7 Media Turkeys of 2015: From Donald Trump to Brian Williams

Just in time for Thanksgiving, a look at the media and political figures who top the most embarrassing list

Donald Trump SNL

Thanksgiving blesses most of us with savory turkey, side dishes and couch-bound TV binge-watching amid a sea of burping relatives.

But top political media personalities and organizations have served up ripe, hearty turkeys for the rest of the journalism community to devour all year, with the presidential campaign adding to the meal.

Here are the top turkeys of 2015:

1. I like my turkey dark and slightly Donald-ed

The bombastic, over-the-top, GOP frontrunner has offered up so many turkeys during his presidential campaign, the media is teetering on rhetorical obesity.

Some memorable Trump-isms: suggesting Mexican immigrants are drug lords, murderers and rapists; insinuating that Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly was menstruating during the first GOP debate; belittling Senator John McCain’s war service; retweeting a message that Jeb Bush loves Mexicans because his wife is Mexican-American; retweeting a Nazi-draped flag and suggesting he’d create a database for all U.S. Muslims.

2. Brian Williams‘ career plunges from make-believe Iraqi helicopter

In the biggest media fall from grace of the year — maybe even decade — the one-time face of NBC News was suspended and later demoted for exaggerating his experiences while reporting in Iraq in 2003.

His biggest journalistic sin: fudging a tale of being shot down an Iraqi helicopter by enemy RPG fire instead of being on the plane trailing it, which offended everyone from war veterans to journalism’s elite. Williams now toils as an MSNBC breaking-news anchor.

3. Deborah Turness’ won’t be invited to the Hispanic Caucus holiday party

In an effort to smooth over tensions with Hispanic lawmakers angered by Donald Trump hosting “Saturday Night Live,” NBC News president Deborah Turness poured gasoline on the fire by using the term “illegals.”

She then stepped in it more by telling the lawmakers, “We [NBC] love the Hispanic community…Yo hablo español!”

Ay, Caramba!

Rupert Murdoch Fox News

4. Rupert Murdoch denies U.S. history in the name of Ben Carson

The conservative media mogul behind Fox tweeted his support for Dr. Ben Carson by claiming President Obama wasn’t really black.

“What about a real black President who can properly address the racial divide? And much else,” he tweeted. The firestorm that followed drove Murdoch to Twitter silence for more than 11 days. Which brings us to…

5. The doctor has left the building, and all that’s left is Ben Carson

Joining Donald Trump in the turkey factory is former neurosurgeon and GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson.

Carson’s highlights include: comparing Syrian refugees to rabid dogs; claiming the Holocaust could have been prevented if Jews had guns; saying a Muslim should never become president; claiming Egypt’s pyramids stored grains instead of tombs for pharaohs and comparing women who get abortions to slave owners.

Getty Images

6. Gawker goes too far

Gawker, the website that rose to fame as an online rabble-rouser prodding the media elite, went too far when it outed a married Conde Nast executive’s would-be weekend romp with a gay porn star for the journalistically compelling reason that, well, it just felt like it.

After the inevitable media firestorm, the site took down the story, lost several of its top editors, vowed to soften its tone and ultimately made itself over as a politics-oriented site.

Daily News7. New York Daily News’ graphic, over-the-top WDBJ shooting cover

The New York-area newspapers aren’t known for subtlety, but the New York Daily News went beyond the pale with its WDBJ shooting cover that showed graphic images of the shooting of slain 23-year-old reporter Alison Parker at the hands of former station reporter Vester Flanagan.

The paper was widely panned on social media for exploiting the story.

BONUS LEFTOVER TURKEY: A year in New York Times corrections 

Digital media outlets are fast-paced and notoriously understaffed, making mistakes common. But the paper of record needed five corrections in one story?

That’s what happened in the Times’ piece about Melania Trump in October, which was published just two months after a flawed story on Hillary Clinton incorrectly reported the FBI was conducting a criminal investigation into her private email server.