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  • Journalists Are Calling Out Trump's Debate Lies

    (Tweets Will Be Added Throughout The Debate)

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has unleashed a torrent of falsehoods during his campaign, spanning a wide range of issues. His disregard for the facts is again on display during the first presidential debate at Hofstra University, and journalists and media outlets are calling him out on Twitter:

    Trump On Ford Leaving The U.S.

    Trump's Claim He Received A "Small Loan" From His Father

    Trump Denied Calling Climate Change A "Hoax"

  • The Lowest Possible Bar: Politico Declares “Just By Showing Up, Trump Has Already Kind Of Won”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Nearly three hours prior to the first presidential debate, a Politico reporter posed the question, “Has [Donald] Trump already won?” The reporter concluded that “just by showing up, Trump has already kind of won” because he “could have a bad night” due to his lack of “intimate knowledge” of domestic or foreign policy, but he still won his party’s nomination. Politico’s question underscores the common theme among the media of setting different bars for Hillary Clinton and Trump to meet in order to judge their performance at the debate a success. From the September 26 Politico live blog:

    Donald Trump -- the reality TV star who announced his candidacy after awkwardly gliding down an escalator, and then proceeded to call Mexican immigrant rapists and criminals -- is about to stand on the debate stage next to Hillary Clinton, the first female nominee of a major party, a woman who has been at the pinnacle of American public life for three decades.

    And that alone is a victory. Trump overcame long odds to get here, breaking all the rules of politics and offending a lot of people along the way.

    […]

    So, yeah -- of course Trump could have a bad night. He’s not likely to impress voters with his intimate knowledge of entitlement programs or Syrian rebel groups. And Clinton is an experienced and canny debater who knows domestic and foreign policy backwards and forwards. But just by showing up, Trump has already kind of won.

  • Polls Show Americans Want Moderators To Fact-Check During The Debates

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    A strong majority of Americans want the moderators of the presidential debates to fact-check the candidates, according to two new polls. The will of the voters comes contrary to that of Republican nominee Donald Trump (who journalists note has engaged in an unprecedented campaign of lies), his supporters in the media, and the moderator of the third presidential debate, Fox News’ Chris Wallace.

    Media Matters has joined numerous journalists in calling on the presidential debate moderators to fact-check the candidates in real time to ensure that viewers are not left with a “he said-she said” version of the facts. That effort is more important than ever given Trump’s unprecedented willingness to lie.

    Trump and his team have pushed back against suggestions that the moderators should call out candidates when they don't tell the truth, with Trump saying, “I think that the candidates should police themselves.” Trump’s allies at Fox News have also claimed “it’s not the job” of moderators to fact-check candidates, with Wallace saying they should not serve as a “truth squad.”

    Americans disagree.

    According to a Monmouth University poll released today, “Most voters (60%) believe one of the duties of the moderators is to fact check candidates who state false information during the debates. Only 31% say the moderators should leave it to the candidates to point out any false statements by their opponent.”

    Reuters similarly reported today, “In a strong signal that most viewers will also be hoping the debates bring clarity, some 72 percent of respondents said they want to see moderators point out when a candidate says something that is untrue.”

    A voter explained to Reuters why this is so important:

    "It helps the audience, particularly me, to recognize what’s bull crap and what’s real," said Harvey Leven, 63, a teacher from Farmington Hills, Michigan. "It’s easy for the candidates to quote a statistic and people accept it."

    According to both polls, Trump supporters were less likely than backers of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton to support a fact-checking moderator.

  • BuzzFeed News: Roger Ailes “Is Playing A Much Larger Backstage Role” In Trump’s Campaign Than Most Realize 

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    BuzzFeed News’ McKay Coppins reported that former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes -- who was ousted from the network after a sexual harassment lawsuit was filed against him, followed by a slew of other sexual harassment allegations -- “is playing a much larger backstage role in handling Trump than most people realize.”

    The disgraced ex-Fox head has reportedly joined the Trump campaign as an informal adviser, taking on an influential role in Trump’s debate preparation and offering guidance on leadership and advertising decisions for the campaign. Ailes’ involvement follows his departure from Fox in the wake of “shocking allegations” of sexual harassment made by multiple women in and outside of Fox News. 

    In a September 26 article, Coppins wrote that, while Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway has been given credit for the campaign’s “recent turnaround,” her “‘Trump-whisperer’ status is more made-for-TV myth than reality.” Instead, Coppins reported, Ailes “is playing a much larger backstage role” in advising Trump than most anticipated and “is said to be actively advising the candidate ahead of Monday night’s debate.” Coppins noted a Republican source who said that “Trump doesn’t listen to anyone … But he does listen to Roger sometimes”:

    No one has gotten more credit (or blame) for the recent turnaround at the Trump campaign than Kellyanne Conway, the always-on-TV Republican pollster who was promoted last month to campaign manager.

    [...]

    It’s a meme that’s only likely to grow if, as many predict, Trump uses Monday’s presidential debate stage to debut a newly chivalrous persona — but some insiders question how much influence Conway actually has over the candidate.

    Interviews this week with more than half a dozen GOP sources close to the campaign suggest her “Trump-whisperer” status is more made-for-TV myth than reality.

    [...]

    Meanwhile, two sources close to Roger Ailes said the former Fox News chief is playing a much larger backstage role in handling Trump than most people realize. More than anyone, they said, it is Ailes — a master of political communications and media — that has succeeded in getting Trump to stay on script and soften his tone.

    One source predicted that Ailes would get plenty of ink in the various post-2016 insider campaign books, but said he was “happy for now having his role downplayed.” Though Ailes is not on the campaign’s payroll, he is said to be actively advising the candidate ahead of Monday night’s debate.

    “Trump doesn’t listen to anyone,” said a Republican close to Ailes. “But he does listen to Roger sometimes.”

  • Report: Bloomberg TV Comes Forward As Only Network To Fact-Check Candidates During Debate

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Bloomberg TV told Politico it would run on-screen fact checks during the September 26 presidential debate between Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

    In deciding to fact-check candidates with on-screen graphics, Bloomberg breaks ranks with all other major cable news outlets, which have widely rejected on-screen fact-checking during the debate, despite having repeatedly used live fact checks to debunk false information in the past. Bloomberg TV's announcement follows Media Matters' call for the debate moderators to use on-screen text and graphics to fact-check the candidates in real-time in our "Do's and Don'ts" for moderators.

    The New York Times, The Washington Post and Politico have published independent reports that amplified the importance of fact-checking candidates during the debates. They reviewed one week of Trump’s “blizzard of falsehoods, exaggerations and outright lies,” and found that Trump “averaged about one falsehood every three minutes and 15 seconds.” 

    Politico’s Kelsey Sutton reported September 26 that Bloomberg TV said it would “conduct on-screen fact checks” during its presidential debate coverage. Sutton reported that the decision “sets Bloomberg apart from the other major TV networks,” which have chosen not to fact-check during the debate, claiming it would be “hard to execute in real-time.” Other networks’ decision not to correct lies, Sutton reported, “leaves the real-time fact-checking up to NBC’s Lester Holt, the debate moderator, or Clinton herself.” Sutton wrote:

    Bloomberg TV will conduct on-screen fact checks of statements made by both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton during Monday night’s debate, POLITICO has confirmed.

    The channel’s decision to conduct an on-screen fact-check sets Bloomberg apart from the other major TV networks, none of whom have committed to doing on-screen fact checks during the debate. Most will leave the fact-checking to segments in the post-debate analysis coverage.

    [...]

    Spokespeople for the networks told POLITICO that on-screen fact checks would be hard to execute in real-time, which is why they were opting out. That leaves the real-time fact-checking up to NBC’s Lester Holt, the debate moderator, or Clinton herself.

  • Near Absence Of Trump Campaign’s Latest Russia Problem From Sunday Shows Follows A Familiar Pattern

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    CNN’s Jake Tapper was the only Sunday show host on September 25 to discuss a report that American intelligence officials are probing Russian government ties to a man Trump has identified as a foreign policy adviser, Carter Page. This latest revelation is yet another missed opportunity by the Sunday political talk shows to feature investigative stories about Trump and his campaign over the past month.

    On September 23, Yahoo! News’ Michael Isikoff reported that “U.S. intelligence officials are seeking to determine whether an American businessman identified by Donald Trump as one of his foreign policy advisers has opened up private communications with senior Russian officials.” Among the problematic contacts Page has reportedly had with aides to Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, is Igor Diveykin, who “is believed by U.S. officials to have responsibility for intelligence collected by Russian agencies about the U.S. election.” The article also quoted a Trump spokesperson calling Page an “‘informal foreign adviser’” to Trump.

    In an interview with Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway on CNN’s State of the Union, Tapper cited the Yahoo! News article and questioned Conway if the campaign had talked to Page about his meetings with Russian officials. Conway denied that Page was part of the Trump campaign at this time and said that he was not authorized to talk to Russia on the campaign’s behalf.

    The other Sunday hosts -- NBC’s Chuck Todd, CBS’ John Dickerson, Fox’s Chris Wallace, and ABC’s George Stephanopoulos -- who interviewed Trump adviser Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump’s running mate Mike Pence, and Conway, respectively -- all failed to question their Trump surrogate guests about the report. The only other mentions of the report on the Sunday shows were from Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s surrogates, with Clinton running mate Tim Kaine alluding to the “news of this past week [that] shows us a whole series of very serious questions about Donald Trump’s ties to Russia” on CBS’ Face the Nation, and Clinton’s press secretary Brian Fallon mentioning Page on CNN’s Reliable Sources.

    The near blackout of this story from the Sunday shows is turning into a familiar pattern regarding investigative reports on Trump. Over the past month, the Sunday political talk shows have repeatedly failed to feature new reporting that reflects poorly on Trump. On September 4, just days after The Washington Post broke the story that Trump’s foundation illegally gave a political donation in 2013 and that Trump paid the IRS a penalty for it, only CBS’ Dickerson brought it up; on other shows, guests were forced to mention it. The next week, as they were all covering the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, every Sunday show completely ignored the New York Daily News’ investigation that revealed Trump unethically accepted $150,000 in government aid after the attacks and that Trump bragged that one of his buildings was now the largest in the area just hours after the 9/11 attacks. And just last week, the Sunday shows again mostly omitted new reporting on Trump, specifically the news that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was investigating Trump’s charitable foundation over concerns of impropriety and Kurt Eichenwald’s Newsweek report that detailed the “serious conflicts of interest and ethical quagmires” that would be present in the foreign policy of a President Trump due to his deep business ties to foreign countries and businesspeople.

    The report on Page also follows Trump’s repeated praise of Putin, who he has called “highly respected within his own country and beyond,” later adding that if Putin “says great things about me, I’m going to say great things about him.” Journalists have slammed Trump for his remarks, noting the country has targeted and murdered journalists.

  • New Roundups Of Trump’s Lies Prove Why Fact-Checking Is Vital During Presidential Debates

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Politico all independently published on September 24 and 25 reviews of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s “blizzard of falsehoods, exaggerations and outright lies” in just the last week. Given that Trump’s “mishandling of facts and propensity for exaggeration” is so “frequent,” these reports of Trump’s “untruths” bolster the case for debate moderators to fact-check the candidates during the presidential debates.

    Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton are set to debate on September 26 in the first of three meetings. Given that Trump has a startling penchant for lying and that Trump’s debate prep team is filled with conspiracy theorists and disreputable political operatives, journalists and veteran debate moderators have called on the moderators to hold the candidates to a high level of truth-telling and fact-check their inaccurate statements.

    Media Matters has also called on the debate moderators to fact-check the candidates in real-time, so a debate over settled fact does not become a “‘he said, she said’” situation. Failing to fact-check Trump’s lies during the debate will also feed into the growing media tendency to lower the bar for Trump and hold the two candidates to different standards.

    Those calls for asking “tough follow-up questions” have been given even more importance with these new studies. Trump, according to a five-day Politico analysis of his most recent remarks, “averaged about one falsehood every three minutes and 15 seconds.” The Politico analysis found 87 different lies of Trump’s, including on issues such as the economy, health care, national security, immigration, and Clinton, among others. The study also noted Trump’s September 16 lie that “he was not the person responsible for the birtherism campaign to delegitimize Barack Obama’s presidency.” 

    The New York Times also “closely tracked Mr. Trump’s public statements from Sept. 15-21, and assembled a list of his 31 biggest whoppers, many of them uttered repeatedly.” The Times spotlighted Trump’s “most consistent falsehood he tells about himself” -- “that he opposed the war in Iraq from the start” -- which the “evidence shows otherwise.” The Times also highlighted Trump’s “unfounded claims about critics and the news media,” “inaccurate claims about Clinton,” and “stump speech falsehoods.”

    The Washington Post similarly examined “one week of Trump’s speeches, tweets and interviews” and found that Trump “continues to rely heavily on thinly sourced or entirely unsubstantiated claims.” The Post’s roundup of Trump’s recent “false or questionable claims” and “controversial and debunked statements” included his erroneous assertion that the black community is “in the worst shape that they’ve ever been in before, ever, ever, ever” and his false claim that law enforcement cannot question a person suspected of carrying an explosive.

    Though print media outlets are becoming increasingly comfortable spotlighting Trump’s compulsive lying, his habit is not new: PolitiFact found that 70 percent of Trump’s assertions throughout his campaign have been “mostly false,” “false,” or “pants on fire.” The Times, Post, and Politico’s roundups of Trump’s lying just in the past week show how crucial it is for debate moderators to be vigilant fact-checkers during the debate.

  • In Wash. Post, Experts Warn Mass Deportations Like Trump’s Led To Ethnic Cleansing

    Human Rights Experts: “The Notion That Governments Have Learned How To Conduct Mass Deportations In ‘Humane And Efficient’ Ways Is Ludicrous”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    In a September 23 Washington Post op-ed, contributing columnist Danielle Allen and Richard Ashby Wilson, a human rights law professor, warned that mass deportations like those repeatedly promised by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump have a dark and dangerous history. As explained by Allen and Wilson, one of the last times a policy like Trump’s was tried in a developed country was in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, an effort that spun out of control and led to ethnic cleansing.

    Allen and Wilson detail how government efforts to target and systematically remove population groups have “repeatedly led to episodes that harm some severely, perhaps even mortally.” Indeed, what makes mass deportations like Trump’s so serious are that they are frequently combined with the same “racially tinged” elements the Republican nominee has encouraged: “heated rhetoric that slurs whole minority groups (“they’re not sending their best . . . they’re rapists”); an activist minority of white nationalists; an armed minority of militiamen; and the ongoing militarization of our police forces.” From the Post:

    The time has come to get serious, really serious, about understanding what’s at stake with Donald Trump’s proposal to deport 5 million to 11 million undocumented immigrants and his promise that 2 million will be deported in “a matter of months” if he is elected.

    In May, former homeland security secretary Michael Chertoff told the New York Times: “I can’t even begin to picture how we would deport 11 million people in a few years where we don’t have a police state, where the police can’t break down your door at will and take you away without a warrant.” He also said, “Unless you suspend the Constitution and instruct the police to behave as if we live in North Korea, it ain’t happening.”

    [...]

    The Bosnian deportations [in the former Yugoslavia] grew into a systematic policy termed “ethnic cleansing.” The U.N. Security Council declared forcible removal based on ethnicity a crime against humanity in 1994. And eventually there was also accountability for political leaders who enacted deportation policies and incited their followers to hatred and violence. In March 2016, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia found former Bosnian Serb president Radovan Karadzic guilty of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The tribunal ruled that his speeches and official propaganda made a significant contribution to an overarching joint criminal enterprise to create an ethnically homogenous state of Bosnian Serbs.

    [...]

    The notion that governments have learned how to conduct mass deportations in “humane and efficient” ways is ludicrous. The removal of millions of members of a minority ethnic or religious group from a territory has been accompanied, in nearly every historical instance, by assault, murder, crimes against humanity and, occasionally, genocide. It has involved armed roadblocks to check papers, the smashing down of doors in the night to drag people out of their homes. It has also involved unrestrained popular violence against a target population.

     
  • CNN's Lewandowski Set To Be Paid Half A Million Dollars By Trump Campaign

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Washington Post reported that Corey Lewandowski, paid CNN contributor and former campaign manager for Donald Trump, “is set to be paid nearly half a million dollars by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign by the end of the year.” CNN has stood by Lewandowski as a contributor despite his lucrative severance package and reports that he is still advising Trump. 

    CNN’s decision to hire Lewandowski has been widely criticized as an ethical morass by media ethicists and journalists condemning CNN for months. Lewandowski’s continued involvement with the Trump campaign, his likely non-disparagement agreement with Trump, and his penchant for pushing Trump talking points on air all raise serious questions about his continued employment at CNN. Given the clear conflict and CNN’s previous stance that contributors paid by a campaign “would not be permitted,” CNN should cut ties with Lewandowski immediately.

    The Washington Post article detailed the continued connection between the Trump campaign and Lewandowski, as he “is set to be paid nearly half a million dollars… with almost a quarter of his compensation coming after the controversial political operative was ousted” (emphasis added): 

    Corey Lewandowski is set to be paid nearly half a million dollars by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign by the end of the year, with almost a quarter of his compensation coming after the controversial political operative was ousted in June as campaign manager.

    Lewandowski, who is now a paid commentator on CNN, collected at least $415,000 in salary, bonuses and severance from the Trump campaign between April 2015 and August of this year, according to a Washington Post analysis of federal campaign finance filings. Campaign officials said he will continue receiving his $20,000 monthly pay as severance until the end of the year, which would give him a total of $495,000 over two years.

    His compensation appears to be higher than that of his counterparts, though a direct comparison is difficult because Lewandowski is paid a flat fee through a limited-liability company rather than a campaign paycheck.

    [...]

    CNN has faced criticism for giving Lewandowski a regular platform while he is drawing large severance from the Trump campaign. Network officials have said his payments are publicly disclosed when he appears on the air.

    Lewandowski said the severance does not conflict with his role at CNN, saying the arrangement has “been widely known.”

  • Pro-Choice Groups Call On NBC’s Lester Holt To Ask Candidates About Abortion During First Presidential Debate

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    On September 22, a coalition of reproductive rights groups, including NARAL Pro-Choice America, UltraViolet, All* Above All Action Fund, National Organization for Women, Feminist Majority, and CREDO, issued a joint letter encouraging NBC News’ Lester Holt, moderator of the first presidential debate on Monday, September 26, to “press the candidates on their plans to address the crisis in abortion access in our country.”

    The letter proposes three potential questions asking the presidential nominees, if elected president, how would they “ensure that the constitutional right to abortion is guaranteed to all Americans,” would they allow or restrict a pregnant woman infected with Zika to access abortion, and “what steps would [the candidates] take to reverse maternal mortality in this country?”

    During the Democratic primary, critics called out debate moderators for failing to ask either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders questions about abortion, including starting a Twitter hashtag #AskAboutAbortion. Eventually, Clinton and Sanders were asked abortion-related questions during Fox News’ March 7 Town Hall. Pro-choice group have revived the hashtag campaign prior to Monday’s presidential debate.

    From the September 22 joint letter:

    While many topics deserve the candidates’ consideration—from job creation to immigration to national security—safe and reliable access to abortion is fundamental to all Americans’ ability to determine our own destinies. One in three women in this country has had an abortion, and the majority (over 60%) are mothers who are trying to take care of the families they already have. Despite the fact that seven in 10 Americans support legal abortion, many in government are actively trying and succeeding in blocking access to what is, at its core, a constitutionally protected right. Consider the following facts, which paint a picture of dwindling access to abortion across the country:

    • 261 anti-choice laws have passed through state legislatures since 2010
    • 27 states have anti-choice legislatures where both chambers are anti-choice
    • 87% of counties in this country have no abortion provider at all

    Throughout this presidential campaign, we’ve heard Hillary Clinton outline her plan to expand abortion access by repealing the discriminatory Hyde Amendment, and we’ve heard Donald Trump say that a woman should be punished for her decision to have an abortion. These starkly different approaches to such important issues deserve to be contested on the national debate stage. Voters deserve a fulsome debate on how to expand access to abortion so they can decide for themselves which candidate will do right by their family.

    In presidential debates since at least 1984, moderators have typically posed questions on abortion that border on entirely theoretical because they focus on extreme outlier cases. We hope that your questions capture the true needs of women and the lived experiences surrounding abortion access.