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April 03, 2019

House Democrats Want to Cross-Examine The Media For Bias -- And By "The Media," I Mean FoxNews

I was told it was dangerous for a political tribunal to hail members of the media before it to interrogate them under oath about their editorial decisions.

I guess such considerations are only in play for the leftwing media.

Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives are demanding to know why Fox News did not publish a story prior to the 2016 election about an alleged affair years before between porn star Stormy Daniels and Donald Trump. House Committee on Oversight and Reform chair Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) wrote to former Fox News reporter Diana Falzone last month demanding that she turn over any documents relating to Trump’s alleged extramarital affairs.

An article in the New Yorker last month alleged that Fox News executive Ken LaCorte spiked the story to protect Trump -- a claim LaCorte has vehemently denied, saying the story lacked corroborating evidence and that the network was merely practicing responsible journalism, as were other outlets who declined the story.

Crucially, he noted that other media companies had also passed on the story, for the same reasons -- basically, a growing understanding that Stormy Daniels was playing games with the media.

Though he would not have known it at the time, she seems to have been trying to get a whispering campaign started, to get Trump to settle her blackmail-ish demands.

Daniels and her associates were playing a bizarre cat-and-mouse game with Fox News and other outlets, trying to get their story out without fingerprints and, ultimately, without enough proof to publish.


On October 18, I got my first look at the Stormy Daniels story written by Fox reporter Diana Falzone, who primarily covered celebrity news for print and video. It wasn’t a detailed investigative piece as the media has portrayed this week, but a 9-paragraph story that sorely needed backup.

It included: a two-word confirmation -- "it's true" -- from an unnamed Daniels "spokesperson," an anonymous quote from a friend who said she'd dropped off Daniels to meet Trump at a hotel, and quotes from The Dirty [a tawdry website] owner, who said that he had spoken to Daniels in 2011 and she had confirmed the affair.

It lacked: any mention of payments, a hush money contract or any corroborating evidence beyond the two secondhand accounts.

On top of that, Stormy Daniels herself had publicly denied the whole thing, a denial she would maintain for another year.

The story wasn't close to being publishable, and my decision to hold it was a no-brainer. I didn't do it to help Trump and never said nor implied otherwise. It was such an easy call that I never even informed my direct boss or anyone in management about it.

Still, our editors told Falzone to keep digging until, a week before the election, Stormy and her friends went radio silent.

In the recent national coverage of this incident, based on an article in The New Yorker, no one has questioned why Stormy would try to leak an anti-Trump story exclusively to Fox News, seen by virtually everyone as a pro-Trump outlet. In reality, she was actually talking to a handful of others as well.

The Daily Beast later reported that it had "protracted talks" with her and had three sources confirming the affair. She was reportedly in talks with Good Morning America as well.

So why didn’t those outlets publish anything either? The best account I’ve found was written by Jacob Weisberg, Slate's then editor-in-chief, who was also chasing the story. It's a fascinating read and similar to our own experiences.


Slate's editor gives the best explanation: "Daniels said she was talking to me and sharing these details because Trump was stalling on finalizing the confidentiality agreement and paying her. Given her experience with Trump, she suspected he would stall her until after the election, and then refuse to sign or pay up."

So, Stormy Daniels would not affirm the claims -- what seemed to be happening is that she was telling her surrogates to tell the story to the media, to get the media chattering about it, to get the media to call Trump for comment, to increase pressure on Trump to get him to pay her blackmail-like demand for money for silence.

But -- this is my inference -- as she wanted to be able to represent that she had told no one in the media about it, she herself refused to tell the various media people who contacted her that the story was true.

Given that the key witness here -- actually someone who is riding the line of criminal blackmail -- refused to verify the charges she'd sent her friends and henchmen to whisper to the media about, FoxNews took a pass.

As did several other media outfits.

Will House Democrats be calling them to answer questions about their exactly-similar decision to pass on a story in which the first-hand witness refuses to confirm the claim?

And -- when do Republicans get to call CNN to the dock to get them to answer, under oath, about how they arranged to have Trump briefed about the dossier to give them the "news hook" they needed to report on it?

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posted by Ace of Spades at 07:33 PM

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