, Cavuto said Trump “is essentially letting the guy get away with this and not even offering a mild criticism. That sets us back a lot.”

“Putin won," said Cavuto’s guest, Mark Weinberg, a former Reagan administration official. "Trump missed the opportunity to call [Russia] out in no uncertain terms. He Continue reading “Fox News hosts take Trump to task after Putin summit”

Trump opens a rift in press corps as he disses CNN as ‘fake’ and Fox News as ‘real’

President Donald Trump’s attack on CNN as “fake news” and his quick pivot during a news conference in Britain to “real network” Fox News opened a rift among the press corps, with some journalists saying Fox should have come to the defense of the rival news outlet.

During the news conference alongside British Prime Minister Theresa May, when CNN’s Jim Acosta attempted to ask a question, Trump responded, “CNN is fake news. I don’t take questions from CNN.”

Over Acosta’s protestations, Trump then called on Fox’s John Roberts, instead.

“John Roberts from FOX, let’s go to a real network,” Trump said.

Acosta could be heard saying, “Well, we’re a real network, too,” as Roberts began to ask his question.

Some reporters on Twitter criticized Roberts for allowing Trump to move on so easily after steamrolling CNN. (Despite Trump’s assertion that he does not call on CNN, he had called Continue reading “Trump opens a rift in press corps as he disses CNN as ‘fake’ and Fox News as ‘real’”

New Fox chief cracks down on inflammatory statements

Amid growing backlash to inflammatory statements by Fox News commentators, network CEO Suzanne Scott summoned top show producers to a meeting last week and delivered a clear message: They need to be in control of their hosts and panelists.

Scott told the producers that they would be held accountable for anything said on their air, and that it was their job to head off any inappropriate remarks, according to two people with knowledge of the meeting. Appearing via video conference from Washington, D.C. to the group in New York, which also included programming executives, Scott read from a prepared script, explaining that she wanted to make sure she communicated her message precisely.

“She said, you are responsible for protecting the talent, protecting the brand,” one of the people aware of the meeting said. “She said, you are responsible as the producers. You have to protect the talent and the Continue reading “New Fox chief cracks down on inflammatory statements”

At least one major advertiser drops Fox News’ Ingraham over migrant comments

At least one major advertiser has dropped Laura Ingraham’s Fox News show in the wake of her comments on Monday about immigrant children separated from their parents. With advertising time on the conservative daily talk show down since Monday night, it’s possible that other companies have also bailed on “The Ingraham Angle.”

The media and internet company IAC will no longer be running ads for HomeAdvisor or Angie’s List on the show, an IAC spokesperson confirmed on Thursday. The day after Ingraham’s statements, David Hogg, a survivor of the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, called on advertisers, including IAC, to boycott Ingraham, a reprise of the highly successful boycott campaign he launched against her in April, after she insulted him on Twitter.

During her show on Monday night, Ingraham described the detention centers for immigrant children separated from their parents on the Mexican border as “essentially like summer Continue reading “At least one major advertiser drops Fox News’ Ingraham over migrant comments”

‘The tension in the briefing room has been building for months’

The relationship between the White House and the reporters covering it has grown more tense than at any point in the last 50 years, according to White House press corps dean Tom DeFrank, who began covering Washington in the Johnson administration.

This week marked a new low, he said.

“There’s not a lot of good will,” said DeFrank, a contributing editor at National Journal, who also spent years at Newsweek and the New York Daily News. “I think basically they have no use for us and, for the media’s part, there’s a feeling that we’ve been misled for a long time on many different subjects. I know a little bit about adversarial relationships and it will always be an adversarial relationship and it should be, but this relationship is more adversarial than any I can remember.”

Tension has been growing for weeks between the White House and reporters. In Continue reading “‘The tension in the briefing room has been building for months’”