MRC’s Graham Questions NYT’s Motives in Publishing Trump Tax Docs

The Media Research Center’s Tim Graham appeared on CNN’s Reliable Sources Sunday to discuss The New York Times’ recent article featuring leaked information about Donald Trump’s taxes. Even though the information is striking, Graham took issue with the Times’ motives for writing the way they did, “They have the anonymous tax expert on the front page of the paper today say he benefited from his vast destruction, like he was Hurricane Donald.”

“This paper has all the restraint of a pack of flesh of eating zombies,” Graham joked, “The idea that anyone would take them seriously when they’ve announced on the front page that their job is to take him down, when they’ve done repeated editorials about how he needs to be defeated.”

Host Brian Stelter tried to claim that there was no connection between the Times’ editorial board and their newsroom. He backed up his claim by ridiculously pointing out that the departments are on different floors. “Having worked there in the past, the editorial page is produced way upstairs; the newsroom is downstairs,” Stelter argued.

Graham also point out how the network news outlets, parroted the Clinton Campaign, by glorifying the development as a “bombshell,” while not running with news damaging to Clinton:

Susanne Craig did a story a few days ago about Hillary Clinton and Goldman Sachs, I don't remember the networks coming on that morning and saying, “Bombshell explosion: Story that's really going to damage Hillary’s campaign.” Because everybody is out to destroy Trump. That is their job, that is the way they see it, and that is why the American people is saying, “We don’t trust the media.”

Stelter tried to paint Graham’s position as being against anonymous sources as a way of getting critical information to the public. “Anonymous sources are for important information, when you have information, you cannot get any other way,” Graham explained, “What we see too often in political and news media today… is you use anonymous sources to say incredibly nasty things.” He went on to elaborate saying, “Often from political consultants who have clients they’re trying to be friends of, like, “I cannot say nasty things about other Republicans because they may hire me later this year.””

The two also spared over presidential debate moderator Lester Holt, with Stelter criticizing Trump’s disapproval of Holt’s biased approach. “Obviously the whole news media sent before the debate telling Lester, “Truth squad Trump. Truth squad Trump.” No truth squad Hillary,” Graham countered. Stelter claimed that the called were for the moderator to fact-check both candidates.

But the Sunday before the debate Stelter was arguing that Trump “require[s] a different kind of moderator.” Plus, Stelter seemed to back up Univision’s Jorge Ramos’ personal crusade against the GOP candidate, while he went after Associated Press reporters who examined Clinton’s calendars. Ironically, later on in the show, the Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan said she believes there is a “way of thinking that many members of the media share” and that it creeps into their content. 

Transcript below:

CNN
Reliable Sources
October 2, 2016
11:05:35 AM Eastern

BRIAN STELTER: Here to talk more about these new revelations and what it means for the rest of the campaign, let me bring in John Avlon a CNN Political Analyst, the Editor-In-Chief of the Daily Beast, and Tim Graham the Executive Editor of NewsBusters a project of the conservative Media Research Center

John, let me ask you, do you expect any legal action from Trump as a result of the story, of course, keeping in mind his organization did threaten to sue before the Times published?

JOHN AVLON: Sure. Look, Trump’s first impulse is to threaten legal action and he can file whatever suit he liked, but he does not have much grounds to stand on. In fact, if you look at Trump's history of failed first amendment lawsuits from Bill Maher, to the reporter Tim O'Brien, to even the Chicago Tribune where he sued because their architectural critic in the 1980s described the Trump Tower as being atheistically lousy. Generally, these suits get thrown out of court. It is an intimidation tactic that doesn’t seem to be much rooted in legal reality, but it can have a chilling effect and that’s its intent. It did not in this case and it should, and it should not going forward.

STELTER: Tim, you’re a frequent critic of The New York Times, do you see something in this story that feels wrong, that feels off base?

TIM GRAHAM: Well, once again, we have all kinds of anonymous sources. This story, to just call it just plain reporting is wrong—

STELTER: What do you mean anonymous sources? They published the documents from 1995 in the newspaper.

GRAHAM: They have the anonymous tax expert on the front page of the paper today say he benefited from his vast destruction, like he was Hurricane Donald. This paper has all the restraint of a pack of flesh of eating zombies. The idea that anyone would take them seriously when they’ve announced on the front page that their job is to take him down, when they’ve done repeated editorials about how he needs to be defeated. Today it’s all about how the Latinos—

STELTER: The editorial page is separate from the newsroom though. Having worked there in the past, the editorial page is produced way upstairs; the newsroom is downstairs. There are differences between them. 

Tell the Truth 2016

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GRAHAM: Susanne Craig did a story a few days ago about Hillary Clinton and Goldman Sachs, I don't remember the networks coming on that morning and saying, “Bombshell explosion: Story that's really going to damage Hillary’s campaign.” Because everybody is out to destroy Trump. That is their job, that is the way they see it, and that is why the American people is saying, “We don’t trust the media.”

AVLON [Starting while Graham is speaking]: He is just a victim— When did the conservative movement started loving to play victim so much? When did that start happening?

STELTER: I’m trying to find the quote, Tim, in the story you were referring to an anonymous expert. I can’t find it in the story.

GRAHAM: It’s right on the front page.  

STELTER: Again, I am looking at right now and pulling it and I was searching the keywords, because I do want to make sure I find this and verify this. I don't see a referenced of a hurricane you are mentioning.

GRAHAM: I’m not saying—

STELTER: Do you believe The New York Times is wrong for trying to obtain information about his taxes?

GRAHAM: No, I am saying nobody believes that when they are looking at this information that they're non-partisan or disinterested journalists. We all understand, yes anybody who’s running for president, you want to look about their background, and in this case the candidate’s business record, that’s fair. But everybody understands, The New York Times declared on the front page, we are not here to be fair this year, we are here to beat this man. They’re basically suggesting that he's a threat like Adolf Hitler or Saddam Hussein. That's the level of restrain we’ve seen in this campaign. 

...

STELTER: Tim, I believe your position here is anonymous sources are, you know what, not acceptable or not appropriate to be using for stories?

GRAHAM: Anonymous sources are for important information, when you have information, you cannot get any other way. What we see too often in political and news media today, as I suggested in the previous segment, is you use anonymous sources to say incredibly nasty things. Often from political consultants who have clients they’re trying to be friends of, like, “I cannot say nasty things about other Republicans because they may hire me later this year.” What you’re saying when you’re a news source is, “Trust us, this person does not have an agenda.” Well, when a newspaper or a network has a partisan agenda, then you are not going to tend to trust your anonymous sources either.

STELTER: Tim, tell me why do you think Trump is bringing this up repeatedly. Do you that working the refs is a smart strategy for him?

GRAHAM: Working the refs is a terrible analogy. If Lester Holt was referencing a football game, he would have gotten thrown out of the stadium.

STELTER: Why?

GRAHAM: I think the Saturday Night Live skit I would done, if I was running the show, Lester Holt—it sort of be like the end of top gun where he lands on the flight deck after beating the Russians and everybody applause applauds him. Obviously the whole news media sent before the debate telling Lester, “Truth squad Trump. Truth squad Trump.” No truth squad Hillary.—

STELTER: Truth squad both of them. Fact-check both of them.

GRAHAM: He heard the lesson and he obviously did this in a way that –

STELTER: It is not Lester Holt fault when Donald Trump lies more than Clinton on the stage.

GRAHAM: But the whole assumption of liberal media is Hillary never lies.

Tell the Truth 2016 Campaigns & Elections 2016 Presidential Economy Taxes Media Bias Debate Covert Liberal Activists Political Scandals CNN Reliable Sources Major Newspapers New York Times Video Tim Graham Brian Stelter Donald Trump Hillary Clinton