Fox News signs former White House press secretary as contributor

FILE PHOTO: U.S. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks to the news media after giving an interview to Fox News outside of the White House in Washington, U.S. May 31, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis

(Reuters) – Fox News, owned by Fox Corp, has signed former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders as a contributor to its channels, it said on Thursday.

Sanders, who served at the White House for President Donald Trump from July 2017 through June 2019, will contribute to political commentary and analysis across all of FOX News Media, the company said.

(Reporting by Ayanti Bera in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

Twitter tumbles on fear of conservative backlash

A 3D printed Twitter logo is seen in front of displayed stock graph in this illustration picture made in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, February 3, 2016. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

By Noel Randewich

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Shares of Twitter Inc tumbled 6 percent on Thursday after reports that Fox News had not tweeted for three weeks sparked fears of a backlash by conservatives protesting a perceived liberal bias by the company.

Twenty-First Century Fox Inc’s Fox News has not tweeted to its 18.3 million followers since Nov. 8, an apparent boycott of the social network, Politico reported on Wednesday.

It stopped tweeting after activists used Twitter to post the home address of prominent news host Tucker Carlson, media news site Mediaite reported on Nov. 9. Demonstrators targeted Carlson’s home in Washington with a protest and shouted threats, he told the Washington Post.

Fox News and Twitter declined to comment.

Facebook and other social media networks are facing calls for increased regulation and criticism of their handling of user data and the role their platforms have played in a divisive U.S. political climate in recent years.

Still, analysts viewed Thursday’s stock drop as an over-reaction.

“I think the people who want to be alarmist will say this is the first step toward losing the conservatives, and that this could snowball. But at this point, I think that’s overly alarmist, and I don’t see it as a big deal. So I see this as a buying opportunity,” said FBN analyst Shebly Seyrafi, who has an “outperform” rating on Twitter’s stock.

Last month, Twitter posted quarterly results that far exceeded Wall Street’s estimates even after it purged millions of fake accounts used for disinformation and other abuses.

Conservatives in the past have complained about having their accounts unfairly closed by Twitter, and about alleged political bias in the California company’s rules.

Twitter this week reinstated the account of conservative commentator Jesse Kelly after U.S. Senator-elect Josh Hawley said that Congress should investigate the company after it closed Kelly’s account, and the account of Canadian feminist Megan Murphy.

The company said on Wednesday that it had suspended an account for impersonating Russian President Vladimir Putin.

(Reporting by Noel Randewich, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

NRA names Oliver North, known for Reagan-era scandal, as president

FILE PHOTO: US Marine Corps Lt. Col. (Ret.) Oliver North speaks at an NRA convention in Dallas, Texas, U.S. May 4, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

(Reuters) – The National Rifle Association on Monday named as its next president retired U.S. Marine Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North, a conservative commentator best known for his central role in the 1980s Iran-Contra affair.

The group named North following its weekend annual meeting in Dallas, where President Donald Trump vowed not to tighten U.S. firearms laws despite suggesting earlier this year that he would take on the NRA in the wake of a mass shooting at a Florida school.

“Oliver North is a legendary warrior for American freedom, a gifted communicator and skilled leader,” NRA Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre said in a statement. “In these times, I can think of no one better suited to serve as our president.”

North, 74, who already serves on the NRA’s board of directors, was a pivotal figure in the Iran-contra affair involving secret sales of arms to Iran by Republican President Ronald Reagan’s administration and the unlawful diversion of the proceeds to Nicaraguan rebels.

North, who was a White House National Security Council aide, set up a weapons pipeline to the rebels even though Congress had forbidden military aid to them. North was convicted of three felonies in 1989, but his convictions were overturned on appeal in 1990 because witnesses in his trial may have been influenced by congressional testimony he had previously given under a grant of immunity from prosecution.

North has been a conservative radio talk show host and frequent commentator on conservative television networks since.

He is stepping down from his commentary role at Fox News television, the NRA said in its statement.

The NRA said its current president, Pete Brownell, planned not to seek a second term. Brownell serves as CEO of Brownells Inc, a maker of firearm parts, accessories and ammunition.

The February massacre of 17 teens and educators at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, had seemed to mark a turning point in America’s long-running gun debate, sparking a youth-led movement for tighter gun controls.

Trump said in the days following the massacre that politicians have to disagree with the NRA “every once in a while.”

But since then, no major new federal gun controls have been imposed, although the Trump administration is pursuing a proposed regulatory ban on “bump stocks,” which enable a semi-automatic rifle to fire a steady stream of bullets. The devices were used in an October 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas that killed 58 people.

North, long a hero to some on the political right, lost as a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate from Virginia in 1994 after former first lady Nancy Reagan publicly said that North had a “great deal of trouble separating fact from fantasy” and “lied to my husband and lied about my husband.”

(Reporting by Bernie Woodall in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Additional reporting by Will Dunham in Washington; Editing by Scott Malone and Leslie Adler)

Scandal-plagued Fox News hit with more lawsuits in U.S. court

An empty window is seen where the poster of former cable news host Bill O'Reilly was removed from the Fox News Channel offices in Manhattan, New York City, New York, U.S.,

By Daniel Wiessner

(Reuters) – Fox News was hit with new sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuits on Monday, adding to the catalog of complaints that has rattled the U.S. cable news network and its corporate parent 21st Century Fox Inc.

New York City lawyer Douglas Wigdor filed lawsuits in federal court in Manhattan on behalf of Kathleen Lee, a Fox News Radio shift editor who says she was sexually harassed and subjected to “unceasing retaliation” for complaining, and Naima Farrow, who maintains she was fired from her job as an accounts payable coordinator after telling supervisors she was pregnant.

In a third case in the same court, Vidya Mann, a Fox News accounts receivable specialist, said she was taken on as a temporary employee but passed over for permanent jobs in favor of white coworkers.

A spokeswoman at Fox News said the company believes the suits are without merit, noting that the company took prompt action and takes all complaints of discrimination seriously.

The new legal claims come as Fox News is already battling a series of lawsuits that led to the resignations of former chief executive Roger Ailes, who died last week, star anchor Bill O’Reilly and network co-president Bill Shine.

Wigdor said he was also representing an unidentified black information technology employee who was subjected to racially insensitive remarks by Bob Beckel, an on-air host who was fired last week, days after the worker complained.

“Despite public relations efforts to the contrary, business at 21st Century Fox continues to operate more akin to 18th Century Fox,” Wigdor said in a statement.

Wigdor represents at least 23 current and former Fox News employees with legal claims against the company. Earlier this month, he met officials from the Office of Communications, a British regulatory agency that is currently considering whether to approve 21st Century Fox’s proposed takeover of satellite broadcaster Sky.

On Monday, Wigdor sent a letter to the regulator, known as Ofcom, outlining the new legal claims against Fox and claiming the company refused his request to waive confidentiality agreements signed by its employees so they could speak directly to the agency.

(Reporting By Jessica Toonkel; Editing by Tom Brown)

Kremlin says it wants apology from Fox News over Putin comments

Putin

MOSCOW (Reuters) – The Kremlin said on Monday it wanted an apology from Fox News over what it said were “unacceptable” comments one of the channel’s presenters made about Russian President Vladimir Putin in an interview with U.S. counterpart Donald Trump.

Fox News host Bill O’Reilly described Putin as “a killer” in the interview with Trump as he tried to press the U.S. president to explain more fully why he respected his Russian counterpart. O’Reilly did not say who he thought Putin had killed.

“We consider such words from the Fox TV company to be unacceptable and insulting, and honestly speaking, we would prefer to get an apology from such a respected TV company,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call.

Fox News and O’Reilly did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Trump’s views on Putin are closely scrutinized in the United States where U.S. intelligence agencies have accused Moscow of having sponsored computer hacking to help Trump win office, and critics say he is too complimentary about the Russian leader.

Trump, when commenting on the allegations against Putin in the same interview, questioned how “innocent” the United States itself was, saying it had made a lot of its own mistakes. That irritated some Congressional Republicans who said there was no comparison between how Russian and U.S. politicians behaved.

Putin, in his 17th year of dominating the Russian political landscape, is accused by some Kremlin critics of ordering the killing of opponents. Putin and the Kremlin have repeatedly rejected those allegations as politically-motivated and false.

Trump, who has said he wants to try to mend battered U.S.-Russia ties and hopes he can get along with Putin, was asked a question about some of those allegations by Fox Business before he won the White House.

In January last year, after a British judge ruled that Putin had “probably” authorized the murder of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko in London, Trump said he saw no evidence the Russian president was guilty.

“First of all, he says he didn’t do it. Many people say it wasn’t him. So who knows who did it?” Trump said.

(Reporting by Maria Tsvetkova/Andrew Osborn; Editing by Ralph Boulton)