Trump campaign caught lying about Roger Ailes

Sweating the small stuff.

CREDIT: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
CREDIT: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Trump and his campaign engage in a lot of big lies. They claim, falsely, repeatedly, that he can’t release his tax returns, opposed the Iraq war and “ended birtherism.”

But even more revealing of Trump’s relationship with the truth are the small lies. The obvious lies about things that are much less consequential. They demonstrate not an elaborate plan to mislead the public but a simple contempt for the truth.

Take for example Roger Ailes, the former CEO of Fox News who was ousted from his job in July after numerous women accused him of sexual harassment.

In August, the New York Times reported that Ailes, who has a storied career as a right-wing political operative, would be assisting Trump in preparations for the presidential debates.

This was a bit unseemly in light of the allegations that freed up Ailes’ time, but hardly surprising. Fox News, under Ailes’ leadership, operated largely as an extension of the Republican Party.

The Trump campaign quickly, and adamantly, denied the report. The Hollywood Reporter had the story:

Donald Trump’s campaign vehemently denies that Roger Ailes, the former head of Fox News who recently resigned amid sexual harassment allegations, is now working with Trump ahead of the presidential debates.

“He is not advising Mr. Trump or helping with debate prep. They are longtime friends, but he has no formal or informal role in the campaign,” Hope Hicks, Trump campaign spokeswoman, told The Hollywood Reporter.

That was a very clear statement from the campaign.

KellyAnne Conway appeared on CNN a couple of days later and confirmed that Ailes would not “to my knowledge” be helping Trump prepare for the debates.

On Monday, the first debate between Trump and Hillary Clinton was held. Who helped Trump prepare for the debate? Roger Ailes.

According to the New York Times, he not only was involved with preparations but “led” a “debate-prep camp” with Trump.

There were early efforts to run a more standard form of general election debate-prep camp, led by Roger Ailes, the ousted Fox News chief, at Mr. Trump’s golf course in Bedminster, N.J. But Mr. Trump found it hard to focus during those meetings, according to multiple people briefed on the process who requested anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. That left Mr. Ailes, who at the time was deeply distracted by his removal from Fox and the news media reports surrounding it, discussing his own problems as well as recounting political war stories, according to two people present for the sessions.

Why would the campaign, who was obviously aware of Ailes’s involvement, lie to the press? There is no obvious reason.

It seems that Trump and his campaign don’t need much of a reason.