WEBCommentary Contributor

Author: Michael J. Gaynor
Date:  March 1, 2016

Topic category:  Partisan Politics

Fox News Hasn't Been "Fair and Balanced" with Respect to the Republican Presidential Nomination Race

The Horowitz article indicates that while Trump has been great for Fox News ratings, the powers that be there don't expect him to do what Murdoch wants and saw Rubio as Murdoch's best hope before that first debate

On February 28, 2016, Newsmax reported (http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/fox-news-percption-low/2016/02/28/id/716535/#ixzz41eXD6LR9):

"As of mid-February, the perception of Fox News Channel among conservatives was at a three-year low, YouGov BrandIndex reports.

"The slide among Republican adults age 18 and older, coincided with the first GOP presidential debate hosted by Fox News in early August, when front-runner Donald Trump clashed with moderator Megyn Kelly."

Fox News has been going down with conservatives as Trump has become the leading Republican presidential hopeful.

The last CNN poll gave Trump 49%, more than three times as much as his closest competitors, Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.

Apparently the efforts of the powers that be at Fox News to boost Rubio and bash Trump have not worked out well for either Fox News or Rubio.

On February 27, 2016, The New York Times published a very important article by Jason Horowitz titled "Marco Rubio Pushed for Immigration Reform with Conservative Media" (www.nytimes.com/2016/02/28/us/politics/marco-rubio-pushed-for-immigration-reform-with-conservative-media.html?_r=1).

That article offers general insight as to the relationship between politicians and the media establishment and particular insight into what Fox News has been up to this election season.

It's time to look back at the first Republican presidential candidates debate and to acknowledge that when Donald Trump said he was treated unfairly, he had cause to say so.

Horowitz reported:

"A few weeks after Senator Marco Rubio joined a bipartisan push for an immigration overhaul in 2013, he arrived alongside Senator Chuck Schumer at the executive dining room of News Corporation’s Manhattan headquarters for dinner.

"Their mission was to persuade Rupert Murdoch, the owner of the media empire, and Roger Ailes, the chairman and chief executive of its Fox News division, to keep the network’s on-air personalities from savaging the legislation and give it a fighting chance at survival.

"Mr. Murdoch, an advocate of immigration reform, and Mr. Ailes, his top lieutenant and the most powerful man in conservative television, agreed at the Jan. 17, 2013, meeting to give the senators some breathing room."

The Gang of Eight remembered what happened to proposed "comprehensive immigration reform" in 2007 and feared a word--amnesty--would again block it.

So New York's senior senator, ACORN honoree Chuck Schumer, and Florida's junior Senator, then Tea Party favorite Rubio, worked to weaken opposition to what they called "comprehensive immigration reform," including a path to citizenship for illegal aliens.

Reportedly, Murdoch and Ailes advised Schumer and Rubio on strategy:

"...the media executives, highly attuned to the intensifying anger in the Republican grass roots, warned that the senators also needed to make their case to Rush Limbaugh, the king of conservative talk radio, who held enormous sway with the party’s largely anti-immigrant base."

Reportedly, that advice was taken and Rubio courted Limbaugh:

Horowitz: "The dinner at News Corporation headquarters — which has not been previously reported — and the subsequent outreach to Mr. Limbaugh illustrate the degree to which Mr. Rubio served as the chief envoy to the conservative media for the group supporting the legislation."

Horowitz wryly noted that Rubio's Gang of Eight activities now are detrimental to his chance to become President:

"Mr. Rubio is not eager to highlight as he takes on Donald J. Trump, his rival for the Republican presidential nomination, who has made his vow to crack down on illegal immigration a centerpiece of his campaign."

To be sure, Horowitz is right about that.

Perhaps more importantly, Horowitz's report casts light on the first Republican presidential candidates debate, which Fox News hosted, particularly Bret Baier's question at the beginning of the debate and Megyn Kelly's personal assurance that there's a war on women and Trump is part of it.

That Baier question seems to have been designed either to pressure Trump to support whoever wins the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, lest he be depicted as a sore loser, and to help Rubio, who showed a willingness to push for that pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens that Murdoch wants.

Kelly's question seems to have been designed to promote the Republican War on Women canard and to make Trump unnominateable as well as unelectable.

No wonder Trump was angered.

More importantly, the implications of Team Rubio's connections to the way that first debate was "moderated" have become even more disconcerting as a result of the Horowitz reporting.

"Breitbart News' Matthew Boyle reported (www.breitbart.com/big-government/2016/01/28/trump-campaign-manager-exposes-that-fox-news-executive-in-charge-of-debates-has-daughter-working-for-marco-rubio/):

"Corey Lewandowski, the campaign manager for 2016 GOP frontrunner Donald Trump, exposed a blatant conflict of interest on Wednesday that the Fox News Channel has been hiding for months. Lewandowski showed how Fox News has been hiding the fact that Fox News Channel Vice President Bill Sammon has a daughter working for the campaign of the Washington establishment-backed Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).

"Sammon’s daughter, Brooke Sammon, is Rubio’s national press secretary, and obviously both have a vested interest in the success of the Rubio campaign and the demise of the other campaigns.

"CNN’s Erin Burnett asked Lewandowski about Fox News’s controversial anti-Trump statement from Tuesday evening—and specifically the network’s claim that the top Trump aide had allegedly made threats against Fox News anchor and Thursday debate co-moderator Megyn Kelly—when he responded by dropping the explosive revelation.

"Lewandowski revealed two things for the first time: that the executive he was discussing matters with was Bill Sammon, and that Sammon’s daughter Brooke Sammon works for Rubio’s campaign, giving the first-term Floridian Senator an obvious boost. That blatant conflict of interest has never before been disclosed to the viewers of Fox News by the network."

As I wrote in "Team Trump Trumps Fox News by Exposing Undisclosed Conflict of Interest Tainting Its Republican Presidential Debates" (www.webcommentary.com/php/ShowArticle.php?id=gaynorm&date=160129):

"Lewandowski...said that Sammon is 'one of the executives on Fox that writes the debate questions so maybe he has his own ulterior motives, I’m not sure.'

"Unsurprisingly, Team Rubio responded by attacking Breitbart News.

"Rubio communications director Alex Conant: 'It’s no secret Breitbart traffics in conspiracy theories, but this accusation is a whole new level of crazy. Brooke is a star of our campaign and her integrity and professionalism is second to none. If you’re worried about someone’s integrity, you should do some serious self examination.'

"But, as Boyle reported, 'Conant has not answered a pair of follow-up questions. One question Conant won’t answer centers specifically on whether Brooke Sammon has ever in any way communicated with her father about the Rubio campaign–including regarding debate matters. The other question Conant won’t answer is why, if "Breitbart traffics in conspiracy theories," Sen. Rubio’s campaign provides Breitbart News with exclusives like the one earlier on Wednesday about his new ad targeting Evangelical voters.'

"Is there a legitimate basis to question Fox News' journalistic integrity?

"As Trump supporter Sarah Palin would say, 'You betcha!'

"Boyle explained it this way:

"Bill Sammon is a Fox News Channel Vice President and the bureau chief of that network’s Washington, D.C. team. Several times leading up to the previous Megyn Kelly-co-moderated debate back in August 2015, it was confirmed that Sammon was personally involved in crafting the entire focus of the debate.

"'For instance, on Howard Kurtz’s Aug. 2 Media Buzz show on the Fox News Channel, Kurtz and Fox’s Chris Stirewalt confirmed that Sammon is the "secret weapon" crafting the questions.

"'You’ve been to this rodeo before,' Kurtz asked Stirewalt. 'How do you and Megyn Kelly and Bret Baier and Chris Wallace go about formulating your questions, knowing the candidates are going to try to pivot to their talking points?'

"'Well, the first thing is we have a secret weapon and that is Bill Sammon, who is the best at not only team cohesion and keeping everybody on point about what the point is, but in crafting the questions,' Stirewalt replied before Kurtz interjected that Sammon is the Fox News Channel’s 'Washington bureau chief.'

"'Absolutely, he’s a managing editor and a great mind and a great journalist and so that is a big help,' Stirewalt finished.

"In addition, a Washington Post pre-debate profile of Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace—one of the other debate moderators alongside Megyn Kelly and Bret Baier—confirmed Sammon’s involvement in crafting the narrative of the debate. Of course, that profile quotes Wallace as saying he has several 'doozies' prepared for GOP frontrunner Donald Trump.

"'On a recent Thursday morning, Wallace walked the few steps from his small, memorabilia-filled office — his father’s Rolodex, a photo of him playing hoops with Michael Jordan — to the more spacious suite of his boss, Bill Sammon, the vice president of news, who had called together a small debate-prep meeting,' the Post’s Krissah Thompson wrote.

"Thompson then detailed what the debate-prep room was like one day when Wallace and Sammon prepared for battle, quoting the two of them extensively—and making clear that Sammon was in charge.

"What’s interesting, however, is that these people, who claim to be journalists—Wallace, Baier, Kelly, Stirewalt, Kurtz, and pretty much everyone else at the Fox News Channel, especially Sammon—all committed what is pretty much a cardinal sin in journalism: They didn’t disclose a major conflict of interest ahead of a presidential debate. That conflict, of course, is that Brooke Sammon—Rubio’s national press secretary—is the daughter of Fox News executive Bill Sammon.

"Brooke Sammon is no small player in Rubio’s orbit, either. She’s second in command to Rubio communications chief Alex Conant, and has worked for the senator for years.

"The network did not disclose this conflict of interest to anyone–most importantly, the 24 million people who watched that first debate this summer. It’s unclear why the network has hidden this detail. Other GOP presidential campaigns have been whispering about pro-Rubio bias at Fox, but none have been willing to publicly hammer the network, except for Trump.

"Lewandowski has gotten close to exposing this conflict of interest before—making an allusion to it on Good Morning Americaon Wednesday morning—but not until his CNN appearance was he so explicit.

"'It’s a shame, when you have a conversation with some of the Fox executives, you’d hope they’d keep that conversation private,' Lewandowski said on GMA. 'Instead you have executives over there who have relatives working for other campaigns. These are the people who are putting debate questions together.'"

"Who is responsible for that War on Women question Kelly asked Trump at the first Republican debate--Megyn Kelly, Bill Sammon or his daughter Brooke Sammon and Team Rubio?

"Inquiring minds want to know."

The Horowitz article indicates that while Trump has been great for Fox News ratings, the powers that be there don't expect him to do what Murdoch wants and saw Rubio as Murdoch's best hope before that first debate.

The voters deserve the "fair and balanced" Fox News promises, but does not always deliver.

Michael J. Gaynor

Biography - Michael J. Gaynor

Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member.

Gaynor graduated magna cum laude, with Honors in Social Science, from Hofstra University's New College, and received his J.D. degree from St. John's Law School, where he won the American Jurisprudence Award in Evidence and served as an editor of the Law Review and the St. Thomas More Institute for Legal Research. He wrote on the Pentagon Papers case for the Review and obscenity law for The Catholic Lawyer and edited the Law Review's commentary on significant developments in New York law.

The day after graduating, Gaynor joined the Fulton firm, where he focused on litigation and corporate law. In 1997 Gaynor and Emily Bass formed Gaynor & Bass and then conducted a general legal practice, emphasizing litigation, and represented corporations, individuals and a New York City labor union. Notably, Gaynor & Bass prevailed in the Second Circuit in a seminal copyright infringement case, Tasini v. New York Times, against newspaper and magazine publishers and Lexis-Nexis. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed, 7 to 2, holding that the copyrights of freelance writers had been infringed when their work was put online without permission or compensation.

Gaynor currently contributes regularly to www.MichNews.com, www.RenewAmerica.com, www.WebCommentary.com, www.PostChronicle.com and www.therealitycheck.org and has contributed to many other websites. He has written extensively on political and religious issues, notably the Terry Schiavo case, the Duke "no rape" case, ACORN and canon law, and appeared as a guest on television and radio. He was acknowledged in Until Proven Innocent, by Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson, and Culture of Corruption, by Michelle Malkin. He appeared on "Your World With Cavuto" to promote an eBay boycott that he initiated and "The World Over With Raymond Arroyo" (EWTN) to discuss the legal implications of the Schiavo case. On October 22, 2008, Gaynor was the first to report that The New York Times had killed an Obama/ACORN expose on which a Times reporter had been working with ACORN whistleblower Anita MonCrief.

Gaynor's email address is gaynormike@aol.com.

Copyright © 2016 by Michael J. Gaynor
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