No matter how poorly Donald Trump may treat the press, his administration has deep, lasting connections to American media.
Beyond the obvious links through senior White House advisors Steve Bannon (former Breitbart chairman), Jared Kushner (former New York Observer owner) and campaign advisor Roger Ailes (former Fox News CEO), a recent investigation by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) reveals the Trump campaign gave about $150,000 to conservative outlet The Daily Caller.
Owned by Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson, the funds given to The Daily Caller were undisclosed to Fox News viewers — even though Carlson interviewed candidate Trump, appeared to promote his positions and complained about biased reporting against him.
According to the investigation, The Daily Caller received the $150,000 in 2016 in return for access to its email list server.
The Trump campaign sent about 25 emails to the news site’s email list at the tail end of the 2016 presidential election, September-November. The site touts a 20-million strong unique readership audience.
The standard price for the reach would have been around $150,000. Such email blasts would have been far more expensive closer to Election Day.
Carson himself would have received a portion of the funds as a result of his leadership role at The Daily Caller, raising serious questions about his independence during Fox News’ coverage of the presidential campaign.
Of note: Donald Trump tweeted a number of Daily Caller articles to his Twitter followers during the campaign. Later, he chose Tucker Carlson to host a two-part interview, which included access to Air Force One.
These revelations challenge the ubiquitous response from the White House that mainstream media is biased and captured solely by liberal interests.
The investigation also revealed a troubling relationship between the Web site and its nonprofit arm — The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“Our investigation uncovered that his tax-exempt charity appears to operate for the benefit of his for-profit media group, raising serious questions about whether American taxpayers are being forced to subsidize his business,” stated Lisa Graves, executive director of The Center for Media and Democracy.
“How much has he made from these arrangements? Carlson owes the American people — including the viewers who trust him — honest answers, and probably a refund,” she added.
The Daily Caller, cofounded by Carlson and Neil Patel, a former Dick Cheney aide, debuted in January 2010. The controversial firebrand Ann Coulter is a columnist. His opinion editor is Moira Bagley, the Republican National Committee's press secretary in 2008. The site's $3 million in funding comes from Wyoming financier Foster Friess, a major GOP donor of conservative and Christian causes.
The site is part of the White House's rotating press pool.