Erik Wemple

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How many times has White House press secretary Sean Spicer shaded the truth to cover for his boss? How many times has he concocted some twisted defense of a tweet from his boss? How many times has he debased himself by saying, “the tweet speaks for itself”? How many times has he cut off reporters just as they were closing in on a scam, lie or other act of depravity from his boss? How many times has he stammered when presented with stark contradictions in official White House statements, positions, etc.? How many times has he had to suffer through rearview-mirror critiques from the president himself regarding his performance in routine White House briefings?feedback
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May 24 2017
Erik Wemple has most recently been quoted in an article called Fox News fires Bob Beckel for ‘an insensitive remark to an African-American employee’. Erik Wemple said, “Fox News viewers haven’t seen a change in the tone and outlook of the network’s broadcasts since the departure last summer of chief Roger Ailes. There’s still plenty of apologism for President Trump; slanted coverage savaging Obamacare and other legacies of the former president; and demagoguing any immigration topic in sight.”. Erik Wemple has been quoted a grand total of 80 times in 59 articles.
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Erik Wemple quotes

Maybe Fox News host Bill O’Reilly is desperate these days for comic relief, considering that his show is weathering a significant pullout of advertisers following revelations that he and his employer had reached settlements with five former female employees claiming sexual harassment or mistreatment. Whatever the explanation, please play the video above to hear the King of Cable News laughing as he finishes watching that terrible video of a man being manhandled and dragged off of a Chicago-to-Louisville United Express flight. “I shouldn’t be laughing, but it’s just so bizarre,” says O’Reilly.feedback

The Pulitzer Prizes are committed to rewarding works of original and important journalism. Monday they credited this line, from the Storm Lake Times of Iowa: “It scares the bejeebers out of taxpayers, especially in defendant counties, ” wrote Art Cullen in one of the pieces that secured the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Cullen is editor of his 3, 000-circulation newspaper, and as such, he can write “bejeebers” whenever he pleases: “The style guides is whatever we come up with. We have no style or class, ” Cullen told the Erik Wemple Blog.feedback

White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Monday articulated his boss’s narcissistic foreign-policy sensibilities. Citing the U.S. strike on a Syrian air base, Spicer said, “the action that we took last week has been widely praised domestically and internationally.” Asked about the danger of getting involved in a Middle East war, Spicer showcased his un-facility with words: “No. 1, the reason that we took action was multifold. No. 1, to stop the proliferation and the deterrence of chemical weapons. When you see mass weapons of destruction being used, it should be a concern to every nation, especially our own people. The proliferation of those weapons pose a grave threat to our national security.”.feedback

The voracious recruiters at CNN are at it again: This time, they’ve managed to coax veteran investigative reporter Eric Lichtblau from his perch at the New York Times. Lichtblau will serve as assistant managing editor at CNN’s Washington bureau. A memo from Lex Haris, executive editor of the unit titled “CNN Investigates, ” describes Lichtblau’s player-coach job.feedback

A bewildering scene unfolded on CNN today at 1:09 p.m. Anchor Wolf Blitzer was chatting with correspondent Jeff Zeleny, until events interceded. “Jeff, I’m going to interrupt for a moment. Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, is briefing reporters.”.feedback

The misery of Sean Spicer’s professional life is manifest to all who have stopped to watch one of his sessions at the White House briefing room. As press secretary, he’s entrusted with defending the lies and falsehoods spread around like ice-melt by the president of the United States. The binds into which he thus girds himself are transparent to reporters, who hammer him for his obstructive and evasive answers. And the resulting polemical battles surely cannot please Spicer’s boss, who is known to watch the briefings the way he watches Don Lemon.feedback

Today Donald Trump, president of the United States, came to the defense of Bill O’Reilly, host of the cable-news-leading “O’Reilly Factor.” The King of Cable News finds his long career in danger of ending sourly after the New York Times outed him as a serial generator of complaints from female co-workers — mostly for sexual harassment. In an interview, Trump gave O’Reilly a clean bill of health on this front, saying, “I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.” That remark came in a recently published interview with the New York Times.feedback

Fox News host Bill O’Reilly is under fire based on a weekend New York Times article indicating that $13 million had been paid to five women who had received settlements after complaining about the host’s behavior. The pattern documented by these cases? “As an influential figure in the newsroom, Mr. O’Reilly would create a bond with some women by offering advice and promising to help them professionally, ” noted the newspaper. “He then would pursue sexual relationships with them, causing some to fear that if they rebuffed him, their careers would stall.”.feedback

Ever since the New York Times reported a series of sexual harassment settlements surrounding his workplace behavior, Bill O’Reilly has attempted to ride out the crisis through minimal acknowledgement. Sure, he issued a statement implausibly blaming the settlements — five of them, for sexual harassment and simple abuse — on his status as a big, fat target for complaints. On his program on Monday and Tuesday nights, however, the King of Cable News refrained from addressing the matter, an omission suggesting that O’Reilly has no good defense.feedback

Every so often, Fox News superstar Bill O’Reilly gets himself in trouble for infractions ranging from the slight to the serious. His detractors - this blog included - proceed to take a multi-platform approach to hammering him for his stupidity/offensiveness/nastiness/other. Being a combative and engaging sort of fellow, the King of Cable News appears to delight in answering the critics. And those lash-backs share a little something in common.feedback

Third in a series of posts on the media-bashing actions of the White House press secretary.feedback

A loudmouth president with 27 million Twitter followers commonly slams media outlets that report negative things about him. And then media outlets of all stripes and persuasions echo those slams - sometimes approvingly, sometimes sneeringly.feedback

Second in a likely interminable series on the proclamations of the White House press secretary.feedback

As Fox News last year was plowing through the sexual harassment scandal involving now-former network chief Roger Ailes, King of Cable News Bill O’Reilly couldn’t have been more dismissive of the victims. “In this country, every famous, powerful or wealthy person is a target. You’re a target, ” O’Reilly said in a July appearance on “Late Night” with Seth Meyers. “I’m a target. Anytime somebody could come out and sue us, attack us, go to the press or anything like that. … I stand behind Roger 100 percent.”.feedback

First in what could be an interminable series of posts on the activities of White House press secretary Sean Spicer.feedback

Flacks for Fox News are going to need a spring break. Yesterday, senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano reemerged on the network’s airwaves after getting in trouble for alleging - based on unnamed sources - that the United Kingdom assisted President Barack Obama in surveilling presidential candidate Donald Trump. “You’ve had a few quiet days, ” said host Bill Hemmer, in a clever allusion to Napolitano’s short time on the Fox News bench. After Napolitano surfaced these claims on an opinion show - the idiotic “Fox & Friends” - a representative from the network’s news side, Shepard Smith, memorably countered them on air: “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.” Smith was forced to issue that statement after a spokesman for the British GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters) issued a statement thrashing the Napolitano report, which had been cited by White House press secretary Sean Spicer.feedback

Thanks to the dysfunction stemming from his boss, White House press secretary Sean Spicer is getting heavy exposure to the public via televised daily sessions in the briefing room. And the more we see of him, the nastier he appears.feedback

Veteran network newsman Ted Koppel didn’t say “Sean Hannity is bad for America, ” though you might have gathered as much from reading various summaries of the segment from “CBS Sunday Morning” in which Koppel interviewed the Fox News host, among several others, about the country’s partisan divide. The sequence went like this.feedback

Just last week, White House press secretary Sean Spicer verily pounded the podium in the briefing room, imploring reporters to examine matters of “substance” above all else. “You seem to have an obsession with the process and not the substance, ” Spicer told NBC News’s Peter Alexander regarding intelligence leaks.feedback

Earlier this week, this blog considered a question from a reader about whether Fox News could be categorized as an organ of the mainstream media. The answer: In terms of reach and impact, absolutely. In terms of standards, no way. The trouble is that Fox News, seizing on a convention of mainstream newspapering, has set up a stark division between news and opinion divisions - with programs like “Special Report” in the former and “Fox & Friends, ” “The O’Reilly Factor” and “Hannity” in the latter.feedback

At a joint news conference Friday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Trump fielded a question from a German journalist as to whether he felt it was a “mistake” to accuse British intelligence of assisting former President Barack Obama in allegedly surveilling him. Wrapped up in the question was a pivotal question about the relationship between the Trump White House and the conservative media. After all, the claim about British intelligence stemmed directly from a report by Fox News’s Andrew Napolitano, a former New Jersey judge.feedback

There was a time when a guy like Judge Andrew Napolitano could make some marginal remarks on Fox News, and only a large plume of non-White House officials would take him seriously. Perhaps a website or two would pick up on them. Then everyone would move on to other matters.feedback

Kyle Becker works at the Independent Journal Review with the title of lead editor and director of viral media. Today he posted a story with this headline: “Ex-President Obama Made ‘Surprise Visit’ to Hawaii, Just Days Before Judge Issued Travel Ban Ruling.” Though that headline seems tightly factual, it was filed under the banner of “OPINION.”.feedback

David Cay Johnston, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who came up with two pages from Donald Trump’s 2005 tax return, ripped the White House for its handling of his Tuesday scoop. “This is, to anybody in the news business, totally unethical, ” said Johnston in a chat with Joe Madison on SiriusXM News & Issues. “They took my exclusive story before it went up at DC Report, which is my website, DC Report. They went and gave it to other reporters, that’s just you don’t do that. I’ve never had a company or a White House all the way back to Nixon do anything within a million miles of that and then they acknowledged the document but they had this nasty statement that they put out. And they never officially got back to me they put out a statement, which tells you this really got under Donald Trump’s skin.”.feedback

There has been some speculation that President Trump orchestrated the tax-return leak that last night turned MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow into a Twitter sensation.feedback

Defending the positions of the Trump administration is a hazardous duty, as State Department acting spokesman Mark Toner demonstrated Wednesday in a briefing at Foggy Bottom. Reporters came to the session with multiple questions regarding media access to the ongoing trip of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Asia. News emerged last week that the State Department wouldn’t be allowing reps of State Department press corps onto Tillerson’s plane, breaking with a long tradition in U.S. international diplomacy.feedback

The world would be a much better place if cable-news outlets would act like newspapers when they have scoops. Which is to say, just publish them. Cable news, however, is cable news - an industry that tussles over ratings to such a degree that quiet humility has ceased to be an option. If your show has something new, it behooves you to hype it. And so, early yesterday evening, the Twitter account of the “Rachel Maddow Show” promised viewers this.feedback

In a Facebook Live chat at SXSW, NBC News’s Chuck Todd talked about his organization’s plans for the heartland. “We’re trying to have a Denver bureau again. We haven’t had a Denver bureau in a while, ” said the “Meet the Press” moderator in a talk with Shira Lazar. He also spoke of expanding the Chicago bureau.feedback

A joint news conference in February between President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prompted numerous complaints from big-time media outlets. They’d been shut out of the Q&A session in favor of news outlets that they considered friendly to the interests of the Trump White House. In a discussion about the kerfuffle, Fox News host Shannon Bream asked colleague Howard Kurtz whether such outlets had fretted in the past, when Fox News had been iced out.feedback

As noted in this space last month, a lawyer representing a former Fox News host said in a court proceeding that he’d received a subpoena in connection with a federal investigation of the network. That subpoena, said attorney Judd Burstein, was related to the sexual harassment scandal surrounding ousted Fox News chief Roger Ailes (Ailes has denied the sexual harassment claims). Burstein deduced that the authorities were “investigating whether Fox News violated securities laws by not reporting settlements to the Securities and Exchange Commission, ” he said in a hearing at the New York State Supreme Court.feedback

As a candidate, Donald Trump famously called into question the government’s official unemployment numbers. “Such a phony number, ” said Trump in a 2015 news conference with regard to the then-5.1 percent rate. On a subsequent occasion, he said, “the five percent figure is one of the biggest hoaxes in modern politics.”.feedback

Fox News manages its programming blocks on the basis of a loose federalism: Depending on what time you tune in to the No. 1 cable news provider, you’ll find differing takes on President Trump and his White House. Early mornings? Putrid Trump sycophancy from the “Fox & Friends” crew. Mid-morning? Much better coverage from the likes of Bill Hemmer and Shannon Bream. Prime time? Lots of very creative defenses of our 45th president.feedback

Fox News Chief White House correspondent John Roberts today appeared at a journalism symposium at the National Press Club with a stern message: “We’ve got to stop whining, ” said Roberts in a multi-person panel of journalists discussing coverage of the Trump White House. “We’ve got to just do our jobs and it’s … almost like working in a war zone. The hours are long, it’s difficult to get information, you’ve got to beat people over the head, you’ve got to work your sources to the best of your abilities to get information, ” said Roberts, who emphasized that President Trump was a “nontraditional” politician.feedback

The notion that President Trump lies has gone mainstream. “Trump Repeats Lie About Popular Vote in Meeting With Lawmakers, ” blared the headline of a Jan. 23 story in the New York Times regarding the president’s claim that 3 million to 5 million unauthorized immigrants voted for Hillary Clinton in November, depriving him of a win in the popular vote. A BuzzFeed feature runs under the headline, “Here’s A Running List Of President Trump’s Lies And Other B-------.” Greg Sargent, a colleague of the Erik Wemple Blog, has written on this topic under this headline, “Yes, Donald Trump ‘lies.’ A lot. And news organizations should say so.”.feedback

The cable news panel discussion is a voracious beast, especially at CNN. For big events during the 2016 campaign, the network assembled a small village of anchors, analysts, commentators and correspondents, the better to fill the programming demands of a 24-7 network.feedback

If White House officials suddenly stopped appearing on Fox News, who’d suffer more: the White House or Fox News?feedback

One news outlet last month reported that former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson was about to sign with MSNBC. Another news outlet countered that such a notion was “bogus.”.feedback

Don't let the FAKE NEWS tell you that there is big infighting in the Trump Admin. We are getting along great, and getting major things done!feedback

News organizations have struggled to devise deployments that enable them to respond to whatever tweet President Trump happens to be formulating, at whatever odd hour he chooses to formulate it. They have teams of people who are constantly monitoring @realdonaldtrump and ready to process, fact-check and otherwise cover every social-media twitch of the president of the United States.feedback

Such a critique may, in fact, give Trump too much credit as an organized and linear strategist.feedback

Pfhew! The New York Times has finally found the formula. For months and months, its reporting displeased Donald Trump. He called it “failing, ” “inaccurate, ” a “joke” and many, many other things. Now look at what’s happening - this same newspaper is now being cited as a journalistic authority by the “very famous” Trump White House. What a turnaround!feedback

Among those whose weekend President Trump ruined is Sarah Huckabee Sanders, principal deputy press secretary at the White House. She appeared Sunday on ABC News’s “This Week” to defend tweets from her boss on Saturday morning making some towering allegations.feedback

I've never understood why after 176 years of writing political platforms the Democratic Party doesn't simply say, We were responsible for slavery and segregation. We apologize. Let's name the injustice – we were responsible for creating this culture of race in this country and we're sorry.' I mean, I just don't understand what's wrong with that.feedback

In the aftermath of the 2016 election, WikiLeaks enjoyed bragging about the impact of its repeated dumps of emails targeting Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman and the Democratic National Committee.feedback

It was a cross between Poynter.org and “The Five.” Today at a journalism conference titled “Covering Trump” and organized by the Columbia Journalism Review, a Breitbart editor faced off against representatives of four news organizations that - well, let’s just say that their one-time leader is not now a top adviser to President Trump. John Carney, financial editor for Breitbart, asked his fellow panelists, “Do you think you have enough people who understand and sympathize with Trump’s worldview in your news organizations or do you think you are predominantly staffed by people who view Trump’s point of view as not just wrong but probably also evil?”.feedback

President Trump likes to boast about how, as president, he’s in an exquisite position to judge the value of news reports coming out of the White House. “Here’s the thing: The public isn’t - you know, they read newspapers, they see television, they watch. They don’t know if it’s true or false because they’re not involved, ” said Trump at that memorable Feb. 16 news conference. “I’m involved. I’ve been involved with this stuff all my life. But I’m involved. So I know when you’re telling the truth or when you’re not. I just see many, many untruthful things.”.feedback

Days before taking office in January, then-President-elect Donald Trump shouted down CNN correspondent Jim Acosta after his news organization had reported that the highest officials in the U.S. government had been briefed on a dossier outlining alleged contacts between Trump World and Russia. “You are fake news, ” said Trump in a combative posture that made no shortage of headlines.feedback

BuzzFeed has started that process and pledges to continue pursuing it. So why post the documents now?feedback

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