NBC's Meet the Press this weekend will host Pat Buchanan, a homophobic and racist commentator. MSNBC parted ways with Buchanan in 2012 following blowback over his book Suicide of a Superpower, which claimed to document how diversity and immigration are ruining the country.
The Sunday show states on its website that it will interview Buchanan about "the return of populism" on the presidential campaign trail. Buchanan's brand of "populism" has long included bigotry against minorities, immigrants, and LGBT people during his career as a political candidate and commentator.
Buchanan has repeatedly defended Adolf Hitler and once labeled him "an individual of great courage." He claimed "in a way, both sides were right" during the Civil War. He declined to disavow the idea that minorities have inferior genes. He defended a school's ban on interracial dating. He opined that "this has been a country built, basically, by white folks" and falsely claimed only "white males" died at Gettysburg and Normandy. He once claimed "conservatives are the niggers of the Nixon administration" and urged President Nixon not to visit Martin Luther King Jr.'s widow because King was "one of the most divisive men in contemporary history."
On immigrants, Buchanan claimed America is "committing suicide" while "Asian, African, and Latin American children come to inherit the estate." He complained that immigration will turn the U.S. into "a polyglot boarding house for the world, a tangle of squabbling minorities." He objected to states like California having a majority Hispanic population. He said of Mexican immigrants: "They are militant, and they have no interest, many of them, in becoming American."
Buchanan repeatedly appeared on a white nationalist radio program. He wrote the foreword to a book compiling the works of a white supremacist. He relied on the work of white supremacists for research in his own work. He praised David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, as having a "portfolio of winning issues."
Buchanan said "homosexual sex is unnatural and immoral" and "that kind of conduct should be discouraged in a good society." He's written of same-sex relationships: "In a healthy society, it will be contained, segregated, controlled, and stigmatized, carrying both a legal and social sanction." He once wrote of AIDS: "The poor homosexuals -- they have declared war upon nature, and now nature is extracting an awful retribution."
Fellow Sunday show host Chris Wallace of Fox said Buchanan has said things "I'm not particularly fond of" including "some very incendiary things about Israel, about Jews, about blacks, about other minorities." As new CNN Sunday show host Jake Tapper once wrote, Buchanan leaves behind "a trail of racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic rhetorical dung" wherever he goes.
Why is Chuck Todd allowing him back on Meet the Press?
Todd tweeted in response to Media Matters research fellow Oliver Willis that Buchanan will be on the show "as part of a Trump segment. Trump 2015 and Buchanan 1992 share a lot of similarities on issues."
Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) criticized the "lack of news coverage" of a House bill that would ban labeling requirements for genetically modified foods, in a statement to Media Matters.
Responding to Media Matters' July 24 analysis of coverage by network and cable news programs, Rep. Conyers said that "[p]eople deserve to know what's in their food" but that a lack of media attention means "most Americans have been denied basic information about the debate in Congress." Conyers added, "It's time for our nation's major news organizations to shine light on sweeping changes to our food system."
Conyers' full statement read:
HR 1599 is an unprecedented corporate power-grab, which would not only stop the Food and Drug Administration and states from labeling GMOs but also block many state and local efforts to protect farmers and the public from threats including pesticide drift. People deserve to know what's in their food. More than 90% of Americans want GMO labelling according to recent polling. Sadly -- due to a lack of news coverage about HR 1599 -- most Americans have been denied basic information about the debate in Congress. It's time for our nation's major news organizations to shine light on sweeping changes to our food system.
H.R. 1599, which passed the House on July 23 and now heads to the Senate, would block states and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration from labeling foods that contain genetically modified organisms (GMO), and allow food companies to describe products containing GMO ingredients as "natural." Environmental and consumer rights organizations have denounced the bill because it would keep consumers in the dark when a vast majority of Americans support the right to know whether their food contains GMOs.
The New York Times' dramatic changes to their initial, anonymously-sourced claim that federal investigators were seeking a criminal probe into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's use of personal email raises significant questions about the paper's reporting of the story.
On July 23, The New York Times published a report headlined "Criminal Inquiry Sought In Clinton's Use Of Email" which claimed that "[t]wo inspectors general have asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into whether Hillary Rodham Clinton mishandled sensitive government information on a private email account she used as secretary of state." But soon after, the Times updated their report to remove the implication that Clinton was the target of the supposed investigation.
Since then, a U.S. official has reportedly stated that "the referral didn't necessarily suggest any wrongdoing by Clinton."
Rep. Elijah Cummings, the Democratic ranking member of the Benghazi Select Committee, has said that both the Intelligence Community Inspector General and the State Department Inspector General "confirmed directly to me that they never asked the Justice Department to launch a criminal investigation."
The Times gave no indication that the report had been altered for several hours before eventually issuing a correction explaining the paper was wrong to state that the probe targeted Clinton, but without correcting the apparent falsehood that a "criminal investigation" had been sought at all.
These developments raise substantial questions about the Times' reporting of this story, including:
In its initial article, the Times reported: "Two inspectors general have asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into whether Hillary Rodham Clinton mishandled sensitive government information on a private email account she used as secretary of state, senior government officials said Thursday."
It is currently unclear who those "senior government officials" are -- whether they were Justice Department sources who may have been mistaken, Republican congressional sources who may have had an interest in deliberately misleading the paper, or a combination of both.
Politico's Dylan Byers reported that his sources told him the error came from the DOJ, but it would be beneficial for the Times to confirm, or clarify, this.
While reporters generally maintain the confidentiality of their anonymous sources as inviolate, they occasionally do reveal them when they discover their sources have deliberately misled them. The journalist Craig Silverman explained the importance of this practice in detailing one such case (emphasis in the original):
A source burned the paper, so the paper decided to burn the source by detailing her lies in a follow up report.
The resulting report may seem like nothing more than payback, but it does two important things. First, it helps readers understand why the paper published a story that led with false information. At the same time, it holds the company accountable. Second, the story functions as something of a warning to other would-be dishonest sources: You can't lie to us and get away with it.
The Times also cited "senior government officials" as its source for the claim that two inspectors general had called for a DOJ criminal probe into Clinton's actions. The article also cites two "memos" from inspectors general on the topic, which were provided to the Times and which were apparently sent before the referral itself. On Twitter, Clinton campaign aide Brian Fallon noted that he was unaware of any reporter "who has actually seen a referral" like the one described by the Times.
Not aware of a single reporter - including NYT - who has actually seen a referral. Reckless to characterize it based on secondhand info-- Brian Fallon (@brianefallon) July 24, 2015
Did the Times reporters try to get their hands on such documentary evidence before running with their sources' claims? If they indeed did not see the document itself, why didn't they wait for such confirmation before publishing their story?
Reporters have frequently published inaccurate material related to Clinton's emails and other aspects of the work of the House Select Committee on Benghazi by trusting what appear to be mendacious leaks from that committee's Republicans. In such cases, the committee's Democrats have been quick to issue materials correcting the record.
The Times article includes quotes from the committee's Republican chairman criticizing the State Department for not providing documents, but includes no quotes from the committee's Democrats. This morning, Rep. Elijah Cummings, the committee's ranking member, issued a statement "in response to inaccurate leaks to the New York Times" effectively debunking a central premise of the article. Did the paper reach out to Cummings or other Democrats on the committee before publication?
The Times article, in citing anonymous "senior government officials" to claim that two inspectors general had sought a criminal investigation of Clinton never indicates whether the paper had sought to contact the offices of those inspectors general prior to publication.
In a July 24 press release, Cummings stated (emphasis added):
Over the past hour, I spoke personally with the State Department Inspector General and the Intelligence Community Inspector General together, and they both confirmed directly to me that they never asked the Justice Department to launch a criminal investigation of Secretary Clinton's email usage. Instead, they said this was a 'routine' referral, and they have no idea how the New York Times got this so wrong.
Cummings' release further states that "The Inspectors General explained that under 50 U.S.C. section 3381, the heads of agencies notify the Department of Justice about potential compromises of classified information, but this is a routine notification process--not a request for a criminal investigation of an individual." Moreover, a Democratic spokesperson for the committee reportedly said State's inspector general "did not ask for any kind of investigation, criminal or otherwise."
This description of events differs wildly from how it was originally reported by the Times. Did its reporters reach out to the offices of those inspectors general for clarification before publishing a story that appears to be based solely on anonymous sources?
Media Matters for America Chairman David Brock issued a letter today calling on The New York Times to commission a review exploring "the process of reporting and editing at The New York Times that has allowed flawed, fact-free reporting on so-called scandals involving Hillary Clinton and report back to readers." Brock's letter was issued after the paper published another error-filled report on Clinton, this time about her use of personal email while at the State Department.
The full letter is below:
July 24, 2015
Mr. Arthur Sulzberger Jr., Chairman & Publisher
The New York Times
620 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY, 10018
Dear Mr. Sulzberger:
As you well know, millions of readers look to your paper for its factual, impartial reporting. The New York Times' reputation as the country's newspaper of record is something we cherish -- as I am sure you do as well. I am writing to you today to express my continued concern about a string of reports from your publication that have been used to cast a shadow over Hillary Clinton under false pretenses.
Let me begin by saying I acknowledge that all journalists make mistakes. Corrections get issued as a matter of course. However, an extraordinarily troubling pattern has emerged at The New York Times of flawed reporting focused on one presidential candidate in particular -- Hillary Clinton. This long pattern raises significant concerns of seemingly institutional anti-Clinton bias at the paper. Regretfully, several examples of what can be characterized at best as flawed reporting on Clinton come immediately to mind:
1) An August 13, 2013, report that claimed to expose the "unease" over finances and management at the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation was an exercise in evidence-free speculation. To date, several errors in this story, which wrongly cast aspersions on foundation management (including the false suggestion that the foundation ran a deficit in a year it actually ran a surplus), have never been corrected.
2) A March 2, 2015, report suggested former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "may have violated" federal law with respect to her use of private email while at the State Department. The relevant rules covering such behavior didn't apply to Hillary Clinton's tenure at the State Department. Even The Times' key source undercut the story's central claim, saying later that Clinton had not violated the law. The original botched Times story has yet to be corrected. The Times has quietly walked back the initial claims in subsequent reporting -- with even the paper's public editor admitting that the original story was "not without fault."
3) In advance of serial misinformer Peter Schweizer releasing the decidedly anti-Hillary Clinton book Clinton Cash, The Times reported that "major news organizations including The Times, The Washington Post and Fox News have exclusive agreements with the author to pursue the story lines found in the book." To date, the exact terms of the arrangement between Schweizer and The Times remain secret -- though it was clearly the springboard for yet another faulty Times story. This is extremely troubling given that Media Matters detailed more than TWENTY errors, fabrications, and distortions in Clinton Cash.
Which brings us to today and the latest disgraceful and embarrassing misstep in The New York Times' reporting on Hillary Clinton. The New York Times dramatically changed a report that initially -- based on anonymous sources -- cast Clinton as the target of a requested criminal probe. After publication, The Times altered the report to remove the implication that Clinton was the target of the requested probe -- with no acknowledgement of a correction. A spokeswoman for The New York Times even told The Washington Post there was "no reason for a correction" -- an untenable position that was abandoned later this afternoon after the Justice Department and Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Select Committee on Benghazi, refuted reports of a "criminal investigation of Secretary Clinton's email usage."
I trust you can see that The Times' reputation is at serious risk. Given the four clear examples cited here, it's time for The New York Times management to address the situation by commissioning a review that will explore the process of reporting and editing at The New York Times that has allowed flawed, fact-free reporting on so-called scandals involving Hillary Clinton and report back to readers. Perhaps lessons can be learned from the internal review commissioned by CBS News following a flawed 60 Minutes report regarding the attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi. Following that internal review, then-Chairman of CBS News and Executive Producer of 60 Minutes Jeff Fager admitted that "there is a lot to learn from this mistake for the entire organization."
I implore the paper to take any and all steps necessary so that these chronic lapses in accuracy and editorial judgement do not recur, and to ensure that the nation's paper of record can be depended on for coverage that is factual and impartial going forward.
Chairman, Media Matters for America
The New York Times issued a correction to its flawed report on a potential Department of Justice probe into Hillary Clinton's use of personal email while at the State Department.
After publishing a July 23 report that cited anonymous government officials to claim federal investigators were seeking a criminal probe into Clinton's use of personal email, the Times made dramatic alterations to the post, walking back the claim that Clinton was the target of the probe with no acknowledgement of the correction.
The Times initially said they would not issue a correction for the change, claiming there had been no "factual error," but issued a formal correction on the afternoon of July 24 to explain that Clinton was not personally the subject of the referral to investigate:
An earlier version of this article and an earlier headline, using information from senior government officials, misstated the nature of the referral to the Justice Department regarding Hillary Clinton's personal email account while she was secretary of state. The referral addressed the potential compromise of classified information in connection with that personal email account. It did not specifically request an investigation into Mrs. Clinton.
The Times' correction did not note the clarification from a Justice Department official that the referral was not criminal in nature, which further contradicts the Times' account.
As of posting, the Times article still appears to falsely characterize the referral as "criminal."
UPDATE: In a separate article published in the afternoon on July 24, the same NY Times reporters appear to acknowledge that DOJ has not received a "criminal" referral in this matter, writing "On Thursday night and again Friday morning, the Justice Department referred to the matter as a 'criminal referral' but later on Friday dropped the word 'criminal.'"
The State and Intelligence Community inspectors general have also put out a joint statement stating that there had been no criminal referral.
State & intel IGs put out a joint statement saying it was a counterintelligence referral, not criminal. pic.twitter.com/SZe2h7bBUm-- Byron Tau (@ByronTau) July 24, 2015
As of this posting, the original Times article is still headlined "Criminal Inquiry Is Sought in Clinton Email Account," and continues to claim that the inspectors general "have asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation."
A Department of Justice official reportedly contradicted a New York Times article on Hillary Clinton's email use, clarifying that the DOJ investigation into State Department email practices is not criminal, as was initially reported.
On July 23, the New York Times initially cited anonymous "senior government officials" to claim former Secretary of State Clinton was the target of a DOJ "criminal investigation" for her use of a private email account while at State.
The Times then made a major change to that report, walking it back to instead claim there was merely a referral from two inspector generals for a potential "criminal investigation into whether sensitive government information was mishandled in connection with the personal email account." At the time, the paper said they would not issue a correction, claiming there had been no "factual error."
Now, however, Times' John Harwood reports a second major problem: the investigation is not actually "criminal." Harwood tweeted that a "Justice Dept official" was "contradicting earlier reports" to confirm that the "'referral' related to Hillary Clinton's email is NOT for a criminal investigation":
Justice Dept official says "referral" related to Hillary Clinton's email is NOT for a criminal investigation - contradicting earlier reports-- John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) July 24, 2015
Washington Post reporter Sari Horwitz similarly tweeted that the DOJ is "now correcting their earlier statement & saying the referral regarding Clinton emails was not a criminal inquiry."
It is currently unclear whether the multiple "senior government officials" the Times initially cited in their report are the same sources now reversing their statements, or if there are several officials leaking differing information.
The National Rifle Association debuted the third season of its web series Noir with the claim that singling out assault weapons for bans is a "form of tactical Jim Crow-style segregation."
Launched in 2014, Noir is the flagship program in the the NRA's "Freestyle" network, a digital platform that seeks to attract a younger audience to replace the NRA's aging demographic. The show is hosted by Colion Noir, a popular gun blogger turned NRA News commentator, and is sponsored by gun manufacturer Mossberg.
During the show's July 22 season debut, Noir warned about the prospect of a future assault weapons ban following a high-profile shooting, and claimed that selecting which guns fall within a ban is a "form of tactical Jim Crow-style segregation -- where if you don't shoot that kind of gun, you don't care what happens to it -- that will cause us to all lose our rights."
"Ironically, most guns are separate but pretty equal," Noir added.
NOIR: Let's not forget that in '94, the assault weapons ban would have banned all of these guns, the same ban they tried to reinstate in 2013. I can see the hunting guy in his fluorescent orange-colored Gucci hunting vest shrugging his shoulders like, "I give two shits about a tactical AR[-15]," not realizing that all it takes for them to want to ban his beloved gun of choice is a D.C. sniper copycat and a bunch of clueless anti-gunners realizing that the .30-06 [caliber round] can punch a hole through space and time.
It's this form of tactical Jim Crow-style segregation -- where if you don't shoot that kind of gun, you don't care what happens to it -- that will cause us to all lose our rights. Ironically, most guns are separate but pretty equal.
This is not the first time an NRA News commentator has invoked racist Jim Crow laws when talking about guns. During a July 2014 commentary, NRA News commentator Dom Raso claimed laws relating to the buying, owning, and carrying of firearms are "equally as unconstitutional" as Jim Crow laws.
The NRA was also widely derided in January 2013 after a past president of the organization said on NRA News that the assault weapons ban proposed after the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting was like racial discrimination because "banning people and things because of the way they look went out a long time ago. But here they are again. The color of a gun. The way it looks. It's just bad politics."
NBC's Today show proved that smart reporting can turn even high-profile, sensationalist transgender news stories into opportunities to enlighten viewers about important issues affecting the transgender community.
During the July 24 edition of the Today show, host Matt Lauer introduced a new installment of NBC's "Undercovered" series, which aims to draw attention to stories and issues that don't typically get major media attention. Lauer noted that while the media has focused heavily on Caitlyn Jenner's public transition, "the reality for other transgender Americans, far from the spotlight, can look very different."
MSNBC's Ronan Farrow then introduced viewers to one of those transgender Americans -- a college student named Eve who is beginning hormone replacement therapy as part of her transition:
EVE: We're not all living the glamorous life. We don't all necessarily look that pretty. I imagine people find it very weird and strange when I say I'm a woman. I mean, I don't look like Caitlyn Jenner.
Eve described her struggle with harassment, suicidal thoughts, and fears that her family will reject her. She also allowed cameras to follow her to her first session of hormone treatment, giving the audience a glimpse of an aspect of transitioning that viewers of mainstream media might be unfamiliar with.
The segment is a perfect example of relevant, responsible transgender media coverage -- Today used a high-profile news story as an opportunity to shine a light on issues and stories that are typically ignored by major news networks. Rather than resort to sensationalism -- which has characterized much of the media's coverage of Caitlyn Jenner's transition so far -- NBC used Jenner's story as a shared reference point, introducing audiences to a story that more closely resembles the lived experiences of many transgender people.
The ability to move beyond fixation on high-profile transgender figures is an important part of responsible transgender coverage. As Eve explained, Jenner's experience as a trans woman -- her financial resources, easy access to health care, and "glamorous life" - is highly specific. What NBC's Today show did -- use Jenner's story as a springboard to elevate the experiences of everyday trans people -- raises the bar for smart coverage of LGBT issues.
Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly responded to breaking news of a deadly shooting at a Louisiana movie theater by baselessly asking about possible connections to ISIS or radical Islam.
On the evening of July 23, a gunman opened fire in a Lafayette, Louisiana movie theater, killing three people including himself and injuring nine others. Responding to the breaking news on-air during The Kelly File, Kelly initially noted the similarities between the attack and the 2012 Aurora, CO theater shooting, which left 12 people dead. However, when interviewing Lafayette Police Sgt. Kyle Suarez about developing information on the shooting, Kelly devoted a question to the possibility of a connection to ISIS, asking, "Any reason to believe there might be a connection to ISIS, or radical Islam, or terror as we understand it in this country?":
Apart from Kelly's baseless speculation, initial reports described an "older white man" as the shooter. Authorities have since announced that the shooter was a man from Alabama described by Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft as "kind of a drifter."
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is reportedly purchasing $250,000 of advertising time on Fox News in an attempt to help secure a place at the network's August 6 debate. Christie's ad buy is more evidence that Fox News' debate -- the first of the presidential cycle -- is proving lucrative for the network.
In a controversial move, Fox News is using polling to cap the number of debate participants at 10. Super PACs supporting Republican presidential candidates Rick Perry and Marco Rubio have already purchased millions of dollars of ad time on Fox. An adviser to a group of super PACs backing Perry explained to the New York Times that their ad buy on Fox News and other cable channels was intended to raise Perry's national profile in hopes of getting the former Texas governor "on that debate stage."
The Times' Jeremy Peters notes of Christie's ad buy, "Because Fox will use the candidates' standing in national polls to whittle down a field of 16 Republican candidates, the exposure that comes from a national cable television buy is extremely valuable. And while Mr. Christie's standing in the top 10 is fairly sturdy -- but not guaranteed -- this ad buy is aimed to help buttress his standing."
Fox News has an unprecedented media role in the Republican primary. Republican presidential candidates are appearing on the network to boost their profiles among the network's conservative audience. The competition to get into the primetime debate has been referred to by Fox as the first real primary contest of the season, supplanting the importance of balloting in Iowa and New Hampshire.
According to the Huffington Post, current polling indicates that Christie is ninth with Donald Trump on top.
By many media accounts, the New Jersey governor faces long odds to win the nomination. Fox News founder Rupert Murdoch is reportedly "fond" of Christie, but last year "expressed doubts about the New Jersey governor, saying he expected more damaging stories to emerge about Mr. Christie's aides in the aftermath of the closing of lanes on the George Washington Bridge."
According to New York's Gabriel Sherman, Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes fought with Christie "over the Hurricane Sandy photo op that the New Jersey governor shared with Obama on the eve of the 2012 election":
Ailes also tangled with Chris Christie over the Hurricane Sandy photo op that the New Jersey governor shared with Obama on the eve of the 2012 election. "You looked ridiculous," Ailes snapped at Christie at the opening of George W. Bush's presidential library. "You were like the fat kid in high school chasing the popular kid." Christie, who's used to doing the yelling himself, unloaded: "No one talks to me that way!" and stormed off.