Trump versus CNN

President Trump has continued in his praise of Fox News and his condemnation of CNN, via Twitter of course, and just after his Justice department filed a lawsuit to block AT&T’s merger with Time Warner, which owns CNN.

Huffington Post: Fox News Is ‘Much More Important’ Than CNN, Trump Tweets

Donald Trump’s favorite news network is “much more important” than the often critical CNN, the president tweeted Saturday.

Just days earlier, Trump’s Justice Department filed a contentious lawsuit to block AT&T’s purchase of CNN’s parent company, Time Warner. The action raised concerns that the federal government is trying to silence CNN’s critical coverage of the president, rather than fears about a powerful media monopoly.

The tweet, and a response from CNN:

In a meeting before the lawsuit was filed, sources told The New York Times that the Justice Department had warned AT&T that either CNN’s parent, Turner Broadcasting, or DirecTV would have to be sold before the federal government would allow the planned $85.4 billion merger. CEO Stephenson has said he has no interest in selling CNN.

Earlier this year, Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner met with Time Warner executive Gary Ginsberg and said that 20 percent of the CNN staff should be fired because they were so “wrong” about the Trump campaign, sources told The Wall Street Journal. A White House official said the comments were not intended to be taken seriously, but they rattled Time Warner, the Journal reported.

The Justice Department says it is taking legal action because the combination of AT&T and Time Warner would create one of the biggest media monopolies in American history.

Jake Tapper noted that the timing of Trump’s tweet about CNN coincided with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s signing of a law that allows American media outlets in Russia to be registered as “foreign agents.” The law is in retaliation for the U.S. government’s request that the American office of the Russian TV network RT be registered as a foreign agent.

Norm Eisen, ethics chief for the Obama White House:

Friends of Trump:

Fox News is saving/destroying America

What people think of Fox News (and other US news organisations) seems largely dependent on their political preferences. Those who love Donald Trump and hate Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton will like the news feed from Fox and agree with the opinion show hosts who lean very heavily one way.

Newsweek: CAN FOX NEWS SURVIVE THE TRUMP PRESIDENCY? EMBATTLED NETWORK FACES LAWSUITS, AGING VIEWERSHIP, NEW COMPETITORS

Fox News is destroying America. Its anchors are humorless propagandists for President Donald Trump, lacking dignity and honesty, humility and heart. The cable news network is a spigot from which right-wing misinformation flows unceasingly, flooding the nation with untruth, making millions wonder whether Barack Obama was born in Hawaii, as he claims, or in Indonesia, behind a mosque where fanatics plotted the destruction of America and the National Football League.

Or:

Fox News is saving America by telling truths you won’t hear on CNN or read in The New York Times, where liberal pieties prevail. It speaks for the millions of forgotten Americans in small towns whose newspapers have died and whose factories have closed. Fox News is the bulwark that keeps at bay political correctness, socialism and soccer.

Or:

Fox News is America, glorious and exasperating, bellicose and enthralling. At battle with itself and outside forces, Fox News helped create the splendid turbulence of our political civic life—but is now threatened by it.

You read Alexis de Tocqueville to understand the nation in its infancy. You watch Fox News commentator Sean Hannity to glimpse the nation in midlife crisis, mournful for past glories, a little despondent about present ills, but unfailingly optimistic about the future.

For once, China and California are vanquished, and this flailing little century will belong to America, as did the glorious one before it.

Fox News isn’t a network; it’s a worldview.

That worldview is shared by Donald Trump, who reportedly watches several hours of Fox News each day. There has never been a relationship this close between a sitting president and an American media organization. Trump and Rupert Murdoch, chairman of the network’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, are friends who reportedly talk regularly, perhaps more than once a week.

Murdoch has offered the president advice on media strategy; last March, Trump fired the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, who was conducting a federal investigation into how Fox News handled sexual misconduct claims.

Los Angeles Times report has the leader of the free world frequently calling Hannity after the blustery pundit’s delivery of yet another nuclear payload of righteously enriched anger. Recently, Trump reportedly sought Hannity’s advice on immigration. That would be sort of like Obama reaching out to MSNBC’s Maddow about taxes, except that Trump’s relationship with Fox News is so long-standing and well known, nobody is surprised.

A recent analysis by Mark Knoller of CBS found that since becoming president, Trump has given 20 interviews to Fox News. He has given a combined 18 interviews to all other major American news organizations, and none to CNN.

Trump seems to be desperate for praise (when he is not praising himself). He gets it at Fox.

One of Trump’s more recent interviews with Fox News was with Lou Dobbs, whose show airs on the Fox Business Network.

Dobbs began the interview with a kiss: “You have accomplished so much.”

Trump said he watched Dobbs’s show “absolutely almost all the time,” and that while American journalism was rife with fake news—a term he falsely told Dobbs he invented—Fox News was singularly fair to him. Trump also insisted that Dobbs tell him who should be appointed the next chairperson of the Federal Reserve.

Dobbs smirked throughout, pleased with the president and himself. He said that while some on “the left” (in Fox News terminology, there are only Trump loyalists and “the left”) loathe Trump, he was “one of the most loved and respected” presidents in American history. Polls indicate that is not even remotely the case.

Trump is one of the most disapproved presidents in history: “His approval rating quickly slumped in the chaotic days after assuming office, with Trump achieving a majority disapproval rating in a record of just eight days. Nine months in, he is far less popular than previous presidents at this stage of his presidency.” The Telegraph

…focusing on Fox News is a pretty good way to understand the reasons Trump won. There was, at the very least, a correlation between watching Fox and voting for Trump. In January, the Pew Research Center found that “Americans who say they voted for Trump in the general election relied heavily on Fox News as their main source of election news,” with some 40 percent of Trump voters turning to Fox News as their main source of news.

And earlier this fall, a study out of Stanford—“Bias in Cable News: Persuasion and Polarization ”—confirmed the power of Fox News to sway hearts and minds. And votes. It found that, for presidential elections, “Fox News increases Republican vote shares by 0.3 points among viewers induced into watching 2.5 additional minutes per week.”

Conversely, watching MSNBC an additional 2.5 minutes per week had no impact on electoral outcomes.

Fox News has given powerful voice to a segment of the American population. The people who watch Fox News are not going away. Nor is their despair about the digital economy, their suspicion of immigrants and their discomfort about race.

Fox fills a useful niche, feeding (and feeding off) a particular demographic. They provide a useful balance to other media like CNN who lean the other way.

Like Trump Fox News is contradictory and hypocritical, especially about ‘fake news’. But at least they they have dropped one whopper of a slogan – they no longer publicise themselves as ‘fair and balanced’.

Fox now claims to be ‘Most Watched, Most Trusted’.

Most watched? There seems to be a bit missing from that claim.

TV Newser: October Ratings: Fox News is Most-Watched Cable News Network For 190 Consecutive Months

I suppose ‘Most Watched Cable News Network’ is a bit long winded for a slogan.

Most trusted? That is also a bit slim in details.

‘Trusted’ and ‘trustworthy’ are not the same thing. Being the ‘most trusted’ news outlet may be no more than the most popular of a bad lot, if that.

The Zogby Poll℠: Nearly half of voters do not trust the mainstream media

mainmedia110617

Fox isn’t included as ‘mainstream media’. And they don’t feature in Evening News Ratings: Week of Nov. 13

Political bias in the US is a problem, and not just with Fox.

Table: Ideological Placement of Each Source's Audience

Fox News doesn’t look  bad there, relative to the left leaners – but note that the Sean Hannity Show is separated well to the right.

Those faithful to Fox or any other news outlet tend to look for what they want to hear.

I think it’s important to be sceptical about any news outlet, and to look for balance across sources, not from a single source. But even then it’s easy to get limited by a Western/first world bias.

It’s also easy to spend too much time looking for and worrying about news.

 

“Fox feels like an extension of the Trump White House.”

I watch the Fox feed on Twitter, and they seem to be very strong defenders of President Trump, and are frequently critical of Hillary Clinton. Trump tweets and Fox tweets often seem to be in synch.

CNN: ‘I want to quit’: Fox News employees say their network’s Russia coverage was ‘an embarrassment’

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.

The person said, “Fox feels like an extension of the Trump White House.”

The employees spoke to CNN on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter. A Fox News spokesperson told CNN the network covered the breaking news accurately and fairly across both news and opinion programming.

Of course Fox probably claim that CNN is slanted the other way, and they may well be.

This type of coverage is common:

Trump distances himself from indictments, says Papadopoulos has ‘proven to be a liar’

President Trump said “low level” campaign volunteer George Papadopoulos has “already proven to be a liar,” again promising “no collusion,” and urged the special counsel to …

And this:

The truth about Trump and the Manafort indictment

Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort for tax fraud on Monday, and the main charge against Donald Trump is poor judgment for hiring the notorious Beltway operator.

The indictment accuses Mr. Manafort (and business partner Richard Gates ) of funneling money from a pro-Russia party in Ukraine into offshore shell companies and bank accounts. They then allegedly used these accounts to fund their spending habits, neglecting to declare the money to the IRS.

The most striking news is that none of this involves the 2016 election campaign. The indictment makes clear that Mr. Manafort’s work for Ukraine and his money transfers ended in 2014. The 2016 charges are related to false statements Mr. Manafort made to the Justice Department.

But there is some balance if you look for it:

Trump unsteady with base as Mueller storm sets in

…the real concern for Trump is whether he has enough political support to weather what promises to be a punishing ordeal for him and his administration.

The hope among Republicans had been that they would be farther along in their agenda before this inevitable moment arrived. Trump and his party imagined that policy victories would provide a shock-absorbing cushion of popularity support for the president before Mueller inserted the scalpel.

Key takeaways from new Russia charges –Lawfare: “The first big takeaway from this morning’s flurry of charging and plea documents with respect to Paul Manafort Jr.Richard Gates III, and George Papadopoulos is this: The President of the United States had as his campaign chairman a man who had allegedly served for years as an unregistered foreign agent for a puppet government of Vladimir Putin, a man who was allegedly laundering remarkable sums of money even while running the now-president’s campaign, a man who allegedly lied about all of this to the FBI and the Justice Department.

The second big takeaway is even starker: A member of President Trump’s campaign team now admits that he was working with people he knew to be tied to the Russian government to ‘arrange a meeting between the Campaign and the Russian government officials’ and to obtain ‘dirt’ on Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of hacked emails—and that he lied about these activities to the FBI. He briefed President Trump on at least some them.”

Papadopoulos fell for claim that Russian was Putin’s niece –Daily Beast: “Days after becoming a foreign policy advisor for the Trump campaign in 2016, George Papadopoulos started meeting with a woman he believed to be Vladimir ‘Putin’s niece,’ according to a newly unsealed indictment by special counsel Robert Mueller.

… Maybe, the woman said, she could even get the two men to meet face-to- face. … Bu the woman was not, in fact, Putin’s relative. Papadopoulos had, in a sense, been catfished—and then lied about catfishing to federal investigators.”

Trump tends to go to Fox if he wants to give media interviews, and some of the Fox talking heads are strongly pro Trump and anti-Democrat and Clinton.

I don’t expect balance from either Fox or CNN, but if you look for it they can have some useful coverage of the big political events in the US.

Fox promotes the violent left

Fox news has been pushing quite a bit on ‘left bad, right good’ following the shooting of Republican House Whip Steve Scalise by a Bernie Sanders supporter.

This is all on their current twitter feed:

That’s toned down?

They do have the occasional attempt on balance and conciliation:

But the division goes on. just tweeted:

Levels of rhetoric, division and violence look likely to continue unabated, despite what should have been a wake up call for politicians on both sides of the chasm.

Issues facing the US

The numbers for Issues facing country today “extremely” or “very” concerned:

  • Government spending 80%
  • Economy 75%
  • Infrastructure 75%
  • War with North Korea 68%
  • Terrorist attacks 67%
  • Job market 65%
  • Russian meddling 61%
  • Climate change 60%
  • Illegal immigration 51%

That’s interesting to see a clear majority concerned about ‘Russian meddling’ and ‘climate change’.

A moment of mis-truth?

Kim Dotcom dived into the Seth Rich issue, promising #GameChanger inteview with Sean Hannity on Tuesday. But Fox News retracted a story – see Fox retracts Seth Rich story – and on his Tuesday show Hannity said ““Out of respect for the family, I am not discussing this matter at this time.”

And suggestions have been raised about the possibility Dotom tried to manufacture some ‘truth’.

Washington Post: The life and death of the Seth Rich conspiracy theory

When Seth Rich’s Gmail account received an alert this week from Mega.com, attempting to start a new account on a website created by the New Zealand-based Internet businessman and convicted hacker Kim Dotcom, his family knew that something was off.

Over seven frenzied days, Dotcom had become a leading purveyor of the theory that Rich, a staffer at the Democratic National Committee who was shot dead near his home in Northeast Washington last summer, had supplied DNC documents to WikiLeaks and was killed as a result. Multiple security analysts and an FBI investigation have tied the release to hackers with ties to Russia. D.C. police have said repeatedly that they think Rich was slain in a random robbery attempt.

According to experts and Rich’s family, the emailed invitation from welcome@mega.nz appeared to be an attempt to gain access to Rich’s email. Joel Rich, who maintains his late son’s Gmail account, did not click the link. Meanwhile, Dotcom was promising on Twitter to prove that the younger Rich had been in contact with WikiLeaks — and Fox News host Sean Hannity was telling his 2.37 million Twitter followers to be ready for a revelation.

Hannity had invited Dotcom to appear on his show for what he said on Twitter would be a “#GameChanger” interview. The implication: that Dotcom would finally offer evidence of his claim that Rich had sent internal DNC documents to WikiLeaks before his death

But that hasn’t transpired.

All that began to unravel Tuesday afternoon, when Fox News retracted a story that had claimed the same Rich-WikiLeaks connection, telling readers that the article was “not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all our reporting.” Fox News did not respond to a request for comment, but Dotcom wrote on his website that he would not speak further about his allegations.

The latest revelation — that a hacker from New Zealand may have been trying as recently as this week to hack into Rich’s email — offered fresh evidence that the conspiracy theory is false. Dotcom, it seemed, may have been willing to create a fake archive of emails from Rich to “prove” his role in the DNC hack.

Shades of 2014, when Dotcom’s ‘Moment of Truth’ show in the lead up to New Zealand’s general election fizzled when questions were raised about the authenticity of an email produced by Dotcom.

In a statement, Rich’s family told The Post that they wereinvestigating whether someone attempted to gain access to Rich’s email account. “We are outraged that certain individuals continue to try to use Seth’s name and memory to advance their political and ideological agendas,” they said. “We hope people will think twice the next time someone makes an outlandish claim to have discovered new evidence in this case.”

A family spokesman went further, criticizing Fox News for fanning the flames.

Dotcom’s story has ‘evolved’.

Dotcom did not respond to an emailed question about the Mega account, but his story about Rich has altered since some attention-grabbing tweets. On May 16, he mentioned Rich for the first time, after a follower asked what he thought of the conspiracy theory that Rich was tied to the release of thousands of internal DNC documents.

On May 19, Dotcom asked for Google to release the contents of Rich’s Gmail account, as well as two accounts that online sleuths had claimed belonged to him.

Later that day, Dotcom said that he was willing to “give written testimony with evidence” that Rich had passed the DNC documents to WikiLeaks.

That attracted the interest of Hannity, who had devoted several segments of his radio and TV show to the conspiracy theory. Dotcom then claimed that he would be able to reveal what he knew after talking to lawyers.

But in a Tuesday message that Dotcom posted on his website, he claimed only to know that “Seth Rich was involved” in the DNC hack, and that he would give his full statement after a “guarantee from Special Counsel [Robert S.] Mueller, on behalf of the United States, of safe passage from New Zealand to the United States and back.”

So it sounds like we won’t be getting a full statement. It’s unlikely the US will give Dotcom safe passage to allow him to grandstand on Fox’s Hannity show.

Dotcom is linked to Wikileaks.

WikiLeaks’s Julian Assange had persistently fed rumors of a connection with Rich without providing evidence. He has offered a $20,000 reward for information about Rich’s killer, and he has used an interview with Dutch television, an interview with Hannity and several tweets to suggest that Rich’s case showed why WikiLeaks sources tread carefully. He has never explicitly said whether Rich was a source.

But Dotcom did.

The collapse of the story came only after a number of conservative voices drew attention to it. On Monday, Rush Limbaugh told listeners that Dotcom was “renowned” and “world famous,” with a story to tell.

“This story is now starting to get legs, that Seth Rich was murdered, it was a contract hire killing because he was leaking to WikiLeaks,” Limbaugh said.

On Tuesday, Hannity told his radio listeners that he would keep fighting to disprove “this Russia collusion narrative” and be proven right.

“I will do the mainstream media’s job like I have for most of my career,” Hannity said. “All you in the liberal media, I am not Fox.com or FoxNews.com. I retracted nothing.”

But…

…on the Tuesday night episode of Hannity’s show — the one that conspiracy theorists hoped would showcase the “game-changer” interview with Dotcom — Hannity said he had exchanged letters which Rich’s family and would not discuss the story.

“Out of respect for the family, I am not discussing this matter at this time,” Hannity said. “But to the extent of my ability I am not going to stop trying to find the truth.”

In the meantime he could stop promoting fake truth.

Fox retracts Seth Rich story

Fox News and especially Sean Hannity have pushed a story about murdered Democrat staffer Seth Rich. Kim Dotcom has been given airtime by Hannity.

Salon: Newt Gingrich and Sean Hannity keep Seth Rich conspiracies alive

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich appeared on “Fox and Friends” on Sunday morning, only to use his platform to further promulgate the previously debunked conspiracy theory that former Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was assassinated because he was the source that provided Wikileaks with tens of thousands of hacked Democratic Party emails.

“We have this very strange story now of this young man who worked for the Democratic National Committee, who apparently was assassinated at 4 in the morning, having given WikiLeaks something like 53,000 emails and 17,000 attachments,” Gingrich told Fox News. “Nobody’s investigating that, and what does that tell you about what’s going on? Because it turns out, it wasn’t the Russians. It was this young guy who, I suspect, was disgusted by the corruption of the Democratic National Committee. He’s been killed, and apparently nothing serious has been done to investigative his murder. So I’d like to see how [Robert S.] Mueller [III] is going to define what his assignment is.”

Gingrich didn’t just say it could be a possibility that Rich was the Wikileaks source or that the murder may be worth some sort of further investigation, he baselessly asserted that Rich was the source — on national television — and that it effectively negated any alleged Russian involvement.

But Gingrich isn’t even the only notable person peddling this theory, it’s also being peddled by Sean Hannity, and more recently Kim Dotcom, the internet entrepreneur who founded Megaupload.

Hannity who has increasingly gone on Trump-like twitter sprees over the recent months has not been able to contain himself from spreading this theory along with the hashtag #SethRich to his nearly 2.5 million followers.

Dotcom on the other hand, has has recently inserted himself into this situation, and claimed that he has irrefutable evidence that Rich was the Wikileaks source, and will be releasing some sort of statement on Tuesday, though it’s currently not clear what that will consist of.

Hannity has been busy on Twitter.

Fox has now retracted: Statement on coverage of Seth Rich murder investigation

On May 16, a story was posted on the Fox News website on the investigation into the 2016 murder of DNC Staffer Seth Rich. The article was not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all our reporting. Upon appropriate review, the article was found not to meet those standards and has since been removed.

We will continue to investigate this story and will provide updates as warranted.

Dotcom announced this week — seemingly out of nowhere — that he would release the information on his website Tuesday, but the supposed bombshell drop that many were desperately hoping for was quite anticlimactic.

“I KNOW THAT SETH RICH WAS INVOLVED IN THE DNC LEAK,” Dotcom — who is fighting extradition charges to the U.S. from New Zealand — wrote on his site.

I know this because in late 2014 a person contacted me about helping me to start a branch of the Internet Party in the United States. He called himself Panda. I now know that Panda was Seth Rich.

Panda advised me that he was working on voter analytics tools and other technologies that the Internet Party may find helpful.

I communicated with Panda on a number of topics including corruption and the influence of corporate money in politics.

“The Rich family has reached out to me to ask that I be sensitive to their loss in my public comments. That request is entirely reasonable,” he continued. “I have consulted with my lawyers. I accept that my full statement should be provided to the authorities and I am prepared to do that so that there can be a full investigation. My lawyers will speak with the authorities regarding the proper process.”

In reality, the Rich family thanked Fox News for retracting the story, according to CNN reporter Oliver Darcy.

Bill O’Reilly leaving Fox

Following controversy over allegations of sexual harassment of female colleagues Fox News has dumped one of their most prominent presenters, Bill O’Reilly.

StatementFoxOreilly

 

Trump defends O’Reilly over sexual harassment

I think it would have been wise for Donald Trump to keep as far away as possible from issues involving sexual harassment, but he has said he thinks Bill O’Reilly (Fox News) should not have settled over claims of sexual harassment.

Hollywood Reporter: Trump Defends Bill O’Reilly: “He Shouldn’t Have Settled”

President Donald Trump is standing by Bill O’Reilly.

Trump praised the Fox News anchor while discussing the alleged unmasking of former national security adviser Susan E. Rice with the New York Times on Wednesday.

“I think he’s a person I know well — he is a good person,” said Trump of the O’Reilly Factor host while speaking from his desk in the Oval Office. “I think he shouldn’t have settled; personally I think he shouldn’t have settled. Because you should have taken it all the way. I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.”

a) How would Trump know whether O”Reilly had done anything wrong or not?

b) Why the hell is he involving himself in an issue like this?

Over the weekend, the Times published an exposé detailing claims against the O’Reilly and Fox News that resulted in $13 million in payouts from both. According to the report, five women alleged that O’Reilly sexually harassed them or engaged in other forms of inappropriate behavior. Two of the settlements were previously known, but the Times uncovered three additional settlements, two involving women who alleged sexual harassment and another who claimed O’Reilly verbally abused her.

Fox News has reportedly renewed its contract with O’Reilly, despite the claims.

Since the report, nearly two dozen advertisers have pulled ads from the program and The National Organization for Women (NOW) is now calling for Fox News to fire O’Reilly and, linking the claims to those against former Fox News chief Roger Ailes, launch an investigation into the “culture of sexual harassment at Fox News.”

Ailes resigned from Fox last July after allegations of sexual harassment.

Reuters: Fox News chief Ailes resigns after sexual harassment claims

Roger Ailes on Thursday resigned as chairman and chief executive of Fox News Channel following allegations of sexual harassment, an abrupt end to his 20-year rein over America’s most lucrative and powerful cable news channel for conservatives.

“I take particular pride in the role that I have played advancing the careers of the many women I have promoted to executive and on-air positions,” Ailes wrote in the letter, which his lawyer Susan Estrich provided to Reuters.

The resignation marks a swift downfall for Ailes, the 76-year-old media executive who advised several U.S. Republican presidents, including George H.W. Bush, and turned Fox News into the most-watched U.S. cable news channel.

His departure comes on the final and biggest night of the Republican National Convention, where Donald Trump will formally accept the Republican presidential nomination.

Trump tweeted on Thursday, “Roger Ailes just called. He is a great guy & assures me that ‘Trump’ will be treated fairly on @FoxNews. His word is always good!”

But Ailes is still under fire. Two days ago from NY Times: More Trouble at Fox News: Ailes Faces New Sexual Claims and O’Reilly Loses Two Advertisers

The sexual harassment scandal that engulfed Fox News last year and led to the ouster of its chairman, Roger Ailes, continued to batter the network on Monday, as a new lawsuit described unwanted sexual advances by Mr. Ailes and two major advertisers pulled their spots from the show of its top-rated host, Bill O’Reilly.

Earlier on Monday, Julie Roginsky, a current Fox News contributor, filed a lawsuit against Mr. Ailes, Fox News and Bill Shine, the network’s co-president, asserting that she faced retaliation for rebuffing Mr. Ailes’s sexual advances and for refusing to disparage Gretchen Carlson, the former Fox News host who sued Mr. Ailes last summer.

And a former regular guest on Mr. O’Reilly’s program, Wendy Walsh, who had recounted her allegations against him to The Times, held a news conference with her lawyer to discuss those claims and to call for an independent inquiry into sexual harassment at the network.

And Salon claims Feds investigating Fox News for possible hush payments to alleged sexual harassment victims

Mark Kranz, the cable news channel’s former chief financial officer, is reportedly cooperating with a federal investigation of payments that were made to women who claim to have been victims of sexual harassment by Ailes during his Fox News years.

Through his attorneys, the Fox News founder has repeatedly denied these allegations.

According to the Financial Times, Kranz is one of “multiple” Fox News executives who have been subpoenaed by U.S. attorneys who are looking into allegations that Ailes used corporate funds to pay off women who accused him and other employees of illegal behavior.

The existence of the federal criminal investigation was revealed at a hearing for a $49 million civil suit initiated by Andrea Tantaros, a former Fox News commentator who has accused Ailes of operating the channel “like a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency, and misogyny.”

Those who voted for Trump would have known they were unlikely to get a President who would do much to criticise sexual harassment, but some will be surprised that he is still openly supporting people facing allegations of harassment.

The current RCP President Trump Approval Rating average:

  • Approve 40.2%
  • Disapprove 52.7%

21st Century Fox, the parent company for Fox News, has dropped on the share market over the last few days.

FoxSharemarket

21st Century Fox compared to the Dow Jones

 

Pressure on Trump as he stands by wiretap claim

Sean Spicer has flailed in attempts to explain Donald Trumps wiretap claims, while Trump continues to reassert his claims despite still producing no evidence (in public at least).

SpicerZeroIntelligence

That’s from a video of a media conference with edits shown at Business Insider – ‘CALM DOWN’: Watch Sean Spicer spar with reporters over Trump’s wiretap claims

That particular sequence went:

Spicer: Somehow, you seem to believe that you have all of this information, you’ve been read in on all of these things, which I find very interesting.

Reporter: I haven’t been read in by the FBI…but the House and Senate committees have been

Spicer: So you’re coming to some serious conclusions for a guy who has zero intelligence…ee ah…classifi…

[Laughter]

That was funny and even Spicer smiled. But it’s very ironic considering how little information Spicer has had in trying to defend the president’s accusations, and how little intelligence the President appears to have had to base his claims on.

And in his meeting with Angela Merkel Trump reiterated his claims.

Fox News: Trump stands by wiretap claim, jokes he has ‘something in common’ with Merkel

President Trump on Friday once again suggested former President Barack Obama wiretapped him during the 2016 election, joking during a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel that they have “something in common.”

Trump continues to face pressure to provide evidence for his widely disputed claims that Trump Tower was the target of an Obama administration wiretap during the presidential campaign.

On the sidelines of the press conference, Trump’s Justice Department said it had “complied” with a request from several congressional committees for information relating to surveillance during the 2016 election. A high-profile hearing is set for Monday that could turn up answers on the matter, and confirm or refute certain allegations.

At the same press conference Friday, Trump also was asked about claims originally made by a Fox News analyst regarding British intelligence services.

“We said nothing,” Trump said. “All we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for [the claim].”

Trump was referring to a report by Judge Andrew Napolitano, Fox News’ senior judicial analyst, charging that British intelligence services were involved in the alleged spying of then-candidate Trump.

The allegation was cited by spokesman Sean Spicer at Thursday’s White House briefing. British officials have vigorously denied the claims, and Fox News cannot confirm the allegations.

Napolitano’s claims  are still on Fox News’ website in a column:

Sources have told me that the British foreign surveillance service, the Government Communications Headquarters, known as GCHQ, most likely provided Obama with transcripts of Trump’s calls. The NSA has given GCHQ full 24/7 access to its computers, so GCHQ — a foreign intelligence agency that, like the NSA, operates outside our constitutional norms — has the digital versions of all electronic communications made in America in 2016, including Trump’s. So by bypassing all American intelligence services, Obama would have had access to what he wanted with no Obama administration fingerprints.

Fox News have added a link to the GCHQ’s statement.

In a public statement in the UK the Rt. Hon. Dominic Grieve QC MP, Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament, echoed the vigorous denials:

…I should make clear that the President of the United States is not able to task GCHQ to intercept an individual’s communications.

…an individual can only be the target of interception by GCHQ under a warrant signed by a Secretary of State. Such warrants can only authorise action where it is necessary and proportionate for a valid national security purpose. It is inconceivable that those legal requirements could be met in the circumstances described.

I note GCHQ’s public denial of the potentially damaging allegations against them. This was an unusual step by the Agency, but it clearly indicates the strength of feeling about this issue, and I echo that sentiment.

See UK v Trump on GCHQ accusation.

Trump contradicted himself with “We said nothing. All we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for [the claim]”. The president is saying nothing when he quotes?

“Fox News cannot confirm the allegations” – Shepard Smith said on Fox News:

Fox News cannot confirm Judge Napolitano’s commentary. Fox News knows of no evidence of any kind that the now-President of the United States was surveilled at any time, in any way. Full stop.

Bret Baier on Fox News:

We love the Judge. We love him here at Fox, but the Fox News division was never able to back up those claims, and was never reported on this show on Special Report.

So Trump appears to be relying on claims made on Fox by one person that Fox can’t verify. Why they haven’t checked things out with Judge Napolitano?

In less important news: Tillerson refuses to rule out nuclearization of Asian allies to keep North Korea in check

“Nothing has been taken off the table,” he said, when asked whether he would rule out nuclearization of the peninsula, during the interview with Fox News.

Tillerson, who’s called the past 20 years of diplomacy toward North Korea a failure, has said the world needs a new strategy.

“Let me be very clear: the policy of strategic patience has ended. If they elevate the threat of their weapons program to a level we believe requires action that option is on the table”.

This may be of historic interest: US releases secret footage of nuclear bomb tests

Nothing to worry about.