Over the past two years there has been a lot of talk about President Trump’s alleged attack on the First Amendment. This is, facially, bullsh**. If someone can find someone who was prevented from printing anything they wanted to about Trump, including the most scurrilous CNN-fabricated falsehoods, by the intervention of the federal government I will kiss their ass at a time and place of their choosing and give them 24-hours to draw a crowd. All of what the media has billed as “chilling” the First Amendment has been Trump and his White House calling out no-talent and highly partisan hacks like Jim Acosta for what they are.
This is not to say there aren’t attempts underway by the government to harass and intimidate the press. There are. This is one of them.
A former Fox reporter named Diana Falzone is suing Fox News for sex discrimination and for failure to accommodate her medical issues. As part of the lawsuit, Falzone contends that she had nailed, so to speak, the Story Daniels story shortly before the 2016 election and Fox spiked the story:
When Shine assumed command at Fox, the 2016 campaign was nearing its end, and Trump and Clinton were all but tied. That fall, a FoxNews.com reporter had a story that put the network’s journalistic integrity to the test. Diana Falzone, who often covered the entertainment industry, had obtained proof that Trump had engaged in a sexual relationship in 2006 with a pornographic film actress calling herself Stormy Daniels. Falzone had worked on the story since March, and by October she had confirmed it with Daniels through her manager at the time, Gina Rodriguez, and with Daniels’s former husband, Mike Moz, who described multiple calls from Trump. Falzone had also amassed e-mails between Daniels’s attorney and Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen, detailing a proposed cash settlement, accompanied by a nondisclosure agreement. Falzone had even seen the contract.
But Falzone’s story didn’t run—it kept being passed off from one editor to the next. After getting one noncommittal answer after another from her editors, Falzone at last heard from LaCorte, who was then the head of FoxNews.com. Falzone told colleagues that LaCorte said to her, “Good reporting, kiddo. But Rupert wants Donald Trump to win. So just let it go.” LaCorte denies telling Falzone this, but one of Falzone’s colleagues confirms having heard her account at the time.
Even if true, this is hardly news. We all know that Newsweek spiked the Monica Lewinsky story. We know that the media did not cover the movable brothel that was the Kennedy White House.
The editor in question, Ken LaCorte, calls bullsh** on the allegation.
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 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.
Falzone, naturally, wants to talk to House Democrats And they want to talk to her. Elijah Cummings, chairman of House Oversight and Reform Committee, has issued a subpoena for her to testify. This is what he wants:
Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows have objected:
Your inquiry to Ms. Falzone about the editorial decisions of Fox News appears to depart from responsible and legitimate oversight. It appears instead that you seek material from Ms. Falzone solely to embarrass Fox News and to discern improper motives for its editorial decisions. In addition to raising questions about whether your inquiry to Ms. Falzone is a proper use of Committee resources, it also implicates serious matters relating to the First Amendment and freedom of the press.
Mr. Chairman, our time is short. We should not waste our limited resources and energies on matters that do not improve the operations of the federal government or better the lives of our
constituents. We urge you to reconsider your ill-conceived inquiry about the editorial decisions of Fox News. However, if you chose to continue examining the editorial decision of a news
organization, we respectfully ask what you would do if a witness approached the Committee with information about CNN or MSNBC refusing to publish a news story due to a bias against
the President. If such a witness came forward, would you be willing to seek documents and a transcribed interview with that individual?
Jordan and Meadows are exactly right. Cummings’s interest in Falzone is simply a subterfuge for the real agenda. This is simply an effort by Cummings and committee Democrats to delve into the editorial decisions made by a news network. It is wildly inappropriate as FoxNews (or CNN or MSNBC) has the right to run any story they wish…or not run any story they wish…without answering a single question from any member of Congress.
LaCorte has refused to have anything to do with Cummings and his clown show and I suspect we’ll see no more of this nonsense.
This is the totalitarian impulse of the Democrat party on display. Their monomaniacal focus on FoxNews is caused by FoxNews, for the present moment, not being part of the progressive media operation. While they may claim that President Trump is damaging the First Amendment by his disregard for the White House press corps, this is what an actual assault on the First Amendment looks like.
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